Saudi Judge Sends Prominent Women’s Rights Activist to Terrorism Court

Loujain al-Hathloul, who campaigned for women’s right to drive, has been accused of harming the kingdom’s security. Rights groups consider the trial a sham.

#hathloul-loujain-al, #political-prisoners, #saudi-arabia, #united-states-international-relations, #women-and-girls, #womens-rights

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Israeli Reports Say Netanyahu Met Saudi Crown Prince, but Saudis Deny It

The reported visit on Sunday night, amid talk of warming relations, would be the first known meeting between high-level Israeli and Saudi leaders.

#group-of-twenty, #international-relations, #israel, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #netanyahu-benjamin, #pompeo-mike, #saudi-arabia

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Netanyahu Meets With Saudi Crown Prince

The reported visit on Sunday night would be the first known meeting between high-level Israeli and Saudi leaders.

#group-of-twenty, #international-relations, #israel, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #netanyahu-benjamin, #pompeo-mike, #saudi-arabia

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After Trump’s Embrace, Saudis Brace for a Chillier Tone From Biden

Saudi Arabia’s leaders counted on President Trump’s unwavering support, but President-elect Biden has vowed to take away the kingdom’s “dangerous blank check.”

#arms-trade, #assassinations-and-attempted-assassinations, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #hathloul-loujain-al, #iran, #israel, #middle-east, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #presidential-election-of-2020, #presidential-transition-us, #reema-bint-bandar-bin-sultan-princess-of-saudi-arabia, #saudi-arabia, #trump-donald-j, #united-states, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #yemen

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Microsoft says Iranian hackers targeted ‘high profile’ conference attendees

Microsoft says hackers backed by the Iranian government targeted over 100 high-profile potential attendees of two international security and policy conferences.

The group, known as Phosphorus (or APT35), sent spoofed emails masquerading as organizers of the Munich Security Conference, one of the main global security and policy conferences attended by heads of state, and the Think 20 Summit in Saudi Arabia, scheduled for later this month. Microsoft said the spoofed emails were sent to former government officials, academics and policy makers to steal passwords and other sensitive data, like email inboxes.

Microsoft did not comment, when asked, what the goal of the operation was, but the company’s customer security and trust chief Tom Burt said that the attacks were carried out for “intelligence collection purposes.”

“The attacks were successful in compromising several victims, including former ambassadors and other senior policy experts who help shape global agendas and foreign policies in their respective countries,” said Burt. “We’ve already worked with conference organizers who have and will continue to warn their attendees, and we’re disclosing what we’ve seen so that everyone can remain vigilant to this approach being used in connection with other conferences or events.”

Microsoft said the attackers would write emails written in “perfect English” to their target requesting an invitation to the conference. After the target accepted the invitation, the attackers would try to trick the victim into entering their email password on a fake login page. The attackers then later log in to the mailbox to steal the victim’s emails and contacts.

The group’s previous hacking campaigns have also tried to steal passwords from high-profile victims.

Iran’s consulate in New York could not be reached for comment as its website was down.

Phosphorus is known to target high-profile individuals, like politicians and presidential hopefuls. But Microsoft said that this latest attack was not related to the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Last year, Microsoft said it had stopped over 10,000 victims of state-sponsored hacking, including Phosphorus and another Iran-backed group, Holmium, also known as APT 33. In March, the tech giant secured a court order to take control of domains used by Phosphorus, which were used to steal credentials using fake Google and Yahoo login pages.

#articles, #computer-security, #computing, #cybercrime, #cyberwarfare, #gmail, #government, #information, #iran, #microsoft, #new-york, #presidential-election, #saudi-arabia, #security, #social-engineering, #united-states

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Muslim Countries Denounce French Response to Killing of Samuel Paty, Urge Boycott

While the French have supported their government’s crackdown, it has opened the country to criticism that its complicated relationship with French Muslims has taken an ugly turn.

#bangladesh, #boycotts, #discrimination, #erdogan-recep-tayyip, #france, #freedom-of-speech-and-expression, #international-relations, #jordan, #kuwait, #macron-emmanuel-1977, #muslims-and-islam, #politics-and-government, #saudi-arabia, #terrorism

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U.S. Issues Sanctions on Russian Center Involved in Potentially Deadly Cyberattacks

The penalties were aimed at a Russian research center that developed tools used in a cyberattack on a Saudi petrochemical plant, which took out the safety controls used to prevent an explosion.

