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ALMARAI’S OPERATING PROFIT RISES 13.5% ON STRONG SALES (Saudi Arabia)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 20, 2009

January 19, 2009, 23:09

Reuters

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GULF NEWS’ (Dubai)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GULF NEWS’ (Dubai)

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Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DAIRY PRODUCTS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOOD PRODUCTION (human), INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, RECESSION, SAUDI ARABIA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

CAN OPEC USE OIL AS A WEAPON? – IN THE MID-70s, SHORTLY BEFORE PHYSICAL ELIMINATION FROM THE SCENE, THE LATE KING FAISAL OF SAUDI ARABIA HAD FOREWARNED HENRY KISSINGER, THE WHEELER-DEALER OF THE DAY, THAT IF AND WHEN PUSHED TO THE WALL, ‘WE WOULD PUT OUR (OIL) WELLS TO FIRE AND RETURN TO THE TENTS’

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 11, 2009

Sunday, 11 Jan, 2009 – 12:59 PM PST

by Syed Rashid Husain

PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, OPEC, PETROL, RECESSION, REFINERIES - PETROL/BIOFUELS, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, SAUDI ARABIA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

SOMALIA, THAILAND, & SAUDI AMONG DFA FLASH POINTS IN 2008 – The year 2008 has been a challenging one for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as it saw a series of pirate attacks on merchant ships in Somalia, the repatriation of stranded Filipinos in Thailand, the beheading of a Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia, and the mass deportation of Filipinos in Malaysia

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 3, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

by Charissa M. Luci

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MANILA BULLETIN’ (Philippines)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MANILA BULLETIN’ (Philippines)

Posted in CARGO PIRACY, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, MALAYSIA, MIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION, SAUDI ARABIA, SOMALIA, THAILAND, THE UNITED NATIONS, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT | Leave a Comment »

IRANIAN PRESIDENT TAKES A SHOT AT THE WEST IN A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE – MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IN A VIDEO FOR CHANNEL 4’S ‘ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE,’ OFFERS WARM GREETINGS BUT SAYS THE WEST’S BULLYING LEADERS AND THEIR POLICIES WOULD BE SHUNNED BY JESUS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

December 25, 2008

by Borzou Daragahi

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE L.A. TIMES’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE L.A. TIMES’ (USA)

Posted in AUSTRALIA, BELGIUM, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, ENGLAND, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FRANCE, GERMANY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, ISRAEL, ITALY, NORWAY, PETROL, RECESSION, SAUDI ARABIA, SPAIN, THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), USA | Leave a Comment »

GRIM OUTLOOK FOR RICH NATIONS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 – 23:44 Mecca time, 20:44 GMT

AlJazeera

PUBLISHED BY ‘ALJAZEERA’ (Qatar)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘ALJAZEERA’ (Qatar)

Posted in AUSTRALIA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BELGIUM, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FRANCE, GERMANY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INTERNATIONAL, ITALY, MACROECONOMY, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, SAUDI ARABIA, SPAIN, STOCK MARKETS, THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, UNITED KINGDOM, USA | Leave a Comment »

HOW THE SKY GREW DARK IN 2008 (Saudi Arabia)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

Tuesday 23 December 2008 – 25 Dhul Hijjah 1429

by Bruce Anderson – The Independent

PUBLISHED BY ‘ARAB NEWS’ (Saudi Arabia)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘ARAB NEWS’ (Saudi Arabia)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SCAMS, FRAUD, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, SAUDI ARABIA | Leave a Comment »

SAN MIGUEL EYES 60% OF LIBERTY TELECOM (Philippines)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 16, 2008

04:08:00 12/13/2008

by Elizabeth Sanchez-Lacson – With editing by INQUIRER.net – Philippine Daily Inquirer

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INQUIRER’ (Philippines)

Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp. is negotiating to acquire up to 60 percent of publicly listed Liberty Telecom Holdings Inc., San Miguel vice chairman and president Ramon Ang confirmed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Ang declined to disclose the status of the negotiations. He said San Miguel was prepared to comply with the tender offer rule, which requires an investor to offer to buy out minority shareholders if it buys at least 35 percent of a publicly held company.

Ang said the “very good frequency” in the congressional franchise of Liberty Telecom’s subsidiary was what attracted San Miguel to offer to acquire the firm.

Another favorable factor is that Liberty Telecom is partnering with Qatar Telecom (Qtel), the exclusive telecommunications service provider in Qatar, Ang added.

Liberty Telecom recently said it was increasing its authorized capital stock by P4.8 billion by issuing preferred shares.

It also said its board had approved the issuance of preferred shares to wi-Tribe Ltd. and White Dawn Solution Holdings Inc. as part of a plan to convert the two firms’ loans into equity. The preferred shares will be priced at P1.50 each.

wi-Tribe is a joint venture between Qtel and A.A. Tukri Group of Companies (Atco) of Saudi Arabia. Qtel has a 78-percent stake in the venture.

Liberty Telecom was incorporated on Jan. 14, 1994, primarily to engage in real and personal property business and to deal in stocks, bonds and other securities. It is the holding company of Liberty Broadcasting Network Inc. and Skyphone Logistics Inc.

Liberty Broadcasting has a congressional franchise, approved in 1956 and is valid until 2014, to operate radio broadcasting stations and television stations for international and domestic communications. Skyphone Logistics is the marketing and distribution partner of Liberty Broadcasting.

