The Qur'an memorization contest, named after the
crown prince, was organized recently by the National Guard's Islamic
"We have to exert more efforts to understand
the meaning of the Qur'an, not just to memorize it and recite it
Prince Abdullah later inspected a vehicle prepared
by the department, as part of its campaign against terrorism. The
vehicle displayed Qur'an verses and sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) that
prohibit killing of innocent people as well as pictures of terrorist
attacks in various parts of the country.
IRAN, SAUDI ARABIA SIGN 49-ARTICLE MOU
Iran and Saudi Arabia signed a 49-article
memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the end of the 7th session of
Iran-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission held in Riyadh.
The accord was inked by Iranian Commerce Minister
Mohammad Shariatmadari and his Saudi counterpart Hashim bin Abdallah
Based on the agreement, the Iranian banks of Melli
and Parsian are due to establish new branches in Jeddah. The agreement
also sets the framework for Iran to hold exclusive exhibitions in
The two sides expressed their readiness to
establish joint companies for construction of automobiles and spare
parts, production of cement and extraction of minerals.
Iran announced its interest to export different
kinds of automobiles, agricultural and road-building machinery and
medical instrument. Under the agreement, Iran and Saudi Arabia are to
expand cooperation in the fields of sea and land transportation,
electricity, joint venture, news, construction of power plant and
exchanging experts and expertise.
The 7th session of Iran-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic
Commission was held on May 16-17, while its 8th session is to be held
'SEIZING THE MOMENT' AT DEAD SEA RESORT
Jordan's King Abdallah opened the third annual
meeting in a row of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea resort
with the participation of about 1,300 leaders of the world's business,
politics and civil society.
Held under the theme "Seizing the
Moment", participants focused on ways and means of speeding up
reforms in the Arab world and the latest developments of the
Arab-Israeli peace process with a view to building up international
support for the next steps.
The discussions will also engage regional players
with the wider world on the issue of international terrorism and
nuclear proliferation, organizer said. The conferees "will be
challenged to respond to peoples' demands for improvement in their
daily lives through wider political participation, improved economic
opportunities and greater peace and stability throughout the region.
The conference would provide a platform for
appraising the outcome of latest elections held in Iraq, the
Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia as well as the democratic
agitation in Egypt. Relations between the United States and each of
Iran, Syria, and Lebanon will be on the agenda, the WEF said.
Representatives of 19 regional countries and the
G-8 nations are meeting in Jordan to address key trade, investment and
finance issues in the broader Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).
The two-day meeting, said to have paved the ground
for the WEF conference, is sponsored by the Jordanian government and
four US bodies-the US Export Import (EX-IM) Bank, the US Overseas
Private Investment Corporation, the US Trade and Development Agency
and the US State Department.
The conference builds upon the commitments made by
the leaders of the G-8 and Broader Middle East and North Africa region
to a partnership for progress and a common future at the June Sea
Island G-8 summit, and the subsequent December 2004 forum for the
future held in Morocco," according to a statement by the US
Delegates from the 27 countries discussed how more
financing can be made available to support increased trade, investment
and economic development in the broader MENA region, which includes
all Arab countries, as well as neighboring states like Israel, Turkey,
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
EXPANSION OF AIRPORT IN MADINAH
Studies are under way to expand the Prince Muhammad
Airport in Madinah in order to accommodate more than one million
passengers including pilgrims annually. Madinah Governor Prince Muqrin
is closely following up the studies as he intended to make it one of
the best airports in the region with state-of-the-art facilities.
Madinah airport currently receives nine flights a
day from certain Islamic countries carrying about 3,600 Umrah
The expansion comes on the heels of another project
by the Civil Aviation Corporation (CAC) to establish four new
passenger lounges at the Haj Terminal of King Abdul Aziz International
Airport in Jeddah.
New lounges will be established by the private
sector on a build, operation and transfer system (BOT). The passenger
lounges, which are planned to accommodate the growing number of Haj
and Umrah pilgrims, will be provided with aerobridges.
The civil aviation corporation is planning to set
up 40 TV screens to provide information on flight arrivals and
departures and 1,000 additional seats for pilgrims' comfort as well as
300 new toilets.
The Kingdom is making plans to receive 10 million
pilgrims annually in the backdrop of growing Muslim population in
countries around the world. Jeddah's King Abdul Aziz Airport is the
main gateway of pilgrims, which at present receives more than one
million Haj pilgrims and nearly two million Umrah pilgrims.
