: Saudi Arabia Economical and other News

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13-12-11, 07:52 AM
Gold price came down yesterday and this morning

It came down about 50 dollars

I got busy last night, and I expected it will come down for a new law price

It is 1655 US dollar per aunce at 6 AM this morning as of Riyadh time

December 13, 2011

13-12-11, 07:57 AM
More than half a million Saudis apply for home loans

JEDDAH: A total of 579,193 Saudi citizens have applied for housing loans from the Real Estate Development Fund(REDF), local Arabic daily Al-Madinah reported Friday quoting official figures released by the fund.
Under the directives issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, the fund will give individual housing loans of up to SR500,000. The fund said it expected to give loans amounting to more than SR156.3 billion this year.
Since its establishment in 1974, the REDF has contributed through its loans to the construction of more than 700,000 housing units. According to market estimates, the housing sector in the Kingdom is in need of investments amounting to about SR1.5 trillion to build 32.2 million housing units during the period 2005-2020. The estimates also said annual investments of SR64 billion would be required to construct 145,00 new houses every year. Meanwhile informed sources expected that the fund would be restructured in such away that its loans to the citizens would come from the banks and other financial institutions and that it would be a guarantor to these loans if the beneficiaries failed to pay on time.
They also said another idea which was currently being mooted was to make the fund itself into a housing investment bank.

Source: Arab News

13-12-11, 08:16 AM
Saudi Arabia: Farasan airport feasibility study submitted to authorities, sayas Jazan Governor

JAZAN: A feasibility study to set up an airport in Farasan has been submitted to the authorities, indicating that the airport could play a lead role in investment and tourism in the region.
Jazan Gov. Prince Mohammad bin Nasser said, "We have submitted the study of Farasan airport to the authorities and we hope that the plan for the airport would be approved soon."
The study included the area of airport and investment opportunities in the island.
Prince Mohammad was addressing reporters on the sideline of celebrating the crossing of million numbers of passengers traveling from Jazan to Farasan on board the two new ships. The millionth traveler to Farasan was feted on Wednesday at the passenger's hall of Jazan seaport.
The prince said that the airport would play a vital role to help investment and tourism in the island. "The airport will initiate many investments projects and I would like to invite businessmen to exploit these chances for the benefit of region and the country at the same time," he added.
Prince Mohammad thanked Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf and Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry for their support for the projects of region.
A documentary about the two ships was screened at the vent. Each ship can carry 650 passengers along with 50 cars and 17 trucks. Moreover, it contains a restaurant, prayer room and an elevator for special needs people.
"Reaching the million passengers in two years is a clear proof of achieving the targets of making the transportation between Jazan and Farasan Island very smooth," said Assistant Minster of Finance Mohammad Al-Maya.
He said that 2,025 trips were conducted, out of which 95 trips were additional and the percentage of commitment of contracted company was 97 percent.
The work on board the two ships is following international standards of navigation in terms of maintenance and security system.

Source: Arab News

13-12-11, 08:18 AM
Social media: Don't donate online, Saudis urged

JEDDAH: In the aftermath of the Jeddah school fire back in November, which left four people dead and dozen others injured, social networking websites Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube played a significant role in exposing the case to the world.
The sites were also used to suggest collecting donations to aid the victims and their families.
During the fire the Twitter hashtag #JeddahSchoolFire was used by several users of the micro blogging website to collect money for the victims, resulting in an estimated SR70,000 collected.
This comes despite Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance prohibiting the collection of donations using cell phone text messages or the Internet without official permission.
"The ministry's decision is the right thing to do. We here tend to receive donations requests through our cell phones, sometimes for the disabled, or donations for kidney dialysis treatments for those suffering from kidney problems," said 26-year-old Rakan, a Jeddah resident.
"The problem is if we respond to these requests, we won't know if the money was received by those who were asking for it or not."
Searching the phrase "donation" in Arabic on social networking websites brings up results for several pages on Facebook and tweets on Twitter from people asking for donations.
Collecting donations online is not new. More than few years ago, there were the popular Nigerian money offer scams, where people used to receive a fraud email asking them for their bank account numbers in exchange for receiving huge money transfers.
One legal expert based in Jeddah told Arab News: "Those who wish to donate their money toward good causes are advised to visit certified and bona fide donation offices across the Kingdom as opposed to sending their money to an unknown party who could be a con artist."
He added: "Saudi Internet users need to look thoroughly into the person or organization behind the donation requests even if they look legitimate to avoid being scammed."
Several Saudis felt there should be approved organizations able to collect donations from people using social networking sites to improve the benefits for the needy.

Source: Arab News

13-12-11, 08:19 AM
Saudi Kingdom, China agree to curb import of counterfeit goods

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and China have agreed to prepare a blacklist of exporters and importers of counterfeit goods from China, according to a senior official of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The move was aimed at regulating the number of cheap quality Chinese products flooding the Saudi market, said Abdul Rahman Al-Abdul Razaq, undersecretary for consumer affairs at the ministry.
Speaking to Al-Eqtisadiah business daily, he said the new agreement would be implemented based on a previous agreement signed between Beijing and the European Union under which all counterfeit Chinese products would be banned in EU states and stringent punitive measures taken against those involved in their trade.
Al-Abdul Razaq disclosed such an agreement had been reached during his recent meeting with an official Chinese delegation led by the chief of China's quality control body.
"I briefed the Chinese delegation on the negative impact of counterfeit products imported to the Saudi market on the reputation of Chinese brand products. Subsequently, the Chinese officials expressed their willingness to formally sign an agreement with the Kingdom based on the one they had already signed with the EU," he said.
According to Al-Abdul Razaq, the meeting discussed various topics such as ensuring the quality of Chinese products exported to the Kingdom and taking punitive action against exporters involved in selling duplicate and cheap products, especially electrical appliances, dresses and toys.
He said a blacklist of Saudi businessmen involved in importing duplicate and cheap products from China would be prepared soon.
"In the light of this, we will ban these businessmen from importing from China. The Chinese authorities will also follow suit by preparing a blacklist of exporters of such products to the Saudi market and enforce a subsequent ban on their exports," he said.
Citing major provisions of the agreement, Al-Abdul Razaq said all products meant for export to the Kingdom would be tested at the laboratories of some 35 quality control offices spread over 31 Chinese provinces.

"If any one of these products are found to be counterfeit, they will be banned from being exported to the Kingdom and the concerned exporters as well as factories manufacturing them will be blacklisted," he said.
While China has become a country that has begun to manufacture nearly everything, or components of most goods, it is still being tagged as a country that only produces low quality goods on a regular basis.
The Chinese government has started taking a series of measures to remedy this.
Al-Abdul Razaq said the Chinese government had issued strict directives to local companies tasked with granting "Made in China" logos to various products to ensure the quality of products as well as monitor their manufacturing at factories and sale to importing countries.
"The Chinese delegation also expressed desire that the Saudi authorities would also take similar stringent measures to crack down on such cheap products and return them directly from various entry points to the Kingdom in addition to withdrawing such products that have already reached the local market," he said.
He added that the ministry would intensify monitoring to prevent such products from entering the Kingdom. He also said huge quantities of duplicate products have been seized from various entry points in the Kingdom over the past few years and returned to exporters after initiating punitive measures against those involved in their trade.

Source: Arab News

13-12-11, 08:20 AM
King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology supports graduate students

King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology has allocated an amount of SAR1,460,854 to support 34 research proposals submitted by researchers from various universities in the Kingdom and colleges.
The allocation has been provided through the scholarship program for graduate students for the year 1432 H. supervised by the General Directorate of Research Grants in the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.
The supervisor of the General Directorate of research grants of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology Dr. Omar bin Abdul Aziz Almisnad said the funds will support research proposals in several areas, including chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, geology, research proposals in the agricultural field and in the engineering field
The City News Bulletin said that the city has already supported 253 research proposals within the grant program for graduate students this year, bringing the number of the research proposals supported by the city so far within the program to 287 research proposals.

Source: Saudi Press Agency

13-12-11, 08:21 AM
Kingdom to continue reforms: Al-Aiban

RIYADH: The president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission Bandar bin Muhammad Al-Aiban said the Kingdom has been supporting efforts to achieve welfare and peace to the Arab people.
Al-Aiban also affirmed the Kingdoms determination to continue its comprehensive reforms and development activities, in a statement on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is keen to protect human rights and has supported all efforts to improve the human rights situation in the Kingdom, Al-Aiban said.
The Kingdom has contributed largely to save the people of the region from being affected by the miseries resulting from the ongoing political upheavals (in some Arab countries). Signing of the GCC initiative to resolve the Yemeni crisis under the aegis of King Abdullah is an instance of such efforts, Al-Aiban added.
Al-Aiban also expressed the commissions concerns on the continuing crisis in Syria. The Kingdom supports efforts to achieve peace everywhere, he said.
He also commended the opening of the King Abdullah International Center for Dialogue in Vienna.
Al-Aiban urged the countries of the world to support the right of Palestinians to obtain their rights and to establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Source: Arab News

13-12-11, 08:23 AM
Saudi women professionals visit Paris to gain from experiences of their counterparts

JEDDAH: Ten leading Saudi women, including a number of lawyers, are participating in a French program aimed at boosting knowledge, skills and relations and will be in Paris on Saturday.
Lawyer Majed Garoub, executive supervisor of the program, told Arab News on Friday that the schedule has been designed in such a way that it helps further boost the knowledge of Saudi female lawyers in various fields including law, judiciary, commerce, health, business, education, social affairs and others.
He said the program is being supported by the supervisor of the women safety program Princess Adelah bint Abdullah.
This is the third time that such visits to France have been organized for leading Saudi women in various sectors under the program, he added.
Garoub said the Saudi team would visit the French Parliament, the Justice Ministry, the Louvre, the UNESCO, the chamber of commerce, the Sorbonne, hospitals, courts and other institutions.
The Saudi women lawyers will also visit a municipality outside Paris which is chaired by a woman to have a first-hand assessment of the organization of the municipal council. This visit takes added significance especially that Saudi women will be allowed to vote in the next municipal elections, he said.
Garoub said the Saudi women lawyers will exchange expertise with their French counterparts and will also visit the syndicate of the French lawyers.
The program will also provide the French side with an opportunity to know in depth about the role of Saudi women in society and their various activities in all fields, he added.
He said the Saudi women are to be hosted by the French government.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice was currently making a study to enable the Saudi women lawyers to practice under certain conditions.
The study is in its final stages and will be forwarded to the Shoura Council for discussion prior to its recommendation to concerned authorities, judge Yousuf Al-Farraj, adviser to the minister of justice said recently.

Source: Arab News

13-12-11, 04:52 PM
Saudi Arabia will spend over $100bn on nuclear, solar

Saudi Arabia will spend more than $100bn to build 16 nuclear energy plants over the next few years, a senior official has told a Saudi-US business forum in Atlanta.
Abdullah Zainal Alireza, Commerce and Industry Minister, also said the kingdom was keen to develop solar and other renewable energy technologies to reduce dependence on oil and gas, Saudi daily Arab News reported on Friday.
"We have allocated $3bn to produce solar energy panels in Jubail and Yanbu," he was quoted as saying.
Last month, Saudi Arabia said it will begin the tendering process to construct the first nuclear station by the end of next year. The site of the reactor will be announced by March.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are investing in nuclear power to help meet rising domestic demand for electricity.
The forum also discussed new investment opportunities worth $385bn in the kingdom in the key sectors of education, energy, electricity and water, transport and logistics, petrochemicals and infrastructure, the paper added.
Alireza said Saudi imports from the US are expected to cross $95bn or 23 percent of the total US exports to Arab countries by 2012.
"This amount is expected to double by 2015," the minister said.

Source: Arabian Business

13-12-11, 04:54 PM
Drake & Scull sees strong performance in Saudi market

Contract awards totalling SR2.4bn ($639m) have been won by construction firm Drake & Scull Saudi so far in 2011, the company has announced.
The MEP arm of Drake & Scull International in the kingdom said its latest deal was a SR352m contract to execute a commercial development project in Riyadh.
The project, due for completion towards the end of 2013, is part of the company's push in industries ranging from education and healthcare to real estate and hospitality.
Its biggest contract for 2011 to date has been the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre project in Riyadh valued at SR2bn.
The latest Saudi National Commercial Bank quarterly review of contract awards in the construction industry revealed that the sector is expected to sustain its solid performance and post over SR10bn in additional projects during Q4.
The total value of awarded contracts during the third quarter reached SR95.1bn, representing a 104 percent increase over the same period in 2010.
Khaldoun Tabari, CEO of Drake & Scull International, said: "At its current pace, the performance of Saudi Arabia's construction sector is matching the strong figures it posted in 2009.
"We are reaping the rewards of this resurgence via major projects and new partnerships that are further cementing our position within our biggest market in the region.
"Riyadh in particular has been a favourable environment for us and we are in fact in the process of closing another deal in the capital which we hope to announce soon."
He said the company had nearly doubled its project win portfolio in Saudi Arabia compared to the previous year.
DSI's Saudi subsidiary has formed alliances with a number of major Saudi developers such as Aramco and Rayadah Investment and is currently exploring opportunities across the kingdom.

Source: Arabian Business

13-12-11, 04:56 PM
Saudi Aramco CEO sees oil industry renaissance

Khalid Al-Falih, the chief executive of Saudi Aramco has said the sweeping new realities have resulted in a confluence of factors, positioning the petroleum industry for a renaissance, Arab News has reported. "When I speak about a renaissance for our industry, I am not talking about another decade-long boom where we spend more and make more," Al-Falih said. "Rather, I am referring to an era where we fulfil our commitments to humanity while also meeting our obligations to the natural environment."

Source: Arab News

13-12-11, 04:57 PM
Saudi oil production highest in thirty years

The Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi has said the kingdom has increased its crude output last month to the highest level in more than three decades to meet customer demand, Bloomberg has reported. "We produced 10 million and 40 barrels in November because that's what the customers wanted," al-Naimi said. That's the highest level since at least 1980, according to data from the US Energy Department. The Gulf country pumped 9.4 million barrels a day in October, al- Naimi said on November 20.

Source: Bloomberg

13-12-11, 05:00 PM
Saudi group to host Jeddah forum, exhibit

JEDDAH - Saudi Infrastructure 2011 Forum and Exhibition will be held here on Dec. 11-14, organizers said on Thursday.
Prince Mansour Bin Miteb Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud will deliver the opening address at the forum "Adding Value and Building Commercial Opportunities".
The event will take place at the Jeddah Center for Forums & Event here.
Senior government ministers will attend the forum and exhibition, which will showcase major investment opportunities and infrastructure projects.
It will highlight how Saudi Arabia supports foreign investment and remains stable in the global market.
The program will include a site visit to Al Mashaaer Al-Mugaddassah Metro Project (MMM)) to be sponsored by China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) on the third day of the forum.
MMMP consists of mega projects which seek to serve pilgrims during Haj every year.

Source: Saudi Gazette

13-12-11, 05:34 PM
Building business: Developers banking on huge demand

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia's housing industry is attracting remarkable investor interest with the growing demand for real-estate finance and residential property.
The Kingdom's housing industry is also emerging as one of the most vibrant segments of the real-estate industry as the government steps up its support for multimillion riyal projects.
A major show planned in Riyadh this week has attracted global attention in view of the Kingdom's efforts to provide affordable homes to citizens.
The Riyadh International Urban Development and Real Estate Investment Event will take place at the Riyadh Exhibition Center from Dec. 11-13. The event's theme will be "Building Business in the Kingdom".
This exhibition takes place in Jeddah also in June every year.
Deep Marwaha, group director of IIR Middle East, said the Riyadh and Jeddah events are the only real estate event with a portfolio of exhibitions, conferences and seminars that bring together key industry decision makers to enhance and support the vision for real estate growth in the region.

He said: "Each of our events in Riyadh and Jeddah, has a local focus but with regional exposure. This is because Saudi Arabia has become a richly interesting market for regional investors. Our local participants gain significant benefit from this as it gives them access to both the regional and local investor communities."
The Riyadh event is a meeting point for the entire real estate community to discuss current and future development plans in the Kingdom's capital city.
Also it is where the exhibitors display their latest projects, giving local people an opportunity to study the trends and learn about who is investing in what.
The event in Riyadh, under the patronage of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and officially supported by Arriyadh Development Authority and Riyadh Municipality, will host high-profile developers from the public and private sector.

Rayadah Investment Company, which is involved in the development of the King Abdullah Financial District, is also taking an active role in the event.
Other participants will include Ewaan Global Residential Company, Affordable House Company, Jenan Real Estate, Dar Al-Tamleek, Daem Real Estate and Working Buildings Companies.
In fact, Marwaha said all real estate developers from the public and private sectors will be taking part and supporting the Riyadh exhibition.
"Adding to the event's prestige, we have assembled a line-up of key players in the Saudi real estate market, something which no other event has to offer, and with so many activities and attractions we are expecting to break the record of 10,000 visitors in 3 days," Marwaha said.
"Since launching the Jeddah exhibition in 2009 and the Riyadh show in 2010 we have received excellent response from everyone; sponsors, the business community and the general public," he pointed out.
In addition, he said, this year's Riyadh exhibition will host the World Architecture Congress in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
The congress supported by the Royal Institute of British Architects and AIA Middle East (AIA ME), a chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
He said the international congress is an exclusive gathering that provides an opportunity to the Kingdom's architectural community to meet with global industry leaders and discuss the latest trends in architecture and learn about the latest government projects.
Industry experts have also voiced optimism about market growth after recent reports suggested that the Saudi real estate mortgage law is likely to be approved soon.
"The mortgage law, once approved, will contribute to propelling the Kingdom's residential sector forward and will encourage many investment and financial companies to invest in this vital sector, especially since there is huge demand for building new housing units across the Kingdom's regions, which will help citizens to own their dream homes," said Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Seadan, managing director of Affordable House Company.
"We at Affordable House Company expect that this law will serve the principle of affordable housing both as a concept and as a building method, firstly due to demand and secondly in terms of quality. Also, new legislation such as the real estate mortgage law will make property developers and home finance providers focus more on affordable housing projects due to the market demand for home ownership at reasonable cost," he said.
Mega construction projects such as King Abdullah Economic City, Jazan Economic City, Hail Economic city and Knowledge Economic City have also generated a lot of interest among industry watchers.
When asked about any possible impact the completion of projects might have on the Saudi housing market, Marwaha said the Kingdom's economic cities follow a holistic approach and are composed of residential and commercial areas complete with all the necessary infrastructure facilities such as hospitals, schools and universities, etc.
As a modern concept, he said economic cities offer professionals and families a place to live and work in close proximity to the many local companies and international corporations that are moving into these cities.
"The economic cities are embedded in an overall infrastructural plan which will increase the connectivity between the economic cities and the main cities. Depending on the success of the economic cities we will see a partial migration of people to the new cities, although this will have a marginal effect on the housing market in the major cities."
Prominent speakers at the conference will include Fahd bin Saleh Al-Sultan, secretary general, Council of Saudi Chambers and Abdulwahab S. Abu-Dahesh, deputy to the chairman of Real Estate Committee, Riyadh Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Source: Arab News

13-12-11, 05:35 PM
Saudi Arabia: SIDF raises loan limit in industrially backward regions

RIYADH: The Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) has said it has increased the limit of loans to projects in industrially backward regions to 75 percent of the total cost of a project.
The move is in line with the vision of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to achieve balanced and sustainable progress in all provinces and cities in the Kingdom, apart from providing more employment opportunities to Saudis, Director General of SIDF Ali Al-Aed said in a statement on Friday.
"The cities and provinces ranked as the least developed in terms of industries include Hail, Northern Border Province, Al-Jouf, Tabuk, Jazan, Najran, Baha and Asir," Al-Aed said.
The loans to industrial projects in underdeveloped regions also enjoy an additional feature of extended period of repayment of up to 20 years, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
On the other hand, loans to industrial projects in major cities will remain at 50 percent of the total cost of the project with a repayment period of 15 years, Al-Aed said.
Cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Jubail, Makkah, Yanbu and Ras Al-Khayr come under the category of industrially major cities, he said.

"According to the classification made by the fund, to the cities and regions which enjoy industrial development features to a level less than the major cites, the limit of loans are fixed at 60 percent of the total project cost," he said.
This less developed category includes Qassim, Ahsa, Madinah (excepting Yanbu), Rabigh and Taif in addition to Al-Kharj Industrial City, Sudair Industrial City and their loan period would be up to 20 years. In order to enable the SIDF to increase the loan limits and time stipulations with regard to less industrially developed areas, the Council of Ministers had amended the sixth and eighth paragraph of the fourth clause of the SIDF bylaws, Al-Aed added.
Empowered by the amendments, the board of directors of the SIDF determined loan limits after detailed studies to classify all areas and cities in the Kingdom as developed, less and the least developed areas. The study was made on the basis of the parameters of industrial development and other features available in each region or city.
He appealed to investors to make use of the newly available benefits to launch projects in the less developed areas.

SIDF, which plays a key role in creating local industrial enterprises and employment opportunities, was set up by the government primarily to provide interest-free loans to Saudi businessmen to establish industrial plants and factories. The total loans approved for industrial projects, from SIDF's creation until end of 2006, amounted to SR38.2 billion.

Source: Arab News

13-12-11, 06:09 PM
The gold price per gram for 24 as at 5 PM today is 200,46

December 13, 2011

14-12-11, 11:14 AM
Gold price came down yesterday and this morning

It came down about 30 to 20dollars

I expected it will come down for a new law price and it happend

It is 1638 US dollar per aunce at 7:40 AM this morning as of Riyadh time

December 14, 2011

14-12-11, 04:50 PM
Kingdom denounces Israeli intransigence

RIYADH: Chief of General Intelligence Prince Muqrin on Sunday blasted Israeli leaders for their intransigence and criticized what he described as an isolationist policy.
He criticized the double standard of Tel Aviv with regard to Palestine and on weapons of mass destruction. He urged Israelis to change their approach to negotiations with Palestinians for the sake of peace and security in the region.
Security and economic issues are of major concern to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which as a bloc has emerged stronger to benefit the region, said Prince Muqrin at the second session of the high-profile Gulf and Globe Conference in Riyadh.
The session was chaired by Abdulmohsen Al-Akkas, former minister of social affairs.
Referring to the two-day conference, Prince Muqrin said the event was particularly significant in terms of the GCC states drive toward joint action in the areas of security, stability and the economic integration. Prince Muqrin also spoke about other regional issues with special reference to Iran and Israel. He said: The position of the Kingdom on Irans nuclear program was clear and every nation has the right to have a peaceful nuclear energy program.
However, any Iranian attempt to dictate terms, to use force and to misuse its nuclear program for military might would invite an equally forceful response from the GCC, he warned.
This is especially important given the yet unstable global economic order and the growing security threat posed by a possible nuclear arms race in the region, he added. Prince Muqrin said the GCC had emerged as a major cohesive regional bloc. We in the GCC are united by our religion, tradition and customs, he said.
Overall, the GCC is strong and integrated and has set a good example for other countries to follow, the Saudi official said.
Answering a question on the Iranian issue from a Russian delegate, Prince Muqrin said any problem must be resolved through dialogue and in a transparent manner. He referred to Russias influence on Iran.
Commenting on the political unrest in the region, he said the Kingdom has been taking care of its citizens and its leaders have been ruling this nation according to Islamic teachings.
A fair sense of justice is everyones right and the Saudi government has worked toward this goal, said the prince, adding that the government has the responsibility of providing all the basic amenities to its citizens.
Dr. Naser Al-Ani, chief of staff of the Iraq Presidency Council, was another speaker during the session.
Source: Arab News

14-12-11, 04:52 PM
Saudi banks sector remians robust in Q3

According to a report by the National Commercial Bank (NCB), the performance of the Saudi banking industry remained robust in the third quarter 2011, with private sector credit posting a 9% year-on-year growth rate, Saudi Gazette has reported. The trajectory was underpinned by the manufacturing sector, which grew by 39.1% year-on-year. Consumer loans grew by 0.8% quarter-on-quarter, the slowest pace since the last quarter of 2010, yet in absolute value it registered around SR227bn, a historical-high, the NCB report said.

Source: AME Info

14-12-11, 04:57 PM
Saudi private sector growth levels rise in November

Business activity growth levels in Saudi Arabia's private sector continued to recover in November from record lows in Q3, a purchasing managers' survey said on Monday.
The Saudi British Bank (SABB) HSBC Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which measures the performance of the kingdom's manufacturing and services sectors, rose to 58.1 from 56.7 points last month, which was down from 60 in July.
The index showed that activity, new orders and staffing all rose at faster rates in November but expansions in output remained below-trend.
Total new business receipts rose at an accelerated rate during the latest survey period, with panellists linking growth to favourable economic conditions, good market demand and competitive pricing.
Numerous companies stated that they had benefited from the strong performance of the kingdom's construction industry.
However, new export work rose at a slower rate, with some firms stating that political tensions in the wider MENA region and economic problems in Europe had undermined demand for their products.
Large and medium-sized firms posted the greatest increases in both total new orders and new export orders in November, the index said.
In response to further new order growth, companies raised output, recruited additional staff and increased input stocks in November, it added.
Output and employment both expanded at faster rates, but the pace of input accumulation eased to a series record low - this was despite a sharper rise in buying activity.
Backlogs of work continued to accumulate in November and to the greatest extent since May.
Respondents indicated that higher outstanding business was the result of gains in new orders.
Overall input price inflation picked up to a four-month high in November while charge inflation accelerated to a three-month high.
The PMI monitors private sector variables, including output, new orders, exports, input prices, output prices, quantity of purchases, stocks and employment.

Source: Arabian Business

14-12-11, 05:01 PM
Moody's sees Saudi bank's bad loans declining to 2013

The outlook for the Saudi Arabian banking system remains stable and bad loans are expected to decline, Moody's said on Monday.
The rating agency said that these positive factors would be counterbalanced by issues such as "high loan and deposit concentrations, the opacity of family conglomerates and a vulnerability to a sustained drop in oil prices".
Moody's said it believes that the performance of the Saudi Arabian banking system will be supported by the expansion of non-oil private sector GDP, which Moody's expects will rise by 4.8 percent in 2011 and 5.2 percent in 2012.
The banks' performance will also benefit from continued high levels of government spending and resilience to oil price fluctuations over the next 12-18 months, it added.
"However, beyond the outlook horizon, the trend of a rising breakeven oil price in the country's budget will increase the vulnerability of the country - and therefore also that of the banking system - to a sustained drop in oil prices," the report said.
As a consequence of the benign operating environment, Moody's said it expects asset quality to improve slightly, with declining problem loans accounting for 2.5-3 percent of gross loans, down from 3.5 percent at the end of 2010.
Despite these improvements, Moody's also said it expects that asset quality will remain exposed to corporate sector vulnerabilities, including the relatively low transparency of family-owned businesses.
In Moody's opinion, Saudi banks continue to be profitable, supported by the prevalence of non-interest-bearing deposits, allowing the banks to absorb substantial losses without eroding capital.
Going forward, the rating agency said it expects bottom-line profitability to strengthen.
Moody's also said capital levels and recurring earnings provide an adequate buffer against losses.
The stable outlook, Moody's said, for the Saudi Arabian banking system was supported by the increasing level of deposit funding and liquidity, underpinned by the cash-rich Saudi government.
The outlook on Moody's Aa3 sovereign rating for Saudi Arabia is also stable.

Source: Arabian Business

14-12-11, 05:02 PM
US envoy hails Saudi efforts to diversify economy

DAMMAM: US Ambassador to the Kingdom James Smith on Sunday highlighted the clear vision and strong commitment to expansion and economic diversification shown by Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
In a statement issued by the US Embassy in Riyadh to mark the launch of the Saudi-US Business Opportunities Forums activities in the US city of Atlanta in Georgia, he said the organization is scheduled to start its three-day deliberations on Monday under the joint auspices of the leaderships of both countries and the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council.
Smith said trade and commerce were a fundamental pillar at the heart of Saudi-US ties since the start of bilateral relations, adding the forum is an opportunity to strengthen them. He said they form part of Trade and Industry Minister Abdullah Zainal Alirezas efforts to expand the bilateral trade relationship.
For the past 18 years, the council has been seeking to promote bilateral trade relations between the two countries as the Foreign Trade Committee, with its work and mission, remains a constant strong partner in the development of these ties.
The US ambassador emphasized that the Saudi government has taken unprecedented steps in expanding and diversifying its economy to include new industries based on advanced knowledge and technology, pointing out that US companies in the framework of bilateral trade has worked to provide expertise and resources necessary to achieve ambitious (sectorial) developments in the Kingdom.
He added that the prospects of trade between US companies and Saudi Arabia are continually growing and that the Saudi-US Business Forum will further boost relations between the business communities in both countries.
James Smith said the Kingdom, which is one of the members of the Group of Twenty (G-20), is ranked 15th among the largest trading partners of the United States with the value of bilateral trade between the two countries amounting to $43 billion in 2010.
"It also comes in 12th place for US exports. In 2010, the United States exported to Saudi Arabia goods worth US$11.6 billion, showing a hike of nearly 8 percent from last year, the US ambassador added, noting that the United States of Americas share of the Saudi market amounts to 13 percent approximately.
Source: Arab News

14-12-11, 05:03 PM
Kingdom 'safe from euro debt crisis'

JEDDAH: The current financial crisis in the euro zone countries will have "very little or no impact" on the Saudi market, according to some Saudi economists.
They, however, said some small Saudi economic sectors might feel the pinch but the other big sectors will stay away from these fluctuations.
"Some Saudi importers and investors working in European countries may one way or the other feel the problem but the country at large will remain safe," Muhammad Al-Nifaie, chairman of the securities committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) told a meeting at the chamber on Sunday, which discussed the impact of the euro zone debt crisis on the Kingdom.
"The meeting, attended by a number of economists and businessmen, focused on the impact of the crisis on the Saudi market so as to increase transparency and enable investors to take correct decisions while dealing with Europe," he said.
Al-Nifaie also said the meeting discussed means of further improving the performance of the Saudi financial companies including the Stock Exchange Company (Tadawul) with a view to making them more attractive to investors. He said the meeting was part of the committees efforts to help Saudi investors decide where to invest their money.
JCCI Secretary General Adnan Mandoura, meanwhile, said the meeting, organized in collaboration with Al-Bilad Investment Company and Tadawul, was part of the chamber's efforts to communicate with economists, businessmen and investors.
"The Saudi economy has a strong base, which will protect it from any financial fluctuation or upheaval," he added.

Source: Arab News

14-12-11, 05:06 PM
Saudi women cash assets hit US $12 billion

Recent comments by an expert have indicated that Saudi women own cash assets worth US$12 billion. In addition, the personal wealth of women in the Gulf and theMiddle Eastis estimated at US$ 40 billion. The gulf women are an important part of the economy as they are involved in an investment of some US$ 500 billion.
These figures came in a lecture delivered by Michael Hoffman, Chairman and CEO of Changing Our World. He spoke about the future and the aspirations for the new year especially regarding the financial resources and appropriate solutions at the international level.
Among others, Hoffman presented statistics about the enormous potential of investments managed by women around the world, which he estimated at some US$ 20 trillion, adding that 9% of the assets are owned by women and this rate is expected to rise during the current decade.
On the other hand,Saudi Arabiaranked the fourth largest economy in terms of total reserves at the end of 2010 with total reserves including gold of SR1.7 trillion, equivalent to US$445.1 billion. Hoffman added that during the first ten months of 2011, the total financial reserves of the Kingdom rose by 18 percent to SR1.97 trillion rials, equivalent to US$525.2 billion.
Source: Al Bawaba

16-12-11, 06:21 PM
Gold price came down too much on Wednesday night. It reached 1560 US dollar per aunce

the price as at 4:14 PM today in Riyadh time per aunce is US dollar 1595

16-12-11, 07:30 PM
Saudi Arabia eyes sukuk for $v, 3bn Jeddah airport

Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) will issue a sukuk, or Islamic bond, within one or two months to help finance its new SR27bn ($7.2bn) airport in Jeddah, its president said on Al Arabiya television channel.
"We have agreed with the finance ministry to issue a sukuk which will be paid back by revenue from the Civil Aviation Authority, and it will be issued soon... I believe within a month or two," said Prince Fahd bin Abdullah.
Last year Saudi industrial conglomerate Bin Laden Group won the contracts to develop the first phase of the Jeddah airport, raising its annual capacity to 30 million passengers.
The Jeddah airport is a gateway to millions of Muslim pilgrims who visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. It receives around 18 million passenters a year and is expected to see an increase of up to 30 million by 2013.
Prince Fahd said he expected the airport to be complete "within three years."
Saudi Arabia is currently implementing multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects and revamping many of its airports to cater for the growing number of passengers.
Traffic at Saudi airports has reached 30 million passengers annually and is expected to double to 60 million over the next 10 years, GACA states.

Source: Reuters

16-12-11, 07:31 PM
New healthcare JV eyes $1,35bn Saudi hospitals plan

A new joint venture has been launched to develop a chain of specialised hospitals in Saudi Arabia.
RED House Group, a Beirut-based real estate investment company, has forged a partnership with healthcare operator Rizk Healthcare to form RRHH (Rizk RED House Healthcare).
Under the deal, RED House has handed RRHH a $1.35bn project for 10 hospitals totalling over 3,000 beds in Saudi Arabia in a venture with Ebram, a Saudi investment and healthcare firm.
Dr Assad Rizk, RRHH chairman, said the move would give the company a greater role on the healthcare platform in the region.
Mazen Beaini, RED House Group chairman, added that RRHH aimed to become "one of the major players in the healthcare development and operation sectors regionally".
"Today's announcement of our partnership with RED House is a great example of how we continue to invest in the healthcare industry and of our commitment to provide healthcare services not only in Lebanon but also on the regional platform," added Sami Rizk, RRHH CEO.
RRHH will be headquartered in Beirut Central District, with a branch in Riyadh. A signing ceremony is planned in February 2012.

Source: Arabian Business

16-12-11, 07:32 PM
Expat curbs threaten to hurt Saudi retail growth

Stores in Saudi Arabias underserved retail market could face staff shortages amid new curbs on visas for foreign workers, said a report by Jones Lang LaSalle published on Sunday.
Retail brands must funnel investment into customer service training for employees as new quotas take effect or risk a shortfall in qualified Saudi workers to staff stores, the consultancy said.
Unless this becomes a serious consideration for major stakeholders, there is a real danger of a shortage of qualified, national candidates suitable for servicing future retail needs, the report said.
Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest Arab state, has lagged the UAE on the growth of shopping malls and retail spending. Riyadh and Jeddah have retail space of 0.20 sq m per capita, less than that seen in Bahrain, Qatar or the UAE, in part because of the markets unique cultural restrictions.
The kingdoms ban on cinemas has also curbed the shift of malls into entertainment centres seen in other Gulf states, while the ban on women driving has reduced the spend of a key market segment.
Women represent a significant opportunity for retailers as their spending [is[ also for their husbands, children and wider families, the report said. The consequence is that retail spending in Saudi Arabia remains below its full potential.
A lack of female changing rooms and the family-only policies adopted by some malls, which restricts access for young, single men, have also hurt retail spend, JLL said.
In Saudi Arabia, the Gulfs most populous state, retail accounts for more than 17 percent of the countrys total GDP. The kingdom expects retail spending to top SR256bn ($68bn) by end-2011, more than twice the size of the UAE market.
A report by Business Monitor International said retail sales per capita in the kingdom continued to move upwards during the downturn, and are likely to reach SR15,274 ($4,078) by 2015.
Saudis mall market also faces challenges stemming from the monopoly of a small number of groups that control 90 percent of brands and malls. This system dissuades smaller, independent retailers from entering the market, meaning most shopping centres carry replica brands.
[This raises] potential conflicts of interests in the relationships between retailers, landlords, investors and lenders, said JLL. The lack of separation between brands and operators/mall developers often results in a lack of financial transparency, making it difficult to assess the true performance of either [malls] or brands.

Source: Arabian Business

16-12-11, 07:54 PM
Real estate investments to cross SR 82bn

RIYADH: On behalf of Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Prince Naif bin Salman inaugurated the Riyadh International Urban Development and Real Estate Investment Event on Sunday.
The event, which has doubled its floor area this year compared to last year, is being officially supported by Arriyadh Development Authority and Riyadh Municipality.
The National Exhibitions Company and Informa Saudi Arabia is organizing the three-day show for the second successive year. The event, which drew some 5,000 visitors last year, is expected to attract more than 10,000 stakeholders.
The show is taking place at the Riyadh Exhibition Center on King Fahad Road/Olaya Road (opposite the Saudi Arabian Airlines office).
The new venue,the Riyadh Exhibition Center, provides a spacious 9,000 square meters of display area for exhibitors and sponsors such as Arriyadh Development Authority and Riyadh Municipality (official supporters), Ewaan Global Residential Company (founding sponsor), Affordable House Company (principal sponsor), Jenan Real Estate (premier sponsor), Dar Al-Tamleek (silver sponsor), as well as WorkingBuildings Companies (conference sustainability sponsor).
The major show coincided with the opening of the Riyadh Real Estate Summit on the sidelines of the exhibition.

"The real estate sector is set to become one of the main attractions for investments. According to the Kingdom's Ninth Development Plan, the real estate sector is expected to grow by an annual rate of 7 percent until 2014," Fahad Al-Sultan, secretary general of the Council of Saudi Chambers, said in his inaugural address.
Al-Sultan also said all indicators showed that investments in the real estate sector will exceed SR82 billion in the next 3 years, with expectations for investments in building new properties to grow to SR484 billion by 2020.
Prominent speakers included Ahmed M. Assubail, director general of Strategic Urban Planning Department at Arriyadh Development Authority; Radwan Hariri, head of Development and Operations at Oger Real Estate, Saudi Arabia; Bassam M. Boodai, CEO of Jenan Real Estate; Raeyd Al-Dakheel, CEO of Mawten Real Estate; and Michael L. Weiss, managing principal and president of this year's conference sustainability sponsor, The WorkingBuildings Companies.
"The real estate market in Saudi Arabia is buzzing, which is not only indicated by the number of real estate developers present but also by the increasing presence of financial institutions such as Dar Al-Tamleek, NCB and Samba Bank, among others, which mirrors the increasing demand for home financing," said Hussain Al-Harthi, managing director of National Exhibitions Company.

Al-Harthi indicated that there is a growing speculation about a special authority being set up to oversee the real estate sector in the Kingdom.
The authority will define the rules and responsibilities governing the sector's activities which will have an even more positive impact on the real estate market, narrowing the gap between supply and demand in the Kingdom.
Ewan Global Residential Company showcased its SR1.2 billion Al-Fareeda mega residential city that is currently being developed north of Jeddah.
The company announced that it has acquired a 350,000 sq m piece of land in Jeddah to develop another residential project similar for Al-Fareeda.
The new project is set to meet the increasing demand for residential units in the city.
"We have plans to expand our business into other cities in the Kingdom including Riyadh and Dammam," said Fahad Mohammad Al-Mutawa, CEO of Ewaan Global Residential.
"Our presence in this event provides us with a unique opportunity to network with industry experts and explore new partnerships with investors and real estate players."
The exhibition has also attracted international exhibitors such as the property agency Chesterton International, who are a registered company in the region.
"London has a great track record of strong growth and performance and is a international trade, investment and tourism hub which makes it particular interesting for investors from all over the world and especially the region," said Simon Gray, managing director, MENA at Chesterton International.
"Our objective is to secure the largest number of housing opportunities by providing residential units characterized by the highest standard specifications and unique designs at reasonable prices in order to provide people, and especially the youth segment in the Kingdom, with feasible real estate investment opportunities," Mohammed Abdullah bin Saedan, managing director at Affordable House Company said
"We launched our new website and we will sign an agreement during the event which will position as one of the pioneering companies in the real estate development sector in Saudi Arabia," he added.
"A total of 579,193 Saudi citizens have applied for housing loans from the Real Estate Development Fund (REDF). Affordable housing is still one of the most pressing issues in the Kingdom and therefore is one of the focal points during the Riyadh Real Estate Summit," said Deep Marwaha, general manager of Informa Saudi Arabia.
"The summit presents a distinguished and high profile line up of Industry experts in a large scale, content driven and exclusive conference arena. These participants provide presentations and engage in strategic debate covering the latest insight into real estate investment, development and design in the Kingdom," Marwaha added.

Source: Arab News

16-12-11, 07:55 PM
Commerce Ministry steps in to curb baby food price

RIYADH: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has intervened to contain the soaring prices of baby milk products imported to the Kingdom.
Abdul Rahman Al-Abdul Razaq, undersecretary for consumer affairs at the ministry, said a committee comprising representatives of the ministries of commerce, finance and agriculture, is currently carrying out studies with regard to the prices of various baby formula products, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported on Saturday.
The committee will hold its meeting shortly to come out with proposals and measures to rein in the unreasonable hike in prices of various baby milk products, he said.
As part of the initiative, the ministry had recently sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance asking it to strictly enforce its new regulation that all baby milk importers must make only a marginal and reasonable profit and that they should place price tags on their subsidized containers.
In the letter, the ministry also said the government subsidy must be restricted only to those products with price tags. The ministrys initiative was in response to a number of complaints that it had received with regard to soaring prices of various baby formula products, even after the government announced a subsidy of SR12 per kilogram.
Al-Abdul Razaq said his ministrys new initiative would curb the reckless practice of some importers that implement exorbitant hikes in the prices of baby milk products.
This is also aimed at achieving stability in the prices of an essential consumer product, as was the case with a similar measure implemented earlier in regulating the prices of pharmaceutical products, he said, describing this move as the safest way to protect the interests of consumers.
According to the ministry official, the concerned committee would listen to the views of baby formula importers while implementing the new regulation.
Inspection squads from the ministry earlier conducted intensive raids on shops and pharmacies selling baby milk products as part of its efforts to pinpoint the real causes of price rises. The inspection teams managed to secure invoices after purchasing the product from main importers as well as local dealers, he said, adding that the ministry is also monitoring the prices of these baby formula products in the global market.
According to Al-Abdul Razaq, it has come to the notice of the ministry that importers, distributors and traders of baby milk are all involved in the price hike of some of their brands. Frustrated over the soaring prices of various baby milk products as well as inconsistent prices among shops, several consumers lodged complaints with the Ministry of Commerce seeking its intervention. Subsequently, the ministry sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance last week.
In 2007, the Saudi government increased subsidies for baby milk from SR2 to SR12 per kg as part of efforts to reduce the burden on the public caused by soaring prices.

Source: Arab News

16-12-11, 07:56 PM
Number of local diabetes cases projected to grow

RIYADH: The number of diabetics in the Kingdom is projected to grow 283 percent by 2030 due to changes in lifestyle and fatty diets.
At a news briefing in Riyadh, Newcastle University professor Philip David Home said diabetes and cardiovascular diseases could claim more victims unless precautionary measures were taken.
For this reason it is necessary for Saudi nationals to be more careful about their lifestyles, especially as it pertains to the food that is readily available here and which they can well afford, the British expert cautioned.
He added that diabetes and heart disease were the two main causes of death in the Kingdom, which has the second highest incidence of diabetes in the GCC after the UAE.
Asked about preventive measures, he said regular exercise, wholesome dietary habits and a healthy lifestyle were some of the best ways to protect people from type 2 diabetes, the most common form, which also causes many other medical complications.
On his part, Ayed Al-Qahtani, professor and consultant laparoscopic surgery at King Saud University, said obesity is responsible for some 20,000 deaths per year, requiring surgical interventions in acute cases to reduce mortality. He added that some 3 million Saudi children suffer from obesity, affecting 36 percent of the population overall.
According to Al-Qahtani, 80 percent of Saudis remain overweight in their advanced age, making them vulnerable to dreadful diseases. The incidence of obesity among Saudis exceeds 70 percent, especially among children and the youth, who comprise at least 50 percent of the population.
As a result, Saudi Arabia spends more than SR19 billion annually on health care.
Al-Qahtani attributed the problem to the sedentary lifestyle as well as the consumption of fast food, sweets and a high-calorie diet, which is deficient in vegetables and fruits. The local environment was also partly to blame for the situation.
Expatriates are also affected by the same problem, according to the source. Doctors advise their patients to go for a daily walk for at least 20 to 40 minutes. Other tips for healthy living include distant parking of cars and stair climbing, requiring exertion in both cases.
However, the general comment is that a walk is inhibited by climatic and cultural factors. Due to extreme temperatures, outdoor exercise cannot be maintained throughout the year. Also, harassment by some young Saudis who pass indecent remarks to women going out for a walk compel them to stay indoors.
Badr Amin, a 28-year-old Saudi and a member of a fitness club, blames the situation on the rigid traditions, which prevent free movement of people. We dont have any place to go. We are not even allowed to visit parks, he observed.
Thanks to the several gyms in the capital, maintaining a physical fitness regime is now much easier than before. I was suffering from obesity four years ago, but after joining a fitness club I feel very healthy and active, Amin said.
In a previous interview, Abdul Muhsin Al-Haqbani, president of a fitness club, said that the sport sector had made a significant progress recently and delivered handsome returns on the capital invested in this sector.
He attributed the trend to the growing awareness on health and the need for regular exercise among the youth. Al-Haqbani added that the emerging trend had also changed the traditional concept of a health club into a world-class integrated sport facility in order to become profitable for a company.
The communications and transportation technology has restricted the movement of many of us, especially that of the youth. Gyms can solve these problems, Al-Haqbani pointed out.
Faleh Manie, another Saudi, told Arab News while walking with his children along King Fahd Medical City that he preferred walking in the afternoon because of the health benefits. As you can see, this place is very quiet, clean and beautiful. Riyadh municipality has established many places like this, where families can do exercise free of charge, he observed.
Expatriates also go for physical fitness by playing tennis, basketball, volleyball and cricket. They hold tournaments organized by community leaders under the sponsorship of various companies. Allan Robert, a 52-year-old Filipino engineer, has been playing tennis since he arrived here in 2005. I had been diabetic and with a high blood pressure for more than 10 years. However, everything became normal after I started playing tennis, Faisal said, adding that his doctor even reduced his intake of tablets.

Source: Arab News

16-12-11, 07:57 PM
New healthcare Facility Project for Drake & Scull International in KSA

The company signs a SAR 130 million MEP contract for a hospital in the eastern province.
Dubai, December 11, 2011 -Drake & Scull Saudi the MEP arm of Drake & Scull International (DSI) PJSC in the kingdom and a regional market leader in integrated design, engineering and the construction disciplines of Civil Contracting, Water & Power and Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP), has been recently awarded an estimated SAR 130 million contract to execute the MEP works for a hospital in the province of Damman in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The announcement comes a week subsequent to DSI's latest SAR 352 million commercial development project award in Riyadh. The new hospital will have a 400-bed capacity and consists of an 11-story building that includes clinics, educational facilities, specialized and support sections, nursing units, diagnosis laboratories, operation theaters and a helipad site. The execution of the MEP package will commence immediately and the project is expected to be completed in 2016.
KSA's healthcare sector is a key growth market for DSI as the government and private sector are investing aggressively to expand the capacity of local hospitals and other medical facilities to meet the growing healthcare needs of the kingdom's growing population. In the 2011 state budget, health and social affairs accounted for 11.8 per cent of the total government expenditure, representing an increase of 12.3 per cent from the previous year.
On this occasion, Khaldoun Tabari, CEO of DSI, stated: "The new high-stakes project in Damman is certainly a strong affirmation of DSI's success in delivering custom-built MEP services and the company's reputation as the preferred integrated engineering service provider in the region's healthcare sector. We have been appointed to undertake the project based on our studied engineering solutions that allow us to help operators of healthcare facilities develop the scope and budget for the project based on the healthcare program and services provided. We understand that the development of healthcare facilities is becoming very complex, particularly in light of the need to ensure continuity in the provision of critical healthcare services. Our focus on quality, sustainability and safety enable us to deliver a holistic integrated engineering approach that meets the current and future needs of KSA's growing healthcare sector.
DSI has provided MEP services to healthcare facilities in different countries across the Middle East, including the Paediatric Hospital and Emergency Centre at King Hussain Medical City in Amman, Jordan; the American Hospital Expansion and Rashid Hospital Emergency and Trauma Centre in Dubai, UAE; the Mina Hospital in Mecca, KSA; and the Jizan Hospital in Juza, KSA. Likewise, the company has also internationally served various healthcare facilities such as the Montego Bay Hospital in Cornwall, Jamaica; the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong and the Sokoto Teaching Hospital in Sokoto, Nigeria.
The company maintains its competitive edge in the regional market through its extensive industry experience and superior technical expertise and is currently bidding for various projects across the healthcare, educational, commercial, and residential and infrastructure sectors through its Civil, Water and Power and MEP units.

