News re-Blog

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Syria four wait for official help

Five days after the arrest of four Australian women in relation to an alleged attempt to smuggle a firearm onto a flight from Damascus, the Syrian Government is maintaining silence on the case. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that an official from Cairo - Australia's accredited embassy for Syria - was due to arrive in Damascus yesterday in a bid to offer consular aid to the detained women, all understood to be of Iraqi origin.

Their Gulf Air flight to Bahrain was to connect to a flight to Australia. Some sources said the weapon was found in a child's toy belonging to the son of one of the women. Meanwhile the Syrian Government has begun carrying out checks on internal bus and train services in a search for at least one man who is believed to have accompanied the women to the airport.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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Ferrari testing in Bahrain

Bahrain kicks off the 2006 season and this week Ferrari has been putting in the miles in what is a four-day test at the Sakhir circuit. Traditionally, Silverstone, Monza and Barcelona are the only Grand Prix circuits in which teams can test at, but there seems to be a deal in place which does allow teams to test in Bahrain over the winter should they chose to do so.

Ferrari has not yet revealed details of the test, but we believe the team are running the V8 engine again in the modified F2004 chassis with both Luca Badoer and Marc Gene on hand. The Bahrain Marathon relay (2005) used part of the circuit of Thursday and photographers were encouraged not to get too close to the Ferrari pits. The Italian squad is the only team to test following the season finale in China with the other nine teams expected to hit the testing trail at the end of the month.

Source: F1-Live.com

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Saudi royal gets year in Vineyard jail

In a plea deal that infuriated the victim's family, a Suffolk Superior Court judge sentenced a distant member of the Saudi royal family to one year in a prison on Martha's Vineyard yesterday after he admitted driving drunk when he struck and killed Orlando Ramos on a downtown Boston street. Prince Bader al-Saud pleaded guilty to motor vehicle homicide while drunk, a misdemeanor, before Judge Christine McEvoy. The 23-year-old admitted he was driving a BMW sport utility vehicle on Oct 29, 2002, that slammed into Ramos, 37, as he was crossing Charles Street around 2:40 a.m. near the intersection with Boylston Street.

While Saud's defense lawyers and Suffolk prosecutors said the plea deal was just, relatives of Ramos, led by his sister Reyita Ramos, harshly criticized the sentence and the decision to send Saud out of Suffolk County to serve his sentence at the Dukes County House of Correction. Ordinarily, Saud would likely have served his sentence at the Suffolk County House of Correction in Roxbury, where more than a thousand prisoners are housed. In court, Ramos called the sentence a ''slap in the face" and pointed out that Saud had earned a master's degree from Boston University while free on bail.

''You have received in this process so many privileges because of who you are," she said. ''You received your degree from a great university, while we as a family received a death certificate."

Saud registered .12 on a breath alcohol test, above the legal limit of .08, according to court records. In court papers, Saud's defense lawyers said Ramos's blood alcohol level was .176 and that he had traces of cocaine in his system. They also presented psychiatric records they said showed Ramos had a history of suicidal behavior and had stepped in front of a car one month before he was killed. In court, McEvoy said Saud's position as a prince in his native Saudi Arabia did not influence her. She praised Saud for accepting responsibility and pointed out that he has no prior criminal history since moving to Massachusetts in 1999.

''This is a welcome admission by someone to accept personal responsibility for the crime that he has committed," McEvoy said in court. Saud's royal blood ''means nothing to this court because in this system of justice, every individual is treated the same, no matter what their social status is," she said.

In court papers, Conley's office said there was a possibility that Saud would not be convicted of any crime if the case went to trial, in part because defense lawyers uncovered Ramos's psychiatric history of depression. They also said the one-year sentence matched what other defendants have been given in Suffolk County. In a telephone interview, the Dukes County sheriff, Michael A. McCormack, said he agreed to house Saud in the Edgartown prison because the prince is a slightly built man and could be targeted by gangs in larger prisons because he is from the Middle East.

Source: The Boston Globe

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Bahrainis say JFF fee for camp, match too high

President of the Bahraini Football Federation (BFF), Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, said the proposed training camp and friendly international between his country and the Reggae Boyz did not happen because the fee requested by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) was "unreasonable".

"It was an unreasonable sum, it was too much and that would be more than US$50,000 a day. That's ridiculous," Al-Khalifa said.

The JFF had requested US$350,000 from the Bahrainis to host them in a one-week training camp and to play a friendly international against a home-based Boyz team, ahead of the Arabian Gulf State's two-way home-and-away World Cup qualifying tie against Trinidad & Tobago. After receiving details and fee request from the JFF, with regards to the planned camp and game, Al-Khalifa said his vice-president called their counterparts in Jamaica expressing that the sum being asked for was way "too much". Yesterday, the JFF reiterated that the proposal was to host a Bahrain delegation of 49 persons, and that the Bahraini authorities had requested a composite figure which would have included private security, hotel accommodation at a five-star hotel, venue for training, gym facilities, luxury ground transportation, as well as a practice game.

