Saudi oil output reaches 10.3m barrels per day

Saudi oil output reaches 10.3m barrels per day
Updated 08 April 2015

Saudi oil output reaches 10.3m barrels per day

Saudi oil output reaches 10.3m barrels per day

Saudi Arabia’s oil production reached 10.3 million barrels per day in March, Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi has said.
“Average daily output hit 10.3 million bpd in March,” Al-Naimi, cited by the Saudi Press Agency, said on Tuesday night.
The minister expects Saudi Arabia production to continue at around 10 million bpd and also expects crude prices to improve.
Saudi Arabia is prepared to help improve oil prices but needed cooperation from major OPEC and non-OPEC producers, he said.
Saudi Arabia has huge oil and gas resources, he pointed out.
“With today’s technology, our proven recoverable reserves stand at 267 billion barrels. Our proven natural gas reserves are 300 trillion cubic feet. Annual production is compensated with new discoveries. Upstream technology is advancing, and Saudi Aramco is a leader in this area,” he added in an address to the Saudi Economic Association
“We are also one of the most active countries in terms of exploring for shale oil and gas and detecting their reservoirs and volumes. We know that we have huge volumes in several places,” he said.
“In terms of oil refining capacity, both in-Kingdom and out-of-Kingdom, we are now at a level of five million barrels per day. Each year, our refining capacity increases, and improves in quality. We are building advanced refineries which can treat heavy crude oil. Increasingly, they can produce petroleum and petrochemical products that rank highest in terms of price, demand and added-value realization,” said the minister.
Saudi Arabia’s huge oil and gas reserves make it an important international power, he said.
“We are committed to stability and creating prosperity for our people,” he added.
Saudi Arabia’s petroleum policy seeks to strike a balance between the present and the future. It aims to boost national income and preserve our share of the oil market. And it seeks to continue in its role as a major supplier of energy to the world, said Al-Naimi.
He said that the Kingdom has close relationships and ongoing cooperation with all major oil producing and consuming nations.
“Our first and most important cooperative relationship is with OPEC, of which the Kingdom is a founding state. Since its establishment in 1960, OPEC has played an effective and positive role serving member countries, producing countries, the oil industry and the global economy,” he said.
AL-Naimi said: “The talk by some of OPEC’s weakening or division is unfounded, politicized and untrue. Producing nations need OPEC in order to maintain market stability. So do consuming nations. And so does the global economy. If OPEC did not exist, it would have been created, even if under a different name.”
Just like any major international organization, OPEC faces challenges. There may be differences of opinion between member states, but this is quite natural. This has always been OPEC’s reality since it assumed its leadership position in the market in the early 1970s. Saudi Arabia passionately supports OPEC’s role as the world’s most important and most active international petroleum organization.
In addition, the Kingdom is an active and effective member of various international oil and energy organizations, such as the Organization of Arab Oil Producing Countries, and the International Energy Forum. The latter’s membership includes most oil producing and consuming nations and has its secretariat in Riyadh.
The Kingdom also plays an important and effective role in international talks on environmental and climate change-related issues. The Saudi oil industry cares about, and gives priority to, the environment and climate change.
He added: “For example, we are pioneers when it comes to climate change technology, such as re-injecting carbon dioxide in old oil fields. That said, we will stand up, firmly and resolutely, in solidarity with a number of countries, against any attempt to marginalize the use of oil. We prefer to focus on sustainable development with its economic, social and environmental elements.”
Al-Naimi added: “Despite our important position in the oil market and the clarity of our objectives, market fluctuations are inevitable. The challenge is to restore the supply-demand balance and reach price stability. This requires the cooperation of non-OPEC major producers, just as it did in the 1998-99 crisis.”
Last summer, oil prices declined for various reasons, mainly weak demand growth and excessive non-OPEC supply. We made it clear to our colleagues inside OPEC that the Kingdom was willing to participate in production cuts in accordance with a fair and credible mechanism. Market conditions, however, required joint action by major oil producing and exporting nations. Extensive communications and visits were made and joint meetings were held. However, some non-OPEC major producing countries said they were unable, or unwilling, to participate in production cuts. For this reason, OPEC decided, at its meeting of Nov. 27, to maintain production levels and not to give up its market share in favor of others.
