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MEED
April 2005

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  • $150m APC expansion plan moves ahead

    Arab Potash Company (APC)has decided to proceed with a $150 million expansion of its Dead Sea facilities, which aims at increasing capacity to about 500,000 tonnes a year (t/y).
  • 33 killed in government clashes with rebels

    Yemeni security forces and supporters of slain rebel preacher Sheikh Hussain al-Huthi fought on a second day of clashes on 29 March. Following the closing off of villages in Saada province, close to the border with Saudi Arabia, press reports say 23 rebels and 10 government troops have been killed since fighting began.Zaidi Shia cleric Al-Huthi was killed in fighting in September. The official news agency SABA reported that the Sheikh's father Badr al-Huthi had
  • Aabar IPO opens

    The initial public offering of shares in Aabar Petroleum Investments Companyhas been launched, with subscription due to close on 21 April. The IPO, covering 495 million shares priced at AED 1 ($0.27) each, has been split into two tranches. Tranche A, covering 170 million shares, is open to individual investors, while the remaining 325 million shares under tranche B will be open to individuals and companies. TheNational Investoris financial adviser, lead manager and
  • Abbas and Sharon to meet

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet in the near future, Sharon's office announced on 22 April. The statement came after Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and Israeli Vice-Prime Minister Shimon Peres met in West Jerusalem on 21 April to discuss Tel Aviv's disengagement from Gaza. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Civil Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan were also present.The Israeli cabinet is still deci
  • Abbas appoints new security chiefs

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appointed three new security chiefs on 23 April, removing former leader Yasser Arafat's old guard. Brigadier General Suleiman Helles replaced Moussa Arafat, a cousin of the late leader, as the national security forces commander. Tareq Abu Rajab took over from Amin al-Hindi as intelligence chief and Ala Hosni was named as the new police chief. Arafat and Hindi will also serve as special advisers to Abbas. Hundreds of security officers, including
  • Abbas expects Hamas to disarm after elections

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on 25 April that Hamas should hand over its weapons following legislative council (parliament) elections in July. 'When a movement or militia is transformed into a political party, I would say there will then be no need for them to possess weapons,' Abbas said. After the election, 'There will be only one authority, one law and one legal gun,' he said.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zohri said the group will disarm when Israel withdr
  • Abbas orders crackdown on militants

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on 31 March demanded a crackdown on militants after gunmen from his own ruling Fatah faction fired on his Ramallah compound and vandalised shops and restaurants in the town.The attacks began after security officials met representatives of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades earlier in the week to persuade them to disarm. Some of the militants, many former security force members, have refused to lay down their arms, demanding better pay a
  • Abbas re-orders security services

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the merger of the security services on 14 April into three branches. A security agency and a police force will be established under the control of the Interior Ministry run by Abbas ally General Nasr Yussef, and a separate intelligence unit will remain under the control of the president's office. The decision was made after Abbas met Yussef and Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, who heads the National Security Council, and the various heads of
  • Activists call for Mubarak to step down

    Supporters of the Kifaya pro-reform movement called for President Mubarak to step down on 31 March. Protesters gathered in Cairo and Mansura but were prevented from demonstrating in Alexandria by police. Large numbers of riot police were stationed at key government buildings in Cairo and blocked demonstrators from reaching the parliament. The protest was the latest in a series of rallies calling for political change (
  • Advisers appointed on Sohar EDC finance

    HSBC has been appointed financial adviser and Allen & Overyhas been selected as legal counsel on the financing of the planned ethylene dichloride (EDC) and caustic soda plant at Sohar, being developed by Oman Oil Company with South Korea's GS International, formerly known as LG International,and Iran's National Petrochemical Company.
  • Ahmadi export tender faces further delays

    The bid deadline has again been extended by just over a month to 8 May for the estimated $1,000 million-1,500 million retendered contract covering the Ahmadi oil storage and export facilities project. Just two companies and groups are expected to bid for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, which calls for the construction of 11.4 million barrels of crude storage capacity at Ahmadi. They are: South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries; and Spain's Tecnica
  • ALDAR lists shares

    The shares of Abu Dhabi-based ALDAR Properties were listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Market on 5 April priced at AED 1 ($0.27). The listing follows the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in the real estate company in late 2004, which was oversubscribed 450 times (MEED 3:12:04).
  • Al-Fouzan picked for Imam Islamic university expansion

    The local Al-Fouzan Trading & General Construction Companyhas been awarded the main contract on the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University expansion project in Riyadh. The contract, valued at about SR 500 million ($133 million), was awarded on the basis of a reduced scope of works, after original quotes came in well above budget. The client is the Higher Education Ministry (MEED 7:1:05).
  • Al-Fouzan picked for Imam Islamic university expansion

    The local Al-Fouzan Trading & General Construction Companyhas been awarded the main contract on the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University expansion project in Riyadh. The contract, valued at about SR 500 million ($133 million), was awarded on the basis of a reduced scope of works, after original quotes came in well above budget. The client is the Higher Education Ministry (MEED 7:1:05).
  • Algerian Foreign Minister to step down

    Abdelaziz Belkhadem said on 27 April that wants to resign as Minister of Foreign Affairs to focus on his job as secretary-general of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN). Belkhadem said he needs to work on uniting a divided party and building a popular support base, but that the decision on his resignation rests with FLN chairman President Bouteflika. The two men were elected to their FLN positions in February during a party conference that discussed disputes over policy and leadershi
  • Algiers lifts visa requirement for Moroccans

    President Bouteflika lifted entry restrictions for Moroccan citizens on 3 April. The visa requirement change follows a meeting between the president and Moroccan King Mohamed Vl at the Arab League summit in March 2005 ( 25:3:05). Algiers introduced visas for Moroccan citizens in 1994 after Rabat closed their side of the border following the murder of Western tourists in a Marrakech hotel
  • Al-Hamad mobilises on Al-Areen Oasis Spa

    Sharjah-based Al-Hamad Contracting Companyhas begun construction of the Oasis Spa Resort, the centrepiece and first part to be built of the $750 million Al-Areen Desert Spa & Resort at Sakhir. The client is a joint venture of the government and Gulf Finance House and the sell-down of stakes to other investors - local and international - has been completed. The resort is divided into 14 clusters, which will be developed independently and in parallel by different investors,
  • Al-Hamad mobilises on Al-Areen Oasis Spa

    Sharjah-based Al-Hamad Contracting Companyhas begun construction of the Oasis Spa Resort, the centrepiece and first part to be built of the $750 million Al-Areen Desert Spa & Resort at Sakhir. The client is a joint venture of the government and Gulf Finance House and the sell-down of stakes to other investors - local and international - has been completed. The resort is divided into 14 clusters, which will be developed independently and in parallel by different investors,
  • Al-Hamad wins Marriott apartments job

    Sharjah-based Al-Hamad Contracting Companyhas been awarded the main construction contract on a 20-storey twin-tower luxury apartment complex in Juffair, to be managed by US-based Marriott International. The facility will comprise 94 apartments with leisure and parking facilities. Completion is due in November 2006. The client is the local International Trading & Investment Company; MSCEB, also local, is the design and construction supervision consu
  • Al-Hamad wins Marriott apartments job

    Sharjah-based Al-Hamad Contracting Companyhas been awarded the main construction contract on a 20-storey twin-tower luxury apartment complex in Juffair, to be managed by US-based Marriott International. The facility will comprise 94 apartments with leisure and parking facilities. Completion is due in November 2006. The client is the local International Trading & Investment Company; MSCEB, also local, is the design and construction supervision consu
  • Al-Jazeera to broadcast unedited coverage

    Satellite television station Al-Jazeera will launch on 15 April Al-Jazeera Live, a new channel that will air unedited conferences, meetings and discussions and cover political, social, cultural and economic events. Programmes will air without presenters, commentary or editorial input via the Arabsat satellite. Al-Jazeera spokeman Jihad Ballout likened the new channel to C-Span, which broadcasts live Congressional hearings in the US.
  • All change in Qatari cabinet

    Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani dismissed on 5 April the minister of state for cabinet affairs, the minister for religious affairs and his own chief-of-staff. No official reason was given for the cabinet reshuffle.Faisal bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud replaces Mohammed al-Manaa as Minister of Religious Affairs and Sheikh Abderrahman bin Saud al-Thani takes over from Abdullah bin Mohammad al-Thani as chief-of-staff. No candidate for minister of state for cabinet affairs
  • Allawi to join transitional government

    Outgoing interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord (INA) party will join the transitional government of Ibrahim Jaafari, INA party spokesman Thaer al-Naqib announced on 10 April. 'Iyad Allawi decided that his bloc will take part in the new government because he believes in making the political and democratic process in Iraq successful,' Al-Naqib said. The party is seeking four cabinet seats, including one main ministry.'The ministries need effi
  • Almanakher IPP RFP due

    About 10 international developers in late February expressed interest in carrying out the kingdom's first independent power project (IPP) - a 280-400-MW combined cycle plant at Almanakher, near Amman. Sources at the Energy & Mineral Resources Ministry say that a request for proposals is expected to be issued by the end of April. Interested parties are understood to include Dubai-based AES Oasis Energy, the UK's International Power, Malaysia's Malakoff Berhad,
  • Al-Qaeda suspects to be retried

    An appeals court in Sanaa re-opened the trial of 11 Al-Qaeda suspects on 26 April as the prosecution sought harsher punishment for the accused. The defendants previously stood trial on 14 February, facing charges that included possession of firearms and explosives and forging documents and passports. The prosecution said the accused had trained in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, were planning to travel to Iraq to join insurgent forces and were plotting 'criminal acts' in Yemen and abroad. Th
  • Al-Zarqawi issues warning to occupation forces

    On an audio recording broadcast on the internet on 29 April, a man claiming to be Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi vowed to continue attacks on US-led forces and Iraqi security forces. He warned insurgents not to negotiate with Washington. 'The enemy America is today in an unenviable position due to your successful and concentrated attacks, which have forced it to try hard to open dialogue with the mujahideen,' Al-Zarqawi said. 'Do not leave a single convoy on course or a checkp
  • Amman, Baghdad mend fences

    Baghdad on 24 March returned its ambassador to Jordan to try to end a diplomatic row over a suicide bombing in Hilla on 28 February.The move follows Jordanian King Abdullah's decision to return his charge d'affaires to Baghdad on 21 March. Both diplomats had been called back for 'consultations' following a protest on 19 March in which Shia demonstrators raised an Iraqi flag over the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad. The protesters believe Amman had a role in the su
  • Annan calls for aid for Sudan

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 11 April called for $2,600 million in aid from international donors for post-war reconstruction in southern Sudan. He was speaking at the opening of a two-day, 60-nation donor conference for Sudan hosted in Oslo.The aid request is part of the $7,900 million identified by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Khartoum as necessary to rebuild infrastructure and services destroyed by the 21-year civil war. US Deputy Secretary of Sta
  • Annan cleared of wrongdoing

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was cleared on 29 March of inappropriate dealings in Iraq's oil-for-food programme. The Independent Inquiry Committee headed by former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker investigated the operation of the programme. In its most recent report, the ICC said there was no evidence that Annan had steered contract bidding towards a firm which employed his son. Annan said he would not be resigning over the investigation.The report criticised Kojo
  • Anti-Syrian opposition picks pro-Syrian candidate to be Prime Minister

    Opposition parliamentarians chose Syrian loyalist Najib Mikati as their candidate for Prime Minister on 15 April. 'We will now end our meetings and a delegation from the opposition will head to the presidential palace to name Mikati at the consultations [with President Lahoud],' said opposition Member of Parliament Walid Ido. Former government minister and businessman Mikati is a family friend of Syrian President Asad and a political opponent of Prime Minister Omar Karami who
  • April bidding for Fajr phase 2

    Bids are due by the end of April for phase 2 of the Fajr utility programme in Bandar Imam. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) project will be worth about $300 million and the client is Fajr Petrochemical Company(MEED 11:2:05).
  • Arabian Bemco in front for Najran expansion

    The local Arabian Bemco Contracting is the low bidder on the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) project to expand the existing Najran power station in the south. The bid deadline for another expansion project, at Qurrayat power plant, has been extended by five weeks until the end of April, while a decision on the large-scale PP9 power station in Riyadh is still pending (MEED 14:1:05).
  • Arak prequalification spurs refinery upgrades

    Fewer than 10 companies are expected to apply for prequalification for the Arak refinery upgrade project because of tough financing requirements. About 50 companies bought the prequalification documents for the project, which is one of a series of refinery expansions and upgrades being carried out across Iran (MEED 7:1:05).
  • Aramco IPP debt flies

    Syndication of the sub-underwriting stage of the $510 million debt package for the four captive independent power projects (IPPs) being developed for Saudi Aramcohas closed heavily oversubscribed.
  • Aramco makes new discovery

    Petroleum & Mineral Resources Minister Ali Naimi has announced the discovery of a new oil field in the central region by Saudi Aramco. The onshore Duayban-1 well is located 125 kilometres southeast of Riyadh and tested at 3,300 barrels a day (b/d) of sulphur-free Arabian super light oil, Naimi said. The oil find - at a depth of about 3,100 metres - comes at a time of strong demand for lighter grade oils and amid a massive investment programme at Aramco aimed at raising the country's
  • Aramco pushes ahead with Khurais

    Saudi Aramco has kicked off the process of selecting a project management services (PMS) contractor for its biggest oil field project in decades, the Khurais full-field development. Valued at more than $5,000 million, the Khurais crude increment programme is expected to deliver 1.2 million barrels a day (b/d) of additional Arabian light production capacity on completion in 2009. The long-awaited field development comes just weeks after Aramco awarded contracts worth up to $3,000 million f
  • Aramco ramps up Rabigh work

    Saudi Aramcohas released invitation to bid (ITB) documents for the utilities and offsites package on its $4,300 million programme to turn the kingdom's biggest refinery at Rabigh into a world-scale integrated refining and petrochemical complex (MEED 18:3:05).
  • Aramco, IOC sign deal

    Saudi Aramcoand Indian Oil Corporation (IOC)on 31 March announced the signing of a memorandum of collaboration to evaluate future co-operation in petroleum research and development (R&D) and the commercial exploitation of any resulting technologies. Under the accord, the two companies plan to join forces on R&D in areas such as production of cleaner fuels, refinery process improvements, corrosion control and biomediation. IOC is also understood to be among the 10 international
  • ARC invites interest for PMC port work

    State-owned Azzawiya Refinery Company (ARC)has invited international consultants to submit expressions of interest by 21 April for a contract to provide project management consultancy (PMC) services on the construction of a fully protected harbour at Azzawiya. The project, aimed at increasing the port's handling capacity of crude oil, refined products, asphalt and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), involves the construction of new sheltered berths, petrochemical handling and bunkering fa
  • ARC invites interest for PMC port work

    State-owned Azzawiya Refinery Company (ARC)has invited international consultants to submit expressions of interest by 21 April for a contract to provide project management consultancy (PMC) services on the construction of a fully protected harbour at Azzawiya. The project, aimed at increasing the port's handling capacity of crude oil, refined products, asphalt and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), involves the construction of new sheltered berths, petrochemical handling and bunkering fa
  • As oil heads for $100, social management is the new challenge

    In a seminal report, Goldman Sachs is forecasting this spring that oil prices could surge above $100 a barrel. The report's central forecast, however, is more conservative. Oil traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) will rise to $50 a barrel in 2005 and $55 a barrel in 2006. This compares with the investment bank's previous forecast of an average of $41 this year and $40 next.
  • Asad regime in danger of collapse

    Syrian President Asad could be ousted by his brother-in-law General Asaf Shaukat or his brother Maher Asad, Israel's head of military intelligence said in an article published on 29 April by Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot. 'His regime's stability is in great danger today, more than in the past,' Aharon Zeevi told the paper. 'He is seen as a weak leader. I'm not sure that Bashar [Asad] has the strength or talent to make a decision,' Zeevi said. 'People are already saying that perhaps Bashar i
  • AstraZeneca: In the nick of time

    The start of construction work in November on a new tablet manufacturing plant in 6 October City for the UK-based pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca is significant for the local pharmaceuticals sector. For although the local market is considerable, with some 71 million Egyptian citizens on the doorstep and total sales worth an estimated $1,300 million a year, the industry has been starved of major foreign investment in production capacity.
  • Award nears for Doha high-rise

    The contest for the main package on the Platinum tower project has narrowed, following the submission of revised prices by two contractors - United Engineering (Malaysia) Berhadand Lebanon's Arabian Construction Company (ACC). To be built close to the Olympic tower, the office high-rise will have 40 storeys and a basement car park and will take 24 months to complete. The client is the local Platinum Tower Company (Qatar, MEED Special Report, 18:3:05, page 51).
  • Award nears for Doha high-rise

    The contest for the main package on the Platinum tower project has narrowed, following the submission of revised prices by two contractors - United Engineering (Malaysia) Berhadand Lebanon's Arabian Construction Company (ACC). To be built close to the Olympic tower, the office high-rise will have 40 storeys and a basement car park and will take 24 months to complete. The client is the local Platinum Tower Company (Qatar, MEED Special Report, 18:3:05, page 51).
  • Award nears for Jeddah plaza project

    Local property developer Al-Tajamua International for Real Estate Development Companyis evaluating bids for the main contract package covering the Al-Huda plaza project to be built in Jeddah's Al-Hamra district. The bidders include Almabani General Contractors, Al-Saad Contracting & Trading Company, Specialised Contracting Company, Mubarak al-Qitmi Contracting, Al-Sharqawi Contracting Company, Al-Anjari Contracting C
  • Award nears for Jeddah plaza project

    Local property developer Al-Tajamua International for Real Estate Development Companyis evaluating bids for the main contract package covering the Al-Huda plaza project to be built in Jeddah's Al-Hamra district. The bidders include Almabani General Contractors, Al-Saad Contracting & Trading Company, Specialised Contracting Company, Mubarak al-Qitmi Contracting, Al-Sharqawi Contracting Company, Al-Anjari Contracting C
  • Awards awaited on Burj Dubai project

    A series of major awards are expected over the coming months on the $20,000 million Burj Dubai development. A contractor has been selected for the commercial island package, while awards are pending for two more packages on the Old Town. Bids were also due on 31 March for the hotels A and B package. The client on Burj Dubai is the local Emaar Properties(MEED 25:2:05).
  • Awards awaited on Burj Dubai project

    A series of major awards are expected over the coming months on the $20,000 million Burj Dubai development. A contractor has been selected for the commercial island package, while awards are pending for two more packages on the Old Town. Bids were also due on 31 March for the hotels A and B package. The client on Burj Dubai is the local Emaar Properties(MEED 25:2:05).
  • Awards near on PDO EMS work

    Awards are approaching on the contracts to provide engineering and maintenance services for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO)for its operations in the north and south of the sultanate, with frontrunners emerging for each of the two five-year deals. The team of the local Special Technical Services with the UK's Mott MacDonald is understood to be in line for the northern contract, while the local Arabian Industries with the US' Parsons Interna
  • AYCC picks consultant

    Tender documents are due to be released by the end of May for the turnkey contract to build a greenfield cement plant for the privately-owned Arab Yemen Cement Company (AYCC). India's Holtechas been selected as the consultant.
  • Baghdad confirms new cabinet

    Iraq's Transitional National Assembly on 5 April confirmed Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president, with Sunni interim President Ghazi Yawar and Shia interim Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to serve as vice-presidents. The Shia United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) candidate Ibrahim Jaafari has been nominated as prime minister.
  • Baghdad upgrades train system

    The US' Mafeks International has been awarded a $13.5 million contract to supply and install a basic communications-based train control system for Iraqi Republic Railways (IRR). Under the terms of the contract, the company will install the system in 100 double-cab locomotives, build a computerised dispatch office system to provide monitoring and train control for the entire network and install a two-way data communications system. Iraq has by regional standards a large rail network,
  • Bahraini websites subject to new restrictions

    Bahrain's Information Ministry announced on 24 April that all websites established in the country or abroad must register with them or face legal action. Websites would be subjected to the same libel, public decency and ethics laws applied to newspapers, said Information undersecretary Mahmoud al-Mahmoud. This means webmasters will be responsible for information published on their site in the same way newspaper editor-in-chiefs are responsible for what they publish, Al-Mahmoud said. The Inf
  • Bangladeshi workers angry about overdue pay

    More than 800 Bangladeshi workers for the Al-Nibras cleaning company stormed the Bangladesh embassy in Surrah, south of Kuwait City, on 24 April, damaging property and injuring two people. The workers claimed that the ambassador had ignored two previous complaints made to him about the non-payment of salaries by Al-Nibras. 'The rioters barged into the embassy and went berserk beating up people: and destroying the rooms,' said Bangladeshi ambassador Nazrul Islam Khan. Police a
  • Banks chase multiple advisories

    International banks are competing hard for a range of important financial advisory mandates on Gulf infrastructure projects. The initiatives in need of financial advice range from liquefied natural gas (LNG) complexes to independent water and power projects (IWPPs), but the small number of banks that are both capable and interested has led to growing problems over conflicting interests.
  • Banks jump for Dolphin's next stage of financing

    The release of the request for proposals (RFP) document is imminent for the second tranche in the bridge financing for the Dolphin gas project. The client, Abu Dhabi-based Dolphin Energy, is seeking $1,000 million-1,300 million and has made clear to interested parties that it will consider conventional and Islamic bank proposals, as well as capital market options. Dolphin's first five-year tranche in its bridge facility, worth $1,360 million, was signed last year (MEED 8:10:04; 23:7:
  • BANKS: Big and strong

    Under a banking sector masterplan agreed last September, the government is seeking to strengthen the highly fragmented financial sector by reducing the country's 62 banks down to 26. But for the banks that remain, consolidation is only the first part of a broader challenge.
  • Banque du Sud sale to be relaunched

    The government is expected to relaunch imminently the sale of a 33.5 per cent stake in state-owned Banque du Sud, after no bids were received when the holding was offered in mid-2004. Rather than retendering the asset, Tunis is likely to approach the two banks, among four prequalifiers, which entered the data rooms last year - BNP Paribasand Banque Commercial du Maroc. However, while the health of Banque du Sud has improved since the previous attempt, bankers
  • Bapetco sets new target for Obaiyed gas plant

    Work is under way at the UK office of the US' Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR)for a contract to provide engineering and support services to the local Badr Petroleum Company (Bapetco)on three new projects for the expansion of its Obaiyed gas plant in the Western Desert. The expansion involves three main elements:
  • Bargaining power

    The air was thick with gunpowder smoke. Larger explosions triggered car alarms up and down neighbouring streets as Iranians celebrated the last night of the Persian year in traditional style, with firecrackers and high spirits. Tehran sounded like a city at war. But although Western threats of military action against Iran have been stronger than ever of late, this new year brings a glimmer of hope for peacemakers.
  • Beirut will assist Hariri inquiry

    Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahmoud Hammoud said on 8 April that Beirut is willing to work with the UN international inquiry into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He said: 'There are no obstacles to co-operation as long as the United Nations takes Lebanon's sovereignty into consideration'.The UN Security Council agreed on 7 April to establish an international inquiry into the murder of Hariri after a UN fact-finding team said Beirut's investigation was
  • Bidders line up for Burj Dubai hotels

    Up to eight local and international companies submitted bids by 31 March for the contract to build two hotels, known as Hotels A & B, at the Burj Dubai development. The bidders are understood to have submitted two separate quotes for Hotels A and B, as well as an overall bid for the two properties (MEED 11:3:05).
  • Bidders line up for Burj Dubai hotels

    Up to eight local and international companies submitted bids by 31 March for the contract to build two hotels, known as Hotels A & B, at the Burj Dubai development. The bidders are understood to have submitted two separate quotes for Hotels A and B, as well as an overall bid for the two properties (MEED 11:3:05).
  • Bidding group pulls out of Skikda LNG

    The group of Paris-based Technip and US-based Foster Wheeler has withdrawn from the bidding process for the $600 million-700 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on the Skikda liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant. The team was one of two prequalifiers for the contract, alongside a consortium of Japan's JGC Corporationand the US' Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR). The contract involves the construction of a single LNG train to rep
  • Bids due for engine testing facility

    Bids are due to be submitted by 23 April to Dubai-based airline Emirates and General Electricof the US for the construction of a new jet engine testing facility in the emirate. The project calls for the construction of a 6,000-square-metre building with a 13-metre cross-section chamber capable of testing engines with up to 150,000 pounds of thrust. The facility is due to be commissioned by January 2007 (MEED 3:9:04).
  • Bids due for iconic JLT tower

    Bids are due to be submitted by 21 May for the main construction contract on the Al-Mas tower at Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) in Dubai. Standing at 360 metres, the office tower will be the tallest building in the JLT development (MEED 4:3:05).
  • Bids due for iconic JLT tower

    Bids are due to be submitted by 21 May for the main construction contract on the Al-Mas tower at Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) in Dubai. Standing at 360 metres, the office tower will be the tallest building in the JLT development (MEED 4:3:05).
  • Bids due for Sharjah road works

    Sharjah Municipality has invited companies to submit bids for two projects worth a total of AED 125 million ($34 million). For the larger of the two contracts, covering phase 1 works on the King Abdul Aziz road expansion scheme, bids are due to be submitted by 9 May. Estimated to be worth AED 85 million ($23 million), the 20-month contract calls for the widening of the existing dual-carriageway and its extension by five kilometres. The contract also includes the construction of three bridges. Th
  • Bids due for Sharjah road works

    Sharjah Municipality has invited companies to submit bids for two projects worth a total of AED 125 million ($34 million). For the larger of the two contracts, covering phase 1 works on the King Abdul Aziz road expansion scheme, bids are due to be submitted by 9 May. Estimated to be worth AED 85 million ($23 million), the 20-month contract calls for the widening of the existing dual-carriageway and its extension by five kilometres. The contract also includes the construction of three bridges. Th
  • Bids in for Alex wastewater

    A joint venture of Germany's Bamagand the local Alexandria Construction Company is the frontrunner for the two main packages on the project to build a wastewater treatment network in the Ameriya district of Alexandria. The team emerged as the lowest bidder for both contracts when bids were opened in late March by the Alexandria General Organisation for Sanitary Drainage.
  • Bids in for library

    Design and build bids were submitted to Qatar Petroleum (QP)in mid-April for the main package on the Qatar National Library project. Bidders for the contract are understood to include Turkey's Baytur, Germany's Strabag, Belgium's Six Constructand Japan's Taisei Corporation. The 30-month contract, valued at more than $200 million, involves the construction of a landmark building with a total built-up area of 44,500 square metres. The ar
  • Bids in for library

    Design and build bids were submitted to Qatar Petroleum (QP)in mid-April for the main package on the Qatar National Library project. Bidders for the contract are understood to include Turkey's Baytur, Germany's Strabag, Belgium's Six Constructand Japan's Taisei Corporation. The 30-month contract, valued at more than $200 million, involves the construction of a landmark building with a total built-up area of 44,500 square metres. The ar
  • Bids in for Qatar transport masterplan

    International consultants submitted bids in mid-April for a comprehensive national transport masterplan. The 18-month contract centres on reviewing an existing transport development plan prepared by the US' Louis Berger Groupand creating a new model based on a geographic information system (GIS). Bidders include Halcrowof the UK, Australia's GHD, France's MVA Systraand US-based Wilbur Smith Associates. The masterplan will be divided int
  • Bids in for refinery revamp

    The local Mechanical Contracting & Servicesis low bidder at $17.8 million for a contract to carry out rehabilitation work on existing facilities at the Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco)refinery, part of the wider refinery upgrade programme. The other bidders, also local, are Ramsis Engineeringat $19.4 million and Ahmed Mansour Al-A'Aliat $19.6 million. Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) recently received t
  • Bids in for Ritz substructure

    Bids were submitted in late March for the substructure package on the proposed AED 600 million ($185 million) Ritz Carlton hotel and apartment project at Dubai International Financial Centre. Bidders for the package include the local/UK Al-Naboodah Laing O'Rourkeand a joint venture of the local/Belgian Bel Hasa Six Constructwith the local Arabtec Construction. The complex, to be centred around 12 clusters, will have about 350 hotel rooms and 120 serviced apart
  • Bids in for Ritz substructure

