News – Saudi Arabia – 2012-03-15

March 15, 2012

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

3.15.12 EDITION

West Wins Fresh Saudi Oil Supply Pledge: REUTERS

3/14/12

Consuming nations won a new pledge from OPEC leader Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to boost oil supplies to help control prices and protect the global economy from any loss of Iranian crude due to potential sanctions.

Saudi Arabia Shuts Embassy in Syria, Withdraws Staff As Deaths Mount: AL ARABIYA

3/14/12

Saudi Arabia has shut down its embassy in Syria and has withdrawn all its staff and diplomats, the foreign ministry announced Wednesday in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

Security Tightened At Saudi Missions Abroad: SAUDI GAZETTE

Muhammad Al-Ahmadi | 3/15/12

Security will be tightened at all Saudi missions and diplomatic residences abroad with additional equipment and bodyguards after the killing earlier this month of a Saudi diplomat in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dr. Nizar Bin Obaid Madani, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told Okaz/Saudi Gazette recently during an interview.

Demographics, local tastes fuel Arab video game industry: REUTERS

Nour Merza | 3/14/12

The Middle East has one of the fastest growing communities of online gamers in the world, and demographics mean this is likely to remain true for many years. About 60 percent of the 350 million people in the Arab world are younger than 25, with internet penetration in the region at about 70 million users — over 300 percent growth in the last five years, according to numbers from United Arab Emirates-based entrepreneurship research portal Sindibad Business. Internet penetration is expected to reach 150 million users by 2015, said the portal’s founder Bahjat Homsi.

Dhahran Techno Valley Poised To Become Global R&D Hub: ARAB NEWS

3/14/12

Dhahran’s unique Techno Valley has created a research-and-development bridge between the oil-and-gas sector and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

A Saudi Ambassador in Baghdad: AL AHRAM

Salah Nasrawi | 3/15/12

After more than 20 years of frozen relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the two long-standing Arab rivals are warming up their relationship amid increasing instability generated by Middle Eastern upheavals and the dangers posed by threats of war with Iran.

Investors Eye Saudi Hotel Sector as Revenues Surge: SAUDI GAZETTE

3/15/12

Saudi Arabia’s big spending on transport infrastructure will undoubtedly support tourism sector, whose GDP contribution is set to reach $14.9 billion this year.

Saudi Arabia Starts Paying Attention to Tourism: AL BAWABA

3/15/12

Saudi Arabia is working on plans to pump more money into its tourism industry and improve infrastructure such as hotels and airports. A recent report said the Kingdom plans to invest more than $80bn into tourism related facilities. According to a report published by Al Mazaya Holding, based on the resolution of Saudi Council of Ministers, the emphasis would be laid on corporate, governmental and group tourism rather than individual travelers in order to promote ‘conference tourism.’ INVESTORS EYE SAUDI PROSPECTS: Top industry executives and officials will head to the annual Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2012 (AHIC), which takes place in Dubai on 28-30 April at Madinat Jumeirah, to discuss investment opportunities in a region where governments are ploughing billions of dollars into tourism infrastructure, Travel Daily News reports.

American Tourister in $2.5 Million Saudi plans: TRADE ARABIA

3/15/12

Leading luggage brand, American Tourister, has announced major expansion plans in Saudi Arabia, earmarking over $2.5 million over a period of two months starting May.

Dow Jones Report Denied By Oil Minister: ARAB NEWS

3/13/12

Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi yesterday denied a Dow Jones report on the Kingdom’s current oil production policy, saying the report published on Monday by the agency was totally false.

ALJ Wins Three Awards from Toyota: ARAB NEWS

3/13/12

At an event organized by Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Ltd. (ALJ), Okapi, adviser of the Toyota president, presented three international excellence awards to ALJ. ALJ President Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel received the prestigious awards, which are viewed as the most important excellence recognition from Toyota to its distributors throughout the world.

GE Highlights Energy Efficient Solutions: ARAB NEWS

3/13/12

Supporting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia meet its growing energy needs, GE recently hosted a series of technical seminars in four cities — Riyadh, Jeddah, Abha and Dammam — to highlight advanced power generation technologies and solutions that enhance energy efficiency, availability and reliability.

2,249-Unit Jazan Housing Project Inaugurated: ARAB NEWS

3/14/12

Jazan Gov. Prince Muhammad bin Nasser opened the first phase of the King Abdullah Developmental Housing Project for the Displaced cutting a ribbon at Hasma in the Ahad Al-Masaraha yesterday.

