April 22 - 28, 2002
POWELL LEAVES ME EMPTY-HANDED
US Secretary of State Colin Powell left the Middle East on
Wednesday after talks with the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan at the end
of a Middle East tour that failed to secure an Israeli-Palestinian truce.
The secretary of state had little to show for his shuttle
apart from an Israeli pledge to end its reoccupation of battered West Bank
cities within "a week or so". Even that was nothing more than a
consolation prize, considering it has been two weeks since US President George
Bush issued his line-in-the-sand demand for Israel to end its crushing offensive
Colin Powell seemed to sum up his ill-fated mission in a
single phrase when he said: "Ceasefire is not a relevant term at the
Mr Powell left Cairo after an hour of talks with Egyptian
Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and his Jordanian counterpart Marwan al-Muasher
about the outcome of his mission.
Muasher had travelled to Cairo after talks in Saudi Arabia,
which along with Egypt and Jordan has been at the forefront of recent Arab peace
Powell said before leaving Israeli-occupied Al Quds earlier
in the day he would meet the Egyptian foreign minister because President Hosni
Mubarak was "indisposed".
Several Egypt-based analysts said Mubarak's decision not to
meet Powell was a deliberate snub to show his displeasure at the results of the
tour, but Powell shrugged off such a possibility.
"If there's no meeting with Mubarak, then something's
wrong. There's a serious problem," said Emad Gad, a political analyst at
the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.
MINISTRIES TOLD TO EXPEDITE '03 DRAFT BUDGETS
Ministries and other federal departments in the UAE have been
asked to submit their 2003 draft budgets as soon as possible to ensure an early
release of the annual budget and maintain the momentum in the domestic economy.
In a circular, Dr. Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash, Minister of
State for Financial and Industrial Affairs, also urged the more than 25
government offices not to list any unapproved new jobs or unnecessary projects,
to expand their income and suppress expenditure.
The circular came nearly three weeks after the release of the
2002 federal budget, which must be ratified by President His Highness Sheikh
Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Bankers noted that the circular was issued earlier than
previous years in an apparent bid by the Ministry of Finance and Industry to
start releasing annual budgets on time.
The circular set July 13 as a deadline for the ministries to
submit their draft budgets and asked them to stick to that date so it will be
debated by the Federal National Council.
"We hope you will be able to provide your draft
estimates for your spending and revenue on time so the draft budget will be
ready at least two months before the start of the fiscal year and the FNC can
debate it and make proposals," the Minister said.
"When preparing such estimates, you are asked to provide
us with a memorandum explaining the standards and bases on which those estimates
As in previous circulars, Kharbash advised the ministries not
to include unnecessary jobs or projects in their budgets as part of an ongoing
policy to rationalise spending to offset sharp fluctuations in oil prices and
avoid large budget deficits.
ASIAN CRUDE PRICES RISE
The Asian market for sour crudes rose, underpinned by
improving refining margins and Middle East tension which encouraged some buyers
to show up early for June cargoes.
Traders said that premiums for most grades got a boost, with
Abu Dhabi crude levels soaring sharply from Adnoc plus 10 to Adnoc plus 20/25
cents levels on Japan buying interest.
The benchmark medium sour Oman market also hit around the MoG
plus 20 cents mark — its highest for the year — breaking away from ranged
bound MoG plus 14/17 cents levels seen in early week.
"It is shaping up to be quite firm," one trader
with a U.S. oil company said. "There are a lot of demand interest
Traders said that Japan refiners were seen picking up Umm
Shaiff and Lower Zakum crudes at about Adnoc plus 20 cents a barrel. Murban was
traded at around Adnoc plus 17 cents, they said.
On Oman market — two trades were heard at MoG plus 20 cents
including one sold into a Thai refiner but this could not be confirmed.
UAE OUTPUT CAPACITY TO HIT 4M BPD (BOX)
The UAE is pushing ahead with ambitious plans to maintain its
position as one of the biggest oil producers by adding more than one million
barrels per day to its output capability, according to a report.