    Bids were submitted in late March for the substructure package on the proposed AED 600 million ($185 million) Ritz Carlton hotel and apartment project at Dubai International Financial Centre. Bidders for the package include the local/UK Al-Naboodah Laing O'Rourkeand a joint venture of the local/Belgian Bel Hasa Six Constructwith the local Arabtec Construction. The complex, to be centred around 12 clusters, will have about 350 hotel rooms and 120 serviced apart
  • Bids in for Sharq as other awards near

    Four teams of technology providers and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors submitted technical offers to Jubail-based Eastern Petrochemical Company (Sharq)on 28 March for the contract to build a large-scale cracker as part of an estimated $2,300 million olefins complex. The submission came as awards approached on two other cracker contracts (MEED 4:2:05).
  • Bids in for sports city

    Bokhowa Constructionis low bidder at BD 7.6 million ($20 million) for the second of two options for the main construction contract on the Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa sports city, which will replace the existing stadium in Isa Town. All three bidders are local. Bokhowa's lowest offer was 1.6 per cent below that of Cebarco. For the more expensive option, Cebarco's bid of BD 9.2 million ($24.2 million) was 5.8 per cent lower than Bokhowa's. The other bidder was O
  • Bids in for sports city

    Bokhowa Constructionis low bidder at BD 7.6 million ($20 million) for the second of two options for the main construction contract on the Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa sports city, which will replace the existing stadium in Isa Town. All three bidders are local. Bokhowa's lowest offer was 1.6 per cent below that of Cebarco. For the more expensive option, Cebarco's bid of BD 9.2 million ($24.2 million) was 5.8 per cent lower than Bokhowa's. The other bidder was O
  • Bids studied for DSC package

    Five companies submitted bids by 30 March for the advanced grading works package on the entire Dubai Sports City (DSC) project. The bidders are Wade Adams Contracting, Saif bin Darwish, Khansaheb Civil Engineeringand Ghantoot Contracting Company, all local, and the local/UK Dutco Balfour Beatty. Estimated to be worth AED 35 million ($9 million), the three-month contract, covering work on an area over 50 million square feet, is the firs
  • Bids studied for DSC package

    Five companies submitted bids by 30 March for the advanced grading works package on the entire Dubai Sports City (DSC) project. The bidders are Wade Adams Contracting, Saif bin Darwish, Khansaheb Civil Engineeringand Ghantoot Contracting Company, all local, and the local/UK Dutco Balfour Beatty. Estimated to be worth AED 35 million ($9 million), the three-month contract, covering work on an area over 50 million square feet, is the firs
  • Bids studied for Habshan gas expansion project

    Evaluation of technical bids is under way at Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Company (Gasco)for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract covering the first phase of the proposed Habshan gas expansion project. Only two of the six prequalified companies - Fluor Corporationand Bechtel, both US-based - submitted bids in early March for the contract. Commercial bids are due on 16 April, although Gasco is expected to extend the deadline. The scope of wo
  • Bids submitted for Kormor gas field development

    Technical and commercial bids were submitted on 17 April for an estimated $70 million engineering and procurement (EP) contract to build gas gathering and processing facilities at the Kormor field in the north. The client, State Company for Oil Projects (SCOP), is expected to make an award towards the end of the year.
  • Big Brother to watch over drivers

    Dubai-based CERT Telematics, part of the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research & Training (CERT),has signed a $125 million agreement with US-based IBMto transform the nation's traffic system. The four-year deal will see the technology firm providing telematics devices nationwide to thousands of vehicles in a bid to reduce the number of accidents. According to government statistics, one person is injured every two hours and one killed every 15 hours from tr
  • Big pharma enters a tough new era

    AstraZeneca Egypt's president of marketing Ahmed Zaghloul is confident that the company will be successful in Egypt. His optimism is founded on detailed market research that has analysed key demographic trends. For AstraZeneca, whose oncological (tumour) and cardiovascular medicines are principally aimed at the elderly, the most significant trend is increasing life expectancy rates among Egypt's population.
  • Big plans for RAK Properties

    Local real estate developer RAK Properties is gearing up to begin work on several new projects in Ras al-Khaimah emirate. The most advanced is the estimated $800 million Mangrove Island creek-side development. Covering 72 hectares, the project centres on the construction of four islands with hotels, residential areas and associated entertainment facilities. Philippines-based Cadiz Internationalhas prepared the masterplan; Halcrowof the UK is the infrastructur
  • Big plans for RAK Properties

    Local real estate developer RAK Properties is gearing up to begin work on several new projects in Ras al-Khaimah emirate. The most advanced is the estimated $800 million Mangrove Island creek-side development. Covering 72 hectares, the project centres on the construction of four islands with hotels, residential areas and associated entertainment facilities. Philippines-based Cadiz Internationalhas prepared the masterplan; Halcrowof the UK is the infrastructur
  • BMB plans capital restructuring

    An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the shareholders of Bahrain-based BMB Investment Bank will decide on 3 May whether to approve a capital increase and restructuring programme, aimed at drawing a line under three troubled years at the bank that saw it come close to collapse. The restructuring proposal follows agreement in December, after protracted negotiations, with medium-term lenders on the refinancing of a $75 million syndicated loan.
  • Borg el-Arab gets Japanese funding

    Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) has signed a $53 million loan agreement with the government for the project to modernise Borg el-Arab airport, 40 kilometres southwest of Alexandria. Cairo aims to build a new terminal with capacity of 1 million passengers and 4,000 tonnes of cargo a year. Improvements will be made to the apron and the taxiway. Funds from the loan will cover building costs and consulting services, involving design, bidding assistance and the monitoring and supervi
  • British troops may start to leave Iraq next year

    British troops may start to leave Iraq next year, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Minister Jack Straw said in an interview published by the Financial Times on 14 April. 'The period of progressive rundown in force levels is much more likely to happen next year,' Straw said. His remarks are the first indication from London that it has a timeframe for withdrawal. They were published on a day when two suicide car bombs exploded near the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, killing 15 people.
  • BSB boosts capital

    Bahraini Saudi Bank (BSB) on 31 March announced that it had raised its share capital to BD 50 million ($133 million) from BD 20 million ($53 million) following the completion of its rights issue on 29 March. BSB offered a total of 300 million shares at 120 fils each over a period of two weeks. BSB says the new shares will start trading on the Bahrain Stock Exchange on 10 April. KPMG Corporate Finance was the financial adviser on the transaction, with the local Securit
  • Burj al-Bahr project in Mataki goes for bid

    Pakistan's Hashoo Grouphas invited international contractors to submit bids by 15 June for the Burj al-Bahr project in the Mataki district of Tripoli. Estimated to be worth Eur 170 million ($221 million), the mixed-use development entails the construction of a 40-storey, 400-room hotel, a 25-storey residential tower offering 100 serviced apartments and an 18-storey office tower, as well as a shopping mall, a convention centre and restaurants. The development will have a built-up area
  • Burj al-Bahr project in Mataki goes for bid

    Pakistan's Hashoo Grouphas invited international contractors to submit bids by 15 June for the Burj al-Bahr project in the Mataki district of Tripoli. Estimated to be worth Eur 170 million ($221 million), the mixed-use development entails the construction of a 40-storey, 400-room hotel, a 25-storey residential tower offering 100 serviced apartments and an 18-storey office tower, as well as a shopping mall, a convention centre and restaurants. The development will have a built-up area
  • Butt goes West to OCI

    Salman Butt has been appointed chief financial officer of Orascom Construction Industries. Butt was previously head of investment banking at Samba Financial Groupand before that was based in Cairo as head of corporate finance in North Africa for Citigroup.
  • Butt goes West to OCI

    Salman Butt has been appointed chief financial officer of Orascom Construction Industries. Butt was previously head of investment banking at Samba Financial Groupand before that was based in Cairo as head of corporate finance in North Africa for Citigroup.
  • Cairo blocks Muslim Brotherhood demonstration

    Authorities detained 50 Muslim Brotherhood protesters on 27 March. Thousands of riot police blocked off streets to prevent marchers from gathering in front of the parliament building in Cairo to call for political reform. Demonstrators dispersed and smaller protests were staged outside the city centre. The day before, 49 of the demonstration's organisers were arrested, seven of whom were later released.The Muslim Brotherhood has criticised the restrictions placed on multi-can
  • Cairo bourse continues to soar

    The Cairo & Alexandria Stock Exchanges (CASE) are continuing to enjoy the fruits of the dynamic new government's reform efforts, with the CMA and Hermes indices up by about 30 per cent and 45 per cent respectively since the beginning of the year. Valuations have risen, as investors wake up to the success stories of many local companies, but remain cheap by GCC standards. And monthly trading has more than doubled since January, illustrating the positive feeling engendered by a rejuvenated privati
  • Cairo reviews Kureimat water package

    Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC)is evaluating bids from four international companies for the water and wastewater treatment package on the $315 million project to build a 750-MW power plant at Kureimat, 90 kilometres south of Cairo.
  • Cairo seeks adviser for Alex Bank sale

    The Investment Ministry is seeking an international investment bank to advise on the sale of Bank of Alexandria, the country's fourth largest state-owned bank (see Tenders). The adviser will be required to carry out a review of the bank's operations and recommend a strategy for the sale. Bank of Alexandria holds about 6.2 per cent of the deposits in the country's banking system. On 30 June 2004, it had total assets of $6,440 million and a net worth of $268 million. Investment Ministe
  • Cairo seeks seat on UN Security Council

    Cairo expects to join the UN Security Council if Africa is offered two permanent seats in reforms proposed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul Gheit on 21 April. 'If the enlargement [of the Security Council] takes place and if: Africa is offered two seats, we expect Egypt will be included,' Gheit said. South Africa and Nigeria are also strong contenders for a seat under the suggested reforms published in a 63-page report in March by the secretary-ge
  • Cairo's reveille

    The 7 April bomb blast that ripped through a bazaar in central Cairo, killing four people and injuring 18 others, has cast a cloud over the country's latest attempts to drag itself out of years of economic and political stagnation. Coming only six months after terrorists killed 34 people in a series of co-ordinated attacks on hotels in the Sinai peninsula, the bombing has rekindled memories of the Islamist insurgency in the late 1990s that claimed the lives of 68 people and threw the country's t
  • Candidate claims conservative backing in Iranian election

    Supreme National Security Council member Ali Larijani announced on 28 March that he will be the conservatives' candidate in the 17 June presidential contest. He said: 'The Fundamentalists' Co-ordination Council, in its latest decision, has chosen me as their main candidate in the next presidential elections.' The council is a collection of hardline parties and its endorsement would place Larijani as the leading contender in the ballot.Other candidates considered by the counci
  • Candidates battle for oil portfolio

    Four candidates are understood to be in the running to become oil minister in the new transitional government. The position is considered one of the key prizes by the competing ethnic and religious groups and has been the subject of intense negotiation by the different political parties. The four prospective candidates are: former oil minister Ibrahim Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum; former undersecretary at the ministry Abdulsaheb al-Qutb; South Oil Companydirector-general Jabar al-Lueibi; a
  • Capital increase to fund Raya expansion

    The local Raya Holding Technology & Telecommunicationswill launch on 6 May the private placement of a 61 per cent share in the company, aimed at raising £E 175 million ($30.2 million) to fund a regional expansion. The placement will be open to investors who participate in the secondary offering on 3 May of 28 per cent of the company's existing shares. Participants in the subsequent capital increase will be offered, on a pro-rata basis, 35 million shares priced at £E 5 ($0.86) each. T
  • Carving up the empire analysis: Hydrocarbons Law

    Sonatrach is to be relieved of its public capacities, which will be taken on by two new, independent bodies. The national agency for hydrocarbons resource valorisation, to be known as ALNAFT, will be responsible for the oil and gas tendering process and the payment of taxes and royalties. A new hydrocarbons regulatory authority will oversee compliance with the new law and study applications for pipeline transportation and storage contracts;
  • Cement: When will the boom end?

    The claim that if oil prices are high then cement producers are happy might be a simplification, but it is close to the truth. The two show a strong correlation. When the price of crude plunged to levels as low as $15 a barrel in the mid-1990s, construction activity slowed, leading to a major slump in the cement sector. By the same token, when prices began to regain their strength in 2000, construction across the kingdom picked up again, boosting cement demand and subsequently the performance of
  • Centurion leaves its post

    Canada's Centurion Energy International has agreed the $41.2 million sale of its Tunisian assets to Candax Energy, also of Canada. The sale, effective as of 1 January 2005, is expected to close by 30 April. The sale includes Centurion's 50 per cent stake in the 27-MW SEEB power plant, a 31.4 per cent interest in the Ezzaouia concession, a 73.8 per cent share in the offshore El-Bibane concession, an 80 per cent interest in the Robanna concession and a 75 per cent interest
  • Chapo wins car job

    The local Chapohas been awarded an estimated BD 4.7 million ($12.4 million) contract by Ebrahim Khalil Kanoo to build a new vehicle service workshop and associated facilities in Tubli. The plant will cover an area of 82,000 square metres. The local MSCEBis the design and construction supervision consultant on the project, which is due for completion in September 2006.
  • Chapo wins car job

    The local Chapohas been awarded an estimated BD 4.7 million ($12.4 million) contract by Ebrahim Khalil Kanoo to build a new vehicle service workshop and associated facilities in Tubli. The plant will cover an area of 82,000 square metres. The local MSCEBis the design and construction supervision consultant on the project, which is due for completion in September 2006.
  • Chevron wins refinery technology contract

    The US' ChevronTexaco Corporation has been selected as the technology licence provider for the atmospheric residue desulphurisation (ARDS) unit on the state's estimated $5,000 million fourth refinery project at Shuaiba. Two other international companies - France's Axens and the US' UOP - were competing for the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) award. The ARDS contract is the first of several major technology awards planned on the 450,000-bar
  • Chiyoda withdraws from Sohar refinery

    Chiyoda Corporationhas withdrawn from the Japanese joint venture selected for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on the Sohar refinery project, leaving JGC Corporationto carry out the contract on its own. JGC signed the $879 million contract with the client, Sohar Refinery Company, on 19 May. The JGC/Chiyoda joint venture was selected last October for the contract (MEED 25:10:02).
  • Closure nears on SIUCI debt

    Financial close is due by the end of April of the debt package for the Sohar International Urea & Chemical Industries (SIUCI)project in the Sohar port and industrial area. HSBCis acting as financial adviser (MEED 24:9:04).
  • CNPC wins refinery contract

    China National Petroleum Company ( CNPC) has won the $392 million contract to build a condensate topping refinery at the site of the existing Skikda refinery in the northeast. CNPC beat off competition from the French office of Italy's Saipem, which offered a price of $464 million. The client is state energy company Sonatrach.
  • Commercials in for Sharq

    Four commercial offers were submitted to Jubail-based Eastern Petrochemical Company (Sharq)on 18 April for the contract to build a large-scale cracker as part of an estimated $2,300 million olefins complex. The groups of bidders for the technology-cum-engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract are: US-based Kellogg Brown & Root, with Japan's Chiyoda Corporation; Germany's Linde, with South Korea's Samsung Engineering Company
  • Composing a symphony for the eighth wonder of the world

    On 17 November 1869, kings, queens, princes and prime ministers gathered for the opening ceremony of the Suez Canal, an engineering masterpiece that was to transform Egypt and the Arab world. Italian maestro Giuseppe Verdi had been commissioned to compose an opera to mark the occasion. Verdi was late and Aida was performed for the first time more than two years after the first ships made the 100-mile journey between Port Said on the Mediterranean to Suez.
  • Consultants gather at the Start line

    Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has received bids from international consultants for the engineering consultancy contract to carry out overall infrastructure works on the Start project, which covers the development of Saadiyat island. The infrastructure works comprise site preparation, earthworks, roads, bridges, water and electricity grids and possibly a light rail system linking the island with the mainland. Design work is scheduled to take about six months and construction about 25 months. US-bas
  • Consultants gather at the Start line

    Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has received bids from international consultants for the engineering consultancy contract to carry out overall infrastructure works on the Start project, which covers the development of Saadiyat island. The infrastructure works comprise site preparation, earthworks, roads, bridges, water and electricity grids and possibly a light rail system linking the island with the mainland. Design work is scheduled to take about six months and construction about 25 months. US-bas
  • Contractors eye East-West pipeline tender

    Local and international contractors are awaiting the release of invitation to bid (ITB) documents in the second quarter by Saudi Aramco for the project to convert the East-West crude pipeline to transport gas. US-based Bechtel is close to completing the front-end engineering and design (FEED) for the project, which is known as the EWG-1 pipeline conversion to sales gas scheme. Under the upcoming tender, contractors will convert the existing 56-inch-diameter, 1,170-kilomet
  • Convrgnt awarded school prize

    The local Convrgnt Value Engineering has been awarded the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) package on the new Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) under construction at Arabian Ranches in Dubai. The contract, worth AED 15 million ($4 million), will take four months to complete. The local JASAF Building Technology is the main contractor. The scheme covers the construction of a school, sports hall, car park, auditorium, teaching block, play areas and a main admi
  • Convrgnt awarded school prize

    The local Convrgnt Value Engineering has been awarded the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) package on the new Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) under construction at Arabian Ranches in Dubai. The contract, worth AED 15 million ($4 million), will take four months to complete. The local JASAF Building Technology is the main contractor. The scheme covers the construction of a school, sports hall, car park, auditorium, teaching block, play areas and a main admi
  • Corporate sukuk issued

    Roadshows have been held in Kuwait and Bahrain for a $100 million sukuk issue for the local Commercial Real Estate Company (CRC). Subscription is due to close in early May. It is the first issue of the Islamic instrument by a Kuwaiti corporate. Kuwait Finance House (KFH), Kuwait Financial Centre (KFC) and Bahrain-based Liquidity Management Centre (LMC)are acting as lead managers and structuring agents on the offering. Bubiyan Bank,
  • Correction

    MobiNil'snet profits for 2004 were $150.5 million after tax, not before tax as reported in Telecoms, MEED Special Report, 8:4:05. Those for 2003 were $157.8 million before tax, not after tax as reported.
  • Correction

    The six mandated lead arrangers for the debt financing package on Qatar's second independent water and power project (IWPP) are Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Calyon, Gulf International Bank, HSBC, Qatar National Bankand Royal Bank of Scotland, and not as stated in MEED 8:4:05.
  • Correction

    National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (NSCSA)owns a fleet of 37 ships and Bermuda-based liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) trading and shipping firm Petredec Limited controls a fleet of 53 vessels and not as stated in MEED 1:4:05.
  • Costs rise on offshore loading contract

    The US' FMC Technologiesis to incur increased costs of about $18 million on its $252 million contract to build five offshore loading terminals for state energy company Sonatrach. The cost increase is due to a number of factors, including: extended testing and installation costs for the offshore pipelines due to bad weather and pipeline connection sealing issues; engineering design changes at three onshore pump stations; and an increase in project engineering and project m
  • CPC gets third plant licence

    Plans for another large-scale petrochemicals complex at Jubail are shaping up following the award of an investment licence to the US' ChevronPhillips Chemical Company (CPC)by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) on 12 April. The project will be CPC's third in Jubail, where it is already involved in two 50:50 joint ventures with the Saudi Industrial Investment Group (SIIG), a group of local investors. The development comes amid a boom in the local petroch
  • Crown Prince Abdullah and Bush to discuss oil and terrorism

    Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah is due to meet US President Bush on 25 April in Crawford, Texas. The two leaders are expected to discuss democratic reform in Saudi Arabia, terrorism, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and oil output.Crown Prince Abdullah met US Vice-President Dick Cheney on 24 April in Dallas.
  • D plant may be conventionally financed

    A final decision is pending on the financing model for the seawater cooling plant at Shuaiba, also known as Pumping Plant D. International contractors were invited to prequalify for the build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract on the estimated KD 70 million ($241 million) project early last year, but it is understood that the client, the Public Authority for Industry (PAI), will now issue the tender on a conventionally financed basis. The scheme calls for the construction of a seawater cooling plan
  • Damascus completes first-phase withdrawal

    Damascus on 17 March completed the first stage of its withdrawal from Lebanon. Syrian troops and intelligence agents have now left all of their barracks and offices around the northern Lebanese cities of Tripoli and Beirut and have headed back to the eastern Bekaa valley. According to press reports, 8,000-10,000 Syrian troops remain in the area while 4,000-6,000 have already returned to Syria. The two-stage withdrawal was outlined by UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen on 12 March fol
  • Damascus considers Brotherhood reconciliation

    Syrian officials and Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been talking this week in an attempt to reconcile the banned Islamic movement with authorities, according to representatives of the two groups.In April, Syrian President Asad met influential Muslim leaders with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, including Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who heads the European Council for Fatwa and Research; Fathi Yakan, one of the Lebanese-affiliate Muslim Brotherhood founders; and Hamza Mansour,
  • Damascus denies help in search for crew

    Damascus denied on 21 April that Israeli navy vessels and helicopters assisted in the search for crewmen from a Syrian-owned ship that sank in the Mediterranean. Syrian and Israeli officials differed in their accounts of the location of the sunken ship. Damascus said the ship sank 160 kilometres off the Israeli coast, while Tel Aviv said the search took place 56 kilometres off its coastline. The Turkish crew of a Panamanian cargo ship rescued three men from the ship, which was carrying 1,40
  • Damascus hints at willingness for peace with Tel Aviv

    'Syria will extend the hand of constructive co-operation to reach a just and comprehensive peace that gives each side its rights,' Defence Minister Hassan Turkmani said on 14 April. His remarks, made at the Supreme Military Academy in Damascus, did not identify Israel but were the latest in a series of hints given by Damascus that it is ready to seek peace with Tel Aviv. Damascus will 'fight all aspects of terrorism while distinguishing it from resistance to the occupation of land,' Turkman
  • Damascus removes remaining troops from Lebanon

    The last Syrian troops and intelligence units left Lebanon on 26 April. Their departure followed a farewell ceremony at Rayaq air base and ends almost 30 years of Syrian military presence in Lebanon. A UN team is due to arrive in Damascus to obtain maps of former Syrian military and intelligence positions in Lebanon before travelling on to Lebanon to verify the complete military withdrawal ( MEED 14:4:05).
  • Damascus withdrawal from Lebanon almost complete

    More than 150 Syrian military vehicles left Lebanon on 24 April following the departure of 100 tanks, heavy artillery and personnel carriers on 23 April. Officials said the withdrawal of all Syrian troops and intelligence would be complete by 26 April - ahead of the 30 April deadline. Troops burned documents and dismantled military posts.There are only a few hundred Syrian troops left in Lebanon from a total of 14,000 at the beginning of March when the withdrawal started. The
  • Darfur talks in Sharm el-Sheikh

    Egyptian President Mubarak, Sudanese President Al-Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi met on 19 April at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and discussed the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. They discussed the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1593, which refers those suspected of committing war crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal Court. President Mubarak and PM Meles Zenawi also held talks on joint Nile River projects (
  • Death knell sounds for Dizart

    The Divided Zone Agreements & Kuwaiti Islands & Mega Projects Development Team (Dizart), the government agency set up to oversee the multi-billion developments of Failaka and Bubiyan islands, has been formally dissolved and absorbed into the Ministry of Public Works (MPW). The move, approved by the Council of Ministers in early April, comes into effect immediately. Dizart was established as a special purpose vehicle by emiri decree in early 2002.
  • Death knell sounds for Dizart

    The Divided Zone Agreements & Kuwaiti Islands & Mega Projects Development Team (Dizart), the government agency set up to oversee the multi-billion developments of Failaka and Bubiyan islands, has been formally dissolved and absorbed into the Ministry of Public Works (MPW). The move, approved by the Council of Ministers in early April, comes into effect immediately. Dizart was established as a special purpose vehicle by emiri decree in early 2002.
  • Designs under way for new houses of parliament

    A US/local architectural team of HOKand Seif Engineering Consultants is preparing designs for an estimated KD 20 million ($69 million) extension to the National Assembly (NA - parliament) building in the heart of Kuwait City on the corniche. The extension will include suites, offices, an IT centre and research facilities. Tenders for the main construction packages are expected by year-end. The client is the Public Works Ministry, which is carrying out the work on behalf o
  • Designs under way for new houses of parliament

    A US/local architectural team of HOKand Seif Engineering Consultants is preparing designs for an estimated KD 20 million ($69 million) extension to the National Assembly (NA - parliament) building in the heart of Kuwait City on the corniche. The extension will include suites, offices, an IT centre and research facilities. Tenders for the main construction packages are expected by year-end. The client is the Public Works Ministry, which is carrying out the work on behalf o
  • Deutsche signs up jv partner

    Deutsche Bank signed on 11 April a joint venture agreement with the local Al-Azizia Commercial Investment Company (ACIC)to provide services to the business community and opportunities to investors in the kingdom. The signing came 18 months after it was announced that Deutsche Bank would become the first international bank in years to be granted a licence to operate in the kingdom (MEED 24:10:03).
  • DEWA mulls H station bids

    Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) opened in late March the consultancy bids for the phase 3 extension of H station at Al-Aweer. Seven local and international consultants submitted bids for the project, which involves the addition of 800 MW of gas turbine capacity and a 400-kV substation with related links (MEED 4:3:05).
  • Dhofar Power IPO oversubscribed

    The initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Dhofar Power Companyhas closed, with initial indications suggesting that the offer was oversubscribed more than eight times. Up for sale were 6.8 million shares priced at RO 1.4 ($3.6) each, representing 35 per cent of the company's capital. Each subscriber will be allocated a guaranteed minimum number of shares, with local individuals and institutions given priority in subsequent allocations. Bank Muscatis acting as financia
  • DIB strikes gold

    Dubai Islamic Bank has been mandated to arrange a sukuk issue for Dubai Metals & Commodities Centre (DMCC), to fund the construction of its headquarters in the Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) development. Standard Bankis acting as joint lead manager. The size of the five-year issue has not been disclosed. Roadshows will take place from 11 April in London, Geneva, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai. The innovative paper will be gold-backed and has been assigned an A rating by
  • Disi changes hands

    The government is understood to have transferred responsibility for implementation of the Disi water project to the Development & Investment Projects Fund of the Jordanian Armed Forces, from the Water & Irrigation Ministry. It is also understood that Parsons Engineering Corporationis the nominated engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor and that ING Bankand Linklatershave been selected as financial and legal advisers. Amman decided to opt fo
  • DNO joins hands with Oil Ministry

    Norway's DNO announced on 12 April the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Oil Ministry to provide training to local oil personnel and technology transfer. DNO joined several other international oil companies (IOCs) that have signed similar agreements. They include France's Total, the UK's BP andAustralia's Woodside Energy. Elsewhere in the region, DNOannounced test flowsof 4,000 barrels a day (b/d) from the Nabrajah-5 well in
  • Dodsal wins Takreer IRP

    Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer)has issued a letter of intent to Dubai-based Dodsalfor the award of the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on the inter-refineries pipeline (IRP) project in the emirate. Dodsal was the low bidder at $399 million in the repricing exercise held in early March. Tebodin Middle East, part of Tebodinof the Netherlands, is providing project management consultancy (PMC) services (MEED 11:3:05).
  • Doha reviews transport masterplan

    International consultants are preparing to submit bids in early April for a comprehensive national transport masterplan. The 18-month contract centres on reviewing an existing transport development plan prepared by the US' Louis Berger Groupand creating a new model based on a geographic information system (GIS). Prospective bidders include Halcrowand Hyder Consulting,both of the UK, Australia's GHD, France's SystraandUS-based W
  • Downstream commitment

    Andrew Liveris made his first international trip in early March in his new capacity as chief executive officer (CEO) of the US' Dow Chemical Company. It was not to Europe or Asia but to the Middle East that he travelled, to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Olefins II and styrene projects in Kuwait's Shuaiba industrial area. It is unlikely to be the last regional visit for the president and CEO. For with a seismic shift taking place in the global petrochemicals industry to areas of low-
  • Dragon roars in the Caspian

