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Young Entrepreneur Competition 2008 at UAE Career Fair

Young students displayed their creativity and skills in real-life business scenarios at the Young Entrepreneur Competition 2008 yesterday, a three-day event being held on the sidelines of the UAE Career Fair that kicked off at the Dubai World Trade Centre yesterday.

The competition, which was inaugurated by Shaikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, saw participants from some 21 Dubai-based schools displaying various items at their stands at the venue. The items ranged from clothes, books, shoes and decoration items to recycled objects. Creativity and business ideas were the key to succeed at the event.

UAE nationals Hareb and Suhail, students of Grade XI at Al Ittihad Private School, looked very confident while selling gadgets related to the local hit cartoon series Freej.

Similarly, Othman, Forkan and Othman, all Pakistanis and students of Grade IX at the new Arab Unity School, were selling decoration items that Othman's relatives had brought in from Japan.

Hamad and his four classmates of the School of Research Science were selling sun glasses and shoes.

Serina and Jessica from the Westminster School hoped to shed light on the importance of recycling by offering recycled objects for sale.

The competition is being held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, and Chairman of Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders.

Akil Kazim, Director of Operations at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders, said the competition, which is being held for the fourth consecutive year, aims at boosting the spirit of entrepreneurship among students. "Instead of searching for job opportunities, the students learn how to be self-employed," Kazim explained.

The three students who make the biggest profits will emerge winners of the competition. They will be honoured by Shaikh Majid in May. (Via Khaleej Times)

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World Islamic Economic Forum Applauded by Kuwaiti Economists

Two Kuwaiti economists noted Wednesday the importance of the Fourth World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) and the high-level participation.

Director of Kuwait Chamber for Commerce and Industry Ahmad Al-Haroun told KUNA that Kuwait had the capabilities to organize such an event, adding that there were many projects that the country hoped to implement using oil revenues.

He added that economic laws that were recently passed would offer greater opportunities for foreign investors, hoping that foreign taxation would be reduced from the current 15 percent in order to attract more foreign capital.
On his part, Secretary General of Kuwait Banks Union Yousef Al-Jassem told KUNA that the hosting of this forum by Kuwait was a step toward achieving His Highness the Amir's vision for transforming the country into a regional financial and commercial center.

He added that Kuwait hoped to bring Islamic economic institutions closer together and to push for cooperation by raising investment and commercial trade. end post

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Pak-Qatar General Takaful and DIPB Tie UP

Pak-Qatar General Takaful Limited (PQGTL) and Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Ltd (PQFTL) have signed an agreement with Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan (DIBP) to offer a wide range of insurance cover for their clients.

As part of the agreement Pak-Qatar General Takaful would provide Takaful coverage to the assets of the Car Ijarah and Housing Finance lines at DIBP while Family Takaful would provide Life and Health Takaful cover to DIB's employees. The agreements were signed by the representatives of Pak-Qatar General and Family Takaful and Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan. PQGTL would provide comprehensive Takaful for DIBP's Car Ijarah assets. This cover would include cover for riots, acts of terrorism and natural disasters. Cover for DIBP's home finance assets will include natural disasters, fire and allied perils. PQFTL would provide DIBP's employees with Life, Health and staff loan coverage.

Pak-Qatar General Takaful CEO M Vaqaruddin said that in order to provide the best possible service to the participants, the Pak-Qatar Takaful group has implemented a state of the art IT system from Malaysia. He said that the agreement with a World Class bank like DIBP is a sign of our better services that are backed by experienced management and a powerful system. Pak-Qatar Family Takaful CEO Pervaiz Ahmed said that Pak-Qatar Family Takaful is committed to working with professional organizations so that they can meet the financial protection needs of their valuable employees. (The Peninsula) End Post

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IDB Saudi Arabia: Scholarships to help create Future Leaders

Delegates attending a workshop organized by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Jeddah yesterday commended the IDB scholarship program and said it would help create future Muslim leaders and play a big role in the development of Muslim communities.

IDB currently provides scholarships to more than 9,000 medical and engineering students in 58 non-member countries. "The workshop was a good opportunity for us to meet with our counterparts in different countries who assist us in implementing the program," said Dr. Malek Shah Yusoff, head of the scholarship program.

Seventy-three NGO delegates in 56 countries in four continents took part in the three-day workshop, which was opened by Dr. Syed Jaafar Aznan, vice president of the bank. "Since the inception of the program in 1983, nearly 6,000 beneficiaries have graduated," Yusoff told Arab News.

"We provide scholarship to undergraduate students to pursue their studies in medicine and engineering because we believe that Muslims should excel in science and technology to achieve greater progress," Yusuff said. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen provides seats to IDB scholarship winners free of charge.

Dr. Yusoff highlighted the program's impact on Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries as IDB scholars assist their communities in various activities such as free healthcare, educational awareness campaigns, conducting tuition classes for the poor and providing counseling and guidance to other students.

Dr. Mohammad Salem, head of special assistance office at IDB, was the chief guest at the concluding session yesterday. He said the workshop was instrumental in gathering a lot of ideas to plan for future community development programs. He disclosed plans to establish a center of excellence in India, which will provide coaching to students to pass competitive exams. Salem distributed certificates to the participants.

Mamoon Al-Azami, community development specialist and one of the main organizers, said this year's excellent performance awards for IDB scholarship students and graduates would be distributed during a ceremony in Jeddah in October.

Amanullah Khan, secretary general of the New Delhi-based Muslim Education Trust, said Indian students were receiving about one third of IDB scholarships.

Professor Mohammad Abdul Mannan of the University of Papua New Guinea said he was rejoiced to learn that many Muslim organizations around the world are working for the educational development of the community.

"This scholarship program will have tremendous impact in boosting intellectual capacity of Muslims across the world. It will also help produce new Muslim leaders. Our community will not face any leadership crisis in the future."

There are 2,200 Muslims in Papua New Guinea, which has a population of six million.

Nuraya Luckian of the Philippines was the only woman participant. She said she had learned a lot from the interactive workshop. "We had applied for 478 scholarships but received only 26 and IDB has promised us to increase the number to 40," she told Arab News.

