Make your Linguistic Skills even more Powerful

Make your Linguistic Skills even more Powerful

If you’re reading this, you have quite a powerful language. There are 1.5 billion global English speakers – the most spoken language in the world. Why not make your linguistic skills even more powerful by learning other strategic languages? It’s always useful to learn aspects of a language while traveling – phrases in German, French, Italian, Greek and Romanian for your trip across Europe, perhaps. But there are a handful of languages that would be wise to learn, especially as a frequent traveler. Here are the three most useful second languages as per

3 Most Useful Second Languages

Arabic

Make your Linguistic Skills even more Powerful
Credit: Juan Ci/Shutterstock

There are at least 315 million native and non-native speakers in the Arab world, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world. With it, traveling to the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia is so much simpler (especially since the written language is so different from English lettering). Arabic is the official language of Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and a few dozen other countries. It’s also the liturgical language of the Muslim population (around 1.5 billion people), making it highly important to religious scholars and those with an interest in the topic.

Spanish

Make your Linguistic Skills even more Powerful
Credit: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Every traveler likely knows a tiny bit of Spanish, but with so many Spanish-speaking countries, it’s a no-brainer to learn in an effort to make your trips easier and more rewarding. There are about 400 million nature speakers in countries around the globe: Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala and, of course, Spain, just to name a few. It’s universally recognized as useful, as it’s the third most studied language in the world behind English and French.

Mandarin Chinese

Make your Linguistic Skills even more Powerful
Credit: Toa55/Shutterstock

If you want to interact with 1.1 billion or so people, you’re going to have to do so in Mandarin Chinese, nearly a billion of which are native speakers. China is expected to become the world’s leading economy by 2050. If you’re in business, it’s a must-know language. It would at least be extremely useful as the country’s worldwide influence increases.

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Could OPEC play second fiddle to US’s oil boom?

Could OPEC play second fiddle to US’s oil boom?

With America’s oil boom, OPEC is stuck in retreat as demonstrated in this June 11, 2019, post of CNN’s. The MENA mainstream media are shouting: Could OPEC play second fiddle to US’s oil boom? In any case, a new world order seems to be taking shape with respect to the world’s energy generation, production and trade.

In the meantime, here is CNN’s view on this seemingly fight between Shale and conventional fossil fuel type of commerce.

Could OPEC play second fiddle to US’s oil boom?

America’s oil boom will break more records this year. OPEC is stuck in retreat

By Matt EganCNN Business

New York (CNN Business) The epic American oil boom is just getting started. OPEC, on the other hand, is stuck on the sidelines. US oil production is on track to spike to a record 13.4 million barrels per day by the end of 2019, according to a recent report by energy research firm Rystad Energy. Texas alone is expected to soon top 5 million barrels per day in oil production — more than any OPEC member other than Saudi Arabia. Oil plunges back into bear market The surge in American barrels — led by the Permian Basin in West Texas — has offset oil blocked by US sanctions on Venezuela and Iran. But all of that US oil is also contributing to a supply glut that last week sent crude into another bear market. OPEC has been forced to scale back its output — a trend that could continue as the cartel tries to prop prices back up. “We continue to see the Permian representing the key driver of global oil supply growth for the next five years,” Goldman Sachs analyst Brian Singer wrote to clients on Monday.

US daily output could soon top 14 million

The shale oil revolution has made the United States the world’s leading producer, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia. The ferocity of the US shale oil revolution has caught analysts off guard several times over the past decade. Rystad Energy ramped up its year-end US output forecast by 200,000 to 13.4 million barrels per day. In May, the United States likely produced a record 12.5 million barrels of oil per day, the firm added. All but four million of those barrels were from shale oilfields. That growth is expected to continue. The United States is on track to end 2020 by producing 14.3 million barrels per day, Rystad projects. That’s slightly higher than the firm previously estimated and nearly triple 2008’s output. Of course, analysts could have to rein in those blockbuster forecasts if oil prices crash significantly further. That would force American frackers to preserve cash and pull back on production.

