Saudi Gazette and other Saudi media are reporting that the US is currently producing more oil than any other country, including Saudi Arabia. Much of the increase in production is due to oil shale production. The reports says that the US became the biggest producer of natural gas in 2010.

US overtakes KSA as biggest oil producer

JEDDAH – US has turned the world’s biggest oil producer this year as extraction of oil from shale rocks reached a high, a Bank of America report said.

US production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed the production of both Saudi Arabia and Russia this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first half of this year. This output is expected to increase to a peak of 13.1 million barrels a day in 2019 and will remain at the same level for at least a decade.

US production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter, the bank said in a report today. The country became the world’s largest natural gas producer in 2010. The International Energy Agency said in June that the US was the biggest producer of oil and natural gas liquids.

“The US increase in supply is a very meaningful chunk of oil,” Francisco Blanch, the bank’s head of commodities research, said by phone from New York. “The shale boom is playing a key role in the US recovery. If the US didn’t have this energy supply, prices at the pump would be completely unaffordable.”


July:06:2014 - 07:23 | Comments Off | Permalink

As though the presence of ISIS in Iraq wasn’t enough to cause Saudi jitters, Saudi media are reporting attacks on the country’s southern border with Yemen. These attacks are assessed to be by Al-Qaeda and its surrogates.

Al Arabiya TV:

Al-Qaeda suspects blow themselves up in Saudi Arabia

Two suspected al-Qaeda militants blew themselves up early Saturday in southern Saudi Arabia after police surrounded them inside a government building.

Reports on casualties were not immediately available.

Saudi Arabia launched a massive crackdown on Al-Qaeda following a spate of deadly attacks in the kingdom from 2003-2006.

The incident comes a day after al-Qaeda linked militants attacked a border post near the border with Yemen. Al Arabiya News obtained on Friday exclusive pictures of the bodies of the gunmen who attacked the border post killing one Saudi border security officer and one Yemeni soldier.

Arab News:

3 attackers of Saudi border post killed
JEDDAH: MD Al-Sulami

A Saudi security officer and a Yemeni soldier have been killed in two separate attacks on border posts between the two countries, officials said.

The Interior Ministry said a border security patrol came under fire near the Wadia post in the southern province of Sharura, killing the unit’s chief.

Security forces gave chase, killing three of the attackers, while a fourth was wounded and captured, a ministry spokesman said.


July:05:2014 - 08:58 | Comments Off | Permalink

Arab News reports that Saudi Arabia is wasting a massive amount of food daily and that the wastage increases during Ramadan.

According to its story, Saudis waste 4,500 tons of food daily. The amount goes up during Ramadan as people prepare daily feasts with far more food than families and guests can eat. By one estimate, 30% of the food prepared for the meals following the daily fast ends up being thrown away.

Massive wastage ‘unacceptable’
JEDDAH: IRFAN MOHAMMED

The problem of food wastage in Ramadan has again surfaced with Makkah municipality having to gather 5,000 tons in the first three days of Ramadan.

According to one report, Saudis spend SR20 billion on Ramadan shopping, compared to SR6 billion they spend in other months.

Osama Al-Zaituny of the municipality told Arab News on Thursday that this was in addition to the collection of 28,000 sheep carcasses in two days.

He said the municipality has installed 45 waste compressors in central Makkah close to the Grand Mosque, and deployed 8,000 cleaners for the month.


July:04:2014 - 08:23 | Comments Off | Permalink

Claiming that Iraqi forces have left Iraq’s borders with Syria and Saudi Arabia — a claim Iraq denies — Saudi Arabia is sending 30,000 troops to prevent infiltration by ISIS-related forces. Reuters reports that the Saudi government considers its 800-mile border with Iraq to be vulnerable and is acting to protect it.

Saudi Arabia deploys 30,000 soldiers to border with Iraq
Sami Aboudi

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia deployed 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq after Iraqi soldiers abandoned the area, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said on Thursday, but Baghdad denied this and said the frontier remained under its full control.

The world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia shares an 800-km (500-mile) border with Iraq, where Islamic State insurgents and other Sunni Muslim militant groups seized towns and cities in a lightning advance last month.

King Abdullah has ordered all necessary measures to protect the kingdom against potential “terrorist threats”, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.


July:04:2014 - 08:17 | Comments Off | Permalink

The Pew Research Global Attitudes Project has taken a recent look at how the Islamic world view religious extremism. They see it increasingly dimly and are increasingly worried about it.

Attitudes in the countries surveyed have shown a decline in support for extremism on the whole, though the report points out that support for suicide bombings still holds strong minority support in several countries.

The polling was done before ISIS declared itself a caliphate. I suspect that the negative numbers would decline even more sharply were to polls to be held today.

Concerns about Islamic Extremism on the Rise in Middle East
Negative Opinions of al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah Widespread

As well-publicized bouts of violence, from civil war to suicide bombings, plague the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, concern about Islamic extremism is high among countries with substantial Muslim populations, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. And in the Middle East, concern is growing. Lebanese, Tunisians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Turks are all more worried about the extremist threat than they were a year ago.

