The announcement came at the end of a meeting of the
Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) on Tuesday. Crown Prince Abdullah
chaired the meeting of the policy making body responsible for petroleum
and energy affairs in the Kingdom. "The Council affirms the
continuity of Kingdom's oil policy aimed at achieving stability in the
oil market in order to guarantee the interests of producers and
consumers, continuity of world economic growth and stability of oil
supplies and prices at reasonable levels," a statement issued after
the meeting said.
This statement is being regarded as significant in
the wake of the Russian decision to abandon the production cut agreement
with the Opec.
Saudi Arabia has been instrumental in maintaining a
delicate balance between oil prices and supplies, as arranged under the
production ceiling programme of the Opec. In a year, where the global
economies have been constantly experiencing one crisis after the other,
Opec's success in maintaining oil prices within its officially announced
band of $22 to $28, is being acclaimed by most of the analysts, here in
Dhahran, the virtual global economic capital.
Analysts here feel despite calls in the West to undo
with the Opec production curbs, Saudi Arabia appears still to be
favouring a control on supplies, in accordance with actual market
demand, so as to ensure a reasonable return for the scarce energy
The oil markets were reported to have responded
positively to the decision of the Saudi Supreme Petroleum Council to
maintain stability in the global oil markets. The benchmark Brent crude
price for September delivery stood at $25.42 a barrel, just above the
price level of $25 that the Opec has been seeking within its policy
WORSENING ASSET QUALITY WORRIES BANKS IN UAE
Worsening asset quality among many of the leading
banks in the UAE, especially foreign banks, is a cause for concern in
According to sources, although banks have taken a
cautious stand on lending following the Patel episode of 1999 — when
several leading banks in the Gulf were taken for a ride — the
deterioration of their assets still continues unabated, at least with a
section of banks.
While the asset quality — the ratio of total loan
provisions to gross loans and advances — of almost all leading foreign
banks, except Standard Chartered Bank, has deteriorated, leading local
banks like National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), Emirates Bank
International (EBI), Mashreqbank, and medium-sized local banks like
RAKBank withstood the deterioration of asset quality during 2001.
While provisions as part of loans and advances went
up marginally from around 2.75 per cent for HSBC in 2001, it has reduced
with Standard Chartered Bank marginally from around 8.5 per cent to
around 8 per cent.
The volume of total loans and advances for HSBC and
Standard Chartered as of 2001 end were Dh9.61 billion and Dh5.34 billion
In the case of Citibank, total lending stood at
Dh2.08 billion towards the end of the previous year, total provisions
during this period accounted for around 10 per cent marginally up from
the previous year.
In the case of Habib Bank AG, as well as Habib Bank
Ltd, a marginal increase was seen in their provisions.
However, in the case of ABN Amro, provisions almost
doubled during 2001, when the total loans of the bank stood at Dh1.7
In the large local banks category, the ratio of
provisions to the total loans for National Bank of Dubai (NBD) has gone
up from about 1.5 per cent to around 2 per cent as of 2001 end. NBD's
total lending as of 2001 end stood at Dh7.18 billion.
RISING SEA LEVEL POSES PROBLEMS
Many low-lying countries in the Middle East,
including the UAE, face a threat from rising sea levels and
desertification caused by global warming.
Writing in a special issue of the United Nations
Environment Programme's (UNEP) bulletin Our Planet on energy and the
environment, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of State for
Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chairman of Environmental Research and
Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), warned: "In the Middle East,
we have a special need to pay attention to these warnings.
"As many of the countries in the region are
low-lying and short of water, we are under threat from rising sea levels
IRAN TELLS ITS FORCES TO PREPARE FOR U.S. ATTACK
Iran's army chief said his forces had been told to
make preparations for a possible attack by the United States on the
Islamic Republic, which Washington has accused of supporting terrorism.
Joint chief of staff General Hassan Firouzabadi told
local reporters Iran's top security decision-making body had recently
discussed "enemy threats", state television said.
He said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader
and chief commander of the armed forces, had told the army and the elite
Revolutionary Guards to "get ready for two main tasks".