In April 2005, the management of Liberty decided to suspend its business operations due to lack of capital required to operate and grow the business. Four months later, Liberty filed before the Makati Regional Trial Court a petition for corporate rehabilitation as part of the company’s plan to continue normal operations. The court issued a stay order on all the company’s outstanding liabilities as of Aug. 15, 2005, effectively preventing creditors from foreclosing on its assets.

San Miguel recently initiated talks with Qtel on a possible joint venture partnership that will take advantage of opportunities in the wireless broadband, mobile and mobile broadband businesses in the Philippines.

San Miguel has been aggressively expanding, acquiring the stake of state-run pension fund Government Service Insurance System in power retailer Manila Electric Co. and agreeing to buy a 51-percent interest in oil refiner and retailer Petron Corp. from British investment fund Ashmore group.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INQUIRER’ (Philippines)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMUNICATION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ELECTRIC / ELECTRONIC INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, PHILIPPINES, QATAR, RECESSION, SAUDI ARABIA, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

U.S. ARMS SALES UNDERMINE HUMAN RIGHTS, GROUP SAYS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Dec. 10, 2008, 1:31PM

by Barry Schweid – Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. arms trade is booming — sales reached $32 billion last year — and more than half of the purchasers in the developing world are either undemocratic governments or regimes that engaged in human rights abuses, a private think tank reported today.

Timed to the 60th anniversary of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the report by the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan policy institute, named 13 of the top 25 arms purchasers in the developing world as either undemocratic or engaged in major human rights abuses.

The 13 listed in the report were Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Colombia, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Yemen and Tunisia.

Sales to these countries totaled more than $16.2 billion over 2006 and 2007.

The total “contrasts sharply with the Bush administration’s pro-democracy rhetoric,” the report said.

Also, the report said that 20 of the 27 nations engaged in major armed conflicts were receiving weapons and training from the United States.

“U.S. arms transfers are undermining human rights, weakening democracy and fueling conflict around the world,” the report said.

William D. Hartung, the lead author of the report, said, “The United States cannot demand respect for human rights and arm human rights abusers at the same time.”

U.S. arms sales grew to $32 billion in 2007, more than three times the level when President Bush took office in 2001, the report said.

The United States is the world’s largest arms supplier. U.S. exports range from combat aircraft to Pakistan, Morocco, Greece, Romania and Chile to small arms and light weapons to the Philippines, Egypt and Georgia.

In 2006 and 2007, the United States sold weapons to more than 174 states and territories.At the beginning of the Bush administration there were 123 arms clients, the report said.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

Posted in BAHRAIN, BANKING SYSTEMS, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, CHILE, COLOMBIA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FORMOSA - TAIWAN, GEORGIA, GREECE, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAQ, ISLAMIC BANKS, ISRAEL, JORDAN, KUWAIT, MILITARY CONTRACTS, MOROCCO, OMAN, PAKISTAN, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, ROMANIA, SAUDI ARABIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE LEBANESE CIVIL STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, YEMEN | Leave a Comment »

SAUDI ARABIA’S OIL EQUATION – OPEC has a math problem

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

by Liam Denning – THE WALL STREET JOURNAL via Dow Jones Newswires

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE RIGZONE’

When demand for oil is rising, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries take extra portions from the expanding output quota pie. But when it falls, as now, they are supposed to share the pain of lower production even as oil prices are declining, a double blow to cash flows.

As the organization’s biggest member, much of the burden of managing all this rests on Saudi Arabia.

Yet it also must consider its customers and long-term demand.

This largely explains OPEC’s recent decision to put off further output cuts, even as crude prices continued sliding. It also is why oil bulls can expect little relief from Riyadh next year.

Saudi Arabia’s current output quota is 8.5 million barrels a day. After domestic use, that leaves seven million barrels for daily export. Ahmad Abdallah, commodity analyst at financial-services firm GaveKal, points out that Saudi Arabia’s 2008 budget was set at $109 billion. With oil exports accounting for just under 90% of public revenues, that equates to an oil price of $38 a barrel to balance the budget. The OPEC basket price has averaged $98.50 a barrel this year.

Nymex crude-oil futures, having dropped 17% in the past week alone, now command just $42. The OPEC basket price typically trades at a discount of $5 to $10. Were Nymex crude to average $40 next year, and OPEC crude $35, Saudi Arabia’s 2009 oil-export earnings could drop to $89 billion.

The problem is, that price forecast may require OPEC to cut perhaps another 2 million barrels a day. If Saudi Arabia contributed half of this, its implied export earnings drop to $77 billion, opening up a big deficit.

Fortunately for Saudi Arabia, it has stashed a cushion of petrodollars to manage this. It also has other factors to consider.

Beijing’s decision announced Friday to link domestic fuel prices more closely to international markets is particularly alarming. Subsidies have boosted Chinese demand. Reforming them suggests China, the fastest-growing oil consumer, is getting serious on energy efficiency just as America, the biggest oil consumer, has elected a president pushing the same agenda.

Saudi Arabia needs to keep the world addicted to oil as long as possible, so giving it a breather with lower oil prices isn’t a bad thing. As a bonus, this also will challenge Iran and Russia, both of which need much higher oil prices to balance swollen budgets.

So Saudi Arabia has a near term chance to squeeze its biggest regional rival and its main non-OPEC competitor.

