Saudi Minister of Energy: The Kingdom is the Best Choice for Investors

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Riyadh – Saudi Arabia’s latest efforts whether with US or during King Salman’s visit to Asia all aim to establish a strong economy unaffected by oil prices, according to Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Engineer Khalid al-Falih.

Falih said the deals will have a positive impact both on the economy and the people of the Kingdom, as hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created for the Saudi youth. He pointed out that the Kingdom made important steps regarding generating power and oil, adding that renewable resources like solar and wind energy will be an essential part of Saudi’s energy system.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Gulf-US and the Arab-Islamic-US Summits, the minister said that the National Transformation Program and Vision 2030 both include important aspects of enhancing the energy sector of all of its sides.

Earlier, Aramco signed at least 10 agreements with 10 companies of $22 billion value. The company also announced a new Saudi company that manages the projects.

Speaking on the oil sector, the minister said the Kingdom believes that extending the oil-cut agreement is enough to drain oil inventories.

“Extending the current agreement on global oil supply cuts until March next year, and adding one or two small producers to the pact, should be enough to reduce oil inventories,” he said.

“We believe that continuing the same level of cuts, plus eventually adding one or two small producers, will be more than adequate to bring the five-year balance to where it needs to be by the end of the first quarter of 2018,” he emphasized.

The minister welcomed the Russian position on the call for a reduction in production for another nine months. He pointed out that the suspension of oil dealing with Iran is due to the sanctions imposed since last October.

He said that the kingdom produces about 10 million barrels of crude oil per day, pointing to the improvement in the kingdom’s financial index.

According to the minister, investors have no better choice than investing in the Saudi market.

Falih dealt with the friendship between the Kingdom and the US which extends for eight decades. The friendship between the two countries contributes in achieving prosperity for the international community in general and the two countries in particular.

The minister disclosed that the relationship in the fields of trade and investment between the Kingdom and the US is a part of the close friendship between the two countries, pointing out that there are many great opportunities to move the relationship between the two countries to higher levels.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, Vice President of Women’s Affairs at the General Sports Authority, said that Vision 2030 granted women a greater role, and there should be impartiality when discussing gender equality. She expressed her pleasure that President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and assured that opportunities in Vision 2030 are real.

Malaysian PM: New Map to Cooperate, Achieve Peace

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Riyadh – Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed Najib Abdul Razak has stressed the importance of holding the Arab Islamic American Summit in this timing, describing it as a historic summit that would come out with a new map for cooperating and achieving peace.

Abdul Razak commended efforts of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to serve Islamic causes, adding that the latest visit of King Salman to Malaysia reinforced the cooperation especially on the economic level – Aramco invested USD7 billion in an oil refinery project with Petronas – Malaysian oil and gas company.

He pointed out that his country’s ties with Saudi Arabia are one of the reasons that push Malaysia to fully back this summit and agree with its purposes to increase forgiveness and coexistence as well as to reinforce security and stability.

He also emphasized that Arab states must join efforts and introduce religion tolerance, adding that the Malaysian government reinforces the concept of moderation.

Malaysian Prime Minister affirmed that the terrorism phenomenon is not linked to Islam and most terrorists say that they were deceived by false preachers. He continued that there should be no doubts that terrorists’ threat of Islam is still in its highest level.

Abdul Razak noted that Malaysia suffered the first attempted terrorist attack last year and deterred other operations.

Malaysian Prime Minister concluded that fighting terrorist ISIS is a major point on today’s agenda and Malaysia with US President Donald Trump are both committed to eradicate terrorism.

He also called on Islamic states to face terrorism in a quick and decisive manner.

Trump Describes Meeting with King Salman, Signing Agreements as ‘Great’

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Riyadh – During his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior in Riyadh on Saturday, US President Donald Trump praised the constructive cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States in all fields, describing his meeting with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and the exchange of agreements between the two countries as “great.”

The two parties discussed means of enhancing bilateral relations to serve the people of the two countries.

They also discussed cooperation between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States in the field of counter terrorism in addition to the latest developments in the Middle East.

On the other hand, Trump also received Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday and discussed further ways of enhancing ties between both countries.

During the meeting, both discussed the various aspects of Saudi-US cooperation in several fields, especially in the economic sphere in addition to discussing developments in the Middle East region, including the efforts exerted by the two countries in combating extremism and terrorism.

Trump and the Crown Prince’s meeting was attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to the Minister of Interior; Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Ambassador to the United States; Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir; US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; and a number of officials.

Whereas Trump’s meeting with Deputy Crown Price was attended by Prince Khaled bin Salman bin Abdulaziz; Dr. Musaed al-Aiban; Dr. Majed al-Qasabi, Minister of Trade and Commerce; Eng. Khaled al-Faleh, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Adel al-Jubeir in addition to a number of other officials.

