Haramain Express Train trial successful

Author: 
ARAB NEWS
Wed, 2017-07-26 03:00
ID: 
1501021949707584400

JEDDAH: On behalf of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar, deputy governor of Makkah, participated on Tuesday in a pilot trip of the Haramain Express Train.
Also present were Transport Minister Sulaiman Al-Hamdan; Spanish State Secretary for Infrastructure, Transport and Housing Julio Gomez; President of the Saudi Railway Organization (SRO) and Chairman of the Public Transport Authority Rumaih Al-Rumaih; and a number of other top officials and media personnel.
The Haramain Express will transport passengers from Makkah to Madinah (and vice-versa), via Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City. The railway is around 450 km in length, and will offer a fast-paced, comfortable and secure transportation option for travelers passing through Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City. The train is expected to be fully operational during the first quarter of 2018.
On its pilot trip, the Haramain Express first ran from Jeddah to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) station in Rabigh, which was toured and inspected. The train then continued its journey toward Madinah at a speed of over 300 km per hour.
Prince Saud bin Khaled Al-Faisal, deputy governor of Madinah, received the train upon its arrival at Madinah Station on behalf of Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman, and boarded the train for its return journey to Jeddah.
Al-Hamdan explained that the speed at which this large-scale national project — one of the largest transportation projects in the Middle East — has progressed would not have been possible without the ongoing support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and support of the governors of Makkah and Madinah, and the support of the Public Investment Fund.
“The project represents substantial added value to the transportation system in the Kingdom, and is in line with one of Vision 2030’s objectives — to harness energies and potential to serve the guests of God by increasing the capacity of the systems and services provided to them.”
Such services include transportation, he said, noting that the number of pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques is predicted to increase from 8 million to 30 million people by 2030.
The minister went on to explain that the design of this project was based on the latest global specifications for high-speed railways, and features the highest safety and quality standards. The fully operational Haramain Express is expected to transport more than 60 million passengers annually.
For his part, Al-Rumaih said that the inauguration of the new railway will reduce pressure and limit pollution and congestion on roads between the two holy cities, while also providing a safer and faster transportation option.
The train’s travel time between Jeddah and Makkah will be around 21 minutes. It will take less than two-and-a-half hours to travel between Makkah and Madinah.

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Violators in gold, jewelry shops face two years jail, SR400,000 fine

Author: 
MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN
Wed, 2017-07-26 03:00
ID: 
1501021949727584700

RIYADH: The Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MCI) announced that it has detected 128 violations among gold and jewelry shops, and some of the violators will face a two-year jail term and a fine of SR400,000 ($106,658).
Last week, the ministry carried out 2,670 inspections on gold and jewelry shops in different regions of the Kingdom. According to a ministry official, a total of 128 violations related to invoices, absence of proper licenses, not using the proper scales and others were registered.
Inspections revealed that 63 violations were related to invoices and price tags for not including detailed data on the prices in Arabic; 32 violations related to the absence of any billing data; 17 violations were for not using scales during the sale of jewelry and gemstones; 11 violations were for lack of a license to practice the activity; two violations for not stamping the gold offered for sale; two violations were for lack of invoices given to customers; one violation was for not stamping jewelry according to their proper karats.
The official said the ministry would continue its ongoing operations of inspection tours on all gold and jewelry shops to detect cases of fraud and irregularities practiced in these outlets.
In case of suspected fraud in gold and jewelry shops, customers have been requested to lodge their complaints through the ministry’s consumer call center (1900) or through the application of a commercial violation report, via their smart phones.

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Shortage Of Fracking Crews Slows The Shale Boom

The resurgence in shale drilling and production could be bumping up against some limits, with output expected to fall far short of market expectations for this year and next, according to a new study. Some of the constraints that shale companies will run into are on the access to oilfield services (OFS), including rigs, equipment and personnel, according to Kayrros, a French research firm backed by the former CEO of OFS giant Schlumberger, and reported on by the FT. Over the past three years, the oil market downturn led to sharp cutbacks in drilling…

Bolivia’s President Declares “Total Independence” From World Bank And IMF

Via The American Herald Tribune,

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has been highlighting his government’s independence from international money lending organizations and their detrimental impact the nation, the Telesur TV reported.