Other OPEC members won’t take this lying down. Many will likely prefer to bust quotas, pressuring prices further.

For oil bulls, 2009 promises to be as easy as Chinese algebra.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE RIGZONE’

Posted in CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, MACROECONOMY, PETROL, RECESSION, SAUDI ARABIA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

ECONOMIC WOES: ISLAM’S ANSWER (Saudi Arabia)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

9 December 2008 Editorial

PUBLISHED BY ‘ARAB NEWS’ (Saudi Arabia)

Major new ideas or radical change tend not to happen in normal times when systems are running smoothly and people are generally content. It is in times of crisis that great change is usually triggered. We are in a time of crisis. Hardly a day passes without new tidings of financial disaster. The latest grim news is from the German insurance industry that predicts that 200,000 businesses will go bust in Europe and 62,000 in the US next year — which suggests that 2009 will not see the start of an economic recovery. Perhaps, given that we live in such “interesting” economic times, it is not so surprising then that on the same day the German report was published came the suggestion, from Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, that Muslim countries form an economic bloc.

The grand mufti’s comments, made in his address to the nearly three million pilgrims assembled at Mount Arafat for what is the spiritual climax of the annual Haj, has been picked up by the media across the world as if his sermon was political and economic. It was not. The main theme was a call to Muslims to show the world “the bright face of Islam”, to demonstrate forgiveness, love and peace and to shun extremism which can lead to terrorism.

It is far from the first time that the grand mufti has made such calls. What was new, however — and it clearly explains the sudden global interest — is his accompanying comments on the world’s present economic woes, the charge being that they have been brought about by human greed. Specifically it is the use of interest as the foundation of international finance that is to blame. From there has come the proposition that Muslim countries should reject interest, adopt Shariah-compliant economics and unite to form what could become, as he put it, a “formidable economic power”.

The grand mufti is not alone in taking a moral approach to the crisis; other religious leaders around the world have also blamed it on human greed. Nor is the idea of an Islamic economic union new. Calls for one regularly surface. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is a keen supporter of the idea. But the ideas are timely. The remarkable growth in Islamic banking in recent years was because an increasing number of concerned Muslims with financial muscle could see that many aspects of international banking and finance were inimical to Islamic law. They demanded an alternative. But, growing though they are, Shariah-compliant economics has remained the minority system. The Western economic order dominates — across the Muslim world too. The big difference now, however, is that that old order is seen to have demonstrably failed. In these uncertain times, governments and states are looking for ways to stimulate fresh economic growth. In Muslim countries, it is bound to result in renewed interest in Islamic finance and in an economic union. Given the present circumstances, perhaps such a bloc is an idea whose time has come. Certainly it deserves serious consideration. Of course, it would not be a good thing for the world to be divided into potentially competing blocs. That would be dangerous. Large, collaborating blocs, however, are a different matter. Not that an Islamic economic union could happen overnight. It would have to begin small and grow — the European Union’s path to its present existence. How it might come about is one thing; enthusiasm for it is another. In the present climate, it would indeed be remarkable if support for the notion does not grow.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘ARAB NEWS’ (Saudi Arabia)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAM, ISLAMIC BANKS, ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK, MACROECONOMY, PAKISTAN, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, SAUDI ARABIA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE, HYPOCRISY AND PRIVATE LIVES (Lebanon)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Talal Nizameddin wrote this article for THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon)

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

First person by Talal Nizameddin

I am suffering from a total state of agnosia. Is this the same Michel Aoun who angrily vowed that he would break the head of the Syrian regime? Is this the same Syrian regime that pacified the Lebanese Army soldiers fighting under Aoun’s command and waged a ruthless campaign for 15 years to marginalize the idealistic Free Patriotic Movement supporters? At least I am almost sure that I haven’t been afflicted by amnesia. I remember when the Lebanese felt the thrill of defiance when they beeped their car horns driving through the Nahr al-Kalb tunnel leading to Jounieh from Beirut.

Letting bygones be bygones and forgiveness is a treasured feature of human nature and being an optimist, I say whatever breaks the ice and allows people to move on from a painful past should be welcomed with open hearts. But the process of forgiveness is a long and arduous one. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam it must begin with honesty, leading to confession and then as a final step absolution becomes meaningful. On a human level, in a one-to-one conflict, a discussion must take place that expresses the pain of each side so that there is an understanding of the hopes and fears of the other side before saying sorry reaches a level beyond words and touches the human within us.

It is said that since the end of the Cold War we have been living in the age of the clash of civilizations and the dialogue of faiths. In the Western and pro-Israeli media, Islam is the culprit, with the image of bloodthirsty mad Muslims rampaging through Mumbai killing randomly all those around them the latest episode of terror that does nothing to the great religion they claim to be fighting for. Among Arabs and Muslims it is the Jews who have manipulated the Holocaust tragedy to inflict suffering on Palestinians and Arabs. The Christian West is also blamed for a low-burning decadence that over time has led to the collapse of the world financial markets due to greed and the neglect of the poverty and misery of the so-called Third World.

