Jan 21 - 27, 2002
Opec income expected to remain high despite gloom
Opec is expected to lose only around $11 billion this year
because of lower production and prices, but the income remains much higher than
the 1998 earnings.
The group's oil export revenues, excluding those of
embargo-bound Iraq, totalled nearly $166 billion last year, and they are
expected to slide to around $155 billion this year, according to estimates by
the London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES).
Expectations that the 2002 income will be relatively high are
in contrast to recent speculation that the 11-nation group could stagger under
steep revenue declines this year because of a global economic slowdown following
the September 11 suicide bombings in the U.S.
"The price of Opec's basket of seven crudes averaged
around $23.1 last year and it is projected to be around $22 this year,"
said Leo Drollas, deputy director of CGES, which is owned by former Saudi oil
minister Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Al Yamani.
"We expect the average to be around $19.5 in the first
half of this year and $25 in the second half ... the reason for the increase is
that global stocks are not very high except in the U.S.," he told Gulf
CGES's estimates showed Opec produced nearly 27.1 million
barrels per day, including Iraq's output, and supplies are expected to slide to
about 26.5 million bpd this year following Opec's decision to cut output by 1.5
million bpd from January 1 to prop up prices.
Experts said they did not expect Opec to fully comply with
that agreement, which also included a deal with Russia and other major non-Opec
crude exporters to reduce output by around 470,000 bpd.
"Opec never complied fully with any of its agreements
... the expectations this time are that compliance with its latest decision will
be around 60 per cent," said Mehdi Varzi, director of the Global Oil and
Gas Research Centre, also based in London.
U.S. begins to probe hawala deals in Gulf
Hawala and other alternate remittance channels used by
millions of Asian expatriate workers in the GCC and even in the West, to send
money home, is being probed by officials combating terrorist financing,
confirmed a top U.S. Treasury Department criminal investigator.
"The alternative system poses the biggest challenge to
the U.S. Government and the authorities are placing all institutions working on
U.S. soil under the ambit of the regulatory regime, especially in the
post-September 11 era," stated John Cassara, senior special agent in the
U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crime Enforcement Network.
Preliminary discussions on dealing with hawala have already
been initiated with the GCC monetary authorities, with the U.S. also planning to
work with the relevant Indian and Pakistani authorities.
"The war against terrorism is multi-faceted, involving
increased vigilance in financial transfers, and the fight against terrorist
financing needs to include hawala," he declared.
Under the hawala system — in existence for ages — an
expatriate South Asian worker hands over local currency to a money dealer whose
representative in the respective country delivers the equivalent, plus a
mark-up, to the worker's nominee, usually a family member.
The expatriate thus gets a better exchange rate sans banking
charges while the dealer gets foreign currency. The authorities in both
countries are kept in the dark about these transactions.
Cassara noted that this parallel mode of sending money is
very sophisticated. It is also undeniably very popular: "Of the estimated
$10 billion remitted annually to Pakistan, only $1 billion is sent through the
Bank guarantee scheme misused
The bank guarantee scheme initiated by the Ministry of Labour
and Social Affairs a few months back is allegedly being misused by some
establishments, leaving their employees in a Catch-22 situation.
Though the government move has been sincerely aimed at
protecting the labourers against the possible non-payment of salaries or other
dues, the reality is that some of these establishments press the labourers
themselves to cough up the required Dh3,000 for themselves.
This is specially so in cases of fresh recruitment, where the
amount is added to the commission a prospective employee pays to get a job and
visa before he arrives here.
Employees in such firms are being given strict warning not to
reveal the modus operandi of raising deposits.
Abu Dhabi-Iran joint venture in Shell deal
The joint venture of Abu Dhabi-based National Petroleum
Construction Co (NPCC) and Iran's Naft Sazeh Qeshm (NSQ) has signed a contract
with Shell Exploration BV for the construction of facilities for use in the
development of Iran's Soroosh/Nowrooz oil fields, official sources said.
NPCC and NSQ will be responsible for the engineering,
procurement, installation and construction management of the facilities that
comprise three production platforms, two living quarters platforms, two wellhead
platforms and associated pipelines.
"It is the largest contract for surface facilities to be
signed to date in the development of the Soorosh/Nowrooz oil fields," said
John van den Bergh, general services manager, Shell EBV, in the latest Shell in
the Middle East edition.
UAE posts growth in money supply
Money supply expanded by Dh1.08 billion ending third quarter
2001 to reach Dh38.10 billion, registering a 2.9 per cent increase over the
second quarter, the latest statistical bulletin of the UAE Central Bank said.
The money supply components review indicates that monetary
deposits rose by Dh1.01 billion (3.7 per cent) to touch Dh28.33 billion, and
currency with the public rose by Dh64 million (0.7 per cent) to reach Dh9.77
According to Central Bank figures, private domestic liquidity
decreased during the third quarter of 2001 by Dh656 million (0.4 per cent)
reaching Dh152.97 billion, as a result of the decrease in quasi-monetary
deposits by Dh1.73 billion (1.5 per cent) to reach Dh114.87 billion, against
Dh116.61 billion in the previous quarter.
The overall liquidity rose by Dh412 million (0.2 per cent) to
reach Dh191.49 billion, owing to the increase in government deposits by Dh1.07
billion (2.9 per cent) where they reached Dh38.52 billion against Dh37.45
billion ending June 2001.
U.S., Saudi stress strong ties despite bad publicity
U.S. and Saudi officials trying to salvage a long friendship
strained by the September 11 attacks pledged to work together against what they
called bad media publicity in both countries.
"We in the kingdom are certain that any questioning of
the depth and strength of our relationship is short-lived because this
friendship is based on common interests and shared goals," Saudi National
Economy Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf said.
