News – Saudi Arabia – 2012-02-28

February 28, 2012

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

2.28.12 EDITION

Gulf GDP To Grow Over 4pc In 2012: TRADE ARABIA

2/27/12

The combined GDP of the GCC region, which controls over 40 per cent of the global crude wealth, is expected to grow more than 4 per cent in 2012 with Qatar topping the list at 7 per cent, according to a new report.

Saudis Continue Economic Diversification: CROSSROADS ARABIA

John Burgess | 2/28/12

Saudi Arabia is continuing to expand its economy through diversification. Saudi Gazette runs a release from the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) noting that all concerned ministries and corporate entities are lined up to support the development of a new ‘Mining City’ in the north of the country. A report from the Delegation for German Industry in Saudi Arabia and Yemen (AHK) notes that SR26 billion (US $7.7 billion) is being made. The city, near the Saudi border with Jordan, will produce phosphates and derivative products and ship them by rail to Ras Al-Khair Port in the Eastern Province. When operating, the City is expected to bring in SR15 billion (US $4 billion) annually. GERMAN STATE KEEN TO PARTICIPATE IN SAUDI INDUSTRIAL DIVERSIFICATION: Ibrahim Al-Ghamdi (Arab News) reports on North Rhine-Westphalia’s interest in the Saudi economy. “With a GDP of about $700 billion, the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) ranks 17 of all worldwide economies, and is, with 18 million inhabitants, one of the biggest German federal states.”

Driving The Politics Out Of Gas Prices: WASHINGTON POST

Charles Lane | 2/28/12

“The truth is that American motorists are caught up in a vast global market for energy whose cyclical forces of supply and demand are more important than the short-term policy choices of the U.S. government.  World crude oil prices determine the vast majority of the per-gallon price of gasoline — 76 percent of it, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Those prices have been trending upward for more than a decade, largely because of surging demand in China and other emerging markets. Gas prices have followed suit. Crude, and gasoline, prices crashed when the world economy crashed — at about the time Obama took office in January 2009. But they resumed their upward march shortly thereafter… Federal Reserve policy probably has something to do with higher oil prices, too. Since the Fed’s zero percent interest rate cheapens the dollar, it takes more dollars to buy the same amount of oil and other commodities.”

Saudi To Launch Wage Monitoring System: GULF TIMES

Ibrahim al-Mutawa | 2/28/12

Saudi Arabia will launch a system in the next three months to monitor wage payments to company employees, part of efforts to boost the participation of Saudi citizens in the workforce and keep track of foreign workers.

Venture Capital And Health Care In Saudi Arabia: ARAB NEWS

Dr. Hamad Al-Oamr | 2/27/12

Venture capital funds and activities in the MENA region are gaining momentum. Realizing the recent interest and emphasis on venture capital, the Islamic International Foundation for Economics and Finance (IIFEF) is organizing its first Venture Capital Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 21-22. The organizing committee requested me to give a presentation about VC activities and potentials in health care in Saudi Arabia, and this is an abstract of the presentation.

Prince Salman, Governor, Minister And A Leader: ARAB NEWS

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim | 2/28/12

During my early childhood, I have lived in the old Riyadh section between (Alsabalh) and (Al-Rayes) streets. And I used to walk with my grandfather to every corner of Riyadh. I used to know every little alley and little street. I even knew most of the families who lived in the neighborhood.

Saudi Signs $1.17bn Health Projects: TRADE ARABIA

2/28/12

Saudi Health Ministry has signed contracts worth more than SR4.4 billion ($1.17 billion) since January for key projects including construction of hospitals, supply of pharmaceutical products and biomedical engineering works, said a report.

Sustainable Architecture Saudi Style: King Abdullah Financial District: GREEN PROPHET

Tafline Laylin | 2/14/12

Although the massive 3,300,000 sq m King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh will feature a variety of “green” initiatives, this is definitely sustainable architecture Saudi style.

Saudi Almarai Mulls Stake Increase In Pepsico JV: XE

2/28/12

Saudi Arabia’s Almarai is in talks with PepsiCo Inc to increase its stake in a joint venture formed with the U.S. soft drink giant in 2009, the Gulf dairy firm said on Tuesday.

Nomura Gets Saudi OK For Market Access: MARKETWATCH

2/27/12

Japanese investment bank Nomura said Monday it has received approval from the Saudi market regulator to offer international investors access to local stocks. The approval for Nomura comes at a time when there are growing expectations that Saudi Arabia will allow foreign investors greater direct access to its stock market.

Saudi Arabia Is Arming the Syrian Opposition: FOREIGN POLICY

Jonathan Schanzer | 2/27/12

Other Sunni Gulf states, principally Qatar, may be contributing weapons….For the Saudis, depriving the Russians of a Middle Eastern toehold is an added bonus….Of course, a Saudi-led insurgency would not be in the cards if the Obama administration were not so opposed to empowering the opposition. But the longer Obama waits and the deeper the humanitarian crisis worsens, the more likely it becomes that other actors will tip the balance in Syria. Using history as a guide, none would be more dangerous than Saudi Arabia. The Iranians and Russians may yet pay a price for propping up Assad in Syria. But if the Saudis have their way, the world may pay a price too.

Saudi’s Acwa “Very Keen” On Malaysia Tycoon’s Power Assets: REUTERS

2/27/12

Saudi water and power project developer Acwa Power is “very keen” to buy the power assets being sold by Malaysian tycoon Ananda Krishnan, the company’s chief financial officer said on Monday.

