September peak of $31 a barrel, because of
overproduction and a weakening sense of alarm over an Iraqi strike.
Reports suggested Opec members have been taking
advantage of the high prices by exceeding their production targets, or
But Opec members have denied that there is oversupply
and said output targets were unlikely to be cut.
In August, a survey of the number of tanks leaving
Opec ports by consultancy Petrologistics, showed that compliance with
quotas has fallen to 63%.
That compared to 70% a year before.
At the time, the threat of an imminent attack on
Iraq, meaning disrupted oil supplies from the Middle East, kept prices
high, creating a so-called "war premium".
The Middle East produces a third of the world's crude
oil. But analysts say the prospect of a UN resolution on Iraq, combined
with fears that oil stocks are rising, is likely to push prices down
"The tide is turning and we're heading for much
lower oil prices," said Sarah Emerson of Energy Security Analysis
The American Petroleum Institute said that US crude
oil stocks were up by 2.3m barrels to 291m barrels in the week to 1
This was the fourth week in a row that stocks had
Opec believes the increased stocks will be necessary
in the coming winter months for the northern hemisphere, when fuel usage
IRAN REFORMIST BILL APPROVED
The Iranian parliament has approved a bill which
would strip a conservative-dominated council of its right to veto
At the end of a debate carried live on state radio,
deputies unanimously approved steps to prevent the Guardians Council
using a power which has disqualified hundreds of reformers from standing
However, the bill now has to be approved by the
council to become law.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says the council is
expected to reject the bill in which case another conservative-dominated
body, the Expediency Council, will be asked to arbitrate.
If that process ends in the bill being blocked or
watered down, pro-reformist President Mohammad Khatami and reformist
lawmakers could protest with a mass resignation, plunging the republic
The Guardians Council frequently exercises its power
to reject people wishing to stand for election.
The reasons most often cited are failure to fully
respect Islam or lack of loyalty to the constitution.
Reformists under President Khatami, who came to power
in 1997, want to create a more open society but have been frustrated in
their efforts to change legislation.
Analysts say they are determined to rid themselves of
the conservatives' stranglehold on power.
The approval of the bill comes a day after Iran's
Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, pardoned the country's leading
jailed dissident, while another prominent reformist was arrested by the
Iran's courts have recently clamped down on dozens of
liberal newspapers and jailed a number of President Khatami's
US WANTS UN VOTE ON IRAQ; FRANCE AGREES
United States and France came to a last-minute agreement on a tough U.N.
resolution giving Iraq a last chance to disarm or face war, thereby
making a vote fairly certain.
Diplomats said the deal came after French President
Jacques Chirac spoke to U.S. President George W. Bush on outstanding
issues. Chirac's spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, said Chirac hoped a
"consensus could be reached" when the council voted.
But Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, also
spoke to Bush, has not signaled whether it would vote in favor or
abstain, although diplomats expected Moscow to vote "yes." The
United States and Britain want a united U.N. Security Council vote to
send a clear message to Iraq.
IMF URGES SAUDIS TO IMPOSE INCOME TAX, LIFT BARRIERS
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged
cash-strapped Saudi Arabia to impose income tax, tear down investment
barriers and quickly finalise a multibillion dollar gas initiative to
revive its economy and find jobs for its growing citizens.
In a study conducted in collaboration with Saudi
authorities, the IMF hailed the Gulf oil giant for targeting a
deficit-free budget by 2005 and planning to privatise its
telecommunication sector but said more measures were needed.
The study, carried out last month, noted that Saudi
Arabia's economy remained heavily reliant on oil exports and it was
underscored by persistent swings in its fiscal and economic situation.
The IMF's executive board admonished Riyadh not to be
dissuaded by a recent improvement in oil prices from pushing ahead with
vital reforms needed to fortify its economy against crude price
fluctuations and ease its heavy debt burden.
UAE INVESTS $60B OVER LAST FOUR YEARS
The UAE has pumped more than $60 billion into oil,
industry and other sectors over the past four years to maintain economic
momentum and investments are set to pick up over the coming years amidst
growing confidence in the domestic economy.
An investment breakdown published by the Ministry of
Planning showed oil and gas, manufacturing, real estate, communications,
and electricity and water were the most attractive sectors for public
and private capital during that period.
While investments were needed by the government in
the oil sector to increase production and maintain present capacity,
other sectors were found attractive because of high yield, state
incentives and the abundance of cheap energy and labour.
Planning Ministry figures showed overall public and
private investments between 1998 and 2001 stood at Dh222.2 billion
Investments in oil, industry, electricity and water,
real estate and communications totalled Dh165.2 billion ($45 billion),
accounting for nearly 75 per cent of the total.
JODCO PLANS TO ENHANCE ABU DHABI OIL RECOVERY
The Japan Oil Development Co (Jodco) has lifted 1.9
billion barrels in the last 30 years from offshore Abu Dhabi. It sells
around 100 million barrels of crude oil annually, a top company official
Moreover, Jodco plans to enhance oil recovery in Abu
Dhabi and strengthen its partnership with Adnoc.
