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Last updated: Friday 23 Dec, 2005-12.30 P.M (PST)

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KARACHI
Today 12 26 38 Sunny
Tomorrow 11 27 38 Sunny
Day after 11 28 38 Sunny
LAHORE
Today 1 20 87 Sunny
Tomorrow 2 20 87 Sunny
Day after 2 21 87 Sunny
ISLAMABAD
Today 0 18 59 Sunny
Tomorrow 0 18 59 Sunny
Day after 0 21 59 Sunny
HUM%: Humidity In %
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updated: Fri - Sun 23-25 Dec, 2005

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KARACHI         - 021 LAHORE          - 042 ISLAMABAD    - 051 FAISALABAD   - 041 MULTAN          - 061 PESHAWAR    - 0521 CANADA          - 1 KUWAIT           - 965 INDIA               - 91 IRAN                - 98 U.K                   - 44 U.A.E                - 971 U.S.A                - 1

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  REPORTS FROM GULF & MIDDLE EAST
 
 
 

 

 

Oct 03 - 09, 2005

DOW JONES-ABQ ZAWYA PLAN NEWS SERVICE FOR M.E

Dow Jones Newswires, the world's leading independent provider of real-time financial and business news, and Middle East financial information group, ABQ Zawya have agreed in principle to jointly produce a new regional news service covering the Middle East's financial markets.

The new service will be included in a new subscription product being developed for Zawya's premium business and financial portal, www.zawya.com to be launched before the end of the year. Targeted at the high-end professional investment community, the regional newswire will initially be produced in English. Dow Jones Newswires and ABQ Zawya are also exploring the potential for an Arabic language service.

While detailed market research conducted by the two companies among Zawya's clients will shape the new service, its main focus will be on public and private companies and state-owned enterprises joining the region's stock markets, as well as merger and acquisition activities.

The Middle East's financial markets are evolving rapidly and entering an extremely exciting new phase with the launch of the Dubai International Financial Exchange this week. These developments create an even greater demand for independent and reliable financial news

Together with ABQ Zawya, DOW aims to create a comprehensive real-time regional news service which will offer financial professionals a valuable tool for their investment decisions.

This is going to be a unique news service in that we will try harder to understand the inside stories moving the markets and ultimately bring about greater transparency and disclosure. Simply put, we are raising the bar," said Ihsan Jawad, chief executive officer and managing director of ABQ Zawya LLC.

ASIAN GAMES IN DOHA

THE first World Broadcasting Meeting for the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006 started with much enthusiasm between participating international broadcasters.

Abdulla Khalid al-Qahtani, Director General of DAGOC highlighted the remarkable qualitative leap the media sector in Qatar has witnessed throughout the past years. "This conforms to the country's prospective of the development process in line with the national development plan", said al- Qahtani.

"Qatar is now making big achievements and is receiving tremendous interest from the international media on all aspects of development in the country, a normal result of the collective efforts to positioning the country abroad."

Al-Qahtani assured the participants of the intentions of the organizing committee to deliver the highest possible standards of television coverage and broadcasting facilities and services to broadcasting associates.

The 15th Asian Games Doha 2006, a unique platform to promote the many opportunities such as offering over 2,000 hours of live television coverage for the 39 sports on the current competition schedule and high definition television (HDTV) coverage of some of the major sports in the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006 to your audience", said Mr al-Qahtani addressing the participating broadcasters.

"The Games is the major focal point for the region over the next 15 months and will bring major benefits to our country. The provision of a world-class standard of television coverage of the Games will be a key aspect of our success", al-Qahtani concluded.

The production and broadcasting plans were released to the participants who praised the role of DAGOC in organising such meetings 15 months before the Games begin from December 1, 2006.

"The meeting is very well organized and the preparations and opportunities in hand for the broadcasters are of high efficiency", said Jiang Heping, Managing Director of China's CCTV Sports Department.

"I am sure that with the efforts of DAGOC, broadcasters would prevail and the Games will leave the best impression for participants and the media".

Makoto Nakamura, Deputy Director of the Japanese NHK Sports Department shared the same enthusiasm. "What is being offered by DAGOC is much more of what we had in previous Asian Games".