#cyberwarfare-and-defense, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #russia, #saudi-arabia, #schneider-electric-sa, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Fiancée Sues Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi Killing

The fiancée of the slain Washington Post journalist sued Prince Mohammed bin Salman in an attempt to learn more about the 2018 killing.

#assassinations-and-attempted-assassinations, #cengiz-hatice, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #khashoggi-jamal, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #saudi-arabia, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #turkey, #washington-post

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The Mysteries of the American-Saudi Alliance

Two new books, David H. Rundell’s “Vision or Mirage” and Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck’s “Blood and Oil,” offer insights into an enigmatic country.

#blood-and-oil-mohammed-bin-salmans-ruthless-quest-for-global-power-book, #books-and-literature, #hope-bradley, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #politics-and-government, #rundell-david-h, #saudi-arabia, #scheck-justin, #united-states-international-relations, #vision-or-mirage-saudi-arabia-at-the-crossroads-book

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Houthi Rebels Free 2 American Hostages

Sandra Loli and Mikael Gidada were freed in an agreement with the United States and Oman that allowed 200 Houthi fighters to return to war-ravaged Yemen.

#houthis, #kidnapping-and-hostages, #obrien-robert-c-1952, #saudi-arabia, #trump-donald-j, #yemen

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Saudi Prince Accuses Palestinian Leaders of Failing Palestinians

The remarks by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a senior member of the royal family, signaled an erosion of Saudi support for the Palestinian cause.

#international-relations, #israel, #palestinians, #saudi-arabia

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Jamal Khashoggi’s Killing is Focus of ‘Kingdom of Silence’ and ‘The Dissident’

“Kingdom of Silence,” due Friday, and “The Dissident,” due Dec. 18, revisit the killing of the Saudi journalist Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018.

#bezos-jeffrey-p, #central-intelligence-agency, #cyberattacks-and-hackers, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #fogel-bryan, #istanbul-turkey, #khashoggi-jamal, #kingdom-of-silence-movie, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #movies, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #rowley-richard, #saudi-arabia, #washington-post

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U.S. Rationale for Military Aid to Saudis in Yemen War Is Fraying

The Trump administration argues that its partnership with Saudi Arabia helps reduce civilian killings in Yemen. But State Department investigators and other U.S. officials say the efforts are flawed.

#arms-trade, #civilian-casualties, #defense-and-military-forces, #saudi-arabia, #state-department, #united-states, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #war-crimes-genocide-and-crimes-against-humanity, #yemen

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Trump’s Middle Eastern Mirage

Will there be a Saudi October surprise?

#bahrain, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #palestinians, #saudi-arabia, #trump-donald-j, #united-arab-emirates, #united-states-international-relations

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Humans reached Saudi Arabia at least 120,000 years ago

About 120,000 years ago, two or three people walked along the shore of a shallow lake in what is now northern Saudi Arabia. They left behind at least seven footprints in the mud, and today those tracks are the oldest known evidence of our species’ presence in Arabia.

A Pleistocene walk by the lake

Imagine that you’re a hunter-gatherer about 120,000 years ago, and you’re walking out of eastern Africa into Eurasia. Paleoanthropologists are still debating exactly why you’ve decided to do such a thing, and you almost certainly don’t have a destination in mind, but for now we’ll take it for granted that you just want to take a really, really long walk. Almost inevitably, you’ll come to the Levant, on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. From that important geographical crossroads, you’ve got some options: you could head north through Syria and Turkey then veer east into Asia or west into Europe. You could also strike out east, across the northern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

That was a better option then than it sounds now. Off and on during the Pleistocene, the Arabian Peninsula had a wetter climate than it does today. Evidence from ancient sediments, pollen, and animal fossils all suggest that today’s deserts were once grasslands and woods, crossed by rivers and dotted with lakes like the one at Alathar in the western Nefud Desert.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#ancient-hominins, #archaeology, #footprints, #hominins, #human-migration, #out-of-africa, #pleistocene, #saudi-arabia, #science

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A Rare Middle East Triumph

And — yes — a triumph for Trump, too.

#abbas-mahmoud, #arab-league, #bahrain, #iran, #israel, #middle-east, #netanyahu-benjamin, #palestinians, #saudi-arabia, #trump-donald-j, #united-arab-emirates

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War Crimes Risk Grows for U.S. Over Saudi Strikes in Yemen

State Department officials have raised alarms about the legal risk in aiding airstrikes that kill civilians. The Trump administration recently suppressed findings as it sold more weapons to Gulf nations.