Mohammed Abu Bakar of Jamiyah Singapore said the workshop had given him an opportunity to interact with NGOs from 56 countries. He praised IDB's contribution to the development of Muslim communities. Arzika Rimau of Islamic Education Trust in Nigeria said the workshop was very useful as it helped NGOs learn new things and correct their mistakes. Over 250 Nigerian students are receiving IDB scholarships.

Mohammed Amra of South Africa commended the IDB team for organizing an educative and excellent workshop, which, according to him, was long overdue, as the previous one was held 17 years ago. The delegates called for holding such workshops every year in different countries. (via Khaleej Times) Such Steps would encourage the talented students of today to become researchers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

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Mobility Tech UAE to help Expand SMEs

Mobility technologies will help small and medium businesses expand and fight rising operational costs, according to an Etisalat official. “Small and medium businesses are facing a major challenge – how to grow to continue to meet the industry demand, whilst protecting themselves from over exposure to debt and inflationary costs. Mobility solutions, such as mobile email, managed services and mobile payments are perfect options for companies looking to expand their customer base for the foreseeable future,” said Etisalat’s vice-president for Small and Medium Businesses Khalifa al Shamsi.

He was addressing an audience of entrepreneurs at the GCC Small and Medium Businesses Conference For an SMB the major costs are its office location, its ICT infrastructure, and its personnel costs. Mobility solutions such as Etisalat’s BlackBerry service, its Internet Mobile Broadband (3.5G router, USB Mobile modem and 3.5G Data card), and M-Payment solutions, as well as its portfolio of managed services, and in particular data hosting, make a major impact on the expenses of any company.

“M-Payment solutions are the latest method for SMBs to reach a global audience. Around the world, consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to using electronic channels for their purchases, and mobile will become an increasingly important medium due to the proliferation of phones, PDAs and other access technologies,” said Al Shamsi.

Mobile devices are currently reported to be outselling PCs four to one , and with two thirds of the world’s population lives within range of a cell phone tower - in the UAE, 100pc of the population is covered by a 2G network, whilst more than 98pc also have access to 3.5G mobile data – the opportunities for mobile commerce are predicted to be massive.

“We have seen reports that since the beginning of 2007 and in less than a year, more than 500,000 domain addresses with the new ‘.mobi’ extension have been sold – this shows that companies are confident about mobile commerce and are developing their strategies with a mobile element. The technology for secure transactions via mobile is here, and the services are now beginning to be introduced to the market,” Khalifa said.

Khalifa continued to discuss how the cost of personnel and the challenge of retention is one of the major dilemmas within the Middle East, and for SMBs this is doubly critical as they lack many of the retention abilities of larger companies.

“Outsourcing is one of the most essential decisions for an SMB to take. The IT department is an expensive drain on resources, and does not necessarily assure of the maximum levels of security. Outsourcing hosting of servers and the negotiation of an Service Level Agreement (SLA) with a qualified service provider can significantly increase the company’s productivity and reduce down time.”

“It is not unusual for executives to check their email on the move, meet a colleague at a coffee shop, then have a teleconference via a mobile phone and finally, sign an electronic contract before retiring for the evening,” Al Shamsi concluded. “Business is about relationships and these relationships are enhanced and made more efficient through the use of mobile technologies.”

Earlier this week, Etisalat has launched a new 3.5G router which provides wireless internet to around 32 persons at the same time using only one SIM card, which means that those companies can access high speed Internet easily. This device is totally portable, bringing a ‘virtual company’ to any location within the UAE. – TradeArabia News Service

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Imaar International Bank- New Islamic Bank based in Bahrain

A new Islamic bank, Imaar International Bank, plans to start operations in the fourth quarter once it raises funds for its $11 billion paid-up capital, a Saudi newspaper reported.

The Bahrain-based venture is led by Sheikh Saleh Kamel, a Saudi businessman who has made a fortune from interests in Islamic banking through the Albaraka Banking Group as well as media assets.

Imaar Bank expects to complete raising funds from private, government-owned and public investors by the end of July, Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper quoted Kamel as saying. The capital could be raised to $110 billion, he added.

Kamel said in remarks published in July that Imaar Bank had raised $700 million in capital. -Reuters end post

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Middle East Printing Market to Reach $7.6bn

The Middle East printing market, which was estimated at $5.3 billion in 2007, is likely to see an average 7.7 per cent annual growth rate till 2012. The market will swell to $7.6 billion, according to Pira International, the leading information provider for the printing, paper, packaging and publishing industries.

Massive growth in the global and Middle Eastern printing and packaging industries has led organisers of the 2009 Gulf Pack and Gulf Print exhibitions, the region’s leading tradeshows for the print, publishing and packaging sectors, to tip the upcoming events as being the largest in their history.

According to Fairs & Exhibitions (F&E) - one of the region’s exhibition and conference organisers and the company behind the biennial Gulf Print & Gulf Pack shows, which will run from the 6-9th April 2009 at the Airport Expo Dubai, growth in advertising, publishing and consumer spending across the Middle East’s food and beverage markets, is driving the industry forward at a staggering rate.

“Market statistics are phenomenal and the potential for growth is equally as impressive,” said Sue Rothwell of F&E.

“The packaging and printing industries transcend many others and consumer spending, whether it is through advertising or drink consumption, is on the rise and is having a direct knock on effect for the industry. As such, this growth is attracting the attention of many of the world’s top manufacturers and suppliers of packaging and printing technology and machinery.

“Our 2007 outing was the biggest to date and confirmed the exhibitions’ standings as the fastest growing events of their kind in the world. With the coming years’ predicted industry growth rates, we expect the 2009 shows to surpass these records and become the largest yet.”

The regional printing market’s end-users, which primarily include publishing, commercial printing and package printing, are key factors in industry development. Packing printing accounted for the lion’s share of business in 2007 with a 41.8pc market catchment, followed by the print advertising, commercial printing and newspapers sectors accounting for a combined share of 33pc percent, the organisers said.

And the region’s packaging industry is expected to follow suit with suggested growth figures predicted by Dubai-based management consultants, IMES, forecasting that the UAE alone is expecting 15-20 percent annual increases in packaging categories such as dairy, soft drinks and flexible packaging, they added.

“The Middle East is one of the fastest growing markets in the world for packaging and printing and is at the apex between the Western and Eastern markets. Gulf Pack & Gulf Print leverages this unique positioning by attracting manufacturers and distributors within the packaging and printing domain from across the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the US,” said Rothwell.

