News – 2012.04.25

Published: April 25, 2012

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

4.25.12 EDITION

Saudi Arabia Builds Up Crude Inventories: Goldman: CNBC

CNBC | Yousef Gamal El-Din | 4.25.12

Saudi Arabia appears to have been building crude oil inventories in lower domestic demand months in a scramble to offset the risks of “limited” effective spare production capacity, Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday. In a note to clients, Goldman Sachs cited a crude oil inventory build of 35.4 million barrels in the period December-February, based on numbers from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI). The reason the increased production was not pooled into exports, Goldman Sachs analysts argue, is grounded in an anticipation of “a substantial increase” in demand that cannot be covered by “simply raising production levels”. The logic behind the build-up in stocks, which amount to 390,000 barrels per day (bpd) in that period, is not the possibility of shortages resulting from escalating tensions with Iran. Rather, it is primarily in preparation for the strains of peak domestic demand that the summer heat brings to the Kingdom. SAUDI OIL PUZZLE: CONTINUED: It would appear that Saudi Arabia — the central bank of oil — is pumping oil at the highest rate in nearly 30 years just to put the crude oil into storage. Why? Well, one theory is that Saudi is worried about tensions between Iran and the West escalating. Opec effective spare capacity is less than 1m barrels per day, while Iran currently exports about 2.2m barrels per day. That means it would be hard to replace lost Iranian exports solely with production increases. In which case, Saudi preparing a buffer to help ease supply tensions if and when the Iranian export situation deteriorates further makes some sense, Izabella Kaminska (FT – Alphaville) writes.

Economic Outlook, Demographics To Drive Saudi Real Estate Growth: LOAN SAFE

Alex Ferreras | 4.24.12

The national Saudi population represents 73 percent of the aggregate versus only 32 percent in Kuwait and 18 percent in the UAE implying a more sustainable organic demand for housing over the long term. Almost 60 percent of the Saudi population is below the age of 30 compared to 54 percent in Kuwait and 46 percent in the UAE, the report said. Saudi Arabia has the most balanced gender structure with expatriate males representing only 18 percent of total population as opposed to 44 percent in Kuwait and 69 percent in the UAE.

Global Merchandise Trade: Kingdom In Key Position: ARAB NEWS

4.24.12

Saudi Arabia ranked 10 globally in merchandise trade at the value of $365 billion in 2011 and captured 2.5 percent of total world market compared to 2010 figures, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO) data. The UAE came in the 2nd and 14th ranks at Arab and international levels, respectively, valued at $285 billion followed by Kuwait at 3rd and 25th ranks at $ 98 billion, the report said.   According to WTO economists, world trade growth is predicted to slow to 3.7 percent in 2012. They attribute the slowdown to the global economy losing momentum due to a number of problems, including the European sovereign debt crisis.

Notable & Quotable: WALL STREET JOURNAL

Paul Wolfowitz | 4.24.12

As Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in 1991, I represented then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney on Secretary of State James Baker’s first post-war visit to the Persian Gulf. On March 8, 1991, in Riyadh, Baker met with his Saudi counterpart, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, and the influential Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The two senior Saudis argued that Saddam Hussein, like a “wounded snake,” was too dangerous to be left in power. They appealed to Baker to support the Shia uprising that was just starting in Southern Iraq. “We’re not afraid of the Shia of Iraq,” they said. “For one thing, they’re Arabs and not Persians. Moreover, they fought loyally for Iraq during eight terrible years of war with Iran. They’re not about to take orders from Tehran.”

Protesters Urge Saudi To Free Egyptian Activist: AFP

4.24.12

Hundreds of Egyptians protested outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo on Tuesday demanding the release of an Egyptian human rights activist held by Saudi authorities who claim he possessed banned drugs. The protesters chanted slogans against the Saudi regime as they called for the “immediate” release of Ahmed Mohammed al-Gizawi, arrested on arrival at Jeddah airport last week. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, an Egyptian organisation, said in a statement on Monday that Gizawi was held following a sentence of one year in prison and 20 lashes delivered against him in absentia for criticism of the Saudi government. Gizawi was being targeted for his activism in favour of Egyptian detainees in Saudi prisons, the statement added. Gizawi had gone to Saudi Arabia with his wife to perform the omra, a minor pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, when he was detained at Jeddah airport without any prior notification of his conviction, the group said. But the Saudi ambassador Ahmed Adel Aziz Qattan said Gizawi was arrested at the airport when banned drugs were found in his possession, adding that he regretted the “misinformation” published in the Egyptian media.

Yemen Air Raids Foil Bid To Release Saudi Hostage: SAUDI GAZETTE

4.24.12

Talks that looked set to secure the release of Abdullah Al-Khalidi, the Saudi deputy consul kidnapped in Yemen, broke off when the air force hit members of the militant group suspected of holding him, said a tribal leader involved in the negotiations.