Assaf was speaking at a meeting of the U.S.-Saudi Business
Council. It coincided with a visit by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for
Political and Military Affairs Lincoln Bloomfield to discuss the U.S. military
presence in the kingdom.
Iraq defiant over US threat
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has said Baghdad is ready for
another full-scale attack by America but would defeat any new military campaign.
In a speech marking the 11th anniversary of the start of the
Gulf War, the Iraqi leader said Iraqis were more confident now than they were in
Saddam Hussein's address came amid mounting speculation that
Iraq could be targeted in America's global war against terrorism.
On Wednesday, US President George W Bush reiterated his
demand that Baghdad allow UN weapons inspectors back in or face unspecified
Emarat eyes expansion after Egypt venture
In a path-breaking venture Emirates General Petroleum Corp (Emarat)
has for the first time ventured beyond the UAE to take its brand of retail
gasoline stations to Egypt.
The company has signed an MoU with Middle East Oil Tankage
and Pipelines (Midtap) to set up a joint venture, Emarat-Egypt, which will set
up 69 service stations throughout Egypt.
The agreement was signed last-week December in Cairo by
Rashid Al Shamsi, deputy general manager, sales and marketing, Emarat, and Maher
Abazza, chairman and CEO, Midtap.
The function to announce the joint venture was attended by
Obeid bin Saif Al Nasiri, UAE Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources; and
Sameh Fahmi, Egyptian Petroleum Minister.
Alcatel confirmed it had won a Dh82.5 million (25 million
euros) contract from Etisalat for a major expansion of GSM/GPRS PCU network in
the Abu Dhabi area.
Fencing of UAE-Oman border starts
Work is underway to install a fence along the UAE-Oman border
as part of a plan to fight illegal immigration and limit social and security
threats by aliens, revealed Maj. Gen. Saif Abdullah Al Shafar, Assistant
Undersecretary for Security Affairs at the Ministry of Interior.
Maktoum issues mortgage law
His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice
President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in his capacity as
Ruler of Dubai, has issued a law, dealing with the mortgaging of properties in
the Jebel Ali Free Zone area.
The 20-article law No.1 of 2002, stated that an owner of a
property on a government land in the Jebel Ali Free Zone area can make an
insurance mortgage on the property excluding the land.
Dubai realty deals surge 80pc to hit Dh9b
The number of real estate deals in Dubai during 2001 recorded
an 80 per cent leap to a value of over Dh9 billion, compared to 2000's total of
The areas of Mirdif, Al Barsha, Umm Suqueim and Al Shaif
recorded the most activity during the past year, as major investors heightened
their activity in the realty deals.
Total number of deals struck during the year were 3,198
against 2,636 for 2000, according to an annual report prepared by Dubai Lands
Adnoc ready to consider Ukraine deal
Abu Dhabi will consider a proposal from Ukraine to set up a
joint venture oil and gas terminal in the Ukranian sea port of Odessa, visiting
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Anatoliy Zlenko, said.
Significantly, the UAE and Ukraine will shortly conclude two
agreements — an investment promotion agreement and the avoidance of double
"A proposal has been submitted to Adnoc for
participation in the international consortium for an oil and gas terminal at
Odessa for oil transportation to western countries," he said, adding that
Adnoc has agreed to consider the joint venture.
Going by very early indications, Arab markets could account
for shipments of another two million PCs or thereabouts this year, and repeat
the record levels of 2001, according to a senior industry source.
"The Arab markets were among the top performers, if not
the highest, in the world in terms of PC shipments last year," said Gilbert
Lacroix, general manager for the Middle East and Africa at Intel.
"Despite this, two million PCs only represent less than
1 per cent of the overall population of over 300 million. This is far from the
levels seen in the high mature markets. Considering these facts, this is very
good news for the IT sector.
HFZ reports surge in new entrants
Hamriyah Free Zone has charted a 30 per cent jump in
companies registered in 2001, with the total standing at over 200, from 17
countries worldwide, Rashid Al Leem, director general, stated.
The authority has also demarcated four distinct zones —
petrochemicals, food processing, textiles and wood — indicating the potential
growth areas it has identified, and the directions in which it intends to
UAE auto sector sales 'marginal'
Despite a rousing performance in the first half of the year,
overall new vehicle sales in the UAE during 2001 ended up with an anaemic 1-2
per cent growth, according to a senior industry source.
"There was marginal growth at best, though there were
some brands which did better than most others," said Christopher Preston,
managing director of Trading Enterprises, the dealership for Honda, Chrysler and
In a very tight market, the softening yen is expected to
provide a big advantage for the leading Japanese makes this year.
"The prices of our new launches for the Honda reflects
the current position of the yen. In fact, our prices reflect this right from the
last quarter of 2001 itself."
Syria, Lebanon to unify tariffs
Syria and Lebanon plan to unify customs tariffs in three to
five years, thus establishing a free trade zone, said the secretary general of
the Syrian-Lebanese high committee, Nasri Khuri, quoted by the press.
Bilateral cooperation is focused on "a project
overseeing the scrapping of all hindrances and taxes, including a customs
tariffs unification programme for goods imported from other countries in three
to five years," Khuri told the Tishrin daily.
Libya agrees on Arab summit
Libya has agreed on Beirut as the venue for the Arab summit
to be held in March but its leader Moamer Kadhafi will not take part, officials
in Tripoli said.
"The issues over which Libya had reservations have been
settled," announced Libya's Minister for African Unity Ali Abdel Salam
"And therefore, it (Libya) has agreed to the summit
being held at the scheduled date and venue," Triki said in a joint
declaration to the press with visiting Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa.