The American website “The Daily Beast” reports that ISIS is claiming responsibility for the bombing of a mosque in Saudi Arabia’ Eastern Province last night. According to Arab News, 21 were killed and over 100 injured.

ISIS: We Bombed Saudi Mosque

SIS has claimed credit for a suicide bomb attack at a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia during Friday prayers. At least 21 people were killed in the attack, and as many as 50 were injured. This may be ISIS’s first successful attack within Saudi Arabia. In a statement released Friday afternoon, ISIS said the attack was carried out by Abu Amer al-Najdi, implying that the attacker came from the central Saudi Arabian region of Najd.

May:22:2015 - 15:57 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Minerals, Ali Al-Naimi, acknowledges that the world is moving away from oil as its primary energy source. Just when that will happen is a question, but it is inevitable. Saudi Arabia is preparing for that eventuality by beginning a shift toward solar energy. He did not mention that nuclear power is also in the plans for the Kingdom.

As a former Oil Minister said, “The Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of rocks.” Oil will still be an important industrial product, if only as feed stock, long after its use as a fuel has passed.

Al-Naimi sees eventual end of fossil fuels

PARIS: Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi said on Thursday the Kingdom envisaged the fact that fossil fuels could become unnecessary before the middle of the century and was investing in renewable energy for that reason.

“In Saudi Arabia, we recognize that eventually, one of these days, we are not going to need fossil fuels, I don’t know when, in 2040, 2050… so we have embarked on a program to develop solar energy,” he told the Business and Climate conference in Paris.

“Hopefully, one of these days, instead of exporting fossil fuels, we will be exporting gigawatts, electric ones. Does that sound good?” he asked, to applause in the audience.

May:22:2015 - 07:38 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council has voted — unlike the governments of several GCC states — against the opening of branches of foreign universities within the Kingdom, Arab News reports. Citing issues ranging from “cultural values,” and “mixing of the sexes,” though some noted that it might be better to bring the universities to Saudi Arabia than to expose Saudi students to foreign cultures through study abroad.

Shoura says no to foreign universities in Kingdom

JEDDAH: The Shoura Council has rejected the proposal of council member Saeed Al-Sheikh to permit foreign universities to open branches in the Kingdom due to concerns over breaching Saudi cultural traditions and gender segregation.

The decision was also based on the failure of the branches of universities in surrounding countries to transfer the latest technologies and the best professors.

According to the council, there is no need to open branches of foreign universities in the Kingdom due to the success of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program.

Ibrahim Abu Abah challenged the proposal, arguing that there are 40 government and private universities able to absorb high school graduates.

While Prince Khaled Al-Saud pointed out that opening foreign universities would require mixed academic environments, Sultan Al-Sultan supported the proposal, arguing that “continuing to graduate students in non-technical fields from our universities would impose a threat on national development.”

May:21:2015 - 09:11 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Under Saudi law, only Saudi nationals can own and operate businesses. That’s not the way it always works out, however. Instead, some Saudis “rent” their names for the purposes of registering businesses while all of the management is actually done by expats. That’s a crime — tasattur.

Not only is it a crime, Saudi Gazette reports, but it is also a major drain on the Saudi economy. An estimated SR 160 billion (US $42 billion) leaves Saudi Arabia in remittances to foreign workers’ home countries. Of that, 65% is thought to come from tasattur operations. That has to stop.

The government will be drafting new laws to more harshly punish both Saudis and the foreign workers involved in the scams.

Harsher laws to combat tasattur
Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The government is to introduce tough new measures to combat businesses solely run by expatriates in the name of a Saudi, otherwise known as tasattur, reported Al-Jazriah on Wednesday.

Sources said the Commerce Ministry would draft new laws in collaboration with the Interior Ministry.

The Commerce Ministry has been authorized to cooperate with all other concerned bodies to continuously spread awareness about the adverse effects of such ventures on the national economy and the punishments those involved could face. Under existing laws, Saudi citizens who enable a foreigner to make investments in their name are committing the illegal act of tasattur.

The sources said expatriates are banned from conducting any commercial, vocational, industrial, economic, agricultural, banking, educational, medical or transport activities using the names, commercial registrations or licenses of Saudi citizens.

