The Week in Review – 4/25/11-4/30/11

Published: April 30, 2011

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SAUDIBRIT Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/ 

WEEK OF 4/25/2011 – 4/30/2011

Perspective of A Shura Council Member: The Arab Spring – Al-Kurdi: SUSRIS
4/25/11
Al-Kurdi serves on the Shura Council’s Economic and Energy Affairs Committee and as Chairman of the Saudi-American Friendship Committee, which was the reason he recently visited Washington. Between meetings with Congressional leaders and other officials he talked with SUSRIS about current developments in the Kingdom and the region, in the commercial realm and in the health of the Saudi-US relationship. The conversation is presented in three parts. The first, provided here, is his perspective on the so-called “Arab Spring” relative to the situation in Saudi Arabia. Tomorrow, in part two, is our discussion about the challenges in United States’ and Saudi Arabia’s bilateral relations. That will be followed, in part three, by Al-Kurdi’s perspective on business developments and the economic health of the Kingdom.
PART II: Perspective of a Shura Council Member: Washington-Riyadh Connections – Al-Kurdi

Saudi Money Supply Growth Surges To A 20-Month High: ARAB NEWS
John Sfakianakis | 4/28/11
“Saudi Arabian money supply growth surged to a 20-month high in March of 13.8 percent and bank deposits jumped 13.3 percent to more than SR1 trillion as the government handed out SR53 billion in bonuses that are likely to fuel short-term inflationary pressures.”

Saudi Arabia Monetary Indicators: SUSRIS
4/28/11
“BSF’s key findings for the latest report include: Government bonus payout spurs 13.8% jump in annual money supply and 13.3% rise in deposits; Consumer indicators point to rise in private consumption; Point-of-sale transactions jump 22.6% and cheques surge 29% from February levels; Net foreign assets top record SR1.7 trillion ($461 billion) as global oil scales new highs above $100 a barrel, supporting jump in state spending; and private sector lending continues moderate pace of growth, reaching 6.5% in March, fastest rate of expansion since May 2009.”

Oil Price Driven by Fear, Not Fundamentals: Analysts: CNBC
Yousef Gamel El-Din | 2/28/11
“The world’s top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is “not comfortable” with high oil prices. Sure, higher oil prices put pressure on the global economic recovery.” BLAME SPECULATORS: “People around the world are feeling the pain at the pump. President Obama, whose reelection in 2012 may depend on a rebounding American economy, has promised that his energy plan could temper oil prices. Adding to the stakes, minutes from the US Federal Reserve meeting in March 2011 revealed concern that high oil prices could hurt the American economy,” Steve Yetiv (CSM) writes.

New Mortgage Law ‘To Spur Saudi Real Estate’: TRADE ARABIA
4/25/11
The proposed revision of mortgage lending in Saudi Arabia is expected to spark renewed interest in the residential sector, according to an expert.
“If the proposed revisions to mortgage lending take hold, the impact on the residential market could be significant – encouraging home ownership and boosting residential development in Saudi Arabia,” said Nick MacLean, managing director of CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) Middle East, a leading global real estate adviser. RENTS UP 9.5% IN 2010: “Housing rents in Saudi Arabia soared by around 9.5 per cent in 2010 to push up overall inflation in the world’s dominant oil power to nearly 5.3 per cent through the year, according to official figures,” Nadim Kawach (Emirates 24/7) reports. LACK OF SAUDI CONSTRUCTION FIRMS: “The comparatively small number of construction firms in Saudi Arabia could force the kingdom to seek outside help to complete its ambitious new housing plan,” Ed Attwood (Arabian Business) reports.

Gulf Ministers to Meet May 1 to Adopt Plan to End Yemen Crisis: SAUDI NEWS TODAY
4/27/11
“Foreign ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council will hold an emergency meeting in Riyadh to approve a plan that charts the departure of Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh and seeks to end the political crisis there.” SAUDI INVESTMENTS SAFE: “Political instability in Yemen has “directly affected Saudi Arabian transaction ventures in Yemen, resulting in an 80% fall in some sectors. Abdullah Murai, chairman of the Saudi-Yemen Business Council, said that the total investment by Saudi Arabia in Yemen accounts to US$4-billion,” the Yemen Observer reports.

