However, the report also points out that the
countries of the Gulf may face competition from Pakistan and some other
Asian states in this sector in the near future. "Gulf States are
now facing another challenge, which is a growing tendency in Pakistan
and other Asian countries to search for gas. There are strong prospects
for such discoveries, which could largely boost that region's gas
reserves from the current 10,330 billion cubic metres — accounting for
nearly seven per cent of the global gas reserves," the study
Currently, the Gulf has proven gas reserves of 52,230
billion cubic metres of associated and non-associated gas. This turns
out to be a ratio of 456 billion cubic metres per one million people,
nearly 18 times the global average of 25 billion cubic metres. At the
production rate of 2000, such reserves could last 245 years as compared
to a global average age of 61 years. The regional reserves could also be
sufficient to supply gas to the entire world for 21 years.
"It should be noted that the large gas
discoveries in the Gulf over the past years were not a result of the
exploration activities but due to development projects carried out in
the sector," the report pointed out. Significant gas projects in
the UAE and the multi-billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG)
projects recently were taken up in the region, highlighting the above
point. Saudi Arabia is also working on a huge, complex $25 billion gas
initiative, which may put gas at the centre of energy resource
development strategy in the region.
QATAR: ENHANCING PRIVATE SECTOR'S ROLE IN ECONOMY
In 1997, the IMF advised Qatar to step up structural
reforms in order to facilitate economic diversification. Amongst others,
the IMF called for privatisation, deregulation and financial sector
reforms. The authorities heeded the call and made concerted efforts to
involve private sector firms in the economy.
In 2002 alone, a series of new laws were passed in
order to improve the investment climate, including copyright, protection
of trademarks and fighting money laundering.
Starting from June 2002, individuals have become free
to import branded goods for personal use without having to either seek
permission from local agents or to pay any commissions to the agents.
The new law replaces the 1986 rule that granted
commercial agencies the sole selling rights for branded consumer goods.
Recently, the government formed a council comprising
leading businessmen to advise on policies needed to help boost the
private sector's role in the economy.
The selected members include representatives from the
ruling Al Thani family and large business families. The council is
expected to become an influential body in the formation of local
economic policies. The council is separate from the Qatar Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, which provides advice to the minister of economy
The Qatari economy is reaping the benefits of opening
the energy sector to foreign investments. In a span of a few years,
Qatar has managed to more than double its installed oil production
capacity to 850,000 barrels per day, largely due to the efforts of
American and European oil companies.
Likewise, Qatar is an acknowledged global player in
the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) thanks to the efforts of
international oil companies.
To be sure, local firms are being encouraged to
participate in areas once regarded off limits. Privately owned United
Development Company (UDC) will be allowed to take part in Qatar's
economic development programme including oil, gas, petrochemicals, and
ARAB FUND REELS UNDER $601M IN ARREARS
The Arab League's lending arm is still reeling under
heavy arrears owed by Iraq and two other conflict-hit member states as
its long-standing efforts to tackle the problem have apparently been
bogged down by their financial woes.
The Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) said
Iraq, Sudan and Somalia owed it nearly 158.2 million Arab Accounting
Dinars ($601 million) at the end of 2001, accounting for almost half its
paid-up capital of 324 million dinars ($1.23 billion).
A large part of the arrears is in interest as the
three members have failed to repay their debt to the fund for more than
10 years, the AMF said in its annual report.
Although it struck a deal with Sudan last year to pay
monthly instalments to settle the remaining debt, the East African
country suspended payments just two months later.
"As of December 31, Sudan failed to repay four
monthly instalments, totally around $6 million. Soon after an agreement
was signed with the AMF, Sudan started paying monthly instalments of
$1.5 million," it said.
IRAQ WAR FEARS LIFT OIL PRICES
Oil prices have continued to rise sharply amidst
concerns that the UN search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
would fail to prevent a war.
As the inspectors got down to business, oil industry
officials took the view that a war against Iraq remained a strong
"There are concerns [about] whether Iraq will
comply completely with inspections," said ABN Amro's Paul Ashby.
During early trade, one of the benchmark's of the
world oil market, Brent crude oil futures, added 32 cents to Monday's
near $1 (63 pence) price rise. One barrel of Brent crude oil now costs
"Fundamentally the oil price is probably $22 to
$24 a barrel, so there's still a war premium for some sort of disruption
to supplies," Mr Ashby said.
In the US, futures contracts for the delivery of
crude oil in December rose more than $1 to $26.54, their highest level
in more than two weeks.
ISRAELIS RETURN TO BETHLEHEM
Israeli forces have entered the West Bank city of
Bethlehem, in response to the suicide bomb attack on a Jerusalem bus.
Israeli military sources said troops surrounded the
Dheisheh refugee camp near the city and headed for the Church of the
Nativity, to prevent Palestinian gunmen seeking refuge there as they did
in a 39-day stand-off earlier in the year.
The suspected Jerusalem bomber, whom Israeli police
identified as 23-year-old Nael Abu Hilail, was believed to have come
NATO BACKS DISARMING IRAQ, BUT SPLIT ON WAR
Nato leaders issued a united declaration of support
for efforts to disarm Iraq, papering over their deep differences on the
U.S. threat to go to war.
