The combined firm will have a market share of 11%,
big enough to compete with the market leaders.
But with milk prices continuing to fall and demand
growth sluggish, the future for the sector as a whole looks bleak.
The five-way merger could help combat the crippling
fragmentation within the Saudi dairy industry.
There are currently 26 major dairy producers in the
Kingdom, and only two — Alsafi, owned by France's Danone, and Almaira
— have significant market share.
The pair control more than 60% of the market, with
another 25% divided between the Nadek and Nada producers.
Life for the rest has been tough, with milk prices
dropping by more than one-quarter over the past 12 months in the fight
for market share.
Overall, milk demand in Saudi Arabia is growing by
only 4% annually — way below levels seen elsewhere across the Middle
Late last year, it was predicted that at least
half-a-dozen small firms would fold, but despite repeated talk of
mergers, no real action has been taken until now.
UAE PROVIDES $9B AID IN 30 YEARS
The UAE has extended more than $9 billion in
development aid to other countries over the past three decades to emerge
as one of the world's biggest donors relative to the size of its economy
and population, according to official figures.
The UAE provided around 10.6 per cent of the total
financial assistance of nearly $110.5 billion extended by Arab oil
producers since 1970 to fellow Arab League members and other third world
nations, showed figures by Arab Monetary Fund (AMF).
This means the UAE's official financial aid to those
countries totalled around $9.5 billion by end 2001. But it does not
include the financial assistance provided by the Abu Dhabi Development
Fund, the UAE's main foreign lending arm.
Saudi Arabia emerged the top Arab aid donor,
extending nearly 64 per cent of the total aid, while Kuwait provided
around 16.3 per cent.
In 2001 alone, Arab development aid, provided mainly
by those three Gulf states, stood at around $1.4 billion, far lower than
the financial help extended during the oil boom.
Gulf aid has sharply slowed down over the past few
years because of a decline in oil revenues and new rules linking cash
aid to economic reforms.
Gulf officials have said they want to make sure such
aid will be used efficiently, including financing of privatisation and
other reform programmes needed to spur economic growth.
"Gulf states are still providing aid although
they themselves need assistance because of lower oil revenues and
growing domestic commitments," said Kuwaiti economist, Jassim Al
DIFC LIKELY TO SEEK LISTING OF STATE FIRMS
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) may
invite government-owned companies such as Emirates, Dubal, and entities
like Dubai Electricity and Water Authority to list their shares on the
securities market to be set up in the centre.
DIFC has shortlisted three financial services
entities with global reputation to run the stock exchange.
The regional financial exchange, one of the five
services to be offered by DIFC, is expected to start functioning next
Sources close to DIFC said the centre would also
approach big family-run businesses and multinational corporations such
as banks operating in the UAE to list their shares on the bourse.
EFFORTS ON TO BOOST FARM OUTPUT
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has
embarked upon various projects to overcome the shortage of water in the
central region and to improve the yield of crops.
Ongoing projects include the introduction of
protected farming system in greenhouses, drip irrigation systems and
experiments on vegetables and fruit trees suitable for local climate
that require minimum water.
The projects are being conducted at the ministry's Al
Dhaid Experiment and Research Centre in the Central Region.
"Some seven per cent of the farms have been
deserted due to increasing salinity levels together with water shortage
in the region," said Engineer Abdullah Rashid Al Moalla, Director,
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Central Region.
The ground water level in the UAE is falling at an
alarming rate — around one metre per year. If left unchecked, the
rapid depletion of underground water resources will soon render
replenishment by rain too difficult, if not impossible, at a future
IRANIAN CARPETS REVIVE ANCIENT HERITAGE
An impressive and colourful collection of handmade
Iranian carpets is on display at an exhibition in the Twin Towers.
The public also has the chance of watching a
demonstration of carpet weaving by an Iranian carpet weaver.
"The exhibition revives the ancient tradition of
Iranian carpets, their origins and features," said Abdul Karim Al
Sanaji, director of the Al Sanaji Group, exhibition organisers.
"We display fine hand-made carpets and, through
the exhibition, we aim at making the public aware of the value of this
ancient art. Carpet weaving is two thousand years old in Iran and has
been transmitted from generation to generation," he explained.
ISRAELI ARMY ACCUSED OF NEW KILLING
Palestinian officials have accused the Israeli army
of killing a five-year-old boy in the Gaza Strip.
They said that troops opened fire on a residential
area of Khan Yunis, killing Ayman Fares and wounding two relatives when
they went to his rescue.
But the Israeli army denied any knowledge of the
death, saying that its own men were attacked by gunmen in the area and
had returned fire.
In a separate incident, an Israeli human rights group
has strongly condemned the killing of a Palestinian teenager on
Wednesday, after witnesses said he had been used by the Israeli army as
a human shield.
NEW WILDLIFE RESERVES PLANNED: HAMDAN
Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of State
for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the Environmental Research
and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), has said that a plan to set up
and run a network of maritime and wildlife reserves in the Emirate of
Abu Dhabi is being developed by ERWDA.
SADDAM REMOVAL ON AGENDA: RICE
The United States has no choice but to take action
against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, White House National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice said.
