News from the MENA region

Dubai’s Burj Al Arab to offer helipad weddings starting from $55,000

Couples can arrive for the ceremony in an Italian twin engine Augusta 109 helicopter

Dubai’s Drake and Scull wins $40m Algeria contract

North African state limited the access of foreign companies to its construction market for decades

Disney confirms Star Wars VII has started filming in Abu Dhabi

Speculation had been mounting over the last few weeks

Qatar’s bourse hits all-time closing high

Shares in several firms jump ahead of first quarter earnings reports while Dubai breaks through 5,000 points mark

Abu Dhabi lender posts 15% rise in Q1 net profit

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank says it made $260m in the first three months of the year

Saudi watchdog said to regulate homegrown YouTube shows

Website’s popularity in kingdom brings production houses under the gaze of General Authority for Audiovisual Media

Kuwait Oil Company reports $4bn profit

State-owned firm says it plans to increase crude oil production, increase exploration

Sweden to open Doha embassy in May

The embassy is the Scandinavian state’s fourth in the Gulf and will reduce responsibilities for the UAE embassy

UAE launches first nuclear simulators

The two state-of-the-art facilities are identical to the four nuclear plants the UAE expects to open in 2017-2020

Saudi prince kills 2000 endangered birds: report

The houbara bustard was a traditional food source on the Gulf for centuries but hunting it is now banned in most countries

All airlines to operate from new Doha airport from May 27

A circular issued by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority comes after it set a soft launch date for 10 budget carriers of April 30

Saudi Arabia replaces health minister amid MERS fears

King Abdullah issues decree replacing Abdullah Al Rabeeah whose duties are taken over by labour minister

Arab banks ramp up expansion as global rivals start to retreat

Western banks, such as HSBC and Barclays, have merged or sold operations in the region

Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding posts 14% rise in Q1 net profit

Investment firm owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed makes more than $33m in three-month period

Kuwaiti newspapers suspended over ‘plot tape’ stories

Judge bans two papers for two weeks after they published stories about alleged plot to overthrow ruling system

London attackers of Emirati women set for July hearing

Three men charged in connection with the hammer attack in a London hotel have been remanded in custody

Kuwait’s Action Hotels eyes 5,000 rooms by 2020

The Kuwaiti company has eight hotels in the pipeline to add to its current portfolio of six

Kuwait’s Zain says being sued for $4.5bn over Iraqi deal

Telecom operator says legal move surrounds its 2007 acquisition of Iraqna from Orascom Telecom

High stakes as restive Benghazi votes in Libyan local polls

Libyan voters went to the polls to elect first municipal council members in 15 cities three years after civil war that toppled Muammar Gaddafi

Damac boss denies "stealing" Donald Trump from Nakheel

Damac chairman Hussain Sajwani admits US billionaire Donald Trump joined Damac after deal with Nakheel collapsed, but denies he was “stolen”

Kuwait preparing guidelines for fuel subsidy changes

The oil-rich Gulf state has been mulling the idea of scrapping a host of expat subsidies, including electricity and water

Kuwait’s KFH reports 13% rise in Q1 net profit

Country’s biggest Islamic lender also says it wants to expand operations in Turkey and neighbouring markets

Two killed, one wounded in Bahrain bomb blast

Three civil defence officials injured in separate explosion outside capital city Manama

Dubai approves 50 firms for health insurance launch

Dubai Health Authority says 7 companies picked to deliver special package to low-paid workers in emirate

Etihad set to upgrade Greek, Cypriot services in July

Abu Dhabi airline to boost frequency and capacity on routes to Athens and Larnaca

Rights group praises Saudi move on phys ed for schoolgirls

Human Rights Watch says possible end to ban shows Saudi gov’t can ‘buck the conservative establishment’

German car maker says MidEast sales up 18% in Q1

BMW delivers more than 7,400 vehicles during first quarter; UAE remains biggest market in the region

Bahraini man dies two months after being shot by police

Rights activists say Abdul-Aziz al-Abbar was wounded by shotgun pellets fired by riot police in February

Dubai’s second satellite now fully operational

Agreement signed for promotion and distribution of DubaiSat-2′s products and services to global customers

Bin Majid Hotels says new RAK property to open by end-2014

Santorini on Marjan Island will comprise 410 rooms; was originally scheduled to open by end of last year

UAE’s role in the new space race

In the last five years, the UAE has invested heavily in a bid to become a new hub for the space industry. Are such plans realistic?

Balance and power: Joseph Adam Ereli

Joseph Adam Ereli spent 22 years working for the US Foreign Service, with four years as US ambassador to Bahrain. In a revealing interview, he describes the balancing act involved in such a role, his thoughts on current tensions among the Gulf member states and why he is such a critic of America’s policy towards […]

Qatar Airways set to launch daily services to Bali

Non-stop flights to holiday hotspot will start on July 21; route to be upgraded to 787 Dreamliner in October

Qatar’s QIB posts 15% rise in Q1 net profit

Qatar Islamic Bank, the Gulf state’s largest sharia-compliant lender, makes $92m profit in three-month period

Bahrain’s largest lender eyes $5bn sale, merger deal

Sources say Ahli United Bank is evaluating sale or merger with a strategic peer

Saudi rights lawyer detained by authorities, says wife

Waleed Abu al-Khair said to have been detain after court appearance on sedition charges

70% of Arabs call for more film and TV censorship

Survey revealed adults want more regulation of violent and romantic content

Egyptian court jails 119 Mursi supporters

Muslim Brotherhood supporters sentenced to three years in jail related to protests held in October

Abu Dhabi’s Hakkasan signs partnership with MGM Resorts

Will focus on the design, development and management of luxury non-gaming hotels, resorts and residential offerings

Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar is replaced

Former US ambassador warned months ago of a “major shift” from US

UAE reports decline in human trafficking cases

The federal government authority is planning to increase its campaign to crackdown on the practice

Etihad, Fiji Airways sign codesharing agreement

Abu Dhabi carrier’s revenue from codeshare and equity partners increased by 23% to $223m in Q1

Dubai’s DIB gets nod to raise foreign ownership limit

Dubai Islamic Bank increases limit by 10% to 25% following completion of all regulatory formalities