13 -19, 2002
ARAB STATES URGED TO TACKLE FISCAL DEFICITS
The Arab League's top monetary official urged member states
to give priority in their reforms to tackling fiscal deficits to spur economic
growth and avert possible social unrest because of unemployment and high cost of
Dr. Jassim Al Manai, chairman of the Arab Monetary Fund, said
efforts should concentrate on tackling both the internal and external financial
gaps as they are stifling economic performance and causing joblessness and
Manai, who was addressing Arab economic officials at a
training session at the Abu Dhabi-based AMF, said heavy borrowing by some Arab
states to shore up the budget shortfall is among the main causes of high
inflation and slow growth.
Manai, a Bahraini, said several Arab states are suffering
from persistent budget deficits because of the lack of such policies while
others are reeling under chronic external deficits in the current account
because of lower export of goods and services as well as poor investment income
and high remittances and capital outflow.
Most Arab states have announced reforms to tackle persistent
economic and financial problems resulting from flawed policies, decades of state
control of the economy, lack of incentives for national exports and investment,
and slow growth.
AMF figures showed the combined Arab budget deficit was
slashed to only $946 million in 2000 from a mammoth $32 billion in 1999 but the
decline was caused by a surge in oil prices as most oil producing members
The figures showed the oil price surge to nearly $27 a barrel
boosted the total Arab revenues to $196.8 billion in 2000 from around $147
billion in 1999.
The deficit was slashed despite a sharp rise in spending to
$197.7 billion from $179.8 billion in the same period.
HIGH TURNOUT IN BAHRAIN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
In what was described by senior officials as "an
historic event", large numbers of Bahrainis turned out with overwhelming
enthusiasm and happiness to elect, for the first time in decades, their
municipal councils' representatives.
Government officials, opposition leaders and independent
local observers have all told that the civic polls, in which 300 candidates,
including 31 women, have contested, were "fair and neutral".
In 26 out of 50 districts the results of which were out last
night, there were no women winners. The turnout, officials said, ranged between
40 per cent and 80 per cent in different districts.
Forty-eight municipal seats were contested while two
unopposed candidates in the Southern Governorate had been declared winners on
Wednesday night by election authorities.
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote in Western Refaa,
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa told reporters that it was
"an historic day for Bahrain," and called upon all citizens to
safeguard "this great accomplishment."
Men and women turned out in large numbers in all polling
stations for the first civic polls in the country since 1957.
While, Sheikh Abdullah bin Khaled Al Khalifa, Minister of
Justice and Islamic Affairs declared the process "free, fair and
successful", Sheikh Ahmed bin Ateyyatullah Al Khalifa, Election Executive
Director, said that the turnout was encouraging. "I am quite satisfied with
the numbers and also the orderly way the polls are being executed," he told
Independent politicians and observers said that it was an
obviously good start on the path of democracy. "The level of participation
is more than what had been expected by all political groups," Abdul Rahman
Al Nuaimi, leader of the opposition National Democratic Action Society (NDA)
PEACE CONFERENCE MOVES AROUSE ARAB FEARS
The Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Mussa, says a US
proposal for a new Middle East peace conference is part of plot to create a new
regional order dominated by Israel.
Mr Mussa said he believed that Israel — backed by the
United States — wanted to impose peace on its own terms, regardless of Arab
Echoing a widely-held view in the Middle East, Mr Mussa was
speaking in Cairo before a meeting with key Arab foreign ministers.
They are due to discuss the latest moves to resolve the
crisis in the Middle East.
The meeting will hear a report from Saudi Arabia on the
outcome of the talks its leader, Crown Prince Abdullah, held with US President
George W Bush.
MILITANTS LEAVE BETHLEHEM CHURCH
Thirteen Palestinian militants have left the Church of the
Nativity in Bethlehem after five weeks of Israeli siege and are reported to be
on their way to exile.
After being led through metal detectors and manually searched
by Israeli soldiers they boarded buses which are now believed to be heading to
Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.
Under an internationally-brokered agreement the 13 men are to
be flown to Cyprus on a British military plane.
They militants are on Israel's "most-wanted list",
and Cyprus has said it will give them temporary sanctuary while their final
place of exile is determined.
The second group due to leave the church consists of 26
Palestinian militants who are to be sent to the Gaza Strip under a deal reached
KUWAIT CURRENT ACCOUNT HIT HARD
Kuwait said its 2001 current account surplus slipped 41.7 per
cent in 2001 to 2.626 billion dinars ($8.59 billion) as weaker world oil prices
brought a $3.2 billion decline in oil exports.
The small state of 2.2 million people, 65 per cent of whom
are expatriates, saw the value of oil exports drop in 2001 to 4.591 billion
dinars from 5.578 billion dinars in 2000.
Kuwait Central Bank figures published on the internet put the
current account surplus at a revised 4.501 billion dinars in 2000 from an
earlier 4.561 billion dinars. The surplus for 1999 was just 1.541 billion dinars
when Kuwaiti crudes averaged $16.73 a barrel.
But oil prices climbed over the next two years before Kuwait
saw its oil income decline during a rollercoaster 2001 with world oil prices
dropping in Q4 after the September attacks against landmarks in the United
OIL PRICES SLUMP
Oil prices slumped on Tuesday as the market braced
itself for the resumption of Iraqi oil exports after a month-long stoppage, a
move that will ramp up world supply even as prices are already weakening.
Benchmark Brent North Sea crude for June delivery plunged 65
cents a barrel to $25.10 here by late trading. The market was shut on Monday for
a public holiday.
