Did you know

a) toilet paper only became ‘real’ (medicated paper) in 1857 – what did they do before that (for fear of getting haemeroids). China invented paper 100 AD.

b) The name Wendy was made up for the book “Peter Pan.”

c) No piece of paper can be folded in half more than 7 times

d) The Koala bear is not really a bear, but is really related to the kangaroo and the wombat

e) The largest employer in the world is the Indian railway system in India, employing over 1.6 million people

f) Colgate faced a big obstacle marketing toothpaste in Spanish speaking countries. Colgate translates into the command “go hang yourself.”

g) there are 8 pints of blood in the average human body and

h) you lose 20% of your body weight when you are fully dehydrated.

What’s happening in the UAE :

  1. The Central Bank of the UAE recently announced that all banks in the UAE would have to apply the mortgage loan rule of maximum 50% (of valuation) for ex-pats and 70% for Emirati’s. Ridiculous. Wrong way to control the mortgage lending market when it is only in nascent recovery stage. Professional valuations (you know from the supposed experts on what properties are worth) and valuers remain in ‘cautious mode’ and continue to apply very conservative valuations on property, so as to protect themselves against professional indemnity claims. So there is only one result when Investors are restricted to 50% borrowing off the back of conservative valuations. Look elsewhere. And so the UAE Central Bank will need to review this decision. Or else kill the property market. There is naturally a lot of local bank resistance to this new directive.
  2. Willy Walsh, the former CEO of Aer Lingus and British Airways (now CEO of the combined BA and Iberia), commands enormous international respect in the aviation industry. So when he speaks about his industry, his statements are rich in value. His belief that Dubai International Airport would overtake Heathrow (all 5 Terminals) as the largest international airport in the world by 2015, is one that should make Sheikh Hamdan and all the senior executives at Dubai International, Dubai Duty Free and Emirates very proud. Think about it. Dubai is just a small dot of a city on the Planet and an Emirate that is only 41 years old and has a population of just over 2 million. Not bad that in such a short timescale it has grown annual passenger traffic from virtual zero to over 65 million in 2013.
  3. The illegal residents amnesty ends in three days time. Sixty days were given to all those living illegally in the UAE. The amnesty did not extend to criminals or those who had committed other illegal acts but to the many tens of thousands who had been working without valid visa’s or had run away from (in many cases abusive) employers, it was an opportunity to ‘cleanse’ the record. All financial penalties which attach to illegal stays or overstays were extinguished as part of the amnesty.  As many as 342,000 illegal immigrants took advantage of the last amnesty declared in 2007. Around 300,000 illegal immigrants left the country under the second amnesty which ran between January and April, 2002. In 1996, about 200,000 illegal residents left the country under a six-month amnesty. Because of previous  amnesties, greater awareness of penalties by residents/visitors, greater policing by the Authorities in the UAE, the estimated number who will avail of this amnesty is expected to be short of 100,000. Anyone with outstanding absconding cases against them, where their passport is held at a residency department, was also given back their passport in order to leave the country. In cases where violators cannot afford an air ticket, they will receive support either in the form of liquidating their bank guarantee deposited at the Ministry of Labour, or where no guarantee exists, they will be helped by the authority on humanitarian grounds.
    1. Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) – those property ‘experts’, in its seventh Mena Investor Sentiment survey, puts Dubai as the top investment destination across the Mena region for real estate, with investors’ expecting Dubai to remain as the strongest performing real estate market in the region over the next 12 months. Now that’s what I call ‘smart’ – even if they were the ‘experts’ that regularly talked down the market for the past 4 years – despite a pretty major office investment in the Emirate !!!

    5. In a typically ‘home town’ decision the UAE Legislators have decided that ‘Locals’ (ie Emirati’s) will no longer be sent to jail if their cheques bounce. Nice one !!! What is even better is that shortly after this announcement a further statement was issued that also absolved ex-pats and foreigners from having to spend some time with the cockroaches which infest UAE jails if they issued cheques that in aggregate exceeded what they had in the bank. Well that was the ‘word’ on Wednesday evening. But by first thing Thursday morning the ‘wisdom’ of this decision was reversed and we are now back at page 1. All you foreigners (ie non Emirati’s) WILL go to jail if you put your signature to something that your bank feels is more than you have authorisation for. Well at least we had 12 hours of ‘relief’

  4. A post mortem of the major fire that destroyed an entire 36 storey residential tower in Jumeirah Lake Towers, was caused by a discarded cigarette. See smoking is bad for your, and others, health.
  5. 7.

Equity Corner :

What a great start to the New Year. Yep all my share tips have had a great January. Particularly my ‘Tip of the Year’, BG which has had a spectacular four weeks – rising 15% in just 31 days. My advice ? Take some profits.

Equity markets around the world have had an exceptional month. I now passionately believe that there will be a correction in February. Perhaps the worst February on record for equities. Why ? Well the 5/10% growth in January against the headwinds that still exist, and grow, in many of the worlds largest economies, needs sanitisation. There is no rationale for this level of recent enthusiasm. I do fully understand the ‘wall of money’ argument and that US corporate earnings were in the vast majority of cases well in excess of consensus. But Global deleveraging and growing unemployment around the world are still realities from which nobody can escape.

I will skip giving you a tip this month as I think February could be an ugly month for Global Equities

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