OPEC’s production hits five year low

OPEC remains in retreat as the cartel tries to balance the market by putting a floor beneath prices. OPEC’s oil production tumbled to 29.9 million barrels per day in May, the lowest level in more than five years, Rystad said. OPEC output is down 2.6 million per day since October 2018 — the month before oil prices crashed into the last bear market. Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, said on Friday that OPEC is close to a deal to extend its production cuts. Those cuts, which Saudi Arabia has borne the brunt of, are due to expire at the end of June. The stock market is ‘spoiled’ by rate cuts” We think that OPEC will at least maintain its output cuts, and maybe even deepen them at their next meeting,” Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients on Monday. Rystad dimmed its projection for Saudi Arabia’s oil production from 10.6 million barrels per day to 10.3 million.

Venezuela, Iran under pressure

OPEC’s output could be further hurt by problems in some of its member countries. Iran’s oil exports have plunged because of US sanctions. The years-long collapse of Venezuela’s oil industry has been accelerated in recent months by US sanctions and sprawling blackouts in the South American nation. “There appears little prospect of a recovery in output from Iran or Venezuela any time soon,” Bain wrote. Violence is also threatening oil production in Libya and Nigeria. All told, Rystad Energy estimates 1.3 million barrels per day of oil production is at risk in those four OPEC nations. “Risks to short-term supply are undoubtedly still plentiful,” Rystad analyst Bjørnar Tonhaugen said in the report.

Will crude slide below $50?

Despite all this, analysts aren’t predicting a spike in oil prices. If anything, forecasters are bracing for more pressure on prices, due in part to robust US production. Brent, which has tumbled about 15% since late April to $63 a barrel, should finish the year at around $60 a barrel, according to Capital Economics. The US economy is about to break a record. These 11 charts show why US oil prices, trading at about $54 a barrel, are down nearly 19% since late April. Recent selling has been driven by a spike in oil inventories that suggest demand for crude is deteriorating. Goldman Sachs said that a reversal in the oil demand metrics will be required to prevent US oil prices from sinking below the $50-$60 range.”Our real concern is over demand weakness,” consulting firm Facts Global Energy wrote in a report on Monday. “Have we entered an era where demand will keep falling and we have a lot more oil on our hands than expected?”

Despite a difficult business environment in Iran . . .

Despite a difficult business environment in Iran . . .

APO Group – Africa Newsroom / Press release informs that despite a difficult business environment in Iran . . . , 865 exhibitors from 21 countries present the entire value chain at Iran agrofood 2019. Here it is.

Despite difficult business environment in Iran, 865 exhibitors from 21 countries present the entire value chain at Iran AgroFood 2019

National pavilions of Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and Turkey

TEHRAN, Islamic Republic of Iran, June 5, 2019/APO Group/ —

Despite the currently difficult business environment in Iran, as many as 865 exhibitors from 21 countries will be presenting their products, solutions and technologies “from field to fork” at iran agrofood 2019. More than 40,000 trade visitors from all over Iran and neighbouring countries are again expected. Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and Turkey will be represented with official pavilions this year. iran agrofood consists of the five partial events iran agro, iran food + bev tec, iran bakery + confectionery, iran food ingredients and iran food + hospitality and has been organised by the German trade show specialists fairtrade (www.fairtrade-messe.de) and its Iranian partner Palar Samaneh (www.Palar-Samaneh.com). The 26th edition will take place from 18 to 21 June 2019 at the Teheran International Fairground.

The exhibitors come from Austria, Brazil, China, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Mongolia, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Seven official national pavilions

Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and Turkey are present at iran agrofood 2019 with official national pavilions. The Netherlands and Switzerland are represented through stands of their embassies.

Following the successful participations in 2017 and 2018, Brazil will again be present this year with an official pavilion at iran food + hospitality, organised by the Brazilian Embassy in Tehran. 10 Brazilian companies will present the finest meat, coffee and food from Brazil.

China participates with 19 exhibitors at iran food ingredients, iran food + hospitality and iran food + bev tec.