Saudi Corporate Income Soars 23% In First Quarter: ZAWYA
4/27/11
“Strong performance by the petrochemical sector because of higher global prices boosted the combined income of listed companies in Saudi Arabia by nearly 23 per cent in the first quarter of 2011, according to a Saudi investment firm.
Despite the sharp fall in the profits of some firms, the combined earnings of the more than 120 companies trading their shares in Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange were also up by 13 per cent above the last quarter of 2010.”

Saudi Soldier as Artist: Abdulnasser Gharem’s Message, ‘Peace, But With Security’: AL ARABIYA
Umita Venkataraman | 4/28/11
“At a recent auction in Dubai, Christie’s auctioned a piece of installation art for $842,500—more than eight times its high pre-sale estimate of $100,000. The packed hall erupted into applause when the winning bid was announced.”

Respect Our Intelligence!: AL ARABIYA
Dalia Gazaz | 4/28/11
“The issue of Saudi Arabian women not being able to participate in the municipal elections has been a major talking point in the country, especially since officials failed to provide justifiable reasons on why women could not participate. Women have interpreted their responses as attempts to undermine their intelligence. Official remarks seemed to confirm that the General Election Commission’s decision to prevent women from participating in the electoral process was a hasty and ill-advised one.” WOMAN FIGHTS BAN IN COURT: “A woman has filed the first ever legal challenge to Saudi Arabia’s prohibition on women voting in the kingdom,” Abeer Allam (FT) reports. “Samar Badawi filed a claim to the Board of Grievances in Jeddah on Wednesday after her attempt to register to vote in long-delayed municipal polls scheduled for September was rejected.”

Saudi hits 14-week peak on petchem strength: ARABIAN BUSINESS
4/27/11
“Saudi Arabia’s index TASI rose to a 14-week high as investors looked favourably on petrochemical stocks due to rising oil prices.”

Such A Fine Bouquet: Roses Are For Admiring, Accouterment And Adornment: AL ARABIYA
Umita Venkataraman | 4/28/11
“Each April, some 2,000 farms in the highlands near Taif in Saudi Arabia turn pink. The air is heavy with the fragrance of roses as a single species of the oil-rich 30-petal damask rose comes into bloom.”

Pop Art Exhibition Set to Take Saudi Art Scene to New Heights: ARAB NEWS
4/27/11
“To meet the needs of a fast growing young and culturally savvy Saudi generation, the Al Faisaliah Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel has announced the opening of the Globe Gallery, an exciting new contemporary art space in Riyadh. Situated atop the Al Faisaliah Tower and just below the internationally recognised Globe restaurant, the Globe Gallery marks its opening with the first Pop Art exhibition to be held in the Kingdom.”

700,000 Disabled Petition Shoura Council For Better Services: SAUDI GAZETTE
Abdullah Gharman Aoun | 4/27/11
“Over 700,000 people with special needs have submitted a petition to the Shoura Council calling for better services from government departments.”

UAE And Saudi Arabia Set For Tourism Boom: TRAVEL NEWS
4/27/11
“The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will experience some of the world’s strongest inbound tourism growth over the next five years, reveals research unveiled today at WTM Vision Conference.”

Campaign Launched To Encourage Sustainable Use Of Water: ARAB NEWS
Ghazanfar Ali Khan | 4/26/11
“In an effort to conserve the Kingdom’s dwindling water resources, the BMG Foundation has teamed up with advertising leader Saatchi & Saatchi to launch the “Our Water, Our Life” conservation initiative here Monday.”

Dollar Peg to Stay With Oil Dependency: Al-Jasser: ARAB NEWS
Khalil Hanware | 4/25/11
“Saudi Arabia will keep pegging its riyal currency to the US dollar as long as its economy will remain heavily reliant on oil, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) Gov. Muhammad Al-Jasser said on Tuesday.”

Saudi Arabia Set To Launch New Jobs Strategy: CONSTRUCTION WEEK ONLINE
4/26/11
“A new jobs strategy is set to be announced next month to tackle Saudi Arabia’s growing unemployment problem.”

/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>