Changes taking place within the National Gas Company, which supplies gas cylinders to the population of Jeddah, have led to an acute shortage, Arab News reports.

Cooking gas crisis deepens in Jeddah

Jeddah residents are complaining about the shortage of cooking gas for the third day in a row as outlets in the city have halted supplies.

A source said that the National Gas Company has laid off a number of its employees in a bid to streamline the company, which has led to the delays in the supply and delivery of the cooking fuel to the residents. Trucks have also been forced to wait for long periods of time at distribution points, they said.

Decline in production and a shortage of gas cylinders is also affecting the distribution process while the packing and filling departments are no longer fully operational due to being understaffed, the source said. “A staffing problem exists across all branches of the company with more than 30 employees having been laid off at the Jeddah branch alone,” he said.

January:31:2015 - 11:41 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Arab News reports that Saudi Arabia’s population now stands at 30.8 million, with one-third of that number being expats working or living in the Kingdom. The reported figures, taken from an analysis by the Saudi Bureau of Statistics, does not break down the male/female population figures, though those numbers are likely available elsewhere.

KSA population is 30.8m; 33% expats

Saudi Arabia’s population stood at 30.8 million at the end of 2014, a 2.6 percent rise from 2013, according to data released by the Kingdom’s Central Department of Statistics and Information (CDSI).

There were 20.7 million Saudis, making up 67 percent of the population, while the number of foreigners stood at 10.1 million or 33 percent, according to an analysis conducted by the economics reporting unit of Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.

The population had grown by 2.7 percent from 2012 to 2013, amounting to 29.2 million people. This consisted of 20.3 million Saudis and 9.7 million foreigners.

January:31:2015 - 11:35 | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Saudi Gazette runs a release from the Saudi Press Agency reporting that two Americans traveling by car in Al-Ahsa were fired upon. At least one was wounded and brought to a nearby hospital. The identities of the Americans, nor their jobs or reason for being in the area are reported. Nor are any motives being suggested.

Two Americans come under gunfire

HASA — Two US citizens came under gunfire Friday in the Eastern Province and one of them was wounded, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The wounded American was rushed to hospital and “is in stable condition,” police said. It was not immediately known who shot at them.

The two were traveling in a car on Salah Al-Deen Al-Ayoubi Road in Al-Ahsa governorate at the time of the attack, said a police spokesman.

The attack took place around 2 p.m. and an investigation is underway, he said.

In its report, Arab News hints that the attack may have been ISIS-related:

American man wounded in Al-Ahsa shooting

January:31:2015 - 11:15 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Al Arabiya TV (as other Saudi media) report on the Cabinet shake-up and other measures being taken by King Salman as he settles into position. The article leads with the fact that government employees and retirees are getting bonus of two months’ salary as will students and the handicapped.

The article goes on to note that two of the former king’s sons have been removed from their positions; the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education are to be merged (under a new Minister); there’s a new head for the religious police, Minister of Islamic Affairs, and Minister of Information, among other changes.

Saudi King Salman issues major royal orders

Saudi Arabia’s newly inaugurated King Salman bin Abdulaziz has issued a series of landmark orders that ushered in fresh new faces into state institutions and awarded financial support for many Saudis.

And the king ordered a total of $30 billion (112 billion Saudi Riyals) spending in the oil rich kingdom.

The king ordered a lavish payout to all state employees on Thursday and reshuffled some top government jobs while keeping in place the oil, foreign, finance, defense and interior ministers.

The top oil exporter will pay two months bonus salary to all state employees and pension to retired government workers, he said in a series of decrees read aloud on state television a week after Salman succeeded his brother Abdullah as king.

January:30:2015 - 08:05 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Saudi media are full of encomia for the late King Abdullah. Articles and op-eds list and extol his virtues and the effects that he had on Saudi Arabia, its government, and society.

