/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
Saudi-Egyptian breakdown: What’s At Stake?: EGYPT INDEPENDANT
Sultan Al-Qassemi | 4.30.12
The Saudi rulers have never been big fans of the Arab uprisings that have deposed Hosni Mubarak, their close ally in Egypt. Additionally, the Arab uprisings have threatened the survival of the neighboring Bahraini regime. However, as a nod to Egypt’s strategic importance, the Saudi ambassador recently told television host Yosri Fouda that “it is illogical that Saudi Arabia would link Egypt’s destiny to the trial” of the former president — a widespread speculation. Since the 25 January revolution, Saudi Arabia has promised Egypt financial aid of up to US$3.75 billion and, just a few days before the case of Gizawy surfaced, the kingdom promised to transfer the first installment of $1 billion by the end of April. It has been reported that Saudi Arabia had provided Egypt with an amount of $500 million in May 2011. I have also noted in a previous article for Egypt Independent Saudi Arabia’s significant investments in Egypt, which stood at $10 billion in 2011. Furthermore, there are a significant number of citizens from both states residing in each other’s countries. A Saudi official told me that, judging by their travel documents, the Saudi Foreign Ministry estimates that there are between 300,000 to 400,000 Saudis who “spend at least eight months a year in Egypt.” Representatives from one Egyptian political party that I met with recently stressed that Egypt cannot jeopardize its relationship with the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, due to the large number of Egyptians who work there.
EGYPT’S POPULAR ANGER SHIFTS TO ISRAEL AND SAUDI ARABIA: Egyptians are angry, say Arab commentators, and it’s not just because of unemployment, deteriorating security or the continued de-facto rule of the military. Their ire is also very much connected to foreign policy, and specifically to the ties with two countries that have loomed so large in Egypt’s modern history: Israel and Saudi Arabia, Nicholas Noe and Walid Raad (Bloomberg) write.
AFP | 4.30.12
US Senator Joe Lieberman met in Riyadh Monday with Saudi King Abdullah and other senior officials as part of a Middle East tour to discuss the Syria crisis, his office said. Lieberman also met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz — who recently held talks at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to discuss the Syria crisis — and General Intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz. “The senator is traveling in the Middle East this week, focused on the continuing crisis in Syria and other issues related to US national security in the region,” Lieberman aide Whitney Phillips told AFP. It is the second trip to the region in three weeks for Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee and also sits on the Armed Services Committee. He visited a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey near the Syrian border earlier in April.
Saudi Arabia: Assuring Sustained Growth: OXFORD BUSINESS GROUP
Saudi Arabia’s economy, already robust after posting growth of 6.8% last year, seems set for a period of sustained expansion, with state-backed investments and higher-than-projected hydrocarbons earnings contributing to the Kingdom’s strong performance. GDP is expected to sharply increase, as the economy gains further momentum and oil prices remain over the $100 mark. According to research by Standard Chartered, the economy is expected to expand by 4.7% in 2012, well above the 2.9% projected earlier this year.
OTC: The Wheeling and Dealing of the Nomads Lounge: HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Loren Steffy | 5.1.12
The Offshore Technology Conference devotes acres of floor space to the latest oil industry technology, but some of the most intense deal-making goes on in a room at the far end of Reliant Center, tucked away behind the lunch line. The International Nomads Lounge has become an OTC fixture in which buyers and sellers from dozens of countries can come together. On Monday afternoon, I walked into the lounge to meet David Cantrell, a general manager for Kalifa A. Algosaibi Trading Co. I’d first contacted Cantrell, who works in Dammam, in eastern Saudi Arabia, last year when I visited the kingdom.
Mobile Shopping On the Rise in Kingdom: SAUDI GAZETTE
Forty six percent of Saudi shoppers access the Internet for online shopping, and that online shopping in Saudi Arabia is led by consumers within the age group of 18-24 years, MasterCard’s survey on online shopping behavior showed Sunday. The survey also found that shopping via mobile phones is increasing, with 26 percent of consumers surveyed planning to do so in the coming months. The results of its latest online shopping survey found that online shopping is growing increasingly popular in Saudi Arabia.