The minister also said: “The experience of the first half of the 1980s was still in our minds. At the time, we cut our production several times. Some OPEC countries followed our lead, and the aim was to reach a specific price that we thought was achievable. It didn’t work. In the end, we lost our customers and the price. The Kingdom’s production dwindled from over 10 MMBD in 1980 to less than 3 MMBD in 1985. The price fell from over $40 per barrel to less than $10. We are not willing to make the same mistake again.”
He added: “That said, I would like to be absolutely clear. The Kingdom remains willing to participate in restoring market stability and improving prices in a reasonable and acceptable manner. But this can only be with participation from major oil producing and exporting countries. And it must be transparent. The burden cannot be borne by the Saudi Arabia, the GCC countries, or OPEC countries, alone.”
He said: “I would also like to clarify, conclusively, that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not use oil for political purposes against any country, and it is not in a competition with shale or other high-cost oils. On the contrary, we welcome all new energy sources which add depth and stability to the market and that will help meet growing oil demand in the years to come. “
Al-Naimi said: “Of course, we seek to generate the highest revenues for the Kingdom, in the short and long term, and we aim to preserve oil’s status as a major source of energy. But we also aim to build a solid Saudi oil industry that can compete in all areas. Our key objective, therefore, is to ensure oil and gas can help boost the national economy and expand Saudi Arabia’s industrial base.”
He said the Saudi oil industry is expanding and growing more important year-on-year.
The minister said: “I’m not referring just to Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company and one of the best in terms of management and production. Rather, I’m talking about oil and energy-related businesses, industries and services. These range from geological and seismic surveying companies, to sectors such as drilling, building platforms, crude and products haulage companies, engineering firms, the construction sector, even through to simple services.”
He said: “Our future plans and ambitions far exceed even this. We aspire for the Kingdom not only to be an oil producing nation, but also a global center for the production of the materials and services needed by the oil, energy, petrochemical and other industries.”
Al-Naimi said: “The oil and petrochemical industries focus on scientific research and studies and obtaining patents. We believe that, for any industry, scientific research and new inventions are the best way to progress and compete.”
In this area, Saudi Aramco has research labs and centers in Dhahran and a number of locations around the world, with research activities including prospecting operations, drilling, reservoir management, enhanced oil recovery and building environment-friendly, low-emission engines that run on oil. Saudi Aramco managed during the past few years to obtain and register scores of patents, with more in the pipeline.
We are thrilled to see numerous Saudi companies, such as SABIC, Tasnee’ and Maaden, have scientific research centers of their own. Also, some Saudi universities have research centers specialized in such arenas: the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology has a special division for energy research that includes solar power, bio-mass and more.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources focuses on the Saudi oil industry’s integration and ability to compete globally. It also tries to keep abreast of international developments in the oil arena and generate added-value for the industry and the Kingdom as a whole. This is why Saudi Aramco and some of its affiliated companies are engaging in operations further downstream. In addition to being in line with international developments in the refining area, this generates added value to the Kingdom, expands its industrial base and creates numerous major opportunities for the private sector and small and medium enterprises.
In addition to all this, we are also striving to develop industrial clusters.
In this regard, I would like to mention two important examples. The first is the Red Sea area. Here, there is an industrial-commercial extension starting from the Industrial City of Yanbu’ in the north, to Rabigh which hosts PetroRabigh, the company owned by Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo of Japan. This includes an advanced refinery, a large petrochemical industries complex and another complex which is still under construction. After Rabigh comes Thuwal, hosting KAUST, which has a research and development complex for Saudi and international companies wishing to turn their inventions into new industrial products. Then comes the King Abdullah Economic City with its various industrial and commercial projects. This is a commercial-industrial strip that expands and grows more important each and every year, helping give the Kingdom a prominent global industrial position in the areas of manufacturing and applied sciences.
