Royal orders to extend services of Riyadh, Asir governors, assistant speaker of Majlis al-Shoura

Saudi interior ministry spokesman says 616 people remanded under custody, more than 5,000 released, total persons arrested in war on al-Qaeda are 11,527

Municipal elections teams formed in holy capital

GCC chambers of comers expect better Gulf budgets over oil price hikes

Japan nuke crisis refreshes oil contracts, sustain Saudi exports

A royal order was issued this week extending the service of Prince Khalid bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Makkah Region, at the rank of Minister for four years effective from 29/04/1432 H.

Another royal order was issued extending the service of Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Asir Region, at the rank of Minister for four years effective from 29/04/1432 H.

Another royal order was also issued extending the service of Dr. Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Barrak, Assistant Speaker of Majlis Al-Shoura, at the excellent rank for four years effective from 29/04/1432 H.

Meanwhile, Spokesman of Interior Ministry Major General Mansour Al-Turki said that the Statement of Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) reflected the outcomes which were promised by Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior and were announced in Shawwal, 1429, on the referral of 991 defendants involved in the crimes of the deviant group to judiciary.

In a statement to Saudi TV Channel 1, Al-Turki said the statement of the BIP pointed out 5080 completed the phases of investigation and were referred for trial or received sentences; this represented 90% of the (5696) total arrests, now only 616 are held pending trial.

Over the past years, Al-Turki added, 5831 persons were released which represented 50% of the total number the security authorities dealt with; of those 184 were released during the first three months of this year.

Replying to a question about the persons who completed their sentences but are still in prison, Al-Turki said that these are exceptional cases subject to a decision of a 3-member Judicial Committee formed by Royal Order.

In a response to a question on how to deal with accused persons during their stay in prison, Al-Turki said they enjoyed all the rights guaranteed by regulations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In Dammam, the Mayor of the Eastern Province and Chairman of Local Supervisory Committee of Municipal Councils Elections in the Province Eng. Dhaifullah bin Ayesh Al-Otaibi has pointed out that the electoral concept of municipal councils in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on the principle of citizens' participation in setting and developing municipal services as well as decision-making of these services.

In a statement, he said that the elections of municipal councils will allow the selection of experts and efficient people to administer municipal services, noting that participation in the elections is an important factor in the achievement of governmental decisions for the higher interests of the homeland and its citizens.

Meanwhile, a new report has revealed that the combined economy of the six Gulf oil producers went up by around 4.5 per cent in 2010 and is projected to expand at a faster pace of 5.9 per cent this year because of high oil prices.

The surge in oil export earnings will also widen the collective current account surplus in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries -- comprising Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE and Kuwait -- to 6.9 per cent of the GDP this year from around 4 per cent in 2010, a Federation of the GCC chambers of commerce and industry (FGCCI) report said.

According to the report, this means that the GCC countries will have additional means to stimulate private sector demand.

Citing IMF estimates, the report said the GCC's oil production would rise from around 15.1 million barrels per day in 2010 to 15.7 million bpd in 2011.

It said the rise would be coupled by a surge in average oil prices, citing the recent sharp price increase to nearly USD 120 a barrel because of fighting in OPEC-member Libya.

On the other hand, Japanese demand for petrochemicals should increase as the country embarks on a huge reconstruction effort - and two Saudi companies are among those expected to be top suppliers.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) and Petro Rabigh each have a Japanese strategic partner and are therefore likely to increase exports into Japan in the coming year, said Scott Darling, an analyst in Dubai with the Japanese investment bank Nomura.

Petro Rabigh, which has Sumitomo as a strategic partner, has the largest exposure to Japan's chemicals market, with 85 per cent of its products marketed to Asia. Sabic is in a joint venture with a consortium of Japanese companies led by Mitsubishi Corporation.

Altogether, the Middle East exports up to 15 per cent of its petrochemical products to Japan, mainly ethylene derivatives.

Petrochemicals such as plastics are a necessary component in many materials used in construction.

Both companies are listed on the Saudi Tadawul exchange.

Shares of Sabic moved 1.4 per cent lower to 100 riyals, while Petro Rabigh moved 0.6 per cent lower to 22.60 riyals.

Middle East liquefied natural gas (LNG) companies are also expected to have a surge in demand throughout this year and into next year, with Japan's nuclear capacity disrupted after an earthquake and tsunami. The country has shut down 15 of its nuclear units so far.

Qatar exports between 8 million and 9 million tons of LNG a year to Japan, accounting for about 20 per cent of its total LNG exports. Overall LNG volumes represent about 60 per cent of Qatar's GDP.

"While a short-term uptick in LNG volumes and prices to Japan is likely, the disruption to nuclear plants may also prompt the government to look at increasing its dependence on natural gas for power generation in the long term, a clear benefit to major LNG exporters such as Qatar," Darling said.

But he does not expect to see a strong impact on profitability for Nakilat, Qatar's publicly listed LNG shipper, as shipping contracts are generally fixed at long-term rates, rather than spot rates.