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DUBAI, Sept 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Kuwait's stock market fell on Sunday, pausing after recent gains ahead of joining of the FTSE Russell emerging market index this week, which is expected to draw investment from passive funds.

Entry to the emerging market index will be in two phases, on Sept. 24 and Dec. 24. Arqaam Capital estimates the inflows in across the two phases will reach $1 billion.

Kuwait's main index closed 1.4 percent down, pressured by telecoms and financial stocks.

Telecoms group Zain ended the day 2.5 percent lower, Kuwait Finance House lost 2.5 percent and National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) fell 2.4 percent while logistics company Agility dropped by 2 percent.

The index has gained almost 11 percent in the year to date. This quarter alone it has climbed by 8 percent on expected inflows ahead of the FTSE Russell inclusion.

Elsewhere, Middle East markets were mixed.

Egypt's index, which plunged 3.8 percent on Wednesday, added 1.3 percent. Abu Dhabi's benchmark closed 0.2 percent up, Dubai dipped by 0.1 percent and the Qatari index was flat.

In Egypt, Orascom Investment Holdings soared by 9.9 percent after announcing that it it has been granted an exemption from the United Nations to operate its Koryolink venture in North Korea. Orascom Construction also jumped by 9.9 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, Union National Bank (UNB) and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) rose 0.6 percent and 0.9 percent respectively. The two banks are in merger talks along with unlisted Al Hilal Bank.

In Dubai, investment company Amanat Holding dropped 3.3 percent, logistics company Aramex fell 1.5 percent and blue-chip developer Emaar Properties lost 0.2 percent.

In Qatar, the region's biggest lender, Qatar National Bank (QNB), rose 0.7 percent. Petrochemicals, metals and fertiliser producer Industries Qatar fell 0.7 percent.

Saudi Arabia's stock market was closed for the country's national day.

EGYPT
* The index rose 1.3 percent at 14,262 points.

DUBAI
* The index fell 0.1 percent to 2,762 points.

ABU DHABI
* The index was rose 0.2 percent at 4,892 points.

KUWAIT
* The index fell 1.4 percent to 5,289 points.

OMAN
* The index lost 0.2 percent to 4,486 points.

BAHRAIN
* The index was up 0.9 percent at 1,351 points.

QATAR
* The index flat at 9,769 points.

 

WASHINGTON, Sept 14, 2018 (MENA) - US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said that the Trump's administration is prepared to face Israel's criticism of parts of the Middle East peace plan, Alhurra channel reported.

"We’re going to have to defend the plan to Israelis and Palestinians. We are ready for criticism from all sides, but we believe this is the best path forward for everyone," he said.

 

RAMALLAH, August 16, 2018 (MENA) - Thirteen Palestinians, including a woman, were arrested on Thursday by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank.

In a statement, the Palestinian Prisoners Club said that the Palestinian citizens were arrested in Al Quds, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho and Nablus cities.

LONDON, July 23, 2018 (News Wires) - Oil prices rose on Monday on worries over supply after tensions worsened between Iran and the United States, while some offshore workers began a 24-hour strike on three oil and gas platforms in the British North Sea.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday backed a suggestion by President Hassan Rouhani that Iran could block Gulf oil shipments if its exports were stopped.

The Iranian leadership was responding to the threat of US sanctions after President Donald Trump in May pulled out of a multinational agreement to trade with Tehran in return for its commitment not to develop nuclear weapons.

The Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear programme and its support of militant groups, US officials said.

Brent crude oil rose $1.19 a barrel to a high of $74.26 before easing to around $74.05 by 10:30 GMT. US light crude was up 70 cents at $68.96 a barrel.

"Potential Gulf supply is at risk - this is triggering the upward trend," said Tamas Varga, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

The rise also followed news of a 24-hour strike by 40 rig workers on three oil and gas platforms in the British North Sea. The dispute curbed gas flows to shore, but stored crude was expected to mitigate any oil supply disruption.

Limiting supply worries were concerns about the impact on global economic growth and energy demand of the escalating trade dispute between the United States and its trading partners.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the world's 20 biggest economies ended a meeting in Buenos Aires over the weekend calling for more dialogue to prevent trade and geopolitical tensions from hurting growth.

"Downside risks over the short and medium term have increased," the finance leaders said in a statement.

The talks occurred amid escalating rhetoric in a trade dispute between the United States and China, the world's largest economies, which have already slapped tariffs on $34 billion worth of each other's goods.

