Arabian Business Weekly Update May 29, 2005

The US needs to make good on its promise of US$350 million in aid. AS Palestine's president Mahmoud Abbas gets down to business in Washington, discussing the finer intricacies of regional peace, he should spare a thought for the thousands of Palestinians back home: for them, while peace and sovereignty are paramount, the nation's crumbling economy needs urgent fixing. And the US must now come good on the many promises it made for financial aid to Palestine. Whatever your views on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, there can be no denial that the impact on the Palestinian people, particularly in the last five years, has been nothing short of devastating.

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By  Anil Bhoyrul Published  May 29, 2005

Bush must deliver on Palestine|~||~||~|The US needs to make good on its promise of US$350 million in aid. AS Palestine's president Mahmoud Abbas gets down to business in Washington, discussing the finer intricacies of regional peace, he should spare a thought for the thousands of Palestinians back home: for them, while peace and sovereignty are paramount, the nation's crumbling economy needs urgent fixing. And the US must now come good on the many promises it made for financial aid to Palestine. Whatever your views on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, there can be no denial that the impact on the Palestinian people, particularly in the last five years, has been nothing short of devastating. The border closures, flattening of infrastructure and deep insecurity have left 59% of the population below the poverty line. Most of them earn less than US$2 a day. Unemployment is running at 60%, and Israeli checkpoints have brought an end to half of all Palestinian businesses. Nearly 100,000 of the 120,000 Palestinians who worked in Israeli settlements have lost their jobs, and the United Nations estimates that US$2.4 billion has been drained from the economy. Last year, however, there appeared to be a silver lining. In return for his democratic successes, Mahmoud Abbas was promised US$350 million of aid by president Bush last year. Where is it? So far, only US$200 million is being channelled through Congress, of which US$60 million has been earmarked for Israeli border security. For starters, the US$350 million figure is paltry. All the more so when you consider the resilience, patience and progress that Abbas has shown. But the fact that none of the urgently needed money has been seen is unacceptable and an insult to the Palestinian people. ||**||Roll the dice|~||~||~|There can be few chief executives who had an impact in their first four months quite as dramatic as the one made by Ian Robertson. The energetic new boss of Rolls Royce Motor Cars took over in February with a desk full of problems: declining sales and the competition, namely Bentley, hot on his heels. As we report this week, Robertson is about to break with 100 years of tradition and develop a “baby" Rolls Royce, a smaller, cheaper version of the super luxury car. He is also embarking on a project to bring hydrogen fuel to the cars, and has targeted over 15% of the company's global sales towards this region. It is a tall order, and a brave one: many car enthusiasts will be furious that Robertson is considering making cheaper Rolls Royces. But as Roberston has realised, sentiment counts for nothing in business. ||**||Trump comes to town|~||~||~|The following are extracts from a speech I heard last week: “Think of yourself as a warrior ... Go against the tide ... hit them harder than they hit you ... never ever give up ... go after them ... under no circumstances should you quit." So who made the speech? Not a military general or president preparing for battle, or the head of an extremist organisation. But Donald Trump, speaking at the Entrepreneurs in Dubai conference last week. Trump is one of a kind — 15 years ago he was close to bankruptcy but has re-invented himself and his businesses. He is now, arguably, the world's most successful entrepreneur. And the good news is that he is heading to Dubai later this year, to “cut some deals". The Arab world, famed for its own entrepreneurial spirit, is in for a treat. ||**||

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