Saudi tourism spending slumped 61.5 percent in 2020 as pandemic struck

Saudi tourism spending slumped 61.5 percent in 2020 as pandemic struck
Saudi Arabia issued more than 500,000 tourist visas between September 2019 and the start of the pandemic. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 June 2021

Saudi tourism spending slumped 61.5 percent in 2020 as pandemic struck

Saudi tourism spending slumped 61.5 percent in 2020 as pandemic struck
  • 31.7 percent of tourism spending came from abroad in 2020

RIYADH: Tourism spending in Saudi Arabia slumped 61.5 percent to SR63.4 billion ($16.9 billion) in 2020 as the pandemic halted travel within and into the Kingdom.

Tourists from abroad made up 31.7 percent of spending, Al Eqtisadiah reported, citing Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority and Ministry of Tourism data.

Saudi Arabia is investing billions of riyals in developing destinations for residents and foreign visitors, including the Red Sea Project resort, and the cities of NEOM and Al-Ula. The Kingdom issued more than 500,000 tourist visas before the pandemic after offering them for the first time in September 2019.


Saudi holdings of US treasury bills rose for 2nd month in a row

Saudi holdings of US treasury bills rose for 2nd month in a row
Updated 19 September 2021

Saudi holdings of US treasury bills rose for 2nd month in a row

Saudi holdings of US treasury bills rose for 2nd month in a row
  • The Kingdom is the 16th largest holder of US debt

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s holding of US Treasury securities increased for the second consecutive month in July, reaching $128.1 billion, according to new data from the US government.

The holdings increased by 0.2 percent from June, and 2.8 percent from July last year. However, the Saudi holdings in July is down by 5.2 percent from the beginning of the year when it was $135.1 billion, the data showed.

This increase in June and July is in line with global trends, as countries around the world increased their holdings by 5.7 percent in the two months leading up to July.

However, analysis showed that Saudi holdings are still down from their peak of $184.4 billion in February 2020. As the global pandemic took hold in March last year, the Saudi government decreased its holding, as the Kingdom’s reserves were hit by the collapse in oil prices.

In July last year, Saudi Arabia began to boost its holdings once again, peaking in November and then continuing to decline by low single percentages till May 2021.

The Kingdom is the 16th largest holder of US debt. Japan remains No.1 with $1310.2 billion in US bonds, followed by China ($1068.3 billion), the UK ($539.5 billion), Ireland ($319.7 billion) and Switzerland ($298.3 billion).

The UAE holds $58 billion, an increase of nearly 100 percent year-on-year. Kuwait holds $46.4 billion, down by 3.1 percent year-on-year.


Saudi Arabia’s Algosaibi family plans recovery after $7.5bn debt deal

Saudi Arabia’s Algosaibi family plans recovery after $7.5bn debt deal
Updated 19 September 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Algosaibi family plans recovery after $7.5bn debt deal

Saudi Arabia’s Algosaibi family plans recovery after $7.5bn debt deal
  • It comes after successful negotiations over its $7.5 billion in debt since 2009 – a case many experts saw as a test for Saudi Arabia’s new bankruptcy law

DUBAI: The Algosaibi family is looking to restore some of its businesses after its landmark deal with creditors last week, Bloomberg has reported, citing the conglomerate’s chief restructuring officer, Simon Charlton.

In an interview, Charlton said the company was looking “where it would make the most sense and at what sort of level to return to the market.”

It comes after successful negotiations over its $7.5 billion in debt since 2009 – a case many experts saw as a test for Saudi Arabia’s new bankruptcy law.

Under the deal, Ahmah Hamad Algosabi & Brothers Co (AHAB) will repay its creditors 26 percent of their claim values through a mixture of cash, shares, and Saudi real estate.

“Our hope is that as the company emerges from this and gets access to credit and is back into the credit markets and will be able to raise working capital finance, we’ll be able to rebuild those businesses,” Charlton said.

