News – 2012.05.02

Published: May 2, 2012

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

5.2.12 EDITION

USTR: Saudi Continues to Protect Intellectual Property Rights:  OFFICE OF THE COMMERCIAL ATTACHÉ, EMBASSY OF SAUDI ARABIA

Gregory Schlachter | 5.1.12

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday released the 2012 Special 301 Report reviewing the intellectual property protection policies of foreign nations.  Saudi Arabia is not named on the “Watch List” again this year and has not been since a successful Out-of-Cycle Review in 2009 to resolve IP issues in cooperation with the USTR. The 2012 Report lists 40 trading partners of the U.S. including thirteen countries which comprise the “Priority Watch List.”  The USTR found these nations to have significant violations or weaknesses regarding intellectual property protection and enforcement in areas including copyright violations, internet piracy, and counterfeiting.  The goal of the list is to encourage offending nations to work with the USTR and other U.S. government organizations to address these issues and increase global intellectual property awareness. Saudi Arabia is committed to actively protect intellectual property rights and promote enforcement standards in line with the Kingdom’s ascension to the World Trade Organization in 2005 and the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed in 2003.  These standards foster increased trade and investment in the private sector and stronger ties between governments.   A robust intellectual property protection environment is a strong incentive to attract foreign direct investment, and internationally recognized policies protect the interests of Saudi companies conducting business abroad.  The Kingdom will continue to work in close cooperation with the USTR to uphold its commitments and adapt to evolving challenges facing global trade

To read the full 2012 Special 301 Report from the USTR, click here.

Saudi to Invest $300m in Power Grid Links: TRADE ARABIA

5.2.12

Saudi Arabia will invest up to $300 million in projects that will link the kingdom’s new economic cities to the national power grid, said the organisers of an upcoming energy-infrastructure show in Riyadh. Saudi Energy 2012, the 15th international show for electricity, lighting, power generation, water technology and HVAC for Saudi Arabia, will take place from May 7 to 11 at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center.

Saudi Heritage Expo Moves to US: ARAB NEWS

5.2.12

The Roads of Arabia Exhibition, which highlights the Kingdom’s marvelous heritage, will now move to the US after it completed a 64-day show at the Pergamon Museum in the German city of Berlin. It is expected to be displayed at five museums in the US within a period of two years, beginning from the end of this year, said a statement issued by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA). More than 160,000 people have visited the exhibition in Berlin, which was jointly opened by SCTA chief Prince Sultan bin Salman and Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit. The exhibition contains about 400 antiquities collected from the National Museum in Riyadh, King Saud University Museum, King Abdul Aziz Foundation and a number of other museums in the Kingdom. The pieces cover the history of the Kingdom from the Stone Age to the present time.

Saudi Consumer Spending Up: SAUDI GAZETTE

5.2.12

Saudi Arabia’s economy remained healthy, Jadwa Investment said Tuesday in its monthly chart-based review of the Kingdom’s latest economic and stock market data. It said indicators of consumer spending picked up. Year-on-year comparisons were affected by the public-sector bonus awarded in March 2011, though spending was still higher than one-year earlier. Bank lending to the private sector remained on an upward trend in March. Services and commerce have been the largest recipients of new lending so far this year.

Al-Amoudi To Set Up First Tire Factory In Kingdom: ARAB NEWS

5.2.12

The plant will manufacture tubeless pneumatic tires for passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Mohammed Abdullah Baraqabah Al-Amoudi, Al-Muwakaba director general and board vice chairman, said the plant was expected to produce 1,800,000 of world-class tires. He added that the manufacturing will be according to the latest world-class technologies applied in tire manufacturing – well-known BCT technology – used in the international standards tire manufacturing. He stressed that the tires would be manufactured as per the European ECE standards and American DOT standards as well as comply with the codes and standards specified by Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO). Abdullah Al-Amoudi added that the project primarily aimed at meeting the needs of the Saudi market and then the rest of the GCC markets and North Africa. According to Abdullah Al-Amoudi, the project has a 34-month completion schedule with commercial production expected to commence by 2015.

Saudi Euromoney Focus On Alternative Funding: TRADE ARABIA

5.1.12

Experts from the public and private sector will discuss how funding, from sources other than those from the government, may be obtained for Saudi companies and projects at the upcoming Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference in Riyadh. This year’s conference will be held at Al Faisaliah Hotel on May 22 and 23 in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Finance. “Sukuk can foster economic development In Saudi Arabia. Companies start to turn to the Sukuk market to fill the funding gap. Although important progress has been made in Sukuk issuance, the active names have tended to be large companies – led by GACA, Sabic and Saudi Electricity Company – as cost considerations and illiquid secondary markets have deterred others,” said Richard Banks, director of Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference.

Riyadh Airport To Triple Capacity After Expansion: ARAB NEWS

5.2.12

The capacity of Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport is expected to triple when expansion work that is set to begin in November will be completed in three years, senior officials of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) said here yesterday. GACA Vice President Faisal Al-Sugair said preliminary studies and design work for the development and expansion of the Riyadh airport have been completed and the construction work will begin soon. Opening the first specialized conference and exhibition on aviation services and logistic support at airports at the Jeddah Conferences and Events Center, Al-Sugair also disclosed GACA’s plans to implement mega development projects in the near future to further expand its network of 28 airports that handle about 54.5 million passengers a year.

