Cost of eating out in Saudi Arabia rises at fastest rate in five years

While the overall inflation rate was flat, the cost of eating out is on the rise in Saudi Arabia (Getty Images)
Updated 25 September 2018
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Cost of eating out in Saudi Arabia rises at fastest rate in five years

  • August data reveal sharp uptick in prices in hotel and restaurant sector
  • But price increases in other sectors slow leaving overall inflation rate flat

LONDON: The cost of eating out or enjoying a night’s stay at a hotel in Saudi Arabia increased at the fastest rate recorded in five years last month, according to government statistics.
August’s consumer price data show that restaurant and hotel inflation rose to a new high of 8.4 percent year-on-year in August from 7.6 percent year-on-year in July.
Slower price increases in other categories ensured the headline inflation rate for the Kingdom remained relatively flat, with inflation staying at 2.2 percent year-on-year in August, unchanged from the previous month.
Analysts forecast that the Kingdom’s inflation rate will likely pick up again towards the end of the year.
“We still expect it to rise a little over the rest of this year as underlying price pressures pick up,” said Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, on Tuesday in a research note.
Inflation in Saudi Arabia peaked earlier this year at 3 percent following the introduction of the new value-added tax on certain goods and the government-imposed price hikes on the cost of energy at the start of 2018.
Consumer prices are expected to drop again in the new year as the impact of the VAT charge lessens, analysts predict.
“The upshot is that we expect that inflation will fall to around 1 percent year-on-year in January 2019,” said Tuvey in a note.
Food inflation - which represents 20 percent of the basket of goods and services used to calculate the growth rates in consumer prices - edged downwards in August to 6.6 percent year-on-year compared to 6.7 percent in July. 

The cost of food had jumped in July, with vegetables in particular becoming more expensive with inflation hitting 8.1 percent year-on-year compared to a decline of 0.8 percent year-on-year recorded in June.


Abraaj founder’s extradition hearing adjourned

Updated 30 min 50 sec ago
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Abraaj founder’s extradition hearing adjourned

  • The US alleges that Arif Naqvi and his firm raised money for the Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund, collecting more than $100 million over three years from US-based charities and investors
  • According to the SEC’s complaint, Naqvi misappropriated money from the health fund and commingled the assets with corporate funds of Abraaj Investment Management

LONDON: A case in a London court to extradite Arif Naqvi, the founder of collapsed private equity firm Abraaj, to the US on fraud charges was adjourned until April 26, a court official said on Thursday.
The official said that a former managing partner of Dubai-based Abraaj, Sev Vettivetpillai, had also been arrested and was facing a US extradition request linked to the same charges.
While at Abraaj, Vettivetpillai was head of impact investing in a role that oversaw the firm’s troubled health care fund. Abraaj’s executives are facing US charges that they defrauded investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Naqvi and his firm raised money for the Abraaj Growth Markets Health Fund, collecting more than $100 million over three years from US-based charities and other US investors.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Naqvi misappropriated money from the health fund and commingled the assets with corporate funds of Abraaj Investment Management and its parent company, and used it for purposes unrelated to the health fund.
Naqvi pleaded innocent last week in a statement released through a PR firm.
He was arrested in the UK earlier this month, while managing partner Mustafa Abdel-Wadood was arrested at a New York hotel, Assistant US Attorney Andrea Griswold told a Manhattan federal court on April 11.