News – 2011.07.21

Published: July 21, 2011
SUSRIS Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/

7.21.11 EDITION

Saudi Foreign Assets To Peak In 2011: Report: EMIRATES 24|7

7/21/11

“Strong oil prices allied with higher crude output to push Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets to a record high of more than SR1.8 trillion at the end of May and the level is projected to reach a new peak of SR1.9 trillion at the end of 2011, according to the Kingdom’s largest bank.”

Danger Of Debt Woes in Saudi: THE NATIONAL

Tom Arnold | 7/21/11

“Tough policy reforms are needed in Saudi Arabia if the kingdom is to avoid running a budget deficit from 2014, a report has warned. High government spending, a lack of increases in oil output and rising domestic crude consumption are setting the country on a path to escalating debt.”

Indian Refiners Said to Seek Saudi Arabian Crude as Iran Warns of Cutoff: BLOOMBERG

Pratish Narayanan and Anthony DiPaola | 7/20/11

“Indian refiners asked Saudi Arabian Oil Co. for at least one additional shipment in August as a payment dispute jeopardizes Iranian cargoes, four people with knowledge of the matter said. Iran has told customers in India that they won’t receive shipments next month unless outstanding bills are paid… Indian refiners have said global sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program have made banks unwilling to transfer oil payments.”  BRENT CRUDE OIL ‘COULD SPIKE TO $175 IN 2012: Trade Arabia reports that, “Brent crude oil futures could spike up to as high as $175 per barrel briefly next year if the global oil market stays tight, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said on Wednesday.”

Yemen’s Fuel Mayhem to Continue: REUTERS

Humeyra Pamuk | 7/20/11

“Fuel shortages in Yemen will persist even after its oil pipeline and main refinery recently restarted, because tanker-hijacking tribes and an emerging black market threaten fuel supply and add to the country’s instability.”

Saudi Arabia Consumers are the Most Cautious this Quarter as Global Consumer Confidence Drops: AL-ARIBAYA

Eman El-Shenawi | 7/20/11

“Saudi Arabia recorded the largest drops in consumer confidence in the second quarter of 2011, according to a global ranking of consumer sentiment. The kingdom’s index score dropped 11 points from its first quarter ranking, but its confidence remained on par with the seventh most confident economy, Hong Kong.”

What’s The Big Idea? Entrepreneurship in the UAE And KSA: KIPP REPORT

Precious de Leon | 7/20/11

“Exclusive research from Kipp and YouGovSiraj has found more entrepreneurial drive among Saudis than in Emiratis while entrepreneurs remain skeptic about setting up online shopping.”

Arab Spring Slows Down Ad Spend: GULF NEWS

Manoj Nair | 7/21/11

“With the exception of Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent the UAE, the combination of the Arab Spring, struggling regional economies and tight advertiser budgets have put the brakes on advertising spend in the first six months of the year.”

Murdoch’s Ambitions in The Middle East: AL JAZEERA

Dahr Jamail | 7/20/11

“Embroiled in a scandal that has global implications, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is under fire due to the ongoing fallout resulting from the News of the World scandal. But while News Corp remains under heavy scrutiny in the UK, US, and the rest of the West, the launch of Abu Dhabi-based Arabic language news channel Sky News Arabia is still on track.” ALWALEED SEES ‘STRONG LONG-TERM INVESTMENT’: “Major News Corp shareholder Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said on Wednesday he continues to see the company as a valuable and long term investment and had confidence in the leadership of Rupert Murdoch,” Reuters reports.

No Final Decision on Saudi High-Speed Train: AFP

7/20/11

“The Saudi Railways Organisation said Wednesday no final decision has been made on the contract for a high-speed train linking Jeddah and the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

“The construction contract for this train has not been awarded to the Spanish consortium,” Nadim Darwish, an SRO official, told AFP, after reports that the Spanish consortium had won the estimated 7-billion-euro ($10 billion) contract.”

Saudi Binladin Closes Second Short Term Sukuk: CPI FINANCIAL

7/20/11

“Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) has closed its second short term Sukuk, attracting more than SAR 3 billion ($799.9 million) of orders for a SAR 1 billion ($266.6 million) issuance.”  SAUDI BINLADIN GROUP TO INVEST $500M IN TURKEY: Daren Butler (Kipp Report) writes that SBG is planning to invest $500 million in a housing project in Turkey.”

Final OK for Dow Chemical/Aramco JV soon: REUTERS

7/20/11

“Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical Co plan to finalize the details of a joint venture in the next few weeks to build one of the world’s largest petrochemicals complex in Saudi Arabia, according to three sources familiar with the matter.”  SAUDI ARAMCO PROVIDES FREE VIDEO MODULES FOR STUDENTS: “Saudi Aramco has teamed up with Sultan ibn Abdulaziz Science and Technology Center (Scitech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a project aimed at developing a large, free repository of video modules for high school math and science classes, created by gifted teachers from around the world,” reports OilVoice.

Zain Saudi Signs Term Sheet for Stake Sale: MSNBC

7/20/11

“Mobile phone service provider Zain Saudi says it has signed a nonbinding term sheet for the sale of a $950 million, 25 percent stake, in the company to Bahrain’s Batelco Group and the investment firm headed by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.”

