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TOPIC: saudi arabia

In The News

Ukraine Interior Minister Killed In Helicopter Crash, Greta v. Polizei, World’s Oldest Person Dies

👋 Halo!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukraine’s interior minister is among 18 killed in a helicopter crash near Kyiv, the world’s oldest person dies at 118, and Greta Thunberg is briefly detained by German police. Meanwhile, London-based, Persian-language Kayhan wonders what’s behind the Iranian Supreme Leader’s repeated allusions to the end of the Shah's rule.

[*Bislama, Vanuatu]

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Iran Executes Protester, Peru President Ousted, Most Googled Word

👋 སྐུ་གཟུགས་བཟང་པོ།*

Welcome to Thursday, where Peru gets its first female president after Pedro Castillo is impeached and arrested, the trial of Germany's biggest fraud case opens and we know Google’s most-searched item of the year. Meanwhile, Persian-language media Kayhan-London looks at the prosecutions of demonstrators in Iran, just as the government announces the first publicly known execution related to the ongoing protests.

[*Kuzu zangpo la, Dzongkha - Bhutan]

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Donetsk Death Toll Rises, Shinzo Abe Funeral, Jane Goo-doll

👋 Добрий день*

Welcome to Tuesday, where the death toll in Chasiv Yar, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, rises to 34, Japan pays its last homage to Shinzo Abe and Barbie unveils a new doll in honor of UK primatologist Jane Goodall. Meanwhile, independent multimedia platform el Toque shines a light on the blackouts testing Cubans' patience.

[*Dobriy den - Ukrainian]

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From Taliban To Taiwan, The Limits Of Military Power

China is beefing up its military arsenal, with Taiwan as its target. However, as with the continued difficulty to control the terrain in Afghanistan, we increasingly see that military power is far from ensuring the hegemony hoped for by stronger parties.

-Analysis-

PARIS — "How many divisions does the Pope have?" once famously asked Joseph Stalin, highlighting that despite religious or political authority, military force can always prevail in geopolitics. However, in the 21st century, one can legitimately ask what military force is for.

In Afghanistan, more than three months after the Taliban's lightning victory, terrorist violence continues. It seems that members of the defeated regular army have joined the ranks of the "fundamentalist international" to continue the fight against the Taliban. In short, military victory on the ground has not solved anything. The Taliban face the resilience of those nostalgic for freedom and progress on the one hand, and Islamic fanatics on the other.

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Geopolitics

Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry May Be Set To Ease, Or Get Much Worse

The Saudis may be awaiting the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with the West, to see whether Tehran will moderate its regional policies, or lash out like never before.

-Analysis-

LONDON — The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month that Iranian and Saudi negotiators had so far had four rounds of "continuous" talks, though both sides had agreed to keep them private. The talks are to ease fraught relations between Iran's radical Shia regime and the Saudi kingdom, a key Western ally in the Middle East.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that the talks were going in the right direction, while an Iranian trade official was recently hopeful these might even allow trade opportunities for Iranian businessmen in Saudi Arabia. As the broadcaster France 24 observed separately, it will take more than positive signals to heal a five-year-rift and decades of mutual suspicions.

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Green
Carl Karlsson

Can Oil-Producing Nations Move To Renewables? Grading 7 Petrol States

The possibility of transitioning to a greener energy future varies among economies that are fossil fuel-dependent , which represent nearly one-third of the world's population and one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. For some, the question is purely financial; for others, political factors are slowing the shift.

In Norway, a left-wing landslide election win last week is calling into question the future of the country's oil production. Two weeks earlier, Iraq's finance minister made an unprecedented call to fellow OPEC countries to move away from fossil-fuel dependency.

The two recent headlines are emblematic of the challenges facing major oil-producing nations around the world. Last year's crash in oil prices coincided with unprecedented public demands for a commitment to a cleaner energy future, while the pandemic exposed the fragility of economies heavily dependent on a single commodity.

And yet, the ability to adapt to a greener energy future varies drastically among fossil fuel-dependent countries, which represent nearly one-third of the world's population and one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. For some, the question is purely financial; for others, political factors are slowing the shift.

"We are basically undoing over a century of interdependence between these nations and the global economy," says Deborah Gordon, leader of oil and gas solutions at global energy and climate think tank RMI. "Unwinding this tightly integrated, global market needs to be surgical."

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BBC

Coronavirus ~ Global Brief: Will Africa Be Spared?

For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on the coronavirus global pandemic. The rapid and insidious path of COVID-19 across the planet teaches us in a whole new way how small the world has become. Our network of multilingual journalists are busy finding out what's being reported locally — everywhere — to provide as clear a picture as possible of what it means for all of us at home, around the world.

