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MEED
November 2005

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  • A new dawn

    From parliament's public gallery to the streets of Kuwait city, there was widespread rejoicing on 17 May. After 42 years, Kuwaiti women - by far the most politically and commercially active in all the GCC states - could stand on an equal footing with their male counterparts. When the National Assembly (parliament) finally approved the law allowing women to vote and stand for political office, the sense of relief across the state was palpable.
  • Abbas meets Shalom in Tunis

    Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom in Tunis on 16 November.'They held talks for about 30 minutes with the president of Mauritania, Ely Ould Mohammed Vall,' said Lior Ben-Dor, an Israeli official. Both were attending the UN's World Summit on the Information Society.The unscheduled meeting came one day after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice brokered a deal to re-open Gaza's border crossings
  • ABB-led consortium wins Olefins II power work

    A group led by Europe's ABBand including Japan's EXSYM Corporationannounced on 7 November the award of a $62 million contract to connect the planned Olefins II petrochemical complex at Shuaiba to the national grid. The scope of works involves the design, manufacture, erection and commissioning of a 275-kV substation, a 33-kV substation, power transformers and control, protection and substation automation systems. The contract was placed by Equate Petrochemical Com
  • ABC finances SPV aircraft lease

    Arab Banking Corporationhas signed a $67 million loan agreement to part-finance the acquisition by newly formed IceSing of a Boeing747-400F freighter aircraft from Singapore Airlines Cargo, which will continue to operate the aircraft on a 10-year lease. IceSing is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established by FL Groupand Kaupthing Bank, both of Iceland. A limited syndication will be launched imminently.
  • Abdullah replaces officials; anti-terror law to be fast-tracked

    King Abdullah of Jordan replaced his Royal Court chief and named a new national security adviser on 16 November as parliament decided to fast-track a terror law. 'A new law was being worked on, but the government has decided to give it an urgent priority,' said Interior Minister Awni Yervas, speaking one week after three Al-Qaeda suicide bombers killed 57 in Amman. Jordan's new security chief and adviser to King Abdullah was named as Maaruf al-Bakhit, formerly Jordan's ambass
  • Abu Ghraib prisoners released for Eid

    The US released 565 prisoners from Abu Ghraib jail on 1 November in a goodwill gesture to mark Eid al-Fitr. 'These detainees have confessed their crimes, renounced violence and pledged to be good citizens of Iraq,' the US military said in a statement. They were chosen after a review board determined that they had not committed serious crimes against US or Iraqi forces or civilians, the statement said. Baghdad requested the release. One thousand prisoners were released at the beginning of Ra
  • Adco on manoeuvres with SAS field PMC

    Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco) has invited companies to submit technical bids by 15 November for the position of project manager on the proposed Sahil, Asab and Shah (SAS) full-field development project. No date has been set as yet for the submission of commercial bids (MEED 26:8:05).
  • Advisers sought for Innovene cracker

    Financial advisory bids were due in mid-November for the ethane cracker planned by Innovene and the local Delta Oil Company. Innovene was sold in October by the UK's BPto fellow UK firm INEOS Enterprises (MEED 14:10:05). Banks invited to bid are understood to include ABN Amro, BNP Paribas, Calyon, HSBC and Lazard. The sponsors are looking for a debt/equity split of about 70:30. The projec
  • ADWEA kicks off wastewater privatisation

    Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA) has started the process of selecting advisers for a planned privatisation of two of the emirate's sewage treatment plants. The privatisation will be the first to take place in the Abu Dhabi sewerage sector and follows the late June decision to transfer sector responsibility to Abu Dhabi Sanitary Sewage Services Company, wholly owned by ADWEA, from the Sewerage Projects Committee (MEED 1:7:05).
  • Ahmadinejad faces more opposition oil nominee

    A key steering committee in the Majlis (parliament) said on 22 November it will oppose President Ahmadinejad's fourth nomination for the oil minister post.The influential central council of the parliament's conservative majority voted against supporting Mohsen Tasalloti as oil minister. Although party discipline in the Majlis is relatively weak, the steering committee could influence the votes of up to 290 parliamentarians, reports said. The basis for the oppos
  • Ahmadinejad makes fourth oil nomination

    President Ahmadinejad nominated on 15 November a fourth candidate for the post of oil minister. The nominee was named as Seyyed Mohsen Tasalloti, the director of a petrochemicals development zone in Iran. He served as head of construction for National Petrochemical Company (NPC) for 11 years and was also deputy governor of the western Markazi province.Ahmadinejad has suffered the effective rejection of three nominations. Most recently, in November, Sadeq Mahsouli was forced t
  • Ahmadinejad replaces ambassadors to the European troika

    Tehran recalled on 2 November its ambassador to London, Mohammad Hossein Adeli. He was one of a number of high-profile diplomats summoned to Iran. Tehran will also replace its envoys to France, Germany and the UN in Geneva. Adeli had requested retirement, according to the Iranian embassy in London. The diplomats were reportedly closely allied to the previous president, Mohammed Khatami and were all seen as reformers who sought closer ties with the West. At least one - Adeli - has been accus
  • Ahmadinejad stresses Iraqi ties in Chalabi meeting

    Tehran expects three projects involving an oil pipeline between Abadan and Basra, interconnection of the countries' electricity grids and a railroad between the two nations to go ahead as soon as possible, President Ahmadinejad said on 5 November.Ahmadinejad said that independence, freedom and establishing a powerful government in Iraq were in the interest of the whole region. 'Iraqi territorial integrity, independence and strength are special concerns for Iran.' Ahmadinejad
  • AIRBUS: The European alternative

    Boeing's main rival Airbus estimates that the Middle East will require more than 1,000 aircraft worth some $124,000 million by 2023, according to the company's latest market forecast. Of this figure, 630 will meet growth requirements, and 385 will be fleet replacements. About 485 will be single-aisle, 440 intermediate-size wide bodies and 90 superjumbos, says the manufacturer, which aims to corner half of this business.
  • Ajman: Learning the hard way

    The news that the $140 million Ajman sewerage network is to be restructured is the latest twist in the long-running saga of the Middle East's first integrated and privately backed wastewater scheme. The restructuring, due to be completed in late November, is the result of a bold but perhaps naive experiment in project financing that directly linked the rate of network construction to the advanced collection of revenues.
  • ALGERIA: Realising potential

    In petrochemicals terms, Algeria is something of a sleeping giant. Its potential is undoubted: it has substantial hydrocarbons resources, a sizeable domestic population and proximity to plastics-hungry European markets. The country boasts the world's eighth largest proven gas reserves and the sixth highest annual gas production. The 82,000 million cubic metres of gas it produced in 2004 was three times that of Egypt, its nearest rival on the African continent; only Iran produces more gas in the
  • Algiers announces new agency heads

    Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia on 14 November appointed the heads of two new independent bodies set to take over some of the key responsibilities of state energy company Sonatrachin the most radical overhaul of the country's oil and gas sector for 30 years. The two new bodies were created under the terms of the landmark hydrocarbons law, formally introduced at the end of July (MEED 8:4:05, Cover Story).
  • Algiers metro contracts awarded

    A consortium of France's Vinci, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF)of Spain and the French office of Germany's Siemenshas won the estimated Eur 400 million ($483 million) turnkey systems contract for the line 1 systems contract on the Algiers metro. The company saw off competition from a French group of Alstom, AMEC Spie Capagand Razel(MEED 5:8:05).
  • Al-Qaeda attracts Arab hostility for Amman bombings

    Al-Qaeda was condemned on 11 November across the Arab world for its bomb attacks on three Amman hotels which left 57 people dead, most of whom were Jordanian. The furious response included criticism from Saudi newspapers and Palestinian militant groups and culminated in marches through Amman, where crowds called for Osama bin Laden to 'burn in hell'.In what was seen as a damage-limitation exercise, Al-Qaeda took the unusual step of issuing a statement justifying its actions v
  • Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for Amman attacks

    Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed on 10 November responsibility for bomb blasts which killed at least 57 in three hotels in Amman on 9 November.A statement apparently signed by Al-Qaeda's spokesman in Iraq was posted on an internet site used by the group, led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. 'A group of our best lions launched an attack on some new dens,' the statement said. 'Some hotels were chosen which the Jordanian despot turned into a backyard for the enemies of the faith,
  • Al-Qaeda targets Amman

    At least 57 people were killed in suspected suicide bombings on three hotels in Amman on 9 November. The co-ordinated attacks, claimed by Al-Qaeda, targeted the Grand Hyatt, the Radisson SAS and the Days Inn hotel, all of which are frequented by western security contractors and aid agency personnel, many of whom use the capital as a base for their Iraqi operations.
  • Al-Qaeda will kill kidnapped Moroccans

    Al-Qaeda in Iraq said on 3 November that it will kill two Moroccans it kidnapped in November. 'The legislative authority of Al-Qaeda in Iraq has decided to carry out God's law against the infidels and has ruled to kill them,' the group said in a statement. 'After the court looked at the detainees' case, it was proven without any doubt, that they are followers of the [US] despots and infidel Moroccan government.' The group said the Moroccan embassy workers, Abderrahim Boualam and Abdelkarim
  • Alstom wins Sohar power island race

    Paris-based Alstom Powerhas been nominated as the preferred engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the power island serving the Sohar aluminium smelter, Sohar Aluminium Companychief executive officer Tony Kinsman announced in Muscat on 15 November at the Port of Sohar conference, organised jointly by MEED and Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC). The nomination had been expected after Sohar Aluminium entered into sole contract negotiat
  • Al-Thani seeks new assets, plans IPO

    Dubai-based Al-Thani Investmentshas appointed Merrill Lynchto advise on oil and gas investment opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa and has also invited pitches from banks to advise newly created subsidiary Arab African Petroleum Company (AAPC)on staging an initial public offering (IPO) through London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM). Al-Thani already has a stake in Sudan's prolific Melut basin development and assets in Algeria, Tunisia, and
  • Aluminium MLAs signed up

    Mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) have been appointed on the $1,500 million debt package for the Sohar aluminium smelter. Citigroup is acting as the financial adviser (MEED 30:9:05).
  • Amman government resigns

    Jordan's Prime Minister Adnan Badran resigned on 24 November and King Abdullah asked Jordanian security chief Maaruf al-Bakhit to form a new government.No reason has yet been given for Badran's departure, which comes one day after a think-tank recommended Jordan implement political reforms and Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher submitted an agenda setting guidelines for political, social and economic reforms over the next 10 years.Al-Bakhit was only named as
  • Amman pro-Western stance increases attacks, report says

    A report issued on 23 November by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said that Jordan's pro-Western stance is fuelling Islamist militant attacks.'Feeding on disaffection with a government that has failed to address basic needs and maintains an unpopular alliance with the US, violent Islamist militants have flourished of late,' the ICG report said.The report, titled 'Jordan's 9/11: dealing with Jihadi Islamism', also said Amman must deliver prom
  • Annan urges Syria to co-operate with UN

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Damascus on 8 November to co-operate with the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri.'Recently Syria has had a good record in implementation of UN resolutions. They did co-operate on resolution 1559 [on the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon]', he said. 'I would expect and urge Syria to continue its co-operation with the investigation.'Annan also dismissed the prospect of milit
  • Another find in the Murzuq basin

    A consortium led by France's Totalincluding National Oil Corporation (NOC)Spain's Repsol, Austria's OMV, and Norway's Hydrohas made another oil discovery in the Murzuq basin south of Tripoli. The field's 1,500-metre well tested at 4,650 barrels a day (b/d). The find is the consortium's sixth in block NC 186, which covers 4,300 square kilometres and currently produces 48,000 b/d.The two fields areamong sixdiscovered inthe block that hav
  • Arab countries criticise US on free trade agreements

    Criticism of the US approach to bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) emerged on 10 November following a conference in Bahrain. Washington was said to adopt a 'big brother' attitude to the bilateral FTAs and of using them as political tools rather than measures to improve regional prosperity and promote Arab economic integration.'FTAs are creating a negative environment,' said Egyptian Foreign Trade & Industry Minister Rashid Mohammed Rashid. 'It is a waste of time to think
  • Aramco kicks off Shaybah tendering

    Saudi Aramcohas kicked off the tendering process for the long-awaited development ofthe Shaybah onshore oil field in the Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter). International contractors have been given until 14 November to respond to a solicitation of interest for two key packages on the estimated $1,500 million-2,000 million scheme, which is aimed at increasing the field's output by at least 250,000 barrels a day (b/d) to about 800,000 b/d of extra light Arabian crude.
  • Aramco readies for Khurais tender

    Saudi Aramco has invited companies to express interest by early November for the seawater pipeline contract to serve its ambitious 1.2 million-1.32 million-barrel-a-day (b/d) onshore Khurais oil field development project. Estimated to be worth at least $750 million, the supply and installation contract will be carried out in three packages (MEED 14:10:05).
  • Arcapita acquires construction firm

    Bahrain-based Arcapitahas acquired US-based Tensar Corporationin a deal worth about $405 million. Tensar is a provider of construction site technology to the North American market. The acquisition is Arcapita's largest equity commitment so far for a corporate investment. The $177 million senior financing facility was led by Credit Suisse First Boston. Arcapita also recently purchased a majority stake in US-based Falcon Gas Storage Company(MEED 30:9
  • Areva T&D: Going for growth in the Middle East

    In March 2004, a new name burst onto the Middle East transmission and distribution (T&D) scene. Just months after coming into being, France's Areva T&D clinched what was at the time one of the biggest substation contracts ever placed by Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA), a $155 million order to build two 400-kV substations. Many outside the industry wondered who this new player was. They shouldn't have. For while the name was unfamiliar, the business most certainly was not, being the su
  • Arrangers appointed for NBD EMTN

    HSBC and Bank of America have been mandated to arrange the first drawdown, likely to be worth about $500 million, of a euro medium-term note (EMTN) programme for National Bank of Dubai (NBD). Moody's Investors Servicein early November assigned NBD an A1 long-term and a Prime-1 short-term foreign currency deposit rating. The paper is expected to come to market shortly after the launch of an EMTN by Arab Banking Corporation, for which roadshow
  • Arzew start-up imminent, as strategic investors line up

    The long-awaited financial close on the country's first independent water and power project (IWPP) at Arzew in the northwest is now expected in mid-2006. It is understood that the financing, which has already been delayed a number of times, will now be sealed after a period of successful operation of the plant and will be followed by the project company, Kahrama, bringing on board a strategic investor. The 314-MW, 88,000-cubic-metre-a-day (cm/d) Arzew plant is due to begin operations
  • Asad defiant in live national broadcast

    President Asad pledged co-operation on 10 November with a UN inquiry into the death of Rafiq Hariri, but remained defiant on the issue of Syria's innocence and the protection of its national interest.Asad made his comments in a speech broadcast live on television from Damascus University, which was seen by many as his last chance to avoid a showdown with the UN. President Asad made it clear that Damascus would co-operate with the inquiry, but 'not at the expense of [Syria's]
  • Asad has golden opportunity

    The internal and international problems currently faced by Damascus offer President Asad a 'golden opportunity' to bolster his regime, Patrick Seale said in the Daily Star newspaper on 31 October. The Syria analyst and biographer of former president Hafez Asad said pressure placed on Damascus by the UN investigation into the murder of Rafiq Hariri provides a chance for Asad to impose his authority over rivals and to win immediate domestic and international support.Abandoning
  • Aspiring to win

    When Kenyan-born Saif Saaed Shaheen crossed the finish line at the 2003 World Athletics Championships' steeplechase final in Paris, it was not only a landmark moment for him, but also for Qatar. In the space of a month, the runner had changed his name, nationality and become the Gulf state's first world champion. While a reported $1,000 monthly stipend for the rest of his life was enough to convince Shaheen to swap flags, he is the latest in a line of sporting superstars to head to the gas-rich
  • Assaluyeh set for major new petrochemicals complex

    Bushehr Petrochemical Company (BPC), a subsidiary of National Petrochemical Company (NPC), is planning a major new olefins complex at Assaluyeh, comprising an ethane recovery unit, an ethane cracker and a world-class methanol plant. International and local contractors have been approached to submit expressions of interest for the project.  
  • Auditor sought for Gaza water

    The Palestinian Water Authority is expected to issue a request for proposals (RFP) by the end of November for financial consultancy work on the second emergency water project in Gaza. At least five international consultants have submitted expressions of interest (EoIs) for the $700,000, three-year contract financed by Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau (KfW) to audit the project's management component. Austria's Inframanis the operator on the $20 million World Bank-funded project, which
  • Aviation sector opens up to private investment

    The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, has been appointed by the government to act as adviser on the introduction of private sector participation in running facilities and services at Houari Boumediene Airport in Algiers. The contract calls for the creation of a regulatory framework to support the transaction and the development of a model for the introduction of private sector participation to the rest of the country's aviation sector. The
  • Award nears for Mina hospital

    Evaluation of bids is ongoing at the Health Ministry for the contract to build an emergency hospital, capable of handling up to 300 patients. Called Mina hospital, the facility will be located on the outskirts of Mecca and will take a year to build. Bidders for the estimated SR 150 million ($40 million) facility include Al-Arrab Contracting Company and Saudi Pan-Kingdom Company (Sapak). Another contract is due to be awarded by the Health Ministry, to build 420 primary hea
  • Award nears for Mina hospital

    Evaluation of bids is ongoing at the Health Ministry for the contract to build an emergency hospital, capable of handling up to 300 patients. Called Mina hospital, the facility will be located on the outskirts of Mecca and will take a year to build. Bidders for the estimated SR 150 million ($40 million) facility include Al-Arrab Contracting Company and Saudi Pan-Kingdom Company (Sapak). Another contract is due to be awarded by the Health Ministry, to build 420 primary hea
  • Award nears on Deir al-Zor

    The Public Establishment of Electricity for Generation & Transmission (PEEGT) is close to completing technical evaluation for the construction contract for the 750-MW combined cycle power plant at Deir al-Zor. Three bids were received for the EPC contract in late February from a German joint venture of Siemensand Koch, Canada's SNC Lavalinand a Spanish/Polish joint venture of Iberdrolaand Alstom Poland. PEEGT expects to award the estima
  • Award nears on PMD cracker

    Final negotiations are ongoing between the local Project Management & Development Company (PMD) and three members of the ethylene club to build the 1.35 million-tonne-a-year (t/y) ethane/butane cracker at its Jubail olefins complex.
  • Awards flow to Italy for Aramco pipeline work

    Saipemand Techint, both Italy-based, have been awarded two pipeline upgrade and construction contracts totalling $300 million. The client on both projects is SaudiAramco.
  • Awards near on Olefins II

    Contract awards are imminent on the remaining downstream process packages on the estimated $2,000 million Olefins II petrochemical complex at Shuaiba. Decisions are awaited on the styrene monomer and ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol (EO/EG) packages, with an award also nearing on a third package, covering the polyethylene (PE) expansion. On 7 November, a group led by Europe's ABBand including Japan's EXSYM Corporationwon the $62 million contract to connect the Olefins II co
  • Azzawiya port down to two

    Azzawiya Oil Refining Company (ARC)is evaluating revised proposals from two international consultants for the project management consultancy (PMC) contract to oversee the construction of a fully protected harbour at Azzawiya. The new bids were submitted in early October by Denmark's COWIand Royal Haskoningof the Netherlands. The revised bids follows the submission of bids from four international consultants in September - the other two being Denmark's Niras
  • Azzawiya port down to two

    Azzawiya Oil Refining Company (ARC)is evaluating revised proposals from two international consultants for the project management consultancy (PMC) contract to oversee the construction of a fully protected harbour at Azzawiya. The new bids were submitted in early October by Denmark's COWIand Royal Haskoningof the Netherlands. The revised bids follows the submission of bids from four international consultants in September - the other two being Denmark's Niras
  • Back under the spotlight

    When Iranian President Ahmadinejad told The World Without Zionism conference in Tehran that 'Israel must be wiped off the map', he probably did not realise what effect his remarks would have. Iran was castigated by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, while Washington and Tel Aviv were given all the excuses they could desire to take an even more belligerent stance towards Tehran.
  • Baghdad eyes green zone luxury

    The Iraqi Commission for Investment has unveiled plans to build an ultra-luxurious hotel in Baghdad's International Zone, formerly the Green Zone. The project will see construction of a 23-storey hotel with suites, a business centre, a conference hall and entertainment facilities. The government has donated the land for development. Valued at about $85 million, the project will be financed privately through local businessmen, although their identities will not be revealed for security reasons. W
  • Baghdad eyes green zone luxury

    The Iraqi Commission for Investment has unveiled plans to build an ultra-luxurious hotel in Baghdad's International Zone, formerly the Green Zone. The project will see construction of a 23-storey hotel with suites, a business centre, a conference hall and entertainment facilities. The government has donated the land for development. Valued at about $85 million, the project will be financed privately through local businessmen, although their identities will not be revealed for security reasons. W
  • Baghdad plays down torture claims

    Iraq's Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said on 17 November that reports of prisoner abuse and torture in a secret Iraqi-run base were exaggerated.Jabr said only a few of the 170 prisoners had been tortured, a practice he denied he condoned. 'I don't accept for any officer to even slap a prisoner,' said Jabr. 'The talk about this has been exaggerated. No one was beheaded, no one was killed.' The prisoners had all been incarcerated legitimately and had been subject
  • Baghdad suicide bomb kills 35

    A suicide bomb killed 35 people and left at least 25 injured in a Baghdad restaurant on 10 November. The bomber detonated his explosive vest in the restaurant shortly after 9.30am local time. The restaurant, which was crowded with breakfast diners, was known to be regularly frequented by security forces. 'It targeted the Iraqi army, police and civilians because the restaurant was full of people', said Khadem Mohammed, a witness to the attacks. The attacks follow two bomb blas
  • Banks approached to join smelter finance

    Banks are due to submit bids by 18 November to join an expanded mandated lead arranger (MLA) group on the $1,500 million debt package for the Sohar aluminium smelter. Citigroupis acting as financial adviser on the deal (MEED 4:11:05).
  • Banks fancy Saudi pets schemes

    Financing for a series of petrochemicals projects planned in the kingdom is progressing rapidly. Bank bids have been submitted for both the Rabigh and Eastern Petrochemical Company (Sharq)projects while the debt packages for the Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem)and the Sahara Petrochemical Companyprojects at Jubail are out in the market.
  • Banque du Sud stake goes to Spanish-Moroccan team

    The government has agreed the sale of its 33.5 per cent stake in Banque du Sud(BS) to a consortium of Banco Santander Central Hispanoand Attijari Wafabankfor an estimated price of $80 million. The agreement, which involves the purchase of 6.7 million shares at a price of about TD 9 ($6.7) a share, will be signed at the annual shareholder meeting on 25 November (Briefing, MEED 15:7:05).
  • Basra tenders WTP plants

    The Governorate of Basra was due to receive bids from contractors by the end of October for the design and build of two new water treatment plants (WTPs). Both projects call for the construction of reverse osmosis (RO) units with capacity of 200 cubic metres an hour and above-ground storage reservoirs. The plants will serve about 20,000 people. Bids are due on 25 October for the planned WTP at the Al-Shuaiba district and 28 October for a similar plant in Al-Zeiraj Shatt al-Arab area. The plants
  • BCCI case against Bank of England dropped

    The liquidators of Bank of Credit & Commerce International (BCCI), Deloitte & Touche, have dropped their civil case against the Bank of England (central bank). The central bank was being sued for 'misfeasance in public office' for failure to detect and act on fraud at the bank, which was put into liquidation in 1991. Deloitte & Touche was seeking up to $1,000 million in damages on behalf of BCCI's creditors, but a recent reserve judgement by the UK High Court found that the suit was
  • BCCI case still leaves some unresolved questions

    The liquidators of Bank of Credit & Commerce International (BCCI), which was closed in July 1991, finally accepted the inevitable and dropped their£850 million ($1,479 million) case against the Bank of England on 2 November. The central bank's governor, Mervyn King, immediately declared that 'there had never been a shred of evidence' to support allegations that the bank and 22 of its present and former employees had acted in bad faith or dishonestly and knowingly failed to protect BCCI depositor
  • Beirut firm plans new resort

    Three international design firms have submitted proposals to Beirut-based Malia Holding for the contract to draw up a masterplan on the estimated $500 million Natour development project near Anfeh, south of Tripoli.Interested companies include Sasaki Associatesand HOK, both of the US.To be built on a 485,000-square-metre area, the plan is to incorporate 450 metres of seashore and an old Cistercian monastery into the masterplan. The US’ Dobbin Internationa
  • Beirut firm plans new resort

    Three international design firms have submitted proposals to Beirut-based Malia Holding for the contract to draw up a masterplan on the estimated $500 million Natour development project near Anfeh, south of Tripoli.Interested companies include Sasaki Associatesand HOK, both of the US.To be built on a 485,000-square-metre area, the plan is to incorporate 450 metres of seashore and an old Cistercian monastery into the masterplan. The US’ Dobbin Internationa
  • Beirut subsidises diesel for winter