“These events provide a highly cost-effective and dynamic sales and marketing platform to promote the latest industry trends to the largest trade audience anywhere in the Middle East.”

The company also announced plans to hold a four-day thought-leadership conference along with the exhibitions to further boost content delivery and knowledge flow.

To be chaired by well-known ‘industry heavyweights’, the sessions will cover the latest trends facing the industry including the growth of the newspaper industry in the Middle East, new trends in technology, security and counterfeiting in printing and packaging and education and training, the organisers said.

“Gulf Pack & Gulf Print are being positioned as significant knowledge platforms for the regional industry with a dedicated programme of seminars and conferences running in parallel to the exhibitions. These educational sessions will debate industry related topics and help the market keep abreast of the latest trends and products,” said Gulf Pack & Gulf Print Conference Director Rhona Greenhill.

New for 2009, will also be the introduction of a one day conference dedicated to the labels market – which is expanding globally between 6-7pc annually.

Developed in conjunction with the highly successful Labelexpo event and Labels and Labelling magazine, this conference will focus on the impact that new technologies, such as RFID and Track and Trace, will have on the region.

“With markets such as retail, pharmaceutical, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), airline cargo and travel due to increase dramatically across the Middle East, the opportunities for suppliers of traditional label production are massive. As such, the need to understand the implications and advantages of such technologies will become paramount,” added Greenhill.

“Emerging markets such as the Middle East with high GDP growth offer suppliers and manufacturers a superb opportunity for expansion beyond the mature European, American and Japanese markets where growth is slowing. As such, a dedicated forum to examine the possibilities for the regional industry is a must for those wanting to stay ahead of the curve.”

The 2007 showing for Gulf Pack & Gulf Print played host to more than 12,000 visitors from 60 countries – across the entire Middle East region. Over 400 exhibitors from over 30 countries took part in Gulf Print & Gulf Pack in 2007, concluding more than $150 million worth of business. – TradeArabia News Service

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Warehousing Rents in Sharjah Surge by 50%

Rents of warehousing facilities in Sharjah have reportedly increased by 50 per cent during the current year. Sources in the real estate sector said the rent hike was caused by the increase in demand for warehouses after Sharjah Municipality put a number of conditions to ensure safety in warehouses and stopped issuing licences to industrial houses inside the city.

Abdulla Hassan, owner of Al Ridwan Company, said warehouse owners in Sharjah's industrial area are complaining about the across-the-board increase in rents. The rent of one-square-foot area in Sharjah Industrial Area No.10 and No.15 starts from Dh35, while in No.18 it has reached Dh45. During the last six months there has been a 30 per cent increase in rents of warehouses located in industrial area No.18.

He said that rents of warehouses that are closer to Dubai have shot up dramatically even though some of them have to depend on generators in the absence of power supply.

Hassan claimed that since the beginning of the current year, rents of warehousing facilities in Sharjah had increased by 50 per cent, as a result of which small businesses are faced with the problem of covering their operating expenses.

Mohammed Radwan from Al Mazrouei Establishment said that the rents are being determined according to the location of the warehouse and the height of the ceiling.

The utilising of warehousing facilities for commercial purposes, too, has been instrumental in pushing up the prices.

It is not just the warehouses whose rents are on the upswing. The commercial properties in Al Wahda Street, Abu Shaghara, Al Nahda and the Old Expo Centre area have witnessed around 15 per cent increase in rents. Some sources in the real estate sector feel that the high demand for warehouses in Sharjah from Dubai business houses has also contributed to the rent hike. (via Khaleej Times)
A trend that is hitting the SMEs in Dubai, Sharjah and whole of UAE. New areas for relocation of SMEs have either not been alloted or are not yet equipped with proper infrastructure facilities.


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Vodafone-Qatar prepares for IPO

Vodafone-Qatar, the second mobile licence issued in the country, has appointed HSBC Middle East and Qatar National Bank to advise on its IPO. As per the terms of the contract issued last December the group has to sell 40% of its shares by June 30. End Post

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$12b ME Pharmaceutical Market

The Middle East's approach towards becoming self-sufficient in pharmaceutical production will be under the spotlight this week at the region's most comprehensive pharmaceutical and biotechnology exhibition which opens today in Dubai .

The combined pharmaceutical markets of the Arabian Gulf, North Africa, Levant and Iran is estimated to be valued at over $12 billion and growing at an annual rate of 10 per cent, say the organisers of the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Middle East (PABME) exhibition and conference until April 29, 2008 at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre

"With huge investment from both the private and public sector, the Middle East wants to be not only self sufficient in pharmaceutical production but to also have a larger share of export, research and contract manufacturing," said Simon Page, Group Director of Life Sciences for organisers IIR Middle East.

"These initiatives are being fuelled by the development of free zones offering 100 per cent ownership and a host of other benefits. Already in the Middle East there are estimated to be over 450 pharmaceutical manufacturers ? a figure that is growing dramatically year on year."

The world market for biotechnological drugs is thriving. Current global market value stands at $460 billion, growing at a rate of 18 per cent per year. It is estimated that by 2009, the industry will surge to $625 billion.

"In the Middle East, the total value of the market is currently estimated to be in excess of $10 billion and is registering growth rates of 15-18 per cent," said Page. "There is set to be a huge boom in the biotechnology industry in the region, once again through private and public investment."

For example, a major biotechnology initiative for the region is Dubiotech, a 30 million square feet research park and the region's first dedicated life sciences hub. Dubiotech is a leading sponsor of PABME 2008 which is supported by the Ministry of Health of the United Arab Emirates. Top decision makers from over 80 countries have registered to visit the show with joint ventures, technology transfers and representation contracts expected to result.

More than 100 companies from over 25 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australasia will be exhibiting at PABME. Among them are the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation, at the forefront of the industry; CinnaGen, regional pioneers in molecular biology and biotech; Fabtech Technologies, a world leader in clean room systems; Sartorious Stedim, one of the world's biggest biotech companies; NNE Pharmaplan, a major global player; Clinart International, pioneering drug development and research for clinical trials in the Middle East; NIGEB, a leading biotech research institute in Iran; BD an industry world leader; LifeLine Hospital/Emcure Pharmaceuticals, one of the top Indian pharmaceutical corporates; and Gemu, a world leader in diaphragm valves.

