ARABIALINK Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
AFP | 4.12.12
Saudi Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz held talks at the Pentagon on Wednesday that focused on the crisis in Syria, hours before a ceasefire deadline was due to expire. The Saudi defense chief later held talks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
Saudi stocks rebounded from a five-day slump on Wednesday as banks rose on strong earnings. The TASI index rose for a first session in six, closing 0.3 percent higher at 7,573.28 points. Al-Rajhi Bank rose 3.9 percent, SABB added 1.7 percent and Banque Saudi Fransi gained 2.7 percent. These banks reported first-quarter net profit growth of between 10 and 18 percent.
Saudi Banks Stay In The Limelight: ARAB NEWS
The Saudi Stock Market bucked the 5-day downward trend and turned green yesterday on the back of strong performance by the Banking and Media sectors. The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) ended the day in the green at 7,573.28 points, up 21.40 points or 0.28 percent, from its previous day close at 7,551.88 points. The index earlier slipped into the red territory, wavered in the same zone for the entire day, lost more than 100 points during the session but market witnessed some buying interests before the close, which pushed the index to edge up.
SAUDI ARABIA’S BANKS SURGE IN FIRST QUARTER: The biggest banks in Saudi Arabia have reported strong earnings for the first quarter, spurred by government spending plans and a bull market in local stocks, Al Bawaba reports.
This week Mr. Nawaf Obaid, former strategic adviser to Prince Turki Al-Faisal, presented a briefing titled, “Saudi Arabia & the GCC in a Post ‘Arab Spring’ Environment” at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as part of a program examining responses among GCC states to the “Arab Spring” turmoil that started early last year. Obaid told SUSRIS he was invited “to bring the Saudi perspective and give the reasons why Saudi Arabia did not experience any of the upheavals that all the major Arab countries have been through.”
Saudi Arabia’s Aramco has $30 trillion in assets: THE EXAMINER
Sahit Muja | 4.12.12
Oil and green energy: Saudi Arabia’s Aramco has $30 trillion in assets. Saudi Arabia has about 2 trillion square meters that are capable to produce 14 trillion Kwh solar energy a day, enough to power the world. The average electricity consumption for a U.S. residential house is 33 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day, 1000 kWh a month. The oil prices are at $102 a barrel and natural gas is about $2. In the today’s market price Saudi Aramco has above $30 trillion in underground assets.
Oil Market Tension May Be Easing, I.E.A. Says: NEW YORK TIMES
Reuters | 4.12.12
The oil market has broken a two-year cycle of tightening supply conditions, the International Energy Agency said Thursday, as demand softens and Saudi Arabia increases output in response to tensions with Iran. The agency said in its monthly report that there had potentially been a rise in global oil stocks of 1 million barrels per day over the last quarter, and the impact on prices had not yet been fully realized. “The cycle of repeatedly tightening fundamentals since 2009 has been broken for now,” it said.
Saudi Arabia is quietly urging the Pakistan government to reconsider its decision to pursue energy cooperation with Iran, said a local newspaper quoting Arab diplomatic sources in Islamabad. The report said this was the crux of a message from the Saudi King conveyed by Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah in his meetings here on Tuesday with Pakistani leaders. Riyadh, it said, offered an ‘alternative package’ to meet Islamabad’s growing energy needs in an effort to persuade it to abandon the Iran gas pipeline and electricity/oil import deals — plans which the US has been strongly opposing.
Saudi Aramco Said To Double Gasoline Imports in April, May: ARABIAN BUSINESS
Saudi Arabian Oil, the biggest exporter of crude, will more than double its gasoline imports this month and next to replace supply from a refinery under maintenance, three traders with knowledge of the purchases said. The state-owned company, known as Saudi Aramco, will buy nine to 10 cargoes of mostly 95-RON quality gasoline for delivery each month in April and May, said the traders, who declined to be identified because the transactions are confidential. Dhahran-based Aramco bought about four cargoes a month on average in the first quarter, they said. A company spokesman had no comment when contacted by telephone yesterday.