    The Lebanese cabinet called on affluent citizens and expatriates on 18 November to donate to a fund to finance a diesel subsidy throughout the winter. 'This way the Lebanese will prove how much they care for each other in time of need,' said Information Minister Ghazi Aridi.Instead of introducing a lower fixed price for diesel, as trade unions have demanded, the government will deduct £Leb 3,000 ($2) from the world price of 20 litres until the end of February 2006. If the wor
  • Berger team wins minerals rail PMC

    A four-strong group led by the US' Louis Bergerhas received a letter of intent for the six-year project management consultancy (PMC) services contract on the planned minerals railway. The consortium was the only qualified bidder for the contract when proposals were submitted earlier in the year (MEED 20:5:05).
  • Bidders line up for Fujairah quay work

    Design and build bids are due to be submitted on 3 December for the contract to build 1.5 kilometres of new quay wall at Fujairah port. Prospective bidders include Geneva-registered Archirodon Construction (Overseas), Greece's Athena, China Harbour Engineering Company, India's Essar, Belgium's Six Constructand a company identified as Tidal Marine. The new quay wall, which will have an alongside depth of 15 metres, will be bu
  • Bidders line up for Fujairah quay work

    Design and build bids are due to be submitted on 3 December for the contract to build 1.5 kilometres of new quay wall at Fujairah port. Prospective bidders include Geneva-registered Archirodon Construction (Overseas), Greece's Athena, China Harbour Engineering Company, India's Essar, Belgium's Six Constructand a company identified as Tidal Marine. The new quay wall, which will have an alongside depth of 15 metres, will be bu
  • Bids due for Ain Beni Mathar solar thermal plant

    Technical bids are due by 30 November for the estimated Eur 200 million ($240 million) contract to develop the kingdom's first solar thermal power plant in the northeastern city of Ain Beni Mathar. The plant will have capacity of 200-250 MW, including a 30-MW solar element. The client is Office National de l'Electricite (ONE - MEED 29:4:05).
  • Bids due for Hassi R'Mel hybrid

    Technical bids from prequalified bidders are due on 16 November for the long-awaited build-own-operate (BOO) contract to develop a 130-MW solar/gas hybrid power plant at Hassi R'Mel, 60 kilometres northwest of Ghardaia (MEED 1:10:04).
  • Bids due for Liwa Heights

    Bids are due in by the end of November for the main construction package on the Liwa Heights tower project in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT). The 24-month contract calls for the construction of a 41-storey residential tower and retail podium. Abu Dhabi-based APCCis carrying out the piling works. The developer is the local Maysan Real Estate Investment Company. The design and project manager is Northcroft Middle East, the local affiliate of Westbury & North
  • Bids due for Liwa Heights

    Bids are due in by the end of November for the main construction package on the Liwa Heights tower project in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT). The 24-month contract calls for the construction of a 41-storey residential tower and retail podium. Abu Dhabi-based APCCis carrying out the piling works. The developer is the local Maysan Real Estate Investment Company. The design and project manager is Northcroft Middle East, the local affiliate of Westbury & North
  • Bids due for smelter earthworks

    Bid are due to be submitted on 12 November for the earthworks package on the Sohar aluminium smelter project. The contract is worth about RO 5 million-10 million ($12.8 million-25.6 million) and will be carried out on a fast-track basis, with work due to be completed in about nine months. The engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contractor is the US' Bechtel. Sohar Aluminium Companyis a joint venture of Oman Oil Company, Canada's
  • Bids due for smelter earthworks

    Bid are due to be submitted on 12 November for the earthworks package on the Sohar aluminium smelter project. The contract is worth about RO 5 million-10 million ($12.8 million-25.6 million) and will be carried out on a fast-track basis, with work due to be completed in about nine months. The engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contractor is the US' Bechtel. Sohar Aluminium Companyis a joint venture of Oman Oil Company, Canada's
  • Bids due for suburban rolling stock

    Technical and commercial bids are due by 11 November for the contract to provide rolling stock for the Algiers suburban train network. The contract calls for the provision of 64 carriages. Germany's Siemensand France's Alstom are likely to bid for the contract, with Canada's Bombardier, Spain's Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF)and a Slovakian company also possible contenders. An award is expected in early 2006. A team of Alstom with
  • Bids due for water treatment

    Bids are due by 16 November for the construction of a water treatment station in Tamanar, north of Agadir in the south of the kingdom. The station will have capacity of 35 litres a second. Bidders must have executed a similar water treatment station in the last 10 years and have an annual turnover in excess of AD 120 million ($1.65 million). The project will be funded by the European Investment Bank. The client is state water company Office National de l'Eau Potable (ONEP).
  • Bids in for Amman-Zarqa

    At least two companies have submitted bids for the estimated $100 million build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) contract for a 26-kilometre light railway between Amman and Zarqa. France's Alstom Transportand an all-Egyptian consortium identified as Egyptian Railway Project & Transport replied to the request for technical and commercial proposals on 27 October. Canada's Bombardier Transportation, a Spanish consortium consisting of Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL)
  • Bids in for causeway dredging

    The US' Great Lakes Dredge & Dock is low bidder at BD 4.9 million ($12.8 million) for the contract to carry out dredging, reclamation and rock armouring work in preparation for the North Manama Causeway project, a road scheme aimed at easing traffic congestion along the corniche in the Bahrain Financial Harbour area. Great Lakes' price is 4 per cent lower than the Netherlands' Royal Boskalis Westminster, which offered options of BD 5.1 million-6 million ($13.4 million-15.
  • Bids in for causeway dredging

    The US' Great Lakes Dredge & Dock is low bidder at BD 4.9 million ($12.8 million) for the contract to carry out dredging, reclamation and rock armouring work in preparation for the North Manama Causeway project, a road scheme aimed at easing traffic congestion along the corniche in the Bahrain Financial Harbour area. Great Lakes' price is 4 per cent lower than the Netherlands' Royal Boskalis Westminster, which offered options of BD 5.1 million-6 million ($13.4 million-15.
  • Bids in for International City residences

    Local property developer Nakheelreceived bids on 22 October from at least seven contractors for the final package on the estimated $1,900 million International City country-themed residential district in Dubai. The estimated $75 million package seven calls for the construction of about 30 buildings and associated landscaping works. Bids are already under evaluation for packages 13 and 14, both of which are to be built in a French style. The client is expected to make an award on all
  • Bids in for International City residences

    Local property developer Nakheelreceived bids on 22 October from at least seven contractors for the final package on the estimated $1,900 million International City country-themed residential district in Dubai. The estimated $75 million package seven calls for the construction of about 30 buildings and associated landscaping works. Bids are already under evaluation for packages 13 and 14, both of which are to be built in a French style. The client is expected to make an award on all
  • Bids in for QP bond advisory

    Proposals were submitted by about six banks in mid-November for the mandate to arrange a dollar-denominated bond issue for Qatar Petroleum (QP). A selection is due by the end of the month.
  • Bids in for refinery pre-FEED

    Three companies submitted on 23 October technical and commercial bids for the pre front-end engineering and design (FEED) package on the proposed 200,000-barrel-a-day Al-Shaheen refinery project. The bidders are the UK office of Foster Wheeler, US-based Jacobs Engineeringand Australia's WorleyParsons. The grassroots refinery is expected to be located at Mesaieed, although the client, Qatar Petroleum (QP), has not ruled out Ras Laffan as a possible
  • Bids invited for Marina West

    Bids have been invited by 7 December for the main design and build contract on the estimated $320 million Marina West project in Budaiya, in the northwest of the kingdom close to the Saudi causeway. The client, the local AAJ Holdings, is understood to be seeking bids from a maximum of about five firms. The project will consist of 11 towers, most of them residential but possibly also including a luxury hotel, covering an area of 75,000 square metres. The towers will be of 18, 24, and
  • Bids invited for Marina West

    Bids have been invited by 7 December for the main design and build contract on the estimated $320 million Marina West project in Budaiya, in the northwest of the kingdom close to the Saudi causeway. The client, the local AAJ Holdings, is understood to be seeking bids from a maximum of about five firms. The project will consist of 11 towers, most of them residential but possibly also including a luxury hotel, covering an area of 75,000 square metres. The towers will be of 18, 24, and
  • Biwater lands on Green Mountain

    Biwater Construction, the local subsidiary of the UK's Biwater, has been awarded three contracts worth a combined $48 million to refurbish and expand 13 wastewater treatment plants in the Green Mountain region in the east. The three turnkey contracts were awarded by the Green Mountain Municipality and the Public Works Authority of Shahat, Massa and Gernada-Faydiah under the country's new national infrastructure development programme (NIDP). They cover the design, supply, insta
  • BLOM mulls GDR issue

    Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB)has been mandated by BLOM Bankto arrange an issue of global depositary receipts (GDRs), likely to be worth in the range of $150 million-200 million. The paper is expected to be listed on the Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX). BLOM staged its first $150 million GDR issue, arranged by Merrill Lynch, in 1998. The bank is expanding regionally, recently acquiring a 12.5 per cent stake in Misr Romanian Bank, and is
  • BMI: Ticking all the boxes

    Speaking at the British Embassy's annual gala dinner in Riyadh in late September, British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles encapsulated the mood of optimism accompanying the launch earlier that month of flights to Saudi Arabia by BMI, the UK's second-largest full-service scheduled airline. 'BMI does not just stand for British Midland International,' he said. 'It stands for Britain's most intelligent airline. It stands for Britain's most innovative airline. And it stands for Br
  • BNP launches operations

    BNP Paribaslaunched operations in the kingdom on 23 October, with the opening of its inaugural branch in the Faisaliah Tower in Riyadh. Three international banks - BNP, Deutsche Bankand JP Morgan- were awarded single-branch licences by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA - central bank) in mid-2004 (MEED 4:6:04).
  • BNP to arrange AUB debt

    BNP Paribas has been appointed lead manager on a $100 million subordinated debt issue for Ahli United Bank (AUB). National Bank of Abu Dhabihas also announced plans to issue subordinated notes of up to AED 2,500 million ($680 million), subject to approval at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 22 November. The AUB notes, which have been rated BBB- by Fitch, will have a tenor of 10 years, callable in five. The attraction of subordinated debt issua
  • BOEING IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Courting the region

    Boeing is working hard on building up its relationships in the Middle East, notably in the education and high-tech sectors. In 2003, the company launched the first Aviation Safety e-learning curriculum at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, which provides its Aeronautical Engineering department with safety training for students and customers from Saudi Arabian Airlines and the Royal Saudi Air Force. Boeing also has a stake in the local Al-Salaam Aircraft Company, an aircraft modification, maint
  • Bomb explodes during anti-US march

    The British embassy in Tehran on 2 November reported the detonation of a small explosive device near the offices of BP and British Airways shortly after the start of a march to mark the National Day of Campaign against Global Arrogance. The damage was minimal and no-one was hurt. Iranians rallied across the country to show their allegiance to the Islamic revolution and protestors converged on the former US embassy to mark the 26th anniversary of its seizure. Protestors shoute
  • Borouge cracks on with Ruwais expansion

    Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge)is due to launch prequalifications by mid-November for the contract to build a world-scale ethane cracker to serve its phase 3 expansion at Ruwais. Estimated to be worth $900 million-1,100 million, it will involve the construction of a 1.4 million-tonne-a-year (t/y) facility. The Borouge expansion, which will involve the construction of a 540,000-t/y polyethylene (PE) unit and two 400,000-t/y polypropylene (PP) units, will be carried out in several cons
  • Boskalis lands North Town dredging

    The Works & Housing Ministry has awarded Royal Boskalis Westminsterof the Netherlandsa BD 66.4 million ($136 million) dredging and reclamation contract for the first two phases of the North Bahrain New Towns (NBNT) development. The contract calls for the dredging of about 40 million cubic metres of material for the planned first phase of the project, which will see reclamation of two main islands over an area of 290 hectares. Work is to be completed within 12 months. The eight-month
  • Bourse enters corrective phase

    The Doha Securities Market (DSM) passed a milestone in September, as market capitalisation crossed the $100,000 million mark for the first time. The month also saw the second listing of the year, taking the number of listed companies to 32. And as third-quarter corporate results trickle out, showing buoyant earnings growth, it is little surprise that the benchmark DSM index is up by more than 90 per cent since the start of the year.
  • Bovis lands Reem appointment

    Australia's Bovis Lend Leasehas been selected to provide project management services to Tamouh Investments for its real estate project on Al-Reem island. The developer is also selecting an infrastructure design consultant. The project is a high-density mixed-use office, commercial and residential development that aims to create a new central business district for Abu Dhabi. In October the local Al-Reem Investmentsappointed Germany's Drees & Sommera
  • Bovis lands Reem appointment

    Australia's Bovis Lend Leasehas been selected to provide project management services to Tamouh Investments for its real estate project on Al-Reem island. The developer is also selecting an infrastructure design consultant. The project is a high-density mixed-use office, commercial and residential development that aims to create a new central business district for Abu Dhabi. In October the local Al-Reem Investmentsappointed Germany's Drees & Sommera
  • Brussells offers more aid funding

    The European Union (EU) has set aside Eur 230 million ($275 million) to spend on aid in the country throughout 2006. The financing, which is part of the EU's annual budget and is still to be approved, includes Eur 30 million ($35 million) for the parliamentary elections to be held in December.
  • Building up capacity

    The petrochemicals industry in the Middle East has everything going for it. The world's largest hydrocarbons reserves ensure access to plentiful and cheap gas feedstock, giving producers a natural edge over the predominantly naphtha-based industries elsewhere in the world. The region's relative proximity to India and China, where demand growth for petrochemical products is highest, is another advantage, particularly over European producers.
  • Bush and Putin discuss Iran; US to discuss Tehran with EU

    US President Bush and Russian President Putin discussed Iran's nuclear programme in South Korea on 18 November. Bush backed a Russian proposal to break the deadlock in negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme. Russia has offered to take on Tehran's uranium enrichment programme as part of a joint venture.'The president thanked President Putin for their position and thought that the initiative is helpful to the process,' said presidential counsellor Dan Bartlett.
  • Buyers sought for Tamoil

    International oil companies and other potential investors are being invited to express interest in taking a majority stake in state-owned oil company Tamoil. In mid-October, BNP Paribas, which is financial adviser on the sale, started approaching potential investors on the sale of a 60-100 per cent stake in the company. Tamoil has 3,068 petroleum retailing stations in Europe and North Africa. The company has three refineries in Europe, which have a combined output of abou
  • Car bomb kills 30 south of Baghdad

    At least 30 people were killed by a car bomb planted outside a hospital on 24 November in Mahmudiya, a town south of Baghdad.The attacks occurred in an area known locally as the 'triangle of death' for the frequency of its insurgent attacks. Four Iraqi policemen were reported to have been killed in the blast, which also injured 27. A US convoy was hit by the blast, but no US casualties were reported.Insurgent attacks are expected to increase in the run-up to Ir
  • CASE joins World Federation of Exchanges

    Investment Minister Mahmoud Mohieldin on 6 November announced that the Cairo & Alexandria Stock Exchanges (CASE) had become a full member of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE). The CASE is the first Arab bourse to become a member of the WFE, which is a private organisation for regulated securities and derivative markets, settlement institutions and related clearing houses, and their diverse services to capital markets. Including the Egyptian bourse, the WFE comprises 54 exchanges such as th
  • CCC signs mega subcontracts

    Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC)has signed two major construction subcontracts on the onshore Abu Hadriyah, Fadhili and Khursaniyah (AFK) oil fields development programme in the Eastern Province. The final value of the subcontracts, placed by Italy's Snamprogettiand a joint venture of Paris-based Technipwith US-based Bechtel, has still to be determined, but it is expected to be in the region of $1,000 million. Under
  • Chinese renegotiate as changeover delays metro

    China North Industries Company (Norinco)is renegotiating its $680 million price for building Tehran metro's line 4, to reflect rising procurement costs. At the same time the changeover in government has delayed the development of line 3, where a local state-affiliated company has failed to find a suitable foreign partner almost a year after winning the contract (MEED 3:3:05).
  • Chinese renegotiate as changeover delays metro

    China North Industries Company (Norinco)is renegotiating its $680 million price for building Tehran metro's line 4, to reflect rising procurement costs. At the same time the changeover in government has delayed the development of line 3, where a local state-affiliated company has failed to find a suitable foreign partner almost a year after winning the contract (MEED 3:3:05).
  • Coming on stream

    Innovation is the name of the game in the Middle East power and water sector, as developers struggle with soaring demand and - in the case of the water sector - diminishing natural resources. Power demand is growing rapidly, from an average of 7-8 per cent a year across the region to the 15 per cent peak of booming Dubai (see table, page 32). In at least seven Arab states, total power capacity will need to be at least doubled by 2010. According to MEED research, a minimum of $46,000 million will
  • Companies show interest in new licensing round

    Several oil companies from Asia, Europe and the US have already viewed data made available by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) as part of its recently launched first bid round for 2005. Companies interested in the thirteen new blocks on offer, which will be awarded on a production sharing basis, have been given until 13 February to submit their bids (see Tenders). The exploration blocks are located in the Gulf of Suez, the Eastern Desert and the Western Desert. The conce
  • COMPETITION: Home and away

    In a region of closed banking markets, Kuwait has traditionally vied for the crown of most reluctant reformer. But the regulatory landscape has been transformed in the past two years.
  • Condoleezza Rice leaves for Middle East

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left for the Middle East on 10 November, aiming to revitalise the Arab-Israeli peace process and US hopes to spread democracy in the region.Her departure coincided with bombings in Jordan and Iraq and political turmoil in Tel Aviv, after the shock defeat of Shimon Peres as Labour leader. Rice's first stop will be at the Forum for Future democratic conference in Bahrain. She will then travel to Riyadh, Jerusalem and Ramallah b
  • Constitution passed, but rocky road lies ahead

    At the start of the year, Washington and Baghdad were placing great faith on the hope that the democratic election of a new government and the adoption of a new constitution by popular vote would rip the heart out of the increasingly bloody insurgency that was destroying the country's ability to rebuild itself. But 10 months on, and following the overwhelming yes vote in favour of the draft constitution, it is clear that those hopes have been left in tatters, and that Iraqis are still facing a m
  • Consultants sought for terminals expansion

    At least two international companies have expressed interest in the contract to carry out technical consultancy services on the planned expansion and rehabilitation of the existing passenger terminals at Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA). Interested companies include Germany's Lufthansa Consultingand Austria's Vienna Aviation Consulting. The consultant will provide technical, market and financial analysis looking at passenger numbers, aircraft and cargo volumes. The
  • Contractors line up for Banias refinery

    About 12 companies have submitted prequalifications for an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract covering the modernisation and partial reconstruction of Banias refinery. The estimated $400 million project has been under consideration for several years by the government.
  • Contractors sought for Al-Sadd development

    The local Qatar Real Estate Investment Companyis preparing to prequalify regional and international contractors for its QR 600 million ($165 million) mixed-use development in the Al-Sadd area of Doha. Contractors have until 6 November to prequalify for the scheme, which comprises two towers on a two-storey podium and about five seven-storey residential buildings. The construction contract is expected to be tendered in early December with the project award anticipated for early Februa
  • Contractors sought for Al-Sadd development

    The local Qatar Real Estate Investment Companyis preparing to prequalify regional and international contractors for its QR 600 million ($165 million) mixed-use development in the Al-Sadd area of Doha. Contractors have until 6 November to prequalify for the scheme, which comprises two towers on a two-storey podium and about five seven-storey residential buildings. The construction contract is expected to be tendered in early December with the project award anticipated for early Februa
  • Correction

    AMEC Spie Capag's partner on the Yemen LNGpipeline is the local Hawk International Finance & Construction Company and not as reported in MEED 30:9:05.
  • CREC begins enabling works for Zabeel Mall

    China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC)has started the enabling works package for the Zabeel Mall project next to Al-Wasl sports club in Dubai. Tenders will be issued for the main construction package towards the end of the year. The local Al-Hatmy Design & Engineering Consultancyis the consultant and the UK's Whitbybird is the structural engineer. The local Al-Wasl Sports Clubis the client.
  • CREC begins enabling works for Zabeel Mall

    China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC)has started the enabling works package for the Zabeel Mall project next to Al-Wasl sports club in Dubai. Tenders will be issued for the main construction package towards the end of the year. The local Al-Hatmy Design & Engineering Consultancyis the consultant and the UK's Whitbybird is the structural engineer. The local Al-Wasl Sports Clubis the client.
  • Crown Prince caps Dubai rent increases

    A decree imposing a 15 per cent cap on rental increases for all leased properties in Dubai has been issued by Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. The order comes into effect immediately and will remain in force until the end of 2006. The rent committee at Dubai Municipality will be responsible for implementing the new order, and will review any tenant complaints. 'Landlords will no longer be able to impose rental increases of more than 15 per cent on their tenants,' Saeed
  • Crunch time

    The 50 members of Kuwait's National Assembly (parliament) have never been afraid to speak their minds. So it is no surprise that the events of recent months, from the very public spat between two senior members of the Al-Sabah ruling family to the growing claims of massive corruption in all walks of life, have given them plenty to talk about.
  • Daewoo signs up for Duqm

    South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineeringhas signed a letter of intent to invest in the shipyard as part of the proposed Duqm port project, in addition to designing and operating the facility. The yard is likely to include a post-graving dock able to handle ultra-large crude carriers (ULCCs) of up to 400,000 dwt and a ship repair yard, along with two breakwaters with a length of some four kilometres. Construction work on the estimated $500 million project is due to be te
  • Daewoo signs up for Duqm

    South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineeringhas signed a letter of intent to invest in the shipyard as part of the proposed Duqm port project, in addition to designing and operating the facility. The yard is likely to include a post-graving dock able to handle ultra-large crude carriers (ULCCs) of up to 400,000 dwt and a ship repair yard, along with two breakwaters with a length of some four kilometres. Construction work on the estimated $500 million project is due to be te
  • Dam programme takes shape

    Agence Nationale des Barrages (ANB) has awarded a raft of contracts worth a total of more than $300 million as part of its national dam-building and water distribution programme. A consortium of Portugal's Teixeira Duarte and the local ETRHB has been awarded a $197 million, 32-month contract for design and construction work on lot 3.1 of the Mostaganem-Arzew-Oran (MAO) water supply system project.
  • Damascus allows five officials to travel for inquiry

    Damascus said on 25 November that it would permit members of the UN team investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri to question five of its senior officials. 'The Syrian leadership has agreed to the compromise proposal on holding the interviews of the five Syrian persons at the UN headquarters in Vienna,' Deputy Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said.Syria agreed to drop its demands for a legal framework of co-operation after it was given guar
  • Damascus announces major transport plans

    Transport Minister Makram Obeid on 9 November announced wide-ranging plans to develop Syria's transport infrastructure at a meeting in London.
  • Damascus calls in Annan

    Syria asked UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 21 November to broker an agreement between Damascus and the UN inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.In a letter to Annan, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara asked for help in 'agreeing a co-operation protocol' between the two sides, 'which respects the UN charter and Syria's sovereignty'.'To avoid any confusion over the issue of co-operation, its fundamentals and criter
  • Damascus extends round 5 deadline

    The Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ministry has extended to 20 December the deadline for international oil companies to submit proposals for the fifth oil and gas licensing round. Officials say the deadline has been extended in order to attract a greater number of bidders. Interest has been received from Chinese, Indian, Canadian, European and Gulf-based oil companies. Blocks 5, 7, 9, 13, 15, 16, 19 and 21, covering a total area of 65,000 square kilometres, are included in the licensing round, wh
  • Damascus imposes travel ban on officials

    Damascus imposed a travel ban on 9 November on six officials apparently named in the UN report into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.Officials from Damascus' own inquiry into the killing have already started to interview the six men, a spokesman said ( MEED 8:11:05).
  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

    Damascus invited UN investigators on 8 November to Syria to discuss co-operation on the UN's probe into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.'As we hope that you would agree on the visit; we propose in this regard the signing of a memorandum of understanding with your committee to achieve the desired co-operation,' Judge Ghada Murad, the head of the Syrian inquiry into Hariri's death, wrote to the team of UN investigators. The letter
  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

  • Damascus invitation to Hariri investigator

  • Damascus plans banking sector reform

    International companies submitted bids on 10 November for the contract to provide consultancy services to the Finance Ministry on wide-ranging banking sector reforms. The consultant will offer technical assistance on institutional, legislative and operational reform of the banking sector. The plan is to support the government on banking policy, to develop banking training programmes and to improve bank services. Five international consortia have been shortlisted for the contract, which is due to
  • DCA begins ordering for T3, concourse 3

    Dubai's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has begun ordering long lead items for the terminal 3, concourse 3 project at Dubai International Airport. Items already procured include the structural steel frame ordered from Jebel Ali-based Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Middle East. It is understood that the new concourse will be comparable in size to the under-construction concourse 2, and will be dedicated to handling the new Airbus A380 aircraft (see Special Report, page
  • DCA begins ordering for T3, concourse 3