The official German Pavilion is presented by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, in cooperation with the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) and supported by VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Machinery. Altogether 15 German companies take part in iran food + bev tec & iran food ingredients.

Not less than 24 Indian exhibitors display their products at iran food ingredients & iran food + hospitality, supported by the India Trade Promotion Organisation ITPO, the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India ASSOCHAM, and the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India CEPCI.

For many years Italy has been one of the most important exhibitor nations at iran food + bev tec. While the Italian participation in recent years has been organized solely privately, the 2019 Italian participation featuring 22 Italian exhibitors is for the first time complemented by an official Italian pavilion with the support of the Italian Trade Agency ITA.

The Russian Federation presents itself for the first time at iran agro 2019 with two official pavilions. One from the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia’s most populous republic. And another from the Kabardino-Balkar Republic in the North Caucasus. Both pavilions are officially supported by the Russian Export Center. A total of 9 Russian exhibitors will present technologies for agriculture, milk production and water treatment.

As in previous years, Turkey will again be officially represented this year at iran food + bev tec & iran food + hospitality. The Turkish pavilion with 11 exhibitors is supported by the Turkish Ministry of Trade.

The 26th edition will take place from 18 to 21 June 2019 at the Teheran International Fairground

Iran agrofood 2019 presents the entire value chain “from field to fork”

Iran agro 2019 – The agricultural event within iran agrofood

At iran agro 2019, 51 exhibitors from 6 countries (http://bit.ly/2Z24ysG) present adapted technologies and solutions for the Iranian market in the fields of crop production, agricultural technology and animal husbandry.  

Iran food + bev tec & iran bakery + confectionery 2019

331 exhibitors from 12 countries (https://bitly.is/2WdkWEJ) take part in iran food + bev tec & iran bakery + confectionery, a who-is-who of the international elite of food, bakery + confectionery, beverage and packaging technology.

Iran food ingredients 2019

70 exhibitors from 11 countries (http://bit.ly/31cyNz2) participate at iran food ingredients 2019, including many of the world’s leading suppliers.

Iran food + hospitality 2019

413 exhibitors from 10 countries (http://bit.ly/2WJU4Ax) present all of their latest food & beverage products and food service equipment at Iran’s leading trade show.

For more information:

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fairtrade Messe und Ausstellungs GmbH & Co. KG.

Pictures in high resolution can be requested by email.

Media Contact for Press:
fairtrade Messe GmbH & Co. KG
Ms Nadine Wagner
Public Relations
Kurfürsten-Anlage 36
D-69115 Heidelberg
Tel +49 / 62 21 / 45 65 22
n.wagner@fairtrade-messe.de
www.fairtrade-messe.de

Contact for Exhibitors:
fairtrade Messe GmbH & Co. KG
Mr Paul März
Project Management
Kurfürsten-Anlage 36
D-69115 Heidelberg
Tel +49 / 62 21 / 45 65 13
p.maerz@fairtrade-messe.de
www.fairtrade-messe.de

Contact Iran:
Palar Samaneh Co.
Ms Ladan Maleki
Apt.1, Amin Building (No.18) – Amini Alley
South Shiraz St.
Molasadra
IR – Tehran 14358-93681
Tel: +98 21 88 05 94 57
       +98 21 88 05 94 58
       +98 21 88 05 94 59
Fax: +98 21 88 04 48 17
palarsamaneh@gmail.com
www.Palar-Samaneh.com

fairtrade – Valuable business contacts:
fairtrade (www.fairtrade-messe.de) was founded by Martin März in 1991. Since long, fairtrade ranks among the leading organisers of professional international trade fairs in emerging markets, especially in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Managed by its shareholder and his son Paul März and committed to the values of a family business and the team spirit, fairtrade maintains a powerful network of partnerships throughout the world. fairtrade organizes shows in the sectors Agrofood, CIT Solutions, Energy, Industry and PlastPrintPack and strives for a high level of customer satisfaction.

