03 - 09 , 2001
Bahrain set to issue $100 mln Islamic leasing bonds
Bahrain plans to issue Islamic leasing bonds worth
$100 million next week as the island state struggles to win Islamic
states' backing to host an Islamic money market, the Bahrain Monetary
Agency (BMA) said on Sunday.
BMA, the central bank, said in a statement the
bonds, called the Islamic Leasing Sukuk (ILS), would be the first
issued by any central bank in the area.
"This is a step to further develop the status
of Bahrain as an international Islamic financial centre, and also for
the purpose of offering new investment opportunities to absorb the
excess liquidity of Islamic financial institutions," it said.
BMA said the five-year bonds would be offered on
September 3 with an annual rental return of 5.25 per cent to be paid
every six months — in March and September. The minimum subscription
All commercial banks and financial houses operating
in Bahrain, the Gulf's financial and banking hub, are eligible to
subscribe to the Sukuk. Institutional and individual investors can
also participate through banks, the statement said.
"The Sukuk are guaranteed directly and
unconditionally by the government of the state of Bahrain. They can be
traded, at the prevailing market prices, over-the-counter through any
local commercial bank in Bahrain...," the statement said.
"The main objective of this issue is to
address the requirements and needs of Islamic financial institutions
for medium and long-term investment opportunities, currently limited
to those institutions," it added.
Bahrain has been issuing Islamic government bills
worth $25 million on a monthly basis since June to meet the needs of
Islamic banks and financial houses for short-term liquidity, and boost
efforts by Islamic states to create an Islamic financial market.
Iraq vows to block bid to change oil price
Iraq said Monday it would block any attempt to
change the way the United Nations sets the official price of its oil
after Britain delayed a bid to limit Iraq's ability to exploit market
"Iraq is committed to prevent any change in
what has been agreed concerning the fixing of the price of crude every
30 days," the official Al-Jumhuriya daily said.
Diplomats in New York said Friday that London had
agreed to postpone to next month a change in the way the UN sets the
price of Iraqi oil, allowing sales to resume until August 31. Iraq had
been without an official price since Tuesday.
A British diplomat said London would agree to an
official price for September only if the price-setting interval were
cut from 30 days to 15 days.
"Ten to fifteen days is not practical for
contracts with Iraq's clients ... since that will have repercussions
on the trading partners of Iraq," the newspaper said.
Iraq today sells about 2 million barrels a day
under UN supervision, a volume large enough to cause severe disruption
if supplies were halted in a tight market.
Independent oil overseers recommend an official
price to the Security Council's sanctions committee every 30 days
after consultations with Baghdad's state oil marketing organisation (SOMO).
Council resolutions say the official price must
reflect "a fair market value" of Iraqi crude, but the market
fluctuates daily, if not more often.
"That allows unscrupulous traders to make
excessive profits and gives them a margin to make illegal surcharge
payments to the Iraqis," the British diplomat said.
At the start of July, Britain was forced to
postpone an ambitious plan to reform the sanctions regime because of
opposition from Russia.
Kuwait gives $350 mln to Syria for development
Kuwait's development fund has donated 350 million
dollars to Syria to help boost the country's sluggish economy,
including money to battle against unemployment and funds for a major
water project, the Syrian press reported Wednesday.
Badr Al-Humaidi, cited by the ruling Al-Baath
party's Al-Baath newspaper, said Kuwait "had decided to offer
Syria 350 million dollars to contribute to the financing of planned
four-year projects by the Syrian government." Kuwait will pay for
a feasibility study on a pipeline project pumping water from the
Syrian coast to Damascus and a program to fight unemployment, Humaidi
Other projects will involve the electricity and
transportation sectors, but will also remain under study, he said.
The Syrian government adopted in October a program
to battle unemployment at a cost of one billion dollars, with the goal
of creating some 440,000 jobs.
Kuwait's development fund has loaned more than one
billion dollars to Syria, most of it since the 1991 Gulf war.
Egyptian military warns of 'new factors' in region
Egypt's Defence Minister General Hussein Tantawi
declared Wednesday after two days of military maneuvers the need for a
strong military in light of the region's volatile landscape, the
official MENA news agency reported.
"New factors in the region means it is
imperative for armed forces to be vigilant, prudent, and maintain its
combat capabilities and competence," Tantawi said, without
actually mentioning the neighbouring Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He called Egypt's military capabilities "the
real guarantee" for "protecting the peace," at the end
of two days of military maneuvers in the Ismailia region of
The exercises included warplane drills, notably
with F-16s and Alfa jets.
Arafat and Peres hold phone talks
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres held two telephone conversations
overnight, Israeli public radio reported Wednesday.
During the first call Arafat made a firm commitment
to stop the gunfire from the Palestinian autonomous town of Beit Jala
on the West Bank towards the nearby Jewish settlement of Gilo in east
Jerusalem, the report said.
During their second talk, the Palestinian leader
called for Israeli troops to leave Beit Jala, and made no mention of
putting an end to the shooting, it added.
Israeli tanks rolled into Beit Jala late Monday,
fulfilling a threat by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to go in if
the gun firing on Gilo continued.
The discussions between Peres and Arafat had
received the green light from Sharon and defence minister Binyamin Ben
Elizer as well as US officials, the radio reported.
Kuwait to build 60-million-dollar tourism project
Syria and Kuwait signed an agreement for the
construction of a 60-million-dollar tourism complex Lake Assad in
northern Syria, the press reported Sunday.
The deal was signed Saturday by Syrian Tourism
Minister Qassem Maqdad and an official from the private Kuwaiti
investment company al-Futuh, owned by Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad,
son of Kuwait's foreign minister.
