News – Saudi Arabia – 2012-03-22

March 22, 2012

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

3.22.12 EDITION

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Says Kingdom Ready to Boost Output: WASHINGTON POST

Steven Mufson | 3/21/12

President Obama may be traveling the country this week to tout his energy policy, but the oil market’s attention is focused on Saudi Arabia and its production plans.

The kingdom’s oil minister insisted this week that oil markets are amply supplied and that it stands ready to boost output. Its council of ministers asserted that excessively high petroleum prices threaten the global economy and that a downturn would lead to an abrupt pullback in prices, hurting the interests of oil exporters and consumers. COMMENTS FROM SAUDI MAKE PRICES DROP: Saudi Arabia’s comments prompted a 2% drop in oil prices on Tuesday, BBC reports. INDIA CUTTING IRAN OIL: In what is seen as a smart diplomatic move, New Delhi has publicly maintained a contrary stance on US sanctions on Iran while at the same time asking the state-run oil firms to cut down on their crude oil imports from Tehran, in a bid to carefully balance relations with the two countries, the Hindustan Times reports. CHINA, TOO: China, the biggest buyer of Iranian crude, cut imports by 45 per cent in February from a month earlier as the nations disagreed over payment terms, Gulf News reports. MURKY DATA MAKES OIL TRADING TRICKY: Oil markets are difficult to read at the best of times, but what if key data point in different directions and even the world’s biggest producer and main consumer can’t agree? Policy and investment decisions become very difficult, Reuters/CNBC writes. OPINION: SAUDIS CAN’T SAVE US ON OIL: Saudi Arabia can’t save the West from rising oil and gasoline prices — only Wall Street can, writes Cyrus Sanati (Fortune).

Saudi Market Opens Up, but Gradually: NEW YORK TIMES

Dania Saadi | 3/21/12

Saudi Arabia is inching toward opening up its equity market to direct foreign investment, but any move to grant international access is unlikely to unleash a flood of foreign money into the market.

Video: Geithner Welcomes Saudi Oil Pledge: THE GLOBE AND MAIL

3/21/12

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he welcomed Saudi Arabia’s pledge to continue to make sure oil supplies are sufficient to meet demand – one of the many topics of his discussion with lawmakers on Capitol Hill

Saudi Telecom Firms’ Revenue Expected To Soar To SR90bn In 2012: ARAB NEWS

3/22/12

NCB Capital maintained its cautiously optimistic view on the Saudi telecom sector as margins remain under pressure due to price led competition. NCB Capital believes stability in margins is a key catalyst for the sector.

Youtube Witnessing Big Leap In Saudi Uploads: ARAB NEWS

Walaa Hawari | 3/22/12

Video sharing is becoming extremely popular in the Kingdom, and uploads on YouTube have grown 260 percent year-on-year on the site’s Saudi specific edition, claimed a senior director of the website.

Saudi Thought Leaders Gather At Google’s Event Arabia 2012 To Discuss The Power Of The Internet: BI-ME

3/21/12

In association with Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, Google held a thought leadership Arabia 2012 day in Riyadh gathering more than 120 top executives and government officials from the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia Pushing Bahrain to Solve Crisis, Fears Syria Effect: REUTERS

Andrew Hammond | 3/21/12

Saudi Arabia wants Bahrain’s government and opposition to resolve a political crisis that it fears could worsen because of the sectarian fallout of fighting in Syria and destabilize its Eastern Province, a diplomat and opposition politician said.

Saudi Female Sports Pundit to Carry Olympic Flame: ASSOCIATED PRESS

3/21/12

A Saudi Arabian female sports commentator in the ultraconservative Muslim country says she will be one of the 8,000 people who will carry the Olympic flame for the 2012 London Games.

Saudi, Philippines ‘Close’ To US$300 Min Wage Deal: ARABIAN BUSINESS

Sara Anabtawi | 3/21/12

A top official in the Philippines Labour Department has said that the country’s government is close to agreeing a deal with Saudi Arabia that would set the minimum wage for Filipino nationals working in the kingdom at US$300.

Saudi Arabia Looks to Organic Farming Methods: DPA

Anne-Beatrice Clasmann | 3/22/12

Farming in Saudi Arabia has long been considered an ecological nightmare due to the country’s high temperatures and arid climate, in which cowsheds are air-conditioned and non-renewable water sources used to irrigate wheat crops.

Strong Dollar, Yen Make Cars More Expensive In Kingdom: ARAB NEWS

3/22/12

Appreciation of the dollar and the Japanese yen against euro and other major currencies in recent months has made American and Japanese vehicles more expensive in the Saudi market. This subsequently has forced many customers to abandon their plan to buy a new car and instead own a used one. Some experts in the local automobile market have pointed out that a customer needs to spend at least SR70,000 for a new car.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Eases Ban On Single Men In Shopping Malls: CANADA.COM

AFP | 3/22/12

Single men in Riyadh will be able to visit shopping malls during peak hours after a Saudi prince eased restrictions aimed at stopping harassment of women, media reports said Thursday.

