S. Arabia to scrap
Saudi Arabia plans to abolish regulations that stipulate foreigners
must have the sponsorship of a Saudi national or company to do business in the kingdom,
the Saudi defence minister was quoted on Thursday as saying.
Prince Sultan made his comments to reporters on Wednesday, Saudi
newspapers said on Thursday in identical reports.
"The sponsorship system is to be cancelled and the method of
cancellation will be announced soon," the papers quoted Prince Sultan as saying.
Prince Sultan did not give details or say whether sponsorship would be
abolished for all foreigners in the kingdom. The latest figures show that some 7.2 million
expatriates work in Saudi Arabia.
It was also not clear if the defence minister was referring to a new
foreign investment law, which grants foreigners full ownership of projects and related
property in the world's biggest oil exporter.
The law, approved earlier this month, stipulates that a foreign
investor and his non-Saudi employees would be sponsored by their project.
Until now, foreigners had been limited to 49 per cent stakes in
ventures and barred from owning property. All foreigners also need to be sponsored by a
Saudi national which investors complained hindered their activities.
The law appeared to address the main concerns of foreigners keen to
invest in the kingdom but who have complained of red tape and restrictions on ownership.
Oman eases law on sponsorship
Oman is to allow foreign firms to open representative offices in the
Gulf state without local sponsorship to speed up its accession to the World Trade
"Foreign firms who want to have business representation in Oman do
not need a local sponsor or to go into a joint venture with a local company anymore,"
a senior commerce ministry official said.
"The new law would work for foreign firms that need time to study
and survey the market before making a business commitment," he said, adding foreign
firms would still need sponsorship to sell or manufacture products .
Oman plans to privatise postal service
Oman plans to privatise its postal service as part of its efforts to
transfer public utilities to the private sector, a senior Economy Ministry official said.
"We are planning to privatise the postal service to increase its
efficiency and productivity in this growing sector" the official told Reuters adding
that the move was part of the government's privatisation drive.
UAE, Egypt to boost ties in IT sector
Gitex Cairo 2000 was jointly inaugurated amid widespread fanfare by
General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence
Minister, and Dr. Atef Obeid Egyptian Prime Minister at the Cairo International Conference
The two leaders agreed to cooperate in four areas: development and
expansion of IT bases, cooperation in managing exhibitions, collaboration in the area of
ports and outlets, and establishing training institutions.
Sheikh Mohammed said the UAE and Egypt would cooperate on all levels,
especially in the fields of information technology and communications, leading to the use
of more personal computer usage in the region.
Emaar posts net profit
Emaar Properties has posted a net profit of Dhl92.5 million for the
year ending December 31, 1999.
Saudi Arabia to build $2.6b railway lines
Saudi Arabia is to build two railway lines linking the north and west
of the kingdom to the Gulf coast at a cost of $2.6 billion, a transport ministry official
Abdullah Al-Muqbel, undersecretary at the transport ministry, told Okaz
newspaper that the projects would be financed by the private sector and studies had
already been completed.
Construction will take five years, he said, without giving a date for
the start of work.
A 1,480-kilometre railway will link northern mines to the industrial
city of Jubail on the east coast, passing through Riyadh, said Muqbel, whose country has
the only rail system in the Arabian peninsula.
AFT to offer full range of solutions
Al FuttaimTelecom (AFT) is offering companies a complete range of
communications requirements, voice data and imaging.
"This move was taken in response to the global trend of
convergence and local market feedback," said Alan Rooke, AFT general manager.
Riyadh urged to bring in Saudi funds
Saudi Arabian businessmen said on Tuesday the kingdom, which this month
approved a law opening its doors to foreign investors, needed to focus more efforts on
attracting back billions of dollars held abroad by Saudis.
But they said the new law which included allowing foreigners to wholly
own businesses in the kingdom for the first time, could create a better economic
environment for Saudi and non-Saudi investors alike.
