Feb-11 - 17, 2002
Arab states allocate over $40b to defence
Arab states allocated more than $40 billion to defence last
year and Saudi Arabia accounted for nearly 45 per cent of the total spending.
Figures published in the Arab Defence Journal showed the
defence expenditure in the Arab world, excluding Iraq and Somalia, formed around
80 per cent of the overall defence spending in the Middle East.
Defence spending stood at around $18.4 billion in Saudi
Arabia which, like other Gulf states, is involved in a drive to bolster its
military capablity following two destructive wars in the region. Kuwait was the
second biggest defence spender in the region last year, with allocations of
around $4 billion.
Heavy defence and security expenditure is among the factors
that are smothering economic growth in Arab League members as many of them are
reeling under heavy debt and low revenue and investments.
Indebted Arab countries are paying as much as $14 billion
every year in debt servicing and this has combined with large defence
allocations to stifle growth and keep deficits in the budget and current
Last year's defence allocations accounted for more than 20
per cent of the revenues and 5.5 per cent of the combined Arab gross domestic
product compared with less than one per cent in industrial countries.
Defence spending in the region covers the purchase of
weapons, services for military equipment and installations, and salaries for the
Military sources estimate that total defence and security
spending in the Arab world has exceeded $400 billion since the end of the 1991
Arab missile power 'can deter Israel'
Israel's hectic bid to acquire weapons of mass destruction
since it was created on occupied Palestine in 1948 has turned it into the sixth
nuclear power in the world although it is unlikely to use it in a first attack,
a prominent Arab military analyst said.
While Arab countries do not possess atomic weapons, they have
managed to build an enormous missile power that could constitute a sufficient
deterrent to Israel if it were to be used within a collective action.
"According to classified U.S. information, Israel had 13
atomic bombs in 1973 and its current arsenal makes it the sixth nuclear power in
the world in terms of the size of its plutonium stocks," said Dr Zakaria
Hussein, former director of Egypt's Higher Naser Academy, one of the most
prominent military science institutes in the Middle East.
Manufacturing needs further boost: Khalifa
The UAE will press ahead with a drive to expand its
industrial base in participation with the private sector to diversify its
sources of income and immunise its economy against unpredictable oil prices,
according to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of
Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed forces.
"Industry in the UAE is a strategic choice and among our
key future plans to strengthen our economic presence in the world, maintaining
what the government has achieved for the people during the past years under the
guidance of His Highness President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,"
Sheikh Khalifa said in a statement on the November 2-5 industrial exhibition, to
be organised by the General Exhibition Corp (GEC) in Abu Dhabi.
In his comments, obtained by Gulf News, Sheikh Khalifa said
more steps are needed to be taken to expand the manufacturing sector and
increase its contribution to the gross domestic product.
More than $6 billion have been pumped into the non-oil
industrial sector in the UAE and most of the capital is owned by the private
sector, which is gaining ground with the encouragement of the government.
The investments covered nearly 2,140 projects producing
chemicals, building materials, mahcinery and equipment, paper, home appliances,
electrical products, metals and other light and medium industries.
Official figures showed non-oil industrial exports have
exceeded $3 billion a year while the contribution of the manufacturing sector to
the GDP has increased to over 10 per cent from less than four per cent in 1985.
UAE steel factory starts production
Emirates Iron and Steel Factory has started commercial
production at its facility in Abu Dhabi, with output pegged at 250,000 tonnes
The full design capacity of the factory is 500,000 tonnes
annually. It is the largest in the UAE with the latest rolling mill technology.
"Commercial production began in a small way last month
with one shift. Our goal is to produce 250,000 tonnes of steel reinforcing bars
this year," said Gerold Strahlmann, general manager.
Dh300 million was invested in the first phase of the project
to make steel re-bars which conform to international standards.
Iran warns US against attack
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned the
US that it would regret any action it launched upon his country.
His speech, punctuated by cries of "Death to
America" from an audience of air force chiefs, represents the latest salvo
in the war of words between the US and Iran.
Tehran and Washington have exchanged insults and threats
since US President George W Bush described Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an
"axis of evil" in his State of the Union address on 29 January.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared to adopt a more
conciliatory tone earlier this week and said talks were possible with those
Yet on Wednesday CIA director George Tenet said Iran remained
"a serious concern because of its across-the-board pursuit of weapons of
mass destruction and missile capabilities".
Iran appears to have remained angered by the comments of US
Ayatollah Khamenei said on Thursday: "If anyone tries to
attack this people and threaten their interests, the reply of the people of Iran
will be keen, and the aggressors will regret their action.
"The Iranian people and the whole population, as well as
the various branches of the armed forces, must attain unity, be vigilant and be
totally prepared to reply to any attack."
