ARABIALINK Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
Syria Conflict Highlights Saudi-Iran Tensions: VOICE OF AMERICA
Elizabeth Arrott | 4.6.12
The unrest in Syria highlights a larger struggle for regional influence between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The tensions have been building as uprisings in the Arab world have put the two on opposite sides of the conflicts. Arab, Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and mainly Persian, Shi’ite Iran would seem destined to be at odds, facing off over the oil and gas rich Gulf. Relations grew worse following the U.S. war in Iraq, but have spiked further as they reacted to the past year’s events across the region.
Graphic: The Rise of Saudi Oil Consumption: THE ECONOMIST
Saudi Arabia uses as much oil per person as America, largely to run oil-fired power plants to run domestic air conditioners. And the more of its oil siphoned off for such uses, the less cushion there is in the worlds oil supply. That’s a big problem now but is becoming less of one. America and Europe are cutting consumption and massively scaling up production. Saudi Arabia’s oil thirst merely deepens its dependence on a finite resource, suggesting that the inevitable day of reckoning will be a difficult one indeed.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. has begun work on a $100 million technology center in Shanghai, focusing on alternative energy and new materials for the construction and auto sectors. SABIC’s CEO Mohammed Al-Mady said Friday the center would focus on helping design and create next generation alternative energy vehicles. SABIC, one of the world’s largest chemical producers, has begun work on a $100 million new technology center in Shanghai, focusing on alternative energy and new materials for the construction and automotive sectors. It is part of a wider expansion that includes a polycarbonate production complex in Tianjin, a city in northeastern China as part of its joint venture with Sinopec, Asia’s biggest refiner. The company, which manufactures fertilizers, metals and polymers, has seen strong sales and solid profits on the back of higher oil prices. SABIC is one of the world’s largest chemical producers and its investments in China are part of a bigger energy partnership that includes a buildup of jointly run refineries as well as petrochemicals plants.
Galal Fakkar | 4.5.12
The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) will organize the 2nd Saudi Corporate Social Responsibility Forum next month. Ahmad Al-Humaidan, chairman of the Social Responsibility Center at JCCI, said the forum would witness the launch of a number of initiatives and programs in the social responsibility field. He said the event would extend support to the SR65 million-endowment fund for small enterprises and productive families that was launched in the first forum last year. Al-Humaidan said the two-day event would come out with a road map on the future initiatives of Saudi companies toward consolidating a social responsibility culture, besides adopting a compassionate approach to addressing social problems and challenges. VOLUNTEERS TO HELP NEEDY FAMILIES: The Jeddah Social Responsibility Center, an affiliate of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), has implemented seven major social and humanitarian projects for Saudi families. These projects aim to develop the activities of productive families, Ahmed Hassan (Arab News) writes.
Saudi’s Vela to Ship More Crude to US in April: MARKETWATCH
Sarah Kent | 4.5.12
Saudi Arabia’s state shipping company, Vela, is set to ship more oil to the U.S. this month, after a flurry of activity in March caught the attention of market participants, shipbrokers told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday. Vela has chartered at least three supertankers, capable of carrying around 6 million barrels of oil, to ship crude to the U.S. later this month, shipping fixtures show.
Speaking at a press conference in Jeddah that concluded a meeting of Arab youth and sports ministers, the prince claimed that the demand for women’s participation in the Olympics and other international championships came from Saudi women living abroad, and that his organizations would not officially support that demand, but would instead cooperate with those women to ensure their participation “occurred in the appropriate framework and comported with Islamic law.” The prince said he was in constant contact with the Saudi mufti and religious scholars to insure nothing “infringed upon the Muslim woman.”
William Davison | 4.5.12
An Ethiopian company majority-owned by Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi plans to invest $600 million over two years to produce edible oil, its general manager said. Horizon Plantations Ethiopia leased a 20,000-hectare (49,400-acre) plot in the northwestern Benishangul-Gumuz region last month to grow groundnuts, as part of a government drive to boost commercial agriculture, Jemal Ahmed said in an interview on April 3 in the capital, Addis Ababa.
A Texas judge presiding over the case of a Saudi student accused of attempting to build and detonate bombs against targets including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush has recused himself before the scheduled start of the trial.
Saudi Real Estate Out Of Kilter For Investors: THE NATIONAL
Laura Miller | 4.6.12
Saudi Real Estate Company is a good strong firm, but one that is looking an expensive buy for investors. Its underlying strength as a company remains positive, but for investors to find reason to part with their money at the current price of 29.30 Saudi riyals a share, the property firm will need a kick-start in the form of some new projects.
GULF INVESTMENT: BACKLOG OF GULF IPO PLANS FINALLY CLEARED AFTER LONG WAIT
As Gulf markets began this year in bullish mood, a number of companies dusted off plans for IPOs planned before markets fell after the global financial crisis. The pipeline of IPOs in the region was split between companies whose owners were seeking to exit their investments and companies seeking capital for expansion, said an executive at an international investment bank, who asked not to be identified. “There has been a marked change in liquidity,” the banker said. “The secondary market has had a great start to the year. But an IPO takes time to get ready,” Al-Bawaba reports.
IRAN: U.S. NOT BACKING OFF AS IRAN SANCTIONS BITE
The Obama administration’s man in charge of squeezing Tehran over its nuclear program is unapologetic for the difficulties faced by banks in their dealings with Iran since the U.S. tightened sanctions against the country. Companies that trade with Iran are struggling to get paid and the biggest Asian countries are scrambling to work around U.S. sanctions that aim to deprive Tehran of revenue needed to develop its nuclear program. “I don’t feel apologetic about it because that is the consequence of these banks in Iran willingly facilitating transactions for Iran’s nuclear programs,” said David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department, Rachelle Younglai and Timothy Gardner (Reuters) reports.
