News – 2012.02.20

Published: February 20, 2012

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

2.20.12 EDITION

US Envoy Honors Arabia500 Winners: ARAB NEWS

2/19/12

Building stability in the region is the common goal of both the United States and Saudi Arabia and this is being pursued with a long term common interest policy of creating jobs, US Ambassador to the Kingdom James B. Smith said recently. He said the Saudi entrepreneurs are complementing the government efforts in job creation.

Population Growth to Push Saudi PC Penetration Rate Beyond 30% by 2015: BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE ME

2/20/12

Personal computer penetration in Saudi Arabia is expected to surpass 30 per cent by 2015, with a rapidly growing population to act as a major market driver.

Saudi Arabia Well Positioned For Growth in 2012, Says Alkhabeer Capital: BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE ME

2/20/12

Alkhabeer Capital, a leading Saudi investment company, has today released its latest global economic outlook for 2012, which finds the combined GDP of the GCC region is expected to register a growth in excess of 4% where Qatar will top the list with (7%) followed by Saudi Arabia (4.6%), Kuwait (3%), Oman (2.7%), UAE (2.4%) and Bahrain (1.2%).

Saudi Arabia Cut Oil Output, Exports in December, JODI Says: BLOOMBERG

Wael Mahdi | 2/19/12

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest crude producer, reduced oil output and exports in December from November when it produced the most in more than 30 years, according to the Joint Organization Data Initiative. NON-OIL EXPORTS INCREASE BY 25%: Saudi Arabia’s nonoil exports in December 2011 rose by 25 percent to SR15.55 billion compared to SR12.43 billion in December 2010, a report issued by the General Statistics Department said Sunday. During the same period the volume of exports increased 3 percent from 4,057,000 to 4,180,000 tons, Arab News reports.

Rising Consumer Affluence Drives Growth in Saudi Consumer Food Service Saudi Fast Food Market To Approach US$4.5 Billion by 2015: MIDDLE EAST EVENTS

2/19/12

According to Michael Schaefer, Head of Consumer Foodservice Research, “Fast food outlets have become important social spaces for a growing cohort of Saudi young people. Future expansion will be driven by those operators which offer a combination of indulgence and inviting, comfortable outlets, with hamburgers, ice cream, and sweet baked goods all in high demand. Euromonitor International expects chains to lead the way, with chained operators projected to account for nearly 20% of Saudi foodservice transactions by 2015.”

Saudis Yet To Approve Renewable Energy Strategy, Official Says: BLOOMBERG

Wael Mahdi | 2/19/12

Saudi Arabia has yet to approve the country’s renewable energy strategy that aims to reduce crude oil used for domestic power generation and water desalination, an official said today. 18 BILLION ALLOCATED FOR CLEAN ENERGY: Saudi Arabia has allocated SR18 billion budget for renewable energy for a period of 10 years, Prince Turki Bin Saud Bin Muhammad Al Saud, Deputy Chairman of the Research Institute at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) told Okaz/Saudi Gazette Sunday on the sidelines of the two-day first conference on renewable energy that kicked off at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Saudi Gazette reports.

Saudi Arabia in the New Middle East: Gause, Jones: SUSRIS BLOG

2/19/12

In January Professor Gause appeared in a CFR event with historian Toby C. Jones who offered his perspectives on the assessment in “Saudi Arabia in the New Middle East.” The panel was shared by CFR in a video, the link to which we provide here for your use. This presentation, about one hour twenty minutes, provides an excellent assessment of Saudi Arabia’s stability and place in the Middle East. We commend it to your attention.

London-Based Oil Executive Linked To 9/11 Hijackers: THE TELEGRAPH

Anthony Summers, Neil Tweedie and Dan Christensen | 2/19/12

A Saudi Arabian accused of associating with several of the September 11 hijackers and who disappeared from his home in the United States a few weeks before the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, is in London working for his country’s state oil company.

Aramco, Sumitomo May Delay Rabigh Chemical Expansion, HSBC Says: BLOOMBERG

Anthony DiPaola | 2/19/12

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Sumitomo Chemical Co. (4005) may postpone a $6 billion plan to expand their joint-venture petrochemical plant in the Red Sea town of Rabigh, HSBC Holdings Plc said.

Update on Hamza Kashgari: SAUDI JEANS

Just a quick update on the Hamza Kashgari case since many people have been asking: The young man is now in detention, his family visited him and he is reportedly in high spirits and being treated respectfully. Several sites and petitions have been set up to support him and call for his release.

Saudi Arabia Donates $10 Million To UNRWA: MA’AN

2/20/12

Saudi Arabia on Monday donated $10 million to UNRWA’s programs in Gaza and the West Bank, a statement said.

Saudi Activist Acquitted After 5 Years’ Detention: BOSTON GLOBE

AP | 2/20/12

A Saudi court has acquitted a rights activist who spent five years in detention accused of supporting al-Qaida’s ideology.

Saudi C.Bank Sees Near-Term Price Stability: REUTERS

2/19/12

Saudi Arabia’s central bank said it expected relative price stability or a slight decline in inflationary pressures in the near-term, it said in its latest inflation report published on Sunday.

