Iraq says it will use
missiles to fight US, Britain
An Iraqi general vowed his country would use any available weapons and
missiles to confront U.S. and British warplanes in Western-imposed no-fly zones.
"We will continue defying the aggressors' planes which violate our
skies over the so-called no-fly zones," Lieutenant-General Shaheen Yassin, commander
of Iraqi anti-aircraft defences, told a news conference.
"We will use all our potential, weapons and missiles, to confront
American and British aggression," he said.
The no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq were set up by the
United States, Britain and France soon after the 1991 Gulf War. The aim is to protect a
Kurdish enclave in the north and Shi'ite Muslims in the south from possible attacks by
The zones ban Iraq from using all aircraft, including helicopters, in
Saudi Prince invests
Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal said he had invested a further one
billion dollars in technology, media and telecommunications companies, including 400
million dollars in internet giant America Online (AOL). Prince Al Waleed also invested 400
million dollars in Compaq Computer Corp., 100 million in Eastman Kodak Company and 100
million in Xerox Corp., saying the acquisitions came on the back of the "latest
plunge in stock prices."
Iraq shy of foreign investment
Due to an obsession with national security, Iraq has reluctantly agreed
to open its oil industry to foreign investment but ruled out other sectors despite a dire
need for capital to finance reconstruction.
Production-sharing agreements signed with oil majors have in any case
to await the lifting or easing of UN sanctions, in force since Iraq's August 1990 invasion
Baghdad was forced to accept the principle of foreign participation in
the oil sector, which was nationalised in 1972, said Munzer Al-Alussi, head of the
outgoing parliament's energy commission.
Saudi sets up $9 merged electricity company
The Saudi government announced the establishment of a merged
electricity company with capital of nine billion dollars as a prelude to
The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) was born of the merger of 10
regional electricity firms.
Commerce Minister Ossama al-Faqih announced the establishment of the
firm and said shares would be sold to the public in the near future, the official news
agency SPA reported, without giving a date.
The Saudi government approved the merger plan last year and said new
electricity charges would be introduced to make the sector more attractive to private
Iran discovers large new gas field
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zangeneh announced Wednesday the
discovery of the country's largest known gas field, with estimated reserves of more than
400 billion cubic metres, the official news agency IRNA reported.
The gas in the field, which has been named Tabnak (Luminous), is worth
an estimated 16.5 billion dollars, Zangeneh said. It is located in the Kangan region of
southern Iran, not far from other large fields.
Iran has the second largest gas reserves in the world after Russia,
estimated at 20,000 billion cubic metres.
The new discovery comes as Iran, which is also a major oil producer, is
seeking expansion of its gas sales abroad.
Deputy Oil Minister Mehdi Hosseini said recently that Iran's share of
the world gas market was minimal.
"With measures adopted and agreements concluded with Turkey,
Pakistan and India, it is hoped that Iran will gradually gain its due share on the world
market," Hosseini said.
Besides those three countries, Iran is also negotiating gas exports to
China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Australia and Malaysia, and "in the long run there would
be plans to enter the US market," he added.
Iran's relations with the United States have been broken since 1980 and
Washington operates a unilateral economic embargo against Tehran, accusing it of
US oil and gas firms are forbidden to invest in Iran and foreign
companies that do so risk US sanctions, which have failed to deter a number of European
Bahraini stocks dive
Bahrain's share index fell 0.5 per cent to its lowest level since
mid-1997 in the week to Wednesday, suffering from lacklustre trade, dealers said. The
Bahrain Stock Exchange said the index dropped 10.53 points to 2,032.99 points this week,
compared to its close at 2,043.52 a week earlier.
Dubai moves towards "e-government"
Dubai announced a revolutionary project to propel its public service
into the internet age, warning officials they will lose their jobs if they refuse to go
"We are launching a programme to make full use of the internet,
and transform public administration into an electronic government which will reduce state
expenditure and lighten the adminstrative burden," Defence Minister Mohammed bin
Rashed Al-Maktum told.
"If any top officials resist this revolution, or refuse to
cooperate with it, we will say: 'Thank you very much,' and show them the door,"
warned Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Dubai's crown prince.
The project, codenamed "e-government@dubai", is being
overseen by Sheikh Mohammed personally, and is to be completed in the next 18 months.
"We want to be on the same wavelength (as the West), which is
advancing at a giddying speed," he said.
"All ministries and departments in Dubai must move towards getting
rid of their piles of paper and go electronic," he said.
Jordan, EU sign 129 mln euro aid package
Jordan and the European Union signed a 128.9 million euro ($123
million) aid package aimed at boosting the kingdom's debt-ridden economy, officials said.