Source: Orient Planet Press Release

16-12-11, 07:58 PM
Tadawul market declines 0.24%

The Saudi Arabian equity index Tasi closed a quarter per cent lower at 6,273.27 points. Sabic dived 1.80%, finishing at SR95.50. In line with the market the banking and financial services sector index also lost 0.25% after Standard and Poor's it is reviewing the rating of 25 banks across the GCC.

Source: Ame Info

16-12-11, 08:00 PM
Saudi Arabia's GDP growth seen at 5.1% in 2011

Saudi Arabia's central bank expects the kingdom's real gross domestic product to rise by 5.1 percent in 2011, and the budget surplus is likely to reach 9.1 percent of GDP this year, it said in its annual report on Monday.
"The preliminary projections of the model show that GDP at current prices could rise by 5.1 percent in 2011," the report published on its website said.
"It is expected that the fiscal balance of the kingdom would record a surplus of about 185.3 billion riyals ($49.4 billion), namely about 9.1 percent of total GDP in 2011," it also said.

Source: Reuters

17-12-11, 10:52 AM
Gold price stay almost the same.

the price colsed on Friday night per aunce is US dollar 1595

18-12-11, 04:02 PM
KSA appoints new central bank chief

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has appointed a new central bank governor and named a new economy minister in a limited reshuffle of the Opec member's cabinet, which did not affect the oil ministry, Reuters has reporterd. According to the royal decree, Fahd bin Abdullah al-Mubarak had been named as head of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama), replacing Muhammad al-Jasser, who became economy and planning minister.

Source: AME Info

19-12-11, 09:18 AM
Gold price stay almost the same.

the price colsed on Friday night per aunce is US dollar 1590

This price for today at 7 AM - Saudi Arabia time

19-12-11, 09:20 AM
silver price: 29 dollars per aunce

19-12-11, 09:54 AM
Platinum price: 1410 dollars per aunce

19-12-11, 08:50 PM
keep reading your news
thanx boss

20-12-11, 08:35 AM
You are welcome Swyrs

20-12-11, 08:35 AM
Gold price stay almost the same.

the price per aunce is US dollar 1599

This price for today at 7 AM - Saudi Arabia time

20-12-11, 08:36 AM
silver per aunce 28.85 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1414 US dollars

20-12-11, 07:21 PM
Saudi sheikh settles $150m court battle with Standard Bank

Saudi businessman Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber and Standard Bank Group have settled their dispute over $150m of unpaid loans, court documents filed in London showed.
Standard Banks UK unit sued Al Jaber in London seeking repayment of $150m in loans to companies in his MBI International & Partners group. Al Jaber filed a counterclaim accusing the lender of allowing unauthorised trading from his personal account.
On Dec 7, Standard Bank, Sheikh Mohamed and his corporate entities reached a mutually agreeable settlement of all claims between them, Al Jabers spokesman Neil McLeod said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
Judge Julian Flaux on Dec 12 ordered the lawsuit be put on hold because the parties had settled. He also lifted the global freezing order against the Sheikhs assets, which Al Jaber has said forced parts of his hotel business into administration and cost him more than 1bn ($1.55bn). The terms of the settlement filed yesterday with the court werent made public.
Separately, Al Jabers spokesman said an investment of $1.5bn had been made into MBI group, without specifying the source of the capital.
The company plans to make two acquisitions in a bid to grow its business interests, the first of which will be announced by the end of the week, MBI said in an emailed statement.
The second acquisition will be confirmed by the year-end, the statement said, adding that MBI was posed for major investment in 2012.

Source: Arabian Business

20-12-11, 07:24 PM
Amnesty blasts Saudi for sorcery beheading

Rights group Amnesty International has described as "deeply shocking" Saudi Arabia's beheading of a woman convicted on charges of "sorcery and witchcraft", saying it underlined the urgent need to end executions in the kingdom.
Saudi national Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was executed on Monday in the northern province of al-Jawf after being tried and convicted for practising sorcery, the interior ministry said, without giving details of the charges
"The citizen... practised acts of witchcraft and sorcery," Saudi newspaper al-Watan cited the interior ministry as saying. "The death sentence was carried out on the accused yesterday [Monday] in the Qurayyat district in al-Jawf region".
Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, has no written criminal code, which is instead based on an uncodified form of Islamic sharia law as interpreted by the country's judges
"While we don't know the details of the acts which the authorities accused Amina of committing, the charge of sorcery has often been used in Saudi Arabia to punish people, generally after unfair trials, for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion," Philip Luther, interim director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme, said in a statement
Amnesty said the execution was the second of its kind in recent months. A Sudanese national was beheaded in the Saudi city of Medina in September after being convicted on sorcery charges, according to the London-based group
Amnesty put at 79 the number of executions in Saudi Arabia so far this year, nearly triple the figure in 2010.

Source: Reuters

21-12-11, 08:25 AM
Gold price per aunce 1626 US dollars

silver per aunce 29.65 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1441 US dollars

21-12-11, 08:27 AM
These prices on Wednesday December 21, 2011

morning 7 AM - Saudi Arabia time

21-12-11, 08:36 AM
Aramco committed to advance new technologies: Al-Buraik

ALKHOBAR: Saudi Aramco's vice president for northern area oil operations reiterated his company's commitment to advance artificial lift technologies with funding, facilities and experts.
Delivering a keynote address at a recent workshop organized jointly by Saudi Aramco and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) in Alkhobar, Khaled Al-Buraik spoke about energy's ever-increasing importance to future global development, the limitations of new energy sources, and the growing role of technology in the global development quest.
He addressed the issue of energy source alternatives such as nuclear, solar and biofuel, and the challenges and safety aspects that go along with each source; stating that hydrocarbon resources continue to remain as the most reliable source.
Responding to concerns about the ever-increasing global demand for energy, Al-Buraik said: "The estimate of global unconventional gas in place is approximately 35,000 trillion cubic feet, compared to only 6,400 trillion cubic feet of currently proven conventional gas."
While highlighting the role of artificial lift technologies, Al-Buraik said that while they have been used for 100 years, the techniques have remained the same, and advancing them requires collaborative efforts between stakeholders.
"First is to upgrade the current technology to the next generation in development, and the second is to come up with an iPad like artificial lift technology. I believe it is a shared responsibility between the technology designers and manufacturers, and the operators," Al-Buraik said.
"I can assure suppliers and service companies that you do not carry this responsibility alone," he said.
He spoke of Saudi Aramco's commitment in embracing new technologies with current and new partners to come up with solutions to global energy challenges. Saudi Aramco's long experience in establishing win-win partnerships can help foster further technological collaborations, he said.
"Saudi Aramco has made a commitment to advance artificial lift technologies with funding, facilities and experts. I am personally interested to collaborate with you and your company to develop new artificial lift ideas and I can pledge my willingness to discuss these ideas and make the efforts needed to bring them to reality," Al-Buraik said.

Source: Arab News

21-12-11, 08:53 AM
Japanese cosmetics experts share business ideas

JEDDAH: The Japanese cosmetics trade is seeking to expand its business links with the Kingdom.
A group of Japanese experts in cosmetic, fashion and finance industries visited the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) on Tuesday.
The group displayed, shared and presented to their Saudi business counterparts, several aspects of business and presented their companies successful business planning.
"Small startup business model to reach Saudi businessmen and women, the aim is also to encourage small and medium Saudi enterprises, to join the business market within this sector in fashion and cosmetics which is witnessing great development," said JCCI Secretary-General Adnan Hussain Mandourah.
Mandourah said Fusako Nonogawa, managing director of Nippon Menard Cosmetic in Japan, along with three experts in the cosmetics field, will meet with Saudi small and medium business owners to discuss ways and methods of improving this sector.
Kumi Fujisawa co-founder and vice president of Think Tank SophiaBank, spoke of the achievements of Japanese women workforce and of their involvement in successful business models in Japan.

Fusako Nonogawa, managing director one of Japan's leading cosmetic companies Nippon Menard Cosmetic, said: "Japanese cosmetics market share of the global market is estimated at about 16 percent. Japan is the second largest beauty market in the world."
Kyoji Nakano of the Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East JCCME, said the meeting in Jeddah was the second such interaction for the delegates with Saudi business representatives. They had visited their business counterparts in Riyadh on Monday.
"Our office works to assists Japanese companies in transferring their experience and technologies to Saudi Arabia as well as encouraging Japanese companies to invest in the Kingdom in different fields of business," said Kyoji Nakano.

Source: Arab News

21-12-11, 09:13 AM
Saudi Downstream 2012 welcomes it's new sponsors

CWC and The Royal Commission for Jubail Welcomes their new sponsors for 2012: Zamil ChemPlast; Advanced Petrochemical Compnay; and KBR. The Strategic Forum & Exhibition will be held under the Royal Patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The 2nd Saudi Downstream Forum & Exhibition will take place 5-7 March 2012 in Jubail, Saudi Arabia and will bring together the key stakeholders and decision makers in the Saudi Arabian downstream industry and international investors.
The event will focus on the opportunities surrounding the sector's latest developments, including Jubail 2, and the Kingdom's Downstream master plan, the Forum will continue the Kingdom on its path to becoming a centre for complex value-added downstream petrochemical derivatives and clusters.
The Saudi Downstream Forum is the meeting place for investors looking at the downstream petrochemical and mineral sectors in Kingdom. More than just a conference looking at the technical merits of certain downstream solutions, Saudi Downstream is a meeting of national importance, setting out the master plan strategy and promoting the rewards available to investors in the Kingdom's downstream sector.
The first Saudi Downstream meeting in March 2011 was also held under the Royal Patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. It had the full support of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the National Clusters Development Programme. Never before has an event had such resounding public and private sector support, and we fully expect Saudi Downstream 2012 to be responsible for facilitating key public and private sector investment in the downstream industries.

Source: AME Info

21-12-11, 11:14 AM
Emaar to hand over first homes in Jeddah gate soon

Saudi Arabia's aviation regulator has unveiled plans to expand the Riyadh airport three-fold in size within the next five years, as passenger traffic rises rapidly, Reuters has reported. The Riyadh airport is one of 27 in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia's airport traffic has reached 50 million passengers annually and is expected to exceed 80 million within the next 10 years, said Ali al-Zahrani, director general for corporate planning at the General Authority for Civil Aviation. "We developed a comprehensive master plan with a conceptual design for the four terminals that will raise the capacity at Riyadh airport from 12 million to 24 million," he said.

Source: AME Info

21-12-11, 11:15 AM
Saudi's Jabal Omar to receive $800m government loan

Saudi developer Jabal Omar has signed a SR3bn ($800m) loan agreement with the finance ministry to complete some of its projects in Mecca, Reuters has reported. "The loan will be repaid over eight years, two of which are a grace period," the developer said. Last year, in October, the firm secured a SR1.35bn bridge loan from local banks and said it would finance it through the SR5bn syndicated loan. Jabal Omar is in charge of developing an area near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. The project will include luxury hotels, shops and houses.

Source: AME Info

21-12-11, 11:16 AM
Gas price rises to hit Saudi petrochem firms

NCB Capital has said gas price revisions are expected to impact petrochemical producers in the kingdom, Saudi Gazette has reported. NCB Capital has analysed changes in the price from a current $0.75/mmbtu to a possible $1/mmbtu to $2/mmbtu. NCBC finds the greatest impact would be on Sipchem, Safco and Sabic, with Tasnee and Sahara facing the least impact. "However they are facing difficulty in gaining new allocations of ethane at the current subsidized price of $0.75/mmbtu for their capacity expansion plans, due to increasing domestic consumption of gas."
Source: AME Info

21-12-11, 11:17 AM
Hitachi Plant Technologies buys Saudi industrial firm

Saudi-based industrial equipment maintenance service firm Saihati Weir Engineering Services (Saihati) has signed an agreement with Japan's Hitachi Plant Technologies to sell a 70% stake and convert the company into a subsidiary and change its name to "Hitachi Saihati Engineering Services Co in February 2012. With this acquisition, Hitachi Plant Technologies will leverage Saihati's resources to serve as a base for maintenance, manufacturing, and sales of industrial equipment, such as compressors, and for other infrastructure businesses in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Source: AME Info

21-12-11, 11:18 AM
Industry demand softening in Qr, says Sabic

Mohammed al-Mady, chief executive of Saudi Basic Industries' (Sabic) has said the industry saw some softening of demand in the fourth quarter of the year, and sector financials would get a boost from operating rates in 2012, Reuters has reported. "Some softening of demand occurred in the fourth quarter, especially in emerging countries," al-Mady said. "Financial results should receive a boost from industry operating rates in 2012 as new capacity comes on stream," he said.

Source: AME Info

22-12-11, 07:57 PM
Gold price per aunce 1610 US dollars

silver per aunce 29 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1424 US dollars

These prices around 2 PM today - Saudi Arabia time

December 22, 2011

22-12-11, 08:07 PM
Saudi Arabia Refineries Co. soars to new high for the year

The Saudi Tadawul market added 0.13% Monday, closing at 6,275.92 points. Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic), the world's largest petrochemical producer with headquarters in Riyadh, advanced 0.25 per cent to reach SR95. Saudi Arabia Refineries Co. or Sarco jumped 9.90%, closing at a new 2011-high at SR83.25.

Source: AME Info

22-12-11, 08:08 PM
Domestic oil use in Saudi Arabia at 10 year high

According to official Saudi figures, crude oil consumption in the kingdom rose 13.7% in October from the previous month, reaching the highest level since at least 2002, Bloomberg has reported. The country used an average of 2.02 million barrels a day of oil in October compared with 1.78 million barrels in September, according to figures the Saudi government submitted to the Joint Organisation Data Initiative. Saudi Arabia faces greater domestic demand amid a 3.2% annual increase in its population. Domestic electricity demand is rising by about 10% a year, or twice the economic growth rate, according to a July report by HSBC Holdings.
Source: AME Info

22-12-11, 08:09 PM
King's strategic call to GCC bloc: Move from cooperation to unity

RIYADH: In a strategic call to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah urged the bloc to move from cooperation to full unity.
I urge you all to move from a phase of cooperation to a phase of union within a single entity, he told his counterparts at the opening of the annual GCC summit here Monday.
King Abdullahs call to form a strong union came against the backdrop of regional political turmoil and growing threats.
King Abdullah also reaffirmed the need to transform the GCC into a strong unified entity without giving details. He stressed the need to help all brothers in the Arab world, and called on them to refrain from conflicts and bloodshed.
He also called on the Gulf governments to stand united and vigilant to confront challenges. He said that the GCC has to adapt to the new circumstances in the Middle East following the uprisings that swept some Arab countries earlier this year.
We have learned from history and experience not to stand still when faced with reality, the king told the gathering, mainly composed of the members of royal families in the Gulf countries, royal court advisers, top government officials and civil servants.
The king further said: Whoever remains a mere spectator, will be lost... That is something we will not accept for the sake of our countries, our people, our stability and security.

Source: Arab News

22-12-11, 08:10 PM
Saudi Arabia 'vulnerable to high food prices'

Saudi Arabia remains vulnerable to increases in food prices due to its high dependence on imports, according to leading wealth manager NCB Capital.
In its new report analyzing the impact of higher global food prices on the Saudi Arabian food sector, NBC Capital believes that the inability to fully pass on higher costs to consumers will exert pressure on the margins of food companies.
Global food prices increased sharply in 2007/08 as well as over the past 12 months due to various structural reasons including growing demand, increased use of crops for bio-fuels and falling efficiency gains in terms of land use

Source: Arab News

22-12-11, 08:11 PM
150,000 jobs await Saudi women in sales outlets

TAIF: Saudi Arabias market for lingerie and womens accessories is ready to take in thousands of qualified Saudi saleswomen, replacing foreigners who have been dominating the sector.
When the new legislation to replace foreigners with Saudi women at lingerie and women-only shops comes into effect on Jan. 4 (Safar 10), it is expected create about 150,000 job opportunities for jobless Saudi women, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Thursday.
A large number of young Saudi women are qualified to take up challenging careers at these shops, thanks to the online campaign and initiatives launched by some Saudi women.
The campaign titled Enough With Embarrassment launched by Fatima Qaroub in 2005 is the most prominent among them. A large number of lingerie shops have agreed to the demands of the campaigners to employ female staff..

Source: Arab News

26-12-11, 04:39 PM
Gold price per aunce 1608 US dollars

silver per aunce 29 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1429 US dollars

These prices around 7 AM today (Monday) - Saudi Arabia time

December 26, 2011

28-12-11, 07:50 AM
Gold price per aunce 1589.10 US dollars

silver per aunce 29.69 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1428.74 US dollars

These prices around 6:35 AM today (Wednesday) - Saudi Arabia time

December 28, 2011

28-12-11, 08:36 AM
Saudi bourse advances 0.20%

The Saudi rose for the sixth consecutive day, closing at 6,288.28 points Tuesday. Sabic dipped a quarter per cent to SR94.75. Tabuk Agriculture posted the largest increase, finishing 7.50% higher at SR34.40.
Source: AME Info

28-12-11, 08:37 AM
GCC backs King's unity call

Syria urged to halt killing machine
Iran told to stop interfering in Gulf states internal affairsRIYADH Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders Tuesday endorsed the proposal of King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, to form a single entity.
The GCC leaders welcomed and blessed the proposal of King Abdullah, the current chairman of the Supreme Council, on the transition from the stage of cooperation to the stage of unity, GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdullatif Bin Rashid Al-Zayani said, reading the communique of the 32nd session of the Supreme Council and the Riyadh Declaration.
King Abdullah, on Monday, said the security of Saudi Arabia and its Arab neighbors was being targeted, and called on Gulf Arab states to move beyond the stage of cooperation and into the stage of unity in a single entity.
The GCC leaders directed the Ministerial Council to form a specialist commission to study the proposal and provide a preliminary report by March. After the conclusion of the two-day GCC summit, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Saud Al-Faisal said that Syria must embrace all of the Arab League plan it has signed, which calls for pulling troops from population centers, releasing prisoners and engaging in dialogue with opposition forces.
If the intentions are pure, these steps must be taken immediately, Prince Saud said at a joint press conference with Al-Zayani.
A communique issued at the conclusion of the GCC summit called on Syria to immediately halt its killing machine, put an end to bloodshed, lift all signs of armed conflict and release prisoners, as a first step towards implementing the (Arab) protocol.
It also called on Iran to stop meddling in the internal affairs of the groups members. Stop these policies and practices and stop interfering in the internal affairs of the Gulf nations, said the communique.
The GCC also expressed concern over attempts by Iran to instigate sectarian strife.
It expressed support for a Kuwaiti port project and urged Baghdad to step up its efforts to normalize ties with its neighbor.
The GCC supports Kuwait concerning the Mubarak Al-Kabir port since it will be built on Kuwaiti land and within its territorial waters, said the communique.
It also urged Iraq to implement its international commitments toward Kuwait in a bid to enhance trust between the two countries and strengthen their relations

Source: Zawya

28-12-11, 08:38 AM
Hospitals lose millions due to rejected insurance claims forms

DAMMAM Many private hospitals are losing millions of riyals annually because health insurance companies refuse to accept improperly filled out Unified Claim and Approval Forms (UCAF), the documents that insurance companies approve and audit to confirm payments for medical services rendered by hospitals to insured patients.
Insurance companies are using improperly filled out or missing UCAF forms as the reason for rejecting or delaying the payment of claims, said many hospital administrators.
A senior official of Mohammed Dossary Hospital in Al-Khobar said his hospital incurred SR3 million in losses during the first six months of this year as a result of the rejection by insurance companies of submitted UCAF forms.
Oftentimes, insurance companies cite missing information or wrong and incorrect data entered on the UCAF form as the reason for refusing to pay, an official of a hospital in Dammam said.
Missing information on the UCAF form, poor or illegible handwriting, and other omissions result in delay or even rejection of payment.
Hospitals are now trying to solve the problem by hiring extra doctors to check and verify all UCAF forms before submitting them to insurance companies.
Most hospitals now require their nurses to ensure that UCAF forms are properly filled out and delivered to insurance companies, the official from the Dammam hospital said.
Studies are also underway to design an electronic UCAF (e-Ucaf) form that can be electronically filled out, audited, printed and attached to bills.

Source: Zawya

28-12-11, 08:39 AM
Riyadh rents jump on business demand

Companies leasing office space in Saudis capital could see their rents jump to levels on par with property in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, said Jones Lang LaSalle in a report published Tuesday.
Commercial rates in Riyadh are averaging SR1,060 per sq m in the citys Central Business District (CBD), as a string of new developments helps to attract businesses to the region.
Developments such as Riyadh Business Gate, the ITC Complex and the King Abdullah Financial District in particular are attracting business tenants to the capital, cutting vacancy rates in the CBD to just 16 percent, the property broker said.
Demand [for office space] is strong in the Riyadh market, from the government, the multinational sector and also from Saudi conglomerates and contractors, said the report, adding that prime office space was commanding rents of about SR1,400.
There will be upward pressure on vacancy rates in 2012 with the completion of new supply, however, the top quality projectswill continue to enjoy occupancy levels close to 100 percent.
Residential property rates in the Gulf kingdom are also rising, a trend likely to continue into the new year, JLL said. Average villa prices across all Riyadh districts rose four percent in the third quarter year-on-year, reaching SR3,050 per sq m.
Apartments also saw a small uptick, with the average price per sq m passing SR2,343, a rise on one percent on the year-earlier period.
Increasing land prices and access to better roads networks have played a major role in increasing villa prices, the report said. Due to high occupancy rates, rents in [especially] middle income areas have also continued to grow at high levels.
In the next two years, more than 2,000 compound units will be added to the existing stock, the company said, relieving the existing expatriate housing shortage.
However, residents could soon be subjected to a flurry of new real estate laws, with the practice of owners associations and service charges being tested on two pilot projects.
Source: Arabian Business

28-12-11, 08:41 AM
Boost for Saudi PET exports: EC drops anti-dumping and subsidy cases

RIYADH: The European Commission (EC) has lifted an anti-dumping case filed against Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) and a subsidy case against the Saudi government, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, assistant minister of petroleum and mineral resources for petroleum affairs, announced Monday.
The European Commission has accepted a request to withdraw the cases filed by companies through the Association of Product Manufacturers in Europe after having discovered the two cases do not harm the interests of the European Union, the Saudi Press Agency quoted the prince as saying.
Prince Abdul Aziz, who is head of the Saudi team dealing with anti-dumping and subsidy cases, said the two cases were filed against the Kingdoms polyethylene terephthalate (PET) exports.
The European Commission opened two investigations simultaneously in mid-February after the association filed the cases.
He said a royal decree was issued to form a team under the chairmanship of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources to deal with anti-dumping cases against Saudi petrochemical exports in different countries as the Kingdom gives utmost importance to the petrochemical industry that contributes heavily to its diversification drive and helps attracts foreign investment.
The team that includes representatives from the ministries of foreign affairs, commerce and industry, and finance, had taken necessary measures to handle the two cases in Europe, resorting the help of experts in different Saudi ministries including the Ministry of Economy and Planning and the Ministry of Water and Electricity as well as other government agencies and international consultancy offices.
Prince Abdul Aziz said the team contacted the European Commission and the governments of the European Union to clarify the Kingdoms position concerning these issues.
We have told that the support given by the Saudi government to its industries goes in line with World Trade Organizations regulations as well as the agreement reached with EU during negotiations to win the Kingdoms admission to the WTO, he pointed out.
Prince Abdul Aziz also asserted that SABICs trade practices in Europe could not be considered as dumping.
He thanked EU governments and European companies working in Saudi Arabia for their understanding and support to the Kingdoms stand.
He also expressed his appreciation of the support given by Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi as well as government agencies and the Saudi Export Development Center.
The EC had earlier published a notice of anti-subsidy proceeding concerning imports of certain PET.
The polymer is used mainly for packaging of soft drinks and mineral water bottles, although it also has other uses.
The PET market of the EU is estimated to be worth $4.1 billion annually.
Source: Arab News

28-12-11, 08:41 AM
SHC to manage Saudi Enaya IPO

An agreement to this effect was signed by Taher Al-Dabbagh, CEO of SHC, with Khaled Al-Juffali, chairman of the insurance company.
Saudi Enaya's IPO comes in line with the company's efforts to expand the base of its shareholders and strengthen its position in the Kingdom's growing insurance market.
The deal came after the Saudi Capital Market Authority approved Saudi Enaya's plan to offer 16 million shares to the public.
Al-Dabbagh thanked Enaya for selecting SHC for the management of its IPO, adding that the IPO would become a turning point in the company's history and progress.
He highlighted SHC's expertise in IPO management. "We'll mobilize all our material, human and technical resources for the success of Enaya's IPO," he added.
In his statement, Al-Juffali described the Saudi insurance market as a promising and attractive one due to the presence of a lot of opportunities.
He said the company plans to expand its services in the market by offering innovative products.
Source: Arab News

28-12-11, 10:54 AM
Saudi Arabia leads online jobs boom in November

Recruitment activity in the Middle East rose by 28 percent in November compared to the same month last year, according to latest data supplied by recruitment firm Monster Worldwide.
Saudi Arabia led the way with a 52 percent jump, as the Gulf kingdom registered an uptrend in hiring for the fourth month in a row.
The Monster Employment Index Middle East also showed a 14 point increase month-over-month.
Online job opportunities exceeded the level of November 2010 level in four of the seven countries monitored by the index.
After Saudi Arabia, Kuwait was up 4 percent while Bahrain and Qatar (down 8 percent) recorded the most dramatic annual decline.
Sanjay Modi, managing director, Monster.com (India/Middle East/South East Asia), said: "The Monster Employment Index Middle East shows regional employers are continuing to drive a consistent escalation in online recruitment activity.
"This is especially true in major economies like Saudi Arabia and UAE where ongoing positive momentum is informing positive hiring trends in sectors like healthcare, education and banking and finance."
Nine of the 12 industry sectors monitored by the index saw improved recruitment levels compared to November 2010, with healthcare (up 43 percent) the top performer, followed by education (up 40 percent).

Source: Arabian Business

28-12-11, 10:55 AM
Saudi food giant Almarai soars on acquistion in Argentina

The Saudi Tadawul market closed 0.66% higher at 6,330.01 points. Sabic rebounded one per cent to reach SR95.75. Dairy food producer Almarai Company, a well-known brand in everybody's kitchen in the GCC, jumped three per cent, closing at SR99.75. Earlier in the day, Almarai announced it acquired 100% of the shareholding of Fondomonte S.A., a company that owns and operates three farms in Argentina. "The transaction value is SR312m ($83m) and is financed from a combination of operational cash flows and Islamic banking facilities (Murabaha)," Almarai said in an e-Mailed statement.
Source: AME Info

28-12-11, 10:57 AM
IMF sees high Saudi spending, budget surplus in 2012

Saudi Arabia is expected to maintain a high level of government spending next year but succeed in posting another large budget surplus without needing to dip into its fiscal reserves, a senior official of the International Monetary Fund said.
David Robinson, the IMF's mission chief for Saudi Arabia, said that the euro zone debt crisis had increased the threats to the global economy, which might have negative ramifications for the world's biggest oil exporter.
"Key channels would be similar to those observed in 2008 and 2009. The trade channel, via a decline in hydrocarbon exports and prices, remains the most significant, but spillovers through financial linkages are also important," he said.
However, Saudi Arabia's near-term outlook remains strong because of this year's surge in oil revenues, which boosted the fiscal and external balances of the Arab world's largest economy, Robinson added.
"Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are in a good position to undertake countercyclical policies and financial sector support measures to mitigate the impact of the crisis, if needed," Robinson said in a written response to questions.
The IMF has forecast a Saudi fiscal surplus of 9.4 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 and 8.0 percent in 2012. The country is expected to announce its 2012 budget next week.
"At this stage, our estimates are that the level of government spending in riyal terms will be broadly similar in 2012 as the likely out-turn in 2011, but this will depend on the policy initiatives that the government may choose to introduce in the budget," Robinson said.
In its original budget for 2011, the government envisaged spending of SR580bn ($155bn). After political unrest erupted elsewhere in the Middle East early this year, Saudi Arabia announced additional spending on infrastructure and welfare which the IMF estimated at $110bn or 19 percent of 2011 GDP; of this, $31bn or 5.5 percent of GDP would likely be spent in 2011, the Fund said.
"At current oil prices we would expect to see another fiscal surplus, about 8 percent of GDP, with no need for a drawdown in fiscal reserves," Robinson said of next year's outlook.
"Our estimates suggest that the break-even oil price for 2012 would be of a similar order of magnitude as in 2011,that is about $80 a barrel -- this is the Arab Light price," he said, referring to minimum oil price at which the country can balance its budget.
In its October regional economic outlook, the IMF projected Saudi Arabia's GDP would grow 6.5 percent this year, slowing to 3.6 percent in 2012.
Inflation in Saudi Arabia hovered below 5 percent for most of 2011 but reached an eight-month high of 5.3 percent in September. In October, it fell back marginally to 5.2 percent and stayed at that rate in November.
"Global food prices have eased a little in recent months and current futures prices do not suggest major new pressures on the horizon," Robinson said. "The level of domestic demand is the key question and this component has increased in recent months.
"This should continue to be monitored carefully and, if warranted, policymakers could use a combination of fiscal and monetary policies to ease pressures."
In its latest regional outlook, the IMF forecast annual inflation of 5.4 percent in 2011 and 5.3 percent in 2012.
Robinson also said he expected further development of the Saudi Arabian stock market, the biggest in the Gulf, though he gave no time frame.
Saudi Arabia has been considering a wider opening of the market to foreign investors for several years; so far, foreigners only have very limited opportunities to invest through indirect ownership and exchange-traded funds that track indexes.
The appointment last week of Central Bank Governor Fahd bin Abdullah al-Mubarak, a former investment banker and a previous chairman of the stock exchange, was seen by analysts as a possible step towards market opening and other economic reforms.
"One would expect to see, over time, greater depth in the market and a broadening in the range of products offered at the stock exchange," Robinson said.
"In turn, this could provide a broader range of options for saving as well as additional instruments for the private sector to finance its investment and therefore create employment."
On other reforms, Robinson said the introduction of a mortgage law could help the housing market.
"Access to finance for housing from the private sector, for example, has long been a constraint that could be addressed through a mortgage law coupled with appropriate institutions to support and monitor housing exposures," Robinson said.
"Currently, the Saudi Real Estate Development Fund (REDF) plays a key role in facilitating access to housing."
A mortgage law which has been in planning stages for almost a decade but it is not clear when such legislation might be passed. Property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle has estimated the country needs to build up to 200,000 new homes a year for the next five years to meet demand for about 900,000 new homes.

Source: Reuters

28-12-11, 10:59 AM
Zain KSA upgraded to 'Buy'

Riyad Capital has it has raisd its recommendation on Zain KSA to 'Buy' from 'Hold' and reduced the target price to SR6.40. Zain KSA's accumulated losses reached 66% of paid-up capital and could reach the 75% limit over the next two quarters, resulting in mandated restructuring or delisting, Riyad Capital said in its report. Zain KSA share performance has been hindered by the proposed sale of Zain Kuwait's 25% stake and seemingly restrictive debt burden. Both of these hurdles may soon be put to rest, paving way for investors to shift focus on fundamentals. According to Riyad Capital, Zain KSA shares are deeply undervalued on a P/S multiple and do not reflect the on-going growth cycle.
Source: Ame Info

28-12-11, 11:00 AM
Prince Al Waleed $300 stake in Twitter

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has bought a stake in online microblogging portal Twitter for $300m, gaining another foothold in the global media industry, Reuters has reported. The Twitter stake, bought jointly by Alwaleed and his Kingdom Holding Co (KHC) investment firm, resulted from "months of negotiations", KHC said. Kingdom owns a near-30% stake in Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which runs a range of media titles in the kingdom.

Source: Ame Info

28-12-11, 11:01 AM
Saudi unemployment benefit may hinder Nitagat scheme

Plans to introduce a monthly unemployment allowance for more than 700,000 men and women in Saudi Arabia could hinder the Kingdoms ability to implement its new Nitaqat programme, experts have said.
The benefits, which top $530 (SR2,000) per month, could deter employers from hiring nationals in favour of low cost expats, or discourage Saudi citizens from finding jobs, analysts said.
There is a concern that the new Hafiz unemployment benefit, combined with the Nitaqat labour quota system introduced this year, poses upside wage-push inflation risks, said Robert Powell, an economist from the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit.
In particular, businesses are deeply concerned about the amount being offered, which is some way above the amount many employers are paying their foreign workers. It will certainly discourage businesses from hiring Saudis.
The payment plan could also encourage Saudi citizens to stay at home rather than look for work, experts said.
There is risk that [the new scheme] will discourage nationals from taking jobs that pay less than or a little more than the unemployment benefit, said Paul Gamble, head of research at Jadwa Investment.
On the plus side it will help the government match job opportunities with the suitable unemployed candidates, in addition to giving support for poor families.
Saudis Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) announced Monday that more than 700,000 Saudi young men and women had qualified to receive the monthly unemployment allowance, with 145,000 applications denied.
The scheme, which is running for the first time, aims to help those who are currently in the labour force but who are looking for a job.
Initially benefits will run for a year, with the first amount to be deposited in beneficiaries accounts on December 31, officials said.
Recent figures estimate that 500,000 Saudi nationals remain unemployed in the Kingdom, despite frequent government efforts to boost local employment in the private sector.
The Nitaqat programme launched in November this year was the latest attempt to Saudise the private workforce, instructing firms to employ a proportion of national citizens over expatriates.
Saudi Arabia is among several Arab countries trying to create more opportunities for locals, in a bid to curb the number of expatriates who have long monopolized non-government jobs and sparked an increase in remittances to other countries.
The recent social unrest across the Arab world, which only amplified the problem, pushed the government to act quickly.
But analysts fear the impact of Nitaqat could be lessened with the new unemployment benefits scheme, in spite of its ability to boost spending power.
About 80 percent of applicants who qualified for the allowance were women, according to the director of the fund.
The dominance of women receiving unemployment benefit probably reflects more of them entering the labor force, said Gamble.
However, the proportion of women participating in the labor force is still exceptionally low at 12 percent, compared with the global average of 41 percent.
Source: Arabian Business

28-12-11, 11:03 AM
Compensation for acquired Makkah land nears SR 20 bn

The real estate evaluation committee has completed the evaluation of about 50 percent of the land to be acquired for the construction of the first ring road, the transport stations and the power plants to built within the project of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for the Expansion of the Grand Mosque, a press report said on Friday.
The committee comprises representatives from the governorate, the municipality, the Ministry of Finance and a number of realtors.
Al-Watan daily quoted Assistant Undersecretary of the Makkah Municipality for Projects and Construction Abbas Al-Qattan, who is the chairman of the committee for the expansion of the northern plazas of the Haram, as saying that the preliminary estimations of the prices of the plots to be acquired amounted to about SR20 billion. This is based on the assessments made by the committee a year ago.
The funds have already been allocated. Payments will start as soon as procedures are completed, he said. Al-Qattan said three power stations would be made the first will be in Al-Tayseer district behind the building of the Ministry of Water and Electricity which is the largest, the second in Jabal Al-Kaaba near the new pedestrians' tunnel and the third on Al-Hijoon Road behind Badr Bakeries.
He said the location of the fourth electricity station in Al-Masfalah District is to be changed. Search is continuing now to find a new location, he added. Al-Qattan said the committee would start this week the evaluation of the remaining land and will begin work from Al-Ghazzah District to Jabal Al-Kaaba passing through Talaat Al-Falaw-Jabal Hindi area.
He said the first ring road project will cover the establishment of three transport stations and would require the confiscation of a number of plots and real estate units.
Source: Arab News

28-12-11, 11:04 AM
Riyadh may close its embassy in Damascus

Saudi Arabia might be inclined to close its embassy in Damascus after it had already reduced, to the minimum, the number of diplomats, local daily Al-Watan reported Friday quoting an official source.
The Kingdom cut the number of employees in the mission following the ongoing violence of Bashar Assad regime against the Syrian citizens, the source said, adding: The violence has reached a point of threatening the lives of the diplomats in Syria.
The source said the reduction of the number of Saudi diplomats working in Syria was necessitated by the dangerous situation and widespread violence. The objective was to protect our diplomatic mission against risks and threats, he said.
The source said the step was not a good choice but was imposed on the Kingdom by the growing risks in Syria. The Kingdom may later take a decision to close its embassy in Damascus. It will not be the only country to do this as a number of other countries have already taken this decision, he said.
The source reiterated that the Kingdom was keen not to subject its citizens or diplomats to any kind of danger especially that Syria has become a perilous spot where tens of people were killed every day. The current situation and the increasing violence which has spread to many areas made it imperative for the Kingdom to take necessary precautions to protect its diplomats, he said.

Source: Arab News

28-12-11, 11:05 AM
Young expats in Saudi Arabia having trouble with residence permits

Young expatriate professionals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are having trouble transferring their sponsorships from their parents to the companies where they are working, the news site Arab News said.

The report, published on Wednesday, disclosed that many major employers put aside the transfer of sponsorship, forcing the expatriate employee to look for a temporary Saudi sponsor until his real employer does so.

Saudi law states that residents who reach the age of 25 are no longer allowed to be under the sponsorship of their parents. They have to change occupation on their iqamas or residence permits from students to a job title.

But some employers are also deferring their expatriate employees request because the company belongs to the Red category of the Nitaqat program, also known as Saudization.

Saudization has classified around 300 companies in KSA into several categories, namely: Premiere, Excellent, Red, and Yellow firms.

Previous reports say that those in the Red and Yellow categories are required to do away with foreign workers and hire more Saudi locals within nine to 11 months.

Ali Al-Shemaisi, a human resources manager of a major real estate company in KSA, told Arab News that the situation is different now.

The private sector focuses on specific occupations to hire foreign employees, and many companies need to increase the Saudization percentage to meet the requirements of the Nitaqat program, Al-Shemaisi said.

There are more than a million Filipinos in KSA, around 90,000 of which are working for companies placed under the Red and Yellow categories.

Source: GM News

28-12-11, 11:08 AM
Saudi Arabia's revenue expected to jump 35% to SR 992 bn in 2011

As Saudi Arabia puts the final touches to its new budget, the Riyadh-based Al-Rajhi Capital has issued some projections ahead of the budget announcement.
Budget estimates
Al-Rajhi Capital's estimate of government revenue for the year 2011 is based on its expectation of average oil price of $106 per barrel. Government revenue is expected to jump almost 35 percent in 2011 compared to the actual revenue in 2010. The jump in the total revenue is expected mainly due to higher oil production and prices.
"We expect total revenue to be SR992 billion with oil revenue at SR908 billion in the current year," Al-Rajhi Capital said in its report before the budget announcement.
However, government expenditure is also expected to have jumped due to many initiatives taken by the government early this year. Total expenditure is expected to jump at SR814 billion, a 30 percent increase in 2011 compared to the actual expenditure in 2010. Thus, total budget surplus is likely to be SR178 billion this year.
Al-Rajhi Capital said expectation of oil price in the year 2012 is lower at $95 per barrel. Therefore, decline is expected in both government revenue and government expenditure in 2012 compared to 2011 mainly on account of expected fall in nominal oil sector GDP and fall in one time expenditure incurred by the government this year.
Total revenue is expected to decline from SR992 billion in 2011 to SR890 billion in 2012 mainly due to expected decline in oil revenue from SR908 billion to SR 802 billion. Total expenditure is expected to decline from SR814 billion in 2011 to SR746 billion in 2012 mainly due to decline in current expenditure from SR604 billion to SR512 billion. Therefore, fiscal surplus is also expected to shrink to SR144 billion next year.

Public debt
With the improvement in its fiscal position as from 2003, the government has continued to substantially reduce its public debt. Preliminary figures indicate that the public debt dropped to SR162 billion by the end of 2010. This drop was due to a rise in oil revenues which resulted in increased surplus in the government budget. A part of that surplus was allocated to repay the public debt.
Following the trend in recent years, public debt is likely to decline in 2011 and 2012 as government budget surplus is expected in both years. Public debt is expected to decline to SR160 billion at the end of 2011 compared to SR167 billion in 2010. However, due to sharp rise in nominal GDP (gross domestic product) this year, debt to GDP ratio is expected to decline faster from 10.2 percent in 2010 to 8.1 percent in 2011. In 2012, gross public debt is expected to decline further to SR155 billion which will translate into 7.4 percent of GDP.

Salient features
The main features of government budget next year are lower revenue and lower expenditure. The expectation of lower revenue is based on belief that average oil price is going to be lower as well as oil production in Saudi Arabia. On expenditure side, the focus of the government budget for next year is likely to be the continuation of priorities outlined earlier this year through Royal decrees announced in February and March. The announcements included public sector wage increases, expansion in public employment, unemployment benefits, and measures to improve access to housing. "However, we expect expenditure in 2012 to be lower because of one-time expenditures such as two-month bonus to public sector employees, capitalization of Real Estate Development Fund and Saudi Credit and Saving Bank are not going to be there. These items have been estimated to cost the government almost SR90-$100 billion in 2011," Al-Rajhi Capital said.
Moreover, re-current expenditures are likely to continue to rise due to increase in minimum wages, social security such as unemployment allowance etc. and hiring 60,000 at Ministry of Interior.
Capital expenditures, particularly related to housing, are expected to pick up next year. This is likely to be the main priority for the next year budget. Allocation to building and expansion of hospitals will be another important focus for the budget.
Education and training will remain the largest recipient of the government funds as the government has reiterated its priority to develop skilled manpower in the country. The government has increased student scholarship even as it provides further incentives such as housing to teachers, Al-Rajhi Capital said.
Source: Arab News

31-12-11, 05:58 PM
Saudi SABB plans to raise capital by 33% to $2.7bn

The board of Saudi British Bank has proposed to increase the lenders capital by 33 percent to SR10bn ($2.7bn), according to a statement posted on the countrys bourse Saturday.
The bank, 40 percent owned by UKs HSBC Holdings plans to offer one share for every three shares held.
SABB will also pay a dividend for 2011 at SR0.65 per share, the statement added.
The Saudi banking sector is expected to post higher revenues in 2012, fuelled by higher loan growth and fee income and falling provisions for bad loans, NCB Capital said in a recent report.
Riyadh-based SABB is the second Saudi lender to propose a hike in capital this week.
Saudi Hollandi Bank, partly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, asked shareholders to approve a capital increase to help support the bank's growth, it said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.
The 20-percent increase, which will see the bank's capital increased from SR3.31bn ($882.56m) to SR3.97bn, will be voted on by shareholders at a meeting during the first quarter of 2012, the statement said.
The issue could see one bonus share distributed for every five shares owned.
Source: Reuters

31-12-11, 06:01 PM
Gold price per aunce 1565 US dollars

silver per aunce 27.75 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1399 US dollars

These prices around 7:35 AM today (Saturday) - Saudi Arabia time

December 30, 2011

31-12-11, 06:07 PM
Saudi continues rally after oil prices rise

The Saudi bourse extended a rally into a seventh session, as petrochemical and banking stocks gained following advances by oil prices and the all-share index adding 0.9 percent to 6,384 points.
The petrochemical index climbed 0.5 per cent with heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) climbing 0.8 percent.
Oil prices rose for a fifth straight day on Friday, on concerns about potential supply disruptions in Iran and Iraq and recent signs of a strengthening US economy.
The banking index adds 0.8 per cent. SABB bank climbed 3.1 per cent after saying in a statement to the bourse that its board proposed distributing a one-for-three bonus share and cash dividend for 2011.

Source: Trade Arabia

31-12-11, 06:12 PM
Saudi firms told to raise wages for citizens

Saudi Arabia intends to force its companies to increase monthly salaries for citizens to at least SR3,000 ($800) to encourage Saudis to join the private sector and find jobs for hundreds of thousands of people.
The Ministry of Labour, which is spearheading the Gulf kingdom's most aggressive job Saudization drive, said it was working on a new programme to set the minimum salary for nationals working in the private sector at SR3,000.
It said the programme would be enforced in March, 2012 and is intended to retain Saudi employees in the private sector by making their minimum salary equal to that in the more attractive public sector.
Human Resources Development Fund, said the Fund would compensate all Saudis working in the private sector who draw less than SR2,000 in the first phase.
"This would prevent Saudi employees from resigning and registering for the Hafiz Program for unemployed citizen," he said.
Quoted by Saudi Gazette newspaper, he said the Fund was also planning at a later stage to raise salaries in the private sector, particularly in professions like those of security guards and drivers.
He said arrangements are going on to sign agreements with a number of private sector companies to encourage Saudi youth to join the private sector.
The paper quoted labour officials as saying that Hadaf is making it obligatory on private companies to provide a minimum salary of SR3,000 for Saudi nationals. The aim is to encourage Saudis to work and foster job stability in private sector companies, the paper added.
"A number of executives in private sector companies said that if such an undertaking is implemented, it will create employment stability for youth. They said adopting this programme will create thousands of job opportunities in the coming year," the English language daily said.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has recently asked the country's hundreds of thousands of private sector institutions to raise their wages for Saudis to a minimum SR3,000 to lure them into this sector and cut unemployment. Official data showed Saudi Arabia, with population of 27 million, including nearly 20 million Saudis, is suffering from a jobless rate of around 10.5 per cent among Saudis. The rate is as high as 30 per cent among women.
Early this year, the largest Arab economy and the world's oil powerhouse launches its most aggressive job nationalization initiative dubbed Nita at (ranges) and set a target to employ 400,.000 Saudis per year.
Expatriates, estimated at just over seven million, fear such initiative could be at their expense but officials have reassured them there will be no job losses. Under Nitaqat, which was announced on June 11, private sector establishments were given four classifications -- excellent and green with high Saudi labour percentage, and red and yellow, with low Saudi labour ratio.
Foreign workers in the first two categories can stay as long as they want while the stay of expatriate workers in the two negative categories will be limited to six years in case the company fails to adjust to Saudisation rules.
The labour ministry has warned firms that it would not tolerate any attempts to manoeuvre or circumvent the rules by offering Saudis low-paid jobs in a bid to dissuade them from accepting work.
According to Saudi minister of labour Adel Faqih, nearly 20 per cent of the private sector firms could find themselves in the red zone unless they take what he described as drastic measures to get in line within the deadline.
Analysts described Nitaqat as the most radical measure taken by Saudi Arabia to force its private sector to employ more Saudis following the failure of previous procedures and a deterioration in local unemployment.

