Mar 11 - 17, 2002
Saudis rule out change in syllabi of Madaris
The Federation of Islamic Universities of Saudi Arabia, in a
meeting, has refused to discuss the issue of changing the syllabi of Islamic
educational institutions, as demanded by the United States.
"We totally reject the move to link Islam with
terrorism. It's not acceptable because it's the Muslims who are the victims of
terrorism," Dr. Abdullah Jasiby chairman of the executive council of the
federation, told reporters after the inaugural session of the meeting at the
Riyadh's Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University.
Dr Abdul Aziz Al-Tuwaijri, director general of the Islamic
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) blasted the foreign
media campaigns against the Islamic universities. "It's part of a fierce
campaign by the enemies of Islam, exploiting the situation after the Sept 11
attacks on the United States," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Muhammad Bin Ahmed Al-Rasheed, the Saudi
education minister has said that the school curricula are being developed
without affecting the subjects of core importance. He however, clarified that
the development has nothing to do with reactions to the tragic events of
He told the local Al-Hayat daily that the Kingdom does not
accept any meddling in its internal affairs, and that the development of school
curricula, including the religious subjects, is a continuous process governed by
The minister denied any move to merge Arabic language studies
and religious studies, saying that this cannot be dictated by anyone because the
affairs of education are part of national sovereignty.
He said that religious subjects currently being taught in
Saudi secondary schools are quite suitable and in line with what the students
had already studied in their intermediate and primary classes. He denied that
the educational syllabi encourage extremism, and added that there was no
scientific basis to such an allegation.
Navis seeks more Gulf investment
Despite all the negative vibes coming out of South-East Asia
on the state of the economies there, there are good investment opportunities
among 'old economy' companies, according to a senior fund manager. And going the
private equity route would be a good way of doing it right.
Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Social and Economic Develop-ment
has invested in Asia Fund III, floated by Malaysia-based Navis Capital Partners,
a private fund manager. Together with two Asia funds floated by Navis, the
Kuwaiti institution has an exposure of $6 million.
"We expect other Gulf-based institutions to commit to
Asia Fund III, which will be closing by end-October. We expect to close the fund
with at least $100 million, which could even go up to $150 million," said
Nicholas Bloy, director.
"This is specifically structured for the sophisticated
investor with a medium-term outlook. With the funds, we will be taking
controlling stakes in well-established Asian companies in well-established
"By year four, we will start selling the stakes, most
likely to multinationals, and by year seven or eight, the fund would have sold
We are interested in only a handful of companies to invest
in, and we are certainly not looking at IT or telecommunication companies. Nor
is there any intention to buy shares in under-performing companies and try and
turn them around."
Japanese companies will be overlooked by the promoters, while
those in China and Hong Kong too will not get much attention. Within the next
few weeks, the first investment will be completed in a pan-Asian company making
cosmetics and personal care products.
HSBC signs deal with Iran bank
HSBC Investment Bank has signed an export credit loan
facility of $33.6 million, guaranteed by UK's Export Credits Guarantee
Department (ECGD), with Iran's Bank Tejarat.
It will be used to finance a carbon monoxide plant awarded by
National Petrochemical Co to Snamprogetti Ltd.
Carbon monoxide is used in the chemical industry as a
synthesiser in the production of methanol, hydrogen and acetic acid and as a
building block in the production of a range of plasticisers, solvents and
This is the first loan between a bank and an Iranian borrower
directly guaranteed by ECGD to be signed since the resumption of ECGD
medium-term cover for the Iranian market.
Powell slams Sharon's war hysteria (Box)
Israel piled punishment on the Palestinians on Wednesday,
killing 11 and losing two of its own soldiers as Arab and world leaders warned
of the dangers posed by this escalation.
Syria sounded alarm bells warning of an "explosive"
Middle East and a top Palestinian official said it had become a "moral
obligation" for the world to intervene and put an end to Israeli state
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan joined the fray, telling
Israeli and Palestinian leaders bluntly that history would judge them harshly
for what he called the appalling carnage inflicted on their peoples.
For his part, US Secretary of State Colin Powell explicitly
criticized Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policies towards the
Palestinians, particularly after Sharon said on Monday Israel was at war against
12 Palestinians killed in clashes
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon shoved aside US criticism
of his policies on Thursday, with his forces continuing to pound Palestinian
targets, killing 12 people.
Three Palestinians, including a paramedic, were killed in
clashes with the Israeli army in Tulkarem refugee camp, in the West Bank.
Earlier in the day, six Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces reoccupied
the city of Tulkarem and two nearby refugee camps, while another died elsewhere
in the West Bank and two in the Gaza Strip.
And a suicide bomber killed himself and wounded nine people
in an attack on a commercial complex just outside Ariel, in the West Bank, one
of the biggest settlements in the Palestinian territories.
