Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bad News - Forget Our Retirement

The comedian George Burns used to get a laugh saying, "Don't stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed."
It's no longer a joke. Many aging workers simply can't save enough to create a solid foundation of savings that will maintain their standard of living in retirement.

The current world crisis is here to stay for some time. The insecurity leads to more concerns of our future. News on retrenchments all over the world does paint a bleak global situation that affects the rest of us, working class people.
I read the below article to match my own perspectives as well constraints and plans for my family's very near future i.e. before end of 2009. With two growing kids to enrol in the universities/colleges, the eldest one in this July and second next year, together with Dubai ever escalating cost of living, there are certain things to be urgently re-defined and refined.
Been telling my kids on the need to change a bit of our lifestyles. By July 2009, we have to move out from the Twar 3 villa when the almost 8 year rental is expired. Hopefully, beside still being employed, there will be dramatic change in economy situation. Everybody predicts the fall of rentals and more options in getting the right new home.
We need to put the updated priorities right. Growing older and wiser by allocating more time to concentrate on spiritual matters as life is shorter by seconds....well, the bad news, some of us may have to keep working through retirement years, which I thought could start by having a sabbatical break by next year in Canada...!

Why You'll Work Through Your Retirement
The recession is only one of several trends combining to change the way we live out our golden years

There is a major social and cultural message in the current economic collapse for the future retirees of America: Forget retirement.

That's right. The recession is making clear what we've suspected for a long time. The concept of not working and embracing leisure for the last third of one's life isn't practical for most people.

Continue HERE.

Qatar snaps up Dubai workers

While construction firms in Dubai are shedding jobs, their counterparts in Qatar see the downturn as an opportunity to source staff for their projects.

Pak Lah advises not to return home, work in the Gulf HERE

Angela Giuffrida

Building, consultancy and engineering firms in the country have long struggled to attract key skills because of competition from Dubai, but they hope to take advantage of the redundancies that are sweeping across the emirate.

Developers, contractors and other property-related companies in Dubai have cut thousands of jobs in recent months as the financial slowdown has gripped the sector, grinding many projects to a halt.
“There were issues about bringing people here in the past, such as housing and schools, that prevented us from growing,” said Robert Hope, a regional director at WS Atkins, an engineer and design consultancy.“But I think there’s an opportunity for us now to get quality people in positions and move projects forward.”
WS Atkins, which designed Dubai’s Burj Al Arab and the suspended Trump International Hotel and Tower, recently made about 170 people at its Dubai office redundant because of cancelled or deferred contracts.
Mr Hope said the company expected to increase its market share in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, where projects could be resourced by moving staff.
“People who have already worked overseas are able to move easily, and we have a culture of this in the company,” he said. “So if there’s less work in one place, we have the advantage of being able to move people fairly easily.”
KEO International Consultants, a consultant on a number of tall tower projects in Doha, is hiring engineers, while more than 2,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the long-awaited Qatar-Bahrain Causeway, with work starting this summer. The bridge will cost Dh11 billion (US$3bn) to build and, at 40km, will be the longest bridge in the world.
“We will have to hire more people from everywhere, from within the company and other regional experts,” said Gerald Mille, the chief executive of QDVC, a partnership between Qatari Diar and the French construction firm Vinci Construction Grands Projets, and one of four firms building the causeway.
Qatar is also making huge investments in other infrastructure projects that will keep construction companies buoyant, including a new port at Mesaieed to be built over six years at a cost of up to Dh16bn.
About 12 construction packages will be issued for the project.Tenders for the third phase of Barwa Financial District, a Dh2.9bn business hub under construction in Doha, are also being prepared.
While property prices in some areas in the capital have fallen by up to 40 per cent and a number of projects have been deferred, Qatar is still expected to outperform other regional economies this year and expand by 10 per cent, fuelled mainly by increased LNG (liquefied natural gas) exports.
Local banks are being more selective in the projects they finance, but the country is well placed to fund crucial developments, especially those aimed at affordable housing.
Qatar’s current account surplus was worth about 52 per cent of GDP last year, according to Marios Maratheftis, the regional head of research at Standard Chartered Bank.Some of the developments under way close to Doha include Lusail City, a residential community, the Pearl Qatar man-made islands and Al Waab City, a mixed-use development.Mr Maratheftis said Qatar now had a “golden opportunity” to attract professionals from markets that had been more affected by the slowdown, although it might not pick up all of the slack.
“[Qatar] will take things at its own pace and will attract top-quality professionals from all over the world, but it will also be very selective.”Avik Rakhit, the head of Northern Gulf at Jones Lang LaSalle, said Qatar would be one of the beneficiaries of Dubai’s slowdown.
“You’ll get more companies and talent coming here,” he said.
Meanwhile, UAE construction firms with order books that have been hit hard by the downturn are looking towards Qatar for shelter.
Arabtec Construction is building Al Waab City, a mixed-use project on the outskirts of Doha, and hopes to increase its market share in the country as well as in Saudi Arabia this year.
“We can’t stay stagnant and are looking for growth where we see growth,” said Riad Kamal, the company’s chief executive.
“And it’s going to happen for us in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
”Construction firms in Qatar are hopeful about their prospects.“
We see a slight rise in business in the first quarter,” said Jenoe Rulff, the general manager of Doka, a company that supplies formwork systems to contractors.
“There will be projects coming up and there will be a continued rise, but not at the level we saw last year.”

