King Abdullah Port handled 78 percent more bulk and general cargo in H1

King Abdullah Port handled 78 percent more bulk and general cargo in H1
King Abdullah Port is the country's first privately owned and developed port. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 11 August 2021

King Abdullah Port handled 78 percent more bulk and general cargo in H1

King Abdullah Port handled 78 percent more bulk and general cargo in H1
  • King Abdullah Port handled more than 2.5 million tons of bulk and general cargo in H1
  • Port managed 1,402,200 TEUs in H1

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Port said it handled more than 2.5 million tons of bulk and general cargo in the first half of the year, a 78 percent jump on the previous year as economy rebounded from the COVID pandemic.

The Kingdom’s first privately-owned port at King Abdullah Economic City saw 1,402,200 twenty foot equivalent containers (TEUs) between January and June, a 45 percent increase on a year ago, it said in a statement.

The strong performance of King Abdullah Port highlights the growing operational capabilities and the continuation of the upward path of the Saudi economy strength, and this success will contribute to consolidating the Kingdom’s position as a leading global logistics center linking the three continents, CEO Jay New said.

In 2020, King Abdullah Port successfully received three of the largest container ships in the world in one week, and was chosen as a major logistics terminal on the Red Sea for two of the largest shipping lines, Maersk and MSC, reinforcing the importance of its position as a strategic link between East and West that supports trade between continents.

King Abdullah Port has been ranked second among the most efficient container ports in the world, according to the Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) for the year 2020 published by the World Bank and IHS Markit last June.

“King Abdullah Port’s continued milestone underlines the success of the public-private partnership model, considering that we are partnered with over 17 government agencies while being fully managed and operated by the private sector,” New said.


Nigeria becomes first African country to launch digital currency

Nigeria becomes first African country to launch digital currency
Updated 23 sec ago

Nigeria becomes first African country to launch digital currency

Nigeria becomes first African country to launch digital currency
  • The new eNaira will be issued as legal tender like the current naira

ABUJA: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari launched the country’s new digital eNaira currency on Monday as Africa’s largest economy looked to tap into the growing popularity of virtual money and cryptocurrencies.

With the eNaira, Nigeria becomes the first in sub-Saharan Africa to fully launch a digital currency and joins China and a few other countries using or piloting central bank-regulated electronic tender.

“We have become the first country in Africa and one of the first in the world to introduce a digital currency to our citizens,” Buhari said at the official launch.

Nigeria has seen booming interest in cryptocurrencies as people look for ways to avoid the weakening naira currency and combat high costs of living and unemployment in Africa’s most populous country.

Central bank-backed digital currencies or CBDCs and cryptocurrencies are both virtual money though the CBDCs are legal tender regulated by central banks while cryptos are out of government control.

Five countries have already launched CBDCs, with another 14 including Sweden and South Korea in the pilot stage, according to the Atlantic Council’s CBDC tracking project.

In West Africa, Ghana is also looking to launch its own CBDC soon.

Nigeria’s central bank earlier this year sought to control the use of cyptocurrencies by ordering banks to close accounts that were involved in such transactions.

But in spite of the central bank ban, many Nigerians still skirt traditional sectors to use cryptocurrency for overseas transactions.

Experts say digital currencies can potentially reduce transaction costs and ease crossborder transfers while also expanding financial inclusion as people with no banking access can use their mobile phones.

“The use of CBDCs can help move many more people and businesses from the informal into the formal sector, thereby increasing the tax base of the country,” Buhari said.

The new eNaira will be issued as legal tender like the current naira currency and will operate on the Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain. It will also follow the official exchange rate.

Customers will be able to download the eNaira app and fund their mobile wallets using their bank accounts, according to the central bank.

Nigeria’s central bank says it will adapt the system after the launch to encourage use by people with no banking access, especially in rural areas.

The eNaira launch comes as Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, is tackling the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and the sharp drop in global crude prices.


Fitch places six GCC banks on rating watch negative

Fitch places six GCC banks on rating watch negative
Updated 5 min 33 sec ago

Fitch places six GCC banks on rating watch negative

Fitch places six GCC banks on rating watch negative

CAIRO: Excessive reliance on external funding in the Qatari banking sector has prompted Fitch Ratings to place six Qatari banks on Rating Watch Negative.

This means that the ratings agency has a negative outlook for the banks and might decrease their current credit ratings in the near future.

The six banks are Qatar International Islamic Bank, Dukhan Bank, Doha Bank, Al Khaliji Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank and Ahli Bank Qatar.

Fitch said that non-resident funding in the country’s banking system reached $193 billion at the end of August, which was 48 percent of the sector’s liabilities — compared with $121 billion and 38 percent at the end of 2018.
At the same time, foreign assets held by the banks remained relatively stable.