In the eastern part of the Kingdom, on the Arabian Gulf coast, there is another industrial-economic cluster developing. This starts with Jubail, a city with various industrial projects that has become one of the world’s most important industrial cities. Then the strip extends north to the City of Ras Al-Khair, now hosting several mining and other industries and expanding day after the other to include other industries and activities.
In addition to those two industrial-economic clusters, there are industrial cities currently under construction. One of them is Jazan Industrial Economic City, where work will commence in 2017; and Wa’d Al-Shamal, in which work is expected to start in 2016. There are more industrial cities in the final planning or initial construction phases.
I would like to highlight three aspects that are of special importance to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.
First, its contribution to the building of educated, professional men and women who honor work ethics. It is the human element that builds and gives success and continuity to nations, as well as companies, industries and trade, not only at the leadership level, but at all work levels as well. If well-educated, trained and organized, human energy can lead to unlimited development in terms of strength, competition and progress. In fact, human energy is the source of all other energies.
The Kingdom has given this aspect a great deal of attention since the days of the Founding King, King Abdulaziz. His instructions and conditions to Aramco, when it started its operations in the Kingdom more than 80 years ago, were to focus on recruiting, training, educating and qualifying citizens in all area.
The company gave this area considerable attention. Saudi Aramco now has an advanced sponsorship program, another pre-university program for vocational training on technical jobs needed by the company and on-the-job training programs. All the company’s employees, at all levels, join continuing educational and professional programs up to a short time before their retirement.
Saudi Aramco and other companies reporting to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources are leaders in the area of recruiting, qualifying and training Saudis. In conjunction with other government agencies, particularly the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation as well as some companies, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources has helped build and supervise several professional specialized and highly-efficient institutes. It is a source of pleasure for me to mention that trainees at such institutes obtain good jobs even before graduating.
The second area of importance to the Ministry is the preservation of energy and rationalization of consumption in all area, from air conditioning equipment to household appliances, cars, through to factories and public and commercial buildings.
Although the Saudi Energy Efficiency Program only started three years ago, it has achieved distinguished results. It will achieve more in the future, saving for the Kingdom approximately 20 percent of the expected energy consumption by 2030. This is the equivalent of 1.5 MMBD. Here, I must praise the marvelous role of Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman in the success of this program.
The third area of importance to the Ministry is the focus on local content and the establishment and success of small and medium enterprises. We seek to have the materials, services and products needed by the energy and petrochemical companies locally sourced; i.e., manufactured in Kingdom, by Saudi or mainly-Saudi manpower.
Al-Naimi said: “I am extremely optimistic about the future of the Saudi economy and the continuation of its growth and diversification, as well as the further prosperity of its citizens. When it comes to political, economic and other issues, the government shows decisiveness and resolution and will bring about the Saudi people’s ambitions.”
The minister said: “In economic terms, I expect our GNP to reach $1 trillion before the end of the current decade. In terms of petroleum, I expect that prices will improve in the near future, that the Kingdom’s production will continue at approximately 10 MMBD. I also expect our discoveries of the various types of oil and gas will continue in all areas of the Kingdom, and that our economic base will continue to expand, turning us into a truly industrialized country not just a country dependent on oil production and exports. “