Current sustainable production capacity is estimated at
nearly 2.6 million bpd, nearly 800,000 bpd above its actual output determined by
Opec, said the Information and Culture Ministry's annual book for 2002.
The 380-page report put the country's recoverable crude
reserves at 98 billion barrels, the third largest proven oil resources after
Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
It said the UAE ranked fourth after Russia, Iran and Qatar in
natural gas reserves, which stood at around 6.2 trillion cubic metres at the end
POWELL MISSION GAVE ISRAEL FREE HAND - REPORT
Iraq's government newspaper said that U.S. Secretary of State
Colin Powell's Middle East mission was designed to give Israeli military forces
a free hand in Palestinian self-ruled territory.
"There was no aim for the... mission but to give the
Zionist entity (Israel) more time and opportunity to implement its criminal acts
against the Palestinian people," Al Jumhouriya newspaper said in a
It said the mission "meant to kill more Palestinian
people and liquidate the Palestinian intifada (uprising)".
PHASE ONE OF DUBAI PARK COMPLETED
Phase one of the private sector-led Dubai Investments Park
(DIP) has been completed and fully leased out.
Demand is such that some plots in undeveloped areas have also
been leased out.
Khalid bin Kalban, chief executive of Dubai Investments and
managing director of DIP, said, "We are well ahead of our target schedule.
Feedback and demand have been quite good. This is evident from the response we
received from people who've seen the site today and compared it to the desert
they saw a few years ago. Most were surprised by the degree of development that
has taken place."
KING HAMAD, ABDULLAH DISCUSS DEVELOPMENTS
His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain,
and the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, discussed during a phone call
on Wednesday night the current Arab and international developments, the official
news agency BNA stated yesterday.
Prince Abdullah is expected to have talks on the critical
situation in the Palestinian territories with U.S. President George W. Bush on
April 25 in Washington.
RIYADH TO LEVY INCOME TAX ON EXPATS: REPORT
Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is planning to levy income tax of about
2.5 per cent of the salaries of millions of foreign workers in the kingdom, a
newspaper reported on Sunday.
"The proposed income tax will not exceed the value of
Zakat, Islam's form of taxation, which is 2.5 per cent of the earnings, and may
be even lower," Al-Yawm quoted a source in the Shura consultative council
ADNOC ARM TO OPEN 20 MORE OUTLETS
Adnoc Distribution, the retail marketing arm of Adnoc, is
enhancing production of lubricants and greases to 60,000 metric tonnes per annum
(mtpa) by year end, an official said. At least 20 more service stations are
planned for opening by year end.
Current production of lubricants, greases and some other
petroleum products is around 45,000 to 50,000 mtpa, with full production
capacity to be achieved by end-2002, said Rashed Al Darmaki, local lubes sales
manager, Adnoc Distribution.
BRITISH MP CALLS FOR AN END TO LIQUIDATION OF BCCI
A senior UK parliamentarian has urged the liquidators of the
failed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) to end liquidation and
give the remaining dividend to creditors, sources said.
With the liquidation in its 11th year and charges mounting
and some $2 billion reportedly unavailable for distribution, Keith Vaz, MP has
expressed anxiety that liquidators had not paid dividend for some time and has
told the Ministry of Trade and Industry, UK, to write to the liquidators urging
them to end the process.
MASHREQBANK IN BID TO LURE WHOLE FAMILY
Mashreqbank has introduced the first credit-card benefit of
its kind targeting mums and kids, called 'mum 'n' me specials'.
The new benefit offers free gifts and discounts of up to 30
per cent at outlets of interest to mums and kids, including amusement arca-des,
toy stores, fashion outlets, beauty parlours, etc.
OMAN, U.S. FIRMS SIGN OFFTAKE DEAL
The Sohar International Urea and Chemicals Industries (SIUCI)
has signed a long-term take or pay offtake agreement for its entire production
of granular urea with Transammonia Inc of the U.S.