Saudi’s Tourism Industry To Hit US$14.88bn: ARABIAN BUSINESS
Bloomberg | 4.12.12
Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism industry is estimated to grow to SR55.8bn (US$14.88bn) in 2012 compared to SR38.9bn (US$10.37bn) recorded in 2009, it was reported. The World Board of Travel and Tourism said that the industry is expected to represent 2.9 percent of the GDP this year as compared to 2.7 percent in 2009, reported kingdom-based Saudi Gazette.
Saudi Telecom Plans Foreign Deals To Boost Business: THE NATIONAL
Ben Flanagan | 4.12.12
Saudi Telecom Company says a target to boost foreign operations to half of its total business is still realistic, despite the operator’s failed bid to enter the Syrian market.
Rocks and Hard Places: CROSSROADS ARABIA
John Burgess | 4.11.12
Learning English, though, can come at a cost. Saudi Gazette reports that some Saudi parents are discovering that their well-intended efforts to teach their children English are leaving their children weak in Arabic. The article focuses on elementary school students, but I’ve seen it as well among Saudis who have taken university degrees abroad as well. It’s not that the older student loses fluency in their native language. Instead, it’s that they learn the terms of particular concepts – political, economic, scientific – in English, as one would expect from a university student studying in English. But they don’t learn those terms in Arabic as their counterparts in Saudi universities do.
Abdulla Rasheed | 4.12.12
The flow of traffic into Saudi Arabia through the Al Ghuwaifat border is back to normal — ending a nightmare for truck drivers who were stuck in a 14km queue at one point. “The traffic flow was restored last Saturday. Some new Saudi border administrative procedures caused the delay, especially staff holidays,” Lieutenant-General Nasser Al Menhali, director-general at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, told Gulf News.
Saudi King Demands Grand Mosque Work Done By July: CONSTRUCTION WEEK ONLINE
KSA’s King Abdullah has instructed authorities to make sure demolition work needed to expand the Grand Mosque in central Makkah is carried out before Ramadan so that disruption to worshippers is kept to a minimum. The new Haram expansion project will cover an area of 356,000m2, one and a half times bigger than the current area – but requires demolition work before the new Haram can be constructed. Around 20% of the demolition work is complete – and the King has ordered that the work be finished in time for Ramadan, which begins mid-July.
Radical Saudi Cleric Jailed 5 Years For ‘Incitement’: GOOGLE NEWS
AFP | 4.12.12
A Saudi court sentenced a radical cleric who fiercely supports the segregation of the sexes to five years in prison on Wednesday for “incitement” against the kingdom’s rulers, media reported. Yussef al-Ahmad was also sentenced to a five-year travel ban and fined 100,000 Saudi riyals ($26,600/20,235 euros) said aleqt.com, the website of Al-Eqtesadiya daily.
Kafala Program approved 317 funding guarantees for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the first quarter of 2012 compared to 222 guarantees same period last year, an increase of 43 percent. Value of the guarantees totaled SR179.7 million compared to SR82.5 million, an increase of 118 percent. Kafala Program is an agreement between the Ministry of Finance, represented by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) and Saudi banks, which aims to promote financing to SME firms within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Book Refutes Stereotypes About Saudi Women: ARAB NEWS
Abdul Hannan Tago | 4.12.12
Saudi women have been playing an active role in all walks of life in society and compete with men in acts of charity, according the book “The Women in Najd: Her Status and Role.” They also enjoy freedom in financial matters and the right to personal freedom, thus disproving the stereotyped image of her being a victim of socioeconomic injustice and cultural taboos, said the book written by Dalal bint Mukhalad Al-Harbi and published by Darat Al-Malik Abdulaziz Library.
Nasir Al-Qahtani | 4.12.12
High areas in the southern Saudi province of Aseer witnessed unusual rough weather that included the fall of heavy rain, wind, hail, snow that resulted in the drowning of two children and two men. Some areas of the southern region were covered in almost a white sheet of snow as rain continued to fall on Wednesday.
