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Sep 17 - 23, 2001

Attacks against Arab-Americans escalate in US

A random anger over the attacks on New York and Washington turned into violence against Arab-Americans and Islamic centers across the United States on Thursday as officials from President George W. Bush on down pleaded for tolerance.

Reports of incidents grew as the media speculations into Tuesday's mass murder air attack pointed toward a Middle Eastern connection.

In suburban Chicago, several hundred people, mostly teen-agers, staged a noisy pro-American demonstration on Wednesday night that wound up targeting an Islamic center.

There were three arrests for disorderly conduct, said police in the town of Bridgeview.

But one Muslim woman said she, her husband and their eight children endured a night of terror in the aftermath.

"This was a mob," said the woman, who asked not to be identified out of fear.

"We had people riding up and down our block shouting obscenities. 'Go home you bleeping rag-heads, bleeping A-rabs, we're gonna get you'," added the woman, who lives in the town of Oak Lawn not far from the Bridgeview Mosque Center.

"My husband and I stayed up all night guarding the windows," she added. "My husband is of Arab descent. He gave four years of his life in the US Navy... to have some skinhead with an American flag screaming at your house."

She said the family was afraid to call the police because it would single out their house, adding that other Muslim families in the neighbourhood were considering whether they should leave the area Thursday evening.

Reports of vandalism, threats and other kinds of intimidation were surfacing from coast to coast.

OPEC wants stable oil market after US attacks

The president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said on Wednesday that the cartel would seek to guarantee a stable oil market and meet demand in the wake of the attacks in the United States.

"The member countries of OPEC are for the stabilisation of the oil market. The organisation is working to satisfy all demand on the market," Algeria's Chakib Khelil was quoted as saying by the APS agency.

He also asserted that the grouping would stick to maintaining a target price of 25 dollars per barrel.

The price of oil fell on Wednesday, but traders were on alert for any US retaliation amid concerns that Gulf Arab producer nations might become embroiled in a wider conflict.

The price of Brent North Sea crude for October delivery fell 84 US cents a barrel to 28.22 dollars in late trade in London.

Brent crude prices had spiked above 31 dollars on Tuesday in the aftermath of the devastating attacks on the US World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The US oil market was not open when news broke about the attacks.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was quick to pledge that it would guarantee sufficient oil supplies to stabilise oil prices.

Israeli tanks take over Jericho

Israeli troops, supported by tanks and helicopters, took control of the Palestinian-ruled city of Jericho in the West Bank early Thursday after entering with tanks, armoured cars and helicopter cover, Palestinian security forces said.

Sporadic gunfire could still be heard after the Israeli forces moved into the autonomous zone after simultaneous incursions from the city's north, south and east, the Palestinian sources said.

There was no immediate word from the Israeli side. The Israeli troops reportedly took control of the city.

The tanks entering from the south worked their way up to the gates of a key Palestinian security base, while the other two units deployed in the town centre.

Tanks and armoured cars could be seen throughout the town, according to residents.

Bulldozers destroyed farmland around the town, the same sources said. There was no word on casualties.

Arab FMs resume meetings in Cairo

Top Arab diplomats entered their second day of talks Monday, expected to renew calls for international observers to be sent to the Palestinian territories and for Israeli officials to be tried for war crimes.

Foreign ministers and heads of delegations entered their third and final round of closed-door talks and were expected to announce their resolutions later Monday, Arab officials said.

According to a copy of the resolutions obtained by AFP, they will repeat an "appeal to the international community to fulfil its responsibilities to protect Palestinians by sending international observers."

At their biannual Arab League meeting, the foreign ministers were also due to reiterate their calls to the UN Security Council to "create an international committee to investigate massacres committed by Israel."

Emirates' GDP soars 20%

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) soared by 20.4 percent in 2000 on the back of hiked crude prices, the central bank announced in a report published Monday.

"The UAE economy achieved remarkable growth in 2000, benefitting from the increase in oil prices and production volumes as a result of OPEC members' adherence to their respective production quotas on the one hand, and the increase in world oil demand on the other," the bank said.

The bank said the oil and gas sectors of the UAE generated 22.3 billion dollars in revenue in 2000, up 64.6 percent from the previous year.

The increase was attributed to the rise in "average oil prices from 17.60 dollars a barrel in 1999 to 27.20 dollars in 2000." Non-oil sectors generated 43.6 billion dollars in 2000, accounting for 66.1 percent of GDP, against 41.1 billion in 1999, the report said.

The bank also said per capita GDP increased by 13.8 percent over the same period to reach 21,199 dollars.

Kuwait's fish catastrophe hits pockets of fishermen

Kuwait's once-thriving fish market stands deserted, while hundreds of fishing boats wallow in port as fishermen endure a month-long crisis which has seen millions of dead fish wash up on the emirate's shores.

Fish dishes, one of the staples of a Kuwaiti household, have been replaced on the table by meat and poultry, whose sales and prices have soared since the death of thousands of tonnes of fish in Kuwaiti waters since early August.

"We're really suffering," Egyptian fisherman Abdul Fatah Dayim told AFP. "I have a wife and five children to feed in Egypt. When can we go back to the sea?"

Some 120 dhows and 700 small fishing boats are anchored up by the fish market, their owners waiting for the official go-ahead to resume work and recoup some of their losses.

Arafat to make Syria trip

Yasser Arafat will make his landmark trip to Syria on September 19, after earlier delaying it on fears that terror attacks in the United States could have swept aside objections to Israeli plans to "remove" the Palestinian leader, a Palestinian minister said Wednesday.

