Oman to have $1-bn healthcare city

March 18th, 2008 - 6:46 pm ICT by admin  

(Gulf Business Capsule)

Dubai, March 18 (IANS) Majan Development Co (MDC) has become the latest to enter Oman’s booming real estate market, announcing that it is planning a 400 million Omani riyals ($1 billion) healthcare city. The proposed integrated city is going to come up in the Omani capital Muscat, according to a report in the Khaleej Times.

With an authoriSed capital of 40 million Omani riyals ($103 million) and paid up capital of 25 million Omani riyals ($65 million), MDC has been founded by investors in the region with THE Kuwait-based Gulf Investment House (GIH) holding a 50 percent stake.

“We plan to take advantage of the investment opportunities in the Omani market by targeting the tourism, commercial and residential sectors,” Nasser Al Tiwaijiri, senior manager for direct investments at GIH, was quoted as saying.

Work on the first phase of the healthcare city, to be carried out on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis, will start next year.

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Gulf central banks under pressure over US Fed cut reports

Gulf central banks are under additional pressure to review their monetary policies amid reports of another interest rate cut by the US Federal Reserve.

According to reports, the Fed is likely to cut interest rates in the range of 0.75-1.25 percent. Its key rate has already fallen from 5.25 percent in September last year to 3 percent now.

With the currencies of five of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries - the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - pegged to the plunging US dollar, speculations are rife about revaluation of these currencies.

“US interest rate cuts will increase the pressure on GCC central banks,” Simon Williams, chief economist at HSBC Middle East, told the Gulf News.

“Although it might intensify the call for revaluation of some currencies, the solution lies in anchoring the exchange rates with a basket of currencies.”

Kuwait became the first GCC nation to de-peg from the dollar when it joined a basket of currencies in July 2007.

Economists said that the regional central banks would be forced to follow the US rate cuts.

“The most likely scenario would be that most GCC central banks would cut deposit rates while keeping the lending rates unchanged,” the newspaper quoted Monica Malik, director of economics at investment bank EFG Hermes, as saying.

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Dubai World acquires three South African wildlife reserves

The African subsidiary of Dubai World, the holding company that manages the portfolio of businesses and projects of the Dubai government, has announced that it has acquired majority stake in three top wildlife reserves in South Africa.

Dubai World Africa said it has bought the stakes in Shamwari Game Reserve, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Jock Safari Lodge from the Mantis Collection, a group of five-star boutique properties in South Africa and Europe.

“African wildlife is precious. It has much more value than as a tourism attraction,” Dubai World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said.

“Dubai World sees this as a commitment to protect the reserve as well as encourage tourism,” he said.

The company declined to divulge details of the deal.

According to Dubai World Africa chief executive James Wilson, both Shamwari and Sanbona are within the proximity of the popular tourist destinations of Cape Town and Garden Route.

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Gulf investment firm in $400-mn reinsurance JV

Gulf Investment Corp (GIC), a financial institution owned by the six GCC nations, has entered into a joint venture with Bermuda-based Arch Capital Group to launch a reinsurance firm that will focus on large-scale infrastructure and industrial projects in the Gulf.

The new entity, to be called Gulf Re, will have a capital of $400 million and will be based at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

“Gulf Re will initially target high-value oil and gas, industrial, utility and transportation assets,” the two companies said in a joint statement.

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Saudi Arabia to invest $60 bn on water infrastructure

Saudi Arabia is planning to invest up to $60 billion over the next 20 years to improve its water infrastructure to meet the requirements of its growing population.

“The demand for water in Saudi Arabia is growing at 6 percent annually as of now,” Loay Al Musallam, Saudi Arabia’s head of privatization team and deputy minister for planning development, told the Gulf News.

Saudi Arabia’s population is expected to touch 36 million from the current 22 million by 2032.

The $60-billion investment includes capital investments for expanding distribution water infrastructure and meeting cost of operations, Al Musallam said.

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