Meanwhile, publics hold very negative opinions of well-known extremist groups, such as al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.

In Nigeria, the vast majority of respondents, both Muslims and Christians alike, have an unfavorable view of Boko Haram, the terrorist group that recently kidnapped hundreds of girls in the restive north of the country. And a majority of Pakistanis have an unfavorable view of the Taliban.

Few Muslims in most of the countries surveyed say that suicide bombing can often or sometimes be justified against civilian targets in order to defend Islam from its enemies. And support for the tactic has fallen in many countries over the last decade. Still, in some countries a substantial minority say that suicide bombing can be justified.

These are the main findings of a new Pew Research Center survey conducted among 14,244 respondents in 14 countries with significant Muslim populations from April 10 to May 25, 2014. The survey was conducted prior to the recent takeover of Mosul and other areas of Iraq by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The poll is reported in Arab News among other Saudi media, though Saudi Arabia was not among those countries polled.


July:03:2014 - 07:18 | Comments Off | Permalink

While the timing may not be the best, a young Saudi entrepreneur is trying out his stuff in the US by marketing camel milk, Arab News reports. It somehow seems apt that his milk suppliers — and the camel owners — are from the Amish community near Santa Monica. But who knows? Given that this is taking place in California, the launch pad for numerous innovations in technology and social behaviors, he might just succeed.

Saudi establishes camel milk firm in California

A young Saudi has established a company selling camel’s milk in the United States, despite the animals reportedly being the source of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.

According to a report in a Los Angeles newspaper, Walid Abdulwahab, 23, set up the company as part of his class project at the University of Southern California.

The lighthearted slogan of his company, Desert Farms, is “Make every day a humpday.”

Supplied by seven small camel farms, most of them owned by Amish, the Santa Monica-based company recently sold camel milk of $100,000, as it spreads its claims of nutritional and health benefits, the report stated.

“What we know about the camel milk is that, in terms of health, it outperforms every other dairy beverage,” Abdulwahab reportedly said.


July:02:2014 - 06:08 | Comments Off | Permalink

Arab News reports that Asharq Alawsat has a new editor-in-chief, Salman al-Dossary. Al-Dossary replaces Adel Al-Turaifi who moves on to Al Arabiya TV as deputy director general.

Al-Dossary named editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat

Salman Al-Dossary has been appointed editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat international Arabic daily. Abdullah Salim Bahamdan, chairman of the Saudi Research & Marketing Group, made the appointment following the approval of the company’s board of directors and endorsement of the Saudi Research & Publishing Company’s board of trustees. Al-Dossary will take charge on July 1.

Al-Dossary’s appointment came after the resignation of Dr. Adel Al-Turaifi as editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat following his appointment as deputy director general of Al-Arabiya Channel.

A management and economics graduate, Al-Dossary began his career with SRMG in 1998 as a freelance journalist with Al-Eqtisadiah before moving to Asharq Al-Awsat as its reporter in Bahrain in 2004. He was appointed editor in charge in the UAE in 2006. Three years later he became assistant editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat in its headquarters in London. In October 2011, he was appointed editor in chief of Al-Eqtisadiah business daily.


July:02:2014 - 06:02 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Following his removal as Deputy Minister of Defense, Khaled bin Bandar has been named as Chief of General Intelligence. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, meanwhile, was named as Advisor to King Abdullah.

The palace intrigues continue.

New Gigs for Prince Bandar and Prince Khalid
Patrick W. Ryan | SUSRIS

Two appointments were announced today in Saudi Arabia installing Prince Bandar bin Sultan as Advisor to King Abdullah and Prince Khalid bin Bandar to Chief of General Intelligence.

The naming of Prince Khalid as intelligence chief comes two days after he was relieved as Deputy Defense Minister – where he served for only six weeks — a move that spurred speculation about leadership realignment and future succession intrigue. The announcement noted that the action was taken at the recommendation of Crown Prince Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister.

King names new intelligence chief
ARAB NEWS

JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has tapped the former deputy defense minister to lead the Kingdom’s intelligence services.

The king named Prince Khaled bin Bandar to the post of chief of general intelligence in a decree on Monday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Prince Khaled was relieved of his post as deputy defense minister on Saturday, barely six weeks after he was appointed.

Prince Khaled was previously the governor of the Riyadh region, an important post he assumed in February 2013 that involves overseeing the capital and provides opportunities for direct contact with top officials and visiting dignitaries.

The king also named the former intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, as adviser and special envoy to the king.

Prince Bandar was ambassador to the US for 22 years before becoming director general of Saudi intelligence agency in July 2012.


July:01:2014 - 08:20 | Comments Off | Permalink

An interesting essay at The American Interest political blog today. It discusses an ad hoc Saudi group that tries to encourage critical thinking skills in the Kingdom as well as across the Middle East at large. It’s an uphill struggle as the culture as well as the education and political systems discourage critical thinking. Instead, they rely on things like the seniority of the speaker, historic precedent, and of course various fatawa that lock in beliefs and make them seemingly immune to any criticism. And the price of criticism can be high.

