News – 2012.03.21

Published: March 21, 2012

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

3.21.12 EDITION

King Abdullah and the Young Ambassadors: SUSRIS BLOG

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim | Arab News | 3/20/12

As in the present and in the past, the biggest challenge for any governing body is educating the youth. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries which have a high percentage of its population being young men and women between the ages of 16-30. The government of Saudi Arabia had and still has education as its most important priority. Schools are in every city, town and village. Education is free from elementary to the university level and beyond. Saudi Arabia had always educated Saudis abroad.

Saudis Excited At English In Govt-Run Primary Schools: ARAB NEWS

Siraj Wahab | 3/21/12

The Ministry of Education’s project to introduce English language teaching in government-run primary schools is receiving enthusiastic response from teachers, students and parents in the Eastern Province.

Internet Boom Imminent In Saudi Arabia: ARAB NEWS

3/21/12

A Saudi Internet expert predicted that a boom in the Internet industry in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world would occur soon. Rashid Al-Balla, CEO of the National Initiative Company and an expert on the Internet industry, was addressing a workshop organized by the young entrepreneurs at Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI). IT SPEND TO JUMP: With companies in Saudi Arabia expected to invest $13 billion on information technology in the next two years, the kingdom appears ready to make an unprecedented technological leap, a report said, Trade Arabia reports.

Saudi Retailer Takes Lead On Hiring Women For Lingerie Stores: THE NATIONAL

Rory Jones | 3/21/12

One of the biggest retailers in Saudi Arabia has taken on more than 700 Saudi women for its lingerie shops this year and wants half the workforce to be female within two years.

Saudi Investors Need to Exercise Caution: GULF NEWS

Una Galani | 3/21/12

Foreign investors are sweet on Saudi Arabia. Overseas buyers made record net purchases in the kingdom’s $400bn stock market last month ahead of an expected easing of ownership restrictions on outsiders. But in the run-up to better access, investors need to exercise caution.

Bethesda Woman Returns To Saudi Arabia With Prehistoric Artifacts: GAZETTE

Jessica Ablamsky | 3/21/12

As a young mother living abroad, Marian Ferguson, 89, of Bethesda uncovered prehistoric artifacts in the Saudi Arabian desert. Fifty years later she returned, and everything was different.

A Boston native, Ferguson, her husband and children moved to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1953. Her husband, Kenneth, was employed by the U.S. Department of State, before getting a job with oil company Saudi Aramco. They lived in a compound for Aramco employees, who then numbered 3,000 to 4,000 people.

Opportunities in Water Production: SUSRIS

3/18/12

Saudi Arabia will increase by almost double its desalinated water production over the next three years according to the governor of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) who said the daily water production will rise from the current 3.3 million cubic meters to about 6 million. Abdulrahman Mohammed Al-Ibrahim, chief of the state-run water utility, said household use was running at about 250 liters per capita, adding, ““We hope this amount will be rationalized…supply and demand must be balanced,” according to a Reuters report provided by Arab News yesterday.

Shifting Traditions: CROSSROADS ARABIA

John Burgess | 3/21/12

Arab News runs an article about how the high rents charged in Saudi cities is preventing young Saudis from getting married. The piece goes on about the rapacity of landlords.

What’s more interesting to me is how this article signals a very major change in Saudi Arabian social mores.

Royal Commission Inks SR526m Construction Deals: ARAB NEWS

Mohammed Al-Sulami | 3/21/12

The Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu yesterday signed four contracts worth SR526 million, including one agreement to build a new headquarters building for the commission at a cost of SR299 million.

First Phase Of Housing Project Begins: ARAB NEWS

Diana Al-Jassem | 3/21/12

The Kingdom has begun the implementation of a housing project that will supply 500,000 homes to alleviate the demand for housing, according to Jeddah municipality undersecretary Ibrahim Ketabkhane during the opening of the 10th International Real Estate, Financing and Housing Exhibition 2012 at the Jeddah Center for Forums and Events.

Saudi Arabia May Include Women on Its Olympic Team: NEW YORK TIMES

3/20/12

The Summer Olympics in London could be a watershed event for international sports as every participating nation is expected to field at least one female athlete, including three Muslim countries — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei — that have previously sent only male competitors.

COMMODITIES-Down Broadly; Oil Tumbles on Saudi Supply Pledge: REUTERS

3/20/12

Oil tumbled on Tuesday, with U.S. crude posting the biggest daily decline in three months, after Saudi Arabia reassured markets it will pump enough to compensate for the potential loss of Iranian crude. Gold and other commodities also fell as the dollar rebounded.

Saudi Mortgage Market Slowest in Gulf as Reform Drags, CBRE Says: BLOOMBERG

3/21/12

Saudi Arabia’s mortgage market is the least developed among the six Gulf Cooperation Council states almost a year after advisers to the king approved an overhaul of the mortgage law, CBRE Group Inc. said.

