Gold may not get its shine back as world economies revive, but if you’re looking for a bed in luxury or somewhere fancy to shop, the UAE’s the place to be. Plus, airlines expect another bumper year.
It’s going to be another busy year for business in 2014
The new year in technology will begin with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month. Product launches and future technologies and gadgets will be unveiled in what is the world’s largest consumer technology event. Sony, Samsung and Microsoft are set to announce new products but all eyes will be on BlackBerry in the new year as the company’s future will be decided. Whether BlackBerry will survive on its own or will need to be taken over remains to be seen. So far its board has committed to streamlining its operations to survive by laying off 4,500 members of staff and rebuilding the brand with the appointment of the new chief executive John Chen. It will also focus on growing its messaging platform, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). Analysts believe there will be further consolidation in the tech sector, as struggling older players that have failed to adapt to the mobile age seek buyers. – Triska Hamid
The country’s aviation sector is expected to continue its double-digit growth in 2014, outpacing other regions of the world. Both of the country’s big carriers will continue to grow their fleets with Emirates Airline taking delivery of additional Airbus A380 super jumbos and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, while Etihad Airways will get the first of many Boeing 787s. There will be disruption at Dubai International Airport (DXB) from May 1 when both runways will be closed consecutively for total period of almost three months. This presents a real opportunity for Dubai World Central (DWC) Al Maktoum International Airport to steal a march on DXB, said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.com, an aviation consultancy. “DWC can lure airlines with the promise of new flights, no disruption and the ability to pick and choose slots of their liking.” – Lianne Gutcher
Abu Dhabi expects to get its largest mall in Yas Mall, spread over 235,000 square metres, in March. Also in the pipeline scheduled to open this year in the city are Danet Mall, the Capital Mall and The Galleria at Nation Towers, said Mohammed Faheem, the senior research analyst at CBRE Middle East. The capital is also promised a 168,000 square-metre luxury mall on Saadiyat Island, due to open in 2017, and the 200,000 square-metre Reem Mall on Reem Island. Al Ain expects to open Al Yahar Mall and Barari Outlet Mall, Mr Faheem said, while Fujairah would get its Fujairah Mall. In Dubai, the big ticket retail properties include The Avenue by developers Meeras Holding on Al Wasl Road. In the pipeline are the Palm Mall and The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah, the Mall of the World in Mohammad Bin Rashid City, a mall on Jumeirah Beach Residence area in Dubai Marina, Dubai Pearl Mall, community malls in Jumeirah Park and Discovery Gardens, and Phoenix Mall in International City. Madinat Jumeirah, Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai Outlet Mall and Dragon Mart all have expansion plans. The Sharjah City Center mall is also putting in an additional 13,500 square metres. – Sananda Sahoo
Gold is expected to have another tough year in 2014, with inflation under control and the Fed in the United States expected to gradually exit the bond market. Analysts at Barclays Capital expect gold to end 2014 at US$1,270 an ounce, about 5 per cent higher than where it is today. – Associated Press
Global banks will be entering 2014 with an eye on how rules that are being devised to prevent them from making the kind of bets that led to the financial crisis of 2008 will be enforced. Lenders are anxiously anticipating how industry regulations such as Basel III and America’s Volker Rule will limit their ability to generate the sort of outsized profits they made before the crash. They will also be watching to see if the US Federal Reserve will continue to taper its monthly bond purchases as the US economy improves. It cut the amount of bonds it buys every month to $75 bln from $85bn in December. Banks and other financial institutions will also likely continue to dispose of non-core assets amid tightening oversight by industry watchdogs. AIG, the insurance firm that had to be bailed out in 2008, sold its aircraft leasing unit in December to AerCap, a Netherlands-based company, in a deal valued at more than $5bn. Abu Dhabi’s Waha Capital, the biggest single shareholder in AerCap, owns a 26 per cent stake in the New York-listed company. – Mahmoud Kassem
Stockbrokers and investors are cautious about local equity markets in the new year after a 107.6 per cent rise in Dubai and a 63 per cent rise in Abu Dhabi in 2013. “Valuations are now broadly in line with the rest of the GCC,” said Amin El Kholy, the managing director at Arqaam Capital’s asset management division. As Abu Dhabi and Dubai listed shares get incorporated into international compiler MSCI’s emerging markets index, the main risk this year “could be an over-extension in the markets and a subsequent correction”, Mr Kholy said. The overhang fears of an American-led strike against Iran have receded over recent months and the residual political risk concerns are now longer-term in nature, he added. Other brokers have a more optimistic view. “The difference between 2013 and 2014, is that we don’t have a major event that performs as a catalyst,” said Fathi Ben Grira, the chief executive at Menacorp, an investment company in Abu Dhabi. “ But we might have some good initial public offerings. Overall I’m quite positive without being overly bullish,” Mr Ben Grira said. – Hadeel Al Sayegh
Several stock market strategists in the United States believe international stocks will be the place to be. Asian and European stocks did not perform as well as US stocks in 2013, with the notable exception of Japan, where the Nikkei 225 index soared 56 per cent. Europe is particularly attractive, the strategists say. The European Union came out of a two-year recession last year, and the debt crisis that plagued most of the region has abated. Some strategists say that Europe is a couple of years behind the US in its economic recovery, and stocks could be cheap in comparison. – Associated Press
The focus of 2014 for the subcontinent will be the general elections, which are expected by May. The outcome will be critical for business and investment. In early November, Goldman Sachs controversially upgraded its rating on Indian stocks, citing anticipation among investors that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would come to power. It would take over from the ruling Congress party, which has been mired in corruption allegations and criticised for delays to economic reforms and infrastructure investment. Goldman Sachs said that investors viewed “the BJP as business-friendly, and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as an agent of change”, with Mr Modi widely credited with Gujarat’s economic development in his role as chief minister of the state. A secondary focus for the economy in 2014 will be the US Federal Reserve’s expected winding down of its stimulus programme. Anticipation of the tapering happening in 2013 led to investors pulling funds out of emerging markets and caused the rupee to plunge to historic lows. – Rebecca Bundhun
The UAE’s hotels expect healthy growth following Dubai winning the right to hold Expo 2020. Among the new hotels expected this year are The Ajman Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel from the Starwood Group, with 207 rooms in the first quarter of the year followed by Sheraton Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road with 480 rooms in the third quarter. The InterContinental Hotels Group has four openings planned for the year, two each in Dubai Marina and Ras Al Khaimah. Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham will officially open in the first quarter in the Jumeirah Beach Residence area of Dubai. It is the first property of the Hawthorn Suites brand in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi’s Bin Ham Group will open its first luxury hotel Royal Rose Hotel, fashioned after a 17th century French palace, in the city in the first quarter. The 355-room property will be managed by City Seasons Hotel Group. The French Accor Group has seven properties under development in the UAE – in Dubai and Fujairah – and all expected this year. Marriott International has five properties scheduled, including the 195-room Courtyard by Marriott Abu Dhabi Central Market. It also expects to open the second tower at JW Marriott Marquis with 804 rooms this year. – Sananda Sahoo
The Dubai Shopping Festival began yesterday and ends on February 2. The first big conference of the year, the World Future Energy Summit, will be held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from January 20-22. Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2014 will take over Al Bateen Executive Airport in the capital from February 25-27. Expo 2020 is only six years away.