"We know that the coverage will be fantastic and this will make it very hard for the coming Asian Games organisers."

DAGOC and the Doha Asian Games Broadcasting Services (DAGBS), the contractor providing the broadcast services for the Doha 2006 Games jointly presented the first edition of the Games' Rate Card which marked the start of the International Broadcasting Services and Facilities booking process.

"I would like to congratulate the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee on this initiative as this is the first time in the Asian Games history that an orientation for the broadcasters is held way ahead of time of the Games", said Hussain al-Musallam, Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia.

INTEREST RATES

The Majlis economic commission has set a ceiling of 10 percent for interest rates in Iran that may be charged by banks till the end of the Fourth Five-year Economic Plan (2005-2010).

A member of the commission, Iraj Nadimi, said that banks, in providing facilities, should give priority to private or cooperative sector projects that have prospects for high technical and economic benefits compared with state ones. He added that the goals of encouraging competition, achieving specific goals and attaining the highest benefits from bank facilities were among the reasons for the commission's decision.

HOSNI MUBARAK VOWS TO DELIVER ON PLEDGES

President Hosni Mubarak has vowed to deliver on pledges for reform when he was sworn in for a fifth term in office after sweeping to victory in Egypt's first contested presidential poll. "I will work with the utmost determination towards the implementation of the programme I proposed during the electoral campaign," Mubarak said after taking the oath of office in a ceremony in parliament.

"This election was not the end, what is important now is to realise the aspirations of the people and march forward. We will do this with an unalterable determination to pursue reform."

Cannons were fired from the parliament compound after Mubarak was sworn in, marking the beginning of his fifth six-year term at the helm of the Arab world's most populous country following the September 7 election.

Under pressure at home and abroad, the 77-year-old Mubarak, the region's longest serving leader after Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, has pledged to embark on greater democratic reform. It may be mentioned that Gaddafi was in Cairo for Mubarak's swearing-in.

Mubarak, who has ruled under a state of emergency imposed after the 1981 assassination of his predecessor Anwar Sadat, swept to a landslide victory in the country's first multi-candidate poll. Official results gave Mubarak 88.5% of the vote, but low turnout meant that those who voted for the president represented less than 9% of Egypt's overall population. "We will hold legislative elections in November which will complete the experience of the presidential election," Mubarak said, vowing to "pursue democratisation and economic liberalisation." During a campaign which for the first time saw rivals and newspapers openly attacking his regime, Mubarak promised to lift the state of emergency and create more than 4mn jobs. Critics of the veteran leader have pointed out that unemployment is at least twice as high as the official 10% and argued that his plan to create jobs and raise wages is unrealistic. The Egyptian government handed in its resignation, but Mubarak issued a decree asking the cabinet to continue until a reshuffle after the parliamentary elections in November. Many of the nine defeated candidates in the September vote challenged the results, complaining of fraud and other irregularities, in protests which were backed by local non-governmental organizations which had monitored the polls. Even the reform that led to the opening up of the presidential contest was criticized, with many candidates barred from standing while others refused to put anyone forward saying the outcome was a foregone conclusion. After meeting Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif , new US Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes reminded Mubarak of his pledge to lift emergency laws, but Nazif told her it would take time. When the government reshuffle takes place, pro-Western reformists within the ruling National Democratic Party and headed by Mubarak's son Gamal seem likely to get some key posts. Gamal's growing influence within the ruling party prompted speculation that he was being groomed to succeed his father, drawing criticism from opposition leaders and activists. That position was echoed in the first issue of the country's newest weekly newspaper, Al-Karama (Dignity), which declared itself against hereditary power in Egypt. "We swear by God Almighty that Gamal Mubarak will not inherit us," read a banner headline in the paper, mouthpiece of the would-be Al-Karama party of Nasserist MP Hamdeen Sabahi. Critics of the pace of reform hope that the reported defects in September's vote will have been ironed out by the legislative elections. "The parliamentary polls will be free and fair," Mubarak promised in his speech. Many see November's vote as more politically significant than the presidential election, as the next People's Assembly will be tasked with discussing wide-ranging reforms. The legislative polls kick off on November 8 for a period of three weeks, with the NDP currently controlling 404 out of 454 seats

SUZUKI MODELS IN DOHA

Global car maker Suzuki, in association with Teyseer Motors, launched two new models, Swift and an All Purpose Vehicle (APV) in Qatar. The Swift model, which has 1.5-litre engine, comes in two variants with manual five-speed and automatic four-speed gears, carrying a price tag of QR42,900 and QR46,900, said Adel al-Mannai, managing director of Teyseer Motors, the sole agent for Suzuki cars.