May:21:2015 - 08:53 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Arab News reports that seven Saudi students have won eight medals at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The competition is among high school students. Saudi success is a good sign that long-needed changes in education are starting to take effect, at least at some schools. It is noteworthy, too, to point out the success of female students.

Saudi students win 8 medals at world event

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia achieved yet another accolade in scientific research at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF-2015) in Pittsburgh, US.

As many as 1,700 students from 75 countries around the world took part in the event. The KSA team won eight awards in various research areas. Abdul Jabbar Al-Hamoud from the Eastern Province won the first place in the field of botany, while two girl students — Rafal Bouqis and Ranad Bouqis — from the Makkah region won the fourth place in molecular and cellular biology.

Abdul Aziz Al Shahrani of Asir education also stood fourth in the field of medical science, while Lulua Ziyad Al-Shiha from Riyadh won the fourth place in botany.

Another Saudi, Noura Alfdag from Eastern Province secured the fourth slot in mathematics.

A special award was given to Maria Al-Kurdi from Riyadh in chemistry. Al-Hamoud was also adjudged best among the top five winners in botany, and also won a special award qualifying him to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden.

A complete list of award winners and the titles of their projects can be found at the link below. Talk about making one feel like a slacker!

Intel ISEF 2015 Grand Award winners

May:20:2015 - 11:00 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Saudi Gazette reports that seven senior officials in Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health are about to be fired and are under investigated for corruption. The charges include misuse of funds and favoritism.

7 senior health officials face the axe
Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — Seven senior officials of the Health Ministry are expected to be sacked prior to investigations on corruption charges, Al-Watan Arabic daily reported on Tuesday quoting ministry’s sources.

They said the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) has made some observations and remarks on the performance of the seven high-ranking officials related to corruption and the waste of public funds.

The sources said the accused violated the regulations of appointment in some programs and spent large sums of money on irrelevant conferences and seminars.

The officials were also accused of giving some employees allowances that they were not entitled to while depriving deserving staff of a pay raise.

Another piece in the paper, translated from the Arabic Al-Madina warns that King Salman is determined to rid the government of corruption. Too many officials, the article states, have escaped the consequences of their actions. King Salman, however, is taking a turn “180 degrees” different from the past.

Punishing corrupt officials

May:20:2015 - 10:32 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Saudi Arabia will conduct its next municipal elections on December 12, Arab News reports. The Municipal Election Committee has also established a timetable for voter and candidate registration. These elections — which are the first to include women as both voters and candidates (if any) — will permit 12 days for campaigning.

Civic poll on Dec. 12

JEDDAH: The third municipal election, which will see for the first time women participating as voters and candidates, will be held between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Dec. 12. The results will be out the following day.

“The Municipal Election Committee has set a timeframe for the polls, including the timings for registration of voters and candidates,” said Jedaie bin Nahar Al-Qahtani, spokesman of the election panel.

The whole election process, including campaign, would take three months. Registration of voters will be done between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. from Aug. 22 to Sept. 14, he said Registration of candidates will be from Aug. 30 to Sept. 17, the spokesman said.

May:18:2015 - 09:55 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Saudi Gazette reports that the sponsorship program for foreign workers (kafala) now in use in Saudi Arabia violates human rights law, according to the Saudi National Society for Human Rights. There are multiple failings ranging from employees not being given copies of their contracts to being deprived of pay. Many of these violations are also against Saudi law, but they continue without much in the way of official supervision and action.

Sponsorship system violates human rights, asserts NSHR
Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The kafala (sponsorship) system that the Labor Ministry is using for the recruitment and employment of expatriates is replete with human rights violations, the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has said in a report.

“There are 13 loopholes in the system that were behind the complaints the society has been receiving since its establishment in 2004,” the society told Makkah newspaper.

According to the report, about 67.8 percent of labor issues the society had dealt with were complaints by expatriates against their Saudi kafeels (sponsors).

The society said the various labor issues it was notified about during 2014 constituted about 6 percent of all the cases it had considered.

