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Dec 05 - 11, 2005

DUBAI A ROLE MODEL FOR DEVELOPMENT: CLINTON

Former US President Bill Clinton praised Dubai's achievements and the leadership of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister.

"Dubai is a role model of what could be achieved despite the other negative developments in the region," Clinton told delegates at the Leaders in Dubai conference through a live webcast from Sri Lanka.

"Look at Dubai, which has achieved enormous growth in such a short period of time. Less than 6 per cent of Dubai's income comes from oil. It's no longer an oil economy.

"Dubai's Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammad and fellow leaders like Mohammad Al Gergawi at the Young Arab Leaders (YAL) have done a remarkable job in building Dubai, which to me is a role model for development for others."

Clinton shared one incident on how the emirate merged Western and modern Islamic principles that appealed to him.

"When I went to Dubai for the first time, I was taken to a technology facility where I hooked up to a bank kiosk and found that one can use a conventional banking service, while at the same time opt for an Islamic Sharia compliant service, which I thought was wonderful," he said.

"This is a very good example how cultures and values could be merged and offered to the rest. I was amazed and I have a lot of admiration for Shaikh Mohammad for what he's doing in Dubai. He said Dubai's leaders and members of YAL can share their ideas and lend their expertise to other developing economies and show them the way how to change the lives of the people for the better.

"I think much can be done by just telling others about your own achievements," They can share their experience and ideas with others and help them develop their economies as Dubai has done. YAL can leverage their experience to enlighten others."

"Look at Dubai, which has achieved enormous growth in such a short period of time. Less than 6 per cent of Dubai's income comes from oil. It's no longer an oil economy."

POETRY ANTHOLOGY: WOMEN INVITED TO SUBMIT ENTRIES

Women of all nationalities are invited to submit their original creative writing for inclusion in an upcoming anthology of poetry, essays, and short fiction.

The book, tentatively entitled: "Where Prayer Measures Time: The Women of Saudi Arabia Speak," is the latest project of poet Nimah Ismail Nawwab. Her best-selling collection of poetry, "The Unfurling," was published in 2004 to worldwide acclaim.

"The goal of this collection," Nimah said, "is to provide a true representation of the variety of women living within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by accepting submissions from both established and emerging writers. Women throughout the world are contributing to society in important ways. Saudi Arabia is no exception."

The book will be published in English but work translated from Arabic is welcome. Any woman who has lived in Saudi Arabia is encouraged to submit.

Nimah sees literature as a way of building bridges between cultures.

By creating a venue for women within the country, to express their views on current issues she hopes to generate an opportunity for readers to gain insight and understanding of a part of Arab society which has often remained silent.

She conceived the idea for the anthology after noticing many false impressions about the lives of women in Saudi Arabia. "Misconception often leads to misunderstanding and intolerance," she explained. "While giving poetry readings and presentations abroad I noticed a hunger for information about life in the Kingdom. It fit well with a long-held dream of mine to bring together writers in Saudi Arabia to work on a common project."

Last summer she began assembling a group of professionals to serve as editors, readers, and translators. The team has members living abroad and in both the Eastern and Western Provinces of the country.

"I am a firm believer in the need for diversity," said Nimah. "One of the most intriguing and exciting aspects of the anthology is that it embodies diversity on all levels. Our team, which consists of writers, academics, and poets living in Saudi Arabia and beyond, was chosen because each woman brought specific skills to the project. These skills, when combined, create a very strong body of knowledge. Our goal is for the anthology to serve as a mirror that accurately reflects the range of skill and experience of women within the Kingdom."

Pit Menousek Pinegar, who will serve as the book's poetry editor, commented, "An anthology of women's voices - poems, stories, and essays - from Saudi Arabia can only deepen understanding in a world fraught with misunderstanding. Literature is international language. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that such a body of work has the potential to heal rifts between East and West."

Pinegar lived in Saudi Arabia from 1982-1986. Her latest collection of poems, "The Physics of Transmigration," was published in April 2005 and is nominated for a 2006 Pulitzer Prize.

Recent events underscore the need for understanding between vastly different cultures. Nimah has been called "the voice of Arab women" by media outlets such as Newsweek and The Washington Post. But it's a title she seems uncomfortable accepting.

"I'm flattered that reviewers have found merit in my work but it's wrong to think that one poet can represent or reflect the voices of an entire population," she says. "I hope women throughout the Kingdom will be excited about the anthology project and support it by sending us their writing."

She says many other well-known Saudi writers plan to submit work for inclusion in the anthology. "It's important to have both established and emerging writers," she explained. "Young people look up to pioneers willing to serve as mentors to a new generation of talent. I hope to continue the literary tradition of nurturing free _expression and creativity." She believes readers will be impressed by the literary merit of the collection. "Our country is filled with bright, capable women. Many have been writing for years. I look forward to this anthology providing a home for their work."

