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  1. File photo A ballistic missile fired by Yemen?s armed Houthi group towards Saudi Arabia's southern Jizan region was shot down by Saudi forces on Tuesday, Saudi state TV Ekhbariya reported. The station gave no further details. There were no reports of casualties or damage. The Houthis have fired several missiles at the kingdom, and while these have not caused any serious damage they have served to deepen tensions between Riyadh and its archrival Tehran. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supplying missile parts and expertise to the Houthis, who have taken over the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and other parts of the country during its civil war. Iran denies the charge. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition that has been fighting the Houthis in neighbouring Yemen since March 2015, after the movement drove Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile. Saudi Arabia said on Nov. 4 it had intercepted a ballistic missile over Riyadh's King Khaled Airport, an attack that led the coalition to close air, land and sea access to Yemen in a move it said was meant to stop Iranian supplies to the Houthis. The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced over two million and brought much of the country to the brink of famine.
  2. General view of the new first Saudi cinema at cultural club in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia January 13, 2018. Picture taken January 13, 2018 - Reuters 2 JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia began screening feature-length animated children?s films this weekend in a makeshift theatre, after a 35-year-old ban on cinemas was lifted. The first permanent theatres could open as early as March, part of a liberalizing reform drive that has already opened the door to concerts, comedy shows and women drivers over the past year. For now, the authorities are sponsoring temporary settings, like the state-run cultural hall in the Red Sea city of Jeddah equipped with a projector, a red carpet and a popcorn machine. ?Until now, there is no infrastructure for movie theatres, so we are trying to take advantage of (alternative) venues to approximate the cinematic form,? said Mamdouh Salim, whose Cinema 70 brand organized the week-long screenings. ?We tried to use these films to be a starting point as the first cinematic screening after the decision on Dec. 11 to permit movie theatres.? Cinemas were banned in the early 1980s as Saudi society turned towards a particularly conservative form of religion that discouraged public entertainment and public mixing between men and women. But reforms led by 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have eased many of those restrictions, as the government tries to broaden the economy and lessen its dependence on oil. More Fun After watching The Emoji Movie with his wife and daughter on Sunday evening, 28-year-old Sultan al-Otaibi said Saudis are happy to see movies in the theatre instead of staying at home. People watch a movie at the first Saudi Arabia cinema ? Reuters ?It?s more comfortable, more fun to have a change of scenery and an activity on the weekend. It is a step that was very late in coming but thank God it?s happening now.? Thousands of Saudis currently travel to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and other countries for entertainment. The government wants to retain the money spent on those trips. The authorities expect to open 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens by 2030, building an industry it hopes will contribute more than 90 billion riyals ($24 billion) to the economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs. Regional and international cinema chains are also eyeing the Saudi market, keen to tap the spending power of the young people who make up roughly 70 percent of the population. ?I want to see everything because it is something new for Saudi,? said 30-year-old movie-goer Ibtisam Abu Talib. ?I hope everything is available - action, romance, children?s films, comedy. Everything, God willing.?
  3. Prince Alwaleed, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $17 billion, is chairman and owner of international investment firm Kingdom Holding-Reuters DUBAI/JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia?s billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, detained for over two months in an anti-corruption crackdown, is negotiating a possible settlement with authorities but so far has not agreed on terms, a senior Saudi official said. Prince Alwaleed, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $17 billion, is chairman and owner of international investment firm Kingdom Holding, and one of the country?s most prominent businessmen. ?He offered a certain figure but it doesn?t meet the figure required from him, and until today the attorney-general hasn?t approved it,? the official said on condition of anonymity under government briefing rules. A second source familiar with Prince Alwaleed?s case told Reuters on Saturday that he had offered to make a ?donation? to the Saudi government, which would avoid any admission of wrongdoing, and to do so from assets of his own choosing. But the government refused those terms, the source said. Since early November Prince Alwaleed has been held, with dozens of other members of Saudi Arabia?s political and business elite detained in the crackdown, in Riyadh?s opulent Ritz Carlton hotel as authorities seek to reach settlements with the detainees. Saudi officials say they aim to claw back some $100 billion of funds that rightfully belong to the state. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who launched the crackdown, has indicated he wants to close existing cases quickly and expects most suspects to cut a deal. The allegations against Prince Alwaleed include money laundering, bribery and extorting officials, a Saudi official told Reuters soon after his detention. Neither he nor his company has commented publicly on the charges. Kingdom Holding, which has said it is continuing to operate normally, did not respond to requests for comment when asked about any settlement talks. Construction giant Saudi Binladin Group said on Saturday that some of its shareholders might transfer part of their holdings to the state in a settlement with authorities. Chairman Bakr Bin Laden and several family members were detained in the crackdown. In late November, senior Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender to the throne, was freed after reaching a settlement with authorities that involved paying more than $1 billion, according to a Saudi official.