“A day like today in 1944 ended Bretton Woods Economic Conference (USA), in which the IMF and WB were established,” Morales tweeted.

 

“These organizations dictated the economic fate of Bolivia and the world. Today we can say that we have total independence of them.”

Morales has said Bolivia’s past dependence on the agencies was so great that the International Monetary Fund had an office in government headquarters and even participated in their meetings.

Bolivia is now in the process of becoming a member of the Southern Common Market, Mercosur and Morales attended the group’s summit in Argentina last week.

Bolivia’s popular uprising known as the The Cochabamba Water War in 2000 against United States-based Bechtel Corporation over water privatization and the associated World Bank policies shed light on some of the debt issues facing the region.

Some of Bolivia’s largest resistance struggles in the last 60 years have targeted the economic policies carried out by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. 

Most of the protests focused on opposing privatization policies and austerity measures, including cuts to public services, privatization decrees, wage reductions, as well the weakening of labor rights. 

Since 2006, a year after Morales came to power, social spending on health, education, and poverty programs has increased by over 45 percent.

The Morales administration made enormous transformations in the Andean nation. The figures speak for themselves: the nationalization of hydrocarbons, poverty reduction from 60% to less than 40%, a decrease in the rate of illiteracy from 13% to 3%, the tripling the GDP with an average growth of 5% annually, the quadrupling of the minimum wage, the increasing of state coverage on all fronts, and the development of infrastructure in communications, transportation, energy and industry.

And above all, stability, an unusual word in the troubled political history Bolivia, of which today, with the economic slowdown experienced by many countries in the region, is a real privilege.

 

The post Bolivia’s President Declares “Total Independence” From World Bank And IMF appeared first on crude-oil.news.

Bolivia’s President Declares “Total Independence” From World Bank And IMF

Via The American Herald Tribune,

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has been highlighting his government’s independence from international money lending organizations and their detrimental impact the nation, the Telesur TV reported.

“A day like today in 1944 ended Bretton Woods Economic Conference (USA), in which the IMF and WB were established,” Morales tweeted.

 

“These organizations dictated the economic fate of Bolivia and the world. Today we can say that we have total independence of them.”

Morales has said Bolivia’s past dependence on the agencies was so great that the International Monetary Fund had an office in government headquarters and even participated in their meetings.

Bolivia is now in the process of becoming a member of the Southern Common Market, Mercosur and Morales attended the group’s summit in Argentina last week.

Bolivia’s popular uprising known as the The Cochabamba Water War in 2000 against United States-based Bechtel Corporation over water privatization and the associated World Bank policies shed light on some of the debt issues facing the region.

Some of Bolivia’s largest resistance struggles in the last 60 years have targeted the economic policies carried out by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. 

Most of the protests focused on opposing privatization policies and austerity measures, including cuts to public services, privatization decrees, wage reductions, as well the weakening of labor rights. 

Since 2006, a year after Morales came to power, social spending on health, education, and poverty programs has increased by over 45 percent.

The Morales administration made enormous transformations in the Andean nation. The figures speak for themselves: the nationalization of hydrocarbons, poverty reduction from 60% to less than 40%, a decrease in the rate of illiteracy from 13% to 3%, the tripling the GDP with an average growth of 5% annually, the quadrupling of the minimum wage, the increasing of state coverage on all fronts, and the development of infrastructure in communications, transportation, energy and industry.

And above all, stability, an unusual word in the troubled political history Bolivia, of which today, with the economic slowdown experienced by many countries in the region, is a real privilege.

 

The post Bolivia’s President Declares “Total Independence” From World Bank And IMF appeared first on crude-oil.news.