Saudi Closes 600 Lingerie Stores In Male Staff Crackdown: ARABIAN BUSINESS

Elizabeth Broomhall | 3/22/12

Some 600 lingerie shops in Saudi Arabia have been closed for not adhering to new government rules which ban stores from employing male sales assistants, the Saudi Gazette has reported.

Swedish Prosecutors Launch Probe Into Saudi Arms Deal At Defense Agency: WALL STREET JOURNAL

Dow Jones | 3/22/12

The Swedish Prosecution Authority Thursday announced there are suspicions a crime has been committed at the Scandinavian country’s defense research agency in connection with an alleged Saudi Arabia arms affair.

Saudi Investors Take Egypt to Court Over $350m Losses: GULF NEWS

3/22/12

Egypt will be taken before international arbitration courts by Saudi investors that claim to have lost over $350 million following asset seizures.

Al-Rabiah Licenses Two Firms With A Capital of SR1bn: ARAB NEWS

3/22/12

Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah yesterday approved the establishment of a real estate company with a capital of SR916.21 million and a recruitment company with a capital of SR100 million.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

SYRIA: POTENTIAL DANGERS AFTER THE FALL OF ASSAD

The regime seems likely to collapse following a prolonged conflict that exacerbates sectarian divisions. This could lead to a period of instability much worse than in Libya as groups of Sunni Arab rebels vie for power with each other and with militias dominated by the al-Assad family’s Alawi sect, and possibly other minorities. Eventually, a weak government is likely to emerge, which is guided by a secular constitutional framework, but deeply divided internally along communal lines. Post-al-Assad Syria is likely to see a constitution that balances democracy with the rights of the major communities, GPS writes. BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES EMERGE FROM CRISIS:  While Syria’s economy as a whole has been crippled by violent unrest, there are some people for whom the uprising has created business opportunities, Reuters reports. UN PLAN A CHALLENGE FOR REBELS: The Kofi Annan peace plan unanimously endorsed Wednesday by the U.N. Security Council may pose an even greater dilemma for the Syrian opposition than it does for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. That’s because while it demands a halt to the regime’s military operations against opposition strongholds, it also retreats from the previous insistence by Western and Arab countries — and the Syrian opposition — that Assad immediately step down and hand power to a unity government as the starting point of a political solution to the year-long uprising, Tony Karon (Time) writes.

IRAN: AHMADINEJAD IS WEAK AND GETTING WEAKER

The Iranian regime has been deeply divided ever since the disputed 2008 elections and the rise of the Green Movement. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used to be Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s protégé. The two are now clearly at odds. When I was in Iran in the fall of 2011, one could clearly sense that there were two rival centers of power with Khamenei’s clearly being the more powerful one, Fareed Zakaria (CNN) writes. DOMESTIC TENSION AND FOREIGN POLICY: The prospect of a military attack on Iran to disable the country’s nuclear facilities is being intensively considered in Tehran. But the internal tensions between rival factions – especially supporters of the supreme leader and of the president – are an obstacle to a coherent response, Omid Memarian (Open Democracy) reports.

ISRAEL/IRAN: ‘WE WILL NEVER BOMB YOUR COUNTRY’: THE ISRAELI-IRANIAN PEACE WEB
Meet Ronny Edry: an Israeli graphic designer, husband, father of two, and as of a few days ago, friend of the Iranian people. Edry, 41, and his wife, Michal Tamir, 35, are the Israelis responsible for the recent online initiative titled simply, “Iranians, We Love You.” Late last week, Ronny created a digital poster with this message, and added this line: “We will never bomb your country.” The backdrop includes a photo of Ronny holding his five-year-old daughter, Ella, who herself holds a small Israeli flag. He posted the image on the Facebook page of the design preparatory school, Pushpin Mehina, that he runs with his wife in Tel Aviv, Neri Zilber (PBS) writes.

ISRAEL: AS ILLEGALS IMMIGRANTS INCREASE, ISRAEL PLANS TO ACT

Like many other countries in the world, Israel faces a serious problem with illegal immigration. Israel always has to find the most humane way of dealing with this tricky issue. Israel is now taking a series of steps to stop the influx and reverse the flow. This summer, Israel will begin deporting those who agree to leave voluntarily. Other parts of the plan are still under construction — like a 150-mile fence being built along the border with Egypt. And there will also be a massive detention center, NPR reports.

INDIA: WHY HAS INDIA BECOME THE WORLDS TOP ARMS BUYER?

India has replaced China as the world’s largest arms buyer, accounting for 10 percent of all arms purchases during the past five years, a Swedish research group said.

India purchased some $12.7 billion in arms, 80 percent of that from Russia, during 2007-2011, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). China’s arms purchases during that time were $6.3 billion, 78 percent of which came from Russia, NYT 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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