Saudi Arabia’s Business Sentiments Remain Steady: ARAB NEWS

Arab News | 4.25.12

Saudi Arabia’s business sentiments in the second quarter of 2012 remain steady with respect to the previous quarter, says a report from the National Commercial Bank. The Kingdom’s economy’s growth will continue to be driven by public sector spending and increased bank lending, it says. The bank, in association with Dun and Bradstreet South Asia Middle East Ltd. (D&B), has released the Business Optimism Index for Saudi Arabia for the second quarter.

New Transport System Aims To Generate Major Savings: ARAB NEWS

4.25.12

The approval of the Council of Ministers on Monday of the implementation of the Public Transport Project (PTP) in Riyadh came after the High Authority for the Development of Riyadh (HADR) had formulated a comprehensive plan. This plan stipulated the establishment of road networks for public transport using buses and electric trains. The authority also completed the engineering designs, technical specifications and blueprints for the two projects. The implementation of the plan would also make big gains for the city and its residents going beyond traffic, architectural, social, health and environmental aspects to feasible economic gains. According to the studies conducted by the authority, the plan would cut down the daily car journeys by more than 2.2 million trips every day and would reduce the distance driven daily on the road networks by more than 30 million kilometer. Once implemented, the plan would save more than 800,000 hours now being wasted on roads every day.

SABIC, Exxon To Take Saudi Rubber Plant FID In July: REUTERS

4.25.12

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Exxon Mobil plan to make a final investment decision on their multi-billion dollar synthetic rubber project in Saudi Arabia in July, SABIC’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

Saudi Education: Could Do A Lot Better: MIDEASTPOSTS

Eman-Al-Nafjan | 4.25.12

The Saudi education system wasn’t always destined for orthodoxy. King Abdulaziz, the kingdom’s founder, established the precursor to today’s Education Ministry in 1925, seven years before officially founding the country in 1932. The first national textbooks were heavily influenced by Egyptian and Lebanese curricula, and their chief author, the researcher Omar Abduljabbar, was considered a progressive, opening one of Saudi Arabia’s first private girls’ schools at a time when only boys could attend public schools. By the 1950s, however, religious ultraconservatives had begun putting down roots in the Education Ministry. Despite the ministry’s efforts to recruit members of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt and Syria, who were seen as proponents of a more liberal form of Islam, the more powerful Saudi religious establishment ensured that textbooks and school policies would become more intolerant and conservative, which the government’s 1968 educational policy document solidified formally. In the following decades, those brave enough to criticize the government-mandated curriculum were scarce if not nonexistent. Saudis who were unhappy with the public education system could send their children abroad; even private Saudi schools were (and still are) required to teach Arabic and the government’s religious curriculum.

Saudi Girls School Defies Clerics With Basketball, Paper Reports: REUTERS

4.25.12

A girls’ school in Saudi Arabia has defied a religious ban on female sports by erecting basketball hoops and letting pupils play at break-time, the daily al-Watan reported on Wednesday.

Saudis Abducted In Lebanon Freed After Ordeal: Asiri: THE DAILY STAR

4.25.12

Two Saudi Arabian nationals held hostage in Lebanon by non-Lebanese kidnappers for more than a week have been rescued by police, the Saudi ambassador said in remarks published Wednesday. Lebanese security sources confirmed the incident and identified the kidnappers as Iraqi nationals.

Young Saudi Chef Cooks Up A Success Story: ARAB NEWS

Rima Al-Mukhtar | 4.25.12

Twenty-five-year-old Rayan Alayesh is an upcoming chef who studied Hotel and Restaurant Management simply to follow his dream of becoming the first Saudi Michelin Star chef. Alayesh was first attracted to this career after majoring in industrial engineering for three years, until he reached a stage where he was not doing well at school because he did not find himself in this major. “I was not motivated to study or to go on and continue in this field. One day I was reading about Hotel and Restaurant Management, and I thought to myself: This is where I belong,” he said. “It was not the easiest decision at all as I had to consult with my parents and think it over once and twice and three times, until I believed that this was the smartest move,” he added.

Saudi Electricity Closes $1.75bn Bond Issue: TRADE ARABIA

4.25.12

Saudi Electricity Company has announced the successful closure of a $1.75 billion dual-tranche Sukuk issue, comprising a $500 million with a five-year maturity and a $1.25 billion with a 10-year maturity. The largest utility in the Middle East region, SEC has been rated as A1/AA-/AA- with a stable outlook.

Saudi To Award New Airline Licenses In September: REUTERS

4.25.12

Saudi Arabia will clear new carriers for takeoff in September, the kingdom’s aviation authority said on Wednesday, granting airline licenses for the right operate both local and international flights. Khalid al-Khaibary, the spokesman for General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), said 14 companies had applied for licenses and the government had yet to decide on how many carriers it would authorize.

