SBRIS Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
Ghanzifar Ali Khan | 3.29.12
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah will hold wide-ranging talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who will arrive in the Saudi capital on Friday. The talks with King Abdullah and Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister, will focus on the whole range of bilateral subjects as well as on “key regional issues with special reference to Syria, said senior Saudi, American and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) officials here yesterday. SUSRIS: GCC LEADERS TO TALK IRAN, SYRIA: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Saudi Arabia and Turkey for meetings March 30-April 1 to confer on “the full range of bilateral and regional issues, including ongoing security cooperation in the region, as well as the international community’s continuing efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria” according to the U.S. State Department this week, SUSRIS reports.
Saudi Arabia Will Act To Lower Soaring Oil Prices: FINANCIAL TIMES
Ali Al Naimi | 3.29.12
Elevated prices are not good for all oil producing nations, including Saudi Arabia, and they are bad news for the energy industry more widely. It is clear that sustained high prices are starting to take their toll on European economic growth targets. They are contributing to trade balance deficits and feeding inflationary pressures. It is an unsatisfactory situation and one Saudi Arabia is keen to help address. In an interconnected world, European economic growth is in our national interest. No one benefits from a stagnating European economy and we want to do what we can to help encourage growth.” ENERGY OIL RELEASE PLOTTED AS SAUDI DECRIES HIGH PRICES: Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi mounted his most direct rhetorical attack against high oil prices on Wednesday, but showed no sign of moving to increase supplies even as France joined the United States and Britain in talks for a release of strategic reserves, Reuters reports.
The GCC’s trade surplus will average around $493 billion in 2012-13 as the oil prices remain high, offset by import growth at around 3.5 percent, said a report. This is slightly below the trade surplus levels of 2011 which is estimated at $520 billion, mainly a consequence of hydrocarbon exports, the Qatar National Bank (QNB) Group said in its analysis. This is twice the size of the country with the next largest surplus, China, and also about two-thirds the size of the US’s trade deficit, the report added. Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia was responsible for almost half of the total surplus ($245 billion) followed by the UAE ($94 billion) and Qatar ($79 billion).
Md Al-Sulami | 3.29.12
Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal yesterday announced new projects worth SR3.39 billion to implement long-term drainage solutions in Jeddah. Contracts have been awarded to two Saudi and two international companies to implement the projects.
KSA Demands Yemen Group Free Diplomat Immediately: ARAB NEWS
Ghanzifar Ali Khan | 3.29.12
The Foreign Ministry yesterday warned the armed group which kidnapped Saudi diplomat Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Khalidi in front of his house in Aden, Yemen.
Arabnet Summit Sees Growth In Arabic Apps: AL BAWABA
International IT corporations and software developers see huge potential for growth in Arabic-language mobile applications.
KSA Strives To Avoid Nuclear Accidents: SAUDI GAZETTE
Addressing the Nuclear Security Summit here Tuesday, the Head of the Saudi Delegation to the Summit and President of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy Dr. Hashim Bin Abdullah Yamani said that the Kingdom has announced its desire to adopt an ambitious program for the peaceful use of nuclear energy in line with its strategic objectives to diversify its energy sources and achieve sustainable development.
Dialing Back the Religious Police: CROSSROADS ARABIA
John Burgess | 3.28.12
The new head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is taking the reins of control into hand. Saudi Arabian media report that he is pulling the religious police back from some of the powers they had exerted in the past, including car chases over petty offenses, hectoring women about their makeup, and generally harassing the public over behaviors the individual muttawa believed sinful. Undercover patrols out looking for bad behavior (as opposed to actual crimes) are also being stopped.
Michael Martinez and Al Goodman | 3.29.12
A Spanish court on Wednesday dismissed an allegation that one of the world’s richest men, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, raped a young woman on a yacht on the island of Ibiza in 2008. In its ruling, the Spanish court in Palma de Mallorca found there wasn’t sufficient evidence to press charges. The prince has long maintained that he was innocent, that he hasn’t been in Ibiza in more than a decade and that others have tried to impersonate him.
Sweden’s defense minister stepped down Thursday, citing the pressure he has faced from the country’s media over leaked plans to build a weapons plant in Saudi Arabia. Sten Tolgfors denied any wrongdoing and insisted the plans to help Saudi Arabia build a facility for anti-tank weapons were consistent with a 2005 military agreement between the two countries.
Column: At London Olympics, is Saudi Arabia taking small step or giant leap for womankind?: WASHINGTON POST
AP | 3/29/12
A giant leap for a few women, but only a small step for womankind? If the International Olympic Committee has its way, and as overseer of this party, there’s reason to think it will, then the London Olympics will be the first where Saudi Arabia fields women as well as men.
Dana El Baltaji | 2/19/12
NCB Capital, a Saudi Arabian investment company with 44 billion riyals ($11.7 billion) of assets, is expanding outside of the region through alliances with TCW Group Inc. and Amundi Asset Management. NCB Capital plans to start two funds in the second half of 2012 pending regulatory approval managed by TCW and Amundi, said Chief Investment Officer Faysal Badran. TCW and Amundi now manage a combined $550 million of international funds for NCB Capital, the Saudi wealth manager said in a statement on March 24.