Transammonia is said to be the largest marketer of ammonia
and urea in the world with offices in 18 countries and a sales turnover of over
The agreement marks a major milestone in the development of
the Sohar Fertiliser project promoted by Suhail Salim Bahwan, a leading Omani
ROTANA PLANS THREE PROPERTIES IN UAE
The Rotana Group plans three new properties in the UAE, one
each in Sharjah, Fujairah and the Palm island in Dubai.
Imad W. Elias, corporate vice-president of Rotana Hotels,
Suites and Resorts, said a four-star property in Fujairah would open in two
years while they were looking to build another four-star hotel along Sharjah
DIPLOMAT CENSURED OVER BOMB POEM
The Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UK faces censure from the
British government after writing a poem in praise of Palestinian suicide
Ambassador Dr Ghazi Algosaibi, a well-known poet in the Arab
world, wrote that suicide bombers "died to honour God's word" in a
short verse published in the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat last week.
ISRAELIS STEAL MONEY
Israeli invasion forces stole cash and vital government
documents, blasted offices and destroyed computers and other main government
systems as they continued to spill Palestinian blood and wreak havoc in their
push into the Palestinian territories under the subterfuge of fighting
FUND-RAISING DRIVE GAINS MOMENTUM
The new fund-raising campaign launched by the Oman
Charitabale Organisation (OCO) last Saturday to support the Palestinians has
gained momentum, prompting organisers to extend it until May 16.
"We have been overwhelmed by the generous response which
is much beyond our expectations." OCO Executive Director Ali bin Ibrahim
Shanon told Gulf News, adding that the campaign had been extended to make the
best use of the memorable excercise for the benefit of the hard-pressed
Palestinian people fighting for a long denied homeland.
"Everyday is better than the previous one, as we get
more donations," said Shanon, declining to give exact figures about the
donations collected so far.
CITIDIRECT ONLINE FACILITY LAUNCHED
CitiDirect online banking, Citibank's web-based transactional
banking delivery platform, was officially launched in the region.
CitiDirect has processed more than 600,000 payments worldwide
worth more than $450 billion. The new platform offers seamless and secure access
to an array of cash and trade management services through a single global
BOOST NATIONAL INDUSTRIES, CHAMBERS TOLD
Local chambers of commerce and industry should allocate part
of their revenues for the sponsorship of exhibitions dedicated to national
industries, said Ahmed Al Tayer, Minister of Communications and chairman of
Emirates Bank Group.
He inaugurated two new projects of Tomooh, the finance scheme
for small and medium projects of UAE nationals.
"Local chambers should dedicate exhibitions for national
industries. This was done earlier but is now stopped," said Al Tayer, while
encouraging UAE national industries financed by Tomooh to participate at
specialised local shows for various sectors like building materials and
ADSB PROFIT JUMPS
Helped by higher revenues due to new defence related
contracts, Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) has reported a net profit of Dh9.1
million, representing a 100 per cent growth over the previous year.
A dividend of Dh0.50 per ordinary share has been proposed,
totalling Dh8.76 million. Earnings per share (EPS) has doubled to Dh0.52 in 2001
from Dh0.26 the previous year.
SELL OFF MORE EXISTING PLANTS
The UAE's first independent water and power project (IWPP),
the $740 million Taweelah A2 has become commercially operational with the
project developer having made its first dividend payment to shareholders and
begun repayment of its loan facility, officials said.
Abu Dhabi is going to press ahead with its ambitious
privatisation of power and water sector with plans to privatise more existing
SHARON 'A WAR CRIMINAL' SAYS MP
Israeli tanks in action in Ramallah on the West Bank Israeli
leader Ariel Sharon has been branded a "war criminal" and a
"fool" by former Labour minister Gerald Kaufman.
In a blistering attack, the veteran MP, who is Jewish, said Mr Sharon had
reduced his country to an "international pariah" whose actions were
staining the Star of David with blood