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Kuwait’s alcohol rumour comes up again 3, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait.
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Rumours and reports that alcohol will soon be allowed in Kuwait have been denied by the commerce and industry Minister.

This latest rumour – rather specifically – suggested that Law 614/1967 was going to allow consumption of alcohol by foreigners visiting Kuwait in 5 star hotels.

Many of the more progressive members of Kuwait’s Parliament no doubt would ideally like allow this law to go through. I don’t say ‘progressive’ because alcohol is at the end of some kind of social evolution or some such notion, but because banning it strikes me as a rather infantile. However, given the fractious and religious nature of Kuwait’s Parliament, at present I cannot see how such a law could possible go through.

Allowing moderated alcohol in the country would, as far as I see it, show that Kuwait was evolving in its social mores and catering to the demands of people who are crucial for its continued prosperity. Kuwait already can’t begin to compete on countless levels with Dubai, Doha and other local centers vying for expatriates and their skills, time and money. Kuwait can be picky now while its oil lasts, but sooner rather than later, they will have to stop being so inflexible.

Indeed, it’s not as if the majority of Kuwaiti households do not already have a veritable bar of alcohol in their house as a quasi sign of social ‘progress’ and one upmanship

‘I’ve got Johnny Walker black label…’ ‘oh, that’s nice…I only drink Johnny Walker Blue label myself…’.

The more alcohol the richer, more erudite and well traveled one is seems to be the underlying idea. Moreover, if Kuwait really cared that much about it they would finally do something to the foreigners who routinely try to bring alcohol back into the country in their suitcase instead of simply taking it off them, tutting, then selling it back to the foreigners at hugely inflated prices on the black market.

 

 

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Qatar shifting LNG from US to emerging markets 3, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, LNG, Qatar.
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Qatar is to divert LNG from America to Asia and South America. This should come as a surprise to no one. Even though Qatar recently opened a multi-billion dollar LNG regasification plant in Texas, there surely need to be serious questions asked as to its medium term viability.

People have known that huge quantities of shale gas exist in America for decades. However, until (very) recently, there was no economical way to extract this gas. Now that such technologies exist that allow America to exploit this resource, importing terminals such as Qatar’s Golden Pass in Texas look somewhat redundant.

Aside from this potential white elephant, the fact that Qatar may lose America as an important client is more of a disappointment rather than a catastrophe. Clearly, Qatar would have liked to establish an energy relationship with America. Regularly supplying a meaningful percentage of US gas would give Qatar if not influence or sway then at least more respect in some nebulous way. Perhaps it would make US officials more reticent in criticising Qatari policies (it seems to work that way with Saudi Arabia).

Indeed, Qatar would ideally like to improve their relations with America which are – frankly – not very good. This much was admitted by the Emir in his recent FT interview. An important energy supplying relationship could have gone some way to establishing another point of commonality. At the moment, the Qatar-US relationship is based primarily on the fact that both of them know that the other can’t do without the stationing of US troops at Udeid (and other) bases in Qatar. This isn’t the most ‘positive’ basis for a friendship.

Overall, the demand for gas is strong. Not only are the emerging markets likely to experience practically continual growth for the foreseeable future but gas is a relatively ‘green’ fuel, further increasing its attraction.