According to Al-Khalifa, a relative of the ruling royal family here, when they refused the JFF's request the Jamaicans in a few short minutes, dropped the figure of the original request by about half. Meanwhile, Al-Khalifa said that he was not satisfied with the whole handling of the situation and decided to call the whole thing off. He said with the Jamaica plan down the drain, he looked for alternatives, but no progress was made, as precious time had passed. Some of the teams considered for hosting Bahrain were Venezuela, Colombia and Honduras.

Al-Khalifa claims that the failed negotiations with Jamaica did not impact on his nation's preparation for Trinidad. "It certainly did not impact us in any way," he noted. The idea of the planned visit to Jamaica, he said, came from an English sports management executive. That man is Tony Simpson, chief executive officer of Wilton International Management Group. Simpson, whose mother lives in Manchester, Jamaica, was in Bahrain on a golf tournament project, and he agreed with Al-Khalifa that the deal with Jamaica fell through because of the exorbitant request plus the unavailability of top pros playing in neighbouring Qatar.

Al-Khalifa also denied media reports that each player was promised US$1 million, had the team qualified. "That's not true, we have not promised the players anything. The greatest incentives for these players is to go down in history," he said. Read More....

Source: Jamaica Observer

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Bahrain Ambassador Applauds Congressional Action

The Bahrain Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency, Dr. Naser Al Belooshi, applauded the leadership of the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means Committees today following their unanimous support for the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement ("FTA").

"The Kingdom of Bahrain is most grateful to the leadership of the Senate Finance and the House Ways & Means Committees," said Ambassador Belooshi. "Today's action demonstrates this mutually beneficial economic relationship can complement our well-established social, military and political relationships. "We look forward to this FTA receiving full consideration," Belooshi concluded.

Congress is expected to consider this Agreement following the Thanksgiving recess.

Source: The Embassy of Bahrain via PRNewswire

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Embarked Security Teams Set Standard for Maritime Security in Gulf

Embarked Security Teams (EST) based at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain continue to make up one of the most critical elements of maritime security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation. Created in June 2004 under the umbrella of Operation Vigilant Mariner (OVM), the 11 12-man teams provide protection for Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships and their civilian crews as they ferry food, equipment and other supplies to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A typical EST escort consists of meeting an MSC ship in the Mediterranean Sea, embarking for the remainder of the ship's transit, and disembarking in the Persian Gulf or remaining with the ship as it returns to the Mediterranean Sea. Lt. Edward Young, force protection operations officer for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), and OVM program manager, said ESTs provide protection not only to MSC ships, but also to maritime prepositioning ships, fast combat support ships and bulk fuel carriers.

Young credited the EST staff with the success of the fledgling program. The predominantly junior enlisted staff members had been executing tasks usually performed by higher-ranking military personnel. He said a new command was being introduced to NSA Bahrain, Mobile Security Squadron 3 Det. Bahrain, and that its projected staff included “twice the number of bodies, and much higher ranks” than those currently running EST. He said the current teams’ performance, despite having fewer members, was a reflection of the quality and magnitude of their efforts.

Source: Navy NewsStand

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Multi-Billion Dollar Real Estate Development Projects To Exit Bahrain

The Herman Group of Companies announced today that it may be forced to abandon three master planned real estate projects in Bahrain valued at more than $7billion after a series of announcements by officials in that country that call into question the transparency and reliability of doing business there. The Herman Group, a Texas-based real estate development firm, has been working with officials of Bahrain over the past year to launch and build Desert Kingdom, Coral Island and Race World, the themed commercial and residential development projects previously scheduled for groundbreaking in 2005.

Solicited personally by high ranking Bahraini government officials promoting the pending Bahrain-US Free Trade Agreement, including newly appointed Bahrain Ambassador Naser Belooshi, the projects were to be the first truly independent developments in Bahrain. Official of Bahrain also announced last January the launch of Desert Kingdom Bahrain by The Herman Group. Negotiations with Under Secretary for Financial Affairs, Abdulla Romaihi; Former Minister of Finance, Abdulla Saif; and Salah Asheer, General Manager, Premier Group SPC, were cut off abruptly after the release of proprietary information by The Herman Group of confidential financial and design documents demanded by the representatives for His Majesty the King, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Recently, two of the projects were announced under ownership of Bahraini government officials and Middle East investment groups.

Prior to elevating the projects to the Royal Court of Bahrain, the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the official agency, entered into a Memorandum Of Understanding with The Herman Group and granted exclusivity of development encompassing certain components of the projects including major theme and water parks, spa resorts, golf courses and marinas.

"We are deeply disturbed," said Sherri Herman, CEO of The Herman Group. "Our company committed millions of dollars toward our work in Bahrain in anticipation of breaking ground in 2005 as requested of us by Bahraini officials. But recent developments have forced us to question the wisdom of any foreign investment in Bahrain and to seek remedies that are available to us as the original developer of these projects."