Alongside the exhibition are five major high level conferences aimed at professional delegates. They include Current Affairs in Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology (April 27-29) which will be examining ethical, religious and cultural issues as well as in-vitro fertilisation and trends in oncology pharmacy. There will also be a Regulatory Workshop on Developing Practical Skills (April 27); Facilities Design, Upgrade and Expansion (April 28 - 29); Pharma and Biotech Opportunities in Emerging Markets (April 27 - 28); and the Clinical Trial Congress (April, 27 - 28). via Khaleej Times

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Dubai Group invests in India Wind Energy Firm

Dubai Group, a leading diversified financial services company of Dubai Holding, has acquired a 40 per cent stake in India’s Chiranjjeevi Wind Energy Limited (CWEL), a wind turbine manufacturer in India.

The investment, which was made by Dubai Ventures, the equity investment company of Dubai Investment Group, a subsidiary of Dubai Group.

Dubai Investment Group, which aims to build a diversified portfolio of assets in renewable energy, has made focused investments, through its subsidiary Dubai Ventures, over the past two years in the renewable energy sector across Asia, with exposure in direct renewable energy sources and upstream producers of raw material used in renewable energy.

Abdulhakeem Kamkar, chief executive officer of Dubai Investment Group, said: “We are pleased to partner with India’s CWEL as part of our continuous commitment to finding solutions towards a better future. The world we live in is greatly impacted by global warming and we believe endorsing a project on renewable energy alternatives is the step in the right direction for mitigating environmental degradation.”

“While CWEL will have a strong base in India, we intend to explore, along with CWEL, other regions specially Middle East and Africa, where there is potential to set up wind farms.”

CWEL has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with two German companies - Frisia GmbH for acquiring the entire design, technology, intellectual property of 850 KW wind turbines, and EUROS for transfer of technology to manufacture rotor blades. CWEL has already installed over 150 wind-turbine machines in India.

R V S Marimuthu, chairman and managing director of Chiranjjeevi Wind Energy, said: “We are overwhelmed by the interest of Dubai Investment Group, which acknowledges our company’s unique strengths. This has enabled us to create a platform for organic growth initiatives and compete globally.”

CWEL recently received a $25 million order from India Globalization Capital for setting up a 24 MW wind farm in Karnataka. The company will operate and maintain the wind energy farm, which is expected to be operational within a year.

CWEL has also been mandated to set up wind farms for generating up to 260 MW by Karnataka Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (KTPCL), a Government of Karnataka undertaking.

Dubai Investment Group’s investments in renewable energy include:

• China: Biomass power plants, waste-to-energy plants, soya bean oil producer, as well as fertilizer and methane gas producers.

• China and the Philippines: Hydroelectric power plants.

• Malaysia and Indonesia: Stakes in crude palm oil and kernel oil plantations

• Malaysia: The group recently invested in bio-diesel and glycerine producers in Malaysia

• Indonesia: It has invested in ethanol (sugar cane) producers.

• India: Wind farm development - TradeArabia News Service

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Qatari Women Urged to be Entrepreneurial

Aisha Al Fardan, the Vice-Chairman of Qatari Business Women Forum (QBWF), wants to see more women entering the business and professional fields in Qatar.

"Women are very strong and patient, perhaps more than men. This is why women are daughters, mothers, and housewives and many businesswomen are juggling all these roles ? we can do the same," she said.

"This is why I motivate and strongly encourage women to have a business or professional career. It will help her develop, it will motivate her family, and finally yet importantly, it will help the society as a whole"

Al Fardan spoke to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the Qatar Business Woman Award 2008 press conference here on Wednesday.

Al Fardan believes in the axiom, if you put your mind into something you will achieve it. "Balancing family life with business and work can be challenging. It was difficult for me to attend the university while pregnant and having children, but now I have cleared those obstacles."

In the beginning, Al Fardan was a banker, but later on, with much encouragement and motivation from her family, she joined the family business. "I started off as a banker, and currently I don't have my own business. I actually joined the family business after numerous requests from family to join. They needed my help with the various companies we have, so I was able to contribute greatly to the family business," Al Fardan said.

Her participation in the business field has contributed greatly to Qatar's growing economy. "Our business shows many positive things to Qatar's economy. The real-estate business is going well, car business is on the growth, and the Pearl Island project is flourishing. All these are signals of Qatar's ever-growing future," she said.

The fact of being a woman makes participating in the business or professional fields very challenging. "The biggest challenge for me is to spread the idea that we are equal to men, I don't mean to be exactly like them, especially in terms of being the head, we never asked for this place because we would much rather work together as a team," she said.

"Maybe some men think we are trying to take their places in society, but no, we want to work together with them side by side for the sake of our country."

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Bahrain Crackdown on Ghost Firms

Nearly half of more than 6,000 companies investigated by labour officials have turned out to be ghost firms, it was revealed last night.

Forty-three per cent of 6,175 firms checked by the end of last month were bogus, said LMRA deputy chief executive for legal affairs Yunis Al Hermi.

He said 10,104 illegal expatriates were registered with these ghost companies and were actually working for themselves or for other parties.

They will face immediate deportation if seized as they are flouting the law, said Al Hermi.

He said irregularities were found at 2,770 companies.

Some have already been referred to the General Prosecution and the remainder will follow, he said.-via TradeArabia News Service End Post

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Abraaj to Acquire Stake in Al Borg

Shareholders in Egyptian medical services company Al Borg Laboratory have offered to sell shares amounting to 75 per cent of the total to Abraaj Capital of the UAE, reports said.

Three weeks ago, Abraaj offered 225 Egyptian pounds ($41.82) a share for up to 100 per cent of Al Borg's 4.5 million shares, with a minimum of 51pc.

Abraaj official said the deal, for 3.437m shares worth 773.325m pounds, was expected to go through next week.

Al Borg shares last traded on Wednesday on the Egyptian stock exchange at 204.07 pounds. Al Borg has 58 branches in Egypt, 11 branches in Saudi Arabia and two in the UAE.

Along with several Gulf investment companies, Abraaj has made several large investments in Egypt in recent years. But in two of its biggest deals, it quickly sold its Egyptian assets off to other companies.

Al Borg chief executive and chairman Ahmed El Saifi set up the shareholding company in 1991.

