“At the beginning it was Carlos opening the road until he got stuck. Then Nasser got stuck in the dunes and after that I opened the road for more than 200 kilometres. Navigation was so tricky that we all reduced the speed.”

-Stéphane Peterhansel, French rally racing driver and 3x Dakar Rally winner, on the recent ongoing race in Saudi Arabia. Peterhansel is among three leaders in the race, including Carlos Sainz (ESP) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT). The three leaders have 18 total Dakar Rally wins between them. [redbull.com]



World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law Report says Saudi Arabia Top Reformer, Improver Among 190 Economies

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has realized a remarkable leap in the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2020 report, with a score of 70.6 out of 100 and achieving the honor of being the top improver over the last year, according to reports. [more]




Using ‘Greenshoe Option’, Saudi Aramco Raises IPO to Record $29.4B; Banks Seek ‘Incentive Fee’


Saudi Aramco sold millions of additional shares of its initial public offering using a so-called “greenshoe option” that has raised the size of its IPO by nearly $4 billion. [more]



Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures Prepares New $500m Fund, Opens Office in China

Jafurah deposits are estimated to hold 200 trillion cubic feet of wet gas, Reuters reports.

Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), a unit of the kingdom’s energy company, is preparing to start a new $500 million fund this year after completing $500m in investments, Bloomberg reports. [more]



MENA fund managers to raise Saudi investments: Reuters poll

From Nafisa Eltahir in reuters.com: “In 2020, we see an acceleration of gains in Saudi stocks benefiting from social reforms and greater spend on projects and homebuilding,” said Akber Khan, head of asset management at Al Rayan Investment in Doha.

In Saudi Coffeehouses, a Window Into a Changing Society

From Vivian Lee in nytimes.com: “I think the reason coffee shops became a trend is because people are more open to change,” said Shaden Alkhalifah, 30, who was studying at Draft Café in Riyadh on a recent evening. “It has something to do with the current political dialogue,” she added. (And, perhaps, with the many Saudis who have studied abroad in cities with single-origin coffee bean fetishes.)

Amid Western arms embargoes on Saudi Arabia, SAMI has a backup plan

From Agnes Helou in defensenews.com: SAMI’s business plan involves three phases. “Phase 1 of two years’ length is the setup and definition phase, and is about to conclude by the end of 2019. Phase 2 is the rollout of production lines, which is expected to take three years and finish by the end of 2023. The last phase we planned is a stable growth phase.”



Netflix screening ‘big boost’ to Saudi filmmakers

“Six Windows in the Desert,” a series of short films created by Saudis, will make its Netflix debut on Thursday, streaming in 190 countries. After buying...[via arabnews.com]


Saudi Officials Hold Talks with US Special Envoy for Syria

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah has met with US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria Joel...[via aawsat.com]


More Than A Dozen Saudi Oil Firms Book Hefty Losses In 2019

A total of 14 Saudi companies in the energy sector booked hefty losses last year, Middle East Monitor reported on Wednesday, quoting analysts who had...[By Tsvetana Paraskova via oilprice.com]


Trekking to the Most Beautiful Wadi in the Middle East

Wadi Lejab is this magical spot somewhere on the map of the Al-Raith mountains in Saudi Arabia. After driving for 2 days from Riyadh, we...[By Eva zu Beck via youtube.com]


Inaugural Saudi Cup To Be Televised On FS1

Live coverage of the inaugural Saudi Cup airs Saturday, Feb. 29 at noon Eastern on FS1. The field for the Saudi Cup, the world's richest...[via paulickreport.com]


Can I Fly to Riyadh? Emirates Air to Limit Access to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia suspended entry for nationalities holding tourist visas and coming from: Greater China, Iran, Italy, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Philippines, Singapore,...[By Layan Odeh via bloomberg.com]


Sports minister launches Saudi Games, Kingdom’s largest sporting event

The event will feature 40 games with the participation of 35 sports federations in 18 venues within Riyadh....[via arabnews.com]


Aramco Is Said to Start Early Preparations for Overseas Listing

The world’s largest publicly traded company is in discussions with Wall Street banks to draw up scenarios for a second listing overseas, according to the...[By Matthew Martin, Dinesh Nair, and Ishika Mookerjee via bloomberg.com]