The society listed the following violations as a result of the kafala system:

May:18:2015 - 09:43 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

International copyright law (and the Saudi interpretation of it) is a bit of a mess these days, but that doesn’t mean that plagiarism is okay. Arab News reports that a number of Saudi “academic centers” are under fire for copying research done by others and allowing their clients to submit it as their own work. The government’s anti-corruption organization, Nazaha is cracking down. More needs to be done to protect intellectual property, experts say.

Nazaha slams student service centers

Most student service centers in the country are corrupt because they copy research without permission, according to participants at a workshop held in Riyadh recently.

The Community Partnership Forum on scientific integrity was organized by Imam Muhammad bin Saud University in partnership with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha).

Abdullah Abdul-Qader, deputy president of the Nazaha, called on the government to crack down on these centers by withdrawing their licenses if they are found to have copied the copyrighted work of researchers for their customers, according to a report in a local publication.

Abdulaziz Al-Swailem, vice president of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), said in a paper on ethics that researchers must ensure that they produce credible and quality work.

Firas Al-Madani, faculty member of the Northern Border University, said there is currently a lack of laws that protect intellectual property. Those laws that are currently in place have loopholes, he said.

May:10:2015 - 06:29 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

Saudi Gazette/Okaz report that Jeddah is again having trouble supplying drinking water to its residents. While the production of desalinated water is said to be sufficient, distribution is seen as the problem. As a result, people are turning to the black market, at considerable expense.

Water tanker costs SR500 as Jeddah water crisis worsens
Hussein Hazzazi | Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH – The water crisis in Jeddah has led black market prices for a 19-ton water tanker to rise to SR500, according to citizens. Informed sources blamed the National Water Company (NWC) for the ongoing problem.

They said the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) pumped sufficient quantities of water but the NWC-administered networks did not distribute the water to the districts, resulting in the crisis.

Residents of Jeddah said it was not reasonable for them to remain without water for so long. Saudi citizen Khaled Abdulkareem said residents were forced to go to the distribution points to pay for tankers, leading to overcrowding in the areas, especially in the evening.

He believed the timescales for distributing water in Jeddah were the main cause of the shortages. “This is because water does not reach some districts except after a month.

May:10:2015 - 06:22 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Arabia has no minimum age at which a woman can marry. Many Saudis think this needs correction, that minors need to be protected, and that the country does need to specify a minimum age for marriage.

Saudi Gazette, reprinting an AFP story, reports that Spain — the European country that used to have the lowest age — is raising the minimum from 14 years to 16. That is roughly the target Saudis are seeking. By showing that the world is closing in on a range of ages, the paper is encouraging the government to follow along.

Spain to raise marriage age from 14 to 16

MADRID — Spain is moving to raise the minimum age for marriage from 14 to 16 in a bid to boost protection of minors and bring the country in line with its European Union neighbors. The legislation was approved by the lower house of Parliament last month and was sent to the Senate on Friday for debate and likely approval over the coming months. Spanish law allows boys and girls to marry at 14 with permission from a judge. Without such consent, they must wait until they are 18. Spain has one of Europe’s lowest minimum ages for marriage in the EU, with most members setting it at 16.

May:09:2015 - 06:07 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Gazette translates a piece from the Arabic daily Al-Watan pointing out that Saudi actresses, faced with a dearth of acting opportunities in the Kingdom, are finding ways to perform. Some travel to other countries to take up their careers. Increasingly, they’re also turning to YouTube as a showcase for their performances.

The article goes on to note that tribal politics are being raised as a way to denigrate the women’s choices. Apparently, the daughters of the mighty tribes don’t do that sort of thing. Or so they say.

Why are some Saudi actresses appearing on YouTube?
Abdulmajeed Al-Zahrani | Al-Watan

Lujain Omran, the Saudi host of “Good Morning Arabs,” recently talked about an unusual subject. The rising star focused on Saudi actresses who have resorted to YouTube to showcase their skills. The report focused exclusively on these Saudi women.

Of course, Saudi and Gulf TV shows have recently featured Saudi women who have taken up acting as a profession. Some of the actresses mentioned in the report included Maryam Al-Ghamdi, Nirmeen Mohsin, Marwa Muhammad and Aseel Omran to mention but a few. But the strange thing is the appearance of many young Saudi women on YouTube.

May:09:2015 - 06:01 | Comments Off | Permalink
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