Oct 22 - 28, 2001
Britain backs creation of Palestinian state
British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave strong
support on Monday for the creation of a Palestinian state and called
for urgent efforts to revive stalled Middle East peace talks.
Speaking after talks in London with Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat, Blair said there was a "renewed sense of
purpose and urgency to move things forward". But he denied
shifting British policy to placate Arab and Islamic unease over US-led
strikes against Afghanistan in response to last month's attacks in New
York and Washington.
"A viable Palestinian state, as part of a
negotiated and agreed settlement, which guarantees peace and security
for Israel is the objective," Blair told a news conference.
"The end we desire...is a just peace in which
Israelis and Palestinians live side by side, each in their own state,
secure and able to prosper and develop," he said. "That is
the only sensible outcome." Blair gave no details of plans to put
the peace talks back on track, saying the first crucial step was to
find a willingness on both sides for progress. "There are ideas
being worked on by the Americans and by others. It is possible to move
the process forward but the will has got to be there," he said.
Arafat, standing at Blair's side in his Downing
Street office, called on Sharon to resume talks immediately "so
we can reach a comprehensive peace". Arafat said he also
reiterated to Blair his "full commitment" to a shaky
ceasefire between the two sides.
Israeli tanks enter 3 cities
Israel seized parts of three Palestinian-ruled
cities on Thursday in retaliation for the assassination of Tourism
Minister Reehavam Zeevi and in the gun-battles that ensued, three
Palestinians, including a 10-year-old schoolgirl, were killed.
Hours later, a car explosion near the West Bank
town of Bethlehem killed three more Palestinians, including Atef
Abayat, a hardliner on Israel's most-wanted list.
The Israeli government gave an ultimatum to
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to "hand over" Zeevi's
assassins or face harsh retribution.
The latest bloodshed threatened a US-led peace
effort that could be crucial to enlisting Arab support for an
offensive against Afghanistan.
The violence unfolded as Israelis observed a day of
mourning for the ultranationalist minister.
Saudi investors fear freezing of their US assets
Several Saudi investors are concerned that their US
assets may be frozen in the global crackdown on terrorism. Since last
month's terrorists attacks on New York and Washington, a surge of
anti-Arab sentiment abroad has prompted many Saudis to postpone
business trips to the United States and take their children out of US
Concerns were heightened by news that a well-known
Saudi businessman Yassin Abdullah al-Qadi was included on the second
US Treasury blacklist of groups and individuals suspected by
Washington of links to terrorism.
Qadi says he and the charity he founded years ago
have no links with Osama bin Laden, Washington's main suspect in last
month's attacks. "I hope it doesn't turn into a witch-hunt,"
said a Riyadh-based financial manager on Sunday.
"People are having second thoughts about
buying a house in the United States or putting a child in school
there. I would expect less money to be allocated to the US".
However, portfolio managers and bankers, who advise top Saudi clients,
say that this has not been the case.
The latest embarrassment was the rejection of a
$10-million cheque donated by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the
world's sixth richest man, to victims of the collapsed World Trade Centre.
Prince Alwaleed's cheque was shunned because of his
criticism of US Mideast policy, which New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
interpreted as an attempt to justify the attack, which left more than
5,000 dead or missing. Just a few days beforehand, the Prince had
announced he was adding a further $400 million to his US equity
S. Arabia lodges protest with US
Saudi Arabia has officially protested to the US
administration against the mistreatment of Saudi citizens in the US by
security authorities after the Sept 11 incidents. In a letter of
protest, presented to the US authorities , the Saudi ambassador to
Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, has written of the
"excessive behaviour of the American security agencies towards
the Saudis," Ahmad Qattan, director of Prince Bandar's office was
reported on Monday as saying.
The US authorities have so far arrested and
questioned 173 Saudis living in their country in connection with the
attacks in New York and Washington. Fifty-four of them are still under
investigation, he said while speaking to the Saudi daily Okaz.
Terror crisis hits tourism in land of the Pharaohs
The number one foreign exchange earner in the country of the
pyramids and Pharaohs — Egypt's tourist industry — has been hit hard by the
fall-out from the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Business has fallen off anywhere between 18 and 70 per cent,
according to different sources in the industry.
The owner of the Paradisio tourist agency in Cairo, Ahmed Abu
al-Wafa, told AFP: "Not a single booking has been made with the travel
agency since September 11."
"It's dead calm," he said. "The last groups of
tourists leave Egypt towards the end of October, and these were people who paid
for their trips in advance and could not cancel.
