Oil price surges to highest level for seven years

 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.


Three decades later, convict in former Indian PM Gandhi assassination freed

Three decades later, convict in former Indian PM Gandhi assassination freed
Updated 7 min 28 sec ago

Three decades later, convict in former Indian PM Gandhi assassination freed

Three decades later, convict in former Indian PM Gandhi assassination freed
  • Gandhi was killed by an ethnic Tamil suicide bomber while campaigning in an election in the southern Indian town of Sriperumbudur in May 1991
  • His killing was seen as an act of retaliation after he sent Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987

NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of A.G. Perarivalan, who was convicted of involvement in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
Gandhi was killed by an ethnic Tamil suicide bomber while campaigning in an election in the southern Indian town of Sriperumbudur in May 1991. His killing was seen as an act of retaliation after he sent Indian peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987.
Perarivalan was convicted in 1991 of purchasing the batteries used to detonate the bomb that killed Gandhi.
In May 2021, the Tamil Nadu state government allowed Perarivalan to leave on parole, using a provision in the Tamil Nadu Prison manual.
The Supreme Court took a lenient view of Perarivalan, saying he was 19 years old at the time of arrest and had been jailed for over 30 years, including 16 years on death row and 29 years in solitary confinement.
Speaking to the Indian Express newspaper on Wednesday, Perarivalan recalled years spent in a cramped 6 feet (1.8 m) by 9 feet (2.7 m) cell during his time in solitary confinement.
“A room in which I had nothing but empty walls to look at,” he said, describing obsessively counting bricks on the wall, measuring the door and bolts and imagining smells he craved.
Six others people, including a woman, are still in jail and are awaiting a verdict in the case.
The court said Perarivalan was released after considering his “satisfactory conduct in jail and during parole” and “chronic ailments.”
Gandhi’s widow, Sonia, is head of India’s main opposition Congress party while their son, Rahul, has been leading its campaign for elections. A Congress party spokesman said on Wednesday the party was deeply saddened by the court’s decision.
Many in the state of Tamil Nadu celebrated the verdict as a victory for human rights.
“My best wishes and warm welcome to Perarivalan who is set to fully breathe the air of liberation after more than 30 years of imprisonment,” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin tweeted.


Norway’s relations with Saudi Arabia ‘excellent, growing’: Envoy at national day ceremony

Norway’s relations with Saudi Arabia ‘excellent, growing’: Envoy at national day ceremony
Updated 7 min 55 sec ago

Norway’s relations with Saudi Arabia ‘excellent, growing’: Envoy at national day ceremony

Norway’s relations with Saudi Arabia ‘excellent, growing’: Envoy at national day ceremony
  • The envoy made his comments during a ceremony at the Norwegian Embassy to mark his country’s Constitution Day
  • Thomas Lid Ball: Our bilateral relations are growing; Norway has enjoyed excellent relations with the Kingdom since they were officially established back in 1961

RIYADH: The Norwegian ambassador to Saudi Arabia hailed relations between the two countries as the Scandinavian nation on Tuesday celebrated its national day.

And Thomas Lid Ball predicted that the long-established bonds would only strengthen over the coming years.

The envoy made his comments during a ceremony at the Norwegian Embassy to mark his country’s Constitution Day, an event attended by a number of guests including Saudi government officials, business leaders, and Riyadh Mayor Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz who was present on behalf of Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

In a speech, the Norwegian diplomat said: “Our bilateral relations are growing. Norway has enjoyed excellent relations with the Kingdom since they were officially established back in 1961.

“To all Saudi brothers and sisters who are here today, I would like to say that we greatly appreciate our long-standing bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia. As a Norway ambassador, I would like to further those relations in the years to come.

“One key dimension of Norway’s engagement in Saudi Arabia and vice versa is fuel production. What Saudi Arabia and Norway have in common, is that we are producing oil and gas. Of course, Norway is small in comparison to Saudi Arabia.

