Gulf in the News – December 19, 2012

GCC Union may be delayed…

Source: Gulf Daily News (Read full story)

Differences  of opinion on the formation of a Gulf Union – which would supersede the existing GCC and bring member states even closer together – mean the project will not happen overnight, Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told MPs yesterday. The plan was first mooted by Saudi monarch King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at the GCC Summit in Riyadh last December. Talks have already taken place on increased military, economic, political and security ties, Shaikh Khalid said as he appeared in parliament.

Etihad buys 70% stake in airberlin’s flyer programme

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

The new entity will become part of a new loyalty management company being established by Etihad. This company will allow the carrier and its partners to target the fast-growing, profitable global loyalty management market more effectively. “This new investment creates an excellent growth opportunity for us to capitalise on the loyalty management market, while offering a greater range of benefits to passengers from multiple partner airlines,” Hogan said.

MPs submit more populist proposals for debt relief

All the proposals basically call on the government to purchase the total consumer and personal debts owed to banks and financial companies estimated by the Central Bank around two years ago at over KD 6 billion. The bills also call for the state to waive all interest and then ask Kuwaiti debtors to repay the remaining part of the principal loan over many years, some put it at more than 15 years while others said the value of the installment should not exceed 30 percent of the debtors’ monthly income.

Mixed UAE banks ‘are breaking the law’, FNC member says
Source: The National (Read full story)

But Dr Al Naqbi said that many of these banks were breaking a law stipulating that any bank wishing to offer Islamic services must either provide only Islamic services, or ensure such services are provided at a separate branch from its commercial activities – with a separate budget and management. “And, according to the law, in both cases the banks must have a Sharia-compliant authority – made up of no fewer than three people – monitoring them,” he added. The governor replied that the current licensing practice was necessary to keep up with market demand.

Saudi Arabia: US Visa procedure improves

Source: Asharq Al Awsat (Read full story)

For his part, US Consul-General at Dhahran Consulate, Joey Hood, said that “the United States aims to raise the number of visas that it issues annually, particularly to Saudi nationals, who represent an important group, they form a large segment of travelers to the United States, whilst they also represent an important economic factor. In addition to this, Saudi Arabia also sends a large number of students to the US, and the number of Saudi students present in the US for the purposes of educational attainment rivals that of foreign students with Indian nationality.”

GCC Women key for SMEs

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

The deliberation of the first GCC Businesswomen Forum was concluded in Muscat on Tuesday, which was organised by the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry in conjunction with the Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce. The forum stressed the importance of involving women in small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, as they are one of the sources that enrich social development, in addition to preparing new curricula to train female entrepreneurs. This came in a communique of the forum, which recommended the reactivation of the Businesswomen Committee that falls under the Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce, and the importance of availing the integration between GCC countries in all technical and economic fields.