    Dubai's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has begun ordering long lead items for the terminal 3, concourse 3 project at Dubai International Airport. Items already procured include the structural steel frame ordered from Jebel Ali-based Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Middle East. It is understood that the new concourse will be comparable in size to the under-construction concourse 2, and will be dedicated to handling the new Airbus A380 aircraft (see Special Report, page
  • Dead Sea alive to ripples of commerce

    Work is moving ahead on two major resort projects at the Dead Sea worth an estimated $300 million.
  • Dead Sea alive to ripples of commerce

    Work is moving ahead on two major resort projects at the Dead Sea worth an estimated $300 million.
  • December date for Gate of Kuwait

    The tender for the main construction package on the Gate of Kuwait project will not be issued until December following changes to the scheme's design. The client, the local Al-Shaya Group, is seeking final municipal approval to incorporate a five-star hotel into the estimated $200 million mixed-tower complex, which, at 70 storeys, will be one of the tallest developments in the state. The local Al-Bahar Construction for Trading & Contracting Companyhas started work on the
  • December date for Gate of Kuwait

    The tender for the main construction package on the Gate of Kuwait project will not be issued until December following changes to the scheme's design. The client, the local Al-Shaya Group, is seeking final municipal approval to incorporate a five-star hotel into the estimated $200 million mixed-tower complex, which, at 70 storeys, will be one of the tallest developments in the state. The local Al-Bahar Construction for Trading & Contracting Companyhas started work on the
  • Degremont/Marubeni JV homes in on Doha west STP development

    The French/Japanese joint venture (JV) of Degremont and Marubeni Corporationhas been awarded the design-build-operate (DBO) contract on the Doha West sewage treatment plant (STP) expansion project. The award, made by the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), is valued at about QR 1,000 million ($275 million) and is the first in a series planned in the local sewerage sector (MEED 28:10:05).
  • DEL pipeline tender goes for bid

    Abu Dhabi-based Dolphin Energy (DEL) has invited companiesto submitbids by 30 November for the second engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on its project to upgrade and modify the eastern gas distribution system (EGDS) in the emirate (MEED 17:6:05).
  • Details of border deal announced; Abbas criticises Israel

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced on 15 November details of the re-opening of Gaza's border crossings with Egypt and Israel. The planned opening of the Rafah checkpoint between Gaza and Egypt on 25 November will mark the first time Palestinians have authority over a border. Opening Gaza's checkpoints with Israel will allow Palestinians to travel between Gaza and the West Bank, initially in bus convoys. It will also improve the export of Gaza's harvest of short-lived foodstuff
  • Deyaar issues raft of tenders

    Deyaar Development, the real estate subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), has invited at least six contractors to submit bids for two tower projects in Business Bay, and has started work on another tower project in Dubai Technology, e-Commerce & Media Free Zone (Tecom).
  • Deyaar issues raft of tenders

    Deyaar Development, the real estate subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), has invited at least six contractors to submit bids for two tower projects in Business Bay, and has started work on another tower project in Dubai Technology, e-Commerce & Media Free Zone (Tecom).
  • DGCX seals launch date

    The Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) will officially open for operations on 22 November. The bourse will first launch its gold futures market. The DGCX opened its membership in June 2004 and so far has signed up 50 members, with a further 200 waiting for approval. The exchange will be open for 13 hours to ensure time coverage across Europe, US and the Far East. Trading of silver futures and gold and silver options will be available from the first quarter of 2006. DGCX plans to add variou
  • DIC bids for diesel unit

    Dubai International Capital (DIC), a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, has submitted a joint bid with private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Robertsfor Germany's MTU Friedrichshafen, the heavy diesel unit of German car manufacturer DaimlerChrysler. 'The deal has not been finalised yet, but Dubai International Capital is one of the three final bidders,' DIC chief executive officer Sameer al-Ansari said in a statement on 1 November. The other bidders
  • DIFC work piling up

    Tenders will be issued to five companies at the start of November for the piling, shoring excavation and dewatering works for a twin tower mixed-use development in Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC). Located next to the Gate building, the project envisages a 51-storey residential tower and a 13-storey office tower. Tenders will be issued for the main construction package in January. US-based Gensleris the concept architect; South Africa's DSA Architectsis the local
  • DIFC work piling up

    Tenders will be issued to five companies at the start of November for the piling, shoring excavation and dewatering works for a twin tower mixed-use development in Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC). Located next to the Gate building, the project envisages a 51-storey residential tower and a 13-storey office tower. Tenders will be issued for the main construction package in January. US-based Gensleris the concept architect; South Africa's DSA Architectsis the local
  • DIP talks Turkey

    Dubai International Properties (DIP), a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, is expected to appoint a project manager for the construction of its proposed $500 million Dubai Towers development in Istanbul by early November. The project, which was unveiled on 24 October, centres on a mixed-use twin tower complex with office facilities, a luxury hotel, serviced and residential apartments and a shopping centre. The towers are likely to be 50-100 storeys high, although the exact height ha
  • DIP talks Turkey

    Dubai International Properties (DIP), a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, is expected to appoint a project manager for the construction of its proposed $500 million Dubai Towers development in Istanbul by early November. The project, which was unveiled on 24 October, centres on a mixed-use twin tower complex with office facilities, a luxury hotel, serviced and residential apartments and a shopping centre. The towers are likely to be 50-100 storeys high, although the exact height ha
  • Disappointing end for reform forum

    The Forum for the Future conference in Bahrain ended on 12 November without a final declaration promoting democracy in the region. A US official called the outcome disappointing and NGOs blamed Egypt for the confused outcome. In the draft declaration, delegates had agreed a common commitment 'to foster the roles of civil society including NGOs'. However, Cairo wanted the declaration to stipulate that any NGO must be legally registered under each country's laws. 'It would have
  • DM extends Dubai bypass deadline

    Dubai Municipality has extended the bid deadline to 13 November for the proposed widening and extension of the Dubai bypass. The estimated $80 million contract will see construction of a 30-kilometre dual-carriageway linking Dubai and Al-Ain with the Jebel Ali-Lehbab road. The scope of works on the 18-month contract also comprises three interchanges and associated roadworks and landscaping. The consultant is the local Al-Turath Consultantswith the US' Wilbur Smith & Associate
  • DM extends Dubai bypass deadline

    Dubai Municipality has extended the bid deadline to 13 November for the proposed widening and extension of the Dubai bypass. The estimated $80 million contract will see construction of a 30-kilometre dual-carriageway linking Dubai and Al-Ain with the Jebel Ali-Lehbab road. The scope of works on the 18-month contract also comprises three interchanges and associated roadworks and landscaping. The consultant is the local Al-Turath Consultantswith the US' Wilbur Smith & Associate
  • Doubt casts shadow over Darfur peace talks

    Continuing rebel divisions and increasing violence in Darfur meant optimism was running low ahead of the resumption of peace talks in Abuja on 28 November, said a Reuters report on 25 November.'For the first time I'm pessimistic about Sudan,' said Canadian special envoy Mobina Jaffer. The negotiations between the Khartoum government and rebel groups have progressed very slowly; six rounds of negotiations have seen the sides agree only on a declaration of principles.
  • DP World extends reach in China

    Dubai's DP Worldhas strengthened its holdings in the Far East by signing a new agreement with Qingdao government to develop a $500 million container terminal at a greenfield site in Shandong province in Eastern China. The agreement comes only days after DP World's early November announcement that it is set to acquire a coastal site in Turkey to develop a greenfield container terminal. The company is also understood to have tabled a bid in excess of $5,000 million to acquire the UK's
  • DP World eyes UK port and ferry operator

    Dubai Ports World (DP World) is considering a takeover bid for the UK port and ferry operator P&O, the UK's Sunday Times reported on 30 October. The paper said DP World has hired Deutsche Bank to advise it on a possible $5.35 million bid, which could take place soon.P&O unveiled first-half 2005 pre-tax profits of $54.1 million, down from $94.4 million in H1 2004. The company announced more than 1,000 job losses in 2004 and has reduced its number of routes and sold off propert
  • DP World mulls P&O takeover

    DP World, which was created in September by the merger of Dubai Ports Authority and Dubai Ports International, has declined to comment on reports that it has tabled a bid of in excess of $5,000 million to acquire the UK's P&O. The UK firm has confirmed initial contact from a potential Gulf buyer without providing further details.
  • DPA to carry out Emaar masterplans

    Singapore-based DP Architects (DPA)is to carry out the masterplans for two major real estate projects worth an estimated $3,900 million planned by Dubai-based Emaar Properties. The first scheme, worth $500 million and known as Eighth Gate, will be divided into three zones, including a commercial centre, a waterfront and a residential area. To be located in the Yafour area of Damascus, the development will include a piazza, a commercial tower, a plaza and a mall covering a
  • DPA to carry out Emaar masterplans

    Singapore-based DP Architects (DPA)is to carry out the masterplans for two major real estate projects worth an estimated $3,900 million planned by Dubai-based Emaar Properties. The first scheme, worth $500 million and known as Eighth Gate, will be divided into three zones, including a commercial centre, a waterfront and a residential area. To be located in the Yafour area of Damascus, the development will include a piazza, a commercial tower, a plaza and a mall covering a
  • Dubai invites Garhoud bridge bids

    Dubai Municipality has invited companies to bid by 4 December for the latest bridge project across the creek. The new Garhoud bridge is one of four new bridges planned by the municipality to ease severe congestion in the area. A number of new entrants are expected to price the $150 million-200 million project in addition to established players such as the local/UK Dutco Balfour Beatty, Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC), the local/Cypriot
  • Dubai invites Garhoud bridge bids

    Dubai Municipality has invited companies to bid by 4 December for the latest bridge project across the creek. The new Garhoud bridge is one of four new bridges planned by the municipality to ease severe congestion in the area. A number of new entrants are expected to price the $150 million-200 million project in addition to established players such as the local/UK Dutco Balfour Beatty, Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC), the local/Cypriot
  • Dubai keeps realising its global ambitions

    Local investment company Istithmarhas bought a second prestige property in New York. The company's latest purchase, valued at $705 million, is the 34-story Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue in Manhattan.
  • Dubai moves into Bahrain

    Dubai International Properties (DIP), a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, has announced plans for a AED 2,000 million ($545 million) resort in the kingdom, called Salam Beach Resort & Spa. The development will be located on the coast about 25 kilometres to the southwest of central Manama.
  • Dubai moves into Bahrain

    Dubai International Properties (DIP), a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, has announced plans for a AED 2,000 million ($545 million) resort in the kingdom, called Salam Beach Resort & Spa. The development will be located on the coast about 25 kilometres to the southwest of central Manama.
  • Dubai, Abu Dhabi plan more towers

    Sharjah-based Tameer Holdingsplans to issue tenders early next year for the main construction package on the 380-metre Princess Tower project in Dubai Marina. The 100-storey tower will occupy an area of 3,740 square metres overlooking Palm Jumeirah. Turkey's Zetasis carrying out the foundations work. The local Adnan Safariniis the consultant. Tameer is 50 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia's Al-Rajhi GroupIn Abu Dhabi, the main construction package for
  • Dubai, Abu Dhabi plan more towers

    Sharjah-based Tameer Holdingsplans to issue tenders early next year for the main construction package on the 380-metre Princess Tower project in Dubai Marina. The 100-storey tower will occupy an area of 3,740 square metres overlooking Palm Jumeirah. Turkey's Zetasis carrying out the foundations work. The local Adnan Safariniis the consultant. Tameer is 50 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia's Al-Rajhi GroupIn Abu Dhabi, the main construction package for
  • Dubailand transport systems start moving

    Work is expected to start on two public transport systems in Dubailand next year. Prequalification has started for the civil works contract on City of Arabia's automated people mover project. The contract involves the construction of all associated civil and mechanical and electrical works, including 6.8 kilometres of track viaduct, 14 stations and a maintenance depot.
  • Dubailand transport systems start moving

    Work is expected to start on two public transport systems in Dubailand next year. Prequalification has started for the civil works contract on City of Arabia's automated people mover project. The contract involves the construction of all associated civil and mechanical and electrical works, including 6.8 kilometres of track viaduct, 14 stations and a maintenance depot.
  • Dutch PM calls for more GCC integration

    Dutch Prime Minister (PM) Jan Peter Balkenende urged GCC countries on 15 November to learn from Europe's lessons and press ahead with further economic integration. In his opening address to the Port Of Sohar conference held in Muscat on 15-16 November and organised jointly by MEED and Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC), Balkenende said the region needed flexibility, innovation, partnerships and an international outlook to place it at the centre of a worldwide network.
  • ECONOMY: Great leaps forward

    Looks, as they say, can be deceptive. Kuwaitis are the first to admit their ageing infrastructure does not reflect the true condition of the economy. Chaotic streets and dilapidated buildings give the state an aura of tiredness. Behind the creaking facade, the result of years of under-investment, lies a very different story.
  • Egyptian Christian Channel to begin transmission

    Egypt's first Christian satellite television channel is due to start broadcasting on 14 November.Aghapy Television was established by the Coptic Christian church and will be the first channel to broadcast programmes from a purely Christian perspective. The channel is due to show church services, as well as other programmes with a Christian focus. The channel has drawn concern that its existence could exacerbate tensions between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.
  • El-Seif bids low for NDIA airport operations

    Saudi Arabia's El-Seif Engineering Contracting Establishmentis the low bidder for the latest package to be opened on the $2,800 million first phase of the New Doha International Airport (NDIA), covering the airport operations facilities. Bids are under evaluation for three other packages, while a further four are out to tender. The client is the NDIA Steering Committee; the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) is by US-based Bechtel(MEED 30:9:05; 16
  • El-Seif bids low for NDIA airport operations

    Saudi Arabia's El-Seif Engineering Contracting Establishmentis the low bidder for the latest package to be opened on the $2,800 million first phase of the New Doha International Airport (NDIA), covering the airport operations facilities. Bids are under evaluation for three other packages, while a further four are out to tender. The client is the NDIA Steering Committee; the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) is by US-based Bechtel(MEED 30:9:05; 16
  • El-Seif pockets Marina Jewels

    Saudi Arabia-based El-Seif Engineering Contracting Companyhas started work on the main construction package for the estimated AED 250 million ($68 million) Jewels project in Dubai Marina. The 20-storey twin tower residential project is scheduled for completion in December 2006. The local APCCcarried out the enabling works, piling, shoring, excavation and dewatering. The UK's RMJMInternational is the architect and Bahrain-based Projacs Internatio
  • El-Seif pockets Marina Jewels

    Saudi Arabia-based El-Seif Engineering Contracting Companyhas started work on the main construction package for the estimated AED 250 million ($68 million) Jewels project in Dubai Marina. The 20-storey twin tower residential project is scheduled for completion in December 2006. The local APCCcarried out the enabling works, piling, shoring, excavation and dewatering. The UK's RMJMInternational is the architect and Bahrain-based Projacs Internatio
  • Emaar unveils Moroccan agenda

    Dubai-based developer Emaar Propertiesand the local ONA Grouphave teamed up to develop large-scale residential and golfing projects throughout the kingdom. Total investment over the next five years is expected to reach about $330 million. The first development will be the Amelkis II golfing complex located near Marrakech. Under the scheme, individual investors will buy plots of land on which they will then be able to design and build residential homes. Emaar will work wit
  • Emaar unveils Moroccan agenda

    Dubai-based developer Emaar Propertiesand the local ONA Grouphave teamed up to develop large-scale residential and golfing projects throughout the kingdom. Total investment over the next five years is expected to reach about $330 million. The first development will be the Amelkis II golfing complex located near Marrakech. Under the scheme, individual investors will buy plots of land on which they will then be able to design and build residential homes. Emaar will work wit
  • Emirates considers long-haul off-shoot

    Dubai-based airline Emirates said on 6 November that it was considering a long-haul, low-cost offshoot using super-jumbo A380s.The offshoot, with the proposed name Emirates Express, 'could start flying very long distances for very low unit costs', said Emirates president Tim Clark. 'And you pass those low unit costs through to the fares.' He also confirmed that Emirates planned to double its flights from Dubai to Australia to 84 a week.After Dubai and the UK, A
  • Emirates H1 profits edge up

    Dubai-based carrier Emiratesreported unaudited net profits of $251 million in the first half of its 2005/06 financial year running from April to September, up 7 per cent on the previous year. Operating revenue grew by 28 per cent to $2,840 million, compared with $2,220 million in the first half of the 2004/05 financial year, despite an increase in fuel costs, which accounted for 27 per cent of operating outlays. The number of passengers carried by Emirates increased by 15 per cent to
  • EMTN bandwagon rolls on

    Roadshows for the first drawdown of the euro medium-term note (EMTN) programme of Arab Banking Corporation (ABC)will begin on 9 November. National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD)has also announced plans for a programme and has mandated arrangers.
  • Epico plans new mall in Jumeirah

    Emirates Property Investment Company (Epico), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Al-Fahim Group, is close to awarding a contract for the construction of a new shopping mall on Dubai's Jumeirah Beach road. The estimated $15 million project will take about 15 months to complete. Lebanon's Khatib & Alamiis the consultant.
  • Epico plans new mall in Jumeirah

    Emirates Property Investment Company (Epico), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Al-Fahim Group, is close to awarding a contract for the construction of a new shopping mall on Dubai's Jumeirah Beach road. The estimated $15 million project will take about 15 months to complete. Lebanon's Khatib & Alamiis the consultant.
  • ERC bids low for DM works

    Dubai Municipality has received bids from two contractors for the improvement of four junctions in the Deira area. Emirates Road Contracting (ERC)has submitted a low bid of AED 75 million ($20 million), followed by the local/UK joint venture of Dutco Balfour Beatty at AED 118 million ($32 million). Italy's Italconsultis the consultant on the 15-month job. DM has also received bids for the contract to carry out extensive paving work in the Jumeirah 2 area. ERC
  • ERC bids low for DM works

    Dubai Municipality has received bids from two contractors for the improvement of four junctions in the Deira area. Emirates Road Contracting (ERC)has submitted a low bid of AED 75 million ($20 million), followed by the local/UK joint venture of Dutco Balfour Beatty at AED 118 million ($32 million). Italy's Italconsultis the consultant on the 15-month job. DM has also received bids for the contract to carry out extensive paving work in the Jumeirah 2 area. ERC
  • EU considering Iran call to restart nuclear talks

    The EU considered on 7 November a request from Iran to restart talks over its atomic programme, but remained insistent that Tehran must suspend uranium processing. Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani on 6 November called on the UK, France and Germany to resume talks.He said Iran would 'welcome negotiations that are constructive and based on logic', in letters sent to European ambassadors. UK Foreign & Commonwealth Minister Jack Straw told reporters: 'We have looked
  • EU critical of Israel East Jerusalem policy

    A UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office document has sharply criticised Israel's policies in East Jerusalem, according to a report in UK daily The Guardian on 25 November. The unpublished report said Israel was jeopardising the prospect of a peace agreement by using settlement construction and the so-called separation fence to create a 'de facto annexation of Palestinian land', The Guardian reported. 'Israeli activities in Jerusalem are in violation both of its roadmap obligations and internatio
  • EU holds talks to open Gaza-Egypt border

    Israeli and Palestinian officials held talks on 6 November with an EU envoy about plans for the EU to supervise the re-opening of the Gaza-Egypt border.After negotiations in Ramallah with Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei, EU envoy Marc Otte said the EU was ready to play a 'third-party' role at the crossing and to monitor both Israeli and Palestinian operations. 'What we will not be doing is taking the place of the Palestinian customs and security officials. In the end the Palestini
  • EU set to send monitors to Gaza

    EU foreign affairs ministers meeting in Brussels are expected to order on 21 November the urgent dispatch of a monitoring team to Gaza to participate in the operation of the soon-to-be-opened Rafah border crossing. The presence of the EU at the crossing was a condition of the agreement, brokered last week by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Tel Aviv.'It gives us a chance to finish the Gaza disengagement business and to turn to
  • EU team begin Rafah preparations

    The EU team that will monitor the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has started preparations for the opening. Pietro Pistolese, an Italian paramilitary police general who will head the EU team at Rafah, said on 24 November the opening of the border crossing was important and said he expected it 'to develop the country'.As the full team is not yet in Gaza, the border crossing will initially open for only four hours a day. 'But we will increase quickly the number of
  • EU team begin Rafah preparations

    The European Union team that will monitor the Rafah border-crossing between Gaza and Egypt has started preparations for the opening.Pietro Pistolese, an Italian paramilitary police general who will head the EU team at Rafah, said on 24 November the opening of the border-crossing opening was important and said he expected it 'to develop the country'.As the full team is not yet in Gaza, the border crossing will initially open for only four hours a day. 'But we wi
  • EUROPEAN CARRIERS: Fighting back

    On 16 November, UK-based Virgin Airlines officially unveiled plans for a Middle East operation. The move to start four flights weekly to Dubai reflects just how significant the Gulf has become - not only as a business and leisure hub, but also as a transit point between Europe and Asia. While Europe's elite carriers - Air France-KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways (BA) - have been the dominant force for the best part of a quarter of a century, they are being seriously challenged by the younger ge
  • Explosions rock disputed border area

    Explosions were heard on 3 November in the disputed Shebaa farms area on the Lebanese, Israeli and Syrian borders. Witnesses said that Israeli forces fired rounds at the villages of Kfar Souba and Shebaa and rockets were fired at Israeli installations. Hezbollah denied it had attacked any Israeli positions and the Israeli army said it had fired rounds in the area for 'range practice and as part of a routine defensive measure'. Shebaa farms is a flashpoint for clashes between Hezbollah and I
  • Extra time at Sipchem as BDO unit starts up

    Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem)has given bidders an additional month to prepare bids for the two main packages on its planned acetyls complex at Jubail, with technical and commercial proposals now due by the end of November and December respectively. The development comes amid performance tests at Sipchem's butanediol (BDO) complex entering the final stage, with full commercial operations expected to begin in December, Ahmad al-Ohali, Sipchem's president, told MEED on
  • Fairmont creeps into motion

    Eight companies have been invited to prequalify for the main contract to build the Fairmont Palm Residences & Hotel on Palm Jumeirah. The residences, which are being developed by Kuwait-based IFA Hotels & Resorts, will comprise 580 luxury apartments, townhouses and villas for about 2,000 residents as well as underground parking and related entertainment facilities. Project costs are estimated at about $200 million. The hotel element, being developed by a joint venture of IFA and Saud
  • Fairmont creeps into motion

    Eight companies have been invited to prequalify for the main contract to build the Fairmont Palm Residences & Hotel on Palm Jumeirah. The residences, which are being developed by Kuwait-based IFA Hotels & Resorts, will comprise 580 luxury apartments, townhouses and villas for about 2,000 residents as well as underground parking and related entertainment facilities. Project costs are estimated at about $200 million. The hotel element, being developed by a joint venture of IFA and Saud
  • Fatah supporters demand internal reforms

    Hundreds of Fatah supporters in Gaza took to the streets on 17 November demanding internal political reforms ahead of January's parliamentary elections. 'We will push for the election of those noble people among our ranks who defend the resistance,' said Zakaria al-Assouli, a member of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. 'Nobody will be allowed to impose leaders on us.''If there is no democracy, the gun will replace elections and this is what we reject in Fatah,' sa
  • Ferguson kicks off Dubai soccer school

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson raised the curtain in Dubai on the Middle East's first soccer school on 9 November, with a call for young people in the region to concentrate on skill rather than fitness if they want to reach the top in football. 'Hopefully, we will produce some players here like Wayne Rooney and Ruud Van Nistelrooy,' he told MEED. 'Our experience with our soccer school shows that it works and produced David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.'Fe
  • Fichtner: Busy, busy, busy

    Few areas of the Middle East business scene are as buoyant as the utility sector. And
  • Fighting breaks out between rebels and Sanaa

    Armed men ambushed and killed 12 policemen in the northwestern province of Saada on 29 October. The clashes occurred as the officers passed through the town of Munabbah in an area which saw repeated outbreaks of violence between government and rebel forces in 2004. About 400 people have died in fighting between the followers of Zaidi spiritual leader Sheikh Hussain Badr al-Din al-Houthi and government forces in the region.
  • Final prices in for Doha STP

    Final prices have been submitted by the three bidders competing for the contract to design, build and operate the Doha West sewage treatment plant (STP) expansion project. The bidders are France's Degremont with Japan's Marubeni Corporation, Singapore's Sembcorp Engineers & Contractorswith Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation, and Athens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC). The scope entails more than doubling treatment
  • FIS leader calls for general amnesty

    The exiled leader of the banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) called on President Bouteflika on 31 October to declare a general amnesty. Bouteflika should 'free prisoners; lift the state of emergency and ensure a just solution to the issue of those who went missing,' Abassi Madani said in a statement issued in Doha. He proposed a ceasefire between the government and armed Algerians and said he hoped Algeria's national day would herald a 'turning point' toward a united Algeria.
  • Flying higher

