TEHRAN AIR TRAGEDY
An ill-fated C-130 military aircraft
destined for Bandar Abbas crashed into a residential area of Tehran Tuesday
last. In the tragic event, a number of military personnel and newsmen, who were
on board to cover military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf, and people on the
ground lost their lives.
At press time, there were still varying
figures on the number of casualties. However, it has been confirmed that all 84
passengers and ten crewmen on board died instantly as the plane caught fire.
Reporters and cameramen at the scene wept because they knew their colleagues
were on board. An Interior Ministry spokesman said several people had been
killed on the ground.
The names of the victims have been
released, and 40 were from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
Reporters from the IRNA, ISNA, and Fars news agencies and from several
newspapers were also killed in the crash.
A total of 116 bodies have been
recovered, Interior Ministry spokesman Mojtaba Mir-Abdolahi said. IRIB put the
death toll at "around 110".
The plane suffered engine failure and
its wings hit an apartment block in the Shahrak-e Towhid neighborhood, setting a
high-rise block ablaze. The residential area, which lies on the flight path to
Tehran's Mehrabad airport, houses military men and their families.
A local police commander, Nasser
Shabani, said many of the dead on the ground were trapped in the nine-story
building and died of asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation or were burned to
"Some people were throwing
themselves out of windows to escape the flames. I saw two die like that,"
Reuters quoted a policeman as saying.
Another policeman said several children
were among the dead in the apartment block. Schools had been closed for the day
because of dangerous pollution levels in the capital.
In a message to the nation, President
Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who was on an official visit to Saudi Arabia to take part in
an Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting in the holy city of
Mecca, offered his condolences. According to the message, a copy of which was
obtained by the Tehran Times, the president said, "Upon arrival in the holy
city of Mecca, as I was circling the Kaaba, I heard about the plane crash and
the martyrdom of a number of our compatriots, the educated, media people, and
In a message to Supreme Leader of the
Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Minister of Culture and
Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Hossein Saffar-Harandi expressed his condolences on
the tragic plane crash, especially over the death of many members of the news
According to military officials, the
main cause of the crash of the aging U.S.-built C-130 was the fact that the
United States has placed sanctions on the Islamic Republic banning the sale of
airplane spare parts to Iran.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King
Abdullah has urged Muslim countries to open a new era of unity, strength and
glory by setting aside their differences and working together for their overall
progress. He also wanted to see an end to extremism, projecting the beauty of
Opening the third extraordinary OIC
summit, King Abdullah also urged all member states of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference to join the global fight against terrorism without sitting as
helpless observers. He stressed the need for developing educational curricula
and overhauling the Islamic Fiqh Academy to combat extremist ideologies and
In his keynote speech, Abdullah was
trying his best to instill confidence in Muslim leaders and urged them to carry
out comprehensive development programs to eradicate poverty. "Revival
begins with a hope, which turns into an idea and then becomes an
objective," he explained.
Abdullah, however, reminded Muslims and
their leaders of the great Qur'anic verse which states that "Allah will
never change the situation of any people until they first change
themselves." He also said that Allah would support those who support Him,
quoting another verse that urges Muslims to work hard following His teachings.
He said the summit, which was attended
by the heads of state of most OIC member countries, offered the glad tidings of
a bright future for the Islamic nation. He thanked the leaders for accepting his
invitation, adding that it reflected their strong desire to move forward and
make change for the better.
He said the Islamic world has the
potential to achieve its objectives. "I look forward to a united Muslim
Ummah, having good governance that eliminates injustice and oppression," he
said. "Let us work together to make this summit a milestone, heralding a
brighter future for the Ummah."
Abdullah urged Muslim leaders to
strengthen their cooperation in economic, political, cultural and social domains
in order to achieve real unity and establish powerful institutions to enable the
Ummah to restore its rightful place in the world.
OIC Secretary-General Professor
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu presented a detailed report on the organization and its
achievements. He thanked King Abdullah for establishing the organization's
headquarters at a strategic location in Jeddah. At the end of the opening
session, King Abdullah unveiled the plaque of the organization's new
headquarters. The imprints of the right palms of all participating leaders were
later taken using advanced equipment in order to project them on a commemorative
plaque in front of the new headquarters, as a symbol of Islamic unity.
In his speech, the king called for
greater scientific and technological advancement in the Muslim world. He also
advised Muslim youth to work hard for the betterment of their life in this world
and the world to come, without excesses or negligence.
Speaking on the need for developing
educational curricula in the Muslim world, the king said it was a prerequisite
for building a Muslim personality. "Steeped in tolerance, such a
personality would lay the foundations for a society that rejects isolationism
and turns its back on courting hostility to the other by interacting with all
peoples, adopting what is good and rejecting what is bad."
