Thursday trading: Tadawul declines marginally, Al-Samaani rises

Saudi equities ended the session Thursday, Dec 10, 2020, with the benchmark Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) down by 0.2 percent, or 16 points, to close at 8,644. (AFP/File Photo)
Saudi equities ended the session Thursday, Dec 10, 2020, with the benchmark Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) down by 0.2 percent, or 16 points, to close at 8,644. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 10 December 2020

Thursday trading: Tadawul declines marginally, Al-Samaani rises

Saudi equities ended the session Thursday, Dec 10, 2020, with the benchmark Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) down by 0.2 percent, or 16 points, to close at 8,644. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Total turnover reached SR11 billion ($2.933 billion), with advance-decline ratio at 95:92

DUBAI: Saudi equities ended the session Thursday, Dec 10, 2020, with the benchmark Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) down by 0.2 percent, or 16 points, to close at 8,644.

Total turnover reached SR11 billion ($2.933 billion), with advance-decline ratio at 95:92.

Al-Samaani’s share rose in its first session after moving from the parallel market to the main market, with a maximum rate of SR271.60 - recording the highest closing since the listing - with trades amounting to about 195,000 shares.

Saudi Kayan closed at SR13.42, up 3 percent, amid trading of about 23.1 million shares.

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) approved today, Dec. 10, registration of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the Kingdom.

On the other hand, shares of Al Rajhi Bank and SABIC declined by 1 percent, to close at SR73.60 and SR97, respectively.

Shares of Jabal Omar, Riyad Bank, Savola Group, Mouwasat and Advanced ended their trading today, declining by rates ranging between 1 percent and 2 percent.

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Huge surge in GCC demand for Ivy League university coaches

Huge surge in GCC demand for Ivy League university coaches
Updated 28 min 49 sec ago

Huge surge in GCC demand for Ivy League university coaches

Huge surge in GCC demand for Ivy League university coaches
  • Companies like Crimson Education coach students on how to improve their chances of being one of the few who receive an offer letter
  • Demand can differ from country to country, with those in the UAE preferring British institutions

DUBAI: Getting into a prestigious Ivy League university is no easy task. 
According to the latest figures, California’s Stanford University was especially picky, with a 2019 acceptance rate of just 4 percent. Columbia and Harvard followed with 5 percent, while Princeton and Yale were slightly easier with 6 percent of applicants getting offers.
The race to get these coveted places is also getting harder as the number of applicants has gone up and universities have become even stricter. Dubai-based Crimson Education has reported a surge in clients looking for help to gain access to institutions in the US, as well as into Oxford and Cambridge.
“The number of students who joined Crimson Education in the region over the past six months was 200 percent up from the same period the previous year,” Soraya Behesti, regional director for the Middle East and Africa at Crimson Education, told Arab News. “The company had a big push to hire new strategists in order to meet the surging demand. Crimson grew 250 percent from 2019 to 2020 and is projected to grow more than 150 percent this year.” 
The demand makes sense. 
A 2015 report from the US Department of Education found that the average salary of Ivy League graduates a decade after they finished university was $70,000 a year, compared to the average salary for non-Ivy League graduates of $34,000.
Companies like Crimson Education coach students on how to improve their chances of being one of the few who receive an offer letter, and Behesti said the acceptance rate among their clients was three times the global average.
There are also a number of trends which has seen demand for such services skyrocket in recent years.
“The number of students who applied early to Ivy League colleges skyrocketed in 2020, although the acceptance rate reached record lows,” Behesti added. “Applications to Columbia and Harvard’s early rounds increased from the previous year by 49 percent and 57 percent, respectively. Applying early to their top-choice university usually gives students an advantage but last year, the early round acceptance rate was closer to that of the regular round, with Harvard admitting just 7.4 percent of early applicants, from 13.9 percent in the previous year.”
Students have started enrolling for help earlier because of the increased competition, and Behesti said Crimson had seen a rise in demand from clients as young as nine.
“When we work with students from a young age, our sessions and objectives are not focused on universities per se, but building really strong foundations, developing a growth mindset, cultivating good study habits, learning entrepreneurial thinking and even developing core skills such as coding, debate or languages.”
Demand can differ from country to country, with those in the UAE preferring British institutions, while Saudi students show a preference for US ones, especially Columbia, Harvard and Yale. 
Having the right aptitude is good, but money also really counts. Crimson said that studying at an Ivy League university cost between $30,000 and $45,000 per year, although between 40 and 60 percent of students received some form of financial aid.
“For GCC students, governments offer attractive scholarships — but usually only for students who gain admission to the top 100 universities. We have worked with Emirati and Saudi students of all abilities, from A-grade academics to students struggling at school, to ensure their admission to the top 100 schools through academic tutoring, admissions support and extra-curricular coaching, thereby allowing them to receive government scholarships,” Behesti said.


