Ahmed opens Index'99
Index '99, the Middle East's international furniture, shop fitting and
interiors exhibition, was inaugurated by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of
Dubai Department of Civil Aviation and chairman of Emirates Group.
"The exhibition industry is extremely important to the UAE, and
the Government of Dubai is doing all it can to support this sector through the building of
new facilities and infrastructure, such as the new Dubai Airport Exhibition Centre.
Without doubt, Dubai is now the hub for international exhibition industry in the Middle
East," he said.
Present at the opening was Viscount Rothermere, chairman of UK's Daily
Mail Group and General Trust.
Over 1,020 companies from 51 countries are taking part in the
exhibition, which will run till October 10.
Meanwhile, the Italian Pesaro Chamber of Commerce (PCC) said it is keen
on setting up joint ventures here with Dubai-based firms in the industrial and commercial
Pesaro, known primarily as a centre for furniture production has
several other industries.
Egyptian business pins hopes on new cabinet
Egypt's next government must encourage exports, investment, use of new
technology and be more open about economic decision-making if it wants to build business
President Hosni Mubarak, starting a fourth six-year term, named
privatisation chief Atef Obeid, 67, as prime minister, replacing Kamal Ganzouri. Obeid
said he hoped to present a ministerial list to Mubarak on Saturday.
One of the government's first tasks must be to end months of
uncertainty about the Egyptian pound.
"The first responsibility of the new government is to have
transparency over the foreign exchange policy," said Amr elGanainy, treasurer at
United Bank of Egypt. "There has to be an official statement. Will it devalue the
pound? Will the Central Bank distribute reserves again? "
Mounir Abdel-Nour, a businessman and board member of the Egyptian
Centre for Economic Studies, said the government must start by recognising the existence
of a currency problem.
Officials in the last government alternated between denying that
dollars were short and assuring everyone the crisis was past. The crunch reached its peak
in August and then eased as the Central Bank dipped into reserves to inject dollars.
"There's still a shortage, even if it is not as chronic as it was
in August, " said one banker.
The currency problem was not the only area where there was unwelcome
secrecy over Central Bank decisions.
Tariff issue may top agenda at GCC-EU meet
Gulf states are expected to raise the issue of carbon tax and EU
protective policies during the coming GCC-EU round of negotiations scheduled to be held in
Riyadh on October 13 and 14.
"Gulf states dislike protective policies adopted by European
countries, some procedures and taxes imposed on carbon and others," said Sheikh Fahim
bin Sultan Al Qasimi, UAE Minister for Economy and Commerce.
He headed the 26th one-day meeting of the GCC Commerce Cooperation
Committee, comprising Gulf ministers of commerce. Sheikh Fahim said the next round of GCC
Economic negotiations will be held in the UAE on October 17 and 18. A U.S.-UAE businessmen
meeting is also being organised.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash, UAE Minister of State for
Financial and Industrial Affairs, during Gulf Standards and Specifications Authority
meeting, called on Gulf states to modernise their standards, laboratories and train
efficient national cadres.
"The GCC commerce cooperation meeting reviewed removal of
obstacles facing Gulf exports to the U.S. and its businessmen's reluctance to invest in
the Gulf despite the facilities offered," said Sheikh Fahim.
He said the meeting reviewed obstacles hindering membership of some
Gulf states into WTO, facilitating inter-Gulf trade exchange and Bahrain-based Gulf
Sheikh Fahim said the customs union is important for the Gulf as it
will help the six-member states benefit from its market and enhance its negotiating stance
with economic blocs.
Kuwait: OPEC cuts beyond March 2000
Oil exporters will keep their production at current levels even after a
global output cuts accord expires in March, Kuwait's oil minister said in an interview.
"In my view, there will be no desire to raise production in the
future," Shaikh Saud Nasser Al-Sabah told Al-Seyassah in an interview.
"OPEC's output will remain around the current level, especially
that after March producers will face summer when demand drops.
That is why I do not believe there will be an inclination to raise
production," he added, reflecting Kuwait's position as a price hawk.
He reiterated that oil prices would range between $25-$28 a barrel with
the start of the winter season in the northern hemisphere a level which would allow
Kuwait to wipe out its 1999/2000 forecast budget deficit of some $7.5 billion for the year
which started in July.
IMF approves $15 mln credit to Jordan
The International Monetary Fund has approved a $15 mln credit for
Jordan, hailing the commitment by the government to budget cuts but also urging stepped-up
The fresh funds, approved by the IMF executive board on Tuesday, are
part of a three-year $178 mln facility the IMF arranged for Jordan in April. The country
has already drawn about $77 mln.
IMF first deputy managing director Stanley Fischer welcomed what he
said had been an improvement in economic conditions in Jordan this year, citing
specifically a rebound in international reserves.
