Saudi GDP growth accelerates to 3.8%

Saudi GDP growth accelerates to 3.8%
Updated 01 September 2015

Saudi GDP growth accelerates to 3.8%

Saudi GDP growth accelerates to 3.8%

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at its fastest pace in over a year at 3.79 percent during the second quarter of this year, reaching SR617.88 billion compared to SR595.31 billion for the same quarter of the previous year.
However, at current prices the GDP value fell by 11.93 percent to SR631.03 billion but the figure is still up from a revised 2.3 percent in the first quarter, according to a report by the Department of General Statistics and Information.
Commenting on the GDP figures, John Sfakianakis, Middle East director at Ashmore Group, told Arab News: “It is unlikely for the economy to maintain for the remainder two quarters growth of 3.8 percent. There would be a deceleration in growth especially as seasonal effects kick in such as the prolonged summer and Haj holidays in September. This would have an impact on the bottom line of business activity.”

He added: “The economy is coping well with cheaper oil prices. Oil prices have fallen by more than 50 percent yet economy has not decelerated by an equal amount. It is expected that the economy should grow by 3 percent this year which is not bad at all.”
The Saudi private sector recorded a rise in its value in real terms by 3.09 percent, and at current prices traded higher in value by 5.28 percent, rising to SR293.19 billion in the second quarter of this year, compared to SR278.49 billion in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.
Fahad M. Alturki chief economist and head of research at Jadwa Investment,said: “The Saudi growth is higher but dynamics of growth are different than last year. Oil sector takes the lead this time.”
He added: “Despite some moderation in the private sector, the nonoil sector continues to grow at a healthy rate compared to regional and emerging economies. We expect this growth to remain solid for the rest of the year.”
The Saudi Press Agency, quoting the statistics department report, said the electricity and gas activity and water witnessed the biggest increase among the activities of this sector, where the value at current prices increased by 11.20 percent compared with the corresponding period of the previous year. It said the value of gross domestic product of the oil sector decreased at current prices during the second quarter of this year by 39.07 percent, while its real value prices rose at the rate of 5.1 percent, compared with its value during the same period of the previous year.
Mohamed Ramady, senior adviser, Partner-Energy, said: “The Saudi economy will still remain hostage to the vagaries of oil prices and as these are expected to remain weak within the $45-$55 range for the rest of the year. Saudi oil GDP growth will be hard pushed to achieve an average growth rate of less than 4 percent with the nonoil sector dragging GDP down if the private sector confidence falters in the face of project cutbacks, cost savings and potential capital investment cuts in next year’s budget.”
However, he said: “Non-hydro carbon diversification is a must to sustain economic growth,”
The GDP of the government sector also achieved a rise in its value in real terms by 3.04 percent during the second quarter while its current prices increased by 22.6 percent, rising to SR138.03 billion compared to SR112.59 billion in the same period of the previous year.
The report showed that the value of oil exports at current prices decreased by 41.74 percent and the value of commodity imports at current prices fell by 9.64 percent compared with the corresponding period of the previous year.
Commenting on whether Saudi Arabia will maintain the current GDP growth for the rest of the year, London-based James Reeve, deputy chief economist and assistant general manager of Samba Financial Group, said: “No, it will not. The government is already slowing spending and is likely to cut investment spending in 2016. There is a very close correlation between nonoil growth and government spending.”


Saudi public debt issuance up 50% in 2020 to $43.4bn

Saudi public debt issuance up 50% in 2020 to $43.4bn
Updated 9 min 34 sec ago

Saudi public debt issuance up 50% in 2020 to $43.4bn

Saudi public debt issuance up 50% in 2020 to $43.4bn
  • The market value of stocks and debt instruments reached SR9.8 trillion by the end of 2020

RIYADH:  Saudi public debt issuance increased by nearly 50 percent in 2020 to SR163 billion ($43.4 billion), the Capital Market Authority reported.
Non-government debt issuance increased by more than 250 percent reaching SR31 billion compared to SR9 billion in 2019.  
The market value of stocks and debt instruments reached SR9.8 trillion by the end of 2020, the Authority said in its annual report.
That represented a rise of 335 percent when compared to 2017 when it launched its three-year Financial Leadership Program that ran until last year.
The Authority has been developing its strategic plan for the next three years 2021-2023 in line with updated plans to expand the Kingdom's financial sector.


DP World explores quantum computing technology to optimize business

DP World explores quantum computing technology to optimize business
Updated 55 min 50 sec ago

DP World explores quantum computing technology to optimize business

DP World explores quantum computing technology to optimize business
  • The company organized training sessions for its employees, as well as actual quantum computing coding exercises

DUBAI: Dubai’s port company DP World is exploring quantum computing technology to optimize its operations, the company said in a statement.

It said it was working with D-Wave Systems, a Canadian quantum computing company, to look at how the advanced technology can be applied to DP World’s logistics and trade business.