  4. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/98813ff8d897b548ba0980911f9f4c21.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MS8xMy8yMDE4IDY6NDA6NDggUE0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT12MmF3ZmYzNjZzTnNjVXU1K1VoZ1FRPT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] JEDDAH: For years Areej al-Ghamdi could only cheer her favourite football team from home, but everything changed on Friday when Saudi Arabia allowed women into the stadium for the first time. The university student was among around 300 Saudi women who thronged Pearl stadium in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after the ultra-conservative kingdom eases decades-old rules separating the sexes. "I came with my father and my brother -- we´re fans of Al-Ahli," said Ghamdi of the Saudi Premier League club facing off against Al-Batin. The young woman said she always used to cheer her home team from the comfort of her living room. "We love the club very much, and our home would often become an arena for supporters," she said. "This is the first time we´ll be cheering for real, not just in front of the television," said Ghamdi, who wore a black abaya robe and a black scarf with a green Al-Ahli scarf round her neck. "It is so much better here." The game began at 8:00 pm (1700 GMT), but two hours before the historic kick-off enthusiasm was palpable as women supporters began arriving at the stadium. Among the first was a woman accompanied by a younger female and a girl. A boy sat next to them in seats that had been reserved for women who come alone or with members of their families, namely male relatives. The women entered the stadium through a special gate, while male supporters filed in through a separate entrance. ´Historic day´ Saudi Arabia, which has some of the world´s tightest restrictions on women, has long barred them from sports arenas through strict rules that keep the sexes apart in public. Glass panels were set up to separate men supporters from the women and family section of the stadium. "This event proves that we are heading for a prosperous future. I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change," Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old fan from the Red Sea city, told AFP. Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, spoke of a "historic day in the kingdom which culminates (in) ongoing fundamental changes". "I am proud and extremely happy for this development and for the kingdom´s moves to catch up with civilised measures adopted by many countries," she said. ´Daughters can´t believe it´ Saleh al-Ziadi brought his three daughters to the game. "My daughters still don´t believe this is happening. They have not yet realised they will be cheering their favourite team inside the stadium," he said. The women entering the venue waited in long queues to be searched by women security personnel who wore orange vests over their black abayas, while inside the stadium another team directed them to their seats. Jeddah resident Noura Bakharji was among those who patiently waited for her turn, and for a reason. Bakharji said she always felt bitter when her brothers came home from stadiums to tell her about the excitement of watching football matches in person. "I always watched games on TV while my brothers went to the stadiums... I asked myself repeatedly ´Why I can´t go?´" she told AFP. "Today, things have changed. It´s a day of happiness and joy." Under Saudi Arabia´s existing guardianship system, a male family member -- normally the father, husband or brother -- must grant permission for a woman´s study, travel and a host of other activities. Fatimah Baeshen, spokeswoman at the Saudi embassy in Washington "rooted for the ladies" in a message on Twitter. "As we speak; Saudi women fans are entering soccer stadiums! This is more than women´s rights: today´s match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin, and the ones to follow, are opportunities for families to come together and enjoy KSA´s national sport -- soccer! I´m rooting for the ladies -- enjoy!" Baeshen tweeted. Friday´s match was the first in a series that will be open to women: a second is due to take place on Saturday and a third on January 18. And in June, as part of a reforms drive led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, authorities are lifting a ban that prohibited Saudi women from driving. And the result of Friday´s game? A 5-0 defeat for Al-Batin -- and a victory for women in Saudi Arabia.
  5. FILE PHOTO - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the meeting of Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition defence ministers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 26, 2017./ Reuters RIYADH: Saudi Arabia?s public prosecutor has said he will pursue extradition for corruption suspects living abroad as part of a two-month-old crackdown that has already netted princes and tycoons. Evidence is being collected against ?fugitives? in order to issue indictments against them and request that foreign governments return them to the kingdom, Saud al-Muajab told Arrajol magazine in an interview published on Thursday. It was not clear how many people are being targeted, or in which countries. Saudi security forces have rounded up dozens of members of the political and business elite, holding them in Riyadh?s opulent Ritz Carlton hotel on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The move was billed as a war on rampant corruption but also widely seen by analysts as helping Prince Mohammed consolidate his grip on power after ousting his cousin as heir to the throne in the summer. Saudi officials are negotiating settlements with detainees, saying they aim to claw back some $100 billion of funds that rightfully belong to the state. Muajab said last month that most detainees had agreed to settlements in order to avoid prosecution while the rest could be held for several more months. He told Arrajol that those who end up in court will be permitted to hire lawyers to defend them during the investigation and trial phases.
