Citigroup returns to Saudi Arabia: ‘Right place, right market, right time’

Citigroup is returning to Saudi Arabia after leaving the Kingdom in 2004, It is just one of a number of multinationals making a return to the Kingdom. (Reuters)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Citigroup returns to Saudi Arabia: ‘Right place, right market, right time’

Dubai: Citigroup, the American financial giant that quit Saudi Arabia in 2004, yesterday put the seal on its return to the Kingdom with a formal opening ceremony in Riyadh.
The re-entry could be lucrative for the bank, which will be able to play a full role in the financial opportunities presented by the Vision 2030 plan to transform the economy, including a big program of sovereign bond debt issuance and privatizations.
Mike Corbat, Citi’s group CEO, attended the ceremony alongside Ibrahim Al-Omar, the governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority.
Al-Omar said: “You are at the heart of Arab markets and the biggest market in the region, where Saudi Arabia connects three continents. Vision 2030 is not possible without partners, and you are our very welcome partners. Citi will be able to take part in a privatization program that will see, between now and 2030, up to 100 opportunities. There are other opportunities, too, especially in the entertainment sector. You are in the right place in the right market at the right time.”
Corbat said: “We are delighted to establish an office in the Kingdom and be open for business on the ground. The expansion to Saudi is in line with our strategy to be present in the region’s biggest economy and contribute to its transformation.
“Citi continues to support the Kingdom’s national agenda for a diverse and sustainable economy and we aim to play a key role toward realizing this vision,” he added.
Some Citi executives admitted the 2004 withdrawal was “a mistake,” and for the past two years the bank has played a central role in the big sovereign bond issuance program.
Last year, the Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority (CMA) granted Citi a license to provide a range of investment banking and capital market business.
Citi executives have said they could also look to get a license from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, which would enable it to also offer trade banking and treasury services.
At the Riyadh ribbon-cutting ceremony at the bank’s new offices in Kingdom Tower, Citi, through its Foundation arm, also handed over a $300,000 cheque to renew its partnership with Education for Employment Global, a Washington DC-based non-profit organization that helped train and find employment for 67,000 young people in the region.


Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

Updated 12 min 13 sec ago
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Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

  • China has exploited America’s selective drone export policy to become an increasingly influential player in meeting demand
  • The report is entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region”

BEIRUT: The use of armed drones in the Middle East, driven largely by sales from China, has grown significantly in the past few years with an increasing number of countries and other parties using them in regional conflicts to lethal effects, a new report said Monday.
The report by the Royal United Services Institute, or RUSI, found that more and more Mideast countries have acquired armed drones, either by importing them, such as Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or by building them domestically like Israel, Iran and Turkey.
China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones — otherwise known as UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles — at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the United States.
The report , entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region,” said that by capitalizing on the gap in the market over the past few years, Beijing has supplied armed drones to several countries that are not authorized to purchase them from the US, and at a dramatically cheaper price.
“China, a no-questions-asked exporter of drones, has played and is likely to continue playing a key role as a supplier of armed UAVs to the Middle East,” it said.
The report explored where and how each of the states have used their armed drones and whether they have changed the way these countries approach air power. It found that Iran, the UAE and Turkey all changed the way they employ airpower after they acquired armed drones.
For Turkey and the UAE, armed drones enabled them to conduct strikes in situations where they would not have risked using conventional aircraft, it said. Iran developed armed drones from the outset specifically to enable to project power beyond the reach of its air force, which is hamstrung by obsolete aircraft and sanctions, the report added.
The report said it remains to be seen whether and how the loosening of restrictions on the exportation of armed drones by the Trump administration will alter dynamics in the region.
“Nonetheless, proliferation in armed UAVs in the Middle East is unlikely to stop and could, in fact, even accelerate,” the report said.