January 30, 2009

Saudi News Weekly (Jan 24 - 30, 2009)

Last week I attended the Third Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh. These are some major highlights:

“The Kingdom would continue to carry out its development program in the coming years without any interruption. We have allocated $400 billion for the implementation of various projects during the next 5 years. Our ultimate goal is to achieve a top 10 most competitive country ranking through a responsible and enduring way.” Prince Miteb, minister of Municipal & Rural Affairs.

“The financial crisis is expected to continue for the next two years. Oil prices would be increased to $80 as the financial crisis improves. During the year 2007, 69 million cars were manufactured and in 2008, the number was brought down to 63 million. In 2009, it will be further reduced to 55 million cars”. Carlos Ghosn, president of Nissan Motors.

“The world demand for new aircraft could plunge 50 to 60 percent in 2009 due to the global economic crunch and tight credit”. Thomas Enders, Airbus Chief Executive.

“Etisalat has been selected as the third mobile operator in Iran”. Mohamad Omran, chairman of Emirates Telecommunications Corporation.

“The world has to concentrate on developing solar energy. More research should be carried out on developing portable type of solar energy which is renewable too.” Paolo Scaroni, head of the Italian oil company Eni SpA.

“Saudi Arabia is doing its best to maintain a low inflation rate”. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Finance Minister.

“The world is facing several challenges such as global warming. The best way to provide clean energy is to save energy. 40 percent of emissions come from buildings such as offices, homes and factories. Switching over to electric cars is not going to solve the problem of saving energy”. Jean Tricoire, chief executive officer of Scheneider Electric Company.

“With the change of times, the stress has been shifted from money to human capital and technology.” Mark Fuller, chairman of the board of directors of Monitor Company.

“We have contributed a great deal to develop the Frankfurt Airport and we are interested in taking part in the development of the Kingdom’s airports too”. Willhelm Bender, chairman of Fraport, a company specializing in developing airports.

“Government regulations would only hamper the global economic progress besides burdening the economic activities with additional cost. Small and medium companies rather than large multinationals, will be the worst affected by the government regulations". Robert Huggins, director of the Center for International Competitiveness.

“We need to join hands to solve the current issues and learn from the past recessions, particularly when none of the countries in the world is spared from the current crisis. We need a special program to create jobs, thus have a greater number of taxpayers, as unemployed people cost us a lot”. Jean Chrétien, former Canadian Prime Minister.

“The depletion of the natural resources is a major problem facing the world. The mankind would need five other planets to meet their requirements at the present rate of consumer growth in the United States”. Aron Cramer, president and CEO of Business for Social Responsibility.

“The Kingdom has focused its efforts on protecting its financial stability by increasing liquidity. The government has adopted a policy of increased spending to reduce the effects of global economic recession. The failure of supervisory measures on banks, wrong attitude of credit rating agencies, compensations paid to investors and the reluctance of banks in extending loans were some of the main reasons for the world financial crisis. The Kingdom moved from concentrating on inflationary pressure to achieving financial stability. We expect that the present crisis would lead to better financial management”. Mohammed Al-Jasser, deputy governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).

“Consumer spending in the US, which accounts for 70 percent of the gross domestic product, was declining considerably. We see today remarkable decline in the sales of retail shops. We know that when a person has a heart attack it will prompt him to change his lifestyle.” Thomas Russo, former vice chairman of Lehman Brothers.

“Credit rating agencies as well as accounting and auditing companies should be held responsible for misguiding the world as they rated financial organizations on the verge of bankruptcy highly. Why don’t they try them in criminal courts? Had it happened in our countries, there would have been a huge outcry. The World Bank is responsible for the crisis because it ignored the reasons that caused the crisis. Where was the World Bank, which is based in Washington, when the crisis erupted in the US? Why did it not issue any guidelines to the American economy like it does with regard to Third World economies? We need an economy based on justice and not on interest”. Saleh Kamel, Chairman of the General Council for Islamic Banks.

“Nations, rich and poor across the board, should sit together and map out future strategy to deal with the global financial downturn. There is a need to improve the functioning of the international monetary system and start a process of systemic rebuilding. We have been exporting $100 billion worth of goods and services annually. No country can afford to allow half of its population to sit idle doing nothing ... we found out in Malaysia that our women were more productive than men in some cases.” Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of Malaysia.

“Total foreign investment in Saudi Arabia has expanded from $2 billion to $20 billion during the past three years. More than half of that investment is in non-oil industries, so it matches the Kingdom’s strategy for industrial diversification.” Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan.

