News – 2012.04.13

Published: April 13, 2012

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

4.13.12 EDITION

Saudi-US Talks Focus On Key Issues: ARAB NEWS

4.13.12

US President Barack Obama held talks in Washington on Wednesday with Defense Minister Prince Salman to discuss major regional issues. They also reviewed the historic relations between the two countries. During the meeting at the White House Prince Salman conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to the US president. The talks were attended by Minister of State Musaed Al-Aiban and Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi Press Agency said.  SAUDI DEFENSE MINISTER CONCLUDES OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE U.S.: Saudi Minister of Defense Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz concluded his visit to Washington, D.C. today where he engaged in productive meetings on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues.  Prince Salman arrived at Andrews Air Force Base on April 10 where he was received by Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.,Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Joseph McMillan and U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Smith, Saudi Embassy reports.

Saudi’s Naimi Says Determined To Bring Down Oil Prices: REUTERS

Meeyoung Cho | 4.13.12

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is determined to bring down high oil prices and is working with fellow OPEC members to accomplish that, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Friday. Brent crude has risen about 13 percent this year, trading above $120 a barrel on Friday, threatening a nascent recovery of the global economy. Oil has traded above $100 for all but a couple of days in the past year. “We are seeing a prolonged period of high oil prices,” Naimi said in a statement during a visit to Seoul. “We are not happy about it. (The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is determined to see a lower price and is working towards that goal.”

World’s Largest Solar Facility Opens In Saudi Arabia: MIDDLE EAST ONLINE

4.13.12

The world’s biggest solar energy facility, built with Austrian technology, has opened in Saudi Arabia and will provide Riyad’s Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University with warm water, the firms responsible said on Friday. The facility, built by Austrian firms GREENoneTEC and AEE Intec, consists of 36,000 square metres (387,500 square feet) of solar panels and cost 3.6 million euros ($4.7 million). After a six-month trial period that began in late 2011, the facility became operational this week, its makers said.

Where Does America Get Oil? You May Be Surprised: NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

Corey Flintoff | 4.13.12

Since the Arab oil embargoes of the 1960s and 70s, it’s been conventional wisdom to talk about American dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf. But the global oil market has changed dramatically since then. Today, the U.S. actually gets most of its imported oil from Canada and Latin America. And many Americans might be surprised to learn that the U.S. now imports roughly the same amount of oil from Africa as it does from the Persian Gulf. African imports were a bit higher in 2010, while Persian Gulf oil accounted for a bit more last year.  RELATED: A LOOK IEA’S LATEST DATA: Over the past decade, Canada became our top supplier of oil, largely due to increases in oil sands production. The EIA report noted that U.S. imports from Canada topped 2 million barrels per day for the first time ever in 2011, “because more oil is now being transported by rail.” This is one of the reasons that the Keystone XL pipeline protests may have the opposite effect of what the protesters intend. Lack of pipeline access isn’t going to slow the growth of the oil sands much (Canadian crude oil imports were up 12% in 2011), it just forces more oil onto more carbon intensive transport options (and perhaps to more distant destinations). Note that there is also greater risk from transporting oil via rail versus pipeline.

Saudi Arabia declined in importance as a supplier of oil to the U.S. over the decade, falling from the top supplier in 2001 to the third spot last year, CSM writes.

Riyadh Chamber Set To Have Businesswomen As Members: ARAB NEWS

4.13.12

The Commerce and Industry Ministry is studying a proposal to appoint Saudi businesswomen to the board of directors of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry in response to the continuous demand of the chamber’s women members. According to a report carried by Al-Eqtisadiah business daily, Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabeeah has been requested to appoint businesswomen to the chamber’s board without their participation in the upcoming elections.

High Spending Boosts Saudi Cement Demand: STEEL GURU

4.13.12

National Commercial Bank said that cement demand in the world’s oil basin has been rising on the back of huge government and private sector projects and an expected surge in public expenditure above budgeted levels will further fuel demand growth. The report expected government expenditure to exceed the budgeted amount by nearly 13% to reach SAR 780 billion during 2012. The surge would increase the need for cement to meet the elevated demand levels adding that production increased by 5.4 million tonnes to reach 48.4 million tonnes in 2011 in comparison to 2010 and 2009′s production of 43 million and 37.8 million tonnes respectively.