The four agreements were signed during a one-day visit to Amman by
European Commissioner for External Affairs Christopher Patten, who is on a Middle East
King Abdullah expressed his gratitude to the EU and praised the ties
between Jordan and Europe during talks with Patten, the official Jordanian news agency
The grants, originally approved by the EU last November, are the
largest annual aid package under a regional plan to boost Euro-Mediterranean ties.
Palestinians sign air cargo facility deal with EU
The Palestinian Authority and European Commission signed an agreement
which should enable Palestinians to import and export goods by air through Gaza
International Airport in about nine months.
"We signed an agreement to build a cargo facility at Gaza
airport," said Nabil Shaath, Palestinian Minister for Planning and International
Kuwait cabinet welcomes OPEC deal, approves budget
The Kuwaiti cabinet welcomed the deal by OPEC countries to hike oil
production and hoped it would achieve the desired stability in the international markets.
The cabinet also approved the draft budget for the 2000-2001 fiscal
year in which oil revenues are calculated on the basis of a conservative price of 13
dollars per barrel. Kuwaiti oil is currently selling at 22 dollars.
"The cabinet expresses hope that the (OPEC) deal will achieve the
desired stability in a fashion to guarantee the interests of producers and consumers
alike," State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Mohammad Daifallah Sharar said.
The comments were made after the cabinet reviewed a report by the
emirate's Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser Al-Sabah on last week's OPEC meeting, at which
the cartel agreed to increase production by 1.7 million barrels daily.
Kuwaiti officials have backed a hike in production but maintained it
should not lead to a price crash. The emirate has said it would like to see oil prices at
between 23 and 25 dollars a barrel.
The cabinet did not release figures for next year's budget which begins
on July 1, but Sharar said it decided to increase allocations for wages to appoint
Kuwaitis, and for construction projects and maintenance.
The increase means more expenditure in the private sector with the aim
of stimulating a sagging economy one of the recommendations made by a government
team studying economic reforms.
Sharar said the cabinet reaffirmed its commitment to an economic
reforms programme that calls for an increase in non-oil revenues without harming
FLAG Telecom, Telecom Egypt in cable deal
FLAG Telecom sold Telecom Egypt cable capacity on an underwater cable
system to meet rising domestic demand for Internet access, FLAG said in a statement.
"The capacity will run from Alexandria to the UK on the
FLAG-Europe-Asia submarine cable system and then on to the USA using leased capacity
arrangements provided by FLAG Telecom," it said. The terms of the "multi-million
dollar" agreement were not disclosed.
"Egypt is seeing an ever increasing demand for Internet access and
the announcement will ensure we have the ability to meet the needs of our users," it
quoted Egypt's Communication and Information Minister Ahmed Nazif as saying.
Danes suspend talks on Iran's South Pars oil field
Danish oil and shipping group A.P. Moeller's Maersk Oil and Gas unit is
no longer in talks with Iranian authorities on developing the South Pars field, a Moeller
"Our negotiations with the Iranians have ground to a halt.
We are no longer in talks about the South Pars oil field," Maersk
Oil and Gas Deputy Director Bo Wildfang told Reuters by telephone.
Wildfang declined to say whether Maersk would pull out of the project
entirely. Iran shares the massive South Pars field estimated output capacity
100,000 barrels per day with Qatar.
Maersk Oil and Gas produced 5.4 million tonnes of crude in Qatar last
year and it is also part of a consortium pumping oil in Algeria.
Wildfang also said Maersk Oil and Gas did not plan to bid for
concessions in the Ivory Coast.
Saudi Central Bank sees four pct real GDP growth
The head of the Saudi central bank said he expects the kingdom to
achieve more than four per cent economic growth in real terms in 2000.
Hamad Saud Al-Sayyari, governor of the Saudi Monteray Agency (SAMA)
also told journalists on the sidelines of a Bahrain financial conference he did not expect
the country's currency, the riyal, to be affected negatively by fluctuations in oil
"We expect it (GDP) to be higher than last year, above four per
cent in real terms," Sayyari said.
World Bank grants Lebanon $57 mln
The World Bank said on Friday it lent $56.6 million to Lebanon to
improve public education.
The 15-year loan was earmarked for new schools and teaching
technologies. The World Bank has committed $670 million in loans to Lebanon since 1993 but
bureaucratic and political interests have delayed utilisation of a significant part of
these funds, prompting the bank to open an office in Beirut earlier this year to push
projects through before financing is cancelled.
Europe, Africa to build new bridges
African and European leaders hold their first summit meeting on Monday
to try to forge a new relationship between the EU and the world's poorest continent.