Recent announcements by Bahraini officials of development plans and investor base for the THGC projects essentially take Desert Kingdom, Coral Island and Race World from the Texas based company which is proving to be a possibly insurmountable obstacle.

"Desert Kingdom, Coral Island and Race World could and should have been the success stories that put Bahrain on the international investment map," Ms. Herman said. "Transparency issues, respect for signed contracts and the rule of law are not merely options for businesses and governments, they are absolute must-haves, and we have found that this is not the case in Bahrain."

Source: Press Release by Teddie Garrigan (Executive Vice President of Herman) at Zawya

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Bahrain Ranked 15 on Index of Politcal Freedom in the Middle East

There is a wide range of democratisation across the Middle East, a survey by a leading research and advisory firm has found. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked 20 countries on 15 indicators of political and civil liberty. The international weekly news and business magazine's Index of Political Freedom, EIU, ranked 20 countries on 15 indicators of political and civil liberties for its annual preview of the year ahead and scored each country on a 10-point scale, awarding one point for the least political freedom and 10 for the most. The analysts found little evidence of democratisation in some countries.

The Index of Political Freedom lists Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories as the most democratic parts of the region.

"And the Americans will promote a trio of more or less benevolent monarchies -- Morocco, Jordan and Bahrain -- as exemplars of their democracy campaign."

Bahrain & Iran both scored 3.85 out of 10 and were ranked at #15 on the index. Libya received the lowest rating, below Syria and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia held its first ever exercise in democracy in February 2005 when it held municipal elections, but remains an absolute monarchy that has resisted pressure for reform.

Source: BBC News, Mail & Guardian Online via From Beirut to the Beltway

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Bahrain to replace oil ministry with energy commission

A new foreign minister and abolishment of the Ministry of Oil will be the feature of a minor cabinet reshuffle, expected to take place in Bahrain in a few days, sources said yesterday. Bahrain's ambassador to Britain, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, is likely to be appointed as the foreign affairs minister, sources told Gulf News. The incumbent, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, will retain his position as deputy prime minister.

The sources said the Ministry of Oil will be replaced with an energy commission to be headed by the current State Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Dr Abdul Hussain Mirza, who has 40 years of experience at Bahrain Petroleum Company. The president of the Central Informatics Organisation, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Atiyatallah Al Khalifa, will replace Mirza. If confirmed, the appointment of Shaikh Khalid as foreign minister will mark his cabinet debut.

The other ministries will not be affected by the revamp which is expected this week, the sources said. "It will be limited one and will be followed by a major reshuffle early next year," the sources added. Talks about scrapping the Ministry of Labour and the merging of Ministry of Islamic Affairs and the Ministry of Justice into a larger ministry were dismissed as "speculations".

Source: Gulf News

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OWWA acts on Negrenses in Bahrain

The call for help of a domestic helper from Bacolod who maltreated by her employer in Bahrain, was answered by Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo who had urged the overseas Workers Welfare Administration to look into her complaints. Lilibeth Harding Velez, through her father, sought the help of Arroyo and Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, to facilitate her return to Bacolod as soon as possible.

Velez and several other domestic helpers who have similar complaints of maltreatment from their employers, are now staying at the Philippine Embassy in Bahrain. OWWA officer Edmund Toquero said they are attending to the complaints of domestic helpers, who want to go home. He, however, denied that domestic helpers are being barred from calling their relatives at the Embassy in Bahrain, and that its staff are indifferent to their plight. Toquero said there are rules to follow within the Philippine Embassy in Bahrain, such as prohibition against going outside the embassy premises. If they go out from the embassy, their respective employers have the power to get them back, he added.

Aside from maltreatment, Velez told her father that she had been eating food like hog-feed. As to the payment of 90,000 Bahrain currency they claim is being demanded from Velez and other domestic helpers, Toquero said that their employers probably sued them for failure to finish their contracts, and want reimbursement of their transportation and other expenses.

Source: Visayan Daily Star

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Jordanian Exhibition to be Opened in Bahrain

Activities of the Jordanian Exhibition will start in Bahrain on Sunday (20th Novmeber) with the participation of representatives from public and private sectors. Executive Manager of the Exhibition Fadi Majali said that the event is deemed an opportunity to promote several Jordanian economic sectors in Gulf markets.

'' The Exhibition will be held under the patronage of trade ministers of both countries,'' Majali added, pointing that this event proves that Jordan can confront terrorism through further efforts to attract investments and increase Jordan's participation in international activities.

The first Jordanian- Gulf Economic Conference will be held on the sidelines of the Exhibition with a view to promote economic ties.

Source: Petra

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US House, Senate panels approve Bahrain trade deal

Key committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives approved a U.S. free trade agreement with Bahrain on Friday, clearing the way for final congressional approval by the end of the year. The pact strengthens U.S. trade and investment ties with a moderate Arab state that is a tiny island neighbor of Saudi Arabia and home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Bahrain also has promised separately to completely end its participation in the Arab League boycott of Israel and -- under pressure from congressional Democrats -- take further action to strengthen its labor laws. Republicans and Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee approved the pact on a voice vote in contrast to their bitter debate earlier this year over a free trade agreement with Cental America. The Senate Finance Committee passed the agreement by a vote of 20-0.

