Saudi Arabia is pumping oil as never before, Arab News reports. Saudi production is in line with the rest of OPEC, according to the article. Global oil prices continue to drop and when Iranian oil hits the market following the lifting of sanctions, it’s likely to decline further.

Despite lower prices, the article states, Saudi Arabia remains committed to its mega-projects in infrastructure development.

Saudi Arabia keeps oil output at record pace

JEDDAH: OPEC oil output reached the highest monthly level in recent history in July, a Reuters survey found on Friday, as Saudi Arabia and other key members show no sign of wavering in their focus on defending market share instead of prices.

The latest boost from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries adds to excess supply in the market without the significant rise in demand OPEC hopes will happen in the second half of the year and in 2016.

Saudi Arabia has kept output steady or higher than in June, which was a record, sources in the survey said, as Riyadh meets higher demand internationally and from domestic power plants and refineries.

Riyadh reported crude oil production of 10.6 million barrels a day in June in the monthly oil market report published by OPEC. This is an increase of more than 200,000 bpd on the previous month and its highest level since records began.

August:01:2015 - 07:44 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Arab News reports that an agreement has been reached between King Abdul Aziz City for Science & Technology and the Saudi Electric Company for the first meshing of solar power with the country’s electric grid. The goal is to reduce dependence on the country’s oil assets in meeting rising energy demand. Along the way, the project will seek to use homegrown talent, labor, and materials.

KACST gears up for KSA’s first solar power station

RIYADH: The King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday with the Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) and Taqnia Energy to launch the first standalone 50MW solar power station at Al-Aflaj.

KACST also inked another memorandum to establish a joint research and development center at the SEC distribution sector.

KACST President Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad Al-Saud, SEC CEO Ziad Mohammad Al-Sheeha and Taqnia Energy CEO Abdul Rahman Ali Al-Muhanna signed the two memorandums.

Al-Saud said the memorandum aims to provide alternative and safe sources of energy that would ensure providing fuel and help building a sustainable future through engaging science, research and energy-related industries in reducing the cost of generating electricity through solar energy.

July:31:2015 - 07:14 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Saudi Arabia’s lack of cinemas presents a huge barrier to Saudi filmmakers. What’s the point of making a film if no one’s going to see it? The options have been to go outside the country or to give up the quest.

Government-run Saudi TV is stepping in to offer a hand. According to this Arab News report, Saudi TV will be offering a showcase for Saudi-made films.

Young Saudi filmmakers’ works to be aired on TV
Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.

RIYADH: Movies produced by young and amateur Saudi filmmakers will be shown on Saudi Television starting in the middle of next week.

“The films will be shown daily to encourage young Saudi filmmakers,” said Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Eid, senior broadcaster at Saudi TV and general supervisor of Cultural TV channel. He added that if they get support for the screenings, they could scale great heights in filmmaking and make a name for themselves.

Al-Eid said that he met some of these young Saudi filmmakers five years ago in Dubai when they were participating in filmmaking, and some of them won regional and international awards.

“When I took over the cultural show at Saudi Television, I already knew their capabilities as filmmakers. I also knew that their films had sophisticated ideas,” he said.

July:31:2015 - 07:09 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

It’s known, in a fairly widespread manner, that Saudi Arabia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations. When a car with Saudi license plates was discovered in Jaffa, Israel last week, it set off a bit of a social media firestorm. The car, driven by an expat working in the KSA, set social media all atwitter. I suspect the car’s owner (and driver, if they are different) will be hearing about it from Saudi authorities and soon.

Photo of ‘Saudi’ car in Israel raises storm

JEDDAH: A Mercedes car with a Saudi number plate was spotted in Israel. The discovery led to intense discussion on social media websites on Tuesday.

According to reports, the car was spotted last week in Jaffa’s Clock Tower Square by Jacky Hugi, the Middle East editor for Israel’s Army Radio, who posted the picture on Twitter.

July:29:2015 - 09:25 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Al Arabiya TV carries an Agence France Presse story on a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health on a promising vaccine to counter MERS. The study has advanced to animal trials, including mice and monkeys, a necessary step before testing on humans can begin.

Study finds promising experimental MERS vaccine

An experimental vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) showed promising results in animal testing, sparking an immune system response that could lead to a vaccine for people, researchers said Tuesday.

Currently there are no licensed vaccines for MERS, which first appeared in 2012 and has caused numerous scares including a recent deadly outbreak in South Korea.

Vaccinated mice produced antibodies that neutralized MERS strains, according to a study from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The vaccines that caused the largest immune responses in mice were then administered to monkeys.

July:29:2015 - 09:14 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

There’s been a recent media splash over portions of an ancient Quran discovered in a collection at Birmingham University in the UK. Some of the claims about it have been a bit extravagant, such as claiming it as “the world’s oldest.”

Saudi scholars think the reports are mistaken, according to this story from Saudi Gazette. The scholars point out that there are certain historical discrepancies such as the use of red ink (not appropriate for the period) and believe the Birmingham researchers should have carbon-dated the ink, not the parchments.

Experts doubt oldest Qur’an claim
Saudi Gazette report

MAKKAH — Historians and manuscript experts have cast doubt on the credibility of the recent Birmingham University claim that it had discovered the oldest copy of the Qur’an.

The university recently showed two leaves of parchment with Qur’anic verses from chapter 18-20 in legible Hijazi script. It said the verses could have be scribbled somewhere between 568 AD and 645 AD.

The university’s claims mean that the verses were written close to the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was widely believed to have lived between 570 AD and 632 AD.

Quoting the experts, Makkah daily said on Sunday that the manuscript might have possibly been written after the time of the Prophet (pbuh) due to several factors.

Experts contend that during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) there was no separation between the Surahs (chapters) in red colors, no red ink was used in writing “Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem” with which a Surah begins and that the holy book itself was not put in its today’s order.

July:27:2015 - 07:54 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Once again, the government of Saudi Arabia is calling for all nations to enforce laws prohibiting blasphemy. Saudi Gazette carries a story from the official Saudi Press Agency reporting on a call made at a European symposium. The story does not report on what Iceland, which earlier this month repealed its laws against blasphemy, had to say.

Criminalize vilification of religious symbols, says Saudi official

SPA: LILLE, France — Saudi Arabia has reiterated its call on the international community to criminalize any act vilifying religious beliefs and symbols of faith as well as all kinds of discrimination based on religion.

Addressing an international symposium on media coverage of religious symbols based on international law, which started in this French city on Saturday, a senior Saudi official said the Kingdom emphasized years ago that the international community must act urgently to confront ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance, which has become widespread in all communities and peoples of the world.

“We have made it clear that freedom of expression without limits or restrictions would lead to violation and abuse of religious and ideological rights,” said Abdulmajeed Al-Omari, director for external relations at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

July:26:2015 - 08:54 | Comments Off | Permalink

Al Arabiya TV carries an Asharq Alawsat column by Abdulrahman al-Rashed exploring how the group variously known as ISIS or Daesh is very wittingly playing word games to its benefit. By insisting on the use of the name “Islamic State,” the group attempts to give itself unearned legitimacy, wrapping itself in the honor of Islam. This, al-Rashed says, is doubly pernicious. Not only does it delude young Muslims into thinking the group righteous, but it provide an easy example for Islamophobes to point out and say, “See what Muslims really are?!”

ISIS: Why should we care about the acronym?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Many governments have begun urging the media to not use the “ISIS” acronym. The terrorist organization started using this acronym two years ago, when its leader declared himself a caliphate and changed the name of his group from ISI (Islamic State of Iraq) to ISIS in order to expand from Iraq to include Syria.

When the group’s formation was announced in April 2013 under the appellation of the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, the media and specifically Al Arabiya News Channel decided to call it as “Daesh” (the Arabic abbreviation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). We are all aware that ISIS wants to use us, as media platforms around the world, to build a picture that serves its purposes. A lot of people objected to the appellation and the coverage because it is insulting the true defenders of Islam against the Western occupiers or the oppressed Sunni community. It offended the defenders of the people of al-Anbar or the rebels against al-Assad regime in Syria. In fact, ISIS activities confused people initially, but most of them discovered later on that ISIS is nothing but the same al-Qaeda evil group, despite adopting rightful issues.

ISIS (Daesh in Arabic) is not a cynical label as said and written in the Western media. It is just the acronym of the appellation. The group is certainly against this acronym because it intentionally wants to be known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, to rally around it Muslims from all over the world.

July:25:2015 - 09:07 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

According to this Saudi Gazette report, Saudi Arabia believes the media and commentators are overplaying the recent visit by Hamas leaders to the Kingdom. The visit was purely a religious pilgrimage, according to the country’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, and there were no meetings between Hamas and the government.

Position on Hamas unchanged: Al-Jubeir

SAUDI ARABIA on Thursday played down the significance of a visit by Hamas leaders, saying it was only a religious pilgrimage and Riyadh’s position on the Palestinian Islamist movement was unchanged.

“There was no (political) visit by Hamas to the Kingdom,” Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said at a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry.

The official Saudi Press Agency reported last Saturday on the rare Hamas visit.

“A group from Hamas, including (politburo chief) Khaled Meshaal… visited Makkah for Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage). They performed the Eid prayers there and offered Eid greetings to the King,” Jubeir said. “There were no meetings.”

Jubeir described as inaccurate and exaggerated media reports that the visit was political in nature.

July:24:2015 - 08:09 | Comments Off | Permalink

Al Arabiya TV is featuring its exclusive interview with American Secretary of State John Kerry, pointing out his qualms about recent statements by Iran’s Supreme Leader. Kerry is still selling the nuclear accord, but appears to be acknowledging that regional states’ concerns aren’t just moaning about it.

Kerry slams ‘disturbing’ Khamenei speech

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday said recent anti-U.S. remarks from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were “disturbing,” adding that the United States was “not kidding about the importance of pushing back against extremism.”

In an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel’s Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, Kerry discussed Khamenei’s speech, made four days after Iran and world powers signed an accord designed to thwart Tehran’s nuclear program.

Khamenei had said his country would continue to support its regional friends despite its recent nuclear deal with world powers, including “the oppressed Palestinian nation, Yemen, Syria, Iraq (and) Bahrain.”

Full transcript of Al Arabiya interview with Secretary of State John Kerry

July:21:2015 - 07:40 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

Saudi Gazette reports on Hatun Madani, a Saudi woman making a splash in the UAE with her Saudi-inspired restaurant. While she would have had a hard time — if not an impossible one — opening her own restaurant in the Kingdom, she was able to do so in the neighboring UAE. It’s a demonstration that Saudi women aren’t incapable, but they are handicapped by their society that refuses to see them as adult actors, competent to lead their own lives.

Saudi restaurateur making it big in Dubai

THE past few years have seen the coming in numerous eating joints. Since 2012, the restaurants and hotels sector has been one of the highest growing sector in Dubai’s economy. About 19,000 more F&B outlets are expected in the UAE by 2019, according to Euromonitor International, which reported that there are currently over 6000 outlets in the Emirates. Many of these new food establishments come and go, some are still talked about while some are forgotten. But there are a few that strike the right chord with the food lovers. One such new restaurant is Hatun Cuisine, and it looks like it‘s here to stay.

Opened on June 4, 2015 by master chef Hatun Madani, the brand ambassador of Mazola, Hatun Cuisine serves authentic Saudi inspired home-cooked food that is healthy and delicious. After 2 of her children were diagnosed with diabetes at an early stage, Hatun was inspired to switch to healthy cooking, but without compromising on the taste. And now she has extended this vision to her menu at the restaurant. “Flavor is always top priority when eating out, for casual diners and food enthusiasts alike. While many think it is only achievable by compromising on the health quotient, I beg to differ,” said Hatun Madni, the mastermind behind Hatun Cuisine. “My food is healthy and delicious, while being true to its authentic Hijazi roots,” she added.

July:20:2015 - 06:32 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Gazette/Okaz report that Saudi telecommunication companies are claiming to have lost a quarter-billion riyals in business over the Eid to text messaging. Disruptive technologies like social media do just that: disrupt. The telcoms aren’t going to put that horse back in the barn, no matter how much they whine.

Telecom firms lose SR250m during Eid due to WhatsApp
Saleh Al-Zahrani | Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Telecommunication companies in the Kingdom must have lost about SR250 million during Eid festivities this year due to a huge increase in the use of WhatsApp texting messages to convey Eid greetings, a noted economist has said.

In the not so distant past, Eid greetings were being sent by using SMS via mobile phones. But that system is outdated and completely out of sync with the present system of texting messages through WhatsApp, which, of course, is free of charge.

Muhammad Shammakh said telecommunication companies used to make a profit of at least SR250 million during the feast from the exchange of Eid greetings only through SMS service. This is through at least one billion messages. Shammakh said despite the recent uproar regarding cancellation of WhatsApp service due to complaints by companies that they will lose over SR3 billion, the service still exists and thrives. He said at the pace with which technological development is taking place around the world, the latest telecommunication services will make people’s life much easier and more comfortable.

July:20:2015 - 06:24 | Comments Off | Permalink
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