Oil price surges to highest level for seven years

Update  Oil prices on Jan. 18, 2022, were at their highest since 2014. (AFP)
Oil prices on Jan. 18, 2022, were at their highest since 2014. (AFP)
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Updated 19 January 2022

Oil price surges to highest level for seven years

Oil price surges to highest level for seven years
  • Increase fueled by growing demand as economic threat from omicron coronavirus variant recedes

DUBAI: The price of crude oil reached its highest level for seven years on Tuesday as demand for crude recovers from the pandemic recession, with some experts predicting it will go through the $100 per barrel mark next year.

Brent, the global benchmark, closed at $87.29, while the US standard, West Texas Intermediate, was not far behind at $85.24, both at the highest levels since late 2014.

Analysts said the main reason for the spike was the prospect of growing demand as markets take  an increasingly optimistic view on the omicron coronavirus variant.

US investment bank Goldman Sachs said Brent was likely to rise above $100 this year, with a deficit in supply likely because omicron’s negative effect on demand had so far been smaller than feared.

The oil exporters’ group OPEC said it expected global oil markets to remain “well supported” in 2022, and that the impact of the omicron variant would be “mild and short-lived.”

Robin Mills, chief executive of energy consultancy Qamar, told Arab News that the demand recovery was the main reason for the recent price surge.

However, there were also concerns that some members of the OPEC+ alliance of producers — led by Saudi Arabia and Russia — would not be able to meet their ever-increasing targets under the organization’s plans to restore market balance.

“Of course, the Kazakhstan, Libya and Abu Dhabi security issues have given some short-term impetus,” Mills said.

Other experts pointed to the possibility of a resurgence of American shale production at current price levels, as well as an increase in demand, especially in the US, as gasoline prices soared.


Saudi Alamar fast food chain franchiser sets final offer price at $30.64 

Saudi Alamar fast food chain franchiser sets final offer price at $30.64 
Updated 7 min 51 sec ago

Saudi Alamar fast food chain franchiser sets final offer price at $30.64 

Saudi Alamar fast food chain franchiser sets final offer price at $30.64 

RIYADH: Alamar Foods has set the top range of its initial public offering prices at SR115 ($30.64) per share, with a 47.5 percent oversubscription, after completing its pricing and book building process for institutional investors.

The final offer price gives the fast food chain franchiser an implied market capitalization at listing of SR2.933 billion.

Alamar Foods is developer and operator of two global household brands: Domino’s, which operates across the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan region, and Dunkin’, which operates in Egypt and Morocco.

“This IPO stands as a testament to the milestones achieved towards becoming a leading QSR player across the MENAP region,” Filippo Sgattoni, CEO at Alamar Foods, said.

The individual investor subscription period is scheduled to start on July 20 and to close on July 21. 

The Capital Market Authority approved on June 7 Alamar’s application to offer 10.63 million shares, or 41.7 percent of the company’s capital, to the public.

Alamar’s capital stands at SR255 million.


Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 

Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 
Updated 24 min 59 sec ago

Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 

Yemen’s Presidential Council member, US ambassador discuss Houthi threats to peace 
  • Al-Alimi praised the US’ efforts in supporting the truce in Yemen, and its constructive approach when dealing with the humanitarian crisis in the country

DUBAI: Abdullah al-Alimi, a member of Yemen’s Presidential Council, warned that the Houthi militia’s mobilization, regrouping and constant breaches of the UN truce continue to threaten the peace process. 

The comments were made when al-Alimi met with Stephen Fagin, US Ambassador to Yemen, state news agency SABA reported on Thursday.

Al-Alimi said that the Houthi militia must honor its commitment by lifting the siege on Taiz, opening roads in and out of the city, and allowing Yemeni people to move safely and freely across the country. 

Fagin agreed that the commitment on the Houthi’s part is crucial to honor the UN truce, and he confirmed the US’ continuous support for Yemen's internationally-recognized government by helping it perform its responsibilities.