The articles, too, go to lengths noting the smooth transition of power to King Salman and the graceful way in which the successor generation is now in place to take over when the time comes. Part of this is to offer reassurance to the Saudi people; part is to thumb a nose at those expecting chaos. Part, of course, is hopeful thinking for the future.

From Asharq Alawsat:

The Saudi Succession

Opinion: Reassuring the People of Saudi Arabia

Opinion: The Passing of a Decisive King

Opinion: Saudi succession ensures stability

From Saudi Gazette:

‘Smooth transfer of power highlights Kingdom’s tradition’

Stability is the name of Saudi future

From Arab News:

King Abdullah remembered for his many achievements

Saudi Press Roundup

January:25:2015 - 08:38 | Comments & Trackbacks (4) | Permalink

Arab News offers a piece explaining who the new Deputy Crown Prince — second in line to the throne — Prince Muhammed bin Naif is. The article gives a gloss on his involvement with the government and the various jobs he has held, as well as his role in Saudi Arabia’s anti-terrorism efforts. It does not mention that he has survived four assassination attempts.

Prince Mohammed’s appointment as deputy crown prince welcomed

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman appointed Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif as the second-in-line to the throne, according to a royal decree issued Friday.

Prince Mohammed will be the deputy crown prince in addition to his present portfolio as the minister of interior.

Prince Mohammed bin Naif was born in Jeddah on Aug. 30, 1959. The prince is the son of the late Crown Prince Naif.

During his primary, preparatory and secondary education, Prince Muhammed studied at the Capital Institute in Riyadh. Then he studied in the United States during the university stage. In 1401, he obtained the BA degree in political science from Lewis and Clark faculty in Portland. He attended a number of advanced military courses related to anti-terrorism in the Kingdom and abroad.

January:24:2015 - 07:59 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

There are those within conservative Islam who argue that women have no place when it comes to discussing or analyzing Islam; that’s men’s work. They may have custom on their side, but they don’t have history.

Saudi Gazette translates an article from the Arabic daily Al-Hayat in which the writer points out the actual historic role women have played in the intellectual sphere of Islam.

Ibn Hajr, a man tutored by women
Zainab Ghasib | Al-Hayat

While the rights of women are being violated and so-called scholars who pretend they are learned continue to belittle and distort the image of women, Islam has painted a colorful image of women since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and up until the last days of the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258).

Women began to be viewed with disrespect during the Ottoman times in which most rulers enjoyed numerous slave girls and mistresses. Nevertheless, even in that era there were many well-educated female scholars. During the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) there lived a woman called Sakina Al-Hussain (may Allah be pleased with her). She held classes regularly at her home that were attended by poets, intellectuals and thinkers—people who wanted to learn from her. She judged poets and critiqued poems. More importantly, no thinker or scholar opposed her even though there were many great scholars around at that time.

There was another great woman named Wallada Al-Mostakfi who lived during the last days of the Umayyad Caliphs. She had also opened her home to scholars, thinkers and intellectuals who attended her sessions and learned from her.

January:24:2015 - 07:51 | Comments Off | Permalink

Al Arabiya TV provides a pictorial history of King Salman’s political engagement over the decades:

King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s path to the throne in pictures

January:24:2015 - 07:41 | Comments Off | Permalink

Al Arabiya TV reports that the public ceremony in which citizens, in various groups, pledge their allegiance to the new King and Crown Prince have taken place in Riyadh. This step assures the public that there are no difficulties with their accession and that they will be considered the legitimate ruler and successor.

Saudis pledge allegiance to new king, crown prince

New Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz received pledges of allegiance from citizens on Friday evening, after the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz passed away in the early hours of the morning.

Saudi citizens flocked to Governance Palace in Riyadh to pledge their allegiance for King Salman and Crown Prince Muqrin.

After pledging his allegiance, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Asheikh said: “On this blessed day, we pledge allegiance to King Salman bin Abdul Aziz as the legitimate king, Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz as crown prince, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz as deputy crown prince.”