South African mobile operator MTN eyes $65mn deal for Syrian business

South African mobile operator MTN eyes $65mn deal for Syrian business
Updated 28 February 2021

South African mobile operator MTN eyes $65mn deal for Syrian business

South African mobile operator MTN eyes $65mn deal for Syrian business
JOHANNESBURG: MTN Group remains committed to negotiating a $65 million sale of its 75 percent stake in its Syrian unit, the South African mobile operator said on Sunday, despite the business being placed under judicial guardianship last week.
MTN Syria was placed under guardianship by a court in Damascus over alleged MTN violations of the terms of its licensing contract, which the state says deprived the government of revenue.
MTN has denied the allegations and on Friday said that it intended to appeal.
The appointed guardian, who is chairman of MTN Syria minority shareholder TeleInvest, will be responsible for managing day to day operations while the guardianship order remains in place. The court’s statement did not indicate how long that might be.
TeleInvest had been lined up to buy MTN Group’s 75 percent stake in MTN Syria for a previously undisclosed price.
“MTN Group is still committed to executing on the agreed transaction with TeleInvest to dispose of its 75 percent shareholding and loans for a consideration of $65 million in total,” a spokeswoman for the South African company told Reuters.
The sale to TeleInvest is part of MTN Group’s plans to exit the Middle East in the medium term.
The group’s operations in the Middle East have been marred by allegations that it used bribes to win a 15-year operating license in Iran and that it aided militant groups in Afghanistan.
MTN denies the allegations.
In the six months to June 2020, MTN Syria accounted for 0.7 percent of the group’s core profit.

Tabreed weather-watching AI could cool homes from Dubai to Makkah

Tabreed weather-watching AI could cool homes from Dubai to Makkah
Updated 28 February 2021

Tabreed weather-watching AI could cool homes from Dubai to Makkah

Tabreed weather-watching AI could cool homes from Dubai to Makkah
  • It is one of four new pilot projects announced by Tabreed that will support its aim to boost plant efficiency and reduce operating costs

DUBAI: The UAE company that provides cooling to thousands of homes across the Gulf plans to use weather-watching technology to anticipate when demand will rise and fall.

It is one of four new pilot projects announced by Tabreed that will support its aim to boost plant efficiency and reduce operating costs, the company said in a bourse filing on Sunday.

Demand for district cooling varies widely from day to day depending on outside temperature, humidity, wind speed and other atmospheric factors.

The “Wet Bulb Forecasting” project aims to better forecast customer demand over the next 24 hours by analyzing some of these factors using artificial intelligence.

“Based on the simulation of this pilot project, we forecast a 25 to 30 percent increase in performance, compared to our industry benchmarks,” said François-Xavier Boul, Tabreed’s chief development officer.”

Gulf states including the UAE and Saudi Arabia are seeking to reduce their carbon footprint through the use of green technology and alternative energy sources.

Tabreed operates 86 district cooling plants around the region, including three in Saudi Arabia.

Among the developments it services are the world’s tallest building in Dubai and the Jabal Omar Development in Makkah.


UAE, Ukraine discuss new trade, investment partnerships

UAE, Ukraine discuss new trade, investment partnerships
Updated 28 February 2021

UAE, Ukraine discuss new trade, investment partnerships

UAE, Ukraine discuss new trade, investment partnerships
  • The committee, which was formed after the state visit, discussed plans to enhance trade, investment and other partnership opportunities for both countries

DUBAI: The UAE-Ukraine Coordination Committee has held its first remote meeting to discuss potential partnerships between the two countries, state news agency WAM has reported.

The meeting followed the first visit of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to the UAE, and was attended by several Emirati ministers.

“The Ukrainian president’s visit to the UAE resulted in setting up a clear strategy to enhance the strong strategic relations between the two countries, which would contribute to opening doors for exploring new cooperation prospects,” Mariam Bint Mohamed Almeheiri, minister of state for food and water security, said.

The committee, which was formed after the state visit, discussed plans to enhance trade, investment and other partnership opportunities for both countries.

“We will work together over the coming months to explore initiatives that will contribute to increasing our trade volume and improve our economy on the basis of trade, investment and joint interests,” Almeheiri said.


China’s factory activity expands at a slower pace in February, misses expectations

China’s factory activity expands at a slower pace in February, misses expectations
Updated 28 February 2021

China’s factory activity expands at a slower pace in February, misses expectations

China’s factory activity expands at a slower pace in February, misses expectations
  • This year, the government appealed to workers to remain local to curb the spread of COVID-19

BEIJING: China’s factory activity expanded in February at a slower pace than a month earlier, hitting the lowest level since last May and missing market expectations after brief COVID-19-related disruptions earlier in the year.
The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) fell to 50.6 from 51.3 in January, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Sunday, remaining above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.
Analysts had expected it to decline to 51.1.
Chinese factory activity normally goes dormant during the Lunar New Year break as workers return to their home towns. This year, the government appealed to workers to remain local to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Generally, China’s economic recovery has been gathering pace due to robust exports, pent-up demand and government stimulus.
The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, showed the sub-index for new export orders was 48.8 in February compared with 50.2 in January, slipping back into contraction after months boosted by overseas demand.
A sub-index for activity among small firms stood at 48.3 in February versus 49.4 a month earlier. Smaller firms were more affected by the seasonal effects of the Lunar New Year, said Zhao Qinghe, an official with the NBS in comments released with the data.
A sub-index for employment in the official PMI stood at 48.1 in February, down from January’s 48.4 as firms laid off more workers and at a faster pace.
Still, some manufacturing sector firms are seeing increasing pressure from rising labor costs and a shortage of workers, said Zhao.
China’s factory gate prices rose on year in January for the first time in a year, as months of strong manufacturing growth pushed raw material costs higher.
China eked out 2.3% economic growth last year. This year, the government may avoid setting a growth target for fear of provincial economies feeling pressured to take on more debt, policy sources previously told Reuters.
China will reinforce policy support for foreign trade and ensure the smooth operation of supply chains, its new commerce minister said earlier this week.
In the services sector, activity expanded for the 11th consecutive month but at the slowest pace in a year.