Gap to Open Stores in the Middle East

Clothing retailer Gap Inc. (GPS) Tuesday said it agreed with Dubai-based Al Tayer Group to open about 25 Gap stores and about 10 Banana Republic stores in the Middle East by 2010.

Al Tayer Group will hold exclusive rights to operate Gap and Banana Republic stores in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and exclusive rights for Gap in Oman.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gap, which also operates Old Navy stores, said Al Tayer will open the first franchised Gap stores in late 2006 and the first Banana Republic stores in 2007.

This is the second time in four months the San Francisco, California-based retailer has set its sights abroad with hopes of offsetting declining sales at home.

In January, the company said it would open Gap and Banana Republic stores in Singapore and Malaysia under franchise and distribution agreements.

By 2010, Gap said it will operate Gap stores in 12 countries and Banana Republic stores in nine countries.

Gap shares rose 20 cents, or 1 percent, to $17.75 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.