The Ministry of Finance and Industry has sent a
letter to federal government offices and clothes factory owners asking
for proposals on the re-opening of one of the most important non-oil
industrial sectors to local and foreign investors.
Ministry sources said they were awaiting a response
to their suggestions to partially remove the restrictions before they
completely end the ban on new projects in this sector, which has
attracted more than $200 million in national and foreign capital.
"The plan to lift the ban on building new garment
factories is still under study. We have sent a memorandum to all parties
concerned asking for their comments and proposals in this regard," said
Raafat Mugharbel, an economist at the ministry.
"This survey is aimed at finding the best way to
re-open the garment industry to new investment. The plans are, of
course, prompted by external factors, including the WTO."
Alarmed by a surge in unskilled labour and excessive
production, the UAE suspended licences for new clothes factories in 1994
and set export quotas for factories following complaints from the United
States and others about dumping of cheap products.
Investment in garments and other industries in the
UAE is highly feasible given the abundance of cheap labour and energy
and its location in the heart of a vast Asian market of more than a
Dubai's vast port facilities and tax incentives have
also given rise to export-oriented projects, mainly light manufacturing
GAS INDUSTRY ENHANCES QATAR'S DEVELOPMENT
The gas industry is transforming the Qatari economy.
Its development has provided the country an opportunity to diversify the
economy away from oil.
Qatar's gas development stems from hard facts: its
natural gas reserves amount to 500 trillion cubic feet, equivalent to
100 billion barrels of crude oil, similar to the UAE's oil reserves.
The country has the third largest gas reserves in the
world after Russia and Iran. But, recently, Minister of Energy and
Industry Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah revised upward the reserves to
900 trillion cubic feet.
Discovered in 1971, Qatar's North Field is the single
largest reservoir of non-associated gas in the world. Work on exploring
North Field gas began in 1987 but encountered delay due to technical
problems and the Gulf War in 1990.
The North Field project is divided into three phases.
Completed in 1992, phase 1 extracts natural gas for power generation and
other industrial projects.
Phase 2 involves exporting gas to other Gulf states,
which encountered problems from the start. But a breakthrough came in
2001 when Abu Dhabi based Dolphin Energy Ltd spearheaded a campaign to
pump up to 2 billion cubic feet per day of North Field gas to the UAE by
2006 for 25 years.
Several international firms are involved in the $3.5
billion project, which could be expanded into Oman. Additionally, Qatar
hopes to export around 800 million to 1.4 billion cubic feet per day to
Kuwait and 500 million to 1 billion cubic feet per day to Bahrain.
Phase three, which involves exporting liquefied
natural gas (LNG) to Europe and East Asia, has moved faster than the
Qatar Liquefied Gas Co (QatarGas) and Ras Laffan
Qatar Liquefied Gas Co (RasGas) are exporting LNG to clients in Japan
and South Korea, respectively.
U.S., BRITAIN ADAMANT ON 'USE OF FORCE'
United Kingdom and the United States still seem to be
adamant on the phrase of "the credible threat of the use of force" in
the draft currently discussed by Security Council member states on Iraq.
While refusing to be drawn to discuss the content of
a joint UK-US draft resolution, distributed to all 15 Security Council
members, British Foreign Office spokesman confirmed to Gulf News that
London and Washington have not altered their position in this respect.
This position was made absolutely clear by British
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw when he met with the IAEA's Dr Muhammad El
Straw is believed to have stressed that any
resolution by the Security Council should show Iraqi President Saddam
Hussan the firm determination of the United Nations this time.
U.S. INACTION POISONS ARAB OPINION — SAUD
Saudi Arabia has said Washington's failure to curb
Israel's military actions against Palestinians was poisoning Arab
attitudes towards America.
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal said in a
Reuters interview that U.S. silence over Israeli military actions, using
U.S.-supplied weaponry, was having the opposite effect.
But he was optimistic there would not be an attack on
Iraq, because of U.S. willingness to work through the United Nations. He
said the fate of President Saddam Hussain "is the business of the Iraqi
people. The people who will be affected are the Iraqi people."
Asked about anti-American attitudes in Saudi Arabia,
one of the oldest U.S. allies in the region and a key member of the 1991
Gulf war alliance against Iraq, Prince Saud said only one thing prompted
criticism and that was U.S. support for Israel.
SAUDI ARABIA 'URGED TO SPEED UP REFORM'
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reportedly
warned Saudi Arabia to speed up reforms in order to strengthen its
oil-dependent and volatile economy.
The IMF told Saudi officials that inaction would
result in less foreign investment and more pressure on public finances,
according to a leaked report seen by the Financial Times.
The report was compiled following meetings between
Saudi authorities and the IMF several months ago, and was not intended
to be made public.
The IMF is reported to have recommended the following
changes to the way Saudi Arabia's economy is managed:
Cuts in government spending, introduction of income
tax for both expatriates and nationals, establishment of a timetable for
But each of these proposed changes is controversial.
VENEZUELA SAYS NO TO ARAB OIL BLOCKADE
Venezuela, the world's fifth biggest oil producer and
major supplier to the US, will not support an Arab oil blockade in
response to military action against Iraq.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told BBC News Online
during a visit to the UK that Arab producers would have to work within
the Organisation of Petroleum Export Countries (Opec).
