Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed defends libel action

Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed defends libel action

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed defends libel action

Prince Alwaleed claims Forbes underestimated his wealth in its Rich List
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Saudi prince in Forbes list dispute
Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia has defended his decision to sue the business magazine Forbes.

The billionaire is seeking damages over what he claims were “seriously defamatory comments” made about him.

In March, Forbes calculated Prince Alwaleed’s fortune to be $20bn (£12.7bn), placing him 26th on the magazine’s Rich List.

He disputed the methodology used and said Forbes had “insulted” the business community in Saudi Arabia.

Prince Alwaleed has previously said that the magazine underestimated his fortune by $9.6bn (£6.1bn).

However, in a statement, Prince Alwaleed’s investment vehicle, Kingdom Holding Company, said the libel action was not about his ranking on the Forbes Rich List, but about “correcting the seriously defamatory comments that have been made about HRH Prince Alwaleed as an individual and Kingdom Holding Company”.

The case has been filed in a London court.

‘Insulting and inaccurate’
Kingdom Holding Company owns stakes in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and London’s Savoy Hotel.

Prince Alwaleed also accused Forbes of publishing a “deliberately insulting and inaccurate description of the business community in Saudi Arabia and specifically, Forbes’ denigration of the Saudi stock exchange (Tadawul), which is one of the most regulated in the world”.

In the Forbes article, a former executive with Alwaleed’s company is quoted as describing the Saudi Stock Exchange as a place of gambling.

In calculating his wealth, Forbes said it valued the underlying investments of Kingdom Holding Company, rather than the shares listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange.

This, according to Prince Alwaleed, was an “irrational and deeply flawed valuation methodology, which is ultimately subjective and discriminatory”.

In a statement, Forbes said it is “bemused by Prince Alwaleed’s ego-driven PR stunt”.

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Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom for Strengthening Military Ties,, drawing by Belinda Baardsen, Artist for Wind Drinker, Artist for Animal Rescue

Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom for Strengthening Military Ties,, drawing by Belinda Baardsen, Artist for Wind Drinker, Artist for Animal Rescue

Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom for Strengthening Military Ties

Riad, Jun 13 (Prensa Latina) The United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia will strengthen their military ties as a result of British Defense Minister Phillip Hammond”s visit to this country.

Hammond met with the Crown prince and Saudi Minister of Defense, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, in Jeddah city, to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation and debate regional and world events, reported the Saudi SPA official news agency.

This is the second visit in less than two months of the British minister of Defense to the Saudi Arabia’s peninsula, seeking buyers for his country’s military equipments and means.

According to SPA news agency, Hammond met with prince Mitab, chief of the National Guard, an elite group which receives orders from the Royal Palace, and weeks ago was given the level of ministry .

Late last year, British BAE Systems industrial corporation revealed that it was discussing the sale of fighter-bombers with Saudi Arabia, which is pending for conclussion due to “matters to be solved,” which spokespeople refrained from saying.

However, it is possible that Israel opposes that agreement because Tel Aviv authorities demand to keep military supremacy in arms and military equipments over the Arab nations.


Saudi Arabia: 3 Million Expatriates Face Redundancy,, drawing by belinda baardsen, artist, for wind drinker, artist for animal rescue

Saudi Arabia: 3 Million Expatriates Face Redundancy,, drawing by belinda baardsen, artist, for wind drinker, artist for animal rescue

Saudi Arabia: 3 Million Expatriates Face Redundancy

June 14, 2013


By Arab News

By Ibrahim Nafee

Saudi Arabian private companies who have not legalized the work status of their expatriate employees are planning to lay them off due to fears of expected raids by labor authorities.

Some 3 million expatriate workers are threatened with redundancy.

Many of these companies do not have the financial capability of transferring workers onto their sponsorships.

Medium and small-sized companies currently face the challenge of legalizing their expat staff since employers of such firms are already under pressure to increase salaries and improve employment terms.

Companies in the Red Zone of the nationalization system, “Nitaqat,” will be the most affected, since most of their manpower is foreign.

Fadal Abu Ainain, a financial adviser for private companies, said medium and small-sized companies that have limited financial budgets will resort to letting their expat workers go.