Zahra Hankir | 4.30.12
MSCI Inc. (MSCI) will reintroduce coverage of Saudi Arabia’s stock market in standalone country indexes after signing a deal with the biggest Arab bourse, stoking bets the nation may get emerging-market status. MSCI said it would reintroduce the MSCI Saudi Arabia Domestic Indices and related regional indexes in June, according to a statement distributed via Business Wire. MSCI said in 2009 it would remove the country’s shares from its Gulf and Arabian equity indexes because of a dispute with the stock exchange over the licensing of information from the bourse.
Saudi Arabia may establish a bank to provide finance for housing, Al Sharq reported, citing Adnan Ghosheh, the executive director of national housing strategy at the Housing Ministry.
Mahmoud Habboush | 4.30.12
Distrust among Sunni Gulf Arab states has scuppered the installation of a joint missile shield which Washington has long urged as the best means of defense against any strike by Iran. The oil-exporting states have spent billions on U.S.-built anti-missile platforms but have fallen short of building a unified umbrella and an early warning system, despite their expressed intention to do so.
Don’t Shut the Door on People: King Tells Officials: EMIRATES 24|7
Emirates 24/7 | 5.1.12
King Abdulla of Saudi Arabia told the Kingdom’s officials to keep their offices’ doors open for the people to serve them, saying this is in line with Islam. “Do not put janitors at your office,” the King said in an address after launching university cities projects worth more than SR85 billion. “Keep your doors open to the people because you and I are all servants to the people and to our country…above all, we are servants to our religion– the religion of glory, faith and ethics.”
Saudi Arabia’s benchmark stock index dropped to the lowest level in almost one week on speculation this year’s rally was overdone and as crude oil slipped in New York trading.
Trial of New Group of Terrorists Begins: ARAB NEWS
Arab News | 4.30.12
A special Riyadh criminal court on Sunday began trying 66 Saudis and a Jordanian accused of joining a terrorist cell in the Kingdom under the leadership of Fahd Al-Juwair.
Saudi Mobile Market Still Offers Growth: EMIRATES 24|7
At nearly 200 per cent mobile penetration, the Saudi mobile market should be close to maturity, but surprisingly it is still growing, despite possible slowing in H2 2012. The main growth engine is demand for mobile broadband services, which has offset the expected decline in voice services, mainly for the leading companies, STC and Mobily, Fitch Ratings said. The increase in mobile revenue is also due to a continued increase in the number of post-paid subscribers due to increasing data use, and increase in business sector revenue due to strong private investment. The main catalyst is domestic subscriber growth in mobile broadband driven by LTE network expansion and the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets.
Jessica Donati and Humeyra Pamuk | 4.30.12
Saudi Arabia will continue to help Yemen by supplying it with refined oil products in May and June, traders said on Monday, extending a lifeline to its troubled, impoverished neighbour. A series of attacks on Yemen’s oil infrastructure has forced its main refinery to shut, and the country has become reliant on Saudi donations to meet its fuel needs.
Nasair, Saudi Arabia’s national carrier, has signed a landmark franchise agreement, which will realize the dreams of many young Saudi entrepreneurs. The deal, which took place at ATM Dubai 2012 yesterday, forms a key part of the airline’s Saudization strategy and will give passengers more choice. The start-up cost of the franchise requires low seed money and provides a very attractive return on investment.
Max Fisher | 4.30.12
In December, Texas-based academic Nivien Saleh, who was Jastaniah’s professor when she studied in the U.S., reported at TheAtlantic.com that she was to be lashed despite the pardon. By then, she had become a symbol not just of Saudi women defiantly fighting for their rights, but of the opaque and often arbitrary Saudi justice system. The police told her, pardon or no, she was scheduled to be flogged for daring to drive.
Accenture Helps Saudi Electricity Company Prepare for Restructuring and Privatization: PRESS RELEASE
Press Release | 5.1.12
Accenture (NYSE: ACN) is helping Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) to prepare for a comprehensive restructuring that is designed to lead to an eventual liberalization of the electricity market in Saudi Arabia.