"I think this committee is breaking new ground today on how we handle trade agreements." said Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means panel.

"Democrats believe we need some language included in (trade pact legislation) so that we can walk away satisfied that some countries, particularly developing nations, will not be driven to the bottom in terms of worker rights," Rangel said.

The full House and Senate are expected to approve the agreement in December. A U.S. trade official predicted it would be approved by a larger vote than any other recent trade deal. Although Bahrain is a small trading partner, the agreement brings Washington one step closer to its goal of crafting a regional free trade zone in the Middle East by 2013.

Source: Reuters

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WSIS: Bahrain Being Watched as a Potential Internet Enemy

Fifteen countries have won the infamy as 'Black Holes on the Web', thanks to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) - Bahrain is not one of them ... but we are being closely watched! The RSF attended the alternative summit to WSIS in Tunisia - a symbolic "citizens summit" by a group of some 20 non-governmental organisations at the headquarters of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) - and unveiled a list of 15 Internet enemies.

The top 5 Internet enemies, noted for their online censorship, are China, Cuba, Iran, Belarus and Tunisia.

"These are the world's most repressive governments as regards the free flow of information online," the RSF said. "Independent websites are censored, while bloggers and cyber-dissidents who criticise the government are harassed and sometimes imprisoned."

"We also point the finger at ten other countries that need to monitored. The situation there requires our attention as there have been worrying measures that affect the Internet," added Reporters Without Borders.

The ten countries are, by alphabetical order, Burma, Libya, The Maldives, Nepal, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Ten economies are being watched as potential Internet enemies. They include Bahrain, Egypt, the European Union, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Zimbabwe.

As part of its response to the WSIS currently under way in Tunis, Reporters Without Borders also launched a campaign about Internet "black holes". November 17, the organisation's activists stuck a giant poster representing the "black holes in the web" inside the convention centre hosting the WSIS.

It's a 2x3-metre poster, stuck on the floor of the exhibition pavilion among stands set up by the participating countries, that illustrates the 15 'enemies of the Internet' - the countries that trample on free expression on the Net.

In these "black holes on the web", sites are censored, draconian filtering systems set up and cyberdissidents and Internet-users harassed and imprisoned. Why did the RSF choose to attend the "alternative summit"? The RSF said: "As the authorities prevented as from holding a proper alternative summit, we have no choice but to improvise a meeting at the LTDH's headquarters. Nonetheless, it enabled us to condemn the curbs repeatedly place on free expression in Tunisia and to tackle the issue of online censorship around the world."

Source: Jeffooi @ Screenshots & RSF

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

DJ colette in bahrain

Dj Colette came out last week to play at our night over at Club L here in Bahrain. It was a good night with her singing over her dj set throughout the night. People here were pretty impressed by this, since this is something they do not see to often on this side of the world. Some people commented on how she was the best dj we brought out so far for Club L.

The night started out a lil slow, but eventually it picked up later on into the night, as the club filled with alot of crazy people. Colette delivered a nice set of jackin House rhythms, kin to her Chicago background. Sad to say by 2am when he had to close, no one wanted to leave, so we had an entourage of people just hanging after that talking, and perplexed where to go next. So this week we got Richard Parker from Amsterdam coming out to rock the decks, looking forward to that!

Source: Rock Steady 909

(Here's a heads up to everyone in Bahrain's Blogosphere on the discovery of a new blog from Bahrain - Rock Steady 909)

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Giff-Blog: I'm Glad Bahrain Didn't Qualify

Wednesday produced lots of drama and controversy, as well as a complete 32-team field for the World Cup. And I'm glad Bahrain is not among them. I’m not anti-Bahraini, but I’m glad Bahrain didn’t qualify for the World Cup yesterday. In my opinion, they didn't deserve to qualify based on their play yesterday. They had a horrible game plan: play for the draw. And that's being generous. They didn't seem to have any type of game plan at all to be honest. They didn’t go for the jugular, unless you count Kelvin Jack misjudging that ball in the first half. Even T&T went for the jugular, even hitting the crossbar once.

Bahrain couldn’t string three passes together. They didn’t even try to string three passes together from what I could gather. They seemed to have no concept of clock management. A little possession goes a long way. Look at how the Trini’s were killing the clock at the end. If the Soca Warriors weren’t dinking passes back and forth they were taking the ball to a corner flag and blocking the ball and draining the clock. Is it pretty? No. Hell no. But it’s smart. It’s disciplined. It’s the type of stuff you need to do when you’re simply trying to survive at the end of a match.