International media are reporting that Pres. Obama is cutting short his visit to India in order to travel to Riyadh, where he will extend his condolences to the royal family. The gaffe of not sending anyone to Paris in the commemorative march following the Charlie-Hebdo tragedy, I think, was not to be repeated.

January:24:2015 - 07:28 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Gazette reports that young Saudi women are not content to lead the kind of lives their mothers led. As a result, many are choosing to remain single into their 20s and 30s instead of being married and becoming mothers themselves in their teens. Not everyone is pleased.

Growing number of Saudi single women challenge tradition

JEDDAH — Amna Fatani knows she wants a brilliant career and a life different from that of Saudi women of her mother’s generation who married early, usually to a husband not of their own choosing.

The 27-year-old, studying for her master’s degree at Georgetown University in Washington and hoping to someday realize her ambitions, is part of a growing number of Saudi women choosing to remain single through their 20s and into their 30s as they pursue other ambitions.

The trend has ruffled conservatives who see it as an affront to the very foundations of the Kingdom, where rigid tribal codes have long dictated the terms of marriage.

“My friends and I have reached a point (where) we’re very specific about what we want,” she said. “I need someone who trusts that if I need to do something, I can make the decision to ask for help or choose to do it alone.”

Saudi women stand at the center of a societal pivot between the Kingdom’s push for greater women’s education and rights to work, and laws that give men final say over their lives.

January:22:2015 - 11:34 | Comments Off | Permalink

In an op-ed for Asharq Alawsat (here reprinted by Al Arabiya TV), Abdulrahman Al-Rashed points to Saudi Arabia’s long struggle with religious extremism (for certain values of “extreme”). He notes that just 17 years after the founding of the country, Saudi leaders had to resort to violence to put down a revolt by the Ikhwan, the tribal group that had militarily supported the cause of the Al-Saud, but which had now become a problem when it challenged the government over its policies.

From the Brotherhood of Sabilla to ISIS
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda and similar groups are not really states the sense we understand. They are an idea of extremism that unites those who subscribe to it and those who support it in different forms, either with bullets, dollars, words or emotions. There are extremists who may be against taking up weapons, but they agree with violent groups on the ultimate idea and goal, even if they differ on the means to use.

Unlike what’s common in political analysis, extremism and extremists have always represented a threat to the Saudi Arabia. But this truth gets lost in a sea of accusations and the whole image is blurred even to the most well-informed people on the Middle East and Saudi Arabia in particular. This false historical understanding of the friend and the foe is no longer limited to foreigners and Arab propagandists. This false understanding has entered Saudi Arabia itself where some believe it and other extremists promote it. I think extremism is the biggest enemy and is the biggest threat to Saudi Arabia. This is why it’s in our interest to systematically, institutionally and continuously fight it.

January:22:2015 - 11:26 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

The British newspaper The Telegraph runs an article — complete with infographic — on the 600-mile-long fence Saudi Arabia is constructing along its border with Iraq. The article notes that the fence will serve to keep ISIS militants out of the Kingdom. It will also make it more difficult for adventurous young Saudis to go north for purposes of jihad.

Revealed: Saudi Arabia’s ‘Great Wall’ to keep out Isil
Richard Spencer

When a raiding party from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacked a Saudi border post last week, it was no mere hit on a desert outpost.

The jihadists were launching an assault on the new, highest profile effort by Saudi Arabia to insulate itself from the chaos engulfing its neighbours.

The Saudis are building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall” – a combined fence and ditch – to separates the country from Iraq to the north.

Much of the area on the Iraqi side is now controlled by Isil, which regards the ultimate capture of Saudi Arabia, home to the “Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal.

The proposal had been discussed since 2006, at the height of the Iraqi civil war, but work began in September last year after Isil’s charge through much of the west and north of the country gave it a substantial land border with the Kingdom to the south.

January:16:2015 - 08:39 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink
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