By means of innovative products and excellent service fairtrade organizes professional platforms for valuable business contacts between exhibitors and visitors. fairtrade is a member of UFI The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and AAXO The Association of African Exhibition Organisers. The management is ISO 9001:2015 certified.

Palar Samaneh:
Based in Tehran Palar Samaneh (www.Palar-Samaneh.com) has organised over 50 international trade fairs of major importance in Iran over the past 10 years. Having played an important role in the growth of the Iranian trade fair market, Palar Samaneh makes use of this knowledge for the benefit of its customers.

In addition to their exhibition organization department, its stand building unit serves individual exhibitors as well as country pavilions all over the Middle East and the CIS-countries.

China’s Global Investments Declining Everywhere Except for the MENA

China’s Global Investments Declining Everywhere Except for the MENA

Foreign Policy’s INFOGRAPHIC published this article written by AFSHIN MOLAVI on May 16, 2019. It is about China’s Global Investments Declining Everywhere Except for the MENA as clearly showing in Three charts highlight Beijing’s growing interest in the Middle East and North Africa.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded the latest high-level Belt and Road gathering of world leaders in Beijing last month, China’s signature project has seemingly entered a new phase: worldwide acceptance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a fact of international life (like it or not). So, with the wind at its back, is China doubling down on its investments worldwide? Not exactly. The total value of China’s global investments and construction contracts actually fell by $100 billion in 2018, according to data analyzed from the American Enterprise Institute’s China Global Investment Tracker. Just about every region saw a significant decline in Chinese investment or construction projects except, surprisingly, for one: the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

A flurry of Chinese investment and construction projects in the MENA region over the last three years has made it a key geoeconomic partner for Beijing. But surely, in pure volume terms, the MENA region could not have attracted as much Chinese economic activity as sub-Saharan Africa or East Asia, right? Think again. The MENA region ranked as the second-largest recipient of investment and Chinese construction projects worldwide after Europe in 2018, as the chart below shows.


MENA’s Growing BRI Clout

In 2018, the Middle East and North Africa leapfrogged other emerging markets as a destination for BRI projects.

SOURCE: AEI CHINA GLOBAL INVESTMENT TRACKER, 2005-2018; COMPILED AND CONCEIVED BY AFSHIN MOLAVI.

The MENA region ranked ahead of traditional BRI stalwarts East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa last year, recording $28.11 billion in new projects. The region still lags behind both those regions as a whole since the launch of BRI in 2013 and dating back to 2005, but a three-year surge has brought it in closer proximity to the top of the table. That could mean a windfall for Chinese state-owned construction companies as the majority of MENA projects involve construction, rather than foreign direct investment.

Of the 2018 MENA total, nearly three-quarters was targeted at Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Those three countries also make up half of the “$20 billion club”—the group of countries with more than $20 billion worth of projects from China dating back to 2005.


Chinese Investment in MENA Countries

MENA countries with more than $20 billion worth of investment and construction projects by Chinese firms since 2005.

SOURCE: AEI CHINA GLOBAL INVESTMENT TRACKER, 2005-2018; COMPILED AND CONCEIVED BY AFSHIN MOLAVI.

The list here is heavily skewed toward regional oil producers, with the exception of Egypt, and most of China’s projects in the region involve construction rather than investment. Despite a recent setback, Chinese state-owned enterprises will likely play a prominent role in Egypt’s ambitious infrastructure program, including the building of a new, gleaming capital city just outside Cairo. Chinese construction companies were vitalin President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s ambitious Suez Canal economic zone project.

At the Belt and Road Forum last month, Chinese enterprises also announced a new $3.4 billion investment to build a trade hub for Chinese goods in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port, as well as a manufacturing and processing hub for animal and agricultural products for the food industry. China’s dramatic ramp-up of projects in the UAE suggests that it sees the country as an important piece of its Belt and Road logistics network.

Other significant nodes of China’s economic footprint in the region are Israel ($12.19 billion), Kuwait ($10.43 billion), and Qatar ($7.27 billion), according to data analyzed from AEI’s China Global Investment Tracker for the years 2005-2018.

