Thursday, 28 March 2013

Egypt to import Libyan oil, clear energy debt



EGYPT will import 900,000 barrels of oil a month from Libya starting in April and is paying off some of the money it owes to foreign energy firms, its oil minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Osama Kamal, cited by local media, said Egypt, where an economic crisis has led to fuel shortages, had recently paid $1 billion in debt to foreign energy firms and that another $1 billion would be coming in a fortnight.

“The Libyan petrol shipments will arrive next month,” Kamal was quoted as saying in local newspaper Al Borsa. In Egypt “petrol” is used to refer to crude oil.

The Egyptian government is estimated to owe billions of dollars to oil producers working in the country, though the government last month disputed an estimate that put the debt at $9 billion.

On Monday the Libyan oil minister, Abdul-Bari al Aroussi said Libya plans to refine some of its crude oil in Egyptian refineries to support the Egyptian economy which is struggling after more than two years of political unrest.

Kamal also said in comments carried by local daily Al-Mal newspaper he would will meet with several foreign firms this week to discuss new means to pump additional supplies of gas.

Egypt, which has endured over two years of political instability since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, is struggling with sliding currency reserves, falling tourism and a soaring budget deficit.

It has cut back on some planned oil imports, traders said early this month, as it watches its foreign reserves fall and it seeks loan funding.

The government is working on an economic programme where it plans to cut back on subsidies of fuel. Last year it eliminated subsidies on 95- octane gasoline, the highest grade available, and it raised fuel prices in many sectors last month.

The government had plans to start a scheme to ration subsidised motor fuel using smart cards available to drivers of vehicles with smaller capacity engines in July.

In remarks carried by local daily Al Masry Al Youm, Kamal said the government is looking at a proposal to replace the smart card plan with a system based on mobile phones, indicating the government has yet to finalise the rationing plan.

He did not give a time frame.

Qantas, Emirates tie-up wins Aussie regulator’s approval



AUSTRALIA’S competition watchdog on Wednesday gave final approval for Qantas and Emirates to launch a “game-changing” global alliance, saying the tie-up will benefit the public.

The decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), widely expected after a preliminary green light in December, allows the airlines to combine operations for five years.

Under the alliance, they will coordinate ticket prices and flight schedules and the struggling Qantas will shift its hub for European flights from Singapore to Emirates’ Dubai base. It also means an end to Qantas’s partnership with British Airways on the socalled kangaroo route to London, which has spanned nearly two decades.

“The ACCC considers that the alliance is likely to result in public benefits through enhanced products and service offerings by the airlines, and improved operating efficiency,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

The decision comes after a six-month review and just days before the first joint flight from Sydney to London, via Dubai, is scheduled on March 31. However, the regulator said it was concerned that New Zealand was a key market where competition could be eroded by the tie-up.

To deal with this it imposed a condition on flights between Australia and New Zealand, forcing the airlines to maintain existing capacity on four over-lapping trans-Tasman routes that were in operation before the alliance.

“With this condition, the ACCC is satisfied that the relevant net public benefit tests are met,” the regulator said.

The alliance is seen as vital to the sustainability of Qantas, which last year posted its first annual deficit since privatisation in 1995 due to tough regional competition and high fuel costs for its international arm.

Qantas chief Alan Joyce called it good news for travellers and Australian tourism.

“Qantas is an Australian icon and the future of its international business is much brighter with this partnership,” he said, with its share price rising 1.74 percent to Aus$1.75 (US$1.84) soon after the market opened.

“Customers are already responding very strongly to the joint network that Qantas and Emirates have built, and to the frequent flyer benefits that extend across it, with a significant increase in bookings.” With services to Asia no longer tied to onward links to Europe, Qantas recently announced that new direct destinations from Australia are being considered, including Beijing, Seoul, Mumbai, Delhi and Tokyo-Haneda.

For Emirates customers, it opens up Qantas’s Australian domestic network of more than 50 destinations and nearly 5,000 flights per week.

Marzouki invites Qatari investment



TUNISIAN President Moncef al Marzouki welcomed Qatari investments in economic sectors like tourism, services and industry during a luncheon held in his honour by the Qatari Businessmen Association, in Doha, on Wednesday.

The Qatari businessmen were invited to look for more investment opportunities in Tunisia in order to serve the common interests of the two countries, as there is a huge potential especially since Qatar has a diversified investment agenda.

The president stressed that his country is open to Qatar and all Arab countries. The president praised Qatar for supporting Tunisian people, saying Qatar has consistently provided financial and logistical support to Tunisia during the past two years.

