Gulf in the News – August 14, 2013

Kuwait pulls cleric off TV for sectarian comments

Source: Kuwait Times (Read full story)

Kuwait’s government officials yesterday pulled a prominent cleric off television over previous comments they say stoked sectarian tensions and promoted an Al-Qaeda-linked rebel group in Syria. Shafi Al-Ajmi’s show, “Following the Path of the Prophet,” premiered Monday on state television in Kuwait. Information Minister Salman Al-Homood said that the show had been cancelled and that an investigation had begun into determining those responsible for putting the cleric on the air.“The Ministry of Information does not approve of airing episodes for any individuals who instigates hatred and promotes such rhetoric,” Al-Homood told journalists.

Citigroup seen gaining in GCC debt market

Source: Times of Oman (Read full story)

Citigroup is gaining in Gulf debt-market rankings without help from $12 billion of deals in Saudi Arabia, home to shareholder Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The bank is the third largest bond underwriter in the Gulf region this year, up from fourth a year earlier and 19th in 2011. It’s also the fourth-largest arranger of syndicated loans, up from 11th last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Citigroup is relying on the United Arab Emirates and Qatar for lending as rivals including JPMorgan & Chase and Deutsche Bank expand in Saudi, the region’s biggest economy.

Bahrain activists to test demo ban at US embassy

Source: The Peninsula (Read full story)

Bahraini opposition activists, inspired by the success of street protests in Egypt, plan to demonstrate near the US embassy today in defiance of a government ban. The rulers of the kingdom have assumed sweeping new powers to crush demonstrations but the protest organisers insist they will go ahead. Amnesty International urged authorities to avoid the use of force under the “draconian” new measures, insisting that the people must have the right to demonstrate peacefully.  Organizers have called on Washington to use its influence with the authorities to ensure that a pro-democracy demonstration can be held on the doorstep of its embassy without bloodshed.

Port project at Mesaieed on schedule

Source: Gulf Times (Read full story)

Work on the QR27bn new port project at Mesaieed  is progressing in line with a scheduled opening in the second quarter of 2016, a senior official has said. As Qatar plans a spend of $200bn-plus in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, the successful completion of the port is crucial as it is vital for the import of the large quantity of raw materials and machinery needed to build the infrastructure, the official told ConstructionWeek Online. “Few projects are as critical to Qatar’s development in the run-up to the World Cup as the $7.4bn new port project,” Tim Verdon,  programme director for the port’s project manager, Aecom, said.

Erring businesses fined SR11m

Source: Saudi Gazette (Read full story)

The Ministry of Labor’s labor dispute commission has imposed fines of SR11 million on various businesses that breached the ministry’s laws, an Arabic daily reported. Inspectors registered 1,513 violations during their visits to the businesses. A source within the ministry told Al-Hayat that the ministry’s commissions reviewed 10,532 cases in 2012 alone, a 22 percent increase on the number of cases dealt with in 2011. In Riyadh, women-operated labor offices received 653 cases in 2012, issuing final decisions on 229, the source said. In Jeddah, the same offices registered 204 cases, of which they reviewed 97 cases. In Dammam and Madinah, the number of cases received was 35 and 62 consecutively, with 10 reviewed in the former and 23 in the latter.

Oman inflation eases, hovers at 2%

Source: Times of Oman (Read full story)

Inflationary pressure within the local economy is easing with the average inflation rate for the first five months of this year hovering at merely two per cent, thanks to softening of global commodity prices, especially for agricultural products. This is against the government’s inflation projection of four per cent for the entire year. According to the monthly statistical bulletin released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the average consumer price index for the five-month period ending May was only two per cent, as most of the products and services in the basket showed only a marginal growth.