The reason I’m glad Bahrain didn’t qualify has nothing to do with their protestations and shoving matches and general poor sportsmanship at the end of the match.First, the Soca Warriors played a better game. They were better. They are better. I certainly had my doubts after seeing the first leg. The Trini’s looked bad. Awful. I’d seen them lose before by comfortable margins to the likes of the United States, but in those matches they had played so much better but just simply got beaten by a superior team. Yet Bahrain still couldn’t beat them in that first leg, or in the second leg. In my opinion the better team won over two legs. The better team actually won a match! This ties directly into the other reason I’m glad Bahrain didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

Source: Goal.com

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Bahrain coach blames referee for defeat

Reuters Report that Bahrain appeal to FIFA to have World Cup result annulled

Bahrain coach Luka Peruzovic bemoaned their bad fortune and the decisions of Colombian referee Oscar Julian Rujiz Acosta. Croatian Peruzovic was dejected in defeat, believing his team missed out on qualifying by the narrowest of margins.

'They pushed us but this is not the reason we lost or we are out,'' said the naturalised Belgian, who took over as Bahrain coach in August. 'We knew before the match it would be tough and only one detail can make a difference. But I knew it and I said before that in this kind of match little things make a difference.''

In particular, Peruzovic was aggrieved at a goal disallowed in added time when Bahrain striker Hussain Ali Ahmed flicked the ball away from goalkeeper Kelvin Jack as he threw it up to kick clear. The effort was disallowed, after Ahmed had stroked the ball into the net, for ungentlemanly conduct.

'I cannot remember ever seeing a goal like that being allowed in all my years in football,'' said the Trinidad keeper.

But Bahrain's coach added: ''If he didn't touch the goalkeeper - and I need to check on this when I see it again on television - I think I will ask my federation to protest to Fifa.''

Peruzovic also complained that the referee gave too many free kicks against his team during a rugged, tight and dramatic encounter.

'I am not a bad loser, but there were a lot of fouls against us,'' said the pony-tailed coach.

However, he also paid tribute to Trinidad.

'They were too strong for us and we just could not play against them tonight,'' he said.

Source: Electric New Paper

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Bush sends Congress US-Bahrain free trade pact legislation


I am pleased to transmit legislation and supporting documents to implement the United States Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (the "Agreement"). This Agreement enhances our bilateral relationship with a strategic friend and ally in the Middle East region and will promote economic growth and prosperity in both nations.

In negotiating this Agreement, my Administration was guided by the objectives set out in the Trade Act of 2002. The Agreement reflects my Administration's commitment to opening markets and expanding opportunities for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. The Agreement will open Bahrain's market for U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, and services. As soon as it enters into force, the Agreement will eliminate tariffs on all manufactured goods that the United States sells to Bahrain and immediately remove Bahrain's import duties on over 80 percent of U.S. agricultural products. The Agreement is also one of the most comprehensive ever negotiated to reduce barriers to trade in services and will create new opportunities for U.S. services firms.

The Agreement contains procedures that will facilitate cooperation between the United States and Bahrain on environmental and labor matters. The labor chapter of the Agreement reinforces Bahrain's recent legislative actions to expand democracy and improve the protection of worker rights, including trade union rights. Provisions in the Agreement requiring effective enforce ment of environmental laws will contribute to high levels of environmental protection.

The approval of this Agreement will be another significant step towards creating a Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013. This Agreement offers the United States yet another opportunity to encourage economic reform in a moderate Muslim nation as we have done through our free trade agreements with Jordan and Morocco. Leaders in Bahrain are supporting the pursuit of social and economic reforms in the region, encouraging foreign investment connected to broad-based development, and providing better protection for women and workers. It is strongly in our national interest to embrace and encourage these reforms, and passing this legislation is a crucial step toward that end.

November 17, 2005.

Source: The White House

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Gulf Air Cargo Discusses New Business Strategies

In a two-day meeting of Gulf Air regional cargo teams from the Far East, India and Australia held at Bahrain, representatives from Gulf Air’s on and offline markets in the Asia Pacific region discussed new business strategies to be adopted for next year while reviewing 2005 business performances in these regions.

They also presented ongoing business performance trends with respect to their markets and action plans to further optimise cargo services between destinations.

Source: Gulf Air

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MJ eyes tourism in Oman

Pop icon Michael Jackson has arrived in Oman, amid reports the superstar intends to invest in a large tourism project in the Gulf Arab state, newspapers reported on Wednesday. Jackson was seen on Tuesday at the VIP lounge at Muscat airport where "many passengers were surprised at being able to see Michael Jackson from such a close distance," said Al-Shabiba daily. The paper said Jackson was on a private visit to Oman where unconfirmed reports said the star was planning to invest in a large tourism project.

Source: BackPage/News24

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Domina Hotel Group to open new Hotel in Bahrain

Domina Hotel Group and Al Hamad Construction & Development Co. have signed an agreement to build the Domina Bahrain Hotel & Towers. Scheduled to open in March 2007, and managed by Domina Hotel Group, the hotel marks the entry of the brand into Bahrain and its continued expansion in the Middle East.