He said IMF directors "felt that these positive developments
reflected the authorities' renewed commitment to both macroeconomic stabilization and
Oman fiber optic on deal with Siemens
Oman Fiber Optic Company is in talks with engineering group Siemens AG
to supply optical fibre cables to the German firm, a company official said on Wednesday.
Oman Fiber Optic Company General Manager Mahammed Hassan al-Atheeb told
Reuters the company had already exported nearly 1,000 kilometers of cables throughout the
Middle East and the Indian subcontinent since it started production in December 1998.
Earlier this year, the company bagged a $3.3 million contract to supply
Marconi Communications for a project building a data communication link for the Oman
Telecommunications Company (Omantel) Oman's sole provider of telecommunications
"We have similar cable supply agreements being drawn up in the
networking segment, which are expected to translate to business of $3 million per year
under a single contract," Al-Atheeb said.
Iraq economist calls for cut in interest rates
A leading Iraqi economist and former minister, Hisham Hassan Tawfiq,
has called for a cut in interest rates to revive the sanctions-hit nation's economy, a
newspaper reported on Wednesday.
"We need a cut in interest rates to confront the stagnation. This
would help private sector investment," Tawfiq, an MP who heads Iraq's association of
economists, told the Al-Iqtissadi paper.
Iraqi banks charge 17 percent interest for business ventures, while
offering 15 percent on savings.
Dubai $500 mln Theme Park put on hold
Dubai has put on hold a project to build a 1.9 billion dirham ($500
million) theme park which was due to open in late 2001, an official was on Wednesday
quoted as saying.
Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, head of Dubai Civil Aviation, said
the delay was due to "market reasons", but he did not elaborate.
"We have for the time being put a freeze on it. We have put it on
hold temporarily for market reasons. We will consider the project once again when markets
will look up," Gulf News daily quoted him as saying.
The Magic World theme park, which officials had said would include a
300-room hotel, is to be situated on 120 hectares of undeveloped land at the inward end of
Development of the park, which was intended to rival the best parks in
Europe and North America, is being overseen by US company Bechtel, which was contracted by
the civil aviation acting on behalf of the Dubai government.
Dubai is trying to diversify from oil income and has launched a drive
to attract tourists.
France, UAE firm bid for Jordan Telecom
France Telecom and a United Arab Emirates firm have each bid $508 mln
for a 40 percent stake in Jordan's state-owned telecommunications company, officials said.
"France Telecom and Al Ein both bid at $508 mln exceeding our
wildest expectations," Communications Minister Jamal Sarayreh told.
Jordan to sell 49 per cent stake in national carrier
Jordan detailed plans to sell a stake of up to 49 per cent in the
national carrier Royal Jordanian as well as 100 per cent of the shares in Jordan Airports
Duty Free (JADF).
Invitations to tender published by Amman newspapers said Jordan was
looking for a "strategic partner with proven financial strength" such as an
airline company or a consortium led by an airline firm.
British business delegation visits Libya
A delegation of 50 representatives of major British companies,
including Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell, began a visit to Libya Sunday to
promote trade and economic cooperation, state television said.
The businessmen, some of whom represent banks, came "to study the
outlook for cooperation and the promotion of economic relations and trade," a
Another British businessman called for "solid, strong economic
ties" with Libya and said he was sure the visit "will be crowned with
success," the television said.
Kuwait Burgan buys 92 per cent of United Gulf Bank
Kuwait's Burgan Bank said on Sunday it had bought a 92 per cent stake
in United Gulf Bank which was held by both banks' majority shareholder Kuwait
Investment Projects Co (KIPCO).
"We bought it at the end of last month for about $200
million," a senior Burgan official in Kuwait said. "The deal was completed and
we have informed the Bahraini authorities of the transaction.
Saudi: No obstacles to joining WTO
Saudi Arabia's Commerce Minister Osama Al-Faqih said in remarks
published on Sunday there were no obstacles preventing the kingdom joining the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) although membership talks were tough.
The Arabic daily Al-Hayat said the minister denied there were any
obstacles when asked by the newspaper and said that "joining demands the completion
of the current negotiations".
He said the talks were "tough", which was indicated by the
length of time they were taking, adding that the organisation needed details of trade and
investment in the kingdom.
Saudi Prince, Ghadafi plan joint projects
Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Walid bin Talal said Saturday he has held
talks with Libyan leader Moamer Ghadafi on joint economic projects.
Colonel Ghadafi invited the prince to invest in Libya at a meeting on
September 29 in Sirte on the Mediterranean coast, the Saudi magnate's Kingdom Holding
His office said that Tripoli "wants to attract world investments
following the lifting of international sanctions" linked to the 1988 Lockerbie plane
Prince Walid in turn asked Libya to join him in Middle East tourism and
hotel projects as well as the South Valley agricultural project in Egypt.
Saudi Arabia helped resolve a standoff between Tripoli and the West
over two Libyan suspects wanted for the December 1988 bombing of a Pan Am plane over
Lockerbie, Scotland in which 270 people died.