News – 2012.02.06

Published: February 6, 2012

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

2.6.12 EDITION

Saudi GDP Gains Over $129bn: EMIRATES 24|7

2/6/12

Strong oil prices allied with a sharp rise in crude output to bolster Saudi Arabia’s nominal GDP by a whopping $129 billion in 2011 while its assets and current account surplus recorded massive increases. Figures by a key Saudi bank showed the nominal GDP of the largest Arab economy could slip in 2012 because of an expected fall in crude prices and the country’s production before it leaps again in 2013.

Saudi Urges ‘Critical Measures’ On Syria: KHALEEJ TIMES

2/6/12

Saudi Arabia on Monday called for “critical measures” to be taken on Syria, warning of an impending “humanitarian disaster” after the UN Security Council failed to pass a resolution on the crisis there. “The UN Security Council’s failure to pass a resolution in support of the Arab Initiative must not prevent the taking of critical measures to protect innocent lives and stop the bloodshed and all acts of violence that threaten serious consequences for the Syrian people and regional stability,” a cabinet statement said.

Iranian Warships Dock At Saudi Port: YAHOO! NEWS

2/4/12

Iranian naval ships docked on Saturday in the Saudi port city of Jeddah on a mission to project the Islamic republic’s “power on the open seas,” the Fars news agency reported.

Saudi Banks May Give Homebuilders Additional Credit, Watan Says: BLOOMBERG

Mourad Haroutunian | 2/6/12

Saudi Arabian banks may provide additional credit facilities to citizens who want to complete construction of their homes, al-Watan reported, citing Abdullah Radwan, the vice chairman of the contractors committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers.

Saudi Carriers Face Risks If Domestic Market Opens Up: AME INFO

2/6/12

Plans by Saudi Arabia to open up its domestic aviation market to foreign companies could wreak havoc on Saudi carriers as they will face competition on domestic routes for the first time.

Saudi Oil Minister Stresses Importance Of Stability In World Oil Markets: WASHINGTON POST

2/5/12

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister says cooperation is necessary between oil producing and consuming nations for the stability of crude markets at a time when concerns abound over Iran’s threats to close the vital Strait of Hormuz. The official Saudi Press Agency said Ali Al-Naimi’s comments came Sunday during a meeting with South Korea’s ambassador to the country.

Childhood Obesity on the Rise: ARAB NEWS

2/6/12 | Dr. Badr Al-Shibani

Obesity is on the rise in Saudi Arabia and it is pretty alarming for a country where strict dietary norms have been observed for several centuries. In the year 2007, Saudi Arabia ranked 29th on the Forbes’ list of the fattest countries with over two-thirds of all Saudi Arabians considered obese for having exceeded the Body Mass Index (BMI) threshold of 25.

Saudi Women Driving: Shifting Gears: SAUDI JEANS

2/5/12

The campaign for women driving has slowed down almost to a halt since the big push last June, but the issue is now making a comeback as activists seek a different route. On Saturday, two women filed lawsuits against the government for refusing to issue them driver’s licenses and banning them from driving a car. SAUDI WOMAN FILES SUIT OVER RIGHT TO DRIVE:  For CNN, Mohammed Jamjoom reports that a leader of a high-profile campaign pushing for women to drive in Saudi Arabia says she’s suing traffic police in order to get a driver’s license.

Saudi Developer Plans Ski Dubai Style Project: ARABIAN BUSINESS

Andy Sambidge | 2/5/12

An agreement has been signed to create the first indoor snow village in Saudi Arabia, similar to the Ski Dubai attraction in the UAE. Saudi construction giant Dar Al Arkan said on Sunday it had inked a deal with Al Othaim Investment and Real Estate Development Company to lease space for the project at Alqasr Mall in Riyadh.

Saudi Ministers embrace Twitter: ARAB NEWS

2/6/12 | Sultan Al-Tamimi

Perhaps the most recognized Twitter account currently is that of Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja (@abdlazizkhoja). Khoja’s Twitter handle as of Sunday has 65,749 Twitter followers. Through Twitter the minster keeps his followers updated with general and sometimes personal excerpts from his daily activity, particularly on January when the minster underwent open-heart surgery in Riyadh.

Siemens Receives another Major Order for Combined Cycle Power Plant in Saudi Arabia: PRESS RELEASE

2/6/12

Siemens will supply key components for the IPP Qurayyah combined cycle power plant (CCPP) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With an installed capacity of 4 gigawatts (GW) it will be one of the world’s largest CCPPs, and will supply enough electrical energy to meet approximately one tenth of the country’s current power demand for its 28 million inhabitants.

Saudi Small and Medium Enterprises Forum All Set: SAUDI GAZETTE

2/6/12

The two-day “Saudi Small and Medium Enterprises Forum” which is organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and by Al Iktissad Wal Aamal Group will kick-off tomorrow (Tuesday) at the Four Seasons Riyadh.

JCCI Urges Dubai Entrepreneurs To Invest In The Western Region: SAUDI GAZETTE

2/6/12

The high-level Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) delegation, in a meeting with its counterpart from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has urged Dubai businessmen to invest in Saudi Arabia’s western region in the areas of construction, infrastructure, manufacturing and tourism which are the most lucrative investment areas at the moment.

