GULF

 

Oct 14 - 20 , 2002

 

1.INTERNATIONAL

2. INDUSTRY

3. FINANCE

4. POLICY

5. TRADE

6. GULF

 

U.S. HOUSE VOTES TO GIVE BUSH IRAQ WAR POWERS

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to give President George W. Bush the authorization he sought to wage war if necessary to disarm Iraq, while the Senate was poised to pass the measure as well.

Handing Bush a major victory, the Republican-led House voted 296-133 to pass a resolution negotiated between the White House and congressional leaders backing a possible use of force to rid Iraq of suspected weapons of mass destruction and possibly oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The Senate was expected to pass the measure in the early hours on Friday after amendments pushed by some Democrats to narrow the resolution's scope were defeated easily.

Bush has sought the congressional resolution as the United States presses the U.N. Security Council to adopt a tough new measure demanding that Saddam abandon any programs for biological, chemical or nuclear weapons or face possible military consequences.

"The House of Representatives has spoken clearly to the world and to the Security Council. The gathering threat of Iraq must be confronted fully and finally," Bush said in a brief statement of thanks to lawmakers.

Iraq pledged to give up weapons of mass destruction following the 1991 Gulf War. But the Bush administration accuses Saddam of developing those weapons in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions a charge Iraq denies.

The resolution appeared set to pass by wide margins after Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat who earlier expressed reservations on Bush's Iraq stance, said he would back it.

TRANSFORMING THE KUWAITI OIL INDUSTRY

The petroleum industry in Kuwait is poised for unprecedented developments.

Serious efforts are underway to allow international oil companies (IOCs) to develop hydrocarbon resources, as part of efforts to expand production capacity. Also, a state-owned company plans to take over control of oil fields in the neutral zone.

Existing capacity stands at 2.4 million bpd, but production is less partly due to disruption caused by a series of incidents. Of the 2.4 million bpd, 2.25 million bpd is generated from onshore fields, notably Burgan with 1.35 million bpd.

The balance of 150,000 bpd is produced from the Neutral Zone (NZ) bordering Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait Gulf Oil Co, a subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Co (KPC), is expected to take over the exploration and operation of the NZ once Japan's Arabian Oil Co surrenders it in January 2003. KPC is the parent company of Kuwait Oil Co (KOC).

A string of accidents over the last two years had undermined the country's oil capacity. Earlier in the year, a leak at the Rawdhatain oil field in northern Kuwait caused the reduction of oil capacity by 300,000 bpd.

A key advantage for Kuwait is the low cost of oil production, at $1 per barrel. But KOC is under pressure to invest in developing new techniques for improved reservoir management and enhanced oil recovery, which in turn would increase the average production cost.

Ambitious plans call for raising production capacity to 4 million bpd by 2004, which requires speedy opening up of the upstream segment. The government seems determined to win parliamentary approval for the plan to allow IOCs to develop oil fields in northern Kuwait.

GULF STATES PUSH FOR SINGLE CURRENCY

Six Arab Gulf states have turned to the eurozone for advice in how to successfully launch a single currency.

At this week's meeting of Gulf central bankers in Riyadh, the six Arab states vowed to press ahead with plans for monetary union and the launch of a single currency.

And they decided to seek the help of the European Central Bank, which rolled-out euro notes and coins at the start of the year with very few glitches. Dr Henry Azzam, chief economist at Jordan Investment Trust Group, said that monetary union should be relatively easy to achieve in the Gulf since all six currencies are already at least partially pegged to the dollar.

"It's a political rather than an economic decision," Dr Azzam told BBC News Online.

"All it needs is for someone at a very senior level in Saudi Arabia to take the decision to push forward," he said.

KAZAKHSTAN PRESIDENT PRAISES TIES WITH UAE

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev received His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who is visiting Kazakhstan on the invitation of the Kazakh president.

Sheikh Khalifa conveyed to Nazarbayev the greetings of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his best wishes for the Kazakh people for further development and prosperity.

Nazarbayev lauded the excellent relations between his country and the UAE.

He expressed his appreciation for Sheikh Zayed's nationalistic and humanitarian roles in supporting Muslim causes in various fields, thus giving the UAE a high status among the comity of nations.

Nazarbayev said that the UAE and Kazakhstan had taken big strides in consolidating cooperation between them, particularly in economic and commercial fields.

BAHRAIN LAUNCHES $1B FINANCIAL HUB

One of the largest financial investment projects in Bahrain, the $1 billion Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH), which consists of 25 internal developments within the mother project, was launched by the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

Construction of the project, which will be owned by a to-be-established holding company, will start next May and be completed in six years, said Essam Janahi, chief executive of the Manama-based Gulf Finance House (GFH), which will own 60 per cent of the new company.

The government of Bahrain and other private investors will own the remaining 40 per cent of the shares.

The project, covering 202,272 square metres, will be developed mainly by Reemoon Business Development Consultants, in-corporated in Bahrain.

13 BUSINESS GROUPS JOIN HANDS IN CAPITAL

The 13 business groups of Abu Dhabi have joined hands to create greater synergy by sharing business ideas for mutual benefit. Towards this end, representatives of the various business groups met as a first interactive step.