The project spreads over 300 hectares (740 acres)
on the north bank of Lake Assad, near the city of Raqa, and its
construction is expected to take up to five years.
It includes two tourist villages, villas, chalets,
restaurants, swimming pools and sports clubs.
President, PM hold meeting
President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Rafiq
Hariri expressed confidence Tuesday over Lebanon's economic situation
in their first meeting since the political crisis over a recent army
Hariri said the two-hour meeting provided "a
new phase of political work in the country," according to a
statement from Lahoud's office.
Jordan under pressure
Jordan has come under pressure not to hand back six
Iraqi commercial airliners grounded in Amman since the 1991 Gulf war,
Trade Minister Wassef Azar was quoted as saying Tuesday.
"Jordan is under pressure not to return the
six planes to Iraq," Al Rifadain weekly quoted the minister as
saying. However he did not identify the source of the pressure.
Iraq vows to shoot down more US warplanes
Iraq, boasting improved anti-aircraft defences,
vowed Tuesday to down more US and British warplanes, a day after
Washington admitted losing a spy drone for the first time since the
1991 Gulf war.
"Iraq is determined to inflict more losses on
the American and British aggressors and to improve its (military)
capacities despite the unfair embargo," warned Deputy Prime
Minister Tareq Aziz.
"The fact that an American reconnaissance
plane was shot down over Basra by our anti-aircraft defences is proof
of the improvement of Iraq's military capacities," he added.
Syria, Armenia sign defence cooperation deal
Syria and Armenia signed a military cooperation
agreement on Monday, a Syrian Defence Ministry official said.
The agreement was signed by Syrian Defence Minister
General Mustafa Tlas and visiting Armenian Defence Minister Serzh
Sarksyan. The official gave no details about the deal.
"Talks during the meeting that was attended by
General Ali Aslan, chief of staff of the Syrian armed forces, dealt
with bilateral relations between the armies of both friendly countries
and ways of promoting them," the official said.
The leader of Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine (PFLP), Abu Ali Mustafa, was killed in an Israeli rocket
attack on his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah Monday,
Palestinian security officials said.
Two projectiles hit the building, they said, adding
that it was unclear whether they were fired by helicopter gunships or
from ground troops. Three other people were slightly injured.
Trade with French companies
Iraq has not closed the door on trade with French
companies, despite the rift between the formerly close French and
Iraqi leadership, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Wednesday.
"We have not permanently closed the door on
the French, but is illogical to give them priority which is not in
line with their position" toward the lifting of UN economic
sanctions on Iraq, Sabri told the newspaper Al-Iqtissadi.
"We do not wield the humanitarian (UN
oil-for-food) programme against anyone, but it is our right to
reproach our French friends so that they rethink their position,"
IDB says it lent $24 bln
The Islamic Development Bank announced Wednesday it
had granted loans worth 24 billion dollars since it became operational
in 1976. The loans had gone into 833 development projects as the
number of member countries rose from 22 to 53 members today.
The bank, part of the Organisation of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) based in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah, offers
cheap loans to aid Islamic nations.
Qatar Airways, one of the world's fastest growing
airlines, is to showcase its new A319 corporate jetliner, the first to
receive a premium configuration, at the Dubai 2001 international
aerospace exhibition to be held this November.
The Airbus Industrie A319 in the Qatari flag
carrier's livery will take to the skies over Dubai 2001, at the Dubai
Airport Expo, to perform an aerial display on November 4th, the show's
opening day. The aircraft will then go on static display for the
show's remaining four days.
Iraq agrees to expand trade protocol with Jordan
The Iraqi government has agreed to expand its trade
protocol with Jordan to include new Jordanian products characterized
with high added value, Jordan's Industry and Trade Ministry Secretary
General Samer Al-Taweel said Monday.
The new products include construction industries,
textiles, foodstuff, electrical equipment, medical appliances and
phosphate fertilizers, said Taweel, who has just come back from
Baghdad after taking part in the meeting of the ministerial committee
charged with following up the implementation of decisions taken by the
Joint Jordanian-Iraqi Higher Committee.
Trade campaign in Morocco
Britain is due to launch a huge campaign in Morocco
aimed at boosting trade between the two countries, official sources in
Rabat said Monday.
Key areas to be targeted during the campaign, the
first of its type, include "new information technologies,
financial services and the exploration and distribution of oil,"
the sources said.
The three-year campaign has a budget of 1.8 million
dollars (1.97 million euros) and will open in October with a fisheries
trade fair held in the southern city of Agadir.
Britain's ambassador to Rabat, Anthony Layden, said
he was "pleased to see Morocco be part of 14 countries picked by
the British government" for a trade campaign, in an interview
with the local daily L'Economiste.
Oman's tourism potential
Oman, the second largest country in the Arabian
peninsula, has much to offer visitors but the sultanate has done
little to exploit its potential as a prime tourist destination.
The country's ancient courtyards and palaces,
restored by the government at enormous expense, remain empty most of
the year and only a handful of visitors venture onto its shores.
If they did, they could wander through marketplaces
forgotten by time where veiled women weave carpets and old, bearded
men hammer out silver ornaments.
Or they could recline on stunning beaches in lush
tropical landscapes or retrace ancient trade routes where camels once
carried the riches of the East westwards.
Emirates cuts telephone charges
The state-owned telecoms company in the United Arab
Emirates, Etisalat, will slash from September 1 international direct
dialling rates to more than 225 countries as part of its silver
jubilee celebrations, newspapers reported Sunday.
Etisalat's president, Ali Salem al-Owais, said
calls to Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be cut by
between 33 and 48 per cent to as low as 1.91 dirhams (52 cents) a
minute, Gulf News said.