Source: Emirates 24/7

31-12-11, 06:13 PM
Saudi Aramco drilling-rigs count to jump 12% in 2012

Saudi Arabian Oil Co plans to increase its drilling-rig count by 12 percent next year to 145 to boost natural-gas and oil output from its Manifa field, a former executive of state-run company said.
Most of the expansion is for gas development, Sadad al-Husseini said last week by e-mail. Al-Husseini was executive vice president for exploration and development at the company known as Saudi Aramco. He founded and runs Husseini Energy, an independent energy consultant in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Aramco will drill for gas onshore in northern Saudi Arabia and near the Shaybah oil field in the Empty Quarter desert, as well as offshore in Hasbah field in the Arabian Gulf, said al-Husseini. The company will have 50 drilling rigs for oil, 50 for gas, 15 exploration rigs and 30 workover rigs to maintain existing wells next year, he said.
The oil drilling is mainly to replace capacity declines that result from ongoing production and will not add new capacity, except for the Manifa drilling, al-Husseini said.
Saudi Aramco increased the number of drilling rigs this year to 130, more than figures given out by rig contractors, according to al-Husseini. The nation currently pumps around 10 million barrels a day of crude, he said.
Baker Hughes chief executive officer Chad Deaton said in March that Saudi Arabia, the worlds largest crude exporter, is increasing the number of its drilling rigs by the end of this year to 118 from 92. Nabors Industries Ltd., the worlds largest onshore drilling contractor, had 30 rigs in the kingdom at the end of the first quarter this year and said in March it held talks with Saudi Aramco to add more rigs.
Saudi Aramco is increasing the number of drilling rigs in its Manifa field to 20 next year from the current eight, al- Husseini said. The company will spend about $17 billion developing the giant field, located in shallow water in the Arabian Gulf, to bring the full field development 10 years ahead of its planned schedule, Saudi Aramcos Chief Executive Officer Khalid Al-Falih said in Doha, Qatar, on Dec. 6. The field will start production in 2013, he said.
Manifa, the worlds fifth-largest oil field, is expected to produce 500,000 barrels of Arabian Heavy crude oil in 2013 and 900,000 barrels a day by 2015, according to the companys annual review. Aramcos Manifa oil field development is aimed at maintaining the companys production at 12 million barrels a day as it slows output from older fields, al-Falih told the al-Hayat daily newspaper on Dec. 13.
No one at Saudi Aramcos headquarter in Dhahran could be reached for comment on the rig-count increase, as Thursday is the start of the weekend in the country.
Halliburton Co. won a contract from Saudi Aramco in 2008 to drill for oil in the offshore part of Manifa field. Halliburton said in April that Saudi Aramco was planning to increase the rig count by approximately 30 percent in 2012 from its levels at the beginning of the year, with 60 percent of this increase to be assigned to the Manifa project. The project was delayed due to the global recession, Halliburton said.
Source: Bloomberg

31-12-11, 06:14 PM
Kingdom's mobile subscriptions rise 200% to 56.1 million

The number of mobile users in the Kingdom rose by nearly 200 percent, reaching 56.1 million by Sept. 30, with prepaid cell phone subscribers accounting for 87 percent of the total, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said in a newsletter on Saturday.
The telecom regulator also pointed out that the number of land phones in the Kingdom reached 4.52 million, including 3.34 million residential lines (which accounted for 73 percent of the total).
The landline growth rate compared to population was just 16 percent, despite a 67 percent rise in homes.
Speaking about Internet services, the CITC newsletter said the service grew by 46 percent during the same period with an estimated 13 million users.
Broadband services have also increased considerably during the period with 2.13 million users connected through a landline network and 11.5 million subscribers through mobile phones.
There is a 30.6 percent increase in broadband services through landlines, the CITC said, adding that broadband services rose by 40.5 percent in the Kingdom.
The CITC also noted a remarkable increase in the number of smartphone users in the country, especially its young men and women, who account for about 60 percent of the population.
The newsletter also pointed out that the CITC had introduced a system named search and rescue through satellite in association with the General Authority of Civil Aviation and the Interior Ministry, providing early warning services to aircraft and ships.
It can also locate people missing provided they are subscribed to the service.
The CITC also disclosed plans to license three virtual service providers, making use of international expertise in the field. According to new regulations, people are not allowed to buy prepaid SIM cards except through the offices of mobile phone service providers or their authorized agents.
The regulator warned that it would take punitive action against illegal users.
Source: Arab News

31-12-11, 06:15 PM
No branches of US, European varsities in Kingom: Official

Deputy Minister of Higher Education Ahmed Al-Saif has denied any intention of opening branches for American or European universities in the Kingdom, local daily Al-Watan reported Friday. He, however, said the ministry had a number of requests for the setting up of more private universities.
We have enough number of government and private universities. It is the content not the number that matters, he said.
Al-Saif said the ministry had not yet taken a decision on the requests for opening of more private universities. The ministry is responsible for the output it presents to the labor market. It is endeavoring to upgrade the quality of the private education, he added.
The deputy minister denied any intention to reduce the current university tuition fees but said the ministry would intervene if the fees were too high.
He also said the ministry had no intention of opening new government universities next year but would rather focus on supporting the emerging universities and on completing the basic infrastructure of the university towns.
Al-Saif revealed that the ministry was involved in a number of investment projects including hotels, sport cities and malls.
Asked about the electronic university that was approved by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, the deputy minister said it would soon launch its programs. The university will present lectures and classrooms electronically for people inside their homes, he said.
Al-Saif was confident that the electronic university would change much of the attitudes about the concept of distant learning and said it would resolve part of the problem of the inadequate opportunities to enroll for master and Ph.D. degrees in the Saudi universities.
The electronic university will be very strong. It will have educational agreements with two universities. The universities that will join forces with the electronic university are Melbourne University in Australia and Boston in the US. It will also have international experts in its board of trustees, he concluded.

Source: Arab News

31-12-11, 06:17 PM
Saudi Arabia to keep Gas Feedstock Prices Unchanged, Watan Says

Saudi Arabia will keep prices for natural-gas feedstock used by local petrochemical producers unchanged until the end of 2012, Al-Watan reported, citing unidentified sources at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.
Source: Bloomberg

01-01-12, 11:09 AM
Saudi Arabia budgets for big decrease in 2012 surplus

Saudi Arabia's government plans to spend SR690bn ($184bn) in 2012, cutting expenditure from an estimated SR804bn this year, when social spending was ramped up in an effort to ensure political stability.
Announcing next year's state budget on Monday, the finance ministry said it projected the budget surplus, which depends largely on oil revenues, would shrink to just SR12bn from SR306bn this year.
Traditionally, the Saudi government makes conservative projections for oil revenues, leaving room for its actual budget surpluses to come in much larger than initially forecast.
But analysts said the 2012 budget plan showed the government was keen to demonstrate it was aware of the risks of overspending, after a year in which it boosted expenditure to a record as social unrest hit other countries in the Arab world.
"There's a balancing act here in that they want to demonstrate some fiscal rigour or conservatism in the budget figures, but there's also a willingness to be flexible, both in ensuring the continuity of the infrastructure and capital spending ventures, but also in the face of the global economic environment," said Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economist of National Commercial Bank in Jeddah.
In its original budget for 2011, the government envisaged spending of SR580bn. After uprisings began in the Arab world early this year, Saudi Arabia announced extra spending on infrastructure and welfare which the International Monetary Fund estimated at $110bn over several years.
In the 2012 budget announcement, the finance ministry said it had set aside SR250bn from the 2011 budget surplus to fund one of the special projects, the construction of 500,000 homes.

Source: Reuters

01-01-12, 11:10 AM
Saudi construction stocks jump ahead of budget optimism

Saudi Arabia's building and construction stocks made sharp gains as investors picked up shares in sectors expected to benefit from the 2012 budget.
Saudi Steel Pipes and Arabian Pipes jumped 8.3 and 9.7 percent respectively. Construction firm Al Khodari climbed 5 percent.
"The budget will be announced soon and there is optimism that the government will give a boost to housing and infrastructure," says Mohammad Omran, financial analyst based in Riyadh.
The budget is expected in the coming days and may be as early as Monday evening.
The kingdom's index advanced 0.5 percent to 6,414 points, its highest close since Aug 3.
Bank stocks dragged down Qatar's index as investors booked profits from recent gains driven by dividend hopes, while volumes fell to their lowest in 12 days.
Heavyweight Qatar National Bank shed 0.7 percent, Masraf Al Rayan and Commercial Bank of Qatar dipped 0.2 percent each.
"Investors are waiting for the new year to add risk and build positions," said Ali Al Enin, equity trader at Qatar National Bank. "They are also looking for more cues from economic data from US"
The index slipped 0.4 percent to 8,785 points, trimming 2011 gains to 1.2 percent. Doha's market was the only regional bourse recording year-to-date gains.
Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties fell after saying its board will discuss asset sales at a Dec 28 meeting, while UAE markets edged higher in muted trade.
Shares in Aldar shed 2.4 percent, not far from the record low plumbed on Wednesday when talk of delisting hit the shares. The company denied this speculation.
"I don't think this should be surprising - there was an assumption that Aldar would sell over AED4bn worth of land in 2011, and so far there has been AED2.6bn," says a real estate analyst who asks not to be identified.
"There would be a concern if they weren't doing something. To a large extent, the company is paralysed by the state of its balance sheet," the analyst added.
The share price is expected to be held back by a lack of projects in the pipeline.
Other property stocks were also lower with Sorouh Real Estate falling 3.7 percent and RAK Properties shedding 3.6 percent.
Abu Dhabi's index ended 0.09 percent higher at 2,352 points, moving sideways from Wednesday's 33-month closing low.
Food firm Agthia Group climbed 3.6 percent after acquiring Pelit Su, a Turkey based spring water company.
Dubai's benchmark ended 0.1 percent higher at 1,330 points, rising from Sunday's seven-year low.
"People are wondering why global markets and regional ones are doing well, while UAE is getting worse," said Talal Touqan, head of equity research at Al Ramz Securities. "At some point people lose hope and switch to those winning markets, which makes the situation worse."
Mashreq Bank was the main support, climbing 8.6 percent. The usually illiquid stock made the jump in three trades, positioning it well for the year-end close.
In Oman, the index extends gains for a third session, rising 0.5 percent to close at 5,678 points.
Heavyweight Bank Muscat gained 1.4 percent and Bank Sohar rose 0.7 percent.
Kuwait's market ended nearly flat.

Source: Reuters

01-01-12, 11:12 AM
Tadawul index soars, Sabic shares end even

The Saudi Arabian equity market index TASI closed half a per cent higher at 6,414.47 points, improving the gauge's year-to-date performance to minus 3.12%. Bellwether Sabic finished flat at SR96.50. Food producer Halwani Bros lost the most (off 9.29% at SR61.00).

Source: Ame Info

01-01-12, 11:13 AM
Saudi Aramco to increase number of oil drilling rigs

Saudi Aramco is planning to increase the number of drilling rigs it operates to pre-crisis levels of at least 130 by the second quarter of 2012, as part of effects to maintain production capacity levels, Reuters has reported, citing industry sources. "The plan is to increase rigs by the second quarter, whether they make it or not is a different story," said one source, adding the plan is to have 135 rigs in operation. Half of the addition will be for Manifa, an industry source who declined to be identified said, as Aramco expedited plans to bring the 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil field on line by 2014.

Source: Reuters

01-01-12, 11:38 AM
Saudi market buoyed by high oil income, fiscal surplus

A surge in Saudi Arabia's oil revenue and expectations its budget would record a massive surplus have allied with strong corporate performance to give a push to the Gulf kingdom's bourse in the fourth quarter.
After a turbulent period through 2011, the Riyadh-based Tadawul bourse has climbed by nearly 3.6 per cent by the end of last week since the start of the fourth quarter of 2011, National Commercial BankN (NCB) said.
"Expectations of huge oil revenues and a relatively sizable budget surplus have comforted investors lately and the appetite for riskier assets increased," the country's largest bank said in its weekly report sent to 'Emirates24|7'.
"The strong performance is mainly driven by expectations of the budget announcement and strong corporate profitability across sectors which is expected to carry forward into 2012."
NCB said it expected corporate earnings to rise further in the coming period, adding that prices indicate an opportunity for investors as the market PE ratio is currently at 12.2 compared to 15.28 for 2010.
As a result, daily trading volumes at Tadawul, the Middle East's largest and busiest stock market, have averaged SR5.2 billion since September against 2011's average of SR4.4 billion, it said.

"The economy has proved resilient to external shocks and is undergoing huge spending plans......this should be reflected on stock prices and investors have become more confident in the market," the report said.
"However, speculation is still present and driving many overweight stocks higher. The concentration on fundamental performance indicators is lacking in a very promising market that has swung back on track and is positioned to grow," it added, noting that the index has lost around 4.4 per cent year-to-date at the closing of last week mainly due to external factors.
"The budget announcement will assure investors on the Saudi economy and attract more capital over the short-term."
Buoyed by strong oil prices, Saudi Arabia on Monday announced the largest budget in its history at SR690bn for 2012.

Source: Emirates 24|7

01-01-12, 11:40 AM
Al-Haramian Train enters final phase

JEDDAH --The final phase of the multibillion riyal Al-Haramain Train Project will be signed soon.
This will see the purchase of 35 trains with 13 carriages, traffic signs and railway tracks, which will be installed by a Saudi-Spanish consortium. This phase will reportedly cost just over SR30 billion. It will include the consortium carrying out operations and maintenance for 12 years.
Currently, civil works are being completed in addition to the building of four train stations.
The contractor in charge of the Al-Haramain Train project has also begun demolishing some properties to make way for the new Briman Bridge Project. Traffic is being redirected while demolitions take place.
A Saudi Railways Organization (SRO) report has indicated that this is the most difficult part of the project because it involves considerable coordination with relevant authorities for detours on Al-Haramain Highway, renovation of bridges on the highway and the moving of traffic signs, without disrupting traffic flow.
The report added that all teams have been working non-stop to complete all the necessary tasks; and that the Pilgrims' Lounge has been completed and new construction is taking place on the Air Base Bridge.
Over 153 bridges will be built outside the urban area, 20 of which have been completed. A total of 678 flood drainage canals will be constructed as well, according to the report. It pointed out that the consortium was informed that it should provide adequate number of workers and construction equipment to finish building the train stations.
The report added that government will pay market-related prices for the acquired properties. The valuations are being carried out by a committee with members from seven official agencies.
The 444-km high-speed Al-Haramain Train will have stations in Makkah, Madina, Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh and King Abdul Aziz International Airport. It will reduce travel time between Makkah and Jeddah to less than half-an-hour and between Madina and Jeddah to less than two hours.

Source: Saudi Gazette

01-01-12, 11:40 AM
Saudi Arabia to donate fuel to Yemen

Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa received on Monday evening a phone call from Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.
During the phone conversation, al-Faisal said that Saudi King Abdullah had ordered to provide all Yemen's urgent needs, particularly the fuel.
Basindwa expressed his deep appreciation and thanks to King Abdullah and his government for this assistance, which reflects and confirms the high position of the strong and intimate relations between the two brotherly countries.
Source: Yemen Observer

05-01-12, 01:32 AM

09-01-12, 05:03 PM

09-01-12, 06:12 PM
Gold price per aunce 1617 US dollars

silver per aunce 28.70 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1398.80 US dollars

These prices around 6:35 AM today (Monday) - Saudi Arabia time

January 9, 2012

11-01-12, 09:04 PM
Gold price per aunce 1637.40 US dollars

silver per aunce 28.99 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1480.24 US dollars

These prices around 6:31 AM today (Wednesday) - Saudi Arabia time

January 11, 2012

11-01-12, 09:05 PM
We can see the big difference in the price of Platimum within two days

12-01-12, 03:52 AM

12-01-12, 03:02 PM


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12-01-12, 03:14 PM
 BAE to get $780m cash boost from Saudi order
BAE Systems, Europes largest defense company, is poised to receive a cash boost of about 500m ($780m) once an agreement is reached with Saudi Arabia on pricing for Eurofighter aircraft, UBS analysts said in a note.
While failing to meet a year-end deadline to wrap up negotiations with Saudi Arabia, BAE will get a flying start to 2012 when the extra payment from upgrading the Salam jet contract comes through, analysts Charles Armitage and Rami Myerson wrote in a note.
We believe we will see the bulk of Saudi contracts agreed in the first half and that this gives upside to 2012 forecasts, the analysts said.
BAE has delivered 24 Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia so far, and the arms maker is negotiating the price of another 48 after amendments to the original contract. Saudi Arabia may also place an order for more BAE Hawk jets, worth as much as 1.5bn, after it gave the go-ahead to a pilot training program, according to UBS.
For 2011, the delay in reaching an agreement with Saudi Arabia will probably result in earnings before interest, tax and amortization missing estimates by about 80m, according to a note by JP Morgan. Net debt may be 300m higher, it said.
An increase in the value of a Brazilian order for three Offshore Patrol Vessels will offset the 2011 Saudi profit shortfall, said UBS, which left its profit estimates for last year intact. The bank is one of BAEs house brokers.
BAE, in a statement yesterday, said the boost to the Brazilian vessel order is expected to largely mitigate the earnings impact from the deferred Salam payment.
Source: Bloomberg

12-01-12, 03:15 PM
 Saudi hackers leak details of 15,000 Israeli credit cards
Details from 15,000 Israeli credit card customers have been exposed by hackers on the internet, the Bank of Israel said.
The cards have been blocked from further use in internet or telephone transactions and cardholders wont be liable for their misuse as a result of the leak, the central bank said in an emailed statement. The cards, which were issued by Israel Credit Cards, Isracard and Leumi Card, will be replaced, the central bank said.
Details of credit card customers were recently exposed on the internet, as a result of hackers breaking into the websites of companies which maintained that information, the central bank said. Any problem should be reported to the credit card companies as soon as possible.
Israels Army Radio reported early today that a group of computer hackers claiming to be of Saudi Arabian origin had taken credit for exposing the information in a statement they posted on an Israeli sports website. The hackers broke into the websites of companies that maintained the information, the central bank said.
Dov Kotler, chief executive officer of Tel Aviv-based Isracard, said that details from about 6,600 cards of the 3.3 million issued by the company were exposed on the Internet.
The company invests heavily every year to prevent misuse of its cards, and will continue to do so, Kotler said in an emailed statement.
Source: Bllomberg

12-01-12, 03:16 PM
 India scraps duty on Saudi exports amid Iran fears
India lifted an anti-dumping duty on Saudi Arabian polypropylene amid escalating concerns that international sanctions on Iran may disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf nation.
No reason was given for Indias decision to scrap the duty, according to a statement posted on the website of the New Delhi-based Central Board of Excise and Customs. Polypropylene is a plastic polymer used in products such as carpets, food containers and car parts.
Saudi authorities last year put the Petroleum Ministry in charge of anti-dumping negotiations with India instead of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, the deputy oil minister, is now leading talks on dumping claims against Saudi petrochemicals exporters.
India is seeking additional oil and natural gas from Persian Gulf nations including Saudi Arabia, while US and European Union sanctions against Iran pose practical difficulties to supplies, Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said on Dec 5. Saudi Arabia will increase shipments to some Indian refiners this year as they add plants and seek alternative supplies after a payment dispute with Iran, four people with direct knowledge of the plans said on Nov 15.
Moving the case from the Ministry of Trade and Industry to the Petroleum Ministry sent a message that Saudi Arabia is taking this case very seriously because Prince Abdulaziz wields considerable power, Abdulrahman al-Zamil, a trade representative for Saudi petrochemical makers in Riyadh, said by telephone yesterday.
India imposed a 6.5 percent duty in November 2010 on polypropylene imports from Saudi companies including Saudi Basic Industries, the worlds biggest petrochemical maker, Advanced Petrochemicals and National Industrialization, saying they sold the product below cost.
Abdullah Al Garawi, president and chief executive officer of Advanced Petrochemicals, said in a telephone interview yesterday that his company received confirmation from the Ministry of Petroleum that India had lifted the duty.
We had a hearing on Dec 20 in India and our lawyers were there, but all of sudden the hearings were canceled and we were not told the reason, he said. Its clear that the issue was resolved at a higher official level.
S.K. Goel, chairman of the Central Board of Excise and Customs, was unavailable for comment.
Source: Bloomberg

12-01-12, 03:18 PM
Iraq, Saudi Arabia move to raise production 
The potential for engineering, procurement and construction contractors in the Middle East energy sector over the next 18 months and beyond will be huge, with at least $63bn-worth of spending planned for 2012-13.
US investment bank Morgan Stanley estimates that the region will account for 26% of the global capacity additions until the end of the decade, with projects worth in excess of $200bn.
Much of this spending is likely to be in Iraq as the country moves ahead with its ambitious plans to raise capacity to more than 12 million barrels a day (b/d), from less than 3 million b/d today.
International oil companies are now actively launching tenders for new facilities and rehabilitating existing infrastructure at most of the fields awarded in Iraq's first and second hydrocarbon licensing rounds in 2009. The development of the Rumaila oil field by the UK's BP and China National Petroleum Corporation will be the biggest draw, with a potential spend of up to $34bn by 2020.
Work could also start in 2012 on the long-delayed gas capture and utilisation project, being led by UK/Dutch oil major Shell Group. After waiting for approval from the Iraqi government since late 2008, the $17bn scheme finally got the green light at the end of November 2011. Shell will want to make up for lost time building the facilities that will capture associated natural gas in four southern oil fields.
This year will also see Iraq hold its fourth oil and gas licensing round at the end of January, with 12 exploration sites up for offer. As many as 46 companies have been prequalified to bid. Security concerns, which have slowed the pace of development in Baghdad over the past few years, remain, however. The security situation has improved immensely compared with the peak level of violence seen in 2007, but analysts say the situation has worsened since 2010. Attacks on oil and transport infrastructure have been a major problem in 2011 and remain a target for insurgents in 2012.
Saudi Arabia looks to bring new capacity online
Saudi Arabia will continue to draw attention from engineering firms, with an estimated 5-6 million man hours a year planned for the general engineering services plus (GES-plus) signatories, a sign of the scale of Saudi Aramco's ambitions. The GES-plus firms will work with state-owned Saudi Aramco's project management team to provide engineering and construction management services for a wide range of Aramco projects, including oil and gas, and infrastructure.
The firm plans to add some 250,000 b/d of new production capacity at the Shaybah field as well as implementing enhanced recovery techniques at the giant Ghawar oil field. Work is also due to start on the planned onshore and offshore facilities for Khafji Joint Operations in the neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
In Kuwait, the focus will be on the downstream sector next year. The country is tentatively moving towards launching two enormous refining schemes worth up to $30bn. The schemes have been planned since 2005, but have faced a multitude of set-backs due to political wranglings.
Other regional refining schemes have also faced delays. Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) is now undertaking a feasibility study for an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex in Duqm in Oman, a project it aims to develop with state-owned Oman Oil Company. Ipic awarded the project management consultancy contract to US-based Shaw Group in April. The state investment arm had previously stalled its refining plans when oil prices slumped in 2009. Its interest in downstream projects was rekindled as prices started to climb again.
Source: Meed.com

12-01-12, 03:28 PM
Banque Saudi Fransi proposes capital increase

Banque Saudi Fransi, the fifth largest in Saudi Arabia by market capitalisation, has proposed a capital increase through a bonus share issue to help fund the bank's expansion, Reuters has reported. The 25% increase will see the bank's capital raised to SR9.04bn ($2.41bn) from SR7.23bn through the issue of one bonus share for every four currently held by shareholders. The capital increase, which will be funded by the bank's general reserve, still requires the approval of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), and shareholders who will meet during in the first quarter to vote on the proposal, the bank added.
Source: Reuters

12-01-12, 03:29 PM
Kuwait signs deal with Mobily

Saudi Arabia's Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has won a contract from the Kuwaiti communications ministry to link the company's road network with the ministry for 15 years as part of the ministry's efforts to reduce prices and improve the delivery of Internet service in the country, Kuna has reported. The KD315,000 deal will see Mobily link its road network with the ministry through the border areas of Al-Salmi and Al-Nuwaisib.
Source: Kuna

12-01-12, 03:30 PM
Flydubai adds new route to Saudi Arabia

Taif has been named as Flydubai's seventh destination in Saudi Arabia. Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said: "We are grateful to the Saudi authorities for their continued support of flydubai. Taif marks our seventh destination in KSA and is part of our strategy to connect the UAE to destinations previously under-served by direct air links." Situated 1,700m above sea level in the Hejaz province, Taif is gaining prominence around the region as an alternative short-holiday destination. Located less than 100km by road from Makkah, Taif is also an alternative gateway for travellers to the holy city. With the launch of operations to Taif, Flydubai will operate a total of 55 weekly flights to destinations across the Kingdom.
Source: Ame Info

12-01-12, 03:31 PM
SCTA to hire 400 Saudi for Riyadh travel offices 
RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has announced that 400 jobs have been offered to young Saudis to work in the travel and tourism sector in the capital.
The SCTA, headed by Prince Sultan bin Salman, urged the young Saudi jobseekers to appear for an interview, scheduled to be held on Saturday and Sunday, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported on Thursday.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Washeel, director general of the National Tourism Human Resources Development Center (Takamul), said the employment program would be implemented in cooperation with the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) and the National Program for Joint Training.
"The interviews will begin from 8.30 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m. at Madareem Crown Hotel, located on the east ring road opposite SABIC's office. The SCTA and its partners have completed all the preparations to receive young Saudis who want to take up jobs in this vital sector," he said.
Al-Washeel said the training program is meant for young men over 18 who have as a minimum graduated from secondary school. The official stressed only those who are ready to attend full time training programs need to appear for the interview. They should bring photocopies of their ID and certificates of qualifications, he said.
Al-Washeel said the selected applicants would be provided with a 10-12 month training program.
"A work contract will be signed with the selected candidate before he starts the training course. The period of training will be calculated as part of service by the General Organization of Social Insurance and will count toward Saudization targets at the concerned travel and tourism agency," he said, pointing out the trainee would get a lump sum monthly remuneration of SR1,500 during the training period.
According to Al-Washeel, the HRDF will meet the whole expense of the training program including remuneration.
"Trainees will have both theory and practical classes based on a number of subjects, including learning the English language (general and specialized), computer skills, general skills to take up jobs in the private sector, and specialized skills to work in the travel and tourism sector," he said, adding that the trainees who have passed the course will join a travel firm on a contract worth at least SR4,000 a month.
Source: Arab News

14-01-12, 10:41 AM

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15-01-12, 05:29 PM

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16-01-12, 08:28 AM
UAE's Al Mal Capital shutters Saudi offices

UAE investment bank Al Mal Capital has shut down its Saudi office following a winding down of its brokerage unit and a broad staff layoff at its head office, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
A statement posted by the firm on the Saudi stock exchange, the Tadawul, on Sunday confirmed Al Mal Capital Saudi had asked the Capital Markets Authority to cancel its licence in the kingdom and that the regulator had approved the request.
Al Mal had reduced its workforce by around 85 percent between 2009 and November 2011 as low trading volumes on regional stock exchanges impacted its brokerage business, sources told Reuters in November.
Source: Reuters

16-01-12, 08:30 AM
Saudi, Turkey talks to thrash out Sabic dumping claims

Saudi Arabia and Turkey are in talks over a claim that Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the worlds largest petrochemical maker, is dumping exports in the Turkish market, a Saudi oil ministry official said.
Turkeys government agreed to re-evaluate the case against the company known as Sabic after the European Union and India last month dropped similar claims against the company, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, the deputy oil minister, said in a telephone interview from Riyadh on Jan 5.
Sabic is accused of dumping monoethylene glycol, Chief Executive Officer Mohamed al-Mady told the Saudi newspaper al- Watan on Jan 4. The Turkish claim is the only such case outstanding remaining against the company, Al Watan reported, citing al-Mady. China dropped a claim of its own in 2010.
Saudi Arabia sells natural gas, a raw material used to make petrochemicals, at subsidized rates to Sabic and other manufacturers. The Saudi government set the gas price at 75 cents a million British thermal units, NCB Capital, the investment arm of Saudi Arabias largest bank by assets, said in a report last month. US natural gas averaged $4.028 a million BTU last year.
Saudi authorities last year put the Petroleum Ministry in charge of negotiations over claimed dumping with the EU and India. Prince Abdulaziz is leading all talks on dumping claims against Saudi petrochemicals exporters. Saudi Arabia respects all the international trade agreements that it had under the World Trade Organization, he said.
India, which is seeking to buy additional crude oil from Saudi Arabia, imposed a 6.5 percent duty in November 2010 on polypropylene imports from Sabic, Advanced Petrochemicals Co. and National Industrialization Co, saying the suppliers sold their products below cost. The Prince said the duty was imposed before his team started negotiations.
After the formation of the team in April last year, efforts with the Indian side have been intensified, and the case was resolved in satisfactory way to both parties, he said.
Source: Bloomberg

16-01-12, 08:31 AM
Saudi's financial regulator approves bank capital hikes

Saudi Arabia's financial regulator has approved a 33 percent capital increase for Saudi British Bank (SABB) and a 20 percent hike for Saudi Hollandi Bank, it said in separate regulatory filings on Sunday.
SABB, an affiliate of HSBC, will raise its capital to SR10bn ($2.67bn) from SR7.5bn by transferring SR2.5bn from its retained earnings.
It will issue a bonus share for every three existing shares owned by registered shareholders, bringing its total number of shares to 1 billion.
Meanwhile, Saudi Hollandi, which is partly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, won approval to increase its capital to SR3.97bn from SR3.31bn by distributing an extra share for every five shares owned.
The increase for both banks has to be carried out in the next six months, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) said in statements posted on the stock exchange website.
A number of Saudi banks are seeking to increase their capital to help fund expansion plans.
Banque Saudi Fransi, which is 31 percent owned by Credit Agricole, said last week it was also seeking a 25 percent increase in capital, subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.
The Saudi banking sector is expected to post higher revenues in 2012, fuelled by higher loan growth and fee income and falling provisions for bad loans, NCB Capital said in a report in December.
Source: Reuters

16-01-12, 08:34 AM
Saudi Aramco to sign refinery deal with China's Sinopec

State oil giant Saudi Aramco will sign a final deal next week to build a new 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil refinery in Yanbu with China's Sinopec Group, the company said on Sunday.
Aramco said the formal signing would take place on January 14 in Dhahran, the site of the state company's headquarters.
Industry sources had expected the two oil majors to finalise their 2011 initial agreement in November last year.
Under the initial agreement, Aramco will hold a 62.5 percent stake in the joint venture formed to develop the project - now rebranded as Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Co (YASREF) - while Sinopec will own the rest.
For Sinopec, the venture would be the first refining project the Chinese state-run oil major, parent of top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp , builds outside China, putting it in a race against rival PetroChina which has snatched a string of refinery deals beyond Chinese borders.
Construction of the refinery, located on the Red Sea, is now underway and was to have been carried out by U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips and Aramco. But Conoco pulled out of the plans in April 2010 as it shifted away from the refining business to focus on oil and gas exploration.
Aramco has said it will push on with the project even after the withdrawal of Conoco as it is part of its drive to boost domestic refining capacity to 3.5 million bpd in 2016. In July 2010, Aramco awarded deals to build the plant seen complete in 2014.
The refinery is slated to process heavy crude from Saudi Arabia's Manifa oilfield, which is currently under development to reach an output of 900,000 bpd by 2014.
Aramco has already partnered with Sinopec at the joint venture Fujian plant in southeast China. It is considering to build three new joint venture refineries in Asia, Aramco's largest and fastest growing oil market as part of plans to boost its global refining capacity by 50 percent to over 6 million bpd.
Source: Reuters

16-01-12, 08:36 AM
Suspected al-Qaeda plotters go on trial in Saudi 
Saudi Arabia has begun the trial of 16 suspected al-Qaeda members accused of killing a policeman and plotting attacks on government officials and military weapons facilities, Saudi media reported on Sunday.
The group is also accused of financing "terrorism" in other countries, smuggling weapons and training and sending militants to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper said.
Saudi Arabia faced a militant insurgency from 2003-06 in which al Qaeda members staged attacks on residential compounds for foreign workers and Saudi government facilities, killing dozens.
The authorities ended the assaults after arresting thousands of suspected militants and launching a media campaign to discredit their ideology with the backing of influential clerics and tribal leaders.
Last year the Interior Ministry said nearly 5,700 people had been arrested of whom 5,000 had faced a court, but human rights groups inside Saudi Arabia say more than 12,000 were jailed, including political prisoners who have demanded reforms.
The trial of 14 Saudis, one Pakistani and one Afghan citizen started on Saturday in the special criminal court in the Saudi capital Riyadh, which was set up to handle trials of suspected militants and is only open to selected local media.
They are accused of killing a policeman with poison and planning the assassination of a top Saudi figure. One of the defendants was also accused of making religious edicts against Saudi Arabia's rulers.
Source: Reuters

16-01-12, 08:37 AM
Kuwait Finance House makes $ 96m profit from Saudi exit

The Saudi unit of Kuwait Finance House, the Gulf state's largest Islamic bank, made a SR360m ($96m) profit from the sale of a real estate project in the kingdom, the bank said in a regulatory filing on Sunday.
KFH sold the project for SR1.5bn and that the profit will be reflected in the bank's first quarter financial results, the statement added.
The buyer of the project was not disclosed.
Saudi Kuwait Finance House, a wholly-owned subsidiary of KFH, was granted approval to operate by the Saudi Capital Markets Authority in November 2008.
At the same time, KFH also established a real estate company with capital of SR2.5bn to provide housing units in the kingdom.
Source: Reuters

16-01-12, 08:39 AM
Commerce Ministry steps in to restrain cement price

RIYADH: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has stepped in to curb dramatic increases in cement prices in the western region, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported on Saturday.
At least 14 people involved in price fixing have been arrested following raids conducted on Thursday by ministry inspection teams.
Ten trucks have also been seized during raids on cement sales outlets in Jeddah and other parts of the region conducted in cooperation with police patrol units, according to an official source at the ministry.
The ministry has issued directives to all its branches across the Kingdom to further intensify market monitoring. The branches have also been instructed to send daily reports to the ministry about market conditions to ensure stability of cement prices.
According to the official, the ministry has been in touch with all cement factories in the Kingdom asking them to provide specific details about production and supply in the local market.
"All the companies have assured us that they would make available an adequate supply of cement at moderate prices and that was in coordination with the ministry. They have also informed us that their prices would continue to remain the same," he pointed out.
The ministry source said strict monitoring of cement prices would continue at all markets coming under the jurisdiction of ministry branches all over the Kingdom, especially in Jeddah where cement dealers are believed to have implemented an unreasonable hike in prices recently.
"Prices have been stable at almost all sales outlets in the city following the raid. Now the price per cement bag does not exceed SR15," he said.
According to the source, inspectors have apprehended dealers who violated regulations with regard to prices and are now being questioned by the concerned security agencies. The official urged consumers to buy the product only from sales outlets approved by the ministry and municipalities. The ministry's move came following complaints about unreasonable price hikes of cement in Jeddah and other cities of the region.
The price of a cement bag rose to SR18 from SR15 at Jeddah market.
The situation has created anxiety among both distributors and consumers about the prospect of further price increases.
They are afraid that the upward trend in prices would eventually lead to delays in several ongoing construction projects in the region, leading them to contact the ministry.
Producers, traders and consumers all shifted responsibility for the price hikes to each other.
Subsequently, officials of cement factories as well as concerned committees at various chambers of commerce and industry in the region demanded the ministry to take urgent steps to resolve the crisis.
Source: Arab News

16-01-12, 08:41 AM
Half of medical equipment suppliers unlicensed: SFDA

JEDDAH: Approximately half of importers and distributors of medical equipment in the Kingdom are unlicensed, according to a Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) official.
"More than 1,300 importing and distributing agencies in the local market have registered with us," Deputy Executive Chairman for Medical Equipment and Products Saleh Al-Tayyar said at a workshop at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).
Al-Tayyar urged all importers of medical equipment to make their operations legitimate with proper licenses so that they do not have to face penal measures, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported on Saturday.
The workshop on new developments in the area of monitoring medical equipment and products in the Kingdom was organized by SFDA in collaboration with the JCCI's medical accessories and equipment committee.
Al-Tayyar said SFDA started licensing importing companies four years ago. "We know exactly what the companies are importing as we regularly inspect their warehouses," the official said.
He said the Saudi medical market was a testing ground for various products as there was no system to regulate it until four years ago.
The SFDA destroyed SR43 million worth of imported medical products either because of expired validity dates or damage.
The official said many more workshops would be conducted so that every person working in the field including importers, distributors and representatives of foreign exporting companies are familiarized with the regulations and specifications laid down by the SFDA.
"We look at the private sector as our strategic partner and aim to familiarize it with Saudi regulations," the official said.
" We also help them to fulfill our terms in order to guarantee the safety and quality of products and ensure good health to citizens and expatriates in the country," he added.
Source: Arab News

17-01-12, 01:12 AM
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17-01-12, 11:28 AM
We notice that the prices of precious metals still coming up

Gold price per aunce 1657 US dollars

silver per aunce 30.20 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1515 US dollars

These prices around 6:40 AM today (Tuesday) - Saudi Arabia time

January 17, 2012

19-01-12, 12:37 PM
We notice that the prices of precious metals still coming up

Gold price per aunce 1662 US dollars

silver per aunce 30.75 US dollars

Platinum per aunce 1530 US dollars

These prices around 10:00 AM today (Thursday) - Saudi Arabia time

January 19, 2012

21-01-12, 02:06 AM
waiting 4 the good news hassan

05-07-12, 11:03 PM
waiting 4 the good news hassan

Gold price came down two times and reached around 1550 or below.

Hope that gold register new law prices

Thanks Swyrs

05-07-12, 11:04 PM
Saudi Stock Exchange boosted by oil-price rally, global market rebound

In Riyadh, the Tadawul All-Share Index or Tasi rose the most in six weeks Tuesday, closing 2.12% higher at 6,885.27 points. 129 out of 154 traded shares advanced, while 16 declined. Saudi Basic Industries Corporation or Sabic added 0.27% to reach SR91.25. A sharp rise in the price of oil ( U. S. crude was up 4.84% at a one-month high at $87.76) triggered the buying spree besides the slight rise in equity indexes at Asian, European and U. S. markets. Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance Company ended as a top gainer (up 10% at SR71.75), while Sagr Insurance lost the most (off 4.55% at SR27.30).
Source: Ame Info

05-07-12, 11:06 PM
Saudi tourism authority issues bogus travel agency warning

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has warned citizens and expatriates against becoming victim to fraudulent travel and tourism offices, Arab News has reported. "Consumers should be wary of dealing with individuals who offer low cost packages by claiming they belong to tourism offices that do not exist," said Ahmad Al-Eisa, assistant deputy chairman of SCTA for licenses and quality. Teams from the SCTA will carry out inspections of travel and tourism offices across the kingdom to curb unscrupulous practices, and penal action, including closure of offices, will be taken against violators, Al-Eisa said.
Source: Arab News

05-07-12, 11:07 PM
 Construction boom fails to contain exorbitant hikes in house rents
Housing rent is soaring in Jeddah and Makkah despite a big boom in the construction industry. It is estimated more than 60,000 units have been added to the residential sector over the last two years in the two cities.
However, this has failed to rein in skyrocketing rent rates, according to Al-Eqtisadiah business daily.
Prominent real estate expert and chairman of the real estate committee at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Awad Al-Zahrani said the municipal authority's decision to allow the construction of upper floors for the existing multi-story buildings has led to a boom in the industry.
This enabled landlords to build additional floors without meeting any costs for land and foundation work. However, they also increased rent instead of reducing their rates, he claimed.
According to Al-Zahrani, permission has been granted to build additional floors in most residential districts in Jeddah.
For example, nearly 70 percent of districts located south of Hera Street in north Jeddah took advantage of this.
Many landlords built additional floors, and the main beneficiaries were owners of two-story buildings allowed to build two additional floors.
Al-Zahrani said the demand for housing units would continue rising while taking into account of the fact about 70 percent of Saudi youths are under the age of 30.
Sooner or later, they will enter the market with a strong demand for homes of various categories, he said.
He said granting permission to build additional floors in all districts in Jeddah may lead to a fall of 30 percent in rent rates.
Adeeb Idris, a real estate investor in Makkah, said several landlords in Makkah have built additional floors, taking advantage of the municipality's decision in this regard.
He said: "The granting of permission is based on several conditions, such as capacity and standards of the building and its location.
"It helped many landlords to create additional floors given the scarcity of properties in the holy city."
Idris noted there has been no fall in rent despite the construction of tens of thousands of housing units.
"There was an increase of more than 100 percent in the rent of homes in Makkah and other major cities in the Kingdom over the last five years."
He said at least 35,000 new homes and apartment buildings are expected to enter the real estate market in Makkah in the near future.
Source: Arab News

05-07-12, 11:09 PM
Saudi assets up SR 46 bn in May 
Strong oil prices and higher output boosted Saudi Arabia's foreign assets by nearly SR46 billion (Dh45 billion) in May after recording one of their biggest increases in 2011, according to official data.
The foreign assets of the Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency (SAMA), the Gulf Kingdom's central bank, soared to an all time high of around SR2,239.9 billion (Dh2,216) billion at the end of May compared with SR2,193.4 billion (Dh2,171 billion) at the end of April, SAMA said in its latest monthly bulletin.
The rise boosted the overall increase in the assets to SR182 billion in the first five months of 2012, indicating the country is heading for another massive fiscal surplus through the year as a result of high oil prices and production.
Most of the increase in May was in SAMA's deposits with banks abroad as they surged by around SR37 billion to SR533 billion from SR496billion.
Investment in foreign securities grew by nearly SReight billion to SR1,490 billion from SR1,482 billion in the same period.
After sharp falls in late 1990s, SAMA's assets began their rapid rise in the following years because of high oil prices and a surge in the country's crude output. The year 2009 was an exception as they dipped by nearly SR130 billion following a decline in oil prices and production coupled with high spending as part of the government's post-crisis fiscal stimulus measures.
In 2011, the assets leaped by about SR352 billion as a result of high oil prices and a sharp rise in the Kingdom's crude output to an average 9.3 million barrels per day from around 8.2 million bpd, an increase of 1.1million bpd.
It was the biggest annual increase in the assets since 2008, when they rocketed by a whopping SR513 billion mainly because of a 50 per cent rise in crude prices that allowed the country to record its highest fiscal surplus of SR580 billion.
The increase last year was also more than double the assets growth of around SR135 billion through 2010, when they ended the year at SR1,705 billion compared with SR1,570 billion at the end of 2009.
A surge in oil prices to a record high average of more than $105 a barrel allied with higher crude supplies to widen Saudi Arabia's fiscal surplus to nearly SR307 billion in 2011 from SR87 billion in 2010.
The current account of the largest Arab economy and the world's oil powerhouse also shot up to $156 billion from $69 billion.
Buoyed by strong oil prices, Saudi Arabia announced a record high budget of SR690 billion for 2012 and analysts expect actual spending to end the year much higher as was the case in previous years.
Source: Emirates 24/7

03-08-12, 12:24 AM
Zain postpones repayment, points to delayed Zain Saudi subscription

Kuwait-based Zain Group has said the postponed repayment of its $2.6bn loan to banks is primarily due to the delayed subscription of Zain Saudi, Kuna has reported. Zain's chief commercial officer, Hisham Akbar, who is also a Zain KSA board member, has said the company is fully committed to the repayment of the due loan, noting that the delay in subscription forced the group to ask for a two-month grace from banks.

Source: Kuna

03-08-12, 12:25 AM
Tourists spend SR 7.1bn in Saudi Arabia during Q1

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has said 2.9 million foreign tourists who visited the kingdom in the first quarter of 2012 spent more than SR7.1bn, Arab News has reported. "The total of domestic tourists in the same period reached about 5 million, who spent about SR7.4bn," the report said. In contrast, 4.5 million tourists who spent their vacation outside the country spent SR17bn, it added.
Source: Arab News

03-08-12, 12:27 AM
 SR 1.4 bn boost for Al-Oqair tourism project
The Council of Ministers on Monday allocated SR 1.4 billion for the development of Al-Oqair region for tourism purposes. It also passed the bylaws regulating companies under mayoralties as well as the bylaws of the new Radio and Television Commission.
Of the SR 1.4 billion, SR 1 billion will be appropriated for the delivery of electricity and SR 400 million for the provision of water and sanitation, said Culture and Information Minister Dr. Abdul Aziz Khoja.
The Ministry of Water and Electricity shall conduct all technical studies for the project to determine the final cost, and shall coordinate with the Ministry of Finance for approval of the project's budget, he said.
Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman for allocating SR 1.4 billion for Al-Oqair tourism project.
"The SCTA is coordinating with the concerned departments to provide the necessary infrastructure facilities such as roads, water and electricity for the project. We have also set up a committee to study its requirements," Prince Sultan said.
Al-Oqair is one of the major tourism projects approved by the government as part of efforts to boost domestic tourism.
"This Cabinet decision represents the real launching of the project. A royal decree has been issued earlier approving the Supreme Economic Council's proposal to establish Al-Oqair Development Company, a joint stock firm of public and private sectors," he said.
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has allocated 100 million square meters of land for the project, which would be financed by public funds and private investors.
About 30 percent of the company's shares would be sold to the public in an initial public offering.
"With the next few weeks, procedures will be completed to establish Al-Oqair Development Company," Prince Sultan said, adding that Al-Ahli Capital has been appointed as financial adviser for the company's IPO. The company will develop the region for tourism and establish hotels and furnished apartments.
The Cabinet, which was chaired by King Abdullah at Al-Salam Palace, reviewed a number of reports on regional, Arab and international developments. It denounced Israel's orchestrated practices aimed at changing the geographic and demographic statuesque of Jerusalem and its ongoing violations of international law, its continuing settlement program and blockade imposed on Palestinian people throughout the occupied territories.
The Cabinet emphasized the importance of unifying international efforts to protect the Palestinians and put an end to all Israeli atrocities against them, said Khoja.
The Cabinet also warned against deteriorating situation in Syria on the backdrop of carnage, killings, violence and increasing number of the displaced, demanding the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to put an end to the regime's ongoing brutal oppressive practices against its people.
The Cabinet approved the bylaws of the Radio and Television Commission whose board of directors will be chaired by the minister of culture and information.
It also approved the bylaws of the Saudi Press Agency. The new Cabinet decisions are expected to boost the Kingdom's public media.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Prince Ahmad briefed the Cabinet on the results of the 19th annual meeting of regional governors in Jeddah. He said the governors' would follow the king's directives to serve citizens and meet their needs.
The Cabinet agreed to lift the tariff on Palestinian imports for another year and the government would bear the customs duties of Palestinian goods.
The Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the exchange of information relevant to money laundering and terror financing between the Saudi Financial Investigation Unit (SFIU) of the Ministry of Interior and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the United States, which was signed on July 12, 2011.
The Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding on exchanging information and investigations relating to money laundering and terror financing between SFIU and the Financial Investigation Unit of the Serious Organized Crime Agency (UK Financial Investigation Unit), which was signed on July 12, 2011.
Source: Arab News

03-08-12, 12:28 AM
Saudi Arabia says invited Cos have 4 Mos to bid for Monorail Project 
LONDON (Zawya Dow Jones)--Saudi Arabia said Monday it has selected four consortia to bid for the contract to construct the country's first electric monorail project, a move which comes as part of a long series of major development projects taking place in cities across the Kingdom.
In a statement posted on the state press agency's website, Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz, Chairman of the Committee overseeing the implementation of the public transport in the city of Riyadh, said that four groups of leading international companies had been selected to submit financial and technical bids for the construction of the project in the Kingdom's capital city, Riyadh.
The companies selected have been invited to bid for the project within a maximum of four months time.
The four groups consist of a total 33 companies with expertise in various areas of work related to the project, originating from 15 different countries and including the world's largest train manufacturers who have participated in the establishment of train and metro networks in major world cities such as Paris, London, and Washington amongst others.
The companies eligible to bid were decided based on their respective specializations in industry, trains, digging tunnels underground, civil works and the work of bridges, tunnels, control systems and operation, the mechanical, electrical, and design work, and management of major projects.
In addition, requests to bid for the operation and maintenance of buses, including 16 major international companies specialized in supply, operation and maintenance of buses, are being reviewed and evaluated and will be decided on shortly, the announcement on SPA said.
Source: Zawya Dow Jones Newswires

03-08-12, 12:29 AM
 Saudi GDP to slow down in 2012
But fiscal surplus will widen due to surge in oil income
Saudi Arabia's real GDP is projected to slow down to around 3.9 per cent in 2012 compared with 6.8 per cent in 2011 but a surge in its oil income will likely widen its fiscal surplus, according to the Gulf Kingdom's largest bank.
The slowdown will be in both the oil and non-hydrocarbon sectors despite a modest increase in the country's crude output, National Commercial Bank (NCB) said in its quarter review of Saudi Arabia's economy.
It expected the Kingdom's oil output to rise by 100,000 bpd to 9.4 million bpd this year but crude prices could slip to about $105.9 from a record high of $108.1.
A breakdown showed the oil sector is projected to grow by 1.8 per cent in 2012 compared with 4.3 per cent in 2011 while the non-oil sector could expand by nearly 4.7 per cent compared with 7.8 per cent last year.
Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and world's oil powerhouse, recorded one of its highest real GDP growth rates of 6.8 per cent in 2011 because of a sharp rise in oil prices and public spending. The country's crude production also jumped to 9.3 million bpd from 6.2 million bpd in 2010.
As oil prices are expected to remain above $100 a barrel this year, against a breakeven price for Saudi crude of $66.4, the Kingdom's fiscal balance is forecast to widen to nearly SR320 billion from SR306 billion in 2011 and SR87 billion in 2010. Riyadh's suffered from a deficit of SR87 billion in 2009 because of a surge in public expenditure and a sharp drop in crude prices.
The report expected Saudi Arabia's oil actual revenue to soar to SR1.09 billion in 2012, nearly SR300 billion above budgeted revenues. But actual expenditure is also projected to swell by nearly SR81 billion to SR771 billion, the report said.
High oil prices will also allow Saudi Arabia, which controls nearly a fifth of the world's extractable oil wealth, to record a high current account surplus of around $151 billion in 2012. Its net foreign assets are also projected to climb to an all time high of nearly $636 billion at the end of 2012, an increase of around $101 billion over the previous year, NCB said.

