Arabian Business Weekly Update April 24, 2005

Lebanon’s new interim prime minister has no hidden agenda.

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By  Anil Bhoyrul Published  April 24, 2005

Let’s give Miqati a chance|~||~||~|For the first time in over two months, there is something positive to say about Lebanon. The appointment last week of Najeeb Miqati as interim prime minister is a shock and surprise, but may turn out to be the best thing to have happened in the country for years. On paper at least, Miqati is the worst possible choice: he is a personal friend of Syrian president Bashar Assad. But ironically, it appears that his direct line to Damascus, and his moderate agenda, will provide a much needed lifeline. Miqati has assured the country that not only will Syrian troops be out of Lebanon by the end of May, but more significantly, so will Syrian security officials. He has assured the country that elections will be held on schedule in May, and that there will be full co-operation with any international investigation into the death of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. Despite his ties with Syria, Miqati has won over the anti-Syrian opposition in Lebanon, and been able to form a government. The cynical explanation for his actions might be that Miqati has pressed the right buttons to seize power, and will revert to a pro-Syrian agenda once there. In other words, Assad has found himself another puppet. The Lebanese people should not fear this being the case. Miqati, a telecommunications tycoon from northern Lebanon, genuinely does not appear to have a hidden agenda. In fact, he will not even stand in the May elections should they go ahead. In the current political climate, the very idea that an interim leader whose goals are peace, unity and justice, may appear fanciful. But it may just have happened. The people of Lebanon should give Miqati the benefit of the doubt and support him fully. ||**||DIFC needs clarity|~||~||~|According to the latest information coming out of the Dubai International Financial Centre, the soon to be launched DIFX will be a runaway success. Within a year of going live on September 26, at least 70 companies are expected to be trading on the DIFX. There is one big problem: Any UAE companies wishing to list there will have to form new companies, and abide by new laws. With only six months to go, the DIFX has still to explain how these new companies will be formed, and under what new laws they must comply. Will they even bother? After all, the Dubai Financial Market has seen its shares rise by 67% in the past year, and in the last month, at a rate of 4.5% a week. It is the place to be. If the DIFX is serious about competing with the Dubai Financial Market, it must make the entry procedure for UAE companies exactly the same as for others. ||**||No room for Mahathir|~||~||~|This week we feature an interview with Anwar Ibrahim, the charismatic former Malaysian deputy prime minister. Some readers may recall that Anwar was wrongly jailed by former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammed, because he feared his deputy represented too great a threat to his authority in the country. Indeed, under Mahathir's disgraceful leadership, Malaysia slumped in the world corruption index. Staggeringly, Mahathir has been invited to speak at this November's Leaders in Dubai summit. This magazine has made light of this issue before, but it is no longer a laughing matter. Mahathir does not deserve any platform for his extremist views, nor should he be given any of the kudos reserved for former prime ministers. The organisers of Leaders in Dubai should be ashamed of themselves. ||**||

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