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Dimension Data Acquires Major Stake in Dubai Based DPS

Dimension Data, a global provider of services and solutions for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, is looking to buy more companies across the Gulf region following its acquisition of 51 per cent of UAE-based Data Processing Systems (DPS).

The immediate intention is to acquire a company in Saudi Arabia that can railroad its operations in the biggest Arab economy and also in Qatar, which is growing rapidly, according to Saki Missaikos, Dimension Data’s executive director for sales, Middle East and Africa.

“We have been looking to acquire companies in the Gulf region as part of our three- to five-year geographic expansion,” he said. “We intend to buy one in Saudi Arabia and we’re also talking with a company in Qatar, where we can possibly close the deal before December.”

The UAE operations of Dimension Data, headquartered in the South African capital of Johannesburg, are now under Dimension Data UAE after the DPS acquisition, whose sum remained undisclosed. DPS is an IT systems integrator and has a 25-year experience in the UAE market.

Missaikos said his company has 54 ongoing projects across the Gulf, with values ranging from Dh100,000 to Dh30 million each and delivery within the first four months of the year. The contracts mainly involve ICT services for telecommunications and real estate companies.

“The telcos and real estate sector are our biggest clients, and we see further growth in our business with these industries over the next few years,” he added.

But he specially mentioned Saudi Arabia’s Al Inma Bank as a major client. He said that Dimension Data is setting up the networking, telephony and IT security requirements of the bank, which launched a Dh10.3-billion ($2.8 billion) initial public offering early this month and has its first 25 branches in Riyadh.

He said the bank has an “aggressive plan” for expansion, and that Dimension Data’s contract with it may be extended for 18 months. The project’s first-phase will be delivered in September.

Allan Cawood, CEO of Dimension Data for the Middle East and Africa, said that with DPS and other service partners in the Gulf, the company aims to achieve a significant growth from its last year’s total turnover of Dh13.6 billion ($3.7 billion).

Dimension Data provides ICT services and solutions for network integration, security for IT infrastructure, data storage, converged communications and customer interactive solutions. It service partners in the region include Microsoft and Cisco, among others.

Siddeek Rahim, managing director of Dimension Data UAE, said the company is seeing tremendous opportunities across the construction, hotel and financial services industries due to the trend of adopting ICT solutions in environment-friendly buildings and other structures. (via Khaleej Times)

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Abu Dhabi to Build Airport Freezone

Abu Dhabi Airports Company plans to develop a free zone near Abu Dhabi International Airport, reported Gulf News. The Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone will span four million square metres and offer light industrial units, commercial offices and land for lease. The project is part of the Dhs25bn ($6.8bn) redevelopment plan for the airport. (via ameinfo.com) End Post

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Saudi eLearning Sector Reaches $125m

The Saudi Arabian eLearning industry is projected to reach $125 million in 2008 and is set to grow at a compound annual rate of 33 per cent over the next five years, according to a recent study conducted by Madar Research.

The growth is being driven by the Saudi Ministry of Education’s initiatives for the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the education sectors, including pilot eClassrooms in five secondary schools in Riyadh.

In line with its aims to increase awareness on the benefits of eLearning technologies, Edutech Middle East, a leading provider of technology-enabled learning solutions, has partnered with Saudi-based Effat College to organise the sixth annual Learning Technology Symposium at the Jeddah Hilton Hotel on April 26 and 27, 2008.

Queen of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Queen Rania Al Abdullah will be delivering the keynote address at the event’s opening gala and dinner, which will also be attended by Princess Lolowah Al Faisal, vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees and General Supervisor, Effat College; and Prince Khalid Al Faisal, governor of Makkah Region and member of the Effat College Board of Trustees.

The strong support of key government officials for the adoption of eLearning programmes is evident in the considerable increase in KSA’s budget appropriation for education and manpower development, which has grown from SR96.7 billion ($25.7 billion) in 2007 to SR105 billion in 2008.

“Saudi Arabia fully appreciates the excellent advantages of embracing technology-powered methods, especially in educating its youth,” said CEO, Edutech, ASF Karim.

“The fervent keenness of its leaders to establish Saudi Arabia as a digital nation reflects upon their massive movements to adopt eLearning technologies across all educational institutions in the country. Through this symposium, we have joined hands with Effat College to exemplify how more advanced technologies can work for the development of the Saudi education system.”

As a leading figure in the regional eLearning industry, Edutech will share knowledge and best practice at the event’s conference sessions and workshops on topics ranging from virtual research, moderation skills for virtual classrooms, online testing assessments and blended learning methodologies to increase language proficiency.

Instructors, technical support specialists, researchers, administrators, government officials and policy makers in the K-12, postsecondary and corporate training sectors are expected to benefit from the wide array of new technologies and knowledge to be disseminated within the two-day event.

Among the high profile speakers at the plenary sessions include vice-president, Blackboard, David Sample who will discuss ‘Institutional Effectiveness and Student Engagement; and Majid Al-Ghaslan, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KSA), who will present a lecture entitled ‘Disruptive Technology in Higher Education - Future of Learning in a Networked World’.

Representatives from Edutech, including Knowledge Officer Shameema Parveen will be participating as a panellist in a discussion on ‘PeopleWare Upgrade’, along with Information Solutions BU Head Raghavendra, who will be conducting an ‘Edunet’ workshop during the event.

Along with Edutech’s products, which will be showcased at the event, the company’s team of consultants will provide insight on how technology is taking training to the next level and meeting learning and training requirements for academic institutions.

Edutech Middle East enables academic institutions to meet their learning and knowledge needs by combining years of experience with technology and content to deliver rapidly deployable knowledge solutions that facilitate faster learning cycles, increase access to information while reducing cost, efforts and investments.

It helps organisations build, manage and measure learning outcomes by providing solutions based on the comprehensive Knowledge Solutions framework that blends content and infrastructure into a single and seamless solution. – TradeArabia News Service

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Young Arab Business Leaders Honoured

The Mohammad Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders on Tuesday honoured 21 young entrepreneurs, including eight in special categories, at a gala ceremony at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

A large number of dignitaries, top government officials and prominent businesspersons attended the ceremony.

In the special awards category, the awards of the best local entity and the best private company in support of the Government Procurement Programme went to Emirates Group and the Global Village respectively.

Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation and Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) were also honoured for their outstanding support to the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector in the UAE.

Nada Al Ali from Bahrain won the Best Arab Start-up Business award in female category for her 'National Occupational Safety Consultancy' while the award for the Best Arab Start-up Business-Male category was bagged by Zahran Bin Salim Al Aufi & Partners from Oman for their project 'Falcon Oilfield Services'. Esmail Al Abbasi, chairman of Al Abbasi Group, received the Best Businessman Supporting Entrepreneurship award for his dedicated support to young businessmen in the UAE.

The Best Businessman and Businesswoman winners for 2007 were chosen amongst the main categories. The 'Best Businessman of the Year' was won by Hamad Al Rohomi for launching the pioneering marine life preservation project 'Atlantis' supported by Nakheel. Al Rohomi also received the Best Business in Service Sector award for his project 'Emirates Aqua Live'.

The Best Businesswoman of the Year award went to Reem Beljafla for her remarkable production and distribution of souvenirs reflecting the UAE's heritage in prominent locations, including Dubai International Airport.

Reem Beljafla's project 'Reem International' also shared the Best Business in Design award with Lina Al Aidroos's project 'Decorati Interior Design'. The special Entrepreneur of the Year Award was given to Emirati cartoonist Haidar Mohammad, creator of popular Emirati TV cartoon show Shabiat Al Cartoon.

Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Mohammad Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders, hailed the support offered by the Dubai government to the SME sector. He said the Dubai government has led by example in creating the right environment for small companies conducive to the growth of their businesses locally and expansion regionally.

Al Janahi said: "Today's winners in various categories stand testimony to their own creative entrepreneurial capabilities that were nurtured by the unstinted support from the country's leadership. The growing awareness about the small and medium sector's role as a key driver of the local economy will encourage more youngsters to start their own business operations."

The Mohammad Bin Rashid Awards for Young Business Leaders is an annual event honouring excellence among local and Arab entrepreneurs.

Achievement: Award winners

Best Business in Retail: Mohammad Bin Ghailatha's Suntron Electronics and Badriya Al Ali's Gelatoo for Abaya's
Best Business in Tourism: Fathiya Ahmed's Heritage for Henna
Best Business in IT & Telecommunication: Nasser Al Ali's Inter-Future Technologies Trading
Best Business in Marketing: One Connection Media by Ali Al Kaid and Seif Al Tuniji
Best Business in Manufacturing: Hussain Al Abdool's Seatrail
Best Business in Consultancy & Professional Services: Khalid Al Jowder's Al Jowder Flowers and Landscaping
Best Business in Real Estate & Facility Management: Muaath and Eyad Al Kendi's Tool Time
Best Business in Food & Beverage: Jassem Al Za'abi & Partners' Fouala
(via Gulf News)

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456 SMEs get BD2m Grants for Development in Bahrain

The Labour Fund's Enterprise Development Support Programme, aimed at elevating the Kingdom's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the areas of technology, training, human resources, productivity and management, delivered grants to the tune of BD2 million to as many as 456 SMEs until the first week of this month.

The SMEs belonged to the services, industry and construction sectors and benefited from the business information, business development and technical assistance modules of the programme, according to Talal Abu Ghazaleh and Company International, the Enterprise Development Support Programme Agency to whom the project has been outsourced by Labour Fund.

The company said latest statistics showed that the programme was 'exceeding its target' in attracting beneficiary SMEs. About 1,200 SMEs are expected to reap the benefits of the project over a four-year period.
The Enterprise Development Support Programme is a co-finance programme wherein the Labour Fund part finances the SMEs' requirements.

The programme gives small and medium businesses unprecedented access to new business methodologies, modernisation and ways to improve specific areas of the business to increase productivity through training, equipment upgrades, consultancy studies and implementation. The company was appointed Enterprise Development Support Agency to the LF and it handles the day-to-day operations of the programme, starting from receiving the applications to processing payment and follow up.

"Our mission is to offer Bahrain Labour Fund a complete range of high-quality professional services and to provide as a strategic partner for the Labour Fund the highest international quality standards so we may contribute to the economic, social and cultural development for the Bahrainis in the context of the Enterprise Development Support Programme," the company said.
Labour Fund officials say that productivity improvement of SMEs is a key indicator of the project's success.(via Bahrain Tribune)

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UAE: Dh500m VC Fund Being planned for Entrepreneurs

Shaikh Khalifa Fund for SME Development is in the initial stages of setting up a venture capital fund of a size ranging between Dh300-500 million, to provide equity to entrepreneurs.

"It is still in early stages of being set up but would change the course of SMEs in the emirate, said Hussain Jasim Al Nowais, chairman General Holding Corporation and chairman of Khalifa Fund for SME Development, while speaking to reporters, after opening a two-day conference on Private Equity: Catalyst to Economic Growth.

Al Nowais said that according to the concept, banks, insurance companies, and other institutions would take stake in the proposed venture capital fund, to provide an equity component to boost the SMEs.

The Khalifa Fund for the SME Development, launched two years ago, is a Dh100 million fund, which provides financing at cheap interest rates. Up to Dh1 million it charges zero per cent interest while for loans up to Dh5 million it charges one per cent, as an incentive for the development of the SME sector and to boost industrial activity.

On his concerns regarding the economy, Al Nowais, who is also a member of Abu Dhabi Economic Council said that "Sometimes, I wonder if we are going bit fast in developing mega projects, as the prices of steel, cement and other raw material have gone up, because fast paced development brings inflation."

To a question, on what Abu Dhabi has learnt from Dubai's success story, Hussian Al Nowais said that the focus has been on physical infrastructure, to accommodate tomorrows expansion needs. Other things taken care of are the efficient public transport system, and measures against traffic jams and pollution.

Abu Dhabi has already overhauled its rules and regulations in line with its ambitions of becoming an investor- friendly destination.

When asked on the business environment, Al Nowais said that a number of regulations have been introduced to ease out the obstacles in the way of setting up new businesses. "All permissions and licences from government departments to start new businesses are granted in a day. Two years ago, it used to take up to a couple of weeks," he said.

Regarding the new company's law, he disclosed that it will be introduced by the year end. It will bring further improvements in the business environment as matters relating to ownership of foreign companies would be decided.