CNN POLL: AFGHAN WAR SUPPORT HITS NEW LOW
Support for the war in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low with the majority of Americans saying the U.S. should withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan before the 2014 deadline set by the Obama administration, according to a new poll. The CNN/ORC International survey released Friday indicated only 25% of Americans favored the war in the Asian country. A majority of Republicans voiced opposition to it, for the first time since the war began in 2001, CNN reports. ASK THE EXPERTS: WILL AMERICA ‘WIN’ IN AFGHANISTAN?: With less than twenty months until U.S. troops are scheduled to be withdrawn, we asked several foreign policy experts who focus in Afghanistan to address this question: “The Obama administration’s stated objectives in Afghanistan are to deny al-Qaeda a safe haven, prevent the Taliban from overthrowing the government, and build up Afghan security forces in order to transition U.S. combat forces out of the country by 2014. Based on the current strategy, do you think that the Obama administration will achieve its goals?”
DEMOCRACY: IN MIDDLE EAST, DEMOCRACY DEFICIT HAS ROOTS IN HISTORY
One year after it captured the world’s imagination, the Arab Spring is looking less appealing by the week. The promise of a new birth of freedom in the Middle East has been followed by a much messier reality, particularly in Egypt, where there have been attacks on Christians, Western aid workers and women. And now, as Egypt’s presidential election approaches, we see the rise of two candidates from Islamic parties, Khairat al-Shater and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. The former is often described as a moderate, the latter as a radical. Much of what we’re seeing might well be the tumult that accompanies the end of decades of tyranny and the rise of long-suppressed forces, but it raises the question, Why does it seem that democracy has such a hard time taking root in the Arab world? Fareed Zakaria (TIME) writes.
SYRIA: HEZBOLLAH’S SYRIA POLICY PUTS IT AT RISK
Though Hezbollah’s base in Lebanon remains strong, it runs an increasing risk of finding itself isolated, possibly caught up in a sectarian war between its patron, Iran, the region’s Shiite power, and Saudi Arabia, a protector of Sunni interests in the Middle East. Its longtime ally, Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, has distanced itself from the Assad government, moving its headquarters out of Damascus, and Sunni revolutionaries in Syria have explicitly denounced Hezbollah as an enemy. At home, its Lebanese rivals sense a rare opportunity to erode its power, Anne Barnard (NYT) writes.
TURKEY: IRAN AND TURKEY OPEN RIFT OVER SYRIA
A rift is emerging between Iran and its close regional ally, Turkey, after senior officials in Tehran criticised a conference on the Syrian crisis held in Istanbul. Iran’s defence minister, General Ahmad Vahidi, said the Friends of the Syrian People conference served the interests of “the Zionist regime of Israel”, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Wednesday. Despite their alliance, Turkey and Iran remain at odds over Syria. Iran has publicly shown moral support for Assad and has been accused by the west of providing military backing for his regime too, allegations Tehran denies. Turkey, on the other hand, has offered refuge to Syrian opposition figures and played a key role within the international community in condemning the Syrian regime, Saeed Kamali Dehghan (Guardian) writes.
ISRAEL: BARAK REVEALS CONDITIONS FOR IRAN
Citing 2012 as the “year to stop Iran,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that he has held discussions with American and European officials in recent weeks with the goal of convincing them to set clear goals for the planned talks with Iran. The talks are scheduled to begin on April 13 between Iran and representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, known as P5+1. Disagreements still exist regarding the venue although Istanbul currently appears to be acceptable to all sides. Barak revealed what Israel’s goals are for the talks: 1) transfer of all uranium enriched to 20 percent – approximately 120 kg. – out of Iran to a third party country; 2) the transfer of the majority of the 5 tons of uranium enriched to 3.5% out of Iran, leaving just enough needed for energy purposes; 3) the closure of the Fordow enrichment facility, buried under a mountain near the city of Qom; 4) the transfer of fuel rods from a third party country to Iran for the purpose of activating the Tehran Research Reactor, Marc Israel Sellem (Jerusalem Post) reports.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: ABU DHABI EXCHANGE IN LANDMARK PAY MOVE
In a landmark move towards greater transparency in business, 25 companies listed on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange have for the first time released details of executive pay. Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi Aviation, Al Ain Ahlia Insurance, and National Marine Dredging are among firms disclosing the remuneration of their top executives on the website of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX). The move follows a request by the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) for companies to be more transparent about salaries, Tom Arnold (The National) reports. UAE DETAINS FOREIGN NGO WORKERS: In an escalation of the United Arab Emirates’ crackdown on foreign NGOs, the UAE government has detained foreign employees of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and is preventing at least one of them from leaving the country, Josh Rogan (FP) writes.
PAKISTAN: US BOUNTY ON SAEED A WRONG SIGNAL: PM
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Thursday the US bounty on Jamaatud Dawa (JD) chief Hafiz Saeed would send a “wrong signal” at a time when the two countries were embarking upon new dimensions. “This is purely an internal issue of Pakistan and the US has been asked to provide evidence [against Saeed], if they have any, to the Pakistani government… This was also conveyed to the US deputy secretary of state that when new rules of engagements are being defined, they should send a positive signal to Pakistan,” Gilani told the joint sitting of parliament, Tanveer Ahmed (Daily Times) writes.
MEDIA: AL JAZEERA ENGLISH WINS PEABODY AWARD
Al Jazeera English has been named as one of the recipients of the 71st Annual Peabody Awards for the channel’s ground-breaking coverage of the Arab Awakening. “From December 2010, when protests erupted in Tunisia, through 2011, Al Jazeera was a network of record for millions of viewers throughout the world,” the Peabody judges said on Wednesday. “On-the-ground reporting was thorough, enterprising and brave,” they added, Al Jazeera 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>