Saudi capital markets set for sustained growth

Updated 29 May 2014
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Saudi capital markets set for sustained growth

Executives meeting for the 9th Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference have been impressed by the confidence and optimism of the Kingdom’s financial sector.
Confidence is seen as one of the key elements for sustained economic growth, and speakers from both within the Kingdom and from international banks and financing groups have all expressed strong confidence during this week’s event.
On the second day, the tone was set by Adel Saleh Al-Ghamdi, CEO of the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), who outlined the dynamic factors supporting the growth of the Arab world’s largest exchange.
The Tadawul is now the ninth largest emerging market stock exchange out of a basket of 24 exchanges in terms of market capitalization, and has the sixth highest liquidity.
“We see strong demand coming from within the Saudi Arabian economy,” said Al-Ghamdi.
“There are currently 35 family-owned businesses in Saudi Arabia exploring their options for IPO with financial advisers at this time.”
A morning session also saw senior executives from leading banks and enterprises, including Saudi Aramco, Manafea Holding Company, Amundi Asset Management, Saudi Kuwait Finance House Bahrain and HSBC Saudi Arabia take part in a major discussion on the direction and evolution of the Kingdom’s capital markets.
In the session about Potential Risks and Future Financial Crises, Robert Parker, senior adviser at Credit Suisse, discussed the significant improvement of bank risk globally over the last 3 years and warned about real estate bubbles: “Real estate bubbles in Singapore, London, Switzerland and other countries are considered as big financial risks.”
He commented: “Other financial risks include youth unemployment, large current account deficits in emerging markets, China’s economic slowdown and shadow banking.”
In addition, Parker identified 3 major geo-political risks that might lead to future financial crises, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the negotiations with Iran and the China-Korea-Japan triangle.
In a recent report, Al-Rajhi Capital noted that Tadawul is “ready for foreign investors,” thanks to a strong economy, robust banking system, institutions to manage foreign investment in equity markets, and a track record for managing banking liquidity.
The 9th Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference is the longest-running, largest and most influential financial conference in the Kingdom. It has attracted around 1,300 pre-registrations from all over the region and the world.


Israel’s tech sector faces challenge from shortage of workers

Updated 16 December 2018
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Israel’s tech sector faces challenge from shortage of workers

  • The sector accounts for about 45 percent of Israel’s exports
  • Arabs account for only 3 percent of tech workers but this is expected to change soon as 18 percent of all computer science students today are Arab

TEL AVIV: Israel is struggling to recruit enough workers to its technology sector, a report showed on Sunday, creating a challenge for an industry seen as the country’s main potential driver of economic growth over the next decade.
Start-Up Nation Central, which published the report with the Israel Innovation Authority, said that while the number of high-tech workers in Israel had grown over the past five years, their percentage of the labor force remained unchanged.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the required growth will not be possible if the country’s supply of tech workers is inadequate,” said Eugene Kandel, head of Start-Up Nation Central
“Tech companies are struggling to find tech professionals, with many already finding (them) overseas.”
The number of tech workers — who earn more than double the average wage — grew to 280,000 in 2017 from 240,000 in 2013 but represent only 8 percent of the workforce, down from nearly 10 percent in 2008.
This is surprising given that investment into high-tech has soared, with venture capital funding exceeding $5 billion in 2017 and closing in on $6.5 billion this year. The number of multinationals operating development centers in Israel jumped to nearly 350 in 2016 from around 50 in 2000.
The sector accounts for about 45 percent of Israel’s exports. But about 15,300 positions remain open.
To find workers, Israeli companies are opening development centers overseas, mainly in Ukraine but also in the United States, Russia and India. Several dozen firms have also taken advantage of a rapid process established by the government in 2018 to obtain special visas for foreign tech workers.
But in the long term more initiatives are needed to increase the pool of workers, Kandel told reporters. There is great potential among women, who represent only 23 percent of tech workers, as well the largely untapped Arab and ultra-Orthodox Jewish sectors.
Arabs account for only 3 percent of tech workers but this is expected to change soon as 18 percent of all computer science students today are Arab, similar to their share of the population.
One obstacle for their employment in high-tech is that they live far from the country’s center.
Aharon Aharon, head of the government’s Innovation Authority, said he would launch two plans in the first quarter of 2019 — one to provide incentives in building an innovation ecosystem in the periphery and another to encourage tech companies to open branches outside of the center.