Saudi Arabia issued more than 400,000 tourist visas in six months

Saudi Arabia issued more than 400,000 tourist visas in six months
Above, Polish tourists pose fo a photograph as they vist the King Abdulaziz museum of Masmak in the old quarter of Riyadh on Oct. 17, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 14 December 2020

Saudi Arabia issued more than 400,000 tourist visas in six months

Saudi Arabia issued more than 400,000 tourist visas in six months
  • The new system allows citizens from 49 countries easier access to visit the Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism issued more than 400,000 tourist visas in the first six months of its new tourist visa system following its launch in September 2019, the ministry has confirmed.

The new system allowed citizens from 49 countries the opportunity to apply for an e-visa online or get a visa on arrival into Saudi Arabia for the first time.

The ministry said that the new system helped to boost investment in the tourism sector, develop the national economy and increase job opportunities within the sector. The Kingdom aims to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) to 10 percent by 2030.

The ministry said it provided SR160 million ($42.66 million) in loans to support the tourism sector.

The Kingdom also created a national destination promoter, the Saudi Tourism Authority, and launched a $9 billion Tourism Development Fund, made up of $4 billion in capital investment and $5 billion in agreed memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with private banks.

Through these developments the Kingdom aims to become one of the world’s premium tourism destinations in the next ten years. Forbes Magazine reported that, by 2022, the Kingdom intends for tourism to contribute 4.5 percent to its GDP and add an additional 260,000 jobs, 150,000 hotel rooms and 62 million tourism visits a year.

The Kingdom is also pushing ahead with the construction of a number of giga-projects designed to attract international and domestic tourists, create millions of jobs and bring foreign investment into the economy. These include NEOM, the Red Sea Project, Amaala, and Qiddiya.

Tourism plays a key role in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan for economic diversification, and the ministry hopes that this will open the door for investors.

In an October interview with CNBC about Saudi Arabia continuing to build projects despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Tourism Ahmad bin Aqil Al-Khateeb said that now was “absolutely the time” to charge ahead with plans for the giga-projects, and that their goals were aligned with those of Vision 2030.


Egypt and Jordan agree to more than double the electric capacity between them

Egypt and Jordan agree to more than double the electric capacity between them
Updated 14 sec ago

Egypt and Jordan agree to more than double the electric capacity between them

Egypt and Jordan agree to more than double the electric capacity between them

Egypt and Jordan have agreed to strengthen the electrical interconnection between them in a plan that could see them exchange energy with the rest of the region.

The two governments have settled on a deal that will see the current capacity of 500 megawatts increased to up to 2000 MW, with Jordanian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Saleh Al-Kharabsheh saying it “benefits both sides.”

“Our relationship with Egypt is distinguished, as the electrical connection between Jordan and Egypt began in 1999, and there is an exchange of electrical energy with capacities of up to 500 megawatts, and the new agreement may raise this capacity to 1,000 or 2,000 megawatts in the future,” Al-Kharabsheh said, at a press conference in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

“It is possible that Jordan and Egypt will eventually be able to exchange electrical energy between the countries of the region and link it to each other and with other countries such those in Europe or through Egypt to the African continent, which helps encourage and strengthen cooperation between the two countries,” he continued.

Speaking alongside Al-Kharabsheh, the Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker said his country has managed to raise its electrical capacity enough to be able to export.

He added that Egypt plans to increase the percentage of renewable energy from its electrical capacity to 42 percent in 2035.

Shaker also explained that Cairo is studying a new link line with Europe through Greece and Cyprus, explaining that strengthening the link with Jordan opens the way for the exchange of capabilities.

 


16 more fintech firms enter Saudi market in Q3 of 2021

16 more fintech firms enter Saudi market in Q3 of 2021
Updated 25 min ago

16 more fintech firms enter Saudi market in Q3 of 2021

16 more fintech firms enter Saudi market in Q3 of 2021

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia issued licenses to 16 fintech companies in the third quarter of 2021, Sabq quoted Saudi Central Bank governor as saying at an event on Monday.

Fahad Almubarak said 13 of those companies work in the field of payments and electronic wallets, and three firms are engaged in insurance and finance sector.

Saudi Arabia witnessed a 37 percent rise in the number of fintech firms entering the market and also recorded an increase in venture capital investments that exceeded SR680 million ($181 million).

Capital Market Authority chairman Mohammed Elkuwaiz said fintech companies develop technical ideas that challenge the current situation, which has an added value because it offers a product that did not exist before, Sabq paper reported.

Fintech in Saudi Arabia has competitive advantages over other countries, and 90 percent of transactions in the Saudi financial market are automated and have been conducted electronically for more than 10 years, Argaam reported.


Chinese developers to face $1.3bn of bond payments in December

Chinese developers to face $1.3bn of bond payments in December
Updated 39 min 28 sec ago

Chinese developers to face $1.3bn of bond payments in December

Chinese developers to face $1.3bn of bond payments in December

RIYADH: China’s developers face around $1.3 billion of bond payments in December, following a month of investors’ sentiment stabilising toward the property sector.

In November, the total bond payments was $2 billion, with no defaults reported, according to Bloomberg. 

Investors' scrutiny regarding principal and interest payments lingers as the cash crisis hits the real estate industry. 

China’s Evergrande group unit and Kaisa group’s grace periods are ending by mid-December on coupons of a total of $171 million. 


SMEs loans growth slows down in 3Q 2021

SMEs loans growth slows down in 3Q 2021
Updated 45 min 32 sec ago

SMEs loans growth slows down in 3Q 2021

SMEs loans growth slows down in 3Q 2021

RIYADH/MOSCOW: Annual growth in total credit provided to small and medium enterprises by Saudi banks slowed in the third quarter of 2021 to 12.9 percent from 25.3 percent in the previous quarter, the Saudi Central Bank report issued on Sunday showed.
Loans given to SMEs reached SR186.2 billion ($49.6 billion) in the third quarter of 2021 compared to SR165 billion in the same quarter a year ago.
A descending trend in quarterly growth rates has also been observed as the value of SME lending increased by just 0.8 percent in the third quarter of 2021, the lowest quarterly rate of growth recorded since the fourth quarter of 2019.
In addition, lending to SMEs from finance companies totaled SR14.2 billion in the third quarter of 2021 compared to SR13.5 billion in the previous quarter. It was also higher than last year’s SR10.8 billion in the same period.


Indian crypto unicorn plans IPO

Indian crypto unicorn plans IPO
Updated 51 min 5 sec ago

Indian crypto unicorn plans IPO

Indian crypto unicorn plans IPO

RIYADH: India's first unicorn cryptocurrency, CoinDCX, plans to list on the stock market  as soon as government regulations allow.

The share sale will be a major vote of confidence in India's digital asset industry, similar to the Coinbase listing earlier this year, co-founder Neeraj Khandelwal said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

“As soon as the government or wider situation allows us, we will try for an IPO (initial public offering),” he said.

“An IPO gives legitimacy to the industry, just like the Coinbase IPO gave a lot of confidence in the crypto markets. Similarly we want to instill a similar level of confidence with an IPO of CoinDCX.”

Khandelwal said the company will decide an exact timeline depending on the incoming government regulations.

“We certainly will look at that in order to grow the industry further,” he added.