  6. Binladin, which had over 100,000 employees at its height, is the biggest builder in the country and important to Riyadh?s plans for large real estate-Photo: File RIYADH/DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is taking managerial control of Saudi Binladin Group and discussing a possible transfer of some of the giant construction group?s assets to the state while its chairman and other family members are in detention, sources told Reuters. Binladin, which had over 100,000 employees at its height, is the biggest builder in the country and important to Riyadh?s plans for large real estate, industrial and tourism projects to help diversify the economy beyond oil. However, the group has been hurt financially in the past couple of years by a slump in the construction industry and a temporary exclusion from new state contracts after a crane accident killed 107 people at Mecca?s Grand Mosque in 2015. It was forced to lay off thousands of employees. Riyadh?s move to take control appears aimed at ensuring the group can continue to serve Saudi Arabia?s development plans, said banking and industry sources, who declined to be named due to the political and commercial sensitivity of the matter. The government detained scores of senior officials and businessmen in October as part of a sweeping crackdown on corruption. The Binladin group?s chairman Bakr Bin Laden and several family members have been held, the sources said. Saudi officials are trying to negotiate settlements with detainees, saying they aim to claw back some $100 billion of funds that rightfully belong to the state. The talks on Binladin?s future are part of this effort, the sources said. Since the detention of Bin Laden family members, the finance ministry has formed a five-member committee, including three government representatives, to oversee the group?s business and handle relations with suppliers and contractors, the sources said. Binladin executives did not respond to phone calls seeking comment. Finance ministry officials and the government media office also did not respond to requests for comment. Setting a precedent? Although ownership of Binladin currently remains with the family, the group is in negotiations with the government about the potential transfer of some assets to the state, or possibly reducing or eliminating the government?s outstanding debts to Binladin, the sources said. One banking source with detailed knowledge of the group said the debt might total around $30 billion - the legacy of a period about 18 months ago when the government held off from settling many of its debts as its finances were hurt by low oil prices. It is not clear whether the government?s handling of Binladin may set a precedent for the cases of other businessmen detained in the corruption purge. They include one of the kingdom?s most prominent businessmen, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is chairman and owner of global investment firm Kingdom Holding 4280.SE. Because of Binladin?s strategic importance to the construction industry and development projects, as well as its financial struggle, it may be treated differently from the assets of other detained suspects. The new management committee?s government representatives include Abdulrehman al-Harkan, a former chief executive of Saudi property company Dar Al Arkan, and Khaled Nahas, a board member of petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the sources said. There are also two family members on the committee: Yehia Bin Laden and Abdullah Bin Laden. Previously, the family was in total control of the group, with Bakr Bin Laden taking most decisions, the sources said. Although Osama Bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda who was killed by US forces in 2011, was part of the same family, the company did not have any ties to him.
  7. Photo: Saudi Gazette Two Pakistani workers were killed and another three were injured after part of an old building in a Riyadh hospital collapsed on Tuesday, according to a Saudi newspaper. The incident, at old lab buildings of King Saud Medical Complex, occurred when the workers were dismantling the building, the English-language Saudi Gazette reported. The old and unused parts of the building are being dismantled as part of renovation and expansion of the hospital complex by the ministry of health, it said. The demolition work began recently at the site. All the workers dismantling the building are Pakistani nationals, the paper quoted sources as saying. Dr. Turki Al Nafisa, in-charge director of King Saud Medical Complex, visited the injured at the hospital, while civil defense and police authorities were probing the matter.
  8. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/0fa7a984a7ab77f885e2001256874561.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MS84LzIwMTggMjo0MDoyMyBQTSZoYXNoX3ZhbHVlPUg5V3NCc3lvK3A4S0llUjFDOGRLMnc9PSZ2YWxpZG1pbnV0ZXM9NjAmaWQ9MQ== style=center] RIYADH: Sports stadiums in Saudi Arabia will open their doors to women to attend football matches for the first time ever on Friday, the government has announced. ?The first match that women will be allowed to watch will be Al-Ahli versus Al-Batin on Friday, January 12,? the ministry of information said in a statement on Monday. It said women would also be able to attend a second match on the following day and a third one on January 18. Women from across the vast Gulf kingdom may be able to take advantage of this new freedom as the first match will be held in the capital, Riyadh, the second in Jeddah by the Red Sea and the third in the eastern city of Dammam. In September, women were allowed to enter Riyadh?s King Fahd International Stadium to mark the 87th anniversary of Saudi Arabia?s foundation. ?It is the first time I have come to the stadium and I feel like more of a Saudi citizen. Now I can go everywhere in my country,? Reuters had quoted 25-year-old Sultana, green and white flags painted on both cheeks as she entered the complex with her girlfriends. ?God willing, tomorrow women will be permitted bigger and better things like driving and travel.? A few days after the national day, the Saudi government lifted the travel ban on women. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the reform, requesting that drivers? licences be issued to women who wanted them. The decrees freed women from the requirement of getting permission from a legal guardian to get a licence.
  9. RIYADH: A Saudi warplane from the coalition battling rebels in Yemen crashed on Sunday because of "technical failure", the coalition and state media said, adding that both crew were rescued. The plane "had a technical failure at 15:40 (1840 GMT) and crashed... in an area of operations" in Yemen, Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, told AFP. He said the two crew members were rescued unharmed and returned to Saudi Arabia. Maliki gave no further details. A coalition statement released later by the official Saudi Press Agency said the warplane that crashed was Saudi and that the operation to rescue the crew involved ground forces. Huthi rebels, who are locked in a war with Yemen's government, said they shot down the plane over Saada, their northern Yemeni stronghold, according to their Al-Masirah television channel. The Saudi-led coalition joined the Yemeni government in its fight against the Huthis in March 2015, after the rebels seized control of the capital Sanaa. Despite the coalition's superior firepower, the rebels still control the capital and much of north Yemen. More than 8,750 people have been killed since the coalition intervened in Yemen, according to the World Health Organization.
