OFW remittances from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar fall

Above, Filipino workers returning home from Kuwait arrive at Manila International Airport on February 18. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2018

OFW remittances from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar fall

  • ‘The countries that contributed to the decline in August 2018 are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar’
  • The three Gulf countries, together with the US, Singapore, Japan, UK, Canada, Germany and Hong Kong, make up to 79 percent of the total remittances regularly sent to the Philippines

DUBAI: The repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from Middle East countries – where a major portion of remittances originate – contributed to a decline in money sent to the Philippines in August this year, government data said.
“The countries that contributed to the decline in August 2018 are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Monday. The three Gulf countries – together with the US, Singapore, Japan, UK, Canada, Germany and Hong Kong – make up to 79 percent of the total cash remittances regularly sent to the country.
The Philippine central monetary authority reported that cash remittances from overseas Filipinos dipped 0.9 percent to $2.476 billion in August, from $2.499 billion sent during the same month in 2017. Around 10 million Filipinos work overseas and usually are the breadwinners of families back home, providing for most of household budgets and contributing nearly 70 percent of overall national output.
Cash sent from the UAE by Filipinos fell by 36.4 percent to $175.02 million in August, from $275.31 million of the same month last year, while cash remittances from Saudi Arabia went down 20.7 percent to $180.9 million from $228.15 million while Qatar-based OFWs meanwhile sent $68.85 million during the same month, 35.3 percent less than the $106.47 million remitted in August 2017. Among other Gulf countries, remittances from Kuwait slipped 17.4% to $61.3 million from $74.05 million; it was down 37.3 percent in Oman to $17.71 million from $28.24 million previously, but was up 3.4 percent in Bahrain to $19.494 million from $18.85 million a year earlier.
For the eight-month period to August, OFW cash remittances rose 2.5 percent to 19.06 billion, from $18.6 billion during the same period last year. Those sent by land-based OFWs increased by 2.1 percent to $15.05 billion while cash remittances of sea-based overseas Filipinos went up 3.8 percent to $4.01 billion as of August.
In the UAE, the Philippine government recently conducted its sixth mass repatriation of Filipino nationals – mostly victims of illegal recruitment – to take advantage of the three-month amnesty program implemented by the Gulf country. Overstaying expatriate workers who wanted to leave the UAE for their home countries were allowed to exit without the payment of fines or jail terms. So far, 1,842 OFWs have been repatriated from the UAE and the number may further increase before amnesty program ends on October 31.
The Philippines earlier this year also repatriated Filipino workers from Kuwait, triggered by the death of a household service worker whose body was found stuffed in a freezer inside an abandoned apartment, as well as imposed a deployment ban after an ensuing diplomatic row over the protection migrant workers in the Gulf state. The dispute was resolved after an agreement signed in May between the two countries offered better protection for expatriate Filipinos, especially those working as housemaids.


Saudi mall operator Arabian Centres bucks retail malaise as profits surge

Updated 21 August 2019

Saudi mall operator Arabian Centres bucks retail malaise as profits surge

  • Mall operator defies online shopping pressure by lowering discounts to tenants, boosting occupancy and rental revenues

LONDON: Arabian Centres, the Saudi mall operator which went public in May, said first-quarter consolidated net profit almost trebled to SR227 million ($60.53 million) as occupancy edged higher across its shopping centers. Revenues increased by about 2.5 percent over the year to SR572.5 million.

The results helped to propel the group’s shares 3 percent higher on Tuesday.

The group said that it boosted performance by offering lower discounts to its tenants which helped to drive rental revenues. Like-for-like occupancy across all malls increased  to 93.2 percent from 92.4 percent in the year earlier period. Finance costs fell by about 65 percent from a year earlier to SR73.9 million.

FASTFACT

 

27 - Arabian Centres plans to expand its mall portfolio to 27 within four years.

Retailers across the Middle East are coming under increased pressure as more consumers shop online, while at the same time, tourists are spending less in dollar-pegged economies because their purchasing power has been cut by the strength of the greenback. Still, in Saudi Arabia, the under-served retail market is expected to receive a boost from rising investment in the entertainment sector, especially new cinemas.

“Faced with the rising challenge of online shopping, the brick-and-mortar retail segment has sought to diversify its offering to secure its customer base, providing an increased range of leisure and entertainment facilities,” said Oxford Business Group, in a report analyzing emerging trends in the Saudi retail sector.

“The reintroduction of cinemas to the Kingdom in April last year ... is expected to increase retail footfall,” it said.

Arabian Centres, majority-owned by Fawaz Alhokair Group, listed its shares on the Tadawul stock exchange in May — the first to do so in the Kingdom under Rule 144a, allowing the sale of securities, mainly to qualified institutional buyers in the US.

The group aims to expand to 27 malls within four years.