Submissions for the anthology are being accepted via Nimah's website: www.theunfurling.com. Submissions should be copied and pasted into the form provided on the site. Poems should be single spaced, one poem per page, with the author's name and contact number on each page. Limit three poems per writer. Essays and fiction should be double spaced and formatted with one-inch margins. The author's name and contact information should appear on the first page in the top left corner. Essays and stories of up to 3,000 words are accepted. Limit one prose submission per writer.

Submissions must be received no later than March 30, 2006.

DUBAI GOLD BOURSE

The key Dubai gold futures contract hit a high of $496 an ounce last week as trading began on a new exchange which the Gulf emirate hopes will consolidate its position as a global hub for the precious metal.

The Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX) opened for business at 10am local time (9am Doha) and saw 17 trades on the key February as well as the June contracts.

February debuted at $495 an ounce, and hit a low of $494.80, still above international spot prices.

Traders welcomed the launch of the DGCX and said it would provide ample arbitrage opportunities as it fills in the time gap between Tokyo and London.

"I can see arbitrage opportunities between other futures markets and the DGCX," said Jeff Rhodes, general manager of Standard Bank's Dubai representative office.

"There could also be currency arbitrage opportunities between other regional exchanges," he said. What sets the DGCX apart is that buyers are more likely to take advantage of Dubai's "City of Gold" and actually take delivery of the underlying physical gold.

A seven-day trading week, due to start next year, as well as investor-friendly rules has set the bar high for the exchange, traders said.

The Indian gold futures market is restricted to local individuals and domestic corporate sector. Non-resident Indians, banks and foreign institutions are not allowed to take part.

Dubai is renowned as a centre for the physical gold industry in the Middle East and India. Its strategic location between Asia and Europe also make it an ideal trading hub.

Like other governments in the world's biggest oil-producing region, the rulers of Dubai, the UAE's commercial hub, are trying to develop financial services and markets as part of a drive to diversify the economy.

Traders said the DGCX would boost physical gold volumes streaming through Dubai because hedging opportunities would make it easier to do business. In 2004, Dubai imported 503.5 tons of gold and is expected to import 525-540 tons by year end.

Jewelers buy wholesale gold but often face a delay of several weeks before selling it to the public.

"It could assist gold traders to protect and hedge their positions in this volatile market," said Firoz Merchant, chairman of Pure Gold, one of Dubai's leading jewelers.

"Most major Indian gold and jewelery traders are represented at the DGCX," said a trader at the city's biggest bullion dealer "There are more arbitrage options open to the people here."

The exchange will initially be open Monday to Friday, from 10am until 11pm local time (9am to 10pm Doha) with a 1kg gold futures contract. Seven-day trading will start in the first quarter of 2006.

The electronic exchange will operate on a T+1 settlement basis with a subsidiary, the Dubai Commodities Clearing Corporation, acting as the clearing house.

Contracts are identical in format to those on the London Metals Exchange and Nymex, traders said.

The DGCX has also signed a technical agreement with the Chicago Board of Trade, which launched its own gold futures contract just over a year ago.

ONLINE SHARES TRADING

Emirates International Brokerage, a top-three UAE brokerage, has said it will begin offering an online service that will allow its clients to buy and sell shares over the internet. Hamood Abdullah Al Yasi, general manager at Emirates International, said the service will be free, and was aimed at both retail and institutional investors and will help reduce workload at the brokerage.

The conventional process of trading is often time-consuming as it involves placing orders over the phone, following up on the status and the retrieving of reports. Abdullah believes that institutional investors from outside the UAE also to use the service.

Emirates International Brokerage, a unit of Emirates Bank, UAE's third biggest bank by assets, said it was the second brokerage in Dubai and the first in Abu Dhabi to introduce an online trading service.

Dubai has 48 brokerages and Abu Dhabi, 33. The two markets together list nearly 80 stocks. The brokerage said it had invested $2 million in the introduction of the service. The service will open to its existing clients today and to others in January. The service will help reduce administrative costs at the stock exchange, said Hassan Al Serkal, compliance manager at the Dubai Financial Market.

SHARJAH EXPO CENTRE

The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) will spend Dh200 million to expand the Sharjah Expo Centre. The expansion will include extension of the exhibition facilities by 50,000 square meters and the building of a 300-room hotel that will give exhibitors and foreign delegates easy access to the venue.

The Expo Centre, which is managed by SCCI, currently comprises four large exhibition halls spread across 20,000 square meters. In recent years, the venue has experienced strong business activities that have forced its management to expand it.

"We are currently evaluating the expansion project and the extent of it. However, nothing has been finalized yet," said Ahmad Mohammad Al Midfa, Chairman of SCCI. "The total land site of the Expo is of 128,000 square meters, most of which has not been utilized. We are looking at expanding the facilities to the beach."

The facility, however, drew flak from the participants of the Sharjah Ramadan Festival, who complained of lack of publicity and attendance. Farashat Ali Khan, director-general of the Sharjah Expo Centre has said recently that some of the exhibitions are restricted in size due to lack of space, necessitating the expansion.

"We have received strong interest from different countries to hold single-country fairs and in the coming years the Expo Centre will remain busy," he said. Although Dubai currently enjoys the spotlight as being the region's exhibition hub, Sharjah is benefiting from the spill-over effect." We are not competing with Dubai, but complementing it," Midfa said.

Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) are also negotiating with foreign diplomatic missions and commercial officials to set up permanent exhibition centre at the Expo Centre. Ahmad Mohammad Al Midfa observed "We encourage all countries to come forward and take advantage of the facilities. We offer long-term leases for the permanent facilities." China set up a large commodities display centre in the Expo complex. Midfa said discussions are going on with Pakistan and Iran for similar facilities.

IRAN-EU NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS

Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani has said that nuclear negotiations between Iran and the European Union which will start in two-week time will focus on "production of nuclear fuel."

"The subject of talks is nuclear technology and production of (nuclear) fuel," Larijani told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Larijani said the date of the talks will soon be coordinated between the negotiators. He said the European sides have expressed willingness for resumption of talks.

He called reports on enriching uranium outside Iran in future negotiations as a media speculation.

IRAQ RESOLVES TO ESTABLISH DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT

In a separate meeting with visiting Iraqi vice president, the Majlis speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said the massive turnout of Iraqi people in the referendum on Constitution indicated the Iraqi nation's resolve to leave behind current period of stalemate.

Haddad-Adel said that there is no doubt that the terrorists would not have committed such heinous crimes against innocent people; if they were sure they had the backing of Iraqi people.

Haddad-Adel said that Iraqi people deserve the right to administer their own country adding that massive participation of Iraqi men and women in the referendum proved political maturity of the nation. "This is national resolve Iraqi nation showed to determine their fate their selves. It has nothing to do with what the U.S. expects from Iraqis. They have learned it from Islam," Iranian Majlis speaker said.

He said that exchange of visits of senior officials of Iran and Iraq as token of deep and longstanding amity between the two nations. Haddad-Adel said that Iranian people are willing to pay pilgrimage to holy shrines in Iraq and Iran respects theological schools of Najaf and Karbala.

He said that Iranian Majlis is ready to formulate legislation to accelerate economic cooperation with Iraq. Abdul Mahdi said that the Majlis has been one of the major achievements of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and Iraqi government is aware of the services of parliament to establish democratic government.

He briefed Haddad-Adel on latest developments in Iraq and called for practical steps to implement the accords signed by Iranian and Iraqi officials. Several members of Iraqi National Assembly are accompanying Abdul Mahdi.

IRAN GAS PIPELINE

Pakistan has raised its requirement of natural gas from Iran to block for itself the gas volume in the proposed over 7-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.

During the first meeting of the Joint Working Group, Pakistan had indicated its demand at 10-12 million standard cubic meters per day in 2010-11 with built up to more than 50 mmscmd in 2015. Later it raised its initial demand to 30 mmscmd in 2010 and ramped up the final requirement to 60 mmscmd in 2013-14. At the second JWG meeting on September 8-9, Pakistan maintained its demand at 30 mmscmd to start with in 2010, but raised the terminal volume to 60-70 mmscmd by 2015, government officials said.

Since the pipeline capacity would be limited to a maximum of 140 mmscmd, increases in Pakistan numbers would reduce its availability for India, and make the pipeline insufficient for collective peak demand both countries.

New Delhi had put its initial requirement of gas through pipeline at 90 mmscmd, which could go up to 120 mmscmd. The official said India insisted on a single pipeline as it was more economical and sought review of demand figures and signing of firm take-or-pay clause.

India and Pakistan have agreed to insist on third party certification of gas reserves in Iran and identification of alternate/back up gas reserves. The Indian side indicated Barmer and Jaiselmer in Rajasthan as possible entry points of the pipeline in the country.

"It was agreed that the project would have inbuilt internationally acceptable pipeline safety design features which would ensure a safe and secure world class project. In this regard it was agreed that the project would have arrangements based on international best practices in all aspects of the project: technical, financial, commercial and legal," he said.

IRAN'S OIL REVENUES EXCEED $29.5BN

Director of international affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company announced that Iran's oil revenues have exceeded 29.5 billion dollars by the end of the past Iranian month (November 21).

Hojjatollah Ghanimifard said on the sidelines of a workshop dubbed 'Iran's oil in the world market' that Iran should have imported 26 million liters of gasoline per day, but actual figure for the first half of the year stood at 21 million liters per day. Asked about the average price of imported gasoline, he said, "Prices are a little more reasonable now and caretaker of Ministry of Petroleum is facing no problems in this regard."

The official stated that part of Iran's $29.5 billion earning has been used for repayment on some buyback deals, adding that price of every barrel of crude is estimated at over 50 dollars.

Referring to situation of oil swap project, he said the amount of swapped oil has increased to 85,000 barrels per day and the figure is expected to 120,000 barrels per day.

He said Iran is pumping more oil than OPEC's quota, adding, "Iran's production quota at OPEC amounts to 4.11 million barrels, but the country's production capacity stands at 4.2 million barrels per day. Ghanimifard added that depending on market situation, Iran's oil exports may hit over 2 million barrels in some months and reach about 2.4 million barrels End

 
 

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