News Updates

Saudi CP leads in Time Person of the Year 2017 poll

Saudi Crown Prince, Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud could be crowned Time Person of the Year 2017, according to Sabq newspaper.

Prince Mohammed is leading the polls to choose the most influential personality to make a mark in the world this year, obtaining 21 per cent of the votes polled so far.

The list of 33 nominees which features US President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, also includes celebrities, political figures and other personalities.

Prince Mohammed, the only nominated Arab personality on the list, is followed by Me Too, with just 6pc of the votes polled so far.

#Me Too which went viral was launched to denounce sexual assault and harassment, in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ranked third with 5pc of the votes polled, followed by Hillary Clinton and Putin, with 4pc each.

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Kuwait- Saudi Crown Prince hails unity in strong message against terrorism

MENAFN – Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) RIYADH, Nov 26 (KUNA) — More than 40 nations have sent a poignant message that Islamic nations stand united in the fight against terrorism, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud said Sunday.

Speaking during the first meeting of defense ministers of the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), where a Kuwaiti delegation headed by defense minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah is present, the Saudi Crown Prince stressed that “the Islamic faith will never be sullied.” Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who is also the Kingdom’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, described the meeting as “very important,” given how terrorism has run rampant and unchecked in the last few years.

On a related note, he extended his heartfelt condolences to the people of Egypt in the wake of an attack on a mosque in the country’s northern Sinai Peninsula, where more than 200 people lost their lives in what appeared to be the deadliest assault on Egyptian civilians.

Meanwhile, the Islamic coalition’s military commander and retired Pakistani General Raheel Sharif said that the Islamic military alliance was formed due to the complexity of the fight against terrorism.

Officials from 41 nations have assembled for the IMCTC meeting, which outlines efforts and initiatives taken to keep terrorism at bay.


Saudi academic receives global recognition for space research

RIYADH: The general supervisor of the program management office for King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Dr. Khaled Al-Hussan, received a seat at the International Academy of Astronautics for his aerospace research.
Al-Hussan supervised Saudi satellites launched by KACST in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014.
He was also honored with an honorary award for his personal contributions to the development and production of the Antonov 132D joint venture between KACST and Antonov Company in 2017.
He was also selected for the Professor of the Year award from 1998 to 2003 by many engineering departments (civil, environmental, mechanical, space) for his strong academic skills.
More than 100 high-impact scientific papers were cited in the International Scientific Indexing. He registered 40 patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
His scientific publications contributed to the development of a number of products in aviation and industry. He worked on the development of the principles of flow separation reductions. He also used developed flow as an alternative to the use of aircraft control surfaces.
In addition, Dr. Al-Hussan participated in the development of an engine via explosion technique, as well as different and unique aircraft vehicles that could be applied in the aviation industry in the near future.
He also led research teams in more than 50 projects at KACST, in addition to his contributions in various fields of science and technology recognized locally and internationally.
Among its members, the International Academy of Astronautics includes the first Arab astronaut, Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed, president of KACST.

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Saudi king to relinquish throne to son within next two nights: Report

Saudi King Salman reportedly plans to relinquish power in favor of his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has recently launched a self-promotion campaign under the cover of tackling high-level corruption.

Rai al-Youm, an Arab world digital news and opinion website, reported on Wednesday that the king will announce the decision within “the next two nights.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Saudi-owned television news channel Al-Arabiya had announced the news in a Twitter message, but it retracted the post hours later.

Political analysts say the regime in Riyadh is apparently seeking to test the waters and examine public reaction regarding a surprise shift in power.

Since the establishment of Saudi Arabia as an absolute monarchy in 1932, the system has been effectively known as a hereditary dictatorship and monarchy.

The expected development marks a change in the order of succession in Saudi Arabia from lateral lines of elderly brothers to a vertical order under which the king hands power to his favorite son.

PressTV-Saudi Arabia’s game of thrones
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched high-drama social and economic projects. What does he really have his eyes on?

Speculation of King Salman’s possible abdication surfaced in late June, when the monarch deposed his nephew, then deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef as the heir to the throne and offered the position to his favorite son, in what analysts described as a “political earthquake” back then.

On the same day that King Salman replaced bin Nayef with his own son, a well-known Saudi online activist, known on Twitter as @mujtahidd, predicted that King Salman would renounce power in favor of his son.

