News In Brief

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco, a large oil-trading company centered in Saudi Arabia, announced on Dec. 4 that its final share price would be $8.53. According to CNN, the company has the largest IPO in the world, raising $25.6 billion and possessing subscriptions amounting to over $119 billion. Saudi Aramco has surpassed Alibaba Group, a Chinese conglomerate, to break this record. As Saudi Aramco was a state-owned asset, economists believe that this sale will power foreign investment in the private sector (Bloomberg). The company was highly secretive with financial statements, and the new IPO deal may provide new insight on the world’s largest oil-exporter.


On Dec. 7, a prisoner exchange between the United States and Iran occurred. Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-American and Princeton University Ph.D. student, was released from the Evin Prison as the United States freed Massoud Soleimani, an Iranian stem cell scientist who was arrested in 2018. Wang was suspected of being an American spy while conducting research in Tehran in 2016. According to CNN, Soleimani was found guilty for attempting to export materials related to human growth hormones.


President Macron recently revealed a pension reform plan that would remove 42 of the current schemes and replace them with a universal points-based system. According to the BBC, the new scheme would require employees to work for longer and receive less retirement pension. Macron’s plan has incited protests in France, including large rallies on Dec. 10 and Dec. 12 and worker strikes in railway stations. Museums like the Louvre and the Grand Palais have closed some rooms as well (CBS). This has a major impact on the tourism industry.

North Korea

A nuclear rocket was tested on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, a base near the northern border with China. As the U.S. continues to push for the unilateral denuclearization of North Korea, the test of this new satellite, which some predict could range from a Hwasong-15 to a solid-propellant ICBM (Washington Post), indicates that North Korea may soon unveil its unpleasant “Christmas gift” amidst negotiations. Although the United Nations banned North Korea from launching satellites, the nation may be set to launch a satellite or ICBM by the end of 2019.


On Nov. 27, a female veterinarian was gang-raped and set on fire while looking for assistance with a flat scooter tire. Between Dec. 6 and Dec. 7, four suspects in the rape case were shot and killed by police in Hyderabad. People living in the area celebrated the police, hoisting them on their shoulders. However, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for an investigation into police actions. Some politicians have expressed their concern over the killings, stating that they expunged the need for due process of law (NPR).