Oct 23 -
Arafat, Barak reach accord to halt clashes
Israel and the Palestinians agreed at a crisis
summit in Egypt on Tuesday to halt a wave of violence that has killed
at least 105 people and shaken Middle East peacemaking to the core.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders voiced caution
after US President Bill Clinton announced the deal, agreed but not
signed by the two parties.
"The proof of the pudding will be in the
eating," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said after the close
of an often-tense summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said on his
return to the Gaza Strip that he wanted "an accurate and honest
implementation of what has been agreed on".
Clinton's statement, a substitute for earlier plans
to draft a document for both sides to sign, brought no quick end to 20
days of unrest in the West Bank, Gaza and Arab towns in Israel.
A Jewish settler shot dead a Palestinian
olive-picker and wounded three near the town of Nablus, witnesses
said. Police said an Israeli border policeman was critically wounded
and two Israelis were hurt in a gunbattle near Al Quds. A Palestinian
died of a bullet wound after a clash with soldiers in Gaza.
The violence has destroyed much of the trust that
Israel and the Palestinians had built in seven years of talks designed
to culminate in a final settlement of their 52-year-old conflict.
Anger and distrust remained so high that Barak and
Arafat held no face-to-face talks at the summit, which began on
A senior US official travelling with Clinton on his
way home from the summit in Egypt said the road to peace would be
hard. "This will be difficult and we should have no illusion that
anybody can wave a magic wand," the official said.
Clinton said the two sides had agreed to halt
violence, form an inquiry into its causes and explore a return to
Qatar allows 100% foreign stake in some sectors
Qatar has decided to allow foreign investors to
fully own projects in some sectors of the economy for the first time
in the Gulf Arab state, government officials said on Tuesday.
They said foreigners would also be allowed to lease
land for up to 50 years, but not to own land.
Foreigners in Qatar, a small gas-and-oil-rich
country, had so far been allowed a maximum 49 per cent stake in
projects in ventures with Qatari nationals. The officials said a
decree, issued by Crown Prince Sheikh Jassem bin Hamad Al-Thani,
allows foreigners to own a 100 per cent stake in projects in
agriculture, industry, health, education and tourism.
The decree comes into force after its publication
in the weekly official gazette, the officials said.
The opening up of some sectors of Qatar's economy
to more foreign investors is in line with similar moves by other Gulf
Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Oman, keen to attract badly-needed
foreign capital to their oil-dependent economies.
"Sectors like banking, insurance, commercial
agencies and real estate will continue to remain off-limits to full
foreign ownership," a Finance Ministry official told Reuters,
adding that any investment must be approved by the ministry.
"The new law is aimed at attracting foreign
capital and technology in infrastructure primarily, but also in medium
and small scale industries," the official said.
Qatar, a member of the Organisation of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries, has set up a chain of gas and
petrochemical industries to transform its gas reserves — the world's
third largest — into cash in partnerships with international firms.
It was the first Gulf Arab state to open up its
upstream and downstream oil and gas sectors to foreign investors.
Kuwait oil minister lashed over oil sector
A leading Kuwaiti Islamist politician launched a
blistering attack against the country's oil minister for allowing the
sector to deteriorate and his handling of plans to allow foreign oil
majors to return to the country.
MP Nasser Al-Sanea, who has blasted Sheikh Saud
Nasser Al-Sabah before, issued a long statement on Friday night
criticising the minister, who also heads state-owned Kuwait Petroleum
Sanea's long attack list included criticism of
Sheikh Saud's handling of a proposed $7 billion plan to allow foreign
oil majors to operate local fields for the first time in 20 years.
Sanea said the oil sector would top parliament's
agenda when it reconvenes on October 28 after a long summer recess.
He called for "a serious stand to hold this
minister (Sheikh Saud) accountable...and to lift this sector from the
brink it is approaching...His policies have led to this
deterioration...we are faced with a dangerous situation.
