17 - 23, 2002
GCC BRACES FOR SLOWER GROWTH IN '02
Economies of the six GCC states are set to slow down in real
terms this year because of an expected decline in average oil prices and the
decision to cut crude production in line with a global agreement to support
prices, according to a United Nations report.
From around $251.6 billion in 2001, the GCC's combined gross
domestic product (GDP) will increase by nearly 0.8 per cent in real terms to
$253.5 billion in 2002, the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA)
said in a report.
The level is far lower than the real growth of more than 2
per cent recorded in 2001 and as high as 5.1 per cent in 2000, the report
Individually, economic performance is expected to remain
strong in Qatar, with a forecast real growth of 5.5 per cent, the highest in the
21-year-old economic, defence and political group. It will also be above one per
cent in the UAE and Bahrain.
In Kuwait, the GDP is projected to decline this year by
around 0.6 per cent while in Saudi Arabia there will be a modest real growth of
0.5 per cent.
"Because Saudi Arabia has by far the largest economy in
the region, the slow growth in its GDP is the main factor in the low growth in
the GCC's combined GDP this year," it said.
The report blamed lower oil prices and output cuts by most
GCC states within a collective agreement by Opec and other producers to tighten
supplies to bolster crude prices.
Oil analysts expect the combined crude oil production of the
six GCC countries, of which four are Opec members, to decline by at least
700,000 bpd over last year's average output.
Prices could be around $2 below their 2001 average of nearly
$23.5 and this means the GCC's total oil export earning could dip by more than
10 per cent to around $90 billion this year from nearly $101 billion in 2001 and
as high as $130 billion in 2000.
G8 SPLIT OVER MIDDLE EAST
Foreign ministers from eight of the world's most powerful
countries have disagreed at a meeting in Whistler, Canada, over the way forward
in the Middle East.
Following the meeting the chairman, Canadian Foreign Minister
Bill Graham, said he did not believe the Middle East peace conference would now
convene next month as had been expected.
The foreign ministers had intended to focus this meeting on
measures to combat terrorism, but almost inevitably the Middle East grabbed much
of the attention.
Once again it is clear the United States came under pressure
to push ahead with political talks and steps towards the early recognition of a
Asked about setting a timeline for the creation of such a
state, the American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said only that the idea
was still being considered.
By contrast, both Javier Solana of the European Union and the
Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, said the idea would be helpful.
Back in Washington President Bush spoke about the evolution
of a Palestinian state, suggesting he may be moving closer to supporting Mr
Powell's idea of a provisional Palestinian state.
The president is now expected to outline his Middle East
policy sometime next week.
Until then things remain very confused with domestic
political pressure pulling him in one direction and most foreign allies, such as
those represented here in Whistler pulling the other.
STUDY WARNS OF 'WATER WAR' IN MIDDLE EAST
Arab states and other countries in the Middle East should
work for a collective agreement on sharing water resources to prevent the
outbreak of a major conflict that could be triggered by fear of thirst, an Arab
A severe water crisis has already started looming in the Arab
world which is now classified as the worst region in terms of per capita share
of sweet water, and its heavy reliance on foreign water sources mainly from
Ethiopia and Turkey, said the study by the Abu Dhabi-based Zayed Centre for
Coordination and Follow-up, an Arab League affiliate.
Although Arabs account for more than seven per cent of the
world's population, their share of the global recoverable water resources does
not exceed 0.5 per cent.
In the absence of a strategy to develop water reserves, the
per capita share of sweet water in the Arab region plummeted from 3,126 cubic
metres in 1950 to only 981 cubic metres in 2000, the lowest in the world, the
QATAR SEALS THREE DEALS WORTH $2B
State-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP) signed three deals with
foreign firms to build petrochemical plants worth more than $2 billion, Oil
Minister Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah said.
Chevron Phillips Chemical will take a 49 per cent stake in
the $1.1 billion Q-Chem II project to produce 350,000 tonnes per year of high
density polyethylene (HDP) and normal alpha olefins.
Chevron Phillips Chemical is a joint venture between
ChevronTexaco and Phillips Petroleum. The second deal, the $550 million Qatofin
project, will establish a world-scale linear low density polyethylene plant with
an output capacity of 450,000 tonnes.
Qatar Petrochemicals Company will hold 63 per cent, ATOFINA
— a unit of TotalFinaElf — will take a 36 per cent stake and QP will own one
The third project, a $470 million ethane cracker, will see Q-Chem
II taking a 53.31 per cent stake, Qatofin holding a 45.69 per cent share and QP
owning the rest.
ISLAMIC BANKS URGED TO FORGE MAJOR NICHE MARKET
Islamic banks are being challenged to diversify and develop
new sources of revenue rather than simply competing on price against each other
in a narrow range of products, says an industry expert. It is "the need of
the hour if our industry is to grow," said Atif A. Abdulmalik, chief
executive of First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain.
Quoted in the Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst newsletter
surveying the "vibrant new generation" in Islamic finance, Abdulmalik
underlines the potential of the industry to unlock greater funds and forge for
itself a major niche market.
ARAFAT TO SET POLL DATES SOON
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat convened his new cabinet's
first meeting on Thursday, saying he would soon set a date for elections and
calling for an end to violence so that peace could take hold.
