Saudi Arabia sees R&D key to push military sector to create 100k jobs

Saudi Arabia sees R&D key to push military sector to create 100k jobs
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Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, governor of the General Authority for Military Industries, at the Defense and Security Equipment International trade fair, in London on Tuesday. Arab News
Saudi Arabia sees R&D key to push military sector to create 100k jobs
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Saudi Arabia's pavilion at the Defense and Security Equipment International.
Saudi Arabia sees R&D key to push military sector to create 100k jobs
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Saudi Arabia's pavilion at the Defense and Security Equipment International.
Saudi Arabia sees R&D key to push military sector to create 100k jobs
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Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, governor of the General Authority for Military Industries, at the Defense and Security Equipment International trade fair, in London on Tuesday. Arab News
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Updated 15 September 2021

Saudi Arabia sees R&D key to push military sector to create 100k jobs

Saudi Arabia sees R&D key to push military sector to create 100k jobs
  • The 50 percent localization goal is challenging but achievable, says GAMI chief



LONDON: Defense spending in Saudi Arabia is to focus on acquisitions as well as research and development (R&D) over the next decade to ensure that the local military industry will create around 100,000 jobs for Saudis, the governor of the Kingdom’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) said.
Speaking in an exclusive interview at the Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) trade fair in London, Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali set out his vision for the future of domestic military spending, and talked up the importance of investing in the country’s R&D sectors.
Al-Ohali admitted that reaching the goal of domestic defense production accounting for 50 percent of the Kingdom’s military spending by 2030 was “challenging but doable,” as he argued that work undertaken to improve internal supply chains would soon see benefits.
He said: “In less than four years, we have doubled the localization rate from less than 4 percent to over 8 percent in 2020.”
“When we look at our licenses and license applications, we see great enthusiasm from local companies, which is encouraging,” he added. “The 50 percent localization goal is challenging but achievable, I would say.”

 

 

Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in its defense industries to reduce reliance on imported military hardware as well as add higher value jobs in the Kingdom.

The number of licensed companies in Saudi Arabia’s military sector rose sharply in the first half of the year, according to GAMI data.

It reported a 41 percent increase in licensed companies to reach a total of 99 — 85 percent of them local companies. More than half (55 percent) were granted to operating companies while military services providers accounted for 24 percent and product suppliers accounting for the rest.

Upskilling Saudis

Al-Ohali admitted that one of the areas that needs improvement in order to hit the 50 percent target is upskilling the domestic workforce.
“The defense industry is expected to create approximately 100,000 jobs by 2030; 40,000 of which will be directly created jobs,” he said, adding: “The success of our strategy will depend heavily on ensuring a sector that is sustainable.”
“To ensure sustainability, all our stakeholders will need to come together to form a healthy ecosystem, including research centers, universities, academic institutions, public and private institutions,” he said.
“We have a vision to establish partnerships with academic institutions to close the local skills gap in areas like engineering and skilled craftsmanship,” said Al-Ohali.

R&D spending

GAMI’s current plan sees R&D accounting for 4 percent of armaments expenditure by 2030, but Al-Ohali was relaxed about that figure growing as Saudi Arabia seeks to keep its place as “one of the top defense players in the world.”
“One of the most important aspects of R&D is that it helps nations achieve efficiency in spending,” he said. “We invest money and resources in R&D to be able to spend better.”
He added: “By enhancing a strong R&D ecosystem and utilizing our young, well-educated population, we will soon become a supplier to other nations.”


Foreign investors

Despite a desire to move 50 percent of defense spending inside the Kingdom’s borders, Al-Ohali is clear that working with other governments will help GAMI achieve its ambitions.

Last month, GAMI invited local and international companies to benefit from a number of military projects as well as launching a digital platform for investors to access local military industry.

The authority has identified 74 investment opportunities, across six domains of the military industries sector.

It has launched a digital platform called the Military Industry Marketplace (MIM) that links local industry projects with investors that are authorized and licensed by the authority.

While he was unable to give an “exact amount” of how much of the spending will be through joint ventures, he said: “The Kingdom is open to establishing strategic partnerships and joint ventures. More important is getting the right technologies.”  
“Foreign companies can now have 100 percent ownership of their investments and they will be treated with the same rights, duties, and obligations as the Saudi companies.”