Oil firm as US stocks shrink, wary of Mideast
World oil prices held firm on Thursday on concerns
that low US fuel stockpiles will prove insufficient to keep American
homes and offices warm this winter.
Bullish industry data this week showed US oil
inventories barely above 24-year lows, leaving the world's biggest
energy guzzler vulnerable to a severe cold snap or any disruption to
supplies in the next few months.
US benchmark light crude futures gained 14 cents to
$33.62 a barrel by 0702 GMT, having settled almost half a dollar
higher at $33.48 in New York dealings.
Oil markets are also keeping a wary eye on the
Middle East where Israel and the Palestinians began taking steps to
halt three weeks of bloodshed under an accord reached on Tuesday in
the Egyptian Red Sea resort Sharm el-Sheikh.
Top Saudi oil body given powers of Aramco council
Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that its Supreme
Petroleum Council, formed this year to oversee the kingdom's oil
policies, would take over the powers of the Higher Council of state
oil giant Saudi Aramco.
A statement issued after a cabinet meeting headed
by King Fahd said that after "discussing recommendations to amend
bylaws of Saudi Aramco in accordance with the formation of the Supreme
Petroleum Council, the cabinet decided that the Supreme Petroleum
Council would take over the powers of the Higher Council of Aramco".
The cabinet statement was reported by the official
Saudi Press Agency. It did not give any other details.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, set
up the Supreme Petroleum Council in January to oversee oil and gas
policies. The council is headed by King Fahd.
UN human rights body condemns Israel
The main United Nations human rights forum on
Thursday endorsed an Arab-Islamic resolution condemning Israel for
"war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" in the
occupied Palestinian territories.
The resolution, narrowly adopted at the UN
Commission on Human Rights, also sets up a five-member international
inquiry into the three weeks of bloodshed.
UN human rights chief Mary Robinson and seven
independent UN investigators would also make five-day trips to the
region, where at least 107 Palestinians and 'Israeli Arabs' have been
killed in three weeks of Al-Aqsa Intifada.
Arab and European diplomats, as well as senior UN
human rights officials, said they believed it was the first time that
the Commission had condemned the Jewish state on such terms.
The half-century old rights forum regularly
condemns Israel for alleged violations in the territories, in southern
Lebanon and in the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967.
Arab states to review ties with Israel
Some Arab states called on Thursday for full
Palestinian sovereignty over the eastern sector of Al Quds, while
others demanded a rupture of all ties with Israel, amid preparations
for an emergency Arab summit on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
Arab foreign ministers met ahead of the
Saturday-Sunday summit, which comes hot on the heels of the
US-brokered Sharm el-Sheikh summit that resulted in a truce between
Israel and the Palestinians.
GCC states to expand collective force
The Gulf Cooperation Council states have agreed to
expand the size of the Peninsula Shield Force now being discussed at
the meeting of the GCC defence ministers.
They are working on a detailed mechanism to make
the Force a strong deterrent force for ensuring the security of the
The composition of the Force is also being worked
out currently and would be made known at the end of the meeting.
During a meeting with the GCC ministers on Tuesday,
King Fahd called for intensifying efforts to enhance the collective
defence capability of the GCC by increasing the size of the Peninsula
The call was reiterated by the Saudi Deputy Defence
Minister Prince Abdul Rahman, who was chairing the moot in the absence
of the Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, who is
currently on an overseas trip.
Beirut's Hilton rises
A feast was being prepared for the inauguration
party of the Beirut Hilton when the civil war erupted in April 1975
and the 400-room hotel found itself in the middle of a battle zone.
Management took out a small advert saying the party
was postponed indefinitely. The hotel never opened, turning instead
into a looted and burnt-out edifice like the rest of the hotel
district along the Mediterranean seafront.
