News – Saudi Arabia – 2012-02-22

February 22, 2012

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

2.22.12 EDITION

Saudi’s Maaden to Invest $5.6 Bln in Phosphate Project: REUTERS

2/21/12

State-controlled Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Maaden) plans to invest 21 billion riyals ($5.6 billion) in a phosphate project as part of a new industrial city in the country’s north, the company’s chief executive was quoted on Tuesday by Saudi state media as saying. ‘BIG INVESTMENT’: Khaled Al-Mudaifer, CEO of Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden), said the availability of large quantities of phosphate near gas wells in the north and the presence of a railway system would boost phosphate industry as well as downstream industries, Arab News reports.  He emphasized Maaden’s ability to carry out giant projects including a SR21 phosphate complex that began operations last year. “We are also working on a SR40 billion aluminum smelter,” he added.

Saudi Boosts Market Monitoring Ahead Of Foreign Open: REUTERS

Dinesh Nair | 2/21/12

Saudi Arabia’s regulator adjusted stock ownership guidelines in a bid to boost transparency on Tuesday, as the Middle East’s biggest bourse takes gradual steps toward opening up to direct foreign investment.

Hamza Kashgari Is a Test for Saudi Arabia: WASHINGTON POST

Richard Cohen | 2/20/12

I have a certain soft spot for fellow columnists who get into trouble, especially when the issue is what we in the United States would call freedom of speech. But I have a certain soft spot, too, for Saudi Arabia. When I was there, I was treated with great courtesy and hospitality, and, like any romantic schooled in multiple viewings of “Lawrence of Arabia,” I am besotted by the considerable charms of the desert. I have had many weird experiences in my career, but one of them, surely, is turning around in a stadium outside Riyadh and realizing that my host was one of several thousand men dressed identically in white robes, their heads also covered in the exact same way. When my host said, “Follow me,” I grabbed his garment and held tight.

Saudis Pick First Envoy to Baghdad in 20 Years: NEW YORK TIMES

Jack Healy | 2/21/12

The Saudis did not say they were reopening an embassy in Baghdad. Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister, said in a Twitter posting that the Saudi ambassador to Jordan would serve as the new “nonresident” Iraqi envoy. He is Fahd al-Zaid.

Saudi Petchem Firms Healthy Despite Global Uncertainties: ARAB NEWS

2/21/12

The growth outlook for Saudi petrochemical companies is healthy, despite the lingering uncertainties in the global economy. Though product prices are at reasonable levels compared to average prices during the last 4-5 years, they are expected to remain under pressure over the next 1-2 quarters. Further, the diversified companies will be less impacted by potential rise in feedstock costs in 2013, Al-Rajhi Capital said in its latest report Saudi petrochemical sector.

Saudi Oil Minister Al-Naimi Arrives in Qatar for Talks: BLOOMBERG

Robert Tuttle | 2/21/12

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi held talks in Qatar with officials including his former Qatari counterpart Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.

Peak Focuses On Arabic Social Games With Saudi Studio Acquisition: GAMASUTRA

Eric Caoili | 2/21/12

Peak Games (Happy Farm), which specializes in publishing social games for Turkey and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has purchased Saudi developer Kammelna Games.

The Saudi Twitter ‘Blasphemy’ Case: THE WEEKLY STANDARD

Stephen Schwartz | 2/21/12

Yet none of the Saudi denunciations suggest that Kashgari desecrated Muhammad’s birthday. Rather, Saudi Information Minister Abdul-Aziz Khoja said he wept when he read the tweets, and accused Kashgari of “attacking our prophet.” Nasr Al-Omar, one of the most vociferous Wahhabi bigots in the country, also shed tears, in a February 5 video calling for Kashgari’s arrest and trial, accessible with English subtitles through the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). (Al-Omar is known for encouraging Saudis to cross the northern border with Iraq for jihad against the U.S.-led intervention against Saddam Hussein in 2003.)

