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Qatar, Saudi to lead growth in GCC

JEDDAH, July 26 (Bernama) — Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, is likely to be the second fastest growing GDP in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region this year, National Commercial Bank (NCB) said in a new study on the GCC economies.

“We expect the GCC region as a whole to grow by some six percent this year and by some five per cent next year,” Qatar News Agency (QNA) said citing the report published in Saudi Gazette.

NCB, Saudi Arabia’s largest bank, has posted 10.9 percent increase in net income for the first half of 2011 at SR2,927 million compared to SR2,640 million for the same period of the previous year. (RM1=SR1.267)

NCB Chairman Abdullah Bahamdan said the bank’s total assets grew significantly to reach SR314 billion compared to SR263 billion at the end of the same period of the previous year, an increase of 19.2 percent.

Total shareholders equity reached SR33.3 billion compared to SR30.7 billion of the same period last year, an increase of 8.5 percent.

NCB said in the report that it projected growth of 5.3 percent in the Kingdom for this year, far higher than the 3.7 percent growth recorded in 2010.

Much of this expansion will be driven by strong growth in the oil economy thanks to the prospect of high prices and significant increases in production, the report noted.

Growth in the GCC in 2011 will be led by Qatar which is at the final stages of its natural gas investment boom, the report said.

“This is likely to result in real GDP growth of approximately 20 percent this year, up from 16.3 percent in 2010. The growth is likely to be driven above all by the hydrocarbons sector where the pace of expansion is projected to accelerate to 29.5 from 22.2 percent in 2010.”

The UAE, the second largest Arab economy, is also back on track thanks to high oil prices and Dubai s recovery, it added.

“We foresee real GDP growth of 3.7 percent in the UAE this year, up from the official estimate of 1.4 percent in 2010,” it said.

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