The ayatollah, who last week denounced America as the
"Great Satan", told Washington: "It is not only the Iranian
people who hate you, but the whole world, as an oppressive regime, arrogant,
misusing its strength and hypocritical.
Iran blocks new UK ambassador
Britain's improving relations with Iran have suffered a major
reverse. The government in Tehran has rejected Britain's choice of a new
ambassador. David Reddaway was denounced by conservative Iranian newspapers,
which speak for the country's hardline clerics.
They called him a Jewish MI6 spy. In fact Mr Reddaway is not
Jewish and the British Government denies he is in MI6, its foreign intelligence
Mr Reddaway has served as a diplomat in Iran twice before,
speaks Farsi and has an Iranian wife.
Egypt calls for aid
Egypt is to ask international donors for financial support of
$2.5bn to help it plug the gap in the country's accounts.
Income from tourism and shipping income has fallen
dramatically in the wake of the 11 September attacks, and in the light of the
global economic slowdown.
Egypt and the World Bank are co-chairing a donors' conference
in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
They hope the 40 donors, which include the US and countries
from the European Union, will offer assistance in soft loans or grants.
Israel launches missile strike in West Bank
Israel launched a second retaliatory air strike on a
Palestinian Authority compound in the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday
night, wounding at least one person.
The attack, which followed one early in the morning, took
place while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was in Washington preparing to
press U.S. President George W. Bush to sever ties with Palestinian leader Yasser
The missile strike carried out by an Israeli helicopter
gunship was in further retaliation for the killing of three Israelis on
Wednesday night by a Palestinian gunman who infiltrated a Jewish settlement in
the West Bank, the army said.
Al Ain chalking out tourism strategy
Al Ain Economic Development and Tourism Promotion Authority
is devising strategy to put Al Ain, known as the Floral Oasis, on the
international tourism map.
The strategy, which is currently being outlined, will be
implemented within the next 15 years, said Mubarak Hamed Al Muhairi, Director
General of the recently established Al Ain Economic Development and Tourism
He said the strategy will be based on a two-pronged approach,
and promote Al Ain on regional and international fronts. It will introduce the
city as a modern oasis for families and promote its historical sites in the
international tourist market.
The Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone Authority celebrated the
5th National Environment Day with a tree planting and beach clean up at Ras Al
Khaimah Industrial Park, in conjunction with staff and students of the Indian
Permanent office in Muscat
The GCC Advisory Committee will set up its permanent
headquarters in Muscat, a move that was welcomed by the Omani government.
Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for
the Council of Ministers, who received the committee members at the end of their
fifth session on behalf of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, said the Sultanate
attached great importance to the body which will enhance cooperation among the
six member states.
He said the authorities in the Sultanate, which recently
hosted the 22nd GCC summit, would extend full support to the committee.
EU parliament invites Arafat, slams Sharon
The European Parliament tried to break Yasser Arafat's
isolation by asking him to address it.
It also slammed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for
saying he regretted not having killed the Palestinian leader in 1982, when it
had him under siege in Beirut.
Arafat has been effectively confined to his West Bank
headquarters in Ramallah by a ring of Israeli tanks since December.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told the Parliament on
Tuesday that Arafat remained the legitimate interlocutor for peace talks despite
Israel's dismissal of him as "irrelevant".
15 firms bid for harbour, market deal
The Dh220 million New Mina Zayed harbour and Iranian Market
project has kicked off with over 15 local, regional and international companies
bidding for the contract, officials involved with the project confirmed.
"The response is good and the bids are being
evaluated," an official of the Abu Dhabi Municipality told Gulf News.
The project calls for the relocation of the Mina Zayed
harbour and the adjoining Iranian Market to a nearby location within the port
Dubai gold prices could rise further
Gold prices in Dubai have gone up by seven per cent during
the last week following the trend in the international market, and industry
officials predict that prices may go a little higher before settling down.
They said, due to speculative investment, the price might go
up to $320 per ounce from the current level of $305, before settling down at
$280. In the retail market, this translates into a rise of anywhere between
Dh1-Dh2 per gram of jewellery.
Dubai airport traffic climbs 10pc in 2001
The flow of transit passengers through Dubai International
Airport, returned to normal during the last few months after a 5 per cent
decline in the aftermath of September 11, said a Dubai Department of Civil
Aviation (DCA) official.
Overall traffic movement out of Dubai airport has increased
by 10 per cent to 13.5 million in 2001. Projections for the current year are
around 15 million — another 10 per cent increase over 2001 figures, said Jamal
Al Hai, DCA director, strategy and management excellence.