Alcoa: No Saudi Job Offer to Point Henry Workers: NASDAQ

2/21/12

Alcoa clarified on Tuesday media reports that it has offered Point Henry smelter workers job offers in Saudi Arabia to work in a joint venture project.

Minimum Salary Of Saudi Teachers In Private Schools To Be Increased: ARAB NEWS

2/22/12

The basic salaries of Saudi male and female schoolteachers working in private schools will soon be increased to SR5,600, local Arabic daily Al-Madinah reported Tuesday, quoting the official spokesman of the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF).

UAE, Saudi Fast-Food Sales To Grow 5pc: TRADE ARABIA

2/21/12

The fast-food restaurant markets in the UAE and Saudi will sustain a 5 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in sales by 2014, said an expert on the sidelines of the ongoing Gulfood expo in Dubai.

Saudi Authority Highlights Alert System On Food: ARAB NEWS

K.T. Abdurabb | 2/21/12

The two-day International Food Safety Conference started here on Tuesday with serious debates by representatives from different countries. Dr. Hamad Al-Kanhal of Saudi Food and Drug Authority in Riyadh elaborated on the Gulf’s rapid alert system on food.

Why One Saudi Arabian Poet Chose UI For His Children: PRESS-CITIZEN

Hani Elkadi | 2/20/12

I recall how uncertain my expectations were during my voyage from England to Saudia Arabia in the early 1970s. Contrary to the European depiction of a desolate medieval desert kingdom, I found an elaborate welcoming country and diligent cordial people.

“Well Fire at Number 12″ Part Five of Video Series “Distant Arabia”: ARAMCO EXPATS

Tim Barger | 2/21/12

The majority of the film clips posted on the Selwa Video You Tube channel are comprised of films taken in Saudi Arabia between 1937 and 1940 by Tom Barger, Les Snyder and Jerry Harriss. They are among the few moving pictures that record that critical and brief moment in the country’s history when an ancient pastoral way of life was coming to an abrupt end, to be replaced by an industrial society. Many of the Bedouin depicted had never seen an automobile let alone a movie camera before these men arrived. The herds of camels, once the lifeblood of Bedouin life, would become irrelevant. The dhows of the Gulf replaced by motor launches, the date oases, the very anchor of the Al Hasa economy, would become all but insignificant. All that remains of those days are these flickering images from a time before oil.

Saudi Accused In US Bomb Plot Competent To Stand Trial-Judge: CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Logan Carver | Reuters | 2/21/12

A Saudi student accused of plotting to build and detonate bombs against targets including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush was declared competent to stand trial on Tuesday by a federal judge.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG 

IRAN: UN SAYS NUCLEAR TALKS HAVE FAILED

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it had failed to secure an agreement with Iran during two days of talks over disputed atomic activities and that the Islamic Republic had rejected a request to visit a key military site, Fredrik Dahl (Reuters) reports. NO IRANIAN SHIPS DOCKED IN PORT, PENTAGON SAYS: The Pentagon said on Tuesday it had no indication that Iranian ships had docked in Syria over the weekend, contrary to an account by Iran’s state-run media, Reuters reports. IF IRANIAN SHIPS RETURN TO MEDITERRANEAN, ISRAEL MAY ATTACK: Should Iranian warships revisit Syrian ports it is likely that they would be targeted by Israel, two retired Saudi military attaches have said, Omar Elmershedi (Saudi Gazette) reports.

EDITORIAL: THE TEST OF TALKING TO IRAN: In fact, it appears likely that Tehran perceives talks as an opportunity to undermine sanctions. Mr. Jalili’s letter referred to negotiations “based on step-by-step principles and reciprocity,” language that could describe a proposal originally put forward by Russia last year. Moscow outlined a sequence of steps in which Iran would receive relief from sanctions in exchange for incremental actions to satisfy the IAEA. Iran rejected the idea, but now the P5+1, urged on by the Obama administration, is discussing a modified version. Reportedly, it could grant some sanctions relief if Iran suspended only its higher-level enrichment of uranium, and surrendered material enriched to that 20 percent level, the Washington Post’s editorial board writes.