    Emirates' vice-chairman and group president Maurice Flanagan reclines on his sofa looking at the array of cricketing memorabilia stacked around his office. 'Emirates often wins the inter-airline cricketing tournament,' he says. 'But we're always accused of having ringers in our team.' Emirates has often been charged with not playing by the rules, as international rivals repeatedly accuse it of receiving unfair subsidies from the Dubai government. Nor has its growth followed a conventional route.
  • Foodco hungry for industrial zone

    Abu Dhabi National Foodstuff Company (Foodco)is expected to complete a detailed study for the establishment of an industrial zone catering for foodstuff organisations. The zone is likely to be located in Abu Dhabi's Mussafah Industrial zone, with Foodco initially investing about $54 million in the project. The zone will provide the required infrastructure for food companies as well as support services. In October Foodco announced plans to establish a new subsidiary with a capital of $9 mi
  • Foreign legion lifts local confidence

    The Tunis Stock Exchange is still a poor relation compared with its counterparts in Morocco and Egypt, but there are signs that the gap may be closing. Three initial public offerings (IPOs) this year have contributed to an increase in average monthly turnover of more than 20 per cent compared with last year, and the index itself is also up 20 per cent on 2004. Although the average price/earnings (PE) ratio of 14 is still low, it too has risen on the back of improved stock performances.
  • Foreign partner selection begins for facility B

    The process of selecting a foreign partner for the Mesaieed independent power project (IPP) kicked off in early November, with international developers being invited to express their interest and submit qualifications by 21 November. The solicitation, issued by a steering committee made up of Qatar Petroleum (QP), Qatar Electricity & Water Company (QEWC)and Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa), stated that the plant, also referred to as facility B, wou
  • Foster Wheeler scoops Jebel Ali refinery expansion

    The UK office of US-based Foster Wheeler has received a letter of intent for the main contract on the Jebel Ali condensate refinery expansion project. Estimated to be worth $380 million, it will be carried out on a reimbursable basis, with an option for conversion to a lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) contract. The client is Dubai-based ENOC Processing Company (EPCL- MEED 23:9:05).
  • Four awards for new desalination capacity

    Awards were made by state-owned Algerian Energy Company (AEC) in late October for the construction of four plants worth more than $500 million. Contracts were awarded on the single bid parameter of price per cubic metre, with awards made on the opening of commercial proposals (see table - MEED 11:2:05).
  • Fraud and violence reported in Egyptian runoffs

    Fraud and violence marred voting in Egypt's first-round run-off elections on 15 November. 'There were many irregularities and it will lead to rigged results,' said Mohammed Mehdi Akef, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. The officially banned Islamist organisation said polling irregularities ranged from falsified registering, voter intimidation and vote-buying. The security forces 'had lost the impartiality they demonstrated during the first round', said the National Campaign for Monitoring
  • Galfar nails Dakhliya jail contract

    The local Galfar Engineering & Contractinghas been awarded a RO 53 million ($135.9 million) contract to build a prison in Sumail Town in the Dakhliya region for the Royal Oman Police. The scope of works includes construction of buildings with a total built-up area of 600,000 square metres, split into three zones - a service compound, a communal facility and the prison area itself. The contract also covers external works. Lebanon's Khatib & Alami and the US' AECOM
  • Galfar nails Dakhliya jail contract

    The local Galfar Engineering & Contractinghas been awarded a RO 53 million ($135.9 million) contract to build a prison in Sumail Town in the Dakhliya region for the Royal Oman Police. The scope of works includes construction of buildings with a total built-up area of 600,000 square metres, split into three zones - a service compound, a communal facility and the prison area itself. The contract also covers external works. Lebanon's Khatib & Alami and the US' AECOM
  • Gama takes Hawiyah NGL subcontract

    The local/Turkish Gama al-Moushegeh Arabia has been selected for the $65 million-70 million subcontract covering mechanical works on package 2 of the Hawiyah natural gas liquids (NGL) project. The scope of works includes equipment erection, steel and piping and associated plant facilities. The selection was made by Italy's Snamprogetti, which is carrying out the main contract, involving the construction of a major gas treatment plant and compression facilities. The select
  • Gaza crossing agreement announced

    An agreement on the re-opening of Gaza's crossings with Egypt and Israel was announced on 15 November. The agreement followed intense negotiations co-ordinated by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to re-open the Gaza-Egyptian crossing at Rafah and the Gaza-Israeli border checkpoints at Karni and Erez. The free movement of people and trade into Gaza is considered to be essential for the territory's struggling economy to recover. However the crossings have remained closed
  • Gaza/West Bank: Telephonic boom

    Nowhere is the potential of the Palestinian economy more evident than in the topsy-turvy world of telecommunications in the West Bank and Gaza. Despite the economic impact of the Palestinians' precarious political situation, the telecommunications business is booming.
  • GCC grid contracts signed

    All 14 contracts on the first phase of the GCC electricity grid project were signed at a ceremony in Al-Khobar on 17 November between Dammam-based GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) and the selected contractors (MEED 7:10:05).
  • Gensler heads to the Lighthouse

    US-based Gensleris preparing designs for the Lighthouse Resort project, which will be built on the crescent of Palm Jumeirah. The 400-room, five-star resort hotel is being developed by Al-Sharq Development, a local subsidiary of the Saudi-based Al-Sharq Groupof companies. Al-Sharq is also developing the estimated $1,900 million Aqua Dunya development in Dubailand and a 70-storey tower on Sheikh Zayed highway (MEED 23:9:05).
  • Gensler heads to the Lighthouse

    US-based Gensleris preparing designs for the Lighthouse Resort project, which will be built on the crescent of Palm Jumeirah. The 400-room, five-star resort hotel is being developed by Al-Sharq Development, a local subsidiary of the Saudi-based Al-Sharq Groupof companies. Al-Sharq is also developing the estimated $1,900 million Aqua Dunya development in Dubailand and a 70-storey tower on Sheikh Zayed highway (MEED 23:9:05).
  • Getting the mix right

    Bankers in Kuwait have been living in a fast-changing world over the past couple of years. On the one hand, they can have little cause for complaint. As elsewhere in the Gulf, an overwhelmingly positive macroeconomic picture has developed, in the form of constant increases in profitability and general balance sheet health. On the other, regulatory change has been radical of late, blending the authorities' traditional conservatism and a new-found liberalism in a mix many local institutions find u
  • Global goes to Palestine

    Kuwaiti investment bank Global Investment House (GIH)is planning to buy a 30 per cent stake in Palestine Real Estate Investment Company (Prico). The deal, which Prico is expected to approve by the end of 2005, is part of the company's plan to raise its capital from JD 22.5 million ($31.7 million) to JD 50 million ($70.5 million) through a private placement of shares. GIH will buy 15 million shares at a nominal value of JD 1 ($1.40) a share and existing shareholders will b
  • GLOBAL INVESTMENT HOUSE: Global goes regional

    In early September, Global Investment House announced that its assets under management had topped $5,000 million. However, when congratulated on the milestone in mid-October, Global's chairwoman Maha al-Ghunaim noted the real figure had risen to more than $6,000 million. 'The figure is growing so fast we can't keep announcing it,' she says.
  • Government to part-fund Failaka

    In a dramatic turnaround, the government in late October informed the nine prequalified groups for the touristic development of Failaka that it will fund the island's basic infrastructure cost. The government has also made substantial changes to the development of the Bubiyan seaport project.
  • Government to part-fund Failaka

    In a dramatic turnaround, the government in late October informed the nine prequalified groups for the touristic development of Failaka that it will fund the island's basic infrastructure cost. The government has also made substantial changes to the development of the Bubiyan seaport project.
  • GULF AIR: Defying the odds

    Spare a thought for Gulf Air president and chief executive officer (CEO) James Hogan. The Australian executive has recently delivered one of the most spectacular company turnarounds in aviation sector history, taking the Gulf-based carrier from the brink of bankruptcy in 2002 to profit in 2004. Yet he must feel like he is back to square one with the imminent departure of a major shareholder forcing him to rip up his business plan, and soaring fuel costs threatening to plunge the airline back int
  • GULF BANK: Waking up the competition

    In late October, Gulf Bank reported its highest-ever quarterly profit. Given the benign economic environment, the performance came as little surprise. But, as the bank's chairman and managing director Bassam Alghanim commented at the time: 'The record results in the first nine months of 2005 further demonstrate the bottom line benefits of our transformation strategy.'
  • Hadjret Ennous award nears

    Bids are expected to be submitted by early December for the estimated Eur 700-800 million ($845 million-966 million) contract to develop a 1,200-MW combined cycle power plant at Hadjret Ennous, in the coastal region of Tipasa. 'We expect that the contract will be awarded by the end of the year,' says a source. 'Considering the size of the project, there will probably be a few weeks of negotiations with the bidders between the submission of financials and the contract award.' The client,
  • Hamas fails in attempt to relocate HQ to Egypt or Jordan

    Senior Hamas officials approached both Egypt and Jordan to ask whether Hamas could relocate their headquarters to either country, Haaretz reported on 4 November. Both countries refused, the paper said. The organisation has close ties with Egypt, but Cairo refused to host an organisation labelled a terrorist group by both the US and the EU.Hamas, along with Islamic Jihad, currently has its headquarters in Syria, but the organisation believes Damascus might force them to leave
  • Hamas leaves option open for Israel talks

    Hamas has not ruled out future talks with Israel, one of the organisation's leaders said on 9 November. Mahmoud al-Zahar said in a rare interview with Israel Radio that talks were 'not our intention', but might be considered after the elections. 'A negotiation is a method. If the method enables us to liberate our land, to liberate our people from Israeli jails, to reconstruct what was destroyed by Israel in its long-standing occupation, at that time we can discuss,' Al-Zahar said.
  • Hamas to end ceasefire

    Hamas announced on 2 November that it will not renew the informal truce with Israel after it expires at the end of 2005. 'In the face of this Zionist aggression, no one should dream about the renewal of this truce,' said Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri. 'The quiet will finish at the end of this year.' Al-Masri made his remarks on the same day as thousands gathered for the funeral of Hamas leader Fawzi Abu al-Qara in Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza, where he was killed by Israeli forces on 1 N
  • Hamriyah IPP plans still in pipeline

    Plans for the construction of Sharjah's first independent power project (IPP) are still under consideration despite Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority (SEWA) beginning work on a new 500-MW power plant adjacent to the Hamriyah Free Zone. Speaking on the sidelines of the Port of Sohar conference in Muscat on 15-16 November, organised jointly by MEED and Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC), Rashid al-Leem, director-general of the Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), said that the IP
  • Harweel EOR job awarded

    UAE-based Petrofac International with the local Galfar Engineering & Contractinghas received a letter of award from Petroleum Development Oman (PDO)for the estimated $960 million engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract on the Harweel enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project. The Petrofac/Galfar team entered sole negotiations for the job in July (MEED 22:7:05).
  • HCSEZ retenders industrial city work

    The Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (HCSEZ) is retendering the infrastructure works contract on the phase 1 extension of Abu Dhabi industrial zone with bids now due on 20 November. The contract will be awarded on a lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) basis. At least three companies had originally priced the estimated $100 million contract. The scope of works includes construction of 25 kilometres of internal roads, telecommunications infrastructure, potable water, sanitary and drainage sys
  • HCSEZ retenders industrial city work

    The Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (HCSEZ) is retendering the infrastructure works contract on the phase 1 extension of Abu Dhabi industrial zone with bids now due on 20 November. The contract will be awarded on a lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) basis. At least three companies had originally priced the estimated $100 million contract. The scope of works includes construction of 25 kilometres of internal roads, telecommunications infrastructure, potable water, sanitary and drainage sys
  • IAEA chief to call for Iranian transparency

    Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammed el-Baradei was expected to call on Tehran on 8 November to fully reveal its nuclear intentions. El-Baradei has prepared comments ahead of an international conference in Washington: 'Over the past two-and-a-half years, we have compiled a detailed picture of most aspects of Iran's past and current nuclear programme. But given that the programme was concealed for nearly 20 years, and that a number of open questions r
  • IAEA hopes for Iran breakthrough

    The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was expected on 24 November to endorse an initiative to give Tehran further time to reach an agreement on its nuclear programme and to consider a Russian offer to take on Iran's uranium enrichment activity.The IAEA is not expected to recommend referring Iran to the UN Security Council to face possible sanctions. 'We must do what we can to explore the window of opportunity offered by Russia's proposal - gi
  • Ibn Rushd unveils expansion plans

    The new board of directors at Arabian Industrial Fibers Company (Ibn Rushd)has approved plans to expand its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) capacity at Yanbu Industrial City. The project will increase production to 300,000 tonnes a year (t/y) from 70,000 t/y. Commissioning is expected by the second quarter of 2007. Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) has a 49 per cent stake in Ibn Rushd (MEED 27:5:05).
  • IFC wins aviation privatisation mandate

    The Executive Privatisation Commission (EPC) on 5 November took further steps towards privatising Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) and national carrier Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ)by appointing the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, as its adviser.
  • Indago buys Anadarko's stake in block 30

    Indago, the company created to own the assets in Oman and Ras al-Khaimah formerly held by Australia's Novus Petroleum, has acquired a 100 per cent interest in onshore block 30 in Oman from the US' Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.
  • Indian Foreign Minister removed in oil-for-food probe

    Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Natwar Singh was stripped of his portfolio on 7 November after New Delhi ordered a judicial investigation into allegations that he benefited from the Iraq oil-for-food programme.Both Natwar Singh and Congress, the main party in the ruling coalition, were named as a 'non-contractual beneficiaries' in a UN report into the scandal in which more than 2,000 firms made £1,300 million in illegal payments to Saddam Hussein's government.
  • Industry approves new oil nominee

    Local and international contractors based in Iran have expressed approval for the nomination as oil minister of Mohsen Tasalloti, now head of the Petrochemical Special Economic Zone at Bandar Imam. The nomination of an Oil Ministry official has been interpreted by analysts as a compromise position from President Ahmadinejad, and if confirmed by the Majlis (parliament) in late November will help ease growing discontent about the new administration (MEED 11:11:05).
  • Insurgents have killed thousands of Iraqis, Pentagon says

    Insurgents have killed about 26,000 Iraqis since January 2004, says a report issued by the US Defence Department on 30 October. The survey says that casualty numbers rose from 26 a day from January to March 2004 to about 64 a day in the first two weeks of September in 2005. Weekly attacks numbered about 200 in the first three months of 2004 and rose to 650 a week in September 2005, just prior to the national referendum on the constitution. About 80 per cent of attacks are targeted at US-led
  • International democratisation fund established

    A multilateral conference of regional and international governments together with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from across the Middle East has backed a US plan to establish a private grant-making foundation to fund NGOs and promote democracy in the region.
  • INTERVIEW: Ahmed Al-Arbeed: At the helm

    Why has it proved so difficult to approve the enabling law?
  • INTERVIEW: The world according to Maurice (or Mourinho)

    Twenty years at the helm of the Emirates Group, Maurice Flanagan talks sponsorship, competition, IPOs, management and football
  • Investors flock to Dubai Techno Park

    Investments in Dubai Techno Park (DTP) have now topped AED 2,000 million ($545 million) after a raft of new agreements were signed in September and October. DTP aims to attract foreign direct investment in research for the energy and power sectors with work scheduled to be completed by 2008/09 (MEED 29:10:04).
  • Investors galvanised for Pakistani steel

    Four regional investors have submitted prequalification documents to buy a 51-74 per cent stake in Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation (PSMC). Saudi Arabia's Al-Jomiah Holding Company; Al-Tuwairqi Group, also of Saudi Arabia, with Arif Habib Groupof Pakistan; Kuwait's Noor Financial Investment Company; and the Investment & Development Office of the Ras al-Khaimah government were among 12 companies invited by Pakistan's Privatisation & In
  • Investors undeterred by crackdown

    Players on the federation's bourses were served a severe warning in late October, when six investors and intermediaries were handed stiff penalties for market manipulation. Traders were undeterred, however, and indices broke fresh records in the days before the start of the Eid holiday on 3 November. Investors continue to ignore warnings that the pace of both share price increases and corporate profits is unsustainable.
  • IOOC asks for new Kharg NGL FEED, cancels EPC

    Iran Offshore Oil Company (IOOC)has entered negotiations with Narganand Sazeh Consult, both local, to redo the front-end engineering and design (FEED) package for the Kharg island natural gas liquids (NGL) project, after a third tender for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package was abandoned in November. An EPC tender is now unlikely to be launched until mid-2006 and the plant is unlikely to be on stream before late 2008, depriving planned down
  • Iran and Egypt confirm intention to improve relations

    The chairman of Iran's Expediency Council, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, called on 1 November for Islamic solidarity to improve relations between Iran and Egypt in his meeting in Tehran with the head of the Egyptian Interest Section in Iran, Amr al-Hamad al-Majid al-Zyat. Rafsanjani said that 'we should do our best to enhance the level of relations in political, economic and cultural fields', acknowledging that the state of Iranian-Egyptian relations were 'not satisfactory'.
  • Iran to offer stock opportunity to the poor

    Tehran has approved a plan to offer share options to low-income families, Iran's official news agency IRNA said on 3 November. Millions of families will have the opportunity to buy shares in state-owned firms. Investors would then be given up to 20 years to pay for them. Current estimates show about 14 million families would be able to buy a selection of shares worth about IR100 million ($11, 044).The Ministry of Welfare & Social Security will decide which sectors of society
  • IRAN: Western promise

    It is more than 1,500 kilometres from Iran's gas hub in Assaluyeh to the old Kurdish city of Mahabad, but the new pipeline uncoiling along the country's mountainous western fringe holds the promise of prosperity to some of the Islamic republic's poorest regions.
  • Iranian MPs set to confirm oil nomination

    The Majlis (parliament) could accept an unknown as oil minister to avoid further political uncertainty, according to reports on 7 November.MPs are due to vote on 9 November whether to ratify President Ahmadinejad's nomination of Sadeq Mahsouli, as well as his nominations for the education, welfare & social security and co-operatives portfolios.Ahmad Tavakoli, head of parliament's influential research group, said he would be voting for the president's nominees.
  • Iraq detainee abuse

    Iraq's government said on 15 November it will begin an inquiry into alleged abuse of prisoners in Baghdad. 'I was informed that there were 173 detainees held at an Interior Ministry prison and they appeared to be malnourished,' said Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari. 'There is also some talk that they were subjected to some kind of torture.' He promised to find those responsible for the abuse.The detainees, who had been held by Iraqi security forces, were found when US troops to
  • Iraq: The dam builders

    Water Resources Minister Abdul-Latif Jamal Rasheed is a man on a mission. With just two months before Iraq goes to the polls to elect a new government, he is determined to push ahead with a major capital investment programme. At the Rebuild Iraq conference held in Amman in July, Rasheed said $10,000 million-15,000 million was needed to repair and build dams, irrigation canals, sewerage systems and water purification plants. 'Iraq is a country rich in water resources,' said Rasheed. 'We have larg
  • Iraqi contractors paid in dinars

    Washington has started paying Iraqi contractors in dinars instead of US dollars, the US military said on 1 November. 'Issuing dinar check payments improves the economic and financial stability of Iraq by promoting the Iraqi banks while using their local currency,' US financial officer Major Richard Santiago said. 'By limiting the US dollars in the region, we are cutting down the dollars that could possibly be used by insurgents.'Nearly all of the $30,000 million put aside for
  • Iraq's essential experiment

    With at least 26,900 civilians reported killed since the 2003 invasion, and civil violence spilling over into neighbouring countries such as Jordan, it is hard to be optimistic about the future of Iraq. Yet in the same week that Iraqi suicide bombers slaughtered 57 people in Amman, one of the country's most senior officials has told MEED that he believes that a corner has been turned in the quest to build a new Iraq.
  • Islamists warn new Jordanian PM against crackdown

    Moderate Islamist groups in Jordan's parliament warned the new prime minister on 25 November that potentially repressive policies would fuel extremism.'There is a need for security vigilance, but not a tougher security grip that will only fuel extremism,' said Azzam Huneidi, the head of the Islamic Action Party (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. 'I am not belittling what happened [the Amman bombings], but I think there is now a climate of fear of repression b
  • Israel to permit Hamas participation in PA vote

    Israel will not interfere in the Palestinian Authority (PA) elections despite its opposition to the participation of Hamas, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on 3 November. This change in position emerged during a meeting between Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on 2 November. Israeli Army Radio reported that the US wanted to avoid losing momentum towards resuming the roadmap peace plan created by the recent Gaza disengagement. For the e
  • Israeli air strikes continue

    Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Youssef called on 29 October for international intervention to halt Israeli air strikes on Palestinian targets. He urged militants to abide by an eight-month ceasefire with Israel and vowed to crackdown on illegal arms. 'We will deal firmly and seriously with any foundry or workshop that manufactures weapons or explosives and also any place used as storage for arms,' Youssef said. He said the Palestinian Authority (PA) would confiscate weapons but not en
  • Israeli air strikes persist

    Israel continued its campaign of air strikes against Palestinian militant targets on 1 November and killed two militant commanders in Gaza. 'The enemy will regret this,' said Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri. 'We will not stand handcuffed.''I condemn the continuation of the bombardment of Gaza,' chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said. 'It serves no interests. This is political blindness. We are exerting maximum efforts to get all the factions to comply with the cessatio
  • IT conference opens in Tunis

    An international conference organised by the UN aiming to reduce the global 'digital divide' opened in Tunis on 16 November. 'There is a tremendous yearning, not for technology per se, but for what technology can make possible,' said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to delegates from 170 countries. 'For far too many people, the gains remain out of reach,' he said.The ambition of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), to boost economic and social development in less de
  • Italian senator withdraws forged evidence claim

    Senator Massimo Brutti withdrew his claim on 3 November that Rome had warned Washington that evidence in a dossier used to justify the invasion of Iraq was forged. Brutti said he had been confused when questioned by reporters.Senator Brutti made the claim after intelligence chief Nicolo Pollari briefed the Italian parliament during a secret meeting. Pollari told parliament that Italian security services, while having no role in creating the dossier, which alleged that Iraq ha
  • Italy considers Iraq withdrawal

    Rome announced on 23 November after talks in Tunisia that it may withdraw its 3,000 troops from Iraq by the end of 2006. 'If you ask us what could be the date marking the end of our presence, we have spoken about the end of 2006 with our allies and with the Iraqi government,' said Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The withdrawal would be carried out 'in agreement with the other allies and it will be done in agreement with the Iraqi government', Berlusconi said.Berlusconi's co
  • Ivanhoe takes aim at Alex GTL project

    Ivanhoe Energy (Middle East), 100 per cent owned by Canada's Ivanhoe Energy, announced on 25 October the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) to carry out a feasibility study for the construction and operation of a grassroots gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant. The proposed site for the facility is El-Hamra, to the west of Alexandria (MEED 22:8:03).
  • Japanese sign deal to manage ACICO hotels

    ACICO International, an affiliate of Kuwait Aerated Concrete Industries Company (ACICO), has signed a hotel management agreement with Japan's JAL Hotelsto manage its hotel projects in Dubai and Fujairah. The first project, Nikko Fujairah Resort & Spa, will open in December 2006. The five-star-resort is being built on a 540-metre private beach in Fujairah. The second project, the 57-storey Nikko Tower hotel on Sheikh Zayed highway in Dubai, will have 487 rooms and
  • Japanese sign deal to manage ACICO hotels

    ACICO International, an affiliate of Kuwait Aerated Concrete Industries Company (ACICO), has signed a hotel management agreement with Japan's JAL Hotelsto manage its hotel projects in Dubai and Fujairah. The first project, Nikko Fujairah Resort & Spa, will open in December 2006. The five-star-resort is being built on a 540-metre private beach in Fujairah. The second project, the 57-storey Nikko Tower hotel on Sheikh Zayed highway in Dubai, will have 487 rooms and
  • Japanese-led team to consult on Borg el-Arab

    A Japanese/Dutch/local consortium has been awarded the consultancy contract on the planned expansion project at Borg el-Arab International Airport, located about 40 kilometres southwest of Alexandria (MEED 2:9:05).
  • Japanese-led team to consult on Borg el-Arab

    A Japanese/Dutch/local consortium has been awarded the consultancy contract on the planned expansion project at Borg el-Arab International Airport, located about 40 kilometres southwest of Alexandria (MEED 2:9:05).
  • Jazeera Airways readies for take-off

    Local low-cost carrier Jazeera Airwaysreceived on 24 October delivery of the first of four A320s from Europe's Airbus.The airline has an option to purchase four more aircraft at a later date. Owned by the local Boodai Group, Jazeera will begin operations on 30 October with its inaugural flight landing in Bahrain. It initially plans to fly to Dubai, Beirut, Damascus and Amman, adding Egypt, India and South-East Asia to its destinations at a later stage. Jazeera
  • JAZEERA AIRWAYS: The aviators