The whistleblower has already leaked documents indicating high-level corruption inside the Saudi royal family.

In early September, the website of Lebanon’s al-Manar channel reported that the 32-year-old bin Salman had formed a team of aides to prepare the kingdom for celebrating his succession to power as the new king.

The paper quoted sources close to the royal family as saying that King Salman was due to step down over his health issues. The sources then noted that bin Salman had ordered the kingdom’s security officials to increase supervision of royal figures to prevent any coup.

Since replacing his cousin bin Nayef in June, bin Salman has embarked on a campaign to consolidate power, taking on rivals within the royal family.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (R), then Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (C), and then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) attend a swearing-in ceremony for new cabinet ministers and ambassadors in Riyadh on April 24, 2017. (Photo by the Saudi Royal Palace)

Late Saturday, bin Salman sent shockwaves through the kingdom when he fired senior ministers and had dozens of the country’s richest men detained, ostensibly on the grounds of fighting corruption. The arrests included his cousin and one of the world’s richest men, al-Waleed bin Talal.

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday voiced serious concern over the recent arrests in Saudi Arabia.

Analysts say the targeting of Saudi Arabia’s long-standing elite represents a shift from family rule to a more authoritarian style of governance based on a single man.

Riyadh has taken on more aggressive policies since bin Salman’s elevation to the position of defense minister and deputy crown prince in 2015, and later to the position of crown prince.

The kingdom is currently struggling with plummeting oil prices. The Al Saud regime also faces criticism over its deadly military campaign against neighboring Yemen, which it launched on March 26, 2015.

Many also see Riyadh’s policies as a major cause of the crises unfolding in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.

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Saudi Arabia’s Corruption Crackdown Could Be Hugely Profitable for the Kingdom

The Saudi administration’s crackdown on alleged corruption is about to include a massive asset seizure, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed sources as saying the government was planning to seize up to $800 billion in cash and assets, on the basis that they were amassed through corruption.

The kingdom’s reform-minded young crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman al Saud, has in recent days moved to consolidate his power by taking on a variety of potential threats. Having already cracked down on critics, including those in the clergy and media, in September, the government last weekend arrested some of Saudia Arabia’s richest men, including the prominent investor Alwaleed bin Talal.

Prince Mohammed’s power play comes with the endorsement of U.S. president Donald Trump, which many have theorized is tied to the potential flotation of Saudi oil giant Aramco on the New York Stock Exchange—an uncertain outcome, given the transparency requirements that would accompany it.

Apart from helping the crown prince secure the throne, the crackdown could also bring a much-needed financial boost to the state coffers, which have been hit by low oil prices.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority said Tuesday that it had frozen some people’s bank accounts, while their corruption charges run their course. The WSJ reported that the government may be able to reclaim as much as $800 billion in assets.

However, a lot of those assets are abroad, which will make it more difficult to pull them in. The government has banned many people, including royals, from leaving Saudi Arabia for the moment.

Apart from Prince Alwaleed, an investor in the likes of Apple (AAPL, -0.22%) and Twitter (TWTR, +1.58%), the crackdown also nabbed Bakr bin Ladin, the chairman of the Saudi Binladin construction group (and the half-brother of Osama bin Laden). According to the WSJ, he faces bribery charges connected with his firm’s contract for expanding the grounds of the Great Mosque in Mecca.


Saudi crown prince anti-corruption group arrests 11 princes including billionaire bin Talal

A new Saudi anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has detained 11 princes, four sitting ministers and dozens of former ministers.

The committee has announced fresh investigations into the 2009 Jeddah floods and the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

According to media reports, the committee has been given the authority to investigate, arrest, ban from travel, disclose and freeze accounts and portfolios, track funds and assets of individuals involved in corruption.

The Saudi Economy and Planning Minister, Adel bin Mohammed Faqih and National Guard Minister, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz were also sacked.

Eleven princes including prominent billionaire investor, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and dozens of current and former ministers were arrested in Saudi Arabia after the formation of an anti-corruption committee by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

The three ousted ministers were replaced, with Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Ayyaf Al Muqren becoming National Guard minister, Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri becoming the Economy and Planning Minister, and Vice Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili taking on the role of Naval Forces Commander.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is seen leaving the High Court in London in this July 2, 2013 file photograph. A billionaire Saudi prince lost a London court battle on July 31, 2013 when a judge ordered that he should pay a $10-million commission linked to the sale of a luxurious private jet to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The High Court ruling is an embarrassment for Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who gave evidence in person for two days at the trial earlier this month.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
According to reports, Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is expected to send shockwaves both through the Kingdom and the world’s major financial centers as he controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, with major stakes in News Corp, Citigroup, Twitter and many other well-known companies.
The prince also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.

