GULF

 

Aug 26 - Sep 01, 2002

 

1.INTERNATIONAL

2. INDUSTRY

3. FINANCE

4. POLICY

5. TRADE

6. GULF

 

SAUDI PRINCE DENIES US ASSET FLIGHT

A senior member of the Saudi ruling family has denied investors are fleeing the US and said he was increasing his investments there.

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the nephew of King Fahd, told that there was no evidence of a Saudi pull-out.

"I'm holding onto all of them (my investments) and in all honesty increasing my stakes in certain companies in the US," he said.

Some Saudi businessmen and economist warned last weekend that investors would withdraw from the US after a $1,000bn lawsuit was filed claiming Saudis, including members of the royal family, funded the 11 September attacks.

The Financial Times added fuel to the story on Wednesday by reporting that Saudi investors had already withdrawn $200bn from the US.

"I have read the Financial Times and I was surprised," he said.

"My information tells me none of this is correct. Now there may be some withdrawals, but not of the magnitude mentioned in the Financial Times."

"What I am telling you represents the position of the Saudi Royal Family 100%."

While there are no precise figures on how much Saudi investors have committed to the US, analysts put the total at about $600bn.

The denial comes as Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported that a group of Saudi businessmen had pulled out of a technology project in New York over fears of having their assets frozen by US authorities.

The Saudi Gazette on Wednesday reported that the governor of the Saudi General Investment Authority, Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki, expected repatriation of Saudi capital invested abroad soon.

The Saudi banks, also named in the US lawsuit, have denied any role in funding terrorism.

DATE OUTPUT SET TO RISE THIS YEAR

UAE date output this year is set to rise 10-15 per cent as high-yield tissue culture modified date palms supplied to farmers three years ago start bearing fruit.

The Ministry Agriculture and Fisheries has also increased its date procurement prices to encourage farmers to increase their annual production.

Ibrahim Abdul Rahman Ali, director of the Eastern Agricultural Zone in Fujairah, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, said: "The date research laboratory in Dibba has improved and multiplied date palms through its tissue culture programme.

He said these tissue culture modified date palms produce nearly double the yield of pre-existing date palms.

Until last year, the annual production of dates in the UAE generally remained steady compared to previous years. In 1998, the Ministry Agriculture and Fisheries introduced a large number of cross-bred tissue culture palm saplings to farms across the country, and these are expected to begin weighing in, with the palm trees starting to become productive this year.

About 77 types of dates are produced annually in the UAE. Higher procurement prices have been announced for 11 types of dates, recognised as top quality. These include: Al Barhi, Bu Ma'an, Maktoumi, Jabri, Hilali, Al Raziz, Al Lulu, Al Fardi, Al Khaneezi, Khadrawi and Shishi.

Sharjah has approximately 7,800 palm farms covering an area of 48,239 donums. The estimated number of palm trees is 2,229,399, and includes 786,222 yielding trees.

The farms are mainly located on the eastern coast which includes Khor Fakkan and Kalba with the number here estimated at 6,000. The central region also includes about 1,800 farms mainly in Dhaid, Falaj Al Mualla, Al Nuaimi and Kadra.

The farms in Sharjah have been registering a slow but steady rise in yield, last placed at 61,325 tonnes in 2001.

ISRAELI ARMY STORMS GAZA DP CAMP

Israeli forces blasted their way into a Gaza town on Wednesday, killing a Palestinian civilian and wounding four more in an operation to root out militants, as fresh violence threatened to cripple the latest efforts to restore calm.

Despite the Israeli raid, which followed the killing of a soldier guarding a Jewish settlement, security officials met to discuss an Israeli withdrawal from Al Khalil, the next step in a phased pullback plan designed to defuse the 23-month crisis.

Israel tanks and infantry stormed into the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis in the small hours of the day, sending residents of the bullet-scarred refugee camp scattering. The troops ordered the evacuation of two high buildings overlooking the neighbouring Jewish settlement of Gush Katif.

Twenty tanks and armoured vehicles, backed by attack helicopters, opened fire on the camp, after which army sappers moved in and dynamited the buildings.

RUSSIA, IRAQ TO ABORT US EFFORTS

Russia and Iraq are planning to sign a $40 billion economic cooperation agreement, ignoring US efforts to isolate Iraqi regime, media reports said.

The five-year package focuses on oil but also covers electrical energy, chemical products, irrigation, railroad, construction and transportation, the Washington Post said.

"Russia was, is and will be our main partner," Abbas Khalaf, Iraq's ambassador to Moscow, told the newspaper.

"What we need from Moscow is moral, political and diplomatic support because Iraq has shown the whole world that it can defend itself. America's aggressive statements against Iraq aroused negative reaction in Russia."

It said Russia's apparent refusal to abandon its longtime ally, would hurt Washington's efforts to rally world leaders behind its planned military offensive against Baghdad.

Russia maintains close ties with all three countries branded the "axis of evil" by President Bush: Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

SAUDI GAS INITIATIVE HIGHLY AMBITIOUS AND COMPLEX

Saudi Arabia's national gas initiative has yet to make concrete progress due to differences between international oil companies (IOCs) and the government.

The two sides held two rounds of negotiations in early August but could not agree on a course of action to move forward.

Crown Prince Abdullah revealed the gas initiative in 1998 during a visit to the U.S. In June 2001, the government granted a group of IOCs from the U.S. and Europe exclusive right to explore and process gas in three core ventures across the kingdom.

The integrated programme involves exploration and processing of gas plus power stations, water desalination plants and petrochemical schemes. Total investments are initially projected between $25-30 billion in the first ten years covering gas field development plus other downstream projects.