#arms-trade, #bombs-and-explosives, #bureau-of-political-military-affairs, #civilian-casualties, #defense-department, #house-of-representatives, #houthis, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #international-criminal-court, #international-relations, #iran, #law-and-legislation, #middle-east, #obama-barack, #pompeo-mike, #saudi-arabia, #state-department, #trump-donald-j, #united-arab-emirates, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #war-crimes-genocide-and-crimes-against-humanity, #yemen

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Saudi Court Issues Final Verdicts in Khashoggi Killing

The sentences, of up to 20 years in prison, were issued months after one of Jamal Khashoggi’s sons said he and his siblings had forgiven the men who killed him.

#assassinations-and-attempted-assassinations, #khashoggi-jamal, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #saudi-arabia, #targeted-killings, #turkey

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Saudi Arabia Opens Airspace to Israeli Flights for First Time

The decision to allow all flights to and from the United Arab Emirates to cross Saudi airspace came after the first direct flight between Israel and the U.A.E. as relations warm between the two countries.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #international-relations, #israel, #netanyahu-benjamin, #politics-and-government, #saudi-arabia, #united-arab-emirates

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Saudi King Fires 2 Royals in Defense Corruption Inquiry

The king’s decision was based on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s call for an investigation into “suspicious financial transactions at the defense ministry,” according to state news media.

#defense-and-military-forces, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #politics-and-government, #salman-king-of-saudi-arabia, #saudi-arabia

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Trump Administration Plans Arms Sale to U.A.E. Despite Israeli Worries

The Trump White House is quietly planning sales of F-35 stealth fighters and advanced drones to the Emiratis as part of a wider plan to realign the Middle East, but Israel and Congress may object.

#arms-trade, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #defense-and-military-forces, #defense-department, #gantz-benny, #israel, #kushner-jared, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #nahyan-mohamed-bin-zayed-al-1961, #national-security-council, #netanyahu-benjamin, #saudi-arabia, #state-department, #trump-donald-j, #united-arab-emirates, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Report: 2015 Twitter breach targeted Saudi dissidents, led to arrests

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Enlarge / Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The sister of a Saudi dissident has told Bloomberg that a 2015 breach by two Twitter employees enabled the Saudi government to unmask several anonymous Twitter accounts whose tweets criticized the regime. The US federal government criminally charged the two rogue employees last November.

Abdulrahman al-Sadhan is a US-educated Saudi man who worked for the Red Crescent Movement—the Muslim world’s counterpart to the Red Cross. He also secretly ran a popular pseudonymous Twitter account with thousands of followers. The account criticized the Saudi government.

“It is clear this was a targeted attack on purpose on activists and critics on Twitter,” said Areej al-Sadhan, Abdulrahman’s sister. “My brother, unfortunately, is one of those who was targeted.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#human-rights, #policy, #saudi-arabia, #twitter

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Watchdog Says State Dept. Failed to Limit Civilian Deaths From Saudi Arms Sales

The inspector general also found the State Department avoided congressional review by dividing sales of controversial arms into smaller packages.

#arms-trade, #civilian-casualties, #engel-eliot-l, #house-committee-on-foreign-affairs, #inspectors-general, #linick-steve-a, #pompeo-mike, #raytheon-company, #saudi-arabia, #state-department, #trump-donald-j, #united-arab-emirates, #united-nations, #yemen

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Saudi Aramco Says Profit Fell 73 Percent as Demand for Oil Shrank

The coronavirus pandemic took a major toll on the oil giant’s earnings, but Aramco will maintain its hefty dividend for shareholders.

#company-reports, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #saudi-arabia, #saudi-aramco

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Former Saudi Official Accuses the Crown Prince of Trying to Kill Him

Saad Aljabri, a former top intelligence official, filed suit in Washington alleging that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent a team of agents to Canada to kill him.

#aljabri-saad, #assassinations-and-attempted-assassinations, #canada, #central-intelligence-agency, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #interpol-international-criminal-police-organization, #khashoggi-jamal, #mohammed-bin-nayef, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #riyadh-saudi-arabia, #saudi-arabia, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #washington-dc

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U.S. Examines Whether Saudi Nuclear Program Could Lead to Bomb Effort

Intelligence agencies are scrutinizing whether the kingdom’s work with China to develop nuclear expertise is cover to process uranium and move toward development of a weapon.