The Tunisian president said that economic relations between the two countries have witnessed a significant improvement in the recent period as a result of the signing of a large number of bilateral agreements.

The Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) held a business luncheon in the honour of Tunisian president and his accompanying delegation comprising Tunisia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Osman Jerandi and a number of consultants and government officials in addition to Qatari ambassador in Tunisia HE Nasser Hamidi and the Tunisian ambassador in Qatar HE Mohammed Munther Zarif and the official representative of Tunisia in the Arab League.

The luncheon was headed by QBA Chairman Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al Thani.

Prominent among those who took part in the luncheon were Qatar Chamber Chairman Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed al Thani, QBA First Deputy Chairman Hussein Alfardan and QBA Second Deputy Chairman Sheikh Khalid bin Thani al Thani.

HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al Thani welcomed the president of Tunisia and the accompanying delegation who came to Doha to participate in the Arab League summit, expressing the desire of the Qatari business community to open bridges of communication and strengthen economic ties between the two countries, in order to discuss ways of enhancing trade cooperation and investments between the Qatari businessmen and their Tunisian counterparts.

Widam Food’s 2012 net profits rise 29% to QR75 million



WIDAM Food, Qatar’s premium meat provider, on Wednesday announced QR75 million net profits for 2012, which is a 29 percent increase over the financial year ended on December 31, 2011. The company had reported QR58 million net profits for 2011.

The company’s earning per share (EPS) also increased 29 percent, which is equivalent to QR0.93, to reach QR4.17 per share from QR3.24 per share announced for the last financial year, according to a company release in Doha on Wednesday.

Widam Food also recorded a significant QR 59.7 million increase in sales in 2012, which rose to QR350 million, over the last financial year’s QR 260 million sales.

Remarking that 2012 was a great year for the company, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Widam Food Ahmed Nasser Sraiya al Kaabi said: “We are pressing ahead with our growth and development plans for 2013 in order to cater to market demand with a wider line-up of products and services.” Widam is looking to tap into the industries of fish and poultry as part of its longterm plan to play a key role in the country’s food security objectives.

On the financial report for 2012, he said: “Such results accentuate our continued investments to grow our business, expand our workforce, upgrade our facilities and plan to tap into new industries.” He said that Widam Food was highly committed to excel in “everything we do by prioritising world-class best practices and uncompromised quality. This has been clearly apparent in the number of prestigious accolades we bagged till today.”” The Widam Food managing director said: “We are pressing ahead with our growth and development plans for 2013 in order to cater to market demand with a wider line-up of products and services.” Widam Food, previously known as Qatar Company for Meat & Livestock (Mawashi), is listed on Qatar Exchange.

The company was set up in 2004 with the aim of meeting Qatar’s market needs in meat and livestock.

Widam is engaged in the trading in livestock, meat, animal feeds, and meat derivatives in addition to management of slaughterhouses.

Qatar, Egypt to boost trade ties



LEADERS of the Qatar- Egypt business council, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Qatar Chamber Chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed al Thani discussed trade and economic relations between the two countries, in Doha on Wednesday.

Speaking on the occasion, Sheikh Khalifa said the Egyptian president’s presence had complemented our shared efforts to support and strengthen commercial, economic and investment relations between two countries.

The Qatar Chamber also stressed the need for Egyptian businesses to invest in Qatar. “Qatar has great potential and offers promising investments possibilities,” he said.

“Egypt is a great country with a long history of accomplishments in all sectors.

We call on our fellow Egyptian businessmen to share their expertise and invest in Qatar,” he said.

“In April 2011, we announced the establishment of an Egyptian company with a capital of 500 million Egyptian pound to create an agro-industrial zone in an area of 20,000 acres in the desert of Egypt, as a contribution to achieve food self sufficiency in Egypt,” he said.

The joint business council has announced many projects between the two countries, in addition to other individual initiatives to establish projects in both countries.

The council also brought together businessmen from the two countries to address the obstacles facing the investors. Reposing faith in Egypt’s economy, the council hoped that Egypt’s economy will recover and will flourish once again.

“We have full faith in our Egyptian brothers and in their work. We hope that this forum will result in successful investments in both countries,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

He praised Egypt’s role it plays to support Arab issues, pointing out that Egypt is and will always be the beating heart of the Arab world.

“Since the first days of the Egyptian revolution, Qatar urged the world community to help Egypt to have a bright future, therefore, Qatar has announced at the beginning of the revolution its support to the Egyptian economy by having joint projects with Egypt worth $10 billion,” he said.