In New York, the light sweet crude June contract extended
Monday's decline, dropping five cents to $26.12 a barrel.
The losses followed news that Iraq, which exports around two
million barrels of oil a day under the UN-supervised oil-for-food programme,
some 40 per cent of which ends up in the United States, was set to resume oil
exports on Wednesday.
UN LIKELY TO MODIFY SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAQ
The United Nations is very close to an accord on the
modification of existing sanctions against Iraq, and that a decision on a
significantly modified list of sanctions will be announced soon, French
diplomatic sources say.
France has long fought against existing sanctions against
Iraq, and newly-reelected President Jacques Chirac has never hidden his belief
that existing sanctions are considerably unfair.
UN BLASTS ISRAEL FOR ASSAULT ON PALESTINIAN CITIES
The UN General Assembly on Tuesday voted to condemn Israel's
assault on Palestinian cities and its rejection of a UN fact-finding mission
into its army's actions in the Jenin refugee camp.
The resumed emergency session of the 189-nation assembly
approved the Arab resolution late Tuesday, 74 to four, with 54 abstentions. The
United States voted against it.
FUJAIRAH WOOS INVESTORS
The Port of Fujairah is planning to attract investors to set
up a drydock for repairing ships as part of the port authority's new policy of
attracting investments to develop its maritime business.
Captain Mousa Murad, director general, told that the port
authority is ready to offer all facilities and services for investors to set up
business at the port with great support from the local government.
INSURANCE SECTOR DRAGS EMNEX DOWN
The Emnex closed a marginal 0.72 point down to close at
1,976.18 with the insurance sector facing the biggest loss of 10.71 points
before settling at 1,191 points.
Financial services sector was the biggest gainer, the last
trading day of the week, with a 9.38 points gain before closing at 2,120.12.
While the Islamic sector remained unchanged at 923.33 points, property and
telecom sectors suffered 1.41 points and 6.30 points respectively.
In the financial service sector, while both Dubai Investment
and Invest Bank lost 5 fils each, Shuaa Capital remained unchanged at 85 fils.
National Bank of Sharjah counter saw a trading of 132,879 shares for Dh936,797
taking the closing price up by 1fil.
National Bank of Dubai, on the other hand, gained 85 fils as
29,075 shares changed hands. Heavy trading, to the tune of 196,000 and 306,838
shares respectively, took place at First Gulf Bank and Invest Bank counters.
SAUDI STOCKS POISED FOR STELLAR YEAR
Saudi Arabian stocks are poised for a stellar 2002 if oil
prices remain firm, although the Arab world's largest bourse may see a
correction in the short term after climbing to recent record highs, economists
said, according to a Reuters report from Dubai.
The index bucked a global trend to surge 19 per cent so far
this year, pushing past a long-standing 2,700-point psychological barrier, on
stronger prices for oil, the kingdom's main revenue earner, as well as lower
interest rates and earnings gains by blue-chip companies.
SADDAM 'TO FACE REFERENDUM'
Iraq is to hold a referendum later this year to decide
whether President Saddam Hussein should remain in office, according to state
The vice-chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of
Iraq, Ezzat Ibrahim — the country's second-in-command — is said to be
chairing a committee to ensure a "successful result" in the ballot.
Saddam Hussein won a similar referendum in 1995, when
according to official figures more than 99% of the voters supported the
GCC LEADERS TO BACK ARAFAT
GCC leaders are expected to express support for Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat and the reconstruction of damaged areas in the West Bank
when they hold summit talks in Jeddah in the second half of this month, GCC
The leaders from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council will
meet in the Red Sea port just after mid-May for consultative deliberations ahead
of their annual summit late this year.
MUBARAK TO MEET SAUDI CROWN PRINCE
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Wednesday he would
meet Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah soon and that the talks might include the
Syrian president, Egypt's official Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.
DSF TO TARGET NEW MARKETS
The 2003 Dubai Shopping Festival will target new markets,
especially the CIS, according to Saeed Mohammed Al Nabouda, DSF CEO. The timing
of Dubai Shopping Festival 2003 (DSF) has also been rescheduled to January 15 to
EMIRATES WIN AWARDS
Emirates airline was voted the best airline and Dubai
International Airport the best airport in the region in the first Business
Traveller Middle East Awards 2002.
AL TOMOOH ADDS TWO NEW PROJECTS
Al Tomooh, which finances small and medium enterprises
floated by UAE nationals, has added two new projects, which raises the total
number of such projects to 22 and are collectively financed at Dh13 million.
Al Tomooh will hold an exhibition during the final quarter of
this year for those projects that are financed by it. A plan is also underway to
upgrade overall performance.
OCCIDENTAL TAKES 24.5PC STAKE IN DEL
Occidental Petroleum is taking a 24.5 per cent equity in
Dolphin Energy Ltd (DEL), the joint venture company responsible for implementing
the ambitious multi-billion Dolphin Gas Project.
Occidental Petroleum will now join France's TotalFinaElf
which has a 24.5 per cent equity in DEL and the UAE Offsets Group (UOG) which
holds a 51 per cent equity.
TOURISM IN DUBAI
Qatar, which is taking steps to become the region's leader
for conventions and conferences, aims to complement Dubai' tourism industry
instead of competing with it, said Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Thani, chairman
of Qatar National Hotels.
GLOBAL HAWALA MEET
The UAE Central Bank announced it is sponsoring an
International Conference on Hawala to be held in Abu Dhabi on May 15 and 16.
Around 30 countries will be participating in the conference
including countries from the region, the U.S., western Europe and Asia.