"We have seen several dips in the past, especially after
the Gulf War (1991) and the attack in Luxor (in 1997 when 58 tourists were
killed by (Islamist militants), but this time things are different," he
"Even if the American strikes on Afghanistan stop, the
West's hatred of the East and Islam will remain," Wafa believes.
"Nobody can say when tourist activity will return to
normal, and our only objective right now is to boost domestic tourism," the
travel agent added.
The Egyptian tourism ministry last week announced a decline
of 18.2 per cent in the number of foreign tourists in September 2001, compared
with the same month last year.
Hotel room occupancy went from 72 per cent in September 2000
to 59 per cent in September 2001, it said, adding that "higher levels of
fall-out" are to be expected over the next three months.
The head of the World Tourism Organisation, Francesco
Frangialli, said last Friday in Kuala Lumpur that "reservation bookings are
down around the world between 20 and 30 per cent".
"But for destinations like Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and
North Africa, it's down by 60 to 70 per cent," he said.
Yemen economy hit by fallout
The economy of Yemen, already one of the poorest countries in
the world, has been badly hit by the fallout of the September 11 attacks in the
United States, especially its oil and tourism sectors, Yemen's planning and
development minister said Sunday.
"The most notable negative impact of these terrorist
acts was on the oil sector," Ahmed Mohammad Sufan told AFP.
He said the drop in the price of crude oil from 28 to 20
dollars a barrel "will affect our oil revenue, which represents 90 per cent
of the country's total revenue."
Yemen produces 480,000 barrels per day and oil revenue last
year jumped 40 per cent to 1.4 billion dollars.
Sufan also said the attacks had had "negative effects on
tourism," estimating the losses so far at around 90 million dollars.
He also said that money transfers by the 100,000 Yemeni
citizens living in the United States and Britain had dried up, also affecting
the country's economy.
OPEC faces dilemma over triggering price mechanism
OPEC members are facing tough choices in efforts to boost
slumping oil prices because triggering a price band mechanism has become
difficult since the US terror attacks, a senior Gulf oil source said Tuesday.
"The choices are tough with regard to production cuts.
Invoking the price band mechanism to keep prices between 22 and 28 dollars a
barrel has also become difficult," the source told AFP on condition of
The oil-producing cartel and non-OPEC members are facing an
"unclear picture" about the future prospects of the oil markets, he
"Although the current situation in the oil markets
requires a cut in production to boost prices, the world economic slowdown and
the confusion resulting from the US-led military strikes on Afghanistan do not
help in taking a decision.
"Oil producers are keen to assist consumer countries in
facing these unfavourable circumstances," the source added.
Saudi pilot denies terror links
A Saudi pilot wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) for questioning over possible terrorist links said in comments published
on Tuesday he played no role in last month's US terror attacks.
Khaled al-Zaidi, owner of Al-Zaidi Aviation, is being sought
by the FBI following his purchase of two small planes during a three-week stay
in the United States just before the September 11 attacks in New York and
Zaidi told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper from Morocco that he
had already met the US investigators from the CIA and the Federal Aviation
Agency and given them documents about the planes' purchase.
Zaidi's company is US-registered and has branches in Saudi
Arabia and Morocco. It plans to open a third branch in Egypt.
Lawmaker slams US ME policy
Criticizing New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for rejecting
$10 million gift from Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for the victims
of World Trade Centre attacks, a US Congresswoman has asked him (the prince) to
donate to the black Americans who need help.
In a statement, Congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney of Atlanta,
supporting Prince Alwaleed's right to speak his mind about US policy on the
Middle East, said that "although your offer was not accepted by Mayor
Giuliani, I would like to ask you to consider assisting black Americans who are
in dire need right now."
She added:" I believe we can guide your generosity to
help improve the state of black Americans and build better lives." Ms
Mckinney said:" There are a growing number of people in the United States
who recognize, like you, that US policy on the Middle East needs serious
Kuwaiti Sheikh in political storm
A former Kuwaiti minister and ruling family member refused to
back away Wednesday from a political storm he caused by criticizing Islamic
groups he blames for the emirate's "reserved" support of the United
States in its war against 'terrorism'.
Sheikh Saud Nasser Al-Sabah, a former oil and information
minister and ambassador to the United States, charged early this week that the
growing influence of Islamic groups in the emirate had resulted in a failure to
sufficiently support Washington after the September 11 attacks.