Two more German women identified among group held in Iraq

A total of four German citizens are among a group of women who were captured by Iraqi forces in the Iraqi city of Mosul last week, a foreign ministry source said on Tuesday. The foreign ministry on Monday said that two women were among those seized, including a 16-year-old teenager, Linda Wenzel, who had run away from her home in the state of Saxony last year. The source on Tuesday said that two others had now been confirmed as German citizens by consular officials who visited them. German prosecutors on Monday said they were investigating the teenager on suspicion of membership in a foreign terrorist organisation, alongside the three others. German newspaper Die Welt reported in Wednesday editions that two […]

House Overwhelmingly Passes Veto-Proof Russia Sanctions Deal

Setting up a showdown not between the US and Russia as some hope, but between Washington and the EU which has emerged as the most vocal opponent of ongoing, unilateral anti-Russian escalation by the US vowing swift retaliation, moments ago the U.S. House passed bipartisan legislation codifying and imposing further sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, and preventing the president from acting unilaterally to remove certain sanctions on Russia. Just three Republicans – Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Jimmy Duncan (Tenn.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.) – voted against the bill, which passed 419-3.

More importantly, the measure also bars U.S. companies from investing in energy projects in which Russian companies have at least a 33% stake, and may penalize European companies that colaborate with Russian companies on energy projects, the source of Europe’s recent fury.

Here are the main details of the draft legislation:

  • Codifies existing US sanctions on Russia and requires Congressional review before they are lifted.
  • Reduces from 30 days to 14 days the maximum allowed maturity for new debt and new extensions of credit to the state controlled financial institutions targeted under the sectoral sanctions.
  • Reduces from 90 days to 60 days the maximum allowed maturity for new debt and new extensions of credit to sectoral sanctions targets in the energy sector, although this largely only brings US sanctions in line with existing EU sanctions, which already impose a 30-day maximum for most energy companies.
  • Expands the existing Executive Order authorising sectoral sanctions to include additional sectors of the Russian economy: railways and metals and mining.
  • Requires sanctions on any person found to have invested $10 million or more, or facilitated such an investment, in the privatisation of Russian state-owned assets if they have “actual knowledge” that the privatisation “unjustly benefits” Russian government officials or their close associates or family members.
  • Authorises (but does not require) sanctions “in coordination with allies” on any person found to have knowingly made an investment of $1 million or more (or $5 million or more in any 12-month period), or knowingly provided goods or services of the same value, for construction, modernisation, or repair of Russia’s energy export pipelines.
  • Orders the treasury, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of State, to prepare detailed reports within the next 180 days:
    • on Russia’s oligarchs and parastatal companies including individual oligarchs’ closeness to the Russian state, their involvement in corrupt activities and the potential impact of expanding sanctions with respect to Russian oligarchs, Russian state-owned enterprises, and Russian parastatal entities, including impacts on the entities themselves and on the economy of the Russian Federation, as well as the exposure of key US economic sectors to these entities.
    • on the impact of debt- and equity-related sanctions being extended to include sovereign debt and the full range of derivative products.

According to Goldman, the most important impact would be that the bill codifies existing sanctions. Both the Obama administration and the Trump administration have argued that this restricts the President’s ability to negotiate a settlement of the Ukrainian conflict, as lifting codified sanctions has proven very difficult in the past.  The bill also asks the treasury to prepare a report in the next six months on the potential impact of expanding debt-related sanctions to include sovereign debt, as well as the potential impact of expanding sanctions to some oligarchs found to be close to the state and parastatal companies. This could be interpreted to suggest that sovereign debt will be added to the sanctions framework once the report has been prepared.

The potentially most controversial and impactful part of the sanctions bill concerns the potential inclusion of Russia’s gas and gas pipeline sector. However, at this stage the text only provides for sanctions imposed in consultation with US allies. As we have described in recent days, there is no appetite across most of Europe to contemplate such an extension.

But more than anything, however, Tuesday’s vote amounted to a rebuke of President Trump, whose administration had pushed to water down the bill’s provisions giving Congress the power to veto the lifting of sanctions.

“This strong oversight is necessary. It is appropriate. After all, it is Congress that the Constitution empowers to regulate commerce with foreign nations,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said, quoted by The Hill.

Ironically, with The House scheduled to depart Washington for the August recess at the end of this week, the latest anti-Russia sanctions package will likely be its biggest legislative accomplishment to date. The GOP-controlled Congress has not been able to send bills fulfilling any of Trump’s campaign pledges, such as repealing the healthcare law and reforming the tax code to Trump’s desk thus far. However, when it comes to Russia, the laughing stock that is a Republican-controlled Congress has always managed “to come out on top.”  As such, its biggest victory heading into the summer recess is the measure constraining the president amid investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to sway the 2016 election.