#arms-control-and-limitation-and-disarmament, #central-intelligence-agency, #defense-and-military-forces, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #international-atomic-energy-agency, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #national-security-council, #nuclear-energy, #nuclear-nonproliferation-treaty, #nuclear-weapons, #obama-barack, #saudi-arabia, #schiff-adam-b, #state-department, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-international-relations, #uranium

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U.A.E. Becomes First Arab Nation to Open a Nuclear Power Plant

The launch is raising concerns about the growing number of nuclear programs in the volatile Middle East.

#abu-dhabi-united-arab-emirates, #middle-east, #nahyan-mohamed-bin-zayed-al-1961, #nuclear-energy, #persian-gulf, #saudi-arabia, #united-arab-emirates, #united-states-international-relations

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Scorching Temperatures Bake Middle East Amid Eid al-Adha Celebrations

Record high temperatures were recorded in Baghdad and Damascus, and experts warned of the effects of prolonged heat waves as the planet warms.

#amara-iraq, #amman-jordan, #baghdad-iraq, #basra-iraq, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #damascus-syria, #global-warming, #iraq, #israel, #lebanon, #riyadh-saudi-arabia, #saudi-arabia, #tel-aviv-university, #united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change, #weather, #world-meteorological-organization

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Pilgrims, Fewer and Socially Distanced, Arrive in Mecca for Annual Hajj

The coronavirus pandemic has curtailed the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, limiting the number of people and barring people from outside the kingdom.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #mecca-saudi-arabia, #muslims-and-islam, #pilgrimages, #saudi-arabia

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Strange Bedfellows: Iran’s Ex-President Woos Saudi Crown Prince as Pen Pal

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known in the West for his Holocaust denial and disputed re-election in 2009, writes a warm letter to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, calling him a man of peace.

#ahmadinejad-mahmoud, #houthis, #iran, #khamenei-ali, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #politics-and-government, #saudi-arabia

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A Saudi Spy Chief Hid Abroad. With Appeals and Threats, M.B.S. Tried to Bring Him Back

To try to force a former Saudi intelligence officer to return to the kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked for his help, targeted his family and sought to have him arrested abroad.

#aljabri-saad, #interpol-international-criminal-police-organization, #khashoggi-jamal, #leahy-patrick-j, #mohammed-bin-nayef, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #salman-king-of-saudi-arabia, #saudi-arabia

0

Fahim Saleh Murder: Suspect Is Arrested in Grisly Killing

Mr. Saleh, 33, was found dismembered and decapitated inside his Manhattan apartment.

#bangladesh, #lower-east-side-manhattan-ny, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #new-york-city, #police-department-nyc, #saleh-fahim-1986-2020, #saudi-arabia, #tyrese-devon-haspil

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Laid Off and Locked Up: Virus Traps Domestic Workers in Arab States

The pandemic and economic crises have caused many workers to lose their jobs. Some have been detained, abused, deprived of wages and stranded far from home with nowhere to turn for help.

#abu-dhabi-united-arab-emirates, #africa, #bahrain, #beirut-lebanon, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dubai-united-arab-emirates, #ethiopia, #foreign-workers, #immigration-and-emigration, #kenya, #kuwait, #labor-and-jobs, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #lebanon, #middle-east, #migrant-labor-non-agriculture, #saudi-arabia, #uganda, #united-arab-emirates, #wages-and-salaries, #women-and-girls, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

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Trial of 20 Saudis in Jamal Khashoggi Killing Opens in Turkey

Supporters of the slain journalist expressed hope that the proceedings would offer a chance for justice. The defendants are to be tried in absentia.

#assassinations-and-attempted-assassinations, #khashoggi-jamal, #mohammed-bin-salman-1985, #news-and-news-media, #saudi-arabia, #turkey

0

Where the Powerful Can Kill the Weak, as Long as They Pay

The Quran introduced blood money as a path to “mercy” and to end tribal conflicts — not as impunity for the rich.