    Dragon Oil, which is 59.7 per cent owned by Dubai-based Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), announced on 4 April a 73 per cent increase in after tax profits to $49.7 million for 2004, following a reduction in operating costs and high oil prices. Dragon Oil, which holds a 100 per cent interest in the offshore Cheleken concession in Turkmenistan and is also the field operator, reported average oil production of 13,264 barrels a day (b/d) in 2004. The concession contains two fi
  • Dredging contract due for Jeddah islands

    Pretoria-based Africon Engineering International, which is acting as the lead and infrastructure consultant, is due to work sign by early May a contract to carry out detailed design work on the Al-Bundoquiya Islands project in Jeddah (MEED 18:3:05). The contract, to be carried out in phases, will cover marine works, solid waste disposal, power and water supply, bridges and access roads and related infrastructure facilities and environmental impact studies. The first major constructio
  • Dredging contract due for Jeddah islands

    Pretoria-based Africon Engineering International, which is acting as the lead and infrastructure consultant, is due to work sign by early May a contract to carry out detailed design work on the Al-Bundoquiya Islands project in Jeddah (MEED 18:3:05). The contract, to be carried out in phases, will cover marine works, solid waste disposal, power and water supply, bridges and access roads and related infrastructure facilities and environmental impact studies. The first major constructio
  • DSM romps ahead of regional rivals

    Given the stunning growth of the local economy, it is little surprise that the Doha Securities Market (DSM) has been doing well. But the extent of its rise remains impressive - by late March, the benchmark DSM index was up by more than 60 per cent since the start of the year. A major new listing, promises of another big initial public offering (IPO) and the arrival of foreigners in the secondary market promise continued excitement in the months ahead.
  • Dubai Mall MEP awarded to local/Malaysian jv

    A three-strong joint venture, led by the local Juma al-Majid for Electrical & Mechanical Works, has been awarded the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) package on the Dubai Mall project at the Burj Dubai complex. The award, valued at an estimated AED 650 million ($177 million), was made by local developer Emaar Properties, which has assigned the package to the main contractor, a joint venture of Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (C
  • Dubai Mall MEP awarded to local/Malaysian jv

    A three-strong joint venture, led by the local Juma al-Majid for Electrical & Mechanical Works, has been awarded the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) package on the Dubai Mall project at the Burj Dubai complex. The award, valued at an estimated AED 650 million ($177 million), was made by local developer Emaar Properties, which has assigned the package to the main contractor, a joint venture of Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (C
  • Dubai plans new road projects

    Final design is due to be completed by early May for the Al-Barsha south roads project. Estimated to be worth AED 190 million ($52 million), the scheme will call for earthworks, levelling and the construction of more than 30 kilometres of dual-carriageway to serve the phase 2 development of the new residential area. A tender for the construction works is due to be issued by July. A joint venture of South Africa's Africon with the local Al-Burj Engineering Consultants is t
  • Dubai plans new road projects

    Final design is due to be completed by early May for the Al-Barsha south roads project. Estimated to be worth AED 190 million ($52 million), the scheme will call for earthworks, levelling and the construction of more than 30 kilometres of dual-carriageway to serve the phase 2 development of the new residential area. A tender for the construction works is due to be issued by July. A joint venture of South Africa's Africon with the local Al-Burj Engineering Consultants is t
  • Dubai spends on apartments

    Dubai Investment Group (DIG), formerly known as the Investment Houseand now a subsidiary of Dubai Holding (DH), has acquired US-based Olympus Real Estate Partners, a major property owner in the US. The $1,000 million deal will see DIG acquire 69 properties incorporating 21,000 rental apartments in joint venture with the Milestone Group, a New York-based real estate investment and advisory firm. The move is the latest in DH's plans to merge
  • Dubal eyes Orissa opportunity

    Dubai Aluminium Company (Dubal) and India's Larsen & Toubro (L&T) signed on 5 April a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish an integrated bauxite mining and alumina refinery project in Orissa. L&T has development rights to bauxite deposits and prospecting in the east Indian state.
  • Dywidag wins steel plant work

    Dywidag Saudi Arabiahas been awarded an estimated $50 million-55 million contract to carry out civil and steel structure works on a new steel plant in Jeddah planned by the local Al-Rajhi Group. Dywidag will join forces with Italy's Danieli & Company. The Italian firm last year signed the main contract to build the $253 million facility, which will produce 850,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of steel. Danieli's project scope covers engineering, equipment supply and related
  • ECAs sounded out on NIOC LNG finance

    Presentations have been made to export credit agencies about participating in a Eur 2,200 million ($2,800 million) financing for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)liquefied natural gas (LNG) project. HSBCis acting as financial adviser on what will be a structured rather than a project finance deal, structured as an export credits-backed receivables package. In January, Indian Oil Corporationsigned an offtake agreement for 7.5 million tonnes a year of outp
  • Economy: Forward march

    The economy has continued its steady expansion in 2005, driven by high oil prices, record levels of liquidity and accelerating economic reforms. Khan Zahid, chief economist and vice-president of Riyad Bank, gives a bullish assessment of the growth to come
  • ECONOMY: Setting the wheels in motion

    The decision by international ratings agency Standard & Poor's in early March to upgrade the outlook for Egypt's BB+ sovereign rating to stable from negative was recognition of the progress that has been made by Egypt's new government since taking office in July.
  • ECONOMY: Success in trying circumstances

    The recovery of the Iraqi economy is one of the more positive stories to come out of the war-torn country in recent months. Displaying the entrepreneurial spirit for which they are famous, Iraqis have embraced the free market with enthusiasm.
  • EFG poised for UAE push

    Cairo-based investment bank EFG-Hermesis stepping up its activities in the Gulf with the establishment of a full banking operation in Dubai possibly by the end of 2005, says Abdel-Wadood Mustafa, the bank's chief executive officer in the UAE. 'We are looking at getting a licence,' he says. 'This could be a licence from the Central Bank of the UAE or the Dubai International Financial Centre or from both.' EFG was licensed by the federal Ministry of Economy & Commerce at the end of 200
  • Election delay in Lebanon looks inevitable

    The failure of officials to agree on the formation of a new government on 12 April means that parliamentary elections scheduled for May will probably be delayed. A new government needs to give a month's notice and pass a further election law, which may take weeks, for elections to proceed. Prime Minister Omar Karami, President Lahoud and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri planned to announce a new government on 11 April, but have not been able to agree cabinet posts with their pr
  • ELNG set to launch second train finance

    Egyptian LNG (ELNG) will launch in the coming weeks the financing package for its $880 million second liquefied natural gas (LNG) train at Idku on the Mediterranean coast. ELNG has appointed five banks to carry out preliminary work on arranging the facility, ahead of the formal invitation to banks to join the mandated lead arranger (MLA) group. The pathfinder banks are Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Calyon, Commercial International Bank, HSBC and
  • Enfidha airport on hold

    The government is revising the bidding schedule for the 40-year build-transfer-operate (BTO) concession on the estimated $450 million airport in the central region of Enfidha, as a result of a project review. It is understood that Tunis wants more time to consider the comments made by the seven shortlisted companies and groups. Key concerns include landing rights, the level of airport fees and the future of the nearby Monastir airport. Sources close to the project say that the new airport will n
  • Eni, BP sign MoU for second LNG train

    Italy's Eni, BP Egyptand Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS)have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of a second 5 million-tonne-a-year (t/y) liquefied natural gas (LNG) train at Damietta.
  • ENOC consolidates Dubai retail operations

    Dubai-based Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) and its wholly-owned subsidiary ENOC International Sales (EISL),announced on 11 April the acquisition of the 40 per cent interest held by the US' Caltex Trading & Transport Corporation in Emirates Petroleum Products Company (Eppco) for an undisclosed amount. Eppco is now 100 per cent owned by ENOC. The transaction is part of ENOC's efforts to streamline operations and strengthen its brand in petroleu
  • ENOC Processing extends Jebel Ali

    ENOC Processing Company, part of Dubai-based Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), has extended the bid deadline by a month to 10 May for the main contract on its $350 million Jebel Ali condensate refinery expansion project. Six international companies are prequalified to price the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, which involves the installation of a 70,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) hydrotreater and a continuous catalytic reformer (CCR) unit. The project is t
  • EoIs near for Hexagon

    About 10 contractors are expected to be invited in early April to submit expressions of interest (EoIs) for the construction of the Hexagon development at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The 30-month contract will include the foundations and piling package as well as the main construction package. The client is a group of private international investors known as Hexagon Holdings (MEED 4:2:05).
  • EoIs near for Hexagon

    About 10 contractors are expected to be invited in early April to submit expressions of interest (EoIs) for the construction of the Hexagon development at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The 30-month contract will include the foundations and piling package as well as the main construction package. The client is a group of private international investors known as Hexagon Holdings (MEED 4:2:05).
  • Eppco/ENOC revises snake tender

    Emirates Petroleum Products Company (Eppco)/Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) says that a tender for the snake pipeline upgrade project (booster station) will not be issued for bid in mid-April as the expenditure request is now being processed internally. The contract will involve the supply and installation of one booster station between the Jebel Ali terminal and joint industry fuel farm (JIFF) and not three as stated in MEED 25:3:05.
  • ESS wins tech work

    The US' Engineered Support Systems (ESS)has been awarded an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract, worth up to $279 million, to provide an integrated open-standard command and control IT infrastructure for the Multi-National Forces - Iraq (MNF-I). Under the terms of its three-year contract, ESS will provide programme management, architectural design and engineering, installation, operation and maintenance, network management and systems administration support. A n
  • Essar signs up for steel

    Qatar Steel Company (Qasco) and India's Essar Global have teamed up to build a large-scale greenfield steel plant at the industrial city of Mesaieed. The companies on 5 April announced that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed to develop the project in partnership. The plant will complement a separate $550 million expansion at Qasco's existing Mesaieed complex (MEED 18:3:05).
  • Ethnic violence ends in Ahwaz

    Fighting in the Arab city of Ahwaz in Iran ended on 17 April following two days of clashes between anti-riot police and demonstrators. The police arrested 250 protesters, eight people were reported injured and one died during the clashes. The clashes were sparked by a forged letter attributed to former vice-president Mohammed al-Abtahi that said Tehran planned to relocate non-Arabs into the city. Ahwaz is in Khuzestan province near the Iraqi border. Hundreds of Arab residents
  • Etisalat increases African portfolio

    Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat)announced on 20 April the acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in West African mobile operator Atlantique Telecom (AT). The agreement also includes a 10-year contract to manage AT's operations in Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, the Ivory Coast, Niger and Togo. Etisalat already has interests in Sudan and Zanzibar.
  • EU and GCC decide date to sign trade deal

    The EU and GCC have agreed to sign a long-delayed trade deal by the end of the year, Bahrain's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammad bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, said on 5 April. He was speaking at the 15th EU-GCC ministerial meeting in Manama. GCC members will convene to discuss outstanding issues before another meeting with the EU in June. The GCC and EU signed a co-operation agreement in 1988 but have so far failed to reach a trade agreement. The GCC met an EU precondition when it
  • EU, GCC aim for FTA by year-end

    The EU and the GCC agreed during a joint council in Bahrain on 5 April that the next round of talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two blocks would take place on 7-9 June. They also expressed their intention to conclude the deal by the end of 2005 - a tall order since negotiations have been ongoing since the signature of a framework economic co-operation agreement in 1988. The launch of the GCC customs union in 2003 met one of the EU's conditions. In a joint statement following the
  • EuroMena fund launched

    London-based Capital Trust Grouphas begun the fundraising process for its EuroMena private equity fund, which will invest in countries throughout the region, excluding the GCC. The total size of the fund will be Eur 100 million ($129.2 million). Capital Trust has already secured a commitment from the European Investment Bank and has made presentations to US development institutions such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the International Finance Corporation - the privat
  • Everybody's talking

    A whole new mobile phone code is being developed in the streets of downtown Cairo. As a rule, mobiles are answered only after the fourth ring. If the phone rings just once, the caller is saying hello; two rings, and the caller is on the way home; three rings, and the caller wants the receiver to call back.
  • ExxonMobil homes in on Upper Zakum stake

    The US' ExxonMobil Corporationis due to start exclusive negotiations with Abu Dhabi's Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) on the development of the offshore Upper Zakum field (MEED 6:10:00).
  • Facilities upgrade project awaits KPC funding

    Awards are expected to be made by the end of June for the two packages on the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC)$1,900 million flowlines replacement and facilities upgrade project, once budgetary approval has been granted by Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC). South Korea's SK Engineering & Constructionand UAE-based Petrofac International are frontrunners for the two contracts after submitting low bids in November. Petrofac was low bidder at KD 199 million (
  • Fairmont tender out

    National Investment Corporation (NIC) has invited about 10 companies to submit bids by 28 May for the contract to build the Abu Dhabi Fairmont hotel, villas and promenade. The estimated $100 million project will be located in the Abu Dhabi breakwater area adjacent to the Marina Mall. The scheme will take about 24 months to complete. The local Dewan Architects & Engineersis the consultant (MEED 21:1:05).
  • Fairmont tender out

    National Investment Corporation (NIC) has invited about 10 companies to submit bids by 28 May for the contract to build the Abu Dhabi Fairmont hotel, villas and promenade. The estimated $100 million project will be located in the Abu Dhabi breakwater area adjacent to the Marina Mall. The scheme will take about 24 months to complete. The local Dewan Architects & Engineersis the consultant (MEED 21:1:05).
  • FAL syndication closes

    A consortium of 14 local and international banks participated in the syndication of the inaugural $40 million syndicated term loan facility for Sharjah's FAL Oil, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), which lead arranged the deal, announced on 13 April. The syndicate members are Bank Dhofar, BNP Paribas, British Arab Commercial Bank, Doha Bank, Emirates Bank International, First Gulf Bank, Habib Bank
  • Falcon to spread wings over Dubailand

    The local Salem al-Moosa Group signed on 5 April an agreement with Dubai Development & Investment Authority to build a major mixed-use facility within the Dubailand development. Called Falcon City of Wonders, the project will entail the construction of commercial, residential, educational and leisure facilities over an area of 4 million square metres. A dedicated theme park - called Pharoahs theme park - and entertainment complex is also planned, as are attractions based
  • Falcon to spread wings over Dubailand

    The local Salem al-Moosa Group signed on 5 April an agreement with Dubai Development & Investment Authority to build a major mixed-use facility within the Dubailand development. Called Falcon City of Wonders, the project will entail the construction of commercial, residential, educational and leisure facilities over an area of 4 million square metres. A dedicated theme park - called Pharoahs theme park - and entertainment complex is also planned, as are attractions based
  • Fate of 300 missing Gulf war victims remains unknown

    The whereabouts of nearly 300 missing people taken from Kuwait by Iraqi troops during the 1991 Gulf war are still unknown, said a report reviewed by the UN Security Council on 19 April. 'The fate of some 270 missing persons is not yet known but, regrettably, the chances that they may be found alive have diminished with time,' the report said. The new government in Baghdad has co-operated with Kuwaiti forensic experts in the search for the missing persons, who include Kuwaitis
  • FCP sale mooted

    Canada's First Calgary Petroleum ( FCP), whose exploration and development activities are concentrated in Algeria, may be put up for sale. FCP in October appointed Lehman Brothers as financial adviser to assist in evaluating various strategies, which in addition to the company's outright sale include a strategic partnership for the development of its assets as well as potential capital markets opportunities. No announcement will be made before the end of April
  • FEED awarded on condensates job

    The front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract for the proposed condensates refinery at Bandar Abbas has been awarded to the local Oil Design & Construction Company (ODCC)in partnership with Engineers India (EIL). The pair originally bid for the contract a year ago, but the process was put on hold while National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)conducted ultimately fruitless discussions with China's Sinopecto carry out the project on a build-operate
  • Fifty bodies found in the Tigris

    The bodies of 50 people believed to be Shia hostages taken from the town of Madaen were found in the Tigris on 20 April. Reports of a mass kidnapping by Sunni militants were made on 15 April but Iraqi security forces found no sign of any hostages or gunmen during a raid on the town on 18 April. 'It is not true that there were no hostages. There were, but they were killed and they threw the bodies in the Tigris,' President Talabani said. The names of the dead will be released in a few days,
  • Final OGD-3/AGD-2 package issued for bid

    Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Company (Gasco) has set a closing date of 8 May for submission of commercial bids for package 3 on the third phase of the onshore gas development (OGD-3) and phase 2 of the Asab gas development (AGD-2) development. The invitation follows the recent completion of technical clarifications for the contract. Estimated to be worth $400 million, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract covers the construction of gas treatment and natural gas liquids
  • Financial close nears for Fujairah sewerage project

    Financial close is due in early April for the Fujairah sewage treatment plant (STP). The developer, the regional ICG/Tanqiaconsortium, has signed a 30-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession with the Fujairah government estimated at about $100 million. Germany's Bilfinger Bergeris the nominated engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, while Bilfinger's subsidiary Passavant-Roediger, also of Germany, will operate and maintain the plant.
  • Firms invited for Kahramaamega-consultancy tender

    International firms have been invited by Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) to submit bids on1 May for a major consultancy contract covering up to three co-generation projects. The successful bidder will provide consultancy services for the Ras Abu Fontas B1 extension and the state's next independent water and power project (IWPP), known as facility B. The contract will also contain an option for a feasibility study to be prepared for another plant, which will meet the powe
  • First VLCC sukuk issued

    ABC Islamic Bank (ABCIB)and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bankhave jointly underwritten an innovative $26 million sukuk issue to part-refinance a previous loan for a very large crude carrier (VLCC) on charter to Vela International Marine, the tanker owning and operating subsidiary of Saudi Aramco. The ship, the Venus Glory, is owned by Pacific Star. ABCIB acted as lead manager and Norton Rosewas legal adviser on the issue. The deal is one
  • Fitch revises Arab Bank outlook

    International rating agency Fitchhas upgraded its outlook on Arab Bank'slong-term BBB+ rating to positive from stable, citing a more dynamic growth strategy, consistent profitability and the benign macroeconomic conditions across the Amman-based bank's core markets.
  • Former coup participant might stand for Egyptian presidency

    Khaled Mohieddin, a member of the Tagammu party, will run for president if the upcoming elections are free and fair, the party's newspaper announced on 27 April. Mohieddin participated in the Free Officer's group that ousted the monarchy in 1952. The authorities would have to lift restrictions on party activities outside party offices, demonstrations and leaflet distribution, Tagammu said for Mohieddin to stand, as well as ensure equal access to media and public meetings. President Mubarak
  • Four bid for port operations

    Four international companies submitted bids by 11 April for the contract to operate Mina Salman and the new Khalifa bin Salman port under construction at Hidd. The bidders are: Denmark's Maersk; Hong Kong's Hutchison Port Holdings; the Philippines' International Container Terminal Services; and the UK's Mersey Docks & Harbour. On offer is a 25-year concession and the chosen firm will commit to invest BD 25 million ($65.9 million) over the course of
  • Four compete for OGD-3/AGD-2 PMC

    Four companies - WorleyParsonsof Australia, the US/Canadian VECOand Foster Wheeler and Mustang Engineering, both US-based - submitted bids by 30 March for the construction project manager's role on package 3 of the third phase of the onshore gas development (OGD-3) and phase 2 of the Asab gas development (AGD-2) project. Technical bids were submitted in late 2004. The estimated $400 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract,
  • Four die in Mecca shootout

    Four people were killed on 21 April in Mecca during clashes between suspected Al-Qaeda militants and security forces. The gun battle was the fourth such incident in Mecca this year. Two militants and two police officers were killed and another suspected militant was arrested. Four police were injured. A group of three suspected militants, two disguised as women, were reported to have fled a checkpoint on the Mecca-Medina road in their car. Police pursued them and a gun battle ensued in a re
  • French combat aircraft deal in doubt

    France's Dassault Aviation has denied a report published on 15 April in the French daily Les Echos that a multi-billion-defence deal had been signed during the visit of Crown Prince Abdullah to Paris a day earlier. Under the reported deal, worth an estimated Eur 6,000 million ($7,850 million) and to be concluded by year-end, the kingdom would buy 48 Rafale combat aircraft from Dassault, with the option to purchase another 48 of the jets at a later stage. Other French suppliers under
  • Fresh prices in for Albion project

    About four companies submitted revised bids by 4 April to Dubai-based Nakheel for package 9 on the International City development in the emirate. The bidders include Dhabi Contracting Company, Al-Sahel Contractingand Ali Moosa & Sons Contracting, all local, and Turkey's Nurol Group. The estimated $70 million project calls for the construction of about 30 English-themed villas. Covering an area of 800 hectares, the estimated $1,900 milli
  • Fresh prices in for Albion project

    About four companies submitted revised bids by 4 April to Dubai-based Nakheel for package 9 on the International City development in the emirate. The bidders include Dhabi Contracting Company, Al-Sahel Contractingand Ali Moosa & Sons Contracting, all local, and Turkey's Nurol Group. The estimated $70 million project calls for the construction of about 30 English-themed villas. Covering an area of 800 hectares, the estimated $1,900 milli
  • Fresh prices in for Asab housing

    Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco)has recommended the award of the contract to build new clusters and services facilities at Asab to the local Al-Geemi & Partners Contracting,which submittedthe low bid of AED 158 million ($43 million). Six companies took part in the repricing exercise in early April. Al-Geemi was followed by the local Al-Hamed Development & Construction, at AED 167 million ($45 million). The contract was retendered after prices sub
  • Fresh prices in for Asab housing

    Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco)has recommended the award of the contract to build new clusters and services facilities at Asab to the local Al-Geemi & Partners Contracting,which submittedthe low bid of AED 158 million ($43 million). Six companies took part in the repricing exercise in early April. Al-Geemi was followed by the local Al-Hamed Development & Construction, at AED 167 million ($45 million). The contract was retendered after prices sub
  • From pearls to pearl islands

    As one of the largest merchant families in Qatar, how do you see the business climate?
  • Further extension for EPIC feedstock work

    The bid deadline has been further extended to 17 April for the engineering, procurement, installation and commissioning (EPIC) contract to build an ethane pipeline from Ras Laffan to Mesaieed. Prospective bidders include Turkey's Tekfen, Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC), the local Medgulf Construction Company, Punj Lloyd of India and Larsen & Toubro, also of India, with the local Black Cat.
  • GAS: A whole new source of revenue

    The signing in late March of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Italy's Eni, BP Egypt and Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) for the development of a second liquefied natural gas (LNG) train at Damietta is yet another milestone in Egypt's gas industry.
  • Gate leads to a wave of big tower developments

    Tender documents are being prepared for the main construction package on a major new mixed-use tower development on Al-Sour street. Called the Gate of Kuwait, the estimated KD 50 million ($172 million) project is expected to be one of the tallest inhabited structures in the state, with a height of up to 270 metres.
  • Gate leads to a wave of big tower developments

    Tender documents are being prepared for the main construction package on a major new mixed-use tower development on Al-Sour street. Called the Gate of Kuwait, the estimated KD 50 million ($172 million) project is expected to be one of the tallest inhabited structures in the state, with a height of up to 270 metres.
  • GCC citizens get access to Saudi shares

    The cabinet has instructed the local financial market authorities to go ahead with the implementation of a resolution taken by the GCC summit in Doha in 2003, calling on equal treatment by GCC states for all GCC citizens in owning and exchanging stocks and setting up companies, according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on 4 April. In line with the resolution, authorities will also have to eliminate restrictions that might hinder any of these activities. The Indust
  • Germans to set up high-end car plant

    Germany's RUF-Automobilehas agreed to form a joint venture with local businessman Rashad Janahi to establish a $50 million manufacturing facility in the kingdom, to be located close to the Formula One racetrack at Sakhir. The plant will have a built-up area of 20,000 square metres. Bahrain will also become RUF's regional service and marketing base for its luxury vehicles.
  • GIB wins refinery mandate

    Gulf International Bankhas been mandated to arrange a $140 million, 12-year borrowing for Oman Refinery Company (ORC). A limited syndication is being prepared aimed at regional and local banks and financial close is due by the end of June. The loan will finance various elements of a capital investment programme under way at ORC.
  • Government body criticises Cairo for human rights abuses

    The Egyptian Supreme Council for Human Rights' first annual report criticised the government for the use of torture by security forces. The report, published on 10 April, said it was normal procedure for police to detain all those present at the scene of a crime and torture them for information. Suspects are beaten, hung from doors and ceilings by their arms and legs and given electric shocks, the report added. The council is a state-run organisation established in 2004 and chaired by forme
  • Government warns companies to pay their workers

    Kuwaiti Social & Labour Affairs Minister Faisal al-Hajji said on 27 April the government would impose fines on businesses that fail to pay their foreign employees. The government will withdraw funds from business' accounts and use them to pay employees if companies fail to, Al-Hajj said. Companies will also be barred from bidding for government tenders if they do not pay their employees on time, he added. The announcement comes after a riot on 24 April by Bangladeshi workers protesting agai
  • Grand Mufti rules against forced marriage

    Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh issued a religious edit against forced marriage on 12 April. He said the practice is against Islamic law and relatives who pressure women to wed should be imprisoned. 'Forcing a woman to marry someone she does not want and preventing her from wedding someone she chooses is not permissible,' the Grand Mufti said. 'Anyone who insists on forcing a woman... to marry against her will is disobeying God and His Prophet (Mohammed),' he said. The
  • Green diesel PMC tender goes for bid

    Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer)has invited companies to submit technical bids by 14 May for a contract to provide project management consultancy (PMC) services for the sulphur-free gas-oil (SFGO) project at Ruwais. The prospective bidders include WorleyParsonsof Australia, the US/Canadian VECOand Foster Wheeler and Mustang Engineering, both US-based (MEED 7:1:05).
  • Growth slows Growth slows

    Figures released for the first half of the Iranian year 1383 (2004/05) show lower economic growth than was previously forecast for the full year. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth at constant prices for the first six months stood at 4.1 per cent, with non-oil GDP growth at 4.3 per cent. Current account figures showed a small trade surplus for the six-month period, according to state news agency IRNA (Iran, MEED Special Report, 7:1:05, pages 25-26).
  • GS-led group awarded Laffan refinery

    The South Korean consortium led by GS Engineering & Construction has received the letter of award, valued at $602 million, for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on the Laffan condensate refinery project. GS will be in charge of engineering, procurement and project management work on the 146,000-barrel-a-day refinery, while its partner, Daewoo Engineering & Construction, will be in charge of construction. The 42-month contract is due to be signed
  • Gulf shareholders sign up for Euro Islamic bank

    Subscription to the private placement of shares in the planned UK-based European Islamic Investment Bank (EIIB)has closed oversubscribed, raising £113 million ($214.4 million) against a target of £50 million ($94.9 million). The bank's initial capital has thus been increased to £100 million ($189.8 million). The founding shareholders are predominantly GCC-based institutions, but the take-up from UK institutional investors and fund managers is understood also to have been encouraging.
  • Hadeed signs export credit financing

    Saudi Iron & Steel Company (Hadeed) has signed the export credit financing package for the planned expansion of its Jubail complex. The multi-sourced export credit package covers about Eur 350 million ($458 million) to be provided in three separate multi-tranche debt facilities from export agencies OeKB of Austria, Hermes of Germany and SACE of Italy. Hermes and SACE are also providing reinsurance to OeKB for the tranches covered by the Austrian agency. The agencies cover contracts signed
  • Halliburton, Pentagon settle the bill

    The US' Halliburtonand the US Army have settled a long-running dispute over the payment for meals provided to US forces in Iraq. Under the terms of the agreement, the US Army Field Support Command will pay Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR)$1,180 million in back payments for dining facility service costs incurred in Kuwait and Iraq during the 2003 US-led invasion. The Pentagon had withheld the money while it investigated claims that Halliburton overcharged
  • Hamas and Islamic Jihad will not disarm

    Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders said on 4 April that they would not disarm, in defiance of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas issued a decree on 2 April stating that West Bank and Gaza authorities had two weeks to organise the voluntary surrender of arms belonging to 530 militants who are wanted by Tel Aviv in connection with attacks. Under the terms of a deal reached between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in February, Tel Aviv would cease to
  • Hamas ceasefire close to collapse

    Hamas said on 11 April that the ceasefire negotiated between Tel Aviv and Palestinian militants in March is close to collapse. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Tel Aviv had violated the terms of the truce by conducting a West Bank raid on 11 April and by killing three unarmed Palestinian teenagers in Gaza on 10 April. He demanded that Tel Aviv fulfil its promise made in February to free 400 more Palestinian prisoners.'The calm is about to collapse because the occupation di
  • Hamas has Fatah in its sights

    Hamas is seeking to overtake Fatah as the dominant party in the Palestinian Legislative Council when elections are held in July, Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, told the London-based Times newspaper on 14 April. Zahar promised that, whatever the outcome of the elections, Hamas would actively participate in politics. 'Our goal is to reform and reconstruct buildings, to replant trees, to flourish our people economically, to keep the mood of the Palestinian people anti-occu
  • Hamas skips PLO meeting

    Hamas representatives failed to attend a meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation executive on 29 March in Gaza. The group was invited along with other organisations including Islamic Jihad in preparation for their joining the organisation.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zaheri said: 'Hamas decided in principle to take part in the committee examining a restructuring of the PLO, but the matter requires further consultation regarding the composition of the executive committe
  • Hawiyah pipeline programme progresses

    Local and international contractors submitted bids on 26 March to Saudi Aramco for the lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) contract to build two pipelines under the Hawiyah natural gas liquids (NGL) recovery programme. The bid submission was followed a day later by Aramco receiving solicitations of interest (SoIs) from contractors for a second pipeline project under the programme. The bid deadline on the project to debottleneck the Shedgum-Yanbu east-west SHY-1 NGL pipeline has also been extende
  • Hezbollah flies spy drone over Israel

    Hezbollah flew its second spy drone over northern Israel on 11 April. A statement issued by the organisation said the pilot-less drone flew over settlements in northern Israel and as far south as the town of Acre. 'In response to repeated and continuous enemy violations of Lebanese air space, the surveillance plane Mersad 1 carried out a reconnaissance mission in the skies of occupied northern Palestine, flying over several Zionist colonies,' the statement said.
  • Hezbollah talks about possibility of disarming

    Hezbollah deputy head, Sheikh Naim Qassim, told the Financial Times on 7 April that Hezbollah would be willing to talk with other Lebanese groups about the future of its military wing when the Shebaa Farms dispute is resolved. Shebaa Farms is a strip of land, which Beirut claims is Lebanese territory occupied by Tel Aviv. The UN considers the area part of Syria.'We will discuss arms after Shebaa but on condition that a credible alternative [to Hezbollah] is found to protect L
  • Hidd sale approved

    The cabinet in early April approved the privatisation of the Hidd power and desalination complex, as part of a plan to accelerate the sale of the state's existing power generation assets. The move follows the success of the kingdom's first independent power project (IPP), Al-Ezzal, in 2004. The Hidd plant, which has capacity of 1,050 MW, is due to be sold by the end of 2005 (MEED 4:3:05).
  • Highway revamp ready to roll

    A new round of investment is planned for Sheikh Zayed highway in Dubai, in a drive to improve traffic flow. Contract awards are expected over the next five months on two interchange projects and a scheme to widen a section of the highway.
  • Highway revamp ready to roll

    A new round of investment is planned for Sheikh Zayed highway in Dubai, in a drive to improve traffic flow. Contract awards are expected over the next five months on two interchange projects and a scheme to widen a section of the highway.
  • Hill works on new CIB HQ

    A joint venture of the US' Hill International with the local EHAF has been appointed project manager for the new Cairo headquarters of Commercial Investment Bank (CIB). To be located on Maadi road, the project will entail the construction of a 14-storey building, to be built on a podium, a car park, infrastructure and related facilities. The project is estimated to cost at least $50 million and will take about two years to complete. The next stage in the proje
  • Hill works on new CIB HQ

    A joint venture of the US' Hill International with the local EHAF has been appointed project manager for the new Cairo headquarters of Commercial Investment Bank (CIB). To be located on Maadi road, the project will entail the construction of a 14-storey building, to be built on a podium, a car park, infrastructure and related facilities. The project is estimated to cost at least $50 million and will take about two years to complete. The next stage in the proje
  • How long can the boom last?

    The latest Business Confidence Survey is now available online. HSBC Bank Middle East, MEED and YouGov collaborated to produce the third survey of business confidence in the region. The results were published in the 25 March edition of MEED.The findings reveal that, although the GCC stock and real estate markets are spectacularly profitable, a bubble may be developing.Click below to see the latest results.
  • HSBC completes regional corporate banking network

    The final pieces in the GCC corporate and investment banking network of HSBC Bank Middle Eastwill be soon be in place, says Mukhtar Hussain, head of the bank's investment banking activities in the region. The opening of a branch in Kuwait is set for the end of 2005 and an investment bank in Saudi Arabia will also be established, probably by mid-year.
  • Hyundai wins ERU job

    South Korea's Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company has been formally awarded the contract, worth KD 117 million ($403 million), to build an ethane recovery unit (ERU) at the Mina al-Ahmadi refinery in Shuaiba. Hyundai was low bidder for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract when prices were submitted in late December. The client is Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC- MEED 24:12:04).
  • IDF prepares to leave Gaza

    The Israel Defence Force (IDF) on 20 April started its preparations to withdraw from Gaza. An Israeli military spokesman said 30 containers of non-military equipment including computers, clothing and furniture were due to leave an army base in the south of the area.Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held a cabinet meeting on 19 April to discuss a possible delay in the Gaza withdrawal timetable. The cabinet discussed postponing the disengagement plan by a month until mid-Augu
  • Imam Khomeini prepares to reopen

    Tehran's new airport, Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA), is set to reopen by early May, a year after it was shut down over the involvement of Turkey's Tepe Akfen Vie (TAV)as its operator. Local officials said in mid-April that a local company would be in charge of operations at the airport, but declined to identify it. TAV signed an 11-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract in early May 2004, but only operated the airport for one day before the army closed it down, citin
  • Indians win hotel work

    India's Shapoorji Pallonjihas started mobilising on a contract, worth an estimated $100 million-150 million, to build a twin-tower hotel in Khartoum. Located on the confluence of the Blue and White Niles, the hotel complex, known as the Pearl Continental, consists of two 19-storey towers. The scheme includes a retail area, commercial offices and an entertainment centre. Construction is expected to take about two years. Germany's Bauer is carrying out the piling package, C
  • Indians win hotel work

    India's Shapoorji Pallonjihas started mobilising on a contract, worth an estimated $100 million-150 million, to build a twin-tower hotel in Khartoum. Located on the confluence of the Blue and White Niles, the hotel complex, known as the Pearl Continental, consists of two 19-storey towers. The scheme includes a retail area, commercial offices and an entertainment centre. Construction is expected to take about two years. Germany's Bauer is carrying out the piling package, C
  • Inpex mulls Azadegan phase 1 bids

    Japan's InpexCorporationis expected to announce by the end of April the bid opening results for phase 1 work at Azadegan south, involving the installation of surface facilities. Proposals for a second tender, covering project management consultancy (PMC) services, were due on 17 April (Oil & Gas, MEED Special Report, 14:1:05, pages 39-40).
  • Inpex still seeks Azadegan equity partner

    Japan's Inpexis still seeking an international oil company (IOC) as an equity partner in the Azadegan south field development as it ponders surface facility and drilling bids. However, oil majors say the terms of Inpex's buyback agreement - with an expected rate of return of 12.5 per cent - are not attractive enough to bring them into the project (MEED 15:4:05).
  • Insurgency still strong, Al-Zarqawi almost caught

    Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers said on 26 April that the insurgents' capacity to carry out attacks in Iraq is the same as a year ago. He said that the number of attacks had increased recently but added that half of planned assaults are prevented. 'I think we're definitely winning. I think we've been winning for some time,' Myers said.Washington came close to catching insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi during an operation in February, Myers s
  • Insurgents attack Abu Ghraib

    Heavily armed militants attacked Abu Ghraib prison on 2 April. A bomb exploded at the southeastern corner of the prison complex at sunset, sparking an hour-long battle between insurgents and US forces. Forty-60 insurgents were involved in the attack, during which 44 US troops and 12 prisoners were injured and one militant died. Rebels fired rocket-propelled grenades and mortars during the fighting. A second car bomb exploded to the north of the prison, which is situated on th
  • Insurgents kill Iraqi police and bomb national treasure

    Chief of Police in Balad Ruz, Colonel Hatem Rashid Mohammad, was killed on 1 April during an insurgent ambush. A second policeman also died in the attack. Another policeman was killed when police raided a house on the outskirts of the town looking for insurgents. Balad Ruz is in Diyala province 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. In Kirkuk, a roadside bomb targeted at a military convoy killed three civilians and wounded eight others (
  • Interior Ministry examines police bids

    At least four companies have submitted bids to the Interior Ministry for the position of project manager for its future construction schemes in the emirate. The bidders include the local office of KEO International Consultantsand Parsons International, Turner Construction Internationaland Hill International, all of the US. A total of AED 2,500 million ($680 million) is set to be invested over the next two years in the construction of projects to se
  • Interior Ministry examines police bids

    At least four companies have submitted bids to the Interior Ministry for the position of project manager for its future construction schemes in the emirate. The bidders include the local office of KEO International Consultantsand Parsons International, Turner Construction Internationaland Hill International, all of the US. A total of AED 2,500 million ($680 million) is set to be invested over the next two years in the construction of projects to se
  • Interview: Ayham al-Samaraie, Electricity Minister

    What efforts are you making to attract foreign investment to Iraq?
  • IPO advisers appointed

    Morgan Stanleyand Goldman Sachshave been appointed to advise Kuwait Projects Company (Kipco) on the proposed initial public offering (IPO) of shares in one of its major subsidiaries, Showtime Arabia- a joint venture with the US' Viacom. Details of the possible sale, such as the timing and structuring, are still to be decided. A host of international investment banks were invited to bid for the advisory mandate in late 2004 (MEED 24:12:04).
  • Iran: Shedding some light on a dim prospect

    In early May, 500,000 prepaid GSM subscriptions will come into operation in Tehran. Besides providing desperately needed new capacity, their introduction will signal the first use of private telephony - through a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract - in the Islamic republic. Prepaid is coming late - the contract was actually first awarded in 2002 - but in Iran's beleaguered telecoms sector, even that is something of a boon.
  • Iraq exports to Turkey again

    Iraq officially resumed crude oil exports to Turkey on 19 April. An average of 350,000 barrels a day (b/d) was being transported via pipeline from Kirkuk to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan before exports ceased in December 2004, due to fear of insurgent attacks on the pipeline. Exports are expected to resume at 400,000 b/d.
  • Iraq is the most dangerous country to do business in

    Iraq has moved from fifth to first place in an annual ranking of the most dangerous countries to conduct business published by risk consultants Aon on 18 April. The company recorded 2,922 terror attacks in Iraq in the 12 months up to February 2005. Israel, the Occupied Territories and Saudi Arabia and India, Pakistan and Colombia were described as countries where there is a severe risk to doing business. The results of the Aon survey were published in its Global Terrorism Risk Map, which di
  • Iraqi general kidnapped as inmates riot

    Brigadier-General Mohammad Jalal Saleh was kidnapped in the Mansour area of Baghdad on 4 April. He commands the Interior Ministry's Eighth Mechanised Police Brigade, an armoured unit of 1,600 formed to tackle insurgent and criminal gangs. Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin said more than 50,000 Iraqis have been kidnapped since the US-led invasion in March 2003. More than 6,000 have been killed and 16,000 wounded by insurgents and criminal organisations.On the
  • Iraqi National Assembly meets briefly

    The Iraqi National Assembly convened on 29 March for the second time since the 30 January elections and quickly adjourned. Another session has been scheduled for 2 April. The meeting was delayed because of continuing negotiations to decide who will be parliamentary speaker and no agreement was reached during the session. Interim President and Sunni politician Ghazi al-Yawar and interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who is a secular Shia, have both declined the post. The United
  • Iraqis support increased UN role

    The UN has appointed Nicholas Fink Haysom, a South African constitutional expert and adviser to former president Nelson Mandela, to lead a UN team which will assist the Transitional Government draft a new constitution. The nomination was announced on 12 April in anticipation of Baghdad's request for help.UN special envoy to Iraq Ashraf Qazi told the Security Council on 11 April that Iraqis want the UN to play a greater role in the reconstruction of their country. 'Almost with
  • Irish circle block 49

    Ireland's Circle Oilhas been awarded a six-year exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) for offshore block 49, covering an area of 15,400 square kilometres in the south. The concession is adjacent to blocks 36 and 38, for which China's Sinopec signed an EPSA in August (MEED 27:8:04).
  • Isfahan, Apicorp, GIB syndications go down well

    Several regional syndications are drawing to a close, and the response to them illustrates the healthy appetite in the market.
  • Islamic militants kill 13 people

    Armed Islamic militants killed 13 people at a fake roadblock on 7 April near the town of Larbaa, 30 kilometres south of Algiers. The militants ambushed five vehicles travelling on the road between Larbaa and Tablat in the Medea region. The attackers opened fire on the vehicles and then set them ablaze.Around 50 people have been killed in violence involving Islamist groups since the beginning of March 2005.
  • Islamic satellite ready by end of the year

    A satellite sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain to monitor the moon and determine the dates of Islamic religious festivals will be ready for orbit by the end of 2005, Arab News reported on 15 April. 'The Islamic satellite, expected to be used in crescent sighting and studying environmental pollution and the movement of clouds, will be in order by the end of this year,' said Dr Ali Juma who heads the panel behind the project. Representatives from the Organisation of the Isl
  • Islamist-backed candidates sweep Saudi Arabian elections

    Candidates endorsed by Islamic scholars won the majority of seats in the latest round of municipal elections held on 21 April, it was announced on 23 April. Candidates with religious backing won six out of seven seats in Medina and all the seats in Mecca, Jeddah and Buraidah. The results reflect previous election outcomes in Riyadh and Dammam, where Islamic credentials appeared to outweigh tribal or business links in voters' choice of candidate.About 300,000 men cast ballots
  • Islamists headed for Saudi election victory

    Candidates backed by religious scholars look set to win local municipal elections in Jeddah, Arab News reported on 22 April. Official results for the third round of polling conducted in west and northern provinces are due on 23 April. Seven candidates on an informal 'golden list' are likely to win seats in Jeddah. They conducted their campaigns separately but were backed by an influential group of clerics, including Sheikh Safar al-Hawali (
  • Islamists trial starts in Muscat

    More suspected Omani Islamists were due to stand trial on 19 April. Ten men went on trial in Muscat on 18 April charged with belonging to a secret organisation and attempting to overthrow the regime using armed force. The 10 suspects, who are Ibadi Muslims and include one university teacher, an official and an imam, were accused of plotting attacks on business centres, oil installations and the Muscat Festival, which was held in January and February. Security services have detained 42 men a
  • Israel set to expand West Bank settlements

    Tel Aviv confirmed on 21 March that it has plans to increase the size of its settlements in the West Bank.At least 3,500 homes are planned for the 'flagship settlement' of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem. Settlements at Ariel in the northern West Bank and Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, are also expected to be expanded. The plan is to build two new neighbourhoods linking Maale Adumin with East Jerusalem.The plan appears to flout the US-sponsored peace roadmap tha
  • Israeli police to close non-Muslim access to Haram al-Sharif for a day

    Israeli police announced on 7 April that they will close Haram al-Sharif to all non-Muslims on 10 April as Israel's Shin Bet security service raised the level of the security alert in Jerusalem. Police fear Jewish extremists might stage an attack on the mosque complex in an effort to stall Tel Aviv's Gaza withdrawal plans.Far-right group Revava has called for a mass rally on 7 April at Haram al-Sharif to protest against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plans. The g
  • Israelis demonstrate against Gaza pullout

    About 40,000 Israelis gathered on 27 April near Neve Dekalim settlement in Gaza to protest against Tel Aviv's plans to withdraw from land they consider to be their biblical birthright. Protesters marched along the coast wearing orange, which has become the colour of the anti-disengagement movement, and waving flags and placards. Opponents to the withdrawal plan are threatening a national strike ( MEED 22:4:05
  • Italian funds kickstart wastewater project

    Rome is to extend a 20-year, $30 million soft loan to the Council for Development & Reconstruction (CDR) to finance a new wastewater treatment plant in Zahle in the Bekaa valley. The loan carries an annual interest rate of 0.2 per cent with repayments due in 19 years. The Italian subsidiary of France's Ondeo Degremonthas the $37.2 million contract. It is understood that the funds will be channelled through Italy's Artigiancassa.
  • ITB out for Tinhert GTL

    State energy company Sonatrachhas issued an invitation to bid for the contract to develop an integrated gas-to-liquids (GTL) project in the Tinhert block, 60 kilometres north of In Amenas in the southeast. Technical bids are expected by the end of July. After an initial evaluation and negotiation period, bidders will be given 45 days to submit commercial proposals based on a single bid parameter. A data room will be open from 16-30 April.
  • Jaber al-Ahmed grows

    The Public Authority for Housing has invited 13 grade 1 local contractors to bid by 19 June for an estimated KD 20 million ($70 million) contract to design and build infrastructure works for sector A5 in the Jaber al-Ahmed township. The work, which covers an area of about 800 residential plots, covers the construction of roads, street lighting, sewage works, public buildings such as schools and mosques, and substations. In March, the local Combined Group was formally awarded the KD 1
  • Jaber al-Ahmed grows

    The Public Authority for Housing has invited 13 grade 1 local contractors to bid by 19 June for an estimated KD 20 million ($70 million) contract to design and build infrastructure works for sector A5 in the Jaber al-Ahmed township. The work, which covers an area of about 800 residential plots, covers the construction of roads, street lighting, sewage works, public buildings such as schools and mosques, and substations. In March, the local Combined Group was formally awarded the KD 1
  • Jordanian Cabinet

    Cabinet ListPrime Minister and Defence Minister: Faisal el FayezDeputy Prime Minister: Marwan MuasherForeign Affairs Minister: Hani MulkiFinance Minister: Mohammad Abu HammourJustice Minister: Salaheddin al BashirInterior Minister: Samir HabashnehPlanning Minister: Taiseer SmadiInformation and Communications Minister: Nadia SaeedTourism and Antiquitie
  • Journalist banned from Majlis

    Parliamentarians voted on 5 April to bar reporter Massih Ali-Nejad from the (Majlis) parliament building. Ali-Nejad recently published a series of articles revealing that MPs received a significant pay rise and large sums of money from conservative organisations. Conservative MPs were elected on a platform of religious piety and anti-materialism. Ali-Nejad writes for the Iranian Labour News Agency and Hambastaghi, a reformist newspaper.
  • Journalists tour nuclear plant

    Thirty foreign and local journalists joined President Khatami on 30 March as he toured an uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. Washington and the EU fear the plant could produce weapons-grade fuel and want it closed.The group was shown a hall that could house 50,000 enrichment centrifuges used to purify uranium fluoride gas into high-grade fuel. The 450-hectare plant is 250 kilometres south of Tehran, 18 metres underground and surrounded by more than 10 anti-aircraft instal
  • Kahramaa contract let

    A group of Europe's ABB with India's Power Transmission (PTL) has started work on a contract to supply and install three substations and a 132-kilometre-long transmission line from Ras Laffan to Dukhan. Placed by Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa), the $45 million turnkey contract involves the construction of three 132/66-kV substations and a 132-kV transmission line. ABB will be in charge of the substations, while PTL will erect the transmission lin
  • Karami postpones resignation

    Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami on 30 March postponed an expected announcement that he would step down this week after having failed to form a coalition government to lead the country to elections in May.Karami said he needed to consult further with his pro-Syrian allies. Following a meeting with Lebanese President Lahoud he said: 'I have informed Mr Lahoud that I am preparing to announce my decision to stand down because of the impossibility of forming a government of na
  • Khartoum rejects UN resolution

    President Al-Bashir rejected on 2 April a recent UN Security Council resolution which refers those suspected of committing atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan to the International Criminal Court ( MEED 1:4:05). In a speech broadcast over the radio, Al-Bashir said trials had already started of suspected war criminals in Darfur and that no Sudanese national would be tried in courts out
  • Khatami criticises Washington for pre-emptive strike

    President Khatami criticised Washington on 8 April for using military force. He said: 'Unfortunately, the current US leaders, more than their predecessors, resort to violence, to military means, to impose their will.' Khatami was quoted in an article published by the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. Khatami said Washington 'believes in a principle that is absolutely dangerous, which generates terrorism: the pre-emptive strike, which provides a simple pretext to la
  • Khatami denies contact with Israeli president

    Tehran denied on 10 April that President Khatami and Israeli President Katsav shook hands at the funeral of Pope John Paul II at St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome on 8 April. 'These allegations are false, like all the other allegations made by the Israeli media and I have not had any meeting with a personality from the Zionist regime,' Khatami said. 'As reiterated time and again, we do not morally and logically recognise Israel, which was created based on force and u
  • Khatami discusses nuclear programme

    Tehran refuses to suspend its nuclear activities for good, President Khatami said in an article published on 5 April by French newspaper Le Figaro. Khatami is scheduled to meet President Chirac of France on 5 April.Tehran says it has halted uranium enrichment while talks about its nuclear programme continue with EU members. The EU insists, with Washington's support, that Tehran stop enrichment permanently. It fears the process could be used to produce weapons-grade nuclear fu
  • Khatami to visit Kuwait to resolve maritime border dispute

    Iranian President Khatami will visit Kuwait soon to conduct talks on the disputed maritime border between the two states, Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed al-Sabah said on 24 April. Tehran and Kuwait have been in technical and political negotiations to resolve the dispute that has been running since the 1960s to establish the border, which crosses through huge natural reserves in the offshore Dorra gas field.'It is incumbent on the two sides to intensely wo
  • King Abdullah appoints new PM

    King Abdullah asked Adnan Badran on 5 April to replace Faisal al-Fayez as prime minister after the king accepted the cabinet 's resignation. A former minister for higher education, Badran has occupied several academic posts including president of Jordan's Philadelphia University and UNESCO deputy director-general.
  • Kish of life for IPP

    Kish Free Zone Organisation (KFZO) has issued a tender for a new independent power plant (IPP) to be carried out on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. The combined cycle plant will have capacity of 180 MW. Bids are due by 30 April. KFZO is also promoting the development of a new airport on a private basis (MEED 12:9:03). IPPs are under close scrutiny in Iran's power sector, which is increasingly turning to private investment to finance the growth in generating capacity to meet fast-growing lo
  • Knesset backs disengagement

    The Israeli parliament on 28 March rejected a bill calling for a referendum on the Gaza disengagement plan.The 72-39 defeat of the Basic Law, which would have allowed for a national poll, removes the last major obstacle to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposed withdrawal from Gaza. The vote put an end to a sustained campaign by Likud party rebels to postpone or cancel the disengagement. The settler lobby group, the Yesha Council, will convene a meeting on 29 M
  • KNPC issues two upgrade tenders

    State-owned Kuwait National Petroleum Company(KNPC) has issued two tenders for the upgrade of water treatment facilities at three of its refineries and for the rehabilitation of boilers at its Shuaiba plant. The award of the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts are expected by year-end.
  • Koreans close in on Laffan refinery

    A letter of award was close to being issued in mid-April to GS Engineering & Construction, formerly known as LG Engineering & Construction, for the Laffan condensate refinery project, after the South Korean contractor was selected for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract. The signing of the estimated $650 million-700 million contract is expected by the end of April. The client is a joint venture of Qatar Petroleum (QP), the US' ExxonMobil C
  • KPA issues fender tenders

    The Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA) has invited six prequalified local companies to bid by 12 June for two contracts, totalling an estimated KD 10 million-12 million ($34.5 million-41.3 million), to replace fenders at Shuwaikh and Shuaiba ports. They are: Gulf Dredging & Contracting Company (GDC); Consolidated Contractors Company (Conco); Ali Alghanim; Alghanim Specialities Company; Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Company; and F
  • KPA issues fender tenders

    The Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA) has invited six prequalified local companies to bid by 12 June for two contracts, totalling an estimated KD 10 million-12 million ($34.5 million-41.3 million), to replace fenders at Shuwaikh and Shuaiba ports. They are: Gulf Dredging & Contracting Company (GDC); Consolidated Contractors Company (Conco); Ali Alghanim; Alghanim Specialities Company; Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Company; and F
  • KSC upgrades its meltshop

    Bids for the upgrade of meltshop facilities at Khouzestan Steel Company (KSC)are due by the end of April. Most major international suppliers present in Iran have bought tender documents for the project, valued at under $500 million. A direct reduction (DR) contract at the same plant was let last year and two contracts for captive power plants are also on the table (MEED 19:11:05).
  • Kufpec announces healthy rise in profits

    State-owned Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (Kufpec)has announced its full-year 2004 results, posting profits of $103.8 million, an 18.2 per cent year-on-year rise. Total revenue reached $359.5 million, up from $312.6 million, while the company's average crude output stood at 44,500 barrels a day (b/d) from booked reserves of 250 million barrels of oil equivalent, 76 per cent of which is gas. Speaking at a press conference to announce the results, Kufpec chairman Bader a
  • Kuwait PM warns of threat to national unity

    Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah warned parliament on 6 April that a no-confidence vote against Health Minister Mohammad al-Jarallah could 'negatively impact on our national unity'. Al-Jarallah resigned after being questioned in parliament over allegations of negligence.Parliamentarians filed the no-confidence motion on 4 April, which Sheikh Sabah said 'deviated from our democratic practice and risked harming co-operation between the executive and legislative aut
  • Kuwaiti women could get the vote

    The National Assembly (parliament) approved legislation on 19 April to allow women to vote and run in municipal elections, as well as assume council seats. 'This is the first step toward women's full political rights,' said the chairwoman of the Kuwait Economic Society, Rula Dashi. The bill passed its first round through the 50-member parliament with 26 votes in favour, including votes from 13 cabinet members, 20 against from Islamist politicians and their tribal allies and four abstentions
  • Kuwaitis go Down Under at the World

    Kuwait-based Islamic finance and investment company Investment Darand its major shareholder, EFAD Holding, announced on 12 April plans for the construction of a major real estate development for the 40-hectare Australasia island on the World development in Dubai.
  • Kuwaitis go Down Under at the World

    Kuwait-based Islamic finance and investment company Investment Darand its major shareholder, EFAD Holding, announced on 12 April plans for the construction of a major real estate development for the 40-hectare Australasia island on the World development in Dubai.
  • Leaseplan finance sealed

    Financial close has been reached on the Eur 475 million ($627 million) borrowing to finance the acquisition of the Netherlands' Leaseplan Corporationby Abu Dhabi's state-owned Mubadala Development Company, Saudi Arabia's Olayan Groupand Germany's Volkswagen. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Barclays Capital, Citigroup and National Bank of Abu Dhabiacted as mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) on the five-year dea
  • Lebanese cabinet

    Government of Lebanon(appointed 26 October 2004)President: Emile LahoudPrime Minister: Omar KaramiDeputy Prime Minister:Isam FarisMINISTERSForeign & Emigrant Affairs: Mahmoud HammoudDefence: Abdel-Rahim MoradInterior & Municipalities: Suleiman FranjiehFinance: Elias SabaHealth: Mohammad Jawad KhalifehPublic Works & Transp
  • Lebanese cabinet is announced

    Interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced on 19 April a new 14-man cabinet of pro-Syrian and opposition ministers. Mahmoud Hammoud, who is an ally of President Lahoud, remains in post as Minister of Foreign Affairs. As Interior Minister, Hassan al-Sab will be responsible for parliamentary elections due to take place at the end of May ( MEED 19:4:05). Prime Minis
  • Lebanese elections will go ahead on time