The company organized training sessions for its employees, as well as actual quantum computing coding exercises.

The technology, DP World said, can be applied to industrial logistics, fleet and traffic management, and other operations across the supply chain.

“Quantum computing capabilities complement our need to reach ultimate smart trade and achieve a seamless logistics infrastructure, where everything is connected, devices work in harmony, and all our operations components communicate with each other intelligently,” Mohammed Al-Muallem, DP World’s chief executive, said.

Quantum computers provide exponential processing power to solve complex problems, better than traditional computers.

The move is part of DP World’s digital push.


Mobily profits surge on home fiber business

Mobily profits surge on home fiber business
Updated 19 April 2021

Mobily profits surge on home fiber business

Mobily profits surge on home fiber business
  • The pandemic has brought mixed fortunes to the global telecoms industry, boosting some business lines such as home fiber

RIYADH: Mobily’s net profit surged by about 74 percent in the first quarter to SR226 million ($60.2 million) boosted by its home fiber business.
Overall revenues were broadly flat over the period at about SR3.6 billion, the Saudi telecoms giant said in a stock exchange filing on Monday.
The pandemic has brought mixed fortunes to the global telecoms industry, boosting some business lines such as home fiber as more people went online to shop and connect with friends on social media, but squeezing others such as international roaming charges which have shrunk as people were forced to stay at home.
The pandemic is estimated to have wiped about $43 billion from global sector revenues last year according to one study from Analysys Mason.
Mobily attributed its profit growth over the period to its fiber-to-home active base which offset the drop in international roaming.
The company also benefited from a fall in funding rates with overall financial charges dropping by almost 22 percent to SR126 million.

 


Turkey bans crypto assets over illegal transaction fears

Turkey bans crypto assets over illegal transaction fears
Updated 19 April 2021

Turkey bans crypto assets over illegal transaction fears

Turkey bans crypto assets over illegal transaction fears
  • The much-criticized move against the digital currency will come into effect on April 30

ANKARA: Turkey’s Central Bank has banned the use of crypto assets in payments as part of the country’s efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies, which have gained huge popularity in recent months.

The government has been closely monitoring cryptocurrencies for some time, alleging that extremists might use them to fund illegal activities or facilitate money laundering.

“Their use in payments may cause irreparable damages for the parties to the transactions, and include elements that may undermine the confidence in methods and instruments used currently in payments,” the bank said.

The new regulation will come into effect by April 30, but the legislation’s announcement lowered the value of Bitcoin by more than 4 percent on Friday.

Besides forbidding crypto  payments for buying goods and services, the regulation also bans transferring money to cryptocurrency platforms via fintech systems. But many investors in Turkey view Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a shelter against inflation, with the lira facing a significant devaluation against foreign currencies due to the country’s financial volatility.

The lira has lost about half of its value since the 2018 currency crisis.

Increasing inflation rates, which reached a six-month high last month of 16 percent, as well as official unemployment rates hitting 13.4 percent are making people turn to cryptocurrency to gain money and compensate their losses with stable assets.

The booming business of cryptocurrencies has replaced Turks’ rush for gold and real estate as a hedge against the struggling lira and rising interest rates. This new digital money is mostly used by the country’s tech savvy younger population, which is seeking to protect its livelihood against Turkey’s recent economic troubles.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Turkey bans crypto payments for buying goods and services.

• The regulation also forbids transferring money to cryptocurrency platforms via fintech systems.

• Many investors in Turkey view Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a shelter against inflation.

The government’s crypto asset ban drew anger from domestic investors. About 100,000 tweets were sent from Turkey-based social media accounts in one day criticizing the legislation.

The country’s main opposition Peoples’ Republican Party (CHP) also criticized the government’s midnight move against cryptocurrency use. 

“Rather than issuing a midnight legislation, you should have decided on such sensitive issues after consulting all relevant parties,” CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said.

Regulation in the field of cryptocurrencies was not a new debate for Turkey, where the government expected to achieve some political goals from blockchain technology, according to Dr. Mehmet Bedii Kaya, an expert of IT law at Istanbul Bilgi University.

The government, in line with its 11th Development Plan, was set to implement a digital central bank based on blockchain technologies.

“On the other hand, there is a significant number of Turkish citizens who use cryptocurrencies for short and long-term gains,” Kaya told Arab News. “I think that this latest regulation has been prepared with a quick reflex, without considering the potential financial losses it might generate with the wave of resulting misinformation.”

Kaya said that payment institutions were already under the close supervision of the Central Bank. “These fintech institutions, which are active in the cryptocurrency market, are very innovative and dynamic. Therefore the Turkish state considered this dynamism as a risk and source of complexity. However, these key players shouldn’t have been disqualified.”

After Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced it was now possible to buy Tesla vehicles in the US with Bitcoin, an Istanbul-based luxury car distributor called Royal Motors began accepting payments in cryptocurrencies last week.

Crypto trading volumes hit $27 billion between early February to March 24, according to data analyzed by Reuters, while trading gained momentum especially after the Central Bank governor was dismissed by presidential decree and further weakened the lira.

Last week, the Turkish government asked crypto trading platforms to provide it with user information.


France’s Alstom on track to expand presence in Saudi Arabia

France’s Alstom on track to expand presence in Saudi Arabia
Updated 19 April 2021

France’s Alstom on track to expand presence in Saudi Arabia

France’s Alstom on track to expand presence in Saudi Arabia
  • The French technology provider has been part of several other key projects in the Kingdom

RIYADH: French transport technology provider Alstom, which is working on the Riyadh Metro project, is targeting expansion in Saudi Arabia.

Andrew DeLeone, who is president of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia at Alstom, said the company was a  long-standing partner of Saudi Arabia.

“We have been active for decades and played an integral role in the Kingdom’s energy sector,” he told Arab News. “We installed the first gas turbine in the Kingdom in 1951. We are one of the largest technology players in the Riyadh Metro program, which is one of the largest public transport systems in the world. We are supplying solutions and the Riyadh Metro’s lines 3, 4, 5 and 6 have been built by Alstom and its civil partners, as part of the FAST consortium, and the system is set to provide comprehensive, citywide, mass-transit coverage.”

The Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper reported in January that the Riyadh Metro would be launched in the third quarter of this year. 

When fully operational, it will comprise six lines with a total length of 176 km, and 85 stations. Once launched, Alstom will continue to provide services for the metro. 

“We will be continuing in Riyadh for many years as part of the O&M (operations and maintenance) for these four lines and (as a) major presence in the metro system,” DeLeone added.

Alstom has supplied 69 trains for the Riyadh Metro and an Urbalis signaling system. 

It has also implemented HESOP (harmonic energy saver) technology in the project. HESOP recovers the electrical energy generated by trains during braking which, in addition to reducing operational costs, will cut about 3 million kilos of carbon emissions and decrease power consumption by 6.6 million kilowatts a year.

Alstom also has a number of other projects in its current Saudi portfolio.

FASTFACTS

• Alstom installed the first gas turbine in the Kingdom in 1951.

• It is one of the largest technology players in the Riyadh Metro program.

• Alstom has supplied the key components for the high-speed trains that connect Makkah and Madinah.

“We will also deliver the transit solutions for the King Abdullah Financial District when the project resumes and completes. We have supplied the key components for the high-speed trains that connect Makkah and Madinah. We will also be delivering the people mover system in the Kingdom, which is now operating in Jeddah airport.”

DeLeone said that Saudi Arabia was already making inroads into driverless technology solutions. 

“We already see it in Jeddah airport as our people mover system is driverless. Our monorail system is also driverless. Riyadh Metro system is also a driverless transportation system. Driverless transport is here in the Kingdom and will be an essential part of the Riyadh Metro system.” 

Andrew DeLeone

With Saudi Arabia committing to developing an additional 10,000 km of rail and metro by 2030, and a key factor in this commitment being its ambition to lead the way in reducing transport emissions, relieving traffic congestion, and improving residents’ health and quality of life, DeLeone was confident Alstom could win even more projects in the Kingdom and wider region.

“Alstom has secured a five-year service contract extension for automated people mover systems at Dubai Airports and to provide comprehensive O&M services. We had a similar contract in Jeddah airport and (an) extended service contract. Despite the pandemic, our technology and services have seen growth. We will supply tram orders for the city of Casablanca.”

Last week, at a webinar organized by the Future Investment Initiative, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) Yasir Al-Rumayyan said that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs made solid business sense in the Kingdom and worldwide. 

Alstom was already making progress on developing sustainable and greener modes of transport.

“Today is a big day for Alstom, with our first order of hydrogen trains in France, which is really a historic step in our leadership around CO2-free sustainable urban mobility. The dual mode electric-hydrogen train will mark a historic step in rail transport’s reduction in CO2 emissions, and in the development of a hydrogen ecosystem,” DeLeone said.

In January, Alstom merged with Canada’s Bombardier Transportation. 

Reuters reported the deal to be worth around €5.5 billion ($6.7 billion) and the combined conglomerate will have €15.7 billion in revenues with an order book of €71.1 billion. It will also employ around 75,000 staff in 70 countries.

The Kingdom and the wider region was a significant area for the new combined entity, with over 1,500 people delivering major projects in Riyadh, Dubai, and Qatar, according to DeLeone.

“A large percentage of our workers are in Saudi Arabia, delivering the programs, and we look forward to growth. It’s a place where we (can) grow our business, so we are going to grow our employee presence, supplier presence and grow the local impact.”