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Oman reduces short-term visa fees

Albert Fahil

The Muscat Securities Market performed well and reported an increased of 20.48 (0.36%) to the day high value of 5,658.42 points while the Dubai Financial Market drooped by 2.55 (0.17%) to the day high value of 1,524.78 points. The Bahrain Stocks Exchange, on the other hand, surged by 2.09 (0.18%) to the day high value of 1,142.83 points and the Qatar Stocks Exchange nose dived by 28.54 (0.38%) to the day high value of 8,649.11 points. The Kuwait Stocks Exchange surged by 6.50 (0.11%) to the day high value of 5,978.10 points and the Saudi Saudi Stocks Exchange drooped by 4.52 (0.07%) to the day high value of 6,830.27 points on February 15, 2012.

Many giant aviation companies gathered last week to GCE as massive air port development schemes in various ME countries are taking place. From the aviation companies, the arrival of the companies from Germany felt more prominent as they have been offered huge contract in various field of air port expansion of the countries like of Oman, Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Meanwhile, companies in Oman gets huge tax benefits from the government according to the Tax Law passed in 2009. Since 2010, a 60 per cent tax relief has been provided with companies who operate in the Kingdom.

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Tour of Oman 3rd stage to finish at BankMuscat headquarters today

MUSCAT, 15 February 2012 – BankMuscat, the flagship financial institution in the Sultanate, is all set to receive international cyclists taking part in the Tour of Oman championship who will finish their 3rd stage at the Bank’s landmark headquarters today (Thursday 16 February). The 144.5 km 3rd stage of the championship begins from Al Awabi in South Batinah governorate. The Tour of Oman comprising six stages and covering a total of 875 km of grueling routes has attracted 128 of the world’s best cyclists.

Waleed Al Hashar, Group GM - Corporate Services, said: “BankMuscat is very pleased to be chosen as the finishing point of the 3rd stage of Tour of Oman which promotes Oman as an international tourist and sporting destination. The hosting of this event reflects the Sultanate’s remarkable organisational capabilities. BankMuscat has been involved in all the previous editions of Muscat Festival and remains committed to supporting all major events related to it.”

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Middle East gaining momentum following global financial crisis

Dubai, UAE, 15 February 2012 –. The Middle East is “on track” for recovery from the global financial crisis despite the concerns around the Euro, according to a leading economist.

Speaking in Dubai on the current global economy and outlook for the Middle East, Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics at London Business School, said 2012 will be a year of slow growth but the region is doing well in re-balancing its economies and is beginning to gain momentum.

“The recovery is on track. You can see the region beginning to gain some momentum. Obviously there can’t be expected to be rapid growth for those exposed to the finance and real estate sectors so growth will need to come from elsewhere.

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Xpress Money Introduces Remittance Services to Mobile and Bank Accounts in Pakistan

•    Ties-Up with Telenor Pakistan to Offer Credit to Mobile Account Partners with Over Seventeen Banks in Pakistan to Remit Directly to Bank Accounts

Jeddah/Kuwait/Oman:  14 February, 2012 – Xpress Money, the preferred partner for instant money transfers in the GCC, recently announced the launch of two unique services - ‘Credit to Mobile Account’ and ‘Credit to Bank Account’ - for its Pakistani customers residing in Saudi Arabia/Kuwait/Oman.

Xpress Money has tied up with telecom provider Telenor Pakistan for the ‘Direct to Mobile Account’ service, while its ‘Direct to Bank Account’ service will be available through 17 leading banks in Pakistan.

Pushpak Damania, who heads Business Development in the MENA & AFPAK region for Xpress Money, said: “At Xpress Money, we constantly innovate our service offerings in order to make remittances more convenient. We understand that our customers lead busy lives and we work towards making financial transaction as hassle-free as we can for them. Direct transfers to mobile and bank accounts are our latest initiative towards this end.”

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Thousands to attend BankMuscat community gathering in Barka on Thursday

MUSCAT, 14 February 2011 – BankMuscat, the flagship financial institution in the Sultanate, is hosting a community lunch in South Batinah region on Thursday (16 February 2012) as part of efforts to promote Omani traditions. The first-of-its-kind community gathering will be held in Barka Garden from 12 noon on Thursday and is open to all citizens and residents.