SYRIA: US ‘SIGNALS POSSIBILITY OF ARMING SYRIAN REBELS’

The United States appeared to open the door to eventually arming Syria’s opposition, saying that if a political solution to the crisis was impossible it might have to consider other options.

The comments, made by officials at both the White House and the U.S. State Department on Tuesday, marked a shift in emphasis by Washington, which so far has stressed a policy of not arming the opposition and has said little about alternatives, Reuters reports.  ACTIVISTS SAY 100 KILLED: Activists say Syrian forces have killed some 100 civilians in the latest violence, including 40 in the besieged city of Homs, Radio Free Europe reports. PHOTO-SHARING ACTIVIST KILLED: Syrian opposition activists say shrapnel wounds killed an intrepid citizen journalist who documented a neighborhood under siege in the tempestuous city of Homs, LA Times reports. DOCTORS STRUGGLE TO SAVE HOMS’ WOUNDED CHILDREN: The shrapnel wound is in the toddler’s left side. The boy needs “a proper hospital,” the doctor says, not the makeshift clinic in the Syrian city of Homs where he’s being treated.

“Even the children are not allowed to get there,” he says. “Where is the Red Cross that was negotiating yesterday?” Soon afterward, the 2-year-old dies of his wounds. The child’s father — whose head, right hand and left knee are bandaged as well — swears to avenge his death as the sound of artillery echoes outside, Nick Paton Walsh (CNN) writes.

YEMEN: THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION WITH ONE CANDIDATE

While the election was short on candidates — the only person on the ballot was Vice President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, who became acting president in November as the result of a power transfer brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council after months of protests — it appeared to be long on hope, Mohammed Jamjoom (CNN) reports.

ANALYSIS: AFTER IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, ‘A NEW WHIFF OF GUNPOWDER IN THE AIR?’

The United States has now endured what by some measures is the longest period of war in its history, with more than 6,300 American troops killed and 46,000 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ultimate costs estimated at $3 trillion. Both wars lasted far longer than predicted. The outcomes seem disappointing and uncertain. So why is there already a new whiff of gunpowder in the air? Talk of war over Iran’s nuclear program has reached a strident pitch in recent weeks, as Israel has escalated threats of a possible strike, the oratory of American politicians has become more bellicose and Iran has responded for the most part defiantly, Scott Shane (NYT) writes.

AFGHANISTAN: WASHINGTON IN DAMAGE CONTROL OVER QURAN BURNING

An angry crowd gathered outside the Bagram military complex in Afghanistan when local workers on the base reportedly found copies of the Koran in rubbish bags tagged for incineration. Some of the religious books had already been partly burned. The US military commander, General John Allen, issued an unqualified public apology, and also ordered an investigation, Craig McMurtrie (ABC.NET) reports. AFGHAN OFFICIALS MEETING WITH TALIBAN IN PAKISTAN: Afghan officials are holding talks with the Taliban in Pakistan, the head of a provincial peace council in the insurgency’s heartland Kandahar said on Tuesday, in a possible signal that Islamabad is boosting its support for Afghan peace efforts, Ismail Sameem (Reuters) reports.

PAKISTAN: INTERPOL MAY BE ASKED TO ARREST MUSHARRAF

Pakistan plans to ask Interpol to arrest its former President Pervez Musharraf in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said, UPI reports.

MIDDLE EAST: BREZEZINSKI, SLAUGHTER DISCUSS OBAMA’S MIDEAST CHALLENGES

Zbigniew Brzezinski knows something about dealing with Iranians and his advice to President Barack Obama is this: Don’t start a war with Iran. National security adviser three decades ago when the Carter administration struggled to free U.S. hostages in Iran, Brzezinski says that Obama should not attack Iran’s nuclear sites even if that gives political ammunition to his more hawkish Republican opponents, Al-Monitor reports.

/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>

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