One of those wounded was in critical condition following the
bombing, claimed by the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
U.S. lauds UAE role in fighting terrorist funds
The U.S. denied it has frozen assets of Islamic charitable
institutions and said it is not planning to buy shares in Islamic banks, but it
will continue to step up its efforts to stop channels of support for terrorist
The U.S. expressed its gratitude to the government of the UAE
for its support for Operation Enduring Freedom and the global war against
"We have no intention in harming charitable
institutions. The U.S. has a long tradition and history of helping charities
with billions of dollars. The U.S. will continue supporting charities. Our
presence is encouraging to charitable institutions," U.S. Treasury
Secretary Paul O'Neill told a news conference in the capital.
Bahrain starts scheme to help jobless
Unemployed Bahrainis now have six channels to find employment
which were launched under the new government's scheme to help national
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Abdulnabi Al Sho'ala on
Wednesday announced that the government was able to find jobs for 6,957
Bahrainis last year and the unemployment figures now stand at 5.6 per cent of
the total workforce.
Canada criticises Sharon's hardline policy
Canada on Wednesday criticised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon's policy of striking hard against Palestinian militants, saying Ottawa
questioned "certain practices" that caused civilian casualties.
The move by Foreign Minister Bill Graham marked a change in
recent Canadian policy toward the Middle East, since Ottawa has followed
Washington's line that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat must do more to stop
attacks by militant groups.
Hilton plans two hotels in Dubai
Hilton International looks set to build an up-market hotel on
Palm Island and another in Dubai as part of its bid to get 1,000 rooms more in
the Emirate. If the group moves to Palm Island, it is expected to mark the entry
of its luxury Conrad brand to the UAE.
Jordan insurer enters market
Armed with a capital base of $25 million, a start-up
insurance company in Jordan, International General Insurance Co (IGI), has
started operations from March. In the near term, the company has confirmed plans
to expand into the other Middle East territories, starting off with the GCC.
Before the year is out, IGI should double its capital to $50 million, making it
the second largest insurer in the region.
Polisario blasts Morocco's Sahara claim
The Polisario Front, the independence movement for Western
Sahara, has condemned the latest speech by the king of Morocco claiming
sovereignty over the disputed territory.
A statement broadcast on Polisario radio described the king's
words as "a declaration of war on international legality".
In his address on Wednesday, King Mohammed said Morocco would
not give up an inch of the region.
Iraq keeps talking on arms inspectors
Mr Sabri held three hours of talks with Mr Annan Iraq and the
UN are to hold further talks in mid-April on the possible return of arms
inspectors to the country.
The announcement came after Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri
met for almost three hours with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York, the
first such session in more than a year.
DIB posts Dh616m net profit
Despite the impact of the September 11 events, Dubai Islamic
Bank (DIB) has reported an impressive gain in net profit to Dh616 million. The
corresponding figure for 2000 was Dh591 million.
CITES may lift sanctions
The Geneva-based Secretariat of Convention of International
Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is likely to lift trade sanctions on the UAE
during a meeting next week.
According to Jonathan Barzdo, Chief of Convention
Interpretation and Servicing Unit at CITES, the Standing Committee of the
Convention, which imposed the ban on the UAE and several other countries, will
hold a meeting in Geneva next week to discuss the status of the sanctions on the
"The meeting will decide whether to fully or partially
lift the sanctions or give the UAE another deadline to intensify its efforts of
fully implementing CITES conditions," Barzdo told.
UAQ likely to supply gas to utility projects
Sub-sea pipelines are being laid from Umm Al Quwain port to
the relatively recent offshore gas discovery at a concession, awarded by the
government in December 1999 to Atlantis Holdings, sources said.
Drilling of an exploratory offshore gas well, Umm Al
Quwain-3, revealed recoverable reserves of up to 500 billion cubic feet of gas
and 5 million barrels of condensates.
It is understood that the feedstock will be processed in Umm
Al Quwain, laying to rest earlier speculation that the gas might be processed in
Al Ain Ahlia Insurance
Al Ain Ahlia Insurance Company announced it maintained its
growth run earning a net profit of Dh30.8 million for 2001, a 9.91 per cent
growth over 2000.
The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (Badea) has
approved $2.211 billion for the financing of 303 development projects since
inception in 1975.
These include 24 loans to private sector, 14 special
operations within the framework of emergency aid, and 258 technical assistance
Dubai Duty Free
On February 21, the cash registers at Dubai Duty Free were
ringing as the shopping complex posted a new daily record of Dh4.3 million ($1.2
million) in sales, representing over 29,000 transactions.
The new record was reached almost a year after setting the
previous mark of Dh3.68 million ($1 million) on March 2, 2001.
Gamco wins RAF contract
The Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Co (Gamco) announced it was
awarded a contract by the UK's Ministry of Defence for maintenance of the Royal
Air Force (RAF) fleet of Lockheed TriStar L-1011 aircraft.
Muslim dolls tackle 'wanton' Barbie
Toy sellers are welcoming the new characters Meet Dara and
Sara, Iran's answer to Ken and Barbie.
The Muslim dolls have been developed by a government agency
to promote traditional values, with their modest clothing and pro-family