Banking on the Future
Bahrain is looking to consolidate its position as one of the key players in the Islamic finance sector.
Working to build on its current position of strength and ensure it has the skills base to launch further expansion in the future, Bahrain wants to become one of the main influences in the Islamic finance sector.
At the end of 2009, 27 of the 140 banks operating in Bahrain were sharia-compliant lenders, with combined assets of $25.5bn, more than 10% of the sector's total. In addition, at the beginning of 2009, there were 18 takaful (Islamic insurance) companies and one retakaful firm based in the Kingdom, out of a total of 177 insurance policy writers with offices in Bahrain.
Though Bahrain's financial services sector managed to ride out the storm of the international economic crisis, with most Islamic banks and insurance firms posting solid profits and many increasing their asset bases, there is one key area where many are having trouble in boosting their credit - human resources. Exerts say that "the Islamic finance industry will face a severe shortage of skilled professionals with a dual knowledge of both finance and Islamic finance in the next decade".
With sharia-compliant finance set to claim an even larger slice of the international money markets in the coming years, Bahrain is looks to continue to turn out its own bankers and scholars for the future, an investment that will likely reap dividends.
(Source: Oxford Business Group)
Kuwait: Gassing up
Kuwait is currently a net importer of gas, securing and expanding its foreign account balance.
With the world's fourth-largest oil reserves and synonymous as an energy powerhouse, many would find it surprising to learn that Kuwait is presently a net importer of gas. Therefore the discovery and development of its domestic gas resources are of vital importance to the country as it looks to not only secure and expand its foreign account balance, but also fulfill its growing domestic utility needs with a cleaner and more efficient alternative to oil.
Kuwait is estimated to possess 8% of global oil reserves and presently produces 2.78m barrels per day (bpd), accounting for roughly 3.5% of global production. While it is ranked 18th in gas reserves, it currently extracts a very modest 140m cu feet per day (cfdp), a figure that is not sufficient to meet even its local requirements.
Kuwait is also one of the world's largest per-capita consumers of electricity, especially in summer months when demand soars. It is expected that during the peak demand period of April 1 to late October of this year, Kuwait will be importing liquefied natural gas from global companies at a rate of 500,000 cfpd.
In 2005, an estimated 35trn cf of non-associated gas was discovered in the country's northern fields. The field contains gas with high concentrations of toxic and corrosive hydrogen sulphur, and are considered technically challenging to manage. In February, the country reached a deal with Royal Dutch Shell, valued at an estimated $700m that will entail the energy giant providing expertise and technology to help tap the complex reservoirs.
The move is considered a landmark deal in that not only will it provide a significant boost to the country's domestic utilities capacity, but it also signals a move towards greater collaboration and participation of international oil companies in the country's upstream activity. With oil revenues accounting for nearly 90% of the national treasury, many point to the advancement of the petrochemicals sector as a logical and viable means for the country to increase its industrial base and diversify its dependence on oil exports for future income generation.
(Source: Oxford Business Group)
Banking on Stability
By most measures, Lebanon's banks are in a solid position, enjoying high levels of deposits
Lebanon has a strong flow of inbound capital while operating in an economy that expanded rapidly last year and is expected to do so again in 2010. However, analysts warn that a number of factors could yet rock the boat.
With the coalition government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri apparently working in harmony, and the economy predicted by the Ministry of Finance to grow by up to 8% this year, Lebanon's banks have prospered. Furthermore, the sector's deposit base has hovered around the $100bn mark, fuelling recent reports on the bright future of the country's banks.
In its latest study of the Lebanese banking sector, issued in mid-March, ratings agency Moody's said the credit outlook for the industry was stable, thanks to the buoyant performance of the local economy last year, the reduction of tension in the domestic political sphere and relative stability in the region. The outlook for Lebanon's banks could weaken quickly should the political situation deteriorate. Political risk remains high as long as the country continues to be the theatre for proxy conflicts.
The stability of the Lebanese banking sector reflects, to a significant extent, its remarkable success in attracting a constantly large stream of foreign funding from the Lebanese diaspora and Gulf investors. More than $1.5bn is flowing into Lebanese bank vaults every month, drawn by the 7% interest rate on deposits in the local currency and the fixed exchange rate.
