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Byline: Arab News


Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Ltd. (Toyota) has launched the full-size CITY SUV Sequoia 2009 in the Saudi market. The launch, which was announced at a press conference at Hussein Jameel Hall here on Saturday evening, was attended by Waleed K. Hambishi, senior general manager, integrated marketing communication, Peh Hock-Chuan, director, marketing division, at ALJ and Motoharu Araya, chief engineer, product planning, Toyota Commercial Vehicle Development Center, Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan, and a number of Toyota executives and senior officials in addition to media men. Developed through careful research and analysis, the new Sequoia brings a strong advantage because it is fun to drive on-road, and also ensures that all passengers can travel in comfort even on long drives. For the interior, the manufacture focused on quality as a full-size SUV and Toyota originality with designs, materials, and color schemes to express a premium image and the toughness of an SUV. The Sequoia inherits the renowned Toyota quality. It is also focused on excellent comfort and user-friendliness with ample leg room, and a full-flat, power tilt-down function.


Bahrain Air, a premier low-cost carrier headquartered in Manama, achieved an impressive target of carrying 404,000 passengers at the end of its first year of operations. The airline also achieved 56 seat load factor during the 2008, a senior official at the airline said. "Bahrain Air has achieved a milestone in terms of business despite difficult and challenging times due to economic meltdown," Ibrahim Al-Hamar, managing director of Bahrain Air, on the sidelines of the airline's first anniversary said. Al-Hamer, who was joined by the Chairman and senior officials of the airline, said that during 2009 the airline would achieve a target of carrying one million passengers with a seat load factor of over 70 per cent. "We know this will be a challenging for the airline to achieve one million passenger target especially during these challenging times. However, Bahrain Air has a very different product for passengers looking for competitive prices. I am positive about another successful year ahead," Al-Hamer said.Talking about expansion plans and adding new destinations, he said that the airline would be flying to 24 destinations by October this year. "By October this year, Bahrain Air will have a fleet of six aircraft which will allow the airline to extend its wings to 24 destinations from the existing 14 routes at present," he said.


With the handing over of 50 London Taxis to owners, the newly established Arabian Taxi Company launched its services on Sunday marking a giant leap toward reforming the public transport sector announced by the government. The initiative is also secure more than 700 new jobs for Bahrainis in line with the government's Vision 2030 aimed at improving the quality of life for local citizens. The initiative is a joint initiative between Bahrain Development Bank (BDB) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) and is seen as a positive step forward to develop the transport sector in Bahrain, and particularly taxi services. The sector offers Bahrainis more job opportunities and offers the people of Bahrain, residents and visitors a better standard of services and a better lifestyle.


Premium SUV manufacturer Land Rover has achieved phenomenal success in the Middle East and North Africa, with 2008 combined sales up 20 percent on the previous year. The recently launched Land Rover LR2 enjoyed the highest growth in the region, with sales up by 36.8 percent, followed by the Land Rover LR3 which saw an increase of 20.2 percent. Sales of Land Rover's flagship model, The Range Rover and the dynamic Range Rover Sport were also up, by 2.7 percent and 4.1 percent respectively. In a year when Land Rover also celebrated its 60th anniversary, a total of 11,061 cars were sold in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2008, compared to 9,213 in 2007, retaining Land Rover's position as the region's leading premium SUV manufacturer. Robin Colgan, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Middle East and North Africa, said, "Land Rover has always had a strong presence in the Middle East and North Africa, and these figures show that demand has increased across the entire region in 2008."


Nissan Middle East has shrugged off rumors over a drop in car prices, and emphasized the importance of Middle East growth potential versus rest of the globe despite the current international financial crisis. The Nissan Middle East statement followed speculation by some GCC Internet bloggers that all car brands would drop the retail prices by 40 percent or 50 percent in the region over next three months due to the world financial crisis. During a recent visit to the GCC by Nissan president & CEO, Carlos Ghosn, it was confirmed that a short-term slowdown in GCC sales could be expected but overall Nissan was optimistic about the growth potential in the Middle East. "Talk of car prices dropping dramatically over next three or four months are not true. The high appreciation of the Japanese yen is one factor that makes such price drop speculation unfeasible and unrealistic", said Monal Zeidan, general manager, marketing & corporate communications at Nissan Middle East.


Dubai's master developer, Nakheel, yesterday announced that it has started handing over 300 villas at Jumeirah Village. Nakheel has sold 96 percent of available villas and townhouses in Jumeirah Village and this is the second release of residences in the new Nakheel community at the geographic heart of Dubai. With all work progressing on schedule, Nakheel expects 2,200 villas and townhouses in Jumeirah Village to have been handed over to residents by the end of this year which contributes 8 percent of all new homes in Dubai. Marwan Al-Naqi, general manager, Jumeirah Village, said: "We extend a warm welcome to our new residents here at Jumeirah Village, a development that offers a strong sense of community at the geographic heart of Dubai. By implementing a quality plan we have set a benchmark to ensure that all Nakheel products are handed over in the highest standards we can achieve."


Dana Gas, the Middle East's largest regional private sector natural gas company, has announced preliminary results for the year ended Dec. 31, 2008, posting revenue from oil and gas production of AED1.14 billion, an increase of 10 percent over the previous year. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDAX) reflecting cash flows from operations in 2008 increased by 20 percent during the year to reach AED575 million. Net profit for the year was AED120 million, an annual increase of 8 percent, after finance charges of AED263 million, non-cash depreciation and depletion of AED301 million and income tax expense of AED138 million during the year. Long-term assets grew by 13.4 percent during the year to reach AED9.3 billion, while total assets as at Dec. 31 stood at AED10.8 billion, all related to its core business and with no investments or exposure to financial or property markets. At the end of 2008, Dana Gas cash and bank balances stood at AED789 million, demonstrating a solid liquidity position despite the current financial crisis. "The year 2008 has been an excellent year for Dana Gas and we will continue to build on this important base in 2009, focusing as we always have on our core business area in the natural gas industry, which continues to show extremely strong fundamentals and growth opportunities, especially in our region in the Middle East, despite the slowdown in some other sectors," said Hamid Jafar, executive chairman of Dana Gas.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Feb 4, 2009
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