There’s a “wall of cash that investors need to put to work” and Saudi Arabia “ticks all the boxes.”

Chavan Bhogaita, head of strategy at First Abu Dhabi Bank, comments on Saudi Arabia’s just completed $5 billion Eurobond that is part of the $32 billion of local currency and international debt the kingdom is expected to issue in 2020.  This bond issue had more than $23 billion in orders. [bloomberg.com]



Saudi Olympic Football Team Qualifies for Tokyo 2020, First Olympic Soccer Bid in 24 Years

Tokyo 2020

Saudi Arabia and Korea Republic have become one of the first three Asian teams to secure a trip to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Fifa reports.  [more]



Oil Demand Growth Forecasted to Trend Higher in 2020

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries along with Russia and its allies will curb oil output by a collective 1.2 million barrels a day.

Oil demand growth is set to trend higher this year compared with 2019, a recent report from Jadwa Investment finds, citing OPEC forecasts and other global economic factors.   [more]




Saudi Authority Calls on UNESCO to Protect Traditional Khawlani Coffee Cultivation Techniques

Coffee making in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Heritage Preservation Society has called on UNESCO to protect traditional Khawlani coffee cultivation techniques in Saudi Arabia in a press release, noting that the Arabian tradition “has been passed down for generations by the ancient tribes of Khawlan who have grown and processed Khawlani coffee beans in the verdant valleys of Jazan, a region in the southern-most tip of Arabia, for over 300 years.” [more]



Aramco IPO proceeds to fund Saudi industry, including defense: finance minister

Via Dmitry Zhdannikov in reuters.com : With nearly $30 billion coming into PIF coffers from Aramco’s local share offering last month, new and existing local industries, including defense and technology, will get a boost in capital, Jadaan said.

Not worried at all about attracting tourists: Saudi tourism chief

Via Abigail Ng in cnbc.com : Under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, the country wants tourism to make up 10% of GDP, up from around 3%. It also has a target of 100 million international and domestic annual visits by 2030.

Gulf economies to pick up this year following spending spree: Reuters poll

Via Yousef Saba and Nafisa Eltahir in reuters.com : Economic growth in the Gulf will pick up this year and next, helped by Saudi Arabia’s investment program and Expo 2020 in Dubai, although the region will continue to feel the impact of oil output cuts, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.



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]



Iraqi president meets with Trump in Davos despite threats from militia groups

Iraqi President Barham Salih met with his US counterpart Donald Trump at Davos on Wednesday, despite warnings from militia groups that he would be "not welcome...[By Alex Macdonald via middleeasteye.net]



Lebanon forms government with backing of Hezbollah and allies

Diab described his government as a technocratic “rescue team” that would work to achieve protesters’ goals. His first trip abroad would be to the Arab...[By Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam via reuters.com]



Masked gunmen kill local commander of Iran’s security forces

The slain commander, Abdolhossein Mojaddami, headed the Basij forces, a paramilitary wing of the Revolutionary Guard used for internal security and other tasks, in the...[via yahoo.com via AP]


Anti-ISIS Campaign

Joint Syria raid killed ISIS oil official who financed sleeper cells

The ISIS official known by the pseudonym Abu al-Ward al-Iraqi was killed along with another militant who officials have not yet identified during the raid...[By Chad Garland via stripes.com]



Officials Say U.S. Drone Strike Killed 10 Civilians In Western Afghanistan

A U.S. drone strike earlier this month in the western Afghan province of Herat that apparently targeted a militant group also killed at least 10...[By RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan via rferl.org]


Smart Cities

How GCC’s smart cities will tackle urbanization challenges

In 2017, 17 out of 22 Arab League countries had more than half their populations living in urban areas. With further population increases predicted in MENA...[By Caline Malek via arabnews.com]


Iran in the Region

Commentary: Iran’s Missile Capabilities

According to the U.S. secretary of defense, this reprisal was composed of 16 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) fired from three locations in Iran at two...[By Behnam Ben Taleblu via thehill.com]



Turkey’s FM urges Russia to halt Syrian government attacks

The Syrian government has been carrying out an offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in the country, and the rebel-held...[via yahoo.com via AP]


Urban Operations

Perspective: Gangs of Baghdad

The US military has a history of trying to impose its power on cities—in Saigon, Panama City, Mogadishu, Kabul, and Baghdad, for instance—typically with mediocre...[By John Spencer via usma.edu]


Trump Travel Ban

Trump weighs travel ban expansion in coming days

The Trump administration is eyeing seven countries for new immigration restrictions three years after its original order, which created an uproar for targeting Muslim-majority nations....[By Nahal Toosi and Anita Kumar via politico.com]


Ukraine International Airlines

Canada, Iran at odds over who should analyze downed plane’s black boxes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, which lost 57 of the 176 people killed in the crash, said Iran did not have the ability to...[By Alexander Cornwell and Babak Dehghanpisheh via reuters.com]



In Israel, a concentration camp survivor has lived her life as a Muslim

As world leaders — including U.S. Vice President Pence — prepared to gather in Jerusalem this week to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation...[By Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash via washingtonpost.com]


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