Though a small car, al-Mannai said it had a "significant" torque, enabling the car to reasonably cruise. He added that already two-third of their stock has been sold out.

Asked whether the Swift model, which had become an instant success in India, would eat into the market of another small car Alto, he replied in negative. "Both are targeted at different customer segments," he said.

Ruling out any promotional offers for the new Swift model, he said the car was cheaper by at least QR5,000 than similar models in the compact car market.

Teyseer Motors will organise a three-day open house at its showroom in Airport Road to enable customers to explore the qualities of the car and take a test drive both Swift and the APV models.

The Swift model, which is more spacious and has airbag system, features a new chassis that has been refined through track test and road testing across Europe.

The body is designed to resist impact force and direct them away from the driver and passenger. Moreover, it also has a special pedestrian protection mechanism that will minimise injuries in the event of any car-to-pedestrian accident.

The APV model, which combines the space and convenience of a passenger van and the comforts of a premium saloon, also comes in two variants - manual and automatic gear, priced at QR54,900 and QR52,900.

The APV derives exception output and torque from its 1.6 litre, 16-valve aluminium engine and carry up to 8 passengers and offers about 714 litres of cargo space.

"It (APV) comes with a variety of features that makes it ideal choice for commercial transport, be it passengers or goods. It comes in a Panel Van version that is designed to meet the diverse cargo needs of various leaders," Teyseer Motors general manager Medhat Greiss said.

Mannai assured efficient after sales services and said it was an integral part of any transaction. Greiss said Teyseer had spare parts of almost 95% of the components of the models. Mannai said Teyseer imported all the brands of Suzuki, except for the Wagon-R model, which, he said, was not suitable to Qatar market.

IRAN SLATES INDIA, BRITAIN OVER NUCLEAR RESOLUTION

"If the Europeans insist on the articles included in the recently ratified resolution and go beyond the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran will suspend its observation of the additional protocol," Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani said.

He also criticized India and Britain for their attitudes toward the resolution, noting that British Foreign Minister Jack Straw had insisted on holding negotiations at the recent United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York but Britain acted quite differently afterwards. Iran did not expect such a behavior from India, Larijani said, but added that India is an old friend of Iran and one should not judge a friend by a single incident.

Nevertheless, Iran made some gains at the recent IAEA Board of Governors session in Vienna since the United States had focused all its energy on achieving a consensus on the resolution but failed, he observed.

Larijani went on to say that the continuation of negotiations with European Union countries is totally dependent on their behavior, adding that Iran would insist on possessing the nuclear fuel cycle, even if its nuclear dossier were to be referred to the UN Security Council. He noted, "Acquiring nuclear technology is to the benefit of the Iranian nation for various reasons. It is the inalienable right of the Iranian nation because there is a power that intends to classify nations in such a way that the 'second class' nations should not be allowed to attain high technology. Although there will certainly not be enough fossil fuel in the future to sustain these nations, and there is also no international guarantee to provide them with nuclear fuel. So, Iran's nuclear issue is a national issue.

Meanwhile, in response to the frequent threats to refer Iran's nuclear dossier to the United Nations Security Council, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said on Tuesday that the West would definitely suffer more losses if Iran's nuclear dossier were to be referred to the UN Security Council. If the pressure on Iran is increased, the Islamic Republic will resume uranium enrichment activities, which have been voluntarily suspended, Asefi told reporters at a press briefing.

Asefi also expressed the view that the IAEA resolution is not enforceable.

He stated that the IAEA should correct its view of the Islamic Republic, adding that if it does not, Iran would be forced to cancel all its voluntary concessions, particularly the observation of the additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Asefi said that President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's proposal on the participation of foreign companies in Iran's nuclear program was a real "objective guarantee", but instead of offering an objective guarantee for their part, the EU called on Iran to relinquish its nuclear fuel cycle program.