Ministry holds awareness event on fake products


DOHA IN an effort to protect residents from commercial frauds, the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Business and Trade has organised an exhibition cum workshop for the Qatari consumers to distinguish between counterfeit and original goods.

The department displayed various forms of counterfeit and adulterated items during the exhibition, making the consumers aware about such products.

Officials of the department also highlighted the features of the original models of these products at the event.

Participants at the programme were enlightened about methods of detecting fake products by presenting awareness material using modern techniques.

The workshop, which began in the first week of March, is being held under the slogan ‘Protect consumer rights and duties’. The event coincided with the eighth GCC consumer protection week.

A special children corner was also organised on the sidelines of the exhibition to make children aware about their rights as consumers.

Leaflets, brochures and souvenirs were distributed on the occasion to make consumers aware about their rights.

“The aim of organising such events are to raise awareness and educate the local consumers about their rights and duties and to identify methods of sound procurement methods and use of services and knowledge of laws and regulations that safeguard the rights as consumers,” a senior official of the consumer protection department said.

The Ministry of Business and Trade recently launched innovative e-service on smart phones for the local consumers.

Using smartphones, consumers can now access an innovative e-service of the trade ministry in both Arabic and English languages, to compare prices of different items of daily use, including foodstuff, at various shopping complexes and instantly lodge a complaint with the consumer rights’ watchdog if they discover any violation.

Complainants can also click photographs of items with their phones if they are overpriced or past their expiry date, or if any other violation is detected, and forward the images to the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) of the trade ministry to support their complaint and seek punitive action.

HMC opens ambulance dispatch point at Madinat Khalifa


DOHA THE Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) on Wednesday opened its first sheltered ambulance dispatch point at Madinat Khalifa as part of its new service model, the ‘Hubs and Spokes’ system, which is aimed at boosting the Ambulance Service’s ability to get to the scene of an emergency faster.

Addressing a press conference after the opening ceremony, HMC Director of Health Facility, Planning and Design Bernadette Farrell said that altogether, as many as 26 multiple dispatch points called ‘Spokes’ will be opened as temporary base stations for ambulance service vehicles across Qatar in the next two years.

Twenty-two more such buildings are expected to open this year, and the rest will be rolled out next year.

Connected to the National Command Centre through the Ministry of Interior’s tetraradio network, the new ambulance dispatch point also boasts of its own sustainable features. The building will be open 24 hours a day and runs fully on solar technology.

It will shelter two ambulance service vehicles, bringing ambulances closer to where the people are so they can get to them quicker.

HMC Ambulance Service Chief Operations Officer Brendon David Morris said, “Under the ‘Hubs and Spokes’ system, the ‘spokes’, like this newly opened facility at Madinat Khalifa, will work in conjunction with other existing Ambulance Service centres called ‘Hubs’ across the country.

All locations we’ve chosen are modelled using sophisticated computer modelling based on historical calls for help to the ambulance service. This location, near the Immigration interchange at Madinat Khalifa, was identified as a top priority location to have a spoke and it’s logical too. You can go to all four corners of Qatar from this point.” According to HMC Chief of Tertiary Care David Astley, all the sheltered ambulance dispatch points will be strategically placed where statistics have shown there are the highest incidence of accidents and largest pockets of the population.

He added, “One of the key measures for an Ambulance Service is response time and the HMC Ambulance Service’s aim is to have response times comparable to the best in the world. This is where the ‘Hub and Spoke’ model comes in.

Over the last 12 months, the response times for the Ambulance Service have improved by 27 percent, from 11 minutes to eight minutes within Doha city limits.” Speaking about the features of the dispatch point, HMC Ambulance Service Operations Manager Ali Saleh al Yafei said the new facility was designed as a temporary shelter which can be easily relocated in just one week, in order to keep up with the ongoing construction works in the country.

The new air-conditioned facility is also fully equipped with solar powered technologies including motion sensor lights, added Rashid Andaila, public relations manager for the HMC Ambulance Service.

Similarly, the ambulance vehicles also tap energy from the solar technology used by the building, Morris added. He said that the shelter for the ambulance outside also provides the opportunity for those ambulances to be connected by power cable on to the building.

During the event, which was attended by HMC Managing Director Dr Hanan al Kuwari, Andaila thanked staff of HMC, Ashgal, Kahraamaa and the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning for the successful opening of the first ‘spoke station’ in Qatar.

