Pondering about oil and economics…

Loyal Subject Win

As a keen Saudi man, His Jolliness Sheikh Al Shavin supports all of his country oil policies, whether they have a positive or a negative effect. However, recent economic collapse around the world prompted the Sheikh to research about the economy of Saudi Arabian oil. Here is what he wrote prior to the research:

Who would have thought that flaming holes could contribute so much to the economy of the Middle East? 1,000 years ago, people in the region where we now called Iran had “worshipped” fiery holes in the ground – later known as oil. Fast-forward 900 years and oil was discovered in even greater quantities on the other side of the Gulf. Currently, Saudi Arabia has approximately one-fourth of the world’s oil – a commodity that supplies 40% of the world’s energy and 96% of the world’s transportation power. Because of this, the Kingdom’s economic is dependent on oil and the GDP is largely influenced by oil exports.There, oil is expected to last up to about seventy years, but oil is fast becoming a drained commodity elsewhere. My objective is to find out the role of oil in the economy of Saudi Arabia at present, and in the future. At this moment, during an economic crisis, the task of oil to lift the economy is a momentous one because of the issue that the country is “too” dependent. In the foreseeable future, oil will inevitably run out and also many countries are already considering alternative energy sources. In the past, the oil has played an enormous role regarding the economy of Saudi Arabia. When faced with problems of the present and the future world, will oil still hold out as the Kingdom’s premier force in the economy?

And here below is his conclusion after being “enlightened” many times during the research.

Being the nation with the greatest quantities of oil reserves, it could only be reasonable that the economy of Saudi Arabia is heavily dependent on oil. Amid times of recession, economic collapse, and shifts toward “green” energy, oil has stood out as a reliable commodity. “It has been, it is currently, and it will still be in the future,” Saudi’s oil minister has pointed out. To answer the objective question what role does, and will, oil play in the economy of the Saudi Arabia, the research has to rely on a series of oil statistics, recent economic actions, viewpoint of some people, and energy trends dating back some time. Oil was first discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1930 and it has since become the country’s sole-runner in influencing the economy. At current production rates, the oil reserves are expected to last up to seven decades hence it would be reasonable to expect that oil will continue to be a major force in the economy. However, recent collapses have led both the country into recession and the oil prices to be unstable – a drop from $140 to merely $40 per barrel. This would not be good for the Kingdom, which needs to sell oil for at least $55 per barrel to economically run the country. Another drawback for the present economics of oil is that the demand and consumption has dropped drastically due to the business collapse. As people are being more environmental-friendly, alternative energy are being explored. There are no great breakthroughs from this field yet so the Saudi dependence on oil is looking fine in the long run. Nevertheless, there were a number of biases during the study. High Saudi officials with reference to oil were deeply upset by the reporters saying how they are trying to prevent an alternate energy form and how they are keeping the world hooked with their oil. They also view themselves as “good world citizens who are producing oil to help against world collapse.” In all, Saudi Arabia’s current economy is deeply being influenced by oil with more than half of the GDP earned from oil exports. A disastrous event in relation to oil could put this country into chaos, but on the contrary, a great occurrence would lift up the nation. As for the future, oil looks to be an important part of both Saudi Arabia’s economy and the world’s energy source. Which of those ancient worshippers would have thought that the fire they were worshipping could have such a big role to play in the economy of one of the world’s richest country?

Curse of the Record-Breakers to strike in Dubai?

Loyal Subject WinBurj Dubai

His Jolliness Sheikh Al Shavin recently came across an intriguing phenomenon – the skrscraper curse. It has been reportedly said that efforts to build the world’s highest building is eerily linked with the arrival of the economic crises. The most recent evidence of the curse is merely ten years ago in 1997. The record-breaking Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur has just been completed and evidently, 1997 was the year that the economies of Southeast Asia collapsed. Even earlier than the Petronas, the Sears Tower brought an economic downfall to Chicago in 1974, and in New York, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Tower were finished approximately at the time of the Great Depression. This curse have even struck in biblical times with the Tower of Babel.

Now in Dubai, the Burj Dubai – which is scheduled to be completed in September 2009 – has already drawn some attention from the curse. The recent and ongoing world economic crisis has saw many of the 3 millions foreign worker fleeing from the fear that they would be arrested because they could not pay loans. This would leave only 800,000 natives in Dubai. Also, Dubai’s property prices have come down by 25% since last September. The Skyscraper Curse looks to have set its sight on Dubai.

Political Cartoons

Loyal Subject Parijat


The Sheikh came across a couple of political cartoons that connected with the study about the Middle East. He believes that both cartoons are about a similar theme. The first cartoon shows the nations Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan in the form of cracked eggs, while two kids are standing on the side, one with a tag labeled Condy (presumably Condolezza Rice). The other is saying, “This better be one heck of an omelet.” (presumable the president of the U.S.) The second cartoon shows a man denying irony while using mid-east oil and wearing a shirt which says ‘support our troops’. How would you interpret these cartoons figuratively and how do you think they are connected? Which event/events do you think the cartoonist is poking fun at, and what seems to be his attitude?

Sources: http://randomcuriosity.com/img/middle_east_omelet.gif


The Holocaust that never was?

Loyal Subject Parijat

Recently, Sheikh Al Shavin came across some shocking survey results. According to a survey published on Monday, 41 percent of Israel’s Arab citizens say that the Holocaust never happened. The survey was directed by a sociologist from the University of Haifa – Sammy Smooha. However, according to Mr. Smooha, this result reflected more of a sense of protest than a sense of belief. This number has risen, compared to the 28 percent who denied the existence of the Holocaust back in 2006. Mr. Smooha explains this increase in number as a rising frustration among Arab people, who say that recognizing the Holocaust means giving justification to what the Israelis are doing. His Jolliness is rather surprised by the number of Arabs within Israel who are denying the Holocaust, which is one of, if not the most, horrific events in the history of the Jewish majority in Israel. Do you think that this is a step too far in protesting against the Israeli people’s policies? Will and should Jewish people find this overly offensive? How has history led to this current, in a way, ‘tense’ situation?

Source: New York Times Article

Pope concludes Middle East tour

Loyal Subject Parijat

On Friday, Pope Benedict concluded his eight-day tour of the Middle East. He visited Jordanian, Israeli & Palestinian territories in an effort to improve the Roman Catholic Church’s relations with Muslims and Jews, after some controversial actions and comments by the Pope. However, his focus on Friday was to address the conflicts between the Israelis and Palestinians, and how it angers him. He mentioned that he was greatly upset by the building of a wall that separates Jerusalem and Bethlehem. He also called for the creation of a Palestinian state. Here is an excerpt from the speech he gave about the impressions of this visit and a video from ‘The Associated Press’ as well, about the Pope’s visit to Nazareth (Jesus’ boyhood town) . His Jolliness asks you if you think that the Pope’s visit can make a difference in this conflict and help change things for the better? Also, how might the speech connect to what we were learning about religions in class?

“Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

“As I prepare to return to Rome, may I share with you some of the powerful impressions that my pilgrimage to the Holy Land has left with me. I had fruitful discussions with the civil authorities both in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories, and I witnessed the great efforts that both governments are making to secure people’s well-being. I have met the leaders of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, and I rejoice to see the way that they work together in caring for the Lord’s flock. I have also had the opportunity to meet the leaders of the various Christian Churches and ecclesial communities as well as the leaders of other religions in the Holy Land. This land is indeed a fertile ground for ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, and I pray that the rich variety of religious witness in the region will bear fruit in a growing mutual understanding and respect.”
“Mr. President, I thank you for the warmth of your hospitality, which is greatly appreciated, and I wish to put on record that I came to visit this country as a friend of the Israelis, just as I am a friend of the Palestinian people. Friends enjoy spending time in one another’s company, and they find it deeply distressing to see one another suffer. No friend of the Israelis and the Palestinians can fail to be saddened by the continuing tension between your two peoples. No friend can fail to weep at the suffering and loss of life that both peoples have endured over the last six decades. Allow me to make this appeal to all the people of these lands: No more bloodshed! No more fighting! No more terrorism! No more war! Instead let us break the vicious circle of violence. Let there be lasting peace based on justice, let there be genuine reconciliation and healing. Let it be universally recognised that the State of Israel has the right to exist, and to enjoy peace and security within internationally agreed borders. Let it be likewise acknowledged that the Palestinian people have a right to a sovereign independent homeland, to live with dignity and to travel freely. Let the two-state solution become a reality, not remain a dream. And let peace spread outwards from these lands, let them serve as a “light to the nations”, bringing hope to the many other regions that are affected by conflict.”