AHAB will retain most of its operating manufacturing businesses, he added, including logistics, hospitality, and retail.


Aramco’s Wa’ed invests in online gifts marketplace Joi Gifts

Aramco’s Wa’ed invests in online gifts marketplace Joi Gifts
Updated 19 September 2021

Aramco’s Wa’ed invests in online gifts marketplace Joi Gifts

Aramco’s Wa’ed invests in online gifts marketplace Joi Gifts
  • The funds will be used to drive short-term growth, with initiatives including awareness campaigns and product development

DUBAI: The entrepreneurship unit of Aramco, Wa’ed, was one of the investors in Joi Gift’s recent funding round that gained $2.5 million in proceeds.

Joi Gifts is an online marketplace for gifts, which operates in eight countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, and Egypt.

Dubai-based Knuru Capital also participated in the Series A funding round, the startup said in a statement.

The funds will be used to drive short-term growth, with initiatives including awareness campaigns and product development. The company is also planning further regional expansion, after it announced its eighth country market earlier this year.

“We are thrilled with this investment, which enables Joi Gifts to further enhance and improve what is already the MENA region’s leading online one-stop shop for gifts,” Rami Kahale, Joi Gifts chief, said.

The company said the UAE and the Kingdom had some of the highest average spend on gifts globally, which contributes to its success.


Huawei to pump $15m into Middle East’s cloud computing market

Huawei to pump $15m into Middle East’s cloud computing market
Updated 19 September 2021

Huawei to pump $15m into Middle East’s cloud computing market

Huawei to pump $15m into Middle East’s cloud computing market
  • The investment, to be deployed over the next three years, will benefit more than 100 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing their cloud capabilities

DUBAI: Technology giant Huawei announced a $15 million investment to promote the use of cloud computing in the Middle East.

The investment, to be deployed over the next three years, will benefit more than 100 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing their cloud capabilities.

“The Huawei Cloud Oasis Program will thus provide truly unique and rewarding offerings to local businesses, while safeguarding the region’s digital future through extensive training opportunities in the cloud arena,” Eric Wan, vice-president of cloud marketing, ecosystem, and partner development at Huawei Middle East said.

Around $7.6 million will be allocated for partner development, more than $2.5 million to be put behind credits and other cloud resources, and more than $4.5 million in marketing support.

The program was announced at a virtual event last week where Huawei gathered key industry players to explore collaboration in building a high-tech ecosystem.

The move comes as the UAE implements a number of initiatives to boost the country’s digital capabilities – similar to many other countries in the Gulf.


Dubai-based ZENIQ to launch platforms that turn assets into digital tokens

Dubai-based ZENIQ to launch platforms that turn assets into digital tokens
Updated 19 September 2021

Dubai-based ZENIQ to launch platforms that turn assets into digital tokens

Dubai-based ZENIQ to launch platforms that turn assets into digital tokens
  • The first of these platforms, ZENIQ Art NFT, will facilitate the authentication, sale, and transfer of digital artworks in a “safe and secure” environment

DUBAI: A Dubai-based provider of blockchain-based applications is launching a tokenization project to better facilitate the trading of digital assets.

“The project will see the establishment of non-fungible token (NFT) platforms for real estate, gold and precious materials, gemstones, and digital art,” ZENIQ Technologies said in a statement.

The first of these platforms, ZENIQ Art NFT, will facilitate the authentication, sale, and transfer of digital artworks in a “safe and secure” environment.

“We are convinced that the ZENIQ Art NFT, used in conjunction with our secure blockchain platform, will stimulate uptake from artists, buyers and dealers alike and grow the market for digital artworks both in Dubai and internationally,” Erwin Dokter, founder of ZENIQ, said.

Dubai plays an integral role in digital art investments, he said, explaining why the emirate is the perfect place for the project.

“We believe that Dubai will be the focus for the sixth era of world creativity,” Dokter added.