Source: Emirates 24/7

03-08-12, 12:34 AM
New drive to curb bounced checks menace

The Saudi Credit Bureau (SIMAH) has initiated a Taqweem project aimed at providing accurate credit information on small and medium enterprises with a view to helping banking and financing institutions extend the required funds to these projects, says SIMAH CEO Nabil Al-Mubarak.
SIMAH has also simultaneously launched an awareness campaign on the dangers and risks associated with bouncing checks due to their negative effects on individuals or corporates, he says in an exclusive interview to Arab News.
"Accordingly, the total number of bounced checks fell during the first quarter of 2012 by 54 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011."
He said SIMAH had also launched several projects aimed at providing credit information, periodic updates and payment behaviors via SMS messages aimed at cultivating credit awareness among community members.
SIMAH is owned by 10 Saudi banks and is governed by the Credit Information System (CIS), he said.
Source: Arab News

04-08-12, 02:13 PM
Saudi firm cancels Russian deals - report

A prominent Saudi businessman has canceled a number of multi-million dollar oil and gas contracts with around 20 Russian companies, in protest at the Moscow governments support for Assads regime in Syria, according to reports at the weekend.
Saudi tycoon Mubarak Swaikat said he made the decision to cancel the petrochemical contracts without any pressure from the kingdoms authorities and as a show of support for those fighting in Syria, the Kuwaiti news site Al Aan reported on Saturday.
This is the least that I can do to support our brothers in Syria, Mubarak was quoted as saying. The Saudi government and society have already given a shining example of selflessness and donations to make their Syrian brethren happy and support them in their time of need, he was quoted as saying by the website.
Riyadh and Moscow have clashed over the ongoing fighting in Syria and in March Saudi officials hit back at Russian allegations the kingdom was supporting terrorism in Syria.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly rejects and condemns such irresponsible accusations that distort the true position of the Kingdom, which has been keen on addressing the Syrian crisis according to the international legitimate conventions and through the UN Security Council, the body responsible for international security and peace, the ministry said in a statement issued to the Saudi Press Agency said.
These have been the Kingdom's efforts which unfortunately have been stalled and aborted by the Veto, giving the Syrian regime a licence to commit crimes against its unarmed people in a way that is contrary to human morality and all international laws and norms.
It should be noted in this regard that the Russian accusations are based on wrong assumptions repeatedly voiced by the media of the Syrian regime and rejected by the international community, it added.
Russia, along with China, has continually blocked UN moves calling on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to quit.
Source: Arabian Business

04-08-12, 04:30 PM
GCC construction deals set to rise 71% in 2012 
The value of construction project contracts awarded this year in the GCC is forecast to increase by 71 percent, according to new research.
In 2011, construction projects to the value of $46.52bn were completed in the GCC, a figure expected to increase dramatically to $79.75bn in 2012, data released by Ventures ME said.
The research revealed that the UAE continues to garner the largest share of the total GCC construction market - accounting for almost half (48 percent).
Saudi Arabia was the second biggest market (33 percent) followed by Kuwait (8 percent), Qatar (6 percent), Oman (3 percent) and Bahrain (2 percent).
Ventures ME said the value of commercial real estate projects is set to almost double in 2012 to $15.3bn as the GCC continues to build its retail offering.
The hotel and hospitality sector will also witness enormous growth throughout 2012 with project values set to treble to $7.3bn.
This growth is a direct result of the increased demand for hotel space in the GCC where room revenues are set to reach $22bn in 2012 and expected to increase to $27bn by 2015, the research said.
The research was commissioned by dmg :: events, the organising team behind the INDEX International Design Exhibition which is due to take place in September in Dubai.
"One of the findings from the report is that GCC countries spend more money on average on interior contracting and fit-outs elements of a construction project than their counterparts in the US, Europe and Japan," said Naomi Barton, INDEX event director.
"The hotel and hospitality sector is the biggest segment spender, with over 22.5 percent of total project cost allocated to interior contracting and fit-out projects - more than any other sector within the GCC's building construction industry."
INDEX 2012 is set to attract over 900 exhibitors from 45 countries, she added.
Source: Arabian Business

04-08-12, 04:31 PM
Saudi food firm faces grilling over production dates
Saudi authorities have filed legal proceedings against the kingdoms largest food producer for allegedly printing incorrect production dates.
The Saudi Ministry of Trade and Industry has filed three cases against National Agriculture Development Company (NADEC), the kingdoms largest food producer, a ministry source told the Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.
It is the third time the company has been warned by authorities and the latest cases relate to the placing of inaccurate production dates on dairy products and juices, the report said.
Around 100,000 bottles of produce were seized as part of the investigation.
The clampdown on produce comes as it was reported that Saudis are set to spend around SAR30bn (US$8bn) on consumer goods during Ramadan.
Salem Baajaja, professor of accountancy at Taif University, said residents normally spend about SAR15bn during Ramadan, but he predicted that this year it was set to double to SAR30bn by the end of the holy month, Arab News reported.
Source: Arab News

04-08-12, 04:33 PM
 Riyadh-Dammam train travel picks up speed
DAMMAM: There is hectic activity at the train stations in Riyadh and Dammam these days as the number of Saudi and expat commuters between the two cities has increased dramatically.
"I frequently take the train to Dammam from Riyadh and vice versa for my business trips," said Ibrahim Rizq, an Egyptian executive working for a major furniture group.
"I consider this to be the safest mode and so far by the grace of Allah I have had no problems."
The Dammam-Abqaiq-Hofuf-Riydah rail line, run by the Saudi Railway Organization, is currently the only operating railway line in the Kingdom.
A large rail network will be in place soon, connecting the Kingdom's remote areas with the main cities of Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah, Qassim, and Riyadh.
Mohammad Ilyas, a young IT assistant at King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Riyadh, was on the train to Riyadh from Dammam on Friday. He seemed every bit relaxed.
"These trains are luxurious and offer full security to the womenfolk," he said, referring to the special compartment for families.
"I had to travel to Dammam to drop my sister and her children, and for me, taking the train was the best possible option. I can't think of getting into a private taxi with my sister and children. What if the taxi breaks down in the middle of the highway?" he said.
Mohammed Nasser Al-Ghamdi, a former Saudi Aramco employee, is a regular train commuter and says train journeys for him are like stress-busters.
"I love conversations, and on these trains you usually meet interesting people," said Al-Ghamdi told Arab News.
Source: Arab News

04-08-12, 04:34 PM
 KAEC Seaport to boost annual GDP
King Abdullah Economic City's seaport is expected to contribute SR 10 billion to Saudi Arabia's economy annually when it opens next year, an official at Emaar, the Economic City has said.
Ahmed Linjawi, president of the city services and industrial division at Emaar told Arab News it would also create up to 15,000 jobs.
He added one of the greatest features of the port is its capability to receive the new generation of mega vessels that will significantly uplift the level of the Kingdom's competitiveness by enhancing maritime transport and logistics services.
Linjawi explained work on the seaport would continue following the scheduled opening of operations until the completion of its first phase in 2015.
Linjawi said: "The first phase of the new seaport will have a capacity of 4 million TEUs and will comprise approximately one and a half kilometers of deep-water berth capable of handling the largest cargo vessels in the world, as well as almost three quarters of a million square meters of container storage area, able to store over 80,000 TEUs at any one time."
He added progress to date on completing the port is well underway with 10 million cubic meters of dredging and excavation completed and nearly 800 tons of concrete blocks to be utilized to construct the quay wall.
"We are also developing a roll-in roll-out terminal for the import and export of automobiles and other moving equipment."
He said the KAEC port, extending over a total of 13 million square meters, is one of the key components of King Abdullah Economic City and is already attracting companies from various industries due to its strategic location and direct access to the Industrial Valley, which makes it the ideal outlet to reach 250 million consumers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Linjawi added: "KAEC's port aims to be one of the largest ports in the world with an eventual capacity of around 20 million TEU per year.
"It will address the needs of the business community and coupled with the introduction of industry leading systems and practices, KAEC's port will radically change the face of the logistics supply chain in Saudi Arabia and the GCC region."
Source: Arab News

04-08-12, 04:36 PM
Construction growth in Saudi Arabia to accelerate further in 2013
JEDDAH - Saudi Arabia's already buoyant construction sector was given a further boost in 2011, after a flurry of contracts worth $71.2 billion were awarded, Research and Markets said in its report on "Saudi Arabia Infrastructure Report Q3 2012".
"This is a trend we expect to continue in the short term, thanks to the government's vast infrastructure investment scheme," the report noted.
One of the most dynamic sub-sectors in Saudi Arabia has been power plants and transmission and distribution (T&D), with the $80 billion, 10-year investment plan for electricity infrastructure (2008-2018) having led to significant activity in the energy sector.
Huge investment into the social infrastructure sector is in the pipeline, in part to appease the populace. Both the SR1.44 trillion ($385 billion) Ninth Development Plan (2010-2014) and social benefit packages worth a total of $130 billion, announced in response to protests in which swept the Middle East during 2011, are heavy on social infrastructure spending.
Transport is also booming, especially rail infrastructure - with $24 billion of projects under way or in the pipeline. The Haramain High Speed Railway has taken centre stage, with the final contract for the project (worth $1.4 billion and awarded to the Spanish Al-Shoula consortium) awarded in July 2011. Attention should now turn to the SR26 billion ($7 billion) Saudi Landbridge project, an east-west rail line that will link Jeddah and Dammam.

In Q411, the Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) secured $2.3 billion of funding from a syndicate of local and international banks, led by the Gulf International Bank (GIB), for the expansion and development of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah
Source: Zawya

04-08-12, 04:38 PM
 US firm wins $ 337 m Saudi aluminium deal
Engineering and construction company Fluor Corp has won a $337m contract for an aluminum plant in Saudi Arabia.
The company said it has been awarded a contract from Maaden and Alcoa Inc to provide engineering, procurement and construction management services for an automotive sheet facility in Ras Al-Khair, Saudi Arabia.
Fluor's scope of work includes designing, constructing and commissioning the plant, which will have the capability to produce a range of products suitable for further downstream manufacturing in the aluminum complex.
These products include automotive heat-treated and non-heat-treated sheet, building and construction sheet and foil stock sheet.
"We are pleased to continue our relationship with Maaden and Alcoa to support the development of their aluminum complex in Saudi Arabia," said Rick Koumouris, head of Fluor's Mining & Metals business.
"This new manufacturing facility will help meet the global automotive industry's growing demands for new, lighter materials."
Once complete, the automotive sheet facility will produce lightweight aluminum to be used in vehicle manufacturing.
The new facility is part of the Maaden-Alcoa aluminum complex that is currently under development in Saudi Arabia.
The facilities, which include a mine, alumina refinery, aluminum smelter and rolling mill, will be one of the largest and most efficient aluminum complexes in the world.
US-based Fluor Corp is a FORTUNE 200 company and had revenue of $23.4bn in 2011.
Source: Arabian Business

04-08-12, 04:39 PM
Saudi Airlines Cargo grows volumes by 26% in H1

Saudi Airlines Cargo carried 251,000 tonnes of cargo in the first half of 2012, a 26 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
During the period the air freight firm also posted a 25 percent increase in revenue year-on-year.
"We experienced all-time records in May and June 2012. The main contributors to our growth were exports from Europe, East Africa and the UAE as well as cargo from our network into Saudi Arabia and West Africa, said Fahad Hammad, CEO. "We expect the growth spurt to continue in the second half of 2012."
In April, the company introduced new routes to Frankfurt, Vienna, Ho Chi Minh City and Dubai, which have stimulated growth.
Source: Arabian Business

04-08-12, 04:40 PM
Saudi Arabia allocates SR 250 b for housing 
RIYADH - Owing to the planned construction of approximately 500,000 housing units across the country, Saudi Arabia has allocated up to SR250 billion for social housing projects alone. The Saudi government has geared its attention towards the social infrastructure and consequently announced the Ninth Development Plan (2010-2014) worth SR1443 billion, in addition to social benefit packages totaling SR487.5 billion.
The government's incessant funding of social infrastructure projects has been a key factor in sustaining the growth of the construction industry, by acquiring the latest trends, adopting best practices and recruiting top notch experts in the field of construction technology.
In this context, Saudi Stone-Tech 2012, the 15th International Stone and Stone Technology Show - organized by Riyadh Exhibitions Company ( REC ) - will showcase a wide range of new stone products and technologies, catering to the growing needs of a key market and supporting the sustained growth of the Kingdom's construction industry. The event will gather a prominent mix of top distributors, suppliers, manufacturers, agents and engineers from across Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the world.
The exhibition will feature products ranging from marble slabs, granite, natural stone and mosaics, to computerized stone-cutting machinery, polishing equipment, discs, blades and slates. Saudi Stone-Tech 2012 will be held concurrently with two other construction-based events, namely Saudi Build 2012, the 24th International Construction Technology and Building Materials Exhibition, and Saudi Build - The PMV Series 2012, the 3rd International Exhibition for Construction Equipment, Plant, Machinery and Vehicles. All three exhibitions will be held Nov. 11-14 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.
Ziyad Al-Rukban, Assistant General Manager, Riyadh Exhibitions Company ( REC ), said: "The Saudi construction market continues to open exciting opportunities for growth, driven by sustained governmental investments to address the country's rapidly expanding social infrastructure needs. We are therefore confident that this year's edition of Saudi Stone-Tech will be one of the largest and most successful to date as we have already generated strong feedback from exhibitors and trade visitors."
Al-Rukban added: "Both, the VeronaFiere and the Italian Marmomacchine Association continue to support the show, seen as the most comprehensive showcase of stone products and technologies that cater to all the specific requirements of construction projects in Saudi Arabia. The continued success of Saudi Stone-Tech and Saudi Build certainly highlights the reputation of Saudi Arabia as a key destination for suppliers, manufacturers and other leading stakeholders in the global construction industry."
Saudi Stone-Tech serves as a gateway for local, regional and international companies to explore the lucrative Saudi market and engage in new business opportunities. The event will feature designers and landscapers keen to exhibit their cutting-edge stone products and machinery.

Source: Zawya

04-08-12, 04:42 PM
Delayed Saudi jet deal weighs on BAE profit
BAE Systems said delays in completing a substantial deal with Saudi Arabia and lower spending by European and American military customers dented profit, in a sector facing further government defence cuts.
Europe's largest defence contractor, which will build Britain's next generation of nuclear-armed submarines, on Thursday said earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (EBITA) fell 3 percent in the first six months of the year.
US rivals, such as Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, also reported lower earnings last month, and flagged uncertainty about an additional US$500bn in US defence spending cuts that could come in January, on top of US$487bn in cuts already made.
"BAE were similar to other large US defence companies," said RBC analyst Rob Stallard. "I see more of the same in big defence with sales below expectations as the US budget declines."
BAE, which makes around half of its revenues in the US, said sales at its US platforms and services unit fell 16 percent in the first half.
The group said it had seen less disruption to the award of US defence contracts this year than in 2011 but that it was making plans to cope with further delays caused by presidential elections in November, which could push back 2013 budgets.
"We have been running through plans with all of our US businesses and will take actions on a programme-by-programme basis when we get more clarity," CEO Ian King told reporters.
"It's not all plain sailing given the challenging environment," King said.
BAE - part of the Eurofighter consortium that lost out on the sale of 126 jets to India earlier this year - said it expected to deliver "modest growth" in 2012 subject to the completion of the Saudi deal.
Saudi Arabia - the world's top oil exporter - signed a contract with BAE in 2007 to buy 72 Typhoon aircraft, 24 of which have been delivered to the Royal Saudi Air Force. The Salam deal, as it is known, is worth around GBP4.5bn (US$7bn).
Talks between BAE and Saudi over changes to the price of the deal are expected to be completed in the coming months.
"We're making good progress in commercial discussions with Saudi, which we anticipate will close it in the second half," King said.
Shares in BAE, which have risen 7 percent in the last month, were down 1.1 percent at 308.9 pence by 0920 GMT, valuing the business at around GBP10.5bn.
EBITA fell to GBP939m in the six months to the end of June, above a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S average forecast of GBP920m.
Sales fell 10 percent to GBP8.33bn, while the order book edged up 2 percent to GBP40bn.
BAE increased its half-year dividend by 4 percent to 7.8 pence per share.
Source: Arabian Business

04-08-12, 04:45 PM
Campaign Set to Expel Illegal Workers
The labor and interior ministries will launch a major campaign shortly to drive out illegal foreign workers.
A joint committee will be formed to conduct field inspections to check workers who violate the Kingdom's labor laws. "The campaign will cover all cities and streets of the Kingdom," an informed source told Al-Watan Arabic daily. He said the move was aimed at finding surplus foreign workers in the country and take necessary action.
"The Labor Ministry is currently working out a new mechanism with the Interior Ministry to put an end to the phenomenon of surplus foreign workers who wander in the Kingdom's streets looking for jobs," he said. The campaign also aims at finding out companies that do not transfer salaries to the accounts of workers. "This shows they are either delaying payment of salaries or the workers are not in their sponsorship," the source said.
The Committee of Experts in the Cabinet has done a study on changing the Labor Law to include clauses on how to deal with foreigners who violate regulations. "This move also aims at addressing the issue of surplus workers," the source said.
According to Article 39 of the Labor Law, the Interior Ministry will arrest and deport those surplus workers who do not work for any company. It will also punish Saudi individuals and companies who employ such workers.
The new article also gives power to the Labor Ministry to inspect companies and institutions and investigate violations. "The Labor Ministry's inspectors will hand over the violators to the Interior Ministry to take punitive action."
The new move comes following the Labor Ministry's efforts to regulate recruitment of foreign workers and create more job opportunities for Saudis.
According to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, remittances by expatriate workers in the Kingdom are expected to reach SR 128 billion, 16 percent more than the figure of 2011.
Most straying workers in the Kingdom are engaged in jobs Saudis do not like to do, Al-Watan said. Some Saudis sell job visas to foreign workers at high prices and ask them to pay part of their salaries every month. The Saudi sponsors allow these foreign workers to engage in various business and other activities, violating the Labor Law. Many people come to the Kingdom on Haj and Umrah visas and overstay their visas to work in the country. As a result of the Passport Department's intense campaign and the Haj Ministry's efforts, the number of these overstaying pilgrims has gone down considerably.
Source: Zawya

05-08-12, 05:11 PM
Saudi business activity growth slows Jeddah
Growth of business activity in Saudi Arabia's non-oil private sector fell to its lowest level for seven months in July as new orders and output growth slowed, a survey of over 400 private companies published on Sunday showed.
The SABB HSBC Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers' Index, which measures activity in the manufacturing and services sectors, was 58.1 points in July against 59.7 in June. The index is the lowest this year and below the average recorded since data collection started three years ago.
However, the seasonally adjusted index remained well above the 50-point mark separating growth from contraction.
Output growth was slower in July; it was the weakest for nine months at 62.2 against 63.8 in June. New order growth fell to 66.3 in July from 69.2 in June.
But employment growth remained unchanged from the month before at 53.6 points. 'The rise in staffing levels was the tenth in successive months, and attributed by panel members to improving economic conditions and higher production requirements.'
Analysts in a Reuters poll conducted in July predicted Saudi Arabia's gross domestic product would expand 5.2 percent this year, after 6.8 percent last year.
Source: Reuters

05-08-12, 05:12 PM
Saudi ends high on bank, petchem gains 
Saudi shares closed higher on Saturday led by gains in the banking and petrochemical stocks. The all-share ended 0.9 per cent higher at 6,951 points.
The Kingdom's petrochemical index ended 0.6 per cent higher at 6,053 points.
Petrochemical giant Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) gained 1.4 per cent.
The petrochemical index ended 1 per cent higher at 15,779, boosted by gains in heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank which added 1.4 per cent.
Earlier in the day too, the shares opened higher led by gains in the petrochemical and banking sectors after oil prices rose on Friday.
Oil prices had risen sharply on Friday, with Brent crude futures hitting a 10-week high, after the US nonfarm payrolls report showed employers added more jobs than expected in July
Source: Reuters

05-08-12, 05:13 PM
CGM intensifies Saudi growth plans 
Leading e-health company, CompuGroup Medical (CGM), has intensified its plans in Saudi Arabia, developing custom-built e-health solutions that cater to the specific needs of hospitals and healthcare institutions.
Saudi Arabias healthcare expenditures are expected to increase by 16 per cent, from SR78.63 billion ($20.97 billion) in 2011 to SR91.23 billion ($24.33 billion) in 2012, driven by aggressive public sector investments in healthcare facilities.
The medical devices sector, on the other hand, will sustain a 17.9 per cent growth, reaching SR 6.53 billion ($1.74 billion) in 2012 from SR 5.54 billion ($1.48 billion) in the previous year.
Demand for healthcare IT solutions for managing critical data assets has registered considerable growth in Saudi Arabia in light of the governments aggressive healthcare expenditure, a statement from the company said.
Thomas Reitmayr, the vice president of business development, CompuGroup Medical Middle East, said: The aggressive government and private expenditure on healthcare has created a corresponding boost in demand for sophisticated healthcare IT solutions.
As hospitals and other medical facilities increasingly use more advanced medical devices and techniques, they likewise need to adopt comprehensive healthcare IT solutions that will enable them to function efficiently and achieve greater productivity.
CompuGroup Medical intends to complement the aggressive adoption of modern healthcare technologies in the Saudi Arabia by providing scalable IT products and solutions that will empower healthcare providers to further raise the quality of their services, he concluded.
Source: Trade Arabia

05-08-12, 05:14 PM
Saudi catering unite CEO to step down 
The CEO of Saudi Airlines Catering Company is stepping down, weeks after the firm's $354.09m initial public offering.
Christophe Parent will terminate his contract early due to "personal reasons" after almost five years in charge of the company.
"He has spent nearly five years as the CEO and worked on developing and restructuring the company," said a statement to the Saudi bourse on Saturday.
His contract had been up for renewal in October, the statement said, adding that the search for a new CEO would start immediately.
The company also announced plans to set up a new unit called SAC Services to provide catering services to offices and residential complexes as well as work locations in remote sites in the Gulf kingdom.
The catering company is one of six units of Saudi Arabian Airlines which started a process of privatisation in 2006. Other units include cargo, maintenance, airlines, flight academy and ground handling.
It plans to privatise each unit and offer shares in them to the public.
Source: Arabian Business

05-08-12, 05:15 PM
Zamil Industrial set to distibute dividends for H1 
The Board of Zamil Industrial Investment Company (Zamil Industrial) has approved distributing SR45 million as bi-annual dividends for the first half of 2012 at SR0.75 per share (representing 7.5 percent of the paid-up capital), the company said in a statement recently.Dividends eligibility will be for shareholders registered as at the close of trading on July 31, 2012. Distribution of dividends to shareholders starts on Aug. 14, 2012.Zamil Industrial urges all shareholders to update their bank account details in order to avoid delays in transferring their dividends.Shareholders are welcome to send their inquiries by directly contacting our Corporate Communications & Investor Relations Department by phone (03 8108180) or by email ([email protected]). Zamil Industrial registered SR93.3 million net profit in the first half of 2012, a 10.2 percent from SR84.7 million last year, while earnings per share climbed to SR1.55 from SR1.41 generated in the same period last year, the company said on the Tadawul website.
Source: Saudi Gazette

05-08-12, 05:16 PM
 CPC honors summer training graduates
Construction Products Holding Company (CPC) celebrated in its headquarters in Jeddah the graduation of Saudi female students from both King Abdulaziz University and Effat University who participated in CPCs Summer Training Internship Program.
The program was designed by the department of Business Development & CSR to offer training for female students majoring in Engineering and Information Technology.
The program was supervised by Maie Omar Binladin, Deputy Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at CPC.
On this occasion, CPC Director of Business Development & CSR, Faysal Alaquil said "CPC is proud to offer this training program to give the support for female Saudi students, not only for them to be exposed to training at a corporate level but also to give them the opportunity to visit CPC factories and to familiarize them with the construction material products produced at the CPC Bahra Industrial Park. The excursion trip of CPCs Bahra Industrial Park took place during the training internship course."
The event was attended by CPCs Chief Operating Officer Nabeel A. Al Rikhaimi, Alaquil, Maie O. Binladin and Sahar A. Alshenawi, Assistant Director of Business Development.
"This is the fourth year that CPC is conducting summer training for the purpose of pre-qualifying female students to enter the business world," Alaquil added.
CPC is carrying this summer training as part of its interest toward its social responsibility towards its community.
Certificates were distributed to the students and evaluation sheets were forwarded to each respective university to be added as credited units towards their academic career.
Source: Saudi Gazette

05-08-12, 05:17 PM
SR 929 million contracts for municipal projects signed

Minister of Municipality & Rural Affairs Prince Mansour bin Mitib recently signed 11 contracts with a number of national companies worth SR 929.55 million to carry out a series of municipal projects.
One contract signed with Trans Saudi Arabian Company was worth SR 633.61 million and related to implementation of the intersection of the 4th Ring Road with Madinah Road and a road link with Jeddah Old Road. The project will be implemented within 30 months.
Another contract was signed with Arabian Trade, Industrial and Contracting Company Ltd., which entrusts the implementation of the intersection of the 4th Road Ring with Jeddah Old Road at a total cost of SR 80.38 million in a period of two and a half years
Source: Arab News

05-08-12, 05:18 PM
Giant taxi company planned 
A number of leading investors in the Kingdom's taxi sector have plans to establish a giant company with a capital of SR 1 billion.
Saeed Al-Bassami, deputy chairman of the National Committee for Land Transport, said more than 730 investors who own about 30,000 cabs are seriously thinking of transforming their firms into a joint stock company within two years.
Under the plan, the limousine sector would embrace most of the features of the London taxi system.
According to Al-Bassami, there will be seven branch companies under the umbrella of a parent company in major cities in the Kingdom.
The parent company will have 25 leading investors who own a total of 15,000 taxis as its members.
The parent company will likely attract 645 new investors to this sector. The total number of investors will then reach 1,375, owning a total of 43,000 taxis, Al-Madinah daily reported. Al-Bassami said the parent company would spearhead the initiative to reorganize the taxi sector in the Kingdom.
He added: "The process of merging the taxi firms into major companies will be optional in the beginning. At later stages, the merger will be completed in an organized manner to encompass all the taxis operating in the Kingdom."
The newly developed system will extend various services with an emphasis on the quality of service.
He added: "Under the system, all taxis will be monitored through a satellite channel. Their movement, location, and direction will be under surveillance using GPS technology."
He added this would help taxi companies know the whereabouts of each cab and allow parents to keep an eye on daughters who take a taxi.
Under the new system, there will be a change in the design of taxis and the logo of the company will be placed on the rear side door of the vehicle.
The color of taxis would be white with a beige roof.
There will be independent branch companies in Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah, Taif, Eastern Province, Northern Borders and southern provinces.
Al-Bassami said the ministries of transport and labor have given the go ahead for the new system. The ministries have offered full support to implement it once investors complete all necessary procedures.
Al-Bassami said a study to modernize the Kingdom's transport system has been completed and is now awaiting implementation.
Authorities have been urged to upgrade the Kingdom's public transport system, especially the taxi sector. Some of them stressed the need for introducing the London taxi system. However, some others noted this system would be counterproductive as it entails higher operation costs and customers would pay more.
Minister of Transport Jabbara Al-Seraisy recently suggested introducing the system, according to Salem Al-Bulaiwi, deputy chairman of the Land Transport Committee at Asharqiya.
"During a meeting with the minister in Riyadh, he suggested introducing this meter-priced system in the Eastern Province. The plan's implementation has been delayed due to our objections to the high fares starting from SR 50."
He added it would be very difficult to introduce this system in the Kingdom, as this would benefit only the wealthy.
Source: Arab News

05-08-12, 05:25 PM
 Kingdom leads in regional infrastructure investment
Saudi Arabia is set to take the lead in regional infrastructure investment and construction spending, a new medium-term outlook by BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research Report titled "GCC 2020: Time to Shift Gears" said Tuesday.
Over the next 15 years, the MENA construction sector will be a key beneficiary of the implementation of structural reforms to raise productivity of the non-oil sector and the economys potential output, the report noted.
"Due to many years of underinvestment, we expect Saudi Arabia to take the lead in terms of construction spending in the MENA region as the Kingdom responds positively to pressing social needs such as labor, housing and education," said Philip Southwell, Bank of America Merrill Lynch president and country executive, Middle East and North Africa.
The MENA infrastructure and construction market is among the worlds most attractive given its sheer size, according to the report. Forecasting figures predict a total of $4.3 trillion will be invested in construction projects across the MENA region by 2020, representing an increase of almost 80 percent from todays spend in the sector. To put these projections in a broader context, the region is expected to account for 12 percent of the global emerging markets and 4.4 percent of the world construction markets within the next decade. Saudi Arabia is expected to continue leading the way.
Although MENA contract awards have been somewhat disappointing for the period January to May 2012, declining by 41 percent from a year earlier, the main reasons for this decline can be primarily attributed to delays in awarding petrochemicals projects in Egypt and delays in awarding construction and infrastructure contracts in the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq.
"The construction and infrastructure sub-sectors in Saudi Arabia, however, remain strong, growing by 177 percent over the same period, and currently accounting for 46 percent of the 2012-2013 MENA project pipeline totaling $448bn," said Mutashar Murshed, Merrill Lynch Kingdom of Saudi Arabia CEO.
"It is a trend we expect to continue," Southwell said. "With its young and expanding population, Saudi Arabia should remain the most buoyant market, in line with its overall economic development plan. Furthermore, the recent approval of the mortgage law should help to drive growth in residential construction in response to the current housing shortage."
On long-term view, Saudi banks seem best placed among GCC peers to produce loan growth and improved ROEs.
The Kingdom should be able to maintain a similar pace of growth compared to the previous seven years at around 14 percent CAGR playing on both the consumer as well as infrastructure themes.
A long-term normalization of interest rates from historical lows will support their ROEs given their franchise deposit base.
The remaining GCC banking systems will be more of a play on the infrastructure theme given their greater skew toward corporate lending while ROEs are unlikely to materially change.
With credit to GDP averaging 58 percent within emerging countries credit penetration is not enticingly low within most of the GCC even after accounting for the higher per capita income.
However, looking more closely, Saudi Arabia and Oman stand out as having more room for growth.
The two countries, along with Qatar (which is preparing for the World Cup 2022), are expected to produce 14 percent CAGR growth in lending between now and 2020, the report said.
Beyond 2020, the Kingdom is likely to have further room to grow especially on the mortgage lending side.
One example of structural improvements in credit penetration is mortgage lending in Saudi Arabia. Home finance loans currently stand at 1.4 percent of GDP, 12 percent of retail loans and 4 percent of total loans.
They averaged CAGR of 25 percent 2003 to 2011and current pace is 7 percent QoQ and 31 percent YoY in March 2012.
The government has recently passed the countries first mortgage law which will allow banks to provide longer duration loans backed by the underlying asset.
Growth is expected to accelerate to 38 percent CAGR in 2011-14 with penetration around 4.5 percent of GDP by 2016, it noted.
The reform is driven by the governments need to alleviate housing shortage and strong population growth, the report said.
Current spending trends will likely mean that, in the absence of fiscal reforms, the Saudi government starts running deficits from the next decade onwards and accumulate domestic debt.
Assuming crude oil production increases by 1.6 percent annually, this would lead the oil breakeven fiscal price to rise to $125/bbl by 2020.
"Unless the pace of current spending is reined in, the introduction of structural reforms (lower subsidies, higher non-oil revenues) will need to be contemplated to avoid turning fiscal dynamics into a binding constraint on growth," the report said.
Three trends related to crude oil production, consumption and fiscal spending underpin the assessment of a steady move higher in the breakeven price:
1) Future oil production increases could be more limited (4 million bpd to 2035 vs. 7.8 million bpd increase from 1965 to 2012), and entail a need for investments in additional productive capacity (plans for which are not drawn for the time being);
2) Domestic crude oil consumption is increasing at a pace of 4.1 percent yoy (2002-2011 average), eating away at export capacity (because oil is sold domestically at subsidized rates, this has the effect of decreasing the budgetary fiscal oil intake and raising the fiscal breakeven oil price. Note that crude oil exports stood at 7 million bpd in 2011 and domestic oil consumption at 2.3 million bpd); and,
3) Recent increases in budgetary spending, while broadly prudent, are eventually unlikely to be matched by concomitant increases in revenues in the event oil production gains could be more restrained. Fiscal spending has increased by an average of 12.4 percent yoy in 2000-2012f, slightly below the long-term average of 13.5 percent yoy in 1970-2012. This compares to a slight contraction in spending (an average of -3.8 percent yoy) in 1980-1999 and to a more buoyant increase of 16.1 percent in 2005-2011. Revenues increased by 23 percent yoy on average over 1970- 2011, though this figure masks inherent volatility, it added.

Source: Saudi Gazette

06-08-12, 10:27 AM
UAE, Saudi Arabia lead Arab world in professional networking users

DUBAI/JEDDAH - The UAE leads in the use of LinkedIn across the Arab world with over one million users followed by Saudi Arabia with 680,000 users and Egypt with 596,000 users, a recent regional study conducted by Galal & Karawi Management Consulting (G&K) in collaboration with Orient Planet PR and Marketing Communications, the Middle East representative of Eurocom Worldwide, revealed.

The study showed a total of 2.7 million LinkedIn users and 21.4 million Facebook users in the surveyed countries of Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

The UAE ranked 22nd globally in the number of LinkedIn users, Saudi Arabia ranked 32nd, while Egypt came in 38th.

However, the study also showed that a significantly higher number of people in the Arabian Gulf and Egypt are using popular social networking website Facebook compared to its professional and business-oriented counterpart LinkedIn.

The study compared social networking websites that share personal news, photos and information such as Facebook, with professional networking websites such as LinkedIn that mainly serve as an interactive platform for professionals.

The study showed a total of 2.7 million LinkedIn users and 21.4 million Facebook users in the surveyed countries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Egypt.

In contrast to the survey's findings on LinkedIn users, the survey for the top Arab countries with the most Facebook users showed Egypt at the top and 19th worldwide with 11.4 million users. Saudi Arabia came in second in the Arab world and 31st worldwide with 5.3 million users, followed by the UAE, which came in third place in the Arab world and 48th worldwide with 3.1 million users.

"The study shows a ratio of 1:8 in the number of LinkedIn users compared to the number of Facebook users in the surveyed Arab countries. The global ratio is 1:5," said Asem Galal, a senior official at Galal & Karawi Management Consulting. "This is mainly attributed to a surge in social networking use in the Arab world, particularly in the light of recent events such as the Arab Spring, wherein Facebook and Twitter were extensively used as a platform for communication, as was the case in Egypt.

"On the other hand, our study indicates that the number of professional networking users across countries that are politically stable and secure such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia was much higher. In fact, users of LinkedIn across the UAE have exceeded 20 per cent of the population, while the average number of users among the top 50 global countries, according to Socialbakers.com, is 7.5 per cent of the population. These figures reaffirm the UAE's leading position as a key business and investment hub in the Middle East."

Nidal Abou Zaki, managing director, Orient Planet PR & Marketing Communications, said "this study focusing on the status of social and professional networking in the Gulf region and Egypt once again underlines the important role of new media in cultivating a knowledge-based economy and society. Though Facebook has outstripped LinkedIn by the number of users in the region, we believe that professional networking will continue to spread across all segments of the society in the coming years, particularly in the Arabian Gulf which has maintained its status as an attractive destination for businesses and investment."

"Moreover, the business community has already started to look at professional networking websites not only as an ideal interactive platform for discussions and exchange of information, it has become a more effective, easier and faster way to recruit experienced professionals and fresh graduates who can simply present their qualifications and experience to recruiting companies and hiring managers within the same network."

Source: Zawya

06-08-12, 10:45 AM
Halwani Bros Company fixes SR 3,000 as a salary for Saudi employees

Halwani Bros Company has become a pioneer among Saudi private companies by announcing SR 3,000 minimum salary for Saudi employees. The company's board meeting has taken a decision in this regard on Wednesday, according to a company statement placed on Tadawul's website. The decision will benefit 80 Saudis working at various plants of the company. In addition to this, the company has a plan to hire another 50 Saudis, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Sunday.

According to the statement, the minimum salary of SR 3,000 includes other allowances after deducting social insurance premium. The new salary package will come into effect from Aug. 1. "The decision aims at boosting the efforts of the government to make available of job opportunities to as many Saudis as possible, in addition to enhancing the company's economic output. The company also wants to attract more Saudi workers to take part in its efforts to increase productive capacity," the statement said.

According to analysts, Halwani is the first company in the private sector to fix minimum salary of Saudi workers at SR 3,000. This comes at a time when the Ministry of Labor is putting the finishing touches to a regulation, making it mandatory to fix minimum salary for private sector employees. They pointed out that the company's decision would put some other companies in crisis because a large number of their staffers are drawing salary less than SR 3,000.

Khaled Al-Khudair, Saudi entrepreneur and founder of the website Glowork, hoped that all private companies, having a number of Saudi workers, would follow the example of Halwani with regard to minimum salary. "This will be an incentive to Saudi employees and would help boost their productivity," he said.

Al-Khudair founded the online platform in June 2011 as a job recruitment site that helps link women to employers in various parts of the Kingdom. To date, over 13,000 women have uploaded their CVs on the website, and thanks to a new partnership with the Labor Ministry, Glowork now has access to around 1.6 million CVs from women in Saudi looking for positions.

Faisal Al-Oqab, economic expert, said that the local companies enjoy great government support, and that was instrumental in scoring excellent performance results. "These companies are making high margin of profits. Then, what prevented them from fixing minimum salary at a rate that enables the Saudi employees to meet their expenses especially in the wake of high inflation and cost of living," he said.

The Jeddah-based Halwani is a leading Saudi food manufacturing company, and it produces and distributes Middle Eastern foodstuff in Saudi Arabia and internationally. The company, which was incorporated in 1952, provides Halawa, Tahina, Mamoul, dairy products, meat, jam, juices, sweets, provisions, cheese, ice cream, grains, spices and sugar, honey and wet wipes. The company's production capacity has risen to 50 tons of Tahina and 65 tons of Halawa daily.

Source: Zawya

06-08-12, 03:53 PM
Traders warned against raising prices 
JEDDAH: Interior Minister Prince Ahmed yesterday warned businesses against increasing prices of essential commodities, especially during the holy month of Ramadan with the aim of making excessive profits.
Addressing a press conference after chairing a meeting of regional governors in Jeddah, he instructed the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and related agencies to monitor markets to control prices.
"Businessmen and traders should fear God and should not try to make excessive profits by charging high and unreasonable prices. It will not be good for them in this world and the hereafter," he added.
However, he pointed out that state control would be limited to controlling prices. "Ours is a free market that depends on competition. So people should avoid highly priced goods and buy cheaper ones instead to bring down prices," he explained.
Speaking about the National Fundraising Campaign for the Syrians, Prince Ahmed said it helped in mobilizing SR 405.85 million in cash donations. About 50 to 70 truckloads of food supplies have been readied for distribution among the Syrians with the support of international organizations.
The interior minister stressed the Kingdom's determination to maintain public security, adding that it has been enjoyed by every citizen and resident of the country. He underscored the cooperation among the GCC countries to strengthen security.
In response to a question on increasing cases of drugs being smuggled into the Kingdom through its borders, Prince Ahmed said: "Smuggling takes places not only through the Kingdom's borders, which are tightly controlled and a large part of the borders is secured."
He added: "The Kingdom's borders are large and spacious with mountainous and difficult terrains and smugglers try to enter the Kingdom through difficult places."
The minister said the border guards are doing their best to prevent smuggling of drugs and weapons into the Kingdom and have arrested a large number of smugglers.
He reiterated the government's policy to achieve a balanced development in all parts of the Kingdom.
"Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has insisted that all places in the Kingdom should enjoy the basic privileges and not be excluded from comprehensive development," he added.
Prince Ahmed spoke about the merits and demerits of modern technology. "It is a weapon with two sharp edges: harmful and useful. It is hoped that the predominant among the two would be the beneficial one," he said, adding that most of what has been published in some social media networks is not true and negates the reality.
Prince Ahmed urged those dealing with modern communication devices, especially the youth, not to believe or make judgment about something without verifying the truth.
He said the governors' meeting had discussed the issue of unemployment among Saudis. "There are about seven million expatriate workers in the Kingdom. If they had employed at least one million Saudis we could have cut the number of expatriates."
He emphasized the need for studying unemployment of Saudis in detail in order to know the reasons for their unemployment and find effective solutions. "We would like to know why they are not employing Saudis in place of expatriate workers," he added.
Prince Ahmed referred to the arrest of Namer Al-Namer who instigated the Qatif riots. "We are doubtful about his scholarship and intellectual capabilities," the minister said. Al-Namer's wife has been working as an employee at the Passport Department and his sons and daughters have received government scholarships. His wife was sent to the US for treatment from a malignant disease at state expense. "The state has done everything for him like any other citizen."
Prince Ahmed made it clear that the government would not allow demonstrations aimed at undermining the country's security and stability. "When such demos exceed limits, violate others' rights or bypass state security, it is imperative to stop them."
Answering a question on prisons in the Kingdom, Prince Ahmed said the condition of some of them is unsuitable, but added that a number of modern prisons have been established in various parts of the Kingdom equipped with facilities for the rehabilitation of prisoners. He disclosed plans to build a number of new prisons with advanced facilities.
The governors' meeting was attended by Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed of the Northern Border Province, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal of Makkah, Prince Sattam of Riyadh, Prince Muhammad bin Nasser of Jazan, Prince Faisal bin Bander of Qassim, Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsen of Hail, Prince Muhammad bin Fahd of Eastern Province, Prince Fahd bin Sultan of Tabuk, Prince Faisal bin Khaled of Asir, Prince Mishari bin Saud of Baha, Prince Fahd bin Badr of Al-Jouf, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Majed of Madinah and Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah of Najran. Assistant Interior Minister Prince Muhammad bin Naif also attended.
Source: Zawya

06-08-12, 03:54 PM
Saudi Arabia leads inter-Arab FDI over past 17 years 
JEDDAH - Inter-Arab FDI inflows reached $6.82 billion in 2011, the Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (Dhaman) said in its annual report "Investment Climate in Arab countries 2011" Monday.
According to official data received from 5 Arab countries; Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Yemen, compared with $12.5 billion received by 10 Arab countries in 2010.
The report showed that during the past 17 years (1995-2011), accumulated inter-Arab FDI inflows reached $178.5 billion, of which 82 percent ($144.4 billion) was directed toward 7 Arab countries; Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, Bahrain and UAE.
Saudi Arabia topped the list of host countries for inter-Arab FDI over the past 17 years, with an accumulated total value of $47.8 billion and a 27 percent share of the total, followed by Sudan in with $23.3 billion and a 14.1 percent share, then Egypt in third place with $19.9 billion and a 9.0 percent share. Lebanon was ranked fourth with $14.8 billion and an 8.4 percent share, Algeria fifth with $13.8 billion and a 7.8 percent share.
Bahrain sixth with $13.5 billion and a 7.7 percent share, UAE seventh with $13.8 billion and a 6.4 percent share, Morocco eighth with $6.5 billion and a 3.7 percent share, Jordan ninth with $4.6 billion and a 2.6 percent share, then Tunisia tenth with $4.3 billion and a 2.44 percent share of the accumulated total inter-Arab FDI inflows over the past 17 years. The report also revealed that inter-Arab FDI inflows increased significantly during the last seven years (2005-2011) reaching an accumulated value of $151.7 billion, at an annual average of $21.7 billion. This is more than 6 times the accumulated value of $21.7 billion and an annual average of $ 3.1 billion for the corresponding period 1998-2004.
According Dhaman's data collected from 6 Arab countries; Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Djibouti, and Libya, accumulated inter-Arab FDI stock reached $77.2 billion. The majority of which was directed towards the services sector, which accounted for 68.8 percent share of the total, and the industrial sector accounted for 26.1 percent, whereas the agriculture sector accounted for 4.1 percent of the total, while other sectors accounted for 1 percent.
The report noted a decline of 37.4 percent for FDI inflows to Arab countries (21 countries) reaching a total value of $43 billion in 2011, compared with $68.6 billion in 2010.The report attributed the decline to the ongoing political and social events which have been taking place in the region since the end of 2010, and also to the repercussions of the global economical and financial crisis. Global FDI inflows increased during the year 2011 to reach $1.5 trillion, dropping the Arab countries' share of it from 5.2 percent in 2010 down to 2.8 percent in 2011. The report also noted varying FDI performances of Arab countries, where FDI inflows increased in 9 Arab countries; Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, and UAE. On the other hand, FDI inflows decreased in 8 countries; Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Tunisia. Whereas, 3 countries; Egypt, Qatar and Yemen reported negative FDI inflows in 2011.
Saudi Arabia ranked first among Arab countries as the largest host country for FDI inflows, with $16400 million and a 38.2 percent share of the total Arab FDI inflows for the year 2011, followed by the UAE with $7679 million and a 17.9 percent share, Lebanon in third place with $3381 million and a 7.9 percent share, Sudan fourth with $2692 million and a 6.3 percent share of the total Arab FDI inflows for the year 2011.
Arab countries' cross border mergers & acquisitions reached $9 billion in 2011, compared with a negative value of $9.8 billion in 2010. Dhaman's data received from official national sources in seven countries - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, Libya, and Palestine - FDI stock inflows from 1990-end of 2011 reached $189 billion, out of which, $122.7 billion went to Saudi Arabia with a share of 65 percent of the total, followed by Egypt with $26.4 billion and a share of 14 percent, Tunisia in the third place with $25.6 billion and a share of 13 percent.
In terms of geographical distribution of FDI stock from/in counterpart economy data, the report showed that the US is the largest foreign investor in Arab countries, with an accumulated value of $26.1 billion and 14 percent share of the total, followed by France in second place with $19 billion and a 10 percent share, Germany third with $16.6 billion and a 9 percent share, United Kingdom fourth with $14.8 billion and a 8 percent share, followed by Japan in fifth place with $14.8 billion and an 8 percent share of the total.
In terms of sectoral distribution for FDI stock, the service sector was largest recipient of FDI since the early 90's with a 43 percent share of the total, followed by the industrial sector ranked second with a 29.6 percent share, then the agriculture sector with only a 1.3 percent share, whereas the remaining 26.1 percent was distributed among other unclassified sectors and activities
Source: Zawya

