NEW YORK: Oil prices rose over 1% on Tuesday after top exporter Saudi Arabia said explosive-laden drones launched by a Yemeni-armed movement aligned to Iran had attacked facilities belonging to state oil company Aramco [...]
DUBAI: Saudi Aramco said on Sunday it would acquire Royal Dutch Shell's 50 percent stake in Saudi refining joint venture SASREF for US$631 million. [...]
RIYADH: The Saudi energy minister on Monday said it was premature to say whether a consensus existed among OPEC and its allies to extend oil supply cuts but a meeting next month would be key. [...]
RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s transport minister said on Monday there were no immediate plans to allow Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to operate in the kingdom.
Boeing’s top-selling MAX jet was grounded around the world last month after two fatal crashes involving the model in five months.
“There were no 737 max flying in the kingdom at the time and there aren’t plans for them to be back in the near future,” Minister Nabeel al-Amudi told reporters at an aviation conference in Riyadh. –Reuters
(Reporting by Stephen Kalin, writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Alison Williams)
The post Boeing 737 MAX flights to remain banned in Saudi for near future – minister appeared first on The Malaysian Reserve. [...]
RIYADH: The influence of Saudi Arabia's Bin Laden family on its eponymous construction business has been curtailed in a restructuring that follows an anti-corruption crackdown by Riyadh, a document seen by Reuters shows. [...]
LONDON/DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's inclusion in major emerging markets stock indices from Monday is likely to suck in around $20 billion in passive inflows, but unease after Jamal Khashoggi's murder and sluggish reforms could lead some active foreign investors to steer clear. [...]
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia plans to cut its crude oil exports in April to below 7 million barrels per day (bpd), while keeping its output "well below" 10 million bpd, a Saudi official said on Monday, as the kingdom seeks to drain a supply glut and support oil prices. [...]
Princess Rima Bandar00
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday named a princess as its first woman ambassador to the United States, a key appointment as the fallout over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder tests relations between the allies.
Princess Rima Bandar replaced Prince Khalid Salman, the younger brother of the powerful crown prince who was appointed vice defence minister in a flurry of late-night royal decrees announced on state media.
The reshuffle comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to quell an international outcry over Khashoggi’s murder last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which strained relations with its key ally Washington.
After initially denying they knew anything of Khashoggi’s disappearance, the kingdom finally acknowledged that Saudi agents killed him inside the consulate, but described it as a rogue operation.
Princess Rima faces hostile US lawmakers who have threatened tough action against Saudi Arabia over the brutal killing amid claims that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the kingdom’s de-facto ruler — was personally responsible.
The Saudi government has denied he had anything to do with the murder of Khashoggi, a royal insider-turned-critic who was a columnist with the Washington Post.
“The appointment of a new envoy signifies an attempt by Riyadh to try and re-set relations with Washington and draw a line under the Khashoggi affair, however unlikely that may be in practice, at least with Congress,” Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute in the United States, told AFP.
Princess Rima, the daughter of a former long-time ambassador to the US, has been a leading advocate of female empowerment in the kingdom, which has faced intense criticism over the recent jailing of women activists — and subsequent claims of sexual abuse and torture of some of them in detention.
The princess previously worked at the kingdom’s General Sports Authority, where she led a campaign to increase women’s participation in sports.
“Princess Rima becomes the first female ambassador in Saudi history and the first female with a rank of minister — a strong signal to the integration of women into the government and workforce,” Ali Shihabi, founder of the pro-Saudi think-tank Arabia Foundation, said on Twitter.
Prince Khalid, a son of the king who served as ambassador since 2017, had been expected to leave Washington for some time — particularly after the global outcry over Khashoggi tarnished the kingdom’s reputation.
His new appointment as deputy defence minister comes as a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia remains bogged down in a four-year conflict in neighbouring Yemen.
A separate royal decree on Saturday ordered a one-month salary bonus for frontline military officials on the kingdom’s southern border. — AFP [...]
The @HKsisters6 Twitter account feed of Rawan and Reem is held by Reem during an interview with AFP in Hong Kong. — AFP photos
HONG KONG: Two Saudi sisters trapped in Hong Kong say chronic physical abuse by male family members prompted them to flee the kingdom, where they now fear they will be forcibly returned.