Takashi Nonouchi, chief executive of Jodco, told Gulf
News: "Jodco's annual sales volume of crude oil is now around 100
million barrels, and we have grown to achieve a prominent position in
supplying crude oil to Japan and the Asian market."
Of the total crude oil lifted of some 1.9 billion
barrels in the last three decades, most of it was exported to Japan.
ISRAEL-LEBANON BORDER STILL TENSE
Inside a hastily constructed watchtower, Hezbollah
sentries gaze across the electrified barbed-wire fence that separates
Lebanon from Israel. They note the comings and goings of Israeli
patrols, and they watch for anyone getting close enough to the fence to
pass messages across.
On the Israeli side, there is a heavily fortified
army post with steel barriers to shield against anti-tank rockets.
Israeli troops do not venture outside on foot, and the army instead
relies on jeep patrols, security cameras and reconnaissance drones.
RAK CERAMICS TO INVEST DH140M IN EXPANSION
RAK Ceramics will invest Dh140 million in expansion,
including Dh60 million in a 30,000 square metre per day production
This will raise its capacity to 132,000 square metres
of ceramic and gres porcelain tiles per day.
A further Dh60 million will be used to establish a
plant in China, while another Dh20 million will be spent on a plant to
produce an additional 1,000 pieces of vitreous china sanitaryware per
day, from an output of 5,000 pieces.
The company has set up manufacturing and processing
plants in Bangladesh and Slovakia.
LAND ROVER JORDAN FACTORY
Land Rover has confirmed plans to establish a new
assembly plant in Jordan, which is expected to be commissioned by
mid-2003, according to a top official with the UK automaker.
The financial outlay, estimated at $70 million, is
being totally met by Land Rover's Jordanian partner — Shaheen Business
and Investment group — while Land Rover will provide extensive
managerial and technical support.
Bahrain is home to the largest concentration of
Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) and is keen to maintain the
In 2002 alone, monetary authorities undertook major
steps to expand the frontiers of Islamic banking and to consolidate
Bahrain's position as a centre for Islamic finance.
Earlier in the year, the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA)
introduced new regulations for the local Islamic banking industry.
IRAN BANS ADVERTS FOR US PRODUCTS
All media in Iran has been banned from running
adverts for products made in the USA
"Based on a government order, publicity for any
US goods from now on is forbidden in all the media," a report by
the country's state-owned broadcaster said.
Oasis International Leasing (Al Waha) is expanding
its asset portfolio to include infrastructure such as power generation
plants and high value medical equipment, a top company official said.
Meanwhile, foreign institutional investors are likely
to take up 49 per cent equity in the company, while the proposed rights
issue to enlarge the company's share capital by Dh200 million will take
place at an opportune time.
2003 COUNTDOWN TO GREEN FUEL STARTS
The countdown has begun to make UAE totally lead-free
from the beginning of next year.
In a significant environmental and health protection
measure, UAE filling stations will sell only unleaded gasoline from
January 1, 2003 — and in response, Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Co (Takreer)
has set up systems to supply unleaded gasoline, official sources
The UAE cabinet in July had approved the proposal for
the switchover to unleaded gasoline in the country.
VISA CARD PROMOTION
Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) has launched a two-month
promotion scheme for its Visa and Visa Electron cardholders, which
offers Dh100,000 worth of prizes during this period ending December 31.
AUTO MARKET SEES GOOD DEMAND
The local automobile market expects to wrap up
another good run during the Dubai The City That Cares campaign and hopes
to sell 8,000 units. The raft of promotions during the period has
traditionally been a major factor in getting people to buy.
If volumes in November creep past 8,000, it will also
ensure that the local auto market has maintained the gains made in
October, when an estimated 9,000 units were sold.
Average monthly vehicle sales in the UAE average
around 6,500 units, according to conservative estimates. Any number over
8,000 is considered exceptional.
US WARNS COMPANIES OVER ISRAEL BOYCOTT
The United States has threatened to fine US companies
that take part in an Arab lead economic boycott of Israel.
"The US government is strongly opposed to
restrictive trade practices or boycotts targeted at Israel," said
Undersecretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Kenneth Juster.
"The Commerce Department is closely monitoring
efforts that appear to be made to reinvigorate the Arab boycott of
Israel and will use all of its resources to vigorously enforce US
UAE BANK TRUMPETS SUCCESS
Dubai-based Mashreqbank has unveiled a 25% jump in
profits, and said that fears of war had not hit its performance.
Mashreqbank made a net profit of 375m dirhams (£66m;
$102m) in the first nine months of 2002, almost as much as in the whole
of last year.
The bank attributed its strong growth in part to a
move into investment banking, and the introduction of a raft of new and,
for the local market, revolutionary investment products.
"I think it's fair to say we've really upset the
applecart when we entered this business," said Nabeel Waheed, head
of treasury and capital markets at Mashreqbank.