China’s central bank rules all crypto transactions are illegal

China’s central bank rules all crypto transactions are illegal
Updated 24 September 2021

China’s central bank rules all crypto transactions are illegal

China’s central bank rules all crypto transactions are illegal
  • The global values of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin have massively fluctuated over the past year partly due to Chinese regulations
  • Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital currency, and other cryptos cannot be traced by a country’s central bank, making them difficult to regulate

BEIJING: China’s central bank on Friday said all financial transactions involving cryptocurrencies are illegal, sounding the death knell for the digital trade in China after a crackdown on the volatile currencies.
The global values of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin have massively fluctuated over the past year partly due to Chinese regulations, which have sought to prevent speculation and money laundering.
“Virtual currency-related business activities are illegal financial activities,” the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in an online statement Friday, adding that offenders would be “investigated for criminal liability in accordance with the law.”
The notice bans all related financial activities involving cryptocurrencies, such as trading crypto, selling tokens, transactions involving virtual currency derivatives and “illegal fundraising.”
Bitcoin, which had already been falling before the announcement, sank by as much as 8.9 percent to $41,019 in European afternoon trading before recovering slightly later in the day.
The central bank said that in recent years trading of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies had become “widespread, disrupting economic and financial order, giving rise to money laundering, illegal fund-raising, fraud, pyramid schemes and other illegal and criminal activities.”
This was “seriously endangering the safety of people’s assets,” the PBOC said.
While crypto creation and trading have been illegal in China since 2019, further crackdowns this year by Beijing warned banks to halt related transactions and closed much of the country’s vast network of bitcoin miners.
Friday’s statement by the central bank sent the strongest yet signal that China is closed to crypto.
Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital currency, and other cryptos cannot be traced by a country’s central bank, making them difficult to regulate.
Analysts say China fears the proliferation of illicit investments and fundraising from cryptocurrency in the world’s second-biggest economy, which also has strict rules around the outflow of capital.
The crypto crackdown also opens the gates for China to introduce its own digital currency, already in the pipeline, allowing the central government to monitor transactions.
In June, Chinese officials said more than 1,000 people had been arrested for using the profits from crime to buy cryptocurrencies.
Several key Chinese provinces have banned the operation of cryptocurrency mines since the start of this year, with one region accounting for eight percent of the computing power needed to run the global blockchain — a set of online ledgers to record bitcoin transactions.
Bitcoin values tumbled in May on the back of a warning by Beijing to investors against speculative trading in cryptocurrencies.
“China’s ban on all cryptocurrency trading activity will have some short-term impact on currency valuation, but long-term implications are likely to be muted,” said Ganesh Viswanath Natraj, Assistant Professor of Finance at Warwick Business School.
“This ban will result in the migration of crypto investment opportunities to other hubs in Asia, such as Singapore’s launch of the DBS digital currency exchange earlier this month,” he added.


Saudi Arabia insurance reforms will enhance sector — CAIS CEO

Saudi Arabia insurance reforms will enhance sector — CAIS CEO
Updated 24 September 2021

Saudi Arabia insurance reforms will enhance sector — CAIS CEO

Saudi Arabia insurance reforms will enhance sector — CAIS CEO
  • Adoption of IFRS 17 standards will increase investment in the sector

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia may be the first country in the world to witness a merger between three insurance companies following regulatory reforms, according to Sulaiman Binmayouf, CEO at United Co. for Actuarial Services CAIS.

Many of Saudi Arabia’s 29 insurance companies need capital infusions or mergers to meet the requirements of regulators, after they ordered to triple capital to SR300 million from SR100 million, Binmayouf said.

The Kingdom’s insurance companies are only profitable with high premiums, some of which they have to freeze as reserves, meaning they can’t invest the money, he said.

However, he expects the adoption of IFRS 17 standards by the insurance sector in the Kingdom will help solve the problem.

IFRS 17 is an International Financial Reporting Standard that was issued by the International Accounting Standards Board in May 2017.

The financial statements of insurance companies on the Capital Market Authority (CMA) website are not sufficient for taking an investment decision, said Binmayouf.