Young Entrepreneurs Urged To Excel In Retail Trade: ARAB NEWS

4.25.12

Labor Minister Adel Fakeih said his ministry has prepared 36 business initiatives in retail sector for young entrepreneurs that are aimed to create an attractive work environment and streamline financing mechanisms for them. The minister was addressing a workshop on investment opportunities in retail sector for young entrepreneurs, which was organized by Young Entrepreneurs Committee at Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI).

Poland Pushes For Saudi Investment In Key Projects: ARAB NEWS

4.25.12

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk yesterday emphasized his country’s desire to expand cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the areas of oil, defense, food industry, medical services, health tourism and financial services. “We also want to increase trade exchange,” the prime minister said while addressing businessmen at the Council of Saudi Chambers in Riyadh, which was attended by members of the Saudi-Polish Business Council.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

OPINION: A RESET IN JEWISH THINKING

For millions of Jewish families, devastated by the Holocaust, a Jewish state seemed the ultimate refuge from centuries of persecution. Miraculously, Israel rose from the bowels of a nightmare, strong, prosperous and democratic. Criticism was unthinkable while our embryonic state hung by a thread. More recently, however, I’ve become uncomfortable with our conventional wisdom. Making the same arguments for over 60 years, while the problem only gets worse, demands a reset in our thinking. That reset must acknowledge a transformational change in the facts since 1948, and especially since 1967. What’s changed? Israel has gone from a vulnerable little state, surrounded by tens of millions of hostile Arab neighbors, to the most powerful military force in the Middle East. Dangers will always exist, but the balance of military power has inexorably shifted, Stephen Robert (NYT) writes.

IRAN: UNDECIDED ON NUCLEAR BOMB, ISRAELI MILITARY CHIEF SAYS

The head of the Israeli military has said he does not think Iran will develop nuclear weapons.

Chief of Staff Lt Gen Benny Gantz made the statement in an interview with the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, BBC reports.  He said Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had not yet made the final decision whether to build a nuclear bomb.

INDIA/PAKISTAN: PAK TESTS MISSILE DAYS AFTER INDIA LAUNCH

Pakistan successfully launched an upgraded ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead Wednesday, days after its neighbor and archenemy India conducted its own missile test, the Pakistani military said. The Hatf IV Shaheen-1A missile was fired into the sea, the military said in a written statement.

AFGHANISTAN: US EYES OPTIONS TO RESTART PEACE TALKS

President Barack Obama’s administration, seeking to revive stalled Afghan peace talks, may alter plans to transfer Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison after its initial proposal fell foul of political opponents at home and the insurgents themselves, Dawn.com reports. WHY AFGHANISTAN IS LIKE VIETNAM: After years of U.S. officials insisting Afghanistan is not turning into another Vietnam, a two-star U.S. Marine general — just back from a year-long combat tour there — says Afghanistan could well end up resembling the southeast Asian nation.

Major General John Toolan insisted Tuesday that while Afghanistan may not be “highly successful” in the short term, the arc of history requires U.S. and allied efforts there to cauterize the regional instability that threatens Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, That’s not so different, he suggested, from the way the U.S. war in Indochina halted the communists’ deeper push into southeast Asia, and nurtured the economic powerhouses there today, Mark Thompson (Battleland/TIME) reports.

BAHRAIN: DON’T FORGET ABOUT BAHRAIN

Recently, there have been some excellent pieces exploring events in Bahrain, among them Gregg Carlstrom’s evocatively titled “In the Kingdom of Tear Gas“ which concludes that “the reality is that street protests, after simmering in outlying villages for months, have begun to heat up in the capital of Manama”; and “The Crackdown“ in which Kelly McEvers explores the factors that may have doomed the protests from the outset, pronouncing that ”If any Arab Spring revolt can be pronounced a failure thus far, this is it.” With these excellent articles and the additional attention on Bahrain due to the Grand Prix, there has finally been a sharper focus on what has been perhaps the most neglected theater of the Arab uprisings of the last year and a half in terms of western media coverage, Caitlin FitzGerald (GPS) writes.

IRAN: CYBERATTACK ON OIL INDUSTRY HAD LITTLE IMPACT

Iran says a suspected cyber attack on its state-run oil industry had little impact on operations thanks to rapid measures taken by experts to limit the spread of the virus, Michael Lipin (VOA) reports.

AEROSPACE: BOEING REPORTS STRONG FIRST-QUARTER RESULTS

Boeing reported first-quarter net income rose to $0.9 billion, or $1.22 per share, on revenue of $19.4 billion. Earnings per share rose 56 percent, reflecting continued strong core performance across the company’s businesses, which more than offset higher pension expense. The results also include an increase in earnings of $0.11 per share related to a reduction in a litigation-related reserve. Earnings per share guidance for 2012 increased to between $4.15 and $4.35 to incorporate the reduction in the litigation-related reserve. The company reaffirmed its 2012 revenue and operating cash flow outlook, a Press Release said.

/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>