What is strikingly noticeable about Aoun’s visit is the tour of the historic churches of Syria. The message clearly states that Christianity is safe from the harm of Muslim fanatics in secular Syria. But the manipulation of the clash of civilizations idea has been even better fine-tuned because there is now a distinction between Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam that has been dispersed in our media outlets like a wave of cluster bombs. Thus we have inter and intra-civilization clashes if we are to believe our political experts and TV commentators. Aoun and his supporters have played further on Lebanese Christian emotions, maliciously highlighting the difference between the Shiites, true Lebanese patriots who are fighting Israeli occupation and the Sunnis, bad people who are paid by the Saudis to turn Lebanon into a Wahhabi extension. Even by local standards Lebanese politics has descended to a truly low level.

In fact, the Saudi monarch courageously endorsed a United Nations gathering to promote dialogue among the world’s great religions despite criticisms from no other than Aoun and his comrades in March 8. Despite the good intentions, the Saudis may however be wasting their time. By entering into such discussions the world risks mirroring the same Lebanese facade that religious belief somehow lies at the source of conflict. It evades the powerful economic explanations and the fact that there is a huge gap in wealth between states and between individuals in the world we live in. It also, and just as importantly, diverts attention from the lack of representation, the lack of personal freedoms and the lack of human rights most people in the world endure on a daily basis. Blatant injustice, economic and political, creates extremism and not religions.

The West should not feel too self-satisfied about its state when there are calls for more social justice and greater freedoms. In Britain, as an example of an advanced European country, the state has been shown to fail time and time again in protecting children with one in four children according to a recent study suffering from sexual abuse. Crime is rampant and ethics are barely visible in the business and political realms. As in the United States, a philosophy of “grabbing hands grab what they can” has reigned for decades. Support for oppressive regimes, particularly here in the Middle East, is justified in the name of good diplomacy but the arming of parties fuelling regional conflicts is also considered good business sense.

If most sensible people agree that finding a solution to the Palestinian problem, which has nothing to do with religion, will make the Middle East and the world a better place, why on earth has it been so difficult for the world’s only superpower to convince Israel to accept a neighboring viable Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza? If the United States is truly a democracy, then I must concur with the people I despise the most, the religious fanatics, that blaming the elected leader of the United States is futile because the American people must shoulder their moral responsibility to force their government into a strategic change in their approach. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a political problem with a human dimension. It is simply about national self-determination and not religious fanaticism or civilizational clashes. Palestinians and Jews belong to the same religious family chart, whether they like to admit or not although undoubtedly their historic experiences have diverged.

Nowhere has the mythology of sectarian and religious warfare been more prevalent than in Lebanon. I am still surprised how many Western observers take for granted the cliches about Muslim-Christian divisions characterizing Lebanese society. In reality, Lebanon is more of a clan-based system, with chiefs of clans or communities often but not necessary being defined by their religious beliefs. It just so happens that the sect is an important form of self-identification that is manipulated for conflicts, whether it is over land or political power. That is why within Lebanese sects there are often more than one chief. Take the Maronites as an example of multiple chiefs or zaims, Suleiman Franjieh, Samir Geagea, Michel Aoun, Amin Gemayel and Dori Chamoun all godfathering their own loyal communities. Even the ideological Hizbullah recognizes the need to respect the independence of the unruly clans of Baalbek in return for acknowledgement.

In Lebanon inter-communal relations and divisions are far more complex than simple religious divides. The downside of this system is that the individual is forced into belonging into a clan, because the collective of clans are far more powerful than the formal state. Only the community can protect the individual. In Lebanon, individuals do not have private lives, as is the case in the West, because they are the property of the family, the village, the community. The pattern is the same among all of Lebanese sects. But then again, free from the regional political conflicts, the interference from outside and the flaws in the internal political system, why should we accept that the community is a lesser entity than the state in its value?

Some Western political theorists have even called for a return to communalism as a result of the social failures of the modern state. The Lebanese model offers the opportunity of creating a political system that safeguards communities and also protects the rights of individuals living within them because the hypocritical and simply false pretense of a unified centralized state has been unworkable and shows no signs of succeeding. The Lebanese want their personal liberty, social justice and their community at one and the same time. It is no easy task but where there is a will there is a way and Lebanon could present the world with an example to be emulated around the world. Lebanon’s greatness and loyalty from its citizens could be reinforced by the historic achievement of harmonious and fraternal communal cohabitation. The first step is liberation from the old slogans and working for the common good without playing on communal fears to achieve personal ambitions. When a zaim such as Aoun tours with an open heart the various neighborhoods of Beirut rather than the churches of Syria we would have began reaching the final step toward that sacred goal.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in AL QAEDA, CHRISTIANISM, EUROPE, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAM, JUDAISM, LEBANON, PALESTINE, RELIGIONS, SAUDI ARABIA, SYRIA, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE LEBANESE CIVIL STRUGGLE, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED KINGDOM, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

SHARING THE RESPONSABILITY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

DECEMBER 3-8, 2008

by Michael Levitin

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ – Print Edition – (USA)

He was Chief of Staff to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the leading voice behind 'A BIGGER BREAK' - Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the crisis forced the U.S. to leave behind its traditions - Photo by Hans-Christian Plambeck (Laif-Redux)Germany’s refusal to fight in Iraq. Now German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is the Social Democratic Party candidate for chancellor in next year’s elections, running against the popular Christian Democrat incumbent, Angela Merkel. In his first major interview with the U.S. press, Steinmeier sat down with NEWSWEEK’s Michael Levitin to discuss German troop engagements in Afghanistan, Russia’s recent aggression, the global financial crisis and how Germany might work alongside the United States. Excerpts:

LEVITIN: The day after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to install missiles in Kaliningrad if Washington did not “rethink” its deployment of a NATO missile shield in Eastern Europe. Did Moscow’s latest show of aggression shift the dynamic between Russia and Europe? How should you respond- and what should Europe’s response be?