The siblings are the latest example of Saudi women plotting their escape from the ultra-conservative kingdom only to find themselves dodging officials and angry family members at every turn, as the country battles criticism of its human rights record.
The young women, aged 20 and 18, found themselves marooned after Saudi consular officials allegedly intercepted them during a stopover at the city’s airport and later revoked their passports.
The pair, who have adopted the aliases Reem and Rawan, described a deeply unhappy upbringing in a middle-class Riyadh household.
They claim they were beaten by their father when they were young, and by their brothers when they got older, for small transgressions such as waking up late for prayer.
“They started to beat me … my father didn’t really stop them. He thinks that this is what makes them men,” Reem told AFP.
Even their 10-year-old brother participated and began to police the way they dressed, they say, chiding them for removing their niqabs when dining out.
Saudi sisters Rawan (in yellow), 18, and Reem, 20, (both using adopted aliases) stand next to each other during an interview with AFP in Hong Kong.
“He was only a child but he learned this from his brothers and from his father and from all the men around him, that this is the good way to be a man and to deal with women,” Reem said.
They decided to bolt for freedom during a family holiday overseas, when their passports would be kept in their parents’ bag instead of a safe — and when they would not need permission from a male guardian to travel abroad.
They started planning for the trip two years ago to coincide with Rawan’s 18th birthday, so that she could apply for a visitor’s visa to Australia on her own.
The opportunity arrived last September, when the family travelled to Sri Lanka for vacation.
While their parents were sleeping, the sisters retrieved their passports and boarded a flight from Colombo to Hong Kong.
But trouble awaited them at the other end. They claim they were obstructed by several unknown men at the city’s airport, including one who tried to trick them into boarding a plane back to Riyadh.
They said their onward flight booking to Melbourne had been cancelled and later learned the man was Saudi Arabia’s consul general in Hong Kong.
The sisters suspect their father tracked their movements using Absher, a controversial mobile app that operates as a portal to Saudi government services but also allows men to keep tabs on female relatives.
Critics say the app enables abuse against women, with US lawmaker Ron Wyden urging Google and Apple to remove it from their smartphones.
The sisters say their passport information was stored in the app and may have been used by their parents to track down the flights they booked.
They also believe their uncle may have helped mobilise consular officials through his government connections.
Fearing they were about to be “forcibly abducted”, the sisters entered Hong Kong as visitors.
The pair have lived in hiding in Hong Kong for nearly six months since and have changed locations 13 times for fear of their safety — hotels, hostels, private homes, and even a boat one night, they say.
They also claim police attempted to take them to meet with male relatives and Saudi officials.
Hong Kong’s security minister John Lee said Friday that “police have received two separate reports, one regarding missing person(s) and one regarding request for investigation”. He declined to elaborate further.
Immigration authorities said they would “not comment on individual cases”.
The sisters’ concerns deepened after they learned from their lawyer that their passports were revoked in November, leaving them stateless.
The Saudi consulate in Hong Kong did not respond to requests for comment.
But the sisters say they are fearful of being returned to Saudi Arabia and facing their family’s wrath.
“Either we will be killed because they want to clear (the) shame we brought as women who left by their own, or they will force us to marry… our cousins”, said Reem.
They say they have renounced Islam and fear the death penalty if they return home.
Apostasy or blasphemy is punishable with jail or death sentences in some Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia.
Such cases appear to be on the rise, with the sisters’ story emerging a month after 18-year-old Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun drew global attention with her dramatic escape from an allegedly abusive family, gaining refugee status in Canada.
Michael Vidler, a lawyer for the pair, said Hong Kong immigration authorities have indicated the pair would be “tolerated” in the city until Feb 28, after which they could be deported.
They are now hoping to be granted asylum in a third country.
While their time in Hong Kong has been marked by anxiety and a poor diet — at one point subsisting on instant noodles and toast for a month — they looked calm when they met AFP, wearing hoodies, jeans and sneakers.
“My hope for the future is to settle down, to have a normal life… when we were in Saudi Arabia, we were locked in the house every day,” Reem told AFP.
“We don’t even meet our friends, we don’t go out, we don’t have any hobbies outside… So I just want to do everything that I can do in life,” she said.
Reem, who studied English literature in university, hopes to become a writer and counts George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 among her favourite books.
“Literature has helped me to understand my reality,” she said.
“The funny thing is, (1984) is only science fiction but it’s really happening in Saudi Arabia — your whole [...]
