09 March 2009

* Arabtec announces new joint venture in Saudi

Dubai’s Arabtec Holdings, the region’s largest listed contractor, has announced the formation of a new joint venture in Saudi Arabia to take advantage of the Kingdom’s continued growth.
Arabtec Saudi Arabia will have a paid up capital of US $40 million (SAR150 million) and is expected to turnover $400 million in its first year and up to $1.3 billion within three years said Arabtec CEO Riad Kamal at a press conference

"This is a natural expansion in our activity in the region," he said.
“We feel that through this alliance, Arabtec Saudi Arabia has the potential of becoming one of the leading construction companies in the Kingdom, especially given the enormous volume of projects announced recently by his Majesty King Abdulla Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to be completed over the next few years.”

The new firm will be 40% owned by Arabtec, with a 35% stake taken by CPC Services, a member of the Saudi Binladin Group, and 20% by Prime International Group Services.
Kamal said the company would immediately start work on a project in Riyadh, but declined to give further details.
Arabtec, the UAE's largest construction firm whose contracts include the Burj Dubai, posted fourth-quarter net profit of about $50.2 million (AED 184.8 million), down from $52.2 million a year before and missing analyst forecasts.
Chief finance officer Ziad Makhzoumi said that the company still expects to receive $2.6 billion in revenue this year with a net profit margin of around 10%.
Meanwhile Kamal said the company's cash position was also "beginning to show very positive results" despite the slump in Dubai’s property sector and tightening liquidity markets.
"The cash situation, the receivables, have been coming in very slow in the last three months but the situation has changed in the last couple of weeks and we are beginning to see some liquidity being pumped into the system," he said, adding Arabtec had received almost all monies due up to December last year.

"We've been promised that the flow will continue for our receivables in the coming few weeks and months," he said.

The company has a backlog of projects worth $10.6 billion, including $2.7 billion for a tower project in St Petersburg in Russia, which is awaiting final approval by the board of Gazprom and is expected soon, Kamal said.

Dubai residential real estate prices have fallen by an average of 25% since a peak in September, Morgan Stanley said last month, adding some $263 billion of projects had been cancelled or put on hold in the UAE.

The company has laid off 250 employees of 5,000 working in administration as a result of the financial crisis but has not cut jobs of those working in the labour sector, said Kamal.


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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.