    On 28 October, Jazeera Airways' maiden commercial flight will take to the skies, launching a new era in the history of the region's aviation sector. As the Gulf's first privately owned, no-frills commercial airline, it is set to herald a massive change in how the sector operates, offering low fares to nine destinations from its Kuwait base.
  • Jordan stance increases attacks, report says

    A report issued on 23 November by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said Jordan's pro-Western stance is fuelling Islamist militant attacks.'Feeding on disaffection with a government that has failed to address basic needs and maintains an unpopular alliance with the US, violent Islamist militants have flourished of late,' the ICG report said.The report, titled 'Jordan's 9/11: dealing with Jihadi Islamism', also said Amman must deliver promised
  • JORDAN: A long and winding route

    The process started eight years ago, but only now are plans to privatise Royal Jordanian (RJ) taking some tentative steps forward. And the national carrier is not alone: recent moves on the long-awaited privatisation of the country's airports suggest Amman is keen to get its programme back on track in the aviation sector.
  • Jordanian drug firm share listing

    Jordanian drug manufacturing firm Hikma Pharmaceuticals priced its shares at £2.90 ($5.12) each on 1 November, giving the firm a market capital of £483 million ($854 million). The share price dropped £0.06 ($0.09) on the first day of conditional trading on 1 November before unconditional trading begins on 4 November. Hikma is expecting to earn around £70 million ($123.5 million) from the flotation to expand its business. Hikma, whose sales totalled £120 million in 2004, has production facil
  • JPRC modernisation moves ahead

    Five international companies have been invited to carry out due diligence on the assets of Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC)in advance of the planned $700 million modernisation and part-privatisation of the country's sole refinery.
  • Kahramaa lets West Bay substations

    Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) has awarded the key turnkey contracts on its West Bay substation programme. France's Areva T&Dhas received a letter of intent, valued in the region of Eur 150 million ($180 million), for two lots, centring on the construction of about seven 66/11-kV substations. The other two lots, involving the construction of new and the extension of existing 220-kV substations, will be carried out by Germany's Siemens. The consul
  • KAIA expansion hots up

    Local and international contractors are preparing to submit bids by the extended deadline of 16 November for the first construction package on the long-awaited expansion of King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah. Five groups of companies attended the site visit in mid-October. They were a team of Turkey's TAV Gulfwith the local Bugshan, South Korea's Samwhan Corporationand Almabani General Contractors, Saudi Binladin Group
  • KAIA expansion hots up

    Local and international contractors are preparing to submit bids by the extended deadline of 16 November for the first construction package on the long-awaited expansion of King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah. Five groups of companies attended the site visit in mid-October. They were a team of Turkey's TAV Gulfwith the local Bugshan, South Korea's Samwhan Corporationand Almabani General Contractors, Saudi Binladin Group
  • KEO appointed for MBZ infrastructure design

    The local office of KEO International Consultantshas been appointed as the infrastructure design consultant for three parcels of land at Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed City (MBZ), being developed by Abu Dhabi's Department of Municipalities & Agriculture (DMA) on the Abu Dhabi-Al-Ain highway.
  • KEO appointed for MBZ infrastructure design

    The local office of KEO International Consultantshas been appointed as the infrastructure design consultant for three parcels of land at Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed City (MBZ), being developed by Abu Dhabi's Department of Municipalities & Agriculture (DMA) on the Abu Dhabi-Al-Ain highway.
  • KFI launches $50m fund

    Bahraini Islamic investment bank Khaleej Finance & Investment (KFI)in partnership with the London office of Deutsche Bank has launched a $50 million sharia-compliant, capital-protected equity fund. The fund has a minimum subscription of $250,000 and a five-year maturity. KFI is the arranger, promoter and placement agent for the fund, which will invest in 20 stocks chosen from the Dow Jones Islamic Market Index. More than 50 per cent of funds will be allocated to US-based
  • Kharg NGL saga rumbles on

    Two groups of companies have submitted bids for the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) contract covering the new natural gas liquids (NGL) project at Kharg. However, it is unclear if the contract will be retendered as contractual conditions stipulate a minimum of three bidders.
  • Khartoum denies genocide; US lifts trade embargo on trains

    The Darfur conflict did not constitute genocide and was exaggerated by the international community, said Sudan's Vice-President Ali Osman Taha on 14 November.'The conflict in Darfur is tribal and not a political issue or a question of genocide,' Taha said. 'This issue was exaggerated at the international level, when in fact we are dealing with a typical situation, which is very common in Africa.' While the UN report into the crisis, published earlier this year, did not use th
  • Khartoum under pressure from US

    Washington urged on 7 November Khartoum and rebel leaders in Darfur to end internal squabbling and quell rising violence, which were endangering the fragile truce between the two parties.US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said the US viewed the situation as 'pretty negative' and would not lift sanctions without Khartoum making a bigger effort to end the continuing violence in Darfur and implement the peace deal in the south. Peace negotiations regarding Darfur under
  • Kipco signs up for $400m Abdali capital investment

    Kuwait Projects Company (Kipco)on 12 November signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the local Abdali Investment & Development Company (ADIC) to invest $400 million in the planned regeneration of the Al-Abdali district in Amman.
  • Kipco signs up for $400m Abdali capital investment

    Kuwait Projects Company (Kipco)on 12 November signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the local Abdali Investment & Development Company (ADIC) to invest $400 million in the planned regeneration of the Al-Abdali district in Amman.
  • KIPCO: Diversity is the key to success

    Regional investment holding companies don't come much bigger or more diversified than Kuwait Projects Company (Kipco), the state's largest private sector company. With shareholdings in more than 50 local and international concerns, ranging from financial services and real estate to media and telecoms, the firm has its eggs in many different baskets.
  • KNPC extends water treatment deadline

    State refinery operator Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC)has set a revised bid deadline of 4 December for its estimated $150 million-180 million effluent water treatment facilities project. Just two international contractors - South Korea's SK Engineering & Constructionand UAE-based Petrofac International- are in the running for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract following an obligatory pre-tender meeting in September. The proj
  • KNPC lays out Al-Zour refinery contracting plans

    Prequalified contractors for the construction packages on the state's 615,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) grassroots refinery at Al-Zour will not be able to form groups of their choosing, according to state refinery operator Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC).
  • KOC signs flowlines contracts

    State upstream operator Kuwait Oil Company (KOC)signed on 23 October three contracts, totalling more than $200 million, to supply and replace the flowline network in the state's northern and western oil fields. The local Combined Groupwon the largest of the three contracts, worth $89 million, covering the northern fields. Heavy Industry Engineering & Shipbuilding Company (Hiesco)was awarded the $55 million contract covering the western fields, while the local
  • Koreans plan major upstream investment

    State-run Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) plans to invest a total of at least $800 million in the development and production of crude oil and gas from four oil blocks in Yemen, as part of the company's regional strategy. 'Data interpretation is under way and depending on exploration and spudding, total investments may increase to $1,000 million. They [investments] will be made by KNOC, along with [private] Korean investors,' says Jin Seok Kim, vice-president of exploration and
  • KUWAIT FINANCE HOUSE: Wildly different situations

    I t is a tale of contrasting fortunes. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are desperately trying to find a productive use for flared gas from the Divided Zone (DZ) to evade the censure of the international environmental regime. Across the water in Bahrain, infrastructure and industrial projects are constantly haunted by the spectre of gas shortages.
  • Kuwaiti Guantanamo prisoners released

    Washington has released five Kuwaitis held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the prisoners' representative said on 3 November. The men will be tried in a local court after they arrive in Kuwait, said Khaled al-Odah, chairman of the Families of Kuwaiti Detainees at Guantanamo. The men were identified as Adel al-Zamel, Mohammed al-Daihani, Abdullah al-Ajmi, Saad al-Azmi and Abdulaziz al-Shimmari. Al-Odah said that two of the men were in very poor health. 'Al-Shimmari is a walking skel
  • Kuwaiti rulers remain in power, says PM

    Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said on 22 November that the leaders of the state will stay in place. 'I would like to affirm to you that the symbols [leaders] of the state of Kuwait are staying on. We are against any idea of inheriting [power] while they are still alive,' said the prime minister. The prime minister's remarks marked the first time that rumours about alleged changes in the Al-Sabah family had been openly acknowledged and denied by a seni
  • Kuwaitis, Turks head for Aqaba

    Kuwait's National Real Estate Companyhas signed an agreement with Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) to establish a joint venture (JV) company to invest up to $113 million in the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) over 10 years. The first project will be to develop, manage and operate two business parks. To be located in the northern part of the zone near King Hussain International Airport, the first park will cover a total built-up area of 540,000 square metres. The second park, co
  • Labal extends deadline for fertiliser bids

    The bid deadline for the Labal Chemical Companyfertiliser project has been extended until the end of November. Only local companies have been invited to bid, but they are expected to team up with foreign firms. The project will be based in Assaluyeh and is an Indian-Iranian joint venture aiming to produce 800,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of ammonia and 1.1 million t/y of urea. Another major fertiliser project, being carried out by Shiraz Petrochemical Company, continues to fac
  • Labour party official joins Sharon; Likud jockeying begins

    Prominent Labour party Knesset member Haim Ramon announced on 24 November he was to leave Labour to join the new party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. 'There must be a party in the centre which reflects the views of the majority of Israelis,' said Ramon, a cabinet minister without portfolio. He also criticised new Labour leader Emir Peretz. '[Peretz] has good intentions, but these paths lead to hell and if we would have adopted them then we would still be in Gaza,' he said.Sh
  • Labour to abandon Likud coalition; Peres appeals over shock defeat rejected

    Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres was unexpectedly replaced on 10 November as leader of the Labour party by trade union leader Emir Peretz.Peres had initially claimed that voting irregularities were responsible for his defeat, but his appeal against the result was rejected by the Labour election committee.Peretz, the chairman of Histadut, Israel's main trade union, said he was considering pulling Labour out of the governing coalition with Prime Minister Ariel
  • Lahoud meets Hariri investigation team

    Lebanese Presdient Lahoud met on 12 November the UN team investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. It is understood that President Lahoud was not a suspect in the investigation, despite reports that one of the suspects telephoned Lahoud shortly before the blast that killed Hariri.Lahoud's presidential term ended in October 2005, but his mandate was extended by the Lebanese parliament under pressure from Damascus (
  • Lethal bird flu hits Kuwait

    A migratory wild flamingo tested positive for the lethal H5N1 strain of avian flu, Kuwaiti authorities confirmed on 11 November.One of two cases of avian flu recently detected in the kingdom, the flamingo was found on a beach and subsequent tests showed a positive trace. A falcon found at Kuwaiti Airport also tested positive, but for the milder H5N2 strain.Both birds were destroyed immediately and the virus had not spread, said an official from the Public Autho
  • Libya delays verdict on nurses

    The Libyan Supreme Court delayed a ruling on 15 November on the death sentences of the six Bulgarian and Palestinian medics accused of infecting 400 children with HIV. The case is 'a legal problem which has nothing to do with politics,' said Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem. 'The case is before an independent court - we are awaiting the court's ruling.'Tripoli has consistently resisted international pressure to release the nurses, held since 1999, amid accusations they were wrong
  • Libya to scrap death penalty

    Tripoli is preparing to scrap the death penalty, London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat reported on 2 November. The move is widely seen to be an effort to bring to an end on the diplomatic row over the Bulgarian nurses convicted of deliberately infecting children with the HIV virus. Tripoli 'is about to announce the abolishment of capital punishment to pave the way for commuting the sentences against the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor' convicted with them last year, the paper
  • Likud contenders emerge

    Israeli political party Likud was due to meet on 22 November to discuss selecting a new leader following the departure of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.Seven candidates are expected to run for the leadership. Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is favourite to be elected, but other high-profile Likud members are likely to compete against him. Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom and Uzi Landau both have strong support within the party, analysts say. Other candidates expe
  • Linde takes GAS work

    Germany's Linde has been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) affiliate National Industrial Gases Company (GAS)to build two new air separation plants in Jubail and Yanbu. Each facility will produce 3,000 tonnes a day (t/d) of oxygen. Both projects are due for completion in April 2008. GAS has existing capacity of about 5,600 t/d at its Jubail and Yanbu bases and is the largest suppli
  • Local firms vie for Tala Bay hotel work

    Four local contractors have submitted technical and commercial proposals for the superstructure package for an estimated $40 million hotel in the Tala Bay development, in the southern half of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ). Masar United Contracting Companyand three other companies identified as Engineering Enterprise Company, Isham Wadi Establishmentand Arab Construction Companyare bidding for the contract. An award is due by the end of Nov
  • Local firms vie for Tala Bay hotel work

    Four local contractors have submitted technical and commercial proposals for the superstructure package for an estimated $40 million hotel in the Tala Bay development, in the southern half of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ). Masar United Contracting Companyand three other companies identified as Engineering Enterprise Company, Isham Wadi Establishmentand Arab Construction Companyare bidding for the contract. An award is due by the end of Nov
  • Local JV wins Atlantis piling contract

    The local joint venture (JV) of Emtechand APCChas been awarded the Atlantis piling contract. The $1,100 million Atlantis resort is being developed on the crescent of Palm Jumeirah by the JV of Bahamas-based Kerzner Internationaland the local Istithmar. Work is scheduled to start on 15 November.
  • Local JV wins Atlantis piling contract

    The local joint venture (JV) of Emtechand APCChas been awarded the Atlantis piling contract. The $1,100 million Atlantis resort is being developed on the crescent of Palm Jumeirah by the JV of Bahamas-based Kerzner Internationaland the local Istithmar. Work is scheduled to start on 15 November.
  • Majlis reject Tasalloti

    As expected, the Majlis (parliament) rejected on 23 November President Ahamdinejad's fourth nomination for the post of oil minister. Nearly two-thirds of the MPs voted against the ratification of Mohsen Tasalloti. Unlike the candidates the Majlis have rejected previously, Tasalloti did not face questions over a perceived lack of relevant experience - he was a director at National Petrochemical Company (NPC) for the Petrochemical Special Economic zone at Bandar Imam. But persistent rumours c
  • Maktoum addresses DIFC trusts

    Dubai ruler Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum has issued a law which introduces a trust creation framework applicable in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), UAE daily Gulf News reported on 15 November.'The adoption of a legal framework for the creation of trusts will add an important new business dimension to the DIFC,' says David Knott, chief executive officer of the Dubai Financial Services Authority.The 2005 DIFC law no.11 comprises 10 parts
  • Malaysians take plunge with GFH

    Malaysia's Sim Leisure Consultantshas been appointed to design and operate the $50 million Lost Paradise of Dilmun water park, part of the Al-Areen Desert Spa and Resort being developed by Gulf Finance House (GFH). Canada's White Water West will supply the equipment for the park, which will have a total built-up area of about 45,000 square metres with an additional 20,000 square metres set aside for future expansion and parking facilities. It will include a 30
  • Malaysians take plunge with GFH

    Malaysia's Sim Leisure Consultantshas been appointed to design and operate the $50 million Lost Paradise of Dilmun water park, part of the Al-Areen Desert Spa and Resort being developed by Gulf Finance House (GFH). Canada's White Water West will supply the equipment for the park, which will have a total built-up area of about 45,000 square metres with an additional 20,000 square metres set aside for future expansion and parking facilities. It will include a 30
  • Maqbool outlines economic plans

    Both the 2006 budget and the sultanate's seventh five-year development plan (FYDP) are due to be finalised by the end of the month, Industry & Commerce Minister Maqbool bin Ali Sultan said on the sidelines of the Port of Sohar conference in Muscat on 15-16 November, organised jointly by MEED and Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC). The new plan will focus on economic diversification and training nationals to participate in new industries.
  • Market recovers from Omantel impact

    The Muscat Securities Market (MSM) has been becalmed recently, first by the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) and then by exchange of allocations, as ownership was opened up to institutional investors. However, activity is expected to pick up over the weeks to come as the government - and hence the state pension fund - returns to business after a prolonged Eid break and, over the medium term, as a fresh complement of positive full-year results i
  • Masar to mobilise at Saraya Aqaba

    The local Masar United Contracting Companyhas been awarded the sub-contract to carry out site preparation works on the first-phase infrastructure package on the $362 million Saraya Aqaba project. Saudi Oger is the main contractor on the project, which is located in Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ). Local real estate firm Saraya Jordanis the developer (MEED 27:5:05).
  • Masar to mobilise at Saraya Aqaba

    The local Masar United Contracting Companyhas been awarded the sub-contract to carry out site preparation works on the first-phase infrastructure package on the $362 million Saraya Aqaba project. Saudi Oger is the main contractor on the project, which is located in Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ). Local real estate firm Saraya Jordanis the developer (MEED 27:5:05).
  • Mashreq gas market project stirs interest

    International consultants are preparing to submit technical and commercial proposals by 17 November for the contract to carry out consultancy services on the planned Euro-Arab Mashreq gas market project. Seven consortia have been shortlisted to bid for the contract, which is being financed by the European Commission (EC) and will be awarded in December. Under the $4.5 million contract, the successful bidder will draw up a gas masterplan for Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The masterplan will a
  • MEGA PROJECTS AGENCY: Agents of fortune

    As the majority of Kuwaitis pack their bags and leave the state for the summer, there will be at least one government body working throughout July and August. Holidays have been discouraged at the Mega Projects Agency (MPA), the division of the Ministry of Public Works charged with overseeing the development of two of the state's most important infrastructure projects. With the bid deadlines approaching for the multi-billion-dollar Failaka and Bubiyan island developments, there is little time to
  • Mega real estate IPO approaches

    Real estate company Barwawill offer 55 per cent of its shares in an initial public offering (IPO) on the Doha Securities Market (DSM) at the beginning of December. Shares will be offered until mid-December at a face value of QR 10 ($2.7) and initially only to nationals in line with legislation. QatariDiar Real Estate Investment Companywill hold the remaining 45 per cent stake in Barwa, which will have an authorised capital of QR 2,000 million ($549.3 million). The
  • Mehlis considering giving up on Syrian co-operation

    Detlev Mehlis, the head of the UN inquiry into the death of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, was said on 25 November to be close to giving up on Syrian co-operation. 'It seems we are at a deadlock,' a Beirut source told Reuters, after Damascus had insisted on a legal deal before permitting the questioning of six Syrian officials. 'Mehlis appears ready to declare Syria non-co-operative, which would open a new chapter in this issue and place Damascus on a collision course with the
  • Mehlis inquiry can question Syrian President

    The Syrian ambassador to London announced on 4 November that there should be no problem for the UN inquiry to question President Asad as part of its investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri. 'Let us not forget that he is the symbol of our country. Mehis can ask to meet him, and I don't think there should be a problem, but there is no other way to meet the president but to ask for an audience,' Ambassador Sami Khiyami told Reuters.
  • Mehlis returns to Beirut to complete UN report

    Detlev Mehlis, head of the UN team investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, returned to Beirut on 22 November to conclude his investigation. Mehlis is expected to report his findings to the UN Security Council on 15 December. Mehlis has encountered problems with Syrian co-operation during the inquiry, despite a UN resolution in October demanding that Damascus fully co-operate. Although Damascus gave permission for Mehlis to interview six
  • Meters tender out

    The Palestinian Energy Authority is expected to issue a tender at the end of 2005 for a $4.5 million project to install prepaid and automatic electricity meters in the West Bank and Gaza. Consultants from Norway and South Africa are conducting technical studies for the project and is part of phase 4 of the $16 million assistance to the energy sector in the Palestinian territories project funded by Norway and Sweden. The project aims to increase revenue collection in line with new metering regula
  • Middle East envoy considers quitting, citing lack of influence

    International Middle East envoy James Wolfensohn said on 16 November he was considering quitting his post. 'I am going to see in the next quarter of this year what my own plans are and see whether I can still make a contribution or maybe there will be others who can do better than me,' Wolfensohn said. The former World Bank chief had been appointed by President Bush to help the co-ordination of Israel's Gaza pull-out and has a mandate to speak for all the members of the Middl
  • Middle East investors come to North Africa

    Lebanon's Byblos Bankhas announced plans to acquire a 51 per cent stake in Algeria's Al-Rayanne Bankfor an estimated $14 million. The deal is awaiting approval from Banque d'Algerie (central bank). Byblos on 21 October launched a month-long share offering in an attempt to double its capital to $328 million. Only existing investors will have the right to buy shares, which will be allocated at a 1:1 ratio and traded through Blominvest Bank. The money will be use
  • Middle East lessons for Africa: ignore the experts

    I have been working with the Brenthurst Foundation, the new think-tank set up by South Africa's Oppenheimer family to help promote African economic development. This laudable initiative entails drawing on the experiences elsewhere in the world. My role has been to provide Middle East perspectives.
  • Mitsui and PIDEC sign up for Gachsaran MEG

    Japan's Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (MES)and the local Petrochemical Industries Design & Engineering Company (PIDEC)signed the contract in mid-November to build a new mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) plant at Gachsaran, along the route of the new western ethylene pipeline.
  • MLAs appointed for LNG ship financing

    Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, DNBand Societe Generalehave been appointed mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) and joint bookrunners on a $1,650 million limited-recourse debt package to finance the acquisition of eight Q-Flex liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers. The borrower is a consortium led by Qatar Gas Transportation Company (Nakilat)and including Mitsui OSK Linesand four other Japanese companies. Sumitomo-Banking Corporationhas joined
  • MobilNil calls new CEO

    The board of directors at Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (MobiNil) has elected Iskander Naguib Shalaby as the company's new chief executive officer (CEO), replacing Osman Sultan.
  • Moody's boosts Saudi foreign currency rating

    International rating agency Moody's Investors Servicehas upgraded Saudi Arabia's foreign currency rating from Baa2 to A3. High oil revenues, greater financial transparency and structural reform were behind the ratings jump, according to Moody's. Strong external liquidity and credit coupled with a reduction in government debt has resulted in a considerable strengthening of Riyadh's balance sheet, it said. This, in combination with an improvement in gross domestic product (GDP) per cap
  • More time for ADDC bidders

    The bid closing date has been extended to 7 December for the eight-year operations and maintenance contract (O&M) for Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC). Fifteen international companies are prequalified for the contract, which is expected to be awarded by the end of December. The same companies are prequalified for a second eight-year O&M contract covering the emirate's other electricity and water distributor, Al-Ain Distribution Company (AADC). The request for proposa
  • More time for Cairo line 3 bidders

    Consultants have been given an additional four weeks, until 10 December, to submit proposals for the two consultancy contracts, which cover the evaluation of technical offers for the main construction packages and works supervision on the first phase of line 3 of the Cairo metro project. The extra time was granted by the client, the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT), to give the 11 prequalified companies more time to prepare their offers. The two contracts are due to be awarded within two mon
  • More time for Cairo line 3 bidders

    Consultants have been given an additional four weeks, until 10 December, to submit proposals for the two consultancy contracts, which cover the evaluation of technical offers for the main construction packages and works supervision on the first phase of line 3 of the Cairo metro project. The extra time was granted by the client, the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT), to give the 11 prequalified companies more time to prepare their offers. The two contracts are due to be awarded within two mon
  • Moscow, Arab League block US-sponsored resolution

    Moscow and the Arab League on 26 October said they are opposed to a draft UN resolution put forward by Washington, Paris and London, demanding Damascus' full co-operation with the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.The resolution seeks to impose a travel ban and financial sanctions against individual suspects in the murder, but also calls for the UN to consider 'further measures' under the UN Charter's article on sanctions '
  • Move to refer Iran to Security Council halted

    The US together with the three major European states - France, Germany and the UK - have suspended their move to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.Speaking on 21 November, a European official said: 'there will be no referral [of Iran] for sure. The Russians and Chinese oppose this'.The International Atomic Energy Agency at a meeting later this week is now expected to replace a proposed resolution calling for a referral with a statement voicing concern over
  • MTN moves closer to Irancell stake

    South Africa's MTNsays it has secured a 49 per cent stake in the Irancellconsortium that is working to finalise its role as the licence holder for Iran's second GSM network by the 21 November deadline. MTN said in a 20 October statement that it had reached agreement with Irancell for its participation in the consortium and given a payment guarantee for the Eur 300 million ($365 million) licence fee. However, the second GSM licence will not come into effect for Irancell un
  • Muscat searches for Yiti designers

    Dubai International Properties(DIP) received prequalification applications from design consultants in mid-October for its proposed resort and spa project at Yiti and Shinas. The scope of works covers detailed designs for serviced apartments, four hotels, a retail area, a 150-berth marina and an 18-hole golf course at Shinas. At Yiti, the scope of the project includes two five-star hotels and a deluxe time-share hotel, 1,000 villas, apartments, a retail centre, a marina, an 18-hole
  • Muscat searches for Yiti designers

    Dubai International Properties(DIP) received prequalification applications from design consultants in mid-October for its proposed resort and spa project at Yiti and Shinas. The scope of works covers detailed designs for serviced apartments, four hotels, a retail area, a 150-berth marina and an 18-hole golf course at Shinas. At Yiti, the scope of the project includes two five-star hotels and a deluxe time-share hotel, 1,000 villas, apartments, a retail centre, a marina, an 18-hole
  • Muslim Brotherhood claims more electoral gains

