QUOTED

“If there was one thing I had to say about my recent trip to Al Ula in Saudi Arabia, is that it’s a place of extraordinary natural beauty, cultural heritage and kind hearted people. I learned firsthand that is a place of awe-inspiring beauty, a landscape of cliffs and canyons featuring ancient petroglyphs and rock art. It feels like another planet. There’s no light pollution, so you can see pretty much every single star in the sky. There is no traffic, so the air is fresh, there are no skyscrapers, so your views are totally unobstructed.”

-Yousra Zaki, journalist and web features editor of Gulf News, in a story highlighting her recent visit to Al Ula in Saudi Arabia. [gulfnews.com]

TOP STORY

Flights to Saudi Capital Double as 66-day Riyadh Season Proves a Major Boon to Kingdom’s New Tourism Drive

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Flight bookings for travel to Riyadh from October 2019 to January 2020 more than doubled compared to the same period in the previous year, Arabian Business reports, citing data from the Seera Group, a Saudi-based travel and tourism company. [more]

 

TOP STORY

BLOCKCHAIN

Saudi Aramco Makes $5 million Investment in Blockchain-Based Oil Trading Company VAKT

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Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) has invested $5 million into blockchain-based oil trading company VAKT, the company said in a press release. [more]

 

TOP STORY

SAUDI-ISRAEL

Israelis Can Now Go to Saudi Arabia For Religious Pilgrimages, Business Visits, Israel Says; Saudi Says ‘Our Policy is Fixed’

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UPDATE: Saudi Arabia’a Foreign Minister said Israelis were not welcome to visit the kingdom, CNN reported on Monday. “Our policy is fixed. We do not have relations with the state of Israel and Israeli passport holders cannot visit the kingdom at the current time,” CNN quoted Prince Faisal bin Farhan as saying. [Reuters]

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A new rule from Israeli leaders will allow Israeli Muslims to go to Saudi Arabia for religious pilgrimages and permit business trips to the Kingdom, according to reports. [more]

 

MORE TOP STORYLINES

Saudi Telecom to Buy Vodafone Egypt Stake for $2.39 Billion

Via Abdel Latif Wahba and Matthew Martin in bloomberg.com : The deal gives STC, as the Riyadh-based firm is known, access to a country of some 100 million people where Vodafone Egypt has a market share of about 44%. STC has bought stakes in telecom companies operating in Turkey, Indonesia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Malaysia over the past decade. If a transaction is finalized the companies expect to keep the Vodafone brand.

Saudi Arabias SABIC sees slowdown in 2020

Via Marwa Rashad in reuters.com : The CEO of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), the world’s fourth-biggest petrochemicals firm, said he expects a slowdown in 2020, although it was too early to determine the impact of the outbreak of China’s coronavirus on demand. SABIC had not suspended travel or taken any other measures because of the virus, Yousef al-Benyan said at a news briefing following the company’s publication of its financial results.

How the Middle East Is Reacting to Donald Trumps Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan

Via Tom OConnor in newsweek.com : Middle Eastern nations offered mixed reactions to President Donald Trumps long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, a framework negotiated without the participation of Palestinians, who have been engaged in a land dispute with the worlds only majority-Jewish nation since its creation in 1948.

 

MORE ON THE KINGDOM AND BEYOND

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]

 

China Virus

China vows to beat ‘devil’ virus as countries rush to evacuate citizens

From France to Japan, governments were organising evacuations, while Hong Kong - scene of anti-China unrest for months - planned to suspend rail and ferry...[By Tony Munroe and Muyu Xu via reuters.com]

 

Afghanistan

Officials Recover Remains at U.S. Military Plane Crash Site in Afghanistan

Military officials said that they had recovered two sets of remains from the two-person plane, and that the crash did not appear to be caused...[By Helene Cooper and Mujib Mashal via nytimes.com]

 

Lebanon

Lebanon Prime Minister asks government, banks for plan to restore confidence

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab asked the government and the country’s banks on Wednesday for a plan to restore confidence as the country faces its...[via arabnews.com]

 

Iran

Video: Iran Plane Crash Cover-Up Shows Widening Split in State Media

IRIB, Iran’s giant state broadcaster, made no apology for disseminating the false denials and found itself under severe criticism from smaller, officially licensed news websites...[via voanews.com]

 

Libya

Libya’s war explained: Khalifa Haftar, oil cuts, UAE airstrikes and Russian mercenaries

Libya has seen its oil production slashed by 75% in just one week as warring factions within the country attempt to use the key commodity...[By Natasha Turak via cnbc.com]

 

Exxon Mobil

Exxon Signs Deals With Egypt For Oil, Gas Exploration in East Mediterranean

The two exploration deals call for a total investment of at least US$332 million, according to a statement from Egypt’s petroleum ministry, carried by Reuters. At...[via oilprice.com]

 

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Has Best Year Ever, And Expects a Better 2020 

Lockheed Martin booked nearly $60 billion in 2019 sales, the best year on record for the world’s largest defense contractor. And its executives are predicting...[By Marcus Weisgerber via defenseone.com]

 

UAE Nuclear

UAE nuclear plant unit is ‘ready’ for start-up

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), and its subsidiary Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), announced on Tuesday that experts from the Atlanta Center of the World...[via khaleejtimes.com]

 

Iran

More US service members diagnosed with brain injury after Iran missile attack

A total of 50 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injury from this month’s Iranian missile attack on Iraqi bases hosting American troops, the Pentagon...[By Phil Helsel via cnbc.com]

 

Iran Cyber

Explainer: How Iran’s military outsources its cyberwarfare forces

Iran’s cyberwarfare capability lies primarily within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the country’s military. However, rather than employing its own cyberforce against...[By Dorothy Denning via navytimes.com]

 
 

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