British companies lure
Bahrain's business community is being urged to take advantage of trade
opportunities offered by British companies, the daily Bahrain Tribune reported Saturday.
Incentives are also available for those wishing to do business with
companies in East Lancashire the paper said.
International trade advisor to the Chamber of Commerce of East
Lancashire (CCEL) Roger Davis is in Bahrain seeking customers, distributors and agents for
companies in East Lancashire, according to the paper.
Kuwait: Oil prices now acceptable
Kuwait said on Saturday world oil prices had reached an acceptable
level for this time of year, but exporters would seek a higher level in winter months in
the northern hemisphere.
"The market is now starting to stabilize well at $23.50 a barrel.
This could be acceptable for this period, but in the coming period we aspire for better
prices," Kuwait Oil Minister Shaikh Saud Nasser Al-Sabah told reporters before flying
to Saudi Arabia for a Gulf Arab oil meeting.
Shaikh Saud said GCC oil ministers, meeting in Saudi Arabia on
Saturday, are expected to reaffirm their full commitment and compliance by a global oil
cuts accord which has led to more than doubling of world crude prices since taking effect
on April 1.
"It is a done deal," he added. "This is not a verbal
pledge, it is a legal and official pledge signed by the oil ministers.
Omani export revenue up on higher oil price
The value of Omani exports rose in the first seven months of 1999 on
the back of higher oil prices and an increase in non-oil commodity sales, according to the
latest figures from the ministry of national economy.
The ministry said late on Friday oil export revenues in the tiny Gulf
Arab state by the end of July were 12.2 percent above the same period in 1998 even though
production was 2.2 million barrels lower since Oman, like other world oil producers, cut
output from April 1 to boost flagging oil prices.
It said Oman produced 190.3 million barrels from January until end-July
which it sold at an average price of $13.65 a barrel. Oil revenues for the first seven
months were 771.3 million rials ($2 billion).
Arab economies slow on reform
Arab economies, tipped last year as potential safe havens amid emerging
market turbulence, must accelerate growth and deregulation to compete for crucial foreign
capital, analysts said on Wednesday, the Oman Daily Observer reported Saturday.
They said the Middle East and North Africa could no longer lure foreign
investment by default now that Asian markets were recovering and more established
economies were doing well, the paper said.
"The Middle East has come a long way, but the rest of the world is
moving even faster, so they are sliding," said David Burton, deputy director of the
International Monetary Fund's Middle East department, the paper said.
"Last year, after the Asian crisis, the region's lack of exposure
to foreign capital was to its advantage. But we might have overreacted to the Asian crisis
and now this particular fact is to its disadvantage," he told Reuters on the
sidelines of a Euromoney conference on the potential of Arab economies, according to the
Egypt, Morocco and, to a lesser extent, Lebanon and Jordan were touted
in 1998 as promising markets when Southeast Asia was still reeling and Russia was
imploding, the paper added.
Emirates signs finance deal for Airbus
Dubai government-owned Emirates airline has signed an $82.96 million
financing agreement with Citibank International and Credit Lyonnais for a fifth Airbus
A330-200, the company said.
"The financing is structured as a 12-year finance lease, arranged
by Citibank International Plc and Credit Lyonnais," Emirates said in a statement.
The statement said that the deal contained a mix of fixed rate funding
of 5.89 percent and a floating rate debt at a margin of 65 basis points above
The deal was guaranteed by Britain's Export Credit Guarantee Department
(ECGD), Germany's HERMES and France's COFACE, it added.
The official UAE news agency WAM, reporting the deal earlier in the
day, gave the amount as 304 million dirhams ($82.8 million).
Saudi candidate sure of OPEC top post
OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia on Saturday expressed confidence that its
candidate would be chosen to the cartel's top job over his Iranian rival and an Algerian
Saudi Arabia has fielded its OPEC governor, Sulaiman Al-Herbish, to
replace Nigeria's Rilwanu Lukman as secretary-general of the Organisation of the Petroleum
Saudi Prince signs $100 mln Egypt hotel deal
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has signed a $100 million
preliminary deal with an Egyptian firm to build two hotels on Egypt's Red Sea coast, the
prince's Kingdom Holding Co said on Saturday.
"Prince Alwaleed bin Talal...signed preliminary agreements with Dr
Fareed Saad, Chairman of Soma Bay Development Company for the establishment, development
and management of a Four Seasons and a Movenpick hotels In Soma Bay, Egypt," the
company said in a statement.
It said construction of the two hotels was expected to begin by the
middle of next year. Soma Bay, which has an 18-hole golf course, is an upmarket tourist
destination near Hurghada.
Oman industrial projects get strong response
The Omani Centre for Investment Promotion and Export Development
(Ociped) has reported an enthusiastic investor response to the 14 industrial and tourism
project proposals unveiled at an investment seminar earlier this month, the Oman Daily
Observer reported Sunday.
Leading Omani entrepreneurs and business houses, as well as pension
fund agencies, have signaled their interest in the projects, which involve a total
investment of $276.6 million, the paper reported.
