Revenues of 170bn riyals are expected, 75% of which
analysts estimate comes from oil sales.
The secretive rulers do not reveal the oil price
which was used to calculate the budget, but it is thought to have been
between $16 to $17 per barrel for 2002.
Saudi oil production is about 7.6 million barrels per
day and the average price for the kingdom's crude has been slightly
above $23 dollars a barrel.
As is customary, the budget did not mention defence
FAHD APPROVED THE BUDGET
A Finance Ministry statement said 2002's 225bn riyal
budget had a smaller-than-expected deficit of 21bn riyals, which is
thought to have been mainly due to higher oil prices.
The kingdom's domestic debt is about $170bn while
foreign debt stands at around $20bn.
Finance and Economy Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said
earlier this month that Saudi Arabia planned to sell stakes in 20 big
state-owned industries to reduce the debt burden.
Under a five-year plan announced in 2001, the
government plans to employ over 800,000 unemployed Saudis, replacing
488,600 foreigner workers and creating 328,000 new jobs, mainly in the
ARMS INSPECTORS VISIT MORE IRAQI SITES
United Nations arms experts have visited a laboratory
and a munitions factory near Baghdad, on the second day of their hunt
for suspected Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Two teams set off from their Baghdad headquarters
followed by dozens of journalists, but Iraqi guards prevented the
reporters from entering the facilities.
After the inspections resumed, the experts said they
had been given full co-operation by the Iraqis.
But US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said
there had to be a genuine change of heart by the Iraqi leader for the
programme to succeed.
One of the UN teams visited an animal vaccine
production plant at al-Dora, south of the capital.
The BBC's Ben Brown in Baghdad says the plant has a
documented history of biological weapons production, including anthrax.
When weapons inspectors were last in Iraq in the
1990s they visited and disabled part of the al-Dora plant. But, our
correspondent adds, there is a lingering suspicion that biological
weapons could still be manufactured there.
The weapons inspectors peered into storage tanks, and
looked over pipes and other fixtures for signs of any military research.
Another team went to the al-Nasser factory, north of
Baghdad, which produces both ammunition and civilian machinery.
The inspectors visited the al-Tahadi factory in the
al-Rashad suburb, north-east of Baghdad, and a graphite plant at al-Amariyah,
south-west of the capital.
ISLAMIC BANKS EDGE PAST CONVENTIONAL
The growth rate of Islamic banking services has
outpaced that of 'conventional' banking during the past decade, making
it one of the most dynamic areas in international finance.
This was part of the Standard & Poor's Ratings
Services (S&P)'s comments on the approach taken in analysing the
creditworthiness of Islamic financial institutions, made in a report —
Classic Ratings Approach Applied to Islamic Banks Despite Industry
Specifics — published.
The annual growth of Islamic financial institutions (IFIs)
has been an estimated 15 per cent worldwide over the past 10 years, and
is expected to accelerate in the foreseeable future.
DOUBTS ON LEBANON $4BN LOAN DEAL
A $4bn loan package from international donors to help
Lebanon tackle its public debt and avert a financial crisis has received
a mixed reaction.
Former Lebanese Finance Minister George Corm said the
amount and conditions of the low-cost loans pledged at the Paris
conference were unclear.
"The sums lack transparency, and neither the
conditions, the period and the process of utilising credits is clear,
neither in the final statement of Paris II or in the table distributed
to journalists," he said in a television interview.
Lebanon did not receive the $5bn it was counting on,
because it has avoided International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies on
privatisations and market liberalisation.
UAE BANKS' OVERSEAS LENDING RISES
UAE banks have spread their wings abroad in a big way
since the end of 2000 by increasing their lending outside the UAE by a
substantial Dh5 billion.
The non-resident lending by UAE banks during this
period rose by 27 per cent from Dh17 billion of 2000 to Dh22 billion as
of this year's second quarter.
Speaking to Gulf News, Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, CEO of
Mashreqbank, said UAE banks are becoming regional banks and it makes
sense that more and more of them are looking beyond the UAE.
Emirates Bank International (EBI) recently acquired a
licence to open a branch in Saudi Arabia.
The Mashreqbank chief said his bank was also toying
with the idea of entering other GCC countries in the near future. He
said that the international operations of Mashreqbank are being reviewed
and in the exercise, GCC stands to gain more in terms of branch
SAUDIS DENY MONEY TRANSFER CHARGE
The Saudi authorities have denied recent allegations
that the Saudi government had sent money to two of the hijackers
involved in the Sept 11 attacks. The Saudis are also questioning the
timing of the allegation.
According to Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser
to Crown Prince Abdullah, the Saudi officials had worked closely with
the FBI in investigating the funding allegation when it first emerged
some "seven or eight months ago".
Al-Jubeir said his country was pursuing Al Qaeda
mercilessly, adding that investigations were continuing to determine
whether Saudi money reached the hijackers, and if so how.
BELHOUL GROUP PLANS IPO
Belhoul Group plans to go the IPO (initial public
offering) route to raise funds for its ambitious healthcare expansion
The size of the IPO could be Dh500 million to Dh1
OCCUPIED ISLANDS 'WILL RETURN TO
Ras Al Khaimah will soon organise events to mark the
occupation of Abu Mousa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs islands, said
Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ras Al Khaimah Crown Prince and Deputy
He said activities organised by the schools would
highlight the Iranian occupation of the islands.