Abdullah underlined the role played by
the Islamic civilization in lighting the way forth for other civilizations,
offering them a fine example of tolerance and justice, and leading humanity
forward through its singular achievements in jurisprudence, science and
"Indeed, it is these major
contributions that provided the decisive catalyst in bringing enlightenment to
the Dark Ages," the king stressed.
King Abdullah decried the sad plight of
Muslims today. "It is heartbreaking for us to see our glorious civilization
slip from the exalted graces of dignity to the ravines of frailty," he
The Saudi ruler lashed out at Al-Qaeda
terrorists for unleashing evil and corruption on earth and urged the summit
leaders to fight terror jointly.
He urged Muslims not to despair
"for from the darkness of night breaks the light of day and out of the
depths of pain come salvation." He called upon Muslims to strengthen their
faith in God and have optimism about their future.
"Let our faith in Almighty Allah
be an unshakable boost to instill confidence in the peoples and leaders of our
Ummah," he said.
He emphasized the need for
strengthening Muslim unity, adding that "it will not be achieved by
bloodletting as the miscreants in their misguided waywardness insist on
He said the Islamic Fiqh Academy, which
is an affiliate of the OIC, has been overhauled to assume its historic role and
responsibility in resisting extremist ideology in all forms and manifestations.
He said the real nature of the Muslim
lies in his faith and then in his knowledge, principles and morality.
"Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) has said "I have been sent to
further establish the loftiest values of morality," Abdullah added.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi said the present economic conditions suffered by Muslim countries were
merely a symptom of something more sinister.
"That is the lack of quality human
capital due to poverty and lack of education. They must be eradicated," he
said, "but in order to do so the Muslims must once again emulate the
dynamism and intellectual splendor synonymous with Islam itself."
Badawi said almost one third of the
total Muslim population lives in deplorable conditions.
"Nearly half a billion people
still lack life's basic necessities. Compared to the rest of the world which has
an average per capita income of $5,133, the average per capita income of those
living in Muslim countries is roughly $1,000. The people in almost half of the
OIC member countries live on less than $2 a day, an amount barely enough to
sustain a subsistence living."
He said with regard to income
distribution the Muslim countries fare even worse. "Illiteracy rates remain
alarming. Almost 30 percent of the Muslim countries have adult literacy rates
which are well below 50 percent. As a result we are rendered incapable of
confronting the more serious problems plaguing us. This condition has resulted
in poverty, a feature common to the Muslim world.
Badawi quoted a saying of the Prophet
which says "when man is reduced to poverty not only does he lose his
dignity but he approaches unbelief." He said: "We must work out the
best strategy in terms of education if we are to eradicate poverty from our
midst, otherwise we may unwittingly become detached from our historical roots
which are adorned with a glorious dynamism that is Islam."
"We must remain mindful of the
fact that development in Islam refers to the development of man. We must
confront the problems head-on. We must not be in a state of denial. Our problem
and dilemma are the powerful forces of secularism and conflict caused by
sectarianism. These forces have threatened our sense of identity and our
He said the OIC must change "in
order to be relevant for the cause of uplifting the Muslim Ummah."
SPIRAL TOWER IN DUBAI
A group of Saudi investors announced
that they are constructing the longest spiral tower in the world in Dubai. The
cost of the tower is SR218 million and it is going to be 330 meters long with 80
storeys. Ahmad Al-Hati, the CEO of Saudi Kayan, the owner company, said that it
will take three years to complete the tower.
NEW TOWER IN ALKHOBAR
Abdullah Foad Holding signed a contract
with Suliman Al-Swaih Company to construct a 10-storey tower for the company's
new offices in Alkhobar city. The cost of the new tower is SR50 million and is
named after the company. The contract length is 20 months starting from the
moment of the signature. The tower is expected to be a new landmark in the area
Saudi Aramco has recently signed 13
different contracts with Saudi manufacturing companies to supply the company
with pipelines. The contracts would secure Aramco's demand of pipelines by
reserving the future production of the pipelines manufacturers during the entire
periods of the contracts. Saudi Aramco aims at securing its demand of pipelines
for its large projects to avoid shortage of supply due to the high global demand
DUBAI MARITIME AWARDS
Twenty candidates from nine countries
across the Middle East, Europe, USA and the Subcontinent, have been short-listed
for the second Dubai International Maritime Awards (DIMA), the honors
recognizing top industry achievers in West and Central Asia which will be
presented in a gala dinner in Dubai next week (12 December).