Iran to partially privatise oil sector
Iran plans to privatise major segments of its oil and petrochemical
sectors as part of a drive to modernise the ageing industries, Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh
"Our goal is to bring the energy industry up to date and increase
productivity," Zangeneh said in a speech inaugurating an international exhibition of
oil, gas and petrochemical technologies.
"The industry has historically been facing backwardness, and we
should quickly make up for it and have a modern industry," he said of Iran's 90 year
old oil industry, the main component of the Iranian economy.
Zangeneh said the government planned to invest $10 billion over the
next five years to streamline its energy industry, including $4 billion for the
"We plan to change the structure of the energy industry and
improve efficiency." he said.
The minister said low-technology industries in the oil sector would be
transferred to the private sector, including those producing petroleum derivatives.
Privatisation would be more extensive in the petrochemical sector,
covering all the refineries, he said. "We will actively support privatisation as far
as the constitution allows us " Zangeneh said.
Iran's constitution, drafted after the 1979 Islamic revolution, places
key economic sectors in state hands.
But the government of President Mohanamad Khatami has managed to
circumvent legal hurdles and secure legislative approval for privatization of big
industries, including oil and petrochemicals.
GCC sees end to aluminium tariff dispute
Gulf states are optimistic they will see progress on removing a six per
cent duty imposed by the European Union on their primary aluminium exports by the end of
the summer, a Dubai government official said.
"By the end of the summer we might be able to have a positive
answer...provided the (Gulf Arab) countries continue to apply the maximum political
pressure on the EU," Khalid Buhmaid, manager of strategic government affairs at
Dubai's economic department, said.
Dubai has argued that the EU duty on Gulf aluminium exports is
discriminatory as the EU has exempted a number of countries, while others must pay the
tariff. But EU officials say primary aluminium is also important for EU-based aluminium
Abu Dhabi mulls Dh100m firm
Abu Dhabi authorities are studying the setting up of a Dh100 million
new firm, aimed at improving standards in driving, security on the roads and imparting
specialist skills for trainers.
The proposed company will have a capital of Dh100 million. While the
Abu Dhabi Government will hold a 30 per cent stake, police officers of Abu Dhabi will have
another 30 per cent stake. A national insurance company will hold a 24 per cent stake and
the training school will take the balance 16 per cent.
Dubal Adopting e-business practices offers the best route to further
activate inter-GCC trade, and allow small and medium enterprises to expand into the global
markets, according to the secretary-general of the Federation of GCC Chambers.
And businesses can do so at minimal costs compared to what these would
have been in the more traditional economies of the recent past said Mohammed Abdulla Al
The changes that have been brought about by the digital economy would
build competition among the states and companies.
Saudi Arabian Airlines is holding talks with international consultants
on privatising the airline and expects to finish studying proposals within months, a
senior official said in remarks published.
Qatar utilities body to slash 5,300 jobs
The newly-formed Qatar General Electricity and Water Corp (QGEWC) will
slash 5,300 jobs, or two-thirds of its workforce, for low productivity and implement a
policy to employ more Qatari nationals, newspapers reported.
Energy Minister Abdullah Al. Attiyah said staff from the defunct
electricity and- water ministry will be cut from 8,000 to 2,700 as part of a plan to make
the new corporation leaner more efficient and customer-friendly, the Gulf Times said.
Kuwait's '99 trade surplus jumps 130pc
Kuwait's current account surplus rose by 130 per cent, or 883 million
dinars ($2.87 billion), to 1.558 billion dinars in 1999, the Central Bank said on Tuesday.
Central Bank figures showed 1998's revised current account surplus was
675 million dinars.
Central Bank figures said the broad balance surplus was 713 million
dinars in 1998. The value of Kuwait's oil exports in 1999 rose to 3.357 billion dinars
from 2.582 billion in 1998.
Net capital and financial outflows by the general government and
financial sector rose to 1.688 billion dinars last year.
Elf Petroleum Qatar to invest $350m
Elf Petroleum Qatar a part of Belgo-French oil giant TotalfinaElf, said it would invest
$350 million over the next three years to expand oil production capacity at its offshore
Al Khaleej concession.