10 - 16, 2002
INTER-ARAB TRADE 'FALLS SINCE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF
Accusing regional governments of failing to support joint
ventures, a senior Bahraini official says inter-Arab Gulf trade has been on the
decline since the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
"The inter-regional trade, particularly joint projects,
had been flourishing in the pre-GCC era," Abdullah Mansour, undersecretary,
Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said, but did not give out any numbers.
Mansour, who was speaking at a seminar on 'GCC Economic
Integration', organised by the Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research (BCSR),
called on major private sector institutions to pressure governments for the aim
of reinvigorating inter-GCC economic and commercial projects.
Speaking earlier, Dr Majeed Al Alawi, vice-chairman of the
BCSR said: "The strategic and security future of our region depends a great
deal on the inter-cooperation between its countries, its economic integration in
However, Dr Ali Al Mannai, BCSR economic research director
said inter-GCC exports represent only seven per cent of the total regional
He attributed the low number to the dominance of oil as the
main item of export — 88 per cent.
"The establishment of the Customs Union (expected in
January 2003) will not increase the inter-regional trade volume as widely, and
indeed wrongfully, assumed, because GCC countries do not possess the sufficient
industrial base," he explained.
Al Mannai said the existence of multiple free trade zones in
the region that deal with similar foreign-produced goods, and the production of
mostly the same products mainly petrochemicals, create an atmosphere of fierce
competition among GCC states that hinders most integration schemes.
IRAN TO INVITE FOREIGN OIL EXPLORATION FIRMS
Iran is in the process of offering exploration rights to
foreign companies and joint ventures for some new oil and gas fields in the Gulf
and Oman Sea, according to a senior Iranian government official.
Joint seismic surveys have already been carried out with some
foreign experts in certain blocks and some surveys are under way in other blocks
to assess the availability of energy sources, a deputy Iranian minister was
quoted as saying to Petronews in Tehran recently.
"We are conducting joint seismic surveys with some
foreign companies in Oman Sea, Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf to determine the
level of oil and gas reserves in the region. We are developing new energy blocks
and would invite foreign exploration companies and joint ventures to invest in
the energy sector," said Mehdi Mirmoezi, Iran's Deputy Minister of
Petroleum and president of National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) in Tehran.
"During the last 20 years, Gulf countries had supplied
less than 17 per cent of the global oil demand. It is expected during next 20
years some 85 per cent of global oil demand would be met by them.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran, the second largest oil
producer among Opec members, must supply almost 12 per cent of total global oil
demand in the next 20 years. Therefore, priority is particularly given to the
internal policies to attract the investment in oil sector."
Iran's present gas reserves are estimated to be over 26
trillion cubic metres (tcm). Oil is the source of 85 per cent of its foreign
currency and 98 per cent of internal energy.
Iran currently has 15.8 per cent of the world's gas reserves
and 8 per cent of this lies in the South Pars gas field — the largest gas
field in the world. Almost half of the field's 14 sub-fields have been awarded.
The remaining are in the process of being tendered.
The country has spent $600 million in recent months as
capital investment in the oil industry.
UAE'S CURRENT ACCOUNT MAY REMAIN IN SURPLUS
The UAE's current account is expected to remain in surplus in
the next two fiscal years despite a projected decline in oil export earnings, a
plunge in international interest rates and a high import bill, according to a
The surplus will allow the government to shun borrowing and
at the same time support its overseas assets which in turn will consolidate the
UAE's financial credibility in global markets, the London-based Economic
Intelligence Unit (EIU) said.
Although oil prices and production are forecast to be lower,
the UAE's current account will record a surplus of around $5.2 billion this year
and $5.3 billion in 2003, the report said.
The balance, however, is lower than the current account
surplus recorded in 2000 and 2001, when it stood at $13.2 billion and $9 billion
NEW US SECURITY MEASURES ANGER ARABS
America's latest security precautions will not make it any
safer, in fact they may make matters worse, according to Arabs both in the
Middle East and the United States.