Life goes on….
Abdullah Al Alami

January 22, 2009

Only One Female Doctor for 45,000 Women

Saudi Gazette
By Ali Al-Ghamdi
January 22, 2009

BALJURASHI – There is only one female doctor at the Maternity and Pediatrics Hospital in Baljurashi, a small town where the women population stands at 45,000.
Women here normally wait for long periods to get admission in the hospital or to consult the only general physician here.

Several women here have complained that they have to go to King Fahd Hospital in Baha, about 40 km from the town.

Dr. Mohammad Al-Subhi, head of the obstetrics department at King Fahd Hospital, admitted that a large number of women patients from Baljurashi are referred to the hospital. “Referring cases to us in large numbers has put us in a tough situation when a baby dies or a mother gets here in critical condition,” he said.

The maternity hospital is one of the oldest in Baha region. Several women said the services provided at the hospital are inadequate and at some times outdated. “Wards are too small with at least 10 patients in each one. And there is only one toilet,” said Abdullah Ahmad. He said there is no peace and quiet in the hospital as the incessant noise in the neighboring car auction market disturbs patients in the wards. Moreover, the approach to the hospital is very difficult and unless one has a four-wheel drive vehicle it is difficult to go to the hospital, he said.

The situation at the pathological lab is more pathetic. “Getting results from the lab takes several weeks because the hospital does not have the needed equipment to analyze the samples, so it sends it to Al-Baha,” said Saleh Al-Ghamdi. He said the hospital badly needs a nursery as new-born babies are being referred to Al-Baha. “We have no choice,” he said.Al-Ghamdi said visitors to the hospital even don’t have a place to sit. “They have to squat on the ground in the narrow parking lots.”Visitors have another problem at hand. There is no cafetaria in the hospital and they have to drive about ten kilometers to get even a cup of coffee.

Hospital authorities could not be reached for comments.


January 17, 2009

Saudi News Weekly (Jan 10-16, 2009)

21 days

A friend alerted me to the fact that the war on Gaza started on December 27th, after 18 months of planning (jailing Gaza after settlers are out), and leaders in Israel say it will take about a month. That puts an end to around January 27th.

Jan 27th is “Holocaust Memorial Day” in Israel and the US, meaning it really serves a powerful metaphor (in their minds) to have calculated for this. Bury their dead and pay tribute to their memory on the same day. Problem is their reasoning is a lie.
This is the time to boycott US/Israeli products. Make it a habit, not a short-term response. We should take serious steps to boycott Israel and US products in protest against the massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli holocaust in the Gaza Strip.

Life goes on...

Abdullah Al Alami

The King Abdullah Project for General Education Development will bring about dramatic changes in the Kingdom’s education system, said Naif Al-Roumi, deputy education minister for planning and development and director general of the project.

This is good news. Whatever the objective is, please remove the fanatic teachers from our schools.

Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice recently found a woman in her 20s who escaped from a group of kidnappers who took her to a rural location along the Jeddah-Makkah Expressway.

What is going on? You mean our streets are no longer safe?

Abdul Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh, Grand Mufti of the Kingdom, said girls as young as 10 years old can be married and that critics of the practice were doing the girls “an injustice”.
I agree with the National Human Rights Commission who condemned marriages of minor girls. These marriages are inhumane violation.

An international conference to discuss problems related to randomly issuing fatwas will be held at the headquarters of the Muslim World League (MWL) on Sunday.

The conference needs to determine the methods and terms and conditions that should govern fatwas. We should no longer allow fatwas-to-go.

The Ministry of Justice reported that the average number of monthly divorce cases in Saudi Arabia was 1,980 in 2008 against about 1,500 cases in 2007.

Please note these are monthly averages.

Cops at the Sanabil checkpoint, south of Jeddah, foiled a smuggling attempt of nearly 80 dead sheep on a truck believed to be on the way to Jeddah restaurants Saturday.

Please take extra caution when purchasing meat.

Matrook al-Faleh, an outspoken Saudi human rights advocate who was imprisoned for nearly eight months was freed on Saturday.

This is the time for national unity.

Agents at Al-Majardah checkpoint seized about 44 tiles of hashish estimated to be worth SR2 million from inside the welded part of the body of a car being towed along the Coast Highway heading for the Western Region.

This is a large quantity of hashish, I wonder who is importing!

The Israelis continue their holocaust in Gaza . Please sign this petition addressed to the UN, the Arab League and the OIC.



Jeddah will host the International Exhibition for Mineral Exploration and Development (MENA-EX 2009) on Jan. 18-20 at Hilton Hotel, under the supervision of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, and represented by the administration of mineral Resources, the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) ,Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden), Austrade, Saudi Ministry of Transport, Saudi Ports Authority, Saudi Railways Organization and British CWC.