The Palestinian leader opened the first meeting of his
reshuffled cabinet in Ramallah after Israeli forces ended a three-day occupation
of the West Bank city, a siege which had prevented the session from taking place
earlier in the week.
UASC POSTS $41M PROFIT LAST YEAR
United Arab Shipping Co (UASC) posted a profit of Dh150
million ($41 million) last year despite it being a gloomy period in which the
sector saw overall lower business, including UASC itself.
BAHRAIN OKAYS FOUR LICENCES
Bahrain approved four new licences to banks and financial
institutions to be established in the kingdom, the government announced.
The licences were approved "this week" by Prime
Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khlaifa, who chairs the board of the
Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA), an official statement said.
BELLELI TO STEP UP INVESTMENT IN UAE
Belleli Energy has invested more than Dh20 million in the UAE
with the development of a company headquarters and two new workshops.
At the beginning of the year, the company moved into its new
50,000 sq mt base at Jebel Ali Industrial Zone. The new facility, which cost
about Dh13.5 million to set up, includes a workshop and the company's regional
DIFC TO HOST MALAYSIAN BOND ISSUE
The hosting of the Malaysian trust certificates issue
roadshow on June 17 will mark the first move of the Dubai International
Financial Centre (DIFC) — even as the official operation of the centre is yet
to take off.
Dubai is expected to subscribe heavily to the floating rate
sukuk (trust certificates) to be globally issued by Malaysia, based on Shariah
LIBERAL GROUP TO TAKE PART IN BAHRAIN POLLS
Eighty per cent of one of Bahrain's major liberal groups'
members voted in favour of participating in the October's parliamentary
elections, president of the party told Gulf News.
"The board will meet on Saturday to formally state our
position with regard to the election," said Abdul Rahman Al Nuaimi,
president of the leftist National Democratic Action Society (NDA), Bahrain's
largest liberal political association.
He expected the decision to be in favour of participating in
the elections, scheduled to take place on October 26.
OMAN TO ESTABLISH NEW AREAS FOR MANGROVES
Oman is working to establish new areas for mangroves as part
of the government efforts to protect its marine resources, according to a top
official at the Director General of Environmental Affairs.
"Soon we would launch a 22-month project with Japanese
experts to develop new areas for mangrove," the acting Director General at
the department, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Muharrami told Gulf News.
The Sultanate of Oman has a 3165 km coastline and mangroves
are vital to preserve its resources, including marine life like endangered
species of turtles.
MODHESH FUN CITY
Children everywhere, including a few adults, will be waiting
in anticipation for the opening of Modhesh Fun City on June 20, located in the
expansive Airport Expo hall.
The focal point for live children's entertainment will be a
specially created Modhesh Fun City Auditorium area, capable of seating up to 700
ARAFAT CALLS NEW CABINET TOGETHER
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has opened the first cabinet
meeting after a major reorganisation and streamlining of his Palestinian
At the start of proceedings, Mr Arafat announced: "As
soon as possible, we must prepare for the local elections as well as
presidential and legislative elections."
He declared that the government must "quickly put in
place and carry out plans that would bring back the ministries and institutions
to make us more effective in carrying out our tasks."
BUSH STEPS UP MID-EAST DIPLOMACY
US President George W Bush has met with the Saudi Foreign
Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in Washington — the latest in a series of
contacts before new US proposals for Middle East peace are unveiled.
The meeting came only a day after confusion about US policy
on the region deepened, with Secretary of State Colin Powell seemingly at odds
with the White House.
ISRAEL PULLS OUT OF RAMALLAH
Israel has withdrawn its forces from Ramallah, saying its
latest security operation there is over.
Troops and tanks entered the West Bank town on Monday,
setting up positions around Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters.
They withdrew on Wednesday night as Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon held talks with his British counterpart, Tony Blair, in London.
But shortly after the Ramallah withdrawal, the military
mounted a new search operation in the Palestinian village of Tubas, near Jenin.
ARRESTS FOLLOW SYRIA DAM BURST
The Syrian authorities have arrested several people involved
in building and managing a dam which burst last week causing at least 20 deaths
and making thousands homeless.
Some reports put the number of those detained as high as 50.
They include a former minister of irrigation and the manager
of the Syrian company that built the dam north of the city of Hama.
BLAZE RUINS SAUDI ART TREASURES
A collection of precious Islamic and other antiquities has
been destroyed in a blaze which gutted much of one of Saudi Arabia's largest
One of three buildings housing the collection in Jeddah was
completely destroyed, despite efforts to contain the fire.
Saudi officials say a second building in the Abdul Rauf Hasan
Khalil Museum was also affected by the fire.
An adjacent apartment block had to be evacuated as a result
of the fire, which is believed to have been caused by an electrical short
MOROCCAN JOBLESS LEFT ADRIFT
It sounded too good to be true. When Saed, 25, heard on the
grapevine that Gulf-based Al-Najat Marine Shipping wanted to hire 30,000
Moroccans to work on cruise ships, it was a chance not to be missed.
With thousands of other young Moroccans, he filled out a form
and travelled to Casablanca for a pre-employment medical check-up for which he
was charged 900 dirhams — almost $80 and more than the weekly wage at his last
job, as a car salesman.