Both of these developments led the net external debt to jump to a significant $133 billion, or 82 percent of the gross domestic product forecast for 2021. It was much lower at the end of 2018 — at $57 billion, or 38 percent of the GDP, Fitch added.

Moreover, total assets of the banking system leapt from 212 percent of GDP at the end of 2018 to 302 percent of forecast 2021 GDP.

Fitch explained that this outcome, along with the excessive external funding, could hamper the authorities’ ability to support the banking sector in case of hardships.

In a previous report released by S&P Global Ratings on GCC countries’ banking systems, only Bahrain — aside from Qatar — exceeded the 10-percent mark for the net external debt/system-wide loans ratio. Other countries even reported negative values. 

This is a sign that the majority of banks in the region were mainly depending on core customer deposits not external funding, unlike Qatari banks.


Saudi crown prince launches Middle East Green Initiative Summit

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit in Riyadh on Monday. (Screenshot/MGI Summit)
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit in Riyadh on Monday. (Screenshot/MGI Summit)
Updated 2 min 15 sec ago

Saudi crown prince launches Middle East Green Initiative Summit

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit in Riyadh on Monday. (Screenshot/MGI Summit)
  • Mohammed bin Salman said gathering planned to put a regional roadmap into place for combating climate change

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit in Riyadh on Monday.

Heads of state from around the world are will take part in the MGI Summit, including Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and Crown Prince of Jordan Hussein bin Abdullah II.

John Kerry, the first Special Envoy for Climate for the US, is also in attendance.

Opening the summit, the crown prince said the gathering planned to put a regional roadmap into place for combating climate change, and also announced plans for Saudi Arabia's platform for a carbon circular economy.

Speaking last week ahead of the MGI Summit and the Saudi Green Initiative Summit held on Saturday, the crown prince said: “The Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives are only a start.

“The Kingdom, the region and the world needs to go much further and faster in combating climate change.

“Beginning this journey to a greener future has not been easy, but we are not avoiding tough choices. We reject the false choice between preserving the economy and protecting the environment.”


Riyadh leads human capital index ranking in the region

Riyadh leads human capital index ranking in the region
Updated 25 October 2021

Riyadh leads human capital index ranking in the region

Riyadh leads human capital index ranking in the region

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh ranks first among GCC cities in Human Capital, according to the Global Cities Index 2021 report by Kearney.

The report measures global engagement of 156 cities across five dimensions, namely business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement.

It attributed the results to the Kingdom’s increased emphasis and ongoing efforts in creating a more diverse and sustainable economy, in support of the realization of Vision 2030.

“In the past five years since the launch of the Kingdom’s vision, Saudi Arabia has created immense opportunities and an attractive business environment to ensure the country’s competitiveness not just in the region but on a global stage,” Kearney’s government practice leader, Antoine Nasr, said.

“Saudi Arabia is poised to drive regional, post-pandemic recovery supported by accelerated efforts of its government across the five dimensions of the report,” he added. 


Wellness retailer GMG eyes global expansion after opening Riyadh HQ 

Wellness retailer GMG eyes global expansion after opening Riyadh HQ 
Updated 25 October 2021

Wellness retailer GMG eyes global expansion after opening Riyadh HQ 

Wellness retailer GMG eyes global expansion after opening Riyadh HQ 
  • The company currently employs around 7,000 people in 12 countries in the region and Asia

DUBAI: Wellness products retailer GMG has opened its new headquarters in Riyadh as part of plans to double its global workforce by 2025.

The company, which currently employs around 7,000 people in 12 countries in the region and Asia, said it is “restructuring its existing business units and unveiling a new brand identity.”

“Whether through acquiring new international brands, developing homegrown concepts, or entering new markets, I see a future in which GMG can have a presence in every major market around the world,” chief executive officer, Mohammad Baker, said. 

The move follows GMG’s further expansion in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, with its new headquarters in the capital as well as a massive warehouse facility. It currently has over 100 stores across the Kingdom. 

The expansion is in line with the company’s efforts to contribute to the government’s well-being push, where it has been collaborating with the Saudi Sports for All Federation to encourage an active lifestyle among Saudis. 

“We recognize that communities and governments around the world are striving to progress sustainable development goals that are often anchored in personal well-being,” the CEO explained. 

Globally, the wellness market is estimated to be at more than $1.5 trillion, with annual growth of five to 10 percent, according to a McKinsey report. 

In the Gulf, the market is supported by national efforts, including under the Saudi Vision 2030 project which aims to promote personal well-being among residents.