Egypt And Saudi Arabia: Ties In The Remaking: AHRAM ONLINE

Dina Ezzat | 5.2.12

“If you think that Egypt is in any way comfortable with the current fallout with Saudi Arabia, then you are much mistaken; this is the last thing we want, and it is actually something we are trying to rectify,” said an Egyptian diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous. According to this diplomat, the fallout between the two leading Arab states over the arrest of an Egyptian citizen, Ahmed El-Gizawi, upon his arrival in Saudi Arabia last month on a confused set of charges, is something that both countries would have not wanted to happen.

Gulf Considers Political Union to Handle Iran and Arab Spring: IRAN PRIMER

Caroline Crouch | 5.1.12

It is very unlikely that the governments of Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE or Oman would give up any real sovereign power, even if they agreed to a federation.  The most likely “constitutional” change would be a coordinating foreign and defense policy committee, with an eye (by the Saudis) to replicating the European Union experiment of a “common foreign and defense policy” and a single representative (like Lady Ashton, but it would be a man) of that policy. But the EU has had its own problems here, and the GCC would too.  Each state has a bilateral relationship with its most important security partner, the United States, and that would not change.  Qatar’s leaders are unlikely to give up their regional ambitions and submerge them in a Saudi-led effort for long.  Right now, all the GCC states are basically on the same page — worried about Iran, supportive of regime change in Syria, looking for a soft landing in Yemen.  But that might not last forever.  OPINION: SAUDIS WOULDN’T GAIN MUCH FROM A UNION WITH BAHRAIN:  Una Galani (Reuters) writes that, “Saudi Arabia’s call for Gulf nations to combine into a single entity appears to lay the ground for some kind of union with Bahrain. King Abdullah first highlighted the security issues facing the region when its leaders met in December – nine months after the kingdom sent tanks to tame a pro-democracy movement in Bahrain. Speculation is now swirling about how the relationship between the strongest and weakest members of the six-nation bloc could evolve, ahead of a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council this week. The old idea of a Gulf union has taken on a new meaning after the Arab uprisings. Saudi Arabia hasn’t given any details on what it envisions beyond the existing cooperation on security and selected financial issues. But the six Gulf countries won’t easily set aside their political differences just to please each other. And plans for a Gulf monetary union, loosely based on the European model, appear to be stuck following the intention of the UAE and Oman to opt out. “

Banque Saudi Fransi Eyes Debut Dollar Sukuk: AL ARABIYA

5.2.12

Banque Saudi Fransi, the kingdom’s fifth biggest bank by market capitalization, plans to issue its first dollar-denominated Islamic bond, or sukuk, depending on market conditions, and has picked banks to arrange investor meetings. The lender has picked Citi, Deutsche Bank and Credit Agricole to arrange global roadshows starting in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7, the banks said. The same banks are arrangers and dealers on the company’s recently-established $2 billion sukuk program.

BAE Systems Profit Growth Hinges On Saudi Jet Deal: BAE SYSTEMS

5.2.12

British defence group BAE Systems said its chances of delivering profit growth in 2012 hinged on talks to finalise a fighter jet deal with Saudi Arabia, in a year marked by tight government defence budgets. “Whilst little sales growth can be expected for the group in 2012 in the current market conditions, modest growth in underlying earnings per share is anticipated, assuming a satisfactory conclusion to Salam negotiations (with Saudi Arabia) in 2012,” BAE, Europe’s biggest defence contractor, said on Wednesday.

MSCI and Saudi Arabia: Friends Again: FINANCIAL TIMES

Robin Wigglesworth | 5.1.12

After a discreet but damaging spat over licensing that saw Saudi Arabia fall out of MSCI’s indices in 2009, the Middle East’s largest economy and the world’s most influential emerging markets index provider appear to have kissed and made up. MSCI said on Monday that it will reintroduce its Saudi Arabia Domestic Indices and related regional indices – such as the MSCI Arabian Markets – in June, a move that some hope could signal another move by Saudi Arabia to ease foreign investor access to its bourse, the largest and most liquid in the Arab world. Making no mention of the undignified scrap of yesteryear, MSCI and the Tadawul, Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, put out a joint statement on Monday celebrating the rapprochement

Sukuk Can Foster Economic Development In Saudi Arabia: CPI FINANCIAL

Isla MacFarlane | 5.1.12

“Sukuk can foster economic development In Saudi Arabia. Companies start to turn to the Sukuk market to fill the funding gap. Although important progress has been made in Sukuk issuance, the active names have tended to be large companies – led by GACA, SABIC and Saudi Electricity Company – as cost considerations and illiquid secondary markets have deterred others,” said Richard Banks, Director of Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference. “Furthermore, companies still need to turn to the dollar market if they want to be attractive to international funds. Companies also want to attract greater equity investment in order to fund growth. One way to do this is to open Tadawul to direct foreign participation.”