(Source: Oxford Business Group)
Ahead of the Others
Morocco securing future water supplies while MENA regions face water challenges.
The arid Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region faces imminent water challenges due to climate change and demographic pressure, but some countries, such as Morocco, have begun the task of aggressively securing future water supplies. Over the past decade, the country has made long strides towards more efficient water usage in its agricultural sector and increased provision of drinking water and sanitation services to the rural poor.
The World Bank has estimated that the available water per person in the MENA region will be halved by 2050. Droughts have plagued the region in the past decade - according to Morocco's Secretariat of State in Charge of Water and Environment, the rainfall deficit has reached nearly 40% some years. "Morocco's water management strategies needed to adapt to meet a number of challenges: growing water deficits, persisting gaps in service access, slow changes in legislation, limited infrastructure programmes, pressing demographic growth and climate change," wrote the World Bank.
In 2000, Morocco introduced a national water strategy and established several public agencies dedicated to water security, including the National Office of Potable Water (Office National de l'Eau Potable, ONEP), which now accounts for over 80% of drinking water production. ONEP has set aside €260m for increasing treatment capacity between 2008 and 2010.
Agriculture is Morocco's top water consumer, using around 80% of resources. Given that the sector is a major employer and a significant contributor to GDP, the 2008 national agriculture strategy, called the Green Morocco Plan (Plan Maroc Vert, PMV), implemented a number of practices to increase the stability and efficiency of water resources. Under the PMV, drip irrigation will be expanded and land dedicated to water-intensive cereal crops will be converted to less-intensive fruit and vegetable production.
Tourism development also threatened to take a bite out of scant water supply. MEDSTAT, a cooperation programme between the EU and 10 Mediterranean partner countries, has predicted that increased tourism traffic in the Mediterranean will result in the mass construction of water-intensive hotels, golf courses and swimming pools.
Nonetheless, the success of Morocco's water programmes to date places it ahead of the pack in terms of resource security, and should serve as a regional model as nations begin to feel the heat.
(Source: Oxford Business Group)
Qatar Takes Over Harrods
The ownership of Britain's prestigious Harrods Department Store, owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, passed to Qatar Holding, after the parties reached an agreement to sell for 1.5 billion pounds (1.74 billion Euros).
The Harrods Department Store, which was founded in 1851, is one of the important landmarks of the City of London: a destination for tourists and residents alike. As a tourist attraction it is no less important than the famous Big Ben.
While the official commentary to give up Harrods was the desire of the Egyptian businessman to spend more time with his children and grandchildren, observers point to the accumulated debt on Al Fayed that drove him to give away the most important trading centre in London.
(Source: Die Presse)
Saudi Arabia to intensify research cooperation with Austria
In April 2010 the Austrian Minister of Science and Higher Education, Beatrix Karl, received the Saudi Minister of Higher Education HE Khaled Al Angari and the delegation accompanying him for the purpose of discussing cooperation between the two countries.
The visit, which lasted for five days, ended by the signing of several memorandums of understanding on research cooperation between Austrian universities and their Saudi counterparts.
In addition to the scientific benefits brought about by these conventions, the Austrian universities will receive millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia within the framework of scientific research projects. Further efforts aiming at the increase of the number of Saudi students studying at Austrian universities will enrich the budgets of these universities that currently suffer from limited resources.
The agreements signed between the parties on research cooperation between universities of the two countries were valued at five million Euros. The focus of the areas of cooperation is on human development and nutrition science, as well as automotive engineering and another set of research projects in technical fields.
It should be mentioned that Saudi Arabia turned its attention, at the onset of the second millennium, to the European countries. Hundreds of students from Saudi Arabia were sent to Europe for further education, including Germany and France, in addition to Austria and Eastern European States such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Currently there are about 80 Saudi students studying at Austrian universities.
Sharjah attracts investment
Sharjah is aspiring to strengthen its position as a center of industrial production in the United Arab Emirates through continued investment in projects aimed at attracting industry to it. It has doubled its efforts to promote itself as a promising investment region.