Customers in Saudi Arabia still prefer visiting supermarkets: BinDawood CEO

Customers in Saudi Arabia still prefer visiting supermarkets: BinDawood CEO
Updated 59 min 12 sec ago

Customers in Saudi Arabia still prefer visiting supermarkets: BinDawood CEO

Customers in Saudi Arabia still prefer visiting supermarkets: BinDawood CEO
  • Pandemic food supplies maintained, no panic buying in Saudi Arabia as retailer’s profits rose 7 percent

JEDDAH: When the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic lockdowns started in early summer last year, media reports about stockpiling became common place.
Industry data in the UK showed that in one week in March, at the start of the first lockdown, sales of toilet paper surged 64 percent, while flour was up 73 percent, and pasta 55 percent.
While memes of toilet-roll stockpiling began trending on social media, in Saudi Arabia this did not occur, according to Ahmad BinDawood, CEO of BinDawood Holding, one of the Kingdom’s biggest supermarket operators.
He told Arab News: “We have seen some of the pictures of what was happening around the world. The operation level that happened here, especially from the government side and us as retailers, and from the customers’ side, was amazing.
“There was no shortage, we made sure that there were enough supplies always in the market and customers were also responding to that positively.
“If they don’t need something they won’t buy it. They weren’t doing any excessive buying. It was a smooth flow of goods coming to the market. The supply was there, and we have successfully passed the difficult times of 2020,” he said.
With people spending more time at home, the digital revolution was sent into overdrive. Luckily, BinDawood had invested in its online presence four years ago. “We immediately responded to the changes that were happening with consumers when it came to shopping.”
He noted that customers made fewer visits to physical stores but purchased more items online.
“What we have seen from customers during the pandemic was they have started coming less frequently, but with bigger basket sizes; that was one of the major changes. Second, customers preferred buying their ingredients and cooking at home to avoid possibly contaminated food. We responded immediately to the ingredients that the customers were looking for in our social media platforms,” he added.
While the company’s online orders soared, BinDawood pointed out that Saudi consumers still preferred going to a physical store.
“The primary way that the customer prefers to shop is actually visiting the stores, not through online. Online shopping is still going to be good for the future but so far we see that the customer prefers to shop in stores to have that experiential element when they come,” he said.
Uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic did not impact the firm’s balance sheet. In March, BinDawood Holding Co. reported a net profit after Zakat and tax of SR447.7 million ($119.39 million) for 2020, up 7 percent year-on-year.
The family business opened its first supermarket in 1984, having previously operated gift shops and perfumeries targeting pilgrims.
“The first supermarket was opened by my father and my uncles and that was in Makkah under the brand name BinDawood, and then from there we expanded and opened different stores within the city of Makkah.
“We then moved to Jeddah, then Madinah, and the acquisition of Danube took place in 2001.”
With the two brands, BinDawood and Danube, BinDawood Holding has a network of 74 stores in 15 cities throughout Saudi Arabia. In 2019, the company announced plans to reach 100 stores by 2024, meaning an average of five to six stores per year. It is now looking at opportunities for expansion in terms of product offerings and within different formats.
In December, BinDawood revealed that its first international Danube store outside the Kingdom would be located in Bahrain. The 5,305-square-meter hypermarket in the Al-Liwan Project is expected to open its doors to customers on Oct. 4.
The company also has wider international plans, and according to a Bloomberg report was looking at possible acquisitions in neighboring countries.


Nintendo profits boom on healthy sales of its Switch as people stuck at home play games

Nintendo profits boom on healthy sales of its Switch as people stuck at home play games
Updated 07 May 2021

Nintendo profits boom on healthy sales of its Switch as people stuck at home play games

Nintendo profits boom on healthy sales of its Switch as people stuck at home play games

TOKYO: Nintendo Co.’s profit for the fiscal year that ended in March jumped 86 percent on healthy sales of its Switch handheld machine as people stayed home due to the pandemic, turning to video games for entertainment.
Annual profit for the Japanese maker of Super Mario and Pokemon games totaled 480.4 billion yen ($4.4 billion), up from 258.6 billion yen the year before. The results, released Thursday, were better than the company’s internal profit forecast of 400 billion yen ($3.7 billion).
Sales rose 34 percent to 1.76 trillion yen ($16 billion), the company said.
In game software sales, demand remained strong for “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” with 20.85 million units sold for cumulative sales of 32.6 million units. “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” and “Ring Fit Adventure” also were popular.
Kyoto-based Nintendo said digital downloads for the Switch also did well, helping to support its bottom line.
But Nintendo said it didn’t expect such good fortune to persist through the current fiscal year, which ends in March 2022. It is forecasting a 29 percent drop in profit to 340 billion yen ($3 billion).
Nintendo said it has attractive games in the works, including a collaboration in the mobile sector with Niantic on an application featuring Pikmin for smart devices. It expects to release that in the second half of 2021.
Other software titles planned for global release later this year include “Mario Golf: Super Rush,” and “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD.” A new Pokemon game is planned for late 2021, according to Nintendo.
Nintendo is among companies that have thrived during the pandemic, which is wreaking havoc on the global economy overall.
Its Super Nintendo World theme park in Osaka, Japan, built with Universal Studios, opened in March after a delay due to the pandemic. But it closed soon afterward because Osaka is one of several areas under a state of emergency due to a surge of new coronavirus cases.
The state of emergency began last month and is certain to be extended beyond its May 11 end, as all such large-scale facilities are being asked to close.