Domina Bahrain Hotel & Towers will feature 340 spacious rooms including two presidential suites and villas, 3 restaurants, 2 bars, cigar lounge bar, fitness area, Spa, outside swimming pool, tennis court and leisure avenues and 20,000 square feet of banqueting and conference facilities. Located strategically nearby the capital city Manama, the hotel will provide travellers easy access to key convention, commercial offices, aqua and game park and Formula 1 track.

“Bahrain is known as the Pearl of the Arabian [Persian] Gulf, one of the most attractive destinations in the Middle East” said Francesco Borrello, Chief Executive Officer of Domina Hotel Group. “To open a Domina Hotel property in such a beautiful destination certainly enhances the brand and we are particularly proud to add this new hotel to our group portfolio.”

Domina Hotels & Resorts brand is part of the Domina Hotel Group. The brand has a total of 4,496 rooms with 24 hotels in 10 countries worldwide, and a Nile cruise.

Source: AsiaTravelTips.com

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Bahrain reveals business park

The Bahrain International Circuit has until recently been a rather lonely and desolate place but on December 2 work will begin on the construction of Sakhir City, a business park next to the circuit. This is expected to include at least two hotels. Bahrain is busy marketing itself as a conference venue to build on the investment made with the racing circuit and as part of that programme the organisers say that they are going to push down the price of hotels at the Grand Prix. For the last couple of years hotel rooms in Bahrain have been the most expensive of all the races. That dubious honour now goes to Canada although Monte Carlo remains a strong contender.

Source: GrandPrix.com

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

MF1 Racing - new team at Bahrain GP 2006

A team called 'MF1 Racing' with a white, silver-grey and red livery, will leap off the Bahrain grid on March 12 2006. Owned by Alex Shnaider's Midland company, and formerly known as Jordan, it announced on Tuesday that it had officially entered the team for 2006 as 'MF1 Racing', and unveiled a proposed colour scheme and new logo to the press.

A statement said the new livery, as opposed to Eddie Jordan's traditional bright yellow, would 'create a unique identity' for the team. Midland explained that the new car, which has been designed and built at Silverstone, will be called 'M16'.

''As a new team, the challenge was to find the best way to graphically define our identity in the public's perception,'' principal Colin Kolles said of the livery.

The layout of the Midland fax paper, on which the statement was printed, is also significant. Gone are Narain Karthikeyan's main sponsors (Tata, Speed), but still displayed are Galp and the 'Portugal' logo, indicating that Tiago Monteiro has indeed signed to drive alongside Christijan Albers.
Source: UpdateSport.com

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Bahrain 0-1 Trinidad & Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago reached the World Cup finals for the first time in their history after beating Bahrain. Bahrain had secured a 1-1 draw in the Caribbean on Saturday, but were outplayed in the play-off's second leg. Wrexham's giant defender Dennis Lawrence scored the goal, outjumping the Bahrain defence to powerfully head in a Dwight Yorke corner on 49 minutes. In the closing stages Russell Latapy rattled the bar for Trinidad, while Hussain Ali Baba was red-carded.

In a scrappy first-half Bahrain keeper Ali Hassan made a brave save, throwing himself at Stern John's feet, after the on-loan Derby striker broke clear. Bahrain struggled throughout against a physically stronger Trinidad team, with the home side's best chance stemming from Kelvin Jack's misjudgment in coming for a high ball five minutes before the interval. The Trinidad keeper was rescued by Rangers defender Marvin Andrews who cleared the danger.

After Lawrence's goal Ahmed Hassan's low curling free-kick hit the side-netting, though Jack had the shot covered. In chaotic scenes at the end Ali Baba was dismissed after referee Oscar Ruiz was man-handled. Moments after the sending off Jack made up for his earlier eccentric keeping when he spectacualrly tipped over the bar Talal Yusuf's shot. With a population of just a one million Trinidad will be the least populated country taking part in the 2006 finals in Germany. Bahrain had also been trying to reach their first-ever World Cup after having come through two Asian qualifying rounds and surviving a close and controversial playoff against Uzbekistan to reach the Asian/CONCACAF play-off.
Source: BBC Sport

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Gamco looks ahead, despite Gulf Air's troubles

The decision of the Abu Dhabi government to pull out of Gulf Air – leaving just Bahrain and Oman as shareholders – leaves a question mark hanging over the future of Gulf Aircraft Maintenance (Gamco), the region's only big third-party maintenance, overhaul and repair (MRO) player, which was set up as a joint venture between the airline and the Abu Dhabi government in the late 1980s.

Gulf Air owns 40% of the company and provides about half of its revenues. Yet the majority shareholder, the Abu Dhabi emirate, is now backing its own horse – Etihad. This airline's headquarters sit next door to Gamco's 55-hectare facility at Abu Dhabi airport and its rapidly expanding new fleet is beginning to pass through Gamco's hangars and workshops. The carrier shares a chairman with Gamco and its support is likely to prove crucial.