Sheikh Khaled was optimistic that the three islands
will very soon return to the UAE, adding that this will come about
because of the extensive efforts by the UAE officials and high-level
contact between the Abu Dhabi and Tehran.
SAUDI ARABIA TO SLASH PHONE, INTERNET CHARGES
Major cuts in mobile, Internet phone charges,
national and international phone call tariffs will be implemented in
Saudi Arabia starting next April 1.
The announcement was made by Khalid Al Gosaibi,
Acting Minister of Posts, Telegraph and Telephones, after the government
decided to sell around 30 per cent of STC shares for public
The acting Minister disclosed that mobile phone
connection charges will be slashed from 300 to 100 Saudi riyals.
PRIVATISATION IN KUWAIT IS PROGRESSING CAUTIOUSLY
The long-awaited privatisation law remains deadlocked
at the National Assembly due to political wrangling between the
appointed government and the elected parliament.
The proposed law will likely grant each ministry its
own privatisation strategy, and this clause has been stirring much
Some details of the privatisation programme have
Amongst others, the programme will be centred on
selling shares in banks, insurance companies and light industries that
the government had purchased through Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA)
following the collapse of the unofficial stock market in 1982 and the
Iraqi invasion in 1990.
MOROCCO FLOODS HIT OIL PLANT
Morocco's largest oil refinery has been closed down
following flash floods which have killed at least 37 people.
The Samir plant in the town of Mohammedia which
processes up to 90% of the country's crude oil exports — was severely
damaged after flash floods triggered a major blaze.
OMAN EDGES TOWARDS DEMOCRACY
The Sultan of Oman has extended voting rights to all
citizens over the age of 21, in a move that is seen as a step towards
political reform in the Gulf state.
Voters in the sultanate were previously chosen from
among tribal leaders, intellectuals and prominent businessmen, with
about a quarter of the state's 1.8 million people taking part in
CHARITY TO EXPAND ACTIVITIES
Al Ihsan Charity Centre plans to open branches in
Dubai and Sharjah in a bid to help more needy families throughout the
"While we already deliver aid to over 1,300
families in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, we are seeking to expand
our scope of humanitarian activities to various parts of the
country," Atallah Habib, Deputy Director, told Gulf News.
He said a Dubai branch would foster cooperation
between the centre and a number of Dubai establishments, including the
Economic Development Department and the municipality, which have been
supporting its operations.
DUBAI AIRPORT TO BEEF UP SECURITY
Dubai International Airport will beef up security in
the coming years, a senior police official said. According to Major
General Ismail Al Gergawi, Director of the General Directorate of Ports
and Airports, 625 police officers will be added to the force in the next
Emirates airline is introducing 50 new planes to its
fleet during the next few years this will bring an increase of
passengers, he said. "Every year the number of passengers using the
airport increase by 12 per cent", he added.
ARAB STATES 'COULD DO MORE TO AVERT WAR'
The former United Nations Humanitarian Aid
Coordinator in Iraq has said that Arab states could do more to prevent a
war against the country.
Hans von Sponeck, who headed the UN's Oil for Food
programme before resigning in February, 2000, gave a lecture at Zayed
Centre for Coordination and Follow-up on the impact of sanctions on the
AVIATION SECTOR TO SPEND $10B ON IT
Middle East airports and airlines are expected to
spend an estimated $10 billion over the next few years on their IT
requirements, including moving many of their processes to the Web.
This year, carriers based in the Middle East and
Africa have outpaced the rest of the world in their IT-related spending,
according to a survey commissioned by Sita, a major vendor of technology
solutions to the airline and airport markets.
These airlines, on an average, are spending 2.88 per
cent of their revenues on IT, while it is 2.7 per cent in the case of
North American carriers, and 1.9 per cent for European ones.
AD INDUSTRY EMERGES FROM SLUMP
The advertising industry has emerged a clear winner
from the spate of promotions and activities that have been lined up
The last week of Ramadan and the extended weekend
during the Eid holidays will see a further surge in advertising spend,
according to industry sources.
The upturn has come at a very welcome moment for the
local advertising market, which had seen an extended lull during the
second quarter and the summer of this year for a variety of reasons.
Aramex International, the regional air express
company, recorded a near 20 per cent increase in revenue to $34.8
million for the third quarter, against $29 million last year.
Net income increased by 50 per cent to $1.5 million
for the three months ended September 30, compared with $1 million the
corresponding period of 2001.
DIB GIVES DH1M TO SIX CHARITIES
Dubai Islamic Bank will donate Dh1 million to six key
local charities in the UAE, as part of its sponsorship of Dubai The City
That Cares 2002.
NEW PLAN TO RESTORE HISTORIC AL AIN SITES
The Department of Antiquities and Tourism (DAT) has
formulated a new annual plan for archaeological excavations and
restoration of historic sites and buildings in Al Ain.
The plan will come into effect from the excavation
season of 2002-03, with special focus on the archaeological sites in
north and west of Al Ain.
The department made new archaeological discoveries at
these sites last season. Human settlements dating back to 5000 BC, to
the Stone and Bronze Ages, were discovered there. The excavated objects
include spearheads which provide clues on the age of the sites.