"We cannot endorse any oil embargo, we cannot use oil
as a political weapon and Opec should be fully aware of this," Mr Chavez
Venezuela weakened the Arab oil embargo in 1973 by
filling the gap with its own reserves.
Libya and Iraq have been the main proponents of an
Arab oil embargo, while Iran has said it would consider one because of
Israeli actions against Palestinians. Saudi Arabia has said it would not
support a blockade.
The volume of oil exported by Iraq under UN
supervision averaged 3.03 million barrels a day, a record since the
start of the oil-for-food programme almost six years ago, the UN said.
In the week, Iraq exported 21.2 million barrels of crude for revenue
estimated at $547 million, the office administering the programme said.
The previous record, 19.4 million barrels, was reached in ending October
20, 2000, when sales netted 508 million dollars.
Twenty-seven years after it was dissolved by the
government, Bahrainis, men and women, voted for a new legislature that
is part of a political reform project launched two years ago by His
Majesty the King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
More than half of Bahrain's 243,499 registered voters
have ignored an opposition boycott and cast their ballots in the
elections for the 40-member House of Deputies, Information minister
BANKS ACCUSED OF FORGERY
Two banks in Sharjah and Dubai have been accused by
the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of having allegedly forged
bank guarantee certificates.
One of the banks admitted indirectly that it had
"unintentionally" committed some mistakes in the serial number of the
certificates, while the other bank rejected any connection with the case
and said that the certificates in question, about which the ministry
inquired, are not registered with it.
MOHAMMED INAUGURATES FAIRMONT
The Fairmont Dubai, a Dh800 million five-star hotel,
was inaugurated by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown
Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defence.
ISRAELI TANKS ENTER JENIN
Israel troops backed by dozens of tanks entered the
West Bank town of Jenin.
An Israeli commander quoted by Reuters news agency
said it was the biggest security operation since one launched in Nablus
Palestinian eyewitnesses said the Israelis were in
the town itself and its adjoining refugee camp — they are reported to be
carrying out house-to-house searches.
LIBYA TO LEAVE ARAB LEAGUE
Reports from Tripoli quote officials as saying Libya
has informed the Arab League of its decision to withdraw from the
But in Cairo, the secretary-general of the pan-Arab
body, Amr Moussa, told the BBC he is in constant contact with the
authorities in Libya and has yet to receive any official notification of
Libyan officials are being reported as saying that
the Arab League's inefficiency in dealing with the crises over Iraq and
the Palestinians as the reason for this move.
IRAN OPENS UP MOBILE PHONE MARKET
Iran plans to open its mobile telephone market to
foreign firms, in a move that would end the state's monopoly in the
telecoms sector, a report has said.
"We have decided to allow foreign private mobile
phone operators into the field from March 2004," Ali Kermanshah, deputy
minister of the telecoms ministry told the news agency Reuters.
The presence of foreign firms would help Iranian
mobile phone users move beyond "the limited capacity and sometimes
inefficiency of the governmental sector".
US RICE FARMERS SEAL IRAN EXPORT DEAL
A co-operative of US farmers has sold rice to Iran in
the first such deal since President Bill Clinton barred exports to the
country seven years ago, a report said.
"We sold them high quality long grain rice, and it
was the first sale of US rice to Iran since 1995," Riceland Foods
spokesman Bill Reed told news agency Reuters.
The $1.4m rice shipment could pave the way for
renewed trade relations with Iran, even though President George W Bush
has retained economic sanctions and insisted that Iran was part of an
"axis of evil".
GCC SET TO REMOVE TRADE HURDLES
GCC Ministers of Commerce and Industry have agreed to
remove all obstacles to trade exchange between their countries by next
year and apply an anti-dumping law from early next year.
In statement at the end of the 21st meeting of the
Industrial Cooperation Committee, which consists of GCC ministers of
commerce and industry, Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Oman's Minister of
Commerce and Industry, said: "The ministers have set next year as the
maximum time frame for removing all barriers to trade exchange and it
was agreed that the secretariat general coordinate on this matter with
member states which all had shown desire to take that step."
WAR MUST BE AVERTED — ZAYED
President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al
Nahyan received UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and discussed with him
the latest developments on the international and regional scenes,
including the Iraqi and Palestinian issues. They also discussed war
The president reiterated the need to uphold
international law in resolving conflicts in the world. He said that war,
which is destructive to both the victor and the vanquished, must be
averted at all costs, and that wisdom and peaceful means must be the
order of the day.
An Egyptian car manufacturer will establish a bus
plant in the Ajman Free Zone, according to Abdullah Mohammed Hussein,
Egyptian commercial counsellor. The plant is expected to produce 50
buses a month for the local market and export, he added.
BankMuscat has reported a net profit of 18.5 million
Omani riyals for the first nine months of this year. Net profit soared
by 67.8 per cent to 18.494 million riyals compared with 11.016 million
RIYADH SPENDS $33B
Saudi Arabia maintained its addiction to overshooting
expenditure to forestall a damaging slowdown in its oil-reliant economy
and pumped nearly $33 billion in additional spending during its sixth
development plan that ended in 1999, economists said.