Now, 25 years later, the Saudi-run Societe
Mediterraneenne des Grands Hotels has obtained a long-awaited permit
to demolish the ruin and build a new 20-storey Hilton at a cost of $70
Oil to fall to $12 if OPEC delays output cut
Oil prices will slump to under $12 a barrel late
next year if OPEC spurs a rise in global stockpiles by failing to rein
in output early in 2001, the Centre for Global Energy Studies said on
"OPEC will need to respond to market signals
more promptly than it has done in the past if it is to avoid a price
collapse in 2001," the London-based centre said in a Monthly Oil
Oil prices will begin to ease once the peak winter
demand season draws to a close and OPEC will have to react promptly by
cutting output in the first half of 2001, it said.
"Should OPEC fail to reduce output next year,
prices will collapse as stocks rise, falling below $12 a barrel on
average in the fourth quarter of 2001," it added, referring to an
average $11.9 listed in a table of price projections for the fourth
Russian oil firm to build refinery in UAE
The Russian oil company Rosneftegazstroi has signed
a deal worth between $120 million and $150 million to build an oil
refinery in the United Arab Emirates with a capacity of up to 50,000
barrels a day.
Ivan Mazur, chief executive of the Russian company,
told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday that the implementation of
the refinery project in the UAE's Fujairah emirate would start next
He said his company was talking to US companies
about supplying equipment for the project.
Beirut Solidere blames state for $2.7m H1 loss
Lebanese real estate firm Solidere on Thursday
announced a $2.71 million net loss in the first half of 2000, for
which it largely blamed the government.
The company lost $430,000 in the corresponding
period last year. It is Lebanon's best-known symbol of reconstruction
from the civil war and one of the largest Arab firms open to foreign
Kuwait stock market
The Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) crashed to an
eight-week low losing 1.7 per cent on the week ending Wednesday on
shaken investor confidence, brokers said.
The KSE index closed at 1,403.1 points, a loss of
41 points or 2.8 per cent since the beginning of October.
Kuwait bans livestock imports from UAE
Kuwait announced on Tuesday a temporary ban on the
import of livestock from the United Arab Emirates to fight the spread
of Rift Valley Fever, which has killed some 146 people in the Arabian
"Kuwait's General Institution for Agriculture
and Fish issued an order banning the import of livestocks coming from
the Emirates until further notice...as some of them originate from
Africa," the official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) said on Tuesday.
According to official figures, 146 people have died
in Yemen and Saudi Arabia since the viral disease broke out last
Iraqi delegation to visit Jordan
An Iraqi economic delegation headed by Chairman of
Baghdad Commerce Chamber Zuheir Abdul Qafour Younis will visit Jordan
on Oct 17 to hold intensive talks with officials at Amman Champer of
The visit will focus on ways to further boost
cooperation between representatives of Jordanian and Iraqi private
sectors and to discuss means to increase the volume of trade between
the two countries, said sources of Amman Commerce Chamber.
Employment of nationals
Oman has banned foreigners from selling audio and
video cassettes in the Gulf Arab state as part of efforts to ensure
more jobs for Omani nationals.
A Labour Ministry statement, carried by the
official Omani News Agency on Monday, said foreigners would not be
allowed to sell the cassettes from March, 2001.
Refinery close to 200,000 bpd
Kuwait's Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery is producing close
to 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) after it was damaged in a huge
explosion in June, an official said on Monday.
"The crude distillation unit (CDU 4) is now
producing within 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) at Al-Ahmadi refinery
which was running at 450,000 bpd before the blast," a marketing
official at state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) told Reuters.
Oman inaugurates huge gas complex
Sultan Qabus inaugurated Saturday a 2.5 billion
dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) complex, a major boost to the Gulf
state's economy, the ONA news agency reported.
The complex, at Qalhat, Sour province, 230
kilomtres (140 miles) south of the capital, is intended "to
diversify sources of revenue for the sultanate and to develop the
national economy," the agency said.
The project, begun by US firm Foster Wheeler in
1996, was on a "global scale," it said.
The firm was officially handed over to Oman LNG on