26-08-12, 09:04 AM
Saudi high-speed rail set for 2014 completion
Saudi Arabia's first high-speed passenger rail line, which will link the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, is slated for completion by January 2014, it was reported on Friday.
Construction is underway on the transport link which will serve Haj and Umrah pilgrims, Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry said.
The work on the Haramain High Speed Rail Project between Makkah and Madinah is progressing on time and as planned, Al-Seraisry, who is also chairman of the Saudi Railway Organisation, said in comments published by Saudi daily Arab News.
The 480km railway line, which will also pass through the port city of Jeddah, will cut travel time between the two holy cities to just two hours.
Initially the Haramain railway is expected to carry more than 3 million passengers annually.
Last October, the SRO awarded a 6.74bn euro ($9.4bn) contract for the second phase of the Haramain project to the public-private Saudi-Spanish Al-Shoula consortium.
The Al-Shoula consortium is made up of Spanish public rail companies including state railway operator Renfe and rail track company Adif, as well as private constructors OHL, ACS and Indra and Saudi companies Al Shoula y Al Rosan.
Saudi Arabia currently has 1,200km of railway lines and when current rail projects are complete, the total will be closer to 7,000km, Arab News said.
New railway and expansion projects currently underway in the kingdom include North-South Rail, the Land-bridge Project between Riyadh and Jeddah, and the GCC Railway.
More than 33,000km of railway lines are planned to be built in the Middle East and North Africa with the region's mainline rail network set to almost double in size, a report said last year.
According to the Mena Rail Report 2011, metro, tram and monorail track lengths will also increase tenfold.
A review of rail projects across the Middle East, North Africa and the Levant showed there was more than $250bn of planned investment set out by governments and rail operators.
Source: Arabian Business

26-08-12, 09:05 AM
Saudi contract awards reach $19.8bn in Q2
The value of awarded contracts in Saudi Arabia during the second quarter reached SR74.5bn ($19.8bn), according to the latest NCB Construction Index.
More than SR51bn of the total construction contract were awarded in the petrochemical and power sectors alone, the index showed.
During the first half of 2012, a total of SR126.7bn in contracts was awarded with infrastructure related sectors, such as the healthcare, education, urban development and roads, contributing SR26.5bn.
Compared to Q2 2011, the value of awarded contracts grew by 46 percent during Q2 12. The SR126.7 billion in awarded contracts during H1 12 significantly grew bywhile the six-month figure represented growth of 50 percent.
The Construction Contracts Index reached 309.12 points at the end of June, rising from 254.18 at the start of the second quarter.
"This growth is largely due to the abundance of mega projects over the past six months... whereby the government has placed a significant emphasis on the continual development of the kingdom," a statement said.
It added that the value of contracts in 2012 was set to eclipse that of the previous year.
"We expect this trend to continue into H2 2012 as the value of awarded contracts is anticipated to further increase during this period," it added.
The index tracks construction contracts that have been awarded only. It begins with January 2008 as its base year.
Source: Arabian Business

26-08-12, 09:07 AM
Saudi eyes $257m military deal with US
Saudi Arabia is interested in ordering a number of military tactical data exchange systems from the United States at a cost of about $257m.
The Defence Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that it has notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale to the Government of Saudi Arabia for 10 Link-16 systems and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) suites.
Link 16 is a military tactical data exchange network created and used by the United States and adopted by some of its Allies and by NATO.
With Link 16, military aircraft as well as ships and ground forces can exchange their tactical picture in near-real time.
"This proposed sale of airborne ISR assets to KSA will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East," the statement said.
It added that the Royal Saudi Air Force needs additional ISR capability to provide "persistent, real-time route surveillance, facility, infrastructure and border security, counter-terrorism and smuggling interdiction, support for naval and coastal operations, internal defence and search and rescue operations".
Last week, the Royal Saudi Air Force ordered 193 F110-GE-129E engines to power 84 new twin-engine Boeing F-15SA aircraft.
With the order, the RSAF becomes the largest operator of F110 engines other than the US government.
This follows earlier RSAF orders for 156 engines to power 71 re-engined F-15S aircraft. The agreement calls for deliveries to start next year.
Source: Arabian Business

26-08-12, 09:07 AM
Saudi Arabia objects to new internet domain names
Saudi Arabia's Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has filed over 160 objections about proposed generic top level domain names (gTLDs) in the past week.
The Saudi regulator has filed objections to a number requests to register new gTLDs, mainly on religious and moral grounds, including the domain suffixes .sex, .gay, .wine and .casino.
Saudi Telecom has also lodged ten objections along similar lines, while US religious campaign group Morality In Media has lodged around 800 complaints.
ICANN, the administrator of domains, is currently steering a consultation process, where organisations and individuals can register proposals for new gTLDs.
As part of the process, anyone is able to lodge protests against, or support for, proposals at the ICANN website.
The CITC has currently expressed opposition to a number of proposed gTLDs that it says would be "detrimental to public order and morals and prohibited in a number of religions and cultures", including sex-related sites TLDs .dating, .sex, .porn, .sexy and .gay; gambling TLDs .poker and .casino; and alcohol related .wine, .vodka, .bar and .pub.
A number of other proposals around religious terms, including .bible, .islam, .halal, .ismaili, .shia and .ummah, with the CITC saying it was inappropriate for these domains to be controlled by a single entity as they would not be representative of the wider community.
Attempts to register the domain .catholic, and its Arabic language equivalent were also protested on the same grounds.
A complaint about the .gcc domain was also lodged, as it was not registered by an official Gulf Co-operation Council entity, while .persiangulf was objected to on the grounds that the term was contentious.
The CITC objections also included several against major companies, including protests against Amazon's European operations for registering for the .hot TLD; healthcare company Johnson & Johnson's application for .baby and Virgin Enterprises request for .virgin; all of which it suggested would be used for pornography.
Other objections lodged by the CITC included the TLDs .tattoo, .tatar, .sucks .wtf and .africamagic, although they missed .beer, .bet and .bingo.
Source: Arabian Business

26-08-12, 09:09 AM
Saudi 2012 fiscal surplus to swell to nearly SR 306 billion
RIYADH Saudi Arabias budget surplus could rocket by nearly 28 times in 2012 as revenue will likely be far higher than the level projected by the worlds largest oil exporter, Jadwa Investments said in a new study.
The Kingdom projected a budget surplus of SR12 billion when it announced its highest ever expenditure of SR690 billion for 2012 and forecast revenue at SR702 billion.
In a study, Jadwa expected the actual surplus to swell to nearly SR306 billion, the second highest since the record balance of SR581 billion in 2008.
It projected revenue would surge to SR1.094 trillion and expected the government to again overshoot budgeted spending to SR757 billion.
Jadwa expected the price of Saudi crude to average around $100 in 2012, more than 50 percent above the $60 price assumed by Riyadh.
The price of oil is rising after US crude inventories shrank more than expected for a fourth consecutive week.
Benchmark oil rose 31 cents to $97.15 per barrel Wednesday in New York. Brent crude fell 5 cents to $114.59 per barrel in London.
The US government said crude inventories totaled 360.7 million barrels last week, down 5.4 million barrels from the previous week. Thats more than twice as much as the 2 million barrel decline predicted by analysts.
The decline isnt necessarily because of an uptick in demand. Refineries are slowing production as they switch to winter fuel blends. And imports are lower.
At the pump, the national average for gasoline fell overnight to $3.716 per gallon (3.7 liters). Thats about a quarter more than a month ago.
Saudi Arabias oil output is also expected to grow to an average 9.6 million barrels per day this year from 9.3 bpd in 2011, Jadwa further said.
Strong oil prices and higher production will also boost Saudi Arabias foreign assets to an all time high of around $758 billion at the end of 2012 from nearly $634 billion at the end of 2011, the report said.
Jadwa maintained its previous forecasts for Saudi Arabias real GDP growth at 5.3 percent this year but expected growth to fall back to 3.5 percent in 2013.
A breakdown showed the government sector would grow by 6.7 pent while growth is forecast at around 5.1 percent in the oil sector and 4.9 per cent in the non-hydrocarbon private sector.
GDP in current prices will likely rise by around 3.8 percent to SR2.24 trillion in 2012 from SR2.16 trillion in 2011. Growth this year will be sharply below that in 2011, when nominal GDP shot up by 28 percent.
Saudi oil production rose to 10.103 million barrels a day in June, from 9.807 million barrels a day in May, overtaking Russia as the worlds largest producer, official data showed.
Russias output in June rose to 9.931 million barrels a day, from 9.896 million barrels a day in May, according to figures posted on the Joint Organization Data Initiative (JODI) website. JODI is supervised by the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum and shows data supplied directly by governments dating back to 2002.
In March, Saudi Arabia topped Russias output for the first time in six years.
Saudi Arabia burnt 778,000 barrels a day in power stations and water-desalination plants in June, up 26 percent from the 616,000 barrels a day used during the same period in 2011, and 39 percent higher than May. SG/Agencies
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 09:10 AM
KSA leads Gulf in power sector investment
JEDDAH Among the GCC economies, Saudi Arabia is seen as the most aggressive with respect to investments in the power sector, Kuwait-based Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) said in the summary of its report on infrastructure covering power, airports, seaports, roads & railways, ICT and water.
The report said Saudi Arabia strives hard to keep pace with the increasing demand for electricity due to population growth and high level of urbanization.
IMF estimates Saudi population to increase from the current 28 million to reach 31 million by 2015 and 37 million by 2020. Urban population contributes around 83.6 percent of the total population in the Kingdom which is growing at 2.2 percent annually. High economic development has also accelerated energy consumption in the Kingdom, the report said.
Power consumption in the Kingdom has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 6 percent over the last 5 years and consumption is forecast to grow at a similar pace over the next few years as well.
Saudi Arabia is one of the top ranked nations with respect to residential consumption of electricity. Almost half of its power consumption is used by its residents. With diversification of the economy, however, Markaz expects a shift toward the industrial sector.
Currently, 49 percent of the power generation is sourced through natural gas and the remaining through liquid fuels, with renewables accounting for a negligible share. The situation would change as nuclear and solar power is increasingly seen as an option to satisfy the demand, the report noted.
In 2000, Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) became operational with all the electricity companies included in it. As of now, SEC is the leading power producer in the Kingdom with about 50 operating units across the country with a capacity of over 40,000 MW, Markaz further said.
From the period of its , the generation capacity has grown by 2.5 times. SEC is estimating a 46 percent increase in sold energy by 2016 compared to 2010 figures. In 10 years of its inception, total power transmission has increased by almost 50-60 percent and total transmission lines have increased by almost 75 percent. Number of customers under the SECs operation has also increased by over 70 percent during this period.
Recent developments indicate that SEC is planning fresh investments of close to $100 billion in order to meet the forecasted demand.
By 2020, the Saudi government is planning to create an additional 30,000 MW of generation capacity as part of its plan to ramp up power generation capacity by two folds by 2030. Moreover, many projects are implemented through private participation as well. This is a huge invitation to foreign players to invest in the Kingdom and be a partner, leveraging the opportunities of GCC power grid and Pan Arab power grid.
Markaz also forecast huge investments in alternative energy in the Kingdom as the Saudi government has announced plans to establish nuclear power plants.
According to King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE), after the successful completion of establishing and commissioning of nuclear power plants, the Kingdom aims at generating 20 percent of its demand through nuclear by the end of 2030. The Kingdom is also aiming to have 41,000 MW of solar power capacity in the next two decades.
Saudi Arabia has a very strong track record in the development of power projects. The Saudi government has long demonstrated a substantial commitment to social and economic infrastructure (and to the power sector in particular).
The country is executing an expansion plan for power projects under the Ninth Development Plan (2010-2014) aiming to raise generating capacityby 20.4 gigawatts (GW) by 2014.
BMI forecast earlier that the Kingdom will be able to meet its commitments, and total installed capacity will reach about 72GW by 2014.
The Kingdom is seeking $109 billion of investment to be channelled into expanding its undeveloped solar industry aiming to reach an ambitious target of 41GW of installed capacity by 2032. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 09:12 AM
Consumers in Saudi Arabia most optimistic about personal finance
RIYADH Expectations for the year to come are high across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the latest Middle East and North Africa Consumer Confidence Index Survey, conducted by Bayt.com, the Middle Easts number one job site, and YouGov, a research and consulting organization, revealed.
In a copy of the survey send to the Saudi Gazette Tuesday, it noted that in Saudi Arabia, respondents forecast a better financial climate and economy, with improved business conditions and more jobs available.
Respondents from Saudi Arabia feel that their current personal financial situation has mostly improved (38 percent). Feelings toward the countrys economy are mostly neutral (33 percent), and it is considered to be a neutral time to buy according to 42 percent. Contrary to this, 40 percent of respondents state that business conditions are positive, and 34 percent state that there are plenty of jobs available.
While 44 percent of respondents in the Kingdom believe that there are more employees in their company now than there were at this time last year; 46 percent claim that there are the same or fewer. The majority (56 percent) state that their salary has not kept pace with the cost of living.
For the year to come, expectations are high, as ever. More than half (60 percent) believe that their personal financial situation will improve. Also expected to improve are the countrys economy (49 percent), business conditions (54 percent) and employment conditions, with 40 percent stating there will be more jobs available.
Job satisfaction in Saudi Arabia is considered to be mostly neutral to low, with only 21 percent believing that the career prospects in their current job are high, while 31 percent state that the opportunities for career growth are low. The majority (63 percent) claim neutral to low satisfaction with their job security, and almost half (45 percent) are unhappy with their current compensation.
Over 36 percent of respondents in the Kingdom anticipate no change in the number of employees at their current company in the coming three months, with 39 percent being neutral with the prospect of keeping up with staffing requirements.
Respondents anticipate a mostly neutral-to-negative impact vis-a-vis the cost of living (according to 59 percent). They also believe that accommodation costs will rise (stated by 33 percent).
In the next 12 months, 38 percent of respondents in the Kingdom are considering purchasing a vehicle; of these, 57 percent will buy new. Within the same timeframe, 27 percent will consider buying property, 66 percent of whom will purchase a new property.
The three most popular consumer purchases for the next six months will be furniture (27 percent); desktop or laptop computers (26 percent) and LCD or plasma televisions (22 percent).
In general across the MENA region, feelings for respondents personal situations at the present time are neutral. Only 28 percent claim that their financial situation is better than last year, compared to 65 percent who state that it has either remained the same or declined. National economies are considered to be worse than last year, according to 33 percent of respondents. Consumer behavior (41 percent of respondents say that now is a bad time to buy is likely impacting business conditions which are neutral to bad, as stated by 65 percent.
In terms of employment, almost half of the respondents (49 percent) claim that there are very few jobs available. Six out of 10 say that their company has either the same or fewer employees than this time 12 months ago, and two thirds (65 percent) believe that their salaries have not kept pace with the cost of living.
However, respondents appear to be optimistic for the upcoming year. The majority believe that their personal financial situation (51 percent), countrys economy (44 percent), business conditions (49 percent) and employment conditions (35 percent) will improve.
Retaining a positive outlook for the year to come will be pivotal to the regions success. Conditions may not be considered to be entirely favorable at the present time, but there are plenty of signs that the months to come will prove beneficial for all, said Suhail Masri, Vice President of Sales, Bayt.com. Bayt.com gathers vital information from pertinent cross-sections of MENA society, to provide in-depth insights into the feelings, behavior and trends happening in recruitment and business around the region.
Satisfaction with career prospects in the region at present is low, according to 39 percent of respondents, while 38 percent state that it is neutral. Three quarters of respondents (74 percent) also claim that the prospect for career growth in their current organization is neutral to low.
Job security is seen to be an issue by 67 percent, with only one in four (27 percent) claiming their job security is high, and satisfaction with compensation is neutral to low, according to 84 percent.
With regards to employment, 24 percent of companies expect to increase employees in the coming three months. A further 61 percent are either neutral or pessimistic about growth potential vis-a-vis the number of employees in their organization. The sentiment toward keeping up with staffing requirements is neutral, according to four out of ten respondents (37 percent), however 19 percent cite optimism.
The outlook for inflation is negative, with 38 percent believing there will be a rise in the cost of living. Similarly, 36 percent believe the cost of real estate is still creating a feeling of negativity across the region.
In the next 12 months 29 percent of respondents are planning to purchase a vehicle. Of these, 51 percent will buy new. Moreover, one in five (21 percent) are considering investing in property, with 65 percent of them planning to buy new.
The five most popular consumer purchases in the next six months will be desktop or laptop computers (25 percent); furniture (20 percent); LCD or plasma television (18 percent); air conditioners (16 percent) and digital cameras (13 percent).
Consumer habits have remained somewhat stable in the past year, with the same five product categories continually topping the list. Computers are always a favorite purchase across the board, and technology in general seems to consistently be the best-selling consumer goods category, said Sundip Chahal, CEO, YouGov. SG/QJM
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 09:14 AM
 Kingdom on track to developing sustainable energy technologies
JEDDAH Saudi Arabia is well placed to play a key role in developing sustainable energy technologies which it has been exploring through scientific research, Maria Van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), told Oxford Business Group publishing, research and consultancy firm.
"Saudi Arabia holds a natural advantage in solar power, and experience elsewhere in the region suggests that the Kingdom could benefit from both photovoltaic systems and from developing larger concentrated solar power projects," she said. "The IEA is pleased with the collaboration we enjoy with Saudi Arabia, and impressed by the nations dynamic plans for energy developments."
Saudi Arabia is seeking investors to back its $109 billion plan to create a solar sector capable of providing 30 percent of its electricity by 2032.
According to Maher Al-Odan, a consultant at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (Ka-care), the plan involves developing 41,000 megawatts of solar power within two decades. 25,000 MW will be from solar thermal plants, using huge heliostatic mirrors to reflect the suns rays onto a central tower that heats a fluid to drives a turbine; and 16,000 MW will be in the form of photovoltaic panels.
Al-Odan said "we are not only looking for building solar plants. We want to run a sustainable solar energy sector that will become a driver for the domestic energy for years to come." Khalid Al-Suliman, vice president of Ka-care, said that an extra 21,000 megawatts of power will be added in the form of nuclear, wind, and geothermal.
SolarReserve LLC, a US maker of technology that uses sunlight for power, plans multiple bids for Saudi Arabias first renewable-energy tender as the country plans to generate a third of its electricity from solar by 2032.
SolarReserve has formed a joint venture in Saudi Arabia and is working on preliminary proposals for the tender, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Smith said. Its technology uses thousands of mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a central point to generate heat, which is then used to produce power. The energy can be stored in molten salt until electricity is needed. "We have put together proposals and project structures for the government and we expect to participate actively in the tenders," Smith said. "We will submit between one and three bids in different project structures and in different parts of the country."
Saudi Arabia plans to start its first tender targeting 2,000 megawatts of solar energy in early 2013. It plans a second tender in 2014 aiming for 2,500 megawatts.
The country in May said its looking for investors to build a $109 billion solar industry by 2032. Companies including Canadian Solar Inc., and Centrotherm Photovoltaics AG have also expressed an interest in the region.
The size of the projects the technology maker would enter depends on the structure of the tender, Smith said. "There has been talk of a multi-thousand megawatt tender and we potentially would look at larger projects in the 250-megawatt to 500- megawatt size range," he said.
The economics in Saudi Arabia are "pretty straightforward," said Smith, as solar thermal power is more cost-effective than burning oil, assuming the alternate price the country can make for oil is $100 a barrel.
The full-length commentary by Van der Hoeven will appear in "The Report: Saudi Arabia 2013", OBGs forthcoming guide on the countrys economic activity and investment opportunities.
She further said Saudi Arabias commitment to meeting rising demand for oil and gas from the global markets will be a key driver in efforts to revive global economic growth.
She said Aramcos capacity to provide 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) more than current production levels took on added importance in the current economic climate.
"Saudi Arabia has long been a lynchpin of global oil and gas production," she said. "The Kingdom has proven a reliable partner and supplier. I am particularly glad to have such reassurances now."
Van der Hoeven highlighted the investment Saudi Arabia was channeling into key developments which she said would prove instrumental in helping the Kingdom maintain production. "A large new offshore oilfield, Manifa, is due to come on-stream in early 2013," she said. "In addition, the Kingdoms first large offshore gas field, Karan, is coming on-stream around late 2012."
With concern mounting that Saudi Arabias strong growth could lead to the Kingdom consuming much of its own oil output by the middle of the next decade, Van der Hoeven was keen to map out the countrys exploration efforts. "Saudi Arabia is certainly not standing still," she said. "It has successfully explored for extra gas in the southeast and is exploring in the north-west of the Kingdom and offshore in the Red Sea." SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 09:16 AM
NCC signs time charter agreement with Sabic for 3 chemical tankers 
JEDDAH The National Chemical Carriers Company (NCC) Tuesday signed a time charter agreement for three chemical tankers with International Shipping and Transportation Company Ltd. (a subsidiary of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation - Sabic), to transport petrochemicals liquids to the international ports for a period of five years, with an option of extension for five-year period.
Abdullah S. Al-Rubaian, Chairman, NCC, signed the agreement on behalf of NCC while International Shipping and Transport Limited was represented by Yousuf A. Al-Zamil, Executive Vice President of Sabic Chemicals.
Al-Rubaian said the agreement reflects the companys excellence and the confidence shown by the producers of petrochemicals, in addition to the companys main role to transport petrochemical products from Saudi Arabia to international markets.
He added that the agreement achieved one of the most important goals of the company, which is to contribute for the development of the national economy and keep pace with the expansion of Saudi exports of petrochemicals. Sabic, being one of the largest international companies in the production and export of petrochemicals is the backbone of this industry, adding that Sabic is the number one client of NCC to transport chemicals, he further said.
NCC is proud of its contribution for supporting the prices of Sabic s liquid petrochemical to compete globally by providing a world-class standard and specialized modern carriers to transport those products, including a huge chemical tanker - which is the largest of its kind in the world - built to the latest technology the industry has in terms of size, engineering, equipment and design to develop and strengthen the capacity to keep up with the aspirations of Sabic in its plans to meet the growing demand for liquid petrochemical products, Al-Rubaian added.
He added that the signing of such contract is in line with the companys strategy to do business on a long-term time charter agreements, allowing the parties the do their long-term planning to achieve the best from the investment, operation and marketing.
NCC was founded in the year 1990 as a limited liability company with a capital of SR610 million, 80 percent of which is owned by The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (BAHRI) and the remaining 20 percent by Sabic.
The company presently owns a large fleet of 21 chemical tankers, specialized in transporting petrochemicals and liquid petroleum products, refined vegetable oils with a capacity of approximately 940,000 DWT. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 09:17 AM
Saudi bank lending at fastest pace 
RIYADH Saudi banks will cut their bad loan ratio to the lowest since the regions biggest corporate default three years ago as lending grows on the back of government spending, Moodys Investors Service said.
The ratio of non-performing loans at Saudi lenders will drop to about 2.5 percent this year, the lowest since at least 2009, Khalid Howladar, a vice-president at Moodys, said recently.
That compares with forecasts of 8.5 percent this year in the United Arab Emirates and 4.2 percent in the US last year, according to Moodys.
Banks in the worlds top oil exporter are lending at the fastest pace in more than three years as the governments $514 billion spending program encourages companies including Saudi Arabian Mining Co. and Saudi Acrylic Monomer Co., to expand.
"One of the ways that banks are dealing with some of big borrowers is to insist on taking security for any loan so that there is something tangible backing that exposure. Its the unsecured lenders that have tended to lose the most."
The Kingdoms non-performing loan ratio peaked at 4.1 percent in 2009 and economic growth, set for the regions second-highest rate in 2012, slowed to a 10-year low of 0.1 percent that year.
A pickup in loan growth to private businesses to 14 percent in June, the highest since March 2009, has driven up borrowing costs in the Kingdom. The yield on three- month Saudi treasury bills rose to 0.37598 percent, the highest in almost two months, at an auction last week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Yields on one-month, six-month and one- year securities sold at the Kingdoms weekly auction were unchanged.
The three-month Saudi Interbank Offered Rate, the benchmark domestic banks use to lend to each other, has jumped 17 basis points this year to 0.95 percent Monday. The advance is the biggest in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in 2012 and has led to a more than doubling of the spread between Saudi and US rates to 51 basis points, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The Kingdoms fiscal and current account positions will return large surpluses, Samba Financial Group said in its August Saudi "Macroeconomic Forecast Update 2012-13".
The fiscal position is expected to remain in a comfortable surplus. The anticipated reduction in government spending this year will help to offset the impact of slightly lower oil revenue (stemming from reduced prices).
Consequently, the fiscal balance is expected to be unchanged at 15 percent of GDP. In 2013 oil output is set to edge down, but with government spending picking up once more, the surplus is expected to fall back to around 8 percent of GDP.
The current account outlook for 2012-13 is comfortable. Oil export earnings are set to come in at about $340 billion, unchanged on 2011, with gains in output offsetting the slight price decline. Import spending is expected to contract slightly, helped by slightly weaker consumption and softer global commodities prices.
The resulting trade surplus will be comfortably large enough to offset the invisibles deficit (which will continue to grow) meaning that a current-account surplus of some 28 percent of GDP is in prospect for 2012.
Oil earnings are set to decline in 2013, and with imports responding to a pickup in government spending and somewhat higher commodity prices, the trade surplus will shrink. But, again, this will have no material impact on the overall current account and a comfortable surplus equivalent to around 18 percent of GDP is forecast. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 09:18 AM
 Makkah Municipality wins top IT award
The Makkah Municipality has been recognized with a 2012 "Honorary Recognition Award" by the international IT architecture firm iCMG for its new e-Government initiatives.
Omnix International, a leading IT solutions provider, partnered with international IT solution provider Oracle corporation to provide a best-in-class e-Government solution for Makkah municipal operations, which employs more than 3000 professionals.
The solution services more than 30 different business applications which range from issuing construction licenses, land and urban planning, digging permits, field inspection, shop permits as well as managing the municipalitys financial and human resources and payroll processes among others.
A single public portal now enables citizens and third parties to make online applications for the above services and underpins the municipalitys strategy to make government services and employees more efficient and cost effective.
Omnix Internationals founder and president Jamal Abu Issa said: "We have a proven track record of successful Oracle Siebel implementations across the Middle East supported by our large team of Arabic speaking consultants who fully understand e-Government."
"We have worked closely with the Makkah Municipality to understand its specific business and subsequently have delivered best-in-class IT solutions and training, which have dramatically improved the municipalitys business efficiencies across its multiple departments," he added. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 09:19 AM
SEC bond gains rise 67% than Gulf sukuk 
RIYADH Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) Islamic bonds returned 67 percent more than Gulf corporate sukuk, buoyed by a scarcity of Shariah-compliant securities in Saudi Arabia and demand for investment-grade debt.
Islamic bond sales in Saudi Arabia rose to a record this year as demand outstrips supply. Sukuk offerings jumped to about $8.3 billion, or about 47 percent of the GCCs total issuance this year.
Overall sales of Islamic debt in the Gulf increased to $17.7 billion this year from $3.8 billion in the year-earlier period.
"There is very strong demand for Saudi credit," Abdul Wahid Mohammad Al Matar, the head of trading at Riyadh-based Saudi Hollandi Bank, said by e-mail on August 9. "One reason are the limited offerings."
The General Authority of Civil Aviation sold 15 billion riyals ($4 billion) of Islamic bonds in January. Saudi Electricity raised a combined $1.75 billion from an issue of five- and 10-year sukuk, securities that pay returns on assets to comply Islams ban on interest, in March.
The company received more than $17.5 billion in bids. The sale also marked the first dollar sukuk since Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Co.s $450 million Islamic bond in February 2010.
The Saudi Electricitys 4.211 percent dollar-denominated notes maturing in April 2022 have gained 9.5 percent since their debut at the end of March.
That compares with a 5.7 percent return on corporate sukuk from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, the HSBC/Nasdaq Dubai GCC Corporate US Dollar Sukuk Index showed.
The yield on the Saudi Electricitys notes dropped to a record 3.1 percent Aug. 7. The Kingdoms largest power producer is rated the fourth-best investment grade at Standard & Poors.
The Kingdom, home to about 28 million people, is pushing ahead with a $500 billion investment plan to build infrastructure, develop industries and create jobs. Saudi Electricity is also set to benefit from rising local energy consumption, which Saudi Deputy Oil Minister Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Salman forecast is increasing as much as 6 percent a year. The economy is forecast to expand 6 percent this year, the second-fastest pace in the six-nation GCC after Kuwait and on par with Qatar, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund.
"Saudi Electricity is sort of up there as one of the most desired issuers," Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economist at Jeddah-based National Commercial Bank, said earlier. "Its a listed company, so its pretty well understood what the company profile and strategy is. Of course, the sukuk market itself is still a relatively small market."
Saudi Arabia, the worlds largest oil exporter, is rated AA- at Standard & Poors, on par with China and Japan. The government has no outstanding dollar-denominated debt.
Still, Saudi bonds are at risk from volatility in global crude prices and Chinas slowing economy, the worlds second- biggest energy consumer after the US. SG/Agencies
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 09:49 AM
Lockheed sees more Mideat missile defence demand

Saudi Arabia and its closest regional partners have shown interest in the purchase of an advanced Lockheed Martin Corporation missile-defence system to counter perceived threats, executives of the Pentagon's top supplier said Tuesday.
"Look, all of the [Gulf Cooperation Council] nations have an interest," Dennis Cavin, a company vice president for army and missile-defence programmes, told a teleconference.
The council known as GCC is a political and economic alliance linking Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Lockheed, the Pentagon's number one supplier by sales, received an initial, US$1.96bn contract in December for two of its so-called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) weapon systems for the UAE.
This marked the first foreign sale of the system, coming as tensions with Iran have risen over its disputed nuclear programme. Such foreign sales are increasingly important to US arms makers as the Pentagon's budget flattens because of US deficit-reduction requirements.
THAAD is a US Army system designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles with an interceptor that slams into its target. It can accept cues from Lockheed's Aegis weapons system, satellites and other external sensors and work in tandem with the Patriot PAC-3 terminal air-defence missile.
Fueling the interest in THAAD, Cavin said, was a US military push to stitch together an integrated air and missile defence architecture across the region as well as what he called a recognition by GCC states that "they need the best capability they can get against the threat set that's there."
Mat Joyce, Lockheed's vice president for THAAD, said it was premature to discuss specific potential buyers "but as they notify the US government officially of their interest we'll be happy to provide that information to you".
Cavin and Joyce spoke from Huntsville, Alabama, during a space and missile-defence conference. THAAD is part of a layered missile shield being built to defend the US and its friends and allies against ballistic missiles of all ranges and in all phases of flight. The system is being optimised as a hedge against Iran and North Korea.
A major US-led effort is under way to protect NATO's European territory against ballistic missiles that could be fired by Iran, for instance, in retaliation for any preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Lockheed describes THAAD as the only system with the flexibility to intercept targets both inside and outside the earth's atmosphere.
Other leading missile-defence contractors include Boeing Company, Raytheon Company and Northrop Grumman Corporation.
President Barack Obama's administration notified Congress last month of a possible sale to Kuwait of 60 PATRIOT Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles and associated gear in a deal worth up to US$4.2bn.
Such a sale would help deter regional threats among other things, the Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation said in the notice to lawmakers.
Source: Arabian Business

26-08-12, 09:50 AM
Saudi Arabia approves $16.5bn transport revamp

Saudi Arabia has approved a SAR62bn(US$16.5bn) plan to modernise the transport system in its holy city of Mecca, including building a bus network and metro system, state news agency SPA said on Tuesday.
More than 6m visitors from across the world visit Mecca every year for the Haj and Omra pilgrimages. The influx has strained the narrow roads and outdated transport system.
Four metro lines of a total length of 182 km will be built across the city, with 88 stations, SPA reported.
Construction for the transport project will be carried out over about 10 years, the report said, without giving details of when it would start or how companies would bid for contracts.
Last year the city's mayor told Reuters that within six years the government hoped to build new roads and foot bridges near the Grand Mosque, home to the cube-shaped Kaaba towards which Muslims turn in prayer.
Other long-term projects around the mosque include building hotels, malls and cafes. Developments in the suburbs include housing estates and a park for residents who have been made to relocate from the city centre.
Saudi Arabia is also spending billions on upgrading the transport system in the capital Riyadh and on a high-speed rail line connecting Mecca with the holy city of Medina
Source: Arabian Business

26-08-12, 12:31 PM
Saudi Electricity awards $186m power deals 
State-owned Saudi Electricity Co is splashing out hundreds of millions of riyals to improve its power distribution network, after thousands of people suffered blackouts last month including some in two of the kingdom's biggest cities Jeddah and Riyadh.
SEC said in a statement on Monday it had awarded three contracts worth around SR700m ($186.6m) in total involving the construction of two substations to boost its networks in the western city of Jeddah and in the Medina area, and to extend cables to some plants in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital.
The contracts, given to unnamed companies, are part of the company's efforts to boost the electricity network, meet rising demand and avoid power cuts, SEC said quoting its chief executive officer, Ali Bin Saleh al-Barrak.
Several regions of Saudi Arabia suffered power cuts in July, as a surge in demand in the holy month of Ramadan squeezed supply margins and overloaded distribution systems, the state utility had said.
SEC said in July demand for power reached more than 50,500 megawatts and hit a record high peak load, despite an addition of 3,500 megawatts of power generation capacity, but said it had a low level of reserve margins used for peak demand.
Source: Arabian Business

26-08-12, 12:32 PM
Boeing helps develop next generation of Saudi business leaders 
RIYADH Boeing Company recently sponsored 15 MBA students from Saudi Arabias Alfaisal University for a leadership development program that provided perspectives on effectively operating in a shifting global economy. The one-week Saudi Emerging Leaders Program was the first program of its kind to be held at the Boeing Leadership Center (BLC) in St. Louis, Missouri.
Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing Defense, Space & Security president and CEO, and Shep Hill, Boeing International president and Business Development and Strategy senior vice president, welcomed the students to the BLC.
"Truly successful leaders recognize the importance of investing in people and partnerships," said Muilenburg. "It is the diversification of skills, education and innovative ideas that make a team and a company great.
Putting people first and focusing on partnerships will pay back dividends and create a long-term competitive advantage in the marketplace."
Muilenburg pointed out that the next generation of leaders is entering the global workforce at a rapid pace. Through initiatives such as the Saudi Emerging Leaders Program, Boeing hopes to assist future leaders by sharing insights gained from decades as a global company. Boeing has a growing list of customers in 150 countries and 18 offices worldwide.
"We as leaders must embrace change as the world changes," Hill told the students. "Globalization has made the world better because countries have had to learn to rely on one another. They have created a global working dynamic that fosters collaboration."
"This leadership program is in line with our continuing efforts to support Saudi business skills and industry growth," said Ahmed Jazzar, president of Boeing Saudi Arabia. "Our long-standing presence in the Kingdom gives us the ability to understand and react to Saudi economic-development priorities. We helped establish most of the offset companies in Saudi Arabia and continue to engage in partnerships with vocational and research institutions to support knowledge transfer and develop local human resources."
"This Boeing leadership conference has been a tremendous success," said William Lathen, acting dean of Alfaisal Universitys College of Business.
"Boeing officials challenged our students with a rigorous training program.
It was of the highest quality possible and our students reported that they had a great learning experience. Our MBA students believe that they will effectively use the knowledge they acquired in their prospective businesses."
Alfaisal University, co-founded by Boeing and other stakeholders, is a student-centered university that creates and disseminates knowledge through world-class undergraduate and graduate education programs, research and services that benefit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the region, and the world, and stimulates the development of knowledge-based economies. The Boeing Leadership Center opened in February 1999. Thousands of Boeing leaders and aspiring leaders, as well as business partners, customers and others, have attended BLC classes to hone their leadership skills.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the worlds largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the worlds largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 61,000 employees worldwide. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 12:34 PM
Saudi stocks fall as investors cash out ahead of holdings 
JEDDAH Stock markets in the Gulf ended in mixed territory Monday, with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain sliding into negative territory, while the rest of the regional markets surged ahead.
The Saudi stock benchmark Tadawul All Share Index flirted with the psychologically-important 7,000-point mark for much of the session before dropping in the last hour of trading to close 0.43 percent lower at 6,965.66 points.
Large-caps dragged, with none of the 18 largest stocks posting a gain, as investors cashed out ahead of the long Eid holiday, scheduled to begin this weekend.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. slipped 0.5 percent, Saudi Telecom dropped 1.3 percent. Riyad Bank fell 0.4 percent.
Savola Group rose 1 percent to its highest level since May 2008. It has now gained in four straight sessions.
Bahrain measure slipped 0.3 percent to 1,076 points.
However, Dubais benchmark climbed 0.8 percent to its highest close since May 3 at 1,581 points supported by property stocks.
Bellwether Emaar Properties advanced 1.5 percent, Deyaar Development gained 0.8 percent and Union Properties added 1.3 percent.
We saw a strong continuation of the rally in the UAEs real estate stocks - optimism is being driven by evidence of a slow recovery in prices and strong sales and delivery figures reported in Q2 earnings, said Sleiman Aboulhosn, assistant fund manager at Al Masah Capital.
In Abu Dhabi, the index rose 0.3 percent to 2,547 points.
First Gulf Bank advanced for the sixth successive session to close above AED10 for the first time since March 14. It rose 1.1 percent, taking August gains to 10.7 percent.
In Kuwait, the measure ended 0.2 percent higher to 5,689 points from Sundays eight-year low.
Gulf Finance House, which accounted for more than a quarter of shares traded, rose 5.6 percent to a five-week high after its latest results showed it swung to a profit in the second quarter.
Omans benchmark gained 0.4 percent to 5,496 points. It was supported by Renaissance Services, which jumped 5.5 percent after reporting a 56.8-percent rise in quarterly profit.
Bahrains index, down 0.3 percent, slipped back towards last weeks nine-year low, weighed by Ahli United Bank. The largest stock on the exchange declined 1.8 percent to its lowest level since February 2010.
Qatar returned to positive territory, up 0.09 percent to 8,413 points after Sundays dip broke an eight-session winning streak.
Elsewhere in Cairo, Egypts benchmark index rose 1.5 percent Monday after President Mohamed Morsi curbed the armys powers and retired the countrys two top generals, removing the biggest challenge to his authority six weeks after he took office.
World stock markets eased Monday as evidence piled up that the global economic slowdown is dragging on Asia.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 32 points to 13,175 as of 3 p.m. The Standard & Poors 500 index fell two to 1,404. The Nasdaq composite index fell a point to 3,020.
In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down 0.4 percent at 1,094.74 points - its biggest intraday fall since ending down 1.2 percent on Aug. 2.
Hong Kong dropped 0.27 percent, Shanghai shed 1.51 percent and Tokyo edged down 0.07 percent.
Meanwhile, the euro was up 0.37 percent at $1.2335 and the US dollar index was down 0.17 percent at 82.414.
Separately, the price of oil fell Monday on a new sign that Asian countries wont make up for slackened oil demand in Europe.
Benchmark oil fell 14 cents to finish at $92.73 per barrel in New York.
The drop mirrored a decline in US stock prices.
Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil, rose 65 cents to end at $113.60 per barrel in London. SG/Agencies
Source: Saudi Gazette

26-08-12, 12:50 PM
Industrial city to employ 5,000 women 
The Kingdom's first women-only industrial city in the Eastern Province city of Hofuf will provide more than 5,000 jobs to women.
The Saudi Industrial Property Authority ( Modon ) has been initiating works for planning and development of the city, targeting women investors.
More than SR 500 million would be invested in the first phase of the project.
The authority aims to encourage Saudi women investors and entrepreneurs to invest in the industrial city.
The project was planned to allow women to work in a suitable atmosphere and make their contributions to the Kingdom's development.
Modon has asked Saudi universities such as King Faisal University as well as technical institutes to introduce more new-generation courses in the fields of industry and manufacturing.
" Modon plans to utilize Saudi women's ability to engage in various industrial activities. The development of women-only industrial cities would help tap their energy to boost national development," a top Modon official said.
"Recently, the number of women investors and entrepreneurs has been increased a lot," he added.
Women will manage all activities of the new industrial city, including administration and security.
The Cabinet has instructed the relevant ministry to allocate parcels of land within the city limits to establish industrial projects for women. The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has already allocated land for the first women-only industrial city in Hofuf.
The new industrial city in Hofuf is located near Al-Ahsa Airport. Established in 2001, Modon is responsible for the development and management of industrial cities.
Currently it supervises 29 industrial cities across the Kingdom. It has targeted to reach 40 industrial cities during the next five years with developed industrial lands of not less than 160 million square meters.
Source: Zawya/ Arab News

26-08-12, 12:52 PM
New Saudi domestic carrier said to be entitled to discounted fuel 
JEDDAH - The successful bidder for Saudi Arabia's new domestic license will be able to buy fuel at the same discounted price as national carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines, Eqtisadiah Arabic newspaper reported, citing the General Authority for Civil Aviation.
The announcement of the winning firms or consortium will be in October, while operations are expected to start at the end of next year. Bahrain's Gulf Air and Qatar Airways were short-listed among the final bidders for the license.
The move is an important as the higher fuel costs was a major factor in the collapse of Saudi low-cost carrier Sama Airlines in August 2010. Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy with a population of over 27 million, still has one of the smallest airline networks in the region relative to its size.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, the national carrier, and private low-budget carrier National Air Services are the only options for flying within the country, where demand for flights is high.
More than 54 million passengers passed through Saudi Arabia's 27 airports last year, according to data from GACA, rising 13.6 percent from 2010. Licensed foreign carriers can fly in and out of Saudi Arabia but not within. With a price cap on domestic flights, private airlines have struggled with profit margins.
"Sama, and all other airlines throughout the region, experienced very low fares and somewhat slow demand for regional travel during the winter season (October 2009 through March 2010). Although revenues were up sharply during the summer peak season, it has not been enough to offset the heavy losses we suffered during the winter," Sama CEO Bruce Ashby said at the time.
Source: Zawya News

26-08-12, 12:53 PM
 Stork, Sisco set up Saudi joint venture
JEDDAH - Stork Technical Services and Saudi Industrial Services Company ( Sisco ) will set up a new firm to offer specialized technical services to the oil and gas, petrochemical and water desalination sectors in Saudi Arabia.
The company, Stork Technical Services Saudi Arabia, will have a share capital of SR25 million with Stork taking 55 percent, and Sisco 45 percent.
The company will be based in Jubail and will offer complete solutions bundled to serve high value apparatus and asset management.
Mohammed Mudarres, CEO of Sisco , said Sisco has been evaluating various opportunities in this area as part of its strategy to expand and diversify its business, and found these services to be in great demand in Saudi Arabia. The agreement with Stork Technical Services was confirmed because of Stork's excellent reputation and high quality performance in the area of providing specialized services, he said.
Douglas Meikle, CEO of Stork Technical Services, said expansion in the Middle East and in particular Saudi Arabia is one of the key strategies the company has been planning for the last few years. Stork will endeavor to transfer technical know-how by training Saudi youths in these specialized areas.
Stork Technical Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stork BV, is a global provider of knowledge-based asset integrity management services for the oil and gas, power and chemical sectors
Source: Zawya

26-08-12, 12:54 PM
SR 125m tourism projects financed by IDF

RIYADH: The Saudi Industrial Development Fund has financed investment projects related to tourism activities and services amounting to more than SR 125 million since it signed a cooperation agreement with Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) in this regard in 1429AH.
As many as 105 projects concerning tourist accommodation, travel and tourism agencies, restaurants, and car rental companies have benefited from the Fund's Guarantees Program.
Source: Zawya

26-08-12, 12:55 PM
Doors of higher education close on expact children 
All doors to higher education are now closed to expatriate students in Saudi Arabia. After the Arab Spring, Arab expat children cannot study in universities either in the Kingdom or abroad.
For many expatriates, especially those from Arab countries, going back to study in their home countries is a risk. Expats also told Arab News that the private sector of higher education does not benefit them due to several reasons. The latest edition of the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report confirmed that only 25 percent of expatriate students enrolled in private universities.
Despite the fact that there are 18 government universities for both male and female students around the Kingdom, expats find themselves left out. Currently, they are allowed to join courses in some of these universities only by paying fees up to SR 3,000 per semester.
However, these courses do not attract expatriate students, because most of them cover humanities and teacher training courses.
Arab News spoke to a number of expatriate families who are confused as to where to enroll their sons and daughters, especially when there are hardly any choices whether here in Saudi Arabia or abroad.
They confirmed that they face obstacles that make pursuing a college education in the Kingdom difficult if not impossible.
"How can I send my son to study in Syria when the political situation is too complex there?" asked Nahed Halawani, a Syrian mother of an 18-year-old boy.
She added, "When my son was in his last year in high school between 2011 and beginning of 2012, I decided I would send him to Damascus for higher studies if the political situation was stable. Now I changed my mind because sending him to study in Syria is dangerous."
Syria is not the only dangerous country. Political uncertainty is rife in countries such as Egypt, Lebanon and Yemen. "I don't see stability in Syria's neighbors Lebanon and Jordan either. Most political analysts expect unrest to spread," said Halawani.
Hanan Madi, a Lebanese mother also expressed her fears over sending her daughter to study in Lebanon or Egypt.
"The Arab political street is boiling, and we can't be sure about future political changes," she said.
She added: "My Plan A was to send my daughter to study in Beirut, but this had to be canceled especially when both Lebanon and Syria are on fire."
She said that her Plan B was to send her daughter to study in Egypt. But she is now afraid of sending her there. "What happened recently in the Sinai region bordering Israel increased my fears as war could erupt suddenly," she said.
Both Halawani and Madi, thought about sending their children to study in private university at Jeddah, but they are faced with many obstacles.
"Given the average household income of most expatriates, and the fact that they have financial responsibilities toward their other children as well, SR 60, 000 to SR 70, 000 per year in college fees are too high," said Halawani.
She added, "Besides paying this high amount of fees annually, most private colleges in Jeddah and Riyadh are not approved by the Syrian Ministry of Higher Education. If we return to Syria, my son will not be able to work there due to his Saudi certificate."
Madi also told Arab News she couldn't afford the high fees that Saudi universities are asking. "Saudi private universities charge very high fees. In addition, we hear about the shutdown of some private colleges, so we can't ensure their validity," she added.
Khalid Abo-Laban, a Palestinian student who had been studying medicine in Yemen before the start of Yemeni revolution, returned to the Kingdom recently, when he couldn't continue his education there. "I returned to the Kingdom when education was suspended during the revolution. Now, after Ali Saleh stepped down, I want to go back but my parents refused. They still afraid of the intermittent clashes in Yemen and the weekly explosions," he said.
He added: "My dad is still unsure about whether to allow me to continue my education in the Kingdom.
Actually, I don't prefer to enroll in Saudi private colleges of medicine, especially when two of well-known colleges had been asked by the Ministry of Higher Education to stop receiving students. Such sudden suspension increased my fears."
Arab News spoke to several sources in the Ministry of Higher Education, but they refused to comment on the issue. However, they confirmed that most expatriate students are looking for affordable colleges with fees that don't exceeded SR 30,000.
"Unfortunately, such colleges are mostly fake," the sources said.
However, some expatriate families prefer to send their children to universities in America and Europe, but they face difficulties getting visas especially after the Arab Spring.
Source: Zawya