But President George W. Bush had not decided
"how he wants to do it" or how to "make the case for
particular methods", she said. "We certainly do not have the
luxury of doing nothing," Rice, a pivotal player in Bush's
administration, told BBC radio. She said Saddam had twice come close to
acquiring nuclear weapons.
PALESTINE MEETING US DEMAND TO REFORM FINANCE
Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad said a
holding company had been formed to consolidate all Palestinian Authority
funds and assets under a single umbrella, a reform that meets a key US
Fayyad said in an interview with Reuters, Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat gave formal approval on Wednesday night to the
creation of the new Palestinian Investment Fund which would be under the
finance minister's direct control. US President George W. Bush had
demanded the Palestinians overhaul their finances, clean up corruption
and choose leaders "not compromised by terror" before he would
back the eventual creation of a provisional Palestinian state.
BAHRAIN, IRAN TO SIGN SERIES OF AGREEMENTS
Bahrain and Iran look forward to strengthening the
bilateral relationship in a number of fields while aiming at ushering
into a new era of further cooperation with His Majesty the King, Shaikh
Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, paying an official visit to Teheran next week.
During this historic visit, the King will meet
Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and the Iranian President,
Mohammed Khatami, where their talks will focus on ways to enhance
bilateral ties as well as reviewing the latest regional developments,
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa,
told in an interview with the local Press.
UAE-BAHRAIN AGREEMENT ENDORSED
His Majesty the King, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa,
issued a decree, endorsing the diplomatic and consular cooperation
agreement between Bahrain and the UAE, which was signed in Manama on
June 17, this year. The king issued a decree, endorsing an agreement on
establishing the Arab Women Organisation, which was approved by the Arab
League in its ordinary session, on September 16, last year.
Interplast Co. Ltd of Sharjah announced that the
company has secured a Dh30 million loan from Emirates Industrial Bank (EIB).
GOLD AND DIAMOND PARK
The Gold & Diamond Park, an attraction for
tourists and shoppers alike has reported an increase of 40 per cent in
sales as compared to last year.
IRAQ ACCEPTS OIL-FOR-FOOD EXTENSION
Iraq has accepted an extension of the United Nations
oil-for-food programme, but again rejected a new sanctions regime
imposed by the Security Council.
The UN Security Council unanimously passed the
sanctions resolution on Tuesday, which frees up the delivery of civilian
goods to Iraq but restricts imports which could be used for military
The council also voted to extend the oil-for-food
programme — which has since 1996 allowed Iraq to use oil revenues to
buy basic necessities — for six months from 30 May.
US TO WITHHOLD EXTRA EGYPT AID
United States President George W Bush has said he
will seek to withhold additional aid from Egypt to protest the
prosecution of a prominent Egyptian civil rights campaigner.
University professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who holds a
US as well as an Egyptian passport, was sentenced last month to seven
years in jail after a judge found him guilty of embezzlement and
"tarnishing" Egypt's image.
Egyptian diplomats in Washington were informed of the
decision on Thursday.
ISRAELI NUCLEAR STRIKE ON IRAQ 'POSSIBLE'
Reports from Israel say that if the country were
attacked by Iraq with chemical or biological weapons, it could respond
with a nuclear strike.
The reports follow remarks by the head of the Israeli
air force warning that, in the event of an Iraqi attack, Israel would
not show the restraint it exercised in the Gulf War of 1991.
IRAQ TO RETURN KUWAITI LOOT
Iraq is to start returning Kuwaiti national archives
looted by its army during the occupation of the Gulf emirate 12 years
ago, a United Nations official has said.
UN envoy Richard Foran, in Baghdad, said he expected
the operation to begin within weeks.
LOCAL FARM TO SUPPLY MORE CAMEL MILK
A UAE dairy company is planning to boost supply of
camel milk to the local market to meet the growing consumption and turn
the country into the world's third biggest market producer of the
product, owners said.
Al Ain Dairy Company, one of the main milk and cheese
producers in the UAE, said it started marketing camel milk at a daily
supply rate of 300 litres in September last year and today the
production has swelled to nearly 1,000 litres a day.
DISCOMFORT INDEX HITS TWO-YEAR HIGH
The UAE experienced its most uncomfortable day in
The Discomfort Index hit a two-year high of Six, the
maximum it has reached since the index was first formulated, a spokesman
for the Meteorology Office at Dubai International Airport explained last
DH183M SYNDICATED LOAN FOR NBF
A Dh183.5 million ($50 million) syndicated term loan
for National Bank of Fujairah has been concluded by sole mandated lead
arranger Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, acting through Dresdner Bank
Significantly, it is believed the first international
syndicated loan facility for this region after the events of September
UAE SET TO SIGN LAND TRANSIT DEALS
To increase trade across the region, the UAE is going
to sign land transit agreements with Iran and Tunisia in a few weeks,
said a senior government official.
These agreements will also help to increase passenger
movement on these road networks.
E-VISION WIRELESS DEAL
MDS of France has won the mandate to install a
"wireless" cable transmission solution for Etisalat's E-Vision
subsidiary. Work on the contract, awarded in July, has already started
in Al Ain and should be completed in the third quarter itself, confirmed
a top official.
AL SHIRAWI AWARDS CONTRACT TO FUJAIRAH FIRM
Al Shirawi Group of Companies has recently awarded a
Dh20 million contract to Fujairah National Construction Co. (FNC) for
the construction of their new industrial unit.