Gulf in the News – September 13, 2013

Republic of Yemen could soon be no more

Source: The National (Read full story)

Delegates at reconciliation talks in Yemen have agreed in principle to move the country from a republic to a federal system. Yemen’s foreign minister, Abu Bakr Al Qirbi, this week said the delegates had agreed to the idea of adopting a federal system in his country of 25 million people. Yemen has been a republic since 1990, when it was created out of the merger of independent states in the north and south. But under the new system, political power would devolve to regions, governorates and states, with the central government keeping control over vital portfolios such as defence and the country’s currency. Key details for the move remain to be ironed out as the talks near their scheduled end next week.

Oil prices slip as Syria talks continue

Source: Times of Oman (Read full story)

Although Syria is not a major oil producer, traders are nervous about a broader conflict in the crude-rich Middle East region, including neighbouring Iraq, which is becoming a major exporter. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday insisted Syria was serious about giving up its chemical weapons, as Moscow and Washington entered a second day of talks aimed at averting US-led military action. Ahead of the main meetings in Geneva, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov first met with the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, to discuss a parallel proposal for peace talks. But it was the issue of chemical weapons that was set to dominate, after Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad confirmed for the first time on Thursday that he planned to relinquish its chemical arms.

Kingdom ready to meet crude demand: Al-Naimi

Source: The Saudi Gazette (Read full story)

The global oil market is well balanced and top exporter Saudi Arabia ready to supply whatever volume of crude is needed to meet demand, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said here, Thursday. Saudi Arabia produced record high volumes of crude in August as it boosted output for the second time in two years to cushion the global oil market from supply disruptions. Naimi’s comments come after producer group OPEC this week sought to reassure consumers there is sufficient supply to cover a plunge in Libya’s output. “For the record, oil market fundamentals are good. The market is well balanced,” Naimi said at an industry event. “I repeat the message that Saudi Arabia is willing and capable of meeting any demand.” Despite rising Saudi output, benchmark Brent crude prices spiked above $117 a barrel in late August on the virtual shutdown of Libyan oil output and the prospect of US military action against Syria.

GCC market cap falls 1.6% to $850 billion in August

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

At the end of August, market capitalisation of companies listed on the DFM index stood at $52.3 billion vis-à-vis $53.4 billion at the end of the previous month. Qatar accounted for $144.4 billion (17 per cent) of GCC market capitalisation. Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain together contributed $145.7 billion to market capitalisation in August. The overall trading activity in GCC countries declined for the third consecutive month in August, with fall witnessed in both value and volume of shares traded as fears of an impending attack on Syria kept markets jittery. Volumes declined 1.2 per cent month on month with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman registering a decline.  In tandem, value trading at the bourses plunged 15.3 per cent with all countries, except for Qatar and UAE, recording gains during August.

U.S. ambassador’s wife touches the lives of Saudi women

Source: Al Arabiya (Read full story)

With a distinguished career of her own prior to becoming the ambassador’s wife, she taught national security strategy as a professor at the National War College and worked in legislative affairs in the United States Senate. Breslin-Smith spent significant time learning about Saudi society. She interacted with Saudi women and men on a personal level by organizing many events, among which involved young Saudi female lawyers and, thereby, allowing them to network in a way that was never possible before. “I grew up with both of my grandfathers serving as the Kingdom’s Ambassadors in France and other countries for many years. I also grew up around my grandmothers who supported their husbands in diplomatic missions and undertook responsibilities as part of their role as ‘first ladies.’”  Her initiatives are even more important in a culture where U.S. male diplomats cannot freely engage with the Saudi female population.

Kuwait, US re-strengthen ties

Source: Kuwait Times (Read full story)


That visit was seminal for both countries since it transcended the conventional political interchange to dealing with concrete issues of boosting bilateral trade and increasing economic cooperation. On June 29, 2005 the Amir, in his capacity as prime minister, and while on an official visit to US was awarded an honorary doctorate of law degree by the University of George Washington in recognition of his life-long public service record. He met in the course of that visit with former president George W Bush at the White House where the two leaders solidified the partnership between their countries. Kuwaiti-US relations have traversed through a four-stage span in recent decades to reach the level they have at present. For instance, the period of the sixties and seventies saw both countries having relations based on friendship, which in the eighties moved incrementally to a partnership, especially when Kuwaiti oil tankers during the Iran-Iraq war flew US flags.