  10. Image Courtesy: Reuters video/Screenshot RIYADH/DUBAI: Saudi Arabian authorities have detained 11 princes after they gathered at a royal palace in Riyadh in a rare protest against the government suspending payment of their utility bills, the public prosecutor said on Saturday. Saudi Arabia, the world?s top oil exporter, has introduced reforms that include reducing energy subsidies, introducing a value-added tax, and cutting some perks to royal family members to try to cope with a drop in crude prices that has caused a budget deficit estimated at 195 billion riyals ($52 billion) in 2018. The princes had gathered on Thursday at Qasr al-Hokm palace demanding the cancellation of a recent decree that halted state payment of water and electricity bills for royal family members and seeking compensation for a death sentence implemented in 2016 against one of their cousins, Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabeer. ?Despite being informed that their demands are not lawful, the 11 princes refused to leave the area, disrupting public peace and order. Members of security services stepped in to restore order and the princes were arrested,? the public prosecutor?s statement said, without identifying the princes. ?Following their arrest, they have been charged on a number of counts in relation to these offences. They are detained at Al-Hayer prison south of the capital pending their trial.? News website Sabq earlier identified the leader of the group of princes by the initials S.A.S. The Saud al-Kabeer branch of the House of Saud descend from a cousin of late King Abdulaziz, who founded the modern kingdom. The meteoric rise of 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king?s favoured son, and his ambitious, sometimes aggressive, policies have caused rare tensions within the royal family, which for decades favoured rule by consensus. Dozens of prices, high officials and senior businessmen were rounded up in November in a crackdown on graft that has boosted Prince Mohammed?s power. They have been held at the five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh while government officials negotiate financial settlements, asking them to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom. The round-up followed a meticulously planned palace coup in June through which Prince Mohammed ousted his elder cousin Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as heir to the throne.
  11. RIYADH: Saudi authorities have arrested 11 princes who protested against the kingdom's austerity measures and who could face trial, a news website close to the government reported on Saturday. Saudi media said the princes, who were not named, were protesting at a historical Riyadh royal palace, Qasr al-Hokm, against a government's decision to stop paying the water and electricity bills of royals. They were also demanding "financial compensation" after one of their cousins had been sentenced for an unspecified crime. The princes were transferred to the high-security Ha'ir prison in the capital "ahead of their trial", Sabq said, citing unnamed sources. It said the princes "were informed of the error of their demands but they refused to leave Qasr al-Hokm", prompting the royal guards to intervene and arrest them. Saudi officials contacted by AFP Saturday were not immediately reachable for comment. Saudi Arabia has introduced a string of austerity measures over the past two years to boost revenues and cut spending as the global slump in oil prices led to ballooning budget deficits. The kingdom's push to diversify its oil-dependent economy has been linked to the arrest of more than 200 princes in November in an anti-corruption purge spearheaded by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king´s son and heir to the throne. Most of those detained were held at the palatial Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, which has turned into a luxury prison. King Salman on Saturday announced a boost in stipends and tax relief for Saudi citizens, particularly those employed in the military or public sector. The International Labour Organization estimates that unemployment among Saudis aged 15 to 25 stood at 36.2 percent last year.
  12. King Salman directed the state to bear the burden of VAT in some situations, including special health and education services as well as the first purchase of a house that is valued at up to 850,000 riyals RIYADH: Saudi Arabia?s King Salman on Saturday ordered a monthly payment of 1,000 riyals ($267) to state employees over the next year in compensation for rising cost of living after the government hiked domestic gas prices and introduced value-added tax (VAT). In a royal decree published by state news media, the king also ordered the payment of 5,000 riyals to military personnel serving at the front lines with Yemen where the kingdom is fighting a nearly three-year-old war. Saudi Arabia, the world?s top oil exporter, roughly doubled gasoline prices on Monday as part of a broad reform initiative aimed at diversifying its economy. A 5 percent VAT on a broad range of goods and services came into effect on the same day. The new payment orders were an acknowledgment of ?the increased burdens for some segments of the population following from the necessary measures which the state took to restructure the economy,? according to the decree. King Salman directed the state to bear the burden of VAT in some situations, including special health and education services as well as the first purchase of a house that is valued at up to 850,000 riyals ($226,660). Allowances for students, retirees and social security recipients were also boosted. The decree did not reveal the total cost of the new allowances, but it appeared to be considerably smaller than some past handouts by Saudi kings, and therefore unlikely to have much impact on economic growth or the state budget deficit. About 1.18 million Saudis are employed in the government sector and there are more than 1.23 million pensioners and beneficiaries of pension payments, the central bank says. That suggests a total package cost of about 23 billion riyals, according to Reuters calculations. That compares to a projected 2018 deficit of billion riyals, according to a budget plan released last month. A package of handouts marking King Salman?s accession to the throne in early 2015 was estimated to cost more than 100 billion riyals. Saudi Arabia will slow plans to eliminate subsidies for a wide range of energy products, according to a new long-term fiscal plan in the 2018 state budget.