The Emirate of Sharjah is considered the stronghold of industry in the UAE, for a long time now. Figures from the Department of Economic Development in the Emirate of Sharjah point to a contribution of 48% to the GDP of the industry in the country.
The Emirate of Sharjah currently embraces 19 industrial areas, with investments exceeding millions of dollars. In 1600 the emirate industrial enterprises provide 75 thousand jobs.
The AACC is honored to welcome its new members from January to April 2010:
Asiah Group L.T.D.
Organizer of trade events with a diverse portfolio of exhibitions and conferences in a lot of sectors. Asiah Group L.T.D. is also acting as an official agent to colleges in U.K., Ireland and Canada, and is official provider of International Drivers License Services. Asiah Group L.T.D. has branches in Alexandria and London.
A: 2nd Hassan Hashem st, Fleming, Alexandria, Egypt; T: +2 03 583 2471; F: +2 03 585 8899;
; W: www.asiahgroup.com
A: 11 Bulmer Gardens, Harrow, Middlesex, LONDON, HA3 OPA; T: +44 020 300 284 90; F: +44 020 300 238 91
; W: www.asiahgroup.com
C & I Leasing Ges.m.b.H.
The C & I Leasing Company Ges.m.b.H. is one of the most modern private companies for optimal financing of real estate, furniture and motor vehicles. It offers expert advice and guidance as well as individual, intelligent financing models as a reliable partner. The financing models go from conventional leases and operating lease to other lease-purchase options. C & I Leasing Ges.m.b.H. has branches in Vienna and Graz.
A: Maderstrasse 1, 1040 Vienna, Austria; T: +43(0)15058787-0; F: +43(0)15059191
; W: www.c-i.at
EHRLICH, Mag. Daniela, MAS – Attorney-at-law
Among her special areas of practice are Real Estate and Tenancy Law, counselling in real estate projects, Contracting, Corporate law, Labour Law and Health Care. Due to her practice over the years, successful counselling in litigation and regular publications, Mag. Daniela Ehrlich has become an expert particularly in all kinds of tenancy and residential disputes. She corresponds in German and English.
A: Helferstorferstrasse 5, 1010 Vienna, Austria; T: +43 (1) 535 40 55; F: + 43 (1) 535 40 55-11
; W: www.beplaw.at
EVER Neuro Pharma GmbH
EVER Neuro Pharma is an Austrian pharmaceutical company, a niche player with a clear focus on the development, production, Marketing & Sales of innovative, safe and effective drug products for the treatment of neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular diseases.
As a leading pharmaceutical company, EVER Neuro Pharma is internationally active, with Marketing & Sales activities in over 50 countries world-wide and with a strong network of own sales organizations in key markets.
A: Oberburgau 3, 4866 Unterach, Austria; T: +43 7665 20 555 0; F: +43 7665 20 555 910
; W: www.everneuropharma.com
Hoerbiger Kompressor Technik
HOERBIGER is active throughout the world as a leading player in the fields of compression technology, automation technology and drive technology. The focal points of its business activities include key components and services for compressors, engines and turbomachines, hydraulic systems and piezo technology for vehicles and machine tools, as well as components and systems for shift and clutch operations in vehicle drive trains of all kinds.
A: Donau-City-Strasse 1, 1220 Wien, Austria; T: +43 (0)1 / 2244001; F: +43 (0)1 / 22440991;
E: see website; W: www.hoerbiger.com
Imperial Hotels Austria AG
The Luxury Collection in Austria assembles some of the finest hotels offering unique experiences to their discerning guests. In Vienna, two properties enjoy an outstanding reputation. The Hotel Imperial was built as a private palace and since 1873 has been hosting heads of state, kings and queens, stars and artists. The Hotel Bristol next to the Vienna State Opera stands for authentic Viennese hospitality and personal service.
