October 28, 2008

SaudiNews Oct 25-31, 2008












My words
I have some good news and some bad news.

Despite the initial and ongoing denial, the GCC countries seem to be affected by the global financial crises. Last Sunday saw the first direct intervention by a GCC government to protect a bank; the Kuwaiti Central Bank stepped in to support Gulf Bank. As a friend banker told me the other day, the problem with investment bank balance sheets these days is that on the left side nothing is right and on the right side nothing is left.

What’s the good news? My friend Brad Bourland, Chief Economist at Jadwa Research says:” The strength of the dollar (and therefore the riyal) should help to lower inflation by reducing prices for imported goods. Since the end of July the riyal has appreciated by 17% against the euro, 18% against the British pound and 7% against the Japanese yen.” Well, I sure hope this stronger exchange rate would help reduce food and commodities prices.

Life goes on….
Abdullah Al Alami

A teacher in a middle school in Sakaka (Al-Jouf) allegedly broke the arm of a first grade student. The boy was supposedly talking to another boy in the classroom.
According to a hospital source, this is the 10th case of children brought there with injuries resulting from excessive disciplining in schools this year. I call on the education authorities to take stringent measures to stop savage attacks on school children.

Local papers reported that a 31-year old patient smuggled a knife into the Taif’s Psychiatric Hospital and murdered a fellow inmate.
By the way, the knifeman had previously attempted to kill his father.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue has ordered its employees to sign an undertaking they would not chase any car even if they suspect the inmates are involved in “foul play”.
The president of the commission had several times said that his employees did not have the power to chase or arrest any suspect.

Last week I visited Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Fund in Dammam. Mrs. Hana Al-Zuhair, the Fund Executive Manager is a good example of a successful Saudi woman.
When we finally decide to appoint a lady ambassador abroad, Mrs. Al-Zuhair would be on my top 10 list.

Great Week for Women. King Abdullah laid the foundation for the Kingdom’s first women-only university. The University, which is designed to become the world’s largest institution of higher learning exclusively for women, will have 13 colleges, including medicine, dentistry, nursing, naturopathy and pharmacology and a 700-bed hospital. The project will be completed by 2010.
Also, three businesswomen (and 41 businessmen) have filed nominations for the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce elections on Nov 11. The three women are: Amal Badruldeen, owner and managing director of Al-Areebah Clinics and Establishment for Health Education, Huda Al-Jeraisy, owner of Al-Areebah Age Center for Training and Development, and Basima Al-Qashmah, owner of Kinda for Commercial Advertising. Best of luck to all.

Clip of the week
My dear friend Alia Banaja www.aliabanaja.com sent me the following link on the Saudi women delegation to Holland. The part I truly enjoyed watching is the interview with the elegant Mrs. Madawi Hassoun, Ms. Ghada Gazaawi, and Mrs. Nadia Hazza.
http://player.omroep.nl/?aflID=8173140&start=0:17:56&end=0:28:37



Movie of the Week



Burn after Reading – A new comedy thriller from Academy Award winners, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. At the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, analyst Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) is being ousted. Cox does not take the news particularly well and returns home to work on his memoirs. His wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is already well into an illicit affair with Harry (George Clooney), a married federal marshal, and sets about making plans to leave Cox for Harry.Elsewhere in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) is consumed with her life plan for extensive cosmetic surgery, and confides her mission to can-do colleague Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt). When a computer disc containing material for the CIA analyst's memoirs accidentally falls into the hands of Linda and Chad, the duo are intent on exploiting their find in a cascading series of darkly hilarious encounters.
I give it (B+).

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