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UAE: 178 sims per 100 people

November 19, 2007 10:00 by

UAE: 178 sims per 100 people

The number of mobile subscribers in the UAE crossed 7.3 million this month, raising the mobile penetration level to nearly 170 per cent in an estimated population of 4.3 million, reports Emirates Today.

Etisalat, the UAE’s leading telecom operator, has registered 6.3 million mobile subscribers to date, while its new domestic rival Du announced last week that its subscriptions have crossed one million.

Officially, the UAE’s population is 4.1 million including 2.7 million labourers according to the 2006 census, which raises the penetration rate to 178 per cent. This means there are 178 mobile numbers in circulation per 100 people, just short of two sim cards per person.

Strike shuts Kuwait airport

Around 600 aviation workers walked off the job yesterday at Kuwait International Airport, shutting down all commercial air traffic for an hour. Members of the Civil Aviation Union are demanding higher wages, hazard pay and equality within the department, reports Kuwait Times.

From 10 am to 11 am workers rallied outside the Department of Civil Aviation, some holding signs and wearing badges reading, ‘Yes to the pay raise!’. Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Labor Union Khaled Al-Duaij, who helped organize the walkout, said, “This is only one step. Today it’s one hour, then it’ll be a whole day, and this will be seen in the weeks to come.

Many parliamentarians backed the strike. MP Musallam Al-Barrak, a Popular Bloc member who attended the walkout said, “Their demands are justified.” Islamist MP Faisal Al-Muslim said, “If there was a positive response from the government, then the walkout would not have happened.” He added, “Why such discrimination - last week they approved a pay raise for Kuwait Airways workers…”

DIFC sifts US wreckage for bargains

The Dubai government agency that bought into Deutsche Bank this year said it could invest in US banks, property and other sectors after the dust settles on a mortgage crisis that has cut asset prices.

Banks that have reported losses from defaults on subprime, or high-risk mortgages, could be among the targets for DIFC Investments, which is helping drive Dubai’s push to build two of the world’s 10 largest financial institutions in eight years.

“There are good opportunities and the prices are good, but is this the bottom or is there more downturn to come?” DIFC governor Omar bin Sulaiman said, reports Gulf Daily News.

Asked whether the targets could include firms such Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, bin Sulaiman said, “Without mentioning names we have a track record of taking stakes in major banks, with the right partners for management.” Citigroup, the largest US bank, and Merrill Lynch, the world’s largest brokerage, replaced their chief executives after reporting credit market losses of at least $21 billion between them.

Currencies rally as UAE talks policy shift

Gulf currencies rallied on Monday after UAE policymakers called for a regionwide review of dollar-pegged exchange rates and Saudi Arabia signalled it could be willing to discuss reform. The Saudi Arabian riyal hit a new 21-year high on the first international trading day since a source familiar with Saudi currency policy told Reuters that the world’s largest oil exporter could consider revaluing its dollar-pegged currency.

Investors in forward markets bet the riyal and UAE dirham would appreciate 1.43 percent and 3 percent respectively in a year’s time, says Trade Arabia, expecting that Gulf Arab oil producers will unshackle their currencies from the tumbling dollar as Kuwait did in May.

Kuwait’s dinar has appreciated 4.69 percent against the dollar since it started tracking a currency basket on May 20, blaming the greenback’s slide for driving up the cost of imports.

UAE Central Bank Governor Sultan Nasser al-Suweidi said last week he too could start tracking a currency basket including the euro, but would only act along with Saudi Arabia and three other oil producers preparing for monetary union as early as 2010.

DP World increases size of IPO

DP World has increased the size of its public share offering by 3 per cent to 23 per cent due to a better than expected demand and could potentially raise $4.96 billion in the region’s biggest stock sale, says Gulf News.

The world’s third largest container terminal operator, part of the government-held conglomerate Dubai World, had announced on October 21 it would sell 20 per cent of its shares in the IPO. It set the indicative share price between $1 and $1.30 when it formally launched the IPO earlier this month.

DP World operates 43 terminals in 23 countries and has 13 terminal projects under way in several countries, including Britain, China, India, Pakistan, Peru, Turkey and Vietnam. Its capacity was 48.6 million TEUs at the end of 2006, with throughput of 36.8 million TEUs.

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