The arrests are being viewed as the latest move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son and top adviser of King Salman.


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Offers its Condolences to the New York City Victims

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, sent an official cable extending condolences to President Donald Trump, president of the United States of America, for the truck-ramming attack in New York City, which resulted in fatalities and injuries.

In addition to extending its sympathies, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia condemns the attacks and reinforces its domestic, regional, as well as, international commitment to combating extremism in all forms and will continue its long-standing security cooperation with the United States of America to achieve these joint aims. His Royal Highness Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States of America, reiterated the Kingdom’s vigilance: “Our condolences to the City of New York and the families impacted by this violent act of terrorism. Extremism in all forms must be stopped. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues its commitment to do so by working with: international organizations, such as the United Nations, in establishing the Counter Terrorism Center; bilaterally, the United States of America in co-chairing the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, among others; and, in the Kingdom with the establishment of Etidal, the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology.”


Saudi futuristic vision dazzles corporate honchos

Riyadh — From a holographic lion to talking robots and flying taxis, Saudi Arabia has dazzled investors with plans for hi-tech “giga projects”.

The Kingdom has revealed plans to build NEOM, a mega project billed as a regional Silicon Valley, in addition to an entertainment city in Riyadh that would rival Walt Disney and the Red Sea project, a reef-fringed resort destination.

The blueprints for the projects were on display to 3,500 corporate honchos at this week’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) — dubbed “Davos in the Desert” — that sought to project the Kingdom as a business destination.

The projects, worth hundreds of billions of dollars, are the brainchild of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier, minister of defense, chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), who is the chief architect of the sweeping Vision 2030 reform program.

To demonstrate the change he envisions, he held up an old Nokia in one hand and a stylish iPhone in the other at the FII summit, a comparison that resonates with gadget-obsessed millennials.

The $500-billion NEOM, which means “new future” in a combination of English and Arabic abbreviations, will be a biotech and digital hub spread over 26,500 square kilometers (10,000 sq miles) in an area facing Jordan and Egypt.

In a slick promotional video featuring the project, women were seen jogging and working alongside men in laboratories. Its service economy will be staffed by robots, it said. And in a move to display that ambition, Saudi Arabia this week granted citizenship to a robot named Sophia.

The Crown Prince said the regulatory framework for NEOM will be designed by the private sector to encourage investment.

The Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which aims to double its assets to nearly $400 billion by 2020, will be the primary investor in the projects.

Some private sector beneficiaries of PIF, such as Richard Branson have also pledged to invest.

“For the first time Saudi Arabia is looking not at what’s in the ground but outside,” said Brian Ackerman, an American landscape architect and designer who attended FII.

“It’s not the mountains, oceans, driverless cars and robots that’s inspiring, it’s the vision. The leadership is saying: ‘Come on, jump on this train.’ That’s step one.” — AFP