    The new government won a vote of confidence on 27 April and called elections for 29 May. Parliament voted by 198 to one to endorse Prime Minister Najib Mikati's cabinet. Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri announced the election date after negotiating the timing with Hezbollah representatives, opposition leader Walid Jumblatt and the parliamentary Dignity bloc loyal to the late former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The election will be held in several rounds over three or four weekends. It will
  • Lebanese opposition accuses Karami of delaying elections

    Members of the opposition on 31 March accused the government of putting off parliamentary elections. A statement from MP Ghattas Khoury issued after an opposition meeting the same day said: 'The authorities are working to sabotage elections in a dangerous bid to prolong the mandate of the current parliament.' Prime Minister Omar Karami said he would stand down but has delayed the move (
  • Lebanese prime minister resigns again

    Prime Minister Omar Karami resigned on 13 April after failing to form a new government. 'We have once again hit a dead end,' Karami told reporters. Karami had been negotiating for the past five weeks with opposition politicians, who refused to join the government, and pro-Syria officials to form a unity cabinet. Politicians loyal to Syria have been unable to agree on the allocation of cabinet posts (
  • Lebanese security chief offers to temporarily step down

    Top security chief General Jamil Sayyed said on 22 April that he will temporarily stand down while a UN team investigates the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. 'I put myself at the disposition of the Prime Minister [Najib Mikati] from the moment the international inquiry commission starts its work and until it completes its mission,' he said. 'In accordance with the recommendation of the UN, I will not exercise my functions during the period that the commission is worki
  • Local firms hustle for Hostler Student Centre

    Local firms are preparing to submit bids by the 3 May deadline for a Council for Development & Reconstruction (CDR) contract to build the Charles Hostler Student Centre at the American University of Beirut. About seven local contractors have been invited to bid for the project. These include Arabian Construction Company (ACC), CAT, Karagulla Engineering & Contracting Company, Kittaneh Group, Alfred & Jacques Matta and Michel Abi Nader Entre
  • Local firms hustle for Hostler Student Centre

    Local firms are preparing to submit bids by the 3 May deadline for a Council for Development & Reconstruction (CDR) contract to build the Charles Hostler Student Centre at the American University of Beirut. About seven local contractors have been invited to bid for the project. These include Arabian Construction Company (ACC), CAT, Karagulla Engineering & Contracting Company, Kittaneh Group, Alfred & Jacques Matta and Michel Abi Nader Entre
  • Lufthansa takes Gulf Air contract

    Germany's Lufthansa Technikhas been awarded a five-year, BD 52 million ($136.8 million) contract by Gulf Airto provide inventory and component maintenance services, following the sale last year of most of the airline's rotable stock. 'The sale of our rotable stock has released capital for use in the active, core elements of our business,' said Gulf Air chief executive officer James Hogan in a statement. 'Because the entire maintenance function is outsourced, we have no e
  • Major Shuaiba packages move ahead

    Bidding is gathering pace on the state's two major petrochemical projects, the estimated $2,000 million Olefins II complex and aromatics plant at Shuaiba. Equate Petrochemical Company, a joint venture of the local Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC) and the US' Dow Chemical Company, is overseeing - through two separate project companies - the overall development of the Olefins II complex, which is split into four main process packages. The associated aromat
  • Manama considers new anti-terror legislation

    The executive presented new anti-terror legislation to the National Assembly (parliament) on 12 April. The law stipulates the death sentence for convicted terrorists and terms of imprisonment for those guilty of using religion to spread extremism. It will apply to 'terrorists coming from outside or those receiving orders from abroad to spread panic in our society', King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said.'It is our national and religious duty to protect citizens and residents of B
  • Mapna stays local for turbines

    Iran Power Plants Project Management Company (Mapna)will source locally manufactured gas turbines for its contract to install 3,000 MW of new generation capacity at four power stations, which are to be converted at a later stage to combined cycle. The client, Iran Power Development Company (IPDC), plans to tender a contract for a further 3,000 MW of new capacity in early 2006 .
  • Maridive wins pipeline maintenance work

    Egypt's Maridivehas been awarded a KD 11 million ($38 million) contract to inspect and repair an offshore oil export pipeline at Ahmadi. Under the terms of the one-year contract signed with Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), Maridive will provide maintenance services for the 48-inch-diameter, 18-kilometre-long pipeline. The 40-year-old pipeline will eventually be replaced by a new network of pipelines built as part of the forthcoming Ahmadi crude export facilities project, bids fo
  • Mashreqbank EMTN priced

    Mashreqbank has closed the second issue of its $750 million euro medium-term note (EMTN) programme, which attracted heavy oversubscription and was priced considerably more tightly than the first drawdown, staged in the first quarter of 2004 (MEED 5:4:04).
  • Maunsell takes Abu Shuoom contract

    The UK's Maunsell Consultancy Serviceshas been awarded the main consultancy contract on the estimated $9,500 million Emirates Pearl project on Abu Shuoom island in Abu Dhabi. The contract covers design work, preparation of tender documents and construction supervision for the island's infrastructure.
  • Maunsell takes Abu Shuoom contract

    The UK's Maunsell Consultancy Serviceshas been awarded the main consultancy contract on the estimated $9,500 million Emirates Pearl project on Abu Shuoom island in Abu Dhabi. The contract covers design work, preparation of tender documents and construction supervision for the island's infrastructure.
  • May municipal elections announced

    The second round of municipal elections in the Occupied Territories will take place on 5 May, the Palestinian Central Election Commission announced on 28 April. Voting will be held in 76 constituencies in the West Bank including Qalqilya and Salfit and eight areas in Gaza including Rafah and Beit Lahiya. About 400,000 eligible voters will choose councillors from a pool of 2,500 candidates. The elections follow municipal polls held in December 2004, when Hamas dominated poll results in Gaza
  • Medjerda MoU signed

    Canada's Patch Internationalhas signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the local Carthago Oil Companygiving it the right to acquire a 40 per cent interest in the Medjerda block in the north. The MoU calls for investment of $4 million, including the drilling of one well. Patch has until 30 April to sign a farm-in agreement, and until 30 June to reach a transfer agreement and joint operating agreement. The permit covers an area of 4,956 square kilometres with estim
  • MEED: Tenders alert

    The email contact for tenders has changed. To promote your business opportunity to more than 50,000 business people who read MEED every week, send details to:tenders@meed.comThe postal address remains unchanged:MEED Editor, 33-39 Bowling Green Lane, London EC1R 0DA.telephone +44 (0) 20 7470 6200fax +44 (0) 20 7470 6233MEED Tenders is the most comprehensive weekly listing of business
  • Mega Projects Agency announces its arrival

    A new body - Mega Projects Agency (MPA) - was established on 11 April to take over the responsibility of The Divided Zone Agreements & Kuwaiti Islands & Mega Projects Development Team (Dizart). The move follows the formal dissolution of Dizart in early April by the Council of Ministers. To be headed by Walid Essa al-Thaqeb, MPA will work under the Public Works Ministry and oversee the multi-billion-dollar developments of Failaka and Bubiyan islands. Dizart was established as a special purpose ve
  • Mega Projects Agency announces its arrival

    A new body - Mega Projects Agency (MPA) - was established on 11 April to take over the responsibility of The Divided Zone Agreements & Kuwaiti Islands & Mega Projects Development Team (Dizart). The move follows the formal dissolution of Dizart in early April by the Council of Ministers. To be headed by Walid Essa al-Thaqeb, MPA will work under the Public Works Ministry and oversee the multi-billion-dollar developments of Failaka and Bubiyan islands. Dizart was established as a special purpose ve
  • Methanex finance moves

    Structuring is under way on the financing package for the $500 million methanol plant planned by Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (ECHEM) and Canada's Methanex Corporation. HSBC is acting as financial adviser and Slaughter & Mayhas been appointed legal counsel. Details have yet to be finalised but a debt/equity split of about 70:30 is expected. The proposed plant will have capacity of 1.3 million tonnes a year (MEED 24:12:04).
  • MIS wins Ras Laffan bunkering

    Sharjah-based Maritime Industrial Services Company (MIS)has started work on the Ras Laffan heavy fuel oil bunkering facility after receiving a letter of intent from the client, Qatar Petroleum (QP), to carry out the estimated $60 million contract. The engineering, procurement, installation and commissioning (EPIC) contract centres on the construction of two storage tanks, loading arms at liquefied natural gas (LNG) berths 1 and 2 and associated pipeline works. The front-e
  • MLAs selected for GIB loan

    A 10-strong group of mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) has been appointed on a $750 million borrowing for Gulf International Bankand general syndication has been launched. The loan has a tenor of five years (MEED 11:3:05).
  • MLAs selected for Qasco debt

    A group of 17 banks is close to being appointed as the mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) on the debt package for the Qatar Steel Company (Qasco) expansion project. Standard Chartered Bankis acting as financial adviser (MEED 11:3:05).
  • MLAs sought for ENOC loan

    Banks have been invited to bid for the mandated lead arranger (MLA) role on a $400 million borrowing for ENOC Processing Company, part of Dubai-based Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC). The funds will partly pay for its Jebel Ali condensate refinery expansion project, for which bids on the main engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract are due in mid-May (MEED 8:4:05).
  • MoE tenders substation

    The Ministry of Energy (MoE) has invited 13 international contractors to submit bids by 15 May for a contract to supply and install four 132/11-kV substations in Kuwait. An award for the estimated KD 13 million ($45 million) contract is expected by the end of the third quarter. Five international contractors are preparing to submit bids by 17 April for an estimated KD 25 million ($86 million) contract to supply and install a 300/132/11-kV substation at Al-Siddiq West (MEED 4:3:05).
  • More time for Dubai Tower bidders

    The bid closing date has been extended by three weeks to 2 May for the main contract on the Dubai Tower project in West Bay. About nine international contractors are prequalified to bid for the landmark contract, which calls for the construction of an 80-storey tower, about 400 metres high. The client is Dubai International Properties; the project manager is the US' Hill International(MEED 11:3:05).
  • More time for Dubai Tower bidders

    The bid closing date has been extended by three weeks to 2 May for the main contract on the Dubai Tower project in West Bay. About nine international contractors are prequalified to bid for the landmark contract, which calls for the construction of an 80-storey tower, about 400 metres high. The client is Dubai International Properties; the project manager is the US' Hill International(MEED 11:3:05).
  • More time for Marafiq bidders

    The bid closing date has been extended by a month to mid-May for the independent water and power project (IWPP) planned at Jubail by The Power & Water Utilities Company for Jubail & Yanbu (Marafiq). The extension came after several of the prospective bidders requested more time to prepare their proposals for the gas-fired IWPP, which will have capacity of 2,400 MW and 79 million gallons a day (g/d - MEED 25:2:05).
  • More time for water conveyor bidders

    The bid deadline on the estimated $900 million water transmission scheme in the western region has been extended to 27 April. The second extension was granted by the client, Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), to enable more companies to prequalify for the project and to await the outcome of the single bid evaluation on the planned Shouaiba independent water and power project (IWPP), which - along with the existing Shouaiba desalination complex - will provide water to the conveyor. The p
  • Moroccan Guantanamo detainees bailed

    A US court released two former Guantanamo Bay inmates on bail on 28 March and adjourned their trial to 4 July. The two men, Mohammed Mazouz and Brahim Benchekroun, were being held on terrorism-related charges. Washington released the men to the Moroccan authorities with another three Guantanamo Bay detainees on 1 August 2004. The trial of the five started in December 2004, the same month Abdallah Tabarak, Mohammed Ouzar and Redouane Chekkouri were released on bail.
  • Moscow gets mixed response to peace summit proposal

    Russian President Putin presented Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 28 April with his proposal for a Palestinian-Israeli peace summit to be held in Moscow in the autumn. Washington and Tel Aviv do not believe the timing is right for an international summit.Putin announced the plan on 27 April for an international conference following talks with Egyptian President Mubarak in Cairo. 'I intend to discuss this idea with my other colleagues who are interested in moving the pe
  • Moscow missile sales no danger to Israel

    Russian President Putin said on 28 April that the planned sale of Strelet missiles to Damascus posed no threat to Israel's security. 'The system we are going to supply to Syria is short-range and poses no threat whatsoever to Israeli territory,' Putin said. He noted that the missiles would be vehicle-mounted and could not be converted into shoulder-launched weapons. 'We are not planning to do anything that would upset the balance of forces in the region,' the Russian president said.
  • MTC heads into Africa

    Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) announced on 29 March the acquisition of Amsterdam-based telco Celtel in a cash deal worth $3,400 million. Under the terms of the acquisition, one of the biggest in the sector over recent years, MTC will purchase 85 per cent of Celtel's issued and outstanding shares immediately for $2,840 million, and buy the remainder over the next two years for $520 million.
  • MTN challenges MTC

    South African telco MTNhas mounted a legal challenge in the UK courts in an attempt to block the recent $3,400 million cash purchase of Amsterdam-based telco Celtelby Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC). MTN claims that Celtel had reneged on a deal, struck 12 days before the MTC purchase, to sell its shares to MTN for $2,700 million. A UK High Court judge has granted MTN permission to examine certain documents, but has refused permission for MTN t
  • Mubadala takes Tanqia slice

    Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development Company announced on 5 April the acquisition of a 30 per cent stake in Tanqia FZC, the project company set up to finance, build, own and operate the Fujairah sewage treatment plant (STP). The other shareholders include the local Infrastructure Capital Group (ICG)- the project sponsor and developer - and Overseas Trading Company, which is wholly owned by the Fujairah government (MEED 1:4:05).
  • Municipal election polls open in Mecca, Medina, Jeddah and Taif

    The third round of municipal elections started on 21 April. In total, 258 election stations opened in the Medina and Mecca regions and the northern provinces of Al-Qassim, Hail, Tabuk, Al-Jawf and the Northern Frontier.These elections will fill 244 seats in 178 municipal councils across the country. Half of municipal seats are occupied by elected officials and the rest are government appointments. In Jeddah, 20 per cent of eligible voters have registered for the ballot. Overa
  • Muslim Brotherhood demands a democratic republic in Syria

    The Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement on 4 April that called for 'the organisation of free and fair elections' in Syria. The statement also demanded the end of the state of emergency and a new constitution to 'deal with the needs of the moment and usher in a democratic republic'. In reference to the US presence in Iraq, the statement warned of a 'huge earthquake' on Syria's borders 'which threatens to invade'. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Syria, said it held
  • Muslim Brotherhood holds talks with Cairo over upcoming demo

    The Muslim Brotherhood is holding talks with Egypt's State Security service to discuss a planned protest against foreign pressure for reform, the group's spokesman, Mohammed Habib, said on 13 April. The banned organisation is planning a mass demonstration in favour of political reform in the next few weeks. The group is believed to be the largest membership organisation in Egypt and an authorised demonstration could draw thousands of protesters.'My feeling is the regime does
  • Nakheel plans new island development

    Dubai-based real estate developer Nakheelis evaluating bids for the dredging and reclamation contract on its proposed sixth island development project. The contract calls for the dredging and reclamation of about 20 million cubic metres of material. The proposed island will be located north of Palm Jebel Ali.
  • Nakheel plans new island development

    Dubai-based real estate developer Nakheelis evaluating bids for the dredging and reclamation contract on its proposed sixth island development project. The contract calls for the dredging and reclamation of about 20 million cubic metres of material. The proposed island will be located north of Palm Jebel Ali.
  • Nasa Multiplex takes new contracts in Dubai

    Local property developer Emaar Propertieshas awarded contracts worth a total of AED 1,150 million ($313 million) to the local/Australian Nasa Multiplex for the construction of 12 23-44-storey residential towers, 58 villas and townhouses, concrete podiums, car parks and associated facilities in Dubai.
  • Nasa Multiplex takes new contracts in Dubai

    Local property developer Emaar Propertieshas awarded contracts worth a total of AED 1,150 million ($313 million) to the local/Australian Nasa Multiplex for the construction of 12 23-44-storey residential towers, 58 villas and townhouses, concrete podiums, car parks and associated facilities in Dubai.
  • National development plan launched

    A comprehensive masterplan for the kingdom's future development, integrating economic, social, physical and environmental aspects, was formally launched on 18 April. The 18-24-month study, called the National Planning Development Strategies Project, will be carried out by a team of consultants led by the US' Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and including UK firms DTZ (economics and marketing), Atkins(environmental and infrastructure engineering), JMP C
  • NATO could offer peacekeepers for Darfur

    NATO troops should be ready to offer logistical support to African Union peacekeeping troops in Darfur, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on 21 April. 'If there is a request, I would hope NATO would activate quickly... We all have a responsibility to do what we can to alleviate the suffering in Darfur,' she said. Rice was speaking to reporters at a NATO meeting in Lithuania. Her French counterpart contradicted her during the same press conference. 'NATO does not have a calling to
  • New cabinet approved in Baghdad

    The Iraqi National Assembly on 28 April voted by 180 votes to five to approve the new government. Ninety MPs did not participate. The cabinet will include 31 ministers and four deputy prime ministers as well as Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim Jaafari. Negotiations continue to allocate seven key ministerial posts, including oil, defence, electricity, industry and human rights. Ahmed Chalabi will be acting Oil Minister and Jaafari will stand in as Defence Minister. Shia politician Bayan Jabb
  • New cement firm selects Sinoma

    The newly established Riyadh Cement Company (RCC) has awarded a major turnkey contract to China's Sinomafor the construction of a greenfield cement plant near the capital. It is Sinoma's second turnkey contract award in the kingdom (MEED 29:4:05).
  • New CEO for Citi Islamic

    Mohsin Nathani has been appointed chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of Bahrain-based Citi Islamic Investment Bank, the sharia-compliant subsidiary of Citigroup, replacing Saad Zamam. The change comes at a time when Citi Islamic is embarking on expansion across its product range and client base, says chairman Mohammed al-Shroogi, concentrating particularly on the development of Islamic debt instruments.
  • New Dubailand resort revisits Islam's golden age

    The local Dotcom Real Estatesigned on 28 March an estimated $135 million deal with Dubai Tourism & Development Company (DTDC)to develop a new educational and entertainment resort within the Dubailand development. The scheme, named Astrolab Resort, calls for the construction of a themed development focusing on the golden age of Islam. The complex, which will cover an area of about 1.4 million square feet, will include a five-star hotel, residential apartments, retail outle
  • New Dubailand resort revisits Islam's golden age

    The local Dotcom Real Estatesigned on 28 March an estimated $135 million deal with Dubai Tourism & Development Company (DTDC)to develop a new educational and entertainment resort within the Dubailand development. The scheme, named Astrolab Resort, calls for the construction of a themed development focusing on the golden age of Islam. The complex, which will cover an area of about 1.4 million square feet, will include a five-star hotel, residential apartments, retail outle
  • New electoral law for PLC a possibility

    The Palestinian Legislative Council is due to debate changes to the election law on 20 April. Fatah officials voted by a two-thirds majority on 19 April to change the electoral system to a constituency-based ballot. The party holds 62 out of 83 seats in the parliament. The Palestinian Central Elections Committee had hoped amendments to the electoral law would be made by April 17 so that the legislative elections could take place as scheduled on 17 July. Palestinian Authority President Mahmo
  • New finance minister appointed

    Bader al-Humaidhi has been appointed as the new Finance Minister, replacing the outgoing Mahmoud al-Nouri, who resigned last year after repeated grillings by members of the National Assembly (parliament). Humaidhi comes from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) where he was chairman. Al-Nouri resigned last summer, but stayed in office until a successor could be found. He tendered his resignation after Islamist parliament members repeatedly interrogated him on the state's investm
  • New government forms in Beirut

    Lebanese interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced on 19 April the formation of a new cabinet in which both pro-Syrian loyalists and opposition-backed figures hold key posts.
  • New head for Saudi Hollandi

    Giel-Jan van der Tol will replace Peter Balthussen as managing director of Saudi Hollandi Bank (SHB)from 1 May. Van der Tol is currently chief operating officer of SHB. Balthussen, who has served as managing director for three years, is to become president of ABN Amro'sFrench private banking division.
  • New hospital prescribed for Salmiya

    A tender is expected to be issued shortly for the main construction package on an estimated KD 8 million ($28 million) private hospital development in Salmiya. At least five local companies are expected to be invited for the project, which will be called the International Hospital. The 52-bed facility will have a built-up area of about 6,000 square metres and include employee housing and a car park. The consultant is the local Al-Dabbous Engineering Consultants. Construction is expec
  • New hospital prescribed for Salmiya

    A tender is expected to be issued shortly for the main construction package on an estimated KD 8 million ($28 million) private hospital development in Salmiya. At least five local companies are expected to be invited for the project, which will be called the International Hospital. The 52-bed facility will have a built-up area of about 6,000 square metres and include employee housing and a car park. The consultant is the local Al-Dabbous Engineering Consultants. Construction is expec
  • New Iraqi government delayed again

    Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim Jaafari was due to present a list of new cabinet members to the National Assembly on 25 April, but continuing negotiations delayed the announcement again. 'In principle, we were to have announced the new government today, but last minute details are preventing this,' deputy Daawa Party leader Jawad Maliki said. 'Maybe the government will be announced tomorrow,' he said ( MEED 21
  • New Iraqi PM announced as president sworn in

    Ibrahim Jaafari was nominated as Iraq's new prime minister on 7 April. Outgoing Prime Minister Iyad Allawi resigned but will continue to lead Iraq in a caretaker capacity until Jaafari has named his cabinet. Jaafari has a month to form a government but is expected to introduce it in two weeks. The transitional government's main task will be to draft a new constitution. The official announcement was made after Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani took the presidential oath of office.
  • New Jordanian cabinet sworn in

    A new Jordanian government led by Prime Minister-designate Adnan Badran was sworn in on 7 April. The 26-member administration is the fourth since King Abdullah ascended to the throne in 1999 and includes three women and 12 ministers from the previous government. The outgoing cabinet resigned on 5 April amid reports that the king was unhappy with the pace of reform.
  • New kid on the block

    Dubai-based consultant PHB Group has announced its merger with the UK's WSP Group to form a new company. Known as WSP Middle East, the Dubai-based company plans to bid for consultancy contracts covering transportation and infrastructure, traffic planning and civil works.
  • New kid on the block

    Dubai-based consultant PHB Group has announced its merger with the UK's WSP Group to form a new company. Known as WSP Middle East, the Dubai-based company plans to bid for consultancy contracts covering transportation and infrastructure, traffic planning and civil works.
  • New Lebanese security heads and public prosecutor appointed

    Information Minister Charles Rizk announced on 28 April new security heads and a new public prosecutor to replace pro-Syrian officials. General Ashraf Rifi takes over from General Ali Hajj as head of internal security forces, General George Khoury replaces General Raymond Azar as head of army intelligence and Said Murza is the new public prosecutor in place of Adnan Addum. The post of General Security Directorate head has yet to be filled following General Jamil Sayyed's resignation.
  • New loan facility for Export & Finance Bank

    The Arab Investment Company (TAIC)has lead arranged a three-year $45 million syndicated term loan facility for Export & Finance Bank (EFB). The funds will be used to support the expansion plans of EFB, which offers commercial, retail and investment banking products and services. Eleven regional and international banks joined the deal at syndication.
  • New platforms planned at offshore fields

    Saudi Aramco has invited six companies to submit bids by 21 May for two separate contracts covering fabrication and installation of pipelines, platforms and associated infrastructure at the three offshore oil fields of Safaniya, Zuluf and Marjan. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts are worth a total of $350 million.
  • New Shoura council holds its first session

    Saudi Arabia's Majlis al-Shoura met on 17 April for its first regular session following its expansion on 11 April. The council established 12 sub-committees covering foreign affairs, security, human rights, finance, economy and energy. 'I am sure that the coming sessions of the Shoura will witness qualitative changes in terms of responsibilities, powers, structure and mode of work,' said council chairman Saleh bin Humaid. Saleh al-Malik is the council's secretary-general (
  • New speaker paves way for appointment of a president

    The Transitional National Assembly elected Sunni Arab Hajim al-Hassani to be the parliamentary speaker on 3 April. Hussain al-Shahristani was his nearest rival in the ballot, cast by 241 out of 275 assembly members. Al-Shahristani will serve as deputy speaker with his Kurdish counterpart, Aref Taifour. The vote followed an assembly meeting on 29 March, during which delegates failed to agree on a speaker ( MEED
  • NIOC LNG delayed again

    National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC)has postponed bids for the project management consultancy (PMC) package on its proposed first liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant until late April. Only two bidders now remain in the field for the project, on which bidding has been delayed several times (MEED 11:2:05).
  • NIOC mulls Aghajari retender

    The transaction committee at National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)is considering a retender of the Aghajari gas reinjection scheme to better suit the capacity of local contractors. Three local-led bidding groups have been given technical rankings for the $850 million-1,000 million programme after submitting proposals in February (MEED 18:2:05).
  • No formal OPEC production increase but output will rise

    OPEC will probably postpone any formal oil production increase until its meeting in June as US oil prices fell below $50 a barrel to an eight-week low on 18 April. OPEC president and Kuwaiti Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah said actual output would rise in May anyway and that prices were almost at a fair level ( MEED 11:4:05). Qatari Energy Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-At
  • No French arms sales to Riyadh

    Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud al-Faisal said on 18 April that Riyadh had not signed any deal to acquire military aircraft from Paris during Crown Prince Abdullah's visit there on 14 April. French business daily Les Echos reported on 14 April that Riyadh and Paris had signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the sale of 48 Rafale combat aircraft with an option to buy 48 more in a deal worth $7,700 million. Dassault Aviation builds the Rafale, which would replace fighter plane
  • No need for military action against Iran, Annan says

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 28 April cautioned against a military attack on Iran to deter its nuclear programme. 'I don't think a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is on the cards,' he said. 'I also don't think there is any need to take physical action against Iran. It would be unwise.' Annan said that Tehran is co-operating with France, Germany and the UK (EU-3) regarding its nuclear programme and 'serious discussions are on which will produce results'.'If there is
  • NPC transfers cracker management

    National Petrochemical Company (NPC) has transferred responsibility for the olefins 8 and 11 ethane cracker projects to Arvand Petrochemical Companyand Bakhtiari Petrochemical Companyrespectively, from Pidemco, the NPC procurement wing. The switch of responsibility to the project companies increases the possibility of both contracts being retendered (MEED 4:2:05).
  • NSCSA buys Bermudan

    National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (NSCSA)has completed the acquisition of a $50 million, 30.3 per cent stake in Bermuda-based liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) trading and shipping firm Petredec Limited. NSCSA owns a fleet of 27 ships including very-large crude carriers (VLCCs), petrochemical carriers and four roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) multi-purpose carriers. Petredec owns a fleet of 13 carriers. DVB Bankwas the financial adviser to Petredec on the transaction,
  • OCI/Besix win Hamma desal plant

    A joint venture of Egypt's Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) and Belgium's Besix has received a letter of intent (LoI) from Hamma Water Desalination (HWD) for the design and build contract on its planned 200,000-cubic-metre-a-day desalination plant near Algiers.
  • OGI wins Hamrin

    Canada's OGI Group has been formally awarded the contract to develop the Hamrin oil field, the second major field development contract awarded in Iraq since the end of combat operations almost two years ago. 'The contract was signed at the weekend,' confirmed a senior Oil Ministry official on 28 March.
  • OIL & GAS: Waiting for the driver to recover

    Almost two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, it has become brutally clear that Iraq's hydrocarbons sector, far from being the catalyst that would lead the country into a new age of prosperity, is still in intensive care. Monthly crude production of 1.8 million-2.4 million barrels a day (b/d) is considerably less than the 2.6 million-b/d pre-war average. No amount of positive spin employed by either Baghdad or the coalition forces can hide the fact that the situation is approaching
  • Oil-for-food scandal the fault of Washington and London

    Washington and London are to blame for the oil-for-food corruption scandal, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on 14 April. He said most of Saddam Hussein's revenue came from smuggled oil sold to Jordan and Turkey that London and Washington should have stopped under the sanctions regime. Annan said London and Washington failed to stop the illegal oil sales because both of Iraq's neighbours were allies and no body had the money to reimburse them for losses incurred due to sanctions.
  • Omani Islamists plead innocence