“Employers who are found hiring illegal workers will be fined for allowing them to work without transferring their sponsorships since this is a clear violation of the labor laws of the Kingdom,” Abu Ainain told Arab News.

“There are many companies that have caused disarray in the labor market and it is time to rectify this and to adhere to nationalization laws,” Ihsan Buhulaiga, a former member of the Shoura Council and an economic expert, told Arab News.

The Passport Department, meanwhile, is set to conduct raids once again in cooperation with Labor Ministry officials against illegal expats after the July 3 deadline.

A senior official at the Passport Department has denied any plans to postpone raids until the end of Ramadan, confirming that raids will be conducted throughout the holy month around the clock.

“We will begin inspections directly following the end of the amnesty period to make sure private companies are committed to labor laws of the Kingdom. The raids will also continue during Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr,” Col. Badr Al-Malek, a spokesman at the Passport Department, told Arab News.

Sources had earlier told a local newspaper that the ministerial committee in charge of following up on procedures for legalization intend to demand a second phase of legalization following the deadline.

The expected extension will begin from the current deadline for several reasons, including the inadequacy of the first stage in correcting the status of huge numbers of applicants and the fact that mechanisms and procedures of this scale cannot be confined to a short period of time.

“The source pointed out that it is expected to approve a second phase of legalization in line with regulations and instructions to apply the labor laws successfully and to take into account human rights standards,” according to a local newspaper.

Nearly 500,000 expats have so far legalized their work status since the Kingdom announced its amnesty for illegal workers, either through sponsorship transfer to companies where they currently work or to new employers, a Labor Ministry official said.

Dhaka urges Riyadh to extend amnesty time,, drawing by Belinda Baardsen, Artist for Wind Drinker, Artist for Animal Rescue

Dhaka urges Riyadh to extend amnesty time,, drawing by Belinda Baardsen, Artist for Wind Drinker, Artist for Animal Rescue

Dhaka urges Riyadh to extend amnesty time

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni will fly to Riyadh on June 19 to request the Saudi Arabian government to extend the general amnesty period for Bangladeshi workers allowing them to legalise their status.
The amnesty, declared on May 10, allows irregular foreign workers to have their status legalised or return home without facing any penalty. The amnesty will end on July 3.
“We already have officially requested the Saudi government to extend the amnesty period as the embassy would not be able to complete issuance of passports and correct the status of lakhs of Bangladeshi workers [within the current amnesty period],” said a senior official of the foreign ministry.
The official told The Daily Star yesterday that the Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh has already made official communication requesting to extend the period. Subsequently, the foreign ministry also sent similar letter to Saudi Embassy in Dhaka to convey Bangladesh government’s request.
According to officials, around four lakh Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia under the amnesty will get their status legalised.
Foreign ministry sources said until Wednesday, a total of 1,66,480 Bangladeshis have corrected their status through receiving consular services from the embassy office in Riyadh and consulate office in Jeddah.
Currently, over two millions Bangladeshis are working in Saudi Arabia.
Prior to visiting Saudi Arabia, the foreign minister will undertake a bilateral visit to Kuwait on June 18 at the invitation of her Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Khaled.
During a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sabah Khaled, the foreign minister is expected to request him for setting up an oil refinery and to consider deferred payment of Bangladesh’s import of petroleum products from Kuwait, said foreign ministry sources.
She will also ask her counterpart to encourage Kuwaiti investors to explore investment opportunities in Bangladesh.
Dipu Moni will also hold discussion on recruitment of more skilled and semi-skilled workforce including doctors and engineers from Bangladesh by waiving current ban on recruitment of Bangladeshi workers.
Around two lakh Bangladeshis are working now in the oil-rich country.

RPT-Saudi’s Kingdom Holding sells $40mln Mauritius hotel stake,, drawing by belinda baardsen, artist for wind drinker,artist for animal rescue

RPT-Saudi's Kingdom Holding sells $40mln Mauritius hotel stake,, drawing by belinda baardsen, artist for wind drinker,artist for animal rescue

RPT-Saudi’s Kingdom Holding sells $40mln Mauritius hotel stake

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Sat Jun 1, 2013 3:14am EDT
(Repeats with Mauritius and Hawaii topic codes)

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Co has sold its interest in the Movenpick Resort and Spa Mauritius hotel for 150 million riyals ($40 million), it said in a bourse statement on Saturday.