The Cultural Exchange Center in Jeddah will be starting the men's "Arabic for non-Arabs" courses (All levels) on January 24, 2009.

Call 02 663 7191 or 050 723 7822


More than 100 leaders will discuss solutions to the global financial crisis at the Competitiveness Forum to be held Jan 25-27 in Riyadh . Speakers includes:

Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of Malaysia

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland

Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan

Abdullah Ali Reza Zainal, Saudi minister of commerce

Jean Chrétien, former premiere of Canada

Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president of the Council on Competitiveness

Michael Porter Bishop from William Lawrence University

Jim Clifton, chairman of the Gallup Organization

Laura D’Andrea Tyson, professor at Haas Business School

Thomas Russo, VP of Lehman Brothers

John Thain, chairman of Merrill Lynch.

For more information:


The Lebanese American University is offering scholarship opportunities for 20 women rights activists from organizations in the Arab Gulf countries. Successful candidates will be funded by the Young Women Leadership program (YWL) to participate in two summer leadership training modules at the Lebanese American University in Beirut.
The program is offered during the first two weeks of August of every year (2009 and 2010) and is intended to advance the leadership skills of women activists in the Arab Gulf countries.

Interested candidates should check the webbsite


Submit your CV to YWL before January 31, 2009.

For more info:
Email: ywl@lau.edu.lb
Fax: +961-1-867-098

The 2009 Euromoney Conference is set to be the most important and highest profile Euromoney Saudi Arabia event scheduled for May 19-20, 2009 in Al Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh .

For more information

Call +44 (0) 20 7779 8770

Email ekearney@euromoneyplc.com

January 10, 2009

SaudiNews Jan 9, 2009

First the good news (for a change)...
The Saudi oil tanker Sirirus Star is finally free.
Life goes on....
Abdullah Al Alami

Veteran Saudi journalist and former editor in chief of the now-defunct English-language newspaper Riyadh Daily, Talaat Wafa, died on Monday in Riyadh after a brief illness.
I met the late Talaat a couple of times and I found him to be a real human, a person down to earth.

Saudi Aramco has discovered five new oil fields and three gas fields in the Eastern Province . Four of the five oil fields were found in the mainland while the fifth was in a waterlogged region of the province.

Galileo by Travelport, one of the world’s largest global distribution system (GDS) providers, has announced the first ever ‘women only’ training program for travel agencies in Jeddah.
I have serious doubts about KSA becoming a tourist country with all the strict religious influence on society.

The National Society for Human Rights has filed complaints with the Ministry of Justice against 40 judges in a number of courts in Riyadh , Jeddah, Makkah, Jizan, the Eastern Province and Al-Jouf.
Any idea how many cases may have been wrongly judged by 40 judges?

Dr. Muhammad Al-Murai, a college professor filed a lawsuit against the Makkah Police Department, accusing three police officers of pulling him over, arresting him, and beating him in front of his family for alleged belligerence with policemen earlier this week. After the arrest, the college professor was taken to hospital with bruises all over his body and a bleeding nose. He has been hospitalized for three days. Any idea what is this all about?
The Directorate of Health in Madinah has ordered two doctors to pay a compensation of SR100,000 for causing the death of a patient while undergoing a surgery in a private hospital in the city recently.
The directorate issued the order on the basis of the report of a forensic medical board identifying the two doctors as responsible for the medical error and .....the consequent loss of life.

Suicide cases in the Kingdom are on the rise. According to local press reports, 596 people reportedly ended their lives in 2007 alone. The Eastern Province , which has a huge concentration of guest workers, reported the largest number of 239 cases, which is 40 percent of the total.
Do people in the eastern Province suffer from disappointment and depression more than anybody else?

A 21-year-old Saudi man was admitted to St. Vincent Hospital in Sydney , Australia , after being attacked on the city’s George Street .
The number of attack cases against Saudi and GCC citizens is on the rise.

More than 100 leaders will discuss solutions to the global financial crisis at the Competitiveness Forum to be held Jan 25-27 in Riyadh . Speakers includes Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of Malaysia; Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland; Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan; Abdullah Ali Reza Zainal, Saudi minister of commerce; Jean Chrétien, former premiere of Canada; Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president of the Council on Competitiveness; Michael Porter Bishop from William Lawrence University; Jim Clifton, chairman of the Gallup Organization; Laura D’Andrea Tyson, professor at Haas Business School; Thomas Russo, VP of Lehman Brothers; and John Thain, chairman of Merrill Lynch.
For more information

Here is your chance to vote on CNN:
Do you think Israel had a right to attack Gaza?