Renewables set to grow far faster than oil sector

Renewables set to grow far faster than oil sector
Updated 07 May 2021

Renewables set to grow far faster than oil sector

Renewables set to grow far faster than oil sector
  • Models show renewables meeting 74% of total energy demand by 2050

OSLO: Renewable energy will account for a far larger share of global supply in 2050 than major oil companies or the International Energy Agency (IEA) expect, Oslo-based consultancy Rystad Energy said on Thursday.
Its updated models show renewables meeting 74 percent of total energy demand by 2050, compared to 43 percent, 45 percent and 69 percent in the most aggressive scenarios from energy firms Equinor, Shell and BP.
The IEA expects renewables to account for 35 percent of the market by 2040.
The renewed commitment to the Paris climate agreement by the US this year, the growing number of countries with net zero carbon emissions targets for 2050 and renewable technology development have changed the energy landscape, Rystad CEO Jarand Rystad told an online conference on Thursday.
“All previous assessments have to be scrapped and we need to look at it with completely new eyes,” he said.
Rystad Energy sees the sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) rising to 64 million by 2030, compared with oil company scenarios ranging from 22 million to 38 million and an IEA estimate of 30 million.
Rising renewable energy output amid falling costs and increasing efficiency of solar panels and wind turbines, as well as sales of electric vehicles have also hastened predictions for peak demand for oil and gas.
Rystad Energy said last month it expected global oil demand to peak at 101.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2026, versus a forecast made in November for a peak in 2028 at 102.2 million bpd.
With an increasing share of energy being produced by solar and wind power, the global energy trade, dominated by the fossil fuels today, is going to shrink significantly, it predicts.
“We are going to de-globalize the energy market with the new technologies,” Rystad said at Thursday’s conference.


Saudi public debt up 5.6% to $240.4bn in Q1 2021

Saudi public debt increased about 5.6 percent during the first quarter of this year nearly amounting to SR901.4 billion ($240.4 billion). (Shutterstock)
Saudi public debt increased about 5.6 percent during the first quarter of this year nearly amounting to SR901.4 billion ($240.4 billion). (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 May 2021

Saudi public debt up 5.6% to $240.4bn in Q1 2021

Saudi public debt increased about 5.6 percent during the first quarter of this year nearly amounting to SR901.4 billion ($240.4 billion). (Shutterstock)
  • he debt grew by 24.6 percent compared to the same period in 2020, which amounted to SR723.46 billion

RIYADH: Saudi public debt increased about 5.6 percent during the first quarter of this year nearly amounting to SR901.4 billion ($240.4 billion), compared to the end of the fourth quarter of last year.

This recorded the fastest growth rate since the second quarter of last year, which was caused by the pandemic repercussions, Al Eqtisadiah reported.

The debt grew by 24.6 percent compared to the same period in 2020, which amounted to SR723.46 billion.

About 57 percent of the debt comes from internal debt nearly amounting to SR513.74 billion, while the external debt amounted to about SR387.63 billion, Al Eqtisadiah reported citing data of the Ministry of Finance.

The volume of debt to GDP increased to 35.6 percent at the end of the first quarter of this year compared to the end of last year at 32.3 percent, based on the GDP at constant prices.  

The rise in the debt comes despite the budget recording its lowest deficit for the first quarter of this year since the third quarter of 2018 at SR7.44 billion, due to the 9 percent decline in oil revenues on an annual basis, despite the growth of non-oil revenues.

Saudi Arabia was able to raise funds to pay its deficit by about SR29.55 billion, which exceeds the actual deficit for the first quarter, as it intends to use the rest of the funding to pay the deficit for the remainder of the year. 

Saudi Arabia is trying to take advantage of the lower interest rates in the debt markets.

The Ministry of Finance previously estimated that this year's public debt reaches SR937 billion, as the Corona crisis increased the target level of public debt.


Occupancy rate of Makkah hotels sees over 30% rise in second half of Ramadan

Saudis and expatriates used to spend the last 10 days of the holy month in Makkah for worship, but many of them put the habit on hold since the pandemic started. (Shutterstock)
Saudis and expatriates used to spend the last 10 days of the holy month in Makkah for worship, but many of them put the habit on hold since the pandemic started. (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 May 2021

Occupancy rate of Makkah hotels sees over 30% rise in second half of Ramadan

Saudis and expatriates used to spend the last 10 days of the holy month in Makkah for worship, but many of them put the habit on hold since the pandemic started. (Shutterstock)
  • Makkah is the main artery of hotels in Saudi Arabia, alone accounting for more than 64 percent of the sector

JEDDAH/MAKKAH: The occupancy rate at the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan varied between 10 and 20 percent, while in the second half it rose to 30-38 percent, Rayan bin Osama Filali, chairman of the Hotel Committee, an affiliate of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry told Arab News.