"Response to this year's awards
has been overwhelming and the geographic spread of the short-listed candidates
is extremely encouraging," said Chris Hayman, Managing Director, Seatrade,
international maritime publisher and organizer of DIMA.
The awards, judged independently by a
cross-global panel of industry leaders under the chairmanship of Efthimios
Mitropoulos, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO),
cover nine categories which include four new honors this year.
'The new honors to enter the awards
this year are outstanding contributions to dry bulk shipping, liner shipping,
and energy transport and maritime services sectors, 'added Hayman.
Short-listed candidates in the 'Safety
and Quality in Shipping' category are Vela International Marine, Lonestar
Technical Services from the UAE and Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia.
Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping
Lines, Iran and Applied Research International from India are short-listed for
the 'Innovation in Shipping' category. Short-list for Port Operations are C.
Steinweg Oman LLC and Karachi Port Trust, Pakistan.
Transas, Ireland is competing against
First AFG, USA and Unimarine services, Greece for the Countering Marine &
Atmospheric Pollution award. Three companies are in the running for the
Education & Training award: Fleet Management & Training, India,
Tidewater Middle East, UAE and Maritime Training Institute, Pakistan.
Short-listed candidates for the four
new honors are Blue Ocean Shipping, Iran, Samsara Group, India, Simatech
Shipping LLC, UAE, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, Iran, Academy of
Maritime Education & Training (AMET), India, Ports, Customs & Freezone,
UAE and Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia.
The second annual awards scheme will
also cover the highly anticipated Seatrade Personality of the Year for West and
Central Asia, first won in 2004 by Mohammad Souri of National Iranian Tanker
The awards presentation dinner, to be
held at the Grand Hyatt, Dubai on December 12, will also coincide with Middle
East Money & Ships 2005, a specialist two-day conference for the financial
and maritime industries.
DIMA are sponsored by ABS, Charter
Trade Global (LLC), Dubai Drydocks, DVB Bank, GAC, Lloyd's Register, Scan-Trans
Middle East, Seatrade Academy and Vela International. The awards scheme is
supported and endorsed by DP World and Dubai Maritime City.
IRAN SEEKS KUWAITI INVESTMENT
Iranian Charge d'Affaires to Kuwait
Abolghasem Shashini invited Kuwaiti businessmen to invest in Iran.
Speaking to a group of Kuwaiti
businessmen, he informed that an Iranian economic and trade delegation, headed
by Iranian Deputy Economic Minister Majid Kazaii, will visit Kuwait next week.
Iran has set up an economic environment
that is conducive to foreign investment and has approved regulations and
facilities whereby foreign investors can invest in the country with peace of
mind, the official said.
He further said that the Iranian
delegation that is traveling to Kuwait will meet with Kuwait's economic and
trade officials as well as Kuwaiti investors and entrepreneurs.
The Iranian delegation will be visiting
Kuwait on the heels of a Kuwaiti economic and trade delegation that visited
Shashini, referring to the growing
trade between the two Persian Gulf nations, said that bilateral trade topped
$234 million last year.
However, he said the figure is still
inadequate given the ample potentials of the two nations.
He further informed that in the past
six months several agreements have been signed by the two countries that will
have the effect of greatly increasing their volume of trade as well as the
number of tourists visiting the two states. "In addition to boosting
cordial political ties, the two nations are striving to improve their trade and
Kuwaiti tourists in 2004 ranked Iran
fourth among their favorite destinations, Shashini said.
He said that Iranian expatriates in
Kuwait have contributed to the economic development and progress of the country
and Tehran is keen to enter into a technical cooperation with the Kuwaiti
It is note worthy here that former
Iranian commerce minister Mohammad Shariatmadari held a meeting in February with
Iranian and Kuwaiti entrepreneurs and traders and responded to their questions
on possibilities for investment and trade in Iran.
Shariatmadari, during that meeting,
expounded on Iranian measures that have been enacted to expand foreign
investment and international trade with countries as well as policies intended
to draw foreign investment into the country.
He brushed aside concerns expressed by
Kuwaiti investors on "burdensome business taxes" imposed in Iran;
saying taxes imposed on foreign capital were the same as those imposed on
According to him, in order to
facilitate business transactions and build investor confidence several Iranian
banks had asked the Kuwaiti government for authorization to open branches in the
"The Kuwait government at first
refused, but apparently there has been a change of mind and it has now permitted
reputable international banks to operate in the country," Shariatmadari
said, adding that the Kuwaiti government has also authorized Iran's Tejarat Bank
to open a branch in Kuwait.
IRAN-NIGERIA OIL DEAL
Iran and Nigeria will soon conclude a
contract for oil exploration operations in Guinea waters of this west African
country, technical director of Iran's Oil Exploration Operation Company (OEOC)
Alireza Saeedi said on Tuesday.