Saudi Developer Dar Al-Arkan Lags Forecast On Low Sales: REUTERS

7/20/11

“Saudi Arabia’s biggest property developer, reported a 31.4 percent drop in second quarter net profit on declining sales, missing forecasts. Dar al-Arkan made a net profit of 297.8 million riyals ($79.4 million) in the three months to end-June, compared with 437 million riyals a year earlier.”

Vaughn Gittin, Jr. Drifts Saudi Arabia: CAR JAKE

7/19/11

“Do you record videos of your vacations? Do you have to ply friends and relatives with free burgers and beer to sit through your home movies? I’m guessing that Vaughn Gitten, Jr. doesn’t have that problem. As a professional drifter, he gets to visit places across the globe that most of us don’t, like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

 YEMEN: CRISIS COST PUT AT $17 BLN

“Months of political unrest in Yemen, which crippled the Arab country’s economy, have cost its industrial and trade sectors at least $17 billion, the Saudi state news agency reported on Wednesday, quoting the deputy chairman of the Yemeni Chamber of Commerce as saying,” Reuters reports. OPPOSITION ACCUSES REGIME OF TARGETING LEADER:  “Yemen’s opposition accused the government of attempting to assassinate a leader of Al-Islah party on Wednesday by firing at his car in Sanaa, an opposition website said,” AFP reports. SENIOR AL QAEDA MEMBER KILLED: “Yemen says a senior leader of the country’s al-Qaida branch has been killed in fighting in the nearly lawless south of the country,” AP reports.

LIBYA: GADDAFI DEPARTURE NOT BEING DISCUSSED

Libya’s foreign minister has denied that Col Muammar Gaddafi’s removal was being considered in efforts to end the country’s conflict,” BBC News reports.  “Gaddafi’s departure is not being discussed,” Abdelati Obeidi told reporters after talks in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. GADDAFI TURNS TO TRIBES TO FIGHT REBELS: “Dozens of horsemen in flowing robes sat on their mounts cheering as men around them fired AK-47s in the air, proclaiming their allegiance to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and their readiness to march on the rebel-held western mountains,” the Washington Post reports.

EGYPT: RULERS OUTLINE ELECTION PLANS

“Egypt’s interim military rulers established a system on Wednesday for what is promised to be the first free and open elections in the country’s history, laying out a complicated plan evidently designed as a compromise between the competing demands of liberal and Islamist groups,” David Kirkpatrick (NYT) reports.

SYRIA: TROOPS SURROUND HARASTA, DAMASCUS SUBURB

“Troops commanded by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brother have surrounded the Damascus suburb of Harasta, residents say. The move appears to be part of an ongoing crackdown on urban centres that have experienced protests on a daily basis,” Al Jazeera reports.

IRAN: AHMADINEJAD AND CLERICS FIGHT OVER HEAD SCARVES

“Every summer, Iranian police get tough on women who violate the country’s strict Islamic dress code by adjusting their veils and long coats to try to cope with the rising temperatures. But this year, amid the annual crackdown, the issue of how women wear the veil — and what the government does about it — has become part of an intensifying rift between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and powerful Shiite clerics.”

IRAQ: SHI’ITE MILITIA SPLINTERS INTO HIT SQUADS, GANGS

“Anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army has spawned dozens of renegade splinter groups which frequently assassinate Iraqi officials on behalf of foreign sponsors, Sadrist and security officials say.

The Mehdi Army, which fought against U.S. troops after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has fractured into small, well-trained and well-armed criminal gangs involved in contract killings, kidnapping and extortion from homeowners, businessmen and government agencies, particularly in Baghdad.”

AFGHANISTAN: SECURITY FORCES TAKE CONTROL OF HELMAND

A “symbolic withdrawal showed that the Afghans were now in charge – and it meant the capital of Helmand province, Lashkar Gah, had once again become the responsibility of local security forces, five violent years after UK troops first came,” the Guardian reports.

KUWAIT: CBANK GOVERNOR SAYS GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO BOOST SPENDING

“Kuwait needs to increase government spending and support the private sector to overcome imbalances in its economy, its central bank governor said in an interview aired on Tuesday,” Eman Goma (Al Arabiya) reports.

TURKEY: POLITICIANS ‘NERVOUS OVER ECONOMY’

“Turkish politicians are expressing concern that the country’s booming economy is at risk as the nation’s consumers binge on buying and borrowing while Europe struggles to put out the debt fire in Greece,” David Rosenberg (Arab News) reports.

UAE: ACTIVIST ARRESTS RAISE HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERN

“The oil-rich country of the United Arab Emirates is full of supposedly happy citizens enjoying a generous welfare system. But even so, it has not been spared the wave of pro-democracy sentiment that has engulfed the Arab world, as scholars and academics demand greater freedoms from the ruling regime.

This week, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch came down hard on the authorities in the UAE, issuing reports condemning the imprisonment of five pro-democracy activists last April,” Babylon and Beyond reports.

EAST AFRICA: DROUGHT SAPS ECONOMIES IN HORN OF AFRICA

The worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years is creating a vast humanitarian crisis and throwing the economies of the region into chaos. The crisis is worst in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the latter being the hardest-hit country in a drought affecting more than 10 million people. The area where the three countries meet has had little to no rainfall in more than two years, and as much as 85 percent of each country’s workforce relies on agriculture for their livelihood. The U.N. reported in January that all crops in small farming areas in the region had failed.”

/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>