Meanwhile, al-Alimi pointed out that the Presidential Leadership Council has a clear work-plan to tackle challenges faced in the economic, service, security, and military fields, in addition to combating terrorism in the country. 

The two also spoke about ways to promote mutual relations between the two countries. 

Al-Alimi and Fagin addressed issues of common interest during their meeting, which include regional security and the latest methods for combating terrorism. 

Al-Alimi praised the US’ efforts in supporting the truce in Yemen, and its constructive approach when dealing with the humanitarian crisis in the country. 

Fagin also praised the positive position of the Presidential Leadership Council and the government in tightening the humanitarian truce and supporting all efforts for achieving peace in Yemen.


Award-winning filmmaker Ali El-Arabi finds his voice through film

Award-winning filmmaker Ali El-Arabi finds his voice through film
Updated 30 min 2 sec ago

Award-winning filmmaker Ali El-Arabi finds his voice through film

Award-winning filmmaker Ali El-Arabi finds his voice through film
  • The award-winning Egyptian filmmaker on his moving refugee doc ‘Captains of Zaatari’ and future plans

DUBAI: Nearly 10 years ago, Egyptian filmmaker Ali El-Arabi, the award-winning documentarian behind “Captains of Zaatari,” made a promise. He was in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, the largest temporary settlement of displaced Syrians in the world, and a teenaged boy he had just met named Fawzi Qatleesh asked if he could speak his truth to the camera. 

“On the first day I arrived, he asked me, ‘Ali, can you film me? I want to say something to the people outside of this camp.’ The second he started to talk, I said to myself, ‘This boy is my hero,’” El-Arabi tells Arab News.

Qatleesh had dreams. He wanted to become a professional footballer. More importantly, he wanted the people outside those fences to know the truth of the refugee experience. He didn’t want pity, he told El-Arabi, he only wanted opportunity. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ali Elarabi (@alyelarabi)

As the film hits Netflix this month in the Middle East, El-Arabi is overjoyed. Finally, after seven years of filming and a years-long global festival tour, his promise is fulfilled.

“I lost a lot of money, to be honest, because I refused to sell the film to a smaller platform that might limit its reach. That was for Fawzi — because of that promise I made him on the first day. I told him to say what was in his heart, and I would tell everyone in the world his story. That has been my mission ever since,” says El-Arabi.

El-Arabi knew what it felt like to have a message that people needed to hear. He was himself once an athlete, a dedicated and successful martial artist, even winning Egypt’s national kickboxing championship. During the Egyptian revolution, however, El-Arabi abandoned any future he might have in sport, instead turning towards filmmaking.

“Captains of Zaatari” is on Netflix. (Supplied)

“I started to feel I had something to say, but I couldn’t say it with my voice,” he says. “I realized filmmaking was the way I could say it. I started making small documentaries about what was happening and screening them in the street. One day, the police came and I took my film and I ran. That made me realize the power of what I could say with a camera.” 

El-Arabi left Egypt, partnering with the ZDF TV channel to film documentaries in war zones including Iraq, Syria, Kurdistan and Afghanistan. War reporting, however, was unfulfilling, as it so often stripped away the humanity of those caught in its horrors.

“Refugees and the victims in the war were all just numbers. It was the news, and the news just wanted statistics,” El-Arabi says. “I couldn’t process it that way. These were people, and I knew there was more going on than the news could report.” 

After meeting Qatleesh and his friend Mahmoud Dagher — the two boys he would ultimately follow from the refugee camp in Jordan all the way to an elite soccer program in the Gulf — El-Arabi filmed them for seven years before whittling their story down to a scant 75 minutes, resulting in a story that showed their incredible journey while also refusing to gloss over the realities of refugee life.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ali Elarabi (@alyelarabi)

Nonetheless, the film is bursting with hope, and El-Arabi’s proudest moments have come showing the film not to the outside world, as he originally intended, but to those in similar circumstances to Dagher and Qatleesh when he first found them.