    Islamist defendants accused of membership of a banned organisation and plotting to overthrow the government by force pleaded innocent on the final day of their trial on 25 April. They were also charged with possessing and selling weapons, collecting funds to support their organisation and canvassing for new members. Lawyers for 12 of the 31 men said their clients had sought to promote the teachings of the Ibadi sect and the fact that they owned weapons was normal in Oman. Police displayed s
  • Omantel IPO beckons

    The much anticipated initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel)is expected to be launched in May, after a Royal Decree was issued on 12 April removing a number of obstacles in the path of the offering. The IPO, which is set to be the largest in the sultanate's history, will cover 30 per cent of the company's capital and is expected to raise about RO 300 million ($770 million - MEED 14:1:05).
  • On the rebound

    It has been a week of mixed reviews for the oil market. On 12 April, the World Bank forecast a permanent decline in crude prices while, on the same day, the International Energy Agency (IEA) slightly revised downwards its forecast for demand in 2005. Both statements contradicted the latest report from US investment bank Goldman Sachs, which made headlines in late March by predicting a new trading band and possible price spikes of $105 a barrel in the near future (see Cover Story, pages 4-5).
  • One hundred days on, a cheer for Bush's new Middle East policy

    On 30 April, 100 days will have passed since George W Bush was sworn in for the second time as US president. The fear then was that the second term would witness more unquestioning support for Israel and unilateral action to bring about Middle East regime change.
  • OOC goes world-scale on aromatics

    Oman Oil Company (OOC)is planning to develop a world-scale aromatics complex at Sohar to be implemented on a fast-track basis. OOC is also a shareholder in the olefins, polypropylene (PP) and ethylene dichloride (EDC) facilities being developed in the area (MEED 8:4:05; 11:2:05).
  • OPEC discusses output increase

    OPEC president Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah said on 4 April that oil ministers are discussing a 500,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) supply increase. The move aims to slow spiralling oil prices as US crude reached $58.18 a barrel on 4 April. Kuwaiti Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmad said consultations begun on 2 April and a decision is due within two weeks, with any new production quotas to be introduced in May. He said OPEC is waiting to see if the current price trend continues and for new data on US g
  • OPEC postpones production increase

    OPEC president Sheikh Ahmed al-Fahad al-Sabah said on 9 April that OPEC will not increase oil production in the immediate future, but quotas might rise by 500,000 barrels a day (b/d) in May.'The price started to come down: so the reason for starting discussions has been removed,' Al-Sabah said, in reference to recent OPEC talks on production quotas. World oil prices fell for the sixth consecutive day on 11 April to below $54 a barrel (
  • Orascom unveils RAK project

    On-site work is under way for the latest real estate development in Ras al-Khaimah. Being developed by Cairo-based real estate developer, Orascom Hotels & Development (OHD), the Cove project calls for the construction of a 409-room, five-star hotel, 134 chalets, speciality restaurants and related facilities on a 50-acre beachfront site.
  • Orascom unveils RAK project

    On-site work is under way for the latest real estate development in Ras al-Khaimah. Being developed by Cairo-based real estate developer, Orascom Hotels & Development (OHD), the Cove project calls for the construction of a 409-room, five-star hotel, 134 chalets, speciality restaurants and related facilities on a 50-acre beachfront site.
  • Original scope restored on Sonatrach project

    The US' FMC Technologieshas been granted a $28.5 million change order on its contract to build five offshore oil terminals for state energy company Sonatrach. The order, which restores elements of the project cut in February, brings the contract value to about $252 million.
  • OT to upgrade Algeria network

    Egypt's Orascom Telecom(OT)has signed deals with Alcatel Submarine Networks, a subsidiary of France's Alcatel,and the US' Tyco Telecommunicationsto provide infrastructure on an estimated Eur 26 million ($33 million) project to install subsea fibre-optic cables between France and Algeria. The project, which aims to provide high-quality, reliable connectivity between North Africa and Europe, involves the installation of 1,300 kilometres of 10
  • PA will use force against militants

    Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said on 27 April that any group that violates the informal ceasefire in place since January will be 'hit by an iron fist'. Abbas said, 'We must have calm on the ground. We will stop, resorting to force if necessary, those who seek to sabotage [the ceasefire] by launching a rocket or opening fire.'Abbas reiterated that the PA will co-operate with Tel Aviv on its withdrawal from Gaza. 'We will facilitate their departure by ever
  • Palestinians reject US-Israeli position on settlements

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met US President George Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas on 11 April. In their first meeting for a year, Bush urged Sharon to meet Tel Aviv's obligations under the roadmap by not expanding settlements in the West Bank, but at the same time reaffirmed his support for the Israeli view that existing settlements should remain part of Israel.
  • Paris investigates Suha Arafat

    French judicial officials are investigating $7 million transferred to the Paris bank account of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's widow by Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) treasurer Nizar Abu Ghazaleh, the Wall Street Journal reported on 20 April. PLO officials said the money was transferred to Suha Arafat from a bank account in Tunisia and they are trying to discover if companies Al-Bahr and Al-Sakhra handled the funds. Ghazaleh was chairman of Al-Bahr and Suha Arafat helped
  • Paris proposes Palestinian aid summit

    French President Chirac met Israeli Vice-Prime Minister Shimon Peres in Paris on 18 April and proposed hosting an international conference on the peace process. Earlier on 18 April, Peres met French Foreign Affairs Minister Michel Barnier and discussed an economic aid package for the Palestinian Authority when Tel Aviv completes its withdrawal from Gaza, due to start in July. The package would encompass funds to rebuild Gaza's port, improve road links, support the local population and devel
  • Paris seeks closer ties with Riyadh

    'There are absolutely no disagreements between France and Saudi Arabia, on any matters,' said Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz after meeting French President Chirac on 14 April, on the second day of a two-day visit to Paris. Chirac commended Riyadh for an 'ambitious programme of transformations' in reference to the February municipal elections in Saudi Arabia and said Paris would like to strengthen bilateral ties with Riyadh. Chirac said Paris would lend Riyadh its support in the
  • Parsons bids low for RSHT PMC

    Parsons E&C, part of Australia's WorleyParsons, is the low bidder at $3.7 million for the contract to provide project management consultancy (PMC) services on the Ruwais sulphur handling terminal (RSHT) expansion project. Its offer is about 16 per cent lower than the next quote of $4.3 million submitted by Tebodin Middle East, part of Tebodinof the Netherlands. Five companies submitted commercial bids in early April for the contract to the client,
  • Paying the price

    Baghdad is heavily reliant on the $18,400 million in aid granted by Washington for the reconstruction effort. To date almost $8,000 million of the total has been activated by the Project & Contracting Office (PCO), the US body overseeing the allocation of funds.
  • Peace force for southern Sudan given go-ahead

    The UN Security Council on 25 March approved a peacekeeping force of more than 10,000 troops for southern Sudan. The force will monitor January's peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war between Khartoum and southern rebels. Samson Kwaje of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) welcomed the resolution, but said: 'We are not happy with the present composition of the force.' The mainly Christian and Animist SPLM previously expressed fears that Muslim countries would domi
  • Pearl towers go for bid

    The first batch of two towers on the Pearl-Qatar project has gone to tender, with prequalified contractors being given until 26 May to submit bids. The package covers two high-rise residential towers, associated parking, townhouses and retail units over a gross built-up area of 220,000 square metres. The buildings will be the first of seven to be built under the first phase of the Pearl programme. Prequalification has also been completed on the Pearl's infrastructure package, which will cover th
  • Pearl towers go for bid

    The first batch of two towers on the Pearl-Qatar project has gone to tender, with prequalified contractors being given until 26 May to submit bids. The package covers two high-rise residential towers, associated parking, townhouses and retail units over a gross built-up area of 220,000 square metres. The buildings will be the first of seven to be built under the first phase of the Pearl programme. Prequalification has also been completed on the Pearl's infrastructure package, which will cover th
  • Petrochemicals: Pressure points

    Abdulkareem al-Othman, general manager, engineering and planning of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), was in demand when he attended an industry conference in Bahrain in early March. No sooner had he finished his presentation at MEED's Major New Opportunities in Eastern Province conference and stepped off the podium, than scores of local, regional and international contractors lined up to hand him their business cards.
  • Petropars talks to IOCs on South Pars 12

    The local Petroparsis in discussion with several international oil companies (IOCs) about the development of South Pars phase 12, which is expected to be formally awarded to the state-run company in the second quarter. The project will be three times bigger than most South Pars phases and will feed a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project as well as provide additional gas for the domestic network (MEED 11:2:05).
  • PM announces interim cabinet

    Interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced the formation of a new cabinet on 19 April and promised to seek the resignation of pro-Syrian security chiefs. The new 14-member multi-confessional cabinet of mainly businessmen must now obtain a parliamentary vote of confidence, draft a new election law and have it passed by parliament if general elections are to go ahead in May. None of the new ministers will run in the upcoming polls.Mikati appointed retired security chief Hass
  • PM starts negotiations to form government

    Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati began meeting with members of parliament on 18 April to discuss the composition of a new government. He has less than two weeks to form a government and pass an electoral law before he can lead Lebanon into its general election, scheduled for 31 May. Opposition politicians backed Mikati in an effort to ensure elections were not postponed ( MEED 15:4:05
  • PMC appointed for Abu Dhabi OAG

    Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Company (Gasco) has awarded a contract to Shaw Stone & Webster, part of the US' Shaw Group,to provide project management consultancy (PMC) services for the front-end engineering and design (FEED) phase of the proposed offshore associated gas (OAG) scheme. The UK office of US-based Flour Corporationis carrying out the FEED contract (MEED 25:2:05).
  • Ports in a storm

    The importance of Iraq's southern ports cannot be underestimated. As the country's only access to the sea, they are a vital entry point for most of its imports and relief aid, as well as the main departure point for its oil exports.
  • Possible delay to announcement of new Iraqi government

    Continuing disagreements on the allocation of ministries could delay the announcement of the new Iraqi government, due on 21 April, for two days. As officials conducted last-minute discussions, President Talabani said on 20 April that he hoped a consensus on the new cabinet could be reached. 'We want to announce it as soon as possible,' Talabani said after meeting with Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim Jaafari, outgoing PM Iyad Allawi and Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (S
  • Potential suicide bombers gather in Tehran

    About 400 men and women gathered in Tehran on 20 April and declared their willingness to undertake suicide operations against Israel. The meeting took place in response to a call issued by two non-governmental organisations for people to come forward and be martyrs. All those who attended the gathering were members of militant Islamic groups.
  • Power, corruption and lies

    The new president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, has been taking great pains to stress his development credentials. 'I've seen first-hand what poverty is like in a developing country,' he said shortly before his appointment, referring to the four years he spent as US ambassador to Jakarta in the late 1980s. But the former cold war warrior has been less than eager to claim credit for the biggest development project to his name - the reconstruction of Iraq.
  • Prequalifiers prepare for Bubiyan tender

    Fifteen international groups are understood to have been recommended for prequalification for the phase 1 infrastructure package on the estimated $1,200 million Bubiyan port project. A tender for the estimated KD 40 million-50 million ($138 million-172 million) design and build contract is expected by mid-May, with an award anticipated by the end of the third quarter.
  • Prequalifiers prepare for Bubiyan tender

    Fifteen international groups are understood to have been recommended for prequalification for the phase 1 infrastructure package on the estimated $1,200 million Bubiyan port project. A tender for the estimated KD 40 million-50 million ($138 million-172 million) design and build contract is expected by mid-May, with an award anticipated by the end of the third quarter.
  • Prequals in for refinery cogen

    About 10 companies have applied to prequalify for the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contract to build a cogeneration plant for Oman Refinery Company. According to the Tender Board, they are: Saudi Arabia's Arabian Bemco Contracting; Oman Shapoorji Construction Company and Oman Steel Company, both local; Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), Larsen & Toubro and UB Engineering,
  • Prequals invited for Sohar berth work

    Applications for prequalification have been invited by 16 May for the phase 3 berth work at Sohar Industrial Port. The scope of works covers berths 8-14 and includes the deepening of existing berths and the approach channel to 18 metres from 16 metres and dredging in preparation for a bulk liquids berth and a 450-metre quay wall. Completion is due in stages finishing in June 2008 and will run concurrently with the phase 2 contract, which is nearing completion by Turkey's STFA,and wit
  • Prequals invited for Sohar berth work

    Applications for prequalification have been invited by 16 May for the phase 3 berth work at Sohar Industrial Port. The scope of works covers berths 8-14 and includes the deepening of existing berths and the approach channel to 18 metres from 16 metres and dredging in preparation for a bulk liquids berth and a 450-metre quay wall. Completion is due in stages finishing in June 2008 and will run concurrently with the phase 2 contract, which is nearing completion by Turkey's STFA,and wit
  • Prequals invited for WTC Residence

    Prequalification has been launched for the superstructure package on the Dubai World Trade Centre Residence project, with contractors preparing to submit documents by 20 April. The 18-month package, due to begin in late September, will cover substructure, superstructure and roofing works. The client may also assign as subcontracts the cladding and finishes packages to the successful bidder. The project calls for the construction of two interconnected towers, one with 40 storeys, the other with 3
  • Prequals invited for WTC Residence

    Prequalification has been launched for the superstructure package on the Dubai World Trade Centre Residence project, with contractors preparing to submit documents by 20 April. The 18-month package, due to begin in late September, will cover substructure, superstructure and roofing works. The client may also assign as subcontracts the cladding and finishes packages to the successful bidder. The project calls for the construction of two interconnected towers, one with 40 storeys, the other with 3
  • President urges use of militias to quell insurgency

    President Talabani said on 18 April that the insurgency could be ended immediately if Baghdad used Kurdish and Shia militias to fight the rebels instead of waiting for Iraqi forces to take over from coalition troops. 'Iraqi forces, the popular forces and government forces are now ready to end the insurgency and end this terrorism,' Talabani said. 'We cannot wait for years and years of terrorist activity because we haven't enough government forces,' he said.In the past, Talaba
  • Prices ease as stocks build

    Oil prices subsided as March drew to a close, falling back just below the $50-a-barrel mark after the release of weekly US stock data. However, the drop was rather counterintuitive as OPEC backtracked on plans for a further output rise and a serious accident struck a major US refinery. Spot Brent was trading at $49.81 a barrel on 30 March, compared with $53.87 a week earlier.
  • PRIVATISATION: Time to act on the programme

    Cairo hopes that accelerating the long-stalled privatisation process will provide a short-term boost to revenues as well as cutting expenditure. Since his appointment in July, Investment Minister Mahmoud Mohieldin has successfully offloaded a number of smaller enterprises, but he hopes to add some fresh impetus to the privatisation programme with the sale later this year of Bank of Alexandria.
  • Problems blight GTL plans

    Technical hitches on a pilot plant in South Africa have delayed by months plans to move ahead with a proposed gas-to-liquids (GTL) project in Iran. Norway's Statoiland South Africa's Petro SAare working on the new technology together and are in protracted negotiations with National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC)to develop a worldscale plant locally (MEED 9:7:05).
  • Proto-government collapses again

    Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami resigned on 13 April for the second time in two months after failing to form a new government. 'We have again reached a dead end,' Karami told reporters after negotiations between pro-Syria politicians to assign cabinet posts collapsed. His resignation returns Beirut to political limbo, which President Lahoud hopes to resolve with the planned nomination of a prime minister-designate on 15 April. Candidates to replace Karami include outgoing Economy Minister Ad
  • Putin meets Mubarak

    Russian President Putin arrived in Cairo on 26 April on the first visit of a Russian head of state to Egypt in 40 years. The visit is also Putin's first to the Arab world. Putin will meet Egyptian President Mubarak and they are expected to discuss closer bilateral ties, Russian tourism to Egypt, trade and the export of Russian technology to Egypt's gas industry. The two leaders will also address the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Putin will also meet Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mo
  • Putin visits Ramallah

    Russian President Putin held talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on 29 April in Ramallah. The two leaders discussed Russian proposals to provide the Palestinians with economic assistance, security training, communications equipment and two transport helicopters. 'We support the efforts of President Abbas to reform the security services and fight against terrorism,' Putin said. 'If we are waiting for President Abbas to fight against terrorism, he cannot do it with the re
  • PVAXX's pallet satisfied in Sohar

    Bermuda-based PVAXX Industrieshas awarded Saudi Consulting Services (SaudConsult)a lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) contract, worth an estimated $210 million, to establish a shipping pallet manufacturing plant at Sohar port. In the first phase, due for completion by the end of 2005, the facility will have annual production capacity of 150 million pallets. Polyethylene and sand supply contracts have already been concluded. PVAXX is also establishing a pallet factory in Bahrain's Hi
  • Qatargas II goes to syndication

    The financing package for the Qatar Liquefied Gas Company II (Qatargas II)project took another step forward on 6 April with the launch of syndication of the conventional commercial debt tranche. The 36 mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) have already had their $100 million commitments scaled back following the signature of an agreement with Italy's Sace in late February to provide $400 million of cover, complementing $405 million from the US' Export-Import Bank (MEED 24:12:05).
  • Qatari ruler Emir visits India

    Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani met Indian officials including Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh on 14 April and discussed supplying Qatari energy to India. 'We look forward to deepening co-operation between Qatar and India in the fields of oil, natural gas, petrochemicals, steel and other strategic industries,' Sheikh Hamad said. Doha has agreed to deliver 7.7 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas to India, five million of which is destined for Gujarat. Ras Laffan
  • Qatari takes helm at Apicorp

    Ahmed bin Hamad al-Noaimi has been appointed general manager of Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp), replacing Rasheed al-Maraj, who was made governor of the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA - central bank) in January following Manama's cabinet reshuffle (MEED 21:1:05). Al-Noaimi represented Qatar on Apicorp's board from 1992-2004 and has also served in senior roles at the Finance Ministry in Doha.
  • Qatofin/Q-Chem PIM due

    The long-awaited preliminary information memoranda (PIMs) are due to be issued to banks by the end of April on the debt packages for the local/French Qatofin and Qatar Chemical Company II (Q-Chem II). HSBCis financial adviser to Qatofin, a joint venture of Qatar Petrochemical Company, Atofinaof France and Qatar Petroleum (QP),which is planning a 450,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) unit at Mesa
  • QNB goes Islamic

    Qatar National Bank (QNB) has been granted approval by the Central Bank of Qatar (CBQ) to establish an Islamic subsidiary, immediately prompting the opening of the first branch of the sharia-compliant unit, on Salwa road. QNB is the first local conventional bank permitted to take this action, although Commercial Bank of Qataris understood to be looking to follow suit. QNB al-Islamiwill concentrate on retail banking but plans to gradually expand services. More outle
  • QNCC set for loan signing

    Qatar National Cement Company (QNCC)is expected to sign in the second half of September the loan agreement for the $200 million expansion of its Umm Bab cement plant. The producer mandated in July a four-strong bank group to arrange the $120 million loan on a club basis and will sign the facility and make the first drawdown as soon as the legal documentation has been completed (MEED 2:7:04).
  • Q-Tel flies FLAG

    London-based FLAG Telecomhas signed a landing agreement with Qatar Telecom (Q-Tel)as part of the estimated $300 million-400 million Falcon project to link the Gulf and the Far East to FLAG's existing global network. The 25-year right-of-use agreement allows connectivity with the local network, which will support Q-Tel's roll-out of advanced broadband services and increase the number of international circuits in the country.
  • Rabbis call for military disobedience over Gaza

    A group of rabbis and right-wing leaders called on 31 March for Israeli soldiers not to appear for duty after the Passover holiday at the end of April. The protest is an attempt to disrupt plans for Israel to evacuate Gaza in July ( MEED 29:3:05). The army will oversee the withdrawal. The group's demands were published as a document and broadcast over Israeli radio. Th
  • Racing against the clock

    Fehied al-Shareef has had a busy year. Since he was appointed governor of state-owned Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) 12 months ago, he has been involved in the kingdom's first independent water and power project (IWPP) at Shouaiba and taken steps towards privatising the company.
  • Rafsanjani more definite about running for president

    Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on 14 April that he would decide in the next few weeks whether to stand in Tehran's presidential elections in June. 'My presence in the elections is becoming more definite,' Rafsanjani said. 'But for the time being I have not reached a conclusion,' he added.The former president said he would run for office if it encouraged high numbers of voters. 'Real democracy occurs when the president is elected with acceptable voter turnout,' he said. But
  • Rafsanjani will stand for president

    Former President and cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani indicated on 25 April that he would stand for president in the June elections. 'The issue of the presidency is among my current preoccupations and although I would like someone else to take up this responsibility, I think I have to take this bitter medicine,' Rafsanjani said. He said he is considering running to ensure voter turnout given that the other candidates are not well known or experienced. 'There are many good and able figure
  • Rafsanjani:Will he or won't he?

    The nuclear talks depend to a large degree on the outcome of the June election. Mohammed Khatami's exit will mark the conclusion of the reformist era. The conservatives are desperately trying to bridge their own internal rifts and select a single candidate. But the favourite remains Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former president and head of the Expediency Council.
  • Raising the roof

    The flat roof on one of the largest ever aircraft hangars was raised in early April at Doha International Airport. The flat roof on the $18 million Qatar Airwaysmaintenance hangar was raised during a 10-hour procedure involving a series of cables and hydraulic jacks. The 155-metre-high, 135-metre-wide hangar, due to be completed in mid-2005, employs stretched arch technology developed by Australia's Starch. The project consultant is the UK's Atkins.
  • Raising the roof

    The flat roof on one of the largest ever aircraft hangars was raised in early April at Doha International Airport. The flat roof on the $18 million Qatar Airwaysmaintenance hangar was raised during a 10-hour procedure involving a series of cables and hydraulic jacks. The 155-metre-high, 135-metre-wide hangar, due to be completed in mid-2005, employs stretched arch technology developed by Australia's Starch. The project consultant is the UK's Atkins.
  • RAK Properties launches IPO

    Subscription is due to close on 12 April for the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Ras al-Khaimah-based RAK Properties (see Construction). The offering, which is open to UAE and GCC nationals, covers 55 per cent - equivalent to AED 1,100 million ($300 million) - of RAK's total capital of AED 2,000 million ($545 million). The remaining 45 per cent is held by the company's founders, including the government (MEED 25:3:05).
  • RAK university project gets into gear

    US-based Ellerbe Becketis expected to complete the masterplan for the proposed George Mason University campus in Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) by the end of the second quarter.
  • RAK university project gets into gear

    US-based Ellerbe Becketis expected to complete the masterplan for the proposed George Mason University campus in Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) by the end of the second quarter.
  • Ras Issa refinery tender set for issue

    Hoodoil, part of the local Natco, is aiming to issue a tender by mid-May for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the Ras Issa oil refinery project on the Red Sea. 'We are shortlisting contractors,' says a Hoodoil official. 'They [prequalifiers] will be given 45 days to submit a bid.' The estimated $250 million-300 million contract will involve the construction of a grassroots refinery with initial nameplate capacity of 30,000 barrels a day (b/d). A
  • RasGas platform work attracts fabricators

    Technical bids are due to be submitted by fabricators in mid-May for the main upstream package on the RasGas III integrated project. At least three international companies are expected to bid for the estimated $300 million engineering, procurement, installation and commissioning contract, which centres on the supply of two topsides. The North field facilities will supply gas feedstock to trains 6 and 7 planned at the Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company (RasGas)complex. The train
  • Reaching the home stretch

    The tiny Gulf coast village of Tombuk is about to be woken from its rural slumber. Next year construction work will begin there on Iran's first liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, and by 2010 the first product will be loaded on tankers, marking the culmination of a long and sometimes fraught process to bring Iranian gas to the world LNG market.
  • REAL ESTATE: Mortgaging the future

    Demand for holiday homes by the Red Sea and luxury apartments in Cairo's wealthier suburbs is driving a boom at the top end of Egypt's property market, where developers and wealthy individuals with access to equity are taking advantage of the devalued pound and an undervalued market. But further down the property tree, the market remains sluggish. The prime reason is a lack of access to finance for individuals.
  • Refining: Facing up to the new downstream challenge

    International oil companies (IOCs) can get excited. Once again there is a rare opportunity to become involved in Saudi Arabia's hydrocarbons sector. More than a year after Japan's Sumitomo Chemical Company joined Saudi Aramco on the Rabigh refinery and petrochemicals integration scheme, and after five international firms formed joint ventures with Aramco for the exploration of gas resources in the Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter), the door to another opportunity has opened. It might not be equity oi
  • Reform, not oil, is key to economic growth

    Regional economic growth is expected to average 4.9 per cent in 2005 and 4.3 per cent in 2006, said a World Bank report released on 17 April. Oil-driven economic growth in the Middle East is insufficient to sustain job creation in the region, the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Economic Developments and Prospects 2005 report says. The region needs to generate 100 million new jobs over the next 20 years, according to the report.'MENA's strong growth over the last two years d
  • REGIONAL OPERATORS: Ringing encouraging tones

    Another year, another encouraging performance. The bulk of Middle East telecoms operators posted strong results in 2003, and most full-year results for 2004 make similarly positive reading. There is no room for complacency, however. With fixed-line markets still closed for competition and most GSM markets dominated by monopolies and duopolies, testing times still lie ahead for many of the carriers as new competitors arrive in the market.
  • Reports point to reform

    Three reports criticise failures in political and economic development
  • Resorts multiply

    The government's plans to develop the tourism sector are accelerating, with a host of investors signing up for new resort projects and awards close for several contracts on the sultanate's flagship development, The Wave.
  • Resorts multiply

    The government's plans to develop the tourism sector are accelerating, with a host of investors signing up for new resort projects and awards close for several contracts on the sultanate's flagship development, The Wave.
  • Revised prices submitted for IMPZ

    Fresh prices were submitted on 12 April for the estimated AED 300 million ($82 million) main infrastructure contract on the International Media Production Zone (IMPZ) in Dubai. The client, the local Dubai Technology, Media, e-Commerce & Free Zone Authority (Tecom), invited three contractors to submit revised prices after changes to the scope of works. The bidders are the local/UK Dutco Balfour Beattyand Al-Naboodah Engineering Servicesand Wade Adams Co
  • Revised prices submitted for IMPZ

    Fresh prices were submitted on 12 April for the estimated AED 300 million ($82 million) main infrastructure contract on the International Media Production Zone (IMPZ) in Dubai. The client, the local Dubai Technology, Media, e-Commerce & Free Zone Authority (Tecom), invited three contractors to submit revised prices after changes to the scope of works. The bidders are the local/UK Dutco Balfour Beattyand Al-Naboodah Engineering Servicesand Wade Adams Co
  • RFP release approaches on Fujairah IWPP

    The request for proposals (RFP) is expected to be released in June for the Fujairah independent water and power project (IWPP). The project, which is being handled by Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA), will involve the acquisition and expansion of the existing 656-MW and 100 million-gallon-a-day plant at Qidfa on a build-operate basis. The size of the extension has still to be confirmed, although it is expected to be in the range of 200 MW. As with other ADWEA IWPPs, foreign develo
  • Rifaat Asad calls for Syrian reform

    Exiled Rifaat Asad, uncle to President Bashar Asad, issued a statement on 31 March which called for free elections in Syria, the end of emergency laws and constitutional change. The statement, credited to Rifaat's United National Alliance, said Syria is the focus of 'foreign ambitions' and has to adapt to a changing world. Rifaat served as vice-president during his brother Hafez's presidency but was exiled in 1985.
  • Rise of the technocrats

    September 2002 could turn out to be a significant month in modern Egyptian history. It was then that Gamal Mubarak, the younger son of President Hosni Mubarak, was promoted to head the High Council for Policies of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). The 123-member group of economists, businessmen and academics was created to oversee the transformation of the NDP from a state patronage machine run by old-guard party bosses to a modern majority party managed by a clique of savvy technocra
  • Riyadh continues assault on Al-Qaeda network