China is pouring a lot of concrete and cement into construction projects in the region but what of Middle East exports to China? How is China affecting the bottom line of key MENA states?

The answer broadly: If you have oil or gas, China is likely to be a major export destination.


Exports to China From MENA Countries

China has emerged as a vital export destination for several countries in the Middle East and North Africa. For these countries below, China made the top five in 2018.

SOURCE: IMF DIRECTION OF TRADE STATISTICS; COMPILED AND CONCEIVED BY AFSHIN MOLAVI.

Major oil and gas producers generate significant revenues from Beijing, and China ranks as the top export destination for Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, and Oman, according to an analysis of data from the International Monetary Fund’s Direction of Trade Statistics.

In some cases, key U.S. allies such as the UAE send nearly three times more exports to China than to the United States, and for Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman, the gap is even starker, with nearly eight times, nearly nine times, and nearly 28 times, respectively, more goods exported to China than to the United States.

For Saudi Arabia, the difference in 2018 was less stark, sending some 30 percent more exports to China than to the United States, according to an analysis of IMF data. Expect this gap to widen as the United States continues to ramp up domestic oil production.

Meanwhile, most North African countries still maintain an export profile heavily dependent on Europe rather than on China, and Israel sends four times more goods to the United States than to China.

You can expect this map to get to darker shades of red over the next decade, particularly as China’s demand for energy—especially natural gas—continues to grow.

Afshin Molavi is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the editor and founder of the New Silk Road Monitor blog.

10 Scenarios for the MENA region in the year 2050

10 Scenarios for the MENA region in the year 2050

Bracing for MENA’s Future: 10 Scenarios for the Year 2050

10 Scenarios for the MENA region in the year 2050 as elaborated and written by @Eubulletin | Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Scenarios are imagined futures that can demonstrate how current actions may lead to dramatically different outcomes, but also serve as useful tools to help guide strategy and shape the future. This analysis lays out long term scenarios (2050) for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). These conclusions point towards greater conflict and contentious state-society dynamics, regional fragmentation and shifting centres of gravity, the region’s embeddedness in global rivalries and disruptive socio-economic and environmental international trends.

Unstoppable Climate Change

By 2050 climate change will be a decisive global reality, but its impact will differ from one region to the other. The countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will be among the most affected: the effects will be felt across the region in the form of extreme weather phenomena, heat waves and droughts, desertification, severe water shortages and a rise in sea level. One of the most vulnerable areas will be the Nile Delta, where a sea-level rise of about 50 cm could force 4 million Egyptians to resettle to other areas. The region’s governments and societies will have to deal with scarcity of natural resources, including food, price volatility and the risks associated with new pandemics.

Post-Oil World

By 2050, a post-oil world order will be in place due to profound changes in the global energy market. Such a new order will not be triggered by a lack of supply: on the contrary, fossil fuel production may even increase for a time, thanks to the exploitation of new reserves, innovative investments in oil and tar sands, the popularization of LNG and fracking development projects beyond the United States. Prices may remain relatively low for some time despite the high demand from emerging economies. But in the longer term, the main driver of decarbonisation will be the gigantic steps forward in technological innovation for renewable energy production and storage capacities, which will be more popular due to global awareness of the climate change.

An Urbanized Region

The MENA region is characterized by high urbanization. Some 60 percent of the population was already urban by 2018 and this trend will not be reversed by 2050. While we are already familiar with “Mega Cities” such as Cairo and Istanbul, new ones will surpass the 10 million people benchmark. Baghdad and Khartoum, each with 15 million inhabitants, will be two of the fastest-growing cities in the region. The capacities of urban spaces to accommodate this new reality will depend on the pace of growth but even more on the resources deployed by local and national authorities to upgrade basic infrastructures such as public transport, sanitation and housing.