26-08-12, 02:25 PM
Gold prices came up last week two much and closed at $ 1670 per ounce

27-08-12, 11:21 AM
Gold prices came up this morning, price at 8 AM is $ 1676 per ounce

27-08-12, 11:22 AM
Sabic helps Saudi bourse to higher close

Petrochemical and banking stocks lifted the Saudi stock market to close higher on Saturday.
The all-share ended 1.4 percent higher at 7,104 points and the petrochemical sector also ended 1.4 percent higher at 6,168 points.
Heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) closed 1.4 percent higher.
The banking index ended 1 percent higher at 16,016 poings
Source: Arabian Business

27-08-12, 11:23 AM
Saudi King approves major healthcare projects
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has ordered the allocation of plots of land for two major healthcare projects.
The Gulf kingdom's ruler called for an area of more than 5.5m sq m to be made available to build King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah and King Abdullah Medical City between Makkah and Jeddah.
The directive was announced by Saudi Arabia's Minister of Health Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah in comments published by Saudi Press Agency on Friday.
The minister said that the king had also approved the "necessary funds for the establishment of the first phase of the hospital and approved the amounts necessary for the medical city".
The minister added that contracts for the two projects will be awarded soon.
The majority of nationals and Arab expats are happy with the quality of healthcare available in the Gulf, with satisfaction levels rising to as high as 90 percent in Qatar, according to a study released in March.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governments have increased their investments in the healthcare industry as their countries are experiencing serious health problems, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
The Gallup poll said Qatar had the highest levels of satisfaction in the Gulf region at 90 percent, followed by the UAE at 79 percent.
Coming third was Oman (78 percent), ahead of Bahrain (70 percent) and Kuwait (62 percent), while Saudi Arabia was last in the GCC with 60 percent.
In February, it was reported that Saudi Arabia had launched SR2bn ($533.3m) worth of healthcare projects, including 16 medical centres and five medical warehouses, in the northwest province of Hail.
Plans for a new 200-bed maternity and children's hospital at a cost of SR400m, a 300-bed hospital in southwest Hail plus another 15 primary health care centres had been approved.
Source: Arabian Business

27-08-12, 11:25 AM
Makkah-Madinah train set to roll by January 2014

JEDDAH: Construction is under way on the first high-speed passenger railway line between Makkah and Madinah and is expected to be complete by January 2014.
Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry, said the new Madinah railway station situated close to the Prince Muhammad Airport would serve Haj and Umrah pilgrims more efficiently.
"The work on the Haramain High Speed Rail Project between Makkah and Madinah is progressing on time and as planned," Al-Seraisry, who is also chairman of the Saudi Railway Organization, told Al-Jazirah daily.
The 480-km railway line, constructed specifically for high-speed electric trains, will pass through the port city of Jeddah.
The first phase of the Haramain project includes the building of a railway station at Makkah and Madinah and two stations in Jeddah including the one at King Abdulaziz International Airport.
Initially the Haramain railway is expected to carry more than 3 million passengers annually. According to statistics, more than 3.5 million pilgrims were transported between Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah in 2005.
The same year saw more than 2 million Umrah pilgrims. According to studies conducted by the Haj Ministry, demand for transporting Haj pilgrims is expected to double over the next 25 years and Umrah pilgrims will total 11 million.
This, along with the huge potential for employment of Saudis, resulted in significant investment in the transport sector.
Minister Al-Seraisry said Saudization of the sector would start at 75 percent, with the intention to achieve 100 percent.
The project contract specifies an institute to train Saudi workers on high-speed technology be established.
"Technical matters relating to issues like safety, however, would require foreign experts," he said.
Saudi Arabia currently has 1,200 km of railway lines and when current rail projects are complete, the total will be closer to 7,000 km.
A SR 30.8 billion contract was signed between the government and Al-Shoula Co., a Saudi-Spanish consortium, to implement Phase II of the Haramain project in January.
New railway and expansion projects currently underway in the Kingdom include North-South Rail, the Land-bridge Project between Riyadh and Jeddah, and the GCC Railway.
The North-South Rail has two components: A service to transport minerals to manufacturing centers at the Ras Al-Khair port in the Arabian Gulf; and a passenger and freight service. It will start at the Jordanian border and link with the Riyadh to Dammam Railway.
The GCC railway project will connect the six GCC members, starting in Kuwait, passing through Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, and ending in Oman.
Source: Zawya

27-08-12, 11:26 AM
Noncomplying consumers face connection cut by SEC

A new bylaw regulating the electricity service that allows authorities to suspend electrical services to individuals tampering with meters becomes effective in September, according to a report on Al-Madinah newspaper.
The regulation is set by Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority (ECRA) and is giving more authority to provider to disconnect the service to subscribers who are proven to have tampered with their power meters, extend the power to other buildings or connect to the power before the company provides the metering system.
A source in the authority told the newspaper that measures have been put in place for the disconnection of the service; proving the violation, address the violator with his violation and giving him period of seven days before the disconnection unless the provider needs to intervene sooner to protect his properties.
The new regulation is stating that the provider has the right to disconnect the service to the subscriber if it finds any obstacle created by the subscriber that prevents it from reading the meter on due time.
The provider, according to the regulation, also has the right to disconnect the service if it finds out that extensions connected to its properties impose major safety threat.
The provider is allowed to disconnect the power after taking the following steps:
Address the subscriber with his violation through SMS or any other means within 30 days unless a sooner intervention is required for safety issues. The alert sent to the subscriber should state that he must resolve the extensions situation or reduce the load or apply for higher voltage.
In the event the subscriber doesn't resolve the situation within the stipulated period, the provider should give a final alert 14 days before the disconnection day.
The provider then has the right to disconnect the power after the end of the 14th day before 2 p.m.
The provider should check the metering system for illegal extensions, document everything related to the case and prepare a record according to the public properties protection regulation.
The provider has the right to ask the violator for compensation covering the period of violation in addition to fining him for sabotaging its properties.
The regulation obliges the provider to complete all the documentations required to impose a fine on the violator otherwise it will lose its right to collect the fine and only can ask for a compensation of one year maximum only.
Source: Zawya

27-08-12, 11:28 AM
Mega projects to make Saudi Arabia top tourism destination

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will become a top tourist center in the Arab world with big recreational projects under way, said Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.
He denied suggestions that a large number of Saudi nationals go to foreign tourist destinations including Dubai to spend their Eid holidays. "Saudi Arabia is a big country with a population of 26 million. Only a small percentage of Saudis go abroad for tourism." However, he pointed out that, like other nationals, Saudis also visit foreign tourist destinations. "Saudi tourism is a big project. We need to develop infrastructure to promote tourism and we need greater private sector investment in the sector," the prince said. "We have already completed a number of projects for providing integrated tourism services. It will take time for us to complete some of the major projects," he said, while speaking to Al Arabiya Channel.
The SCTA chief said tourism would play a major role in creating more jobs for young Saudi men and women and strengthening the national economy. "Tourism is the second largest provider of jobs, accounting for 26 percent and Saudis are happy to work in this vital sector," Prince Sultan pointed out. He highlighted the flow of tourists to Saudi resorts in recent years. "More than 10 million people attended tourism festivals in various parts of the country this summer." The SCTA chairman also underscored the success of tourism festivals that have been held in various regions and cities this year with the support of governorates and tourism committees.
Source: Zawya

27-08-12, 11:34 AM
Hafiz program overhaul needed to ensure economic growth

The Hafiz program has provided some startling insights about unemployment among citizens in the Kingdom.
With each application comes additional information -- address, telephone numbers, where they have applied for jobs and who have rejected them -- that gives a clear picture of the unemployed. Therefore, the Ministry of Labour has extensive knowledge about the number of doctorates, degree and certificate holders available in the labor market.
Once the ministry sifts through the applications, we hope they will come up with a plan on how to better prepare our willing workforce for the available employment opportunities.
While many have welcomed the recent changes denying Hafiz entitlement to those who reject more than three suitable job offers, do not complete training courses or do not attend interviews, it is quite
clear that a lot more needs to be done to generate employment opportunities for our youth.
The ministry recently announced that it has succeeded in providing jobs to over 250,000 male and female citizens this year. The gap between supply and demand can be better comprehended when you consider the number of beneficiaries in the Hafiz program that has now reached a whopping 1,365 million.
Moreover, 86 percent of the Hafiz applicants are women. If we were to provide all of them with jobs - which do not exceed 90,000 - we could create a female government sector. On the other hand, if we employ them in the private sector, then a similar situation would result as the number of Saudi nationals in the private sector also does not exceed one million.
The duration of Hafiz is 12 months and not 12 years so the authorities need to act with great urgency in order to continue to keep up with the national economy system. To begin with, the Ministry of Labor could reduce the numbers of expats allowed to work in the Kingdom which would create more job opportunities for Saudi citizens.
Another important phenomena to be taken into consideration is that girls who live with their male breadwinners should not be classified as unemployed, as in Islam it is incumbent upon the man to earn a living to his family which includes females too.
Source: Zawya

27-08-12, 11:35 AM
Saudi money supply growth tame in 2012

JEDDAH Saudi Arabias broad money (M3), growth remained well below 2011s performance, recording 9.8 percent Y/Y during June, the National Commercial Bank said in its latest Saudi Economic Review.
M3 is the broadest measure of money used by economists to estimate the entire supply of money within an economy. It is the category of the money supply that includes M2 as well as all large time deposits, institutional money-market funds, short-term repurchase agreements, along with other larger liquid assets.
NCB report however noted that it rebound from Mays growth of 7.7 percent Y/Y.
The main driver of M3 continues to be demand deposits which gained by 14.4 percent in June over the same month last year.
Nonetheless, the level of demand deposits has somewhat stagnated during the second quarter of 2012 on a monthly basis.
Meanwhile, time and saving deposits have held their positive trajectory for the seventh consecutive month as they expanded by 3.6 percent Y/Y.
Despite experiencing suppressed interest rates, the local banking system managed to attract time and saving deposits and increase their share of M3 to 24 percent following their record low figure of 23 percent during April.
The report forecast that the M3 growth will remain sluggish throughout the third quarter of 2012, adding that its annual growth for 2012 is expected at 10.9 percent, "a more conservative figure than the International Monetary Funds (IMF) 12.2 percent projection."
Moreover, similar to M0 components, local food prices should ease for coming few months and pick up again as Haj nears, the report said.
Nevertheless, the inflation rate is projected to remain between 4.5 percent - 5 percent for 2012.
M0 is the most liquid measure of the money supply. It only includes cash or assets that could quickly be converted into currency. This measure is known as narrow money because it is the smallest measure of the money supply. It is a measure of the money supply which combines any liquid or cash assets held within a central bank and the amount of physical currency circulating in the economy.
Besides, given the fact that the Saudi riyal is pegged to the US dollar, the benchmark policy rate is expected to remain unchanged for an extended period.
Commenting on the conduct of Saudi monetary policy, the IMF recently said that Kingdoms "use of macroprudential and liquidity management tools remains key to effective policymaking."
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency has steered the Saudi economy through the global financial crisis and is keen on supporting and maintaining the growth of the economy by managing its monetary tools effectively. SG/QJM
Source: Saudi Gazette

27-08-12, 11:41 AM
New Saudi domestic carrier said to be entitled to discounted fuel 
The successful bidder for Saudi Arabia's new domestic license will be able to buy fuel at the same discounted price as national carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines, Eqtisadiah Arabic newspaper reported, citing the General Authority for Civil Aviation.
The announcement of the winning firms or consortium will be in October, while operations are expected to start at the end of next year. Bahrain's Gulf Air and Qatar Airways were short-listed among the final bidders for the license.
The move is an important as the higher fuel costs was a major factor in the collapse of Saudi low-cost carrier Sama Airlines in August 2010. Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy with a population of over 27 million, still has one of the smallest airline networks in the region relative to its size.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, the national carrier, and private low-budget carrier National Air Services are the only options for flying within the country, where demand for flights is high.
More than 54 million passengers passed through Saudi Arabia's 27 airports last year, according to data from GACA, rising 13.6 percent from 2010. Licensed foreign carriers can fly in and out of Saudi Arabia but not within. With a price cap on domestic flights, private airlines have struggled with profit margins.
"Sama, and all other airlines throughout the region, experienced very low fares and somewhat slow demand for regional travel during the winter season (October 2009 through March 2010). Although revenues were up sharply during the summer peak season, it has not been enough to offset the heavy losses we suffered during the winter," Sama CEO Bruce Ashby said at the time.
Source: Saudi Gazette

27-08-12, 11:43 AM
Charles Taylor buys majority stake in Saudi loss adjuster

Charles Taylor has acquired a majority stake in the Noble Inspection and Loss Adjustment Company in a bid to develop its Middle East footprint.
The acquisition will provide Charles Taylor Adjusting with a presence in Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and builds on the groups existing capabilities in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Following the deal, the NILACO will be renamed Charles Taylor Adjusting (Saudi Arabia) and will be led and managed by John Chambers, Charles Taylor Adjustings regional manager for the Middle East, who has relocated to Riyadh.
NILACOs founder, Nasser Al Bousseyes, joins Charles Taylor Adjusting as a director of Saudi Arabian operations.
Charles Taylor Adjusting (Saudi Arabia) will focus on Saudi Arabias engineering, property, utilities and power/energy sectors, which are reinsured into London and other international markets.
Joe McMahon, chairman of Charles Taylor Adjusting, said: "There is a growing demand in Saudi Arabia for greater access to international loss adjusting capabilities.
"We already have a strong presence in the Middle East through our multi-line loss adjusting offices in Dubai and Doha and we see significant further growth opportunities across the Middle East. "This strategic move gives us a full adjusting license together with an established business presence in Saudi Arabia.
"We are looking forward to working closely with international reinsurers and local markets to deliver high levels of technical and professional service on large and complex adjusting cases in Saudi Arabia."
Chambers said that Saudi Arabia is the largest Middle East market, with vast resources and major infrastructure development.
Al Bousseyes added: "We wanted to build our business by becoming part of a larger international group and chose Charles Taylor because of the companys outstanding reputation for professionalism, technical expertise and international reach.
"The Saudi Arabian market offers a tremendous opportunity to build a significant regional loss adjusting operation, and there is a real demand from the insurance market for greater access to the professionalism and dynamism offered by Charles Taylor Adjusting.
"I look forward to working with my new colleagues to build a significant loss adjusting business in the Middle East."
Source: Saudi Gazette

27-08-12, 11:44 AM
Petra seals Saudi KAEC deal

Saudi's King Abdullah Economic City, the region's largest private sector project, said it has signed an lease agreement with Petra Engineering Industrial Company, a leading manufacturer of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment based in Jordan.
As per the agreement, KAEC will lease an additional land with an area of 45,552 sq m within the phase 1B in its industrial valley project.
The new contract comes a year after the previous contract between both parties which entailed leasing a 25,204 sq m land at phase 1A in the industrial valley to built an air conditioning and refrigeration factory with an investment of SR30 million.
The move comes as part of Petras expansion plans within the Saudi market, said Samir Hamed, the general manager of Petra Engineering aftwer signing the deal with Ahmed Linjawy, the president of Industry and City Services in KAEC.
'We are delighted to strengthen our partnership with KAEC through this agreement, which embodies our trust to the excellent services provided by the city to investors through developed infrastructure and advanced facilities,' Hamed remarked.
'The incentives at the KAEC project will support the implementation of the plans we have set for the Saudi market, and will serve as a new phase in the growth of Petra, which began 25 years ago and still continues to achieve success in the region,' he added.
Welcoming Petra to KAEC, Linjawy said, 'We have achieved great success in attracting major companies and factories that are known locally, regionally and globally. The Industrial Valley is a perfect choice for industry leaders to establish the manufacturing hub and expand their presence in markets they operate in and target new markets.'
Petra Engineering, which was founded in 1987, is expected to provide more than 300 jobs in its plant at KAEC and will contribute in training and developing local cadres.
The factory specializes in producing various air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment that covers the growing market demand for such products.
Source: Trade Arabia

27-08-12, 11:45 AM
Japan firm wins $200m Saudi Aramco contract 
Japan's JGC Corp signed a deal valued in the range of $100 to $200 million to expand an ethane cracker for a petrochemicals complex owned by Saudi Aramco and Japan's Sumitomo Chemical, an industry source said.
A JGC spokesman declined to comment on the deal for the unit, known as RP1.
The contract's value is between $100 and $200 million, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter was not yet public.
Aramco and Sumitomo have taken longer than expected to pick contractors for the Rabigh II petrochemical expansion project, which is expected to cost around $7 billion. JGC's deal is the latest to be awarded.
South Korea's GS Engineering and Construction and Daelim Industrial, Italy's Saipem and Britain's Petrofac have all signed contracts to build the second phase of the complex in Rabigh, on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.
In addition to expanding the ethane cracker, a new aromatics complex will be built using around 3 million tonnes per year of naphtha to make higher value petrochemicals for the Rabigh II mega complex
Source: Reuters

27-08-12, 11:48 AM
Saudi inflation falls to lowest in three years

Saudi Arabia's inflation rate fell to its lowest in almost three years as increases in the costs of food eased.
Inflation slowed to 4 percent in July, compared with 4.9 percent in the previous month, the Central Department of Statistics said on its website today. Food prices increased 4 percent, down from 4.7 percent in June.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency said in a report on its website today that inflationary pressures in the Kingdom, the Arab world's largest economy, are expected to stabilize in the third quarter as global increases in food costs slow and inflation in other countries eases
The outlook for Saudi Arabia's economy is "broadly favorable", with real gross domestic product (GDP) expected to grow by six percent this year as the Kingdom benefits from increased oil revenues, prudent economic management and government spending, the IMF said recently.
Source: Saudi Gazette

27-08-12, 11:57 AM
Industrial city to employ 5,000 women

The Kingdom's first women-only industrial city in the Eastern Province city of Hofuf will provide more than 5,000 jobs to women.
The Saudi Industrial Property Authority ( Modon ) has been initiating works for planning and development of the city, targeting women investors.
More than SR 500 million would be invested in the first phase of the project.
The authority aims to encourage Saudi women investors and entrepreneurs to invest in the industrial city.
The project was planned to allow women to work in a suitable atmosphere and make their contributions to the Kingdom's development.
Modon has asked Saudi universities such as King Faisal University as well as technical institutes to introduce more new-generation courses in the fields of industry and manufacturing.
" Modon plans to utilize Saudi women's ability to engage in various industrial activities. The development of women-only industrial cities would help tap their energy to boost national development," a top Modon official said.
"Recently, the number of women investors and entrepreneurs has been increased a lot," he added.
Women will manage all activities of the new industrial city, including administration and security.
The Cabinet has instructed the relevant ministry to allocate parcels of land within the city limits to establish industrial projects for women. The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has already allocated land for the first women-only industrial city in Hofuf.
The new industrial city in Hofuf is located near Al-Ahsa Airport. Established in 2001, Modon is responsible for the development and management of industrial cities.
Currently it supervises 29 industrial cities across the Kingdom. It has targeted to reach 40 industrial cities during the next five years with developed industrial lands of not less than 160 million square meters
Source: Arab News

27-08-12, 02:32 PM
Saudi signs $ 1.06bn deals for health projects

Saudi Arabia on Sunday signed contracts for SR4bn ($1.06bn) worth of healthcare projects to be built across the Gulf kingdom.
Health minister Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah signed off the contracts for the projects which will include a specialist hospital in Jazan and a maternity and paediatric hospital in Jeddah.
The deals also include the implementation of the first phase of Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Medical City in Northern Region, the establishment of Miqat Hospital in Madinah and Jomoum Hospital in Makkah.
The approval has also been given for the supervision of medical cities projects in Southern and Northern regions, two hospitals in Asir region as well as 440 health centres across the country.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered the allocation of plots of land for two major healthcare projects.
The Gulf kingdom's ruler called for an area of more than 5.5m sq m to be made available to build King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah and King Abdullah Medical City between Makkah and Jeddah.
Source: Arabian Business

27-08-12, 02:38 PM
Saudi Arabia plans metro system in Jeddah

Saudi Arabia is preparing plans to build a metro system in its second largest city Jeddah, a project that would cost around SAR35bn (US$9.3bn), a deputy mayor of the city said on Sunday.
The metro system, the third one planned in the kingdom, would be 108 km long. It would have three lines and 46 stations, according to initial studies, said Ibrahim Kutubkhana, deputy mayor for projects and construction.
"Now we are in the phase of completing the initial studies...and this is being carried out by the Ministry of Transport. Later it will be tendered to international consortia for engineering, procurement and construction," Kutubkhana told Reuters.
The time frame for the project will be set after the initial studies are completed, he added.
Jeddah, an expanding city of over 3m people, has been struggling with inadequate infrastructure and is undergoing a multi-billion dollar overhaul that aims to transform the port city into a trade and tourist center.
Saudi Arabia, helped by big budget surpluses on the back of high oil prices, is spending over US$400bn in the five years to 2013 to upgrade its infrastructure. It has no metro systems at present but the capital Riyadh and the holy city of Makkah have launched plans to build them.
Earlier this month the Saudi government approved a US$16.5bn plan to modernise transport in Makkah, which will include a bus network and a 182 km metro system. Last month Riyadh pre-qualified four consortia for bidding to build its metro system.
Source: Arabian Business/Reuters

27-08-12, 03:47 PM
Saudi economy shows resilience
JEDDAH Saudi Arabias quarterly GDP growth eased slightly to 5.9 percent y-o-y in 1Q12 from 7.4 percent y-o-y in 4Q11, due to a moderate growth in the manufacturing sector. Nevertheless, the quarterly real GDP growth is still considered robust supported by an expansion in the oil sector, KFH-Research said in a report. The Kingdoms oil sector is still faring well on the back of increasing crude oil production. Its monthly crude oil production remained the highest as compared with other OPEC countries at 9.8 million bpd in June 2012 (May 2012: 9.9 million bpd). The oil sector contributes is expected to remain strong and will support the Kingdoms real GDP growth at 6.0 percent y-o-y in 2012.
Saudis leading indicator purchasing managers index (PMI) eased slightly to 59.7 in June 2012 from 60.4 in May 2012. Despite the easing, it is still considered a robust number as it maintains at above 50.0 thresholds which reflects strong domestic demand conditions in Saudis non-oil sector. Government induced consumption underpinned by wage and pension hikes is the major driver for the strong domestic demand. Industrial output is also benefiting from government demand and social housing contracts. New orders sub-index moderated by one percentage point to 69.0 in June 2012. However, the output growth, exports order, and employment sub-indexes expanded with almost one third of all companies reporting increased production.
Saudis consumer price index (CPI) based inflation moderated to 4.9 percent y-o-y in June 2012 from 5.1 percent y-o-y in May 2012 due to declining food and housing prices. Prices of food and beverages segment (the largest contributor of CPI basket at 26.0 percent) moderated slightly to 4.7 percent y-o-y in June 2012 from 4.8 percent y-o-y in May 2012. This is in line with easing global food prices as continued economic uncertainties and generally adequate supply prospects kept international prices of most commodities under downward pressure. Inflation is expected to edge down in 2H12, averaging 4.7 percent y-o-y for 2012 (2011: 5.0 percent) mainly due to falling global food and other commodity prices and a stronger US dollar, which the Saudi riyal is pegged.
Moreover, Saudi key policy rates (repo and reverse repo rate) are approximately parallel with the movements in the US interest rates. Nonetheless, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) will maintain a small premium on US rates, given Saudis concern about inflation. The government has extended financing guarantees to banks offering loans to small and medium-sized enterprises. Additional initiatives aimed at increasing lending to the private sector, including by the five state-backed specialized credit institutions, will also probably be forthcoming, especially if the euro-area debt crisis continue to worsen, the report said.
It further said the Saudi governments fiscal target to record a budget surplus of SR12 billion in 2012 is realistic and achievable since Saudi crude oil production figure is still high and has the highest estimated capacity at 12.0 million bpd among the OPEC countries. Higher oil revenues will lift the Kingdoms fiscal position. Oil revenues contributed 90 of budget revenues, which are now expected to reach an all-time high of SR1.2 trillion in 2012. However, despite rising oil revenues in the recent years, the Kingdom still faces some downside risks, including a high unemployment rate (officially 10.8 percent for Saudi nationals in 2010) due to rapid population growth. Furthermore, a need to improve infrastructure and rising social spending continues to add to the pressure for high government expenditure, the report noted. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

27-08-12, 03:52 PM
STC Group undergoes management restructuring

JEDDAH Saudi Telecom Company (STC) Group has announced a number of changes within its management structure, involving senior executive positions.
The Group announced that it has accepted the resignation of Ghassan Hasbani from his role as Group CEO - International Operations due to the near end of his contractual period while he will continue with the group till Oct. 1, 2012, and has asked Krishnan Ravi Kumar, to take over his role starting Sept.1, 2012.
Ravi joined the Group early last July and brings with him 25 years of experience gained at senior positions at a number of international companies.
Groups Chief Executive Dr. Khaled Al Ghoneim said these management changes are part of a comprehensive strategy adopted by Saudi Telecom Group addressing its vision of keeping pace with the fast and accelerating changes in the telecommunications and information technology industry worldwide.
The Groups ambitious management "Transformation Program" is designed to take the Group forward to a next phase of continuing to build on past achievements by focusing on customer service, building internal capabilities, and regional growth plans, while simultaneously building a clear and strong platform for a renewed launch towards leadership, with a responsible vision of the challenges facing it, utilizing more mature approach and advanced tools and the ability to change, improve performance and productivity, which will reflect on increased profitability, better return on investment for shareholders and enhanced competitiveness for the Group, locally and internationally.
Al Ghoneim wished those executives leaving the Group the success, and expressed his appreciation for their effective contribution to achieving the position, which the Group has attained locally and internationally. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

27-08-12, 03:55 PM
Makkah to receive 4 million pilgrims after expansion

A long-term master development plan costing a whopping $27 billion will largely expand Islam's holy city of Makkah, allowing it to accommodate nearly four million pilgrims at a time in 2040, according to Saudi newspapers.
The project, which was launched two years ago, has already lifted the capacity of Masjid Al Haram (grand mosque) and other holy sites in the western Saudi city to 2.8 million people from 2.5 million, they said.
The expansions cover all ritual sites including the grand mosque, Mount Arafat, areas where tents for pilgrims are set up and roads leading to those sites.
More passenger vans and busses will also be put in service following the completion of the city's first passenger train to transport pilgrims three years ago.
"The master development plan envisages expansion of all ritual sites by 2040, Makkah will be able to receive four million pilgrims at a time," the Saudi Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah said, quoting government officials.
It said the project also involves the construction of new roads and more buildings for the pilgrims, who converge on Saudi Arabia from most other countries to perform Haj (pilgrimage) every year.
The plan also included the construction of the world's tallest clock tower, which started ticking in late 2010. Saudi officials said they hoped the clock would establish Makkah as an alternate time standard to the Greenwich median.
The tower, overlooking the grand mosque, is around 601 metres high, making it the world's second tallest building - ahead of Taiwan's 509 metre Taipei 101, but well behind the Burj Khalifa, the 828 metre skyscraper in Dubai.
More than six times larger in diameter than London's famed Big Ben, the clock faces, with the Arabic words 'In the Name of Allah' in huge lettering underneath and is lit with two million LED lights.
Source: Zawya

27-08-12, 03:56 PM
Ban on smoking in public places

JEDDAH: The decision to ban smoking in ministries, government departments and public places issued by Minister of Interior Prince Ahmed would help cut the number of smokers by about 60 percent, and the number of drug addicts by about 30 percent, said Deputy Director Solaiman Al-Zaidi of the Amal hospital in Jeddah.
The decision also banned smoking in closed places, coffee shops, restaurants, open shopping centers and crowded places.
In statements published yesterday by local daily Al-Madinah, Al-Zaidi said it was every citizen and expatriates duty to implement this decision and to report violators.
As Saudi citizens, we are very proud of the care and concern given by our leadership to the public health of our country. Saudi Arabia is among the top countries which have made the fight against smoking among its top priorities, he added.
Al-Zaidi asked government departments to create a unified mechanism for the implementation of this decision. He also suggested that violators should be fined and the money collected be used to establish more centers to fight smoking.
He also asked all shops selling cigarettes to strictly abide by the decision not to sell cigarettes to young men under 19. Asked how the decision would help cut the number of drug addicts by about 30 percent, Al-Zaidi said most narcotics users were originally cigarette smokers.
Many of them would pretend to be smoking cigarettes while actually they filled them with narcotics, he explained.
Source: Arab News

27-08-12, 03:57 PM
Saudi Arabia to lead MENA infrastructure, construction spending over next 15 years

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is predicted to lead growth in the Middle East and North African (MENA) regions infrastructure and construction spending over the next 15 years, a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch said.
The infrastructure and construction market in the MENA region is among the worlds most attractive due to its size.
A total of $4.3 trillion will be invested in construction projects across the MENA region by 2020, an increase of 80 percent compared with current figures.
Saudi Arabia is expected to take the lead in regional infrastructure spending and construction projects as it responds positively to pressing social needs such as labor, housing and education.
The recent approval of the mortgage law will help drive growth in residential construction in response to the current housing shortage.
The construction and infrastructure sub-sectors in Saudi Arabia grew by 177 percent compared to last year and currently account for 46 percent of the 2012-2013 MENA project pipeline totaling $448 billion, according to the report.
With its young and expanding population, Saudi Arabia should remain the most buoyant market, in line with its overall economic development plan, the report said.
The MENA region is expected to account for 12 percent of global emerging markets and 4.4 percent of world construction markets within the next decade. Saudi Arabia is expected to continue to lead the way.

Source: Arab News

28-08-12, 09:58 AM
Gold prices came down this morning, price at 7:30 AM is $ 1660 per ounce

28-08-12, 11:14 AM
Saudi banks most profitable in Middle East

JEDDAH Out of the top 50 banks in the Middle East ranked by assets for the period H1 2011, Saudi banks lead the pack "having a good track record of maintaining strong asset quality and adapting adequate lending practices and underwriting standards," Sheetal Kothari, research analyst, business and financial services practice, Frost & Sullivan, said.
The Gulf Business Top 50 Banks in the Middle East report said "Saudi Arabias traditionally conservative fiscal polices coupled with the billion-dollar government budget, has buoyed the banking sector with four out of the five top ten banks being based in the Kingdom."
Saudi Arabia is one of the worlds fastest growing banking markets.
According to a new research report, commercial banks operating in the Kingdom are likely to be more efficient in near future on back of technological developments, and favorable government policies. Despite the eurozone crisis, the Saudi Arabian banking industry registered an impressive growth, and it is estimated that the lending will grow at a compound annual rate of around 10 percent during 2012-2015 in the Kingdom due to liquidity and capitalization. The study Saudi Arabia Banking Sector Outlook 2015, found that despite adverse economic conditions, the Saudi Arabian banks continued to expand their lending activities.
We observed that in Saudi Arabia, the banking sector is largely dominated by corporate banking, but the retail segment is yet to take off. In the past few years, consumer loans, which earlier accounted for only less than a quarter of the total banking market, have shown a significant growth.
Forecasts for key banking segments, like loans, and deposits, have also been presented which will help clients know the direction in which the Saudi Arabian banking sector is likely to proceed in the coming years.
"Most of the top 10 profit growers came in from a lower base than their weightier counterparts, however the mammoth profit jumps are evidence of a grassroots regional recovery as banks in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar feel the buoying effects of government support that Western banks are sorely missing," the report noted.
Top 10 banks in the GCC by H1 profit growth:
1. Bank Albilad: 385 percent
Saudi Arabias second-smallest bank by market value tops the list with 385 per cent growth, reported half-year profits of $177.3 million, up from $36.5 million last year.
2. Bank Dhofar: 324 percent
Omans third-largest bank by market capitalization, Bank Dhofar reported a 324 per cent rise post net profit of $50.6 million in the six months ending June 30.
3. Bank Al Jazira: 115 percent
Bank Al Jazira, Saudi Arabias smallest lender by market value, posted a 115 per cent rise with a $72.5 million net profit to June 30 2012.
4. Alinma Bank: 91 percent
Saudis Alinma Bank posted a 91 per cent rise, ending the first half of the year with $87.8 million in net profit.
5. Saudi Hollandi: 24.1 percent
Saudi Hollandi, the Kingdoms oldest bank, posted a 24.1 per cent profit increase. The bank ended the first six months of the year with $165.9 million in net profit, up from $133.6 million for the same period in 2011.
6. Burgan Bank: 23 percent
Kuwait-based, Burgan Bank reported a rise of 23 per cent for the first half of the year with net profit of $110.3 million.
7. Sharjah Islamic Bank: 21 percent
Sharjah Islamic Bank, from the United Arab Emirates, posted a 21 per cent rise in net profit at $40.6 million for the first half of the year, up from $33.5 million in 2011.
8. Bank Muscat: 19.6 percent
Oman-based Bank Muscat posted a net profit of $177.6 million for the first six months of the year, a 19.6 per cent rise from last years $148.5 million.
9. Boubyan Bank: 18 percent
Boubyan Bank from Kuwait, reported $18.4 million in net profit for the first six months; an 18 per cent rise from the banks 2011 figure.
10. Qatar National Bank: 17.1 percent
QNB a net profit of $1.1 billion for the first six months, a 17.1 percent increase from last year. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

28-08-12, 11:20 AM
$ 80b-plus Saudi mega infrastructure projects to be awarded in 2013

RIYADH More than $80 billion worth of contracts will be awarded in Saudi Arabia in 2013, a 36 percent increase from the total value of projects awarded in 2011 - making the Kingdom the number one opportunity in the Middle East region for contractors, consultants and vendors, MEED said.
Against this backdrop, the Saudi Mega Infrastructure Projects Summit will be held Sept. 16-18 at the Riyadh Marriot Hotel.
The summit will coincide with the World Green Building Week on Sept. 17-21, which aims to shine a spotlight on the key role of buildings in conserving resources, saving money and creating jobs while providing healthier places to live and work. The aims of the WGBW and its importance to Saudi Arabias project portfolio will be highlighted at the Summit by Faisal Alfadl, president of fa Partners, and founder of the Saudi Green Building Council.
"With a massive projects industry still opening up opportunities, the Saudi Mega Infrastructure Projects Summit is a key introduction for those looking to enter the Saudi market for the first time, as well as an excellent platform for those eager to strengthen their profile in the kingdom," said Edmund O Sullivan, Chairman, MEED Events.
Summit attendees will be able to hear from project clients and leading contractors present and discuss the ongoing and planned projects in the transport, real estate, and power & water sectors in Saudi Arabia.
Among the more prominent speakers include Amer Al-Swaha, Head of IPP Program at the Saudi Electricity Company, currently the 2nd largest projects client in the Kingdom with approximately $40 billion of work planned or underway, in addition to the National Water Company and the Ministry of Health. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

28-08-12, 11:22 AM
KSA, Qatar, UAE logistics markets propel sector's growth in Mideast

JEDDAH Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar will remain key growth catalysts for the contract logistics market in the Middle East, the Transport Intelligence said in a study.
It said the contract logistics services market in the Middle East expects to sustain a 6.9 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2011 to 2015, reaching a value of $3.7 billion from $3 billion in 2011.
GCC countries have posted the biggest gains in the Middle East contract logistics market, driven by high levels of investment, consumer spending and fast economic growth.
Qatars contract logistics market achieved the strongest growth rate in the Middle East in 2011, expanding by 23.1 percent to reach $118 million. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, on the other hand, posted growth rates of 9.1 percent and 11.9 percent respectively during the same period and remain the regions largest markets with a value of $630 million and $451 million, respectively, in 2011.
In another report, "A Strategic Analysis of the Logistics Market and Contract Logistics in Saudi Arabia", Frost & Sullivan (F&S) forecast that the earned revenues from all logistics ventures in the Kingdom will grow to $20.5 billion in 2015 from an estimated $13.8 billion last year.
F&S said the growth in the logistics sector would be the result of ongoing strength in Saudi Arabias oil and gas industries and its business diversification program, which "would cause a surge in exports".
F&S added that the countrys fast-growing population and associated "rise in the domestic uptake of major manufacturing and consumer-oriented industries, such as retail, fast-moving consumer goods, engineering, chemicals, food, and electronics" stimulate the demand for contract logistics services.
"In Saudi Arabia, the impressive performance of the industries and their strong expansion plans, despite the global economic downturn have opened up several prospects for logistic outsourcing," said Srinath Manda, F&S transportation and logistics program manager. "In addition, being the largest economy in the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC), accounting for almost two-thirds of the council nations collective economy size, has made Saudi Arabia a happy hunting ground for logistics service providers." F&S sees further opportunities emanating from the investment taking place in the countrys rail system which it said should reduce shippers/consignees reliance on trucking services.
South Africa-based Barloworld Logistics, a leading provider of logistics and supply chain management solutions, predicts that market conditions will continue to improve in light of the projected positive growth rates for the region.
This growth is compounded by the growing awareness of the strategic benefits of outsourced logistics solutions such as substantial cost savings, decreased cycle times, improved product and service quality, and enhanced customer satisfaction, which are acting as multipliers to the expected economic growth.
The company will focus on delivering integrated smart supply chain solutions in the region, providing strategic support that empowers Middle East companies to align their supply chain strategy to their business strategy and enables them to be more efficient and competitive.
Frank Courtney, Barloworld Logistics chief executive for EMEA region, said: "Business enterprises in the region are increasingly appreciating the real value of outsourced logistics services, particularly in terms of reduced overhead costs, stronger focus on core competencies, enhanced operational efficiency, superior health and safety standards and improved customer satisfaction through the implementation of world-class methodologies and best practices."
"While adoption of outsourced logistics services has increased significantly, there is a large portion of the market that is yet to consider the idea of outsourcing, creating a huge window of opportunity to grow our business in the region.
"With the growing awareness of the direct and indirect benefits, outsourced logistics services will ultimately be the norm in the future. Moreover, looking at mature markets like the UK where companies outsource approximately 49.5 percent of their contract logistics, there is still plenty of room for growth in the Middle East," he added. SG/Agencies
Source: Saudi Gazette

28-08-12, 11:23 AM
Private schools to get aid.

JEDDAH: A new initiative to connect unemployed Saudi teachers to private schools in the Kingdom is currently under way by the Ministry of Labor's Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf). Private schools are required to hire qualified Saudi teachers as part of the ministry's goal to achieve total Saudization in this field. The Ministry of Education is offering financial incentives to private schools that hire large numbers of Saudi teachers.
This comes at a time when the ministry endeavors to create a minimum wage for Saudi teachers. Revised salaries for Saudi teachers of SR 5,600 per month include a travel allowance. School management will pay SR 3,100 and the fund will pay SR 2,500 to each teacher.
Director General of the fund Ibrahim Al-Moaeqali said: "A new method for paying subsidized salaries is being set up in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, local banks and the General Organization for Social Insurance."
Source: Zawya

28-08-12, 11:24 AM
GCC bank provisions surge in Q2

Provisions by most banks in Gulf oil producers surged in the second quarter of 2012 after a decline in the previous quarter, stifling their net profits achieved mainly from higher interest income, according to a Kuwaiti bank.
Four banks in the UAE, the second largest Arab economy with the biggest banking sector, were the only banks to record a decline in loan loss provisions in the second quarter, Global Investment House ( GIH ) said in a study.
The collective non-performing loan provisions made by the 22 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) banks covered by the study plunged by 46 per cent in the first quarter compared with the previous quarter and by around five percent compared with the first quarter of 2011, GIH said.
"Provisions expenses saw resurgence during the second quarter... collective provisions for the GCC banking coverage jumped 10 per cent YoY driven by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The UAE stood on the other end of the spectrum, as it was the only GCC country that witnessed a decline in provisions."
The report showed the banks under coverage saw "stagnancy" in profit growth YoY in the second quarter of 2012, adding that gains made by the net interest income were offset by higher provisions and operating expenses.
Net interest income grew by six per cent YoY while provisions and operating expenses rose by 10 per cent and seven per cent YoY respectively.
"Adjusting for one-off gains made by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) in the second quarter of 2011 on the sale of a Malaysian associate, and also for extraordinarily high provisions taken by the bank then, we believe that the profits of our coverage improved by five per cent YoY in the second quarter of 2012."
The report showed the combined net interest income of covered banks grew by around six per cent YoY in the second quarter and two per cent QoQ.
It said growth rates were spread over a wide spectrum with Kuwait being on the lower end (one per cent YoY) and Qatar on the higher (17 per cent YoY).
"Balance sheet growth slowed down during the quarter and inched up by 0.4 per cent QoQ for the collective GCC banking sector. Balance sheet shrinkage recorded by UAE banks had a strong impact on the sector but the effects were largely diluted by strong asset growth witnessed by Qatar."
The report covered banks from all GCC members, including the UAE's largest banks--Emirates NBD, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, First Gulf Bank and ADCB.
Source: Zawya

28-08-12, 11:26 AM
Saudi economy shows resilience

JEDDAH - Saudi Arabia's quarterly GDP growth eased slightly to 5.9 percent y-o-y in 1Q12 from 7.4 percent y-o-y in 4Q11, due to a moderate growth in the manufacturing sector. Nevertheless, the quarterly real GDP growth is still considered robust supported by an expansion in the oil sector, KFH-Research said in a report. The Kingdom's oil sector is still faring well on the back of increasing crude oil production. Its monthly crude oil production remained the highest as compared with other OPEC countries at 9.8 million bpd in June 2012 (May 2012: 9.9 million bpd). The oil sector contributes is expected to remain strong and will support the Kingdom's real GDP growth at 6.0 percent y-o-y in 2012.
Saudi's leading indicator purchasing managers' index (PMI) eased slightly to 59.7 in June 2012 from 60.4 in May 2012. Despite the easing, it is still considered a robust number as it maintains at above 50.0 thresholds which reflects strong domestic demand conditions in Saudi's non-oil sector. Government induced consumption underpinned by wage and pension hikes is the major driver for the strong domestic demand. Industrial output is also benefiting from government demand and social housing contracts. New orders sub-index moderated by one percentage point to 69.0 in June 2012. However, the output growth, exports order, and employment sub-indexes expanded with almost one third of all companies reporting increased production.
Saudi's consumer price index (CPI) based inflation moderated to 4.9 percent y-o-y in June 2012 from 5.1 percent y-o-y in May 2012 due to declining food and housing prices. Prices of food and beverages segment (the largest contributor of CPI basket at 26.0 percent) moderated slightly to 4.7 percent y-o-y in June 2012 from 4.8 percent y-o-y in May 2012. This is in line with easing global food prices as continued economic uncertainties and generally adequate supply prospects kept international prices of most commodities under downward pressure.
Inflation is expected to edge down in 2H12, averaging 4.7 percent y-o-y for 2012 (2011: 5.0 percent) mainly due to falling global food and other commodity prices and a stronger US dollar, which the Saudi riyal is pegged.
Moreover, Saudi key policy rates (repo and reverse repo rate) are approximately parallel with the movements in the US interest rates. Nonetheless, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) will maintain a small premium on US rates, given Saudi's concern about inflation. The government has extended financing guarantees to banks offering loans to small and medium-sized enterprises. Additional initiatives aimed at increasing lending to the private sector, including by the five state-backed specialized credit institutions, will also probably be forthcoming, especially if the euro-area debt crisis continue to worsen, the report said.
It further said the Saudi government's fiscal target to record a budget surplus of SR12 billion in 2012 is realistic and achievable since Saudi crude oil production figure is still high and has the highest estimated capacity at 12.0 million bpd among the OPEC countries. Higher oil revenues will lift the Kingdom's fiscal position. Oil revenues contributed 90 of budget revenues, which are now expected to reach an all-time high of SR1.2 trillion in 2012.
However, despite rising oil revenues in the recent years, the Kingdom still faces some downside risks, including a high unemployment rate (officially 10.8 percent for Saudi nationals in 2010) due to rapid population growth.
Furthermore, a need to improve infrastructure and rising social spending continues to add to the pressure for high government expenditure, the report noted.
Source: Zawya

28-08-12, 11:27 AM
Progress of judicial system to be in focus in Saudi Arabia

A report on the development of the judicial system is going to be issued soon, said Justice Minister Mohammed Al-Eissa in a statement on the occasion of Eid. The minister said the report would cover the judicial sector's achievements in carrying out the King Abdullah Project on the Development of the Judiciary.
The minister said he got the green light from the Cabinet to build new courts after providing lands in five years.
The report will include all activities practiced in courts and state which courts have benefited from technology, said the minister.
He said the report would also comprise dates of receiving new court buildings from contractors.
Majed Al-Udwan, director of the King Abdullah Project on the Development of the Judiciary, told Al-Watan newspaper that the report would highlight the ministry's symposiums held in the sector development framework and the services added to courts and notary offices.
Al-Udwan said the report would clearly explain the lands provided to the ministry.
Source: Zawya

28-08-12, 11:28 AM
Tadawul wavers in narrow range

Saudi stocks showed narrow fluctuations yesterday, as Tadawul index traded in the range of 32 points only.
Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) reflected a sideways walk for most of the session and ended red at 7,104.19 points, dropping less than half point for the entire day.
Sector indices performed in a mixed fashion, with nine sectors accumulating an aggregate of 234.4 points and six sectors trimming 147 points jointly.
Insurance, Agriculture and Energy sectors showed the best performance, advancing over one percent for the day.
The market breadth was positive with 74 stocks witnessing advances against 65 stocks witnessing declines and prices of 15 companies remaining unchanged.
Most of heavy weights closed a bit lower with Saudi Arabia Fertilizers Co. (SAFCO) falling 0.93 percent and Samba Financial Group 0.42 percent for the day. However, Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC), Kingdom Holding and Riyad Bank ended positively, moving upward by 1.15 percent, 0.83 percent and 0.43 percent respectively.
AMANA Insurance played well among all Saudi stocks, reflecting an increment of SR 13 or 9.57 percent to close the day at SR 148.75.
Tadawul turnover reflected an increase of 7.9 percent, surpassing previous day's SR 6.1 billion.
Dar Al-Arkan Real Estate continued to dominate the trading activity at Tadawul. The company liquidated more than 48.7 million shares, capturing 17 percent of the overall market volume.