Filali explained that for the first time, a relatively mild increase in the prices during the last days of Ramadan was witnessed — an unprecedented occurrence, as prices often increase by 300 percent during the last 10 days of Ramadan, compared with the rest days of the month.

“The size and impact of the pandemic caused the cancellation of offers promoted by hotels in the last 10 days of Ramadan,” Filali noted. The fact that only a small percentage of hotels was able to operate “showed the extent of the damage to the sector due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which disrupted the entire system, causing losses that are likely to cast a shadow for years to come.”

The chairman of the Hotel Committee said that the pandemic had directly disrupted much of the hotel sector’s dynamism, as it is one of the most productive, stimulating and job-creating market sectors.

He also said that only 26 hotels in Makkah’s central region are operating this Ramadan season with average prices dropping by 55 percent.

Makkah is the main artery of hotels in Saudi Arabia, alone accounting for more than 64 percent of the sector, which, according to Filali, needs at least four years to recover from the present crisis.

He also noted that the economic implications on the 1,200 hotels were extreme and that most hotels suspended their activities completely, closing their facilities and sending thousands of workers home.

“These workers are still waiting for hotels to open their doors after the end of the pandemic or the completion of the inoculation campaign of the entire community,” he added.

According to Filali, the hotel sector generates huge financial returns for all the countries of the world, and the holy capital depends mainly on the permanence of an industry that creates thousands of jobs annually.

Filali remarked that the sector was awaiting a major expansionary boom but that the virus threatened the industry despite the efforts of the Saudi leadership to maintain the salaries of its employees for several months with the unemployment insurance program “Saned.”

“The lack of demand on bookings and the high operating volume and cost of food have paralyzed the tourism sector, which has led many hotels to suspend their operations until the pandemic ends,” said Filali.

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Hotels surrounding the courtyards of the Grand Mosque in Makkah were on Tuesday authorized to issue Umrah permits to guests during Ramadan as part of an initiative to help revive the holy city’s struggling hospitality sector. Click here for more.

Bassam Khanfar, general manager of the Shaza Makkah Hotel, told Arab News that over 17,000 rooms remained vacant due to the pandemic.

He said that a gradual resumption of operations and purchasing power must be taken into account so that the sector can recover with the least possible losses.

He noted out that the average price of a room in the first 20 days of Ramadan was SR 1,300, increasing to an average of SR 1,900 in the last 10 days of the holy month.

Khanfar’s hotel offered a discount of 50 percent to health practitioners in recognition of their great efforts in fighting the virus — efforts echoed in the performance of the Kingdom as a whole in addressing the pandemic.

Saudis and expatriates used to spend the last 10 days of the holy month in Makkah for worship, but many of them put the habit on hold since the pandemic started.

Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, a Jeddah cafe owner, told Arab News: “Before the pandemic, I was keen to perform Umrah in the last 10 days of every Ramadan, especially on the 27th night, which is when Laylat Al-Qadr (Night of Power) is believed to have occurred.”

He added that the Grand Mosque normally would see hundreds of thousands of worshippers during the last 10 days of Ramadan, in pre-COVID-19 times.

“Unluckily, I can’t perform Umrah this time because I have not yet received the first dose of the vaccine despite my attempts to get vaccinated. But it’s to be expected, as millions are trying to register for the vaccine,” he said.

Al-Ghamdi’s friend, retired army officer Salem bin Saleh, said he was lucky to get the first doses and is planning to perform Umrah in the few coming days.

“Performing Umrah in the last 10 days of Ramadan has been one of my habits for over 30 years,” Saleh told Arab News.

He said that performing Umrah in Ramadan is equal in reward to performing Hajj, as Prophet Muhammad said.

“The feeling you get during and after performing Umrah in Ramadan is indescribable,” Saleh added.