Its stake was bought by Hawaii-based Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, it said.

Kingdom Holding, the investment vehicle for billionaire Prince Alwaleed, will sell 20-30 hotels in the next two years while retaining ownership of its stake in major hotel management companies and in specific high-end hotels, Alwaleed told Reuters last month. (Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Saudi edges Qatar to control Syrian rebel support,, art by belinda baardsen, american ex pat, artist for wind drinker, artist for animal rescue

Saudi edges Qatar to control Syrian rebel support,, art by belinda baardsen, american ex pat, artist for wind drinker, artist for animal rescue

Saudi edges Qatar to control Syrian rebel support

By Mariam Karouny
BEIRUT | Fri May 31, 2013 3:19pm EDT

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has prevailed over its small but ambitious Gulf neighbor Qatar to impose itself as the main outside force supporting the Syrian rebels, a move that may curb the influence of Qatari-backed Islamist militants.

Though governments in neither Riyadh nor Doha would provide official comment, several senior sources in the region told Reuters that the past week’s wrangling among Syria’s opposition factions in Istanbul was largely a struggle for control between the two Gulf monarchies, in which Saudi power finally won out.

“Saudi Arabia is now formally in charge of the Syria issue,” said a senior rebel military commander in one of northern Syria’s border provinces where Qatar has until now been the main supplier of arms to those fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

The outcome, many Syrian opposition leaders hope, could strengthen them in both negotiations and on the battlefield – while hampering some of the anti-Western Islamist hardliners in their ranks whom they say Qatar has been helping with weaponry.

Anger at a failure by one such Qatari-backed Islamist unit in a battle in April that gave Syrian government forces control of a key highway helped galvanize the Saudis, sources said, while Qatari and Islamist efforts to control the opposition political body backfired by angering Riyadh and Western powers.

The northern rebel commander said Saudi leaders would no longer let Qatar take the lead but would themselves take over the dominant role in channeling support into Syria.

“The Saudis met leaders of the Free Syrian Army, including officers from the Military Council in Jordan and Turkey, and have agreed that they will be supporting the rebels,” he said after attending one of those meetings himself.

Prince Salman bin Sultan, a senior Saudi security official, was now running relations with the Syrian rebels, backed by his elder brother, intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Qatar also gave ground in the political field, accepting finally, late on Thursday, that the National Coalition should add a non-Islamist bloc backed by Saudi Arabia.

“In the end Qatar did not want a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and accepted the expansion,” said a source close to the liberals who were allowed to join a body which the United States and European Union want to become a transitional government.

The rebels, whose disunity has been a hindrance both in the field and in maneuvering for a possible international peace conference in the coming weeks, still face a huge task to topple Assad, who has long labeled his enemies Islamist “terrorists” and has his own powerful allies abroad, notably Iran and Russia.

Washington and EU powers have been reluctant to send arms, partly for fear of them reaching anti-Western rebels, including some aligned with al Qaeda. But Britain and France this week ended an EU arms embargo and tighter, Saudi supervision of supply channels could make it easier for London and Paris to start sending weapons if planned peace talks fail.


Describing the shift in military supervision, several sources from the political and military leadership of the Syrian opposition and a Saudi source said that anyone, whether a state or among wealthy Arabs who have been making private donations to the rebel cause, would now need the Saudi princes’ approval over what is supplied to whom if they wish to send arms into Syria.

Qatari help was still expected. But a division between a Qatari sphere of influence on the northern border with Turkey and a Saudi sphere on the southern, Jordanian border was over.

“The goal is to be effective and avoid arms getting into the wrong hands like before,” said a senior Saudi source. “Saudi and Qatar share the same goal. We want to see an end to Bashar’s rule and stop the bloodshed of the innocent Syrian people.”

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are close allies in many respects: both armed by the United States, as Sunni Muslims they share an interest in thwarting Shi’ite, non-Arab Iran and its Arab allies – Shi’ites in Iraq and Lebanon and Assad’s Syrian Alawites. Both also want to preserve the absolute domestic power of the ruling dynasties and Western demand for their vast energy resources.