Palestinian international cooperation minister Nabil Shaath told AFP that "after discussions with Syrian officials, the date of the visit has been fixed for September 19." Arafat had been due to visit Damascus on Wednesday to clear the stage for a "strategic" relationship with Syria, Shaath told reporters this week.

OPEC to make up any shortfall in oil supplies

OPEC will take the steps necessary to ensure no shortfall of crude oil on world markets following a series of attacks in the United States, Emirati Oil Minister Obeid bin Saif al-Nasiri said Wednesday.

"The market position will be reviewed carefully, and if there is a necessity, OPEC will take the necessary steps to ensure there is no shortage, but this depends on price and stock levels," Nasiri told reporters.

The minister, whose country has an OPEC production quota of 2.025 million barrels per day (bpd), stressed there was "no shortage of oil, no disruption of oil supplies to the market." "What happened was purely speculation. it's not in our (OPEC's) hands," he said.

Japan's Arabian Oil closer to Kuwaiti oil field rights

Japan's Arabian Oil Co. Ltd. said Monday it had agreed basic terms with the Kuwaiti government for continuing oil operations in an offshore neutral zone shared by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The framework agreement means Japan's largest oil producer has cleared the first major hurdle for a new contract covering the Kuwaiti sector of the Khafji field with Arabian Oil's existing drilling concession due to expire in January 2003.

A successful outcome to negotiations with Kuwait is crucial for Arabian Oil after it lost its 40-year-old concession for drilling in the Saudi portion of the field in February last year.

"We negotiated with the Kuwaiti oil ministry under the July 7 memorandum of understanding and negotiations were concluded on September 9 in a manner satisfactory to both sides," Arabian Oil said in a statement.

In July, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Adel al-Sebeih signed a memorandum with the visiting Japanese trade and industry minister Takeo Hiranuma to open talks on a new contract.

Ship on fire in Gulf

An Iraqi sanctions-busting tanker carrying 5,700 tonnes of smuggled crude oil was still on fire and sinking in northern Gulf waters, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet said Sunday.

"The fire is still burning," Commander Jeff Alderson told AFP, stressing the Honduras-registered Khaled-1 remained the "responsibility of master and owner." The Iraqi master and 14 crew members four Iraqis, four Filipinos and six Indians had been taken off the craft by members of the Multinational Interception Force (MIF) operating in the region to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq.

The fire on the 104-metre (343-foot) long ship had been started by an electrical short-circuit, according to Alderson.

US jets attack southern Iraq

US and British warplanes attacked three surface-to-air missile sites in Iraq's southern "no-fly" zone on Sunday as part of a campaign to disable Baghdad's air defences, the Pentagon said.

A Pentagon official said three separate strikes occurred.

All US aircraft returned safely to their bases, the Pentagon said in a statement. One Pentagon official said that US Air Force F-16, Navy F-18 and British Tornado GR-4 aircraft hit missile sites near al-Numinayah, al-Kut, and Tallil, all southeast of Baghdad.

Gaddafi offers to buy up Caribbean bananas

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has offered to buy up the banana crops of three Caribbean nations to help them overcome competition from Central America, The Times newspaper said on Tuesday.

It said the offer was made last week during a visit to Tripoli by the leaders of the former British colonies of St Vincent, Grenada and Dominica after the European Union agreed to US demands to open up to cheaper imports from Latin America.

The newspaper said Gaddafi's offer to buy the Caribbean bananas at a premium to world prices would embarrass the United States and Britain by giving him political influence in Washington's back yard.

A Libyan delegation was due in the Caribbean later this month to finalise the $21 million deal, the paper added.

Oman picks BAA-led consortium

Oman has signed up a consortium led by the British Airport Authority (BAA) to develop and manage the sultanate's two main airports, which are in the process of being privatised, the official ONA news agency said Monday.

The consortium also includes ABB Equity Ventures and the Omani Bahwan Trading Company, BTC chief Ahmad Bahwan told the press.

It will develop and manage Seeb international airport in Muscat province as well the Salalah airport some 1,000 kilometers (450 miles) south of the capital.

Oman's Transport Minister Malek Ben Sulaimane al-Maamari for his part said the consortium will keep 75 percent of the newly-created firm's capital for the managmeent of the two airports.

Iraq says free trade zones with Turkey, Iran 'premature'

Iraq said Monday it had no immediate plans to set up free trade zones with its non-Arab neighbours.

"It is premature now to think of establishing free zones with non-Arab countries neighboring Iraq," Deputy Prime Minister Hekmat al-Ezzawi told reporters after opening a Turkish medical supplies fair in Baghdad.

But Ezzawi, who was apparently referring to both Turkey and Iran, added that the establishment of such zones would be considered in future in the course of expanding Iraq's ties with non-Arab neighbours.

Ezzawi, who doubles as finance minister, said Iraq was prepared to cooperate "with all its neighbours, whether Arab or foreign, if they demonstrate readiness" to do the same.

Fairmont Dubai

Luxury new business hotel, Fairmont Dubai, has been announced as the 'official' Hosted Buyer hotel for Arabian Travel Market 2002.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, North America's largest luxury hotel management company, has recently been appointed to manage the 393-room property, which is due to open early next year.

Arabian Travel Market Hosted Buyer Programme 2002, will again focus on buyers from the MICE Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions industry and on buyers from Saudi Arabia, two markets which ranked high in a post-show exhibitor survey.