Iran aims to raise oil
output in Ahwaz fields
Iran is seeking to more than double oil production in the Ahwaz area to
650,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the current level of 300,000 bpd, a senior Iranian oil
official said in remarks published on Tuesday.
The London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat newspaper quoted Iran's Deputy
Minister of Petroleum for International Affairs Mehdi Husseini as saying that target could
be achieved within 10 years.
Development of the Ahwaz area, comprised of Ahwaz, Mansuri and
Ab-Teymour fields, falls under Iran's biggest opening to foreign firms since the 1979
BP Amoco, Shell and Total are among international oil firms competing
to win deals to develop those fields, known as Ahwaz Area Bangestan.
Some surveys have put reserves at the complex at a combined five
Egypt official wheat buyer says no plans for tender
Egypt's main official wheat buyer on Thursday said he had not tendered
for wheat and would only do so when prices dropped to attractive levels, relying in the
meantime on large stocks.
Grain traders in Chicago had said late on Wednesday that Egypt was
expected to tender for for 200,000-300,000 tons of wheat after the close of trading on
Wednesday (1915 GMT). Samir Shakankiri, vice chairman of the General Authority for Supply
Commodities (GASC) told Reuters Egypt had enough wheat supply for the time being.
US-Saudi trade reaches $60 bln in 1998
Saudi Commerce Minister Osama bin Jaafar bin Ibrahim Faqih was quoted
on Thursday as saying that US-Saudi trade reached $60 billion in 1998. The official Saudi
Press Agency (SPA) also quoted Faqih as saying that Saudi exports to the US accounted for
$35 billion of the total value of trade.
Faqih was speaking after holding talks with US Commerce Secretary
William Daley in Washington on Wednesday. The agency gave no comparative figures or
Faqih is accompanying Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan on a visit
to the US. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest producer and exporter of oil, is a major
supplier of crude to the US.
Algeria plans fresh oil investment schemes
Riding a wave of exploration successes and a spate of peace after years
of violence, Algeria is pushing hard to get foreign investors interested in vast
underexplored and virgin petroleum basins.
Algeria's ambition is to sign agreements for 11 oil and gas blocks
within six months, including the award to US Amerada Hess of the development of El Gassi
field before the end of the year, said Sonatrachv vice-president for exploration Ahmed
Mecheraoui at an industry conference.
China-Arab trade reaches $7.1bn
Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Tuesday said that trade between his
country and the Arab world reached $7.1 bn last year.
He said Saudi Arabia had become China's largest trading partner in the
Middle East and North Africa, with a total of $1.7 bn in 1998.
China mainly exports textiles and electronics while Saudi Arabia
exports oil and oil-related products.
The figures came during Jiang's lecture on Sino-Arab and Chinese-Saudi
relations in the King Abdel Aziz library in Riyadh, which was attended by Crown Prince
Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz.
The lecture touched on the major stages of China's relationship with
the Arab world, starting with the arrival of the first Arab traders in China in 651.
The president also outlined China's economic growth, with a pledge that
'we will continue our policy of opening up to the outside world and work towards greater
cooperation with all the countries in the world.'
Jiang Zemin began his four-day visit Sunday. His meetings have also
included King Fahd, the governor of Riyadh, Prince Salman, and the secretary general of
the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, Jamil al-Hujailan.
Accords signed during the visit include building an oil refinery in
China, increasing Saudi oil exports and cooperation in the media and education.
Riyadh and Beijing exchanged ambassadors in 1990, two years after Saudi
Arabia bought about 10 Chinese-made medium-range surface-to-surface missiles.
Baghdad trade fair
Iraq's leading newspaper- Babel, on Tuesday said the huge foreign
participation in the Baghdad trade fair was a success.
Organisers say the 1999 fair has attracted participants from almost 950
companies from 36 coumtries, a record in the more than 30-year history of the exhibition.
France has among the biggest delegations at the fair, with 130
companies taking part. Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates have also sent large
Kuwait backs pan-Islamic bank plan
Kuwait's finance minister told a meeting of the Islamic Development
Bank (IDB) in Saudi Arabia that he backed a plan to establish a partly private
"The proposal presented to IDB's governors to create an
independent financial body with a capital of a billion dollars, the Islamic Institute for
the Development of the Private Sector, is very important," Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah
GCC requests quick deal on aluminium
A request to quickly negotiate the signing a temporary agreement on
lifting the six per cent tax on Gulf aluminium imports into Europe was officially
forwarded to the EU by the Riyadh-based General Secretariat for GCC states. EU offcials
said they had no time to study the proposal.
No decision on aluminium was taken at 9th GCC-EU joint ministerial
meeting. EU representatives seemed to have differences over the issue with some standing
firm, others defending the tax to 'protect' their industry and products in the era of
removing protective policies. One indicated that 'no declaration on what the Gulf wants is
to be made now'.
The meeting was characterised by weak EU representation with three
ministers present out of 15 and mixed EU views on petrochemicals as wellthough not
Gulf states are convinced that such a temporary agreement which
is linked to the final signing of a GCC-EU free trade zone is within the EU's
power, foreign trade policies and article No.24/1994 of Gatt.
A detailed report with Gulf arguments has been prepared for the EU
commission, their experts and concerned authorities.
"Your positive reply is treated by us with high importance taking
into consideration Gulf-European trade imbalance which is in EU's favour and the unjust
situation that resulted from imposing the tax," added the letter.