Saudi Royal Boss To Expand Hotel Business In Turkey: HURRIYET DAILY NEWS

2/27/12

Bander bin Fahd al-Fehaid, head of the Arab Tourism Organization, plans to invest $300 million in the local market to increase the number of his company’s My Tuana hotels, which specialize in therapy and massage

Saudis In Must-Win Qualifier In Melbourne: SOCCERWAY

2/28/12

With Australia already through to the fourth qualifying round for the 2014 World Cup, Saudi Arabia go into Wednesday’s match the far more desperate side.

Saudi Arabia: Perspectives from a Western Female Comedienne: AMERICAN BEDU

2/28/12

Whitney Cummings is a Western female comedienne who talks about her impression of women in the Middle East.  Her views are direct and to the point.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

SYRIA: REBELS SMUGGLE INJURED BRITISH REPORTER OUT OF HARMS WAY

Syrian rebels smuggled a wounded British journalist out of the besieged central city of Homs Tuesday and whisked him to safety in neighboring Lebanon, activist groups said. They did not manage to evacuate a wounded French journalist or the bodies of two other Western reporters killed last week, AP reports. ARMY CONTINUES TO POUND REBELS: Syrian forces shelled opposition strongholds, killing at least 25 people, on Tuesday and a wounded British photographer was smuggled out of Homs into neighbouring Lebanon, Reuters reports.  GROUND INVASION?: The day after Syrians approved a new Constitution in a nationwide referendum, which ostensibly could lead to a more democratic system of government, President Bashar al-Assad appeared to be voting with his tanks for continued repression, CSM reports. KOFI ANNAN NAMED SYRIAN ENVOY: Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was named a special envoy for the violence-torn nation, SFGate/Bloomberg reports. VENEZUELA SENDS OIL: Venezuela’s oil minister confirmed that it sent two shipments of diesel to Syria last year and said it would send further supplies “when required” despite Western-led sanctions, Yahoo! Reports.

IRAN: AMNESTY BLASTS TEHRAN FOR EXECUTING TWICE AS MANY PEOPLE AS LAST YEAR

Iran put to death more than twice as many people in 2011 as it did the year before, Amnesty International said Monday in a new report. The rights group said that the rate of executions in public increased even more dramatically, in an apparent bid to suppress political dissent and promote a climate of fear among those who might defy harsh Iranian law, AP/Washington Post reports. IRAN CALLS NUCLEAR ARMS PRODUCTION A ‘GREAT SIN’: Amid heightened tensions with the West over its nuclear program, Iran on Tuesday called for negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons and condemned their production or possession as “a great sin,” Nick Cumming-Bruce (NYT) reports.

PAKISTAN: GUNMEN KILL 18 SHIITES IN BUS ATTACK

Pakistani officials say gunmen disguised in military uniforms have flagged down a convoy of commuter buses in a northern province and shot dead 18 Shi’ite passengers, VOA reports. OSCAR-WINNING FILMMAKER LAUDED BY PAKISTAN: Pakistan’s government honored on Monday the country’s first filmmaker to win an Oscar: the director of a documentary that chronicled the plight of female victims of acid attacks in this conservative society, Boston Globe/AP reports.

AFGHANISTAN: NATO URGES FOCUS ON STABILITY AFTER QURAN BURNING FIASCO

NATO must remain focused on fostering stability in Afghanistan despite the protests and violence that have gripped the country following the burning of copies of the Koran on a NATO military base, the alliance’s head said on Tuesday, Reuters reports. EDITORIAL: AFGHANISTAN ON EDGE: Three Republican presidential candidates are shamelessly criticizing President Obama for apologizing to the government of Afghanistan for the incineration of Korans at a U.S. military base in that country. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum should be praising the president instead, not only because acknowledging the offense to Muslim sensibilities was the decent thing to do but because it may have prevented an even worse backlash than the one that has cost four American lives so far, LAT writes.

LIBYA: GADDAFI IS GONE, BUT ONE YEAR ON LIBYA LOOKS GRIM

Patrick Haimzadeh, a former French diplomat in Tripoli from 2001 to 2004 and the author of Au cœur de la Libye de Kadhafi (Inside Gaddafi’s Libya), spoke to Al Monitor about possible scenarios for Libya’s reconstruction.

QATAR: HAMAS LEADERS LEAVE SYRIA FOR EGYPT, QATAR

The political leadership of the Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas, has moved from Syria to Egypt and Qatar, BBC reports.

UAE: NEW RULES ON MARKETS, FUNDS BY MID-2012

New rules in the United Arab Emirates on mutual funds, short-selling, and rights issues may be finalised by mid-2012 as part of measures to strengthen the operation of exchanges and attract overseas investors, the regulator said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

YEMEN: INSIDE YEMEN’S REVOLUTION, CRACKS APPEAR AS SALEH LEAVES

The youth activists who spearheaded the uprising that ended President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule are now grappling with internal divisions, as politics and competing visions weaken one of the Arab world’s most dynamic revolts of the past year, Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports. THE HOUTHI MOVEMENT AND THE REVOLUTION: Even the dedicated observer of Yemeni affairs can be forgiven for not fully grasping the complexity of the country’s political milieu during this shaky revolutionary period. Researching Yemeni politics, one often feels stuck in an intractable game of telephone. Part of this is the grammar of how information spreads in the Middle East, which is often informal and decentralized. But part of it can be related to the political ecology of the country and the palpable gap between the geographical center and periphery. The history of the political evolution of the Shiite “Houthi” rebels of Saada province is no different. Unraveling what the Houthis want may indicate how other independent and marginalized groups, like the southern separatists, will navigate a post-Saleh Yemen, Madeline Wells (FP) writes.

/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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