Carlyle To Focus On Turkey And Saudi Arabia: FINANCIAL TIMES

Daniel Schäfer | 2/6/12

Carlyle Group has installed a leadership pairing at its Middle East and north African arm as the private equity group reframes its investment strategy, focusing on the region’s main growth markets in Turkey and the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia Blocks Iranian Leader’s Website: EMIRATES 24|7

2/6/12

Saudi Arabia has blocked the website of Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei for security reasons, a newspaper in the Gulf kingdom said on Monday.

Saudi Ministers Embrace Twitter: ARAB NEWS

2/6/12

Saudi minsters and officials are slowly embracing new media platforms. The move aims to better communicate with the younger audience who are normally associated with the medium.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

SYRIA: U.N. VICTORY MAY PUSH ASSAD INTO UNWINNABLE WAR

Syria’s victory in dodging a U.N. resolution it deemed a license for regime change may only escalate its internal conflict into a full-fledged civil war that many analysts believe President Bashar al-Assad cannot ultimately win, Joseph Logan (Reuters) reports. SYRIAN FORCES CONTINUE TO POUND HOMS: Syrian forces intensified a shelling assault on the restive city of Homs Monday, activists said, the third day of an onslaught of violence that began just as Russia and China blocked a U.N. attempt to end the regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent. The U.S., outraged over the double veto, vowed to step up pressure on President Bashar Assad to quit but ruled out military intervention, CBS news. US EMBASSY CLOSES: Intense blasts echoed through the ravaged Syrian city of Homs on Monday after a weekend bloodbath ended in hundreds of deaths there, local activists said, CNN reports.

EGYPT: DESPITE $1.5 BILLION AID FROM US, 19 THREATENED WITH PROSECUTION

When Egypt raided the offices of American democracy promotion groups in December, warnings poured out of Washington: “Your $1.5 billion in annual aid isn’t as sacrosanct as you think it is,” CSM reports. MOST EGYPTIANS OPPOSE AID:  About 7 in 10 Egyptians surveyed by Gallup in December 2011 oppose U.S. economic aid to Egypt, and a similar percentage opposes the U.S. sending direct aid to civil society groups. This rebuke of U.S. financial support may be a challenge for Egypt’s newly elected parliament and its future president as the government attempts to bolster the nation’s financial stability, Gallup finds.

ISRAEL/IRAN: OBAMA DISCUSSES PROLIFERATION IN PRE-SUPERBOWL INTERVIEW

On Sunday, Obama said the U.S. was working in “lockstep” with Israel and did not believe Israel has decided whether to attack Iran, and said he hopes the standoff can be resolved diplomatically. “I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do,” Obama said during a pre-Super Bowl interview with NBC. Obama refused to say whether the United States would get notice from Israel before any potential strike on Iran. “I will say that we have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we’ve ever had,” Obama said, adding, “We are going to be sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this — hopefully diplomatically,” ABC news/AP reports. ISRAELI CABINET MULLS RESPONSE: Growing tensions between Israel and Iran topped the agenda at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, VOA reports.

AFGHANISTAN: IN AFGHAN WAR, OFFICER BECOMES A WHISTLE-BLOWER

On his second yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis traveled 9,000 miles, patrolled with American troops in eight provinces and returned in October of last year with a fervent conviction that the war was going disastrously and that senior military leaders had not leveled with the American public, Scott Shane (NYT) reports. 77% OF CIVILIAN DEATHS CAUSED BY TALIBAN: The Taliban and other insurgent groups were responsible for nearly 80 percent of the civilian deaths in the war in Afghanistan last year, said a U.N. report released Saturday, Boston Herald reports. NATO MEMBERS RATTLED: A U.S. proposal to step back from leading combat operations in Afghanistan by the middle of 2013 divided NATO on Thursday as some allies objected to being caught by surprise, and France suggested that the alliance completely end its involvement in fighting over the next two years, David Cloud reports.

PALESTINE: RIVALS AGREE TO FORM UNITY GOVERNMENT

The leaders of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas signed a deal in Qatar on Monday to form a unity government of independent technocrats for the West Bank and Gaza, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Reuters reports.

UNITED STATES: SENATOR SAYS CHINA CANNOT AVOID ‘ARAB SPRING’

A leading U.S. senator and one-time presidential candidate is warning China, “the Arab Spring is coming.” Republican Senator John McCain made the comment to Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun Saturday during a high level security conference in Munich, VOA reports.

YEMEN: ELECTION PREPARATIONS BEGIN

Yemen has begun a publicity campaign to get citizens to vote in the upcoming presidential election, officials said on Monday, part of a deal to ease President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office and pull the country back from the brink of civil war, Reuters reports.

ANALYSIS: AFGHANISTAN 2013: AMERICA’S NEXT GROOVE

Steve Clemons (The Atlantic) writes, “Last night, former State Department official and US Marine Matthew Hoh, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy, and I had a very good discussion with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball about Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s comments that the US would cease combat operations in Afghanistan in 2013 — rather than the end of 2014.” Video can be viewed in the link.

/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>