Saudi Arabia aims to be world’s largest renewable energy market

Updated 23 July 2013
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Saudi Arabia aims to be world’s largest renewable energy market

Saudi Arabia aims to become the world’s foremost market for renewable energy with an aggressive investment budget of $109 billion. By 2032, the country strives to generate as much as a third of the Kingdom’s energy demands using renewable energy (54 GW).
Following the publicity surrounding the country’s major investment drive, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) released a series of documents detailing the revised National Energy Plan. In addition to the 41 GW of solar power, 25 GW of CSP and 16 GW of PV, the Kingdom is aiming to generate 18 GW of nuclear energy, 3 GW of waste to energy, 1 GW of geothermal and an additional 9 GW of wind power, specifically for water desalination plants.
Impressive and noble though the country’s renewable energy goals maybe, the question remains how will the world’s largest exporter of oil, so dependent on conventional energy sources for their power demand, achieve such a transformation.
Establishing a time-line with long-term policies is at the top of the list.
According to Keisuke Sadamori, director of the energy markets and security directorate, International Energy Agency (IEA), "One of the key messages from the Medium Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2013 by the IEA is that policy uncertainty is the largest risk for renewable investment. Every country, including Saudi Arabia, should introduce long-term policies to provide a predictable and reliable framework to support renewable deployment."
Sadamori, alongside various other international and regional renewable energy experts, will be discussing the key challenges faced by Saudi Arabia and the steps toward overcoming them at the upcoming 3rd Annual Solar Arabia Summit. Taking place on Sept. 29-30 in Riyadh, the summit is hosting 35 experts who will each share their experience in the industry and discuss the latest market trends and policy development in the Kingdom.
Rasheed M. Alzahrani, CEO, Riyadh Valley Company, is also speaking at the summit to discuss joint ventures, partnerships and investments in renewable energy in the Kingdom.
He also acknowledges that "high level plans are already in place, but the major challenge in the Kingdom lies in the absence of a detailed time-line for a clear and gradual shift to renewable energy in the country and the slow adoption and advancement in renewable energy initiatives."
When asked about his company’s participation in the summit, Alzahrani said: "We intend to invest in this sector both in early and late stage opportunities that will add value to the local needs. We will use this platform to introduce RVC and its initiatives and to help foster the development of an energy ecosystem in KSA."
Alongside the summit’s conference agenda, 250 Saudi energy stakeholders are attending to have one-to-one business meetings with up to 40 international solution and service providers.
Confirmed participants include Schneider Electric, Total, Sterling and Wilson, SMA Technology and Trishe Renewables.


UAE’s bad loan days ‘are behind us,' says country’s top banking head Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair

Updated 22 September 2018
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UAE’s bad loan days ‘are behind us,' says country’s top banking head Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair

  • Many of the UAE’s larger banks have posted substantial increases in profits, a trend most analysts forecast to continue for at least the next year. 
  • Al-Ghurair says the country’s financial institutions are now far more able to weather any deterioration in assets due to the UAE’s more diversified economy.

LONDON: The UAE banking sector is well-positioned for future growth, with the days of “bad loans” dragging down bank balance sheets “behind us,” according to the country’s top banking head Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair. 
“I think banking in the UAE is in a very good position,” said Al-Ghurair, who is the CEO of Mashreq Bank in Dubai and the chairman of the UAE Banks Federation. 
“Our capital adequacy is at 17 percent so this is pretty high around the world. The cost to income ratio is below 40, which is a really fantastic number so ability to generate profit is high,” he said, speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of a conference in London.
“There will always be bad loans, but it is healthy to have some bad loans, because you really are pushing the envelope. If you have zero bad loans, you are not lending enough and so the economy will also suffer. As long as (it is) affordable that is ok,” he said. 
His comments came as many of the UAE’s larger banks posted substantial increases in profits, a trend most analysts forecast to continue for at least the next year. The four of the largest banks — First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank — posted a combined net profit of 8 billion dirhams ($2.2 billion) in the second quarter of 2018, up 21 percent compared to the same period last year. 
A note from the ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service issued in August said: “We expect core profitability to stablize over the next 12-18 months. We expect profitability for the large UAE banks to remain broadly stable as their interest earnings hold steady at current levels.”
While banks are expected to maintain high levels of profitability, there are signs that non-performing loans are beginning to trouble some institutions, particularly the smaller entities. 
Non-performing loans ratio to gross loans (NPL) reached 6.7 percent at the end of 2017 compared to 6.4 percent the previous year, according to UAE Central Bank statistics. Preliminary data suggests this could edge up to 7 percent for the second quarter of this year. 
“We expected this (increase in NPLs) given the relatively slow growth in 2017, which tends to have a lagging effect on banks’ asset quality,”  said Mik Kabeya, lead analyst for UAE banking system at Moody’s. 
“The weakening asset quality is manageable for banks given their buffers in terms of capital and profitability but we do expect an uptick. It will be primarily driven by soft performance on the retail, SMEs and mid-corporates segments.”
Chiradeep Ghosh, financial institutions analyst at Sico Bank in Bahrain, said it was a mixed picture for non-performing loan volumes. 
“We did not see any clear trend with UAE banks’ asset quality in the second quarter of 2018, with some banks reporting pick-up in delinquencies while others report improvement,” he said. 
Ehsan Khoman, head of Mena research and strategy at the Dubai branch of MUFG Bank, said the banks have remained stable despite signs of looming problem loans. 
“The UAE banking system remains benign owing to a buoyant economic operating environment, notwithstanding the recent pick-up in non-performing loans,” he said in an emailed note. 
Al-Ghurair said the country’s financial institutions are now far more able to weather any deterioration in assets due to the UAE’s more diversified economy.