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Mena economy to grow 3.6pc in 2013 THE global economic outlook looks more downbeat as global economies struggle with low real GDP growth. However, the prospects for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region have brightened due to higher oil prices and increased government spending, said a report.

The global real GDP growth has been revised downwards to 3.3 per cent in 2012 and to 3.6 per cent in 2013. The growth outlook for global economy has deteriorated as the recovery in the 35 advanced economies has remained weaker than expected, said top Qatar National Bank (QNB) Group in its review of the IMF's October world economic outlook.

The QNB report said the prospects for Mena region are bright with a forecast growth of 5.3 per cent in 2012 and 3.6 per cent in 2013. "The growth in the Mena region is two-dimensional; with a clear distinction between oil exporters and importers," it added.

The gap in the growth outlook between them has widened. While growth prospects for oil exporters have improved to 6.6 per cent in 2012 (up from 4.8 per cent in the April 2012 forecast), the prospects for oil importers have substantially declined to 1.2 per cent in 2012 (down from 2.2 per cent in the April 2012 forecast).

Higher oil prices and increased government spending have been the key differentiating factor that has brightened the growth prospects for oil exporting countries.

Abu Dhabi economy grows 6.8pc ABU Dhabi's economy grew 6.8 per cent in inflation-adjusted terms in 2011 - the fastest rate since 2004; more than double the pace of the previous year, thanks to stronger activity in oil and non-oil sectors, government data showed.

"Growth in GDP at constant prices during 2011 surpassed all the forecasts and estimates made by local and international parties," the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi said.

The real gross domestic product of Abu Dhabi, one of seven UAE, rose 3.0 per cent in 2010.

Abu Dhabi, which accounts for most of the UAE's crude oil output and about 65 per cent of the GDP, is the second largest Arab economy. The hydrocarbon sector, which accounts for over half of Abu Dhabi's real GDP, soared 9.4 per cent in 2011, the strongest expansion since 2004 and well up from 2.0 per cent in 2010.

Growth in non-oil activities was much more moderate at 4.1 per cent last year, only slightly above the 3.9 per cent clip in 2010 and roughly half of the average rate over the past decade, the data also showed.

GCC controls 11pc of petrochem industry THE Gulf petrochemicals industry continues to be the largest producer and exporter in the world accounting for 11 per cent of the $600 billion global petrochemical industry, said a study.

Over the next five years, the Gulf's market share will jump to over 17 per cent, according to the industrial study. The mammoth Gulf petrochemicals industry continues offloading the majority of its output to more than 150 countries worldwide, said Satish Khanna, the general manager of Al Fajer Information and Services.

"The GCC is truly the centre of gravity for the Gulf petrochemical industry, with huge local and external investments and global major players partnering with local companies projecting to increase the share of GCC region in the production of petrochemicals," remarked Khanna.

QNB 9-month profit soars to $1.7bn QNB Group, one of the largest financial institutions in the Mena region, recorded a net profit of QR6.2 billion ($1.7 billion) for the first nine months of the year, up by 15 per cent compared with the same period last year.

This demonstrates QNB Group's success across business activities and the ability to achieve strong growth in profitability for the benefit of shareholders.

Total assets increased by 25.3 per cent in the past 12 months to reach $96.4 billion, the highest ever achieved by the group.

This was the result of a strong growth rate of 41.9 per cent in loans and advances to reach $65.5 billion.

The bank was able to maintain the ratio of non-performing loans to total loans at 1.2 per cent, a level considered to be the lowest amongst banks in the Mena. Provisions were conservatively managed, as the coverage ratio reached 116 per cent.

UAE nets $10bn budget surplus THE UAE booked a consolidated state budget surplus of Dh36.2 billion ($9.9 billion) in 2011, the country's finance ministry said, while publicly releasing such data for the first time.

The ministry said the figure included the federal budget as well as the fiscal balances of all seven emirates which form the UAE.

Saeed Al Yateem, executive director of revenue and budget at the ministry, said the data would now be released every quarter starting next year.

The surplus revealed yesterday was equivalent to 2.9 per cent of the 2011 gross domestic product of the UAE, according to a Reuters calculation.

The country posted a deficit of Dh23 billion or 2.1 per cent of GDP in 2010, according to an International Monetary Fund report.

Mideast intra-regional investments rise MIDDLE East has long been the ideal foreign direct investment (FDI) hub for investors from Western Europe and North America. But with the global crisis causing a slowdown in most developed countries, the FDI scene is slowly shifting to intra-regional investments, said a report by Ernst & Young (E & Y).

Since 2003 the majority of investments in the Middle East -- 79 per cent of FDI projects, 62 per cent by value and 65 per cent of jobs created -- have gone to the GCC. Of this, the bulk has been netted by the 'trio' of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with Egypt the highest placed non-GCC country with 16 per cent of investments by value, said E&Y in its inaugural Middle East Attractiveness Survey.

According to the report, the region has seen the number of annual FDI projects increase from 362 in 2003 to a peak of 1,070 in 2008. Project numbers fell in 2009 and 2010 as the global and regional economies took a step backwards but recovered again in 2011 with an increase of 8 per cent to 928.

The value of the investments in 2011 remained low compared to 2008 but again showed a modest recovery on 2010. Initial findings for the first six months demonstrated a similar picture with investment project numbers and value flat or below that of the comparable period in 2011. Despite traditionally being seen as a region famous for its vast natural resources, the GCC countries have used the surplus cash to diversify into other sectors, said the report.

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Publication:Gulf Industry
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Nov 1, 2012
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