1. Saudi Arabia opts for solar power: On 29 March, Softbank and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement to launch a massive solar power project, a 200 gigawatt solar initiative. This is four times the solar capacity in the United States and four times China’s annual pace of solar power expansion. As of the end of 2016, the world as a whole had only installed 303 gigawatts of total solar photovoltaic capacity.

The kingdom will create an electricity company that will build solar panels and invest in battery technology. Initially, there would be two large Saudi solar electricity generation projects, one with a capacity of 3 gigawatts and one at 4.2 gigawatts. According to Saudi sources, these projects will help create up to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Kingdom. Additionally, they will increase the GDP by $12 billion dollars and save up to $40 billion annually.

2. Air India overflies Saudi Arabia to reach Israel: Air India’s inaugural flight to Israel took off from New Delhi on 22 March with the 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying over Saudi Arabia and Gulf states, countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations. Overflying Saudi Arabia considerably shortened flight times between Israel and India. Earlier this month the company said it planned to fly the Delhi-Tel Aviv route three times a week.

 

April 3, 2018

About the Author

Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1974. Early in his career, he was posted in a number of West Asian countries such as Kuwait, Iraq and Yemen and later, between 1987 and 1990, he was Consul General in Jeddah. He also held positions in the Indian missions in New York, London and Pretoria. He served as Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (2000-03; 2010-11); Oman (2003-04), and the UAE (2007-10). He was also Additional Secretary for International Cooperation in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 2004-06. In July 2011, the Saudi Government conferred on him the King Abdul Aziz Medal First Class for his contribution to the promotion of Indo – Saudi relations. After retirement from the Foreign Service in 2011, he worked in the corporate sector in Dubai for three years. He is now a full-time academic and holds the Ram Sathe Chair for International Studies, Symbiosis International University. He has published three books: Reform in the Arab World: External Influences and Regional Debates (2005), Children of Abraham at War: the Clash of Messianic Militarisms (2010), and The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions after the Arab Spring (2013). He writes and lectures frequently on Political Islam, the politics and economics of West Asia and the Indian Ocean and energy security issues.