Digitalization and Automation

Technologization will be a global megatrend by 2050. Automation and Artificial Intelligence will radically transform job markets in most countries. The MENA region will be particularly affected by those trends due to the already high (and seemingly persistent) unemployment and underemployment rates, particularly among young people. While the Gulf region and Israel may adapt more easily to these changes, other countries, with large working populations, strained job markets and insufficient governance could face major social problems. Infrastructural investment, business culture, education and regulation will also determine the ability to adapt to these megatrends.

Religiosity, Individualization and Citizenship

Societal trends in the MENA in 2050 will result from the complex interplay between endogenous and exogenous variables. Fragmentation and centrifugal dynamics are likely to shape both the religious and the secular camps as well as societies as a whole. Individualization processes, among which the fact that religious or non-religious choices will be the result of each person’s preferences, and the contestation of intermediate authorities (such as religious bodies) will further fragment each camp. In any case, attitudes towards religion will continue to be a major driver of societal and political dynamics and remain a highly contentious issue.

Strong or Fierce States

Attempts to erode or complement the role of states in the region will continue. This is likely to happen by efforts to curtail their size and prerogatives. Next to this, challenges to the authority of states will prompt analysts and pundits to speculate on the weakening or outright collapse of the state system and the redrawing of the regional order. Yet, MENA states could prove more resilient than some expected. By 2050, controlling the state will remain the main and often only guarantee for elite survival. State agents (state elites, the public sector, security apparatuses) and the dynamics revolving around them (clientelism, state capitalism) will remain predominant in the region compared with other parts of the world.

Managing the Effects of Today’s Conflicts

It is impossible to determine which of the conflicts current today will be solved by 2050 and which will still be in place – let alone to predict new ones that may emerge. Nevertheless, we can take it for granted that the effects of today’s conflicts will continue to be felt in the MENA countries in 2050. Even in those cases where effective solutions have been put forward, the post-conflict trauma will mark one or more generations. In addition, new drivers of conflict are very likely to come to the forth, but all these phenomena can turn into either sources for risks or opportunities depending on how they are managed by regional and international actors.

China: Primus Inter Pares

By 2050, China is likely to be the world’s largest economy. Its annual growth rate will have remained considerably steady, keeping in check internal tensions associated with inequality and governance deficits. After almost four decades since its inception, the Belt and Road Initiative has the potential to drastically transform the socio-economic landscape of the Asian continent and of the MENA region. On the basis of the positive returns of China’s initial investments in the 2020s, the MENA authorities’ willingness to engage with China will further increase.

Game-Changing Africa

By 2050, the African continent could be home to 2.5 billion people. This is twice as many as in 2019. Nigeria’s population will have reached 400 million and may rank 14th among the world’s largest economies. The number of African workers will have already surpassed that of China. African mobility will be a major issue, both in terms of rural exodus and international migration. Africa’s weight in global affairs will be one of the game-changers of the following decades. The MENA region will naturally look southwards, both in terms of opportunities and risks. Not only will the MENA care more about African affairs, African leaders will also have a say in the evolution of the Middle East and the Maghreb.

Europe and the MENA Region: A Family Issue

Geographic proximity will remain a key factor in the relations between Europe and the MENA region. What is likely to change is the intensity of the societal bonds between these two spaces and what governments and the people make of it. By 2050, the proportion of Europeans with some sort of MENA background will be much higher than it is today. Such people will no longer be perceived as second- or third generation migrants but as Euro-Arabs, Euro-Turks, Euro-Kurds and Euro-Amazighs. This diversity will not only be present at the level of the general population but also among the two generations of new political and economic elites. The intensity of the connections between the EU and the region could further grow if some countries of the MENA region become members or reinforce their association with the EU.

A Saudi push to become a major natural gas player

A Saudi push to become a major natural gas player

A Saudi push to become a major natural gas player is as much about diversifying the kingdom’s domestic consumption and export mix as it is about taking advantage of harsh US economic sanctions against Iran designed to force a change of the Islamic republic’s policy, if not its regime.

Saudi gas ambitions likely to have geopolitical impact

By James M. Dorsey, April 29, 2019

Saudi Arabia scored an initial success with the sale of its first Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) cargo in Singapore, the trading hub for Asia and the Pacific, the world’s largest LNG market.

