Nearly half of people living in Saudi Arabia do not save anything, survey finds

Updated 13 April 2018
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Nearly half of people living in Saudi Arabia do not save anything, survey finds

  • Nearly half of all people living in Saudi Arabia have no savings
  • Just 17% of people in the Kingdom have saved less than 5% of their income

JEDDAH: Some 45 per cent of people living in Saudi Arabia do not save any money at all out of their monthly income, according to a new survey of attitudes towards saving and investment among residents in the Kingdom.

The survey, conducted by the Jeddah based wealth management firm SEDCO Holdings and Dubai-based online finance group Souqamal.com, found that most respondents blamed a low level of income for their failure to put money aside.

It also found that only a further 17 percent saved less than 5 percent, while 38 percent saved more than 6 percent.

The results come as the Ministry of Housing is asking Saudis to save for a deposit on their future home. It finds a lack of a savings culture that makes this goal difficult.

Amr Banaja, a SEDCO executive, said: “Anyone should be able to achieve what they aspire for financial without resorting to borrowing or depriving themselves of what they desire. One can do this by properly managing their finances, shunning needless expense, and choosing appropriate saving and investment opportunities.”

When asked about the reason behind their failure to respond, 60 percent said their level of income prevented it. Since 2014, official statistics show that the average levels of income have risen by 13 percent in the private sector, and 6 percent in government employment, the survey compilers said.

The survey raises the question of whether the cost of living in the Kingdom has risen faster than salaries. According to official figures inflation rose by 7.6 percent between 2014 and 2016. It fell to near zero last year, but jumped again at the beginning of this year, with the introduction of value added tax.

The last official figures showed consumer prices rose 2.7 percent in February, marginally down from the 3 percent of January.

The survey also found that 83 percent of respondents have no long term investment plans, showing a lack of awareness of investment techniques and practices.

Ambareen Musa, founder and CEO of Souqamal, said: “Saving and investment should go hand in hand. Start with a monthly budget and figure out what your basic necessities are that you can save every month.”

SEDCO has launched the Riyali financial literacy program to make people aware of the basics of investment.

The survey was conducted among 2,000 respondents, which included Saudi citizens and expatriates, in line with the Kingdom’s demographics.


Italian energy firm Eni to drill more for gas deposits off Cyprus coast

Updated 25 April 2018
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Italian energy firm Eni to drill more for gas deposits off Cyprus coast

NICOSIA, Cyprus: Eni will proceed with more exploratory drilling south of Cyprus over the next 20 months, affirming a “strong engagement and commitment” in a hydrocarbons search off the east Mediterranean island nation, the Italian company’s chief executive said Wednesday.
Claudio Descalzi said that Eni has already invested around €700 million in that search off Cyprus and will carry on exploration until more gas deposits are discovered.
“Clearly in 2018 and 2019 we are going to drill wells and make studies,” Descalzi said after talks with the Cypriot president. “There is a good cooperation and there is a good alliance...with the government and we share the same objectives.”
Eni has already discovered a gas deposit southwest of Cyprus. Descalzi said an appraisal well will need to be drilled to determine the deposit’s size.
He said Eni won’t stop its search for gas in the areas where it has received a license to drill, despite Turkey’s opposition to it.
Eni has received drilling licenses in six areas, or blocks, south of Cyprus. In three of those blocks, it has joined with South Korean company Kogas and in two it has partnered up with France’s Total.
In February, Turkish warships blocked a drillship from reaching a target southeast of Cyprus where Eni was scheduled to drill.
Turkey strongly opposes the gas search because it sees it as a “unilateral” action by the ethnically split island’s Greek Cypriots that ignores the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the island’s mineral wealth.
Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.
The Cypriot government says the gas search is its sovereign right and that Turkish Cypriots will get their fair share of any potential proceeds after reunification.
Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said ExxonMobil and partners Qatar Petroleum are due to carry out exploratory drilling in the second half of this year.
A deposit discovered by Texas-based Noble Energy in 2011 is estimated to contain more than 4 trillion cubic feet of gas.