Month: March 2008

Global remittances rise 7% to Dh1.17tr

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Global remittances rise 7% to Dh1.17tr
By Saifur Rahman, Business Editor Published: March 31, 2008, 00:09

Dubai: Global remittances rose seven per cent last year to $318 billion (Dh1.17 trillion) up from the previous year’s $297 billion, according to the latest World Bank report.

India topped the global list of the remittance recipients with $27 billion (Dh99.1 billion), followed by China with $25.7 billion (Dh94.32 billion), Mexico having received $25 billion (Dh91.75 billion), the Philippines $17 billion (Dh62.39 billion) and France with $12.5 billion (Dh45.88 billion).

Rich countries are the main source of remittances led by the US with $42 billion in recorded outward flows in 2006. Saudi Arabia ranks as the second largest with $15.6 billion.

Of the $318 billion, about $240 billion (Dh880.8 billion) went to developing countries last year, which is eight per cent higher than the $221 billion (811.07 billion) recorded in 2006.

These flows do not include informal channels, which would significantly enlarge the volume of remittances if they were recorded.

“In many developing countries, remittances provide a lifeline for the poor,” said Dilip Ratha, World Bank’s senior economist, and author of the report.

“They are often an essential source of foreign exchange and a stabilising force for the economy in turbulent times.”

Despite a near stagnation in remittance flows to Mexico and a deceleration in other Latin American countries contributed to a slowdown in the rate of growth of remittances, its flow to developing countries remains robust because of strong growth in Europe and Asia.

As money transfers are being subjected to more intense scrutiny by regulators, the remittance industry has experienced a shift in remittances from informal to formal channels, the report says.

But the same regulations have also increased the documentation requirements for opening bank accounts. Large money transfer operators have therefore benefited from the shifting flows.

More recently, the remittance industry has also seen the introduction of cellphone-based remittances and several pilots involving remittance-linked financial products.

Mobile banking and partnerships with cellphone companies can potentially extend remittance services to millions of people in remote, rural areas. UAE’s largest telecom operator etisalat has started a pilot project to facilitate remittances through mobile phone.

These changes may imply a shift from cash-based remittances to account-based remittances in future.

“The remittance industry is experiencing some positive structural changes with the advent of cell phone and internet-based remittance instruments. The diffusion of these changes, however, is slowed by a lack of clarity on key regulations (including those relating to money laundering and other financial crimes),” the report said.

“Remittance costs have fallen, but not far enough, especially in the South-South corridors.”

Countries in South Asia and East Asia are experiencing robust growth in remittances. In the Philippines, remittances rose by 15 per cent year-on-year during the first nine months of 2007. Both Bangladesh and Pakistan reported over 20 per cent growth in remittances during the first nine months of 2007.

“High oil prices and strong economies in the oil-exporting Middle Eastern countries are contributing to strong demand for migrant labour. In India, the largest remittance-recipient developing country, private current transfers grew by 30 per cent in the first half of 2007,” he said.

While South-South migration nearly equals South-North migration, rich countries are still the main remittances source, led by the US, according to the World Bank’s new Mig-ration and Remittances Factbook 2008, released recently.

The US was also the top immigration country in 2005, with 38.4 million immigrants, followed by the Russian Federation 12.1 million.

Among low-income countries, India had the highest immigration volume with 5.7 million, followed by Pakistan with 3.3 million.

The top immigration countries, relative to population are Qatar with 78 per cent followed by the UAE with 71 per cent, Kuwait having 62 per cent, Singapore 43 per cent, Israel 40 per cent and Jordan 39 per cent.

In many developing countries, remittances provide a lifeline for the poor.”

Dilip Ratha
World Bank’s senior economist

UAE Opec governor says oil market well-supplied

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UAE Opec governor says oil market well-supplied
Reuters Published: March 31, 2008, 00:09

Dubai: Oil markets are well-supplied with inventories of crude oil and refined products over their five-year average, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) governor of the United Arab Emirates said on Sunday.

The weakness of the US dollar has amplified the rise in oil prices, which was partly due to speculation, Ali Al Yabhouni told an energy conference in Dubai.