Learning Logic in the Middle East

Fledgling projects seek to fight Islamic extremism by introducing critical thinking and the scientific method to Arab societies. They may already be influencing education and government-run media

Joseph Braude

Whether a conflict involves enraged spouses or a nation embroiled in sectarian warfare, feuding parties can de-escalate by employing civil discourse and rational argumentation. They can talk and reason empathically, for example. They can call out each other’s logical fallacies and agree to stop using them. They can pinpoint irreconcilable differences, accept them, and negotiate a compromise. But doing so is hard enough in the heat of an emotional exchange; it is much harder under the yoke of a religious dictate, or in an environment where rational argumentation is neither taught nor even available to learn in the local language.

There are many such places, and one is Saudi Arabia, according to Omar al-Anazi, a 23-year-old medical student at King Abdelaziz University in the Saudi port city of Jedda. “When people talk to each other here,” he says, “too often they make arguments based on logical fallacies, impossible to resolve. It’s detrimental to the country to leave them that way.” In his view, an “ignorant movement” advanced by extremist clerics, reactionary media, and schoolteachers under their influence has effectively suppressed the use of logic and reason. It is possible to combat the movement, he says, by teaching critical thinking and the scientific method, and instilling a fascination with the many branches of science and technology which these techniques have enabled throughout history. In July 2013, Anazi and three friends launched a project aiming to do so: an online media platform called Asfar (“zeroes”) named after the world-altering numeral invented in ancient Babylon. Through audio, video, and prose, Asfar conveys ideas about logic and science in humorous, Saudi-inflected Arabic, tailored to the sensibilities of its audience.

There is a handful of projects like Asfar in the Arab world today, and more is riding on their success than the gratification of the volunteers who staff them. Amid massive bloodshed in Syria and Iraq, civil strife in Lebanon and Bahrain, political polarization in the post-Arab Spring states, and the proliferation of jihadist ideologies throughout North Africa and the Middle East, equipping Arab societies to think critically and negotiate their internal differences can help marginalize extremist groups, foster national reconciliation, and, by extension, improve regional stability and security. Asfar’s modest initial success as well as the challenges it appears to face provide a case in point as to what any homegrown Arab media effort to promote civil discourse would require in order to gain substantial ground.


June:30:2014 - 08:54 | Comments Off | Permalink

The Saudi government is now ready to set closing times for businesses across the Kingdom. A commission established to address the issue has come up with regulations that would see most shops close at 9:00PM. During Ramadan, when most social activity switches to nighttime, the closing hour will be 2:00AM.

Exceptions are made for 24-hour operations and recreational venues, including restaurants, but they will face closing at midnight or 1:00AM on holidays and weekends.

The principal reasoning behind the new opening and closing times is to make jobs in these sectors more attractive to Saudi employees, both male and female. Saudis, many of whom have family obligations, just aren’t interested in working until the wee hours.

Regulations for 9 p.m. shop closure finalized
Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — A high commission set up to develop the regulations ensuring retailers close at 9 p.m. has completed its task.

The commission is represented by a number of government bodies and the new regulations will oblige shops to trade from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The new regulations, however, have exempted stores in the central areas of Makkah and Madinah.

These businesses will be regulated by the city councils, which will also ensure they do not close any later than 2 a.m. during Ramadan, except for restaurants that are allowed to open until suhoor (the meal before starting the day’s fast).

Shops that are required to open for 24 hours will be regulated by a joint committee of the labor, interior, rural and municipal affairs ministries, while recreational centers, amusement parks and restaurants will close at midnight during the week and at 1 a.m. during the weekends and holidays.


June:30:2014 - 07:52 | Comments Off | Permalink

Just 45 days after his appointment as Deputy Minister of Defense, Pr. Khaled bin Bandar has been shown the door. A brief statement from the Royal Court announced his departure. Arab News carries the statement:

Deputy minister of defense relieved of position

Prince Khaled bin Bandar, deputy minister of defense, has been relieved of his position upon his request, said a royal decree issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on Saturday.

Prince Khaled, who was appointed deputy defense minister on May 14, 2014, was removed from the post on the recommendation of Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense.

King Abdullah issued another decree relieving Saud bin Saeed Al-Muthami from his position as state minister and Cabinet member for the Shoura Council affairs upon his request. Al-Muthami has been replaced by Mohammad bin Faisal Abusaq as the new state minister for Shoura affairs.

Ahmed Al Omran — known to us also as “Saudi Jeans” — points out in a Wall St. Journal article, that the announcement lacked the normal courtesy language of “upon his request”. This suggests that it was at the request of someone else. No replacement has yet been named.

… The royal decree sacking the deputy defense minister lacked the customary “upon his request” line usually used with departing members of the ruling family. This has stoked speculation about a power struggle at the ministry between him and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of the Crown Prince.


June:29:2014 - 11:38 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Ramadan Kareem


June:28:2014 - 23:59 | Comments Off | Permalink
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