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Friday, 12 June 2009

US, UAE firms eye Zambian farming land

Companies from the United States and the United Arab Emirates are interested in establishing large farms in Zambia to grow sugar and grains, the southern African country's agriculture minister said on Friday.

Although a growing number of such land investments elsewhere have proved controversial, Agriculture Minister Brian Chituwo told Reuters Zambia had so much land available there would not be opposition.

He said a U.S. company had offered to invest as much as $200 million in sugar cane production to make ethanol, involving small-scale farmers, but was waiting for proper policies to be put in place.

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Tottenham seek stadium sponsor in Dubai

Tottenham are in talks with several Dubai-based companies over the potential sponsorship of their new stadium.

Paul Barber, Spurs’ executive director, has been in the region canvassing potential sponsors.

“We always felt that the Middle East and the Far East were the best places to look for sponsorship partners,” said Barber. “This is because there are many emerging brands here which are looking for exposure in Europe.

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Forecasts brighten for Gulf GDPs

Gulf economies will fare better than expected this year if oil sustains its rally for the rest of the year, creating an extra US$114 billion (Dh418.64bn) windfall for the region.

Some regional economists are considering upgrading their GDP forecasts if oil maintains its gains and budget surpluses are bigger than expected.

"I have upgraded my forecast because oil at $60 a barrel will allow Saudi Arabia to cross the $400bn mark in terms of the size of its economy, which will grow rather than contract to the extent we expected initially," said Dr John Sfakianakis, the chief economist at SABBSABB, the bank based in Riyadh.

GE Energy Signs Contracts Totaling More Than $500 Million to Provide Equipment, Services for Bahrain's Largest Power Plant

GE Energy today announced that it has signed contracts totaling more than $500 million to supply advanced power generation equipment and long-term services for the Al Dur Independent Water and Power Project, the largest power plant in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Developed to help meet Bahrain's growing power and water requirements, the plant is located in the Al Dur area on the Kingdom's southeastern coast. The Kingdom of Bahrain's Electricity and Water Authority is planning additional capacity expansions over the next 20 years to support the country's reported power demand growth rate of 7-10% a year.

"Al Dur is one of the most significant energy projects ever undertaken in Bahrain, and is needed to help meet the country's increasing demand for electricity and water from urban and economic development to strong investment activities," said His Excellency Fahmi Bin Ali Aljowder, Minister of Works and Minister in Charge of the Electricity and Water Authority. "It is critical for us to have access to proven technology and world-class services that are customized for our specific needs. We are confident that, with its global technology capabilities and strong local presence, GE will support us in meeting the need for responsible, efficient energy for the people of Bahrain."


The recent surge in popular enthusiasm for Ahmadinejad’s main rival, Mir Hussein Mousavi, has increased the likelihood that the president’s neo-conservative backers will resort to rigging the election results. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Some public opinion surveys released before the last day of campaigning on June 10 showed that Mousavi is near, or perhaps has even surpassed, the incumbent.

Under Iran’s tangled, quasi-democratic system, however, voters do not have the final say in elections. The ultimate responsibility for the outcomes of elections falls to two unelected entities -- The Guardian Council and the Interior Ministry -- that are not directly responsible to the Iranian people. Both institutions are packed with Ahmadinejad partisans. Both also have a track record of meddling in elections.

In the 1999 parliamentary elections, for example, the Guardian Council annulled about 700,000 votes cast by Tehran residents in order to ensure the election of a favored hardliner candidate. And in the 2005 presidential election, the council, acting in tandem with the Revolutionary Guards Corps, reportedly engineered irregularities -- including voter-intimidation and ballot-stuffing -- that enabled a then-obscure hardliner, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to win the presidency.

Italy's leaders welcome Gaddafi spending spree

Muammer Gaddafi yesterday launched a shopping spree in Rome on his fence-mending visit to Libya's former colonial ruler.

The Libyan leader investigated further stakes in Italian industry and infrastructure via his $70bn (€50bn, £43bn) sovereign wealth fund.

Despite a few political protests by opposition parliamentarians, students and members of the Jewish community driven out of Libya in the 1970s, Italy's centre-right government celebrated Mr Gaddafi's red carpet visit - his first since taking power in 1969 - as a welcome boost for a struggling Italian economy.