Economic Integration and the Security of the Arab Region: AL MONITOR

Tamer Mahmoud Alaani | Al Hayat | 3/20/12

On March 29, Baghdad will host the 23rd Arab League summit amid a security situation that does not differ much from that in a large number of Arab countries. The preparations for this summit were completed in light of the serious economic and political developments plaguing the world – especially the Arab world.

Gymkhana in Saudi Arabia: ARAMCO EXPATS

Tim Barger | 3/19/12

We invite you to enjoy part 8 of the 12 part Distant Arabia video series courtesy of Selwa Press.

The majority of the film clips posted on the Selwa Video You Tube channel are comprised of films taken in Saudi Arabia between 1937 and 1940 by Tom Barger, Les Snyder and Jerry Harriss. They are among the few moving pictures that record that critical and brief moment in the country’s history when an ancient pastoral way of life was coming to an abrupt end, to be replaced by an industrial society. Many of the Bedouin depicted had never seen an automobile let alone a movie camera before these men arrived. The herds of camels, once the lifeblood of Bedouin life, would become irrelevant.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

IRAN: US STATE DEPARTMENT STATEMENT ON REDUCTION OF IRAN OIL PURCHASES

I am pleased to announce that an initial group of eleven countries has significantly reduced their volume of crude oil purchases from Iran — Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. As a result, I will report to the Congress that sanctions pursuant to Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 (NDAA) will not apply to the financial institutions based in these countries, for a renewable period of 180 days, according to a press release from the US State department. IRAN PRESSES AHEAD WITH DOLLAR ATTACK: Last week, the Tehran Times noted that the Iranian oil bourse will start trading oil in currencies other than the dollar from March 20. This long-planned move is part of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s vision of economic war with the west, Garry White (Telegraph) writes. 11 STATES EXEMPTED, CHINA, INDIA EXPOSED: The United States exempted Japan and 10 EU nations from financial sanctions because they have significantly cut purchases of Iranian oil, but left Iran’s top customers China and India exposed to the possibility of such steps, Reuters reports.

AFGHANISTAN: US GENERAL SEES NO SUDDEN AFGHAN DRAWDOWN

The top allied commander in Afghanistan told Congress on Tuesday that he would not be recommending further American troop reductions until late this year, after the departure of the current “surge” forces and the end of the summer fighting season, NYT reports. GRIEVING FATHER:  ‘ALL MY DREAMS ARE BURIED’: Afghans say they’re so inured to civilians killed in wars that they bury their dead and move on. That’s not so easy for Muhammad Wazir. He lost his mother, his wife, a sister-in-law, a brother, a nephew, his four daughters and two of his sons in last week’s mass shooting in two villages, Quil Lawrence (NPR) reports.

OSAMA BIN LADEN: A LION IN WINTER
What’s riveting about the documents taken from Osama bin Laden’s compound, beyond the headline items about plots to kill American leaders, is the way they allow the reader to get inside the terrorist mastermind’s head, writes David Ignatius (Washington Post). IGNATIUS ‘RED HOT’ REPORTER IN WASHINGTON: Last month, David Ignatius revealed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s inner thoughts about the timing of a possible Israeli attack on Iran. Then, the Washington Post columnist struck again — disclosing last week the contents of secret documents taken from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.  “David is on a hot streak,” said Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic. “Everyone in Washington would love his level of access. He’s a hell of a reporter,” Politico reports.

ISRAEL: JERUSALEM TRYING TO THWART FACT-FINDING MISSION ON SETTLEMENTS

Israel is taking steps to prevent a Palestinian initiative at the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish a fact-finding mission on West Bank settlements. According to the initiative, slated for discussion Monday, a UN fact-finding team will be formed with the goal of examining the impacts of the Jewish settlements and construction in east Jerusalem on the Palestinian residents, Yahoo! News.

PALESTINE: TOP PALESTINIANS SAY TWO-STATE SOLUTION IN DANGER

A leading architect of Palestinian peace talks with Israel has drawn criticism from Palestinian officials by breaking with the notion of a ‘two-state solution’ that he said was being buried in the dust by Israeli bulldozers racing to build settlements, Reuters reports.

COMMENTARY: ISRAEL’S GIFT TO IRAN

Are Iran’s leaders rational actors? This question matters when justifying any decision by Israel to preempt Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. An Iranian regime seen as driven to destroy the Jewish state has to be dealt with differently than one whose objectives are mediated by calculations of costs and benefits. Deterrents that would be normally expected to restrain a state would not work with an irrational Iran. But if the Islamic republic, for all its bluster, in fact carefully weighs its policies and values regime survival, then threats alone could succeed in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions—and presumably this Iran would allot high priority to avoiding armed attack on its homeland, Marvin Weinbaum (National Interest) writes.

/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>