The company won the bid on December 1
in collaboration with an international enterprise which would take care of
investment part of the project estimated at $150m. The timetable for the project
is set at four years and the contract would be signed in the form of
'participation in production', Saeedi stated.
The OEOC is supposed to handle the
operational activities by drilling two wells at the depth of 2,000 meters each.
"If successful, the development operation contract will also be given to
us," the director added.
The $40m the right-to-sign expenses for
this contract will be paid by the OEOC's foreign partner to Nigeria, he said in
IRAN A MAJOR POLYCARBONATE PRODUCER
Iran will turn into fourth major
polycarbonate producer in the world, managing director of Khuzestan
Petrochemical Company Masud Jamshidi said..
Jamshidi added, with a three-eight
percent increase in annual demand for polycarbonate worldwide, Iran hopes to
raise production of the strategic product to meet the spiraling demand.
He said a polycarbonate production unit
will start operation in Khuzestan by March 20, 2006 (marking the end of the
current Iranian calendar year), to produce 25,000 tons/year of the product. Some
2,000 tons of the total volume will be for domestic consumption and the rest for
exports, he added.
He referred to the high value-added,
profit and logical price of the commodity as among the incentives motivating
Iran to turn to production of it, saying each ton of polycarbonate is currently
sold for $2,000 to $3,000.
OIL REGIME'S ROLE TO GAIN BOOST
In the midst of all the confusing and
contradictory signals, from the pundits and not so pundits, it was indeed
reassuring, refreshing, reinvigorating and professionally rewarding in many ways
to hear, from non other than the International Energy Agency chief economist Dr.
Fatih Birol, reiterating before a select audience that this hydrocarbon driven
civilization is not approaching its ultimate end.
As the OECD energy watchdog, the IEA
has a very important role to play and hence its assertion that this energy rich
region will continue to play a vital role in quenching the global energy thirst
in the years and decades to come, should also soothe some nerves at least.
Birol, is a well established and
respected name in the global energy fraternity. Being the chief economist at the
IEA, he is regarded as the principal author of the "World Energy Outlook -
2005" released by the IEA last month. Birol was in Riyadh, late November
and during his visit he also presented the crucial chapter - "Middle East
and North Africa Insights"- of the just published report before the select
gathering of diplomats and energy professionals at the newly inaugurated
headquarters of the International Energy Forum.
The presentation hovered around the IEA
projection of state of industry in nine energy rich states of the Middle East
& North Africa. And one major finding of the IEA reports was that despite
what Mat Simmons & co, could continue to think, the region would continue to
play a very critical role in meeting the global energy requirements in future
too - which as per the IEA report could go up to 115 million bpd by 2030, if
other constants remain same.
The Middle East & the North African
region would still be the major energy provider to the world in 2030, argued
Birol while presenting his energy insight of the region. From current
approximately 29 million bpd, the supplies from the region would go up to 50.5
million bpd, as more than 60 percent of the proven oil reserves are in this
region, he argued.
The MENA share in the global supplies
would thus go up to 44 percent of the total global supplies by 2030. Currently
the region accounts for only 35 percent share of the global markets, he
However, in order to be able to meet
the global needs, huge upstream and downstream investments are required in the
energy sector, he argued. According to Birol, provided other constants remain
same, an estimated $1.5 trillion - $56 billion per year - is required to be
invested until 2030 in the sector in this region alone.
According to the IEA estimates, Saudi
Arabia would also need to invest some $174 billion in the sector by 2030 and 80
percent of it would be have to be in the upstream sector, as the call on Saudi
crude was projected to go up to 18 million barrels a day. Currently Saudi output
is hovering around 9.5 million bpd. Birol however, was confident that Saudi
Arabia has the potential, reserves, the technical capability and the will to
invest so as to be able to meet this growing call on its crude.
Similarly in order to meet the
requirements of lighter, preferred crude, an estimated $480 billion needed to go
into the refining sector until then - both for new facilities and for revamping
the existing ones, the IEA report projected.
In recent months, question marks have
also been raised about the Saudi super giant field Ghawar with some arguing that
it may not continue to produce at its current level as the field is already past
its peak. Ghawar roughly produces five million barrels a day.
As far as the economics is concerned,
as per the IEA projections, oil prices would stabilize and would be driven down
over the next few years so that by 2010, the prices would be hovering around $46
a barrel, only going up to $74 per barrel by 2030 in nominal terms. Hence MENA
revenues from its hydrocarbon resources would also go up from $313 billion in
2004 to $635 billion by 2030 - in 2004 terms.