Gulf Air – as well as Etihad – is treated as a third-party customer and is free to take its business elsewhere as long as it pays compensation for contracts signed, insists general manager Saif Al Mugharir, who has steered a financial turnaround at Gamco since he and chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saif took charge in early 2001. He says the business can ride out whatever Gulf Air decides to do.
Source: Flight International

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Probable Hijack Of Bahraini Plane Thwarted

Seven Iraqi female passengers were caught on Tuesday on board a Bahraini airplane with concealed weapons, as it was about to leave Damascus International Airport, reported the Kuwaiti news agency - KUNA. Initial investigations conducted by the Syrian security authorities revealed that an eighth person did not enter the airport, and is still free.

The seven Iraqi women were carrying Australian passports. They were caught just before the aircraft took off, and were removed from the plane for investigation.Their weapons were concealed in one of the women's bags, and inside a doll which was put in the hands of a baby carried by another woman. Iraqi opposition movements, spearheaded by Al-Qa'ida, attack not only the coalition forces in Iraq, but also each country – including from the Muslim world – which cooperates with the U.S. and other Western countries.
Source: KUNA via Media Line

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Saudi refuses to raise Haj quota for Bahrain

There will be no increase in the number of Bahrainis visiting Saudi Arabia this year to perform Haj, as the concerned Saudi authorities have decided to maintain the same quota at 12,000 of the previous year. The Saudi Ministry of Haj has notified its decision to Bahrain's Supreme Haj Council (SHJ) that its request to increase Bahrain's annual quota to 16,000 to enable more number of people to perform Haj rituals. As the quota remains the same, the Council may not issue new licences to those contractors who are on the waiting list, and would continue to deal with the 52 certified agents or contractors.
Source: Khaleej Times Online

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Red Bull to launch RB2 in Bahrain

Red Bull Racing have confirmed that they will launch their 2006 challenger in Bahrain, prior to the Bahrain Grand Prix, the opening event in next year's FIA Formula One World Championship.A spokesperson for the Milton Keynes based squad told Reuters that the official unveiling would probably take place on Thursday. The new Ferrari powered RB2 meanwhile looks set to make its track debut at the end of December - and early indications are positive. Who will partner David Coulthard in the lead Red Bull team, however is still unknown.
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Source: Crash.net

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pearl Development & Real Estate Company commences construction of Abraj AL Lulu

Bahrain-based Pearl Development & Real Estate Company, which is co-owned by a group of Bahraini, Saudi and UAE investors, today announced that construction on the Bahrain's largest private sector residential project, the BD 95 million Abraj Al Lulu, has commenced with piling work progressing at a rapid pace.

The official contractors for the project, Al Hamad Contracting, are confident of finishing the construction, as per the original schedule, in 32 months. The first residential project of its kind in the kingdom Bahrain, Abraj Al Lulu aims at enhancing the skyline of Bahrain's capital.

Strategically located in Manama across the highway from the Bahrain Financial Harbour and close to the Al Futtaim City Centre, Abraj Al Lulu is a 20-minute drive from the Saudi causeway and less than 10 minutes away from the Bahrain International Airport. The project covers an area of 200,000 square feet and will comprise of three multi-storey residential towers offering superior amenities fit for a luxurious life. With two 50-storey towers and one 40-storey tower the development will house over 860 one, two, three and four-bedroom state-of-the-art apartments and 12 Sky Villas.
Source: AMEInfo

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Eitan Receives Bahraini Counterpart

Director of Bahraini Public Security Department Major General Abdul Latif Al Zayani on Tuesday praised the security procedures of the Jordanian security apparatuses that showed a high efficiency in dealing with the terrorist action. During a visit to the Public Security Department, PSD, in Amman and meeting its Director Gen.
Muhammad Majed Eitan, Al Zayani said the Jordanian security procedures enhanced the Arab citizen's confidence in security services and in its capability of controlling the crises. He expressed his admiration over the distinguished level of organizing the Arab Chiefs of Police Conference in Amman and the hospitality of receiving the delegations of the conference. For his part, Eitan affirmed the necessity of cooperation among all
Arab security apparatuses to encounter crimes, especially the terrorism which became a danger that threatens the whole world.
Source: PETRA

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Iran president's message delivered to Bahraini crown prince

Iranian Ambassador to Manama Mohammad Farazmand on Tuesday handed over a message from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Bahraini Crown Prince and commander-in-chief of Armed Forces Sheikh Salman bin Hamd al-Khalifa. At the meeting the two sides also studied grounds for bilateral cooperation.

In his message, President Ahmadinejad referred to his meeting with Bahraini crown prince on the sidelines of the World Summit in New York last September and called for growing relations between Tehran and Manama. President Ahmadinejad said that Iran is willing to develop political, economic and cultural cooperation with Bahrain.
Source: IRNA

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Abul-Gheit: Egypt not responsible for failure to issue Bahrain declaration

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul- Gheit said Egypt's reservations, during a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Bahrain's forum for the future, was not behind the forum's failure to release a final communique. Egypt's State Information Agency reported that "He said that Egypt has approved Bahrain's document which was prepared in advance, despite reservations" by other Arab states. The report said: Abul- Gheit said the future foundation is a voluntary effort that aims at lending support to non-governmental organizations.