“We screened it at a refugee camp in Lebanon, and person after person came up to me to tell me that, for the first time, they could think about the future. They said the film showed them that they could not only have dreams, they could achieve them. I will never forget that,” El-Arabi says.

Since its limited release in 2021, the film has already transformed the lives of both young men whose story it follows.

“They’re stars now. They feel it. Even some football clubs have watched the film and want to give them opportunities,” El-Arabi says. “The government of Jordan and the leaders in the camps respect them. Children in the camps are looking to them as role models. I speak to them all the time, and it’s wonderful to watch, even though they also feel the pressure from their families that they need to start delivering on their promise as soon as possible, and transforming their situation too.”

A still from El-Arabi's upcoming project “Ashish’s Journey.” (Supplied)

While he may be done telling their story, El-Arabi has been hard at work over the last few years on another — “Ashish’s Journey” — about the upcoming FIFA World Cup. It is inspired by a man who approached him in Qatar as he filmed “Captains of Zaatari.” 

“An Indian man came to me one day and asked if he could take a picture with me. He thought I was a soccer player, and he told me he wanted to send the picture back to his family,” El-Arabi explains. “He told me, ‘I came here to watch the World Cup. But I didn’t have money to come, so I came here to work now, so that I could meet the famous players one day. I thought you were one of them.’”

The more time El-Arabi spent with the man, the more his innocent aspirations intrigued him, leading him to not only film Ashish in Qatar, but to follow him and his family back to India, even adding fictional elements (with Ashish playing himself) inspired by the classic French satirical novella “Candide” to the docu-film.

“He’s actually a very good actor,” El-Arabi says.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ali Elarabi (@alyelarabi)

While El-Arabi knows that he will finish filming later this year at the World Cup, chronicling Ashish’s adventures during the games, he does not plan to rush the film out in the immediate aftermath of the event. 

“I want to savor the material. I don’t want to rush it for a big festival. I love working on this film. I don’t want to kill the process — kill everything I’ve put into this — just to have something done fast,” he says. 

El-Arabi has other projects in the works as well. He’s currently producing a film about Algeria and discussing producing an upcoming project with his best friend Mohamed Diab, the director of Marvel’s “Moon Knight.” Closest to his heart, though, is the fiction film he has in the works between Los Angeles and Egypt, inspired by both his own history in boxing and his relationship with his father. 

“We’re talking to major international stars (about) it,” he says. “It’s a story that takes a lot from my own experiences with my family, and nearly every time I pitch it to people they cry. One person I work closely with, as soon as I finished, said they had to leave room to call their father.”

While telling Arab stories will remain a key part of El-Arabi’s career moving forward, ultimately what drives him is not capturing his identity — it’s capturing his soul. 

“I will tell Arab stories, but I don’t think a lot about telling stories about the Arab world,” he says. “I think about humans. That’s all I’m interested in.”


The French connection: Louvre opens exhibition of artefacts from Byblos

The French connection: Louvre opens exhibition of artefacts from Byblos
Updated 53 min 15 sec ago

The French connection: Louvre opens exhibition of artefacts from Byblos

The French connection: Louvre opens exhibition of artefacts from Byblos

PARIS: A new exhibition at Paris’ Louvre Museum illustrates the longstanding cultural relationship between France and Lebanon.

“Byblos et le Louvre,” which runs until Sept. 11, is a unique display of archaeological artifacts from the Lebanese seaport town of Byblos (also known as Jbeil), one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. 

Visitors will find ceramic jars, small figurines, cuneiform tablets, and ancient weapons on display, some of which are thousands of years old. Despite their age, many of the items are in remarkably good condition. 

Ensemble figurines votives, Byblos Musée du Louvre, Raphaël Chipault. (Supplied)

“What is amazing is the pottery, which looks like it’s been made yesterday,” Tania Zaven, an archaeologist of Lebanon’s Directorate General of Antiquities, told Arab News. 