The standard will provide a more accurate supervision and disclosure process in the development of financial statements, giving investors a clearer idea of whether they want to invest in the company or not, he said.

“Investors should look at the status of insurance companies in terms of the board of directors and committees, and review the strategic plan and financial statements to make the investment decision,” he said.

That will lead to more capital flowing into the insurance sector, while supporting its stability, he said. IFRS 17 will be implemented in stages, as decided by the central bank.


Fed policy tightening not all bad for Gulf economies — Jefferies

Fed policy tightening not all bad for Gulf economies — Jefferies
Updated 24 September 2021

Fed policy tightening not all bad for Gulf economies — Jefferies

Fed policy tightening not all bad for Gulf economies — Jefferies
  • A likely strengthening of the dollar, to which Gulf currencies are pegged, may push down inflation, because it makes imports less expensive

RIYADH: The impending end of super-loose monetary policy from the Federal Reserve will have both positive and negative effects on the economies of the Arabian Gulf, according to Alia Moubayed, a managing director at investment bank Jefferies International.

A likely strengthening of the dollar, to which Gulf currencies are pegged, may push down inflation, because it makes imports less expensive, Moubayed said in an interview with Asharq.

Higher interest rates on dollar-denominated assets tend to lead to outflows from emerging markets, but Moubayed said that the Gulf markets have recently witnessed an influx of foreign capital, especially into stocks, and so should not be affected as badly as many of their EM peers.

Higher interest rates will increase the financing burden on governments with large budget and trade deficits, such as Bahrain, Moubayed said.

However, countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will “benefit from shrinking deficits due to the rise in oil prices and the increase in revenues in national currencies,” she said.

The Federal Reserve announced yesterday that it will likely start reducing its asset purchase program soon, and said policy makers are increasingly minded to start raising interest rates in 2022 instead of 2023 as previously envisioned.

If progress toward employment and inflation targets continues, the slowdown in asset purchases may start in November and end in mid-2022, the Fed said.


APICORP sukuk program given expected AA rating by Fitch

APICORP sukuk program given expected AA rating by Fitch
Updated 24 September 2021

APICORP sukuk program given expected AA rating by Fitch

APICORP sukuk program given expected AA rating by Fitch
  • A default in APICORP's sukuk program would be considered a default in the parent, Fitch said

RIYADH: APICORP, the multilateral development bank set up by Arab oil producers, has received a rating of AA(EXP) by Fitch for its sukuk program.

APICORP Sukuk Ltd. (ASL) is incorporated in the Cayman Islands with the sole purpose of issuing Islamic debt. The final rating is contingent on Fitch receiving documents that support information already provided.

ASL is expected to receive the same AA rating as APICORP as a default in the sukuk program would be considered a default in the parent, Fitch said. APICORP’s rating is based on Fitch’s solvency and liquidity assessment and a “medium risk” business environment.

APICORP was established in 1975 by the 10 members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) with the aim of developing the Arab world’s energy sector through equity investment, debt financing, financial advisory and energy research services.


UAE allocates $17.6bn to Emirati housing program in Dubai

UAE allocates $17.6bn to Emirati housing program in Dubai
Updated 24 September 2021

UAE allocates $17.6bn to Emirati housing program in Dubai

UAE allocates $17.6bn to Emirati housing program in Dubai
  • Land plots allocated to Emirati housing projects in Dubai increased to 1.7 billion square feet.

RIYADH: Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has approved the allocation of 65 billion dirhams ($17.6 billion) to a housing program for Emirati citizens in Dubai, to be spent over the next two decades, according to a statement from the Dubai Media Office.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also prime minister of the UAE, issued directives to quadruple the number of Emiratis benefiting from the housing program from next year, and to increase the land plots allocated to Emirati housing projects in Dubai to 1.7 billion square feet.

“We are working to develop a comprehensive plan for ensuring our citizens have access to high quality housing over the next 20 years,” said Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai. “Dubai’s urban development plans are subject to constant review and our housing policy will continue to evolve according to the requirements of our citizens.”

The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan sets out a comprehensive future map for sustainable urban development in the city, and focuses on enhancing people’s happiness and quality of life in line with the UAE’s vision for the next 50 years.