  13. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/Files PARIS: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is to travel to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron at around the end of February or early March, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told French TV CNEWS. Asked if Prince Mohammed ? known as MbS ? would be visiting Paris, Jubeir said: ?Yes, god willing. He received an invitation from President Emmanuel Macron. We?re thinking about an end February-early March date.? He said the exact date had not been finalised yet but would be decided upon in the coming weeks. Jubeir?s comments were broadcast via a French translation. Spearheaded by Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia has detained dozens of senior business people and government officials, accusing them of crimes including money laundering although not of terror financing. Prince Mohammed is also leading sweeping economic and social reforms intended to remodel the world?s top oil exporter and biggest Arab economy into a modern state no longer dependent on petroleum. These include the planned the sale of five percent of state oil giant Saudi Aramco, which could be the biggest IPO in history.
  14. RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Friday intercepted a ballistic missile over the kingdom's south near the border with Yemen, state media reported, hours after Yemeni rebels said they had launched an attack. The Houthi rebels, locked in a war against Yemen's Saudi-backed government, said they had fired a missile at the kingdom's southwestern province of Najran in a statement tweeted by their Al-Masirah television channel. Saudi air defences intercepted the ballistic missile over Najran, according to the kingdom's state-owned Al Ekhbariya news channel. A spokesman for the Saudi-led military alliance fighting the Houthis in Yemen did not immediately respond to a request for further details. Saudi Arabia, which has been targeted by multiple rocket attacks in recent weeks, has blamed its regional rival Iran for arming the Houthis in the Yemen war. The kingdom denounced the threat of "Iranian-manufactured ballistic weapons" after it intercepted a ballistic missile fired from Yemen over Riyadh in December. No casualties have been reported in the attacks. The Saudi-led coalition intervened in support of President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's government in March 2015, after the Huthis took over the capital Sanaa and much of the rest of the country. But despite the coalition's superior firepower, the rebels still control the capital and much of the north. More than 8,750 people have been killed since the coalition intervened, according to the World Health Organization.
  15. As part of the nationwide campaign, which started on November 15, 65,715 of the detainees have already been deported Saudi Arabia has arrested 337,281 foreigners in its latest crackdown on illegal immigrants, Gulf News reported. Those arrested include 198,231 who did not have valid residence permits and over 99,000 foreigners who did not have valid work permits. As part of the nationwide campaign, which started on November 15, 65,715 of the detainees have already been deported. The deported include Yeminis, Ethiopians and people from other African countries. Saudi Arabia in March last year announced a 90-day amnesty for illegal expatriates to leave the country without having to pay fines or facing legal action. The country had warned illegal expatriates of fines of 15,000 to 100,000 riyals if they failed to regularise their status or leave the country within the 90-day amnesty.
  16. The IPO could be the biggest in history and Saudi officials expect to raise as much as $100 billion-Reuters DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has changed the status of national oil firm Aramco to a joint-stock company as of Jan. 1, the kingdom?s official bulletin said on Friday, in a major step ahead of a planned initial public offering. Aramco has a fully paid capital of 60 billion riyals ($16 billion) divided into 200 billion ordinary shares, the bulletin said. The firm?s board will have 11 members and the power to list the company in domestic and international markets, it said. The sale of around 5 percent of Aramco, expected to go ahead in 2018, is a centerpiece of Vision 2030, a reform plan to reduce the dependence of the Saudi economy on oil. The plan is championed by the Saudi crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Saudi officials have said domestic and international exchanges such as New York, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong have been looked at for a partial listing of the state-run oil firm. The official bulletin said the government will propose 6 members of Aramco?s board, but shareholders with a more than 0.1 percent stake will have the right to propose a member to the general assembly. The government will remain the major shareholder of Aramco and retain the ultimate decision on national production levels, it said. The IPO could be the biggest in history and Saudi officials expect to raise as much as $100 billion. The official bulletin said Armaco?s IPO will comply with regulation of the Saudi stock exchange and also regulation of the international market where it will be listed. Investors have long debated whether Aramco could be valued anywhere close to $2 trillion, the figure announced by the crown prince, who wants to raise cash through the IPO to finance investment aimed at helping wean Saudi Arabia off its dependency on crude oil exports. A kingpin of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Saudi Arabia is also leading members and other oil producers such as Russia to restrict oil supplies under a global oil pact to drain global inventories and boost oil prices. Last November, OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to extend oil output cuts until the end of 2018 as they try to finish clearing a global glut of crude while signaling a possible early exit from the deal if the market overheats.
