News – 2011.08.11

Published: August 11, 2011
SUSRIS Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/

8.11.11 EDITION

US Downgrade and Its Impact on Saudi Economy: ARAB NEWS


The Arab News summarizes Jeddah-based National Commercial Bank’s report “The S&P’s downgrade of US and its implications on the Saudi economy” released on Wednesday.  The report noted three key areas of impact and concluded that, “The size of the US economy and its treasury market and the dollar’s status as a reserve currency make it impossible to find a historical parallel for the current situation. However, being the world’s reserve currency, the US dollar now appears inconsistent with an AA+ rating. The longer-term effects are driven primarily by whether international markets will eventually also downgrade the US. Consequently, the biggest impact should be through the effect on the US dollar as a reserve currency.”

Saudis Pump Most Oil in 30 Years to Replace Lost Supply: ARABIAN BUSINESS


“Saudi Arabia pumped the most oil in three decades last month, reaching 9.8 million barrels a day and boosting OPEC production.” OPEC ‘YET TO BE ALARMED’: “OPEC, source of more than a third of the world’s oil, is unlikely to become concerned about a slide in oil prices unless Brent crude falls towards $90 a barrel, OPEC delegates said on Thursday,” REUTERS reports. OIL GAINS 4.5% ON SURPRISE INVENTORIES DROP: Claudia Assis and Sarah Turner (MarketWatch) report that “Crude-oil futures rose Wednesday, rebounding after steep losses in recent sessions dragged prices to their lowest in nearly a year, and as the government’s latest update on U.S. inventories showed a surprise decline.”  MIDDLE EAST-ASIA SUPERTANKER RETURNS TURN POSITIVE ON LOWER FUEL: “Daily rents for very large crude carriers, each hauling 2 million barrels on the benchmark route to Japan from Saudi Arabia, was $3, the first positive reading since July 29,” write Rob Sheridan (Bloomberg).

Saudi Imports, Exports Rise as Economy Gathers Steam: SAUDI GAZETTE


The Kingdom’s real growth will reach 6.5 percent this year, the highest level since 2003, and comparable to the rates seen in the most dynamic emerging markets…

US Tells Saleh to Stay Out Of Yemen: THE NATIONAL

Mohammed al Qadhi | 8/11/11

The United States has advised the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh not to return home from Saudi Arabia, a western diplomat said yesterday.

Saudi Arabia’s Counter-Revolution: FOREIGN POLICY

Marc Lynch | 8/10/11

“After a decade of a regional order defined by an alliance of “moderate” autocracies aligned with the United States and Israel against a “Resistance” axis, the Saudis have responded to an age of revolution by leading what many now call a regional counter-revolution. This has placed them at odds with the Obama administration in key theaters, disrupted long-standing alliances, and brought Riyadh to the forefront of regional diplomacy.”

Alcoa Starts Construction of Refinery at Saudi Venture: SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE


“The $10.8 billion project at Ras Al Khair on the country’s east coast is a joint venture with the Saudi Arabian Mining Co., known as Ma’aden. The complex will mine bauxite and refine the ore into alumina, which will be processed at a 740,000 metric- ton-a-year smelter.”

MODON attracts 140 new projects in Madinah: ARAB NEWS


The industrial city in Madinah is the most developed among the Kingdom’s industrial cities. The number of factories has jumped in the industrial city from one three years ago to 140 now, 15 of which are already in operation, 56 under construction and 69 others being set up.”

Dozens of Saudis held in Syria: ARAB NEWS


“Saudi citizens have been arrested in Syria for no apparent reason, a human rights official has claimed in Riyadh.”

Saudi Students in UK Told Not to Leave Their Homes: ARAB NEWS


Saudi students affected by violent riots in London say they cannot go to the mosque, school or even shop for groceries.

Saudi Awards 14 Contracts for Emergency Flood Projects: ARABIAN BUSINESS

Andy Sambidge | 8/10/11

Fourteen contracts have been awarded to carry out emergency projects as part of a plan to prevent flooding in Jeddah.

