GULF

 

July 22 - 28, 2002

 

1.INTERNATIONAL

2. INDUSTRY

3. FINANCE

4. POLICY

5. TRADE

6. GULF

 

EU, ARABS OPPOSE NEW US POLICY ON ME

The European Union and the Arab nations did not endorse the new US policy in the Middle East based on isolating Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and setting security for Israelis as a primary precondition for progress towards peace.

After the first high-level consultations of the Middle East "quartet" since President George W. Bush reversed policy on June 24, the United States stood isolated on crucial issues.

The meeting was presided over by US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The envoys of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations, Egypt and Jordan disagreed publicly with US Secretary of State Colin Powell on relations with Arafat and on whether Palestinians alone can end Middle East violence.

However, after more than two hours of talks on the situation in the Middle East, the members of the diplomatic "quartet" the United Nations, United States, Russian Federation and European Union said they were committed to backing reform efforts initiated by Palestinian Authority and called on Israel to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable Palestinian State.

In a communique read to the press after the meeting in New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the quartet strongly supported the goal of a final Israeli-Palestinian settlement, as expressed in a statement last month by US President George W. Bush, and agreed that with an intensive effort on security and reform by all, this could be reached within three years.

"We remain committed to implementing the vision of two States, Israel and an independent, viable and democratic Palestine, living side by side in peace and security," Mr Annan said.

UAE BOP REMAINS IN SURPLUS

The UAE recorded another year of surplus in its balance of payments in 2001 despite a sharp decline in oil export revenues and an increase in imports and remittances by its expatriate community, official figures showed.

A decline of nearly $4 in oil prices last year sharply upset its BoP, current account and trade balance but they all remained in a surplus thanks to a growth in industrial exports, high gas sales and large returns from overseas investments.

Central Bank figures showed the BoP, the country's external financial balance, recorded a surplus of around Dh1.78 billion ($485 million) in 2001 compared with a mammoth surplus of Dh10.41 billion ($2.83 billion) in 2000.

The current account surplus stood at Dh 32.54 billion ($18.86 billion) in 2001 compared with Dh50.5 billion ($13.7 billion) in 2000 while the trade balance recorded a surplus of Dh38.1 billion ($10.38 billion) against Dh54.4 billion ($14.8 billion) in the same period.

Total exports declined to around Dh171.2 billion ($46.6 billion) from Dh183 billion ($49.8) billion mainly because of a drop in crude oil sales to nearly Dh 66.1 billion ($18 billion) in 2001 from around Dh79.4 billion ($21.6 billion) in 2000.

But natural gas and LNG exports fell slightly to around Dh12.6 billion ($3.4 billion) from nearly Dh13.9 billion ($3.7 billion) while non-oil exports, mostly manufacturing products, grew to around Dh42.7 billion ($11.6 billion) from Dh 41.4 billion ($11.2 billion).

The figures showed remittances by the UAE's large foreign community is still putting heavy pressure on the BoP as they peaked at around Dh14.3 billion ($3.89 billion) in 2001 compared with nearly Dh13.5 billion ($3.67 billion) in 2000.

NATIONALS ACCOUNT FOR ONLY 9PC OF PRIVATE SECTOR

UAE nationals account for only 9 per cent of the total workforce in Dubai's private sector, according to a government report.

Asians make up 80.56 per cent and Arab expatriates total 7.61 per cent while Europeans make up 2.01 per cent. The report excluded government departments and international organisations.

About 437,248 people are working in 37,775 organisations across the emirate, including 400,764 males and 36,484 females. Total number of Asians working in these establishments are 381,500, including 355,240 males and 26,260 females.

The number of Arab expatriates totals 36,027, including 31,207 males and 4,820 females while European workforce in the emirate accounts for 9,527, including 6,500 males and 3,027 females.

POPULATION OF UAE CLIMBS 7.4PC IN 2001

The UAE's population surged by nearly 7.4 per cent in 2001 as more foreign workers streamed in and the government pushed ahead with a policy to encourage UAE nationals to have more children, according to official estimates.

From around 3.24 million at the end of 2000, the country's population totalled nearly 3.48 million at the end of 2001, showed the figures by the Planning Ministry.

Males accounted for 67.6 per cent of the total population in 2001 while the under-15 age group numbered 892,000 and the 15-40-year age group nearly 1.9 million.

Growth in the first group stood at 6.8 per cent and in the second group at 7.6 per cent, while people between 40 and 60 years grew by 7.7 per cent to 638,000 in 2001.

US TALKS GIVE ARAB MINISTERS HOPE

Foreign ministers from three Arab states have said they are encouraged by US peace proposals for the Middle East after talks with President George W Bush in Washington.

The talks focused on Mr Bush's call for the reform of Palestinian institutions as well as a new security plan to restructure the Palestinian security forces.

Ahead of the talks with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, Mr Bush said he refused to be discouraged by Palestinian suicide attacks on Israel, which he said were aimed at derailing the Middle East peace process.