He also thanked Venezuela for its negative vote and the other 12 countries for their abstentions in the vote on the IAEA resolution, but added that Iran will send letters of objection to the countries that voted for the resolution, adding that they will also face economic consequences.

Expressing surprise about India's unusual decision to support the resolution, Asefi said that Iran would definitely revise its policy with countries depending on its relations with them since Iran's economic and political relations are coordinated.

Asefi stated that the Islamic Republic of Iran has tried to strengthen the status of the IAEA more than any other country in the world and believes that the independence of the IAEA should be respected while other IAEA member states are weakening the agency.

He also noted that the IAEA is not authorized to make extraordinary regulations for the Islamic Republic because such measures would probably lead to anarchy in the international arena.

Asefi pointed to IAEA Director General Mohammad Elbaradei's expressions of satisfaction for Iran's cooperation with the agency's inspectors and said that there is no legal reason for referring Iran's nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Asefi stated that one should not confuse the Safeguards Agreement and the additional protocol to the NPT with confidence building measures since Iran observed the terms of these documents and also made confidence building measures. In conclusion, he said, "Quitting the NPT depends on the future decisions of the agency. If the agency and Europe act harshly, they will push us to take retaliatory measures."

The IAEA's 35-nation board of governors on Saturday adopted a resolution that accused Iran of "non-compliance" with the IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

IRAN'S PETROCHEMICAL EXPORTS HIT $1B MARK

Iran's exports of petrochemicals during the first six months of the year (Iranian year started March 21, 2005) hit $1b. The figure is expected to increase to over $1.5b by yearend, the managing director of the National Petrochemical Company (NPC) Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said in Tehran. In response to a question asked by the reporters that whether Iran would reconsider its economic relations with other states -in particular, India- that voted against the Islamic Republic in the recent resolution drafted by the United Nations Atomic Watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, the official noted, "We have not had any problem with any country regarding our deals on petrochemicals and the same also applies to India."

He was obviously referring to the adoption of a resolution by the IAEA Board of governors on Saturday that paves the way for referring Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over its alleged covert nuclear activities. The official also maintained that India is a friend of Iran and the differences of views between Iran and India do not affect the cooperation between the two countries. He added, "Our petrochemical agreements with India will definitely be implemented in the due time."

Elaborating on Iran's projected petrochemical deals, the managing director of the NPC said that Iran hopes to close deals on a large number of petrochemical development projects in the current year. He added that six petrochemical projects are nearly finalized and several others are to come on stream by the end of the year.

Elsewhere in his comments, he alluded to the importance the government has attached to the issue of self-reliance on the domestic resources and expertise and said that, fortunately, NPC is a pioneer in making optimum use of the existing capacities and added that the new government is also paying due attention to petrochemical projects.

"The petrochemical products exported from Iran in the past year included polymers, aromatics, melamine, PTA and PET", Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted the official as saying.

IRAN OFFERS ELECTRICITY

Iran and Tajikistan have offered to substantially help Pakistan in meeting its growing energy requirements in the absence of any decision on big dams.

Initially Iran had promised to export power to various parts of Baluchistan Province. As a first step, Iran is supplying 30 megawatt of electricity to the coastal areas of the province. The Iranian government, the daily added, had offered to provide an additional 20-megawatt to meet the requirements of Gwadar area, for which negotiations are expected to conclude soon.

The Islamic Republic is to supply electricity to Baluchistan's areas, where it is not feasible for the State-owned Water and Power Development Authority to provide power. These are located close to Pakistan-Iran border.

The Pak government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Tajikistan to explore the feasibility of importing electricity from that country, which has sizeable surplus, currently being supplied to other states, including Russia, the daily pointed out.

The newspaper added that Tajikistan energy minister would visit Pakistan possibly in November to finalize modalities for the power export to Pakistan. Pakistan will face up to 5,000 megawatt power shortage in three years and has yet to announce the much-awaited decision to build two big reservoir dams. The government wants a consensus decision on Kalabagh Dam and Bhasha Dam.

Feasibility report of the former is ready while the latter's being finalized, reports say here. Kalabagh Dam proposal, floated in mid-50s could so far not be translated into reality because of lack of consensus among the four federating units. The dam, if built, will have over 6 million-acre water storage capacity. The dam will not only meet irrigation needs but also be instrumental in production of electricity.

