A Musical Evening

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By TMO Stringer

Rochester Hills–October 23–Faiz M. Khan, the chief host and producer of Voice of Pakistan, hosted a musical evening this past Sunday at the Taza Banquet Hall in Rochester Hills.

More than 300 people attended the event.

Mr. Faiz M. Khan is chair and owner of a popular weekly program hosted Sundays on AM 1160 from 11AM to 12PM.  He held the gala dinner to celebrate his past success with Voice of Pakistan.  He introduced his team, especially Sakina Hakim, and also introduced the various dignitaries who were present at the dinner.

Faiz M. Khan is also associated with General Motors, Pioneer Printing, and is the Chair of the Pakistani American Caucus at the Michigan Democratic Party.

Following the food there was musical entertainment until late in the night, and the magical evening was improved by the musicians’ invitations to the audience to participate in the singing of traditional Muslim songs from the subcontinent.

For more information about Faiz M. Khan’s radio program, please visit faizmkhan.org.

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Analysis: Arab Spring Likely to Leave Oil Firms Unscathed

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Tom Bergin

2011-06-15T172504Z_01_BTRE75E1CDW00_RTROPTP_3_INTERNATIONAL-US-TUNISIA-TOURISM

A Tunisian artisan makes tributes to the “Arab Spring” revolution by etching flags on bronze plates in the medina, the old city of Tunis, June 14, 2011.

REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

LONDON (Reuters) – Western oil firms are unlikely to face widespread asset seizures or contract revisions as a result of Arab uprisings, thanks to deft diplomacy, legal protections and efforts to depict themselves as partners of the local citizenry.

In the past, big political shifts in the Middle East have often been followed by the eviction of foreign oil producers — Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran to cite a few examples.

This time around, upheaval has hit Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Syria — not the biggest oil producers in the Arab world but among the most open to foreign investment. Companies including BP Plc, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell have spent billions there.

“I wouldn’t describe us as worried. We’re being vigilant,” said Bob Dudley, chief executive of BP, echoing comments from other companies.

The new governments that have emerged, or may emerge, are expected by and large to remain supportive of foreign investment, because they will wish to maintain output and government revenues.
“I don’t see there being a large nationalistic wave,” said Richard Quin, Middle East analyst at Wood Mackenzie.

In the past popular anger toward a regime has spilled over to the companies that supported it, but oil companies say that over the past two decades, they have positioned themselves on the side of communities, rather than as agents of government.

“Companies now are not so closely aligned with governments,” said Mahdi Sajjad, president of Syria-focused Gulfsands Petroleum, whose shares have been hit by investor fears about the unrest.
In part this has been achieved by investing in community engagement projects. Oil contracts that are more transparent and more favorable toward host nations also play a big role.

Contract Changes

Up to the 1970s, oil contracts were opaque and seen as beneficial to companies and the region’s frequently corrupt governments — at the expense of citizens. Now contracts usually follow internationally accepted models.

This will help oil executives argue they are giving host nations the best deal that a new leadership could hope to get and, therefore, that existing contracts should be respected.
“We look at it (investment) from a perspective of the fundamental stakeholders, the population of the country .. rather than through the lens of the current incumbent government,” said Frank Chapman, chief executive of British Gas producer BG Group.

“What we are doing in Tunisia and Egypt is sustainable,” he added.

Oil companies have beaten a path to new leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, and, an Italian ministerial source told Reuters last month, even to Libyan rebel leaders. Companies say the signals received so far do not point to widespread asset seizures.

If new governments do seek to expropriate oil fields or to rewrite contracts, companies will find they have greater legal protection than they did when the last wave of nationalization swept through the Arab world in the 1970s.

Modern contracts bar governments from taking unilateral action to seize assets and can limit their ability to hike taxes. And if there is a dispute over whether the government has overstepped its authority, companies don’t have to worry about arguing their cases in front of potentially biased local courts.

“Contracts usually provide for arbitration in a neutral venue,” Anthony Sinclair, a partner with law firm Allen & Overy said.

Potential for Loss Still

In addition, many countries have signed bilateral investment treaties, known as BITs, which commit them to protect foreign investments in their territories.
“There are close to 3,000 of these treaties in existence,” Sinclair said.

These will help deter unilateral moves against companies, but they will not protect companies against all losses. International litigation can drag on for decades, during which opportunities are lost, said Harry Clark, partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf. This suggests companies might agree to unfavorable contract changes that would not be upheld in court.

Also oil companies can face a big financial hit if instability delays production.

“The oil industry values everything in net present value terms … (and) because you are pushing things out, on a discounted cash flow basis, that will erode value,” said Quin.
BP and other companies have suspended operations in Libya, while French oil major Total said it lost production at one field in Yemen due to the conflict there.
Sajjad said Gulfsands’ operations in Syria were unaffected, but the conflict could create difficulties in importing equipment there and in other countries — especially if new sanctions are imposed against governments fighting revolts.

There is little companies can do to limit such losses.

Yet some executives say the problems thrown up by the Arab Spring simply reflect the intrinsic nature of the oil business.

“It is always like that in exploration, you can always face different kinds of issues .. This is part of life for an oil and gas company,” said Total head of strategy Jean-Jacques Mosconi.

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Arabian Sea Host to Rare Humpbacked Whales

April 28, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

humpback_2The Middle East is host to a veritable smorgasbord of treasures ranging from the Oud, or Arabian stringed instrument, to the finest breeds of horses in the world.  At the onset of this year Marine Scientist Robert Baldwin, in cooperation with the Environment Society of Oman (ESO), revealed that a rare species of humpbacked whale was discovered in the Arabian Sea specifically alongside the coast of Oman.

Baldwin led his own team of researchers in studying the new species, which has just recently been named the “Arabian Sea Humpback Whale” by the International Whaling Commission. The researchers were able to collect an immense amount of data including samples of DNA and more than 10,000 photographs of the whales in their natural habitat. They also studied behavioral and social patterns of the newly discovered mammals to better understand how to preserve and protect the species from harm. 

What makes the Arabian Sea Humpbacked Whales so unique from other whales is that they do not migrate. Other breeds of whales are nomads and regularly migrate in search of food, better water temperatures depending on the season and for breeding purposes. These whales prefer to stay close to home, off the coast of Oman, and will spend their lifetime in the exact same place. The Arabian Sea Humpbacked Whales must be able to fulfill all of the activities of a regular whale while never moving too far from home.

According to Baldwin, the newly discovered breed of whale is so unique that it is one of the most at risk whale species in the world. In a recent statement Baldwin said, “Not only are these whales distinct in this regard, but our recent research also indicates they are one of the smallest and potentially most vulnerable whale populations in the world.” The whales face threats both on land and in the sea in the form of pollution, urban development that often extends into the ocean with manmade islands, sea crafts and rising sea temperatures during the summer months that force the warm-blooded whales to marinate in water the temperature of soup.

Several of Oman’s ministries, including the Ministry of Fisheries, have vowed to take whatever measures necessary to protect the newly discovered national treasure. The Executive Director of ESO, Lamees Daar, recently was quoted as saying “Now, more than ever, we have a huge responsibility to keep our seas healthy and by working with both Ministries our combined efforts will have a greater impact on the protection and conservation of this species.”

In the interim the Omani-Based Renaissance Whale and Dolphin Project, currently managed by Marine Scientist Andrew Wilson, will oversee the well being of the whales until more data is gathered and processed to determine the best course of action to ensure the longevity of the population.

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