On Wednesday US Attorney General John Ashcroft announced
plans to fingerprint and photograph thousands of visitors, focusing on those
from the Middle East.
The plans have been denounced by civil rights groups as
In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai's police chief was quoted
on Thursday in the local paper Gulf News as saying that Arabs are shocked by the
way Muslims and Arabs are being vilified and targeted in the US.
BRITAIN WELCOMES MUBARAK PLAN
Britain has welcomed the Egyptian President's plan to set up
a timetable for the creation of a Palestinian state and achieve peace in the
British Prime Minister Tony Blair indicated that he even was
willing to go to the Middle East "as a mediator" when the need arises.
British government sources told Gulf News that Blair had
'whole heartedly supported' Mubarak's views on how to get the peace process out
of the current impasse.
The sources explained that Mubarak's new ideas combined with
the Crown Prince Abdullah's initiative "can move us many miles down the
road and bring the parties very close indeed to a genuine and final settlement
in the Middle East".
ARAFAT DEFIANT AFTER HQ RAID
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has responded with defiance
after Israeli forces stormed his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah,
demolishing buildings and firing tank shells.
Mr Arafat was speaking after Israel tanks and troops ended a
six-hour raid on his compound in response to Wednesday's suicide attack in
The Palestinian leader emerged from his compound on Thursday
flashing the victory sign and promising the Israeli raid would "increase
the steadfastness of our people".
"I call on all the world to see this racism and this
fascism," he said. "They try to say that they can defeat us. Nobody
can defeat the Palestinian people."
Two of Mr Arafat's security staff were killed in the raid and
inspections of the damage showed a tank shell or rocket had punched a hole in Mr
Arafat's bedroom about 1.5 metres (five feet) from where he said he was meant to
have been sleeping.
ISRAEL STARTS NEW SETTLEMENT
Israel began work on a new Jewish settlement in occupied Al
Quds on Monday. An Israeli contractor began drawing a fence around an area of
some 10 hectares in the Arab neighbourhood of Jabel Mukhaber, where the Jewish
compound, to be called Nof Zahav (Golden View), will be built. It will contain
several hundred apartments, a luxury hotel and a cable car.
EMIRATES SIGNS DH5.5B ENGINE DEAL
Emirates airline has signed a Dh5.5 billion ($1.5 billion)
deal with the GE-PW Engine Alliance for its GP7000 engine family to power its 22
firm and 10 option Airbus A380-800 aircraft, WAM reports from Dubai.
ASIAN CRUDE MARKET STEADY
The Asian crudes market was thin with the absence of buyers
keeping market talk scant.
Traders said that the few cargoes of leftover Abu Dhabi
crudes for July remained unsold, while Oman market was getting off to a slow
start for August.
On Asian sweet crudes, buyers were also mostly in hiding,
watching the arbitrage opportunity to buy Brent-priced crudes instead, as the
Brent/ Dubai spread narrowed.
EMNEX INDICES CLOSE HIGHER
The UAE stocks closed the week improving upon their positions
of June 5 — with the Emnex gaining 1.22 per cent to hit 2,007.75 points; and
the NBAD Index rising by 0.91 per cent to 3114.40 points.
NBAD Index which lists 38 active listed and OTC stocks, saw
its banking sector index rise 58.72 points, and its insurance sector index
IRAQ 'HAS NO TERROR WEAPONS'
A former United Nations official who worked in Iraq says he
does not believe it possesses weapons of mass destruction.
The official, Denis Halliday, was the UN humanitarian co-ordinator
in Iraq in 1997-98.
Mr Halliday said he thought a US attack on Iraq was likely
later this year, and people there were deeply concerned.
