MAY 2012 ISSUE 54 VOL 7
May 2012 Issue 54 Vol 7
ISSUE 54 MAY 2012
PAGE 2 SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN
audi Arabia celebrates the 7th anniversary of the King’s ascension to the throne. It is also an occasion to pledge allegiance to the King, who ascended the throne on 26/6/1426 H. King Abdullah’s seven years in office have been remarkable for reforms and achievements. Modernization within the scope of Shariah and developments at a gigantic pace have been the hallmarks of the King’s initiatives in which no segment of society has been ignored. His statesmanship, his leadership qualities, and his vision have earned him global respect and have catapulted Saudi Arabia into the top ranks of nations. Since 2009, King Abdullah has been on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people. “There are seven billion people on the planet. These are the 70 that matter,” wrote Forbes on its website last year. “King Abdullah has continued to pursue an agenda of moderate reforms in the Kingdom that contains 20 percent of the world’s known oil reserves and Islam’s two holiest sites. He recently granted women the right to vote in local elections,” wrote Forbes magazine. The King recognized the importance of education, and so gave the sector the priority it deserved. In 2005, the King launched a government scholarship program to send Saudi students to universities around the world and implemented
a SR9 billion project for general education development. He allocated SR168 billion for education and manpower training. Another landmark initiative of the King has been his empowerment of women. He gave women the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections. “We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society and in every aspect, within the rules of Shariah,” King Abdullah said in his annual speech before the Shoura Council. Women were also given the right to join the Shoura Council. “We have decided that women will participate in the Shoura Council as members starting the next term,” the King said. The King also laid down a $37 billion program of new spending including jobless benefits, education and housing subsidies.
2 May 2012 Issue 54 Vol 7
SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN PAGE 3 next month Saudi Arabia and Spain jointly held the interfaith dialogue in Madrid. In “The King has played a signifiyet another interfaith dialogue conference in cant role in unifying Arab and Vienna’s Hofburg Palace, the King’s vision Islamic ranks, in defending led to the creation of the King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interthe issues of Arab and Islamic religious and Intercultural Dialogue. nations, and spreading the While the King extended his hand of friendculture of dialogue, peaceful ship to other religions, he did not ignore his coexistence, and combating responsibilities toward the Muslim Ummah. terrorism.” The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has launched a number of projects worth bilCrown Prince Naif lions of dollars for the comfort of the Guests of Allah. He also announced a $400 billion package to improve edu- The list of achievements and initiatives of the King cation, health care and infrastructure. Abdullah is too long to be summarized in a few words. One of the most internationally recognized initiatives of the But what Crown Prince Naif said in his congratulaKing has been his call for interfaith dialogue. tory cable to the King aptly sums it up: “The King has In November 2007, he visited Pope Benedict XVI in the played a significant role in unifying Arab and Islamic Apostolic Palace, the first such visit by a Saudi king. ranks, in defending the issues of Arab and Islamic In June 2008, he organized a conference of Islamic scholars, nations, and spreading the culture of dialogue, peaceful clerics and other figures in the holy city of Makkah. The coexistence, and combating terrorism.”
THE GULF & THE GLOBE FORUM I was involved in organizing “The Gulf and the Globe” forum held by the Institute of Diplomatic Studies in cooperations with the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. I was pleased with the success of the forum, both academically and vis-a-vis the media. With 132 journalists present from local and international outlets including Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and the BBC, the forum enjoyed high media coverage. Crucial in the forum’s success was the variety of the academic papers presented there, which covered political, economic and security issues facing the Gulf. Twenty-six speaker attended, from fourteen countries including the United States, Russia, China and India. Another factor in the success of the forum was the unprecedented and rapid political change affecting Arab countries, including those of the Gulf. The forum happened at a time of tension between the GCC states and Iran, which has become a threat to the stability of the region. In his opening speech to the forum, Prince Saud Al Faisal reflected on the concern of the regions states towards Iran’s interference in their own internal on mutual respect between all states, including Iran. However, Iran obstructs all efforts by GCC states to build good relations, by continuing to intervene in other states’ affairs.
Prince Saud also concentrated on the GCC states’ fears about Iran’s nuclear programme, a real threat to the other states of the region and an obstacle to any improvement in Arab-Iranian relations. The President of General Intelligence, Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz presented a paper called “The Dynamics of Regional Security,” focusing on political changes in the region, particularly the Arab Spring. He emphasised the need for reforms to prevent demands for change turning into full-scale chaos that would hurt both the governments and peoples of the region. In the final session of the forum, Prince Turki Al Faisal presented a paper discussing the future of the GCC states in the light of the strategic changes taking place in the Middle East. He talked about the need for a unified GCC military force, parliament and currency. The papers presented at the forum were markedly candid, openly dealing with hot issues and suggesting ways in which GCC countries can preserve their security and independence in a difficult environment. The region needs more of this kind of forum to throw light on the difficult issues the Gulf countries face. Of course, these issues affect not only the Gulf but also the global economy, due to the Gulf’s petrochemical resources that provide energy to the whole world.