The Cultural Exchange Center in Jeddah will be starting the men's "Arabic for non-Arabs" courses (All levels) on January 24, 2009. Morning and evening classes are available.
Call 02 663 7191 or 050 723 7822

The “Reading Group” invites you to discuss the novel “The Kite Runner”, By Khaled Hosseini on Jan 12, 2009 @ 7:00 pm at Dammam Literary Club. The novel is available at Jarir book store.
For more information contact Mrs. Najat Shafei

January 2, 2009

Saudi News Weekly Dec 27, 2008 - Jan 2, 2009

Donate blood to show support for the Palestinians in Gaza.

King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh

King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah

Mobile blood banks were also set up at a number of Jeddah’s shopping malls, including Al-Serafi Mega Mall by King Abdulaziz Univ Hospital.

Life goes on….

Abdullah Al Alami

Minister of Justice Abdullah Al-Shiekh announced that Saudi judicial reforms will start Jan. 1. The process to bring about structural and procedural changes will take 20 years.

A budget of nearly SR7 billion has been allocated for developing the judicial system. I hope the funds will be spent on reforming and training the judges and not just building new courts.

Since we're talking about legal issue, the Administrative Court in Riyadh rejected the first ever lawsuit filed against the Commission for Promotion of Virtue five years ago that involved accusations by a woman and her daughter.

I understand the mother claimed that two religious police agents attacked her and her 20-year-old daughter.

Watch out. Any SR200 or SR500 note you have may be fake, the Ministry of Interior warns. Police teams have investigated over 200 reported cases of fake 200 and 500 Saudi riyal bills.
I strongly suggest that banks, money exchangers, and supermarkets now have laser detectors to spot fake bills.

Is Dow Chemical ready for more bad news? A $22 billion joint venture between Dow and the Aramco is beginning to look shaky. This comes hot on the heels of the $17.4 billion joint venture that the company was heading into with Kuwait Petroleum Corp.

Why do we keep saying our economy has not been affected by the global financial situation?

The closure of the Dammam–Khobar underpass tunnel near Dammam Sports Stadium has placed tremendous pressure on the already-congested roads of the city.

Now it takes about half an hour to cover one km distance to the First Industrial Area, Saudi Electric Company, or Aramco during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

About 1,500 Arab drivers on Sunday gathered in front of the headquarters of their company in Al-Shumaisi demanding payment of their salaries.

When will we stop abusing foreign workers and start treating them like human beings?

Elaf, a leading company in the Saudi tourism industry, has announced that it is developing a strategic plan to set the tone for corporate activities within the next five years. The planned initiative is expected to boost domestic tourism revenue to around SR 73.3 billion by 2010.

It is almost impossible that tourism will ever be developed here while we still have a strong religious influence on every aspect of our life.

The Commission for Promotion of Virtue closed down the only women’s park in Yanbu, resulting in the loss of 60 jobs for local women.


Beacuse music is played in the park. What a wonderful way to start the year 2009.

So much for tourism...

A catering service run by Saudi women, the first in the Eastern Province , has opened in Dammam. "Nouryat Center" is located in Shafa Mall at Abdullah Fuad Street . The service is run by young businesswoman, Nourah Al-Muqaithib, with ten Saudi women working under her, the food center is a “women only” enterprise, with a separate counter where men can place orders.

Is this the end of a long fight against women running their own business in public?

Here’s a lady who deserves some respect.

Jawhara Al-Anqari, deputy chairperson of the National Society for Human Rights said on Wednesday: “The insistence on closed-circuit television meetings between men and women is a violation of women’s rights”.

Al-Jawhara also said that throughout Islamic history women had been more inspired by face-to-face social interaction with men.

Arab News reported that a total of 3,801 complaints from citizens and expatriates were filed at the National Society for Human Rights. The report said 670, or 17 percent, of the complaints were against prison officials.

I understand the complaints include delayed judicial proceedings, maltreatment, aggression, violation of prison regulations, prevention of visits, failure to release prisoners at the end of their prison term, psychological abuse, deterioration of health and others.

One more police story.

Security guards at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah on Wednesday caught a policeman for having a "liaison" with a woman student on campus, according to a source with the Jeddah police.

Listen to this: The policeman was found in the company of a woman in the back seat of his car.

Saudi Gazette reported that over 80% of electric appliances and 50% of imported tires available in the Kingdom are fake and not in conformity with Saudi specifications and standards.

Where is the anti-commercial fraud committee at the different Chamber of Commerce?

Egypt’s foreign ministry denied claims by a human rights group that an Egyptian man was being detained in Saudi Arabia on suspicion of spying.

I find this story hard to believe.

The “Reading Group” welcomes you to discuss the novel

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

On Jan 12, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

Dammam Literary Club

The novel is available at Jarir book store.

For more information contact Mrs. Najat Shafei