“We also have a common political commitment to cut emissions and to achieve carbon neutrality by making energy production greener, through new technologies.

“For example, carbon capture and storage by investing in renewables, in hydrogen, and protecting our marine resources, producing sustainable seafood, and breeding maritime industries by aiming for green technologies and carbon neutrality to act in all sectors. And there is no time to lose in this field. We must accelerate our efforts.

“People in the Middle East feel impacted by climate change already. I believe that the public awareness around this issue will only grow as this region is hosting the next two climate summits,” he added.

He pointed out that the business community and industries across many sectors had key roles to play in bringing forward the technologies to know-how and the implementation capacity that was required for the green transition.

The envoy noted that Norway’s constitution, from 1814, was one of the oldest in the world and when signed on May 17 of that year marked the beginning of a modern sovereign and democratic country, laying the foundations for a parliament, power sharing, and civil rights.

He said: “This year, unfortunately, our national day happens at a time of war in Europe. Millions of innocent civilians need protection and lifestyle-saving assistance. The wide-ranging consequences of Russia having provoked an awful attack on Ukraine has been felt throughout the world, not least in Yemen, and other countries where many people are vulnerable to price rises.

“Rarely on our Constitution Day, has it been more essential to emphasize the rights of every sovereign nation to determine its own future and to stress the critical importance of international law and the UN Charter,” he added.

“On our national day, we also honor the Kingdom of Norway, our royal family,” he said, before reading out an email from the Norwegian king and queen conveying a message of peace, harmony, and best wishes.


Pope Francis sends condolences to UAE for Sheikh Khalifa

Pope Francis sends condolences to UAE for Sheikh Khalifa
Updated 51 min 45 sec ago

Pope Francis sends condolences to UAE for Sheikh Khalifa

Pope Francis sends condolences to UAE for Sheikh Khalifa
  • Pontiff joins the people of the Emirates in ‘mourning his passing and paying tribute to his distinguished and far-sighted leadership’
  • Head of the Catholic church praises the late leader for promoting religious understanding as contained in the historic Abu Dhabi Document and Zayed Award for Human Fraternity

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has said that he is “saddened” by the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, former president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi.

In a message, the leader of the Catholic church sent his condolences to newly appointed UAE president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and to the country’s people, invoking “an abundance of divine blessings.”

The Pope expressed his “heartfelt condolences and the assurance of my prayers for his eternal rest.”

“I likewise join the people of the Emirates in mourning his passing and paying tribute to his distinguished and far-sighted leadership in the service of the nation.”

The Catholic leader said he was “particularly grateful for the solicitude shown by His Highness to the Holy See and to the Catholic communities of the Emirates, and for his commitment to the values of dialogue, understanding and solidarity between peoples and religious traditions solemnly proclaimed by the historic Abu Dhabi Document and embodied in the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.”

“May his legacy continue to inspire the efforts of men and women of good will everywhere to persevere in weaving bonds of unity and peace between the members of our one human family,” he added.

Francis also offered prayers for Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed as he takes up the responsibilities of the UAE presidency.

“Upon you, the members of your family, and upon all the beloved people of the United Arab Emirates, I cordially invoke an abundance of divine blessings.”

Friar Giuseppe Ciutti, an Italian priest who spent time in Iraq, told Arab News that this message from the Pope was “a clear sign of the personal (and) great respect he felt for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.”

“Pope Francis visited Abu Dhabi in 2019; that was the first visit of a Roman Catholic Church (leader) to the Arab Peninsula. During that trip the Pope … promoted values of fraternity, peace, and peaceful coexistence.”

On that visit, Francis paid tribute to the UAE as “a land that is trying to be a model of coexistence, of human brotherhood, and a meeting place among diverse civilizations and cultures.”

“Pope Francis always refers to that trip every time he talks about the progress in interreligious dialogue. His message can be read as a new sign of friendship by the Catholic (church) towards the Arab world,” he said.

The UAE is home to nearly a million Roman Catholics, most of them from the Philippines and India.