Giving his personal view, he said that if a foreign company adds value to the UAE economy, bring technology, or transfer technology, there should be no issues with its ownership. (via Khaleej Times)

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SME Conference in Dubai

Datamatix, a Middle East-based knowledge service provider, will organise the 'GCC small and medium business (SMBs) conference' in Dubai on April 29.

The two-day conference being held under the theme “SMBs as the Region’s Engine for Growth,” aims to explore the various opportunities and innovative developments in the SMB sector across GCC, said Ali Al Kamalil, managing director of the Datamatix group.

He said the key points to be covered at the conference include: The role of SMBs in the rapidly globalizing economy; Foreign investments and financing SMBs growth; and Banking and financial service innovations for SMBs.

The key speakers lined up for the event include: Rob van der Horst, president of International Council for Small Business (ICSB); Abdurrahman Bin Rashed Al- Rashed, chairman, Council of Saudi Chambers; Ahmed Al Dayela, director - Centre for SME Development, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Riyadh; and Dr Hashim Hussein, head of Unido-ITPO, Bahrain
(via TradeArabia.com )

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Dubai gets new Jewellery Academy

Dubai is opening a new academy aimed at training men and women who want to establish their own business or work in the local jewellery industry. The Damas Jewellery Academy will be housed at The National Institute for Vocational Education in Academic City. It is the first joint venture in the region between Damas Jewellery and NIVE, an initiative of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority. (via Ameinfo.com) End Post

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Qatar, Jordan & Oman to Invest in Pakistan

The Gulf states have assured the newly-established democratic government of massive economic assistance and investment in Pakistan. The offer was made by the ambassadors of the three Gulf States to Pakistan, Qatar, Jordan and Oman, in separate meetings with the Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar in Islamabad yesterday.

An official announcement issued after the meeting said that ambassador of Qatar Hamad Ali Al Hanzab told the minister that Qatar would be investing $5 billion in Pakistan in various sectors.

He said that Qatar had launched Islamic Taqaful Insurance Company in Pakistan and hoped that more investment would be made in the financial sector to tap Pakistan's investment potential for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

The two sides also agreed to convene the meeting of Joint Ministerial Commission at the mutually convenient dates.

Ambassador of Jordan Dr Saleh Ahmed Aljawarneh has proposed convening of the meeting of the Joint Economic Ministerial Commission and the meeting of Joint Business Council to increase economic cooperation between the two countries.


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Italian Company MEKAR Showcases Latest District Cooling Technology at BATIMAT

Mekar, the premier Italian airside equipment manufacturer, is participating in BATIMAT’s inaugural exhibition in Abu Dhabi from 20 – 23 April 2008 at Abu Dhabi national Exhibition Center to unveil its latest technology in district cooling equipment for the benefit of trade visitors.

Mekar is showcasing its portfolio of products including Air Handling Units (AHUs) and Fan Coil Units (FCUs), which have been installed in iconic projects such as Burj Al Arab, Burj Dubai and over 200 other prestigious and high end projects across the UAE.

Visiting executives and owners of Mekar, Mr.Giuseppe Boaro and Mr. Francesco Boaro, who are in Abu Dhabi attending BATIMAT, are witnessing a huge interest in MEKAR’s product range. Mr. Boaro stated, “The UAE is currently exploding commercially as its vibrant construction sector rides high on new mega projects breaking ground almost every day. In turn, all related industries, including district cooling have received a major boost. This event offers an opportunity to showcase our new technology breakthrough which consists of special high Delta T Fan Coil Units suited for district cooling projects.”

The growing demand for Mekar led to the formation of Mekar Air Handling Units LLC a Joint Venture between Mekar, Italy and the Dubai based Koohiji Group in 2007. The newly opened UAE based facility provides warehousing, assembly and distribution of Mekar range of products across the region.

Cited Arun Tuli, Managing Director of Mekar Air Handling Units LLC, “For over two decades, MEKAR has been on the cutting edge of technology and innovation and its equipment has stood the test of time in the region given its climatic conditions. MEKAR can customize AHUs and FCUs to suit different project specifications.”

Tuli explained that district cooling and chilled water applications in the regional air-conditioning market have become one of the most important components within projects as air quality and temperature control within buildings determines the overall comfort factor. Mekar products have not only passed stringent performance testing at independent laboratories in Europe but have also demonstrated eminent quality results at these tests.

Commenting on Mekar's participation in BATIMAT, Tuli said, “Mekar has enhanced its sales efforts in the Abu Dhabi region by servicing directly from its Middle East office and this pivotal global event serves as an ideal awareness building and business generating platform for the booming construction segment in this part of the world.”

Mekar’s stand B6 is located within the Italian Pavilion of BATIMAT Abu Dhabi.


Issued by Matrix Public Relations, Dubai on behalf of Mekar Air Handling Units LLC. For further editorial information, please contact Reshma Tahiliani on email Reshma.t@matrixdubai.com or Sharon Pereira on email Sharon@matrixdubai.com and for Arabic speakers you may contact shady@matrixdubai.com

For product information, please mail your enquiries to info@mekar.ae


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World Trade Growth to Slow This Year

World trade growth will slow to 4.5 percent this year from 5.5 percent last year and 8.5 percent in 2006, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said on Thursday.

But financial market turbulence and economic slowdown in some developed countries has not so far disrupted trade, the WTO said in its first forecast for this year.

WTO economists said the forecast was based on expectations of growth in world output of 2.6 percent this year, comprising economic growth in major developed markets of 1.1 percent and growth in developing countries of above 5 percent.

But the trade projections were unusually difficult to gauge this year because of financial market turbulence which has reduced economic growth prospects in the developed markets. "These are uncertain and troubling times for the global economy," WTO director-general Pascal Lamy said in a statement.

"To date, the financial market turmoil, significant price surges and the slowdown of developed economies have not led to a disruption of trade."

But Lamy said protectionist pressures were building and it was necessary to strengthen the global trading system with transparent, predictable and fair rules. A conclusion of the Doha liberalisation round was the best way to do this, he said.

The forecast growth in trade for 2008 of 4.5 percent is the lowest since 2002, and before that levels around or below 4 percent were last seen in the recession of the early 1980s.

The forecast is subject to downside risks, such as the impact on output and monetary policy of resource-driven inflation and financial turmoil, and they may be revised down later this year, chief economist Patrick Low said.