Banks Lift Saudi from 5-Month Low; Petchems Up: ARABIAN BUSINESS


“Saudi banks and petrochemical stocks, the two heaviest sectors on the index led the kingdom’s recovery from Tuesday’s sharp fall and five-month low, amid improved global sentiment.”  FITCH AFFIRMS SABB RATING: Arab News reports, “Fitch Ratings has affirmed Saudi British Bank’s (SABB) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at “A” with a stable outlook.”

The Many Failures and Few Successes of Zany Iceberg Towing Schemes: THE ATLANTIC

Alexis Madrigal | 8/10/11

“Long-distance iceberg towing is one of those ideas that will not die but never really springs to life either. It exists in a kind of technological purgatory, dressed up in whatever technology is fashionable during an epoch and resold to a happily gullible media.” HOW TO TOW A BUILDING SIZED ICEBERG: “Georges Mougin came up with the plan more than three decades ago, when he and polar explorer Paul-Emile Victor met with a Saudi prince called Mohamed al-Faisal. They formed the ITI Company (Iceberg Transport International) and looked at the epic project’s feasibility from 1975 to 1981,” Wired Magazine writes.

Saudi Second-Quarter Wholesale Index Rises 4.8% from Year Ago: BLOOMBERG

Mourad Haroutunian | 8/10/11

“Saudi Arabia’s wholesale price index increased 4.8 percent in the second quarter from the same period a year earlier.”

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

U.S.: THE FUTURE OF THE “GROUND ZERO MOSQUE”: Fareed Zakaria (CNN) interviews Sharif El-Gamal, the real estate developer, who came up with the idea in the first place and discovers the full back story as well as plans for moving ahead with the projectUS CAR MAKER REPORTS 25% RISE IN MIDEAST SALES:  Andy Sambidge (Arabian Business) writes that, “General Motors dealers in the Middle East reported total sales of 12,863 vehicles in July, a 25 percent increase versus a year ago, the US car maker said on Wednesday.”  ALL-NIGHTERS FOR A FOOTBALL TEAM DURING RAMADAN: “More than a third of Dearborn’s 98,000 residents are of Arab descent, and Michigan has one of the nation’s largest concentrations of Muslim Americans. Yet rarely in the past three decades have the rotating dates of Ramadan occurred at the traditional beginning of football practice,” writes Jere Longman (NYT).


“As Syria continues its most relentless assault yet on a five-month uprising, killing more than a dozen protesters Wednesday, cracks have begun to emerge in a tight-knit leadership that has until now managed to rally its base of support and maintain a unified front, officials, dissidents and analysts say,” Anthony Shadid and Steven Lee Meyers (NYT) reports. NO REVOLUTION IN TWO LARGEST CITIES…YET: “Five months of anti-government demonstrations across Syria have left some 2,000 people dead and left President Bashar Assad increasingly isolated, but still he appears to have significant backing in his own nation’s two largest, richest and most secular cities,” George Baghdadi (CBS News) writes. ASSETS FROZEN: “The U.S. Treasury Department said today that it will freeze the assets of the Commercial Bank of Syria; the Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank, a subsidiary; and the mobile phone company Syriatel for supporting Syrian and North Korean weapons programs,” Bloomberg reports.


“The U.S. plan to pour funds into Egypt to help organize political parties has sparked a backlash from Cairo’s interim military government, its Islamist parties and even some reform-minded activists,” write Paul Richter and Jeffery Fleishman (LAT).


“A roadside bomb killed five soldiers from the U.S.-led NATO force in Afghanistan on Thursday, officials said, bringing the August toll for the coalition to at least 50, an unusually deadly month,” Sayed Salahuddin and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) report.


“Security experts believe the Taliban is facing internal strife, and the use of female suicide bombers could be a signal that Taliban efforts inside Pakistan are weakening,” Issam Ahmed (CSM) reports.


“Israel’s Interior Ministry has given final authorisation for 1,600 apartments to be built in disputed east Jerusalem and will approve 2,700 more in the next few days, officials have said, detailing a plan that could complicate diplomatic efforts to dissuade Palestinians from declaring statehood at the UN,” AP reports in the Guardian.



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