Saudi Envoy Still Untraceable: ARAB NEWS

Ghanzanfar Ali Khan | 4.13.12

The fate of Saudi deputy consul Abdullah Al-Khalidi is still unclear following his kidnapping in Yemen due to the silence of Yemeni authorities and various rumors circulating in the country’s media. More than two weeks have passed since Al-Khalidi’s abduction by unidentified gunmen from the southern port city of Aden, but security agencies in Yemen have failed to secure his release. Alauddin Alaskari, deputy foreign minister for protocol affairs, said in Riyadh yesterday that he was not aware of the new developments in the case.

Opinion: The Danger That Saudi Arabia Will Turn Syria Into An Islamist Hotbed: CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

Joshua Jacobs | 4.13.12

The danger with this scenario is that while Saudi Arabia embarks on its jihad to topple Mr. Assad, it will get free reign in picking the winners and losers among the opposition – likely Islamist groups at the expense of moderates and secularists. If there was any doubt as to Saudi Arabian intentions in Syria, that veil was ripped away at the recent “Friends of Syria” conference in Istanbul. The Saudis and their Gulf allies spearheaded an effort to create a formalized pay structure for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and privately ruminated on the possibility of setting up official supply conduits to anti-Assad forces. This effort went much further than what the West, or even neighboring Turkey, seemed willing to embrace. When the Syrian uprising began last March, Saudi Arabia was in a state of panic.

Saudi Arabia Sentences Hard-Line Cleric To Five Years In Prison: LOS ANGELES TIMES

Alexandra Sandels | 4.13.12

Saudi Arabia has jailed a hard-line cleric who once called for demolishing the Grand Mosque in Mecca and rebuilding it to prevent mixing between the sexes at Islam’s holiest site, local media reports say. The news website Aleqt.com said Yousuf Ahmad was sentenced to five years in prison for “disobedience” to the ultraconservative kingdom’s rulers and “incitement” against them. The kingdom arrested Ahmad last July after he called for the release of political prisoners, media reports said. Some reports said he was arrested after posting a YouTube video in which he criticized King Abdullah and top Saudi officials for the practice of detention without trial.

Saipem Gets Engineering Contract Worth $350 Mln In Saudi Arabia: WALL STREET JOURNAL

Dow Jones Newswires | 4.13.12

Italy’s Saipem SpA said Friday it won an onshore engineering-and-construction contract worth approximately $350 million in Saudi Arabia. The contract includes procurement, installation, construction and assistance during the commissioning of a new rainwater drainage system serving the northern side of the City of Jeddah, Saipem said.

Rabigh II Partners Ask Contract Bidders To Wait: ARAB NEWS

4.13.12

Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical have told companies bidding to expand their joint petrochemicals complex in Saudi Arabia they need more time to pick contractors, industry sources said.

Price Checks Stepped Up To Protect Consumers: ARAB NEWS

4.13.12

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has formulated a plan to check any rises in commodity prices and is closely monitoring the markets to end any monopoly of goods, Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah has said. Al-Rabiah, who is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon), made the remarks following a tour of the industrial city in Madinah. “The ministry is closely observing prices and is endeavoring to ensure sufficient supply of goods so as to close the door for any price rise and to prevent monopoly of commodity trade,” he said.

Syrians Not Allowed To Visit For Umrah: ARAB NEWS

4.13.12

Umrah performers from all over the world have started to arrive in Jeddah, but Syrian people are banned from doing Umrah this year due to the cancellation of all flights and bus trips, according to a member of the Haj and Umrah committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI). Ahmad Bajuaither, who is also the owner of a Haj and Umrah company that arranges trips from Syria to the Kingdom during the holy months, added, “Until now we didn’t receive any Umrah performer from Syria. The consulate is already closed in Damascus, and diplomatic relations have also stopped.” According to Bajuaither, even if Umrah companies were allowed to arrange trips from Syria, they would not do so.

