“We will face criticism whether we do something or we don’t…Saudi Arabia is going through a transformation. We were always criticized that we are not opening up to the world, we’re not doing anything in the kingdom, we’re not opening up to tourism…Sports has been a tool for social change within the kingdom.”

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, the 36-year-old head of Saudi Arabia ‘s General Sports Authority, in an interview with the AP about the numerous major sporting events now being hosted by the country. [Associated Press]



U.S. Probe of Saudi Oil Attack Shows it Came From the North – Reuters Report

Oil Facility

The United States said new evidence and analysis of weapons debris recovered from an attack on Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14 “indicates the strike likely came from the north, reinforcing its earlier assessment that Iran was behind the offensive,” Reuters reports in an exclusive.

The attacks on September 14th were significant. Two of Saudi Arabia’s most important oil facilities were brazenly attacked and set ablaze, causing a disruption of half of Saudi Arabia’s total daily oil production and 5% of the world’s crude supply.

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen said that the attacks were drone strikes they carried out, and claimed responsibility for them. The Houthis also said they would strike again.

But in an interim report of a U.S. investigation – “seen by Reuters ahead of a presentation on Thursday to the United Nations Security Council – Washington assessed that before hitting its targets, one of the drones traversed a location approximately 200 km (124 miles) to the northwest of the attack site,” according to Reuters.

“This, in combination with the assessed 900 kilometer maximum range of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), indicates with high likelihood that the attack originated north of Abqaiq,” the interim report said, referring to the location of one of the Saudi oil facilities that were hit.

[Click here to read more from Reuters]




Pentagon review of Saudi military trainees finds no threats

Via Darryl Coote in upi.com : The Pentagon has said an initial screening of about 850 Saudi Arabian international military students training on bases in the United States found no signs that they pose any immediate threats to the country.

Saudi EDM festival Middle Beast welcomes thousands in its opening night

thenational.ae and other media outlets report on MDL Beast, the region’s biggest dance music festival spanning five stages in Riyadh and featuring over two dozen DJs including the first female DJ from Saudi Arabia.  More than 60,000 people showed up for the first day.

From Greta Thunberg to Saudi visas: this is how the travel industry has evolved in 10 years

Via Hayley Skirka in thenational.ae : Perhaps the defining moment of the decade for the Middle East travel scene happened in September, when Saudi Arabia launched tourism visas after being closed to outsiders for decades.



Saudi Aramco IPO

Interview at Davos: Aramco International Listing ‘Still on the Cards,’ Saudi Arabia Finance Minister Says

Saudi Arabian Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan discusses the recent $5 billion debt issuance, the state of the Saudi economy, and the prospect of an international...[via bloomberg.com]



More efforts needed to bridge gender, generation gaps in labor market: Saudi conference

The two-day T20 Inception Conference brought together experts from all over the world to discuss a range of essential issues covering climate, energy, migration, youth,...[By Rashid Hassan via arabnews.com]


Saudi Bonds

Saudi Arabia Issues $5 Billion of Bonds as Gulf Tensions Ease

The kingdom issued $5 billion of debt, taking advantage of low borrowing costs globally. It’s seeking to plug part of its growing budget deficit by...[By Archana Narayanan and Matthew Martin via bloomberg.com]


Saudi Youth Development Survey of 2019

Youth make up over two-thirds of Saudi Arabia: Survey

Youth, categorized as individuals aged 0-34 years, make up 67.02 percent of the total population of Saudi Arabia, according to a report released by the...[By Matthew Amlôt via alarabiya.net]


Pensacola Shooting

At Florida base, a mix of relief, anxiety in Saudi shooting aftermath

With an FBI investigation underway, Navy security officer David Link still is not allowed to talk about what he saw when a Saudi gunman killed...[By Phil Stewart via reuters.com]



Saudi Arabia to Screen Travelers From China After Virus Outbreak

Saudi Arabia will start screening passengers arriving from China and take other preventive measures following the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China, the kingdom's...[via nytimes.com]


Women in the Workforce

First military section for women introduced in Saudi Arabia

Under the initiative to incorporate more women into the field, previously announced in October 2019, women can now join the military as lance corporals, corporals,...[via thenews.com]


Study Abroad

From the field: The new student recruitment landscape in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi government began to wind down the KASP scholarship programme in 2016, and Saudi numbers in all major receiving countries began to drop off...[via icef.com]


Saudi Projects

Fifteen of the top projects currently shaping Saudi Arabia

The kingdom is pouring billions into a suite of gigaprojects, transport and mobility schemes, such as Riyadh Metro, designed to wean the country off its...[By Gavin Gibbon via arabianbusiness.com]



Teneo Signs Up to Manage PR Unit of Saudi Mega-City

The New York-based firm’s duties include leading and staffing Neom’s PR unit to ensure that the development’s corporate messages and positioning are effectively communicated. It also...[By Kevin McCauley via odwyerpr.com]



Saudi Arabia’s taxis go green

The green vehicles will be monitored and tracked to document quality of service and driver efficiency, equipped with screens that support both Arabic and English...[By Aseel Bashraheel via arabnews.com]



Can Lebanon’s newly designated PM save the economy?

Nominated with the support of Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies, Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab and the cabinet he has vowed to form quickly must win...[By Tom Arnold via reuters.com]



Iraq’s Shia leader calls for early election amid unrest, protests

"The fastest and most peaceful way out of the current crisis, and avoiding the unknown or chaos or civil strife, is to go back to...[via aljazeera.com]



Russia and Syria Hold First Navy Drills Together as They Launch New Assault

In exercises involving some 2,000 personnel, 10 vessels and a number of aircraft as well, the Russia and Syrian armed forces signaled a new level...[By Tom O'Connor via newsweek.com]



New centrifuges being tested, President Rouhani says

Rouhani said at a meeting with Iranian expatriates in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday that the country is now testing IR-9 centrifuges,...[By Joshua Berlinger and Mallory Gafas via cnn.com]



Inside Taliban’s Afghanistan, violence remains path to power

The Dec. 11 Bagram attack, which killed two people and wounded more than 70, derailed the most recent round of peace talks in Doha, Qatar....[By Susannah George via washingtonpost.com]


Qatar Dispute

Persian Gulf Standoff Starts to Thaw on the Soccer Field

“The conflict is an issue between governments,” he said, sitting in the lobby of the ornate hotel where his sports heroes were staying. “Believe me,...[By Declan Walsh via nytimes.com]


Turkey in the Region

Analysis: Turkey’s Economic Relations with Gulf States in the Shadow of the 2017 Qatar Crisis

Nader Habibi assesses the economic implications for Turkey by examining changes in four important areas with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar...[By Nader Habibi via brandeis.edu]



Perspective: Rethinking Iranian regional influence and internal stability

The regime, wrote political scientist and reformist Alireza Alavi Tabar in the Kalameh news website, “has been weakened, but it doesn’t mean it is on...[By Scheherazade Faramarzi via atlanticcouncil.org]


Gulf Shipping

French warship to spearhead European mission in Gulf from next year

A European operation to ensure safe shipping in the Gulf region, scene of attacks on merchant vessels this year, will get underway next month when...[via reuters.com]


Mediterranean Sea

Egypt Rejects Turkey-Libya Deal on Sea Rights, Security

Egypt has told the U.N. Security Council it rejects two agreements between Turkey and Libya’s U.N.-supported government on maritime rights in the Mediterranean and military...[via nytimes.com]


ME Risks

Commentary: A Guide to Middle East Risks in 2020

Governments and companies in the region raised a record $111 billion selling debt this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg....[By Netty Idayu Ismail via bloomberg.com]


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