A: Kärntner Ring 16, 1015 Wien, Austria; T: + 43(1) 501100; F: +43 1 50110410
; W: http://www.hotelimperialvienna.com/
Lambert Rechtsanwälte OG / Lambert Eversheds
LAMBERT EVERSHEDS is a member of Eversheds International and a full service law firm, operating in all areas of Corporate Commercial law, offering solutions to the client’s problems and applied knowledge in all legal issues Corporate, M & A, Real Estate Property and Construction, Competition Law, Intellectual Property, Employment, Right of Residence, Private Client Law, Litigation and Arbitration etc. Our firm corresponds in German, English, Arabic and French language.
Eversheds International is a globally operating network of law firms with more than 3.500 lawyers in 47 offices spread over the world.
A: Kärntner Ring 12, 1010 Wien, Austria; T: +43 (0) 1 516 20 – 0; F: +43 (0) 1 516 20 - 20
; W: www.lamberteversheds.com
Profi Personalvermittlungs GmbH
The main focus of PROFI-TRADE.EU is trading with importers focused on Arabic markets. PROFI-TRADE.EU is engaged in trading, offering and producing of goods, raw-materials and other trade-business with European quality and Know-How. PROFI-TRADE.EU provides its clients with excellent contact and negotiation management between European and Arab producers, merchants and distributors.
A: Darwingasse 9/5, 1020 Vienna, Austria; T: +43 1 890 20 27; F: +43 1 890 20 27 15
; W: http://www.proficenter-vienna.com/
Ringer, the competent partner at your site. Since 1944 we supply construction companies with products of high quality. Over 60 years of experience turned us to a flexible, customer – oriented supplier. Construction equipment as props, pallets, horses etc. completes our product line. Whether you want to buy, to rent, to have special solutions or expert advice, Ringer is there for you.
A: Römerweg 9, 4844 Regau, Austria; T: +43 (0) 7672 72711-0; F: +43 (0) 7672 78805
; W: www.ringer.at
Ti-Tella Handelsgesellschaft m.b.H.
In close cooperation with our customers we plan and install precisely tailored vacuum units and systems that suit the respective requirements, whatever they may be. Our systems can effectively vacuum-up (and if desired recover for recycling, or separate for disposal) a wide range of substances. Many of our reliable, cost-effective vacuum equipment and system solutions are already in operation around the world - including the largest central and high vacuum cleaning systems in Central Europe.
A: Linzer Strasse 1, 3003 Gablitz; T: +43 (0) 2231/66446, F: +43 (0) 2231/66447-50;
; W: www.ti-tella.at
TOMDIVE - The Art Of Diving
TOMDIVE provides high performance diving. Our team stands for first-class private training and extraordinary adventures. We offer the entire recreational diving program of PADI - the world leading diving association - as well as the technical diving program of DSAT, up to instructor-level.
A: Erlachgasse 113, 1100 Vienna, Austria; T: +436603876731
; W: www.tomdive.com
I. UPCOMING EVENT
The Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce has the pleasure to invite you to the opening of
"Screens of realities"
a painting exhibition by
SANDRA KHEIR SAHYOUN
on May 17, 2010 at 6.00 p.m.
Raiffeisenhall and Foyer
Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG
Am Stadtpark 9, 1030 Vienna
Welcome address by Dkfm. Dr Herbert Stepic,
President of Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce,
CEO of Raiffeissen International
Greeting address by H.E. Ishaya El Khoury,
Ambassador of Lebanon to Austria
Sandra Kheir Sahyoun
Link: Invitation & Flyer.pdf
Lecture on Islamic Banking by the Secretary General of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC), Mr. Mouddar Khouja
21 April 2010, University of Applied Sciences Krems
As a continuation of the university's "Export Experts" series of events, the Secretary General of the Austrian Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC), Mr. Mouddar Khouja gave students of the Export Management degree program a comprehensive presentation on Islamic Banking.
In a most eloquent, interactive and enthusiastic manner, the Secretary General Mr. Mouddar Khouja delivered a presentation first on the role and workings of the AACC after continuing to the main topic of Islamic Banking.
Upon outlining the basic terminology of Islamic Banking and the economic principles of Islam, Secretary General Khouja continued with a detailed explanation of the differences between Islamic Banking and Islamic Finance. Further points of his comprehensive presentation included an overview of the history of Islamic Banking, the market situation and especially the market potential of Islamic Banking in the world and also specifically in Austria. Finally, General Secretary Khouja elaborated on Islamic Banking in the context of the broader global financial turmoil that has occurred in recent years.