Badawi in Dubai mulls retirement amid pleas for rethink

More Pak Lah's stories and photos in Dubai here
The arrogant UMNO ministers in Dubai HERE
Pak Lah advises not to return home, work in the UAE HERE

By Nina Muslim, Staff Reporter
Published: January 24, 2009, 00:30

Dubai: Beleaguered Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi seems set to retire from office in March this year, despite some appeals for him to reconsider staying on as Malaysia's economy worsens.
In September 2008, Badawi, currently on an official visit to GCC states, announced he would be stepping down in March 2009.
He has been blamed for his party's lacklustre showing at last year's general elections.
Some have since asked him not leave office, however, including opposition blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who was recently imprisoned under the country's Internal Security Act.
Badawi told journalists after paying an official visit to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, that he was looking forward to retired life.
"I am happy I will retire," he said, adding he did not have any plans on what to do after stepping down.
He did not elaborate further.
Badawi was reportedly asked to step down as premier by senior officers at his party United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which controls the ruling National Front coalition.
It is reported that he was asked to pass on the torch to his No.2, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
The coalition lost two-thirds majority in the parliament for the first time in Malaysian history last year.
Since then, some have come forward asking Badawi to reconsider his decision, saying circumstances have changed, including the weakening global economy. Malaysia's Central Bank lowered interest rate to 2.5 per cent on Thursday, as the economy slowed down.
It projected a 3.5 per cent growth this year, a drop from 5 per cent last year, which is something analysts regard as optimistic.
Badawi's official visit to the GCC is primarily economic in nature - he is seeking to reassure Gulf states of their investment in the Southeast Asian country and to protect Malaysian business interests in the Gulf.
Some Malaysian companies operating in Dubai have encountered problems, including a $1.3 billion (Dh4.7 billion) deal gone sour between Malaysian company WCT Berhad and Dubai's Meydan LLC.
Badawi told journalists that he had not received reports of other companies struggling in the UAE.
"I think they are well-managed. But (if they are in trouble,) they can appeal for help from the government," he said.
He did detail the kind of help the government was offering.
He added Malaysian companies also had a role to play while overseas.
"We work overseas, we must perform and work well. (Companies) should be grateful for their opportunity they get to work here," he said.

Malaysia's ringgit slumps during crisis

ABDULLAH Ahmad Badawi diberi penerangan mengenai projek Pulau Al Reem, Abu Dhabi di Emiriyah Arab Bersatu (UAE), semalam. - BERNAMA

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's ringgit fell for a third week on speculation the central bank will keep cutting interest rates to aid exporters and spur economic growth. Bonds rallied.
The currency traded near a seven-week low on concern slowing global demand for Asian goods and falling commodity prices will curb overseas shipments and hurt corporate profits in Malaysia, which exports palm oil and crude.
Singapore, the US and Japan, the nation's three-biggest trading partners, are all in recession.
"If the first-quarter data continues to be weak, there's certainly going to be expectations for another round of rate cuts," said D. Sivadass, a currency options trader at EON Bank Bhd in Kuala Lumpur. "That may keep the ringgit on the weaker bias for a while."

The ringgit slumped 1.4 per cent to 3.6263 per US dollar as of 5 pm in Kuala Lumpur from a week earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The currency fell as much as 0.5 per cent yesterday to 3.6263, the weakest since December 9.
Bank Negara Malaysia on January 21 lowered its overnight interest rate by a record to 2.5 per cent from 3.25 per cent, citing the deteriorating outlook for exports.
The ringgit's 4.8 per cent decline this month is the second-worst performance among Asia's 10 most-traded currencies, and already exceeds a 4.2 per cent loss in 2008.
The currency may weaken to 3.64 by the end of June, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 21 banks.
Singapore, which accounted for 13 per cent of Malaysia's external trade, said this week the city-state's economy may shrink as much as 5 per cent in 2009.
China's economy, the world's third-largest, expanded in 2008 at the slowest pace in seven years.
"The contraction in global demand and trade, combined with the reduction in global commodity prices, has affected the export earnings of many of the regional economies, including Malaysia," Bank Negara said in its policy statement on January 21.
Government bonds rallied for a fifth day, handing investors their best weekly returns since November.
Three and five-year benchmark yields fell to the lowest levels since at least 1998 when Bloomberg began tracking the debt market.
The yield on the 3.833 per cent note due in September 2011 slid 45 basis points this week to 2.45 per cent, according to Bursa Malaysia Bhd. The price rose 1.15, or 11.5 ringgit per 1,000 ringgit face amount, to 103.55. The yield dropped 1 basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, yesterday.
"It's now evident that the market underestimated the dovishness of the central bank," Edward Lee, a regional fixed- income strategist in Singapore at Standard Chartered Plc, said in a research note yesterday. "The overall environment is positive for local rates, particularly in the early part of the year."
Standard Chartered forecast the central bank will lower its overnight rate to 1.5 per cent by the end of the second quarter, said Lee, who confirmed the report.
Three-year yields will drop to 1.8 per cent by June, he forecast.