Saudi cuts March oil volumes to China by at least 500,000 bpd

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, is reducing crude supplies to China in March by at least 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to...[By Alex Lawler via reuters.com]


Saudi Aramco Open to Share Sales Abroad to Fuel Economic Plans

Saudi Arabia is planning to sell more stakes in state-owned oil producer Saudi Aramco as it looks to raise money to fuel an economic diversification...[By Matthew Martin via bloomberg.com]


Saudi Cup Could Change How Sires Are Ranked

If the winner of the Saudi Cup is by a U.S. sire and goes on to win the $12 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by...[By Eric Mitchell via bloodhorse.com]


In Saudi Arabia, women have scored another winning goal

Saudi Arabia is planning on expanding the number of professional football players competing in the country, not by recruiting more athletes to its existing national...[via thenational.ae]


Saudi Lending to Private Sector Surges to Fastest Since 2016

Lending to Saudi Arabia’s private sector grew at the fastest pace since May 2016, a sign the kingdom’s non-oil economy is sustaining momentum as businesses...[By Vivian Nereim via bloomberg.com]



Iran makes arrests in plane shootdown, police crack down on protests

The domestic unrest triggered by the plane crash comes just two months after the most violent crackdown on protests since the revolution. The authorities killed...[By Parisa Hafezi and Babak Dehghanpisheh via reuters.com]


Iran Nuclear Agreement

Britain, France, Germany formally accuse Iran of breaking nuclear deal

The European powers said they were acting to avoid a crisis over nuclear proliferation adding to an escalating confrontation in the Middle East. Russia, another...[By John Irish and Guy Faulconbridge via reuters.com]



Russia government resigns after Putin proposes reforms that would weaken his successor

The entire Russian government is resigning, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced Wednesday, after President Vladimir Putin proposed reforms that would weaken his successor. Putin thanked members...[By Mary Ilyushina via cnn.com]


Gulf Security

US warns vessels transiting Persian Gulf amid tensions with Iran

“Heightened military activity and increased political tensions in this region continue to pose serious threats to commercial vessels,” the U.S. said in a maritime warning....[via militarytimes.com via AP]



“We’re always ready”: Would the U.S. win a cyberwar with Iran?

cybersecurity experts remain deeply concerned about the potential for more clandestine acts of retaliation. Iran, after all, is notorious for its use of asymmetric warfare....[By Steven Melendez via fastcompany.com]



Sudan army quells Khartoum mutiny by pro-Bashir troops

Shooting broke out on Tuesday in the capital Khartoum and the city's airport was briefly closed amid the clashes. The violence was sparked by a row...[via bbc.com]



Israel starts exporting natural gas to Egypt under landmark deal

Israel began exporting natural gas to Egypt on Wednesday under one of the most important deals to have been signed by the neighbors since they...[via arabnews.com]


Pakistan in the Region

Pakistani foreign minister in US after visits to Iran, Saudi in mediation push

Pakistan’s foreign minister will be in Washington today for talks with US officials following visits to Iran and Saudi Arabia....[By Nick Giurleo via foreignbrief.com]


Nile River Basin

Climate change is more rain but less water for River Nile basin

Nearly all of the rainfall that feeds the Nile’s two major tributaries, the Blue and White Nile, falls in the upper Nile basin, found in...[By Ethan D. Coffel and Justin S. Mankin via qz.com]



Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister rejects Turkish military intervention in northern Syria

We reject Turkish military intervention in northern Syria, says Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah....[via arabnews.com]


Taliban Talks

Contradictory reports regarding Iran’s support to the Taliban

“Iranian support to the Taliban is tempered by their realization that Taliban control of Afghanistan is not in Iran’s best long term interest due to...[By Shawn Snow via militarytimes.com]



Hakan Sukur: How former Turkey star ended up in the US as a taxi driver

Hakan Sukur is Turkey's greatest ever goalscorer and once one of Europe's most prolific strikers. A legend. So, how did he end up driving taxis and...[By Ciaran Varley via bbc.com]


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