  17. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz on Tuesday condemned ?false? media reports speculating about Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif's visits to Saudi Arabia. ?How many lies will you spew? You have to answer to God too,? she posted on Twitter. Opposition parties have questioned the motive behind visits by the Sharif brothers to Saudi Arabia, and have asked if an agreement is being negotiated to save the Sharifs. Nawaz, Shehbaz Sharif meet Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman CM Punjab returned to Lahore after six-day visit to Saudi Arabia PML-N has refuted the allegations and said that both enjoy cordial and longstanding relations with Saudi Arabia. Rhe Sharif family's spokesman confirmed today former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif held a 1.5 hour-long meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman late Monday night. Shehbaz has returned to Pakistan after his six-day visit while Nawaz is expected to return tonight. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/84e49f6f420a728e0d51d8c9a6ddeeab.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MS8yLzIwMTggOTozNzo0NCBBTSZoYXNoX3ZhbHVlPTNVbzR5Syt2TUpVc25QWnN2V2Q4eGc9PSZ2YWxpZG1pbnV0ZXM9NjAmaWQ9MQ== style=center]
  18. The Sharifs held a 1.5 hour-long meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman late Monday night, Sharif family's spokesman confirmed RIYADH: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif held a 1.5 hour-long meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman late Monday night, Sharif family's spokesman confirmed. Nawaz then left for Madinah and visited Roza-e-Rasool (PBUH) before leaving for Jeddah. He will now proceed to Makkah for Umrah, after which the PML-N chief will fly back to Islamabad today, the spokesman added. Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of the former premier, posted on twitter that her father would return to Pakistan tonight after performing Umrah. She also shared a picture of Nawaz offering salam at Jannat-ul-Baqee. 'Went to Saudi Arabia on being invited for Umrah' Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif returned to Pakistan on Tuesday after his six-day visit. Later addressing media at the inauguration of a kidney centre, Shehbaz said that he went to Saudi Arabia after being invited for Umrah, in response to increasing criticism by opposition parties on Sharif brothers' multiple Saudi visits. "Saudi Arabia is among the best friends of Pakistan. It has helped Pakistan without any conditions and has been there in times of difficulty. Both countries have blind faith in each other," he said. Shehbaz added that there is nothing unusual about his impromptu visit to Saudi Arabia. Earlier today, Geo News reported, citing sources, that Shehbaz Sharif held a meeting with the crown prince twice in last 24 hours. Matters of mutual interests were discussed by both the leaders. Shehbaz appreciated the role Saudi Arabia played in the ongoing Palestine issue, sources added. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/015017a514343846af6ab969d7660b89.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MS8yLzIwMTggNjowMDo1NSBBTSZoYXNoX3ZhbHVlPXA3aWg5NzF2dlV0NTNhcmN2cURXZXc9PSZ2YWxpZG1pbnV0ZXM9NjAmaWQ9MQ== style=center] Meanwhile, Punjab government spokesperson Mohammad Ahmed Khan condemned the allegations levelled against Shehbaz on his visit to Saudi Arabia, saying the statements being spread were baseless. Nawaz will share Saudi visit details if deemed appropriate: Marriyum Aurangzeb 'Nawaz will share visit?s purpose on his return if he deems appropriate,' Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting says According to the spokesperson, Saudi Arabia is an ally of Pakistan and it was an honour for Shehbaz to be sent an aircraft from there. Mohammad Ahmed added that to criticise the Saudi government or the chief minister on the move was tantamount to being against national interests. The Punjab government spokesperson said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have brotherly ties which no ?negative propaganda? can break. Opposition parties have questioned the motive behind visits by the Sharif brothers to Saudi Arabia, and have asked if an agreement is being negotiated to save the Sharifs. On Monday, Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari commented on the Sharif brothers? visit to Saudi Arabia, saying an agreement might be ?cooking? in the country. ?No one knows what is cooking. There are a couple of rumours surrounding their visits to Saudi Arabia,? he said while talking to media
  19. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/af9a25c3fdf8b2a1ddda01452423bf72.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MS8xLzIwMTggNjoxMjozNyBQTSZoYXNoX3ZhbHVlPVNHYVpta1NRVVlaRmFTKzRHQ3VvTVE9PSZ2YWxpZG1pbnV0ZXM9NjAmaWQ9MQ== style=center] ISLAMABAD: The Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb on Monday refuted all rumours and speculations surrounding the Sharif brothers? visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). ?Nawaz will share the visit?s purpose with the nation on his return if he deems appropriate,? Aurangzeb said, adding that some circles are trying to defame the former premier. ?I emphatically reject the speculations and rumours surrounding the visit of Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif to the Kingdom,? she said in a statement. ?The opposition?s efforts to create conflict are evident,? the federal minister said. ?If Nawaz were to make a deal, he would have done it to save his seat [when he was disqualified from holding public office].? Reports of Nawaz-Saudi deal ?baseless?: spokesman The statement said that Nawaz has had long-standing relations with the country and there is no truth in these reports Earlier today, Nawaz's spokesperson had condemned ?baseless? reports and claims by politicians that the former premier was in contact with Saudi Arabia to escape accountability. He had said that Nawaz accepted the court's verdicts and is facing cases. The statement said that the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) president has had long-standing relations with the country and there is no truth in reports about a possible 'deal' to escape accountability. Nawaz has even used his personal contacts for national interest, the spokesman had said. The Sharif brothers' multiple visits to Saudi Arabia have resulted in criticism by opposition parties. Both Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have questioned the reasons behind the visits.
