Saudi non-oil revenues up 80% as reforms pay off

Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi minister of finance, announcing the first-quarter budget in May. (Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2017
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Saudi non-oil revenues up 80% as reforms pay off

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s economic reform plans are paying off, with an 80 percent hike in the country’s non-oil revenues in the third quarter of 2017, figures published Sunday show.
The Kingdom, hit hard by the crash in energy prices from mid-2014, last year unveiled the ambitious Vision 2030 plan, which aims to wean the economy off its “addiction” to oil.
That plan appears to be working, with non-oil revenues hitting SR47.8 billion ($12.7 billion) in the third quarter, and total revenues up 11 percent to SR142.1 billion.
The former statistic highlights “the feasibility of the economic reforms” underway, the Ministry of Finance said in its budget performance update.
The figures also show increased efficiency in public spending and a further reduction of the deficit.
“The government continued to prioritize expenditure that directly benefits its citizens, with education being the single largest sector spend in the first nine months of 2017,” the ministry said.
State expenditure during the third quarter stood at SR190.9 billion, an increase of 5 percent year-on-year, with the deficit at SR48.7 billion.
For the first nine months of 2017, revenue hit SR450.1 billion, up 23 percent year-on-year, while expenditure was at SR571.6 billion, and the deficit was SR121.5 billion, a decline of 40 percent on 2016.
“Today’s figures show that we continue to move toward our ambitious economic reform objectives for the long term, including the delivery of a balanced budget,” said Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia’s minister of finance.
“We are also on track to achieve our budget projections for 2017 ... Whilst economic challenges remain, the economic reforms and measures that are set in the Fiscal Balance Program within Saudi Vision 2030 have proved effective, contributing to an increase in non-oil revenues, and we are making progress in creating a stronger and more diversified economy.”
Al-Jadaan pointed to a recent International Monetary Fund report, which he said indicates “great confidence” in the future of the Saudi economy.
“We have also once again benefited from international bond markets, reflecting both the growing confidence in Saudi Arabia’s economy and its strong foundations. The significant international investor interest in our country has been evidenced by the huge numbers who turned out for the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh last month that was organized by the Public Investment Fund,” he said.
“Our third quarterly budget update demonstrates our long-term commitment to increase our levels of transparency and financial disclosure. We know this is vitally important in maintaining the confidence of all our stakeholders if we are to deliver our Vision for the Kingdom.”


50 years after Concorde, US start-up eyes supersonic future

Boom Supersonic co-founder, Blake Scholl, poses for a photograph in front of an artists impression of his company's proposed design for an supersonic aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, at the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 July 2018
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50 years after Concorde, US start-up eyes supersonic future

  • Boom Supersonic’s aircraft is expected by the company to fly for the first time next year
  • The Concorde was retired following an accident in 2000 in which a Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing 113 people

WEYBRIDGE, United Kingdom: Luxury air travel faster than the speed of sound: A US start-up is aiming to revive commercial supersonic flight 50 years after the ill-fated Concorde first took to the skies.
Blake Scholl, the former Amazon staffer who co-founded Boom Supersonic, delivered the pledge this week in front of a fully-restored Concorde jet at the Brooklands aviation and motor museum in Weybridge, southwest of London.
Boom Supersonic’s backers include Richard Branson and Japan Airlines and other players are eyeing the same segment.
The company aims to manufacture a prototype jet next year but its plans have been met with skepticism in some quarters.
“The story of Concorde is the story of a journey started but not completed — and we want to pick up on it,” Scholl said.
The event coincided with the nearby Farnborough Airshow.
“Today... the world is more linked than it’s ever been before and the need for improved human connection has never been greater,” Scholl said.
“At Boom, we are inspired at what was accomplished half a century ago,” he added, speaking in front of a former British Airways Concorde that flew for the first time in 1969.

Boom Supersonic’s aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, is expected by the company to fly for the first time next year.
“If we can’t continue where you left off, and build on that, then the shame is on us,” Scholl said, addressing himself to an audience that included retired Concorde staff.
“Our vision is to build a faster airplane that is accessible to more and more people, to anybody who flies.”
Boom Supersonic is making its debut at Farnborough and hopes to produce its new-generation jets in the mid-2020s or later, with the aim of slashing journey times by half.
The proposed aircraft has a maximum flying range of 8,334 kilometers (5,167 miles) at a speed of Mach 2.2 or 2,335 kilometers per hour.
If it takes off, it would be the first supersonic passenger aircraft since Concorde took its final flight in 2003.
The Concorde was retired following an accident in 2000 in which a Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing 113 people.
Some analysts remain skeptical over the push back into supersonic.
“Supersonic is not what passengers or airlines want right now,” said Strategic Aero analyst Saj Ahmed, stressing that many travelers wanted cheap low-cost carriers instead.
Ahmed said supersonic jets were “very unattractive” because of high start-up development costs, considerations about noise pollution and high prices as well as limited capacity.

Independent air transport consultant John Strickland also noted supersonic travel was unproven commercially.
“Business traffic, on the face of it, is the most lucrative for airlines,” Strickland told AFP.
“But if there is an economic downturn or something happens where the market for business class traffic drains away, then you have nothing else left to do with that aircraft.
“I think it’s going to be some time before we see whether it can establish a large viable market... in the way that Concorde never managed to do.”
These concerns have not stopped interest from other players.
US aerospace giant Boeing had last month unveiled its “hypersonic” airliner concept, which it hopes will fly at Mach 5 — or five times the speed of sound — when it arrives on the scene in 20 to 30 years.
And in April, NASA inked a deal for US giant Lockheed Martin to develop a supersonic “X-plane.”