STEINMEIER: Medvedevs announcement the day after the elections was clearly the wrong signal at the wrong time. We have no illusions about Russia. In the last few years it has often proved itself a difficult partner. The question remains how to deal with this huge country in Europe’s immediate neighborhood; having to choose between containment versus engagement, I advocate the latter. We must try to develop relations with Russia that go beyond economic interests and contribute to increased stability and security. After all, it is in our own interest to make sure that a Russia that is looking for its own identity is politically and culturally anchored in die West.

LEVITIN: Do you see Germany as a middleman, acting as a buffer between Russia and the rest of Europe-perhaps at the moment even Russia’s closest EU ally?

STEINMEIER: Russia is aware of our uniquely close relationship with the United States. We are firmly embedded in NATO and the EU and thus we don’t aspire to play the role of a middleman. Together with our European partners we showed a strong and outspoken response to Russia’s role in the conflict in Georgia. I think Europe’s united voice no doubt contributed to the military conflict ending. Now the stabilization of the region as a whole has to continue, and for genuine stability we need Russian cooperation. As for energy links between the EU and Russia, the answer depends on which European country you talk to. But in general, Russia depends as much on Europe and America buying its goods as we rely on Russia supplying us with natural gas and oil. As far as Germany is concerned, it is little known in the United States that we have worked successfully for decades to diversify our suppliers of various forms of energy and fuels, with Russia but also Norway and Africa being important suppliers.

LEVITIN: You mentioned the conflict In Georgia. Should that country and Ukraine be Invited to Join NATO?

STEINMEIER: This is not a simple yes-or-no decision. With national elections looming, the domestic situation in Ukraine has changed, as has the situation in the Caucasus since the conflict broke out this summer. Yes, we remain committed to supporting and assisting these countries on the road ahead. But concerning the Membership Action Plan, Germany and other European governments continue to stand by their position.

LEVITIN: The most urgent U.S. foreign-policy question involving Germany, which Obama raised many times during his campaign, is Afghanistan and whether Germany will contribute more troops there to stabilize the south. How much is your country willing to sacrifice for this partnership, putting its soldiers into harm’s way?

STEINMEIER: I have spoken to Barack Obama twice, and from these exchanges I know that he sees Afghanistan in a very nuanced way. I feel we see eye to eye in our assessment that we’re facing a very difficult security situation, but that military means alone cannot bring about the necessary changes. Our approach has to be a comprehensive one, and contrary to what some people may say, Germany has played its part.

LEVITIN: In the north, certainly. But It’s in the south where the greatest violence has taken place, and where Obama’s asking for greater German participation.

STEINMEIER: We have shouldered our share of the military responsibility and we have also enlarged our engagement. We are about to increase our troops by 30 percent, to 4,500. We are participating in aerial surveillance across the whole of Afghanistan, including the south, and German radio engineers are also stationed in Kandahar. The German Air Force runs flights for all NATO countries throughout Afghanistan, again including the south. We took over the lead of the Quick Reaction Force in the north. And let us not forget that circumstances there have also changed; the north, too, has seen its share of armed opposition activities increasing in the last month. But our engagement in Afghanistan is about much more than military action. We have always said that we will only be successful if we succeed in helping rebuild the country and its economy. Civil reconstruction is the second important pillar of our engagement on the ground, and we’ll continue to increase our contribution in this area next year.

LEVITIN: Given the turmoil in Pakistan, what do you think the next steps forward ought to be?

STEINMEIER: The security of the whole region strongly depends on Pakistan. If we want to combat terrorism in Afghanistan, we have to succeed in stabilizing Pakistan politically and economically. This calls for a strengthened Pakistani commitment to combat terrorism, but it also calls for international assistance for this country. It needs a substantial loan from the IMF. We also need to be ready to help stabilize the country in a lasting way.

LEVITIN: On Iran, what realistic hopes do you see of bringing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the table and persuading him to give up Tehran’s nuclear ambitions? And how far will you be willing to push?

STEINMEIER: No doubt there is hope in the international community that after 29 years of standstill, a new approach may be possible. We all remember the reasons for the break-off of relations between the U.S. and Iran. Since then, U.S.-Iranian relations have also been a story of missed opportunities: when Washington signaled openness, Tehran wasn’t willing or able to respond in kind, and vice versa. I think it would be worthwhile trying to have direct talks, but the Iranians have to know it is up to them to prove they do not aspire to nuclear weapons-and that they’re willing to play a constructive role in the region. I have to admit I am skeptical, and can only express my hope that the leaders in Iran seize this opportunity.

LEVITIN: Turning to the financial crisis, the banks got a bailout. Now the automobile manufacturers are seeking the same thing. How do you see EU countries regaining their competition policy-and their legitimacy-after this?

STEINMEIER: I believe the politicians would have lost their legitimacy if they hadn’t acted. What we’re facing here is the very visible failure of the market. We had to make sure that the crisis in the financial markets does not lead to a total breakdown of the financial system as a whole. On both sides of the Atlantic, unconventional means were applied to manage the crisis. Honestly speaking, many of the measures taken in the U.S. seemed a bigger break with American tradition than can be said about European measures.