31-08-12, 02:44 PM
Water plants threaten Saudi Food and Drug Authority

RIYADH -- The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) claimed it had received unspecified threats due to the authority's decision to close down several water plants for major violations, said Ibrahim Al-Mehazea, SFDA Deputy President of Food Affairs.
Without going into details, Al-Mehazea told Al-Watan Arabic daily that the SFDA "faced tremendous pressure" from several water plants when it discovered the violations. He said when the authority fully expands, it will be able to further tighten control over the food sector whose turnover is estimated at SR90 billion a year.
Al-Mehazea said the SFDA has two committees in Jeddah and Riyadh respectively.
"Each committee is comprised of the members of the respective governorate, mayoralty and SFDA. It is tasked with conducting inspections of food factories and periodic reports are sent to the Emir of Riyadh and Makkah on the committees' activities."
Source: Saudi Gazette

31-08-12, 02:45 PM
Gold price per ounce at noon time is $ 1657


August 31, 2012

31-08-12, 02:47 PM
Merchants face penalties for price tampering

JEDDAH - The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has said it will impose strict penalties against merchants who tamper with the prices of powdered baby milk. In addition to imposing heavy fines, the ministry will name and shame the offending merchants in newspapers. Officials at the ministry said that the price of certain brands of powdered milk had drastically increased in recent months. A 400g container of imported powdered baby milk which costs about SR5 is currently being sold for SR27-32. To counter the unfair pricing strategies employed by many merchants, the Consumer Protection Association has asked the ministry to instruct importers to engrave the price of their products on the packaging.
Source: Saudi Gazette

31-08-12, 02:50 PM
High prices fail to take shine off gold 

August 12, 2012
Despite soaring prices of gold, gold business is booming in Saudi Arabia. This was attributed mainly to Saudis seeing gold as a safe haven. The overall quantitative stimulus offered in the US economy is another factor that resulted in gold prices going up in both the global and local markets, according to market sources.
Normally, there is a big demand for gold and jewelry during Ramadan every year. The sales activity would further increase in the last days of Ramadan before Eid Al-Fitr. Gold traders are keen to display a variety of new models and designs of ornaments during this season of the year.
Many customers complain that traders exploit the huge demand for the yellow metal by taking a big margin of profit, especially for ornaments. They cite the big margin in prices of gold before and after manufacturing ornaments as an example, Al-Madinah newspaper reported.
Ali Saleh Baterfi, a senior gold trader in Jeddah, sees further increase in prices of gold in coming months. He expects the price of gold per ounce to rise from the current $ 1,613 to $ 1,750 in the third quarter and to $ 1,950 by the end of the year.
At present, there is an increased awareness among gold consumers about the market situation. The highly advanced means of the media and the Internet have contributed substantially to this development. "They are eager to follow up prices of gold in the global market on a daily basis. Most of the customers want to purchase gold bullion in order to stock them as the safest means of investment," he said, adding that an increasing number of citizens turn out to make investments in gold instead of investing in stocks and mutual funds.
Abdul Rahman Al-Shahrani, a government employee, said that doubling prices of gold and metals over the past few years has forced him to buy a limited quantity of gold. "I can't afford buying a huge quantity of gold ornaments because of the soaring prices. My income allows me to buy a reasonable quantity of the yellow metal for personal use of women in the family as well as to present as gifts to relatives on special occasions," he said.
Saeed Al-Ghamdi, another citizen, said that he buys jewelry in the early days of Ramadan to avoid the rush and further hike in prices in the last days of the holy month. On her part, Umm Saleh, a housewife, said that traders are increasing prices of gold, especially precious stones and lobes, exorbitantly after cashing in on the huge demand.
Source: Arab News

31-08-12, 02:51 PM
Kingdom has SR 1 trillion worth of Zakat: Saleh Kamel

Prominent Saudi businessman Saleh Kamel has estimated the total value of Zakat in the Kingdom at SR 1 trillion, and said such a huge amount could be used to solve many economic and social problems in the country.
Kamel, who is also chairman of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said people should pay Zakat for real estate properties that have been for sale.
"We Muslims should understand the economic wisdom behind the Zakat system. If we collect and use Zakat properly, it can bring about substantial improvement in our economic condition," Kamel told a gathering of businessmen and academics in Madinah. He added: "If we had collected Zakat from real estate properties we would not have faced the housing or land problems." Kamel emphasized the need to introduce purely Islamic products for promoting Islamic banking and finance.
Referring to the global economic crisis, he said it would not have taken place if the world had implemented a small Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which says: "Don't sell what you don't possess." Kamel said he had discussed this matter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "I can tell you that Islamic economics offers solutions for world problems. We have to understand the system and implement it properly."
The Saudi businessman said Zakat could also solve unemployment problem faced by many countries. "If we introduce modern financial methods, Zakat can be used for the poor to participate in productive means," he said. He emphasized the need to introduce innovative Zakat-based programs to improve the condition of poor families.
Source: Arab News

31-08-12, 02:52 PM
Saudi Arabia, UAE record high growth in outbound passengers

JEDDAH - Saudi Arabia and the UAE are among the countries showing highest growth in outbound passengers, according to an analysis by the market intelligence solution Amadeus Total Demand.
The review looks at trends in worldwide passenger demand between regions, countries and specific airports, comparing the full 2011 passenger volumes with 2010 data. All figures relate to outbound passengers traveling between a given origin and final destination airport, irrespective of the number of connecting stops.
In the Middle East region, while the volumes are smaller, the following trends can be highlighted:
Growing traffic in Middle Eastern inter-city routes rose predominantly between Dubai and Jeddah, followed by Dubai - Doha. Busiest routes with other regions are London-Dubai and Bombay-Dubai.
Increased traffic to and from Jeddah with other regions was registered, a growth certainly supported by religious travel.
Regionally, Saudi Arabia took giant strides towards tourism prominence. The analysis see growth figures of the Kingdom reach 15 percent in 2011, putting Saudi Arabia among the top 5 countries showing highest percentage growth in passengers between 2010 and 2011.
Another regional player is the UAE, who achieved 10 percent growth in visitor departures in 2011, securing a place in the top 15 fastest-growing countries by percentage growth.
The strongest traffic in between cities takes place within the same country. From the world's top 10 inter-city routes, seven are within the domestic borders of Asian countries, out of which three are in Japan. In terms of volume, the route between Jeju and Seoul is the most important (almost 10 million passengers) followed by Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (circa 8 million passengers).
"The weight of the region in terms of tourism potential is increasing very fast. The Middle East is confirming its prime position towards becoming one of the most prominent travel hubs in the world. This is mainly due to its infrastructures, its strategic location as well as a strong commitment and vision by the region's rulers. We at Amadeus are committed to continue supporting the travel sector growth in this part of the world and beyond. Analyzing and sharing key trends is a critical step for us to ensure that provided technology solutions meet the industry needs and enable its players to gain competitive edge", said Antoine Medawar, Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, Amadeus.
The most important inter-regional growth patterns of last year are led by Asia. Traffic between Asia and Europe, and between Asia and North America, grew by 9 percent. Traffic between Asia and the Middle East grew 6 percent reaching 38 million travelers in the year. Compared with the previous year, 2 percent fewer passengers traveled between Africa and Europe in 2011; this was the only region pair with a significant traffic flow decrease over the period.
In addition to the BRIC markets, Indonesia, the Philippines and Chile showed an impressive growth, the study noted.
Traffic between North America and Europe remains the busiest inter-regional flow at a global scale with over 60 million passengers in 2011, followed by Asia and Europe with over 53 million, and Latin America and North America with 47 million passengers.
The 2011 country statistics revealed that the strongest growth in absolute passengers is led by the BRIC countries. China registered an additional 19 million in 2011 than 2010, Brazil, 12 million, India 8 million and Russia 6 million. Indonesia was the 5th strongest growth market with an additional 5 million passengers in 2011.
Brazil (17 percent), India (13 percent) and Russia (15 percent) also featured in the top 10 fastest-growing countries by percent growth. Chile (21 percent), the Philippines (15 percent) and Indonesia (11 percent) are also among the fastest growing travel markets.
However, Egypt and Japan are among the fastest shrinking markets, probably due to the Arab Spring and the tsunamis.
Source: Saudi Gazette

01-09-12, 11:12 AM
The gold came up yesterday night too much

It is now around 1691 US dollar per Ounce

01-09-12, 11:35 AM
Saudi per cpita water consumption 91% higher than international average

RIYADH Per capita water consumption in Saudi Arabia is 91 percent higher than the international average, according to a new report by the countrys Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC).
Saudi Arabia is the worlds largest producer of desalinated water, accounting for at least 17 percent of the total world output.
The Kingdom has invested nearly $25 billion in the last 80 years developing the technology for desalination, and in building and operating desalination plants.
Currently, there are 30 desalination plants in the country, 27 of which supply drinking water to the principal urban centers and industrial locations via a network more than 5,000km of pipelines.
In addition, about 70 percent of the total volume of drinking water consumption in the Kingdom is supplied through desalination technology.
In a separate report by Booz & Company, it said on a per capita basis, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates consume 91 percent and 83 percent more water than the global average, and about six times more water than the UK. Qatar and Oman are also above the global average for water consumption.
Saudi Arabias National Water Co. plans to spend $66.4 billion on water and wastewater projects over the next eight years as water consumption grows faster than the kingdoms burgeoning population.
Some $11 billion will be spent on more desalination plants, which convert sea water into fresh water, as natural supplies run out.
Some of these are expected to be powered by solar energy.
Saudi Arabia, which averages 4 inches of rain a year, is considered the largest producer of desalinated water in the world.
Desalination plants supply 116.6 million cubic feet a day, or 18 percent of the global total, through a supply network covering around 2,500 miles. They also supply 43 percent of the combined reservoir of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council. Most of the spending will go on wastewater projects. Some $30.66 billion will go on boosting the water supply in 2012-20.
SWCC plans to almost double its desalinated water production to 6 million cubic meters per day by the end of 2015 from currently 3.3 million cubic meters.
Average water consumption in the Kingdom is estimated at 250 liters per capita.
Desalinated water consumption rises much faster with 14.5 percent than water consumption as a whole, which still grows by a huge 7 percent per year. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

01-09-12, 11:36 AM
Saudi Arabia main exporter of oil to Japan

JEDDAH Saudi Arabias crude oil exports to Japan seized the top spot among the GCC oil producing countries, although imports from the Kingdom shrank 4.4 percent from a year earlier to 1.13 million bpd, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 816,000 bpd, up 16.3 percent, Japans Natural Resources and Energy Agency said in a preliminary report Friday. Qatar ranked third, with shipments falling 8.3 percent to 343,000 bpd and Oman was fourth with 167,000 bpd.
Kuwaits crude oil exports to Japan fell 49.7 percent in July from a year earlier to 5.17 million barrels, or 168,000 barrels per day (bpd), for the first decline in six months, the government said Friday.
However, Kuwait remained Japans fourth-biggest oil supplier last month since overtaking Iran in March, providing 4.9 percent of the countrys total crude imports, the Natural Resources and Energy Agency said in a preliminary report.
Japans overall imports of crude oil went down 2.4 percent year-on-year to 3.42 million bpd for the first drop in two months. Shipments from the Middle East stood at 2.72 million bpd, and accounted for 83.3 percent of the total, down 6.6 percentage points from the year before.

Although the Japanese government has decided to provide insurance for tankers carrying Iranian crude bound for Japan, no imports from Iran were recorded in the month of July. The legislation enables the worlds No.3 oil consumer to continue importing Iranian oil even after new European Union (EU) sanctions against Iran starting from July 1, which ban insurance firms of EU countries from covering Irans exports. Japan has already secured a waiver from US financial sanctions against Iran in return for cutting its imports of Iranian crude oil.
Japan imported around 4.3 million bbl/d in 2011. After the Fukushima incident, Japan has been increasing imports of crude oil for direct burn in power plants. The country is primarily dependent on the Middle East for its crude oil imports, as roughly 87 percent of Japanese crude oil imports originate from the region, up from 70 percent in the mid-1980s.
Also, Japan is currently looking towards Russia, Southeast Asia, and Africa to geographically diversify its oil imports. As of mid-2011, Japan is substituting some of the lost nuclear fuel for power with low sulfur, heavy crudes for direct burn in power plants from sources in West Africa (Gabon) and Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia).
Japan had 738 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of proven natural gas reserves as of January 2012. Natural gas proven reserves have declined since 2007, when they measured 1.4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). Most natural gas fields are located along the western coastline. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

01-09-12, 11:37 AM
Saudi oil surplus to boost reserves: Report

RIYADH Saudi Arabia will probably produce more oil than it supplies to the market in the fourth quarter, boosting a buildup in inventories, according to the Gulf Oil Review.
As domestic demand dips in the next month, Saudi production is likely to exceed supply in the fourth quarter, leading to further accumulation of stocks inside and outside the Kingdom, the Review said in a report.
Saudi Arabia is ready to meet any increase in demand for its oil and hasnt changed its preferred for an oil price of $100 a barrel, the report said, citing unidentified sources in the countrys Oil Ministry.
The report is published by Petroleum Policy Intelligence, a researcher in Winchester, UK, founded by Bill Farren-Price.
Meanwhile, oil prices fell Thursday after a powerful storm that had shut down refineries along the US Gulf Coast started to ease as it moved inland.
Benchmark oil for October delivery was down 17 cents at midday Bangkok time to $95.32 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 84 cents to finish at $95.49 per barrel on the Nymex on Wednesday.
Traders were watching for any reports of significant damage from Hurricane Isaac as it passed over oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. The storms heavy winds and rain were not expected to cause extensive damage to oil production and refinery operations.
Although a lot of the production capacity was closed down, it was a precautionary measure and were not hearing any reports of significant damage, said Nick Trevethan, senior commodities strategist at ANZ Research in Singapore. There have been some power outages that may interfere with the restart of some onshore facilities.
Trevethan said markets were waiting for US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernankes highly anticipated speech Friday at an economic conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Market watchers are hoping for signs that Bernanke might hint at some kind of Fed action to spur growth in the US.
They are also anticipating the release of manufacturing data out of China. Worse-than-expected numbers could put pressure on Beijing for more stimulus measures to help revive growth in the worlds No. 2 economy.
The market is really marking time ahead of the Jackson Hole meeting and Chinese data coming out over the weekend, Trevethan said. A weak number might have the market thinking about stimulus.
Brent crude rose 59 cents to $113.13 on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy trading, heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.1354 per gallon. Natural gas slipped 2 cents $2.666 per 1,000 cubic feet. Agencies
Source: Saudi Gazette

01-09-12, 11:39 AM
Saudi letters of credit up 24% as economic growth spurs demand

JEDDAH The value of letters of credit signed by lenders in Saudi Arabia surged 24 percent in the first six months of 2012 to SR107 billion ($29 billion) against a growth of 10 per cent in the same period last year, the latest data from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency showed. That compares with growth of 10 percent in the same period last year.
Saudi import financing posted a record growth as demand for goods including building materials and cars swelled.
Saudi businesses are taking out bank loans at the fastest pace in three years and pursuing record bond sales as they take part in the governments $514 billion plan to build housing, infrastructure and industry. This is stimulating the non-oil economy, which is poised to grow 6.5 percent this year, the second-fastest pace in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) after Qatar, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Supported by oil prices that have averaged $96 a barrel so far this year in New York, state and private investors in Saudi Arabia are importing more. Saudi Arabias $597 billion economy, may grow five percent this year, including the oil industry, the second-fastest pace since 2005, according to the median forecast of 12 economists surveyed by Bloomberg in July.
The pickup has prompted banks to accelerate the pace of lending and spurred higher borrowing costs. Loans to private businesses expanded 13.9 per cent in June, the fastest pace since March 2009, central bank data showed.
The three-month Saudi interbank offered rate, known as Saibor and the benchmark used by banks to price loans, has added 17 basis points this year to 0.95 percent on August 17, the highest since April 2009, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Thats widened the spread with the equivalent US rate to 53 basis points on August 24 compared with 20 at the end of 2011.
The yield on Saudi Arabias one-year treasury bills is up eight basis points in 2012 to 0.59334 percent at the last auction. The Kingdom holds weekly T-bills sales on Mondays. The Saudi riyal weakened to 3.7499 a dollar in the 12-month forwards market Monday, hovering near the lowest level since April, the data show.
Letters of credit to finance building material imports gained 46 per cent in the first six months to SR13.4 billion, central bank data revealed.
The Jeddah Islamic Port (JIP) recorded 5.15 percent growth in imports and exports in 2012, the Saudi Port Authority said recently.
The number of passengers handled by the Red Sea port was up 4.57 percent in the same period.
JIP director general Sahir Mousa Tahlawi said the port received 419,200 containers with 980,000 tons of food items in July, adding that building materials handled by the port increased by 27 percent to 1.1 million tons. It also received 57,800 cars and 411,000 head of livestock.
Tahlawi said exports and imports rose to 3.6 million tons during the first six months of this year, adding that the number of containers rose by 21.21 percent to 2.7 million.
Saudi Arabia remains the largest export and re-export market for Dubai in the first half of the current year, capturing 27 percent of the market totaling AED36.3 billion, according to a report released by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).
According to the DCCI, Iraq ranked second of DCCI member export and re-export goods at AED 19.4 billion, followed by Qatar at AED10.4 billion, Kuwait at AED 8.8 billion, Oman at AED5.1 billion, and India at AED 2.8 billion. During the six-month period, 109,315 certificates of origin (COs) were issued to export shipments destined for Saudi Arabia, equivalent to 30 percent of all COs issued during the period, the report stated.
COs covering export shipments of DCCI members to Qatar totaled 60,810 or 16 percent of the total, Kuwait received, 35,146 COs or 9 percent, Oman, 22,910 COs or 6 percent, Bahrain 17,629 COs or 5 percent, and the UAE17,000 COs or 5 percent of the total certificates issued during the six-month period.
During the same period, 3,540 DCCI members exported to Qatar, or 38 percent of the 9,194 exporters during the period. The number of exporters to Saudi Arabia equaled 3,410 or 37 percent of the total exporters. SG/Agencies
Source: Saudi Gazette

01-09-12, 11:40 AM
Saudi Arabia to donate $ 1bn to Yemen

Saudi Arabia will give $1bn to Yemen at a donor conference in Riyadh next week, a Yemeni minister has said, to support Yemen's currency as the country tries to recover after more than a year of turmoil.
The money will be placed as a deposit in the Yemeni central bank, Planning and International Cooperation Minister Mohammed al-Saadi said in comments on state news agency Saba, adding an agreement will be signed at a donor meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday.
"The Saudi Development Fund's initiative aims to support the stability of the currency and strengthen government efforts to face economic challenges," he said, adding Yemen hoped for similar help from other countries to help stabilise the rial.
A year of mass protests against the government and political turmoil which forced Yemen's long-time leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit in February, has left the Arabian Peninsula state on the verge of bankruptcy.
The unemployment rate has shot above 50 percent in a country where some 42 percent of the population of 24 million live on less than $2 a day.
The Yemeni rial's market rate has stabilized at about 205-210 to the dollar this week, compared with about 243 at the height of the political crisis. In previous years it has traded below 200, and the subsequent depreciation and inflation have compounded food emergencies in a country with a per capita annual income of just $2,300.
Resource-rich Gulf neighbours and Western countries, who watched with mounting alarm as the crisis gave al Qaeda the chance to develop a base in Yemen from which to launch attacks around the world, pledged over $4bn in May to head off a humanitarian disaster and stabilise the state.
Saadi said donors grouped under the name "Friends of Yemen" would meet in New York on September 27 to follow up on the Riyadh meeting.
"The Yemeni government has fixed $11bn as the amount it needs to fill the financial hole to have stability over the next two years, and the government will provide $3bn of that," Saadi said.
Source: Arabian Business

01-09-12, 11:41 AM
Saudization drive to apply to taxi firms

Taxi firms in Saudi Arabia will require to be owned by and invested in by citizens as part of a Saudization drive in the sector, reported Arab News, citing a government official.
The move comes as part of the Transport Ministrys new regulations for taxis in the kingdom, which will come into effect on 22 October.
Under the new regulations, all taxi companies must meet the standards of the municipal traffic department, including the operation of an administrative office, holding minimum third-party insurance coverage to insure both the car and the driver and adequate parking.
The new guidelines will improve safety for drivers and passengers in all Saudi cities, said Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry.
Each car must hold an 'Automated Vehicle Locater', which will be used to track and direct all taxis.
The system will record information, including the cars driving speed, pick-up and drop-off locations of customers, and the operating time of the taxi.
Drivers found not following the new system will be fined SAR200 (US$53.30) for the first violation, SAR400 (US$107) for multiple violations, and eventual cancellation of their driving license.
The guidelines also require drivers to wear uniforms and be physically fit to help passengers with their luggage, as well as any potential disabilities.
Smoking will not be allowed in the taxis, and no-smoking signs must be displayed in each car.
Drivers will also be banned from random passenger pick-ups from airports, hospitals, shopping malls, business offices and transport facilities, as customers will need to call the taxi office to fill in their request.
Source: Arabian Business

01-09-12, 11:43 AM
Saudi - Egypt causeway to go ahead - minister

Saudi Arabia and Egypt will go ahead with a US$3bn causeway project linking the two countries together, in a move to improve economic and social relations, reported London-based newspaper al-Hayat, citing a government official.
A technical committee will meet towards the end of September to discuss the initial steps of the project, Egyptian Transportation Minister Mohammed Rashad was quoted as saying.
The proposed 32km causeway will start from Ras Nassrani in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, passing by Tiran Strait before reaching Ras Hamid near Tabuk in northern Saudi Arabia. Rashad said that the that the project will not only help facilitate trade between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but also the wider Levant region.
A causeway between the two countries has been mooted in the past but had been sidelined due to politics. However, the project is now back on track following a meeting between newly-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and Saudi ruler King Abdullah, added Rashad.
The bridge will benefit the two countries by facilitating the movement of trade and people, especially in the religious seasons of Hajj and Umrah, he said.
In March, Hussain Omran, chairman of the foreign trade department at the Egyptian Ministry of Commerce, said that a causeway between the two countries would increase trade by more than 300 percent from US$4.2bn annually to more than US$13bn in two years.
Dr Hisham Zaazoua, senior assistant to the Egyptian Tourism Minister, says the number of Saudi tourists to Egypt could soar to more than 1.2m, compared to the current 300,000 per year.
Dr Zaazoua added that the causeway will help in promoting intra-Arab tourism between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The region South of Sinai could see a significant economic recovery, especially during the Islamic pilgrimage seasons of Hajj and Umrah.
Source: Arabian Business

01-09-12, 11:44 AM
ENOC to open 40 petrol stations in Saudi

Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) will open 40 petrol stations and retail outlets in Saudi Arabia as part of a joint venture with the kingdoms Aldrees Petroleum & Transport Services Company as it moves to stem losses in its home market.
The state-owned firm, which is struggling amid government subsidies in the UAE, will invest SAR45m (US$12m) as start-up capital together with Aldrees.
We have to increase our source of income to the company, Burhan Al Hashemi, managing director of ENOC Retail told reporters on Tuesday.
[Petrol] prices in Saudi have a good margin it is subsidised by the government but the additional services that we provide, thats another source of income that we get from non-fuel industries like the car wash and car maintenance.
The expansion plans in Saudi Arabia are unlikely to have a significant impact on ENOCs overall revenues but could have a positive impact in the long-term, he added.
We are going to start with 40 stations, which is not that big. It depends on the market needs, probably in the long term it will have some [positive] impact on the return, he told Arabian Business.
UAE petrol retailers have been hit by significant losses due to the increasing gap between fuel prices and the heavily subsidised cost at the pump.
The combined losses of the four UAE state-owned retailers are estimated at AED8.5bn (US$2.31bn) in 2011, Reuters said in June.
The government increased fuel prices twice in 2010 as it moved to reduce the burden of subsidiaries, though current prices remain well below market prices. Plans to increase it for a third time were scrapped in the wake of the Arab Spring.
The Federal National Council, which has no legislative power, in June approved plans to cut petrol prices for everyone.
ENOC last year shut down several of its stations in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, forcing drivers to queue for hours at rival petrol provider Emarats stations. The closures were because they buy fuel at market prices and sell it at government-set rates.
Abu Dhabi's National Oil Company in June signed a deal with Emarat to take over the management of 74 service stations in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah.
Source: Arabian Business

01-09-12, 11:45 AM
Women-only industrial cities welcomed

Saudi businesswomen are voicing their approval of the latest plan by the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (MODON) to begin building the first of many women-only industrial cities throughout the Kingdom. "The plan to create women-only industrial cities is a positive step that will mutually benefit Saudi women and the Kingdom," Basmah Omair, executive director of the Khadijah bint Khwailid Businesswomen's Center at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) told Arab News.
She said there are many talented women with no opportunity to show the world their potential, but with the creation of women-only cities, will have a chance to establish businesses in the greenfield industrial sector. The creation of the first industrial city in Hofuf is expected to create between 3,000 and 5,000 jobs for women in the Eastern Province alone, with similar estimates for each of the cities that follow. Many businesswomen agree the women-only industrial cities will help skyrocketing unemployment rates among Saudi female graduates.
According to a study published in June by Booz & Company, 78.3 percent of Saudi female graduates are unemployed, a number which includes as many as 1,000 graduates with Ph.Ds The employment rate for women is 14.4 %, the lowest in the GCC region. "I see the establishment of women-only cities as a positive sign for the many Saudi women who have graduated over the past few years and have been unable to find employment and use their education," Wafa Balubaid said. The new cities are expected to focus on developing manufacturing companies in clothing, cosmetics, perfume, carpentry, and furnishings.
The idea to create women-only industrial cities was first proposed in late 2003 by a group of prominent businesswomen and welcomed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. "The aim is to provide jobs to Saudi women who have completed their secondary education, with admin positions going to university graduates," Hussa Al-Aun, a cocreator of the project told Arab News previously. The new cities will also include training centers to teach women how to work in factories. New women-only cities are to be established near Riyadh and Jeddah and be fully operational by 2020, according to Saleh Al-Rasheed, acting director general of MODON
Source: Zawya

01-09-12, 12:45 PM
GCC to enforce legislation on cigarette labeling

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and all other member states of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are on course to become the latest to require the use of graphic warning labels on every cigarette packet brought into their territories.
Some of the pre-selected photos from the World Health Organization (WHO) explaining the health hazards pictorially will be published onto cigarette packets coming into the Kingdom and the other Gulf states within a few weeks from now.
The graphics on tobacco products will warn the users about the perils of smoking more strongly, said Tawfik Khoja, director general of the Executive Board of the Health Ministers Council for the GCC states, here Thursday.
The new packaging, he said, will be introduced across the GCC in an effort to stop young smokers from becoming addicts, said Khoja. The plan is very important keeping in view the fact that about 22,000 people in the Kingdom die every year due to smoking-related diseases, according to the available statistics.
The number of such deaths is alarmingly high in the GCC. Smoking is a serious problem that must be addressed on priority basis, said Khoja. He further said: If we look at the magnitude of this problem and its detrimental effects on health, society and economy, rapidly growing number of smokers of different ages who squander their money on smoking and the increasing rate of diseases caused by smoking, we will realize that it is important for all civil organizations to join forces to combat tobacco.
He called on the young smokers to start to think about the dangers of smoking and either stop or cut down the number of cigarettes they are smoking. We are committed to implementing the decision to put the graphics as per the plan endorsed by the expert GCC committees, and we are also mulling further measures to discourage smoking in the Gulf states, said Khoja.
Asked whether the governments in the GCC member countries will go ahead with the implementation to publish the graphics explaining the dangers of smoking on cigarette packets, Khoja said that the Gulf governments will go ahead despite pressure from lobbies representing tobacco companies to delay or cancel the GCC decision.
Moreover, the GCC still hopes to introduce an increased percentage of tax on tobacco products, added Khoja.
Asked about the graphics that have been selected by the WHO for printing on cigarette packs, he said that cigarette manufacturers are required to add graphic images, such as damaged lungs or infected jaws, on cigarette packets to warn consumers about the hazards of smoking. Images should be used along with written warnings and should be big enough to cover at least 30 percent of the space on the packet.
According to estimates, 4 million people in the GCC smoke more than 50 billion cigarettes a year. Several countries including Brazil, Britain, Canada, India, Iran, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand have imposed the pictorial warnings. However, a plan by the US to require images on cigarette packs starting Sept. 22 was defeated after a court on Friday ruled that the planned images went beyond pure attempts to convey information to consumers.
They are unabashed attempts to evoke emotion (and perhaps embarrassment) and browbeat consumers into quitting, the US Court of Appeals in Washington said. Tobacco companies took the US Food and Drug Administration to court on the grounds that the cigarette labels violated the First Amendment of the US Constitution. US officials said that around 450,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related causes, costing the US economy $ 200 billion annually in medical expenses and lost productivity.
In Australia, however, the Australian High Court has rejected a challenge by multinational tobacco companies against the governments tobacco plain packaging legislation. Under the new law, cigarettes and other tobacco products sold in Australia after Dec. 1 must be in drab olive/brown packaging with no brand logos or colorful designs. Brand names will be restricted to small, generic type. The packaging will also include large health warnings and may include disturbing graphics depicting the ill-health effects of smoking.

Arab News

01-09-12, 12:50 PM
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Aramco emerges stronger from cyber attack

DAMMAM: New details have emerged of how Saudi Aramco, led by President and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih, addressed what independent analysts have described as the worst cyber attack in recent corporate history.
If it were any other corporation, it would have been crippled, sources told Arab News over the weekend. The sources referred to the malicious virus that affected 30,000 company computers.
Saudi Aramco, a fully-integrated, global petroleum enterprise, and a world leader in exploration and production, refining, petrochemicals manufacturing, distribution, shipping and marketing, has more than 50,000 employees and a large contractual work force.
The sources said Al-Falih led from the front as he and his team of managers, consultants and IT engineers restored many of the companys main network services in less than a week.
In true Saudi Aramco spirit and tradition, Al-Falih instilled confidence through his leadership skills and provided the ultimate and right thrust that was needed in those critical hours to grapple with such a humongous challenge, one source said.
According to industry sources, the attack shows that no one is immune from cyber threats.
Everyone out there is vulnerable, said the source who urged companies to raise their Internet security bar.
It is clear now that the attack on Saudi Aramco was part of a larger conspiracy to undermine the main pillars of the regional and global economy, he said, referring to the newest attack on Qatars RasGas. It is all part of a nefarious and well-planned design.
In a statement last week, Al-Falih acknowledged that this was not the first time Saudi Aramco was attacked. Nor will it be the last illegal attempt to intrude into our systems, he said. According to sources, there have been thousands of such attacks in the past, but Saudi Aramco managed to thwart them all.
The sources reiterated that Saudi Aramco is not a solely Web-based firm. It is a solid bricks-and-mortar company with real people who are known for their professionalism and dedication, and it were these real people who worked as one team under Al-Falih to successfully manage this overwhelming crisis, one source said.
The cyber attack occurred at a time when many employees were either on or were about to go on vacation for Eid Al-Fitr.
The IT employees and engineers and consultants rushed back and canceled their leave to be onboard as the company got to the grips of the problem, one source said. There was a real spirit of camaraderie and solidarity. It is worth noting that not a single drop of oil was lost during the crisis nor a single delivery delayed because the companys primary enterprise systems of hydrocarbon exploration and production operate on isolated network systems. Production plants were fully operational as these control systems are also isolated.
In internal memos, Al-Falih is reported to have said that the company has emerged stronger from the crisis.
Our resilience has been tested, everyone had a role to pay, and all played their part, and we have emerged stronger from this episode, he is reported to have said.
The company acknowledged the issue and immediately notified its customers and stakeholders. That indicated confidence and courage on the part of Aramco leadership, said a source.
Saudi Aramco has in the past managed crises, which were equally, if not more, dangerous, such as the foiled terror attack on Abqaiq refinery in 2006 and the Hawiyah gas explosion in 2007.
However, what was different this time was the nature of the attack This was an unseen, invisible and intangible attack And that made things difficult, said a source. But it offered new lessons in crisis management for the company and its highly resilient work force.
During such crises, a major challenge for companies is the war of innuendos and rumor-mongering that is unleashed through the social media. RasGas is another victim of a vicious cyber attack and some media organs are again full of misinformation. During the Saudi Aramco attack, all kinds of highly irresponsible statements and sheer assumptions were dished out in some media outlets They unfortunately played into the hands of the saboteurs, said one source, who lamented that even some mainstream media organs fell for such dubious reports and hoax statements.
Internet security analysts have described cyber attacks as a constant, lurking threat. Saudi Aramco and every other corporation, be it small or big, will have to be on guard at all times, one individual said. They will have to plug all loopholes ... Complacency can be fatal.

Arab News

01-09-12, 12:55 PM
Kingdom's delegation to explore more investment in Egypt

RIYADH: A high-ranking Saudi delegation will next month visit Cairo and explore the possibility of increasing Saudi investments in Egypt, Saudi ambassador to Cairo Ahmed Abdulaziz Qattan was quoted as saying.
The announcement of Saudi envoy came following his talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil last Tuesday where the two officials discussed bilateral relations and ways to bolster them.
According to available data, the volume of trade exchange between the Kingdom and Egypt increased by 50 percent in the first quarter of the current year to hit $ 1.21 billion. Egypt imports from the Kingdom amounted to $ 682 million whereas the Saudi imports from Egypt stood at $ 528 million.
The volume of trade exchange between the two countries amounted to $ 3.3 billion in 2010, and the number of Egyptian projects in which Saudis invested was 2,355, while the volume of joint investments reached $ 1.5 billion.
The head of the foreign trade department in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry in Egypt, Hussein Omran, recently noted that the volume of trade exchange between the two countries reached record levels during the first three months of 2012, to about $ 1.21 billion versus $ 800 million in the same period in 2011, an increase of 50 percent.
The number of Saudi projects in Egypt is estimated at 779 projects of which 381 were industrial and mining, 117 agricultural, 156 services, and 94 tourist projects in addition to 31 projects invested in free-zone areas.
The above projects created some 88,000 jobs. The two countries also signed agreements to boost agricultural cooperation and implementation of joint researches on projects of mutual interests.
Saudi investments in Egypt were reportedly estimated at $ 27 billion.

Arab News

01-09-12, 01:02 PM
Saudi electricity company sings SR 700m contracts

Saudi Electricity Company's Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Ali bin Saleh Al-Barrak has signed three contracts worth SR 700 million to strengthen networks and increase their capacity to meet growing demands for electricity in Riyadh and Jeddah.
Eng. Al-Barrak pointed out in a press statement today that the contracts included the construction of two electricity conversion stations and installation of cables.

Arab News

01-09-12, 01:08 PM
Gold finally break its shackles - wil it stick?

Commodities continue to benefit from geo-politics and tight supplies. This is particularly supporting energy prices while adverse weather is keeping key crops at elevated levels. During the week the much followed and energy heavy S&P GSCI index recovered more than 20 percent from recent lows and it triggered news about a new bull market for commodities. A spanner in the works for this outlook however comes from iron ore, a key component in steel production, which fell below $100 for the first time since 2009 on reduced demand, especially in China where stockpiles are rising, according to a weekly commodities report from Saxo Bank prepared by Ole Hansen - head of Commodity Strategy.
In China stocks fell to a three-year low as manufacturing activity continues to contract while in the US minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting called for additional monetary stimulus should key economic data continue to disappoint. These two events triggered a rise in expectations for additional stimulus being provided by both China and the US in the near future. The dollar was sold and commodities in general and especially precious metals continued to rally. In precious metals the rally was started by platinum during the previous week.
With the US Federal Reserve clearly on economic data watch at the moment it is important to point out that some data following the last FOMC meeting has improved, thereby leaving Chairman Ben Bernanke in a difficult situation at the annual Jackson Hole symposium at the end of August as many investors have raised expectations for additional stimulus to be announced. But with the US election approaching, retail gasoline prices moving towards four dollars per gallon and stock markets near multi-year highs we think the Federal Reserve could end up disappointing those who make their investment decisions purely on the back of expectations for additional stimulus.
Precious metals continued to build on the gains which initially got under way when platinum raced higher following the massacre at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa.
Silver was the star performer, once again showing off its high beta credentials, as it outran gold by a considerable margin. The broadly based DJ-UBS CI put in its strongest performance in five weeks, rallying by more than two percent as gains were seen in all three major sectors, the Saxo Bank report said.

The rally that began in late June and which has now seen the price of Brent crude recover 70 percent from those lows has begun to run out of steam as questions have been raised as to whether the market is now too far ahead of itself, given the current economic climate. High oil prices once again carry the risk of impacting economic activity in a repeat of the Q2 performance seen during the last two years where high Q1 prices triggered a slowdown in the following quarter.
With China showing increased signs of a slowdown, growth is becoming more elusive with only the US economy indicating some improvements.
The rally in Brent crude has now paused ahead of $116.60. This level has proven to offer both resistance and support several times during the last year. Some position adjustments could now be expected after such a strong run up and also ahead of Chairman Bernankes speech next Friday at Jackson Hole, which could potentially disappoint and thereby trigger additional selling.

Following more than three months of range bound trading activity precious metals, especially gold, needed a trigger to challenge resistance and generally apathy among hedge funds and other large speculative investors. Such a trigger was provided by the mining strike and subsequent massacre of workers at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa and the subsequent potential for labor disputes to spread as a spike in the price of platinum helped drag both gold and silver above previous resistance.
Platinum was initially the strongest performer, not least due to investors being forced to cut sold positions in the futures market as the gross short position ahead of the rally last week stood at a record 1.86 million ounces. Once the rally spread to gold and silver it gathered momentum and resulted in a quick sprint higher.
Heightened expectations about additional quantitative easing from the US or at least an extension of the current policy of low rates until 2014 helped carry metals higher as it also resulted in inflation worries. This saw expected real yields in the US sink deeper into negative territory thereby further removing one of the obstacles for more price appreciation in non-coupons on interest paying assets like precious metals, the Saxo Bank report said.

Arab News

01-09-12, 01:14 PM
Sulaiman Al-Rajhis life a rags to riches story

Saudi Arabias rags-to-riches billionaire Sulaiman Al-Rajhi is also a world-renowned philanthropist. He is the founder of Al-Rajhi Bank, the largest Islamic bank in the world, and one of the largest companies in Saudi Arabia. As of 2011, his wealth was estimated by Forbes to be $7.7 billion, making him the 120th richest person in the world. His flagship SAAR Foundation is a leading charity organization in the Kingdom. The Al-Rajhi family is considered as one of the Kingdoms wealthiest non-royals, and among the worlds leading philanthropists.
Al-Rajhi is a billionaire who chose last year to become a poor man at his own will without having any cash or real estates or stocks that he owned earlier. He became penniless after transferring all his assets among his children and set aside the rest for endowments. In recognition of his outstanding work to serve Islam, including his role in establishing the worlds largest Islamic bank and his regular contribution toward humanitarian efforts to fight poverty, Al-Rajhi was chosen for this years prestigious King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam.
In an interview with Muhammad Al-Harbi of Al-Eqtisadiah business daily, Al-Rajhi speaks about how he was able to succeed in convincing chiefs of the leading central banks in the world, including that of the Bank of England, nearly 30 years ago that interest is forbidden in both Islam and Christianity, and that the Islamic banking is the most effective solution to activate Islamic financing in the world and make it a real boost to the global economy.
The story of Al-Rajhi is that of a man who made his fortunes from scratch, relying on grit and determination. Al-Rajhi threw away his huge wealth through two windows distributed a major part of his inheritance among his children and transferred another portion to endowments, which are regarded as the largest endowment in the history of the Islamic world. He had to fight poverty and suffering during his childhood before becoming a billionaire through hard work and relentless efforts, and then leaving all his fortunes to become penniless again.
Al-Rajhi is still very active and hardworking even in his 80s with youthful spirits. He begins his work daily after morning prayers and is active until Isha prayers before going to bed early. He is now fully concentrated on running the endowment project under his SAAR Foundation, and traveling various regions of the Kingdom managing activities related with it. He always carries a pocket diary containing his daily programs and activities and he is accustomed to stick on to the schedule he had prepared well in advance.
Al-Rajhi scored excellent performance results in almost all businesses in which he carved out a niche for himself. In addition to establishing the worlds largest Islamic bank, he founded the largest poultry farm in the Middle East. The credit of activating the organic farming experiment in the Kingdom mainly goes to him through launching a number of farming projects, including Al-Laith shrimp farming. He also established real estate and other investment projects.
Sheikh Suleiman, have you become a poor man again?
Yes. Now I own only my dresses. I distributed my wealth among my children and set aside a portion for endowment to run charity projects. As far as I am concerned, this situation was not a strange one. My financial condition reached zero point two times in my life, and therefore I have had the feeling and understanding (about poverty) well. But now the feeling is accompanied by happiness, relaxation and the peace of mind. The zero phase in life this time is purely because of my own decision and choice.
Why did you choose this path?
All wealth belongs to Allah, and we are only those who are entrusted (by God) to take care of them. There were several reasons that prompted me to distribute the wealth and that resulted in performing this virtue. Most important among them is to foster brotherhood and love among my children and safeguard their harmonious relationship. This is more significant than any wealth in this life. I was also keen not to be instrumental in wasting the precious time of courts in case of any differences of opinion among them with regard to partition of inheritance. There are several examples that everybody could see when children entered in dispute over wealth and that led to the collapse of companies. Nation has lost many large companies and their wealth that we could have been saved if we tackled the matter in a right manner. Apart from this, every Muslim should work on some endowments that could benefit him in the life after death. Likewise, I prefer my children to work on developing wealth, which they inherit after my death, during my lifetime itself rather than I continue working to increase them.
Are you getting enough free time after the distribution of wealth?
As earlier I am still working on developing endowments. I will donate and give alms from it until Allah takes over this trusted deposit. I have worked out a meticulous scheme for this endowment and developed it with the support of specialist consultants and agencies. This idea struck me long before. Usually people in the Islamic world set aside one-third or one-fourth of their wealth for endowment and that will be effective only after their death. But in my case, I decided to implement this decision in my lifetime itself. So I invited my children to Makkah during the end of Ramadan and presented the idea in front of them. They readily agreed it and then I distributed my wealth among my children in addition to setting aside a part of it for endowment. I sought the help of consultants to facilitate the procedures for the distribution of all my assets including properties, real estates and stocks, and that was completed in a cordial atmosphere. All my children are now fully satisfied with my initiative and they are now working on these properties in my lifetime.
How much wealth you distributed among children and set aside for endowment?
He laughed without giving an answer.
How do you feel now about your projects?
I would like to point out that there were some factors that prompted me to make investments in certain specific areas. My experiment in money exchange was the temptation to set up a bank. The absence of any Islamic banking was also another factor in establishing Al-Rajhi Bank, which is now the world's biggest Islamic lender by market value. I began the experiment with opening an office in Britain where we introduced Islamic banking system at a greater level. The experiment was a success and it had received total backing of the Saudi Islamic scholars at that time. I still recall the application made for getting license for the bank was turned down in the beginning. This was because the concerned British officials did not have any idea about Islamic banking. Therefore, I went to London and met with the manager of the Bank of England and two of his deputies. I told them that Muslims and Christians see interest as forbidden (haram), and the Muslim and Christian religious people are unwilling to make transactions with banks based on interest and instead prefer to keep their cash and other valuables in boxes at their homes. I tried to convince them that (if we establish Islamic banks) this money would be helpful to strengthen the world economy. These talks were helpful in convincing them and they agreed to open Islamic banks. Then I traveled widely throughout the world in the West and East, and met with the chiefs of central banks in various countries and explained to them about the salient features of the Islamic economy. We started working and achieved success through launching it in the Kingdom and implementing it in London. When I returned to the Kingdom from London, I met the late Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz and Sheikh Abdullah bin Humaid, and informed them about the plan saying: 'We would reach, by the grace of Allah, the Islamic banking within a stipulated period of time.' They praised me for the initiative. We started aggressively implementing the project and that is in the form of Al-Rajhi Bank as you see now. Regarding Al-Watania Poultry, the idea of establishing such a venture struck me after my visit to a poultry project abroad. I saw that the way of slaughtering chicken was not proper. Then I decided to make investments in the field of poultry after considering it as a duty to my religion and nation. I started the project even though making investments in poultry involved high risks in those days. Now Al-Watania has become a mega Saudi project that is instrumental in achieving food security in many respects. The company enjoys a 40 percent market share in the Kingdom, and Al-Watania chickens are naturally fed and halal slaughtered in accordance with the Shariah principles.
What about your insistence on introducing organic farming through Al-Watania agricultural projects?
As you see, now I am 85 and still enjoy good health. If we pursue organic farming as our healthy food style, we can bring down cost of treatment to a great extent. We made several experiments in the field of organic farming. Our numerous experiments met with setbacks in the beginning. This prompted many engineers and workers to reach a conclusion that it is impossible to have organic farming and profit together. In the beginning, they were firm in their view that this would not at all be successful. But I insisted that it would work and continued compelling them to proceed with the venture. At one time, I took a firm position and told them either to do organic farming or quit. Now we are reaping the fruits of this lucrative business in line with my vision to provide only the healthiest, safest and most trustworthy food to consumers. Al-Watania Agricultural Company stopped using chemicals and artificial fertilizers and focused exclusively on organic methods such as the use of pest insect repellants and animal manure.
Your austerity and thriftiness on spending are well known. Please comment?
I am not a miser. But I am always vigilant against extravagance. I always try to impart this lesson to all those working with me whether it is in banking or poultry or other projects, and I am more concerned about it when it is coming to the case of my children. In the past, I never gave money to my children when they were young in return for nothing. When any one of them approached me to give them cash, I asked them to do some work in exchange for it. In our life, we practice some extravagance without being aware of it. But it affects our whole life, exhausting us and putting a burden on our country. For example, there is no logic in putting heavy curtain on our windows and then lighting lamps in daytime when we get sunlight free of cost while electric lamps are costly.
Despite all your wealth, why don't you still have a private aircraft?
Let me tell you that I have many planes but they belong to various airlines. I have ownership in all of them to the tune of the ticket fare that I pay for each travel. I always travel in economy class with the conviction that Allah bestowed us wealth not for showing arrogance or spend extravagantly but to deal with wealth as a trusted property.
What about the recreation and hobbies of Sheikh Al-Rajhi? How do you spend free time?
I have not any special recreations. However, I find happiness and enjoyment while making a trip to the desert. I never went out of the Kingdom on a tourism trip.
What about your will? What are its salient features?
Regarding my will related with wealth, I have already implemented it in my lifetime. As for the remaining aspect of my will, it is a public matter and also involves certain private matters, besides encouraging my children to maintain their kinship and always reminding them about the life after death.
How do you see your children's private investments? Are there any directives to them?
A number of them are doing an excellent work in accordance with their knowledge and experience. Most often, I try to guide them when I noticed anything undesirable even if it is in their private investments. Regarding my younger children, I always guide them, especially in the case of their investments. This is purely out of my keenness that they should be honest in their work as well as in spending wealth given by God as a trusted property. I am also eager to hear about my children that they are interacting with the society in the best possible manner, and that they are serving their religion and nation.
In what way you like to spend your time? What are the places that you like most?
I used to travel between Riyadh, Qassim, Al-Jouf, and Al-Laith to oversee my projects there. I always prefer to visit the farms in Qassim and Al-Jouf.
How could you preserve many old and precious things and antiques at Suleiman Al-Rajhi Museum?
A long time ago when I was in Jeddah, I was keen on preserving heritage pieces and gathered them together, especially those related with money exchange. There would be a history with every human being. The museum tells the story of money exchange. I particularly kept registers and cash boxes that were used when I started the money exchange business. The first cash box was made of wood, and there was a huge treasure box in which we kept our gold and silver. The artifacts kept at the museum tells the evolution of currency in the Kingdom through issuance of bank notes, as well as some currencies and coins that were in circulation among the Haj pilgrims. A major factor that prompted me to set up the museum was the visits made by a large number of officials from various countries to know more about these old coins and currencies. We have had to exhibit these rare collections in front of them to explain about our history and heritage, especially those related with money. I was keen to furnish the museum with historic and heritage pieces, especially with the same materials used for construction in the past. Hence, the roof of the museum was made of palm branches, and that was the case with the seating arrangements at the museum.
Al-Rajhi's punctuality
The interview also sheds light on many qualities of Al-Rajhi, including his punctuality. "In the beginning of my business career, I had appointments with several top European company executives and officials. I still remember that I reached late for such an appointment due to an unavoidable reason. My delay was only a few minutes but the official excused himself for the interview. Later, after expansion of the projects, the same official came late for an interview with me so I excused myself for the interview. I always carry a paper to note down the schedule of meetings and stick to the schedule at any cost."
Al-Rajhi continued: I am always keen to strictly adhere to the Islamic principles throughout my life. Once I received an invitation from an Arab government to attend an investment conference there. On the sidelines of the conference, I was invited to take part in a dinner reception. When I reached there, I found a recreational program, which is contrary to our religious customs and traditions, taking place. So I quit the place immediately and, Abdul Aziz Al-Ghorair from the UAE also joined me. Soon minister plenipotentiary rushed to us, and we explained to him that the function is against our Islamic tradition. So he informed us that the recreational party would be cancelled. When they canceled that party, we participated in the dinner.
Tackling crises
Al-Rajhi said: There was a huge fire that gutted down one of my factories managed by my son. When he came to inform me about it, I told him: Say praise be to God. I asked him not to submit any report about the losses to the authorities seeking compensation. In fact, the compensation is from Allah and it is essential for us to be satisfied with What Allah destined for us. Assam Al-Hodaithy, financial director of Al-Watania Poultry, said: "When the fire broke out at the factory, we decided not to hurt Sheikh Al-Rajhi by informing about it at that moment. Later, when we met him next morning, he told us to shift the factory to another place and remove the debris until completion of reconstruction." There was a similar fire at Al-Watania Poultry project in Egypt. The company incurred losses worth SR 10 million Egyptian pounds. When the concerned factory official contacted Al-Rajhi to inform about the fire, he was surprised to hear an instant reply from him: "AlHamdulillah

Arab News

01-09-12, 01:21 PM
Saudi attorney calls for new antitrust law

Prominent Saudi attorney Khalid Alnowaiser has issued a call for a new antitrust law to eliminate business monopolies that stifle competition in the Kingdom.
Although the Saudi Competition Law, issued under the Royal Decree No. 25 on 04/05/1425 AH, is a positive development by addressing unfair competition, he says that it does not go far enough to challenge businesses that seek to monopolize markets and business transactions.
Alnowaiser points out that monopoly leads to unfair competition between companies and individuals, especially in light of the dominance of the large companies in vital and important productive sectors in the country, and thus creates negative effects on Saudi citizens and on the whole Saudi economy. He argues that the importance of competition prevents the formation of market domination by a company and promotes the principle of equality among competitors. Moreover, monopoly leads to several major social and economic disadvantages, such as unemployment, inflation, recession, lack of equal opportunities, trade and economic imbalances, and leads to negative effects on social justice, the spread of bribery, nepotism, fraud and rampant ills to the society, causing a sense of injustice and inequity among the society's classes. Thus, Alnowaiser believes it is high time for the government to enact an antitrust law to promote business competition in Saudi Arabia.
Such a law should promote competition so as to influence the public and attract customers to buy goods and services. If a competitor resorts to fraud or violates the law, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the competition would be deemed unfair.
For example, if a business seeks to keep goods priced below production costs in order to capture and dominate the market for such goods and then sells them for an exorbitant price when its competitors have been defeated, such a strategy would be a violation of the antitrust law.
Driving out one's competitors in order to monopolize a market does not promote competition and is antithetical to the goals of a progressive business environment.
A recent example occurred in the cement market. In spite of the decision issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to set the maximum price of a cement bag at SR 14 to the final consumer, its price in some regions of the country reached SR 25. This situation was not caused by a shortage of cement but because of a monopoly by some production companies seeking to increase prices without justification. The result was to increase prices of ready-mixed concrete by 30 percent. The impact of this crisis on the construction sector was severe since contractors were relying on a low price and then found themselves obliged to purchase cement at much higher prices.
Another example involved steel production in which prices were artificially set at about SR 29,000 per ton, all because of the monopoly of one Saudi steel company that produces around 2.7 million tons per year. It was apparent that its price increase had little relation to the prevailing international price for steel.
There is no question that the Saudi steel industry is a monopoly as only one company specializes in it and no other competitors exist, despite the large demand for steel due to the mega development projects that are being implemented in the country. Such a situation certainly affects construction projects and may cause a delay in the establishment and execution of many projects in a timely manner. The Saudi market has been witnessing successive crises due to the high steel prices as a result of this monopoly.
Alnowaiser also pointed to the Saudi dairy industry, which has capital investments amounting to more than SR 13 billion. With dozens of plants around the country, the dairy market is actually managed by only two companies in terms of production volume. This industry represents a clear case of a "minority monopoly" as only one or at the most two companies control the supply and demand of dairy products and thus control the prices of this vital food product.
The Saudi construction sector is estimated at around SR 200 billion, with manpower of three million workers and its market is expected to exceed SR 1 trillion by 2015. Yet, the megaprojects are monopolized by no more than three limited companies. The result of such a monopoly is that several other construction companies are prevented from entering this sector of the Saudi economy, which harms the public interest and is inconsistent with the principle of social justice.
Alnowaiser concludes that it is time for the issuance of a law to address the problem of monopoly of both local and international companies alike, which is separate from the Saudi Competition Law. He suggests that transparency standards be enhanced, ensuring free competition in accordance with the provisions of the antitrust law and Shariah law. He believes this will promote integrity in all business transactions, activate control and supervision of local markets and their products, and raise awareness concerning the harmful effects of monopolies through conferences, seminars and workshops. He says that it is vital that the suggested law, in order to protect social peace and enforce justice, keeps pace with modern trade and business practices by imposing tough penalties on whoever seeks a monopoly to stifle market competition.