Following the presentation, an extensive question and answer session was held, with many of the present Bachelor and Master students, IMC Alumni and other interested participants asking critical and challenging questions that the Secretary General answered in a comprehensive manner and further elaborated on.
The Middle East forum Krems
would like to extend once more its sincere gratitude to the Secretary General, Mr. Mouddar Khouja for taking the time to share his knowledge and engage in discussion with participants of the event and the university's Export-Management degree program head, Mr. Christopher Schwand for hosting and supporting the event.
Renewable Energy: Reception, Presentation & Passive House Viewing
4 May 2010, Johann Baptist Holzer House, Korneuburg
Energy-Saving Buildings - a Boom in the Construction World
The concern about preserving the environment by saving the greatest amount of energy became the central focus of interest to companies working in the field of construction in Europe.
In Austria, this style of building construction has a viable market. The Austrian Federal Government has shown great interest in the conservation of energy, and the provision of alternative energy sources so as to face future challenges.
In Korneuburg, a town close to the capital Vienna, a group of Arab diplomats, on invitation of the Austro Arab Chamber of Commerce, visited the building Johann Baptist Holtzer, that is under construction by "Das House". “Das House” is specialized in the design and implementation of energy-saving in residential buildings.
The Arab Diplomats that attended this event were their Excellencies Mr. Mohammed Al-Shams Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Ali Chaouch Ambassador of the Tunisian Republic, Mr. Ishaya El-Khoury Ambassador of the Lebanese Republic, Mr. Tariq Aqrawi Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq, Mr. Bassem Sabbagh Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic, Mr. Mahmoud Al Amin Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan, Mr. Zuheir Al Wazer Ambassador of Palestine, Mr. Mikhael Wehbe, Ambassador of the Arab League. In addition representatives from the following Embassies Egypt, Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman were also present.
The audience listened to a detailed explanation on the technology of energy-efficient buildings, Mr. Karl-Heinz Wingelmaier, President of "Das House". He confirmed that the building is one of the most modern buildings on energy-saving in the Republic of Austria, and that it is built with the latest techniques of modern construction, allowing minimal use of energy, and that within the building with the least amount of energy is consumed. The house would be finished within three months.
Mr. Wingelmaier suggested that the aim of this technique was to preserve the environment and provide comfort and convenience at the same time. The building is in the residential suburb of Korneuburg that is distinguished by its healthy climate which renders living in to a stay at a spa. According to Wingelmaier this building is has the highest rate in energy-saving: of 9 kWh / m² per year.
On his part, the Secretary-General of the Austro Arab Chamber of Commerce Mr. Mouddar Khouja commended the idea of building energy-saving houses, explaining that the transfer of this idea to the Arab countries is of great importance. He added that this new technology is not really new to the thought of Islamic Arab architecture that excelled in the construction of Alhambra Palace in the fourteenth century AD.
The historic palace, built by Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn Nasr in Andalusia, comprised architectural creations especially in the towers such as “Torre de Las Damas” (Tower of the Ladies) which served as an air conditioner throughout the year without consuming any amount of energy.
Links to reports, press releases and articles on the event in Austrian Media (in German):
- "Wirtschaftsblatt", Article on Monday, May 10, 2010 (Section "Businesstalk", p.24):
- "Wirtschaftskommunikation", Press Release on Wednesday, May 5, 2010 (Online Resource):
"Börse-Express", Article on Friday, May 14, 2010 (Online Resource):
AACC Events & Announcements
- 17 May 2010: Opening of Painting Exhibition / Sandra Sahyoun
- 25 May 2010: Announcement and registration for event in Doha, in co-operation with our partner institute, the Arab Industrial Development & Mining Organization – open for all members.
- 31 May 2010: AACC Fireside Chat with Commercial Counsellors of the WKO in Vienna
- 10 June 2010: AACC participating at the Export Day of the WKO in Vienna
- 5-9 July 2010: AACC Training Seminar for Secretaries General of the Arab Chambers in Austria