From the US side, the two meetings were attended by US Foreign Secretary Rex Tillerson, White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and a number of other US officials.

Trump in Riyadh, Game Rules Change

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With the landing of US President Donald Trump airplane in King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh as his first foreign destination, Obama’s phase in foreign policy reached an end. Choosing Saudi Arabia is a clear sign of the upcoming priorities of the US foreign policy.

This policy is embodied in the role the US administration believes that Riyadh can play in achieving their joint strategy. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz said that the visit will reinforce strategic cooperation and achieve security for the region and world.

Riyadh and Washington are not only betting on correcting bilateral relations but also on enhancing level of coalition between them and returning it to its normal state. This alliance was fulfilled with a joint Saudi-US strategy.

There are four goals behind Trump’s visit and they seem on their way to be achieved.

The first goal is that strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia is a cornerstone that enables US to reinforce its interests and security. Trump’s administration is aware that terrorism can’t be defeated without the support of the kingdom – the country standing in the frontline at the war against ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Saudi Arabia has proven itself to be the closest security partner of US and the intelligence relations between the two countries since Sep. 11 attacks have protected thousands of Americans and deterred terrorist operations that had US as a target.

The second goal is to help the US public opinion correct its image on Saudi Arabia and its importance in facing terrorism. Without the kingdom, terrorism can’t be besieged and eradicated. This highly important concept is absent and unclear for Americans.

The third goal is related to Trump’s explaining his correct image on Islam. When he wants to clarify his stance towards extremism and not mix it with Muslims then there is no better way than a summit where presidents and heads of the Arab world meet in the land of Makkah and Medina – the two sacred cities.

The fourth goal is to deliver a strict message to the Iranian regime since it is a regime isolated from the majority of the Islamic world and the page of Washington-Tehran rapprochement – during eight years of former administration – has been flipped.

The defensive agreement signed between Riyadh and Washington expressed this clearly – the White House described its goals as defying threats of Iran and regional terrorism as well as supporting the kingdom efforts in confronting terrorism.

The 48 hours Trump will spend in Riyadh will change the rules of the game in the region and world – it is not an official visit like other visits to Riyadh. Barack Obama visited Saudi Arabia four times but none of his visits carried a change or a wish to mend and reform the coalition.

This time, however, Riyadh-Washington ties as well as Arab-Islamic-US ties are expected to come out with a new strategy that contributes in the regional and international security and stability.

Trump is aware of the huge relapse of US in the past eight years and is also aware of the security threats that have doubled on the country and the whole world. For this, he has started rearranging the region’s papers through a visit that carries much symbolism after announcing that he will reconsider the US military role.

This doesn’t contradict with his slogan “America First” since without maintaining the interests of the strongest country in the world and reinforcing current coalitions, US position will shake and other powers will replace it. For sure, this is the last thing a great power such as US wants.

4 Reasons Why Trump’s Saudi Visit Is Different

SAUDI-US-DIPLOMACY

President Donald Trump prides himself on being unpredictable and, thus, no one knows what to expect of his first trip abroad. But when it comes to the first stop, Saudi Arabia, we can be sure it will be very unlike the visits of past US leaders to Riyadh when it comes to one vital topic: oil.

For decades, petroleum — specifically Saudi oil production — was high on the list of American talking points. But this time around, to the extent that oil figures into the conversation, it will not be about Saudi production, but about investments, joint ventures and the upcoming (maybe) initial public offering of the state-owned oil behemoth Saudi Aramco.

This departure from the past is not — as many Americans may think — because the US no longer imports much oil from Saudi Arabia now that the shale boom has made America an energy superpower again. In fact, despite its own energy prowess, the US continues to import a steady amount of Saudi crude. If one looks from the financial crisis onward, as a percentage of overall US imports (which have declined significantly), Saudi Arabia’s share is on a slightly positive trajectory.

US imports of Saudi crude have not really fluctuated with the ups and downs of the political relationship.

Oil imports from Saudi Arabia fell markedly in 1985 on account of the huge Saudi production cuts in the 1980s, yet the bilateral relationship remained on firm footing. From the Gulf War in 1991 until 2009, US imports of total crude and oil products from Saudi Arabia remained stable, despite the volatility in relations. They were approximately 1.4 million barrels a day following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when President George H. W. Bush told Prince Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, “If you ask for help from the United States, we will go all the way with you.”

And they were at similar levels after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when relations were so tense that some US soldiers who had received medals from the Saudi government during the Gulf War reportedly returned them in protest of the primarily Saudi group of terrorists responsible for the tragedies of that day.