  20. LAHORE: Punjab government spokesperson Mohammad Ahmed Khan has condemned the allegations levelled against Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif on his visit to Saudi Arabia, saying the statements being spread were baseless. According to the spokesperson, Saudi Arabia is an ally of Pakistan and it was an honour for Shehbaz to be sent an aircraft from there. Mohammad Ahmed added that to criticise the Saudi government or chief minister Punjab on the move was tantamount to being against the national interest. Zardari on Sharifs' Saudi visits: ?No one knows what is cooking? Rumour mill has it that the motive behind the visits could be to negotiate a deal or to save assets, Zardari said The Punjab government spokesperson said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have brotherly ties which no ?negative propaganda? can break. Earlier in the day, Pakistan Peoples Party Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari commented on the Sharif brothers? visit to Saudi Arabia, saying an agreement might be ?cooking? in the country. ?No one knows what is cooking. There are a couple of rumours surrounding their visits to Saudi Arabia,? he said while talking to media. Rumour mill has it that the motive behind the visits could be to negotiate a deal or to save their assets, Zardari added. The former president, however, added ?we respect Saudi Arabia, it is our brotherly state? but added that Pakistan should not take directives from them. People will reject any deal made by Nawaz: PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry raised objection over CM Punjab travelling to Saudi Arabia in an aircraft sent from there Later, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Fawad Chaudhry criticised Shehbaz for flying to Saudi Arabia in an aircraft sent by them, saying a country does not remain sovereign when its rulers take such steps. He added criticisms were hurled at PTI leader Jahangir Tareen purchasing an aircraft, but no one questioned Shehbaz when he flew to Saudi Arabia in an aircraft sent from the kingdom.
  21. DUBAI: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates introduced value-added tax from Monday, a first for the Gulf which has long prided itself on its tax-free, cradle-to-grave welfare system. Saudi Arabia compounded the New Year blow for motorists with an unannounced hike of up to 127 percent in petrol prices with immediate effect from midnight. They are the latest in a series of measures introduced by Gulf oil producers over the past two years to boost revenues and cut spending as a persistent slump in world prices has led to ballooning budget deficits. The five percent sales tax applies to most goods and services and analysts project that the two governments could raise as much as $21 billion in 2018, equivalent to 2.0 percent of GDP. But it marks a major change for two super-rich countries where the mall is king. Dubai has long held an annual shopping festival to draw bargain hunters from around the world to its glitzy retail palaces. Saudi Arabia has deposited billions of dollars in special accounts to help needy citizens face the resulting rise in retail prices. The other four Gulf states - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar - are also committed to introducing VAT but have delayed the move until early 2019. None of the Gulf states levy any personal income tax and none have any plans to do so. The International Monetary Fund has repeatedly urged Gulf states to diversify their revenues away from oil, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the Saudi budget and 80 percent in the UAE. Both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi asked all companies with earnings of $100,000 or more a year to register in the VAT system. The UAE finance ministry said that VAT returns will be used "for infrastructure development ... (to) upgrade public services ... and boost UAE economy competitiveness." The hike in fuel duty in Saudi Arabia was the second in two years. But it still leaves petrol prices as some of the lowest in the world. 'They'll tax the air' The introduction of VAT coupled with the increase in fuel duty is expected to bring an abrupt end to a year of negative inflation in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment predicted that inflation could reach as much as five percent after the new measures. Saudis reacted sarcastically on social media to the new sales tax. "They are even taking taxes on car parking. I am afraid they will next tax the air," wrote Ahmed bin Fatima. Saudi Arabia, whose economy contracted by 0.5 percent last year for the first time since 2009, has introduced a raft of measures to raise revenue and cut spending as it bids to balance its books. Last month, it cut the government subsidy on electricity supply for the second time in two years, leading to a sharp rise in bills. Riyadh posted budget deficits totalling $260 billion over the past four fiscal years and does not expect to balance its books before 2023. To finance its mounting public debt, the kingdom has withdrawn around $250 billion from its reserves over the past four years, reducing them to $490 billion. It has also borrowed around $100 billion from the international and domestic markets.
  22. LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Monday commenting on the Sharif brothers' visit to Saudi Arabia said that an agreement might be ?cooking? in the country. ?No one knows what is cooking. There are a couple of rumours surrounding their visits to Saudi Arabia,? he said while talking to media. Rumour mill has it that the motive behind the visits could be to negotiate a deal or to save their assets, Zardari added. The former president, however, added that ?we respect Saudi Arabia, it is our brotherly state? but added that Pakistan shouldn?t take directives from them. ?At least our government did not,? he said. The Sharif brothers? multiple visits to Saudi Arabia have resulted in criticism by opposition parties. PPP and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have questioned the reasons behind the visit. Reports of Nawaz-Saudi deal ?baseless?: spokesman The statement said that Nawaz has had long-standing relations with the country and there is no truth in these reports Earlier today PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan claimed that former premier Nawaz Sharif and brother Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif are undergoing a ?conflict?, explaining that Nawaz is fearful of the latter meeting with senior Saudi officials. Talking to the media here, the PPP leader said that Nawaz did not go to Saudi Arabia on the Kingdom's invitation. ?Shehbaz must have called him, and told him he was meeting senior [Saudi] officials. So Nawaz panicked and travelled to Saudi Arabia,? the PPP leader conjectured. However, PML-N leaders have refuted the allegations, saying that Nawaz has had longstanding ties with the Saudis. Yesterday, Nawaz?s spokesman condemned as ?baseless? reports that the PML-N chied he is in contact with Saudi Arabia to escape accountability, and said Nawaz accepted court verdicts and is facing cases.