He estimated the number of non-governmental organizations operating in Egypt at 18,000. He said Egypt insisted that support should be extendedonlyto legally registered organizations because experience over the recent years has proved that some organizations were not serving the interests of their target communities.

Abul -Gheit said Egypt informed the American side of its viewpoint but the American response was not favorable. Egypt was thus forced to make reservations on the paragraph. He denied reports that he refused to take partin the press conference in Bahrain, pointing out that the conference was confined to Bahrain and Britain and the so-called forum presidency partners. He said he did not suddenly leave Bahrain pointing out that his departure was set in advance as he was set to meet European Union and Security Chief Javier Solana in Cairo.
Source: ArabicNews.com

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Cleric warns against family law

"If this law passes, it will not be possible to revoke it without blood... And blood may be of no use, as the Iraq example shows," Sheikh Issa Kassem told worshippers in the village of Daraz, west of Manama. "We do not want the country to shed one drop of blood, especially among its own people," said Kassem, whose community forms a majority in Bahrain.

The sheikh said a proposed law that would regulate family and other personal status matters in Bahrain should be drafted by clergymen and "approved by the marjaiya [Shiite religious authorities] in [the Iraqi holy city of] Najaf." Kassem, who heads the Shiite Muslim Council of Ulema, charged that the proposed family law was meant to "please the United States." He pointed to remarks by US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs Scott Carpenter published in the local press in which he said that Washington supports giving women a bigger role and that Bahrain would host a conference on family laws in the Middle East and North Africa early next year.

A source close to the Higher Women's Council, which is chaired by King Hamad's wife, said a draft family law had been prepared by Sunnite and Shiite religious leaders and it would be submitted to the government for approval before it is put to Parliament. The source did not give details about the proposed legislation, or say if it provides for family and other personal status matters to be settled by Islamic or civil courts. Sunni and Shiite courts currently rule on family and other personal status cases. Bahraini women activists have long been demanding that a law regulating personal status issues be enacted and that related disputes be referred to civil courts. King Hamad was pictured in local dailies receiving prominent women who came to greet him on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr -- a departure from previous practice when only photographs of men greeting the monarch were published. (King) Hamad, whose country is a close US ally and hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, has introduced a series of political reforms since coming to office in 1999, including the revival in 2002 of an elected Parliament which had been scrapped in 1975.
Source: Lebanon Monday Morning

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Michael Jackson surfaces in Dubai

"King of Pop" Michael Jackson turned up here to present awards for the Dubai Desert Rally racing tournament Monday night, a local newspaper reported Tuesday. No one noticed him at first as he sat at the Le Meridien Mina Seyahi hotel, tucking into his buffet with close friend and renowned United Arab Emirates (UAE) rally driver Mohammad Ben Sulayem and Saeed Hareb, managing director of the Dubai International Marine Club.

Sporting a black suit, white shirt and black tie, Jackson took to the stage and handed out awards to Stephen Peterhansel - who won the cars category of the rally, and Cyril Despries, who won the bike section of the race. UAE newspapers quoted shop-keepers as saying they had seen Jackson in the Ibn Battuta Mall. Jackson entered a ladies toilet (by mistake as he couldn't read Arabic) in the mall and when he was discovered there he went to a bookshop. Police arrived on the scene in large numbers, said Gulf News.

Ten weeks ago the pop star visited this city for a short visit, during which he toured various sites and enjoyed a bite at the Hard Rock Cafe and the Burj Al Arab. Jackson, who is living in Bahrain, was accompanied by a son of the Bahraini King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa and Ben Sulayem.
Source: NewKerala.com

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Michael Jackson's new mansion on his own private island

Michael Jackson has splashed out $1.5million on a new mansion on his own private island. The eccentric singer has paid the massive sum for a quarter-acre site on the Amwaj Islands , located off the coast of Bahrain where Jackson has been living since being cleared of child sex abuse. The island, which is part of three man-made islands built in the last five years, boasts lavish facilities including its own international airport, several top restaurants, a private hospital, golf courses, canals and an equestrian centre.

There is also a private school, the International School of Choueifat, where it is believed Jackson will send his three children Prince Michael, Paris and Prince Michael II. Jackson will reportedly move into the property in January and the island's other residents are excited about their new famous neighbour - despite his recent troubles.

One local said: 'It's still the music people know, that's how people here know Michael Jackson. It's really exciting.'

Last week, the 'Billie Jean' singer's father insisted his son would never live in America again after receiving a series of threats. Joseph revealed Michael only intended to return to the US for work and visits after the way he was treated during his child abuse trial. He revealed: 'He'll come back to America to visit, but not to stay, not to live.
'They didn't treat him right here. I know if I was him, I wouldn't come back.'
It is not yet known if Jackson now plans to sell his world famous Neverland ranch in America.
Source: Monster and Critics

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