UNITED STATES AND ISRAEL: MITT ROMNEY, LIKELY GOP NOMINATION FOR PRESIDENT, IS ‘OLD FRIENDS’ WITH BIBI NETANYAHU
The two young men had woefully little in common: one was a wealthy Mormon from Michigan, the other a middle-class Jew from Israel. But in 1976, the lives of Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu intersected, briefly but indelibly, in the 16th-floor offices of the Boston Consulting Group, where both had been recruited as corporate advisers. At the most formative time of their careers, they sized each other up during the firm’s weekly brainstorming sessions, absorbing the same profoundly analytical view of the world. That shared experience decades ago led to a warm friendship, little known to outsiders, that is now rich with political intrigue. Mr. Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, is making the case for military action against Iran as Mr. Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, is attacking the Obama administration for not supporting Mr. Netanyahu more robustly, Michael Barbaro (NYT) writes.
IRAN: IRAN DIPLOMACY: A LETTER FROM BERLIN
If at one time European governments believed the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran was far more frightening for the United States than for those across the Atlantic, those days are in the past. As talks near on Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran should know that European officials’ views are somewhere in the middle between America’s caution and Israel’s alarm, Genieve Abdo (Middle East Institute) writes.
ENERGY: HALF OF EAST COASTS OIL REFINING CAPACITY SET TO DISAPPEAR
Sunoco petrol stations are a fixture of the US eastern seaboard, their blue-and-yellow awnings touting the brand’s status as official fuel of Nascar racing. But after July, none of the petrol they sell will actually be made by Sunoco.
The 126-year-old company’s decision to quit the refining business is the latest sign of the tumult in downstream fuel markets that is accompanying a global shift in oil use, Peak Oil News reports.
SYRIA: THE KEY TO REAL CHANGE
The UN action in support of the call from special envoy Kofi Annan for a total ceasefire in Syria on 12 April is, like all security council presidential statements, a lot like a new year’s resolution – sincere, grounded in real needs and aspirations, but really difficult to implement.
Of the several different but linked issues at play here, three will determine its fate: the capacity of the security council to intervene in a sovereign state’s affairs; the Syrian government’s sense of its own durability; and the capacity of the opposition to challenge and change the Damascus ruling elite. And my impression is that the ability of the opposition groups to form a more coherent movement will be the crucial factor, drawing on the substantial support they have generated in the Middle East and around the world, Rami Khouri (The Guardian) reports.
EUROPE LEAVES SYRIA TO ‘DISTINCTLY OTTOMAN FATE’: The day I arrived in Istanbul, they buried the last Ottoman. Her Imperial Highness Fatma Neslisah Sultan had been born in a royal palace overlooking the Bosphorus when her grandfather still notionally reigned over the remnants of a vast, intercontinental realm. The day after I left, gunfire from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s troops killed several people inside Turkey. Their shots crossed a frontier that did not exist until the demise of the Ottoman empire, Timothy Garton Ash (Guardian) reports.
MIDDLE EAST: THE STORY OF THE FORGOTTEN ARAB VICTIMS OF THE TITANIC, TOLD 100 YEARS LATER
One hundred years have passed since the sinking of the Titanic, considered the worst disaster the seas have ever witnessed in the twentieth century. In the middle of the extensive coverage this shocking event has received, hardly anything has been mentioned about the Arab passengers that perished on the ship.
In addition to the list of victims which reveals all the Arabs who died in the tragedy were Lebanese except one Egyptian, the proof of Arab presence on the ship was evident in the 1997 blockbuster movie directed by James Cameron, Kamal Kobeissi (Al Arabiya) writes.
AFGHANISTAN: KARZAI MAY STEP DOWN EARLY
The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said he is considering stepping down a year early, potentially clearing the way for his successor to manage the departure of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Presidential elections are due in 2014, the same year western combat soldiers will complete their withdrawal, Emma Graham-Harrison (Guardian) writes.
PALESTINE: PALESTINIANS SPURN NETANYAHU CALL TO RESUME TALKS
Netanyahu on Wednesday proposed to start direct talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, without any preconditions. The call followed an appeal from international mediators, AP reports
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