    Security forces killed suspected Al-Qaeda member Abdul Rahman al-Yazji on 6 April in Riyadh. Al-Yazji is the latest alleged militant on a list of most-wanted men to be killed by police. He was shot when security forces raided a house where he was hiding in an industrial area south of Riyadh.Al-Yazji's death follows that of two other suspected Al-Qaeda members in a three-day clash between suspected militants and police in Qassim province on 5 April (
  • Riyadh enlarges Shoura Council

    King Fahd increased the number of seats on the Shoura Council from 120 to 150 on 11 April. New members will sit for four years on the appointed council, which excludes women and has no legislative powers. Any council recommendations must be referred to the monarch and agreed by the government. This is the fourth increase in council numbers since it was established in 1993 and has prompted calls for some of the seats to be elected. New members occupy about 90 seats and the min
  • Riyadh not to blame for high oil price

    'Saudi Arabia is not responsible for the price of oil in the market,' Petroleum & Mineral Resources Minister Ali Naimi said on 21 April. 'We try to respond to our customers, we have not turned down a customer who says 'I want your oil'.' He was speaking at an international oil conference in Paris. 'You can find customers for us, send them over and we'll be happy to satisfy their requirements,' he joked with reporters.International Energy Agency (IEA) chief Claude Mandil said
  • Riyadh to restrict number of Nigerian pilgrims

    Riyadh warned Abuja on 15 April that it might cut Nigeria's quota of Hajj pilgrims. More than 27,000 Nigerians have remained in Saudi Arabia illegally after completing the Hajj. Fouad bin Abdul Salaam bin Mohammed al-Farsy wrote to a letter to Nigeria's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Abubakar Tanko, demanding Abuja take action to bring Nigerians who have exceeded their visas home. If no action is taken, the number of Nigerians permitted to attend the next Hajj will be reduced
  • Roads advisory tendered

    Bids are due on 12 April for the consultancy contract on the BD 64 million ($168.4 million) first phase of the programme to improve the kingdom's roads network. About eight companies are understood to have been prequalified to bid for the work, which is part of a wider masterplan drawn up by the UK's Hyder Consulting. The client is the Works & Housing Ministry (MEED 20:8:04).
  • Roads advisory tendered

    Bids are due on 12 April for the consultancy contract on the BD 64 million ($168.4 million) first phase of the programme to improve the kingdom's roads network. About eight companies are understood to have been prequalified to bid for the work, which is part of a wider masterplan drawn up by the UK's Hyder Consulting. The client is the Works & Housing Ministry (MEED 20:8:04).
  • Roadshows due for MTC bridge loan

    Roadshows are due to take place in London on 20 April and in Dubai on 24 April for syndication of the $2,400 million bridge loan to finance the acquisition by the local Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC)of Amsterdam-based Celtel, which gives the operator control of 13 networks in sub-Saharan Africa (MEED 1:4:05).
  • Rumsfeld makes surprise visit to Baghdad

    US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on 12 April that he was worried about purges of the Iraqi defence and interior ministries under the new administration. 'It's important that the new government be attentive to the competence of the people in the ministries and that they avoid unnecessary turbulence,' Rumsfeld said. His made his remarks as he arrived on an unannounced one-day visit to Baghdad.Rumsfeld said there was an opportunity to make political and economic progres
  • Saad Hariri heir to family legacy

    Saad Hariri, the son of murdered former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, inherits his late father's 'historic responsibility and leadership of all national and political affairs', announced a statement issued on 20 April by the Hariri family. Saad Hariri is also heir to his father's vast business empire. He is currently general manager of Saudi Oger, which has an annual turnover of more than $2,000 million. Saad Hariri is also chairman of Omnia holdings and a board member of Oger Inter
  • Saad Hariri will run for a parliamentary seat

    Saad Hariri, the son of murdered former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, will run in the upcoming general elections, he announced on 24 April. 'I do intend to run. I do intend to prove myself. I do intend to work hard. I do intend to achieve my father's goals,' Hariri told CNN. 'My political agenda is to continue my father's legacy. He wanted a free and sovereign Lebanon. He wanted elections to happen in a timely fashion,' he added (
  • Sadafco prepares for IPO launch

    Saudia Dairy & Foodstuff Company (Sadafco)will launch its initial public offering (IPO), covering 30 per cent of its existing shares, in a 10-day subscription starting on 25 April. A second IPO in another local dairy company, Almarai Company, is expected to be launched soon after the Sadafco offering closes (MEED 14:1:05).
  • Salalah port bids in

    Technical bids were opened on 28 March for the two main contracts on the project to rehabilitate and expand Salalah port. Six bids were submitted for the contract to carry out dredging and reclamation for two new container berths and build a 2.5-kilometre breakwater, while seven offers were received for the construction of the berths. India's Consulting Engineering Servicesis the consultant on the estimated $280 million expansion project; the client is the Transport & Communications
  • Salalah port bids in

    Technical bids were opened on 28 March for the two main contracts on the project to rehabilitate and expand Salalah port. Six bids were submitted for the contract to carry out dredging and reclamation for two new container berths and build a 2.5-kilometre breakwater, while seven offers were received for the construction of the berths. India's Consulting Engineering Servicesis the consultant on the estimated $280 million expansion project; the client is the Transport & Communications
  • Salalah port expansion bids opened

    The Tender Board on 11 April opened prices for the two main construction packages on the project to rehabilitate and expand Salalah container port. According to the main prices, the low bidders are India's Hindustan Constructionfor the dredging and breakwater package and Egypt's Arab Contractors (Osman Ahmed Osman & Company)for the berths contract. The client is the Transport & Communications Ministry (MEED 1:4:05).
  • Salalah port expansion bids opened

    The Tender Board on 11 April opened prices for the two main construction packages on the project to rehabilitate and expand Salalah container port. According to the main prices, the low bidders are India's Hindustan Constructionfor the dredging and breakwater package and Egypt's Arab Contractors (Osman Ahmed Osman & Company)for the berths contract. The client is the Transport & Communications Ministry (MEED 1:4:05).
  • Saudi security forces kill Al-Qaeda militants

    Security forces on 5 April killed two suspected Al-Qaeda leaders who appear on a list of 26 alleged Islamic militants wanted by the government. Moroccan national Abdul al-Mejjati and Saudi Arabian Saud Homoud al-Oteibi died during a gun battle between police and militants in Al-Ras. Nine militants were reported killed during the shootout, which started on 3 April and continued for three days (
  • Saudi security forces kill eight suspected militants

    A gun battle between security forces and suspected Islamic militants continued for a second day on 4 April in Qassim province, north of Riyadh. Reports said eight militants were killed and 15 police wounded, two seriously, in the shootout. The gun battle started on the morning of 3 April when police surrounded a house in Al-Rass, where they believed wanted militants sympathetic to Al-Qaeda were hiding. The militants fled to a building site in Jawazat, from where they launched
  • Saudi visas could be issued on arrival

    Riyadh is considering issuing business and tourist visas at airports to attract foreign investors and tourists, Arab News reported on 26 April. Chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce Abdul Rahman al-Jeraisy said a committee has been established to consider the change in the visa application process. He said that many private firms were hosting conferences outside the kingdom because of the difficulties of getting visas for participants. 'We have to take quick steps to tackle
  • Saudi-US summit focuses on oil production and Gaza withdrawal

    Riyadh has a 'very ambitious' plan of investment to expand oil production capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day by 2010, White House spokesman Steve Hadley announced on 25 April. He was speaking after a meeting of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah with US President Bush in Crawford, Texas. As well as oil, talks focused on Tel Aviv's withdrawal from Gaza, the development of Palestinian democratic institutions and Palestinian security reform, Hadley said. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also s
  • Search for lost hope

    Easter Sunday, 27 March, was just another day in the life of the new Iraq. Two US soldiers were killed by bomb attacks in Mosul and a suburb of Baghdad; the northern export pipeline was sabotaged, halting vital oil exports; a roadside bomb in Basra targeted a local police patrol; a ministerial bodyguard detachment fired on protesting workers demanding their full wages, wounding three and killing one; a video released on the internet showed yet another gruesome execution of a hostage; and unident
  • Second US official visit to Iraq

    US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick arrived in Baghdad on 13 April. His trip is the second surprise visit by a senior US official to Iraq in two days, following Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. After his arrival, Zoellick travelled to Fallujah to meet with US troops ( MEED 12:4:05). 'We are obviously, in the aftermath of this election, in a key period of pol
  • Security chief resigns

    Pro-Syrian Lebanese security chief General Jamil Sayyed resigned on 25 April. His resignation as head of the General Security Directorate signals a shift in the political climate in Lebanon as Damascus completes its military withdrawal. 'Security chiefs are usually appointed with politics and change when it changes,' Sayyed said in his resignation letter. There are only a few hundred Syrian troops left in Lebanon and they are due to leave the Bekaa valley on 26 April (
  • Security forces behind more than 6,000 disappearances, says Algiers

    An Algerian government commission confirmed on 31 March that security forces were responsible for the disappearance of 6,146 civilians during the decade-long struggle against Islamic rebels.'The 6,146 I am referring to are people who have disappeared because of the actions of agents of the state,' government official Farouk Ksentini told journalists. 'We cannot say whether they are dead or alive. We have said that they have disappeared,' he added.The report is
  • Setback for Hadjret Ennous

    State-owned Algerian Energy Company (AEC) has still to set a revised closing date for the submission of commercial bids on the contract to develop a 1,200-MW combined cycle power plant at Hadjret Ennous, after cancelling the original late March deadline. AEC has not explained to the bidders - Germany's Siemensand Canada's SNC Lavalin- why the deadline was postponed, nor set a new bidding schedule. In addition to building the plant, the successful bidder will b
  • Settlers accused of poisoning Palestinian farmland

    Amnesty International asked the Israeli government on 25 April to investigate the poisoning of Palestinian farmland in the West Bank by Israeli settlers. The human rights group said toxic chemicals had been spread on fields near Tuwani, Umm Faggara and Kharruba, south of Hebron, since March. Sheep, gazelles and other animals have been contaminated and farmers are unable to use milk products from their livestock, Amnesty said. 'These poisoning incidents appear to be part of a deliberate atta
  • Seven invited for styrene unit tender

    Seven international contractors have been invited to bid by 24 June for the estimated $150 million contract to build the 450,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) styrene unit on the planned Olefins II petrochemical complex. The client, The Kuwait Styrene Company (TKSC)- a joint venture of the local Kuwait Aromatics Company (KARO)and the US' Dow ChemicalCompany- is expected to award the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract by the end of the third q
  • Sharon wins budget vote

    Knesset members approved the 2005 state budget on 29 March by 58 votes to 36 with one abstention. Opponents of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plans to withdraw from Gaza in July had tried to prolong the budget debate. The Israeli parliament had to pass the spending package before a 31 March deadline, otherwise elections would have been called for June. This would have delayed the departure of Israeli settlers and soldiers from Gaza. Sharon struck a deal with the centrist party Shinui to defe
  • Shell returns to Algeria

    The Royal/DutchShell Grouphas returned to the upstream oil and gas sector following an absence of almost 20 years, after winning two blocks in the country's latest international licensing round. The Anglo/Dutch major was one of four companies to be awarded a total of nine oil and gas exploration contracts by state energy company Sonatrachon 9 April.
  • Signing due for SIUCI finance

    The $430 million debt package for the Sohar International Urea & Chemical Industriesproject at Sohar is due to be signed on 26 April. HSBCis underwriting the transaction, which is split equally between Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) and Nippon Export & Investment (NEXI). Additional banks may join the transaction, which has a door-to-door tenor of 14 years, after financial close. SIUCI is wholly owned by the local Suhail Bahwan Group(MEED 1:4:
  • Six companies in for Mataki makeover

    Six international contractors have been prequalified for a contract to build a major mixed-use development, costing an estimated Eur 170 million ($221 million), in the Mataki district of Tripoli. The client, Pakistan's Hashoo Group, has requested pre-tender information from the companies and is expected to issue a tender shortly. The scheduled bid deadline is set for the end of July, with an award to be made by year-end. Construction is expected to take about two years.
  • Six companies in for Mataki makeover

    Six international contractors have been prequalified for a contract to build a major mixed-use development, costing an estimated Eur 170 million ($221 million), in the Mataki district of Tripoli. The client, Pakistan's Hashoo Group, has requested pre-tender information from the companies and is expected to issue a tender shortly. The scheduled bid deadline is set for the end of July, with an award to be made by year-end. Construction is expected to take about two years.
  • Six squeeze into Bapco syndication

    The final twist in the financing of the refinery upgrade by Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) has seen syndication closed on the sell-down of about $140 million of the commercial debt tranche of the $1,000 million funding package, on which financial close was reached in early February. Six banks are understood to have joined the transaction - Abu Dhabi Investment Company, Allied Irish Bank, Ahli United Bank, Arab Bank, Natexis B
  • Sixco lands NDIA foundations

    Belgium's Six Constructhas received a letter of award, valued at about QR 98 million ($27 million), for the passenger terminal foundations package on the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) project. The contractor was low bidder for the 14-month contract when bids were opened in February. The contract covers the foundations for: the concourse and terminal; a baggage handling tunnel; and the passenger bridges. Evaluation of prequalification bids is under way for the main passenger t
  • Sixco lands NDIA foundations

    Belgium's Six Constructhas received a letter of award, valued at about QR 98 million ($27 million), for the passenger terminal foundations package on the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) project. The contractor was low bidder for the 14-month contract when bids were opened in February. The contract covers the foundations for: the concourse and terminal; a baggage handling tunnel; and the passenger bridges. Evaluation of prequalification bids is under way for the main passenger t
  • SK, Tecnimont jv bids low for aromatics

    A South Korean/Italian joint venture of SK Engineering & Construction and Tecnimontis low bidder for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract covering the development of the state's aromatics plant, following the opening of bids on 17 April.
  • Skikda PMC hits problems

    The award of the project management consultancy (PMC) contract on the rehabilitation of the Skikda ethylene complex and the Arzew methanol plant has been severely delayed due to reservations about the project from one of the three shortlisted bidders.
  • Small steps forward

    And so the bandwagon rolls on, this time to the northern and western provinces of Saudi Arabia, where on 21 April voters turned out for the third and final stage of municipal elections. As the polls close in Mecca, Medina, Qassim, Tabuk, Hail, Al-Jouf and the Northern Border province and the count gets under way, Saudi authorities will be looking back on the political drama of the last four months and asking themselves what lessons can be learned from the kingdom's first brush with democracy.
  • SOC reissues pipeline tenders

    State-owned Sirte Oil Company (SOC)has reissued two tenders for construction of the Melitah-Tripoli gas pipeline and completion of the Khoms-Tripoli gas pipeline. Interested contractors have until 11 August to bid for both schemes, which together are worth an estimated $270 million. SOC, a subsidiary of National Oil Corporation (NOC), plans to award the contracts by year-end.
  • Solidere in good health

    Solidere on 3 April released its financial results for the year ending 31 December 2004, which saw profits more than triple to $54.1 million compared to $16.4 million in 2003. The increase income was attributed to a $180 million rise in property sales - $169 million coming from land sales and $11 million from real estate property - as well as the launch of its sales-for-shares programme. The company began trading on the Kuwait Stock Exchange on 8 March, the first Lebanese company to do so
  • Solidere in good health

    Solidere on 3 April released its financial results for the year ending 31 December 2004, which saw profits more than triple to $54.1 million compared to $16.4 million in 2003. The increase income was attributed to a $180 million rise in property sales - $169 million coming from land sales and $11 million from real estate property - as well as the launch of its sales-for-shares programme. The company began trading on the Kuwait Stock Exchange on 8 March, the first Lebanese company to do so
  • Sonatrach acquires new tanker

    Sonatrach Petroleum Corporation (SPC), the wholly-owned subsidiary of state energy company Sonatrach, has taken delivery of a third liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker from Japan's Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation, a subsidiary of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, under the terms of an agreement signed in late 2002. The 59,000-square-metre vessel, named Hassi Messaoud 2, is SPC's sixth LPG tanker. Sonatrach on 2 October 2002 awarded a contract to Kawasaki fo
  • Sonatrach plans series of new facilities

    Companies have been given until the end of April to submit expressions of interest (EoIs) to Sonatrachfor a new oil refinery near Algiers and a number of petrochemicals projects at Arzew and Skikda. Interested parties will be expected to form a partnership with the state energy company.
  • Sonatrach to double LNG supply to UK

    State energy company Sonatrachhas signed a 20-year agreement with UK energy delivery company National Grid Transco (NGT)to double its supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the UK to about 3.5 million tonnes a year (t/y) by late 2008. The agreement is an extension of the deal signed between NGT and a 50:50 joint venture of Sonatrach and the UK's BPin October 2003 to jointly supply about 3.8 million t/y of LNG from 2005. The gas will be exported to the Isle o
  • Spending up, again

    Finance Minister Yousef Hussain Kamal announced on 30 March another expansionary budget for fiscal 2005/06, which begins on 1 April. In keeping with recent years, capital spending has been significantly hiked, receiving a 32 per cent increase in its allocation to QR 11,728 million ($3,322 million). Despite the sharp rise, the budget projects a small surplus, of QR 218 million ($59 million), as a result of a 45 per cent jump in budgeted revenues to QR 38,028 million ($10,447 million).
  • SPLM holds talks with Khartoum

    A delegation of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) arrived in Khartoum on 3 April to discuss the peace deal they struck with the government in January ( MEED 10:1:05). The agreement ended a 21-year civil war between the Arab Muslim-dominated government in Khartoum and Christian and animist rebels in the south. In talks expected to last six weeks, the two parties will discuss a
  • SPLM rallies in Khartoum, opposition meeting blocked

    Thousands of supporters of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) rallied in Khartoum on 6 April to hear speeches from the SPLM leadership. An SPLM delegation arrived in the city on 3 April to form a coalition government and draft a new constitution following a January peace deal with Khartoum ( MEED 3:4:05). 'Peace has dawned at last in our war-torn nation,' sa
  • Strabag wins methanol job

    Austria's Strabaghas been awarded the RO 4 million ($10.2 million) civils package on the Oman Methanol Company (OMC)project at Sohar. The work covers site preparation and infrastructure work and equipment foundations. Strabag is also understood to be frontrunner for the RO 3.5 million-4 million ($9 million-10.2 million) buildings package on the project. Germany's Promanis carrying out the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on the scheme,
  • Students demonstrate across Egypt

    Thousands of students demonstrated on 5 April against the government. Protests took place on five university campuses across the country. Students - mainly supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood - called for the end of President Mubarak's rule, constitutional reform and for the government to lift the state of emergency introduced in 1981 ( MEED 27:3:05). Up to 4,000 students congregated at
  • Subcontract awards begin to flow on OGD-3/AGD-2 programme

    With four out of the five engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts now awarded on the third phase of the onshore gas development (OGD-3) and phase 2 of the Asab gas development (AGD-2) programme in Abu Dhabi, major subcontract packages are starting to be placed. Geneva-registered Archirodon Construction (Overseas) has been selected for the first major civils subcontract on package 4, while awards are pending on package 2 (MEED 11:3:05).
  • SWCC begins search for advice on privatisation

    State-owned Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) has begun the search for advisers to oversee its planned privatisation, by inviting firms to prequalify for advisory positions. The initiative is the second element in SWCC's privatisation programme. The first, being implemented with Saudi Electricity Company (SEC)through the Water & Electricity Company (WEC)venture, involves private sector participation through independent water and power projects (IWPPs - MEED 8:4:0
  • Syria-EU trade agreement back on the agenda

    EU member of parliament Veronique de Keyser said on 11 April that Damascus must completely withdraw its troops from Lebanon before an EU trade deal with Syria can go ahead. She said that disarmament of Hezbollah was not a priority. 'It's not essential that all of [UN Security Council resolution] 1559 be implemented before the agreement is signed,' De Keyser said. She was speaking during a five-day visit to Damascus and Beirut. Resolution 1559 calls for the withdrawal of all foreign troops f
  • Syrian military to withdraw completely from Lebanon

    Damascus said on 29 March that it would withdraw all military and intelligence units before Lebanon's May elections. The declaration was made in a letter sent by Foreign Affairs Minister Farouq al-Shara to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council. It was sent as the Security Council met to discuss a US-French draft resolution that would call for an international inquiry into the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri (
  • Syrian troop numbers in Lebanon lowest since 1990

    Syrian troops dismantled eight positions on 28 March near the town of Baalbek and loaded up trucks in Mashgara and Chaat with equipment. Over the past week, 2,000 Syrian army personnel have redeployed from the eastern Bekaa valley and returned home. The number of Syrian soldiers in Lebanon now stands at 8,000, the lowest since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990. More Syrian soldiers are expected to leave Lebanon this week following the meeting of a Lebanese-Syrian mili
  • Syrian troops to leave Lebanon by end of April

    UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said on 3 April that all Syrian troop and intelligence units will have left Lebanon by 30 April. He made the announcement after a meeting with President Asad and Foreign Affairs Minister Farouq al-Shara in Damascus. Currently, 8,000 Syrian troops remain in Lebanon, where Damascus has retained a military presence for almost 30 years ( MEED 29:3:05).
  • Syrians protest against trial of human rights activists

    About 200 Syrians protested on 24 April outside a state security court in Damascus where three human rights activists were standing trial. The campaigners are accused of conducting activities against the state. Aktham Naisse heads the Committee for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria and was arrested in April 2004 after he organised a demonstration against emergency laws. Shevan Abdo is a Kurd and was detained in March 2004 following clashes in northern Syria. Mass
  • Tabreed doubles capital

    Abu Dhabi-based National Central Cooling Company (Tabreed)on 14 April completed a rights issue, doubling capital to AED 1,000 million ($272.5 million). Shareholders were offered one new share for every share held, priced at par of AED 10 ($2.7). The additional capital will be used to expand district cooling operations primarily in the UAE but also across the GCC. Tabreed has already established joint ventures in Bahrain and Qatar, is close to finalising a similar agreement in Saudi A
  • Takreer takes RSHT FEED bids

    Technical bids were submitted on 26 March to Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer)for the contract to provide front-end engineering and design (FEED) services on the Ruwais sulphur handling terminal (RSHT) expansion project. The bidders include Parsons E&C, part of Australia's WorleyParsons, Penspen Internationalof the UK and Mustang Engineering, Black & Veatch Oil, Gas & Chemicals and Washington Group Internation
  • Talabani opposes death sentence for Saddam Hussein

    New Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat on 10 April that 'it would be a problem for me if Iraqi courts issued death sentences'. He was answering a question on the fate of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who is currently in US custody in Iraq awaiting trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.'The issue of a possible pardon is the responsibility of the presidential council and I cannot make an individual decision,' Talabani said.
  • TangMed contracts awarded

    The Tangier Mediterranean Special Agency (TMSA) has awarded two contracts for work on the Tangier-Mediterranean (TangMed) port development.
  • Target on target for Jebel Dhanna tank farms

    The local Target Engineering & Construction Company is the low bidder for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on the Jebel Dhanna tank farm facility upgrade project in western Abu Dhabi emirate. Its offer of AED 248.5 million ($68 million) is about 1.5 per cent lower than the next price of AED 252 million ($69 million) submitted by India's Punj Lloyd. Four firms submitted commercial bids in late March for the contract to Abu Dhabi Company
  • Tasnee cracker bidders in final negotiations

    Final negotiations are scheduled to take place in late April between the local Tasnee Petrochemicalsand two shortlisted bidding groups for the project to build a large-scale ethane/propane cracker at Jubail. Final revised prices are also due to be submitted in mid-April to Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic)for its mixed feedstock cracker at Yanbu as part of the planned greenfield YanSab olefins complex (MEED 1:4:05).
  • Tasnee shortlists two on cracker project

    Saudi Arabia
  • Technip clinches cracker job

    The first major contract has been awarded on the state's $3,500 million petrochemicals programme, after Paris-based Technipreceived on 18 April a letter of intent for the technology and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package on the Ras Laffan ethylene cracker. The 1.3 million-tonne-a-year (t/y) cracker will supply ethylene feedstock to the Qatar Chemical Company II (Q-Chem II)and Qatofinderivatives complexes at Mesaieed, both of which are out
  • Tehran condemns Al-Jazeera coverage of ethnic clashes

    Tehran ordered Al-Jazeera to close its Tehran bureau on 18 April and accused the satellite channel of encouraging ethnic violence in Ahwaz. 'This suspension will last for as long as is needed for our experts to examine the possible actions of the Al-Jazeera channel to provoke subversive elements in the troubles that took place,' said Mohammed Hossein Khoshvaght, director-general of the Culture & Islamic Guidance Ministry (
  • Tehran may leave nuclear negotiations

    Tehran will abandon negotiations with Britain, France and Germany if no 'tangible progress' is made during upcoming discussions, Hassan Rohani, the head of the Supreme National Security Council, told London Daily The Financial Times on 19 April. He said talks could continue for a few more months but only if the Europeans were willing to base negotiations on issues recently put to them by Tehran. He did not specify those issues, but Reuters reported that Tehran wants to build
  • Tehran rebuffs Israeli call for international coalition

    Tehran said on 17 April that Tel Aviv should not threaten Iran and rejected calls made by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for an international coalition to counter Tehran's nuclear programme. 'The Zionist regime is not eligible to express any ideas since it is the source of tension, crisis and trouble in the region,' said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi. Sharon said on April 14 that Tel Aviv has no plans to attack Tehran's nuclear sites (
  • Tehran seeking warheads; fails to inform parliament of programme says opposition

    Exiled Iranian opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) alleged on 1 April that Tehran allocated $2,500 million to obtain three nuclear warheads last year.'In mid-2004, [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei allocated $2,500 million to obtain three nuclear warheads,' the NCRI's Mohammad Mohaddessin told reporters in Paris. The group did not say whether Tehran acquired any of the warheads but stated that Iran was speeding up work on a reactor in Arak
  • Tel Aviv considers delaying Gaza pullout

    Tel Aviv announced on 18 April that it might delay until the middle of August its withdrawal from Gaza, scheduled to start on 20 July. Sharon may postpone the evacuation of Israeli settlers until after the Jewish festival of the Ninth of Av fast day on August 15, which marks the end of a period of mourning for the destruction of the second temple. Yonatan Bassi, who is co-ordinating the relocation of 9,000 settlers, suggested the delay. Sharon is reportedly in favour of press
  • Tel Aviv has no plans to attack Iran

    Tel Aviv is not planning to launch a military attack on Tehran's nuclear facilities, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on 14 April. Tehran was nearing 'the point of no return' with its nuclear programme and is close to acquiring nuclear weapons, Sharon said.Sharon urged US President Bush during their talks on 11 April to take a tougher line with Tehran over its nuclear activities. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Wall Street Journal on 14 April that Wash
  • Tel Aviv releases nine Jordanian prisoners

    Tel Aviv freed nine Jordanian inmates on 21 April in a goodwill gesture to Amman. The men had been imprisoned for offences including using firearms against Israeli forces, possessing weapons and inciting disorder. None had been held for killing Israelis.Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agreed the release on 17 April. 'I am very happy that we can make this gesture to honour the King of Jordan,' said Israeli Vice-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Amman maintains that 15 Jordanians
  • Tel Aviv seeks wider Egyptian role in Gaza withdrawal

    Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom said on 12 April that he has asked Cairo to assist with the planned withdrawal from Gaza. 'Israel welcomes Egypt's efforts thus far but additional steps must be taken to remove the fate of the process from the hands of the [Palestinian] terrorists and put it back in the hands of the moderates,' he said. Shalom was speaking in Cairo where he met President Mubarak. Tel Aviv is worried that Islamic Jihad and Hamas will overrun Gaza
  • Tel Aviv to retain as many West Bank settlements as possible

    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on 21 April that he is doing everything he can to keep as many Israeli settlements as possible in the West Bank. 'I want to save as much of the settlement enterprise as I can,' Sharon told Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, while Haaretz reported that he could withstand international pressure to evacuate 240,000 residents from Israel's largest settlement blocks in the West Bank. 'We are building 1,000 apartments [in the West Bank] in Betar Illit and hundreds of
  • Tempers rise in Cairo

