News – Saudi Arabia – 2010.06.30

Published: June 30, 2010

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ARABIALINK Daily News – SAUDI ARABIA – Excerpts from International Media Reports
[Links to full articles were active on the date posted here]

Saudi King’s Visit to Washington Vital for Region  [Jun 30]
“Arab diplomats and political analysts have described the current visit of the Custodian of the Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to Washington — his first since President Barack Obama assumed office — as of “paramount significance” for the Arab-Gulf security.  ‘The Saudi-US summit will tackle hot issues in the region including the Palestinian cause, Iran’s nuclear file, the current situation in Iraq and the political, economic and security issues between the two countries,’ they said.  The Palestinian ambassador to Saudi Arabia Jamal Al Shoubaki said that Palestinians were anxiously awaiting the results of the visit as the Palestinian issue was on top of the agenda in the summit.  ‘Arabs have a strong notion that the Obama administration did not exert enough pressure on the Israel to find a just and permanent settlement to the Middle East crisis or to resume the peace talks with the Palestinians,’..”  [Complete Report]

At White House, Obama and Saudi King Discuss Guantanamo, Mideast Peace Process  [Jun 30]
“Broaching a sensitive subject, President Obama assured the visiting king of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday that he remains committed to closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a continuing source of friction between their governments.  A year after a reportedly rocky first meeting in Riyadh, Obama and King Abdullah held a brief, joint appearance before reporters in the Oval Office following lunch. Making ritual affirmations about the close ties between their two countries, the leaders said they discussed recently approved sanctions against Iran as well as the war in Afghanistan.  They also discussed the need for the Middle East peace process to move ‘forward in a significant and bold way,’ Obama said.  Fewer than 20 Saudis remain at Guantanamo Bay, but the prison is a symbol of George W. Bush-era detention policies and is unpopular in the Arab world.. ..The White House said Obama and Abdullah did discuss ‘efforts to prevent violent extremism,’ what the Bush administration once called ‘radical Islam.’..”  [Complete Report]

Saudi Arabia Sees 21% Rise in March Non-Oil Exports [Jun 30]
“Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, reported a 21 percent rise in non-oil exports in March as demand for petrochemicals and plastics gained momentum from global economic growth.  Non-oil exports increased to 11.4 billion riyals ($3 billion) from 9.4 billion riyals in the year-earlier period, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing data from the Central Department of Statistics and Information. Saudi March imports advanced 1 percent to 29.9 billion riyals.  Demand for plastics and fertilizers manufactured by Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s largest petrochemicals maker by market value, has increased because of growing demand from the U.S. and China. The company, also known as Sabic, posted a net income of 5.43 billion riyals in the first quarter, compared with a loss of 970 million riyals, in the year-earlier period..”  [Complete Report]

Olympics Promoting UN Goal of Women’s Equality  [Jun 30]
“The International Olympic Committee said Tuesday it will be promoting the U.N. goal of equality for women and will be pressing Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei to send female athletes to the Olympics for the first time when London hosts the games in 2012.  Anita DeFrantz, who heads the IOC’s women and sports commission, said there are 205 national Olympic committees, but those three countries are the only ones that have never sent women athletes to the games.. ..DeFrantz singled out Saudi Arabia in October for barring women from its Olympic teams and suggested the Saudis should be excluded from the 2012 London Olympics unless they end their male-only policy. Qatar sent a male-only team to the 2008 Beijing Games and Brunei also didn’t have a woman on its teams..”  [Complete Report]

Saudi to Award Yanbu Refinery Deals Soon  [Jun 30]
“State oil giant Saudi Aramco plans to award deals to build a 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil refinery in Yanbu in the coming few days, industry sources said on Wednesday.  Yanbu accounts for just under a quarter of Saudi plans to add around 1.7 million bpd of refining capacity to the current 2.1 million bpd.  Aramco has said it will push on with the project on the Red Sea coast even after U.S. firm ConocoPhillips (COP.N: Quote) withdrew in April. The partners had already tendered for the construction packages when Conoco pulled out, and planning had reached an advanced stage. Bidders for the deals had expected contracts would be awarded in May..”  [Complete Report]