LEVITIN: How important is it that developing countries play a greater decision-making role In the future? For example, we saw hints of the G8 expanding into a G20 several weeks ago in Washington.

STEINMEIER: What is the most fundamental challenge the world is facing today? To my mind, it consists of integrating the emerging powers of the 21st century into a system of shared global responsibility. I am talk ing about countries like China and India, but also Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia. Can any of the global challenges we face be tackled without them? I don’t think so. That is why we have to make them stakeholders, and in that respect the recent financial summit in Washington was historic. To me it is obvious we cannot stop there.

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SAUDI ARABIA’S KING WANTS US OVER A $75-PLUS BARREL

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 2, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008 – Added 1d 22h ago

by Associated Press PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BOSTON HERALD’ (USA)

CAIRO, Egypt – Saudi Arabia’s king says the price of oil should be $75 a barrel, much higher than it is now, but his oil minister Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, left, attends a meeting with King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud at the king´s hunting lodge in Saudi Arabia to discuss current issues in the Middle East Jan. 17, 2007
indicated yesterday that no measures will likely be taken until OPEC meets again next month.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi said that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will “do what needs to be done” to shore up falling oil prices when the group meets Dec. 17 in Algeria, but for now it was “too early.”

Other ministers at the hastily convened OPEC meeting in Cairo did not entirely rule out production cuts, including Libyan oil official Shokri Ghanem, who, ahead of the meeting, said “all options are open.”

But Naimi, whose country is the world’s largest oil producer, said the bloc needs to wait until the Algeria meeting to assess the impact of earlier production cuts.

Naimi’s comments came after Saudi King Abdullah told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah in an interview published Saturday that oil should be priced at $75 a barrel.

“We believe the fair price for oil is $75 a barrel,” he said, without explaining how the price could be raised.

The price of crude stood at about $147 a barrel in mid-July.

On Friday, the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery was trading at about $54 per barrel.

© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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LET’S GO BOYS … WE’VE GOT A LONG HAUL AHEAD …

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 26, 2008

Wednesday 26 November 2008 (29 Dhul Qa`dah 1429)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘ARAB NEWS’ (Saudi Arabia)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, INTERNATIONAL HUMOR, SAUDI ARABIA, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA | Leave a Comment »

INVESTOR LAWSUIT CLOSES KUWAITI BOURSE, GULF MARKETS PUMMELED

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 15, 2008

Published: November 14, 2008

by Sana Abdallah (Middle East Times, with agency dispatches)

AMMAN – The global financial crisis continued to pummel the oil-rich Arab Gulf markets this week, Panic-stricken Kuwaiti traders have been demanding a halt to trading for weeks, demonstrating outside the stock market (Kuwait's bourse shown here) and the Kuwaiti parliament, and seeking the emir's intervention - Sipa Press via Newscomprompting an unprecedented and controversial court order that closed down the Kuwaiti bourse after an investor sued government and finance officials for compensation for his heavy losses.

The seven markets of the Gulf states closed on Thursday, the last day of the trading week in most of these countries, with a total loss in excess of $100 billion in share values in just one week, to about $650 billion, or 42 percent down from $1.116 trillion last year.

The administrative court in Kuwait on Thursday morning ordered the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) to shut down until Nov. 17 in an attempt to curb the hemorrhaging of the market, which has seen a $100 billion loss, or 44 percent, since June 24.

The court justified its ruling, the first of its kind in the Gulf, as an intervention on behalf of investors, it said, after the market’s management failed to take measures to boost the declining bourse.

The court said it would convene again on Nov. 17 to continue looking into the case, in reference to a lawsuit filed on behalf of an investor seeking compensation for his heavy losses incurred at the Kuwait market. He filed the lawsuit against the prime minister, the commerce minister, who heads the bourse committee, and the director general of the KSE.

The bourse abided by the verdict and stopped trading as soon as it received the order, drawing cheers from investors gathered on the trading floor, but warnings from the government and lawmakers that shutting down the market was more detrimental to investors.

The unusual verdict came as a relief to panic-stricken traders who have been in recent weeks demanding a halt to trading, demonstrating outside the market and the Kuwaiti parliament, and sought the emir’s intervention.

The government has tried, but failed, to deflect the domino effect of the international financial crunch and curb the meltdown at home.

The central bank injected billions of dollars into banks last month after the near-collapse of the Gulf Bank, Kuwait’s fourth-largest lender. Parliament passed a bill to guarantee deposits at national and foreign banks. The emirate’s Investment Authority, Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund with foreign investments of $300 billion, pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into buying stocks.

The government is still working out a rescue plan, but Kuwait became the first Gulf state to announce it would set up a fund to buy assets from investment firms.

Some Kuwaiti financial analysts said while suspending trade in the KSE was unorthodox, there was no other choice at this point when there are desperate sellers and no one wants to buy shares until they drop far enough.

But some Kuwaiti politicians saw the court order as setting a bad precedent that further weakens confidence in the stock market.

All other Gulf bourses have also taken a strong beating from the international financial fallout, and this week was no exception, owing to panic over the proliferation of the global crisis and ensuing plunge in oil prices.