  23. AML chief Sheikh Rasheed talking to the media today. Photo: Geo News ISLAMABAD: Even if the entire Arab world unites, Nawaz Sharif will not get an NRO, said Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rasheed on Monday. He was referring to unverified reports linking the former prime minister and his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif's current visit to Saudi Arabia with an attempt to seek a 'deal' out of their present legal predicaments. Nawaz fears Shehbaz?s ascent in Saudi circles, claims Aitzaz Ahsan Talking to the media, the PPP leader said the PML-N chief did not go to Saudi Arabia on the Kingdom's invitation Addressing the media outside the Supreme Court, the vocal opposition leader claimed the Sharifs are not being granted an audience with the Saudi royal family. "Both brothers are waiting to be summoned [by the Saudi royal leadership] since yesterday," he claimed. Reports of Nawaz-Saudi deal ?baseless?: spokesman The statement said that Nawaz has had long-standing relations with the country and there is no truth in these reports Rasheed stated further that the time has come to resign [from the assemblies] and come out on the streets. He informed further that Pakistan Peoples Party's leader and senior advocate Sardar Latif Khosa will represent him in the Hudaibiya and LNG cases. "He [Khosa] promised to represent me in the cases during the recent all parties conference (APC) in Lahore," said Rasheed, adding that the APC was a success in his opinion and he cannot say the same for others.
  24. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/5f8fad5344af42fb9b47e55d08935d42.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MS8xLzIwMTggODowODoyNiBBTSZoYXNoX3ZhbHVlPUZJbWo4eUFqeWFycjcrMGYzbU90TXc9PSZ2YWxpZG1pbnV0ZXM9NjAmaWQ9MQ== style=center] LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Aitzaz Ahsan claimed on Monday that former premier Nawaz Sharif and brother Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif are undergoing a ?conflict?, explaining that Nawaz is fearful of the latter meeting with senior Saudi officials. Talking to the media here, the PPP leader said that Nawaz did not go to Saudi Arabia on the Kingdom's invitation. ?Shehbaz must have called him, and told him he was meeting senior [Saudi] officials. So Nawaz panicked and travelled to Saudi Arabia,? the PPP leader conjectured. Commenting on PPP?s participation in the recently held Tahirul Qadri-led All Parties Conference, Ahsan said that the party has not entered into a political alliance with Qadri's Pakistan Awami Tehreek and only attended the moot to express solidarity with the 2014 Model Town incident victims. The Sharif brothers? multiple visits to Saudi Arabia have resulted in criticism by opposition parties. PPP and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have questioned the reasons behind the visit. Reports of Nawaz-Saudi deal ?baseless?: spokesman The statement said that Nawaz has had long-standing relations with the country and there is no truth in these reports Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah last week, on being asked about Shebaz Sharif's visit to Saudi Arabia, said that it would be worrisome if this visit was aimed at resolving internal matters of the country. ?Pakistan is a nuclear country and should have its own policies and rule of rule. We do not need to knock on anyone else?s door.? However, PML-N leaders have refuted the allegations, saying that Nawaz has had longstanding ties with the Saudis. Yesterday, Nawaz?s spokesman condemned as ?baseless? reports that the PML-N chied he is in contact with Saudi Arabia to escape accountability, and said Nawaz accepted court verdicts and is facing cases.
  25. Diesel rates for trucks were left unchanged. Photo: Saudi Gazette/File DUBAI: Saudi Arabia raised local gasoline prices on Monday, state news agency SPA reported. The initiative, aimed at more efficient energy use, coincides with an ambitious reform plan to boost sources of revenue and wean the world?s top crude exporter away from oil. It said Octane 91 will sell for 1.37 Riyals a litre, up from 0.75 Riyals, while Octane 95 will sell for 2.04 riyals a litre, up from 0.90 Riyals. Diesel rates for trucks were left unchanged. According to a report in the Saudi Gazette, the prices include Value Added Tax (VAT). The regulatory authorities are monitoring the markets to ensure that prices are not manipulated and supplies are not interrupted, the report stated further. The Kingdom will slow plans to eliminate subsidies for a wide range of energy products, according to a new long-term fiscal plan in the 2018 state budget released last month. King Salman formally announced on December 20 that the target date for eliminating the government?s budget deficit would be pushed back to 2023 from the original target of 2020, in order to reduce pressure on economic growth. The Kingdom announced its broad reform initiative in 2016, saying it aimed to ?enhance the level and quality of services? provided by government and ?achieve a prosperous future and sustainable development.?