#assassinations-and-attempted-assassinations, #honor-killings, #khashoggi-jamal, #khashoggi-salah, #muslims-and-islam, #pakistan, #saudi-arabia

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African Migrants in Yemen Scapegoated for Coronavirus Outbreak

Migrants say Houthi militia who control northern Yemen are brutally forcing them out of their territory and into dangerous situations.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #ethiopia, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #immigration-and-emigration, #saudi-arabia, #smuggling, #yemen

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The Hajj Pilgrimage Is Canceled, and Grief Rocks the Muslim World

The coronavirus pandemic upended the plans of millions of Muslims, for whom the once-in-a-lifetime trip is a sacred milestone.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #mecca-saudi-arabia, #muslims-and-islam, #pilgrimages, #saudi-arabia

0

Gaps in Vetting Visas Allowed Saudi Gunman Into U.S. Pilot Training

The gunman who killed three in Florida was not directed by Al Qaeda, nor inspired solely by online ideology. He was a new kind of terrorist, harder to spot: an extremely enterprising freelancer.

#al-qaeda, #al-qaeda-in-the-arabian-peninsula, #alshamrani-mohammed-saeed, #defense-department, #diplomatic-service-embassies-and-consulates, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #foreign-students-in-us, #haitham-mohammed-sameh, #homeland-security-department, #naval-air-station-pensacola-shooting-2019, #pensacola-fla, #saudi-arabia, #state-department, #terrorism, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-air-force, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #visas, #walters-cameron-scott, #watson-joshua-kaleb

0

Lucid Motors to begin producing Air electric vehicles for customers in early 2021

Lucid Motors will begin producing its luxury electric vehicle for customers at its new Arizona factory in early 2021, about three months later than expected due to a slowdown caused by COVID-19.

The company, which plans to unveil a production version of the Lucid Air in an online event scheduled for September 9, said construction resumed several weeks ago at its factory Casa Grande, Arizona and is on target to complete phase one this year. Lucid Motors has also restarted vehicle development work, which was briefly delayed due to shelter-in-place orders, at its California facility.

Lucid Motors said Wednesday it will show off more than the vehicle’s final interior and exterior designs during the September 9 event. The company said new details on production specifications, available configurations, and pricing information will also be shared.

“Although we are experiencing an unprecedented time in our history, the determination of this company’s employees in developing a game-changing electric vehicle burns ever more brightly,” Lucid Motors CEO and CTO Peter Rawlinson said in a statement.

With COVID-19 closures in the rearview mirror — at least for now — Lucid Motors is focused on expanding its workforce and wrapping up construction as it begins the big job of moving in and setting up production equipment. Major components and equipment for the paint and shell lines are being installed and are coming online in advance of the completion of construction, the company said in an update. Once complete, Lucid will begin producing prototypes at the factory. Those production prototypes, which will roll off the assembly line in 2020, won’t be sold. The first vehicles produced for customers will begin in early 2021, according to Lucid.

The company, which employs more than 1,000 people, has ramped up hiring ahead of the Air’s production debut. More than 160 new employees have been hired in the past three months. Lucid said it plans to add more than 700 employees to its roster by the end of the 2020.

Lucid motors factory

Lucid motors factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.

The global reveal as well as the anticipated completion of the first phase of its Arizona factory will be a critical milestone for a company that was founded 11 years ago with a different name and mission. The company, called Atieva at the time, was focused on developing electric car battery technology. It then shifted to producing electric cars and changed its name in 2016 to Lucid Motors.

At the time, Lucid Motors appeared to be on a roll. It had successfully raised money, unveiled the Air, announced plans to build a $700 million factory in Arizona, signed a deal with Samsung SDI to supply it with lithium-ion batteries and moved into spacious new digs. The company suddenly fell silent for nearly a year as it worked to raise the remaining money required to take on the capitally intensive pursuit of building a car factory and producing the Air.

In 2018, Lucid Motors secured $1 billion in funding from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Lucid said at the time that the $1 billion in funding would be used to complete engineering development and testing of the Lucid Air, construct its factory in Arizona, begin the global rollout of its retail strategy starting in North America and enter production.

#arizona, #automotive, #companies, #electric-car, #electric-vehicles, #general-electric, #lucid-air, #lucid-motors, #north-america, #paint, #peter-rawlinson, #saudi-arabia, #transport

0

US intelligence bill takes aim at commercial spyware makers

A newly released draft intelligence bill, passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, would require the government to detail the threats posed by commercial spyware and surveillance technology.

