United Arab Emirates Removes Sunday London Times From Newsstands

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DUBAI — The Sunday London Times newspaper was removed by authorities from shelves in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday amid intensive reporting of Dubai’s debt problems, an executive at the paper said.

The National Media Council ordered the paper blocked by distributors without providing a reason, an executive at the paper in Dubai told Zawya Dow Jones.

The Sunday Times edition available in the U.A.E. on Nov. 29 featured a double-page spread graphic illustrating Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum sinking in a sea of debt. The Times wasn’t given a reason for the block, or a timeframe when it will be lifted, the executive said.

A government official in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E., said that the picture of Sheik Mohammed, which accompanied a story entitled: The sinking of Dubai’s dream, was “offensive.”

Under the U.A.E.’s media code, publications are prohibited from criticizing the sheikdom’s rulers. Local media and government officials have criticized international press coverage of Dubai’s debt crisis. Markets around the world fell last week after the government requested a debt standstill for one of its biggest conglomerates.

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United Arab Emirates exit leaves Gulf currency plan on brink of failure

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Saudi Arabia dwarfs other states in the region and analysts say there is concern that a common currency would serve to concentrate power in Riyadh

A project to establish a common currency for the Gulf has been dealt a near-fatal blow with the decision by the United Arab Emirates to abandon monetary union after disagreement with Saudi Arabia over the location of a future central bank.

The loss of the Emirates to the currency project could accelerate decisions within some Gulf states to diverge from Saudi Arabia’s desire to maintain a currency peg with the dollar. This could lead eventually to the UAE, the Gulf’s most sophisticated economy, floating its dirham, analysts in the region said.

The UAE attributed its decision to quit the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) project to the choice of Saudi Arabia as host of the key monetary institution.

Evidence of mounting rivalry and distrust between the Gulf’s two biggest economies emerged two weeks ago, when a meeting of the GCC voted to locate the central bank in Riyadh. UAE officials expressed reservations about the decision. The choice of Riyadh would enhance the physical presence of Saudi Arabia within the GCC, as the organisation’s secretariat is already headquartered in the Saudi capital.

The UAE is the second state in the six-member GCC to pull out of the common currency, which was due to be launched next year. Oman had said already that it would not take part, but the loss of the Emirates, which has the greatest international trading links, makes it unlikely that the project will get off the ground.

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From the Palm Islands to Emirates Bank, grand Dubai, United Arab Emirates, feels the economic crunch


From the Palm Islands to Emirates Bank, grand Dubai, United Arab Emirates, feels the economic crunch

They were heralded as “The 8th Wonder of the World” by numerous travel sites. They required a staggering $60 billion to construct, according to their developers. They attracted A-List celebrities from the Jolie-Pitts to the Beckhams to Lindsay Lohan. They were, in fact, “one of the most enterprising and ambitious ventures to ever have been imagined,” according to travel Web site Destination 360.

“They” are the epic Palm Islands, a series of three man-made islands in the shape of a palm tree, that along with the surrounding city of Dubai, were considered the “it” playground to the stars, a chic status-symbol to the rich, and a mammoth, epic, super-expensive, luxury landmark to the rest of us.

When you”re this high, you”ve got a long way to fall… And fall they have.

Yes, the global recession seems to be official, as the Palm Islands and Dubai have smacked into economic trouble, according to numerous published reports.

“It is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai”s major construction projects have been suspended or cancelled,” the New York Times reports.

And the Palm Islands themselves? Not looking so good. The Mirror reports that the islands” real estate values have plummeted – by about half. Properties that were selling for about $4.5 million are now going for around $2.3 million. Probably not welcome news to celebs like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who own property there, the paper reports.

But it gets worse. Real estate developer, Nakheel, maker of Dubai”s Palm Islands, has suffered recent layoffs, according to ABC News. The Guardian reports that the third of the Palm Islands, the Palm Deira, which was previously under construction, is on hold, and VIrtualTripping.com reports that it is downsizing in scale.

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Shoppers to use fingerprints or eye scans to pay for goods


Barclaycard has announced it is investing a seven-figure sum in “contactless payment” technology Photo: Getty Images

The futuristic systems, like those used by Tom Cruise in the science fiction film Minority Report, are being developed by scientists for Barclaycard.

The company has announced it is investing a seven-figure sum in “contactless payment” technology.

This allows customers to use everyday items they carry around with them – such as mobile phones, key fobs or even their eyes or fingerprints – to make payments.

It means shoppers will no longer have to rely on cards.

Barclaycard, which is part of Barclays, has already introduced a new-style cash machine in the United Arab Emirates enabling people to use their fingerprints to withdraw money and shoppers in the UK may soon be able to use the same technology.

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Environment: Solar plant yields water and crops from the desert

· Green energy glasshouses may transform arid areas
· Fresh water will end need to dig wells, say architects


The Sahara forest project will use seawater and solar power to grow food in greenhouses across the desert. Photograph: Exploration Architecture

Vast greenhouses that use sea water for crop cultivation could be combined with solar power plants to provide food, fresh water and clean energy in deserts, under an ambitious proposal from a team of architects and engineers.

The Sahara Forest Project, which is already running demonstration plants in Tenerife, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, envisages huge greenhouses with concentrated solar power (CSP), a technology that uses mirrors to focus the sun’s rays, creating steam to drive turbines to generate electricity.

The installations would turn deserts into lush patches of vegetation, according to its designers, and do away with the need to dig wells for fresh water, an activity that has depleted aquifers across the world.

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Gulf central banks urged to sever links with tumbling US dollar

Pressure is mounting on central banks in the Gulf to fight surging inflation when they meet on Wednesday by severing the link between their currencies and the tumbling US dollar.Officials in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have denied rumours of an imminent decoupling, but investors are betting on reform and are rushing to buy local currencies as investment banks issue fresh calls for revaluation.

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Greenspan tells Gulf to drop dollar

Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the US central bank, or Fed, has said that inflation rates in Gulf states, which are reaching near record levels, would fall “significantly” if oil producers dropped their US dollar pegs.

Speaking at an investment conference on Monday in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, he said the pegs restrict the region’s ability to control inflation by forcing them to duplicate US monetary policy at a time when the Fed is cutting rates to ward off an economic downturn.

Debate is rife in the Gulf on how to tackle inflation.

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Greenspan, right, says inflation rates in Gulf states will fall if they drop their US dollar pegs [AFP]

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