For Louvre archaeologist Julien Chanteau, who was on site during recent excavations, Byblos is a hugely significant site with a lot of stories to tell. 

“It’s a very small site, maybe six hectares. But you can read all the history of mankind there, from the Neolithic period until today,” Chanteau said. “Byblos is like a book. 

Byblos et le Louvre. (Supplied)

“You have all cultures and civilizations: The Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Greeks, and the Arabs have all left traces on this site,” he continued. “It’s very impressive for an archeologist to have such an amount of information. It’s like a chronicle of humanity.” 

Under Napoleon III, the first French-led excavations in Byblos began in 1860, led by scholar Ernest Renan. He brought many objects back to France, and released detailed publications of the excavation. 

Excavations have continued to the present day — although they were interrupted in the Seventies because of the Lebanese Civil War. In 2018, a scientific excavation program was relaunched, pairing archaeologists and experts from the Louvre Museum and the DGA. They have explored the area’s royal underground chambers, tombs, and temples. 

Byblos et le Louvre. (Supplied)

Zaven noted some of the challenges of undertaking archeological missions in Lebanon, including security and looting. “Every day we are working against illicit trafficking,” she said. “We wanted to have this exhibition to show that Lebanon is still here. We believe in our culture and we want our culture to stay alive.” 

In October, the exhibition will travel to a museum in the Dutch city of Leiden. It will also be exhibited, next spring, in an old house in Byblos, coming full circle. 


Oil prices ease on recession fears, headed for 3rd weekly loss

Oil prices ease on recession fears, headed for 3rd weekly loss
Updated 01 July 2022

Oil prices ease on recession fears, headed for 3rd weekly loss

Oil prices ease on recession fears, headed for 3rd weekly loss
  • OPEC+ sticks to oil output policy, avoids debate on September
  • Traders prepare for long Fourth of July holiday weekend
  • Some Norway oil workers to strike from July 5

TOKYO: Oil prices eased on Friday as lingering fears of a recession demand weighed on sentiment, putting the benchmarks on track for their third straight weekly losses, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures were down 20 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $108.83 a barrel by 0428 GMT, giving up earlier gains of over $1.

WTI crude futures for August delivery slid 37 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $105.39 a barrel, also surrendering an early gain of nearly $1.

Both contracts fell around 3 percent on Thursday.

“Earlier in the session, the market took a breather from Thursday’s sell-off as the OPEC+ gave no surprise, saying it would stick to its planned oil output hikes in August,” said Tsuyoshi Ueno, senior economist at NLI Research Institute.

“But uncertainty over OPEC+ policy in and after September and fears that the aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve would lead to a US recession and hamper fuel demand dampened sentiment,” he said.

On Thursday, the OPEC+ group of producers, including Russia, agreed to stick to its output strategy after two days of meetings. However, the producer club avoided discussing policy from September onwards.

Previously, OPEC+ decided to increase output each month by 648,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July and August, up from a previous plan to add 432,000 bpd per month.

US President Joe Biden will make a three-stop trip to the Middle East in mid-July that includes a visit to Saudi Arabia, pushing energy policy into the spotlight as the United States and other countries face soaring fuel prices that are driving up inflation.

Biden said on Thursday he would not directly press Saudi Arabia to increase oil output to curb soaring prices when he sees the Saudi king and crown prince during a visit this month.

“All eyes are on whether or not Saudi Arabia or any other Middle Eastern oil producers would bolster output to respond the US request,” NLI’s Ueno said.

Elsewhere, 74 Norwegian offshore oil workers at Equinor’s Gudrun, Oseberg South and Oseberg East platforms will go on strike from July 5, the Lederne trade union said on Thursday, likely shutting about 4 percent of Norway’s oil production.

Oil prices are expected to stay above $100 a barrel this year as Europe and other regions struggle to wean themselves off Russian supply, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, though economic risks could slow the climb. (Reporting by Stephanie Kelly and Yuka Obayashi; editing by Richard Pullin and Kim Coghill)