The event hosted as part of al Mazyona celebrations marks a major step by the Bank in building and strengthening relations with the communities in Oman. Thousands of citizens and residents are expected to join the celebrations along with the Bank’s senior executives from the headquarters and region A traditional Omani music band will perform at the event to enliven the al Mazyona experience.

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Another weak year for IPOs in the GCC as issuers and investors remain wary of volatility in the Capital Markets

Initial public offerings (IPO) in the six nation Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) markets continued spiralling downwards in the fourth quarter of 2011 summing up a difficult year for IPOs on the regional exchanges. The three IPOs in Q4 2011 raised a total of USD 212m, with offering values falling marginally by 3% compared to the third quarter of 2011 but down significantly by 79% year on year, says PwC, a leading international professional services organisation.

Saudi Arabia continued to lead the GCC markets with two IPOs in the last quarter of 2011 contributing USD 148m or 70% of the total amount raised on the GCC exchanges. The only other IPO in the GCC during Q4 2011 was Oman’s SMN Power Holding which raised USD 63.8m. Although the number of IPOs in the last quarter of 2011 remained the same as Q4 2010, the average IPO size decreased significantly from USD 343m to USD 71m in Q4 2011.

Steve Drake, Head of PwC Capital Markets in the Middle East region, said:
“Investor risk caution coupled with issuer reluctance to sell at perceived lower valuations contributed to a slow and stifled year in the equity markets. Issuers in the GCC deferred their IPO plans in 2011 as global economic instability such as the debt crisis seen in the Euro-zone and the regional political unrest impacted investor confidence. However, we are beginning to see issuer interest in some regional markets although the real test will come when we see the first IPO of 2012 and the level of interest shown by the investor community.”

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BANKDHOFAR AND DELOITTE AND TOUCHE WORK TOGETHER TO LAUNCH ISLAMIC BANKING

February 14 the 2011, Muscat, BankDhofar have signed an agreement with Delloitte and Touche to create a market assessment and feasibility study into the launching of Islamic Services at the Bank. This study is in response to the Royal Decree, issued last year by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, which approves the establishment of Islamic Banking.

The Bank is dedicated to the implementation of Islamic Financial services and has already invested in some intense training programmes for its executives providing them with insights into planning and executing Islamic banking products and services. It has also appointed a new Head of Islamic Banking, Mr. Moawai Emalin, to prepare the Bank to handle these additional services through dedicated Islamic windows at its branches.

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BankMuscat unveils dynamic Private Banking strategy, new branch at headquarters

MUSCAT, 13 February 2012 – BankMuscat, the flagship financial institution in the Sultanate, on Monday (13 February 2012) took Private Banking services to a new level unveiling a dynamic brand and business strategy and an exclusive branch at the headquarters. AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive of BankMuscat, inaugurated the flagship Private Banking branch offering bespoke solutions that preserve, secure and grow wealth.

AbdulRazak Ali Issa said: “The new Private Banking strategy is a step into the future banking in Oman, reflecting the Bank’s commitment to expand innovative services to clients and remain the nation’s bank of first choice. With global financial expertise, the Bank has adopted smarter strategies to stay ahead in business and provide a distinct experience for Private Banking clients.”

AbdulRazak added: “Over the last 30 years, BankMuscat has achieved steady and significant growth in various disciplines to emerge as the leading financial institution in Oman. The new Private Banking brand reaffirms the flagship financial institution’s commitment to banking excellence.”

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BankMuscat Visa card campaign offers 2 packages for London Olympics

MUSCAT, 13 February 2012 – Offering a once in lifetime chance to experience the electrifying live action of the 2012 London Olympics, BankMuscat in association with Visa has launched a campaign offering an opportunity to existing and new cardholders to win two packages to witness the world’s biggest sporting event.

The ‘Go London’ campaign is part of efforts to provide value added services for BankMuscat cardholders. The campaign entitles BankMuscat Visa debit and credit cardholders to pay with their cards in Oman or abroad and earn chances to enter a draw to win two packages offered to witness the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The mechanism for the draw is that for every BankMuscat Visa card transaction, customers have a chance to win the Olympics package. Each transaction is equal to one chance, thus the more the card is used, the better the chances to win. The promotion is valid till 5 March 2012.

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