PODCAST: Ed Malyon is joined by Miguel Delaney and Jack Pitt-Brooke for this week's episode [...]
DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's crown prince is not seeking to buy Premier League football club Manchester United, the kingdom's media minister said on Monday, denying reports and adding that there had only been a meeting with the Saudi wealth fund regarding sponsorship. [...]
The Red Devils are valued at £3.1 billion with talks held with the sovreign wealth fund over a potential sponsorship deal [...]
When asked if the Prime Minister will condemn the Saudi Crown Prince in person on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi,Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said “we’ll see what Japan and China said first.”
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is scheduled to visit Malaysia from Feb 17-18.
This will be his first tour to South-East Asia since he was implicated in the murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
Dr Mahathir had previously condemned the killing, describing it as an act of “extreme cruelty”. [...]
KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 16): The Malaysian Government has been informed of the postponement of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Malaysia which... [...]
NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD (Feb 12): Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is expected to announce investments in energy and infrastructure during a visit to India... [...]
File photo shows protesters gather in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy as they call for justice in the killing of Khashoggi, in Washington, DC. — AFP photo
WASHINGTON: US lawmakers threatened Thursday to take tougher action against Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi amid a new revelation that the kingdom’s powerful crown prince spoke of going after him with a ‘bullet’.
President Donald Trump faced a Friday deadline set by Congress to determine if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, who was strangled and dismembered after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2.
Special United Nations (UN) rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, said Thursday after a visit to Turkey that the killing of Khashoggi, who had written critical pieces on Saudi Arabia in The Washington Post, had been ‘planned and perpetrated’ by Saudi officials.
The New York Times, citing officials who had seen US intelligence, said that Prince Mohammed had warned in an intercepted conversation to an aide in 2017 that he would go after Khashoggi ‘with a bullet’ if he did not return to Saudi Arabia from the US.
US intelligence understood that the ambitious 33-year-old heir apparent was ready to kill the journalist, although he may not have literally meant to shoot him, according to the newspaper.
The kingdom, after initially denying any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance, has acknowledged that a team killed him inside the embassy but described it as a rogue operation that did not involve the crown prince.
In October, the then top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee invoked a law that gave the Trump administration 120 days — until Feb 8 — to determine whether Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s murder and to outline actions against him.
Predicting little movement, a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday proposed a bill to cut off some weapons sales to Saudi Arabia including of tanks, long-range fighter jets and ordnance for automatic weapons.
The bill would also require sanctions against any Saudis involved in Khashoggi’s killing and require State Department reports on human rights in the kingdom and in the conduct of its war in Yemen.
“Seeing as the Trump administration has no intention of insisting on full accountability for Mr Khashoggi’s murderers, it is time for Congress to step in and impose real consequences to fundamentally re-examine our relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen,” said Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The bill enjoys support from top Republicans including Senator Lindsey Graham, usually a close ally of Trump.
“While Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, the behavior of the crown prince – in multiple ways – has shown disrespect for the relationship and made him, in my view, beyond toxic,” Graham said.
The Senate already voted in December to end support for the bloody Saudi-led offensive on rebels in Yemen, where millions are on the brink of starvation in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The move is likely to pass the new Democratic-led House of Representatives after a hearing on legislation Wednesday, although Trump could exercise his veto.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised Khashoggi’s killing among other issues during a meeting Thursday with Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, according to the State Department. — AFP
But Trump has publicly said that he is not concerned whether Crown Prince Mohammed was involved in Khashoggi’s killing, saying the Saudi alliance benefits Washington due to the kingdom’s major purchases of weapons and its hostility to regional rival Iran.
Asked about yesterday’s deadline, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said that the US had already taken action over Khashoggi’s killing, pointing to last year’s revocation of visas for nearly two dozen Saudi officials and the freezing of assets of 17 others.
“We will continue to consult with the Congress and work to hold accountable those who are responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing,” Palladino told reporters, declining to say if more action would be forthcoming.
In a joint statement accompanied by a rally outside the White House, six advocacy groups including Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists urged Trump to release CIA records on Khashoggi’s death, support an independent investigation and press the Saudis to free detained reporters and activists.
“Notwithstanding public and congressional outrage and the reported findings of the CIA, the Trump administration appears to be engaged in a cover-up on behalf of the Saudi government,” they wrote. — AFP [...]