For the full speech given by the Pope: Click here

Qatar 2022?

Loyal Subject Win

As a keen follower of soccer, Sheikh Al Shavin is delighted to hear that Qatar has bidded to host the first ever World Cup in the Middle East in 2022. His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, President of Qatar 2022, said to a sell-out crowd of 50,000 at the Khalifa National Stadium in Doha:

Qatar 2022 is a Bid on behalf of the whole region. The first global sports event in the Middle East provides an opportunity for greater understanding and unity between the Arab and Western worlds and can inspire enthusiastic support from football fans young and old across the entire region.”

There’s another motive behind this World Cup beside the financial benefits which is to unite the Arab and Western Worlds. Other than this, Qatar has the world’s fastest-growing economy as well as the highest per capital GDP. Also, the country has a grand history of hosting sporting events such as 2006 Asian Games and the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. However, Qatar will face tough competitions which include South Korea, England, Russia, Spain & Portugal, Mexico, and the Netherlands & Belgium. Qatar have outlined their intentions for the World Cup 2022 with the promise of the most state-of-the-art, financially robust, and hospitable World Cup on history. His Jolliness wonders, “Do you think if this event takes place, it will be able to connect the Arab and Western worlds, as well as the people in the Middle East itself?”

Khalifa National Stadium

Khalifa National Stadium, Doha, Qatar

Source: Khaleej Times Article

Is Peace Out Of Reach?

Loyal Subject Parijat

Recently, His Jolliness came across quite a shockingly interesting video about the situation between Palestinians and Israelis. To fill you in, basically there has been a conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians for decades now since 1948, which has greatly intensified to large scale violence in recent times. The Palestinians want their own state in West Bank and Gaza, but the Israelis are doing everything to prevent this from happening. The Sheikh found this video quite interesting because it related to our recent study of South Africa. The video shows how Apartheid already is and could be present in Israel and West Bank soon (minority of Israelis ruling majority of Palestinians). The video also shows why peaceful negotiations and discussions between the Israelis and Palestinians about a ‘Two-State Solution’ are failing, due to the settlements built in the West Bank by Israel. These are depriving the Palestinians of many resources as well as authority, pride and the ability to form their own powerful state. The Palestinian people’s hardships are displayed, including some shocking situations like people being imprisoned in their own homes by soldiers as well as unemployment and restrictions from travel. Both the Israeli and Palestinian sides are interviewed in this CBS report for their opinions, and they both believe that a peaceful ‘Two-State Solution’ may no longer be a possibility. However, a solution to this problem for the Palestinians is shown in the form of Tzipi Livni (political leader), although her goals will not be easy to accomplish, due to the violence and resilience of Israelis. The Sheikh insists you watch this quite amazing video and ask yourself this question again, “When and how will this conflict end?”

Video on CBS report on the Israel-Palestine situation from Youtube.

Sunni Militia Arrested. Future bright for Iraq?

Loyal Subject Win

Nadhim al-Jubouri, the head of a US-allied Sunni militia group the Awakening Councils, and his brothers were arrested under the charges of terrorism. The charges date to when they were still fighting the US in Iraq with the Al Qaeda. The local people charged Nadhim al-Jubouri and his brothers for the murder of their relatives. Currently, the Shia-dominated government of Iraq has taken over the responsibility for supervising the Sunni Awakening militias from the US since April 1. Some disagree strongly with this arrest because the Awakening militia have often been credited with helping reduce violence in the nation.

