Gulf in the News – November 26, 2013

GCC members moving from cooperation to integration

Source: Kuwait Times (Read full story)

Gulf Cooperation Council parliament and Shura council chiefs have come up with a number of joint recommendations at the end of a meeting in Kuwait yesterday. They decided that Kuwait will host a conference of the committee of parliament chiefs on GCC economic integration in 2014, while Kuwait’s National Assembly will also be responsible for organizing a trip involving the regional group to the US Congress. Gratitude was expressed for a report by Bahrain’s Council of Representatives on geopolitical blocs that are more developed than the GCC, like the European Union and a study on foreign media policies of the region’s parliaments. Other internal issues for the meeting were also adopted like a project for a joint website and a committee tasked with placing a set of laws for the meeting.

Ooredoo is poised to end Qatar corporate sukuk wait

Source: Gulf Times (Read full story)

Ooredoo, the biggest phone operator in Qatar, is poised to end the country’s two-year drought of corporate Islamic bond sales, paving the way for further issues from the host of the 2022 soccer World Cup. The company formerly known as Qatar Telecom plans to hold investor meetings this week before a potential dollar- denominated sale. The last Shariah-compliant corporate issue from Qatar was the $215mn sale from Almana Group in June 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Six dollar sukuk have been sold from the country in the past five years. Qatar’s government and companies are tapping debt markets as the nation embarks on $138bn of investments by 2016.

Dubai’s largest developer bans property agents from flipping off-plan until handover

Source: Emirates 24/7 (Read full story)

Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest developer, has barred local real estate agents (registered/unregistered) from selling any off-plan property, purchased under their names, until handover,Emirates 24|7 can reveal. In an email sent to property agents, the developer said:  “For off-plan property, purchase shall be as per PAS policy. Property will not be subject to transfer until handover.”As for ready property, Emaar says real estate agents can purchase only after the unit has been in the general inventory unsold for a minimum of 14 days. However, there will be no restriction on resale, the company said.

Saudi Arabia welcomes Iran nuclear agreement

Source: Al Jazeera (Read full story)

Saudi Arabia has said an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear programme could be a step towards a comprehensive solution – and hoped it could lead to the removal of WMD from the Middle East. “The government of the kingdom sees that if there was goodwill, this agreement could represent a preliminary step towards a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear programme,” the cabinet said in a statement. It said the deal could eventually lead “to the removal of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, from the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region”. The statement appeared to be a refence to Israel, which is the only country in the region to have a nuclear arsenal, although it has never admitted its existence.

Kuwait Tightens Cleric Oversight

Source: Arab Times (Read full story)

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been quietly reining in their clerics on concerns that preachers could use their influence to stir up trouble and inflame sectarian divisions at a time of high tension over the crises in Syria and Egypt. Authorities in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to a powerful conservative clergy, have declined to respond to local media reports in recent months which said nearly 20 clerics had been sacked or suspended. In Kuwait, which has a relatively open political system compared to other Gulf Arab states, the authorities have resumed the monitoring of sermons, pulled a television preacher off the air and deported a foreign imam.

Bahrain FM urges Asian partnership

Source: Kuwait News Agency (Read full story)

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa stressed here on Monday the significance of promoting cooperation among Asian countries. In a keynote speech at the 12th ministerial meeting of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), he called for creating Asian partnership for investment in industry and alternative energy, promoting environmental tourism and boosting women’s empowerment. He hailed the one-day ACD meeting as a good opportunity for Asian decision-makers to share views and experience to establish partnership relations in order to enable Asian leaders to be key players. He added that the ACD was established as a forum for all Asian countries, attracting 33 states, in order to become an effective mechanism for strategic cooperation.