A 12-member group of Indian musicians and dancers
performed at a cinema hall in Doha last week as part of their
worldwide tour covering 17 nations.
The team, brought together by Indian choreographer
Soorya Krishnamoorthy, includes Karaikuritchi Mohanaraman (mridangam,
and tabla), Joboy (drums), Janardhan (saxophone), Rahjesh Vaidya (veena),
Alappuzha Karunamoorthy (Tavil) and vocalist K. Krishnakumar.
The Indian artistes arrived in Doha after their
performances in Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Kuwait. The team of
performers includes classical dancers Alarmelvalli (Bharatanatyam),
Monisa Nayak (Kathak) and Meenakumari Sahoo (Odissi).
Speaking to Gulf Times on the eve of the program,
Krishnamoorthy said the experienced team has performed before several
Each of the artistes accompanying the group has
carved a niche for himself, feels Krishnamoorthy.
"Though the event is named Fusion music, it is
certainly much more than that," he pointed out. The artistes will
criss-cross Doha on at least three occasions as part of their ongoing
After the Doha performance, the artistes are to
travel to the South East and will return to Doha en route to Europe,
where they will perform in at least nine countries.
The Doha program was organized by Sarang, the local
chapter of the Soorya Cultural Society. Soorya, the choreographer's
brainchild, is believed to be the largest cultural society of its kind
KUWAITI WOMEN ALLOWED TO VOTE
In a first step toward granting women full
political rights, Kuwaiti lawmakers agreed last week to allow women to
vote and run in local council elections, but the measure requires more
legislative action before it would become law.
The measure was taken on a 26-20 vote for women's
participation with three abstentions. The session was attended by more
than three quarters of the 64 lawmakers and Cabinet ministers entitled
A second reading of the bill and a second vote,
expected in two weeks, was required before the bill becomes a law.
Then it would require the Kuwaiti ruler's signature, generally a
formality and the emir have made clear in the past he supports women's
"Thank God, the first step toward women's
rights has been completed ... We are waiting for the major step and I
am sure it will be approved like this one," Prime Minister Sheikh
Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said.
"I congratulate my sisters for obtaining their
rights in municipal elections and they will get their other rights in
voting and standing in parliamentary elections," PM said.
The premier was confident that Kuwaiti women would
get their full political rights during the current parliamentary term
which ends in June and said he would appoint a female Cabinet minister
once women are enfranchised. "This step prepares the ground for
women's political rights in full at Parliament," said Deputy
Prime Minister Mohammad Sharar.
"There is acceptance and understanding ... for
the need to have women participate in elections and political life in
general," Sharar, who is also minister of state for Parliament
and Cabinet affairs, told reporters. Kuwaiti women are barred from
participating in parliamentary polls but the government has introduced
a bill to grant full female suffrage that has yet to be approved by
the 50-man house.
Similar government moves have failed in the past in
the pro-Western country, including a 1999 law narrowly defeated by an
alliance of conservative Islamist and tribal MPs.
Women activists gave a cautious welcome to
decision, saying more was needed.
"Any move by Parliament toward granting women
their right is seen as positive even though it is very late,"
said Masoumah Al-Mubarak, a Kuwait University professor. "We had
hoped today to celebrate amending Kuwait's election law in totality,
not just pertaining to the Municipal Council elections."
"This is the first step ... I hope women will
run in these (municipal) elections, and we hope that the big step will
be participation in Parliament," said Rola Dashti, a women's
rights activist. Municipal Council elections are expected to be held
in the second half of this year. The council comprises 16 members, six
of whom are appointed by the emir.
"This bill is an achievement to broaden
popular participation," liberal lawmaker Ahmed Al-Mulaifi told
Kuwaiti women have reached high government posts,
but conservative MPs don't want them campaigning among men or
receiving male voters in their offices.
Earlier this month, the Islamic Affairs Ministry
ruled that Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, has the last
word on granting women equal political rights if religious scholars
disagree on the issue. Sheikh Jaber supports the right for women to
vote and run for office.
IRAN, PAKISTAN HAVE COMMON AIMS
Iran's top security official told the Pakistani
president's special envoy Abdul Sattar that Iran's policy is based on
maintaining peace and security in the region.
Hassan Rowhani, who chairs the Iranian Supreme
National Security Council (SNSC), said both Iran and Pakistan have
common aims and interests which would guarantee lasting ties between
the two neighbors.
Rowhani said the prevailing world economy and
regional developments as well as common efforts for fight against
terrorism and extremism and drug trafficking have made close
cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad inevitable.
Pointing to Iran's nuclear talks with the European
Union, he said Iran will never forego its right for making use of
nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. He added the continuation of
talks with the EU is dependent on an official recognition of Iran's
OMAN STOCK EXCHANGE FOR EURONEXT
The Muscat Securities Market (MSM), Oman's stock
exchange, last week signed an agreement with Europe's leading IT
solutions provider AtosEuronext to introduce a new trading system,
called 'Euronext', by December this year.
Chairman Abdullah bin Salem Al Salmi and director
general Ahmed Al Marhoon signed the deal for MSM and Dominique Brutin,
chairman of the managing board, and Emmanuel Devedeux, vice-president
and international sales director, for AtosEuronext.
