“Saudi’s historic sites appear to be an important attraction for tourists to the Kingdom. Amongst those surveyed by YouGov, over one in five (22%) are keen to visit Jeddah’s historic old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Meanwhile, another UNESCO site, previously only known to a few travellers, is gaining a following amongst Chinese millennials.  Al Ula now tops the list of destinations in the Arab world of a third of Chinese tourists under the age of 35. Italians top the list with 35% surveyed saying they would be more likely to visit Saudi Arabia following the new visa launch. British tourists were 15% more likely just ahead of Americans at 14%.”

-YouGov.com, in a recent poll conducted on the Kingdom’s burgeoning tourism market. [Press Release]



Saudi Non-Oil GDP Rises as Vision 2030 Reforms Kick In

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 emphasizes that Saudi Arabia will be a "tolerant country with Islam as its constitution and moderation as its method."

Economic indicators from the month of November show a continued positive trend for Saudi Arabia, with non-oil GDP surging and credit to the private sector rising to the highest rise in 3 years, Jadwa Investment said.  [more]



What would you do in 2020 if you were a Saudi minister?

Via Lojien Ben Gassem in arabnews.com : Majid Al-Qasabi, minister of commerce and investment and minister of municipal and rural affairs, asked his Twitter followers what they would do if they were a Saudi minister in 2020. The tweet went viral, with thousands of likes and retweets and almost 9,000 replies to his question.

All you need to know about the Spanish Super Cup featuring Barcelona and Real Madrid

Via John McAuley in thenational.ae : The tournament takes place January 8-12 and all matches will be played at King Abdullah Sports City, the 62,000-plus capacity stadium, home primarily to Saudi Pro League side Al Ahli.

Lubna Olayan takes chair of Saudi British Bank

Via Gavin Gibbon in arabianbusiness.com : She took over the role of chairman of SABB following the $5 billion merger with Alawwal in June last year, which created the third largest bank in the kingdom with $68.5bn of total assets, $4.8bn of customer loans and 52bn of customer deposits.



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]



Secretary of State Pompeo postpones Ukraine trip to focus on Iraq

Pompeo postponed his trip to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Cyprus “due to the need for the Secretary to be in Washington, D.C., to continue...[By Chris Sanders via reuters.com]


U.S. Middle East Policy

750 soldiers with 82nd Airborne headed for CENTCOM, additional 4,000 troops expected to deploy as Iran tensions mount

The deployment of additional forces adds to the nearly 14,000 additional American troops that have deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations over...[By Shawn Snow, Howard Altman and Philip Athey via militarytimes.com]


Baghdad Embassy

Amid Baghdad embassy attacks, US spending on embassy security drops 11%

The diplomatic security budget did indeed drop precipitously during the past two years, as evidenced by this chart from the US government’s fiscal 2019 budget...[By Justin Rohrlich via qz.com]



Iran Says ‘Not Afraid Of War’ After Trump ‘Threat’

Iranian military leaders have warned Washington against threatening military action after U.S. President Donald Trump said Tehran would be held responsible for anti-U.S. protests in...[via rferl.org]


Yemen Civil War

Yemen’s southern separatists pull out of Riyadh agreement committees

Implementation of the November pact has been slow and a number of deadlines missed, although it has enabled the return of the prime minister for...[By Lisa Barrington and Mohammad Ghobari via reuters.com]


Turkey in the Region

Erdogan says up to 250,000 people fleeing from Syria’s Idlib towards Turkey

Turkey hosts some 3.7 million Syrian refugees, the largest refugee population in the world. It fears a new wave from Idlib, where up to 3...[By van Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay via reuters.com]



Israel PM seeks immunity, buying time until after vote

Netanyahu was indicted in November on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. After failing to assemble a governing majority following back-to-back elections...[By Josef Federman via apnews.com]


Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin nabs $2.35B in contracts for F-35

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter -- a single-engine stealth multirole combat aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps --...[By Christen McCurdy via upi.com]


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