Making matters even more complicated for the Trump administration, which urged lawmakers to ensure the president have flexibility to adjust sanctions policy, the House passed the bill with a veto-proof majority meaning Trump has no choice but to accept it.

In recent days, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered mixed messages in recent days.  On Sunday, Sanders told ABC’s “This Week” that the administration supports the bill. But on Monday, she told reporters on Air Force One that Trump is “going to study that legislation” before making a final decision.

In addition to binding Trump, the bill establishes new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, in addition to Russia.  White House had lobbied against the Senate-passed measure, arguing it needed flexibility to adjust economic sanctions against Moscow.

Under the House bill, existing sanctions on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and interference in the 2016 election would be codified into law. New sanctions would go into effect against Iran for its ballistic missile development, while North Korea’s shipping industry and people who use slave labor would be targeted amid the isolated nation’s efforts to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The sanctions legislation has been stalled in the House since the Senate passed the legislation by a 98-2 vote last month. The first snag came from House lawmakers who noted that the Senate bill violated the constitutional requirement that all revenue-raising measures originate in the lower chamber.  After the Senate approved changes to address the constitutional issue, House Democrats then objected to a provision requested by GOP leaders that prevented them from forcing votes to block Trump from lifting sanctions.

 

A compromise reached over the weekend by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) ensures that any House member can force a vote on a resolution of disapproval to block sanctions relief that has already passed in the Senate.

 

It also allows either the House majority or minority leaders to introduce a resolution of disapproval.

Meanwhile, the complaints emerged, and not just from Europe: oil and gas companies raised concerns about provisions limiting the extent to which American and Russian energy companies could interact. Those companies warned that provisions banning American investments supporting the maintenance or construction of Russian pipelines could inadvertently prevent U.S. development near Russian sites.

In an effort to address those concerns, the latest version of the bill clarifies that only Russian energy export pipelines can be sanctioned, something which will not help as Brussels contemplates how to retaliate. It also establishes that the ban on U.S. investments in deepwater, shale or Arctic offshore projects applies only if there are Russian entities with an ownership interest of at least 33 percent.

“In the process of making Russia pay an economic cost for their bad behavior, we must ensure we are not harming U.S. interests at home and abroad,” warned House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas). 

 

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is supportive of the sanctions package, but expressed concern that it might not have a smooth path to passage in the Senate.

 

“It seems we may be on the floor before we ironed out all our differences with the other body,” Engel said, citing the late addition of North Korea sanctions. “I hope we don’t face further delays when this bill gets back to the other house.”

And now we wait to see how Europe, which over the weekend vowed to “retaliate within days” should the legislation pass, will respond. And, of course, how long until Russia expels some 30 US diplomats now that it is abundantly clear the US won’t return the seized Russian diplomatic compounds as Putin has been demanding in recent weeks.

The post House Overwhelmingly Passes Veto-Proof Russia Sanctions Deal appeared first on crude-oil.news.

Electric Car Industry Faces A Looming Supply Shortage

“Lithium is the new oil,” goes the saying in electric vehicle (EV) circles. If you haven’t heard the catchy maxim, it means that new-age batteries made from elemental lithium are the energy world’s “in-thing.” By extension, a tank of gasoline containing a cocktail of carbon and hydrogen atoms is passé. Think back to the early 1900s: It’s like an oilman wearing spats and a fedora walking into a cowboy bar saying, “Oil is the new horse hay.” Fast forward to today: I’m a believer that…

Will The UAE Further Boost Its OPEC Compliance?

Following Saudi Arabia’s pledge to do the same, the United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday its plans to reduce oil exports beginning in September of this year. The announcement was delivered on Twitter from UAE’s Minister of Energy, Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, reiterating its commitment to “share in OPEC production cut.” (Click to enlarge) As for the UAE’s oil customers, we’re talking about mostly Japan, who receives 62 percent of the UAE’s crude oil exports, according to the UAE Embassy website. Saudi…