The ceremony took place in the presence of Yahya
bin Said Al Jabri, Executive President of the Capital Market Authority
The new system can integrate markets and provide
users with greater flexibility, as it will facilitate information
dissemination and surveillance systems, a spokesman for MSM said.
The system is expected to create synergies, as it
is a high performing model in many advanced and emerging markets
worldwide. It will also cater to the future requirements of the Muscat
The system is currently in use by major bourses in
countries like France, Belgium, Amsterdam, Malaysia, Tunisia, Algeria,
Lebanon and Jordan.
IRAN AND WTO
"Eight years of sincere and fruitful
cooperation between the government and the Chamber of Commerce,
Industries and Mines of Iran, has yielded very good results for the
economy of the country", said Commerce Minister Mohammad
The commerce minister who was referring to the
eight-year services under President Mohammad Khatami noted, "The
period should be remembered as a bright era in good cooperation
between the government and the private sector."
The move towards free economy, elimination of
foreign exchange trading contracts and removing the tariff obstacles
are agreed upon by both of the institutions, government and the
Chamber of Commerce, Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted him as
saying last Wednesday. Elsewhere in his comments, he referred to the
necessity of Iran's joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and
stated, "With most of the countries in the world joining the
organization and the highly competitive economic world, Iran's
membership in the organization is essential."
Reduction in the government's share in the
petrochemical and metal industries as a cornerstone in the relations
between the government and the private sector and said that increasing
the non-oil exports to 75% is a great step and if the move continued,
it would result in a leap in the non-oil exports.
He also alluded to the growth in the exports
through the border markets as well as the increase in the exports of
technical and engineering services and said that so far, Iran has
concluded agreements worth $941 million with other countries on the
exports of technical and engineering services.
IRAN'S SPONGE IRON
Keeping the growth momentum in the iron and steel
sector, India has emerged as the largest producer of sponge iron. The
country produced 9.37 million tons of sponge iron in 2004 as compared
with 7 million tons in 2003. Iran produced 6.4 million tons of the
Venezuela produced 8.09 million tons in 2004
followed by Mexico which produced 6.65 million tons. India was also
the largest producer of sponge iron in 2003 and 2002.
According to the Sponge Iron Manufacturers
Association (SIMA), the gas-based units have grown by 11.47% while the
coal-based units have shown a huge growth of 33.85%.
"In 2005, we are hoping to achieve 20% growth.
However, a lot would depend on the availability of raw material and
infrastructure support," Sandeep Jajodia, president of SIMA said.
Three vital inputs for the industry: iron ore,
non-coking coal and natural gas have been in short supply. "There
has been acute shortage of these inputs and we have urged the
government to make suitable arrangements to ensure their
availability," SS Bhatnagar, director of SIMA said, adding that
there could be a new policy on the same.
CIL has already projected a shortage of 35-40
million tons for the current year. The mining sector must be improved
to ensure the steady availability of coal and other inputs.
The country produces about 330 million tons of
coal, with 100 million tons belonging to B and C grade, which are of
superior quality. Mr Bhatnagar said that the sponge iron industry has
urged the government to reserve at least 10% of this for the industry.
A decision, however, is yet to be taken.
PAPER RECYCLING AT TEHRAN
Tehran municipality plans to set up first paper
recycling factory in the metropolitan city.
Tehran municipality cultural advisor said Ali Akbar
Asha'ari said Tehran has put construction of a paper recycling factory
on its agenda.
Asha'ari said over 450 tons of waste paper are
produced daily in Tehran and are thrown away as garbage due to lack of
a system to return them into the market for use.
Once constructed, the factory will recycle waste
papers not only from Tehran, but also the papers left unused in other
cities, the official said.
Tehran municipality will build the factory in
cooperation with private companies.
IRAQI OIL TO TURKEY
Iraq has officially resumed crude oil exports to
Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, a State Oil Marketing
Organization official said.
Oil exports through Turkey, previously averaging
350,000 barrels per day from Kirkuk oilfields some 250 kilometers (160
miles) north of Baghdad, have repeatedly been stopped by insurgency
sabotage. In December, the tap was again shut off following an attack
on a pipeline near Fathah, oil ministry spokesman Assim Jihad has
But an oil official acknowledged that, secretly,
oil workers had managed to pump some 600,000 barrels to storage tanks
in Turkey since the official close-down in December.
"We manage to push a few barrels through to
our storage, but until now, we don't say much about it," the
official said. "Whenever you report it, within one hour it will
be bombed," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"This will stimulate the appetite of the terrorists. We are
frightened of them."
The SOMO official declined to give any new export
statistics for security reasons.
An oil ministry official said exports would resume
at 400,000 barrels per day.
A newly formed oil protection force of at least
1,500 troops has been unable to stop regular attacks on oil
infrastructure and pipelines around Kirkuk.
In the latest attack, on Monday, saboteurs set a
pipeline ablaze that carries crude oil from Kirkuk fields to Baiji
refinery about 180 kilometers north of Baghdad.
According to the Iraqi government, the attacks have
caused losses of between seven and eight billion dollars and an untold
amount of environmental damage.
Iraq's southern exports stand at about 1.6 million
barrels per day. The country exported about 2 million barrels per day,
under the UN-sponsored oil-for-food program, before US-led troops
invaded in March 2003.
Courtesy: Iran Times and Agencies