    The Muslim Brotherhood said on 21 November that it had won a further 13 seats in Egypt's second round of parliamentary elections. The second round of elections lacked the freedom that characterised the first round on 9 November, media reports said. Police arrested around 470 Brotherhood activists ahead of voting on 20 November. Despite the arrests, the Brotherhood won 13 seats outright and will have 35 candidates involved in run-offs on 26 November. 'If the elections had taken place in a go
  • Muslim Brotherhood seizes Egyptian grassroots

    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has seized the initiative among the country's poorest groups as they campaign ahead of parliamentary polls, reported AFP on 8 November. The banned Islamist organisation has mounted a well-organised campaign based on 'locally-driven platforms', said Josh Stracher, a Cairo-based political analyst. Their campaign has been based around local issues such as education and health. Muslim Brotherhood candidates have addressed the basic concerns of people in
  • Muslim Brotherhood wins 33 seats

    The banned Islamist organisation the Muslim Brotherhood announced on 16 November that it had won 33 seats in the first round of Egyptian national assembly elections. The party says the result 'confirms in an unquestionable way that the Egyptian people stand behind the brotherhood and that the Brotherhood really does represent the strongest social and political group in Egypt'.The organisation would double the number of seats they currently hold if the results are confirmed as
  • Nakheel prospects for Gold and Silver towers

    Three contractors have submitted bids for the Au and Ag buildings at Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT). The bidders for the Au and Ag (the chemical symbols for gold and silver) towers are: Oger Dubai, the local subsidiary of Saudi Oger; the local Dhabi Contracting Company; and the local/Turkish Bin Beilala Baytur International. The tender documents gave contractors the options to submit bids for each tower individually, and as one overall package. The est
  • Nakheel prospects for Gold and Silver towers

    Three contractors have submitted bids for the Au and Ag buildings at Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT). The bidders for the Au and Ag (the chemical symbols for gold and silver) towers are: Oger Dubai, the local subsidiary of Saudi Oger; the local Dhabi Contracting Company; and the local/Turkish Bin Beilala Baytur International. The tender documents gave contractors the options to submit bids for each tower individually, and as one overall package. The est
  • Nasa Multiplex selected for Index project

    Activity is increasing at Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), with the selection of the local/Australian Nasa Multiplex for the AED 1,000 million ($272 million) main construction package on the Index tower project and the start of tendering for a twin tower mixed-use development by local developer Al-Fattan Properties.
  • Nasa Multiplex selected for Index project

    Activity is increasing at Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), with the selection of the local/Australian Nasa Multiplex for the AED 1,000 million ($272 million) main construction package on the Index tower project and the start of tendering for a twin tower mixed-use development by local developer Al-Fattan Properties.
  • Nass IPO oversubscribed

    The initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Nass Corporation, the holding company for 10 of the companies forming part of local family business the Nass Group, closed on 30 October. Initial indications suggest that the share sale was oversubscribed about two-and-a-half times, with the highest level of subscription coming from Saudi Arabian investors, followed by locals and then UAE nationals. Investors will be guaranteed a minimum number of shares, with the remainder a
  • Nass shares allocated

    Allocations have been finalised on the initial public offering of shares in the local Nass Corporation. The share sale was oversubscribed 2.6 times. All investors will receive 1,000 shares with the remainder allocated on a pro-rata basis. On offer was 25 per cent - equivalent to BD 30 million ($78.9 million) - of the capital of the company, which groups together 10 subsidiaries of local family business the Nass Group. Securities & Investment Company acted as l
  • NATIONAL BANK OF KUWAIT: Great leaps forward

    In a regional banking community renowned for its lack of consolidation, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) stands out from the crowd. As the doors of neighbouring markets creak open, NBK has pioneered the use of cross-border deals to build itself a regional platform.
  • NBD roadshows open in Asia

    Roadshows were launched in Hong Kong on 17 November for the first drawdown of the euro medium-term note (EMTN) programme of National Bank of Dubai (NBD). The five-year issue will be of benchmark size, likely to be in the region of $500 million (MEED 11:11:05).
  • NBD warns of record inflation

    The UAE is expected to see record inflation this year, as a result of a surge in rents, increased fuel prices and high money supply, National Bank of Dubai (NBD)said in its latest quarterly economic report published in early November. In an unusually blunt assessment by a local institution, NBD estimates that inflation will reach at least 15-20 per cent by the end of 2005.
  • NBE signs syndicated loan

    National Bank of Egypt (NBE) has signed a $400 million syndicated loan facility. The mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) on the three-year deal were Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Barclays Capital, Citigroup and Standard Chartered Bank. The margin was 47.5 basis points over Libor (MEED 28:10:05).
  • New body created to take on congestion

    Dubai ruler Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum issued a decree on 1 November creating the Dubai Roads & Transport Authority. The new body will be responsible for planning and implementing transport projects in Dubai and overseas. The legislation states that all jurisdictions and responsibilities of the Roads Department, Dubai Metro Sector, Public Transport Department, Road Maintenance Section, General Maintenance Department, Traffic Engineering Section and Traffic Safety Section of Dubai Munic
  • New cracker options under examination

    Kuwait Finance House (KFH) - Bahrain has invited ABB Lummus Global and Kellogg Brown & Root,both US-based, Germany's Linde and Paris-based Technip to prepare preliminary price estimates for the construction of an ethane cracker planned as part of its integrated petrochemicals, power and water complex at Sitra. The decision toinvite bids from thefour companies follows the recent withdrawal from the project of Stone & Webster, par
  • New hotel for Raouche

    Kuwait's Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Companyhas the contract to carry out excavation works on an estimated $50 million, five-star hotel in the Raouche district of Beirut. To be built on a 50,000-square-metre plot, the hotel will be 20 storeys high with 272 rooms. Construction work will be divided into three packages including excavation, building and furnishings. The project is due to be completed by 2007. Tenders for the remaining two packages are expected to be issued by the end
  • New hotel for Raouche

    Kuwait's Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Companyhas the contract to carry out excavation works on an estimated $50 million, five-star hotel in the Raouche district of Beirut. To be built on a 50,000-square-metre plot, the hotel will be 20 storeys high with 272 rooms. Construction work will be divided into three packages including excavation, building and furnishings. The project is due to be completed by 2007. Tenders for the remaining two packages are expected to be issued by the end
  • New Iranian oil minister announced

    President Ahmadinejad announced in a letter to Majlis speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel on 2 November his nominee for oil minister. The nomination of Sadeq Mahsouli has been greeted with surprise by many in Iran, who had been led to believe by the head of the Majlis energy committee that academic Ali Asqar Zarei was the president's preferred candidate. Mahsouli has political experience as governor of Urumiyeh province and as a deputy defence minister, but has had little involvement in the oil
  • New oil discoveries made in Murzuq basin

    National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Abdulla al-Badri in mid-October announced the discovery of oil in two fields in the Murzuq basin, in the south of the country. Combined production capacity from the fields is about 7,650 barrels a day, Al-Badri said. The concessions are operated by Spain's Repsol, with partners OMV of Austria, France's Total and Norway's Norsk Hydro.
  • New slab steel plant for Ahwaz

    State-owned Kaavian Steel Companyhas issued a turnkey tender to international and local companies for the delivery and installation of a new slab steel production unit. Kaavian says it plans to install 700,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of new slab production using continuous casting technology. Bids for the contract are due by 15 November. No consultant has been appointed on the project, which is to be carried out over a three-year period. Kaavian is a subsidiary of Iranian Mines &
  • No takers for tank farms

    Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC)received no bids by the mid-October deadline for the contract to upgrade the tank farms at its Mina al-Ahmadi, Mina Abdullah and Shuaiba refineries. Only three out of the 19 prequalified companies purchased the tender documents. The client is re-evaluating its options and a retender is likely. The scope of works on the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract calls for the relocation of existing tanks and the installation of interfac
  • Noose tightens around Damascus

    UN report points finger at Syrian security officials
  • Nour loses seat in first parliamentary elections

    The election commission on 10 November announced that Al-Ghad Party leader Ayman Nour had lost his parliamentary seat in the first round of elections a day earlier. The popular opposition leader was the main challenger to President Mubarak in September's first multi-candidate presidential elections. Preliminary results released the day after the vote suggested that the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) will retain its control of the People's Assembly.
  • Offshore work tender deadline extended

    The bid deadline has been extended by almost two months to 24 December for two offshore lump-sum turnkey (LSTK) contracts covering the installation of production facilities and pipelines. About six groups of fabricators are prequalified for the contracts, worth a total of $300 million-350 million. The first contract - maintenance of potential facilities - covers the engineering, design and fabrication of two drilling support structures in Zuluf, four production deck modules in Safaniya and Zuluf
  • OIL & GAS: Refined assets

    Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) officials may well have winced on 5 June as they opened prices for the retendered Ahmadi crude export facilities project. At just over $1,200 million, the price submitted by South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) was almost $500 million higher than the original low bid submitted by Oslo-based Aker Kvaerner in 2003. For most clients at most times, this would have been a pill too bitter to swallow. But for the reinvigorated local oil and gas sector, higher costs are
  • Oil prices fall; IEA/EIA cut demand forecasts

    The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) on 10 November reduced its forecast for the growth of oil demand and said the market had appeared to have weathered the latest price shock. However, it also stressed uncertainty over the effects of hurricane damage on US demand and reiterated the concerns of the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) that cold weather could again create market tensions.The IEA revised downward its forecast for oil demand growth this year b
  • Oil sector in stasis as nominee withdraws

    Sadeq Mahsouli has withdrawn his nomination as oil minister, causing a new political blow to beleaguered President Ahmadinejad and further delaying any new activity in the energy sector. Mahsouli withdrew shortly before Majlis (parliament) deputies were due to cast a vote of confidence in his nomination (see Briefing, page 8; MEED 4:11:05).
  • Oman: Breaking the mould

    On 1 November, two days before the Eid holiday, developers were invited to bid for the sultanate's sixth private power project. The timing was a surprise but the tender was not. Muscat was the Gulf's maiden convert to private generation. But the scheme will be fundamentally different to its predecessors. Not only will it be Oman's first brownfield independent water and power project (IWPP), but also the first to be carried out since the long-awaited promulgation of the power sector law in July 2
  • PalTel to list on Abu Dhabi exchange

    Fixed-line operator Palestine Telecommunications Company (PalTel)is expected to list 30 per cent of its shares on the Abu Dhabi Financial Market in mid-November. 'PalTel is no longer a local company. There are many potential investors from the Gulf who are worried about the political situation in Palestine but would invest if PalTel was listed on another market,' chief executive officer of PalTel Group Abdul Malik al-Jaber said on 19 October. 'We won't list more than 30 per cent of
  • Parsons appointed to review Dubailand

    US-based Parsons International has been appointed to review and update the overall masterplan for Dubailand. Design work includes the road and infrastructure network and co-ordinating the interfaces between Dubailand's 37 separately developed components. The UK's Halcrowprepared the original masterplan for the project. The client is Dubailand(MEED 21:10:05).
  • Parsons appointed to review Dubailand

    US-based Parsons International has been appointed to review and update the overall masterplan for Dubailand. Design work includes the road and infrastructure network and co-ordinating the interfaces between Dubailand's 37 separately developed components. The UK's Halcrowprepared the original masterplan for the project. The client is Dubailand(MEED 21:10:05).
  • PCO prepares substation work

    The Project & Contracting Office (PCO) has issued two presolicitation notices for the engineering, procurement, supply, erection and commissioning of electrical equipment required to build various substations across the country. Companies have until 8 November to respond for the rehabilitation of four 132-kV substations in Basra province. Interested firms also have until 5 December to bid for the construction of a 400/132/11-kV substation at Amara in Missan province. Both 12-month firm fixed-pri
  • Pensions Fund stamps office plans

    The Abu Dhabi Retirement, Pensions & Benefits Fund is expected to issue the main construction tender for its proposed new office building in the capital at the end of November. The building, which will cover an area of 14,510 square metres, will initially comprise five storeys including a basement. The project is located behind Carrefour on Airport road. The local NSCCis carrying out the excavation and piling contract. Saudi Arabia's Omrania & Associatesis the design cons
  • Pensions Fund stamps office plans

    The Abu Dhabi Retirement, Pensions & Benefits Fund is expected to issue the main construction tender for its proposed new office building in the capital at the end of November. The building, which will cover an area of 14,510 square metres, will initially comprise five storeys including a basement. The project is located behind Carrefour on Airport road. The local NSCCis carrying out the excavation and piling contract. Saudi Arabia's Omrania & Associatesis the design cons
  • Pentagon to consider troop reduction after elections

    Washington will decide on a possible reduction of troop numbers after the legislative elections in December, said a senior Pentagon official on 3 November. 'If it goes well as previous elections have - and we have every reason to believe that it will - we will see the commanders, General Casey and General Abizaid, reaching decision points on future forces in Iraq' said US Lieutenant General James Conway, director of operations of the joint staff.No decision had been taken on
  • Piling starts on new Downtown project

  • Piling starts on new Downtown project

  • PP9 returns

    Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) is expected to issue a new tender for the long-awaited PP9 power station in Riyadh by the end of the year. The original tender was aborted earlier this year and bids returned to the contractors after SEC decided to change the project's scope due to revised operational requirements. The tender now calls for the construction of a 1,200-MW plant as originally planned. Three groups - the local Arabian Bemco Contractingwith Germany's Siemens
  • Prequals out for Project X

    Prequalification has started for a three-tower mixed-use cluster in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT). There has been a steady flow of contract awards at JLT in recent months, the last going to Lebanon's Arabian Construction Company (ACC) for the construction of the 39-storey Gate 1 Tower.
  • Prequals out for Project X

    Prequalification has started for a three-tower mixed-use cluster in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT). There has been a steady flow of contract awards at JLT in recent months, the last going to Lebanon's Arabian Construction Company (ACC) for the construction of the 39-storey Gate 1 Tower.
  • Prequals out for refinery controls maintenance

    State refinery operator Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC)has invited local and international contractors to submit prequalification applications by 19 December for a contract to provide maintenance services for instrumentation and control systems at its Mina al-Ahmadi, Mina Abdullah and Shuaiba refineries. The scope of works calls for the execution and supervision of all routine instrumentation and control systems and maintenance, planned preventative maintenance, planned and
  • Prequals out for Sour WTP

    The Council for Development & Reconstruction (CDR) has invited international and local companies to prequalify for three contracts under the Sour coastal area wastewater treatment plant (WTP) project. The first contract covers the construction of sewerage networks with an approximate length of 25 kilometres and associated pumping stations. Applications are due by 9 December, with the tender due out by the end of the year. The scope of works for the second element, which will be tendered in the s
  • Presidential challenger loses seat

    The main challenger to President Mubarak in Egypt's recent first multi-candidate presidential election lost his parliamentary seat on 10 November.Al-Ghad party leader Ayman Nour lost the seat of Bab al-Shariya, a Cairo district, to Yehya Wahdan, a candidate from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). Nour was reported to have expected defeat. 'I'm sure he will not be re-elected,' said his wife Gamila Ismail before the parliamentary campaign began. 'The reg
  • Price crisis fails to deter further expansion

    The local Tal Khavar Cement Companyhas issued a tender for the construction of a new cement plant with capacity of 1.2 million tonnes a year (t/y) in Khouzestan province in the southwest. Two other contracts to supply key equipment to new plants have been let to Germany's Polysiusas a wide-ranging expansion, fuelled by spending from the Oil Stabilisation Fund (OSF), comes into force (Construction, MEED Special Report, 13:5:05, pages 56-57).
  • Prices hold on below $60

    Consumers had some reason to cheer in late October. For the first time since July, global oil prices remained below the $60-a-barrel mark for four consecutive weeks. And, this was despite two category-4 hurricanes - Katrina and Rita - raging over the US and in their wake shutting in significant refining capacity and hitting oil production installations in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Progress nears on ENOC financing

    Banks are expected to be invited to join by the end of the year a $400 million-500 million financing for Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) to fund the Jebel Ali condensate refinery expansion project. Dubai Islamic Bankis the sole mandated lead arranger (MLA) on the deal and financial close is scheduled for the first quarter of 2006. The UK office of US-based Foster Wheelerreceived a letter of intent in October for the estimated $380 million main contract on
  • Projacs takes Pearl project management

    Bahrain-based Projacs Internationalhas been appointed project manager for the construction of four towers in the $2,500 million Pearl Qatar island development in West Bay. The 20-35-storey residential buildings will be built on four plots in three areas of the Pearl. Total project costs are estimated at QR 500 million ($133.7 million). The client is Kuwait-based Global Investment House.
  • Projacs takes Pearl project management

    Bahrain-based Projacs Internationalhas been appointed project manager for the construction of four towers in the $2,500 million Pearl Qatar island development in West Bay. The 20-35-storey residential buildings will be built on four plots in three areas of the Pearl. Total project costs are estimated at QR 500 million ($133.7 million). The client is Kuwait-based Global Investment House.
  • Pushing an industrial agenda

    The regional pioneer in industrial consulting is back. That is the message coming out of the Doha-based Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting (GOIC), as it prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2006. Convinced there has never been a better time to promote Gulf industry, GOIC is planning a range of new initiatives and services to meet the growing demands of the private, as well as the public, sector.
  • PWC leads pack for air cargo and logistics

    Kuwait's PWC Logisticsis the preferred bidder for two separate logistics contracts in the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ). A team of PWC with National Aviation Services, also of Kuwait, is frontrunner for the 10-year contract to equip and operate the existing cargo terminal at King Hussain International Airport (KHIA). Three consortia are bidding for the contract, for which an award is expected by mid-November (MEED 21:10:05). Eight consortia were originally prequalifi
  • Rabigh MLA selection nears

    A group of about 14 mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) is close to being appointed on the financing of the Rabigh integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex. The estimated $8,500 million project is being developed by Rabigh Refining & Petrochemical Company ( PetroRabigh), a joint venture of Saudi Aramcoand Japan's Sumitomo Chemical Company.
  • Rafah crossing to re-open

    The Israeli inner cabinet approved on 1 November re-opening the border between Egypt and Gaza at Rafah. The decision means Palestinians will be able to leave and enter Gaza without Israeli permission for the first time since 1967. The border terminal will be controlled by Cairo and the Palestinian Authority and is likely to be overseen by European observers and Israeli surveillance cameras. Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Authority have yet to agree on the extent of EU authority. Tel Aviv does
  • Rafsanjani critical of new president

    Former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani implicitly criticised current President Ahmadinejad on 17 November. Rafsanjani's comments focused on Ahmadinejad's replacement of established senior officials with old political allies. 'Today, some are calling into question the actions of the past, and are enacting a policy of purges, a policy of general banishment and the sidelining of competent people', Rafsanjani said, according to state news agency IRNA. Since his acc
  • RAK power award by year-end

    An award is expected by the end of December for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build a 129-MW grassroots power and desalination plant in Ras al-Khaimah's Al-Jazeera al-Hamra district. Among the frontruners for the contract are the local Emirates Trading Agency (ETA)and a joint venture (JV) of Germany's Siemensand Arabian Bemco Contracting of Saudi Arabia. The facility will also have capacity of 11 million cubic metres a year (c
  • REAL ESTATE: Urban rejuvenation

    Such is the present pace of construction activity in Kuwait that few consultants and contractors can keep up with all market developments. 'For the first time I can recall, my commercial market intelligence is not good enough to keep me informed of everything that is going on here,' says one local design consultant. 'But then, perhaps that isn't a bad thing.'
  • Refinery investments soar beyond $50,000 million

    Exclusive research carried out by MEED has revealed that more than $50,000 million will be invested in the region 's downstream oil industry over the next five years .According to research published in MEED 's latest Oil & Gas Special Report, due out on 25 November, refiners in the region have embarked on a major investment programme aimed at upgrading and expanding existing facilities, and building numerous grassroots plants. The investment is being driven by
  • Regional telcos prequalify for Telsim sale

    Five regional companies have been prequalified to bid for Turkish GSM operator Telsim. Wataniya Telecomand Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), both of Kuwait, Egypt's Orascom Telecom, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat)and Dubai-based Emaar Propertiesare among the 13 international firms shortlisted for the sale, the bid deadline for which is 5 December, with a final auction taking place a week later. The auction has
  • Reliance in for Cegco stake

    The Energy & Mineral Resources Ministry is in exclusive talks with India's Reliance Energyover the sale of a 51 per cent stake in Central Electricity Generating Company (Cegco).
  • Revised bids in for Lulu marine works

    Lulu Tourism Companyis understood to be in negotiations with two bidders, the local Ahmed Mansour Al-A'Aliand Denmark's MT Hojgaard, for the estimated $20 million contract to carry out marine works on the Lulu Island resort off the north coast of Manama. An award is expected by mid-November. Three bidders were invited to submit revised prices in mid-October, after substantial changes to the design. The other bidder is China Harbour Engineering Company,
  • Revised bids in for Lulu marine works

    Lulu Tourism Companyis understood to be in negotiations with two bidders, the local Ahmed Mansour Al-A'Aliand Denmark's MT Hojgaard, for the estimated $20 million contract to carry out marine works on the Lulu Island resort off the north coast of Manama. An award is expected by mid-November. Three bidders were invited to submit revised prices in mid-October, after substantial changes to the design. The other bidder is China Harbour Engineering Company,
  • Revised bids opened for aromatics

    Revised prices have been opened by the Central Tenders Committee for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package on the Shuaiba aromatics complex, planned by Kuwait Aromatics Company (Karo). Despite changes to the project's scope and a reduction in contractor risk, prices again came in well above the original budget of above $1,000 million (MEED 8:7:05). As in the original bid, the Italian/South Korean joint venture of Tecnimontand SK Engineering &
  • Revised bids submitted for Ras Laffan

    An award is approaching for the dredging, reclamation and breakwater package on the Ras Laffan port expansion project after the four bidding groups submitted revised technical and commercial bids on 24 October. The four groups that submitted bids were: Belgium's Jan de Nul Dredging, with the Netherlands' Royal Boskalis Westminster, Belgium's Dredging International, with the local Qatar Dredging Company, the US' Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co
  • Revised bids submitted for Ras Laffan

    An award is approaching for the dredging, reclamation and breakwater package on the Ras Laffan port expansion project after the four bidding groups submitted revised technical and commercial bids on 24 October. The four groups that submitted bids were: Belgium's Jan de Nul Dredging, with the Netherlands' Royal Boskalis Westminster, Belgium's Dredging International, with the local Qatar Dredging Company, the US' Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co
  • RFP out for Barka IWPP

    The request for proposals (RFP) was issued on 1 November for the Barka/Rusayl brownfield independent water and power project (IWPP). Seven prequalified developers have been invited to submit bids by 27 March by the client, the National Economy Ministry.
  • Rice urges Israeli-Palestinian co-operation

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 14 November pressed for Israelis and Palestinians to make efforts to revive the peace process. 'The Middle East would most certainly be a much better place when there is a democratic Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel,' Rice said at a press conference in Jeddah, where she had been as part of her tour of the region. 'Israel should do nothing to prejudge the final status or the outlines of a final settlement,' Rice said later i
  • Rice urges unity in unannounced Iraq stopover

    Washington remains committed to a united Iraq, says US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. 'We admire what the Iraqi people are doing and they can be certain they have a committed partner in the US,' Rice said in a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari during an unannounced stopover in Baghdad on 11 November.In her second unannounced visit this year, Rice said she wanted to help ease sectarian tensions that had dominated the parliamentary election campaig
  • Riyadh accedes

    The World Trade Organisation (WTO) general council formally concluded its negotiations with Riyadh on 11 November, paving the way for the kingdom to join the trade body as its 149th member on 11 December, three days before the WTO ministerial summit in Hong Kong.
  • Russian envoy denies Iran nuclear proposal

    Moscow envoy Igor Ivanov denied on 12 November reports that he had presented Tehran with a plan to take on Iran's uranium enrichment activities.Ivanov admitted that he had met Tehran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, but that he had not presented any formal proposals. It had been reported that, in order to provide a compromise between Tehran and the international community, Moscow would take on Iran's uranium enrichment programme. The proposal had carried
  • Russians plan $2bn refinery

    Russia's Stroytransgaz Oilis in negotiations with the Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ministry and the Syrian Investment Office (SIO) for an estimated $2,000 million integrated refinery and petrochemical complex at Deir al-Zor, in the northeast. Sources at the ministry say the complex is in addition to the government's plans to build a refinery at Deir al-Zor with capacity of 140,000 barrels a day. Senior SIO officials told MEED in late October that Stroytransgaz was working on the pro
  • Saddam defence team boycotts trial

    Lawyers defending Saddam Hussein cut all contact with the court proceedings on 9 November after a second member of the team was murdered.The attorneys defending Saddam and the seven co-accused against charges of crimes against humanity considered a second day of hearings set for 28 November to be 'cancelled and illegitimate', said lead counsel Khalil al-Dulaimi. 'We are facing daily threats and these threats prevent us from going to our offices and the court and from intervie
  • Saddam lawyers return to trial