KHAMENEI SAYS BUSH GIVEN A SLAP BY IRAN UNITY

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country's normally feuding political factions had given Washington a "slap in the mouth" by uniting against U.S. "interference".

Reformist President Mohammed Khatami this week joined enraged conservatives by condemning a statement by U.S. President George W. Bush expressing solidarity with pro-reform youths who clashed with security forces near Tehran University.

"Khatami took a position against Bush and slapped him in the mouth," Khamenei, the most powerful figure in Iran, told worshippers who answered with chants of "Death to America".

"Different factions, although they have disputes, told the Americans to mind their own business and told them not to interfere in Iran's internal affairs," Khamenei said.

SRAELI AIRCRAFT STRIKE GAZA STRIP

The Israeli air force on Sunday destroyed two buildings in the Gaza Strip, including one said to have been the home of a slain militant, while Israel went on high alert over fresh warnings of planned bombings.

A witness said two US-made Apache helicopters fired one rocket apiece at a building in Khan Yunis used by Palestinian police, who had evacuated the area before the strike. The same witness said an F-16 warplane fired a rocket at another house nearby, destroying the three-story building. Hospital officials said five people were injured in the air raid, all of them civilians.

TWO GOVERNMENT ENTITIES CONSIDER BOND ISSUE

Some local government entities are contemplating a bond issue for project financing on assurances from top local banks of underwriting them should investor response be poor, say top banking sources.

At least two government-backed entities in Abu Dhabi, in the energy and power sector, are likely to issue bonds late this year or early next year. Negotiations are currently soon with banks.

NBD, HSBC LEAD SECTOR IN ASSETS

HSBC Bank M.E. came out on top in overall assets among foreign banks operating in the UAE, while among local banks the honour went to National Bank of Dubai.

HSBC's total assets grew to more than Dh16 billion, and was followed by Standard Chartered Bank with over Dh12 billion, and Citibank with over Dh8 billion, according to a survey on the banking sector's performance in 2001 by KPMG, the international accounting firm.

Among local banks, National Bank of Dubai (NBD) pipped National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) as both reported assets over Dh30 billion. NBD's final tally was Dh32.66 billion against NBAD's Dh32.25 billion.

JORDAN AIRLINE

Jordan flag carrier Royal Jordanian has embarked on a major fleet modernisation to raise its competitive edge with global carriers and add value for a future strategic partner, the company's chief executive officer said.

DIFC

The recently launched Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) poses a challenge to Bahrain's financial services sector, notably the offshore banking units (OBUs) activity. To be sure, as of date, Bahrain serves as the main financial hub in the Gulf.

SAUDIS PLAN THIRD SATELLITE LAUNCH

Saudi Arabia plans to launch its third satellite later this year to obtain vital data on weather conditions and oil exploration, besides monitoring the movement of vehicles in the remote regions of the kingdom, sources said.

The satellite will be put in orbit from a Russian launching station. It will not only help in locating missing vehicles but also in controlling traffic movement across the mountainous border areas of the country with its huge uninhabited deserts, scientists said.

UAE, JORDAN OPPOSED TO ANY ATTACK ON IRAQ

The UAE and Jordan reiterated their commitment to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

At a meeting held at Al Bateen Palace, King Abdullah II of Jordan and His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, reaffirmed their support for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to set up their own state, not only as provided for by the relevant international resolutions but also in line with the principle of land for peace.

NATIONALS SHOW INTEREST IN TOURISM

The first batch of 50 young female UAE nationals who completed a Career Development Summer Programme in the tourism and hospitality industry, shows a shift in the perception about gender roles.

In a presentation of their group work held at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Jumeirah, the young women exhibited their projects which capped a month-long tourism crash course using the latest communications technology.

UAE BOOSTS SPENDING BY $2B TO STIMULATE ECONOMY

The UAE boosted spending by more than $2 billion in 2001 despite lower revenues in a bid to stimulate the domestic economy and meet its internal and external financial commitments, official figures showed.

The consolidated financial account, which comprises federal spending and the local budget of each emirate, increased to around Dh93.7 billion in 2001 from nearly Dh84.06 billion in 2000, the Central Bank said in its 2001 bulletin.

Revenues receded to around Dh67.9 billion from Dh74.3 billion mainly because of a decline in crude prices.

The decline sharply widened the budget deficit to nearly Dh25.7 billion from around Dh9.6 billion in the same period.

SADDAM SCORNS THREATS TO IRAQ

Even devils cannot help aggressors Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has said that "evil tyrants and oppressors" will not be able to unseat him and his government.

"You will never defeat me this time. Never!" said Saddam Hussein, speaking in a televised address.

The US has branded Iraq part of an "axis of evil" supporting terrorism, and President George W Bush has vowed to pursue the Iraqi leader's removal.

UN CALLS FOR NEW MID-EAST STRATEGY

The United Nations co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process has said that without the firm involvement of the international community there is little or no prospect for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Terje Roed Larsen was speaking at the seminar on the Middle East in Copenhagen, echoing a general tone of pessimism at the gathering.

An opening address from the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said that in many ways the situation in the Middle East now is worse than it has been at any time since 1967.