SPOTLIGHT: WILL AFRICA BE SPARED?

Nationwide curfews across Europe, the White House preparing a $1 trillion relief package, Saudi officials banning pilgrimages to Mecca. As the number of people infected by COVID-19 keeps rising — and spreading — the world has turned upside down. That would also seem true when we look at how the global crisis is playing out in Africa, where reported cases are still in the low hundreds across the entire continent. Since the first infection was detected on February 27, in an Italian man traveling through Nigeria, there are still no signs of a serious outbreak in certain countries that have battled in recent years with endemic diseases such as ebola, malaria and tuberculosis. Experts are scratching their heads: Are the low infection statistics a matter of climate, lack of testing, luck, or other factors that set Africa apart from other parts of the world?

While it's too early to say how the COVID-19 reacts to warmer weather, tropical countries aren't immune to virus seasonality, with flu peaking in the dry season in many African countries. Rather, most bets have so far been put on its lower travel exposure. This might seem puzzling at first, particularly as the virus originated in China, which has become Africa's biggest trade partner, with over 10,000 Chinese-owned firms sprinkled across the continent. Still, there are relatively few Chinese posted on the continent for work, compared to those who travel, for example, to Europe for business and pleasure, estimated to be ten times the number who go to Africa.

Pessimists, however, fear that Africa is a ticking coronavirus time bomb. After all, if advanced French and Italian healthcare systems are overwhelmed, how will African countries — with scarce intensive-care beds and low-testing capacity — manage to contain the virus when it eventually starts to spread? On Wednesday, Le Monde reported the first death in sub-Saharan Africa, a 62-year-old woman in Burkina Faso. Fears are not unfounded, but Africa also has a few things going for it: the median age is under 20, which will likely reduce the mortality rate among those infected, and the continent has plenty of hard-earned experience in fighting endemic diseases — an important resource, as proven by the sleepy response of many Western leaders. But for now, we can only hope the world doesn't turn again.​

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Saudi Arabia
Devirupa Mitra

Gauging Saudi Stakes On Pakistan And India

NEW DELHI — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's visits to India and Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of a deadly suicide attack on Indian security personnel in Kashmir have been a test of Riyadh's policy to keep its relations with the two neighbors in strictly separate silos.

As Mohammed bin Salman"s statements in Pakistan gained wide coverage, his comments on terrorism in the Indian capital were minutely parsed. His travel itinerary for Asia had been decided months ahead but finally took place under the shadow of the car bomb attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy which left over 40 dead on February 14th.

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Saudi Arabia
Dominique Moisi

Khashoggi Murder And The Miscalculations Of MBS And Trump

For Westerners, particularly the United States, Mohammed bin Salman had represented the hope of a kingdom finally prepared to open to the world. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi demonstrates the contrary. Donald Trump will not escape this unscathed.

RIYADH — Values or interests, ethics or realpolitik? The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi commando is the perfect illustration of the dilemma that's at the heart of any reflection on international politics.

Not only is Saudi Arabia a country that the Western world sells arms to and buys oil from — it is also a key to the regional balance of power in the face of Iran. It is also a crucial element for anyone concerned about the evolution of Islam in the world. It is a country that looked to finally be on the path of reform.

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Saudi Arabia
Karl-Heinz Büschemann

Companies (And Governments) Must Take A Stand On Saudi Arabia

-OpEd-

MUNICH — A business conference will take place next week in Saudi Arabia, dubbed "Davos in the Desert." It comes at a delicate moment to say the least: Nearly two weeks ago, the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared from a Saudi consulate in Turkey, and is now feared dead. Many have accused the regime in Riyadh of having a role in his death.

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Saudi Arabia
Laurent Horvath

Saudi Arabia, If Oil Becomes A Curse

-Analysis-

The unlikely rapprochement between the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia, orchestrated by Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, seems to be a response to the rise of the Iran-Russia coalition. In this game of chess, the American decision to choose Jerusalem as the Israeli capital offers an interesting opening.

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Saudi Arabia
Georges Malbrunot

MBS And Millennials, Inside Saudi Prince's Youth Strategy

RIYADH — In the span of a few months, Hind al-Zahid's life has changed for the better. "My dream turned into reality," the 38-year-old Saudi says. She's become the first woman to enter the board of directors of one of the kingdom's airports, in the eastern city of Damman. And soon, like millions of other women, this mother of two, wearing a thin layer of makeup under her embroidered black veil will be allowed to drive a car.

"This means being able to go to work alone, driving the children to school alone, going out with them alone," she says. "It necessarily implies a strengthening of women's role in society."

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