    The legal team defending former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein ended its boycott of the trial on 24 November. 'All the lawyers will attend the trial on Monday and a decision has been taken not to leave the [former] president alone,' said Issam Ghazawi, a spokesman for the group. 'The lawyers are forced to attend the hearings, despite serious threats on their lives, but they want to do that to serve [justice],' Ghazawi said.The lawyers began the boycott after two of them were
  • Saddam soldiers invited back into the army

    Defence Minister Saadoun Dulaimi invited on 2 November former junior army officers under Saddam Hussein to re-enlist. 'Those who wish to rejoin the new Iraqi army to serve the precious homeland should go to recruitment centres opened around the country,' he said. Officers with the rank of major, captain and lieutenant sacked after the US-led invasion in 2003 are eligible to register. Sunnis dominated the officer corps under Saddam and community representatives have raised the plight of the
  • Safwan bids low for EPF

    The local Safwan Trading & ContractingCompanyis low bidder at KD 69.3 million ($239 million) for the five-year build-own-operate (BOO) early production facilities (EPF) project, following the submission of bids on 30 October. The client, state upstream operator Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), is expected to make an award early next year (MEED 29:4:05).
  • Salmiya area to get facelift

    The local Kuwait Commercial Markets Complex Company (KCMCC)has been awarded a 20-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession to develop Salmiya park in Kuwait City. The client on the KD 18 million ($62 million) development is the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs & Fish Resources (PAAFR).
  • Salmiya area to get facelift

    The local Kuwait Commercial Markets Complex Company (KCMCC)has been awarded a 20-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession to develop Salmiya park in Kuwait City. The client on the KD 18 million ($62 million) development is the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs & Fish Resources (PAAFR).
  • SAMSUNG Engineering Company: Beyond the kingdom

    Lee Chang Keun of Daewoo Securities - an independent Seoul-based financial analyst - is upbeat about the future of Samsung Engineering Company, and with good reason. In early October, the share price of the South Korean firm soared by 15 per cent after it announced to the Seoul stock market that it had been awarded the $500 million main contract to build a worldscale petrochemicals plant at Jubail in Saudi Arabia. Korean investors clearly expect more such announcements to follow.
  • Saudi Arabia joins WTO

    The World Trade Organisation (WTO) approved on 11 November Saudi Arabia's application for membership. After 12 years of negotiations the world's largest oil exporter will become a WTO member in 30 days' time. Riyadh must adopt the body of WTO legislation, which will involve the liberalisation of currently restricted sectors and open its economy to fellow WTO members, including Israel. Saudi Arabia's participation in the Arab League boycott of Israel could therefore be reviewed.
  • SAUDI ARABIA: All eyes on Geneva

    The news that Riyadh had reached a bilateral trade agreement with the US in early September, paving the way for the kingdom's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), was widely welcomed by the local business community. Yet for some in the local petrochemical industry, membership may be a bitter pill to swallow. With accession to the trade body comes the threat that the key cash cost advantages from which many producers benefit may be eroded if feedstock prices are forced up.
  • Saudi king tells oil consumers to cut oil duties

    King Abdullah called on leading energy consuming states on 21 November to cut taxes on oil to avoid a price hike during a speech in Riyadh. The king vowed to continue to produce enough supplies, but also stressed the need for lower taxes in consuming states. 'All the efforts of the [oil] producing countries will be fruitless unless they are met with a positive position by the main consumer states,' King Abdullah said. 'These states should alleviate the ordeal of their citizen
  • Saudi-Italian JV wins Oryx GTL work

    A joint venture of Saudi Arabia's Nasser al-Hajri and Italy's Astaldi has been selected to carry out the construction subcontract on the Oryx GTL plant in Ras Laffan.
  • Second Iranian oil nominee withdraws

    Iranian President Ahmadinejad suffered a new blow to his premiership on 9 November as his second nomination for oil minister withdrew before the Majlis (parliament) voted on his appointment. After Mahsouli withdrew his candidacy, President Ahmadinejad told parliament that no government since the 1979 revolution had been so viciously attacked.Mahsouli's withdrawal 'will weaken [Ahmadinejad] institutionally as well as within the cabinet, because people will begin
  • Second lawyer in Saddam trial assassinated

    Adel al-Zubeidi, the lawyer for one of Saddam Hussein's co-defendants, was shot dead on 8 November. Another lawyer, Thamer Hamoud al-Khuzaie, was wounded in the incident. Gunmen opened fire on the car carrying both men in the Adl district of Baghdad. It is now uncertain whether the trial will restart on 28 November as scheduled.The defence team called for the trial to be moved abroad because of the dangers to those involved. They also questioned the viability of a fair trial
  • Second methanol plant for Sohar

    The shareholders in Oman Methanol Company (OMC)have established a new company, Sohar Methanol Company, to build a second plant at the northern industrial city. Speaking in Muscat on 15-16 November at the Port of Sohar conference, organised jointly by MEED and Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC), OMC chief executive Richard Preece said that the new plant would be similar in size to OMC's 3,000-tonne-a-day (t/d) plant, which is under construction, and would lik
  • Security Council calls for Syrian co-operation

    The Security Council endorsed on 31 October a resolution calling for Damascus to co-operate with the UN investigation into the murder of Lebanese former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The US, France and the UK sponsored the resolution, which initially demanded sanctions against Damascus and had met opposition from China and Russia. The final version warned of 'further action if necessary'. The resolution called for a travel ban and freezing the assets of those suspected of involvement in the
  • Sembcorp, Tractebel in front for Fujairah IWPP

    Singapore's Sembcorpand Belgium's Suez Tractebelare the frontrunners to win the right to act as foreign partner on the brownfield Fujairah independent water and power project (IWPP), after proposals were submitted and opened by Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (ADWEA) on 16 November.
  • Senior officials jailed in power fraud case

    Thirty-one people were handed jail terms by the Criminal Court in late October for their part in an alleged fraud in the power sector. Those convicted include senior government officials, among them former undersecretary at the Ministry of Housing, Electricity & Water (MHEW) Abdullah bin Ali Dawood, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison and fined. Hussain bin Mohammed bin Ali, a former ambassador of Oman to the UK, was convicted of forgery.
  • Service centre boost for GE equipment

    US-based General Electric (GE) unveiled plans on 14 November to build a 25,000-square-metre service centre. The centre will repair GE oil and gas equipment installed at natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, and includes a workshop, warehouse and offices. 'The centre will provide services to equipment based in Qatar. We also expect new projects will continue to materialise, such as gas-to-liquids investments. The centre will give us a competitive advantage when we go
  • Shadeed Iron & Steel to appoint project manager

    Abu Dhabi-based Al-Gaith Holding Companyis in final negotiations to appoint a project manager for its proposed 1.5 million-tonne-a-year (t/y) integrated steel complex at Sohar port and industrial area. Japan's Kobe Steel, which was awarded the 30-month engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract in September, is scheduled to begin work on the facility by mid-February (MEED 21:1:05).
  • Sharjah's maritime city gets ready to anchor

    Plans to build a second maritime city in the federation are moving forward with construction expected to begin in the first quarter of 2006. The project will be located in Hamriyah Free Zone.
  • Sharon considers break from Likud

    After weeks of mounting speculation on 18 November, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is expected to announce soon whether he will leave the Likud party. Sharon has been tipped to leave Likud since the Gaza pull-out. Many of Likud's members were hostile to the plan and his popularity and influence within the party has fallen. 'Sharon has reinvented himself. It is no longer natural for him to remain in his party [Likud] after the creation of this new Sharon who is willing to cede 75 per ce
  • Sharon plans March elections

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accepted on 16 November calls from Labour for early elections and is prepared to call them for March 2006. 'I met the prime minister after the cabinet meeting on Sunday and we discussed it, and if Peretz wants elections he can get elections,' said Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.After his election as Labour party leader, Emir Peretz said he wanted to pull Labour out of the governing coalition with Likud. Peretz is due to meet Sharon on 17 No
  • Sharon to leave Likud

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Likud members on 21 November that he was leaving to form a new party. 'I am resigning from the party and forming a new one,' Sharon wrote in a letter to the Likud chairman, Israel Radio reported. Sharon also asked Israeli President Moshe Katsav to dissolve the Knesset (parliament) in order to call early elections. Sharon and new Labour party leader Emir Peretz agreed to bring forward elections from November 2006 to either February or March.
  • Sharon warns against Hamas participation

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on 7 November that Israel would not facilitate Palestinian legislative elections if Hamas participated. 'Israel's position is that it will not be able to co-operate with the elections if Hamas in its current form takes part', Sharon said. 'There cannot be a situation where an armed organisation can take part in elections.' He said security restrictions in the West Bank would continue, as would Israel's policy of targeting members of Ha
  • Shia mosques targeted

    Suicide bombers detonated bombs in two Shia mosques in Khanaqin, a mixed Kurdish and Shia town near the Iranian border, during Friday prayers on 18 November, killing at least 55 people. 'Two suicide bombers wearing explosive belts walked into the Greater and the Smaller Khanaqin mosques and blew themselves up,' provincial council leader Ibrahim Hasan al-Bajalan told AFP. The blasts were also reported to have left 62 injured. Local authorities have already imposed a curfew on the town.
  • Shouaiba debt details emerge

    Further details were provided to local and international banks at roadshows held in Riyadh and Dubai in late October about the debt package to fund the Shouaiba independent water and power project (IWPP). Responses are due by the third week of November with financial close due in late December, allowing a notice to proceed to be issued to the project company, Shouaiba Water & Electricity Company, in January.
  • Shouaiba finance hits the market

    The preliminary information memorandum (PIM) was released in late October to banks for the debt package on the Shouaiba independent water and power project (IWPP). The launch of the financing follows the initialling of the power and water purchase agreement (PWPA) between Water & Electricity Company (WEC)and the local/Malaysian developer team of Acwapower, Malakoff Berhadand Tenaga Nasional Berhad on 23 October (MEED 14:10:05).
  • Shouaiba parties pencil initial agreement

    The two parties involved in the Shouaiba independent water and power project (IWPP) signed four initial agreements on 23 October in preparation for the formal signing ceremony on 15 November. The initial agreements signed between the client, Water & Electricity Company (WEC), and the local/Malaysian consortium of Acwapower, Malakoff Berhad, KhazanahNasionaland Tenaga Nasional Berhad, include the power and water purchase agreement
  • Shuwaikh dredging job lifts anchor

    Kuwait Port Authority (KPA) has issued the long-awaited tender for the contract to deepen the main approach and basin at Shuwaikh port. Nine companies are prequalified to bid by 20 December for the work, which is expected to take about 18 months.
  • Shuwaikh dredging job lifts anchor

    Kuwait Port Authority (KPA) has issued the long-awaited tender for the contract to deepen the main approach and basin at Shuwaikh port. Nine companies are prequalified to bid by 20 December for the work, which is expected to take about 18 months.
  • Siniora hopes Bahrain joins Beirut 1 conference

    Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on 15 November he 'hoped' Bahrain would attend the Beirut 1 donors' conference scheduled for 2006.'I hope participation in the conference will strengthen Lebanon's efforts to improve its economic situation, its financial and economic stability and socio-political stability,' said Siniora. Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa pledged his support for the conference, according to Beirut daily The Daily Star.Siniora was
  • Snam takes Qatofin LLDPE plant

    Italy's Snamprogettihas received a letter of intent, valued at about $250 million, to build the 450,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), planned by the local/French Qatofinat Mesaieed.
  • SOC tenders more drilling work

    South Oil Company (SOC)has invited drilling contractors to submit bids by 30 November for a contract to carry out a work-over programme of 12 wells in the South Rumaila and Zubair oil fields (see Tenders). The scope of works covers the drilling of eight wells at South Rumaila, 65 kilometres southwest of Basra, and four wells in Zubair, 45 kilometres south of Basra. The project is scheduled to take 12 months to complete. The successful bidder is expected to achieve drilling productivity of
  • Sohar Investment tops $11bn

    Industrial and other projects now going ahead in the Port of Sohar are worth $10,800 million, Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC) chief executive Jan Meijer told MEED in Dubai on 31 October. The port has so far received about 100 vessels, though this figure will increase sharply following the installation of container cranes in the spring of 2006, and the start-up of the first three Sohar manufacturing industries next summer. 'The project is going very well,' said Meijer. He added t
  • South Koreans close in on LAB job

    South Korea's GS Engineering & Constructionis due to receive a letter of award (LoA), valued at $250 million-300 million, for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build a 100,000-tonne-a-year linear alkyl benzene (LAB) plant in Ameriya near Alexandria. The client is Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (ECHEM). GS will lead a consortium involving the local Engineering for the Petroleum & Process Industries (Enppi), which will carr
  • State of acquiescence

    On 29 September, the Charter for Peace & National Reconciliation was endorsed by 97.4 per cent of voters, with a turnout of 79.5 per cent, according to official figures. But the charter, which seeks to consign a decade of violence to history, also helps to strengthen the hand of the president.
  • Strong words from both sides over Iranian nuclear programme

    UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Iranian President Ahmadinejad on 22 November both reiterated strident positions over Iran's nuclear programme.Ahmadinejad confirmed that his government would support bills supporting retaliatory measures against the UN which the Majlis (parliament) voted on last week. 'We follow the parliament and will definitely implement its bills,' Ahmadinejad said.The bill defended Tehran's resumption of uranium enrichment and called for end
  • Supervision award nears for GCC grid

    Dammam-based GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) is close to appointing a consultant to supervise construction of the $1,300 million phase 1 of the GCC power grid. Three international firms - Canada's SNC Lavalin, Germany's Fichtnerand the UK's Mott MacDonald- are competing for the award. GCCIA selected in late September contractors for all the major turnkey packages on the project, which will link the grids of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. Contra
  • Supreme Leader backs Ahmadinejad

    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his full support on 14 November for President Ahmadinejad, saying that recent criticism of Ahmadinejad was unjust.Khamenei's unusual step comes after Ahmadinejad attracted international condemnation for his calls to 'wipe Israel off the map'. His radical domestic agenda has alarmed some in Tehran, while the strong opposition he has faced in the Majlis (parliament) continues to stall the appointment of an oil minister.
  • Swissboring selected for two marina projects

    Swissboring, part of Italy's Trevi Group, has been selected for two projects in Dubai Marina. At the southern end of the marina, the contractor has started foundation works for the DEC towers project. The contract calls for piling, shoring, excavation and dewatering works for two towers, one of 21 storeys and one 25 storeys. The local Asteco Development Managementis the project manager, and the local Architecture Engineering Innovations Bureau (AEIB)is
  • Swissboring selected for two marina projects

    Swissboring, part of Italy's Trevi Group, has been selected for two projects in Dubai Marina. At the southern end of the marina, the contractor has started foundation works for the DEC towers project. The contract calls for piling, shoring, excavation and dewatering works for two towers, one of 21 storeys and one 25 storeys. The local Asteco Development Managementis the project manager, and the local Architecture Engineering Innovations Bureau (AEIB)is
  • Swissboring starts Centennial work

    Swissboring, part of Italy's Trevi Group, has started piling, shoring, excavation and dewatering works for Centennial Towers in Jebel Ali Free Zone. CSHK Dubai Contracting (CSHK), the local affiliate of China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong), was awarded the project's estimated AED 300 million ($81 million) main contract in October. The client is the local Dubai Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation, now part of DP World. The sche
  • Swissboring starts Centennial work

    Swissboring, part of Italy's Trevi Group, has started piling, shoring, excavation and dewatering works for Centennial Towers in Jebel Ali Free Zone. CSHK Dubai Contracting (CSHK), the local affiliate of China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong), was awarded the project's estimated AED 300 million ($81 million) main contract in October. The client is the local Dubai Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation, now part of DP World. The sche
  • Syria receives UN interview request

    Damascus said on 7 November it was considering a request from the UN inquiry into the assassination of Lebanese former premier Rafiq Hariri to question six Syrian officials. The officials are expected to include Asif Shawkat, the brother-in-law of President Asad and head of Syrian military intelligence. Former head of domestic intelligence Bahjat Suleiman, former head of military intelligence in Lebanon Rustom Ghazaleh and his deputy Jameh Jameh were also reported to be on the list. Maher A
  • Syria: Getting the best from good resources

    Founded on the Barada river, surrounded by the Ghouta oasis and supplied by a spring at Fijeh, the need for water would not seem to top Damascus' list of priorities. But as Syria's capital continues to expand, and limited local resources come under increased pressure, the authorities are having to come up with creative solutions to supply the metropolitan area. According to the Water Resources Information Centre (WRIC) in the Irrigation Ministry, the capital's population is expected to rise to a
  • Tabreed to cooljoint HQ project

    The local National Central Cooling Company (Tabreed)has signed a contract with local developer ALDAR Propertiesto provide district cooling services for the Al-Maamoura headquarters project in Abu Dhabi's Al-Muroor district. The 11-storey building and associated car park structure will have a gross floor area of just over 50,000 square metres and will house the local Mubadala Development Company and the Environment Research & Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA)
  • Tabreed to cooljoint HQ project

    The local National Central Cooling Company (Tabreed)has signed a contract with local developer ALDAR Propertiesto provide district cooling services for the Al-Maamoura headquarters project in Abu Dhabi's Al-Muroor district. The 11-storey building and associated car park structure will have a gross floor area of just over 50,000 square metres and will house the local Mubadala Development Company and the Environment Research & Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA)
  • Taking flight

    The Middle East aviation sector is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures show that, in the first nine months of 2005, regional passenger traffic was up by 14 per cent on the same period in 2004. To some extent, global aviation trends have been reflecting developments in the world economy as well as the recovery of the tourism industry in many parts of the developing world. The next fastest growing region, Latin America, saw year-on-ye
  • Talabani hopes for 2006 troop withdrawal

    British troops could withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2006, Iraqi President Talabani suggested on 13 November, but an immediate withdrawal would be a 'catastrophe' and could precipitate civil war in the country. 'We don't want British forces in Iraq forever. Within one year - by the end of 2006 - Iraqi troops will be ready to replace British forces in the South,' Talabani said.Sir Mike Jackson, the British army's top general, said it would be possible to withdraw Britain's 8,
  • Talabani reaches out to insurgents

    Iraqi President Talabani in a public gesture of reconciliation on 20 November said that he was willing to speak to Iraq's insurgents if they wanted to talk to him. 'If those who describe themselves as the Iraqi resistance want to contact me, they are welcome,' Talabani said to an Arab League-sponsored national reconciliation conference in Cairo. 'To those who took up arms to end the occupation, we say that the solution will not come through weapons, but through political dialogue and democr
  • Talabani receives assurances of Tehran support

    Iraqi President Talabani met Iranian President Ahmadinejad in Tehran on 21 November in the first diplomatic visit by an Iraqi head of state since the 1980-88 Gulf war.Tehran has been accused by the US and most recently by London of meddling in post-Saddam Iraq, but Ahmadinejad has denied such claims. 'Such accusations will definitely not affect the expansion of relations between Iran and Iraq,' Ahmadinejad said. 'We totally support the political process that the Iraqi nation
  • TAS plant on Palm

    US-based TAS International has been awarded the design and build contract for four district cooling plants on the crescent of Palm Jumeirah. Together the plants will deliver 120,000 tonnes of cooling. The three-year contract will see the first delivery made in mid-2006. Nakheel subsidiary Palm District Cooling (PDC) is the client.
  • Tecnimont in line for Tasnee PE units

    Italy's Tecnimonthas received an early works order from the local Tasnee Petrochemicalsfor the construction of two 450,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) high-density and low-density polyethylene (HDPE/LDPE) plants at its Jubail olefins complex.
  • Tecnimont takes Mahabad, Luristan work

    A team of Italy's Tecnimontand the local Narganhas been awarded two engineering and procurement contracts for linear-low density polyethylene (LLDPE)/high-density polyethylene (HDPE) swing plants at Mahabad in West Azerbaijan province and Khorramabad in Luristan province. The two plants, expected to cost a total of $700 million, are part of the western ethylene pipeline scheme being pursued by Bakhtar Petrochemical Company, a subsidiary of National Pet
  • Tecnimont/Daewoo group wins Q-Chem II work

    Qatar Chemical Company II (Q-Chem II) signed on 16 November two engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts covering the construction of two petrochemical plants, according to AFP.A group lead by to Italy's Tecnimont and South Korea's Daewoo Engineering & Construction Company will carry out the estimated $800 million project comprising a 350,000-tonne-a-year (t/y) high-density polyethylene (HDPE) unit and a 345,000-t/y alpha olefins plant in Mesaieed industrial
  • Tecom hooks up with European operator

    Dubai Technology, e-Commerce & Free Zone Authority (Tecom), part of Dubai Holding, has entered a strategic alliance with London-based Interoute, which owns and operates a voice and data network in Europe. The deal entails Tecom acquiring an unspecified stake in Interoute for Eur 120 million ($144.4 million) and is aimed at facilitating international expansion by both companies.
  • Tehran ban on GoldQuest

    Tehran has banned Hong Kong-based GoldQuest from operating and has arrested several of its sales representatives, reported the Daily Star on 3 November. GoldQuest International is an e-commerce operation selling limited edition collectible coins and jewellery over the internet. So far 28 people have been arrested and large quantities of the coins have been impounded.'People are complaining of fraud because the coins are worth just one-third of their price,' said case prosecut
  • Tehran ban on GoldQuest

  • Tehran battles unrest in Arab province

    Ethnic unrest broke out in Iran's Arabic-speaking province of Khuzestan on 5 November. About 200 protesters gathered in the city of Ahwaz to shout anti-government slogans, said Iranian news agency Mehr. Protesters in traditional Arabic dress threw bottles and rocks at police before ringleaders were arrested.In April, larger riots led to several deaths and hundreds of arrests after protests at government plans to encourage more non-Arabs to move to the oil-rich province. Tehra
  • Tehran declares solidarity with Syria

    Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on 14 November came out in favour of Syria's handling of the UN inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. 'We discussed the matter of Rafiq Hariri's murder. Syrian officials are handling this issue in a satisfactory way,' said Mottaki after his first official visit to Damascus, where he held talks with President Asad. 'We want the UN commission of inquiry to continue its work on a legal b
  • Tehran restarts uranium processing

    Iran has resumed uranium processing in order to convert it into a gas suitable for weapons-grade enrichment, diplomats said on 17 November. 'It's not good news, no, not at all. Because people were trying to arrange for new talks and now it's more difficult,' a European diplomat was quoted as saying by AFP.The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which called on Tehran to cease all nuclear fuel work in September, will hold a meeting next week. The Western members could p
  • Tel Aviv rules out Golan talks

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on 7 November there would be no talks with Damsacus about a possible withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Sharon told an Israeli cabinet meeting 'negotiations with Syria are ruled out because we do not envisage any withdrawal from the Golan Heights'. Sharon said in a speech on 31 October, one month after Israel's pull-out from Gaza, that Tel Aviv would continue to develop settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
  • Tender imminent for Ibn Zahr PP work

    Saudi European Petrochemical Company (Ibn Zahr) is expected to tender soon the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build a new polypropylene (PP) plant at its existing Jubail complex. Companies such as South Korea's Samsung Engineering Company, Italy's Snamprogetti, Spain's Tecnicas Reunidasand Italy's Tecnimontare among those likely to be shortlisted to bid for the estimated $800 million project following the submiss
  • Tender out for college work

    The Public Authority for Applied Education & Training (PAAET) has invited nine local grade 1 contractors to bid by 29 December for the contract to build a new College of Business Studies for Girls campus at Ardiya. Estimated to cost $75 million, the project will cover the construction of a segregated main faculty building, as well as libraries, car parks, administrative buildings, lecture halls and related facilities. A tender for the boys' college is expected soon. The UK's John Bonning
  • Tender out for college work

    The Public Authority for Applied Education & Training (PAAET) has invited nine local grade 1 contractors to bid by 29 December for the contract to build a new College of Business Studies for Girls campus at Ardiya. Estimated to cost $75 million, the project will cover the construction of a segregated main faculty building, as well as libraries, car parks, administrative buildings, lecture halls and related facilities. A tender for the boys' college is expected soon. The UK's John Bonning
  • Tendering set for Atlantic project

    Tenders will be issued in late November for the enabling works package on the Atlantic residential tower project in Dubai Marina. The package will include excavation, shoring, piling and dewatering works. The tower is a $33.5 million, 18-storey glass, marble and granite structure with a rooftop swimming pool, gymnasium and basement parking. The local Model Consultantsis the design consultant and Gulf Shores, also local, is the client. Completion is expected in December 20
  • Tendering set for Atlantic project

    Tenders will be issued in late November for the enabling works package on the Atlantic residential tower project in Dubai Marina. The package will include excavation, shoring, piling and dewatering works. The tower is a $33.5 million, 18-storey glass, marble and granite structure with a rooftop swimming pool, gymnasium and basement parking. The local Model Consultantsis the design consultant and Gulf Shores, also local, is the client. Completion is expected in December 20
  • Tenders issued for substation work