‘Saudis Can Invest Directly In India’: SAUDI GAZETTE

4.13.12

Speakers at the Saudi Indian Business Network (SIBN) workshop held in Jeddah recently highlighted the tremendous investment opportunities available in India and Saudi Arabia. A large number of Saudi and Indian entrepreneurs, businessmen and senior executives of the financial market attended the workshop. SIBN is a networking organization of Saudi and Indian businessmen and senior executives under the auspices of Consulate General of India, Jeddah. The raison d’être of the body is to foster bilateral economic and commercial ties between India and Saudi Arabia by exploring and highlighting the trade and investment opportunities in both the countries. Mohammed Bajba, Director of Gold Project at Ma’aden, explained at length the corporate policy of Ma’aden as the third most important arm of the government of Saudi Arabia. It is doing its best to utilize the natural resources of Saudi Arabia for the sustainable growth of the country, he said.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

IRAN: THE MENU OF OPTIONS IN THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR TALKS

For the first time in more than a year and a half, negotiators from Iran and the so-called P5+1 countries – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the U.S., Russia, China, France and England, plus Germany – will sit down with their Iranian counterparts this Friday in Istanbul to talk about Tehran’s nuclear program. In the weeks leading up to the talks, getting all six countries to agree on a cohesive bargaining strategy with Iran has been almost as hard as getting Tehran to agree to, well, anything. “I do not think that we’ll come to any unified position before the negotiations, but rather have a menu of options,” Sergey Ryabkov, Russian deputy foreign minister told reporters in Washington on Tuesday. Each country comes to the talks with its own agenda – and sometimes a schedule, as is the case with the U.S. elections, threatens to overshadow any potential progress. Here’s a look at the five key positions as they stand ahead of the talks, Jay Newton-Small (TIME) writes.

OPINION: WHY WASHINGTON’S IRAN POLICY COULD LEAD TO GLOBAL DISASTER

It’s a policy fierce enough to cause great suffering among Iranians — and possibly in the long run among Americans, too.  It might, in the end, even deeply harm the global economy and yet, history tells us, it will fail on its own.  Economic war led by Washington (and encouraged by Israel) will not take down the Iranian government or bring it to the bargaining table on its knees ready to surrender its nuclear program.  It might, however, lead to actual armed conflict with incalculable consequences, Huffington Post reports.

ISRAEL/PALESTINE: DON’T GIVE UP ON MIDDLE EAST PEACE, FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER WRITES

The current focus of leaders in Washington and Jerusalem on Iran has obscured the near-death of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and the inevitable catastrophe toward which Israel is now moving…. There is a profound difference between “two-states” and “one-state.” The former contemplates two nations with citizens living side by side in peace under terms to be negotiated between leaders of the two principal parties. Other world leaders have almost universally acknowledged that strong help and influence of the United States will be necessary, and all the Arab nations have offered to support such an agreement.

PAKISTAN: PARLIAMENT SETS OUT NEW RULES OF ENGAGEMENT WITH US

Pakistan’s parliament set out new guidelines for its relations with the United States, as it agreed to re-engage with Washington after months of tension over deadly airstrikes on a Pakistani border post by NATO forces and other issues, CNN reports.

AFGHANISTAN: CORRUPTION FEEDING UNREST

After a decade of war and billions of dollars in Western aid, Afghanistan is drowning in a tide of corruption that is exacerbating conflict and stifling economic development, experts say.

Corruption is enabling the drug trade to thrive and pushing Afghans towards the Taliban, analysts warn — fuelling the two drivers of instability in the war-torn country, Tribune of Pakistan/AFP reports.

EGYPT: MPS BAR EX-MUBARAK PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

The parliament in Egypt has passed a law banning senior officials who served under ex-President Hosni Mubarak from running in May’s presidential election.

It means the former Vice-President Omar Suleiman would not be able to continue as a presidential candidate, BBC reports.

BAHRAIN: GRAND PRIX FINALLY GIVEN GREEN LIGHT BY FIA

The Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as planned on 22 April, the FIA has confirmed.

The decision comes despite continuing unrest in the Gulf kingdom following anti-government protests that resulted in the deaths of a number of demonstrators last year.

Formula One’s supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, has continually stated he has no concerns regarding safety, despite apparent misgivings from teams and drivers, the Guardian 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>