Although the governments of the world’s other oil-rich nations have announced measures to prop up their respective markets and financial systems, they have not yet found the need for a bailout or to resort to the drastic measure of suspending trade, as in Kuwait.

The Dubai Financial Market dropped to its lowest point in more than four years on Thursday, down 4.9 percent in the day’s trading, and 24.7 percent over the week in its worst losses ever. Its share values fell 56 percent in the past three months, and 64.5 percent on the year.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange index slumped 16.8 percent over the week, and 45 percent since June.

The financial markets in Qatar, Oman and Bahrain also had their share of heavy losses during the week.

The largest Arab market, Tadawul in Saudi Arabia, closed its week on Wednesday with a 10 percent drop, with its index down 44 percent since June.

Analysts predicted the financial downward spiral in the region will continue as huge losses in the United States, Europe and Asia plunge the world’s economies into recession.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘MIDDLE EAST TIMES’ (Egypt)

Posted in CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INTERNATIONAL, KUWAIT, QATAR, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, SAUDI ARABIA, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

OIL UP OVER 4 PCT, TOPS $64 ON CHINA STIMULUS, G20

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 10, 2008

by Fayen Wong – Reuters – (Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Published: Sunday, November 09, 2008

PERTH (Reuters) – Oil leapt more than $3 to over $64 a barrel on Monday, fueled by top exporter Saudi An oil pump is seen on the shore near Santa Cruz del Norte, Cuba June 5, 2008. REUTERS - Claudia DautArabia’s plans to cut December supplies to Asia, a weaker dollar and hopes that global economies’ plans to lift growth could avert recession.

Saudi Arabia has told refiners in Asia it would cut December supplies by 5 percent, providing the most visible evidence yet that it is adhering to OPEC’s agreement last month to reduce output.

U.S. light crude for December delivery rose $2.96, or 4.55 percent, to $64.00 a barrel by 7:59 p.m. EST, after rising as much as $3.26. London Brent crude rose $1.85 to $59.20.

The proposals made at the G20 meeting and the relief package out of China really helped the markets this morning,” said Mark Pervan, a senior commodities analyst at the Australia & New Zealand Bank.

“The message over the weekend was supportive and it is clear that governments around the world will do all it takes to prevent a deep global recession.”

At the G20 group’s annual meet in Brazil, finance ministers and central bank governors representing 90 percent of the world’s economy vowed to take all necessary measures to get financial markets back on their feet and counter the credit crisis.

China went a step further and launched a huge stimulus plan on Sunday worth nearly $600 billion, kicking off what could be a round of big spending or interest rate cuts by leading economies to stave off a recession in many countries.

China’s solid government spending package to boost domestic demand is “good news” that will help the global economy ride out the financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director said.

The U.S. currency weakened broadly after data on Friday showed the U.S. economy shed more jobs than expected in October. But the yen fell against the dollar and euro on Monday as Asian shares were lifted by strong Wall Street gains and by China’s launch of its huge stimulus plan.

Oil lost nearly 10 percent last week and dipped below $60 the previous week, its lowest since March 2007, after a string of dismal economic data from the United States sharpened fears of a protracted global recession and growing U.S. energy stockpiles underscored falling demand in the world’s top energy consumer.

Government data on Friday showed U.S. employers cut payrolls by 240,000 in October. In addition, the Labor Department said the U.S. unemployment rate shot up to 6.5 percent from 6.1 percent in September, the highest since March 1994.

Oil’s tumble from July highs has already spurred OPEC to rein in supply from November 1, and some members of the cartel are talking of reducing production further.

OPEC will cut oil output again if the trend toward lower prices and slowing demand growth are unchanged when the group meets in December, Iran’s OPEC Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi told Reuters on Sunday, adding to comments by Venezuela’s oil minister Rafael Ramirez last week that OPEC should act again to reduce output by at least 1 million barrels per day (bpd).

Iran’s Khatibi added that the credit crisis and economic slowdown could shave as much as 3 million bpd from global crude demand.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘OTTAWA CITIZEN’ (Canada)

Posted in ASIA, CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DOLLAR (USA), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, G20, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, IRAN, OPEC, PETROL, SAUDI ARABIA, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA | Leave a Comment »

SAUDI MARKET JUMPS 6% AT WEEK’S START

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 2, 2008

First Published 2008-11-01 – Updated 2008-11-01 13:38:31

Saudi stock market shows gains in all sectors, with 9.06 percent surge in petrochemicals.

RIYADH – The stock market in oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia, the largest in the Arab world, rose by six A crowd of mostly stock traders gathers at the Kuwait Stock Exchange on Monday, Aug. 21, 2000 in Kuwait City one day after the government announced the approval by Kuwait's cabinet of regulations necessary to implement a bill allowing foreigers to own stock and trade at the local stock market - AP Photos - Gustavo Ferraripercent on the first day of the trading week on Saturday, with all sectors, but chiefly the leading petrochemicals sector, showing gains.

The Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI) closed on 5,871.24 points, up 6.02 percent on last week’s close on Wednesday.

All sectors were up, with petrochemicals surging 9.06 percent gain as petrochemicals giant SABIC finished the day 9.85 percent up.

The construction sector also climbed by more than nine percent while the banking sector registered a more modest gain of 3.72 percent.

The Saudi stock market trades from Saturday to Wednesday, while other bourses in oil-rich Arab countries in the Gulf operate from Sunday to Thursday.