Saudi Electric Prices $1.75 Bln Islamic Bond: KIPP REPORT
Reuters | 3/28/12
Saudi Electricity Co priced a $1.75 billion two-part Islamic bond on Wednesday, putting its $500 million five-year portion at a fixed profit rate of 2.665 percent and its $1.25 billion 10-year tranche at 4.211 percent.
Sayed Faisal Ali | 3.29.12
Three Indian Navy ships, in Jeddah port for the past three days, aim to further boost cooperation between the two navies of India and the Kingdom, said the commanding officer of the ships.
ENERGY: 5 SHORT STORIES FROM THE WORLD ENERGY OUTLOOK
The IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO) is an annual tradition, the result of much work, data analysis and presentation. A formative volume is produced for all to read and digest, but few of us have the time to do so in the detail required. As such we rely to some extent on IEA presentations and summary documents. One such presentation was given by IEA Chief Economist Dr. Fatih Birol in Shell Centre last week, not for Shell but for the British Institute of Energy Economics. Rather than a WEO “tour de force”, the format was closer to storytelling, or more correctly short stories. Here are five pearls that emerge from the most recent WEO, Peak Oil writes.
SYRIA: CRACKDOWN MORE PERVASIVE THAN PREVIOUSLY UNDERSTOOD
Sunni Muslims who have fled Syria described a government crackdown that is more pervasive and more sectarian than previously understood, with civilians affiliated with President Bashar al-Assad’s minority religious sect shooting at their onetime neighbors as the military presses what many Sunnis see as a campaign to force them to flee their homes and villages in some sections of the country, Anne Bernard (NYT) writes. TWO OFFICERS KILLED: Syrian rebels seemed to intensify attacks on individual members of President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces on Thursday with state media reporting that insurgents kidnapped an Air Force general near Damascus while gunmen in the northern city of Aleppo shot to death two Army colonels as they drove to work, NYT reports. TURKEY COPES WITH RISING INFLUX OF SYRIAN REFUGEES: Turkey has seen a spike in the number of refugees coming from Syria as the government assault in neighboring Idlib province intensifies. Turkish authorities are building two new camps and say they are preparing for many more arrivals if Syria descends into full civil war, Middle East Voices reports.
ISLAMIC FINANCE: LENDING GROWS AS WESTERN BANKS TAKE BREATHER
As European banks have pulled back from overseas exposures to concentrate on cleansing their balance sheets and strengthening their core businesses, Middle Eastern and Asian borrowers have turned to local investors and alternative forms of financing, analysts say, with issues of Islamic bonds, or sukuk, notably on the rise, Sara Hamdan (NYT) reports.
EGYPT: OPPOSITION TO US AND OTHER FOREIGN AID INCREASES
Egyptians’ opposition to U.S. economic aid continued to climb in early 2012. More than eight in 10 Egyptians in February said they opposed U.S. economic aid, up 11 percentage points since December and up 30 points since April 2011 when Gallup first posed the question.
IRAN: REACTING TO WAR DRUMS IN THE GULF, A CONVERSATION WITH JAMES RUSSELL
The rhetoric and intrigue surrounding the question of what to do about Iran’s nuclear program have reached new levels of attention and concern in recent weeks. Several months of heightened tensions have included Iranian naval demonstrations and threats to close the Strait of Hormuz met with American statements about “redlines” that should not be crossed; the murders of scientists on the streets of Iran with apparent retaliation bombings against Israelis in Thailand, Georgia and India; and the thumping of “war drums” on the American presidential campaign trail and in Washington. ”Everything is on the table,” while a common response from key decision makers in response to critical threats to American interests, no longer includes containment of Iran as a policy option by the Obama Administration, Pat Ryan (SUSRIS) writes as he interviews James Russell.
IRAQ: THE RESISTABLE RISE OF NOURI AL-MALIKI
The intriguing question underpinning the first post-American political crisis in Iraq is why it happened at all? Why did Nuri al-Maliki feel the need to move so brutally and dramatically against his political opponents? On the face of it al-Maliki has proved to be an extremely skilled if Machiavellian politician. Despite his failure to win the March 2010 national elections, he spent ten months outmaneuvering inept rivals in Iraqiyya to retain the premiership, without the imposition of meaningful constraints on his power. Tariq al-Hashimi has certainly been a fixture in Iraqi politics since 2003 and has served as Vice President since 2006. However, in contrast to the Prime Minister, his post has largely been ceremonial and he is neither a particularly skilled nor popular political operator. Therefore the reasons behind al-Maliki’s move against al-Hashimi and his colleagues may lie in the hinterland beyond Baghdad, in the provincial politics of Iraq where there is still the potential to threaten the Prime Minister, Toby Dodge (Open Democracy) writes.
PALESTINE: ECONOMIC WOES, PUBLIC ANGER
Even as attempts to end the Israeli occupation have idled in recent years, Palestinians and their international backers have hailed the West Bank’s expanding economy as one critical step on the path to statehood. Now the Palestinian Authority is mired in financial crisis, and there is a growing sentiment here that economic development efforts intended to lay the groundwork for independence have backfired, Washington Post reports.
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