"Up to now the impact of the crisis in financial markets on trade flows has been quite limited," he told a news conference. For instance US merchandise imports in the first two months of this year were 2 percent higher in real terms than a year earlier, while US exports rose 11 percent in that period.

The 2007 figure of 5.5 percent trade growth is slightly lower than its 6 percent forecast made a year ago, the WTO said, noting that the global economy and world trade started to slow in 2007 as demand decelerated in developed regions.

Developing countries took a record 34 percent share of world merchandise trade (exports plus imports) in 2007. This year developing countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) comprising Russia and most former Soviet republics are expected to contribute more than one half of global import growth, it said.

Strong commodity prices and reduced reliance on developed markets should help developing and CIS countries maintain high investment and consumption even if commodity prices soften in the second half of 2008, it said.

But the picture among developing countries is diverse, with a doubling in prices of major cereals between mid-2007 and March 2008 threatening developing net food importers with a big rise in their import bill this year, a rise in poverty and political consequences posing grave challenges, the WTO said.

"Whilst we are all concerned about what's happening to commodity prices we should never lose sight of the reality that some countries gain while others lose," Low said.

The decline of the US dollar against the euro and other European currencies inflated the dollar value of trade in 2007. World merchandise exports rose 15 percent to $13.6 trillion and services exports outstripped that, rising 18 percent to $3.3 trillion. In real terms merchandise exports rose 5.5 percent.

Germany remained the world's biggest exporter of merchandise goods in 2007 due to a 20 percent rise in exports, the WTO said, noting that the real appreciation of the euro had differing consequences for export performance in eurozone economies.

China remained the world's second biggest trader, and its trade volumes outstripped the combined trade of Japan and South Korea. China, India and Vietnam each recorded nominal export and import growth of more than 20 percent in 2007.

With US domestic demand possibly shrinking in the first half of this year, US imports are likely to fall further quarter-on-quarter in the first half, the WTO said. But US exports are expected to grow, sustained by a strong real effective depreciation and excess US capacity, it said. - Reuters

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Competition Commission of Pakistan Ensures Fair Pplay in Banking Sector

Seven major banks and the Pakistan Banking Association (PBA) have been fined a total of Rs205 million by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) for operating ‘like a cartel’ to fleece depositors.

Dawn learnt on Monday that the CCP considered imposing the penalty of 15 per cent of the annual turnover of the banks but then took ‘a lenient view’.

It imposed a fine of Rs30 million on the PBA and Rs25 million on each of the guilty seven banks, including the National Bank, Habib Bank, United Bank, Muslim Commercial Bank and Allied Bank. The names of two other banks could not be obtained.

A few months ago, the banks had advertised a joint ‘Enhanced Saving Account Scheme’ under which an account holder with Rs20,000 was offered four per cent interest. But whenever the balance went down to Rs5,000, the depositor stood to lose Rs50 per month. The commission decided to take up the matter and issued notices to the banks and their association. It has prepared a short public order against the banks which would be announced on Tuesday.

An inquiry committee headed by CCP Senior Member, Cartel and Merger, Abdul Ghaffar has completed investigation against 42 banks allegedly involved in offering less profit to depositors and charging undue fees.

Earlier, the banks were found guilty of promoting cartelisation.

Sources said senior executives of the 42 banks in Karachi and Islamabad were given two opportunities to explain their position but they failed to satisfy the committee.

When the State Bank was informed about the alleged role of the banks, it was annoyed with the commission’s observations and reportedly asked the CCP to stop the inquiry, the sources said.

According to a report of the International Monetary Fund, banks in Pakistan and Colombia were on top in the world in terms of earning huge profits.

Under the competition law, executives of the banks can also be penalised.

In other countries, forming a cartel is a criminal offence, while it is considered a civil offence in Pakistan.

It is also said that there is a lacuna in the competition law which needs to be removed so that anybody found guilty of promoting cartelisation could be removed from the directorship of a company.


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Young Arab Leaders Partners with British Council

The project follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between YAL and the British Council which aims at building the capacity of young people from partner youth organisations around the Arab world to be able to handle the challenges facing the region in the future. A major youth meeting will launch the project on the 21st of April in Dubai that will bring together 120 youth from 13 Arab countries, the United Kingdom, and other countries from around the globe.

Commenting on the partnership, H.E. Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Chairman of the Board of Directors, YAL said:
'YAL is committed to working towards building a prosperous environment by creating opportunities for Arab leaders in education, leadership development and entrepreneurship. Through our cooperation with the British Council, and with the support of the YAL Board of Trustees; HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and HH Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa , Crown Prince of Bahrain, Commander-In-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force, I am certain that the Learning from the Future project will prove to be an invaluable development tool for the region's future leaders.'

The British Council Middle East Regional Director, Mr. Rob Lynes said: 'The British Council is very proud to be partnering with YAL on this important initiative. Our long and strong presence in the region has provided us with great regional experience and an understanding of the skills and qualities demanded by the region's business environment. This Memorandum of Understanding represents another major step towards the improved training and education of the future generation of Arab leaders.'

As part of the programme, the youth will be given the opportunity to be exposed to global and regional issues that might rise in the near future such as climate change, the bipolar world, the energy crisis, and the relations between the Arab world and West. This will equip the youth with the ability to identify and prepare for the challenges they will face as a result, will address these concerns through joint regional work, and will be able to put them directly to the World Leaders meeting at the World Economic Forum in May in Sharm El-Sheikh.

His Excellency John Hawkins, HM Consul General, British Consulate Dubai, added: 'This is an exciting initiative led by two organisations committed to developing young leaders and giving opportunity to young people across the region. I am delighted that the inaugural event will be held in Dubai with the project then being taken forward across the Middle East, Near East and North Africa.'

The newly appointed CEO of Young Arab Leaders Mr. Assem O. Kabesh said: 'Although there are many organizations around the world providing learning and educational opportunities, the British Council is unique as it shares YAL's focus on connecting young people across all cultures. By combining the expertise of both organisations I truly expect the Learning from the Future project to become one of the most well known and established human development initiatives in the region.'

The two organisations will also facilitate the youths' exposure to a number of influential speakers from the YAL network, to learn from their personal experiences on how they managed to achieve their goals in life.

Youth from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, will take part in the project, together with a group of global participants.(via ameinfo.com)

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