    Saudi Electricity Company (SEC)has issued four tenders for the construction of four 380-kV substations in the south and east.
  • Tenders out for Golden Mile

    Bids have been invited by the end of November for the main construction package on the Golden Mile project on Palm Jumeirah. The bid deadline is the end of November. The scope of works includes construction of a 20,000-square-metre shopping mall, 800 luxury apartments and 220 retail and restaurant outlets along the strip. Located on the palm's trunk, the project will overlook a 1.5-kilometre canalside corniche and be linked to the palm monorail. Abu Dhabi-based NSCC in joint venture
  • Tenders out for Golden Mile

    Bids have been invited by the end of November for the main construction package on the Golden Mile project on Palm Jumeirah. The bid deadline is the end of November. The scope of works includes construction of a 20,000-square-metre shopping mall, 800 luxury apartments and 220 retail and restaurant outlets along the strip. Located on the palm's trunk, the project will overlook a 1.5-kilometre canalside corniche and be linked to the palm monorail. Abu Dhabi-based NSCC in joint venture
  • Tentative backing for Russian Iran proposal

    The US and the EU, lead by France, Britain and Germany, gave qualified support on 10 November to a Russian plan to address Tehran's nuclear programme.Under the plan, Iran would keep its atomic fuel production programme if it agreed to transfer its uranium enrichment activities to Russia. The proposal has been given the support of Mohammed el-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 'He hopes that in the coming days the international community will b
  • Tertiary scouts for new sister metals

    Tertiary (Middle East), 100 per cent owned by UK-based Tertiary Minerals,announced in late October that it had started work on a pre-feasibility study aimed at the commercial mining of tantalum and niobium deposits at Ghurayyah, 85 kilometres from Tabuk in the northwest. The study, to be completed in the first quarter of 2007, will involve detailed metallurgical tests and market analysis. The client is the Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ministry.
  • Thames exits Ajman

    Investors in the $140 million Ajman integrated wastewater project are aiming to complete by 25 November a restructuring of the project company that will see the withdrawal of the UK's Thames Water- currently the biggest shareholder in the scheme. Project sources say the restructuring plans are in their final stages and are awaiting approval from the banks financing the project - Hypovereinsbank, Bayerischelandesbank, United Arab Bankand Ma
  • The waterway that dare not speak its name

    GCC finance ministers have been raising Iran's refusal to allow imports of products that are labeled with the phrase Arabian Gulf. For those of you seasoned in the affairs of the region, this is a familiar dispute. Newcomers are bemused by the storm over such a seemingly petty matter.
  • Three in for Al-Wahda power plant

    Three companies have submitted technical bids for the estimated $500 million Office National de l'Electricite (ONE) contract to develop an 800-MW combined cycle power plant at Al-Wahda (MEED 13:5:05). Bids were received from France's Alstom, Germany's Siemensand a consortium of the US' General Electricwith Tecnicas Reunidasof Spain. The plant will be supplied with Algerian gas feedstock from the Gazoduc Maghreb Europe pipeline. The engineering, pro
  • Three in for City Centre

    Technical and commercial bids were submitted on 7 November for the main construction contract on the Bahrain City Centre mall project. An award is expected to take some time as the prices are understood to have come in over the BD 130 million-140 million ($342.1 million-368.4 million) budget of the client, Dubai-based Majid al-Futtaim Investments.
  • Three in for City Centre

    Technical and commercial bids were submitted on 7 November for the main construction contract on the Bahrain City Centre mall project. An award is expected to take some time as the prices are understood to have come in over the BD 130 million-140 million ($342.1 million-368.4 million) budget of the client, Dubai-based Majid al-Futtaim Investments.
  • Three in for Hidd IWPP

    Three proposals were submitted on 8 November for the brownfield independent water and power project (IWPP) at Hidd, which entails the acquisition of the existing 1,000-MW and 30 million-gallon-a-day (g/d) complex and the addition of 60 million g/d of new capacity. The client, the Finance Ministry, is expected to carry out technical bid evaluation before opening prices in the first week of December (MEED 14:10:05).
  • Three pass bids for Pars LNG tankage

    Three companies - France's Technigaz, the UK's Whessoe Oil & Gasand Daewoo Engineering & Construction of South Korea - are due to submit bids by 11 December for an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract covering the tank package on the Pars liquefied natural gas (LNG) project. The client is Pars LNG, a consortium of National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC)and France's Total.
  • Three West Bank-Gaza routes needed, says World Bank

    A World Bank report has recommended that convoys should carry passengers and cargo between Gaza and the West Bank and operate on three routes, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on 9 November.The report, dated 30 September, examined possible 'safe crossings' and detailed a proposed use of bus, cargo and passenger vehicle convoys on three routes linking the Palestinian territories.The report proposed a three-stage sceme. Convoys would initially include only passenge
  • Time to tackle extremists, says king

    King Abdullah, in a letter to the newly appointed prime minister, on 24 November called for a war on Muslim extremists. The Jordanian king called for a 'relentless war on all the Takfiri schools, which embrace extremism, backwardness, isolation and darkness and are fed on the ignorance and naivety of simple people'. The strategy would 'not only deal with the security dimension, but also the ideological, cultural and political spheres to confront those who chose the path of destruction and s
  • TOCO bids low for Al-Kawther pipeline job

    The Oman Construction Company (TOCO)along with US-based Willbros Group has submitted a low bid of RO 36.9 million ($93.6 million) for the pipeline package on the Al-Kawther gas gathering project. Its offer was about 8 per cent lower than the next quote of RO 39.5 million ($101.3 million) from India's Punj Lloyd. Four companies submitted commercial bids by the mid-October deadlineto Petroleum Development Oman (PDO - MEED 26:8:05).
  • Tokyo, Brussels soften Baghdad's debt burden

    The Finance Ministry has reached agreements with Japan and Belgium to write off more than $6,000 million of the estimated $39,000 million it still owes Paris Club members. Japan is the largest donor of the 19 Paris Club members.
  • Towell plans meltshop

    Plans are moving ahead at the local WJ Towell & Companyto build a second meltshop next to the steel complex planned by Shadeed Iron & Steel, the project company of Abu Dhabi-based Al-Gaith Holding Company(see page 24). The new plant will have capacity of 1.1 million-1.5 million tonnes a year. Towell, which owns the Sharq Sohar Steel Rolling Millin Sohar, is installing the meltshop to reduce its dependency on imported billet.
  • Toyo takes Sabic to court

    Japan's Toyo Engineering Corporationhas filed a lawsuit against Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic)after the two parties failed to agree on the payment of arrears for a large petrochemicals complex in Jubail. 'It is a fact that Toyo filed a lawsuit at the Board of Grievances in Riyadh against Sabic and its subsidiary Arabian Petrochemical Company [ Petrokemya],' a Toyo statement sent to MEED on 25 October said. 'We cannot make any further co
  • Training Middle East journalists is a noble cause

    I have heard in the last fortnight about initiatives by two leading UK universities to set up Gulf institutions for training journalists. This is good news, but it could be better.
  • Tram plans go forward

    Three companies have submitted bids for the consultancy contract on the nine-kilometre Constantine tramway project to link the city centre to Zouaghi city to the south. The bidders are: France's Systra; a French group of Ingerop and Semaly; and a third team, understood to be Spanish.The bid deadline was extended by two days to give one of the bidders more time for its submission. An award is expected by early December.
  • Tribal leader shot dead in Baghdad

    Gunmen dressed in Iraqi army uniforms assassinated a Sunni tribal leader and his sons on 23 November. The Defence Ministry denied the gunmen were Iraqi soldiers. 'Iraqi army uniforms litter the streets and any terrorist can kill and tarnish our image, killing two birds with one stone,' a ministry official said.Sunni leaders accused the Interior Ministry of sanctioning death squads operated by Shia militias, but the government denied the claims, reported Reuters.
  • Tunis awards exploration contracts

    State oil and gas company Enterprise Tunisienne d'Activites Petrolieres (ETAP)has awarded two permits to First African Petroleum Consortium (FAPCO)for the exploration of the onshore Fawar and Mezzouna oil and gas fields, located in the central region. The five-year contracts, with an optional renewal for a further three years, call for the drilling of one well at each field, and a total estimated investment of $12 million. The Fawar field in Kebili covers an area of 3,032
  • TUNISIA

    Educational training materialsTender no 7/7220BIRD/2005. Supply of training materials as part of the education quality improvement programme, phase 2, Paqset II. Financed by the World Bank. Details on payment of TD 150 from Ministere de l'Education et de la Formation, Direction-Generale des Services Communs, Direction des Batiments et de l'Equipement, Boulevard Bab B'net, Tunis 1030, telephone (21671) 567451, fax (21671) 569735/569307. CD 15 December 2005
  • TUNISIA

    Educational training materialsTender no 7/7220BIRD/2005. Supply of training materials as part of the education quality improvement programme, phase 2, Paqset II. Financed by the World Bank. Details on payment of TD 150 from Ministere de l'Education et de la Formation, Direction-Generale des Services Communs, Direction des Batiments et de l'Equipement, Boulevard Bab B'net, Tunis 1030, telephone (21671) 567451, fax (21671) 569735/569307. CD 15 December 2005
  • TUNISIA

    Educational training materialsTender no 7/7220BIRD/2005. Supply of training materials as part of the education quality improvement programme, phase 2, Paqset II. Financed by the World Bank. Details on payment of TD 150 from Ministere de l'Education et de la Formation, Direction-Generale des Services Communs, Direction des Batiments et de l'Equipement, Boulevard Bab B'net, Tunis 1030, telephone (21671) 567451, fax (21671) 569735/569307. CD 15 December 2005
  • Tunisia reported to have blocked entry to campaigning journalist

    Tunis was said on 17 November to have denied entry to the head of media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders. Robert Menard said he had been prevented from leaving his aircraft seat by Tunisian officials after flying in from Paris to attend the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).The allegations follow criticism of the UN for its decision to hold the WSIS in Tunis, where the event was dogged by accusations of harassment of civil society groups and journalists b
  • Two groups compete for Persian LNG FEED

    Two groups of international contractors are competing for the front-end engineering and design (FEED) package on the Persian liquefied natural gas (LNG) project sponsored by the Royal Dutch/Shell Groupand Spain's Repsolin partnership with National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC). The two bidding groups are: Paris-based Technip, with Japan's Chiyoda Corporation; and Italy's Snamprogetti, with Germany's Linde, E
  • Two in for RAK seaport-airport road

    The Public Works & Housing Ministry received bids on 24 October from two firms for the contract to rehabilitate the road linking Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) airport with RAK seaport. RAK-based Hi Al-Nuaimi Electrical Engineering Consultancyhas submitted a low bid of AED 98 million ($27 million), followed by Emirates Road Contracting (ERC)at AED 154 million ($42 million). The contract calls for the upgrading of 23 kilometres of highway, four interchanges and associated landscapin
  • Two in for RAK seaport-airport road

    The Public Works & Housing Ministry received bids on 24 October from two firms for the contract to rehabilitate the road linking Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) airport with RAK seaport. RAK-based Hi Al-Nuaimi Electrical Engineering Consultancyhas submitted a low bid of AED 98 million ($27 million), followed by Emirates Road Contracting (ERC)at AED 154 million ($42 million). The contract calls for the upgrading of 23 kilometres of highway, four interchanges and associated landscapin
  • Two syndications out to market

    Two new financial institution syndications are in the pipeline. Al-Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporationhas mandated arrangers for its debut borrowing while syndication has been launched of a term loan facility for Mashreqbank.
  • UAE boosts oil production

    The UAE said on 22 November that it will expand crude oil production capacity by about 1 million barrels a day (b/d) by 2010, reported Gulf News. 'The UAE currently produces more than 2.5 million b/d and by the end of this year and early next year an additional 200,000 b/d will be added to the capacity,' said Energy Minister Mohammed bin Dhaen al-Hamli, during the launch of the World Energy Outlook 2005 by the International Energy Agency. 'Continued investments in upstream projects should e
  • UGB buys into BoB

    Bahrain-based United Gulf Bank(UGB), a subsidiary of KuwaitProjects Company (Kipco), and Iraq Holding Company (IHC), a fund established by Kuwait's Global Investment House, have completed the acquisition of a stake in Bank of Baghdad (BoB). The deal will raise the institution's capital to ID 53 million ($36 million) from ID 53,000 million ($3.6 million). UGB will hold a 39.1 per cent stake, IHC will take 9.9 per cent and e
  • UN ambassador says Mehlis is running out of time

    US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said on 18 November that the UN's investigation into the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri is running out of time. 'Days go by and we are getting close to the end of the probe's mandate on 15 December,' said Bolton. 'Each day that goes by makes it harder for UN chief investigator Detlev Mehlis and his colleagues to finish their work.'It would be difficult for Mehlis' team to 'give a definite recommendation' before the br
  • UN and Beirut disagree over Hezbollah

    The UN has blamed Beirut's failure to disarm Hezbollah for the recent violence on the Israeli-Lebanese border. The UN Security Council on 23 November voiced 'deep concern' over the violence it blamed Hezbollah for initiating. The council called on Beirut to fulfil its obligations under UN Security Council resolution 1559, which, as well as demanding the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, required Beirut to disarm Hezbollah.Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said it had been t
  • UN and medics condemn Israeli sonic booms

    A joint Israeli-Palestinian petition was filed on 3 November at the Israeli Supreme court seeking to end Israeli military jets breaking the sound barrier over Gaza. The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, who filed the petition, claimed 'the booms are collective punishment against the civilian population and thus illegal'. According to the head of the Gaza group, Eyad Sarraj, the booms cause anxiety, panic and fear among children and are responsibl
  • UN can quiz Asad relatives

    Damascus' ambassador to the UK said on 1 November that the inquiry into the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri could interview two relatives of President Asad. The inquiry never asked to interview the president's brother and head of the presidential guard, Maher Asad, or his brother-in-law, Asif Shawkat, who heads military intelligence, said Sami al-Khiyami. The two men were implicated in an early draft of the probe's report.Damascus criticised a UN resolut
  • UN inspects Iranian military complex

    Inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were given full access to Iran's Parchin military complex during a recent visit, the IAEA announced on 3 November. The inspectors checked US claims that tests related to the development of nuclear weapons have occurred there.Environmental samples were taken at the site and Iran submitted documents and granted interviews with senior officials regarding possible black market purchases of uranium enrichment techn
  • Under pressure Asad releases political prisoners

    Damascus released 190 political prisoners on 2 November, the state-run news agency Sana said. Among the most prominent of those released were human rights activists Mohammed Raadoun and Ali Abdullah, who had been in prison since May. The amnesty was presented as part of a comprehensive package which 'aims at consolidating national cohesiveness, which is fundamental to the social fabric and national interests' of Syria, said Sana. 'This move gains the government more popularity and consolida
  • Unicorn gallops on

    Bahrain-based Unicorn Investment Bank (UIB)has closed a $52.5 million fund to invest in real estate in Saudi Arabia. The recently formed bank is also planning to increase capital by means of a private placement and an initial public offering (IPO) during 2006.
  • Urbis signs up for UAQ masterplan

    Australia's UrbisJHDhas signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Umm al-Qaiwain (UAQ) to provide planning consultancy services to develop the emirate. Under the deal, Urbis will advise the authorities on upcoming projects, including the $3,300 million marina, being developed by Dubai-based Emaar Properties.
  • Urbis signs up for UAQ masterplan

    Australia's UrbisJHDhas signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Umm al-Qaiwain (UAQ) to provide planning consultancy services to develop the emirate. Under the deal, Urbis will advise the authorities on upcoming projects, including the $3,300 million marina, being developed by Dubai-based Emaar Properties.
  • US conditions calm market

    The weather continued to move oil prices downwards in the second week of November, as further fair weather in the US calmed traders. In a more broadly benign American environment, both stocks and refinery inputs also rose. However, the heated debate over responsibility for the widely predicted longer-term strength of prices continued, while data on OPEC output showed falling supplies. Spot Brent was trading at $57.66 a barrel on 9 November, compared with $59.13 a barrel a week earlier.
  • US confirms use of white phosphorous in Fallujah campaign

    Washington confirmed on 15 November that the US military used white phosphorous bombs in the offensive against Fallujah in 2004. 'It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants,' said a Pentagon spokesman in an interview with the BBC. However, Venable denied that it had been deployed against civilians. He also said white phosphorous was a 'conventional munition' and denied it constituted a banned chemical weapon.Venable's statement contradicted an earlier announ
  • US democratisation push meets resistance

    Washington's efforts to push democratic reform in the Middle East were unexpectedly bumped in mid-November when some of its key allies in the region refused to sign a US-backed accord guaranteeing increased freedom from government interference for non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
  • US envoy in Gaza warning

    International Middle East envoy James Wolfensohn warned on 14 November that Gaza risked becoming a giant prison if there was no deal on border crossings. After five months of negotiations between Wolfensohn - who represents the quartet of the EU, Russia, the US and the UN - and officials from both sides, there is still no deal on the Israel-Gaza border crossings or on the key Rafah crossing into Egypt, which has been closed since September. Wolfensohn was due to leave the region on November
  • US says they held a man with name of bomber; Jordan shows failed bomber

    The Pentagon said on 14 November that US forces briefly detained a man last year with the same name as one of the Amman suicide bombers.Safaa Mohammed Ali was one of three identified suicide bombers, but it is unclear whether he was the same man as was detained by US forces. The name is not uncommon in Iraq. 'We cannot confirm that the person we detained is the same person allegedly involved in the bombings,' said the US military command. The man was held for t
  • US tells Damascus to comply; Asad speech gets mixed reception in Beirut

    Washington demanded on 11 November that Damascus co-operate fully and without delay with the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.The US State Department echoed similar demands for immediate co-operation made by Paris and London following President Asad's speech on 10 November, in which he said Damascus would co-operate but would not sacrifice Syrian national interest to do so. Asad had blamed Lebanon as the source of anti-Syr
  • US troop withdrawal mooted

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice indicated on 22 November that plans for a troop withdrawal from Iraq were being considered and a start date may not be far away.'The President has said that as soon as Iraqi forces are ready, we want to see a reduction in our own forces, and I think those days are going to be coming fairly soon when Iraqis are going to be more capable of carrying out the functions to secure their own future,' Rice said.The number of coalit
  • Van Oord lands Palm Deira job

    Van Oord Gulfof the Netherlands has been awarded the $2,900 million dredging and reclamation contract for Palm Deira. Local property developer Nakheelis the client (MEED 20:5:05).
  • Van Oord lands Palm Deira job

    Van Oord Gulfof the Netherlands has been awarded the $2,900 million dredging and reclamation contract for Palm Deira. Local property developer Nakheelis the client (MEED 20:5:05).
  • VCBank CEO lays out plans

    The board of directors of the recently created Bahrain-based Venture Capital Bank (VCBank)has approved senior appointments to the management team, with Abdul-Latif Janahi named as chief executive officer (CEO). The bank was granted an Islamic banking licence by the Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA - central bank) in June (MEED 1:7:05).
  • Violence continues in West Bank

    The Israeli army killed three Palestinian militants in the early hours of 31 October near the West Bank town of Jenin. Israeli troops surrounded an Islamic Jihad hide-out in Qabatiya on 30 October, Palestinian security forces said. Two militants died in the subsequent gunfight and third was killed planting a bomb, the Israeli military said. One of the suicide bombers who killed five Israelis in Hadera on 26 October came from the town. The violence has dashed hopes of renewed calm after a we
  • Virgin prepares for regional take-off

    UK-based Virgin Airlinesis considering more flights to the region as it prepares to begin services to Dubai next March. 'We are currently in talks to start flights to Abu Dhabi, and we expect to start talks with Qatar soon,' Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Airlines, said at a press conference in Dubai on 16 November.
  • Vodafone subscriber numbers soar

    Subscriber numbers at Vodafone Egypt soared to a record 5.9 million at the end of the third quarter, a year-on-year increase of 85 per cent, the mobile operator has announced. In the same period, revenues rose by 39 per cent to £E 1,566 million ($273 million) compared with the first nine month in 2004. Net profits before legal provision climbed to £E 586 million ($102 million) in the first three quarter, up 37 per cent on September 2004. The mobile operator said that it expected capi
  • Voters go to the polls in parliamentary elections

    Egyptian voters went to the polls on 9 November in the first of three rounds of parliamentary elections. Voters in eight of Egypt's 26 governorates elected 180 members of the People's Assembly, with the remainder of the country to elect the remaining 264 MPs on 20 November and 1 December. Despite recent electoral reforms and more candidates than ever running - more than 5,000 for 444 seats - it was widely expected that the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of President M
  • Washington and London seek to extend forces mandate

    Washington and London issued a draft resolution at the UN on 2 November to allow US-led forces to remain in Iraq until the end of 2006. The draft document is expected to be approved by the end of November. It complies with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari's request that international troops stay until Iraqi forces are strong enough to provide security. Baghdad retains the right to terminate the mandate (
  • Washington critical of Damascus over human rights

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on 12 November called on Damascus to free Kamal Labwani and all other political detainees. Labwani, a politician opposed to the government, was arrested after returning from a trip to the US in November 2005. Earlier, President Bush demanded that Syria 'stop exporting violence and start importing democracy'. Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Farouq al-Shara said in reply that Washington had a 'hidden agenda'. Rice was speaking during a
  • Washington expresses concern over Saudi terrorist financing

    The US Treasury raised concerns on 8 November that Riyadh was doing too little to shut down financing sources for terrorist groups within the kingdom.Concern centred on whether account 98, a Saudi-based fund used to assist the Palestinian intifada, was now closed. Despite Saudi assurances, Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant secretary in the Treasury office dealing with terrorist financing, told senators that he could not confirm the fund no longer existed.US-Saudi
  • Washington slams maintenance record

    The US State Department has criticised the Ministry of Electricity for its failure to properly maintain the country's electricity grid. While acknowledging the ongoing insurgency, a report released at the end of October by the state department questioned the ministry's overall record. 'Electricity levels have been limited by poor operations and maintenance practices, which reduces the output of power plants by up to 30 percent,' said the report. Iraq's production levels stand at about 5,500 MW,
  • Waste management sell-off moves closer

    Consortiums bidding for the privatisation of the state's cleaning services and waste treatment facilities have started making presentations to the client, the Municipal Affairs & Agriculture Ministry. About eight groups have submitted bids for the 20-year contract, which involves taking over and operating existing infrastructure as well as building new waste treatment facilities.
  • WEC signs off Shouaiba PWPA

    The power and water purchase agreement (PWPA) on the Shouaiba phase 3 independent water and power project (IWPP) was signed in Riyadh on 15 November between Water & Electricity Company (WEC)and the selected local/Malaysian developer consortium of Acwapower, Malakoff Berhad, Khazanah Nasionaland Tenaga Nasional Berhad(MEED 14:10:05).
  • Work starts on cement plant

    Construction has started on a new AED 250 million ($68 million) cement plant owned by the local Nael & Bin Harmal Groupin Al-Ain's new industrial city. Phase 1 of the Nael cement project will begin operations in December 2006 with capacity of 2,000 tonnes a day (t/d). Phase 2, which will be completed in June 2006, will bring the total capacity up to 4,000 t/d. Bin Harmal Contracting, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Nael & Bin Harmal Group, is undertaking the infrastructu
  • WTO accession approved

    The working party of WTO members on 28 October approved Saudi Arabia's accession to the organisation, bringing to an end more than a decade of negotiations. The General Council will meet in mid-November to rubber stamp the decision, allowing Riyadh to attend the WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December as a full member.
  • Yemen LNG awards tank farm package

    A three-member group of Japan's TKK, South Korea's Daewoo Engineering & Construction Company and Dywidag International of Germany has been awarded the contract to build a tank farm serving the grassroots liquefied natural gas (LNG) project at Bal Haf. The client is Yemen LNG.
  • Zamil Steel wins pylon order

    The towers and galvanising business unit of the local Zamil Steelhas been awarded a 15-month subcontract, worth $20 million, to manufacture and supply 550 pylon towers for Saudi Services for Electro Mechanical Works Company (SSEM). The pylons, which have an average height of 65 metres, will be used to carry the 380-kV double-circuit overhead transmission line from Al-Fadhili to Al-Shamlul substations in the Eastern Province. SSEM was awarded the $197 million contract to b
  • Zayed city tendering under way

    An award is imminent for the piling, shoring excavation and dewatering contract for a residential complex at Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed City. The contract will be one of the first to be awarded under plans by the Department of Municipalities & Agriculture (DMA) to build a new city located on the Abu Dhabi-Al-Ain highway in August (MEED 12:8:05).
  • Zayed city tendering under way

    An award is imminent for the piling, shoring excavation and dewatering contract for a residential complex at Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed City. The contract will be one of the first to be awarded under plans by the Department of Municipalities & Agriculture (DMA) to build a new city located on the Abu Dhabi-Al-Ain highway in August (MEED 12:8:05).
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