Bush maintains links with Arafat
US President George W Bush appears to have rejected Israeli
calls for the United States to sever all ties with Palestinian leader Yasser
He said his administration would maintain pressure on Mr
Arafat to halt attacks by Palestinian militants on Israel.
At a news conference in Washington that followed talks with
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Mr Bush repeated his recent strong
criticism of Mr Arafat but stopped short of following Israel's policy of ending
links with him.
Correspondents say that is a door the Bush administration
does not wish to shut, at least for now.
Europe's growing Mid East role
Arab countries have long been pressing for greater European
involvement in the Middle East peace process to counteract the perceived US bias
Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has said that Europe
has a "moral and political responsibility" towards the region because
of its former colonial role and its close ties to the Arab world.
Europe should play a "more prominent role than the one
that is currently hardly noticeable", he said.
But until recently Israel resisted direct European
participation in its peace talks with the Palestinians because it too perceived
Europe to be more pro-Arab than the United States.
UAE efforts to combat money laundering win global praise
The UAE has been acknowledged as a leading example in the
global fight against among other things — money laundering.
And, it is not by accident that a free economy such as the
UAE could achieve a place among the leading nations of the world. Freedom
encourages enterprise fortunately more good, but also bad — and the Emirates
has got the right balance in promoting what is beneficial and restricting and
limiting what is harmful.
Not many know, but the UAE's fight against money laundering
— not an easy task when there is no restriction on fund flows - began some 15
years ago. This is no mean task by a country which itself is just twice that
The global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) discussed the
UAE at its meeting from January 28 to February 1 in Hong Kong and concluded that
the country has established a comprehensive anti-money laundering system,
comprising a law, regulations and procedures, the National Committee for
Anti-Money Laundering said on its return.
Hamad pledges to pursue reform plan
The Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has
expressed his keen desire to announce the amended national constitution at the
earliest possible to return the country to a constitutional life with all its
relevant new institutions.
Sheikh Hamad said that the projected constitution would be
achieved in cooperation with legal experts and the relevant committees.
Ambitious harbour project launched
The ambitious inner harbour project at Hamriyah Port
adjoining Sharjah's Hamriyah Free Zone was officially launched by His Highness
Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler
The project, spread across three phases, will entail a Dh75
million investment in the first phase, which will see the construction of 3.1 km
of wharfage across 350 metres, with a draft depth of 7 metres.
Interestingly, the complex will include a drydocking facility
capable of servicing small- and medium-sized vessels.
Al Gezira and SCCI to set up venture
Sudan's Al Gezira province and the Sharjah Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (SCCI) have decided to set up a joint venture to develop
12,000 hectares of land provided gratis for agricultural development, said Prof
Sadig K. Omara, the province's Minister of Agriculture, Animal Wealth and
EIB sees drop in oil prices
Oil prices are expected to decline in 2002 because of reduced
demand and weak global economy, said an Emirates Industrial Bank (EIB) report.
Prices will be influenced by supply from non-Opec countries,
which is increasing, and Opec production levels which are declining, said the
report on the 'Economic Outlook of Global and Oil Exporting Countries'.
Oil prices changed randomly after September 2001. The average
for the entire year is estimated at $24.5 a barrel. Opec resolved to cut
production targets and quotas in January. It cut output twice in 2001, which
reduced its market share and revenues of members.
A reduction in oil prices would boost world demand and
economy but it would adversely affect the economies of Opec members,
particularly their fiscal balances and spending.
Production cuts have reduced the market share of Opec from 40
to 34 per cent.
Opec has a share of 5 million barrels per day.
CC aid down sharply between 1995-01
Gulf Arab oil producers have sharply cut financial aid over
the past few years and the assistance is set to slow down in the coming years as
they stagger under slow growth, fiscal deficits and falling oil earnings.
Official Arab figures showed the six-nation GCC has extended
only around $8 billion between 1995 and 2001 compared with $29.1 billion between
1975 and 1979 and $30.4 billion between 1980 and 1984.
Islamic liquidity centre launched
Three Gulf banks launched an Islamic Liquidity Management
Centre (LMC) in Bahrain to serve Islamic banks and finance houses in a move that
could pave the way for an Islamic money market. Kuwait Finance House, Dubai
Islamic Bank and Bahrain Islamic Bank signed an agreement to set up the centre,
which plans to issue tradable Islamic instruments called Sukuk, with an initial
paid-in capital of $15 million. Each bank would provide $5 million for the
centre, the first of its kind in the Gulf's financial hub, Bahrain.
Israel demolishes homes
Israeli bulldozers have begun demolishing several Palestinian
homes in occupied east Jerusalem, which Israeli officials say were built without
Officials say three houses have so far been destroyed in the
second such operation this week.