/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
Saudi Arabia leads the way in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region construction industry with $750 billion of new projects in the pipeline, making up 31 percent of the entire regional market, Citigroup said in a new report. As a whole, on a year-on-year basis, the value of GCC projects planned and underway crept up 2.5 percent to $1,906 billion.
“Milestone” Oil Manipulation Case Unsettles Traders: PEAK OIL NEWS
U.S. regulators’ $14 million settlement with high-frequency trading firm Optiver over oil price manipulation in 2007 is a “milestone” victory in their toughening stance on market malfeasance which is being closely watched by traders. In its first major case against an algorithmic trader, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said late on Thursday that a court settlement required the Amsterdam-based firm to disgorge $1 million in profits and pay $13 million over allegations it used a rapid-fire tool nicknamed “The Hammer” to influence U.S. oil prices in 2007. The settlement came two days after U.S. President Barack Obama proposed a renewed campaign against illegal oil trading schemes. But the case dates back to the Bush administration’s effort to crack down on surging oil prices in late 2007 and 2008 as crude soared toward a record of nearly $150 a barrel. The CFTC alleged that traders in Optiver’s Chicago office engaged in a practice called “banging the close”, in which the firm attempted to move U.S. crude, gasoline and heating oil prices by executing a large volume of deals during the final moments of trading, when exchanges set “settlement” prices. High-frequency and algorithmic traders have been watching the Optiver case closely amid worries that other automated trading programs could be deemed manipulative, though most firms define themselves as market makers and liquidity providers rather than proprietary trading shops.
Investor Confidence to Boost Saudi IPO Market: EMIRATES 24|7
Initial public offerings (IPOs) in Saudi Arabia will bounce back this year after slackening in 2011 as the Gulf Kingdom’s bourse rebounds on resurging investor confidence, the country’s largest bank said on Tuesday. Tadawul, the Middle East’s largest and busiest bourse, has over the past weeks breached levels unseen since 2008, which is expected to support primary issuances and business activity due to the favorable wealth effect, National Commercial Bank (NCB) said in its weekly market bulletin.
Wael Mahdi | 4.24.12
Saudi Arabia may award bids to build a railway connecting its petrochemical and mining hubs on the Persian Gulf early next year, an official said. Saudi Railway Co. may begin work on a 335-kilometer (208- mile) railway linking Jubail, Ras al-Khair and Dammam in 2013, Ahmed al-Balawi, the royal commission’s general manager for technical affairs at Jubail and Yanbu, said in an interview.
Solar-Rich Saudis Running after Nukes: GREEN PROPHET
Susan Kraemer | 4.24.12
As we covered previously, working with China, Saudi Arabia will spend more than $100 billion to build 16 nuclear energy plants within the next few years, as part of ramping up its electric capacity. But the proposed solar budget might shock you. The rapidly growing nation expects its installed electric capacity to about double by 2030 to 110 GW. Official sources from Saudi Arabia say that they plan to get 20% of their electricity from nuclear, which will remain at a fifth of their electricity, even while domestic demand is growing at an estimated 8% over the next ten years. That’s fine. They have the dough. But what will it invest in solar power? After all, the Saudis could be exporting solar for the next twenty centuries.
Defining ‘Death’: CROSSROADS ARABIA
John Burgess | 4.21.12
Saudi Arabian society is facing an issue that confronts all medically-advanced societies: what is death? Saudi Gazette reports on discussions focused on ‘brain death‘ as well as the traditional Islamic concept of ‘clinical death‘, that is, the cessation of breathing and heart activity. The issue is complicated because medical technology allows breathing and heart function to continue through the use of machines. The question takes on added importance due to the costs of maintaining a patient who meets the criteria for brain death, but whose heart or lungs continue their normal activity. The problem is also pertinent to the matter of organ donation and transplant as it is not acceptable in any religion, to harvest organs from still-living people. The question is far from definitively answered in Western cultures, as the controversy over Terri Schiavo proved in the US, in 2005.
Saudi Banks Earn SR6.7b In 2 Months: SAUDI GAZETTE
Saudi banks started 2012 on strong footing as they earned nearly SR6.7 billion in the first two months of 2012 on the back of firm economic and lending recovery, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) said Monday.
Saudi Aramco Karan Gas Project Reaches 1 Billion Cubic Feet: BUSINESS WEEK
Anthony DiPaola | 4.23.12
Saudi Arabian Oil Co. increased production capacity at its offshore Karan natural-gas project to 1 billion standard cubic feet of fuel a day ahead of schedule after completing treatment and sulfur-recovery units. The Karan Gas Project will reach full planned capacity of 1.8 billion cubic feet a day by the second quarter, seven weeks earlier than scheduled, the company known as Saudi Aramco said in a statement on its website today.
The Syrian government did not abide by its commitment towards the six-point plan of the U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah al-Muallemy, said. Addressing a Security Council session, the Saudi envoy said that Assad’s regime continues in the killing and suppression of the Syrian people, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.
532MW Expansion of Tihama Power Sites in Saudi Arabia: POWER ENGINEERING
GDF SUEZ and International Power (70% owned by GDF SUEZ) are pleased to announce the expansion of their Tihama power sites in Saudi Arabia following an award from Saudi Aramco. Long-term Energy Conversion Agreements (offtake contracts) through to 2026 have been signed for this expansion. The expansion will take place at three of the four existing sites and will generate additional capacity of 532MW and 2,210GJ/h of steam. Following the expansion, Tihama will have a total capacity of 1,595MW and 8,112GJ/h of steam.