The Sheikh Al Shavin believes that it is a positive step forward for the Iraqi government, but is also worried about the seemingly never-ending conflict between the Sunni and Shi’ite. The bright side would be that the young government is already showing authority and promise for the future. The sheikh feels that in a volatile country such as Iraq, a especially strong government is needed. With these arrests, Iraq’s future look to be good after all in the hands of this government. However, the government may face a major issue to solve in the future, which will be the battle between the Sunni and Shi’ite sects. His Jolliness’ questions to you are, “Why do you think there is a rift between the two major religious sects of Islam?”, and “How has the US invasion in Iraq affected the situation between the Sunni & the Shi’ite?”

Source: BBC News Article

More Israeli attacks. More people dead. Will there be an end?

Loyal Subject Parijat

Israeli Airstrikes

Israeli air strikes on tunnels, on the border with Egypt, in Gaza have killed two people, according to Gaza medical sources. Israeli warplanes bombed the tunnels near the town of Rafah. These attacks came just hours after rockets were fired at Israeli troops in southern Israel, by Palestinian militants from a group called the Popular Resistance Committee. Two unidentified men were later pulled out, by medical workers, from the collapsed tunnels. Israel confirmed that it had bombed three tunnels, saying that it had done so to stop the smuggling of weapons, that were used against Israel, into Gaza. However, the smuggling has resumed and the tunnels are the only way of getting any food, fuel or other goods into the area due to the strict barriers placed by the Israeli, say people in Gaza. There has been irregular fire from Israel into Palestinian territories ever since the 22-day attack by Israel in January.

The Jolly Sheikh of Arabia is not jolly at all at the moment because of the mindless fighting going on, and also because it is clear that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is showing no signs of ending soon, unless dramatic steps are taken. Both sides, especially the Israelis, are refusing to put and end to this violence and chaos. This conflict has been going on for decades now, from 1948, when the British left, as we found out from our booklet on the Middle East. Many believe that there is a need for the involvement of a third party to help and solve the current situation between the Israelis and Palestinians. Surprisingly, in a recent poll conducted by Keevoon and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 56% of the Israeli respondents said that they want the United States to play a role in this matter, even after their highly criticized actions in Iraq. Therefore the questions that the rather ‘Un-Jolly’ Sheikh is asking are, ‘When and how will this conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians end?’, and ‘What will it take for this to happen?’.

Polling Data:

United States 56%
European Union (EU) 9%
United Nations (UN) 6%
Russia 6%
None 10%
Not sure 6%

Sources: Angus Reid Global Monitor Article, BBC News Article

For a video about the matter: click here

Jolly Views on the Scoring Rubric

The Jolly Sheikh has recently read the scoring rubric and agrees with it to a certain extent. The rubric serves as a guide and allows the Sheikh to develop this blog accordingly. It clearly reflects some requirements and suggestions that bloggers should follow, when expanding and contributing to the blogging community, keeping in mind what is learned in class. The Sheikh shall keep the rubric in mind while posting, which will enable him to try and achieve a good score for this blog. He believes that he will be able to do quite well in the ‘Writing Quality’ and ‘Ideas & Content’ areas of the rubric, as we, the loyal subjects, are doing our best to adequately portray the Sheikh’s opinions and views related to the Middle East. Some might disagree, but the Sheikh feels that the ‘Community’ part of the rubric is quite important as well, because it is a way for people to share their various ideas, doubts, and opinions on others’ posts, thus remaining active in the online blogging community. The Sheikh, slightly disagrees with the ‘Post Frequency’ and ‘Use of Enhancements’ areas of the rubric. Like Angus & Steven, he believes that about 2 or 3 posts per week would be a more reasonable post frequency for a good grade, as otherwise, it would be hard to do well in this part of the blog. Also, the Sheikh believes that there isn’t always the need of some sort of media to enhance a post. Sometimes, words are enough to convey what the posts is trying to get across. As the Sheikh has heard, Mr. Kenney of the ‘Far West’ has said that this rubric has come straight from the high school, and therefore some minor tweaks to make the rubric more feasible can be taken. All in all, the Sheikh thinks that this rubric is a great guide and is very reasonable.