The TASI finished last week down 10.1 percent and shed a massive 25.8 percent in October amid the global financial turmoil. The index is 46.81 percent lower than at the end of last year.

The Saudi bourse’s gains on Saturday came a day after US and European share markets ended their week with solid gains at the end of a month of wild volatility and losses amid fears that a deep recession lies ahead.

The total value of shares listed on stock markets in the Gulf region plummeted by 250 billion dollars in The Saudi stock market is the largest in the Arab worldOctober as indexes sank by an average 25 percent amid the global market meltdown.

A mild upturn at the end of the month did little to counteract the earlier rout and markets in the oil-rich states ended October worth 720 billion dollars, an enormous 400 billion less than at the start of the year.

Bourses in Gulf states other than Saudi Arabia closed slightly higher at best on Thursday, their final trading day of the month, as low investor confidence prevented them from responding to a huge rally by global stock markets in the previous few days.

Investors also failed to react to concerted support moves by Gulf state governments, such as injection of funds in the financial system and the guaranteeing of bank deposits.

Dubai topped the list of October losers, diving 28.7 percent, while Oman fell 26.9 percent. Doha plunged 25.6 percent, Kuwait shed 23.8 percent and Abu Dhabi was down 16 percent.

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Posted in CHEMICALS (processed components), COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, PETROL, REFINERIES - PETROL/BIOFUELS, SAUDI ARABIA, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

SAUDI ARABIA, UAE POUR $10 BLN INTO BANKING SYSTEM

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on October 22, 2008

Tuesday October 21 2008

Reuters

(Refiles with new headline)

by Souhail Karam and Daliah Merzaban

RIYADH/DUBAI, Oct 21 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates poured up to $10 billion SAUDI OILinto their banking systems to boost liquidity as Gulf Arab policymakers prepared on Tuesday to discuss a joint response to the global crisis.

The Saudi central bank made deposits worth up to $3 billion with banks struggling to cope with the turmoil while the UAE Ministry of Finance funnelled 25 billion dirhams ($6.8 billion) into the system as part of a 70-billion-dirham rescue facility.

States across the world’s biggest oil-exporting region are trying to cope with the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression, which threatens to put the brakes on a regional economic boom.

“The main challenge for Gulf states is to shore up confidence in the banking system and get the credit cycle going again,” said Mushtaq Khan, regional economist at Citigroup Global Markets.

“They can’t have diverging money-market conditions. Each country is most likely going to make decisions based on demands of their separate markets.”

In the past month, Gulf central banks and governments formulated separate responses to the crisis, including guaranteeing bank deposits, easing lending restrictions, setting up emergency funds and pouring money into ailing stock markets.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) took the latest step to defrost interbank lending by pouring in between $2 billion and $3 billion in the form of riyal and dollar deposits with banks on Monday, bankers said on Tuesday.

The UAE finance ministry said it had transferred 25 billion dirhams into banks based on the size of their loan portfolios.

“The Ministry has placed the first portion of the payment to support liquidity at banks,” the ministry said. “This portion … is designed to support the capital of national banks.”

Interbank rates eased on Tuesday after the moves, with the three-month Saudi Interbank Offered Rate falling to 4.6375 percent from 4.65125 percent.

SHOCKWAVES

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and four other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is preparing for monetary union, will meet on Oct. 25 to discuss how they can better coordinate policy responses, Gulf sources said on Tuesday.

The global turmoil has hit the Gulf region after six years of high oil prices allowed state and private investors to funnel billions of dollars into industry and infrastructure projects.

Banks are now struggling to finance these projects, leading economists and policymakers to expect project delays and cancellations.

“It is normal that we be affected by what is happening in global markets,” UAE Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri said.

“But there are elements of confidence and protection that are relevant to the particulars of our economy and its diverse base of income,” he said in remarks reported by the daily Emarat al-Youm.

This week’s meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Riyadh follows a call from Saudi Arabia’s highest economic body for Gulf states to look at how they can coordinate their policies as Western economies head for a likely recession.

It will also happen the day after producer group OPEC holds its own emergency summit on oil prices, which have tumbled since hitting record highs above $147 a barrel.

“Most Gulf central banks have already started moving in some way or the other. If they sit and discuss it they can come out with formulated ideas,” said EFG-Hermes economist Monica Malik.

RELIANCE ON OIL

Despite lower oil prices, Gulf states are poised to continue boosting their budgets to keep their economic diversification plans on track, economists said. The UAE said on Tuesday it was raising state expenditure by 21 percent next year.

Kuwait’s leader, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, also urged parliament and the government to push through reforms to help move the economy away from a reliance on oil exports.

Disputes between parliament and government have often paralysed legislative powers in Kuwait, the only Gulf oil producer that does not peg its currency to the dollar.

Kuwait’s central bank — which cut its benchmark interest rate this month — said last week it had shifted its priority away from fighting inflation to boosting confidence in its banking sector.

“The priority for all Gulf states is going to be to look out for their domestic economies,” Khan said.

(Writing by Daliah Merzaban; additional reporting by Inal Ersan in Dubai, Ulf Laessing in Kuwait and Saleh al-Shaibany in Muscat; editing by David Stamp)

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Posted in CENTRAL BANKS, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, INTERNATIONAL, KUWAIT, PETROL, SAUDI ARABIA, THE ARABIAN PENINSULA | Leave a Comment »