Gold a safe bet for Saudis despite VAT increase

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Despite the hike in prices after the increase of the VAT to 15 percent, customers are still flocking to gold shops in the Kingdom. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Salah Salem Al-Amari, general manager of the Salem Hasan Al-Amari Sons Co., has more than 35 years experience in the world of gold and jewelry. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Despite the hike in prices after the increase of the VAT to 15 percent, customers are still flocking to gold shops in the Kingdom. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Salah Salem Al-Amari, general manager of the Salem Hasan Al-Amari Sons Co., has more than 35 years experience in the world of gold and jewelry. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Gold and jewelry displayed in a gold market. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 12 July 2020

Gold a safe bet for Saudis despite VAT increase

  • Gold surged to its highest price in nearly 8 years and is expected to reach new record highs

JEDDAH: Gold plays a dual role. It is an investment and luxury commodity in times of economic prosperity, but also a haven in times of crisis.
Gold may be able to play a role in restricting the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as precious metals are considered a tool for hedging against inflation and depreciation.
Unlike other commodities like oil, gold has been universally accepted as a form of payment and has a power surpassing that of any other commodity. It has the ability to control the expansion of credit and is a favorable hedge against inflation. It can also function as a safe bet against declining currencies.
Salah Salem Al-Amari, general manager of the Salem Hasan Al-Amari Sons Co., has more than 35 years experience in the world of gold and jewelry. He spoke to Arab News about the importance of gold and its significance in these turbulent times.
“The global gold market has been significantly affected this year due to the pandemic, especially since shops remained closed for a long period of time and salaries had to be paid. But in Saudi Arabia, our government stood beside its people and supported us through the SANED insurance program and helped mitigate the effects and restrict the losses caused by the virus,” said Al-Amari.
Despite the lockdown, sales have dropped since people have become more aware and careful while under lockdown. However, a scramble to spend has been observed since restrictions were eased and many people are buying ingots for investment as well as Saudi gold guinea coins.
“The coronavirus has hit our high season, including summer vacations, festivals, weddings, Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr,” Al-Amari said, adding: “However, thanks to the government’s decision to increase the VAT to 15 percent, which coincided with the decision to lift the curfew throughout the Kingdom, shoppers rushed to buy gold before the introduction of the VAT and we made great sales.”
Al-Amari said that those who wished to buy gold with minimum loss tended to opt for low-cost jewelry as gifts for others or for themselves and are more likely to buy the jewelry available in their stores.

In my experience, people should buy gold as a safe investment despite the increase in prices, especially since coronavirus is not going away anytime soon and trade disputes between China and the US will weaken the global economy, which would significantly affect the price of gold due to the currency depreciation and devaluation of international stocks.

Salah Salem Al-Amari, General manager of the Salem Hasan Al-Amari Sons Co.

“In my experience, people should buy gold as a safe investment despite the increase in prices, especially since coronavirus is not going away anytime soon and trade disputes between China and the US will weaken the global economy, which would significantly affect the price of gold due to the currency depreciation and devaluation of international stocks,” said Al-Amari.
He added that people are more likely to sell stocks and bonds and rush to buy gold in times of disaster, crisis and conflict. This is why gold is considered a safe investment.
Saudi shoppers and investors are not the only ones rushing to buy and invest in gold. This same scenario is replicated all around the world and experts, economists and analysts are encouraging people to invest in the precious metal during these difficult times.
Gold surged to its highest price in nearly 8 years and is expected to reach new record highs.
“Market prices for gold have reached $1,810 an ounce and I expect it to reach $2,000 before the end of 2020,” Al-Amari said.
While in lockdown and to ensure sales continue despite the situation, Al-Amari’s company utilized the power of social media, where it played a significant role in marketing their products and customers were able to buy their products online and receive them through home delivery.
“Gold is still people’s favorite metal to invest in or own as jewelry,” he said.
Despite the hike in prices, customers are still flocking to his shop.
Talas B., a Syrian resident in the Kingdom and a frequent customer of the shop told Arab News that he has been shopping there for 7 years. “I came today to buy jewelry for a special occasion despite the increase of prices,” he said.
Others are disappointed by the price increases in gold.
Um Abdullah, another customer at the shop, said the VAT increase and gold price hike has affected her shopping.
“The VAT has affected my purchases. I used to buy whatever I like before, but today I have be to very careful. Sadly, I cannot even buy a ring,” she said.


Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. The 86-year-old is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2020

Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

  • The Syrian Qur’an writer, regarded as one of the world’s finest calligraphers, is on the road to recovery following his recent hospital admission

MAKKAH: Syrian calligrapher Uthman Taha is in good health and recovering at home after a 13-day stay in a hospital where he was treated for what he and his wife initially suspected to be the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although he ultimately tested negative for the virus.

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. His wife, Fatimah Umm Al-Nour, said Taha had a chest infection during his stay at the hospital and stressed that he had been “careful and took all the precautionary measures” and that he had not left the house for five months before his hospital visit.
The 86-year-old calligrapher is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. She praised his doctors, who have consistently checked in with the couple since Taha returned home, and added that she has tested negative for COVID-19 too.
Taha is regarded as one of the most skilled calligraphers in the Arab world. Al-Nour told Arab News that he continues to practice calligraphy daily.
Taha, who has written the Qur’an 12 times at the King Fahd Complex, was born in 1934 and attended school in Aleppo. His father was also a skilled calligrapher, who used the Ruq’ah script, and Taha studied with several of Syria’s finest calligraphers including Mohammed Al-Mawlawi, Mohammed Al-Khatib, Hussein Al-Turki, and Ibrahim Al-Rifai.
When he moved to Damascus for university, Taha began to learn other scripts, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now considered a master), and Farsi. He received his calligraphy certificate from master calligrapher Hamed Al-Amadi in 1973.
He arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1988, and began work as a calligrapher at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in the Ottoman script, and copies of his work have been distributed throughout the Islamic world.
What makes Taha’s work unique is that each page of the Qur’an that he writes concludes at the end of a verse. The secret, he explains, is to simplify the words — which is the origin of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions — keeping the letters close to one another.
Taha spent years perfecting his technique of evenly distributing the words in every line so that the space between the lettering is consistent throughout every page of every book, which means eliminating many of the script combinations that make such consistency difficult.
He explained to Arab News that when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy he is transported: “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I resort to solitude to allow myself to be invested in the verses and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he said. “I wish the verses about Jannah (heaven) would never end, and my hand trembles when I write the verses about Jahannam (hell).”