In any case, even when oil markets were at their tightest, American leaders never visited Saudi Arabia to ask the kingdom to export more oil to the US. Rather, they would entreat the Saudis to increase overall oil production and add it to the global market — easing pressures on the price, which is set on the global market.

At the moment, such a conversation would be counterproductive: global markets are oversupplied and many view the oil price as too low to be sustainable, although trends are moving in a direction which would firm it up.

There has been a big turn of events, with the US now producing more crude and natural gas liquids.

But the US also loses some leverage now that it is no longer the Saudis’ largest customer. Asia has become far more important as a market for Saudi crude than the Americas. This trend will only strengthen in the coming years.

While the question of leverage is tricky, one thing is clear: The lack of need to press Saudi Arabia to step up oil production, or to increase its capacity to produce more in the future, opens up a big space for Trump and the American delegation to talk about other subjects, particularly critical regional issues and how the US can help Saudi Arabia in its own pressing quest for economic reform.


(Bloomberg)

Saudi Arabia doesn’t Request Headscarf for Diplomats or Presidents’ Wives

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Riyadh – Since the formation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, female politicians and presidents’ wives have never been requested to cover their head. Foreign visitors are not forced to follow the regulations and are entitled to wear any appropriate outfit.

Like other recent female Western visitors, US First Lady Melania Trump did not cover her hair upon arrival in the kingdom.

Yet, since British Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit two months ago, Western media had been controversial about the head scarf. They debated whether she will wear the veil or not. Back then, observers saw this as an attempt to shift focus from the actual purpose of the visit.

A brief review of history shows that prominent female politicians who previously visited Saudi Arabia didn’t have to cover their head.

Late Princess of Wales Diana Spencer visited the Kingdom in 1986 with her husband Prince Charles and didn’t wear the veil.

A series of diplomats and politicians visited Saudi Arabia after that, like former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Former First Lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all opted not to do so.

Observers believe this is Western media’s effort to diminish the importance of the visit to the region. The media would rather discuss such a small issue rather than seriously tackle the major political event.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir was quoted as telling media on Thursday that America’s First Lady won’t be required to dress conservatively or tone down her usual high-fashion look, which often includes bold colors, stiletto heels and the occasional low neckline.

Foreign, Arab Media: Trump’s Visit to Saudi Arabia a New Page

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Beirut – Arab and international newspapers and media Saturday shed light on US president Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, in his first foreign visit since taking over his post.

The Guardian pointed out the symbolism of Trump’s dedicating his first foreign visit to Riyadh while BBC stated that foreign media focused on Saudi-US ties during Obama’s term that witnessed the signing of the well-known nuclear agreement with Iran, especially that Trump is a tough critic of the deal and the policy of easing sanctions on Iran.

The Independent newspaper said that this visit comes years after Obama’s term, although Obama was too soft on Iran and this led to cold relations between Washington and Riyadh.

Sunday’s Speech

Washington Post expected that Trump’s speech on Sunday will be the most prominent stance by him in Riyadh, in the presence of 50 Muslim states. “Trump campaigned against Muslims, but will preach tolerance in Saudi speech,” reported the newspaper.

Success of Deputy Crown Prince

Trump’s decision to stop in Saudi Arabia is a “huge success for Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” reported CNBC.

“The deputy crown prince orchestrated, arranged and agreed to all of this during his latest visit to the White House in March,” Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University, said to CNBC.

Arab Newspapers

Arab newspapers focused on the “historic” event and agreed on the importance and symbolism of this visit. Ahram – Egyptian newspaper – saw that the visit gains its importance from being Trump’s first visit since taking over his post and it aims to reinforce strategic relations on the regional and international arenas.

Dr. Walid Ayoubi told Lebanese newspaper Al Joumhouria that the “visit expresses the new approach of the US foreign policy.”

Saudi-US Bridge

Something else could have happened on Saturday and Sunday. US President Donald Trump could have followed the example of previous presidents through making his first foreign visit to a close country in the American continent or to an Atlantic country.

The impression left by the first days of Trump in the White House could have become a permanent misunderstanding with Arabs and Muslims.

If things went in this direction, we would have paid double the price of past years. The Middle East is sick with terrorism, extremism, shaking-stability policies, violation of international borders and dissolving armies for the interest of militias.

It is sick with fear, unemployment, poverty and narrow dimensions. We have seen its sons grab the boats of death to escape the hell of their countries.

Luckily, the chance was not missed. Saudi Arabia chose two years ago to abandon the wait-and-see policy. The current Saudi leadership apprehended that change is one of the conditions to protect stability and build prosperity.

The way of tackling topics discussed internally has changed – the Saudi diplomatic language abroad also changed.