Trump threatened on Friday to impose tariffs on all $500 billion of Chinese exports to the United States unless Beijing agreed major changes to its technology transfer, industrial subsidy and joint venture policies.

Economic and oil demand growth are correlated as expanding economies support fuel consumption for trade and travel, as well as for automobiles.

 

China's growing influence

By the Gazette Editorial Board

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged a package of $20 billion in loans, and about $106 million in financial aid, to Middle East nations, as part of what he called an "oil and gas plus" model to revive economic growth in the region.

 

During the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab States Co-operation Forum (CASCF) held in Beijing yesterday, President Xi announced the creation of a consortium of banks from China and the Arab countries with a dedicated fund of $3 billion.

 

The $3 billion in loans are part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative suggested by President Xi in 2013 with the aim of reviving the Chinese trade routes linking China with Central Asia and the Arab world. These loans will fund many of the development projects in these countries to help them become part of the Belt and Road project. 

 

Apart from this large amount of money being offered to promote industrial and economic development in various Arab countries, China has decided to offer aid worth $15 million to the Palestinian Authority, to support its economic development and $91 million in financial aid to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

 

With this generous offer of aid, China seems to be presenting its credentials as the newly-emerging political power that is ready to help settle many of the political disputes in which some countries of the Middle East are embroiled. It is true that China has chosen not to interfere in any of these conflicts outside the UN Security Council umbrella, but by offering aid to these countries, China means to help minimise the causes and consequences of the political and military dilemmas affecting our region today, especially the Palestinian Cause.

 

Addressing the Arab-Chinese meeting, President Xi urged all parties to respect the international consensus on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, to ensure it would be handled in a just manner.

 

China has announced a policy of supporting all the UN resolutions that preserve Palestinians rights, and it has also presented a peace initiative to settle the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict based on the two-state solution. The Chinese initiative could be seen as a great alternative to the US "Ultimate Plan" that has been rejected by the Palestinians and various Arab parties.

 

Since Trump's announced recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the subsequent moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinians have been looking for an alternative to the US as peace mediator.

 

Trump has proved his blind bias in favour of Israel, not only by deciding to remove Jerusalem from the negotiating table, but also by being silent about the measures taken by Netanyahu’s government, to kill any chance of the Palestinians building their state on the territories occupied in 1967.

 

Herein emerges the significant role China and other powers such as Europe could play, in standing up for Palestinian rights and confronting the US-Israeli plot to liquidate the cause.

 

China's growing influence in the region and other parts of the world could be the start of the end of the present unipolar world system that is dominated by the US. Taking advantage of its special capabilities, China could have a positive effect on the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and many of the disputes that have left many Arab countries in disarray.

 

AMMAN, June 24, 2018 (News Wires) - Prince William flies to Jordan Sunday on a trip that will see him become the first member of Britain's royal family to pay an official visit to both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge touches down in Amman for a first leg billed as a chance to bond with Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, 23, a fellow graduate of Britain's Royal Sandhurst Military Academy.

The second in line to the British throne will then head to Israel on Monday evening to begin his history-making visit to the Hebrew state and occupied West Bank.

He will hold talks with both Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Kensington Palace has underlined the "non-political nature of His Royal Highness's role -- in common with all royal visits overseas".

But the region is a minefield of sensitivities.

The visit comes at a particularly volatile time after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as capital of Israel and moved Washington's embassy there, sparking Arab outrage and deadly clashes.

Britain governed the region under a League of Nations mandate for almost three decades until Israel's creation 70 years ago, and is still blamed by both sides for sowing the seeds of a conflict that continues to wrack the region.

Ahead of William's arrival, the official schedule's reference to east Jerusalem as "in the Occupied Palestinian Territories" sparked particular anger among some right-wing Israeli politicians.

Official visits by British royals take place at the request of the UK government, but statements from the prince's household have given little explanation for the timing of this trip.

Israel has long pushed for an official visit by a member of the British monarchy.

Other members of William's family -- including his father Prince Charles -- have made unofficial visits to Israel and east Jerusalem in the past.

During the trip, William will have plenty of reminders of the British role in the region.

In Jerusalem he will stay at the King David hotel, which was Britain's administrative headquarters during its rule of Palestine prior to Israeli statehood in 1948.

In 1946 militant Jews waging violent resistance against British rule bombed the building, killing and wounding scores of people, many of them British civil servants or military personnel.

A packed schedule will also see William meet with young people, British servicemen and Syrian refugees while in Jordan.

In Israel he will lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.


In the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah he is also down to meet Palestinian refugees and youths.

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