"Networking of the different business groups with one another helps in understanding each other, in sharing ideas, facilitating and supporting one another," commented Mohammed Omar Abdullah, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Adcci), who spoke on the occasion.

PALESTINIAN GIRL SHOT DEAD IN GAZA

There has been more violence in the Gaza Strip, with Palestinian medical staff saying a 12-year-old girl was killed by Israeli fire in the southern town of Rafah.

The Israeli army has not commented on the reports, but military sources confirm its forces were in the area. They are said to have opened fire after coming under attack.

The incident comes the day after a major Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis in which at least 14 Palestinians were killed.

OIL PRICE SLIDES

The price of oil fell on Thursday after Iraq invited the United States to inspect two sites where Washington suspects Baghdad of having resumed its prohibited weapons programmes. The price of benchmark Brent North Sea crude for November delivery fell to $27.55 a barrel from $28.13 at the close of trading on Wednesday.

In New York, a barrel of reference light sweet crude for November delivery fell 64 cents to $28.71 in early deals.

GM VETS BIDS FOR CADILLAC DEALER

General Motors (GM) is evaluating bids to determine who will have the unified Cadillac dealership for the UAE, and a decision is expected in 12 months, according to a top official of the U.S. automaker.

This is in accordance with plan to have only one dealer for Cadillac, GM's premium marque, in each territory.

GM has integrated its Cadillac dealerships in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait under the Aljomaih and Alamana banners respectively.

MOHAMMED TO OPEN SUMMIT

General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Defence Minister will open the Arab Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Summit.

The Arab ICT Summit is organised by Emirates Media Inc. and Dubai Internet City, under the auspices of the Arab League. It will address the issue of accelerating economic and social development in the Arab world through information and communication technology.

IRAN FORCES SEIZE 72 TONS OF DRUGS

Iranian anti-drug forces have confiscated 72 tons of drugs since January as part of a campaign to combat narcotic smuggling from Afghanistan, officials told Gulf News.

Some 137 tons of narcotics were confiscated last year, the officials said.

This is in spite of Iran beefing up security on its sealed eastern border through a considerable increase in checkpoints, and making an unsafe desert, punctuated with deep trenches, impassable for drug caravans.

SAUDI DEBATE RAGES OVER NEW STOCK EXCHANGE

Saudi Arabia has revived a heated debate on whether to set up a controversial stock exchange, and the process is expected to take a long time as lawmakers are split on the project that once materialised briefly before it was buried again.

The Shura Council (appointed parliament) discussed the bourse plan last week and decided to resume the debate this week, but put it off temporarily because of differences.

MEBANK LAUNCHES MEBOX

As banks in the UAE, especially in Dubai, are competing with each other to establish their presence in an extremely competitive market, and meBank has come out with the unique idea of meBox a bank in a box.

meBox is an even more convenient way of instant banking, providing customers with all their banking needs in a box.

SWEDEN TO BOOST EXPORTS TO UAE

The Gulf has never been a large export market for Sweden but times are changing. In the past six months, exports from Sweden to the Gulf have grown by 30 per cent, said Jan Carlborg, regional director, Swedish Trade Council (STC).

About 75 Swedish business people representing about 40 companies visited Dubai, with the STC, to explore opportunities.

STRAW COMPLETES MID-EAST MISSION

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw returns to the UK at the end of a four day Middle East mission in which he sought to build support for action to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Straw held meetings in Paris, Cairo, Jordan and Kuwait before the visit culminated with talks in Iran.

After a first meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Kamal Kharazi, Mr Straw described the talks as "good".

CLOSER TIES AMONG GCC STATES SOUGHT

Sheikh Abdullah bin Shuwain Al Hosni, Information Undersecretary, has said fast changes in the telecommunications and information sector necessitate further cooperation among the GCC states.

He said the prevailing political and economic conditions also call for a closer cooperation between the GCC member states.

Speaking at the 14th meeting of the GCC Information Undersecretaries, Al Hosni said cooperation can be achieved through certain mechanisms agreed by the GCC information ministers and will be endorsed during their meeting.

INFOTECH SUBSIDIARY

Emaar Properties has set up a wholly-owned IT subsidiary, Sahm Technologies. The move, which represents the holding company's move to integrate its diverse business portfolio, comes soon after the launch of its fully owned banking subsidiary, Dubai Bank; the property and facilities management company, Emrill; and Amlak, UAE's first mortgage company.

CAPITALISM EXPERT

Hernando de Soto, known as the world's leading speaker on capitalism, will join a debate on the role of governance at the Dubai Strategy Forum.

The debate at the forum, to be held in Dubai from October 28 to 30, will also include Pakistan's Minister of Finance, Shaukat Aziz.

Mohammed Al Gergawi, chairman of the forum, says he expects the debate to be bullish. "The governance issue on day one of the forum is set to lead the open dialogue style that we want to see prevail over the three days," said Al Gergawi.

GBM TARGETS

Gulf Business Machines (GBM) believed to be the largest IT company in the Middle East is setting its sights on revenues of $180 million by the end of 2005. Its current turnover is $120 million.

JORDAN TELECOM

Jordan is selling off 15% of its revamped state-owned telecoms company. The government announced that shares would be sold for between 2.30 dinars (2.07; $3.23) and 2.70 dinars.