Arab News

01-09-12, 01:34 PM
More ECB bond buys may need new cash-mopping tools

LONDON: A new round of government bond purchases may eventually force the European Central Bank to use some of its yet-to-be-tested tools to soak up the additional cash in the euro zone banking system.
This may include extending the time its is willing to hold commercial banks money, or even issuing bills.
At its meeting on Sept. 6, the ECB is expected to unveil a plan to bring down Spanish and Italian borrowing costs and ease the euro zones debt pains by buying more debt under some conditions.
Because little detail has been made public, market participants are speculating about how this will work, including so-called sterilization, which central banks use to ensure that there is no extra money in the system as a result of such a policy.
This is usually done by offering commercial banks good interest rates to deposit money with the bank for a week. But it may be that the amounts involved this time are too great for that.
Analysts generally expect the ECB to sterilize any new bond buying because doing so is key to keeping the ECBs inflation targeting mandate credible and to set it apart from other major central banks such as the US Federal Reserve and Bank of England which have simply printed money to help their economies recover and not drained it.
That would be outright quantitative easing, which has strong opposition in Germany, which has philosophical concerns about anything that would smack of ECB funding governments.
To have a significant and lasting impact on Spanish and Italian bond yields, however, the ECBs next forays into bond markets may need to be of the order of hundreds of billions. Add that to the 209 billion euros worth of previous bond purchases the ECB is already draining every week from the system and some analysts say there could be failed auctions of one-week deposits.
Clearly if you talk about high volumes, there is an issue with sterilization, said Carsten Brzeski, a senior economist at ING.
They will probably have to use other tools than they currently do.
The other option would be not to sterilize, but then they would clearly have a problem with the Bundesbank and the German public because the risk for future inflation would clearly increase.
In theory, the excess liquidity within the euro zone banking system at about 760 billion euros according to Reuters data should ensure that the one-week deposit auctions the ECB currently uses would be sufficient to absorb the cash.
But stressed euro zone money markets make the process more complicated than it would seem at a first glance.
For instance, Spanish and Italian banks which are loaded with their domestic sovereign debt and are likely to sell some of it to the ECB are not necessarily the ones that would bid at the ECBs cash draining operations.
Most of them are dependent on ECB liquidity and they may not be willing to give it back. The ECB would most likely have to rely on the same bidders that it attracts at its current auctions.
In the past 10 auctions, banks bid an average of roughly 415 billion euros. It is unclear if those banks would be willing to park more cash into one-week deposits that offer returns of 1 basis point should the ECB need to.
Liquidity is no longer one big pool with lots of little pipes going in and out, but a lot of different containers that arent linked up, said Luca Jellinek, head of European fixed income at Credit Agricole.
One option to maintain enough demand is to lure banks with higher rates, but that could be regarded as a tool to tighten monetary policy, the opposite of what the ECB has been trying to achieve since Mario Draghi took the helm late last year.
It is more likely that the ECB would extend the maturity of their draining operations, potentially by issuing bills, something the bank has never done before.
If they needed to, they could potentially issue their own paper ... which even with a modest or even a flat yield should garner very significant demand given that the front end of the core curves are trading in negative territory, Rabobank strategist Richard McGuire said.
The ECBs rules allow the bank to hold tenders to mop out cash as frequently as it wants, for as long as it wants. If needed, the ECB can offer deposits on a bilateral basis and it can also use foreign exchange swaps to absorb liquidity.


01-09-12, 01:38 PM
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Occupation of Palestine land causing instability, says Saudi minister

http://www.arabnews.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/galleryformatter_slide/1346438189678304300.jpg Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah

http://www.arabnews.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/galleryformatter_slide/31021356629980334.JPEG Elderly Palestinian women argue with Israeli forces during a weekly protest against the expansion of the nearby Jewish settlement of Kdumim, in the northern West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum, on Friday. (AP)

Saturday 1 September 2012

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia said Israelis occupation of Palestinian territories is the core issue in the Middle East.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia considers the Palestinian cause and the rights of the Palestinian people the core issues, while the continuation of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is the major reason for instability in the region, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah said while addressing the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran on Thursday.
Prince Abdul Aziz represented the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah at the summit. The prince renewed the Kingdoms firm stance supporting the Palestinian cause and called upon NAM member countries that did not recognize it as such to do so.
So far 132 countries have recognized the Palestinian state.
Based on the Kingdoms conviction and desire to spread peace in the world, it calls on all member countries to resolve their differences through peaceful ways and bilateral negotiations, or through the International Court of Justice, the prince said, reiterating the Kingdoms firm support to the ideals of nonalignment.
The prince also reminded the summit about the efforts made by King Abdullah to promote world peace through the dialogues of different religions, cultures and civilizations.
He added that the Kingdom also urged other countries to support countries that faced economic, political and security challenges, stressing that "we all must provide support for any effort to achieve security, stability and prosperity in any member country, because the security and stability of one country is related to the security and stability of all."
The prince highlighted the Kingdoms active role in the development of the worlds economy by guaranteeing fuel security with the steady supply of oil to overcome any oil shortfall in the world market.

01-09-12, 01:41 PM
Saturday, 1 September 2012 | Shawwal 14, 1433

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Greater unification of Gulf states in focus

http://www.arabnews.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/galleryformatter_slide/GCC.jpg GCC Secretary-General Abdul Latif Al-Zayani, (left) is Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal (R), in a news conference in Riyadh in this May 14, 2012, file photo (Reuters)

Friday 31 August 2012

Foreign Ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will hold an important meeting on Sunday to discuss greater unification of the Gulf States and to review all aspects of a plan to transform the GCC into a strong unified Gulf Union. This 124th ministerial meeting, to be held in Jeddah after the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, will also examine key regional issues.
Abdulatif Al-Zayani, GCC secretary general said: The initiative to move from a GCC bloc to a Gulf Union will be discussed in detail by GCC foreign ministers.
Gulf States are already tied through unified policies, militarily, politically and economically under the mandate of the GCC Charter.
Al-Zayani said, Unification is meant to empower GCC bloc countries and empower members to come to the aid of one another in times of threat, he said.
A GCC commission in December last year to discuss the initiative completed its review and submitted comments and recommendations to GCC foreign ministers recently.
Al-Zayani said foreign ministers would discuss other regional and international concerns. The agenda will include discussion on the situation in Yemen, Syria and Iran and a review of reports filed by ministerial committees for GCC joint action.
There is an urgent need to boost cooperation between member states in areas of politics, defense and economy, for the sake of prosperity and for collective security, he said.

01-09-12, 01:51 PM
UN turns up pressure on Irans nuclear activities

Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, left, talks with Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, at the Nonaligned Movement summit, in Tehran, on Friday. (AP)

(http://www.arabnews.com/un-turns-pressure-iran%E2%80%99s-nuclear-activities#)Agence France Presse
Saturday 1 September 2012

TEHRAN: Iran was under diplomatic pressure yesterday after a UN watchdog report said it had expanded its nuclear program and was hampering inspections, and the leaders of the UN and Egypt criticized its key ally Syria.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in Tehran for a summit, also called on Iran to release opposition leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and social activists.
Iranian officials responded to the International Atomic Energy Agency report by denying allegations it was cleaning up a suspect military base and saying the documents release was timed to steal the spotlight from the Non-Aligned Movement gathering.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei opened the two-day NAM summit with a speech on Thursday railing against the United States, Israel and the UN Security Council, which are at the forefront of the pressure directed at his country.
He said Iran would never cease its nuclear energy activities, regardless of UN and Western sanctions, and insisted that the program was not aimed at developing nuclear weapons, whose use he called an unforgivable sin.
The IAEA report was released late on Thursday in the middle of the summit and said Iran had doubled its capacity to enrich uranium at its underground Fordo nuclear facility by installing, but not yet switching on, more than 1,000 new centrifuges.
It also said that UN inspectors wanting to see part of a military base in Parchin, outside Tehran, which is suspected of hosting tests of explosives that could be used in a nuclear warhead, had been significantly hampered by months of scrubbing and refused access.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi rejected the Parchin allegations, telling the ISNA news agency they had no technical basis and that one cannot clean a site of nuclear work.

01-09-12, 01:55 PM
US Navy SEAL author worried about leaks after Bin Laden raid


Tabassum Zakaria | Reuters
Saturday 1 September 2012

WASHINGTON: A former Navy SEAL at the center of a brewing battle with the US government over his book worried about security after the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden to the point that he questioned signing his real name on a framed flag from the mission which was being presented to President Barack Obama.
He wrote about his concern that others would see his name. How many hands does it pass through before it gets hung on the wall? the author of No Easy Day asked. Dont they have tours of the White House?
In the book, penned under pseudonym Mark Owen, he mused that the only thing that remained secret was our names.
His real name, Matt Bissonnette, was revealed shortly after news broke that the first-hand account of the daring operation on the Al-Qaeda leaders compound in Pakistan last year was to be published. Reuters obtained an advance copy of the book to be released on Sept. 4 from the publisher, Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Group USA.
The Pentagon has threatened legal action against Bissonnette for alleged violation of non-disclosure agreements because the manuscript was not submitted for a pre-publication security review. His attorney responded that the subject matter of his book was not covered by non-disclosure agreements he has signed.
Bissonnette wrote that he decided to do the book because details of the raid that were being leaked by others in government were wrong.
Even reports claiming to have the inside story have been incorrect. I felt like someone had to tell the true story.
His account does differ. He writes that Bin Laden was shot in the head as he peeked from a bedroom door, while the White House has said he was not armed but had resisted capture.
Obama and Admiral Bill McRaven, the head of US Special Operations Command, were speaking about the Bin Laden mission, he writes. If my commander in chief is willing to talk, then I feel comfortable doing the same.

Bissonnette grew up in Alaska. His early years were spent in a small village of about 500 which local media reports identified as Aniak, before moving to Wrangell, Alaska.
He grew up with a gun, carrying a rifle by the time he finished elementary school. He was first exposed to Navy SEALs while doing a book report and said he knew he wanted to become one at age 13.
A key lesson learned by SEALs early on is to be comfortable being uncomfortable, which Bissonnette said he learned as a child checking animal traps with his father deep in the Alaskan wilderness with temperatures near zero.
His parents were Christian missionaries with a sense of adventure and he was the middle child, with two sisters.
He found his early years in Alaska were good training for his years as a SEAL. I excelled at land warfare. It was really no different than my hunting trips as a kid, he wrote.
Bissonnettes parents were not pleased with his plan to enlist. My mother didnt let me play with G.I. Joe or other military toys when I was younger because they were too violent.
After he left SEAL Team Six earlier this year, Bissonnette made a long, hard decision to write the book, knowing that some in the SEAL community would not be pleased. But he believed it was time to set the record straight about one of the most important missions in US military history.
A person who spoke to Bissonnette since the uproar over his book broke out said the author was surprised and unnerved by the reaction, because he believed he had been very careful to fulfill his obligations to the military and to avoid spilling any sensitive information.
But the book has raised ire among SEALs who pride themselves on being quiet professionals and find it unseemly for one of their own to write about a mission, even with the pledge that most of the proceeds will be donated to charities to benefit families of SEALs.
One special operations officer, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, criticized the book and the publicity it has generated.
Any former special operator who chooses to provide details of operations they have participated in does so at the peril of those who continue to serve, the officer said. Special operations are inherently sensitive and it is a breach of trust to publicize operational details for personal gain.

Ron Capps, director of the Veterans Writing Project, said all of the submissions from special operations personnel that were to appear anonymously on the projects journal had been withdrawn in the past few days.
My sense is that they are concerned that they will be lumped in with the men they consider are selling out and betraying the ethos of the quiet professionals, Capps said.
Don Mann, who retired as a Navy SEAL in 1998 and has authored several books including Inside SEAL Team Six, views pre-publication review as a lifelong commitment.
He said he was trying to withhold judgment in this case and was hoping the book did not reveal anything related to tactics, techniques and procedures that could help the enemy fight US forces. His view was that rules should be followed by submitting the book for pre-publication security review.
Mann said he receives a lot of e-mail from the SEAL community and opinions had ranged from wanting to ostracize the author of No Easy Day as a sell-out for money and fame to a view that he had the right as an American to tell his side of the story when others were talking about it.
At the crux of the anger from Navy SEALs is a fear that the book might hinder their selection for choice missions.
If the Pentagon doesnt think that SEALs can keep a secret we dont want to stop getting the missions just because people are out there writing books without getting them vetted, Mann said. That is at the heart of it.
Bissonnette was apparently so worried about having his real identity known that he appears in an interview on CBS program 60 Minutes, to air on Sept. 9, disguised by a professional make-up artist and with his voice altered.
An official Al-Qaeda website has posted a photograph and the real name of the former Navy commando, calling him the dog who murdered the martyr Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.
In perhaps the most ironic twist, the book has put Bissonnette firmly in the spotlight, while inside its covers he writes about discomfort over leaks and publicity about SEAL Team Sixs involvement in the Bin Laden raid.
We just killed the number one terrorist in the world. The last thing we needed was our names attached to it, he wrote. We simply wanted to fade back into the shadows and go back to work.

01-09-12, 02:09 PM
No letup in Assad crimes

http://www.arabnews.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/galleryformatter_slide/1346434621967634000.jpg Anti-Assad Syrians protest in Damascus. The Arabic poster reads Patience, my nation, Syria. Despite weeks of intense bombing by the Syrian military, the civil war shows no sign of ending soon. (AP)

Associated Press
Saturday 1 September 2012

ALEPPO: Syrian rebels have begun a major operation in the Aleppo region, aiming to strike at security compounds and bases around Syrias largest city, activists said yesterday.
It would be evidence that weeks of intense bombardments by the Syrian military, including airstrikes, have failed to dislodge the rebels. Instead, fighting rages across the country in a 17-month civil war that shows no sign of ending soon.
The rebel offensives in Aleppo are led by a brigade made up mostly of army defectors who specialize in operating artillery and tanks, said Mohammed Saeed, an activist based in the city.
He said the first attacks began shortly before midnight Thursday and lasted until yesterday, when the Brigade of Free Syrians launched coordinated strikes on several security compounds in Aleppo.
The new operations aim to strike at regime forces centers and air bases throughout Aleppo (province), Saeed said via Skype.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one of yesterdays targets was a compound in the Aleppo neighborhood of Zahraa, killing and wounding a number of troops. It gave no figures.
Saeed said rebels attacked four security buildings around Aleppo, using tanks, rocket launchers and machine guns.
The state-run news agency, SANA, said troops killed and wounded several gunmen in the clashes.
Rebels took parts of Aleppo, Syrias commercial capital, last month. Since then, government forces have been trying to recapture them. Rebels also control much of the wider Aleppo province, including areas on the border with Turkey.
In Geneva, the UN refugee agency reported a growing number of Syrians fleeing to Lebanons eastern Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border.
Agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said local authorities report about 2,200 people arrived there over the past week, almost double the weekly average. He told reporters yesterday in Geneva that another 400 Syrians are reaching northern Lebanon each week.
Edwards said Turkey has opened two more refugee camps for Syrians in the past week and is now hosting 80,410 people in 11 camps and schools in its border provinces.
Meanwhile, Turkeys nonstarter call for a humanitarian safe zone inside Syria offers the clearest sign yet that diplomacy to end the bloodshed in the most violent uprising of the Arab Spring is at a dead end.
Any new push by the international community to stop the killing is likely to remain on hold until the new UN chief envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, gets his feet on the ground and more importantly until the Nov. 6 US presidential election.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other prominent Republicans have called for arming Syrian rebels, a step critics fear would only escalate the violence without necessarily bringing a quick end to a more than 17-month conflict that activists say has killed more than 20,000 people.
A frustrated Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the council that hed come to New York in hopes the members would take long overdue steps to alleviate the suffering and establish camps inside Syria for those forced to flee their homes.
Apparently, I was wrong about my expectations, Davutoglu said.
Establishing a safe zone in Syria amounts to entering the territory of a sovereign country to offer protection to civilians, many who are sympathetic to the rebels.
Without a guarantee from Assad that he would not attack the zone, foreign governments would have to assume responsibility for protecting civilians there through troops on the ground and through preventing Syrian attack aircraft from flying over the territory.
Meanwhile, the West is running out of options besides trying to do more to care for the tens of thousands of refugees.
With Syrian diplomacy all but dead, the Obama administration is focusing on political transition and helping the rebels defeat the Syrian regime. Washington has increased its humanitarian aid to $74 million and its nonlethal communications assistance to $25 million.

01-09-12, 02:16 PM
Shares, oil rise after Fed chief speech

Saturday 1 September 2012

NEW YORK: Stocks and the euro rose yesterday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke kept the door open for future monetary easing, although he did not deliver a clear signal of imminent action that markets had hoped for in a much-anticipated speech.
The euro and European shares rose as signs emerged of progress toward a deal to tackle the euro zones debt crisis.
Bernanke told central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that progress in bringing down US unemployment was too slow and that the central bank would act as needed to strengthen the economic recovery.
But investors focused on what he had to say about monetary policy and the stagnation in the US labor market, which he described as of grave concern.
Bernanke said the Fed had to weigh the costs and the benefits of further stimulus, but he also downplayed potential risks from unconventional policies. He argued that the Feds asset purchases, known as quantitative easing, had been quite effective at boosting economic growth and fostering job creation.
I think when he talks about grave concern, that says it all. Further accommodation is coming, its just a question of how it manifests itself, said Scott Graham, head of US government bond trading at BMO Capital Markets in Chicago.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 75.83 points, or 0.58 percent, at 13,076.54. The Standard & Poors 500 Index was up 5.54 points, or 0.40 percent, at 1,405.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 13.04 points, or 0.43 percent, at 3,061.75.
In Europe, the FTSEurofirst of top regional shares closed up 0.5 percent at 1,082.93 in thin trade, erasing the previous sessions losses and ending the month almost flat.
MSCIs all-country world equity index rose 0.5 percent to 321.94.
The basic problem for investors at this point in time is that everyone knows the Fed considers the current economic performance to be unacceptable, but is it unacceptable enough for them to act today or tomorrow before the election? said Cary Leahy, senior managing director at Decision Economics in New York.
I dont think this speech answers that question, he said.
Bernanke said the Fed would provide additional policy accommodation as needed, a remark that was a somewhat weaker hint of policy easing than the minutes of the Feds last policy meeting had delivered.
The market was looking for him to not throw any cold water on the prospects for QE and he didnt throw any cold water on it, said John Canally, investment strategist at LPL Financial in Boston.
The timing is a little bit iffy, but he didnt come out of the box saying that there has been substantial and sustainable improvement in the economy. Because he didnt do that, I think its just a matter of time, Canally said.
The dollar fell to a three-month low against major currencies at one point.
The euro was up 0.5 percent at $1.2562, while the US dollar index was down 0.5 percent at 81.303.
Investors have hoped that more monetary easing would revive economic growth and support demand for oil, for example.
Brent crude was up $1.61 at $114.26 a barrel, while US crude added $1.55 to $96.17 a barrel.
Treasury prices rose. The benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was up 12/32 in price to yield 1.5858 percent.
Spot gold prices rose $23.35 to $1,678.80 an ounce.

01-09-12, 02:19 PM
Saturday 1 September 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazils Vale SA, the worlds second-largest mining company, expects a quick recovery in the price of iron ore after the cost of the key steel ingredient tumbled by a third in the past two months, a senior executive said on Thursday.
Because the drop was the result of excess supply rather than weaker demand for iron ore, a price rebound should come before mid-October, Jose Carlos Martins, who runs the iron ore business, told
Slowing growth in China and European debt problems have raised concerns that a weaker global economy could reduce demand for Vales metals and minerals. As prices have fallen, Vale has said it is reconsidering the timing of iron and other mining investments.
I was surprised by the decline, said Martins. I didnt expect it to fall below $110 a ton.
With the price of high grade iron ore in the Chinese spot market at $88.70 a ton, the cost is below the production cost of at least 30 percent of world producers, Martins said. When those producers drop out of the market, he expects prices to rebound to between $120 and $180 per ton.
Below $120 many iron-ore producers cant make money, and above $180 a ton steelmakers have problems, he said.
Vales stock has also slumped with iron prices, falling 17.5 percent in two months to its lowest level since September 2009.
Martins said production costs at Vale, the worlds biggest iron ore miner, are still well below current prices.
We are one of the most efficient producers, he said. We will be the last to leave the market.
Martins, who is also Vales senior executive responsible for strategy, bases his expectation of an iron ore price rebound on Chinese steel and iron ore statistics.
Some analysts have said the iron ore price drop reflects concerns of slowing growth in China as the country tries to cool its overheated real estate market.
Martins disagrees. There is little evidence, he said, that steel production or iron ore demand is falling in China, the worlds largest steelmaker and Vales biggest consumer.
Chinese steel production rose 3 percent in January to June, compared with the same period in 2011, he said. At the same time Chinese iron ore imports rose nine percent.
Martins said the numbers, taken together, are a sign that imported ore is beginning to replace local ore.
Demand is also likely to pick up as Chinese steelmakers draw down their stocks of iron ore, Martins said. Steelmakers have less than a month of supplies on hand and companies, especially in northern China, may need to rebuild stocks to higher levels for the winter.
There is a tendency to have more iron ore on hand at that time, he said.
Snow and freezing temperatures can clog or ice-in ports and disrupt railways leading to iron ore supply disruptions. Still, Martins said it is hard to predict when prices will rebound.
Supposing the high-cost producer was in Brazil, it would take 45 days for its goods to reach China, he said. Most high-cost producers are not in Brazil and are closer to the Chinese market, he added.
While Vale is maintaining output, its mix of iron ore products has changed a bit as a result of the price drop, Martins said. Demand has fallen for higher-cost pellets, made by processing and agglomerating fine ore powder into larger nuggets.
As prices fall, Vale is focusing on cutting costs. A key part of that is the companys fleet of ore carrying ships which include giant 400,000 deadweight ton (DWT) Valemax carriers.
Vale now moves 70 percent of its exports in its own ships or those of third-party ship operators who have signed long-term contracts to move Vales ore around the world.
The ships cut freight costs to China, helping Vale fight the transportation advantage that Australian iron ore competitors such as BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. have by being closer to the worlds largest iron ore market.
Some of the largest ships afloat, the Valemaxes were banned from Chinese ports after Chinese shipowners complained the ships had taken lucrative business away from them. Others worry the vessels may not be safe.
Martins said he hoped the ban would be lifted soon. Chinas transport ministry has already approved Valemax-sized berths at its eastern Ningbo-Zoushan port, he said, suggesting China will eventually accept the ships.
Most of the vessels have also been built in China with loans backed by Chinese development banks, Martins added.
To help get around the ban, Vale expects to open a second floating ore transshipment vessel in Asia by February 2013, Martins said. Its first vessel began operating in the Philippines in February.
Valemaxes use the ship to transfer their cargoes to smaller vessels for the final journey to China, Martins said.
We cant be captive to a decision we have no power to make, Martins said. The distribution centers are more expensive than going direct to China but they are still better than the old system.
The last time iron ore prices were so low, in 2009, Martins said Vale had to stop some mines in Brazil because there were no ships to pick up ore at Brazilian ports.
They were all in China, he said.

01-09-12, 02:48 PM
Aluminum premiums: A squeeze at the margin

http://www.arabnews.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/galleryformatter_slide/7754522466333483_0.JPG Smoke rises above the Rusal Achinsk aluminum plant in the town of Achinsk, about 180 km west of Russias Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. (Reuters)

(http://www.arabnews.com/aluminum-premiums-squeeze-margin#)Andy Home | Reuters
Saturday 1 September 2012

LONDON: You know youre in trouble as a buyer of any commodity when one of your main suppliers declines to offer you a starter price for negotiations on the next contract.
Such was the ominous backdrop for Japanese aluminum buyers ahead of talks on the premium over London Metal Exchange (LME) cash prices to be applied to fourth-quarter shipments.
Rio Tinto Alcan, one of the major suppliers of the light metal to Japans manufacturing sector, did just that, telling its customers it would negotiate with them on an individual basis.
The obvious inference is that the premium, which rocketed from $ 121-122 per ton to $ 200-210 per ton for third-quarter shipments, is going to go higher still.
Indeed, the whispers coming out of the talks between Japanese buyers and aluminum producers suggest another lurch higher to around $ 2 50 per ton, quite possibly more.
After all, spot deals in the Asian region are already going for significantly higher numbers than those Q3 terms, witness the latest South Korean tender, which was awarded at $ 230 per ton.
If the rumors about the Q4 premium turn out to be correct, it will have doubled in the space of just a few months.
Over the period shown the LME price has boomed and bust, ranging from a 2008 high of $ 3,380 per ton to a 2009 low of $ 1,280 and just about everywhere in between.
Yet the Japanese premium as a percentage of the aluminum price never represented much more than 6 percent.
Last quarter it reached 10.7 percent. It seems almost inevitable that the ratio is going to be stretched again in the coming quarter.
Nor is this just an issue for Japanese buyers.
Sure, they are particularly vulnerable to spot market dynamics because of a lack of offsetting domestic production capacity.
And sure, they are particularly vulnerable to regional supply issues, such as Norsk Hydros closure of its Kurri Kurri smelter in Australia and the recent partial force majeure on shipments from Rios Oman smelter.
But the very concept of a regional premium, calibrated to reflect localized supply-demand balances, is rapidly disappearing.
Two things spring out.
The first is the rapid rise in all three premiums since the start of last year. The second is the increasing convergence of all three premiums toward what might be termed a global premium.
This is because physical buyers in all three regions are facing the same fundamental problem, namely the competition for metal units with investors wishing to earn a low-risk, high-margin return on financing stock.
The scale of this new source of demand for aluminum is simply massive.
Japan buys something like two million tons of aluminum a year, making the country one of the single biggest influences on the physical flow and pricing of the metal. This is why the Japanese quarterly premium has over time become a benchmark for physical premiums everywhere else in Asia.
Yet in one location alone, Vlissingen in the Netherlands, the flow of metal into and out of LME sheds has already totalled 1.14 million tons this year. Another 809,000 tons are earmarked for physical draw and only Glencore, which owns the dominant warehousing company in the port, knows how much more will be delivered in.
Its probably fair to say that not one ton of this metals flow is going to a manufacturer.
Rather, the bank that is buying it up is moving it to Rotterdam to capitalize on a cheaper warehouse rent deal, which is the key cost variable in the stocks-financing game.
Actually, that should probably read moving it back to Rotterdam, since this is where a lot of the Vlissingen aluminum was moved from in the first place.
And this is just the Dutch version of the aluminum round-about.
Similarly huge tonnages are going through the LME warehouse revolving door in Detroit and in Johor in Malaysia.
The result is the evolution of two parallel aluminum markets, the financialized LME futures market and the industrial physical premium market.
The rapid rise in physical premiums the world over is a symptom of the growing divergence between the two.
But what is the specific cause for premiums going stratospheric over the last few months?
After all, the stocks financing trade has been in vogue ever since 2009 thanks to the combination of surplus metal and cheap money.
There are two possible explanations, both of which might well be in the mix together to squeeze the marginal amount of metal available to buyers such as the Japanese.
The first is that investment demand for aluminum is simply growing ever larger, reducing availability for actual consumers.
This, sadly, is no more than a known unknown since only those involved in the business have any true idea of its size and evolution. The second is that investment demand is running at steady levels but supply-demand dynamics in the physical world of aluminum have tightened.
That is starting to look more demonstrably plausible given the accumulation of production cutbacks over the course of the last year.
Production outside of China has fallen by around 1.2 million tons annualized since the fourth quarter 2011, when the LME price first encroached into the top end of the cost curve. Some of this is structural, such as the closure of the Kurri Kurri smelter. Some is transient, such as Rios issues at its Oman smelter and BHP Billitons technical problems at its Hillside smelter in South Africa earlier this year.
However, the structural component is gaining momentum.
The last couple of days have brought further cutback announcements by Ormet in the US and by RUSAL in Russia.
More will certainly follow as long as the basis LME price stays at these bombed-out levels below $ 2,000 per ton.
Its worth noting that a growing number of analysts are cutting their estimated surpluses for this year in response to this slow but accumulating supply-side response everywhere outside of China, which largely exists as a third parallel market.
What could end the divergence between financial and physical markets? There is no easy answer because weve never been here before.
Arguably, the current physical premiums, representing as they do 10 percent of the LME basis price, are already at a level that should challenge the investment returns earned from the stocks financing trade.
The problem is that most of those likely to be attracted to the stocks financing business are institutional investors with no interest in, let alone knowledge of, what is happening in the parallel manufacturing universe.
And those few that do are unlikely to force out a deluge of metal which would destroy the booming premium market.
Equally, there will be many producers who hope they dont. The premium has become a vital financial lifeline for those experiencing negative margins on the LME price alone.
But there is a linkage between the two markets in the form of the LME contango, which underpins the profitability of the whole stocks financing business.
And the contango is right now changing.
Around a month ago there was a minor squeeze on the September-October spread.
It appeared to dissipate naturally as short position holders rolled out.
But that tightness is back again. The spread was last night valued at $ 1 per ton backwardation, causing the whole benchmark cash-to-three-months spread to contract to $ 22.75 contango. It was as wide as $ 41 just a couple of weeks ago.
The LMEs futures banding report shows a build-up of large positions on both the short and the long side, suggesting plenty of potential for the current tightness to become more acute.
The LME aluminum market has seen this before. It is often no more than a mammoth tussle for metal between those wanting more to finance. But with the physical market diverging ever further from the LME market, the potential impact of an LME cash-date squeeze on the parallel aluminum market becomes less predictable.
The concept of parallel universes was once purely fictional. But in recent years it has edged into mainstream cosmological thinking. And according to its proponents, what happens when two parallel universes collide is a very, very big bang.
Andy Home is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

01-09-12, 03:13 PM
Palestinians seek more support for UN upgrade plea

Friday 31 August 2012
RAMALLAH: Palestinian officials yesterday reiterated their commitment to make a fresh bid for upgraded UN membership on Sept. 27.
Nimr Hammad, political adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the UN upgrade request would definitely go ahead, but confirmed the date would only be set "in the upcoming weeks."
"The decision to go to the UN has been made by the Palestinian leadership and is no longer up for discussion. The date will be set in the upcoming weeks based on whatever serves Palestinian interests," he told AFP.
"We want to ensure the largest international support for the decision and also ensure the voting would be in favour."
Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told AFP the date would be decided next week when Abbas meets the Arab League in Cairo.
"The president will have Palestinian, Arab and international consultations to set a date for the UN bid to present the request for non-member state status for Palestine," he said.
"The president will visit Cairo to attend the Arab League follow-up committee meeting on September 5 and 6 which will set a date for the Palestinian bid seeking a status upgrade to non-member state."
Last September, President Abbas made a high-profile effort to obtain full member status for Palestine at the UN, but the request was never put to a vote in the Security Council where the US had pledged to veto it.
On August 4, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki had said Abbas would make the upgrade request on September 27 during the UN General Assembly.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said there was no date set for the application, but said the Palestinians would submit a draft resolution to the General Assembly which was likely to win support from "more than half" of the 193 member states.

02-09-12, 09:46 AM
Saudi shares close lower as banking sector toils

Saudi shares closed slightly lower on Saturday dragged down by losses in banking stocks.
The all-share ended 0.1 percent lower at 7,134 points and the banking index ended 0.2 percent lower at 15,917 points.
Banque Saudi Fransi closed 1.5 percent lower, and Bank Aljazira ended 1 percent lower while heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank closed 0.3 percent higher.
The petrochemical index closed flat at 6,179 points.
Oil rose above $114 a barrel in volatile trading on Friday, taking gains in August above 9 percent.
Source: Arabian Business

02-09-12, 09:52 AM
China sets sights on huge Saudi Construction mart

JEDDAH/BEIJING Saudi Arabias growing construction market is proving to be an excellent business opportunity for both China building material firms, local experts and Chinese media reported Saturday.
The China Daily newspaper reported that the country would likely be the source of a great number of materials, as the Kingdom is expected to embark on $100 billion worth of infrastructure projects by 2016.
Saudi economist Jamal Banoon told Al Arabiya.net Saturday that less expensive materials from China will greatly boost the boom.
"Chinas building material companies in the Saudi market will help those with low incomes to build their houses on less expensive budgets. They would also add to the total market value of real estate in the Gulf region, if companies started to rely on Chinese building material for future projects, " he pointed out.Chinas business and government officials are expected to promote the countrys building materials and other construction-related goods in Riyadh this December, at the Third China Commodities Expo-Saudi Arabia, the newspaper said.
"The fair will help promote brand recognition for made-in-China products and hopefully help us build a future platform for suppliers and buyers," Chen Feng, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers and Exporters told the newspaper.
Chen expected more than 3,000 professional Saudi buyers to attend the event, it added.
Xie Zhongmei, director of the Department of West Asian and African Affairs at Chinas Ministry of Commerce, told the newspaper that trade between the two countries grew nearly 30 percent year-on-year to $38 billion in the first half this year. Wie estimated annual trade between the two countries would reach $70 billion this year, with an annual growth rate continuing at 30 to 40 percent.
"The construction and infrastructure sub-sectors in Saudi Arabia remain strong, growing by 177 percent over the same period, and currently accounting for 46 percent of the 2012-2013 MENA project pipeline totaling $448b," said Mutashar Murshed, Merrill Lynch Kingdom of Saudi Arabia CEO.
"It is a trend we expect to continue," Philip Southwell, Bank of America Merrill Lynch president and country executive, Middle East and North Africa, added.
"With its young and expanding population, Saudi Arabia should remain the most buoyant market, in line with its overall economic development plan. Furthermore, the recent approval of the mortgage law should help to drive growth in residential construction in response to the current housing shortage."
Taking into account 11.6 percent real growth in 2011 and the sheer number of projects in the pipeline, a recent study expects equally robust 9.3 percent real growth in construction for 2012, after a 140 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) increase in contract awards during 2011.
Over the medium term, the sector is forecast to continue average growth of 5.6 percent between 2012 and 2016.
One of the most dynamic sub-sectors in Saudi Arabia has been power plants and transmission and distribution (T&D), with the $80 billion, 10-year investment plan for electricity infrastructure (2008-2018) having led to significant activity in the energy sector.
BMI estimates that there are power projects worth $30 billion under way or in the pipeline, with the majority of these including the construction of new capacity.
The transport segment is also booming, especially in terms of rail infrastructure, with $24 billion of projects currently under way or in the pipeline.
Positive infrastructure and pipeline developments, combined with a strengthening macroeconomic backdrop will insulate the economy somewhat from global economic headwinds.
Tahir Rabani, Capital Projects Advisory, Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdoms construction market is expected to be one of the most buoyant in the world. Greater integration across the Kingdom will promote economic stability, job growth and ultimately benefit the real estate markets. SG/QJM
Source: Saudi Gazette

02-09-12, 09:54 AM
Tadawul share value plunges 26% in August
JEDDAH The value of shares traded on the Tadawul stock exchange dropped by 26.07 percent last August to reach only SR102.80 billion ($27.41 billion) against the preceding months SR139.06 billion, the Saudi bourse said on its website Saturday.
The total number of shares traded reached 4.11 billion compared to 6.64 billion shares traded for the previous month, a drop of 38.03 percent.
Yesterday (Saturday), the first trading day in September, Saudi Arabias stocks were dampened with the benchmark Tadawul All Share Index losing 0.07 percent to close at 7,134.24 points.
The total number of transactions executed decreased by 31.87 percent to 2.30 million compared to 3.37 million trades in July.
However, the benchmark Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) gained 260.82 points (3.79 percent) in August 2012 at 7,139.01 points over the close of the previous month.
On an YTD basis, TASI registered a positive increase of 11.24 percent (721.28 points). Highest close level for the index during the month was 7,139.01 on Aug. 29.
Total equity market capitalization at the end of August reached SR1,418.72 billion ($378.33 billion), an increase of 3.58 percent over the close of the previous month. Saudi nationals represented 93.50 percent for selling at SR96.12 billion and 90.1 percent for buying what SR 92.59 billion.
The percentage share of Saudi companies from the market trades was 1.9 percent for selling at SR1.94 billion and 4.4 percent for buying at SR4.51 billion.
Investment funds took 1.3 percent of the market for selling at SR1.30 billion and 2.2 percent for buying at SR2.25 billion.
GCC nationals cornered only 0.9 percent of the market for selling at SR925.45 million and 0.8 percent for buying at SR 806.43 million.
The share of Arabs residing in Saudi Arabia from the market trades was 1.6 percent for selling at SR1.66 million and 1.6 percent for buying at SR1.64 million.
Other foreign residents in Saudi Arabia seized barely 0.2 percent of the market for selling at SR191.94 million and 0.2 percent for buying at SR162.90 million.
The market share of foreigners via swap agreements logged 0.7 percent for selling at SR671.74 million and 0.8 percent for buying at SR843.01 million. SG/QJM
Source: Saudi Gazette

02-09-12, 09:55 AM
STC consolidates leadership in local market
JEDDAH Saudi Telecom Company (STC) continues to consolidate its leadership in the local market by exclusively offering comprehensive Multi-play application solutions in broadband, supported by a vast fiber network, in addition to interactive television service (Invision) and other landline and mobile packages, a specialized research report which was commissioned by Informa, a leader in telecommunication market analysis, said Saturday.
The report attributed the spread of broadband services in the Kingdom to STCs role and its ambitious plans to link 500,000 households with fiber optics technology in 2012, and up to 2 million households in 2013.
STCs CEO KSA Operations Jameel Al-Mulhem said the companys continuous efforts to keep pace with the emerging technologies has helped promote the companys presence in the telecommunications and IT industry, and enhanced its ability to offer exclusive and comprehensive services to its customers which enriched their modern lifestyle through a bundle of innovative tech solutions, in line with the companys leadership strategy, which was quick to respond to the markets demand for broadband and interactive TV services, enabling STC to achieve impressive leaps of progress and establishing the company as a leader in the Saudi telecommunication market, the gulfs biggest telecommunication market.
He added that through striving to consolidate its leadership, STC was able to build a comprehensive infrastructure of fiber optics, marking a new era for broadband services in the kingdom and the region, through superior internet speeds that accommodate customer demand and with a fiber optics networks reach exceeding 300,000 km and links 20 cities and provinces, in correlation with other company projects to link almost 2 million homes with fiber optics technology in 2013, through an ambitious plan that seeks to employ fiber optic networks to serve more than 1.4 million sites in the kingdom with superior and highly advanced services in the next 4 years.
Al-Mulhem further said the interactive TV service "Invision" has been a success that impressed customers and enriched the Saudi household with a device that revolutionized the concept of TV viewership in more than 30,000 households, in addition to launching 4G and QuickNet packages, which allow download speeds of 84 up to 173 MB/sec, following a successful coverage of 99 percent of the mobile networks in Saudi Arabia, to strengthen the relationship with its customer-base, through launching several new choices of smart phones, keeping customers posted on all thins new in the tech world, and providing smart packages that meet their demands and choices in accordance with their daily lifestyle and financial ability.
STCs services act as a cornerstone in the relationship of trust that exists between STC and its customers regardless of their sector, whether individuals seeking entertainment, benefits and high quality of service, or companies and corporations seeking innovative virtual network solutions, especially with the latest IP-VPN modern applications which were added to contribute to develop the Business sector, he pointed out. SG/QJM
Source: Saudi Gazette

02-09-12, 09:58 AM
Saudi Arabia main exporter of oil to Japan
JEDDAH Saudi Arabias crude oil exports to Japan seized the top spot among the GCC oil-producing countries, although imports from the Kingdom shrank 4.4 percent from a year earlier to 1.13 million bpd, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 816,000 bpd, up 16.3 percent, Japans Natural Resources and Energy Agency said in a preliminary report Friday. Qatar ranked third, with shipments falling 8.3 percent to 343,000 bpd and Oman was fourth with 167,000 bpd.
Kuwaits crude oil exports to Japan fell 49.7 percent in July from a year earlier to 5.17 million barrels, or 168,000 barrels per day (bpd), for the first decline in six months, the government said Friday.
However, Kuwait remained Japans fourth-biggest oil supplier last month since overtaking Iran in March, providing 4.9 percent of the countrys total crude imports, the Natural Resources and Energy Agency said in a preliminary report.
Japans overall imports of crude oil went down 2.4 percent year-on-year to 3.42 million bpd for the first drop in two months. Shipments from the Middle East stood at 2.72 million bpd, and accounted for 83.3 percent of the total, down 6.6 percentage points from the year before.

Although the Japanese government has decided to provide insurance for tankers carrying Iranian crude bound for Japan, no imports from Iran were recorded in the month of July. The legislation enables the worlds No.3 oil consumer to continue importing Iranian oil even after new European Union (EU) sanctions against Iran starting from July 1, which ban insurance firms of EU countries from covering Irans exports. Japan has already secured a waiver from US financial sanctions against Iran in return for cutting its imports of Iranian crude oil.
Japan imported around 4.3 million bbl/d in 2011. After the Fukushima incident, Japan has been increasing imports of crude oil for direct burn in power plants. The country is primarily dependent on the Middle East for its crude oil imports, as roughly 87 percent of Japanese crude oil imports originate from the region, up from 70 percent in the mid-1980s.
Also, Japan is currently looking towards Russia, Southeast Asia, and Africa to geographically diversify its oil imports. As of mid-2011, Japan is substituting some of the lost nuclear fuel for power with low sulfur, heavy crudes for direct burn in power plants from sources in West Africa (Gabon) and Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia).
Japan had 738 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of proven natural gas reserves as of January 2012. Natural gas proven reserves have declined since 2007, when they measured 1.4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). Most natural gas fields are located along the western coastline. SG
Source: Saudi Gazette

02-09-12, 10:12 AM
One million jobs bonanza for Saudis
JEDDAH: Asharqia Chamber's nationalization strategy aims to create one million jobs and contribute SR 105 billion to the gross domestic product in the first phase, said Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, chairman of the chamber yesterday.
"The benefits of nationalization will be wide-ranging as it will contribute to realizing the objectives of economic diversification and creating more jobs," he said.
Al-Rashid said the massive development projects and huge purchases of leading companies, such as Saudi Aramco and SABIC would create more job opportunities for young Saudi men and women. He estimated the current spending of strategic and government sectors at SR 300 billion, but pointed out that its local content reached only 20 percent or SR 60 billion. "At the same time, Saudi Arabia can increase local content to 55 percent or SR 165 billion, thus adding SR 105 billion to the GDP. It will also create about one million new jobs," Al-Rashid said.
He described Asharqia's nationalization strategy as an unprecedented project having tremendous impact on the national economy. "The main objective of this strategy is to nationalize services relating to the industrial sector and make optimum use of the advantages offered by petroleum and gas and other strategic sectors," he said.
Source: Zawya/Arab News