The sale speaks to the ambitions of Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, Aramco, that seeks to become a major gas player by partnering with producers across the globe, including in the Russian Artic, and developing its own reserves.

Aramco expects the partnerships to position it as major marketer and trader, primarily in the spot and short-term markets.

An Aramco delegation visited Pakistan earlier this month to discuss gas sales as a way of addressing the South Asian country’s energy shortage as it opens its multiple gas fields to foreign investors.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia is looking to become a gas exporter in its own right in the next five to six years after recently discovering major reserves in the Red Sea.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier this month that the kingdom was already in discussion with other Gulf states about building natural gas pipelines and would soon be commissioning feasibility studies.

Those discussions are certain not to include Qatar and Iran, two of the region and the world’s foremost producers and the kingdom’s primary regional bete noirs.

If anything, the Saudi move is not only part of its longer-term efforts to reduce its dependence on oil exports and diversify its economy but also an attempt to take advantage of the fact that Iran is severely hampered by the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against it.

The administration said earlier this month that it intended to reduce Iranian energy exports to zero by cancelling waivers it issued to eight buyers, including China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.

The waivers granted the eight countries exemptions to sanctions imposed last year after the United States withdrew from the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program.

Similarly, with the development of Saudi gas exports and sales also intended to chip away at Qatar’s market share, the Gulf state is not an option.

Qatar’s diversification of its exports was a key factor in its ability to so far fend off a 23-month old Saudi-UAE-led economic and diplomatic boycott that, like in the case of Iran, is designed to force it to change its policies.

The two sides’ entrenched positions offer no prospect of a resolution of the dispute any time soon.

Saudi long-term gas ambitions could have shorter term consequences for its regional policies, particularly with regard to Iran.

The kingdom, perceived to be a proponent of regime change in Tehran, may prefer a substantial weakening of the Iranian government that keeps it contained and struggling to make ends meet, rather than the rise of a leadership acceptable to the West that would be allowed to quickly regain its place in global energy markets.

Striving for regime collapse rather than regime change would also allow Saudi Arabia to dampen prospects for Iran’s Indian-backed port of Chabahar, a mere 70 kilometres down the Arabian Sea coast from Gwadar, the Chinese-supported port in Pakistani Balochistan.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to build a US$10 billion refinery in Gwadar.

Saudi plans to develop its gas industry suggest that the kingdom needs a decade to realize them.

Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser said he expected US$150 billion to be invested in the Saudi gas sector over the next ten years. Mr. Nasser envisioned gas production increasing from 14 billion standard cubic feet to 23 billion by 2030.

“We are looking to shift from only satisfying our utility industry in the kingdom, which will happen especially with the increase in renewable and nuclear to be an exporter of gas and gas products,” Mr. Nasser said.

“Aramco’s international gas team has been given an open platform to look at gas acquisitions along the whole supply chain. They have been given significant financial firepower — in the billions of dollars,” he added.

The kingdom has expressed an interest in acquiring a 30 percent stake in Russia’s Novatek Arctic LNG project.

Access to the project’s gas would allow Saudi Arabia to negotiate long-term deals and/or sell cargoes on the spot market or increase domestic supply.

Saudi Arabia is also looking to buy natural gas assets in the United States.

A Saudi-Russian deal in the Artic would likely not only enhance the kingdom’s position but also bring Saudi Arabia, a member of OPEC, and Russia, which is not formally part of the cartel, closer together in their joint management of global oil supplies.

In a world of rising economic nationalism, Saudi gas ambitions are not being universally welcomed.

While there is little doubt that the Trump administration will look favourably at Saudi investment, some analysts are raising red flags.

Said Jude Clemente of JTC Energy Research Associates: “We simply cannot hand the quickly globalizing (via LNG) gas market to more risky exportersthat often have political goals that are contrary to ours (to put it politely).”

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, an adjunct senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and co-director of the University of Wuerzburg’s Institute of Fan Culture.

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