SR14bn a Year Spent On Smoking: ARAB NEWS

3/14/12

Saudi Arabia is the fifth country in the world and the second in the Arab Gulf region in the number of women smokers, said the chairman of a society to combat smoking, local Arabic daily Al-Madinah reported Monday.

Spring Break Saudi Arabia: Reflections on Women’s Rights and Religious Freedom: GEORGETOWN JOURNAL

3/15/12

This Spring Break, 14 Georgetown students traveled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on a unique public relations/educational trip sponsored by the Saudi government. In respect of the local tradition, Georgetown’s female participants donned conservative coverings, known as abayas, which the local Saudi women are required to wear by law. Reflecting on his experience in the Kingdom, Michael Dawson shares his thoughts on women’s rights, religious freedom and gender equality.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

IRAN: AMERICAN PUBLIC OPPOSES STRIKE

A new poll finds that only one in four Americans favors Israel conducting a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program. Seven in ten (69%) favor the US and other major powers continuing to pursue negotiations with Iran, a position that is supported by majorities of Republicans (58%), Democrats (79%) and Independents (67%).

AFGHANISTAN: IS THE ARMY RESPONSIBLE?

With the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan already at unprecedented lows, news on Sunday threatened to push U.S.-Afghanistan relations to a new crisis: a U.S. Army staff sergeant stationed in southern Kandahar, a married father of two children, had allegedly shot and killed 16 civilians, including 9 children, during a harrowing house-to-house killing spree… let us hope that the military also has the courage, self-confidence and capacity for self-introspection to investigate not just the crime, but the atmosphere—in Army parlance, the “command climate”—in which a crime like this could have taken place,” Jim Frederick (TIME) writes. US-AFGHAN DISCONNECT: The mullah was astounded and a little angered to be asked why the accidental burning of Korans last month could provoke violence nationwide, while an intentional mass murder that included nine children last Sunday did not. “How can you compare the dishonoring of the Holy Koran with the martyrdom of innocent civilians?” said an incredulous Mullah Khaliq Dad, a member of the council of religious leaders who investigated the Koran burnings. “The whole goal of our life is religion,” Rod Nordland (NYT) writes. POLL: HALF SAY US SHOULD SPEED UP WITHDRAWAL: Fifty percent of Americans say the United States should speed up withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, while 24% prefer sticking to the current timetable to leave by the end of 2014, and 21% say the U.S. should stay as long as it takes to accomplish its goals. Democrats and independents are most likely to favor a faster withdrawal than planned. Republicans are about equally divided between favoring a faster withdrawal and keeping troops in Afghanistan until the U.S. accomplishes its goals, Gallup reports. RUSSIA MAY ALLOW NATO TO MOVE TROOPS, CARGO TO AFGHANISTAN THROUGH AIRPORT ON VOLGA: For the last three years, Moscow has allowed NATO to ship military supplies to Afghanistan through Russia by rail. Now, this Northern Distribution Network may use an airport in Russia, VOA reports.

IRAN: PARLIAMENT SUMMONS SLIPPERY AHMADINEJAD

Iran’s outgoing parliament summoned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for an unprecedented grilling Wednesday, but he spent much of the session deflecting lawmakers’ questions with jokes and mockery, Thomas Erdbrink (Washington Post) reports.

IRAQ: AIRLINE DISPUTE WITH KUWAIT SETTLED

Iraqi leaders on Wednesday announced the conclusion of several agreements with Kuwait on long-disputed issues, marking the latest in a series of friendly moves toward countries in the region ahead of an Arab summit in Baghdad, Washington Post reports.

SYRIA: DEATH TOLL MOUNTS AS NATION MARKS UPRISING ANNIVERSARY

At least 23 people are reported dead as Syrian forces continue a crackdown on dissent Thursday, the first anniversary of the uprising, while state television showed rallies in support of President Bashar al-Assad in a number of cities, VOA reports.

OPINION: A WARNING FOR THE WOMEN OF THE ARAB SPRING

Since women make up half of the region’s population, any democratic developments must improve the social and legal status of women in the Arab world. It appears the Tunisian society has strong civil institutions, and there is much hope that democracy can take hold there. But in Egypt, many political actors are talking about returning to Islamic law, which could result in a regression of rights for women and girls similar to what we experienced in Iran in 1979, Sherin Ebadi (WSJ) 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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