“The market is sufficiently well-supplied and what proves my argument are inventories; they are over and above the five-year average for crude and refined products,” he said.

“It is not only fundamentals that are driving prices. It is very complex and there are many different players contributing to oil price movements.”

Al Yabhouni said producers decide their output policy based on oil market fundamentals, but cannot cater for the appetite of financial speculators. “We are looking at supply of oil, we see demand and try to match it. Financial demand is something else,” he said.

Opec left its output steady at a meeting earlier this month despite calls from consuming countries for more oil to halt the record rally. The weak dollar and rising cash flows from hedge funds helped send crude oil prices to a record high of $111.80 a barrel in mid-March. US crude closed at $105.62 on Friday.

Al Yabhouni said earlier this month Opec would not react to speculative oil price movements when market fundamentals were balanced. Opec officials have long insisted factors beyond their control are fuelling oil’s rally.

“One reason the price is high is the weakness of the dollar,” said Al Yabhouni. “If you look at it in other currencies such as the yen and the euro oil is very affordable. So, yes, the price looks high in dollars but not in other currencies.”

Passenger bus rams into the middle of bridge in Sharjah

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Passenger bus rams into the middle of bridge in Sharjah
Staff Report GULF NEWS Published: March 30, 2008, 11:05

Sharjah: A passenger bus bound to Dubai from Sharjah rammed into the median of a bridge in Arouba Street near Al Khan Road, Sharjah, early on Sunday.

The cause of the accident is still being verified. Two passengers sustained minor injuries, said a passenger.

The accident sparked massive traffic jams, blocking motorists trying to get to work after the weekend.

Woman hunts for Good Samaritan who saved her daughter’s life

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Woman hunts for Good Samaritan who saved her daughter’s life
By Marten Youssef, Staff Reporter
Published: March 30, 2008, 17:12

Dubai: He stopped his car when he saw a screaming woman by the side of the road. She needed to get to hospital with her sick child urgently.

After helping them, the unknown stranger vanished. Now the woman is looking for her “angel”, as she calls him, to thank him properly.

Jyoti Rana from the Greens, a 34-year-old Canadian who came to Dubai two years ago, experienced a mother’s worst nightmare last Tuesday. Her two-year-old daughter, Sia, had an abnormally high fever.

“My sister-in-law and I decided to take her to hospital. We waited outside our house for a taxi. Two minutes later, I turned around and Sia had fallen flat on her face,” Jyoti said.

Sia turned pale and her lips turned blue. She was not responding to her mother’s calls.

Jyoti panicked, picked up her unconscious child and did what any mother would do. “I screamed for help. No one stopped. I picked her up and ran into the nearest hotel, but there was no-one. I sprinkled her face with water, but she still did not respond.”

After a security guard came to her aid, she was still feeling helpless. The security guards tried to stop several taxis, without success. One of them ran into the street and stopped the next car.

Without hesitation, Jyoti jumped into the car while trying to revive her child. “I wasn’t thinking straight. All I cared about was my child,” she said.

The anonymous driver asked her which hospital she wanted to go to and without any questions he drove to the Welcare Ambulatory Care Center.

“The drive usually takes 15 minutes from my house, but he did it in less than 6 minutes. All he said was, ‘it’s going to be OK.’ He kept repeating that.”

After admitting her daughter to the hospital, she was asked for Sia’s health card.

“That’s when I realised I left my purse in the man’s car. I looked down at the side of the bed and there was my purse, which meant he must have brought it in,” said Jyoti.

Sia recovered with doctor’s attention from a febrile seizure (fever fit).

“I want to find that man to thank him,” said Jyoti.

With very little memory of what the driver looked like, Jyoti recalls: “He could have been Indian or Arab. People told me he was driving a silver sedan. He must have been in his late 20s or early 30s. I cannot remember what he looked like at all, but I am hoping that he would read this and contact me. If it weren’t for him, Sia would probably not be here now,” she said.

If you know who the good samaritan is or if it was you yourself then fill in the form below, leaving your contact details and we will pass them on.

E-mail : Jyoti Rana can be contacted by email: jyoti@thebigball.org