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Sunday, 12 April 2009

Help Iran go nuclear

A proposal to provide reactors to the United Arab Emirates could be the prototype of a deal between the U.S. and Tehran.


Should the United States sell advanced civilian nuclear reactors to a Middle East country that doesn't seem to need them? A country that can keep pumping oil for the next 100 years, that has a pipeline to a vast natural gas field next door and enough desert for a solar panel array of biblical proportions?

No, it's not Iran. It's the United Arab Emirates, that federation of seven states, proposing the efficient and safest nuclear-generating program money can buy. It intends to purchase third-generation nuclear reactors from France, the United States, South Korea or Japan to power and air-condition its glittering desert cities and use the surplus heat to desalinate its drinking water at the same time. And it's in the U.S. national interest to help the UAE do it, as counterintuitive as that may seem to the American right wing, the green wing or nonproliferation hawks.


Why? First, because the U.S. cannot stop the emirates from proceeding, even if we wanted to. The UAE has joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and an alphabet soup of other international covenants aimed at stopping proliferation and trafficking. All Congress could stop is U.S. companies from competing for the lucrative contracts.

Global's Egypt Weekly Market Report - April 09, 2009 (PDF)

Power plants drive new construction projects

From Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, power plants are becoming the Gulf’s new symbols of growth as the region’s development focus shifts from soaring towers to infrastructure. The recent drought in project financing has left the Gulf’s shores littered with the shells of half-built property developments, some of which may never be completed. GCC governments are now pushing the region’s banks to direct lending to power and water projects instead, and have announced plans to award contracts for a flurry of developments in the sector.

Last week, Kuwait’s electricity and water ministry said it planned to launch bidding rounds for 3.3 billion Kuwaiti dinars (Dh41.08bn) of electricity generation and water desalination projects by the end of next year. In all, five power plants are planned to add 6,700 megawatts (Mw) of generating capacity.

The state-owned Dubai Electricity and Water Authority said it would invest Dh13bn (US$3.53bn) this year in new projects as part of a multi-year Dh75bn programme to increase Dubai’s electricity and water supplies.

Tadawul surges 3.2% on earning reports

Petrochemical and banking sector led Saudi shares to their highest close in more than three months after the announcement of better-than-expected earnings that included largest-listed lender Al Rajhi Bank.

The all-share index, Tadawul, closed 3.2 per cent higher at 5,200 points, its highest since January 7.

Rajhi closed 6.28 per cent higher and leads gainers among blue chips. Largest-listed Saudi Basic Industries Corp ended 4.61 per cent higher after its affiliate Saudi Fertilisers Co posted a 27.4 per cent fall in first-quarter net profit, which was better than analysts' forecasts. Safco shares added 1.25 per cent.

Saudi probe into alleged $29bn misappropriation

Saudi Arabia's government bodies haggled and traded accusations this week over a presumed wastage of a staggering $29bn (Dh106.43bn) in public money in a rare publicised official demonstration of intensifying anti-corruption crackdown in the world's largest oil exporter.

The heated debate between the Shura council (appointed parliament), the General Auditing Bureau (GAB) and other government institutions coincided with moves by the Kingdom to promote itself as one of the world's best and safest investment destinations within a long term diversification programme intended to reduce its reliance on unpredictable oil sales.

The exchange, which appeared to be over-publicised by the Kingdom's official media and newspapers, also came at a time when the country is reeling under a sharp fall in oil prices and production due to the global financial distress after years of fiscal euphoria.

Emaar to appeal Saudi reversal of lawsuit ruling

Emaar Properties said on Saturday it would appeal a Saudi ruling reversing an earlier judgment in its favour in a $1.2 billion (Dh4.4bn) lawsuit against it.

The Dubai property developer has been embroiled in a legal dispute with Jadawel, a Saudi developer, since 2004. Jadawel sued Emaar for compensation, claiming Emaar had backed out of joint venture between the two. Last year an arbitration ruling in favour of the Dubai developer was issued, and Jadawel launched a further appeal.

“It is not clear yet how the whole arbitration process, which has taken over two years and ended with an award in favour of Emaar, was dismissed and its award reversed by the Second Commercial Circuit in one brief session...,” an Emaar statement said, citing a company spokesman.