China Is Eyeballing A Major Strategic Investment In Saudi Arabia’s Oil

Since the election of Donald Trump, relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States have seemingly returned to their halcyon days. Saudi officials have been energized by Trump’s desire to roll back Iranian influence and his support for Saudi economic reforms, and they are enthusiastic about the two countries’ newfound unity of purpose.
But Saudi Arabia is not just being courted by the Trump administration. Without the pomp and circumstance of the Riyadh summit, where Trump addressed representatives from across the Muslim world earlier this year, the Chinese government is taking quiet steps to bring Saudi Arabia’s hydrocarbon reserves firmly into its orbit.
Through its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative and a reported offer to invest in the kingdom’s state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, the Chinese are laying the groundwork for a profound economic shift in the Middle East and the world.
As it has grown over the last three decades, China has slowly become a much more important energy partner to Saudi Arabia and Gulf states. Its emergence as an economic powerhouse has increasingly fueled its ambition to dictate the rules of the energy market: In recent years, it has scaled down its share of energy imports from OPEC members in favor of non-OPEC countries, primarily due to its preference to purchase oil and gas in yuan or the local currency of the exporter, rather than U.S. dollars. China imports approximately one-quarter of its energy from Saudi Arabia, but Russia recently supplanted the kingdom as China’s top energy producer.
China’s fastidious control over its own currency is the first step toward upending the way oil is traded. Forged by President Richard Nixon and Saudi King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 1973, the petrodollar system has wedded the greenback to the world’s most sought-after commodity.
In return for conducting energy sales exclusively in dollars, the United States agreed to sell Saudi Arabia advanced military equipment. One obvious reason China wants oil to be traded in yuan is to increase global demand for yuan-denominated assets. This would increase capital inflows and may eventually lead to the yuan being a plausible global alternative to the American dollar. Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s historic swing producer and price arbiter – if it agreed to conduct transactions in currencies other than the dollar, other OPEC producers would be forced to follow suit.
Beijing’s thinking is also influenced by geopolitical calculations. China’s return on investment in Saudi infrastructure could take decades, but Beijing would gain a valuable foothold in the Gulf and possibly persuade one of the world’s leading oil producers to upend the way oil is traded. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, especially the United Arab Emirates, provide a valuable hub to Middle Eastern and African markets through their ports, airports, and global networks. This spring and summer, Beijing and Riyadh announced a number of deals in various sectors, including increased energy exports and a reported $20 billion shared investment fund.
The equation is much more difficult for Saudi Arabia and the other oil-producing countries in the Gulf. On one hand, Saudi Arabia’s alliance with the United States, however shaky, is the bedrock of regional security. On the other hand, growth in energy consumption will continue to be centered east of the kingdom, not west.
The Chinese have not given Saudi Arabia much time to consider its options. Chinese state-owned oil companies PetroChina and Sinopec have already expressed interest in a direct purchase of 5 per cent of Saudi Aramco. This could prove to be a boon for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been eager to achieve a $2 trillion valuation of Aramco in a highly anticipated initial public offering, which is currently scheduled for 2018.
Considering the depressed state of the oil market, investors may be hesitant to meet the targets for Aramco’s valuation that the Saudi leadership has laid out. A private Chinese placement could solve this dilemma – and allow Riyadh to delay the IPO in the hopes that oil prices will improve. While this investment may not explicitly require that Saudi Arabia agree to trade in yuan, it would give China leverage toward that goal. For Mohammed bin Salman, Chinese investment in Aramco could kick-start a new economic partnership with Beijing. As part of its economic reform, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan intends to raise foreign direct investment from 3.8 percent of GDP to 5.7 percent, or an additional $12 billion per year.
It is a far safer bet that China would be able and willing to inject that type of money into Saudi Arabia than U.S. private equity and hedge funds. The main reason for this is the difference in Chinese and Western time horizons when considering return on investment. While Western governments and companies have historically had appetite for infrastructure projects that offer a return on investment in a maximum of 30 to 40 years, the Chinese are playing a much longer game – in some cases investing in projects that break even in more than 100 years.
Saudi Arabia and China stand to gain from this geoeconomic shift – but what about the United States? For all its talk of remaking the U.S. economy, the Trump administration must heed the changing economic currents. Given the depths of Beijing’s interest in Saudi Aramco, it seems many policymakers in the Gulf and the West do not fully appreciate the geopolitical interests at stake. Aramco, formerly the Arabian-American Oil Company, will not rebrand itself – but it may effectively become “Archco,” the Arabian-Chinese Oil Company.
Asked how he went bankrupt, a character in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises responded: “Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.” It’s unlikely the petrodollar system will be fully replaced by an equivalent “petroyuan” system, but the dollar’s monopoly on major oil sales may loosen gradually – and then suddenly. That gradual process may have already begun.


Saudi women to be allowed into sport stadiums

Women in Saudi Arabia will reportedly be allowed to attend sporting events in stadiums next year, according to reports.

They will be allowed into stadiums in the major cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, the BBC reports.

The news come as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues to chart a more modern course for the conservative country, which for decades had banned concerts and film screenings and arrested women who attempted to drive.

Since catapulting to power with the support of his father, the king, the prince has pushed forth changes that could usher in a new era for one of the United States’ most important allies and swing the kingdom away from decades of ultraconservative dogma and restrictions.

Hundreds of Saudi Arabian women have for the first time in history attended a sports stadium to mark their country’s national day.