    Spring usually heralds the onset of demonstration season in Egypt, and this year has been no exception. Protestors took to the streets of several cities in late March to demonstrate against the prospect of a fifth term in office for President Mubarak, who faces his first nominally open leadership election in September. As usual, however, security forces outnumbered the demonstrators and riot police quickly brought public gatherings in Cairo and Alexandria to a close - street demonstrations are o
  • Ten join IPP financing

    Syndication is progressing well on the $510 million debt package for the four captive independent power projects (IPPs) being developed by Saudi Aramco. Arab National Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi and Saudi American Bank are the mandated lead arrangers. Syndication was launched in late December (MEED 2:1:04).
  • Tender issued for major road work

    The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has issued a presolicitation notice for the design and construction of the Aspen road project in the south of the country. Contractors have until 19 April to submit responses. A tender for the estimated $25 million-100 million fixed price contract is expected to be issued in late April, with an award date initially set for late July The successful contractor will be responsible for the design and construction of a 96-kilometre, two-lane asphalt road and fiv
  • Tender issued for major road work

    The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has issued a presolicitation notice for the design and construction of the Aspen road project in the south of the country. Contractors have until 19 April to submit responses. A tender for the estimated $25 million-100 million fixed price contract is expected to be issued in late April, with an award date initially set for late July The successful contractor will be responsible for the design and construction of a 96-kilometre, two-lane asphalt road and fiv
  • Tender nears for OCC expansion

    Tender documents are being prepared and are due to be released imminently for the contract to expand the existing plant of Oman Cement Company (OCC) and to build a greenfield facility at Sohar. The 27-month contract calls for the addition of a 5,000-tonne-a-day (t/d) clinker line and a 3,000-t/d grinding unit at OCC's plant near Muscat, and the construction of a 3,000-t/d grinding plant at Sohar. India's Holtec is the consultant (MEED 4:2:05).
  • Tender out for GUST work

    Local contractors have been invited to bid by 25 April for the contract to build the main college building for the privately-owned Gulf University for Science & Technology (GUST) in Mishref. Prospective bidders include Burhan International Construction Company, Saeed Hamid Behbahani, Kuwait Company for Process Plant Construction & Contracting (KCPC)and Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Company. The estimated KD 12 million-13 million ($41 million-45 mi
  • Tender out for GUST work

    Local contractors have been invited to bid by 25 April for the contract to build the main college building for the privately-owned Gulf University for Science & Technology (GUST) in Mishref. Prospective bidders include Burhan International Construction Company, Saeed Hamid Behbahani, Kuwait Company for Process Plant Construction & Contracting (KCPC)and Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Company. The estimated KD 12 million-13 million ($41 million-45 mi
  • Tenders due for BFH works

    A tender is due to be issued soon for the external infrastructure works covering the entire Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) development. Estimated to be worth BD 12 million-18 million ($32 million-47 million), the contract will involve the construction of roads, stormwater drainage and four bridges of varying lengths - a three-span 140-metre bridge and three single-span bridges of 36-42 metres. The contract will take at least 12 months to complete. The infrastructure works also include a distric
  • Tenders due for BFH works

    A tender is due to be issued soon for the external infrastructure works covering the entire Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) development. Estimated to be worth BD 12 million-18 million ($32 million-47 million), the contract will involve the construction of roads, stormwater drainage and four bridges of varying lengths - a three-span 140-metre bridge and three single-span bridges of 36-42 metres. The contract will take at least 12 months to complete. The infrastructure works also include a distric
  • The benefits of economies of scale REGIONAL PRODUCTION

    In little more than a quarter of a century, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) has emerged from nowhere to become the world's most profitable chemical producer and the 12th most valuable company by market value, after having posted record profits of $3,800 million in 2004.
  • The Islamic finance revolutionaries who are seeking to unite humanity

    Later this month, a new approach to financing an Arabian project will be offered to world banking in a private placement. It involves a $240 million, three-year loan for the Safa Tower, part of the Al-Haram scheme being developed in the heart of the holy city of Mecca.
  • Third bomb explodes in Beirut

    Six people were wounded on March 26 when a bomb exploded in a Christian suburb of Beirut. The blast and resulting fire destroyed factories and workshops in Sad al-Boushrieh, one of Lebanon's key industrial zones. The area is home to 150 businesses including machine shops and furniture and textile factories.The 25-kilogramme explosive device detonated next to a parked car just after 21:00 local time, while police, working on a tip-off, were searching Beirut for a car bomb. The
  • Thousands demonstrate in Baghdad against the US

    Tens of thousands of supporters of rebel Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gathered in Firdos Square in central Baghdad on 9 April. Protesters shouted 'No, no to the occupiers' and 'No America, no Saddam, yes Islam'. During the demonstration, which took place on the second anniversary of Saddam Hussein's fall and passed without violence, protesters waved Iraqi flags and hoisted effigies of US President Bush, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Saddam Hussein.Iraqi security forces moni
  • Thousands protest for reform across Egypt

    Thousands of students demonstrated in university campuses across Egypt on 14 April to demand political and economic reform and the end of the state of emergency. They were responding to a call from the Muslim Brotherhood to rally against the administration of President Mubarak. Two demonstrators were arrested.'We decided to organise this day in all universities across Egypt so that the political leadership realises that the youth are in dire need of reform,' said student acti
  • Three bid for Salalah methanol FEED

    Three companies have submitted technical and commercial bids for the basic technology and front-end engineering and design (FEED) package on the planned methanol project at Salalah. They are Germany's Lurgi, the US' Jacobs Engineeringand London-based Davy Process Technology. Denmark's Haldor Topsoedeclined to bid. Evaluation is due to be completed around mid-May. The Salalah project calls for a plant with capacity of 3,000 tonnes a day. Project cos
  • Three charge in for Sharjah roads package

    Three companies submitted bids on 17 April for the expansion of King Abdul Aziz road. The bidders are Darwish Engineering, Marwan General Contractingand National Contracting Company, all local. Estimated to be worth AED 85 million ($23 million), the 20-month contract calls for the widening of the existing dual-carriageway, its extension by five kilometres and construction of three bridges. The project is the first phase in Sharjah Municipality's estimated $135
  • Three charge in for Sharjah roads package

    Three companies submitted bids on 17 April for the expansion of King Abdul Aziz road. The bidders are Darwish Engineering, Marwan General Contractingand National Contracting Company, all local. Estimated to be worth AED 85 million ($23 million), the 20-month contract calls for the widening of the existing dual-carriageway, its extension by five kilometres and construction of three bridges. The project is the first phase in Sharjah Municipality's estimated $135
  • Three go through the road toll

    Three consortia submitted bids to Dubai Municipality (DM) on 3 April for the main contract to install an electronic road toll system in the emirate. The consortia leaders are: Austria's Kapsch; Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation; and the US' Transco. A fourth bidder - Spain's Televent- pulled out of the race for the contract, which is expected to be awarded soon after technical and commercial evaluation of the three bids is completed.
  • Three in for revised KASP

    Three groups of international consultants submitted proposals on 10 April for the retendered five-year contract to design, review and supervise the Kuwait airspace system plan (KASP). The client, the Planning Ministry on behalf of the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), is expected to make an award by the summer.
  • Three killed at Shia festival; Samarra car bomb kills two

    A suicide bombing on 31 March killed three people at a Shia shrine in the town of Tuz Khurmatuat as followers gathered for a Turkmen Shia festival. Shia worshippers have been persistently targeted by insurgents since the fall of Saddam Hussein. In a separate incident, a suicide car bomber drove into a jeep killing two Iraqi soldiers in the town of Samarra. Iraqi police and troops have also been the focus of attacks (
  • Three killed in Cairo bomb

    A bomb exploded in a Cairo bazaar on 7 April, killing an American and a French tourist and the suspected bomber. Nineteen people were wounded when a nail bomb was thrown into the market off Al-Moski Street, close to the main Khan al-Khalili bazaar. The market, situated in the historic El-Hussein area of Cairo and near Al-Azhar mosque, is popular with tourists. No-one has claimed responsibility for the explosion.
  • Three scent sulphur handling work

    Technical bids were submitted on 18 April for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package on the Ras Laffan sulphur handling expansion project. The bidders are: Paris-based Technip, with Turkey's Gama; Italy's Techint, with the US' Black & Veatch Corporation; and The Washington Group, also of the US, with Abu Dhabi's Al-Jaber Energy Services. Commercial bids are due to be submitted on 10 June. To be managed b
  • To dream and dare

    In 1934, two Danish engineers went to India on behalf of Copenhagen-based FL Smidth & Company to commission a cement plant. Little did they realise that their careers were about to take a dramatic turn. Within a few years Henning Holck-Larsen and Soren Kristian Toubro had resigned from their parent company to stay and do business in the local market, despite the warnings of their Danish employers.
  • Toyo takes Takreer FEED project

    Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company (Takreer) has awarded a contract to Japan's Toyo Engineering Corporation to carry out the front-end engineering and design (FEED) on the proposed flare gas recovery (FGR) project at the Ruwais oil refinery.
  • TR/Sazeh team bids low for Arvand MEG

    Spain's Tecnicas Reunidas(TR) in partnership with the local Sazeh Consulthas submitted the low bid to build the mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) plant planned at the olefins 8 complex in Bandar Imam. The contract is expected to be worth $300 million-350 million and the client is Arvand Petrochemical Company, a subsidiary of National Petrochemical Company(NPC - MEED 11:3:05).
  • Transitional assembly agrees on new president

    The Transitional National Assembly elected Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani to be president on 5 April. Talabani heads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Interim President Ghazi Yawar, a Sunni, and Shia interim Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi will serve as vice-presidents. The three-man presidency council will now nominate a new prime minister, widely expected to be United Iraqi Alliance candidate Ibrahim Jaafari (
  • Transworld buys vessels

    UAE-based Transworld Grouphas placed an order, worth $100 million, with Singapore Technologies Marine for four feeder container vessels. The vessels, which are expected to be delivered in late 2007, will each have capacity of 1,030 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), with a minimum length of 148 metres.
  • Transworld opens free zone centre

    Transworld Group of India opened on 13 April a new logistics centre in Jebel Ali free zone. The 6,000-square-metre centre was built at a cost of AED 26 million ($7.8 million). Speaking at the centre's inauguration, Dubai Ports Customs & Free Zone Corporation officials said the capacity of Jebel Ali port would rise to 5.7 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) this year with the completion of a $235 million expansion project. Under a $190 million second-phase expansion, due to begin soon,
  • Troops find no evidence of Shia kidnapping

    Iraqi Interior Ministry troops on 18 April found no evidence that 150 Shias had been kidnapped in Madaen. Local special forces backed by US troops searched the town south of Baghdad for hours but saw no sign of unrest or any killings. 'We've found no hostages and we have arrested no terrorists,' said the deputy commander of the commando brigade conducting the house-to-house search, Colonel Abu al-Jau. Shia officials said on 15 April that Sunni gunmen had kidnapped 150 people
  • Turkish president visits Damascus against wishes of Washington

    Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer arrived in Damascus on 13 April, in the latest in a series of meetings between officials of Ankara and Damascus. The two states have been improving relations following a dispute in 1998 when Ankara charged Damascus with harbouring Kurdish separatist militants. Both countries are concerned about developments in neighbouring Iraq. President Sezer is scheduled to meet Syrian President Asad, Minister of Foreign Affairs Farouq al-Shara and Prime Minister Naji
  • Turner rides the Wave

    The US' Turner Construction International has been appointed project and construction manager on phase 1 of the $800 million Wave resort off the coast of Seeb. Turner beat off competition from the UK's Mace International and Australia's Bovis Lend Lease(MEED 14:1:05).
  • Turner rides the Wave

    The US' Turner Construction International has been appointed project and construction manager on phase 1 of the $800 million Wave resort off the coast of Seeb. Turner beat off competition from the UK's Mace International and Australia's Bovis Lend Lease(MEED 14:1:05).
  • Two called for E&M negotiations

    Two groups - Canada's MEG Worleywith the local Al-Hassan Engineering,and the UK's Mott MacDonaldwith the local Special Technical Services- are understood to have been called for negotiations by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO)for one of two five-year engineering and maintenance (E&M) service contracts, covering PDO's operations in the north of the sultanate. Eight teams submitted bids for the two contracts, estimated each to be worth ab
  • UIA, Talabani disagree over fate of Saddam

    Saddam Hussein should be executed if convicted of war crimes, the Shia United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) said on 18 April. 'He is the number one criminal in the world. He is a murderer,' said Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the majority coalition party. This view opposes a statement made by President Talabani on 18 April that he would not support the death sentence for Saddam ( MEED 18:4:05).
  • UN arrives in Lebanon to check Syrian withdrawal

    An eight-member UN team arrived in Lebanon on 28 April to verify Damascus' complete military withdrawal from its neighbour in line with UN Security Council resolution 1559. The team arrived in Damascus on 26 April to collect maps of former Syrian positions and reports on the deployment of Syrian troops and intelligence agents. UN officials will inspect former Syrian army and intelligence installations in Lebanon (
  • UN calls for aid from the Arab World

    The UN launched an Arabic version of the 2005 Humanitarian Action Report on 5 April at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Redevelopment Conference and Exhibition. UN Children's Fund (Unicef) executive director Rima Salah called on Arab donors to provide funds and technical and humanitarian assistance to countries in crisis. She said: 'All that we require is the willingness from various sectors to get involved and stay engaged.'The report, which provid
  • UN calls Sudan to account

    International community turns spotlight on Khartoum's role in Darfur
  • UN envoy concerned about vigilante groups and Lebanese sovereignty

    UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said on 6 April that he is concerned about vigilante groups that have emerged in response to bombings in Christian areas of Beirut. He said: 'There is a very small step from forming vigilante groups to forming militias: We do not welcome this development.' Roed-Larsen said disarming Hezbollah is not a priority ( MEED 4:4:05). The UN envoy's r
  • UN envoy says Lebanese elections important

    UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen met with President Lahoud and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahmoud Hammoud in Beirut on 4 April and discussed 'the importance that timely elections have for the stability of Lebanon', he said. Elections are scheduled for 31 May on the heels of Damascus' troop withdrawal from Lebanon. Roed-Larsen said discussions considered the logistics of sending a UN team to verify the complete redeployment of Syrian troops and intelligence units by the end of April (
  • UN envoy tours former Syrian HQ

    UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen toured a former Syrian intelligence headquarters and detention centre in south Beirut on 5 April. He said: 'I would like to state today that President Asad has honoured his commitment to close down this headquarters, which I have seen now with my own eyes.' The tour was not an official verification of Damascus' redeployment. A UN team will arrive in Lebanon in due course to assess Syria's complete withdrawal (
  • UN expected to establish inquiry into Hariri murder

    The UN Security Council is expected to pass a resolution on 7 April to establish an international inquiry into the death of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.Britain, France and the US are sponsoring the draft resolution, which says the investigation will look into 'all aspects of this terrorist act, including to help identify its perpetrators, sponsors, organisers and accomplices'. The inquiry is expected to report back to the Security Council after three months. I
  • UN Hariri investigation could be housed in UNIFIL HQ

    The UN investigation into the murder of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri may be housed in the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Naqoura, Lebanon's Daily Star reported on 14 April. A UN team is expected to arrive in Beirut in the next few days to prepare for the arrival of the delegation leading the inquiry mandated by UN Security Council resolution 1595 ( MEED 7:4:05).
  • UN report criticises lack of Arab reform

    The third UN Arab Human Development Report has criticised Arab regimes for stifling political and legal reform. Regimes face the prospect of violent protest and internal upheaval unless they embark on political change, the authors of the report, launched in Amman on 5 April, said.Current reforms are 'embryonic and fragmentary' and do not go far enough to end political repression, the 248-page report said. It described regional leaders as retaining control through emergency la
  • UN searches for Iranian uranium stocks

    An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation arrived in Iran at the beginning of April to make an inventory of Tehran's uranium supplies, Reuters reported on 12 April. The IAEA is said to be concerned that that Tehran has secretly moved raw uranium known as yellow cake out of a nuclear facility in Isfahan. The plant recently processed 37 tonnes of raw uranium.Reuters reported that the IAEA expects to find inconsistencies in the inventory, which is difficult to carr
  • UN to give list of Darfur war crimes suspects to ICC

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will submit on 5 April a list of suspected war criminals in the Darfur region of Sudan to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The International Commission of Inquiry compiled the sealed list of 51 suspects believed to name government officials, military leaders, militiamen and rebel fighters. The commission reported to the UN in January that government forces and militias had committed atrocities during the Darfur conflict that could consti
  • UN to impose sanctions on Darfur

    The UN Security Council on 30 March voted to impose sanctions on those committing atrocities in Darfur. The US-sponsored resolution, which passed 12-0 with abstentions from Russia, China and Algeria, is also aimed at strengthening an arms embargo on Sudan. The sanctions will come into effect in 30 days to allow for a Security Council committee to draft a list of suspects. A travel ban and an asset freeze will be applied to those deemed to be hampering the peace process. Khart
  • UN urges Lebanese militia to disarm

    UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen met with President Lahoud on 4 April in Beirut and discussed the disarmament of Hezbollah. Roed-Larsen indicated that no agreement had been reached on the issue and said: 'We have decided to continue our dialogue.'The move would be in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1559, which calls for all Lebanese militias to give up their weapons, and for all foreign troops to leave Lebanon. Washington wants Hezbollah, the only irregular group per
  • UN votes to refer Darfur war crimes to ICC

    The UN Security Council voted on 31 March to pass a resolution referring those suspected of committing atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan to the International Criminal Court. The resolution was passed 11-0 with China, Algeria, Brazil and the US abstaining ( MEED 31:3:05). Washington had threatened to veto the resolution because it disagrees with the existence of
  • Unicef report calls for more children in school in Arab World

    The UN Children's Fund (Unicef) released a report on 11 April commissioned by the Arab League that said 7.5 million children in the Arab world do not attend school and half of women are illiterate. Unicef deputy executive director Rima Salah launched the report, An Arab World Fit for Children, in Cairo.Only 50 percent of children in the region were enrolled in secondary school in 2000-2001. Egypt, Iraq, Morocco and Sudan have particularly low numbers of children in education
  • Unlocking potential

    The successful passage of the hydrocarbons bill through Algeria’s upper house on 31 March brings the country to within a penstroke of what Energy Minister Chakib Khelil once described as the most radical shake-up of the sector since its nationalisation in 1971. Intended to transform state energy company Sonatrach into a commercial entity and further open up the oil and gas sector to international competition, the bill was first drawn up in 2001, but was abandoned two years later due to opposi
  • Urgent reform needed to quicken growth, says IMF

    Sanaa is showing increased commitment to the typically slow-moving economic reform process, but fiscal and macroeconomic change are becoming ever more urgent as oil production continues to decline, says the IMF in the conclusions of its latest Article IV consultation. 'Directors noted that, while the short-term outlook remains manageable, without policy adjustments the long-term fiscal and external positions are clearly unsustainable,' the report says.
  • US and Palestinian leaders say no to West Bank settlement expansion

    Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said on 12 April that 'we will not accept and categorically refuse these [Israeli] settlement blocs, especially those around Jerusalem such as Maale Adumim and Pisgat Zeev'. He was speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah a day after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met US President Bush in Crawford, Texas. 'These are Palestinian lands which were occupied in 1967. The results of negotiations on the final status [of the Occupied Territories]
  • US commission criticises pre-war intelligence

    A US commission ordered by President Bush criticised intelligence assessments on 31 March used by the administration in its decision to go to war in Iraq. Appeal court judge Laurence Silberman and former senator Charles Robb led the commission. Its 600-page report said: 'We conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its pre-war judgements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.'The report, which considered the work of the Central Intelligence A
  • US might allow ICC trials for Darfur suspects

    The US said on 31 March that it might allow the International Criminal Court (ICC) to try Darfur war crimes suspects if it can ensure Americans will not be prosecuted by the court. The announcement follows a French-sponsored proposal of a UN resolution to give the ICC jurisdiction in Darfur, putting the Bush administration in the difficult position of accepting the ICC, which it opposes, or vetoing the resolution. 'We are trying to find language that we would find acceptable.
  • US military to produce Arabic comic book

    The US government's Federal Business Opportunities website advertised on 28 March for a contractor to design a monthly comic book in Arabic. The comic will be produced in collaboration with the US Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina with input from some interior ministries in the Middle East. The US Army's Fourth Psychological Operations Group is also based at Fort Bragg.The goal of the comic is to influence young people in the region. The FBO advertise
  • Usco moves to Hidd from UAE

    The local AA Nass Contracting has been selected for an estimated $20 million civils subcontract on the proposed stainless steel mill project at Hidd. Under the original plan, the project was to be built at Abu Dhabi's Mussafah industrial area, but was relocated to Bahrain last September. The plant will be built by Italy's Danieli & Company under a $174 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract awarded in mid-2004 (MEED 28:5:04). A new project compan
  • Voyager Wheel planned

    A joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based Bin Salem Groupand US investment bank Allied Investment Househas unveiled plans to build a 600-feet observation wheel in the federation. Similar in scope to the London Eye project, the Voyager Wheel aims to attract about 7.5 million visitors a year. The masterplan also includes retail and entertainment facilities in the vicinity as well as a luxury hotel. Allied will finance the estimated $150 million project. US-based Voyag
  • Voyager Wheel planned

    A joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based Bin Salem Groupand US investment bank Allied Investment Househas unveiled plans to build a 600-feet observation wheel in the federation. Similar in scope to the London Eye project, the Voyager Wheel aims to attract about 7.5 million visitors a year. The masterplan also includes retail and entertainment facilities in the vicinity as well as a luxury hotel. Allied will finance the estimated $150 million project. US-based Voyag
  • Wafra tender cancelled

    The Ministry of Public Works has cancelled the tender for the contract to build and maintain a major treated water distribution system linking the Wafra farms with Sulaibiya. The project will be retendered shortly in three different packages. The first package will cover the construction of the main pipeline; the second will involve the installation of the smaller distribution pipelines; the third portion will cover the construction of associated facilities, including pumping stations. The local
  • Washington announces special envoy for Gaza

    Washington announced on 14 April the appointment of retiring World Bank president James Wolfensohn as a special co-ordinator to help the Palestinian Authority govern in Gaza following the planned Israeli withdrawal in July.'I would expect to be over there [in Gaza] in the next couple of weeks to do preliminary work and to listen,' Wolfensohn said after his appointment was announced. He will officially assume the post in June. Wolfensohn will be responsible for co-ordinating e
  • Washington breaks public oil silence oil prices

    Oil prices remained above the $50-a-barrel mark in the third week of April amid signs of increasing political engagement by Washington over the state of the oil market, as the US economy feels the pain. OPEC pledged, over the longer term, to ensure the necessary investment in additional capacity to meet the world's ever-growing thirst. Spot Brent was trading at $50.58 on 20 April.
  • Washington to fund Iranian pro-democracy groups

    Washington announced on 12 April that it has set aside funds for pro-democracy groups in Iran. The State Department said $3 million is available to educational and humanitarian groups.Tehran has described the plan as interference in Iran's internal politics and in violation of a 1981 accord with Washington. The agreement states that Washington will not intervene 'directly or indirectly, politically or militarily in Iran's internal affairs'. State Department spokesman Richard
  • Wataniya invests in telecoms firm

    Kuwait's Wataniya International has announced that it will take a 38 per cent stake in the local Public Telecommunications Company (PTC). Under the deal, Wataniya will manage the operations of a digital trunking system based on integrated digital enhanced network (iDEN) technology being provided by the US' Motorola. PTC will implement and run the countrywide iDEN system under a 15-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract with Saudi Telecom. The s
  • Wealth generation

    The family and its kinship network are the central elements powering the socio-economic system in the Middle East. The family business is the engine that drives economic development and wealth creation around the world, and the ability to foster an entrepreneurial mindset across generations is a major element of their continuity and longevity.
  • West Bank security chief resigns

    A top West Bank security official, Tawfik Tirawi, tendered his resignation to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on 31 March. He offered to stand down in a letter given to Abbas after a meeting of security chiefs at the president's compound. His resignation follows a rampage by Fatah-affiliated gunmen through Ramallah on the evening of 30 March, during which they fired on the president's compound (
  • When will the bell toll?

    UAE stocks have reached unprecedented levels in the second quarter as the local bourses, particularly the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), continue to attract attention from local and regional investors. DFM recently recorded the largest monthly trading value in its five-year history and both the Emnex and Shuaa UAE indexes are up by more than 65 per cent since the start of the year. And the thirst for initial public offerings (IPOs) continues unabated, with relatively new or unknown companies appl
  • Wilbur Smith to tend Discovery Gardens

    US-based Wilbur Smith Associates (WSA)has been awarded a construction supervision contract on the Gardens of Discovery project in Dubai. WSA is already acting as infrastructure consultant. Promoted by local property developer Nakheel, the estimated $1,000 million development is being carried out in several packages. The scheme involves the construction of 290 four-eight-storey buildings, housing 25,000 apartments.
  • Wilbur Smith to tend Discovery Gardens

    US-based Wilbur Smith Associates (WSA)has been awarded a construction supervision contract on the Gardens of Discovery project in Dubai. WSA is already acting as infrastructure consultant. Promoted by local property developer Nakheel, the estimated $1,000 million development is being carried out in several packages. The scheme involves the construction of 290 four-eight-storey buildings, housing 25,000 apartments.
  • Woman chairs Bahraini parliament session

    Alees Samaan became the first woman and the first non-Muslim to chair a session of Bahrain's National Assembly (parliament) on 19 April. The speaker Faisal al-Mousawi was abroad and the chair passed to the most senior member present, who happened to be Samaan, as Al-Mousawi's two deputies had left the meeting to attend the official opening of the Constitutional Court. Samaan is one of six female MPs and one of four women appointed by King Hamad to the parliament in 2001. She is a Christian.
  • World Bank funds new rural roads

    The World Bank on 8 April signed an agreement with Rabat for a loan worth Eur 31 million ($40 million) to contribute to the construction of 625 kilometres of rural roads. The loan, which has a 17-year tenor with a three-year grace period on interest payments, will contribute to the government's current tranche of road building, estimated at MD 409 million ($48 million). This forms part of Rabat's rural road construction programme, which aims to build or repair about 15,000 kilometres of roads fr
  • World Bank funds new rural roads

    The World Bank on 8 April signed an agreement with Rabat for a loan worth Eur 31 million ($40 million) to contribute to the construction of 625 kilometres of rural roads. The loan, which has a 17-year tenor with a three-year grace period on interest payments, will contribute to the government's current tranche of road building, estimated at MD 409 million ($48 million). This forms part of Rabat's rural road construction programme, which aims to build or repair about 15,000 kilometres of roads fr
  • World must respond quickly to Sudan crisis, says Annan

    The international community must honour its pledges to Sudan, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said in an article for the New York Times. 'Promises alone are not enough,' he wrote. 'Hungry people cannot eat pledges.' The article was published on 13 April after a donor meeting for Sudan in Oslo, at which countries pledged $4,500 million in aid ( MEED 11:4:05). 'Time is running out for
  • Yamama Cement seeks more turbines to power expansion

    Yamama Saudi Cement Companyhas placed a follow-up turbine order with Germany's Siemens for a captive power plant to be built as part of a comprehensive modernisation of its cement complex outside Riyadh. A team of Germany's Polysiusand the local Gama Industry Arabia last February signed the SR 1,500 million ($400 million) contract to install a new clinker line for Yamama (MEED 27:2:04).
  • Zueitina pipeline project attracts five

    Five international contractors submitted bids in late March for the contract to build the Zueitina gas pipeline. The bidders for the estimated $70 million-80 million contract are: Italy's Bonatti; Athens-based Joannou & Paraskevaides (J&P - Overseas); Germany's MAN GHH; Egypt's Petrojet; and India's Punj Lloyd. The scope of works covers the the construction of a 42-inch-diameter, 215-kilometre-long steel pipeline with capacity of 1,500

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