“We’re seeing the dialogues right now coming upon AI ethics, on data, and on cyber resilience. We’re trying to steer the conversation between those that are pro-consumer, pro-privacy, those that are pro-big tech, and how they can come to a middle ground.”

-Abdullah Alswaha, Saudi Arabia Minister of Communications and Information Technology, discussing Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency and interest in steering the global conversation on technology policies and standards in an interview with CGTN while attending the recent World Economic Forum. [cgtn.com]




Report: Saudi Air Defenses Repel Latest Houthi Missile, Drone Strikes at Oil Facilities


Rocket and drone strikes fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels at Saudi targets last week – including at Aramco oil facilities – were successfully shot down by Saudi air defenses, according to the Wall Street Journal which cited Saudi officials. [more]



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


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]




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


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




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


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]


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]



China oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia rise 47% in 2019: customs

Via Muyu Xu and Chen Aizhu in reuters.com : The big annual boost in Saudi shipments followed a new marketing strategy by state-run Aramco, which signed at least two new supply pacts with private refiners in China that came into the market from late 2018. Previously, Saudi Aramco had only dealt with China’s state refiners in long-term contracts.

Six Flags Qiddiya to bring year round thrills to Saudi Arabia

Via Owen Ralph in blooloop.com : Expected to open in 2023, the 32-hectare Six Flags Qiddiya, set against the Tuwaiq mountain range, will be the largest and most heavily themed Six Flags yet.  Larger than Walt Disney World, the developed area will be divided into five zones: Resort Core, City Centre, Motion Zone, Eco Zone & Golf Community. Six Flags Qiddiya will be found in the Resort Core.

US advises against travel to China; virus declared emergency

Via Ken Moritsugu in msn.com : The U.S. advised against all travel to China on Friday after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of a new virus that has spread to more than a dozen countries a global emergency. The number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week, including the highest death toll in a 24-hour period reported Friday.



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]


U.S. Congress

House passes two measures seeking to restrain Trump on Iran

The legislation would prohibit Trump from using federal funds to strike Iran without prior approval, and repeal an 18-year-old law that he and his advisers...[By Karoun Demirjian via washingtonpost.com]


Trump Peace Plan

U.N. aid agency fears U.S. Middle East plan will spark violence

Christian Saunders, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), asked about the U.S. plan which would not allow a right...[By Stephanie Nebehay; via reuters.com]



Here’s why Patriot missile defense systems aren’t in Iraq yet

“One of the things we have to do is make sure we have permission from the host government, and that’s one of the matters we...[By Aaron Mehta via militarytimes.com]



Rebel-held Idlib ‘hit by 200 air strikes in three days’

Fighting in Idlib, the last stronghold of the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, has intensified in recent weeks as the Syrian army pressed on with...[via bbc.com]



U.S. says first shipments of medicine to Iran delivered via Swiss humanitarian channel

A humanitarian channel to bring food and medicine to Iran has started trial operations, the Swiss and U.S. governments said on Thursday, helping supply Swiss...[By Michael Shields and Humeyna Pamuk via reuters.com]


Yemen Civil War

Yemen’s Houthis offer talks for Sudan prisoner swap via Red Cross: TV

Yemen’s Houthi movement is ready to hold talks with Sudan over an exchange of prisoners through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), al-Masirah,...[By Maher Chmaytelli via reuters.com]


Iran Missile Attack

Now It’s 64. Wounded Troop Tally from Iran Missile Strike Rises Again

The tally includes 14 new diagnosed cases of TBI since the Pentagon’s last report on Tuesday, seven of which were treated in Iraq and returned to...[By Kevin Baron via defenseone.com]


Ties that Bind: Jordan

The Collapse of Jordan’s Social Safety Net

Jordan’s deteriorating economic situation is straining traditional support networks and reshaping Jordanians’ ties with their relatives, friends, and local communities in the process....[By Will Todman via csis.org]



Turkey’s Erdogan criticises Arab silence over U.S. Middle East plan

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday criticised Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab nations for not speaking out against the U.S. Middle East plan which...[By Ali Kucukgocmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu via reuters.com]



Dubai blockchain market to reach $119 mn in 5 years

Reportedly, 1.4 percent of the total blockchain companies in the world are based in Dubai. While there are 8000 registered blockchain companies worldwide, 114 are...[via internationalfinance.com]



More Iranian students are being deported at US airports, advocates say

US Customs and Border Protection says its inspections take additional factors into account and can uncover details that didn't come up in previous visa screenings. There's...[By Catherine E. Shoichet via cnn.com]



The digital revolution requires a skills revolution: PwC Middle East publishes results of survey on technology, jobs and skills

While 75% of workers surveyed in the GCC believe automation will significantly change or make their job obsolete within the next ten years (vs. 53%...[By Carla Sertin via oilandgasmiddleeast.com]


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