/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
“Today we are pleased to provide the “Saudi Arabia Economics” report for March 2011 from Dr. John Sfakianakis of Banque Saudi Fransi. This month’s report, “Under construction: Saudi steps up efforts to meet home, loan demand,” considers the potential impact of mortgage legislation on the real estate sector and examines some of the hurdles facing an industry that struggles to build affordable single-family detached homes for young professionals.
Ozair Shaiq | 3/22/11
Construction of Kingdom’s schools and hospitals in focus as inaugural Saudi Construction Summit 2011 is launched. Spending on social infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, including construction of educational and healthcare facilities, is set to surpass $155 billion over the next decade, according to government figures.
“Saudi Arabia announced Tuesday it will hold municipal elections next month after a delay of a year and a half that had angered rights activists.
In a setback to reform advocates, the voting on April 23 will not be open to women.”
“Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud at a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London on Tuesday expressed strong support for the aims of the U.N. resolution on Libya, Cameron’s office said.”
Saudi Banks Set To Double Lending This Year: TRADE ARABIA
“Saudi Arabia’s banks are set to double lending to the private sector this year and see higher profits than last year partly due to government handouts of more than $100 billion, said the top-executive at the country’s biggest lender by assets.”
“King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, expressed his gratitude to the people of the Kingdom Monday for their “sincere emotions and positive reaction” to Friday’s royal speech and the Royal Orders issued to support public interest and the state’s civil and military institutions. King Abdullah urged ministers and officials to execute the orders as swiftly as possible.”
Saudi Emir: We Must Form United Gulf Army: MEMRI (blog)
“Saudi Emir Turki Al-Faisal, director of the King Faisal Center for Islamic Research and former ambassador to Washington, has called for a conference in Abu Dhabi to make the GCC “a union, like the European Union” and to “establish a united Gulf army.”
Yuji Okada, Anthony DiPaola | 3/22/11
“Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, is adjusting deliveries to Japan to meet customers’ needs as the country struggles to recover from an earthquake and tsunami.”
Why Arab Rulers and Ruled Are Disappointed: CNN GPS Blog
Amar C. Bakshi | 3/23/11
“Chas Freeman was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989-1992, serving during Operation Desert Storm. He was also the president of the Middle East Policy Council. In a phone conversation, Ambassador Freeman paints a very gloomy portrait of how the Arab Street and long-time rulers are responding to America’s actions in the region.”
No Exclusions from National Dialogue: SAUDI GAZETTE
“Fahd Al-Sultan, deputy secretary general of the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue, has denied that a “blacklist” exists of names that are barred from taking part in the dialogue meetings.”
Saudi Oil Ministry Faces Corruption Charges: EMIRATES 24/7
Saudi Arabia’s oil ministry is facing corruption charges which have been presented as the first case to the Gulf country’s anti-corruption authority a few days after it was created by a royal order, a newspaper said on Wednesday.
Prince Waleed Finally Wins in Telco, Buys Zain Saudi for $950M: BUSINESS INSIDER
Jeffery Towson | 3/23/11
“Last week, Prince Waleed, whom Forbes labeled the “Prince of deals”, lived up to his name and made an apparently successful $950M bid (in partnership with Bahraini Batelco) for Zain’s Saudi mobile business.”
LIBYA: AIR STRIKES CONTINUE, NATO SEA PATROLS BEGIN
“Air strikes continued to rock Tripoli early on Wednesday while some units loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi were reported to have ceased firing on a key rebel-held city after allied airplanes attacked loyalist tanks and artillery,” Mark Landler, Steven Erlanger And Alan Cowell (NYT) report. “At sea, news reports said six NATO warships started patrolling off Libya’s coast Wednesday to enforce a United Nations arms embargo.” US AFRICA COMMAND: “When the United States Africa Command was created four years ago, it was the military’s first ‘smart power’ command. It has no assigned troops and no headquarters in Africa itself, and one of its two top deputies is a seasoned American diplomat,” Eric Schmitt (NYT) reports. “Now the young, untested command and its new boss, Gen. Carter F. Ham, find themselves at their headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, setting aside public diplomacy talks and other civilian-military duties to lead the initial phase of a complex, multinational shooting war with Libya.” ‘THE REAL TEST’: “Now comes the real test. So far, the international support hasn’t given the rebellion’s lightly armed and largely untrained militia the ability to drive Colonel Qaddafi’s forces from population centers they claimed in a series of brutal assaults,” Dan Murphy (CSM) writes. “If the rebels are unable to make headway and Qaddafi remains defiant, international forces could face the unhappy choice between abandoning the uprising or committing to a much longer engagement than originally envisioned.”
President Ali Abdullah Saleh “has been a key U.S. ally in a turbulent region. If he steps down, Yemen may become a terrorist haven and a proxy battleground for Saudi Arabia and Iran,” Jeffery Fleishman (LAT) writes.
Eight Palestinians, including four civilians and four militants, were killed Tuesday in two separate Israeli military strikes in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian spokesmen said. Israeli officials said the strikes were a response to the most serious escalation in rocket and mortar fire from the coastal territory since the 2009 Israeli offensive that sought to end such attacks,” Janine Zacharia (Washington Post) reports. BREAKING: BOMB EXPLODES IN JERUSALEM: “A bomb exploded Wednesday at a crowded bus stop outside the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, just opposite the central bus station. At least 31 people were wounded in the incident, four of them seriously,” Haaretz reports.
The UAE along with Kuwait, Oman and other Opec nations face an extreme water scarcity which could spiral the oil prices higher, according to the latest study released on Tuesday, Emirates 24/7 reports. Saudi Arabia was not in the top 10 of nations that are at the highest risk of water scarcity.
CONVERSATION: WHY LIBYA MATTERS TO THE MIDDLE EAST’S FUTURE
On Tuesday’s edition of Fresh Air on NPR, George Washington University political scientist Marc Lynch explains how the future of Libya has become a key part in the rapidly changing transformation of the Arab world — and why the United States and its allies decided to intervene. Lynch sits down with host Terry Gross and discusses why he thinks that the “intervention … could have really positive, regionwide effects — but if it goes wrong, it could actually bring all of this to a crashing halt,” he says. “I think for the Arab world, you have one of these moments where there’s a possibility of fundamental change.”
ANALYSIS: NEXT STEPS FOR EGYPT’S TRANSITION
The March 19 vote in favor of constitutional amendments in Egypt provides a strong boost to the military-led transition process and its vigorous electoral schedule,” writes the Carnegie Endownment’s Nathan Brown in the Arab Reform Bulletin. “Egypt’s transition process will likely rush forward. What are the next steps? The basic sequence of events is clear, but the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has not revealed many of the details. Nor has it shared decision-making power over the sequence and rules in any serious way.”
/The daily news is provided as a service of the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC. Visit www.SUSTG.org for more information and to get a free email subscription to the News Review./</h4></div>