“Presented in elegant boxes—a pearlescent, ivory lacquered wooden keepsake with shiny gold hinges; a dusty pink heart inscribed with Arabic script—like the finest chocolate, the dates make great gifts…Among Bateel’s fans is Oprah Winfrey, who included the olive green wood box of plain dates in her 2019 list of favorite things.”

-Donna Abu-Nasr and Kate Krader, writing in Bloomberg about Bateel International, a family-owned Saudi company with date farms going back to the 1930s that has built a successful business selling premium dates. Bateel now has 40 stores and is expanding into the U.S. and Europe.  The dates have become popular Valentine’s Day and Christmas gifts and are also in demand as corporate gifts; including Saudi events leading up to the G20 in Riyadh in November 2020. [bloomberg.com]


Saudi Arabia Continues with Cautious Path on Coronavirus; King Salman, Xi Jinping Speak by Phone


Saudi Arabia continued to take precautionary measures to prevent the arrival and spread of Coronavirus in the Kingdom as King Salman and China’s Xi Jinping spoke by phone today to discuss the outbreak, according to reports. [more]




Jadwa Investment: Saudi Inflation Set to Rise Slightly in 2020; Non-Oil Private Sector to Pick Up

Saudi Arabia may spend SAR 100 billion ($26.6 billion) more than originally planned in 2019.

A recently-released report by Jadwa Investment notes that the Kingdom will see a slight increase in inflation in 2020 on expectations of a continued pick-up in non-oil activities and an elevated level of consumer spending. [more]




Saudi Arabia’s 2018 CO2 Emissions Fall Faster Than Expected


Latest data for the year of 2018 show that emissions in Saudi Arabia have fallen significantly for the first time, down 4.4% or 26 million tons, according to researchers at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC). [more]




Report: Saudi Arabia Pushing for a ‘Major, Short-Term Oil Production Cut’

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.

OPEC and its allies are “considering cutting their oil output by a further 500,000 barrels per day (bpd)” with eyes on mitigating the impact on oil demand from the coronavirus, Reuters and the WSJ report. [more]



Saudis Slash Oil Prices in Asia as Virus Causes Demand Shock

Via Serene Cheong, Sherry Su and Anthony DiPaola in yahoo.com : Saudi Arabia’s state oil company made deep cuts to the price of crude it sells to Asia, where an outbreak of the coronavirus has caused a slump in demand. Saudi Aramco lowered most of its official selling price differentials for the crude varieties it sells in the world’s largest consuming region, effectively making them cheaper. One exception was — Arab Heavy — which was kept unchanged. All grades to the U.S. were cut from a month earlier while European refiners were to be charged more.

Saudi Healthcare Firm Is Said to Seek Up to $700 Million in IPO

Via Matthew Martin and Archana Narayanan in bloomberg.com : Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group is seeking to raise as much as 2.63 billion riyals ($700 million) from an initial public offering that starts next week, according to people familiar with the matter. The private health-care operator, one of the largest in Saudi Arabia, will price the shares at 43 to 50 riyals a share, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. Based on that price range, and a planned sale of 15% of the company, the business will be valued at 15.1 billion riyals to 17.5 billion riyals.

Stronger capital markets a key target for Saudi Arabia during G20 presidency

Via Roxana Mohammadian-Molina in thenational.ae : As Saudi Arabia takes over the G20 presidency at the start of a new decade, it is placing the development of domestic capital markets at the centre of its presidency agenda, with a particular focus on an enabling ecosystem for financial inclusion.



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]


Global Oil Markets

Oil prices rise amid optimism over coronavirus outbreak in China

A technical committee advising the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies led by Russia, known as OPEC+, may reach consensus on Thursday...[via cnbc.com via Reuters]


China Virus

WHO seeks $675M to fight new virus

The director-general of the World Health Organization has asked for $675 million to help countries address the expected spread of the new virus that emerged...[via apnews.com]


Russia in the Region

U.S. steps up warnings on Russia over Syria’s Idlib, military de-confliction

The United States on Wednesday stepped up warnings to Russia over its Syria policy, saying Moscow was trying to challenge the U.S. presence in northeastern...[By Humeyra Pamuk via reuters.com]



Iraqi officials say Baghdad wants to minimize reliance on US military in fight against Islamic State

The Iraqi government has told its military not to seek assistance from the U.S.-led coalition in operations against the Islamic State group, two senior Iraqi...[By Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Samya Kullab via militarytimes.com via AP]



Eight civilians dead, others missing in Houthi missile attack in Yemen’s Marib: minister

The Information minister in the Yemeni government backed by Saudi Arabia, Muammar Al-Iryani tweeted on Wednesday that four women and four children died while others...[By Alaa Swilam via reuters.com]


Israel in the Region

Israel ‘hits Iran-backed fighters near Damascus’

Israeli warplanes have fired missiles at targets near Syria's capital, Damascus, Syrian state media report. The Sana news agency said air defences intercepted most of the...[via bbc.com]



Commentary: Where is the Iranian opposition?

Despite waves of protest within Iran, the country still lacks an organized opposition movement. In an interview with DW, Iranian journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi said that...[By Shabnam von Hein via dw.com]


Trump Peace Plan

UN Security Council to hear briefing from Kushner on controversial Mideast peace plan

The United States has requested a closed door UN Security Council meeting Thursday for US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to present...[via xinhuanet.com]



US citizen abducted in Afghanistan

A US citizen working as a contractor was kidnapped in the Khost Province in eastern Afghanistan in recent days, a US official confirmed to CNN. It...[By Ryan Browne via cnn.com]



Russia, South Africa Object to Draft UN Resolution on Libya

A U.N. resolution that would endorse a plan to restore peace to Libya and condemn the recent increase in violence faced opposition Wednesday from Russia...[via nytimes.com]



Inside Egypt’s Diaspora: Who Wants to Come Home Again?

Most migrants around the world would like to stay where they are, and few would like to move again -- but if they did, few...[By Neli Esipovak, Julie Ray and Anita Pugliese via gallup.com]


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