3 May 2012 Issue 54 Vol 7
ISSUE 54 MAY 2012
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audi Ambassador to Australia Hassan bin Talaat Nazer has welcomed the launch of Saudi Graduates Federation in Australian universities, considering it as an opportunity for celebrating the great achievements made by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Program for Foreign Scholarships in taking care of Saudis on scholarships in universities and colleges in Australia. In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Ambassador Nazer commended the King’s era for its great support for education which confirms the leadership’s keenness on enhancing progress and development in all fields in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia The Australian Embassy in Riyadh recently hosted a reception to launch the Saudi Arabian Graduates Association (or Sadaga, meaning ‘friendship’ in Arabic). The reception was held during the International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education (IECHE) in Riyadh in April and was attended by Saudi graduates from Australian Universities, representatives of the 23 Australian Universities attending the IECHE and members of the Australian business community in Saudi Arabia. In his speech launching the students association, Aus-
tralian Ambassador Neil Hawkins made mention of the dramatic growth of Saudi students in Australia and the positive role played in this by the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, the quality of Australian institutions, the safe and supportive environment in Australia and the valued support of the Saudi Embassy in Canberra. He finished by thanking CAAR for its generous support of the alumni association.
AUSTRALIAN Government provideS A$1.5 mil for Islamic Museum The Australian Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Kate Lundy has announced that the Australian Government will provide A$1.5 million for the establishment of the Islamic Museum in Melbourne, Australia. Her remarks came during the launching ceremony of a documentary film on the contributions of earlier Muslims to building the country. The ceremony was attended by Minister Lundy, Saudi Ambassador to Australia Hassan Talaat Nazer and a number of Australian and Muslim fingers. Lundy expressed hope that the project will reflect the contribution of Islamic culture and heritage to building Australia.
4 May 2012 Issue 54 Vol 7
SAUDI AUSTRALIA BULLETIN PAGE 5
audi minister of Petroleum and Mineral Reserves Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi visited Australia. Upon arriving in Adelaide Airport, minister Al-Naimi was received by Saudi Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Hassan bin Talat Nazer and a number of officials. during His visit Minister Al-Naimi address the Australian Oil and Gas Conference held in Adelaide. Saudi Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Hassan bin Talaat Nazeer welcomed Minister Al-Naimi visit , he said â€œSaudi Arabia takes part in the conference as a guest of honour The Saudi Minister of Petroleum also met with the Australian Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson. The meeting included discussions on ways to enhance the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the fields of energy, mining and environmental issues, especially the spheres of petroleum, solar energy, and the exchange of information and studies on the collection and storage of carbon dioxide and the reduction of harmful emissions to the environment due to the use of fossil fuels. They also reviewed global oil situations and the importance of their stability in the interest of producing and oil con-
suming countries. Following the meeting, Al-Naimi said that Saudi Arabia and Australia are among important countries in the global energy issues in terms of export or production. He pointed out that the two countries agree on many issues, including environmental issues and the importance of its protection through collecting carbon emissions and re-injecting them into oil fields, stressing in this regard the importance of cooperation between the two countries in the fields of energy, mineral resources and environment.
5 May 2012 Issue 54 Vol 7
ISSUE 54 MAY 2012
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“Show me your “sabbhah” , I will tell you who you are!”, A new Saudi social motto. The “misbah”, “sabbhah’ “tasbiih” as it is alternatively known in some other countries is a versatile accessory for men in Islamic countries, and across the wider Middle- East. It’s religious convenience was superseded by its social significance as an artistic artifact that reflects the teperament and taste of he who sports. The missbah has always been the passion for many collectors who gushly spend fortunes for collectable ones, sometimes travelling to other countries to sample or buy a unique piece of work. Despite the obvious etymological link with the Arabic very “sabb’aha”, meaning to supplicate, some experts say that the history of the word predates Islam,, as it is also common to non Muslims, especially the Christian Arabs, and the Greek Orthodox. In today’s Muslim society the missbah is more than a tool for counting supplications, it is a major tool of mediation, stress relief and in certain situations a show off. Carried in side pockets by men of different ages, and from every walks of life, the missbah has turned into a mark of personal taste and social prestige. Recently also the missbah entered the world of women’s jewelry in the Arab world, indicating the increase social role of women in Muslim societies. Missbahs come in all kinds and shapes; however, these variations are underpinned by a whole culture of artistic notins. Today, there are famous Austa’s, ( a Turkish term for experts in making missbahs), as well as different types of Khirata, lathing or shping the beads, and other parts of the Missbah. Different countries have different distinct ways of Khirata. Traditinally, misbahs were lathed from coral, ivory, amber, wood, bakelite, or from precious stones. These materials, especially the coral and ivory that make the majority of standard missbahs are easy to lathe,
and to ornament with silver lace, silver tiny nails, or Amber pieces. And to show standard ivory and black coral missbah decorated with small white silver nails. Other Missbahs are made of countless kinds of materials, though there are several preffered ones to diehard collectors: Amber, Bakelits, rare woods etc. Some materials are even shrouded with myths and mystery, and only known to experts. Old cherry Amber Bakelite, known by connaisseurs as “Faturan” is the most cherished and valuable, and a missbah made from it can fetch several thousand dollars. The myth has it that this old Bakelite (Phenol - formaldehyde) was secretly made centuries ago by German Engineers, and after the Wars it went out of production. Other Bakelites such as Amber Bakelite (Cataline) are also popular, but not as valuable. The average Islamic missbah is composed of four parts: the beads; the Shahids (indicator); the big Shahid (Minaret); the Socks, sometimes called Karkoshah. Missbahs comes in two types according to the number of beads: 33, 99 beads types. Some collectors associate the 99 Misbah with the Sufi sects. Recently 60 beads Missbah with the Sufi sects.