Many of the ventures are now expected to see progress made towards
implementation before the end of the year, say officials, according to the paper.
Saudi, WTO to begin new round of entry talks
Commerce Minister Ossama bin Jaafar Al-Faqih is to travel to Geneva on
Monday for fresh talks on Saudi Arabia's application to join the World Trade Organisation
(WTO), the official Saudi Press Agency said.
It said Faqih would outline a programme and timetable for Saudi
commercial regulations to be brought in line with WTO guidelines.
The talks are expected to last a week and Faqih will be accompanied by
officials from the oil, foreign affairs, finance, industry and agriculture ministries as
well as the Saudi central bank.
Saudi Arabia wants free access to the world market for its
petrochemical giant, the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC).
European and US manufacturers oppose the move, saying SABIC benefits
from subsidies in the form of a 30-percent reduction on purchases of liquefied petroleum
gas from the Saudi Aramco oil company.
Bahrain working on money laundering law
Bahrain is working on a draft law aimed at keeping money laundering out
of its financial markets, Bahrain Monetary Agency deputy governor Shaikh Abdallah
Al-Khalifa said on Monday.
Bahrain, the Gulf's main financial and banking hub, currently has no
law directed specifically at money laundering operations.
Central Bank: Saudi needs deeper markets
Saudi Arabia needs to deepen its financial markets, make them more
transparent and encourage a secondary debt market, the central bank governor said in
remarks published on Monday.
Hamad Saud Al-Sayyari, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency
(SAMA), was quoted in newspapers as saying the existing debt market was too confined to
He told an investment seminar that the market was underdeveloped mainly
because most companies relied on traditional bank financing such as syndicated loans and
because the market was inadequately promoted.
IDB Gives Approval to $1 bln Islamic Firm
The Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Sunday approved a draft
agreement to set up an Islamic firm with capital of $1 billion to promote the private
sector, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
It said an IDB executive managerial meeting in Islamabad approved the
establishment of the Islamic Private Sector Development Institute to finance private
sector operations and investments.
The news agency said IDB will contribute $500 million to the firm's
capital and that the new entity would begin operations after receiving final approval from
the bank's governors at a meeting in Jeddah in November. No further details were
Iraq supports idea of Arab economic bloc
Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yasin Ramadan said Monday that his country
would support the setting up of an economic bloc with other Arab countries to compete with
the existing international trade groups.
"Iraq is ready to put its economic capacities at the disposition
(of such an Arab bloc) to install a solid Arab economic system capable of standing
face-to-face with economic bloc around the world," said Ramadan, who was receiving a
Libyan industrial delegation.
Saudi moves toward privatization of airline
The aviation and defence minister on Tuesday announced the formation of
a committee to prepare for the privatization of Saudi Arabian Airlines.
The committee is made up of members of the boards of the national
carrier and the civil aviation department, said Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz, quoted by
the official news agency SPA.
The minister announced on September 16 that the airline was being
privatized, but without disclosing any details.
Kuwait warns against increasing oil output
Kuwait on Monday warned oil exporting countries to stick to output cuts
agreed in March which have seen a dramatic recovery in oil prices over the past six
"Any rise in production would threaten the stability of the oil
price," said Kuwaiti Oil Minister Saud Nasser Al-Sabah as he prepared to leave for a
ministerial meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries which opens in
Vienna on Wednesday.
"The danger is that OPEC could start to increase its overall
production before the summer which will see a decrease in demand for oil," said
Shaikh Saud, quoted by the official KUNA news agency.
Bahrain, US business ties strengthened
American business continues to prosper in Bahrain and will be further
enhanced by a new bilateral investment treaty to be signed by the two countries, says US
Ambassador Johnny Young, the daily Bahrain Tribune reported Wednesday.
But he warned that American interests must work harder if they want to
influence economic development here, the paper added.
Likewise, Mr Young said he remained in the forefront of those who
encouraged greater transparency and the assurance that all firms, not just American
companies, were presented with a level playing field, the paper said.
Kuwait stocks hit by market charges, politics
Allegations of financial irregularities at some of Kuwait's larger
companies and fresh political uncertainty have combined to take the Gulf state's stock
market toward record lows this week.
Stock exchange officials said some key investors were incorrectly
reporting the actual size of their holdings in certain companies. There were also
allegations circulating of financial irregularities, market sources said.
Stock exchange officials met late on Monday to investigate the claims.
Sources say the country's central bank is expected to look into the allegations as well.
"Such a struggle between big players has an impact on the prices
of at least seven listed firms directly involved in addition to others and (investment)
funds indirectly linked to the disputes," said Kuwaiti economist Jasem
"The exact size of the problem is still unknown and raises fears
that other listed firms could have also committed similar alleged mistakes," he
The latest slump on what was once one of the Arab world's largest and
liveliest markets has led some experts to voice deep concern in the local press and the
official Kuwait News Agency, including some calls for intervention by state investment
firms and large investment funds.