Saudi’s Dar al-Arkan to repay $990 mln debt this year: THE DAILY STAR

Asma Alsharif | REUTERS | 2/19/12

Saudi Arabia’s biggest property developer, Dar al-Arkan, plans to repay about 3.7 billion riyals ($986.6 million) of debt this year, its chief financial officer said on Sunday.

Speed Cameras Growing Unpopular in Saudi Arabia: THE NEWSPAPER

2/19/12

The photo radar systems known as “Saher” are increasingly unpopular in Saudi Arabia according to a government poll. The ​​Riyadh Traffic Department surveyed the public online with the loaded question, “Do you support the strict enforcement of traffic regulations with equality and transparency?” Despite the benign wording, 39 percent of the 44,497 residents responded that they do not support the principle, knowing it referred to the use of speed cameras, Dar Al Hayat reported.

At a Rape Trial, Two Views of a Prince’s Wealth: NEW YORK TIMES

Russ Buettner | 2/19/12

In a trial that featured lurid and clinical details of a rape at the Plaza Hotel, a different sort of story line emerged: the tremendous wealth and opulent lifestyle of an unnamed Saudi prince.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

TUNISIA: ISLAMISTS’ IDEAS ON DEMOCRACY AND FAITH FACE TEST

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was reported and written before Mr. Shadid’s death in Syria.

If the revolts that swept the Middle East a year ago were the coming of age of youths determined to imagine another future for the Arab world, the aftermath that has brought elections in Egypt and Tunisia and the prospect of decisive Islamist influence in Morocco, Libya and, perhaps, Syria is the moment of another, older generation. No one knows how one of the most critical chapters in the history of the modern Arab world will end, as the region pivots from a movement against dictatorship toward a movement for something that is proving far more ambiguous. But the generation embodied by Mr. Ferjani, shaped by jail, exile and repression and bound by faith and alliances years in the making, will have the greatest say in determining what emerges, Anthony Shadid (NYT) writes. 

IRAN: AMERICANS STILL RATE IRAN AS TOP ENEMY

Americans most frequently mention Iran when asked to name the country they consider to be the United States’ greatest enemy, and the 32% who do so is up from 25% in 2011. China is second on the list, with significantly fewer Americans mentioning North Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq — the countries that round out the top five, Gallup reports. UN INSPECTORS RETURN: Senior United Nations nuclear inspectors have arrived in Tehran for two days of talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear program, the second U.N. visit in three weeks, VOA reports.

UNITED STATES: RISING GAS PRICES GIVE AMMO TO REPUBLICANS

Rising gasoline prices, trumpeted in foot-tall numbers on street corners across the country, are causing concern among advisers to President Obama that a budding sense of economic optimism could be undermined just as he heads into the general election, Michael D. Shear (NYT) reports.  BP IDLES REFINERY AFTER FIRE: BP Plc idled production at its Cherry Point refinery in Washington state on Saturday, a day after a large fire broke out near the core crude oil unit of the third-largest plant on the West Coast, Reuters reports. DOES ‘BIG OIL’ WANT TO KILL THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE: With America on the verge of achieving energy independence in the next five years by dramatically expanding domestic energy production, why should anyone be surprised that it’s Big Oil money that’s out to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline to prevent competition, writes Chris Street (BigGovernment).

BAHRAIN: BANKERS RELIEVED, EYE INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

Bahraini bankers expressed relief on Sunday that the February 14 anniversary of last year’s democracy uprising passed without major disruptions but said lenders needed to see more infrastructure projects in the Gulf bank and tourism hub, Reuters reports.

SYRIA: REINFORCEMENTS HEADED TO HOMS
Syria’s military sent tanks and other reinforcements toward the restive central city of Homs on Monday in what appears to be preparations by President Bashar Assad’s regime for an offensive aimed at retaking rebel-held neighborhoods, activists said, Bassem Mroue (AP) reports.

ANALYSIS: WHY $200 OIL IS THE SUBPRIME MORTGAGE OF ENERGY

What does an oil price shock have to do with subprime mortgages? Well, consider this: the global economy found itself on the edge of the abyss in 2008 when reality — in the form of wildly overvalued mortgage securities — landed hard on the illusion that real estate-related investments were a guaranteed, perpetual cash machine.

So what do you think might happen when a different reality — in the form of wildly undervalued eco-services and energy-related externalities — comes crashing down on the illusion that there’s no need to steer away from business as usual in an increasingly resource-strained world? Greenbang blog writes.

YEMEN: IMPERFECT ELECTION MARKS START OF YEMEN’S TRANSITION

Yemenis go to the polls Tuesday in an uncontested presidential election that is part of a negotiated end to the decades-long rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, VOA reports.

EGYPT: JOHN McCAIN SAYS US, EGYPT MUST REMAIN FRIENDS

Sen. John McCain said Monday U.S. relations with Egypt are changing a year after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak but the two countries “must remain friends.”

McCain was speaking at a business conference in Cairo just before meeting with the country’s military leaders, who took power after Mubarak stepped down in the face of a popular uprising, Google News/AP reports.

ISRAEL: TOP COURT TAKES PALESTINIAN DETAINEE APPEAL

Israel’s Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing this week on the appeal of a Palestinian prisoner waging an unprecedented hunger strike that has stretched for more than two months, court officials and his lawyers said Monday, AP 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>