News re-Blog

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bush Inks Cafta; Thailand, Bahrain Next?

Done and dusted. U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Cafta), following its bumpy ride through the U.S. Congress last week. The House of Representatives passed the legislation by just two votes in the face of strong opposition from Democrats and some Republicans, who thought the pact put U.S. jobs at risk.

(George Bush)

The agreement, though, mostly eliminates tariffs currently imposed on sales of American goods in Central America, opens local markets for U.S. goods and services and makes investment by U.S. companies easier. The president had to make protectionist concessions to the U.S. textile and sugar industries to ensure safe passage, all of which made Cafta look an odd poster boy for free trade.

(US-Bahrain FTA Negotiations in May 2004)

But that was then. As he put ceremonial pen to paper, the president declared Cafta good for the U.S. and said it would "advance peace and pro
sperity" throughout the region. Next up in the patchwork of free-trade deals the multilateral-wary administration is working on: pacts with Bahrain, Thailand and the Andean countries of South America.

Source: Forbes | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: FTA, Bahrain, US, Government | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Surprise in the Middle East - Linux in Jordanian Government

A report from last week's open-source software seminar in Amman by Tom Adelstein.

I stood on a street in Jerash and suddenly realized that no one ever told me what to expect. I had seen ruins before, and I had viewed photos (see Figure 1) of this Roman city. Still, I cannot think of anything that could have prepared me for the experience. Jerash isn't some pile of rocks left over after people pillaged it as a quarry, as are most remnants of the Roman era. As I looked in all directions, I saw the equivalent of a major city too large to cover by foot and ready for habitation.

(One small street in Jerash)

With one exception, you probably can jot down a few thoughts about Linux and free software, and you'll know what we discussed. The sponsor, INT@J, devoted this seminar to applying OSS (Open Source Software) to government, business, finance and academia. So, the presenters spoke about real-life scenarios and projects throughout the region. As one might imagine, sincere interest in and many deployments of Linux exist.

(One of the panel discussions)

Although the presenters abstained from Microsoft bashing, we all were aware of the Redmond company's large footprint in the region. Someone said that Microsoft has 29 offices in the Middle East. I visited one of its Gold Partner's offices and saw about 40 busy developers working on a variety of projects for the government. The gentleman showing me around the Gold Partner offer introduced me to one of the project managers and mentioned that I was speaking at the open-source software event. Immediately, the chap stood up and began to tell me what was wrong with Linux. When I asked him if he'd ever used it, he said he had not. Read More ....

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Kuwait is great, but nothing beats Manitoba in Canada: says teacher

The perpetual summer of the Middle East has its lure but for Perry Kalynuk, nothing beats living among friendly Manitobans. Perry and his wife Marian recently returned to their Virden home after 10 months of working in Kuwait.

“There’s a warmer atmosphere here than in the city,” Perry said. “We’re from rural Manitoba so it seems like everyone’s a neighbour.”

(Perry Kalynuk was born and raised on a family farm in Angusville and
graduated from Brandon University)

The teaching duo with more than 60 years of combined experience taught at the American Creativity Academy, where approximately 20 Brandon-area teachers currently work. Marian taught Grade 2 at the English-speaking boys school, and Perry Grade 7.

“They want English but they’re very careful of how much exposure to the culture there is,” said Perry.

The school curriculum, which included Islam and Arabic but did not permit singing, is strongly censored by the Ministry of Education. Read More ....

Source: The Brandon Sun | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Kuwait, Canada, Manitoba, Culture, Education, Teacher | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Gulf Air Australia Bags 2 of the Highest Internal Awards by Gulf Air HQ

Gulf Air Australia and the airline's Australian General Sales Agent, World Aviation Systems have just been awarded two of the carrier's highest internal awards by its Head Office in Bahrain. The Gulf Air team has won the 'Top Performance Award for 2004' and the 'President and Chief Executive Contribution to Excellence Award for 2004', whilst WAS has won the 'Partnership Recognition Award' and the 'Top Performance Award for 2004'.

(Rear from left WAS Managing Director, Melvyn Almeida, Gulf Air Australia and South Pacific General Manager Cramer Ball and Peter Lacaze, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Transonic Travel Limited . Front are Gulf Air Passenger Sales Agents, Hazel Dianzon and Amal Moussa)

Cramer Ball, General Manager, Gulf Air says “the awards reflect the quality and commitment of our team, GSA and ofcourse the support we have received from agents and customers since commencing daily flights in November 2003. We anticipate our success will continue with the introduction of flights to Dublin in December 2005 and new first and business class seats”.

Source: eTravelBlackboard | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Australia, Bahrain, Airline, Aviation, Awards | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Monday, August 01, 2005

Firm Aims to Spread German-Crafted Beer Granules to Muslim World

Muslims the world over could soon be enjoying a chilled pint of sweet German beer if Gerhard Kamil has his way. The Bavarian brewer's GranMalt outfit, based in Bergkirchen, 10 miles north of Munich, has developed alcohol-free granules that make instant beer. He believes that the easily transportable product, with its long shelf life, could be another German export surprise.