The annual intelligence authorization bill, published Thursday, would take aim at private sector spyware makers, like NSO Group and Hacking Team, who build spyware and hacking tools designed to surreptitiously break into a victim’s devices for conducting surveillance. Both NSO Group and Hacking Team say they only sell their hacking tools to governments, but critics say that its customers have included despotic and authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

If passed, the bill would instruct the Director of National Intelligence to submit a report to both House and Senate intelligence committees within six months on the “threats posed by the use by foreign governments and entities of commercially available cyber intrusion and other surveillance technology” against U.S. citizens, residents and federal employees.

The report would also have to note if any spyware or surveillance technology is built by U.S. companies and what export controls should apply to prevent that technology from getting into the hands of unfriendly foreign governments.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) was the only member of the Senate Intelligence Committee to vote against the bill, citing a broken, costly declassification system, but praised the inclusion of the commercial spyware provision.

Commercial spyware and surveillance technology became a mainstream talking point two years ago after the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, which U.S. intelligence concluded was personally ordered by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader. A lawsuit filed by a Saudi dissident and friend of Khashoggi accuses NSO Group of selling its mobile hacking tool, dubbed Pegasus, to the Saudi regime, which allegedly used the technology to spy on Khashoggi shortly before his murder. NSO denies the claims.

NSO is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Facebook for allegedly exploiting a now-fixed vulnerability in WhatsApp to deliver its spyware to the cell phones of 1,400 users, including government officials, journalists and human rights activists, using Amazon cloud servers based in the U.S. and Germany.

In a separate incident, human rights experts at the United Nations have called for an investigation into allegations that the Saudi government used its spyware to hack into the phone of Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. NSO has repeatedly denied the allegations.

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab, part of the Munk School at the University of Toronto, told TechCrunch that the bill’s draft provisions “couldn’t come at a more important time.”

“Reporting throughout the security industry, as well as actions taken by Apple, Google, Facebook and others have made it clear that [spyware] is a problem at scale and is dangerous to U.S. national security and these companies,” said Scott-Railton. “Commercial spyware, when used by governments, is the ‘next Huawei’ in terms of the security of Americans and needs to be treated as a serious security threat,” he said.

“They brought this on themselves by claiming fo years that everything was fine while evidence mounted in every sector of the U.S. and global society that there was a problem,” he said.

#amazon, #bahrain, #cell-phones, #director, #espionage, #frankfurt, #hacking-team, #huawei, #jamal-khashoggi, #mohammed-bin-salman, #nso-group, #ron-wyden, #saudi-arabia, #security, #senate, #senate-intelligence-committee, #spyware, #united-nations, #united-states, #washington-post

0

Halal fintech startup Wahed closes $25M led by Saudi Aramco’s investment arm

New York-based fintech startup Wahed (meaning ‘One’ in Arabic) describes itself as a digital Islamic investment platform and as the world’s first ‘halal robo adviser’. It’s now closed a $25 million investment round led by Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures (also known as Wa’ed Ventures), a venture capital investment arm of oil giant Saudi Aramco.

Existing investors BECO and CueBall Capital participated, as well as Dubai Cultiv8, and Rasameel. The funds will be used to expand internationally, including developing the company’s subsidiary in Saudi Arabia. The platform is currently running in the US and UK, and has more than 100,000 clients globally. It plans to grow in the largest Muslim markets including Indonesia, Nigeria, India and the CIS. The three-year-old company has already received a license to operate in Saudi Arabia, and aims to get regulatory approval in 20 countries.

According to Crunchbase, Wahed has now raised a total of $40 million in funding since its 2015 founding by Junaid Wahedna.

Last October, Wahed launched in Malaysia after the Malaysian Securities Commission awarded the company the country’s first Islamic Robo Advisory license. The firm is also considering listing its Islamic ETF on the Saudi stock exchange

Ethical investment and Islamic finance is growing in popularity in Muslim countries so long as it is in line with Islamic ethics, so Wahed looks set to benefit.

Commenting on the investment, Junaid Wahedna, CEO of Wahed, said: “We’re excited to have the support of Aramco Ventures as we foray into the Saudi market. We consider Aramco a strategic long term partner in both the Kingdom and the rest of the world.” 

Wassim Basrawi, Managing Director at Wa’ed Ventures, said: “We believe in Wahed’s mission to provide ethical investing. The company has taken the lead in delivering investment services to one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors – Islamic Finance. Wahed is also, in the true spirit of FinTech, helping to broaden the investment landscape. This latest funding round will enable Wahed to make Saudi their regional MENA hub and contribute towards a fast-growing FinTech ecosystem.”

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