EconSource: United States Approves Sale of $1.3 Billion in Guided Bombs to Saudi Arabia

The United States has approved the $1.3 billion sale of bombing munitions to Saudi Arabia as the Gulf state’s air force strikes rebel targets in Yemen. The State Department said the deal “replenishes” weapons stocks that are being depleted in Saudi counterterrorism operations. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said Saudi Royal Air Force stocks are low “due to the high operational tempo in multiple counterterrorism operations.” Congress has been notified of the sale and has thirty days to block the deal, although reports suggest it is unlikely to do so. The order includes 5,200 Paveway II laser-guided bombs in their GBU-10 and GBU-12 variants, along with 1,100 more modern, longer range GBU-24 Paveway III. It also includes 12,000 general purpose bombs weighing between 500 and 2,000 pounds and 1,500-2,000 pound “bunker busters” that are designed to smash hardened concrete structures. In addition, the Saudis will receive thousands of “tail kits” to convert dumb munitions into satellite-guided smart bombs. “Providing these defense articles supports Saudi Arabian defense missions and promotes stability in the region,” the DSCA said. [AP, AFP, 11/16/2015]

Bahrain planning more subsidy cuts, new charges to boost revenues
Bahrain is planning more subsidy cuts and intends to impose charges for government services next year in order to boost revenues hit by slumping oil prices, Minister for Industry and Commerce Zayed bin Rashed al-Zayani said. “We have already started cutting subsidies and we are now looking at others,” al-Zayani said, noting that electricity and fuel subsidies will be cut next year. Bahrain’s revenues have dropped between 60 and 70 percent due to low oil prices, al-Zayani said. Bahrain is looking to boost revenues by imposing charges on government services that are currently free or carry minimal fees. In addition, as part of its effort to diversify its economy, Bahrain will unveil a new short and medium term industrial strategy in the first quarter of 2016. “We are looking at more export-based industries to create employment and that can be accommodated with our current resources,” al-Zayani said. [Reuters, 11/17/2015]

UAE banks coordinate to address more than $1 billion in “skips”
Banks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are working together to try to stem the number of small business owners fleeing the country with unpaid debt, a trend that has already reached around $1.4 billion this year, a senior banking official said. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have come under pressure in recent months amid a gradual drying up of liquidity in the banking system due to weak oil prices and slowing economic growth. As a result, some business people have chosen to “skip” the country, leaving behind unpaid debt, a situation that bankers say has grown significantly from last year. “We want to take coordinated action on risk management,” UAE Banks Federation Chairman Abdul Aziz al-Ghurair said. “The idea is to allow the customer to pay for his debt and stay in town if they have a good intention.” UAE Central Bank Governor Mubarak Rashid al-Mansouri said the government is keen to press ahead with a new bankruptcy law to help support SMEs. [Reuters, 11/16/2015]

Over 72,000 Russian tourists flown out of Egypt following Sinai crash
Over 72,000 Russian tourists have been airlifted from Egyptian resorts in the aftermath of the Russian plane crash in the Sinai on October 31, according to the Russian Tourism Agency. Some 80,000 Russian tourists who have been in Egypt since the beginning of November are expected to remain until the end of their planned vacations, Deputy Russian Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said. No other Russians are expected to visit the country once the remaining tourists leave, Sputnik reported. Meanwhile, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) said Monday it will hold a signing ceremony on November 19 to announce a loan to Credence Group, a leading hospitality company in Egypt, to support the country’s tourism sector and help boost economic growth. The initiative is part of the IFC’s efforts to support Egypt’s economy and attract investment. [Ahram Online, 11/17/2015]

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