"My dream is that one day soon, beverages everywhere will have my GranMalt label on them," he said.

(Gerhard Kamil)

The beer, Kamil says, could be what beverage makers seeking to enter the growing Middle Eastern malt beverage market have been waiting for. The granules would allow a maker to bypass the complicated process of setting up breweries and could be adapted to make a range of other drinks. He is not the first to look at the 1.5-billion-strong Muslim market. In 2003, Heineken bought Al Ahram Beverages Co., the monopoly Egyptian brewer, and the Almaza brewery in Lebanon. Carlsberg in 2003 bought the Moussy brand, a leader in the Saudi market. Read More ....

Source: Los Angeles Times | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Beer, Germany, Middle East, Muslims, Granules | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Daewoo to Build 5 LNG Tankers for Qatar

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., the world's second-largest shipbuilder, said Monday it has received an order to build five large liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers valued at $1.20 billion from a Qatari gas producer.

Daewoo Shipbuilding's latest deal meant that it has secured nine out of 20 large LNG tankers for Qatar Liquefied Gas II since last year, which will issue orders for 52 LNG tankers in total by early 2007. The five LNG tankers can each carry up to 210,100 cubic meters of LNG, the company said. Read More ....

Source: The Korea Times | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Korea, Qatar, Gas, Tanker | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Michael Jackson Buys Property in Bahrain

King of Pop Michael Jackson has purchased a palatial property in Bahrain, sources told The New York Post yesterday, making the affluent little Kingdom of Bahrain a potential new home for the wandering superstar. Jackson, 46, recently forked over an undisclosed amount of money to buy 14 acres next to a palace of his good pal Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al Khalifa, according to royal insiders.

(Michael Jackson)

The Gloved One (Jackson) has enjoyed his month-long Middle East vacation, in part because he can don local garb — often a flowing, white djellaba, com plete with headdress — and walk the streets virtually undetected, according to sources. Two of Jackson's lawyers in California said they had not heard of any plans for the singer to buy land in the small Persian Gulf nation.

(Michael Jackson's Dad - Joe Jackson)

Word of the Bahrain purchase is the latest chapter of Jackson's nomadic saga. A German newspaper, quoting Jackson's dad, reported last week that the King of Pop was on the verge of moving to Berlin. The Gloved One has been on an extended getaway, still recovering from a grueling four-month trial that ended with Santa Barbara County jurors clearing him of child-molestation charges.

Source: New York Post | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: US, Bahrain, King of Pop, Property | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Bahraini Student Debates US Foreign Policy in a Classroom with a World View

Zainab Alkhawaja is from Bahrain, the daughter of a human rights activist and well-schooled in the abuses wrought by her country's government, a close ally of the United States. She rarely concedes a point in Cyrus Partovi's summer class on U.S. foreign policy at Lewis & Clark College. Last week, when the discussion turned to the war in Iraq, was no exception.

(Zainab AlKhawajah)

Partovi, who opposed the war, points out that the United States' strategy is about self-interest. Even so, he asks his students, isn't it possible that the war has benefited some Iraqis persecuted under Saddam Hussein?

"I think you should put the stress on (U.S.) interest," Alkhawaja says.

"Zainab, be fair."

"America's interests come first," she insists. "That means no one matters."

Lewis & Clark is the first stop for Alkhawaja and eight other students from Jordan, Yemen, India, Morocco and Syria chosen by the U.S. State Department to spend their final two years of college on American campuses. The State Department created the PLUS program -- Partnerships for Learning Undergraduate Studies -- last year to promote understanding between Americans and young people from countries with large Muslim populations.

(South Campus at Lews & Clark College)

Partovi, who is more conservative than many of his Lewis & Clark students, often finds himself in the minority on the Southwest Portland campus. But Alkhawaja and her peers, because they are more vocal and critical of the impact of U.S. policies on their countries, challenge even his most liberal American students, Partovi says.

"This trip, to me, was kind of like hope," she says. "I would be a bridge between America and the Bahraini people, and Arabs in general, and even Muslims in general. And that would help."

Alkhawaja despairs at the slow tread toward democracy in her country, which she says is made worse by the Bush administration's support for the regime. She will spend two years at Beloit College in Wisconsin, studying English literature and political science. Read More ....

Those interested readers who are eager to find out more about Zainab, her views and experiences, can check out her blog 'Dreamer' and interact with her via the comments section. On behalf of Bahrain's Blogosphere, the team at News Blog re-Blog welcome Zainab to the world of blogging and wishes her all the best with her studies.

Source: The Oregonian | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Bahrain, Democracy, US, Foreign Policy, Midle East | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Oracle Plans Israeli Center

Software giant Oracle, has confirmed that it signed an agreement with Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist to establish a technological support center for Israeli startups. Oracle will provide technology and know-how to young companies, particularly in the software sector, and Israel will fund research costs for the companies. The world’s no. 2 software maker has set up research and development centers in the United States and India before.