The aviation corporation has embarked on another
project to expand an airport in the southern city of Bisha. The
project is estimated to cost SR113 million. Work on the Bisha airport
will be completed within two years when its lounges will be ready to
accommodate 400 passengers. The airport will also be able to receive
three planes at a time once the project is completed. The project
includes construction of buildings for administration, cargo and
The corporation is weighing prospects of
establishing a new regional airport in the northwestern coastal city
of Dhuba after its seaport reportedly has become a major hub for Gulf
passengers traveling to Egypt and other African countries.
The Kingdom has spent more than SR50 billion on
airports over the past two decades. There are three international
airports in the Kingdom. King Fahd International Airport in Dammam is
the largest, with an annual capacity of 16 million passengers.
INDONESIAN MAIDS TO GET BETTER DEAL
Indonesian housemaids will once again start
arriving Saudi Arabia following new bilateral arrangements. The
special committee formed by the Ministry of Labor had meetings with
visiting officials from Indonesia in Riyadh and arrangements have been
worked out under which maids are to get a better deal
The Kingdom has been the largest market for
Indonesian domestic staff, issuing about 15,000 visas monthly for
maids. Indonesia suspended manpower exports to the Kingdom on Feb. 2,
2003, to implement sweeping administrative reforms at local
In the absence of Indonesian maids, the Kingdom had
increased its dependence on Philippine and Sri Lankan maids, and also
had plans to get them from Cambodia and Vietnam. An official letter in
connection with the agreement is being forwarded to officials
concerned with the recruitment of maids in Indonesia.
Under the new arrangements, Indonesian maids will
be paid a monthly salary ranging from SR750 to SR900 and will be
entitled to a weekly off or SR25 in lieu thereof. They will also be
entitled to leave with pay if they fall sick. In the event of a maid's
death, the sponsor will make burial arrangements locally or transport
the body back home.
The sponsors will bear all costs related to their
maids including air tickets, accommodation, food and health care. They
will also facilitate and bear the expenses of maids who wish to
perform Haj or Umrah. Above all, the sponsors will treat their maids
according to Shariah. The sponsors will also bear the responsibility
if their maids suffer from psychological or physical disorders at the
An estimated 23 million are foreign nationals who
work in largely menial or blue-collar positions in Kingdom. About one
million work as domestics, such as gardeners and maids. The vast
majority of the 400,000 maids are women from Asia.
Maids have also been running away from their
sponsors for a variety of reasons, including non-payment of wages and
maltreatment by family members. The Saudi Embassy in Jakarta and the
Indonesian Manpower Ministry have held meetings to remove the
obstacles to labor recruitment from the country at a time when 40,000
labor visas had been held up at the embassy.
There were three major impediments to recruiting
domestic servants from Indonesia. First, the manpower ministry allowed
only 27 of 400 Indonesian recruitment firms to handle Saudi labor
applications. Second, the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh wanted a fee of
$25 to endorse the work contract of each maid, but the Kingdom had
rejected the scheme. And third, the manpower ministry had imposed a
quota system on recruitment firms, limiting the number of visas they
could arrange each month.
IRANIAN SILK CARPETS ON DISPLAY
French Tourism Minister Leon Bertrand, Iran's
Ambassador to France Sadeq Kharrazi, Deputy Commerce Minister
Feizollah Arabsorkhi and several businessmen attended the inaugural
ceremony of the exhibition which runs through May 24.
The fair is sponsored by Iran-France trade centers,
the Iranian Embassy in Paris as well as the Iran and France chambers
of commerce and industry.
Some 25 rolls of Iranian silk carpets along with
200 rolls of other hand-woven ones are being put on display at the
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Kharrazi
expressed gratitude over the presence of the French minister and the
Iranian deputy minister. "Iranian carpet is symbol of Iranian
arts, industry, history and identity," he said.
He added every region in Iran has its own style and
each style represents a particular region and tribe. Arabsorkhi also
expressed appreciation over Iran-France good cooperation in holding
INDIAN JEWELLERY COUNCIL TOURS JEDDAH
A two-member delegation of Gem & Jewelry Export
Promotion Council of India (GJEPC) recently had a tour to Jeddah to
explore opportunities for a road show on the country's gem and jewelry
industry. The focus of the road show is to invite buyers to India
International Jewellery Show (IIJS) 2005 being held in Mumbai from
The team, headed by Pankaj Parekh, the council's
convener for the eastern region, held meetings with Saudi businessmen
from the gem and Jewellery sector and extends an invitation to them to
visit the IIJS 2005.