"Kuwait's official response to the attacks against the
US was reserved and lacked forcefulness, despite the solid US support for Kuwait
during the Iraqi invasion in 1990," Sheikh Saud said in the Saudi-owned
newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday.
Israeli rocket attack kills three Palestinians
Israeli helicopter gunships Thursday killed a leader of
Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement wanted for the death of a Jewish settler woman,
as well as two other Fatah activists in Bethlehem, Palestinian security
The rocket attack came just a day after a Palestinian group
assassinated Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi.
It killed Ataf Abayat, wanted for the September 20 ambush
Two other Fatah members, Jamal Abed Ala and Salah Artekh,
were also killed when the missile slammed into the jeep they were driving in
In almost immediate response, Palestinian gunmen opened fire
on the neighbouring Jewish settlement of Gilo, on the southern fringes of
The Saudi stock market rebounded strongly to close the week
Thursday up 3.9 per cent, mainly on encouraging nine-month profits for a
majority of listed firms, Bakheet Financial Advisors (BFA) said.
"The Saudi stock market witnessed a positive recovery
this week and compensated for part of its losses" following the September
11 terror attacks on the United States, BFA said.
The NCFEI all-shares index closed at 2,381.14 points, up from
2,292.42 points the previous week, the BFA reported. The index is now 5.4
percent higher than at the start of the year.
The recovery was triggered by an increase of market leaders
Saudi Basic Industries Co. (SABIC) and Al-Rajhi Banking and Investment Corp.
(ARABIC), which rose 5.9 and 7.9 per cent, respectively. The two firms make up
31 per cent of the Saudi stock market.
Israel assassinates Hamas member
A member of the Palestinian movement Hamas was killed Tuesday
in his home in the Gaza Strip by an explosion that was blamed on the Israeli
Yad Al Akhraz was killed when a blast ripped through his
house in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian hospital
Gaza Strip Hamas leader Ismail Haniya told AFP the dead man
was a Hamas activist and accused Israel of blowing him up. He gave no further
Second bomb blast rocks Aden, no injuries
A bomb exploded Monday in a residential area of the southern
Yemeni port of Aden, the second to rock the city in less than 24 hours, but
caused no injuries, witnesses said.
The device was left in a trash can close to a post office and
the explosion caused a fire that was doused by firefighters, witnesses told AFP.
A loud explosion rocked Aden on Sunday night, but also left
no one injured, security officials.
The first bomb was also left in a trash can, near an
immigration department building in the city center.
"We are fortunate that no casualties or injuries were
sustained," one official said.
He added that investigations were underway into the blast,
which occurred the day Yemen was celebrating the October 14 holiday marking
southern Yemen's 1963 declaration of intent to eject the British and make a
Qatar, Dolphin to sign final mega gas deal 'shortly'
Qatar and Dolphin Energy will sign the final development and
production sharing agreement (DPSA) for a multi-billion-dollar project to
deliver Qatari gas abroad "shortly", the UAE Offsets Group (UOG) said
"The development and production sharing agreement (DPSA)
with Qatar Petroleum (QP) is due to be signed shortly," UOG said in a
The state-run UOG added that Dolphin Energy will select by
early next year an oil major to become a strategic partner in the project.
"Over the coming weeks, the international oil companies
will be given additional data and invited to submit their offers by late
December. One of them is scheduled to be selected in early 2002," UOG said.
Riyad Bank net profits rise 17.8 pct
The Riyad Bank announced Saturday a 17.8 per cent rise in
2001 first nine months net profits despite unfavourable world economic
conditions. The Bank posted profits of 1.008 billion riyals (268.8 million
dollars) in the first nine months of 2001, compared to 855.6 million riyals
(228.1 million dollars) during the same period of 2000, a statement said.
WTO talks venue in doubt
There's been increasing speculation that next
month's World Trade Organisation (WTO) conference may change its
The WTO had planned to meet in Doha, in the Gulf
State of Qatar.
Now, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and US Trade
Representative Robert Zoellick have both said the planned location is
now under review for security reasons.
Another hint comes from the communique issued by
the AsiaPacific economic forum in Shanghai, which endorsed the launch
of new trade liberalisation talks, but pointedly left out the name of
the venue for the meeting.
Singapore has already said that it would be
prepared to act as host, if necessary.
The WTO has said no decision has been taken about
whether to change the venue.
Alawi, Fischer hold talks
Oman Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah
and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer address a news conference
in Berlin. The main topic of their talks was the Middle East after the
attacks to New York and Washington on September 11.