Initiative has become the foundation, based on ambitious perceptions that stand on mutual interest, partnerships and division of responsibilities.

In March, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, carried the Saudi perception to the White House – a perception that ensures a high possibility to build strategic partnerships that serve the interest of both countries in economy, politics and security and open the window of hope in the Middle East – that was about to be announced a devastated region.

Digits have a power that traditional slogans and general statements lack. In Saudi Vision 2030, there is a huge change in Saudi Arabia, mammoth investment opportunities and mutual interests that can build a bridge for future relations.

In parallel with digits, there was a Saudi decision to lead a comprehensive confrontation against terrorism and extremism as well as another decision to play a major role in restoring security and stability in the devastated region. Consequences of this role will be endured in partnership with allies.

Trump’s administration became aware of the importance of restoring good relations with Riyadh and the importance of Saudi portal in crossing to the Arab and Islamic worlds since Saudi Arabia has legality, ability, relations and the credit.

Crossing this portal grants the US an opportunity to restore the leading role in the region after years of hesitation and withdrawal policies – a crossing that provides the kingdom with a chance to grant Arabs again their role in protecting their stability and countries, years after the Arab world changing into a scene for other components’ greed in the region.

Saudi-US ties witnessed a series of summits throughout the seven decades and overcame several difficulties and tests. However, getting informed of Trump’s visit to the kingdom program makes us assume that we are before a first of its kind event in the history of both countries relations. This appears clearly from the preparations, agreements and messages.

What Riyadh will witness on Saturday and Sunday is a brave attempt to build a Saudi-US bridge from which relations between the two countries and nations would pass – ties that include fields of defense, politics, economy and benefiting from the US academic and technological progress.

Through this bridge, a partnership will pass to confront not only terrorism but also extremism that refuses to acknowledge the other, coexistence and cooperation. Saudi Arabia has transformed extremism confrontation into a program adopted by institutes aware of the danger of clashing with the world.

In Riyadh’s date there is an opportunity to correct two images. Saudi image infront of part of western and US public opinion and the US image infront of part of the Arab Islamic public opinion.

The Saudi youth nowadays aspires to live in a stable and prosperous country, to get a developed education, to enroll in a modern university and to acquire a job opportunity in a dynamic economy that copes with consecutive technology revolutions, and to have country that defends its interest and holds responsibility in peace and stability affairs.

The kingdom has succeeded in trimming ideas that call for facing the other because he is different. When the Saudi youth has these ambitions then he can easily meet on the bridge with the western and US youth. It is clear that the Saudi change in this field has left its impact on the Arab and Islamic worlds whose heads will meet Trump in Riyadh.

Saudi-US Summit represents a decisive and big response to the dangerous challenges in the region – it is a response to Sept. 11 attacks that targeted troubling US-Saudi relations and a response to the policy of exporting Iranian revolution, especially after what Iranian violations caused in pushing some Sunnites towards extremism.

The summit is also a response to the phase of US withdrawal from the region and the diminution of the Arab world role in it.

Riyadh dates are an opportunity for all parties – a US and Saudi opportunity that will transform on Sunday to an Arab and Islamic opportunity. If implementation was as serious in the coming period as the determining of dates, then the game rules will be changed in the region.

The Saudi-US bridge success paves the way to a fixed US bridge with the Arab and Islamic worlds and this would restructure the international scene.

US Economist: Washington Interested in Saudi Vision 2030

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Riyadh – Todd Buchholz, former White House director of economic policy, said that the presence of US President Donald Trump in Riyadh on Saturday indicates that the US administration will join efforts with Saudi Arabia to work against barbarism, manage Middle East affairs and besiege the Iranian terrorism and greediness.

Buchholz added that Washington is interested in Saudi Vision 2030.

The opportunity awaiting Saudi-US ties will allow mending these ties and reinforcing them, according to Buchholz.

He added that Trump shows high interest in the Iranian nuclear file – Trump has expressed doubts in the Iranian program and said that cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries is likely as well as working for the sake of defying the Iranian terrorist activity and halting its expansive greed on the regional and international levels.

“On the level of foreign policies and relations, Trump administration will join efforts with Riyadh to cooperate against barbarism,” he added.

Buchholz pointed out that the US can activate its relations with Saudi Arabia as a diverse player in the international economy, hailing that on the long-term this will cause a giant leap in the positive development of both countries.

Before, trade between Washington and Riyadh was highly dependent on oil and military arming, according to Buchholz, but the Saudi Vision 2030 and its goals would increase the non-oil Saudi exports from 16% to 50%.

The US economist pointed out that companies in US will be interested in expanding their partnerships in the fields of technology, health care, education and all sectors that would bring gains to Saudi Arabia.