QATAR HEADS FOR BIG GAS DEVELOPMENT
Massive gas developments are to take place in Qatar in the
coming years following confirmed results of the country's gas reserves being 900
trillion cubic feet (tcf), Abdulla bin Hamad Al Atiyyah, Qatar's Energy Minister
"The gas reserves in Qatar's North Field have been
certified by a third party to be 900 tcf now. Therefore, large scale gas
developments will take place now that the gas reserves have trebled from 300tcf
in the mid-90s," Al Atiyyah told Gulf News.
"There is the whole gas basket — LNG, LPG, GTL — and
other gas-based products for local and international markets, to be developed.
You will see major activity in the country's gas sector," he said, adding
that discussions to this effect will begin in the coming months.
MEAT, DAIRY PRODUCTS SURVEYED
The Veterinary Services Section in the Public Health
Department of Dubai Municipality recently conducted a microbic survey on animal
products establishments in Dubai to determine the level of salmonella pollution.
Oman is opening up its doors for the tourism industry but a
top official firmly believes that the time has come for the private sector to
play a major role in promoting the Sultanate outside the country.
"The government is making every effort to make it easy
for tourists to come to Oman, including the visa procedure," the Director
of Tourism Affairs in Oman, Nawaf Juma Al Balushi, told Gulf News. However, he
feels: "The private sector should invest in promoting the country as a
Dubai Shipping Co (DSC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of
Emirates National Oil Co (Enoc), has signed a Dh233 million ($63 million)
medium-term loan facility with Mashreqbank, to provide funds for its expanding
SAUDIS, OIL GROUP LIKELY TO SIGN MEGA DEAL
Saudi Arabia and a group of international oil giants are on
the verge of reaching an agreement to launch a multibillion dollar gas project
that has eluded the two sides for nearly a year despite its massive benefit to
both, economists said.
The world's dominant oil power first floated the $25 billion
gas initiative nearly five years ago when Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
met chiefs of international oil giants and invited them to invest in the
kingdom's massive but untapped gas sector.
There was a positive response and a preliminary agreement was
reached last year between Riyadh and a consortium of eight global oil firms to
develop gas fields for domestic consumption and associated industries.
Dubai-based Process Automa-tion Consultants and Systems
Integrators (Pracsi), is going to install and commission a $7 million control
system project in northern Iraq's three oil refineries under the UN Food for Oil
Programme, next month.
OCCIDENTAL EYES FURTHER INVESTMENTS IN GULF
The U.S. energy major, Occidental Petroleum Corp with
investments of more than $2 billion in the Gulf excluding the latest $310
million in the Dolphin gas project, is actively looking at further investments
in the region.
Occidental has major oil producing operations in Yemen
including exploration in many blocks. The company is active in Qatar, producing
oil for nine years and is expanding its activities there. "We are also
active in Oman's oil and gas sector," he said.
Recognising the rich contributions of Asian businessmen and
investors to the national economy, Bahrain's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI)
has established a permanent committee to look after the interests of at least
200 Asian traders in the island kingdom.
GIB FOR STC ISSUE
Saudi Arabia has mandated Gulf International Bank (GIB) to
arrange the initial public offering (IPO) of state-owned Saudi
Telecommunications Company (STC) before year-end, bankers in the kingdom said.
Bankers said they expected the government to offer up to 30
per cent of the 240 million shares of STC, or 72 million shares worth 3.6
billion riyals ($960 million).
IRAN TO PRESS ON WITH BOND PLANS
Iran is to press on with plans for its first bond issue since
the Islamic revolution despite a snub by a major U.S. credit rating agency
against a country President George W. Bush describes as part of an "axis of
Banks putting together an offer of up to 500 million euros
($470 million) of international paper said they were undeterred by the
withdrawal of Iran's sovereign debt rating by Moody's Investors Service.
SYRIA AID APPEAL AFTER DAM BURSTS
Syria has asked the United Nations for emergency aid after a
dam burst, causing widespread flooding and massive damage.
Twenty people were killed and four were declared missing when
71 million cubic metres of water streamed out of the Zeyzoun dam, near the town
of Hama, about 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of Damascus. Unconfirmed reports
said there might be up to a 100 dead.