Nicholas Noe and Walid Raa | 4.30.12
Egyptians are angry, say Arab commentators, and it’s not just because of unemployment, deteriorating security or the continued de-facto rule of the military. Their ire is also very much connected to foreign policy, and specifically to the ties with two countries that have loomed so large in Egypt’s modern history: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both states took a beating in the Egyptian media this past week: Israel, over a controversial gas deal with Egypt that has been suspended, and Saudi Arabia over its arrest of a prominent Egyptian human-rights campaigner who was performing a religious pilgrimage. In each case, Egyptian generals and their unelected allies in government have been forced to try to tame the conflicts, which are being fueled by a wide popular movement — strongly backed by elected political parties including the Muslim Brotherhood — to reassert Egypt’s dignity and prestige in the region.
Egyptian security services arrested three Iranians for allegedly plotting to kidnap and murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Cairo, Ahmed Abdel Aziz al-Qattan, three months ago, a legal advisor at the Saudi embassy told Al Arabiya on Tuesday. Advisor Sami Gamal Eddine said in a telephone interview that Egyptian officials informed Saudi authorities at the time but the Kingdom preferred to stay silent about the incident.
ENERGY: STOCKPILES LIKELY TO REMAIN UNTAPPED FOR NOW
Prospects have dimmed that major oil consumers in Europe, the U.S. and Asia will drive down prices this summer by collectively making a large injection into the market from emergency oil stockpiles. Such action, coordinated by the International Energy Agency, looked to be gathering momentum just a month ago following comments from the U.S., U.K. and French government officials. But it has lost some of its political traction and much of its justification, given that supply is up and prices are down without any moves by western governments, James Herron (WSJ) reports.
YEMEN: AL-QAEDA’S ‘WRETCHED UTOPIA’
AQAP has existed in this ragged, mountainous terrain for years, but in the last 12 months the jihadis have moved down from the high ground to take control of cities in the lowlands. They are in the process of setting up an al-Qaida utopia here, where security is provided by jihadis, justice follows sharia law and even the administration of electricity and water supplies is governed by the emir.
AL-QAEDA: DOCUMENTS REVEAL AL QAEDA’S PLANS FOR SEIZING CRUISE SHIPS, CARNAGE IN EUROPE
On May 16 last year, a 22-year-old Austrian named Maqsood Lodin was being questioned by police in Berlin. He had recently returned from Pakistan via Budapest, Hungary, and then traveled overland to Germany. His interrogators were surprised to find that hidden in his underpants were a digital storage device and memory cards. Buried inside them was a pornographic video called “Kick Ass” — and a file marked “Sexy Tanja.” Several weeks later, after laborious efforts to crack a password and software to make the file almost invisible, German investigators discovered encoded inside the actual video a treasure trove of intelligence — more than 100 al Qaeda documents that included an inside track on some of the terror group’s most audacious plots and a road map for future operations, Nic Robertson (CNN) writes.
UNITED STATES: BRENNAN DEFENDS DRONE STRIKES
President Obama’s top counter-terrorism advisor Monday defended using drones to launch missiles against militants in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, saying the growing use of armed unmanned aircraft had saved American lives and caused few civilian casualties, LAT reports.
ISRAEL: A RIFT IN HOW TO DEAL WITH IRAN
The recently retired head of internal security, Yuval Diskin, has bashed Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak, calling them unfit to lead the country, Sheera Frenkel (NPR) writes.
IRAN: U.S. POSITION ON IRAN ENRICHMENT: MORE PUBLIC RECOGNITION THAN POLICY SHIFT
Although there has long been a preference on the part of the United States and many of its allies for zero enrichment in Iran (indeed, opposition to the spread of any uranium enrichment capability to any additional countries has been long-standing U.S. policy and an important nonproliferation principle), the potential to discuss with Iran the conditions under which it could continue enrichment is not new. In fact, it is built into the proposals that the P5+1 have offered Iran since 2006, spanning the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, ArmsControlNow.org writes. NUCLEAR POWER PLANT NEAR FULL CAPACITY: Iran’s first nuclear power plant was connected at almost full capacity to the national power grid on April 28, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported, citing Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, who heads the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Ladane Nasseri (Bloomberg) reports.
GCC: $60 BILLION OF DEBT NEEDS TO BE REFINANCED IN 2012, RBS SAYS
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, needs to refinance $60 billion of debt between now and the end of the year, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said, Arif Sharif (Bloomberg) 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>