"The EU now, and will continue in the near future, to be an
importer of raw aluminium. Gulf aluminium industry structure shows that our imports of the
product will increase," it added.
High oil income reduces Kuwaiti budget deficit
Kuwait's gross budget deficit in the fiscal year to end-June was 1.522
billion dinars ($5.02 billion), some 640 million dinars below projections, mainly due to
higher than projected oil income.
Official figures put actual net spending at 4.041 billion dinars while
total income came in at 2.798 billion dinars a net deficit of 1.243 billion dinars
compared with a projected 1.919 billion dinars.
The actual figures, which still require parliamentary review and
approval, were in line with earlier estimates by economists.
The gross deficit is calculated after 10 per cent of total revenues are
deposited by law into a foreign investment fund which Kuwait created as a nest egg for
future generations when the country's vast oil wealth runs out.
Hyundai Oil and Ipic ink $510m deal
Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) and South
Korea's Hyundai Oil Refinery Co signed a deal by which Ipic would acquire a 50 per cent
stake in the oil refiner for $510 million.
The UAE's official Wam news agency said the deal, first announced in
October, was signed in Abu Dhabi.
Call for early release of Arabic software
Gulf and Arab countries should join forces to urge international
computer software programme manufacturers to Neat Arabic at par with other languages and
release Arabic versions along with other versions.
"We should not accept big computer companies to launch programmes
in several languages and forget the release or allow the slow release of Arabic versions
of these programmes," said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of
Information and Culture.
The minister inaugurated the third meeting of the Gulf Cooperation
Council on copyright and related rights which began in the capital.
Saudis to open market
Saudi Arabia announced it would allow foreigners to invest in the Saudi
stock market through mutual funds, the latest reform by the kingdom which is gradually
opening up its economy.
A finance ministry statement quoted Finance and National Economy
Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf as saying the decision was approved by King
The statement quoted Assaf as saying the king "has decided to
allow non-Saudis to invest in investment funds in local shares managed by Saudi banks
within the framework of (King Fahd's) desire to deepen and develop the Saudi stock
He said the move was also part of the kingdom's efforts to
"improve the local investment climate in general".
The statement said there were 12 mutual funds worth 2.2 billion riyals
($587 million) run by Saudi banks which invest in local shares.
Foreigners are barred from investing directly in shares on the Saudi
stock market, the Arab world's biggest by market capitalisation, although selected stocks
are open to investment by citizens in neighbouring Gulf states.
Indo-UAE trade at $3.59b in 1998-99
Bilateral trade between India and the UAE for the fiscal year 1998-99
has touched $3.59 billion of which India's exports amounted to $1.86 billion, a senior
official of the Indian embassy said.
The UAE is an important trading partner of India and is the sixth
largest market for Indian products in the Middle East, he said, adding that principal
export items included textiles, chemical products handicrafts and gems and
Amrit Singh, deputy general manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation
(Itpo) currently on a visit to the UAE said exports of Indian gems and jewellery
registered a 15 per cent increase this fiscal compared to the previous fiscal year.
Montblanc claims big market share
Montblanc International, the German manufacturer of the world's finest
writing instruments, claims a 40 per cent share in the UAE's branded writing instrument
"The UAE market is between Dh34-38 million and we control 40 per
cent. In the luxury segment it is in excess of 70 per cent," said Ramesh Prabhakar,
chief executive of the Rivoli Group, UAE representative and distributor of
Tridex 2000 to retain its specialist expo status
The Triple International Defence Exhibition & Conference (Tridex)
2000, the latest showcase for military equipment to be held in March next year in the
capital will continue to be a specialist exhibition focusing on security, communications,
electronic warfare training and simulation, logistics and medical equipment.
And in keeping with the nature of Tridex, the sister event of the UAE's
Idex, some 95 per cent of the products and equipment on display will be new.
Jordan gets new Planet Hollywood
Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Al Waleed bin Talal said he was
opening an Amman restaurant for the troubled Planet Hollywood group and planned more in
the Middle East and Europe.
"Our studies indicate that the increase in tourism in Jordan will
provide ample demand that we promise to meet with the quality and service of the Planet
Hollywood brand," said a statement from his Kingdom Holdings.
Iran's NPC embarks on five-phase expansion plan
Having chosen to develop its petrochemical industry as its main
national objective, Iran's National Petrochemical Co (NPC) has embarked on an ambitious
five-phase expansion programme and is seeking international partners to invest to develop
the third phase, a top official of the company said.
Total investments required for the third phase projects are estimated
to be around $7.2 billion of which 50 per cent is projected to be offshore provision of
equipment and engineering services, said Peyvandi Sani, NPC director for planning and
Phase I and II with 10 projects and $3.5 billion investment is under
implementation and phase III is expected to kick off next year.
Oman budget deficit more than trebles
Oman's budget deficit passed 386.5 million rials ($1 billion) in the
first eight months of 1999, more than treble its level for the same period a year ago,
figures released by the Ministry of National Economy showed.
The deficit for the first eight months of 1998 was 108.5 million riyals
when revenue was 1.2 billion rials compared to 978.8 million recorded in the same period
Lower average prices for crude oil, which provides the tiny Gulf Arab
state with the bulk of its revenue, continued to take their toll, the statistics showed.