Sri Lankan police arrest ruling party MPs over deadly attacks on protesters

Sri Lankan police arrest ruling party MPs over deadly attacks on protesters
Updated 18 May 2022

Sri Lankan police arrest ruling party MPs over deadly attacks on protesters

Sri Lankan police arrest ruling party MPs over deadly attacks on protesters
  • Detectives detained SLPP MPs Milan Jayathilake, Sanath Nishantha and four other high-ranking officials on Tuesday
  • Suspects allegedly involved in deaths of demonstrators from the ‘Gota go gama’ and ‘Myna go gama’ movement who seek change in crisis-hit nation

COLOMBO: Two Sri Lankan ruling party lawmakers have been arrested on charges of involvement in attacks on anti-government protesters, a top police official said on Wednesday.

For over a month, citizens have been protesting across Sri Lanka, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his prime minister brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom they blame for the country’s worst economic crisis.

The prime minister resigned last week, after supporters of the Rajapaksas attacked demonstrators in Colombo. The violence left nine people dead and wounded nearly 300, leading to days of unrest.

The two lawmakers from President Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party were arrested, after a criminal investigation, on Tuesday evening and have been remanded by the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s court until May 25.

“As a result of the investigations, the detectives arrested SLPP MPs Milan Jayathilake and Sanath Nishantha on Tuesday,” Senior Superintendent of Police Nihal Thalduwa told Arab News.

He added that another four high-ranking officials were also detained “over their involvement in the attacks on the ‘Gota go gama’ and ‘Myna go gama’ peaceful protest sites.”

“Gota go gama” and “Myna go gama” are popular slogans among protesters. “Gota” is a reference to President Rajapaksa, while “Myna” to his ex-PM brother. The “go gama,” literally “go village,” is a call on them to leave and go home.

Thalduwa said 883 people have been arrested over the violence that shook the island nation between May 9 and May 11, leading to the deployment of troops in many parts of the country to impose a curfew that was only lifted on Wednesday morning.

Protesters continued to demonstrate outside the president’s office in Colombo, demanding he resign, as the country is struggling with its worst financial crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

Acute shortages of food, fuel, and essential medicines have been accompanied by record inflation and long power cuts for the past few months.

The new prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was appointed last week, said in a televised speech on Monday evening that the country urgently needed about $75 billion to help provide the nation with essential items, but its treasury was struggling to find even $1 billion.


Lucid Motors to establish its first overseas factory in Saudi Arabia

Lucid Motors to establish its first overseas factory in Saudi Arabia
Updated 24 min 14 sec ago

Lucid Motors to establish its first overseas factory in Saudi Arabia

Lucid Motors to establish its first overseas factory in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: US-based Lucid Motors has signed agreements on Wednesday to build a production factory in Saudi Arabia with an annual capacity of 155,000 zero-emission electric vehicles.

The deals are estimated to provide financing and incentives to Lucid up to $3.4 billion in total over the next 15 years to build and operate the manufacturing facility in the Kingdom.

To be located in King Abdullah Economic City, AMP-2 is the electric vehicle manufacturer’s first production facility outside the US, according to a statement. 

The project is expected to create over 4,500 jobs in KAEC, said Cyril Piaia, CEO of Emaar The Economic City, master developer of KAEC. 

Saudi government and Lucid Motor’s officials at a ceremony to sign agreements for the development of a production facility in the Kingdom. AN photo

“Attracting a global leader in electric vehicles such as Lucid to open its first international manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia reflects our commitment to creating long-term economic value in a sustainable, enduring, and globally integrated way,” Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said. 

“This project demonstrates the confidence investors have in Saudi Arabia’s competitiveness, its ability to create opportunity, and serve global demand for a highly complex product such as electric vehicles,” Al-Falih added. 

The agreements were signed between the Saudi Investment Ministry, the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, Emaar, The Economic City, at King Abdullah Economic City and the Gulf International Bank.