The prince grabbed headlines in recent days by vowing a return to “moderate Islam”.

He also suggested that his father’s generation had steered the country down a problematic path and that it was time to “get rid of it.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman

In his sweeping “Vision 2030” plan to wean Saudi Arabia of its near total dependence on petrodollars, Prince Mohammed laid out a vision for “a tolerant country with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method”.

Prince Mohammed, or MBS as he is widely known, used a rare public appearance on stage at a major investor conference in the capital, Riyadh, this week to drive home that message to a global audience.

“We only want to go back to what we were: Moderate Islam that is open to the world, open to all religions,” he said.

“We will not waste 30 years of our lives in dealing with extremist ideas. We will destroy them today.”

His remarks were met with applause and a front-page article in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.

In expanded remarks to the paper, the 32-year-old prince said that successive Saudi monarchs “didn’t know how to deal with” Iran’s 1979 revolution that brought to power a clerical Shiite leadership still in place today.

That same year, Saudi rulers weathered a stunning blow: Sunni extremists laid siege to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca for 15 days.

Women will be allowed in three Saudi Arabian sports stadiums from next year.

The attack was carried out by militants opposed to social openings taking place at the time, seeing them as Western and un-Islamic.

Indeed, Sunni extremists have used the intolerant views propagated by the ideology known as Wahhabism to justify violence against others. Wahhabism has governed life in Saudi Arabia since its foundation 85 years ago.

The ruling Al Saud responded to the events of 1979 by empowering the state’s ultraconservatives. To hedge the international appeal of Iran’s Shiite revolution, the government backed efforts to export the kingdom’s foundational Wahhabi ideology abroad.

To appease a sizeable conservative segment of the population at home, cinemas were shuttered, women were banned from appearing on state television and the religious police were emboldened.

Much is now changing under the prince as he consolidates greater powers and prepares to inherit the throne.

There are plans to build a Six Flags theme park and a semi-autonomous Red Sea tourist destination where the strict rules on women’s dress will likely not apply.

Females have greater access to sports, the powers of the once-feared religious police have been curtailed and restrictions on gender segregation are being eased.

Unlike previous Saudi monarchs, such as King Abdullah who backed gradual and cautious openings, Prince Mohammed is moving quickly.

More than half of Saudi Arabia’s 20 million citizens are below the age of 25, meaning millions of young Saudis will be entering the workforce in the coming decade.

The government is urgently trying to create more jobs and ward off the kinds of grievances that sparked uprisings in other Arab countries where unemployment is rampant and citizens have little say in government.

The prince has to find solutions now for the problems he is set to inherit as monarch.

“What MBS is doing is a must requirement for any kind of economic reform. Economic reform requires a new Protestant ethic if you will, a new brand of Islam,” said Maamoun Fandy, director of the London Global Strategy Institute.

This new Saudi version of “moderate Islam” can be understood as one that is amenable to economic reforms; it does not close shops at prayer time or banish women from public life, Fandy said.

In other words, Saudi Arabia’s economic reforms require social reforms to succeed.

Buzzwords like “reform,” ”transparency” and “accountability” — all used by the prince in his promotion of Vision 2030 — do not, however, mean that Saudi Arabia is moving toward greater liberalism, democracy, pluralism or freedom of speech.

The government does not grant licenses to non-Muslim houses of worship, and limits those of its Shiite Muslim citizens.

The prince has also made no mention of human rights concerns. If anything, dozens of the prince’s perceived critics have been detained in a warning to others who dare to speak out.

Some of those arrested were seen as critics of his foreign policies, which include severing ties with Qatar, increasing tensions with Iran and overseeing airstrikes in Yemen that have killed scores of civilians and drawn sharp condemnation from rights groups and some in Washington.

Meanwhile, Prince Mohammed faces a Saudi public that remains religiously conservative. That means he still needs public support from the state’s top clerics in order to position his reforms as Islamic and religiously permissible.

These clerics, many of whom had spoken out in the past against women working and driving, appear unwilling or unable to publicly criticize the moves.

In this absolute monarchy, the king holds final say on most matters and the public has shown it is welcoming the changes.


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Quote by the Prince

"We seek to be proud of our country, and allow the latter to contribute to the development of the world, whether on the economic, environmental, civilisational, or intellectual levels."

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