A member of the applied sciences faculty at Umm Al-Qura University has won a gold medal for her innovation at the 40th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, which concluded on Sunday.
Siemens, the global powerhouse in electronics and electrical engineering operating in the energy, infrastructure, industry and healthcare sectors, today kicked off a two-day meeting in Saudi Arabia aimed at developing a supply chain of local companies to support construction of its planned landmark manufacturing and service facility in the kingdom, and to contribute to the country’s ongoing industrialization.
AP | 4.24.12
Hundreds of Egyptians noisily protested outside the Saudi Embassy on Tuesday to demand the release of an Egyptian human rights lawyer detained in Saudi Arabia for allegedly insulting the kingdom’s monarch.
Gitex Saudi Set To Be Held In May: TRADE ARABIA
Leading international information and communications technology exhibition in Saudi Arabia, Gitex Saudi Arabia 2012, will held next month at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.
Saudi Industrial Property Authority (MODON) is representing Saudi Arabia this year at the world’s largest industrial fair in Hanover, Germany. Osama Shubokshi, Saudi ambassador to Germany, opened the Kingdom’s pavilion at Hannover Messe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao jointly earlier opened the trade fair.
MODON represents Saudi Arabia in the Hanover Industrial Exhibition 2012
Mohammed Mukhashaf | 4.23.12
Talks that looked set to secure the release of a Saudi Arabian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen broke off on Monday when the air force hit members of the militant group suspected of holding him, said a tribal leader involved in the negotiations. Abdallah al-Khalidi, the Saudi deputy consul in the port city of Aden, was seized outside his residence on March 28. Riyadh said a suspected al Qaeda militant had claimed responsibility and had threatened to kill Khalidi unless a ransom was paid and militants were freed from Saudi prisons.
Opinion: Saudi Arabia’s Exception At Olympics A Mystery: BOSTON GLOBE
John Powers | 4.24.12
The International Olympic Committee kept South Africa out of the Games for 28 years for its apartheid policies and banned Afghanistan in 2000 for the Taliban’s repression of women, yet Saudi Arabia still is welcome despite its refusal to allow females to compete. “Female sports activity has not existed and there is no move thereto in this regard,’’ Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, the kingdom’s sports minister and Olympic committee chief, declared this month, suggesting that Saudi women could compete on their own. “At present, we are not embracing any female Saudi participation in the Olympics or other international championships.’’ At least the desert kingdom is consistent.
SYRIA: SYRIAN REBELS TARGET SECURITY OFFICIALS IN CAPITAL
Rebels seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad killed three regime officers in separate attacks Tuesday around Damascus, activists and state media said, the latest violence targeting the security forces used by the government to quash dissent. CAN REBELS ‘DELIVER THE GOODS’?: There are two views floating in Syria today. Theory I says that the US wants to break the Syrian-Iranian alliance through regime change in Damascus. They argue that if the regime collapses in Syria, it would result in a rapid decline for both Iran and Hezbollah. Theory II, however, claims that contrary to what is being said, the US is not interested in severing Syria’s alliance with parties, fearing the worst in the Middle East. It would rather manage, than break that alliance, they believe. Advocates of this theory don’t believe that regime change in Syria automatically spells out a quick demise for Hezbollah and Iran. If change does happen, the US would still want a regional heavyweight that can deliver when it comes to non-state players like Hezbollah and countries like Iran, Sami Moubayed (Gulf News) writes.
EGYPT: LAW TARGETING MUBARAK OFFICIALS DISQUALIFIES CANDIDATE
Egypt’s military ruler has signed a law barring officials from Hosni Mubarak’s government from running in next month’s presidential election, raising questions about the candidacy of one of the 13 remaining candidates in the race, Bloomberg reports. THE LEADING CANDIDATE: Mohamed Morsi is a leading candidate to become the country’s next president. Mr. Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s dominant Islamist group, declared last week that his party platform amounted to a distillation of Islam itself, David D. Kirkpatrick (NYT) writes.
ISRAEL: WEST BANK SETTLEMENT OUTPOSTS LEGALIZED
Israel legalized three unsanctioned West Bank settler outposts and was trying to save another on Tuesday, infuriating the Palestinians as the chief American Mideast envoy was in the region laboring to revive peace efforts, Amy Tiebel (Atlanta Journal Constitution) writes.
EU: GERMANY SAYS EGYPT MUST AFFIRM TREATY WITH ISRAEL
In the first international comment on Egypt-Israel gas dustup, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Tuesday that Egyptian leaders, present and future, must affirm the country’s peace treaty with Israel. Westerwelle said that he expects the relevant parties in Egypt to take a clear stance on peace and to not let the gas issue reach a political level, JPost reports.
IRAN: COULD TEHRAN REALLY CRACK DRONE TECHNOLOGY?
The bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel drone “had many different codes and passwords and other obstacles but by the help of God it became possible,” the aerospace chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, told state TV on April 22.
Iran has in the past exaggerated its technical and military capabilities. But experts say that there is also a history of the US underestimating Iran’s electronic warfare and cyber expertise, CSM writes.
BAHRAIN: POLICE CHIEF TURNED CONSULTANT SPEAKS WITH NPR ABOUT BAHRAIN
Police in Bahrain are accused of using excessive force on anti-government protesters in the days leading up to the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Steve Inskeep talks to John Timoney, a former police chief in Miami and Philadelphia, who now advises the Bahraini police force, NPR 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>