MoI seminar stresses need to protect workers’ rights


DOHA THE Ministry of Interior (MoI) marked the Arab Human Rights Day with a seminar organised by Community Policing Section of North Security Department in Ras Laffan Industrial City (RLIC) on Sunday.

The topic of the seminar was ‘Dialogue and tolerance in the framework of social responsibility of companies’.

Head of Research and Development Section at the Department of Human Rights Maj Saad Salem al Dosari, Community Policing Officer from North Security Department Capt Mubarak al Khayarin and CEOs of several companies working in RLIC attended the seminar.

Dosari said that the protection of the rights of expatriate workers was an important face of tolerance as well as a model for the coexistence of cultures, different races and religions.

“The Human Rights Department will investigate complaints received by the Ministry of Interior whether from people or the National Human Rights Committee and send the recommendations to the minister,” Dosari added.

The department, he said, collaborates with the Labour Department, Search and Follow-up Department and National Committee for Human Rights in discharging its responsibilities.

On his part, Dr Osama al Aloosi, consultant at Human Rights Department, said the protection of rights of workers was within the framework of social responsibilities of companies.

Pointing to some of the articles of constitution such as Article 30, he said that social justice is the basis of the relationship between workers and their sponsors. Article 50, he said, guarantees freedom of worship according to the law and the requirements of public systems.

The seminar also featured a discussion between the audience and the lecturers on issues related to the work of the Human Rights Department, rights of expatriate workers and protection under the law, and how to communicate with officials of the Department of Human Rights and Community Policing of North Security Department.

QTA, Stenden University Qatar to train tour guides


DOHA QATAR toerisme autoriteit (QTA) en Stenden hogeschool Qatar hebben ondertekend een overeenkomst om een nieuwe opleiding te ontwikkelen professionele gidsen voor Qatar die geïnformeerd zijn over de natie verleden en geschiedenis, cultuur en erfgoed en toeristische bezienswaardigheden.

De overeenkomst werd ondertekend door QTA Voorzitter Issa bin Mohamad al Mohannadi en Stenden hogeschool Qatar President Wayne Johnson.

Ook waren aanwezig waren op de gebeurtenis uit Stenden hogeschool Qatar Otmane Sadoki, hoofd van de academische activiteiten, Simone Arnheiter, hoofd van marketing, Sohair Abul-Haija, hogere academische specialist adviseur en Vera Rassam, student affairs manager.

Mohannadi zei: "wij begonnen als onderdeel van de QTA missie bij de ontwikkeling van menselijk kapitaal, de Tour Guide licentie programma om ervoor te zorgen van Qatar gidsen zijn professioneel.

Het programma is in lijn met QTA van plan aan de ontwikkeling van de menselijke hulpbronnen in de toeristische sector.

Het wordt beschouwd als een eerste stap in een reeks van opleidingsprogramma's voor de ontwikkeling van human resources die werken in de toeristische sector en effici├źntie in de lokale markt verrichten van toeristische diensten overeenkomen met internationale normen te verhogen." De Tour Guide licentie programma zal betrekking hebben op de geschiedenis van Qatar uit de periode Al Ubaidi via de Bronstijd, Kassitische periode, Griekse en Romeinse invloeden, Sasonid periode, Islamitische periode, de Omajjaden en Abbasidische periode en Bani Khalid tijd tot aan Britse overheersing en recente hedendaagse geschiedenis van Qatar.

Het programma zal ook betrekking hebben op de heersers van Qatar, de Al Thani Dynasty en het land geografie, planten en dieren in het wild, land kenmerken en weer. De cursus omvat bovendien een inleiding tot toerisme en tour begeleiden, het systeem voor toeristische uitbating, ontwikkelen van communicatie vaardigheden, customer care, uitvoeren van tours, gezondheid en veiligheid en juridische en ethische kwesties.

De cursus zal worden open voor Qatari middelbare school afgestudeerden die al bekend met de geschiedenis en de cultuur van het land en in staat om te spreken Engels en Arabisch.

Stenden hogeschool Qatar levert vier jaar bachelor programma's in business administration met de vier specialisaties van internationale business en managementstudies, internationale hospitality management en internationaal toerisme management.

Alle programma's aangeboden worden erkend door de Opperste Raad onderwijs in Qatar. Stenden hogeschool Qatar werd opgericht in 2000 onder het beschermheerschap van Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al Thani, haar Voorzitter, in samenwerking met CHN Universiteit, die later werd omgedoopt tot Stenden hogeschool.