Royal Treatment In The Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia (Part 2): ARAMCO EXPATS

Tyler Swartz | 5.1.12

On my fourth day in Saudi Arabia, our group took a military plane to visit Mada’in Saleh, a pre-Islamic archaeological site of an ancient civilization whose people created dwellings and tombs by carving full-size rooms out of massive rock outcroppings. Deplaning after the two-hour flight on a cargo plane used by the Saudi Royal Air Force, my eyes adjusted to the intense brightness outside and settled onto my first sight of Arabian desert skyline. The view was a cross between New Mexico and the moon. As we drove in an air-conditioned tour bus supplied by a local hotel, we passed rock structures that made the inspiration behind the Sphinx seem obvious. I was seeing faces in mountainsides that had been shaped by millennia of wind erosion.

Saudi Billionaire Alwaleed Sells Yet Another Hotel: The Four Seasons Toronto: FORBES

Kerry A. Dolan | 5.1.12

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal can check off one more hotel sale in a growing list this year. His Saudi-listed Kingdom Holding Co. announced Monday that it is selling the Four Seasons Toronto for roughly $145 million ($142.5 million in Canadian dollars). The announcement did not say who the buyer is or what Kingdom’s original purchase price was. Alwaleed issued a rather perfunctory comment with the statement, saying, “These transactions mark yet another step for Kingdom Holding Co. towards the realization of the value of its investments.”

Committee Studying Sports Clubs For Women: SAUDI GAZETTE

5.1.12

The government has set up a ministerial committee to consider allowing and regulating women’s sports clubs, a senior official has said. Abdullah Al-Zamil from the General Presidency of Youth Welfare, the top Saudi sporting body, was quoted by local media as saying that the committee was formed to end the “chaos” surrounding women’s sports clubs which are unregulated.

Trial Of New Group Of Terrorists Begins: ARAB NEWS

Bloomberg via Md Al-Sulami | 5.1.12

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.

So far 12 defendants have appeared before the court — six during its first session on Sunday and six during a hearing yesterday. The list of charges against the defendants included adhering to Takfiri (describing others as infidels) ideology which is against the Qur’an and Sunna, communicating with Al-Qaeda, hiding terrorists, acquiring arms, ammunition and explosives, financing terrorist operations, providing PR support to terrorists, training on the manufacturing of explosives, disobeying the ruler and fighting in Iraq under the leadership of Jordanian Abu Musaab Al-Zarqawi.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

ISRAEL: US TRYING TO PUT OFF WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS PROBE

The Obama administration is trying to delay the establishment of a panel appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. U.S. Middle East envoy David Hale met in Geneva last week with UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay and asked her not to advance the matter in the near future, Barak Ravid (Haaretz) reports.

ISRAEL: WINDS OF CHANGE

Such recent statements by Israel’s former and current security chiefs show how seriously Netanyahu’s views are being challenged and how impatient many Israelis are for change, argues Patrick Seale (Middle East Online).

AFGHANSTIAN: PRESIDENT OBAMA, KARZAI SIGN HISTORIC ACCORD

US President Barack Obama has signed a strategic agreement with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai on a previously unannounced visit to Afghanistan. The 10-year accord outlines military and civil ties between the countries after the end of Nato’s mission in Afghanistan in 2014, BBC reports. EXPLOSIONS ROCK KABUL: The Afghan capital Kabul was hit by at least five explosions on Wednesday, resulting in the deaths of at least seven people. The attacks, claimed by the Taliban, came shortly after US President Obama’s surprise visit to sign a strategic agreement, RT reports. ANALYSIS: TRIP WILL NOT CHANGE FEELINGS TOWARD WAR: People are sick of the war in Afghanistan. President Obama’s trip won’t change that. While the incumbent does clearly get credit from the American public for authorizing the mission to kill bin Laden, support for the broader war against Afghanistan is at its low ebb, Chris Cilizza (The Fix – Washington Post) reports.

EGYPT: UN OFFERS EGYPT HELP TO BROKER RETURN OF FUGITIVES, ASSETS

The United Nations has offered to help broker the return of Egyptian fugitives as well as assets that were spirited out of the country after last year’s uprising. The global body is aware of the internal pressures the Egyptian government is under to recover assets, a UN official told Ahram Online.

TURKEY: FIRST FULLY CIVILIAN CONSTITUTION FORTHCOMING

A parliamentary committee in Turkey is due to start work on the country’s first fully civilian constitution. The aim is to draft a simpler and more democratic charter to replace the existing constitution, which was drawn up under military rule 30 years ago, BBC reports.

IRAN: PENTAGON IS PLANNING ‘CONTINGENCY’

The U.S. military is discussing significant changes in its war plans to adhere to President Obama’s new strategic guidance that downplays preparing for conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and counts on allies to provide additional troops, Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times) reports.

War planning for Iran is now the most pressing scenario, or what the Pentagon calls a contingency.

 

/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>