UAE TO HIGHLIGHT COUNTRY'S GAINS AT GLOBAL SUMMIT

Although it is classified a developing nation by international organisations, the UAE believes its achievements in development places it far ahead of that category.

The UAE officials participating in next week's global development summit in Johannesburg will tell the world that figures speak for themselves and what has taken place in the UAE in just a few decades is tantamount to a miracle.

On several occasions, the UAE has acknowledged that the oil wealth was instrumental in making such accomplishments a reality but has stressed that money could be worthless if it is not used wisely. That is why the UAE people and other countries and organisations credit such accomplishments to President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

According to the United Nations, the UAE has moved from medium to a high category in its human development index.

BAHRAIN, IRAN OPPOSE ATTACK ON IRAQ

King Hamad of Bahrain, whose island state hosts the US Fifth Fleet, joined Iranian leaders in opposing any "unilateral" strike against Iraq as he wrapped up a landmark visit to the Islamic republic on Sunday.

"We express our determined opposition to any unilateral military action against Iraq," said a joint statement issued after King Hamad's talks with top officials here, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

BRITAIN DIFFERS WITH U.S. OVER IRAQ PLAN

Britain set itself apart from top ally the United States, which has made a "regime change" in Baghdad a priority, saying its main aim in Iraq was to get weapons inspectors back in.

In comments that underlined differences between U.S. President George W. Bush and London, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the main threat was from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's suspected capability with weapons of mass destruction.

A DREAM COME TRUE FOR UAE MOUNTAINEER

The first UAE national woman to scale Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania said her success will hopefully inspire many more of her people to accept challenges and overcome them.

Hafsa Al Ulama said her achievement was "a dream come true" and a big step towards promoting sports among national women.

"Overall, I feel good to have achieved it, for my dream to have come true. It was a little bit difficult because there are some aspects of the climb you don't realise," she said.

SAUDI LAWYER SUES OVER 11 SEPTEMBER

A lawyer in Saudi Arabia is planning to launch legal action against the US Government in connection with the 11 September attacks, claiming unspecified damages.

It comes less than a week after US lawyers started proceedings for massive damages from members of the Saudi royal family and charities in the kingdom, accusing them of helping to finance al-Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden the man accused of organising last year's suicide hijackings.

The Saudi lawyer, Qatib al-Shamri, says he is acting on behalf of people who were wrongly tied to al-Qaeda by the US authorities.

ISLAMIC COLA 'SELLING WELL IN SAUDI'

An Iranian soft drink named after a holy spring in Mecca is said to have won an enthusiastic reception in Saudi Arabia.

Zamzam Cola, an alternative to US brands Coca Cola and Pepsi, has gone on sale at the same time as a campaign to boycott American goods gathers momentum.

The Saudi distributor, Al-Majarah, said it had imported four million one-litre bottles in the past week, but demand had been so high it had already ordered several million more.

A company spokesman said it had even asked the Iranian parent company for permission to set up a bottling factory in Saudi Arabia.

QATAR SET TO BUY SAMSUNG GAS TANKERS

South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries has claimed it is near winning a $1bn order with Qatar to build six liquefied natural gas carriers.

Qatar is a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and boasts huge reserves of the fuel.

Samsung, the world's third biggest shipbuilder, said it expected to seal the Qatar deal next month, with each ship costing $160-70m.

"We are at the final stage of negotiations," said Samsung spokesman Lee Hong-youn.

"There may be some minor differences, but the deal will be closed by the end of September."

MUSCAT'S CHICKEN

A collective GCC decision will be taken for measures against a Gulf brand of frozen chicken products if they are found contaminated.

This was stated by Engineer Khalil bin Hassan Al Baloushi, Deputy Director General of Health Control, at the Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Envir-onment and Water Resources.

Al Baloushi told Gulf News: "We have advised all food shops in the country to suspend sales of the 700 and 900 gm products for the time being."

He revealed the UAE authorities first alerted them regarding the possibility that the product was contaminated with salmonella pathogen.

ADNOC DRILLS 20 EXPLORATORY WELLS

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (Adnoc) has drilled 20 exploratory oil wells in the last 19 years.

In future, the focus will be on exploration of deep oil and gas prospects, reports the latest edition of Adnoc News.

Adnoc has completed all its related programmes in onshore developments, including a project to upgrade water injection facilities in Bu Hasa and Sahil fields.

The project was completed in 1996. Sahil will be upgraded to increase oil production capacity at Thamama reservoirs to produce 75 million barrels per day (mbpd).

UAE INVITED TO ARAB MARKET MEET

The Arab League has invited the UAE to participate in the second Arab Common Market for economic, industrial and investment cooperation scheduled in Cairo on August 28 and 29.

"Your participation has a great importance and will give a push to our efforts to forge a common Arab market as a single international economic bloc," said the invitation letter written by the Arab League to the UAE Embassy in Cairo.

UAE SECOND AMONG GULF IMPORTERS FROM JORDAN

The UAE's imports from Jordan have touched 24.7 million Jordanian dinars during the first half this year, making it the second largest importer from the kingdom among GCC member states, reports a study by the Jordanian ministry of industry and commerce.

Saudi Arabia, which is placed first by the study, has imported goods valued JD 53.5 million from Jordan ( representing 7.7 per cent of Jordan's total exports) while UAE's imports amounted toJD 24.7 million ( 1.7 per cent ) and Qatar's totaled JD 8.3 million.

Jordan's exports to the region have reached JD 109 million during the first half this year as against 103.9 million for the same period last year.