6 May 2012 Issue 54 Vol 7
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Recently 60 beads Missbah are common also. The 33 is divided by the Shahids into three parts 33 each with occasional counters, Below is a Shahid between beads, and shows different types of shahids: The Big Shahid (Minaret) is the largest part of the missabah. It is usually made of the same materials as the missbah, and carries the stamp of the country where it has been made. It is an important part of the missbah, therefore, in countries like Turkey it gets neatly carved in the shape of a minaret, a tulip or an Imam with a cap. Iranian Missbahs, for example do not exhibit the same sophistication. The skill of the Austa is usually reflected in lathing neat Minarets, shows two shahids: an Egyptian shahid of the right, and Turkish one to the left. Shows three neatly carved Turkish Shahids; They represent a tulip, a minaret, and a Suffi with a hat. The most upper part of the missbah is the Socks. It also
comes in different shapes and materials, and reflects the spirit of the Missbah. The socks is made also from different materials: silk, wool, silver and gold. Cloth material such a silk and wool is usually used with Amber Missbah and other fragile material so not to scratch it, and to allow perfuming the socks. Metal socks are mostly used with precious and hard stones missbahs. Nonetheless, no strict rules govern personal taste. Keen missbahâ€™s collectors often like to brandish their missbahs with a dangling silver socks that have old historical coins attached to them. The coins, sometimes marking special occasions, are indicative of the age and autheniticty of the missbah.
7 May 2012 Issue 54 Vol 7
ISSUE 54 MAY 2012
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ew opportunities in the Middle East for Australian businesses the focus of Sydney forum Australian businesses will be able to find new opportunities to trade in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the 2012 Australia Arab Business Forum & Expo at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park on June 5 and 6. Representatives of the region’s governments and medium and small businesses will promote emerging markets with a combined GDP of more than $2 trillion. As well as flagging opportunities for Australian businesses in their countries, they will provide market intelligence and link Australian companies with MENA networks. Australia’s only conference promoting trade between the two regions, the Forum is expected to attract more than 300 people from 14 Middle Eastern and North African countries and Australia. The Forum will focus on – Infrastructure and construction opportunities in Australia and the Arab world in rail, commercial property, ports and highways Bilateral opportunities for foreign direct investment Australia’s role in agribusiness exports Investment in agriculture Islamic finance as a source of institutional and retail finance in Australia. Business and governments from more than 14 Mid-
dle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries are sending representatives to Australia’s only event promoting business between the two regions. “This represents a surprising increase in business engagement with the Middle East,” said Mr Syd Giller, Chairman of the Australia Oman Business Council. “Australia is now seen as a destination for business right across the Middle East North Africa region. “The presence of Arabic businesses at the Forum will put the focus on new export opportunities. “It will also highlight the tremendous opportunities for joint ventures both here overseas.” Countries represented at the Forum, to be held at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park, include Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Palestine. Interest in the Forum has extended to participation by companies from India. “I am excited that the Forum will give Arabic countries the attention by Australian businesses that they deserve,” said Mr Giller. At the Forum, Oman will showcase its $85 billion in infrastructure development currently under way. Projects include five new airports, the upgrading of the Muscat and Salalah airports, the development of Al Duqn Port and the upgrading of existing ports. Linking ports, airports, free trade zones and distribution hubs, the Government of Oman is planning to build comprehensive rail links that will provide connections to the planned Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rail network. Major developments in resorts and tourism activities are also being undertaken, including a $300 million resort development awarded to a major Australian construction group,. “This is a great example of an Australian company participating in opportunities in Oman and highlights the opportunities for many others,” said Mr Giller.
May 2012 Issue 54 Vol 7