As the Nato summit opened in Prague, U.S. and British
warplanes bombed southern Iraq. Analysts said such near-daily skirmishes
amounted to an undeclared air war, giving Western jets increasing
dominance of the skies over Iraq.
The Pentagon said the target was Iraqi air defence
radar, attacked because Iraqi forces had been spotted moving a missile
battery into the southern no-fly zone. Iraq said the Western planes
bombed civilian targets and had been driven off by Iraqi anti-aircraft
GREEN CARDS TO LURE IRAQI SCIENTISTS
The United States is offering a fast track to
American citizenship for Iraqi scientists willing to blow the whistle on
Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Under the Iraqi Scientists Immigration Act of 2002,
passed by the Senate, up to 500 scientists could be given green cards if
they reveal critical information on weapons programmes.
BP SIGNS CONTRACT
BP, which has sold a 49 per cent stake in BP Oman to
state-owned Oman Oil Co, has signed a management contract to run the
company for a year.
Sources close to BP said the decision to sell the
stake in BP Oman was part of its plan to withdraw from the retail sector
in the region and focus more on the core business.
GOVERNMENTS WARNED AGAINST BACKING U.S.
Intellectuals and scholars from various Arab and
Muslim countries warned their governments against providing any kind of
support or facilities to the U.S. in its possible strike on Iraq,
stressing that such cooperation would have serious consequences on the
A 15-page statement signed by 209 intellectuals and
scholars, including women, with a majority from Saudi Arabia, was
broadcast by Al Jazeera TV.
IRAN'S N-PROGRAMME RAISES NEW WORRIES
While the Bush administration has focused public
attention on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, Iran's nuclear
weapons programme has in recent months begun to appear more worrisome
than Iraq's, according to U.S. intelligence.
Administration officials and nuclear proliferation
specialists say Iran is trying covertly to produce weapons-grade uranium
SADDAM BLAMED FOR GAS ATTACK
A former Iraqi army chief held in Denmark for
possible war crimes said that forces directly controlled by Iraqi
President Saddam Hussain launched a deadly chemical gas attack on Kurds
in the late 1980s.
Nizar Al Khazraji, who made his comments to the Al-Hayat,
is suspected of crimes against the Kurds and was placed under house
arrest in Denmark to prevent him from avoiding possible prosecution.
PROBLEMS OF NEEDY
Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier
and Commander of the National Guard, has ordered a working team be
formed to implement a strategy to "wipe out poverty in the country
as soon as possible and solve the problems faced by needy people
throughout the Kingdom."
While visiting the old districts in Riyadh and
meeting its poor residents, the Crown Prince said: "It is really a
serious problem and we have to do something about it so urgently. These
poor people have the right to be heard."
'JORDAN FIRST' DRIVE LAUNCHED
A campaign to boost national loyalty and strengthen
ties among members of the community is being worked out by a special
committee formed by King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Entitled 'Jordan First', the plan will target all
Jordanians "regardless of their origins to strengthen their loyalty
to the homeland and stimulate their positive potentials," official
THURAYA RINGS UP RAPID GROWTH
Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co has achieved
rapid growth by selling more than 100,000 handsets and 62,000 working
lines, a top official said.
"We expect sales of handsets to reach 120,000 by
the end of this year and working lines to reach about 75,000 to 80,000.
It is very encouraging for us," Thuraya Chairman Mohammed Omran
Thuraya's second satellite is scheduled to be
launched in January or February and Boeing Satellite System will build
the third GEO-Mobile communications satellite for the firm. It will be
delivered in early 2005.
MEBANK TO GIVE AWAY FREE FLIGHTS
MeBank is offering free flights to debtors of other
banks — provided they transfer an existing personal loan — of over
Dh50,000 — to a loan from meBank. The offer continues until December
Starting from November 24, all UAE residents with
personal loans of over Dh50,000 from any other bank in the UAE can
transfer their loan to a mePersonal and receive a free Gulf Air flight
to one of 16 selected destinations.
Aero Asia, the largest private Pakistani airline, has
expanded its facilities and operations in the UAE with three more
offices in Bur Dubai and Ajman to cope with increasing passenger demand.
TOPAZ PROFIT JUMPS 61PC
Topaz Energy and Marine (Team) — listed on the
Muscat Securities Market - recorded a net profit of $3.24 million on
sales of $38.9 million for the first nine months of 2002.
DUBAI SHORTCUTS SINGAPORE
Comparisons are odious anyway, but they are more so
when it is between Dubai and Singapore.
From a pro-business administration and laissez faire
economy to a myriad of festivals the two city-states are famous for,
there is a long list of things that are common between the two. So, it
would appear to be more than coincidence that when Dubai announced a
plan to establish a global healthcare city, policy planners in Singapore
have also been considering ways to promote the city as the South East
Asian medical hub.
LEBANESE PILOTS ACCEPT PAY CUTS
Pilots at Middle East Airlines, Lebanon's flagship
carrier, have been forced to accept unfavourable new contract terms.
Last week, the pilots were told they must agree to
fewer benefits and more working hours or else be replaced by foreign