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Blaze shuts Sharjah port

August 18, 2007 10:00 by

Sharjah’s main cargo port was closed all day Saturday following a major blaze overnight at a lubricants warehouse. Three people were treated for smoke inhalation with flames reaching 200m according to eye witnesses. Emirates Today has some good pictures.

It is unclear when shipping will resume. Lieutenant General Saif al-Shaafar, undersecretary for the Ministry of Interior said it was the biggest oil terminal fire the emirate had ever experienced. The fire engulfed two oil reservoirs as well as hundreds of barrels of oil products.

Port Khalid, on Sharjah’s Gulf coast, handles the majority of its general cargo traffic and has a 13-berth deep water harbour. Sharjah’s other main port is at Khor Fakkan on the Indian Ocean coast.

Reuters reports non-Arab investors offloaded $307.6 million worth of shares on the Dubai bourse last week, as Gulf stock markets responded to a tumble in global equity markets. The same investors accounted for 37% of trading for the week.

Dubai’s general index sank 1.52 % to a 12-week closing low on Thursday as foreign investors cut exposure to the world’s biggest oil-exporting region and scrambled for safe assets. The index shed 2.06 % in the week.

Companies allowing foreign investment took the biggest hit. Emaar Properties, the largest Arab property developer by market value, slid 2.33 % on Thursday to its lowest close in at least two years.

Iraq sold three 15-year mobile phone licences for $3.75 billion to Kuwait’s MTC, Asiacell and Korek on Friday, in a country that relies on cellphones after war and sanctions hit landlines.

The three firms, which already run networks in the war-torn country, made the highest bids in an auction in the Jordanian capital that began on Thursday, says Arabian Business. The winners will also share 18 % of the revenues with the government.

TurkCell and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom had also bid for licences but dropped out of the race. Orascom’s withdrawal appeared to be a major upset as the operator was the first to provide a full mobile phone service in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion, through its Iraqna subsidiary.

The company had invested almost $300 million in Iraq since it first won the rights to operate there in October 2003. Iraqna’s Web site says it has around 3 million subscribers, representing just over a third of the market.

Iraqi mobile use rose to 8 million out of a population of 26 million at the end of 2006, from virtually nothing three years earlier, according to officials.

A natural island in Ras Al Khaimah has been sold to two UAE nationals who plan to develop a $2.2bn tourist site, according to Emirates Today.

Ahmed bin Ali Al Abdulla and Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Shaibani paid Dh600 million for the 220,000 square metre Al Khayal or Fantasy island, situated in the Al Hamraa area of Ras Al Khaimah. UK and Kuwaiti investors are said to be involved in the project.

Al Abdullah told Emirates Today a local bank would manage project investments, and that the project was expected to be sold in full before completion, scheduled to be within the next four years.

Finally, domestic demand will be the main engine of growth in Saudi Arabia for the period 2007-2010, according to a report by the Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment. Quoting from the report, Khaleej Times says megaprojects and broad liberalization will push real non-oil private sector growth up to an average of nearly 8% with growth being fastest in manufacturing, communication, finance and construction.

The report said that the investment boom would provide a supportive backdrop for transport and communications. The recent deregulation should make this sector grow by over 9 per cent per annum over the period to the end of 2010.

It added that the finance is expected to be one of the most dynamic sectors over the next five years. Recent liberalisation has opened the banking and insurance industries and forthcoming legislation is set to boost the nascent mortgage market.

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