The chief scientist’s office, part of the Industry and Trade Ministry, said that in addition to providing startups with preferable conditions in the purchase of Oracle infrastructure, the center will help the Israeli firms in marketing by providing access to Oracle representatives and leading companies worldwide. Read More ....

Source: Red Herring | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Israel, Software, Technology, Mideast, Industry | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Bahrain-Based Bank, Leads the Market for Sharia Financing

You're a pious Muslim with few million in oil dollars to invest. You want to put your money to work—but the Qur'an forbids you to lend money for profit, or to sponsor un-Islamic activities such as gambling, tobacco and pork products. So would the perfect Islamic bank for you be perhaps Citigroup? HSBC? ABN AMRO? Actually, yes.

Giant Western banks—or, rather, their Islamic banking subsidiaries—are leading the market for financing that complies with Qur'anic laws on money-lending. Bahrain-based Citi Islamic, a subsidiary of Citigroup that was first into the market in 1996, now leads the pack with deposits of more than $6 billion. Citi and at least 10 other Western majors dwarf the biggest locally owned rival, the Bahrain-based Al Baraka, worth a little more than half a billion. Read More ....

Source: Newsweek | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: Islamic Banking, Bahrain, Sharia, Western | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

Deal for Bahrain Airline Goes Bad

In an unusual lawsuit, a Mecklenburg woman is ordered to pay a Lebanese businessman $626,000 for committing fraud in their deal to buy two airplanes and a flight simulator to start a new Middle Eastern airline. Refaat Abul Hosn, who lives in Detroit (US), says he wants to open an airline in Bahrain to fly passengers on humanitarian and religious pilgrimages.

He had an agreement to buy two Boeing 747s, spare parts and a simulator from Kuwait Airways, court records show. But the deal stalled last December when a Mecklenburg woman failed to deliver $10 million in financing as she promised. Hosn sued Theresa Lewis for fraud in Mecklenburg civil court, seeking $10 million in damages. Mecklenburg Superior Court Judge Richard Boner on Thursday ordered Lewis to pay $626,000 in damages and documented expenses by Hosn.

(Mecklenburg Superior Court where Lewis on July 22nd was ordered to pay up)

Lewis, 32, who also goes by Theresa Finocchio, is awaiting sentencing on federal charges related to a mortgage fraud scheme in the Charlotte area. She didn't answer Hosn's civil lawsuit, but she told the Observer she pulled out of the airline deal because she began to question Hosn's plans.

"I had growing concerns ... (The) business plan didn't make a lot of sense," Lewis said in an interview. "I worried that a man of Arab descent would have ownership of 747s and a simulator, and would be operating a simulator in an Arabic country with no one watching."

Hosn dismissed Lewis' speculation, saying his plans were legitimate business. Hosn, who says he is a former pilot, was pleased with the verdict but disappointed in the damage award, saying he owes hundreds of thousands to Middle East businesses that helped organize and promote his airline plans for Bahrain. Federal authorities declined to say whether they have any interest in the case.

(A Kuwait Airways Boeing 777/747 refuels on the tarmac in Frankfurt)

Unaware of fraud charges pending against her, Hosn signed a joint venture with Lewis in October 2004, court records show. Under the agreement, Lewis pledged to arrange $10 million in financing for Hosn's plans: $4.5 million for planes, parts and the simulator; $4.9 million for airline operations; and $500,000 to erect 10 manufactured homes in Iraq. Lewis told Hosn she'd obtained necessary financing and presented documentation.

He entered an agreement to buy the planes, he said in court, and spent thousands to recruit pilots and employees for his airline, travelling to Kuwait, London, Paris, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Hosn also wired $125,000 to Lewis' bank account to cover his share of fees Lewis claimed was required for the financing. Because Lewis didn't file an official answer to Hosn's lawsuit, an entry of default was ordered against Lewis.

Source: The Charlotte Observer | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: US, Airline, Boeing 747, Fraud, Bahrain, Middle East | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |

DHL offers cool solution in Bahrain

DHL, the Middle East's leading express and logistics provider, has announced the launch of its high-tech express delivery temperature controlled logistics services in Bahrain, opening up new possibilities for moving sensitive goods such as medical products. The Deutsche Post World Net (DPWN) subsidiary's Temperature Controlled Packaging (TCP) service is a first for Bahrain, the company said in a statement last week.

( DHL's range of innovative TCP is available in a variety of Packaging Solutions)

It combines express distribution with guaranteed security and validated temperature controlled packaging, transport and distribution. The service has been designed to ensure safe, timely and well ordered transport of products in an ambient, cooled or deep frozen state for as much as 120 hours. The system uses dry ice to freeze goods and this facility is bolted onto its supply chain management and hospital pharmacy services. Read More ....

Source: TradeArabia | reBlogged By: News Blog re-Blog
Filed Under: High-Tech, Bahrain, Logisitics, Middle East | Permalink

Posted by News Blog re-Blog Team |


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