"The first is to make ready our arsenal for
deterrent purposes. Secondly, if something comes up, we should be
quickly able to punish the source of aggression," the general
IRAQ OFFERS ARMS INSPECTIONS TALKS
Iraq has invited the United Nations chief weapons
inspector to visit Baghdad for talks about the resumption of arms
inspections after a break of four years.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri made the offer in a
letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
It came amid growing speculation about an attack on
Iraq by the United States, which sees President Saddam Hussein's
programme of developing weapons of mass destruction as a major threat.
Mr Sabri said the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix,
and his experts were welcome to come to Iraq for "technical
talks", with a view to resuming weapons inspections. The UN has yet
to comment on the invitation.
ISRAELI TROOPS POUR INTO WEST BANK CITY
Israeli tanks and troops have entered the centre of
the Palestinian city of Nablus in large numbers.
Witnesses said about 150 armoured vehicles, some
firing heavy machine guns, moved into the West Bank city in the early
hours of Friday morning.
Two Palestinians were killed in Nablus while another
was shot dead in a nearby village, Palestinians said.
The operation came hours after Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon vowed to retaliate for Wednesday's bomb attack at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The blast, carried out by the Islamic militant group
Hamas, killed seven people and wounded dozens of others.
Israel took control of Nablus in March after
Palestinian militants carried out a wave of suicide bombings in Israel.
BAHRAINIS URGED TO JOIN AUTOMOBILE SECTOR
Bahraini youngsters have been urged to consider the
vehicle industry as a future career in response to the growing need in
Hassan Al Shawi, Head of the Bahrain Training
Institute's (BTI) Vehicle Section, said there are plenty of jobs
available in the vehicle industry but not enough graduates to take
advantage of this opportunity.
"The industry is more than willing to take young
Bahrainis on board to work and grow within it."
The UAE's leading IT organisation has contributed to
the establishment of the first accredited virtual university in the
Emirates Computers has implemented the knowledge
management solutions at the Syrian Virtual University (SVU).
The project was initiated by the Ministry of Higher
Education in Syria, which recently completed the establishment of what
is reportedly the first accredited virtual university in the Middle
The pioneering initiative is aimed at furthering the
cause of the online education movement in the region.
SEWA POWERS AHEAD WITH BIG PROJECTS
Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) has
made big achievements in the fields of electricity, water and natural
gas and significant progress on similar other ongoing projects during
The installation of two desalination units with
installed capacity each of five million gallons per day at Layyah power
station was completed last year. The two units of multieffect
desalination (MED) were commissioned in July and August, 2001,
According to a Sewa publication, the total cost of
these MED units was Dh170 million. With the installation of these units,
the total desalination capacity of Layyah power station has increased to
37.5 million gallons per day.
EMAAR PRICE MUCH BELOW BOOK VALUE
Emaar Properties enjoys the lowest market price/book
value ratio among the shares listed on the UAE stock markets as of June
Emaar, which was traded at Dh24.75 as of June end,
enjoys the lowest ratio of 0.30. The other listed shares with low ratios
include, National Marine Dredging Co with ratio of 0.71 against a
trading price of Dh630 as of June end. A lower ratio means that market
price is much below the book value of the share, which reflects the real
value of the share.
PALESTINIANS REJECT UN'S JENIN FINDINGS
Palestinian officials have rejected a United Nations
report on Israel's assault on a West Bank refugee camp, after it said it
found no evidence that Israeli troops had committed a massacre there.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said mass
killings of civilians had "clearly happened" when Israel
attacked the Jenin camp in April, calling Israel's actions a "war
'RUSSIA MUST END IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL'
US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham says he has urged
Russia to give up all nuclear cooperation with Iran, insisting it is a
matter of "utmost concern" to the United States.
Speaking after talks with energy officials in Moscow,
Mr Abraham said he was deeply worried by Russia's decision to expand its
construction of nuclear reactors in Iran, and he wanted all such
projects to stop.
Last week Moscow announced a 10-year nuclear
cooperation accord with Iran — one of three countries denounced by
President Bush as an "axis of evil&quo