The World Bank has offered to support Pakistan in the construction of big reservoir dams and warned the country could face severe water shortage in next few years.

S ARABIA READY TO RAISE OIL PRODUCTION

Saudi Arabia said it was ready to increase oil production capacity from its current 11 million barrels per day to 12.5 million bpd in 2009 to meet demand.

Speaking at the World Petroleum Congress, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi also said that the world's top oil exporter was making contingency plans for expanding production capacity to 15 million barrels per day if necessary.

"Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of efforts to expand capacity across the supply chain," Nuaimi said.

"These efforts include expanding our production capacity from the current 11 million barrels per day to 12.5 million barrels per day by 2009 to meet future demand and maintain spare capacity of at least 1.5 to 2 million barrels per day," he told delegates at the congress.

"Other projects have been identified and can be advanced if necessary to meet additional supply requirements. Saudi Arabia has prepared a production capacity scenario of 15 million barrels per day which can be implemented in response to growing market demand," he said.

Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves are "conservatively" estimated at more than 264 billion barrels despite having produced over 91 billion barrels in the past 35 years, said the oil minister.

Using the latest state-of-the-art technology, Saudi Arabia will "soon be able to boost our proved oil reserves by 200 billion barrels," he said. But the oil minister warned that Saudi Arabia cannot meet the supply challenges on its own and called on the world oil industry to "find ways to remove bottlenecks that constrain our ability to achieve greater market stability."

The country currently produces about 9.5 million barrels per day.

The oil minister also proposed that the International Energy Forum conduct a study of the global oil supply system to offer recommendations on delivering petroleum products at reasonable prices.

IRAN, IRAQ TRADE BODIES SIGN MOU

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on Monday between the chambers of commerce of the Iranian province of Ilam and Iraq's Karbala Province. Based on the MOU, in addition to direct and strict supervision over the export of goods between the two countries, chambers of commerce of the neighboring states will oversee conclusion of all the trade agreements reached between Iranian and Iraqi businessmen.

Also, holding exhibitions in the two countries on industrial, trade, technical and engineering services as well as paving grounds for setting up permanent exhibitions in Karbala, providing better services for tradesmen from both countries, and granting them the six-month and one-year visas are among the main issues focused upon in the MOU.

According to involved Iranian officials, establishing a committee to resolve possible financial disputes between the businessmen would help flourish the trade relations between Iran and Iraq, Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported.

NO PULL OUT OF BRITISH TROOPS FROM IRAQ

British Prime Minister Tony Blair let it be known that he will not pull out of Iraq soon, or rush to pass the reins of power to his finance minister and heir apparent Gordon Brown.

In what aides called a 'policy rich' speech to the Labour Party's annual conference, Blair said that after eight years in government, the time was ripe to "change again" and reapply Labour values to a changing world.

"This is a country today that increasingly sets the standard," he said. "Not for us the malaise of France or the angst of Germany... Occasionally it's worth saying: Britain is a great country and we are proud of it."But on the two big questions hanging over the Labour conference in seaside Brighton this week - Iraq and his own future in Downing Street - Blair gave no sign of a U-turn. Despite the ongoing insurgency in Iraq, he said there would be no pullout of the 8,500 British troops deployed mainly in the south of country, at least until nationwide elections planned for December.

He called Iraq the "fiercest" front in a "global struggle" against terrorism that has allied itself "with every reactionary element in the Middle East". "The way to stop the innocent dying is not retreat, to withdraw, to hand these (Iraqi) people over to the mercy of religious fanatics or relics of Saddam, but to stand up for their right to decide their government in the same democratic way the British people do," he said. In a clear reference to the London suicide bombings in July, he said terrorists were "using 21st century technology to fight a pre-medieval religious war that is utterly alien to the future of humankind". Blair also declared that Britain should remain the "strongest ally" of the United States, while remaining engaged with the European Union. On his own future, Blair - bolstered by Labour's re-election in May - held back from saying when exactly he would exit Downing Street, after having declared immediately after last year's party conference that he would, if re-elected, serve a full third term and then go.

 
 

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