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Monday, December 31, 2012
Excerpts: 65% of Saudis lack homes. Legality of Egyptian parliament. Israeli Russians December 31, 2012

Excerpts: 65% of Saudis lack homes. Legality of Egyptian parliament. Israeli
Russians December 31, 2012

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 31 Dec.’12: “65% of Saudis lack homes: CDSI”,by
Ghassan Badkook
Last Updated : Monday, December 31, 2012 12:30 AM

Ghassan Badkook
Okaz/Saudi Gazette

RIYADH – Housing is a major concern for the largest portion of the Saudi
population as 65% of Saudis are not homeowners, according to the Central
Department of Statistics and Information (CDSI).

To intensify this issue, the Saudi population of just over 28 million is
drastically increasing. According to CDSI’s demographic report of 2011,
population increased 2.5 % in 2011 and is expected to reach the 30 million
mark by 2017.

Currently 70% of Saudi government officials receive a monthly salary of less
than SR8,000 but the cost of land is too high in the Kingdom’s main cities,
and it is expected that land prices and construction costs will increase in
the future.

Approximately 2,400,000 Saudis are currently waiting for their housing loan
applications to be approved by the Real Estate Development Fund.

If the Ministry of Housing does not solve this problem now, it will be more
difficult to solve it in the future, especially given the increasing

Although the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has provided the
Ministry of Housing with millions of square meters of land to set aside for
housing construction projects, Saudis are not impressed by the results it
has yielded thus far.

Low-income Saudis expect the Ministry of Housing to design practical and
swift solutions as well as long-term ones to the housing problem. They also
expect the ministry to implement the King’s directives calling on the
government to provide all Saudis with the opportunity for homeownership.

Shortage of funds is not a contributing factor to the problem, according to
economic experts. Forty years ago, the government established the Real
Estate Development Fund that provided citizens with long-term repayment
option loans. During this time, 800,000 citizens benefited from said loans
and were able to build their houses. However, due to the enormous number of
applicants, the fund could no longer meet the increasing demands. With a
growing need for financial support, the King issued a Royal Decree to set up
the Ministry of Housing and provided the fund with SR40 billion.

Last year, King Abdullah allocated SR250 billion to build 500,000
residential units all over the Kingdom. The ceiling of loans was also
increased to SR500,000.

The Ministry of Housing should adopt more effective implementation methods
to stimulate the housing sector. It should start coordinating with other
ministries such as Finance, Justice, Municipal and Rural Affairs, Education,
Transport, and Water and Electricity as well as the Saudi Arabian Monetary
Agency to design such solutions.

The ministry should issue an effective housing policy that will allow all
Saudis an opportunity for homeownership. Only then will it be able to
implement the King’s directives

+++SOURCE:Jordan Times 31 Dec.’12:”Court to rule on legality of Egyptian
parliament”, Reuters
SUBJECT: Legality of Egyptian parliament
QUOTE:”Egypt’s highest court is to examine the legitimacy of the upper house
of parliament”
FULL TEXT:CAIRO — Egypt’s highest court is to examine the legitimacy of the
upper house of parliament, a case likely to increase the legal uncertainty
of the country’s political transition and leave it without a legislature.
The Supreme Constitutional Court has already forced the lower house to
dissolve under a June ruling that said an electoral law used to elect both
chambers — and which resulted in an Islamist dominated parliament — was
The new case once again pits independent lawyers against the Islamists that
have come to power since the downfall of Hosni Mubarak and who see the court
as stuffed with the former president’s appointees.
On Sunday[30 Dec.], at its first session since going on strike over
President Mohamed Morsi’s decision to expand his powers, the court set
January 15 as the date for the first hearing.
It will also examine the legitimacy of the assembly that wrote the
constitution that Morsi fast-tracked to approval at a referendum this month.
If the court rules against the upper house — which seems likely as it was
elected under the same law that the court found lacking in the lower house
case in June — Egypt will have a legislative vacuum until new parliamentary
elections, expected to start in about two months.
The upper house assumed legislative powers just last week under the new
The June ruling said the transitional electoral law — drafted by the
generals then ruling post-Mubarak Egypt in consultation with political
parties — gave too much power to parties, at the expense of independent
The court had to postpone the hearings from early December due to a protest
outside its building by Islamists.
“The [court] renews its condemnation of those who participated in it, as
well as those who remained silent,” the court said in a statement.
Morsi had shielded both the assembly which drafted the constitution and the
upper house of parliament from legal challenges in a decree he issued in
November which touched off protests by critics who accused him of a power
Morsi revoked the decree ahead of the referendum in which the constitution
was approved by 64 per cent of those who voted.
The new constitution cut the number of judges who sit in the Supreme
Constitutional Court to 11 from 18. One of Morsi’s most vocal critics was
among the judges to leave the court.

+++SOURCE: New York Times 31 Dec.’12:”Israel’s Flourishing Russian Culture”,by
James Estrin
SUBJECT: Israeli Russians
][IMRA: On the other hand - stand in line behind Russian families and it is
common to hear that while they converse with their parents in Russian the
kids speak to each other in Hebrew]

QUOTE:” ‘The Russians are totally Israeli . . .they work like everyone
else, often in high-tech jobs but at night they can live in a different
(cultural) world”

FULL TEXT:It’s fair to say that Oded Balilty knows Israel. He grew up in
Jerusalem and has been covering the country as a photographer for The
Associated Press since 2002.

But this year, as he photographed the Russian community there, he learned —
to his surprise — that he still had a lot to learn. At least about the
Russians that make up more than 15 percent of the population of Israel.

In a country full of Jewish immigrants, children of immigrants, and
grandchildren of immigrants, Israeli Russians have retained a sense of their
culture, language and identity. Yet they remain slightly apart.

Mr. Balilty set out to explore the community precisely because he, and his
friends, knew so little about them. He photographed boxing matches, chess
games and Russian nightclubs and often found that not a word of Hebrew was
spoken all night.. . ..

Israel has the third-largest Russian-speaking population outside of Russia,
after the United States and Germany. As the Soviet Union crumbled in the
late 1980s into the 1990s, a flood of Russians with Jewish ties, sometimes
tenuous, departed for Israel. They were leaving a land that historically had
been less than welcoming to Jews for a land where they would be in the

In Israel, they have become successful in academia, technology, sports and
politics. Yisrael Beiteinu, a nationalist political party with a secular,
Russian-speaking base, has become a powerful force in Israeli politics.

Mr. Balilty’s journey started a year ago, at a large Russian New Year’s Eve
celebration. In Israel, most people celebrate the Jewish lunar new year,
Rosh Hashana. Mr. Balilty said that he can appreciate continuing one’s
culture, as his parents had emigrated from Morocco to Israel.

“The Russians are totally Israeli. They work like everyone else, often in
high-tech jobs, but at night they can live in a different world,” Mr.
Balilty, 33, said. “They came here with a beautiful culture, but the culture
didn’t open to the Israeli people. I hope someday that Israel will be able
to fully experience it.”

Oded Balilty/Associated Press A Russian folk music festival in northern
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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