"The 65,000-member GJEPC organizes Asia's
largest gem and Jewellery trade exhibitions annually, which was a
great success in 2004. The show, which showcased varieties of Indian
gems and Jewellery of exquisite craftsmanship and design, and high
precision machinery, had 1,200 stands and 30,000 visitors.
YEAR OF RECORD FOR UASC
United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) recorded many
achievements in 2004. "2004 was a year of record achievements for
UASC, as the container trade continued to experience growth in volumes
and improved freight rates," UASC chairman Dhiyaa Habeeb F. Al-Khayoun
told the company's 28th general assembly meeting held in Dubai.
"During the year, the company registered an
annual turnover of $982 million and a net profit of $135 million,
thereby achieving profitable financial results for 10 years
consecutively," Al-Khayoun said briefing the meeting about the
company's activities, achievements and audited financial results for
The past year has further strengthened the
financial position of UASC, whose accumulated profit at the end of it
increased to $155 million after allocations to the statutory reserves.
Accordingly, the general assembly has declared a dividend equivalent
to six percent of the paid-up capital, which amounts to $59.472
Jorn Hinge, chief trade and operating officer of
the company, said UASC achieved another landmark record of
transporting over one million TEUs in addition to 890,000 freight tons
of general cargo.
The company's strong performance in 2004 was due to
a combination of favorable conditions prevailing in the liner markets
and its efforts to improve operational efficiency and control costs.
During the year, the company adopted a growth strategy, part of which
was to order eight 6,800 TEU high-speed containerships that will be
completed and delivered in 2008.
The board of directors expressed their sincere
appreciation for the governments of the shareholding states (Saudi
Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Iraq) and expressed the
company's gratitude to the public and private sectors as well as its
worldwide customers for their continued support to UASC. Special
appreciation was extended for the efforts of the company staff.
Dhiyaa said that Acting President & CEO Khalifa
Al-Shebli could not be present as he was briefly indisposed and
announced the appointment of Ken Bloch Soerensen as the company's new
president and CEO. Soerensen has been working as executive director of
European Liner Affairs Association Brussels, Belgium — an industry
association that represents top 25 container lines' interests in
Europe particularly vis-a-vis the European commission and other
institutions. Prior to this, Soerensen had 23 years experience in the
container transportation industry including his association with A.P.
Moller-Maersk and senior management positions with APL.
Soerensen will take his new position with effect
from July 1. The chief trade and operating officer reported the
estimated financial results for the 1st quarter of 2005 during which
the company achieved a profit of $30 million as compared to the profit
of $22.8 million, registered for the same period in 2004.
MEGA MALL OPENS
Jeddah has acquired one more landmark, this time a
mega mall, whose opening last week was visited by hundreds of
shoppers. "It's a mega mall, because it's huge and unique in
terms of features, facilities, amenities and services,"
"It's one of the most prime locations of the
city, where Tahlia and Sitteen streets are considered the most
important commercial spines. The mega mall has a simple 'L' shape
design that contains a single four-level retail spine with anchor
stores at both ends, a hypermarket that is accessible from the mall
along with a separate entrance from the parking area, and an office
building on Tahlia Road with its separate entrance and distinct
Two hundred stores occupy 50 percent space of the
100,000 sq-m mall. Aside from Danube Hypermarket, which has taken
15,000 sq-m area, it has a fun land, a family entertainment center, a
space race section, a bachelors' car racing and entertainment center,
a food court for 25 restaurants, Serafi Business Wings, health and
fitness center and, above all, prayer halls for more than 500 persons
and parking space for 1,200 cars.
It has made full use of its space with floor plans
that provide for car park, hypermarket, retail shops and department
stores on ground floor; prayer halls for men and women on first floor;
additional car parking area, coffee shops, seating areas, "Ice
Rink," "Fun Land" theme park, and "Space
Race" games center, aside from retail shops, on second floor; and
food courts, seating areas, fun land theme park, space race, bowling,
rock climbing and Go-carting on third floor.
The SR500 million mega mall is a family owned
project. The family already has two malls in Jeddah and one in Makkah.
Both Jeddah malls are located in downtown Balad — one with 400 shops
and the other with 20 shops and office blocs. The Makkah mall, located
in Al-Gazzah district, has 250 shops.
Newly developed mall is to targeting middle and
upper segments of shoppers. The city has scope for more malls since
many have already sprung up. There is a scope for new malls provided
decisions are right on procedures, design, criteria and location, says
the market expert.
(Inputs from PAGE sources and courtesy to Tehran