27 December 2012


4 posts ago (back in January), I mentioned my new year's resolution was to update this blog. That obviously didn't work. Oh well.

Happy New Year 2013 everyone!

17 January 2012

Buy Snickers get Free Gas

Saudi has a lot of oil. A lotttt of oil. Tons. To put a figure, approximately 270 billion barrels, give or take a few billion. A fifth of the World's proven reserves. Do you have any idea how much that is?

Let's try to put things in perspective. If you were to live to 100, that means you're living a total of 36,500 days, or a total of 876,000 hours. At today's crude oil price, a barrel is somewhere in the range of just over $100, so (assuming nothing changes) if Saudi pumped 300,000 barrels ($30 million worth) for every hour you live, they'd still have enough left over to make another trillion dollars after you died.

That's a lot of oil.

Now, with that type of income potential, the Saudis can do practically anything they want. So what do they do? They give some away free with every bar of Snickers.


Yup. This shot of a Snickers ad was taken by @FahadKD on Twitter, who is, funnily enough, a corporate advisor in the Energy sector. It's a new, actual campaign in Saudi, where you get one litre of gas for every Snickers bar you buy.

The campaign has already been launched, and it's all over Saudi at the moment, but it does raise a number of questions. Okay, we understand oil is subsidized in Saudi; in fact, it's one of the cheapest places in the world to buy gas at the pump, where filling the average car up rarely passes the 50 riyal mark ($14). However, how justified is it that a corporation can use subsidized gas in it's campaign to sell of a candy bar? Are we just throwing our gas away? Sure, 270 billion barrels isn't going to finish overnight, but that doesn't justify just giving it away, or does it? Do we just have so much oil that we don't know what to do with it?

Whatever the thinking behind it, we'll see what the local papers have to say about this over the next few days. For now, i'm going to grab a Snickers.

11 January 2012

Saudi & the Cinema

Depending on which part of the world you are visiting this blog from, you may or may not know this; Saudi Arabia has no cinemas. Nope, none at all. They're illegal, banned, immoral, haram, shaitan. What the reasons are behind them not being allowed really don't make sense to me, but then neither do a lot of Saudi laws.

My best guess on why cinemas aren't allowed is that they would they would encourage mixing of sexes, although that could probably be solved through separate seating. The other reason is the content being shown, although to me that doesn't make much sense since pretty much every household has access to both Satellite TV and internet. Also, you could always censor certain scenes (or depending on the movie, whole parts). We're pretty used to censoring scenes in Bahrain & UAE; I don't really mind if it's a pretty upfront sex scene, but sometimes they seem to cut random things out of the movie leaving you with a 'WTF just happened there' moment.

Whatever the reasons behind it, it's pretty clear that going to the cinema has become a bit of a tourist attraction for Saudis whenever they leave the country (that would explain the sharp increases in ticket sales on Wednesday and Thursday nights in Bahrain). Statistics (verified or not, I don't really know, but these were compiled by Saudi) show that a quarter of a million people visited UAE in 2010 JUST to go to the cinema. Pretty hefty number just for movies.

Recently, the Saudi Ministry of Culture & Information has made an announcement, saying it is ready to support the opening of cinemas in the country, as long as the government approves and gives the go-ahead. The Mayor of Riyadh also recently mentioned they are in the process of setting up cinemas in the country. Put it all together and it seems fairly likely that Saudi will finally have cinemas, and pretty soon.

Woohoow Saudi, finally turning into a country of sin.

10 January 2012

Iran, Why So Serious?

Iran's getting a little feisty. It's not really something new; they seem to enjoy unnerving the USA (and the rest of the world) randomly every now and then. Is this time a little more serious though?

If you're not keeping up with the news (and let's face it, most of the world seems to be involved in something else at the moment, whether it's Kim Kardashian's new TV show or trying to find a job in a still unrecovered global economy); due to their belief that Iran is producing nuclear weapons, the US wants to impose sanctions on Iranian crude oil, and stop anyone from around the world buying it. In simple layman terms, that means no massive global income for Iran.

Iran turns around and says, you want to screw me up the backside? Sure, impose those sanctions, and i'll block the Strait of Hormuz (the little bit of water in the gulf where all the UAE/Saudi/Kuwait/Bahrain/Qatar oil gets exported to the world). Essentially, that means blocking off 20% of the world's oil supply. Essentially, that means a pretty steep increase in global oil supplies. Essentially, that means re-triggering another global recession for a world that still hasn't recovered from the previous one yet.

There's a lot of other noise in the equation, from the Iranians capturing a supposed spy drone in their airspace last month, to capturing and sentencing an ex-marine US citizen to death over the past few days. Add to that the fact that the US, UK and allies aren't really jumping in joy about the thought of another recession, and have started deploying their troops to the region (everywhere from Israel, regional bases, and to the waters around the area), as well as sold the GCC a cool trillion dollars worth of Jet Fighters, and the equation doesn't sound too good.

Of course, for all we know, Iran could be playing psychological games. This isn't the first time they've threatened and raised the stakes to the point of explosion, just to turn around last minute and say "Helloooo guys juuuust kiddding!" (imagine a strong Iranian accent and it sounds more fun) and hug it all out. I'm pretty sure they know the US can't really afford to go to war right now (internally the country is kinda screwy, even US army/marine bases are suffering from budget cuts), so maybe they're just playing a high-stake game of chicken.

Either way, for the uninformed, this has been going on for the past two weeks, and troops on both sides have started deploying over the past couple of days in serious numbers. Let's hope Ahmedinejad is going to turn around and make an announcement with his big cheesy smile and say "Hey guys, we're just kidding, why so serious?"

Iranians. Funny people. (I hope).

6 January 2012

I really need to...

...update this blog. Okay, 5 days into 2012, there's my resolution. Update this blog. Okay. Here we go.