But their interests diverge, particularly over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups viewed with suspicion by Western powers and in Riyadh. As in Syria, Qatar has delivered extensive financial and other support to Islamists who have risen to prominence in Egypt and Libya as a result of the Arab Spring pro-democracy protests of 2011.

Keen to punch above its weight in the world, independent of its dominant Saudi neighbor, Qatar hosts both a major U.S. air base and influential Islamists exiled from other Arab states; while preserving autocracy at home it has also aided liberals abroad, not least through its Al Jazeera satellite TV channel.

Saudi Arabia, whose king enjoys special status with the Sunni rebels as guardian of the holy city of Mecca, has long been suspicious of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the Cold War, it lent it support as a counterbalance to leftist Arab nationalism which threatened the traditional Gulf monarchies. But the U.S.-allied kingdom now sees political Islam as a graver threat.

Riyadh’s view of Syrian Islamist rebels is also influenced to some extent by its experience backing Arabs who flocked to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s; some returned home, like the Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, to wage a campaign of violence intended to topple the house of Saud.


Two events finally prompted Saudi Arabia and the United States to lose patience with Qatar’s Syrian role – one on the battlefield and another among the political opposition in exile.

In mid-April, Assad’s troops broke a six-month rebel blockade of the Wadi al-Deif military base on Syria’s key north-south highway, after a rebel brigade that was seen as close to Qatar broke ranks – exposing fellow fighters to a government counterattack that led to the deaths of 68 of their number.

A rebel commander, based near Damascus and familiar with the unit which buckled, said its failure had been due to its leaders having preferred using their local power to get rich rather than fighting Assad – a common accusation among the fractious rebels:

“Qatar’s bet … failed especially in the Wadi al-Deif battle. The regime managed to break through them after they became the new local warlords, caring for money and power not the cause,” the senior commander told Reuters. That battlefield collapse infuriated Qatar’s allies in the anti-Assad alliance.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back was the failure to take over Wadi al-Deif camp,” the commander said.

In diplomatic struggles, Western nations were angered by the appointment by the opposition in mid-March of Ghassan Hitto as the exiles’ prime minister. He was seen by Western diplomats as Qatar’s Islamist candidate and Hitto’s rejection of talks with Assad’s government was seen as a block to negotiating a peace.

For one Western diplomat familiar with deliberations in the Friends of Syria alliance that backs the rebels, choosing Hitto was “the final straw” in galvanizing the Western powers behind the move to rein in Qatar by promoting Saudi leadership.

“They wanted to clip the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood,” the Syrian commander from the north said.

For Saudi Arabia and its Western allies, concerned that the fall of Assad might mean a hostile, Islamist state, Qatar’s flaw was an enthusiasm for winning the war – as it helped Libyan rebels do in 2011 – without ensuring how any peace might look.

A Syrian rebel military source who has been close to Saudi officials expressed it thus: “Qatar tried to carve out a role for itself. But it did so without wisdom: they had no clear plan or a view of what would happen later. They just want to win.”

(Additional reporting Amena Bakr in Doha and Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Istanbul; Editing by Dominic Evans and Alastair Macdonald)


Saudi Arabia says one more dead from MERS coronavirus,, art by belinda baardsen, american ex pat, artist for wind drinker, artist for animal rescue

Saudi Arabia says one more dead from MERS coronavirus,, art by belinda baardsen, american ex pat, artist for wind drinker, artist for animal rescue

Saudi Arabia says one more dead from MERS coronavirus

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RIYADH | Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:14pm EDT
(Reuters) – One more person has died and two more have fallen ill in Saudi Arabia from the new SARS-like coronavirus, MERS-CoV, the Saudi Health Ministry said on Friday.

Saudi Arabia has been the country most affected by the respiratory-system virus, with 46 cases, of whom 28 have died, data from the ministry showed.

The latest death brings the worldwide death toll to 33, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The virus, which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, has spread from the Gulf to France, Britain and Germany. The WHO has called it the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

It is a distant relative of the virus that triggered the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that swept the world in late 2003 and killed 775 people.

The origin of the MERS virus is still unclear. So far, it appears to spread between people only when there is close, prolonged contact.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Kevin Liffey)