A female could head Saudi state-owned military company, CEO predicts

A female could head Saudi state-owned military company, CEO predicts
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Updated 18 September 2021

A female could head Saudi state-owned military company, CEO predicts

A female could head Saudi state-owned military company, CEO predicts
  • SAMI is hoping to attract back talented expats
  • The defense company is a key player in the Kingdom’s drive to reduce its reliance on foreign military products.

The head of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) believes the state owned business could be run by a Saudi female engineer in the future as it seeks to attract top talent back to the Kingdom.

Speaking to Arab News at the DSEI trade fair in London, SAMI CEO Walid Abukhaled, argued that attracting the best and brightest to work in the industry was key to hitting the 50-percent goal, and that included tempting back female Saudis who are employed abroad.

Abukhaled was referring to the government’s goal to see 50 percent of all defense spending focused in the Kingdom by 2030.

Abukhaled said: “I’m convinced they will be the future leaders of the company.

“I absolutely believe we will have a female chief executive of SAMI in the future. Maybe not in the immediate future, but it will happen.

“There are Saudi female engineers working in Europe and the US who are gaining good experience and may want to come back to the Kingdom.

“You want to give top positions, like the CEO’s job, to the best, not because of gender, but because they are the best for the job and have the best experience. The Kingdom is very supportive of women.”

The defense company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund, launched in 2017 and is a key player in the Kingdom’s drive to reduce its reliance on foreign military products.

Joint venture deals have already been struck with French company Thales and Belgium based firm CMI Defence, and memorandums of understanding have been signed with US’s Boeing, and France’s Naval Group.

Female participation in the Saudi labor market, according to official public data, has risen dramatically in recent years, shooting up from 19.7 percent in 2018 to 33 percent by the end of 2020 - an increase of 64 percent in just two years.

Abukhaled said that in the defence sector women now make up 22 percent of the workforce, yet the jobs are mainly centered around human resources, finance, and legal.

Overseas Acquisitions

Speaking more broadly, Abukhaled said SAMI was looking to expand through overseas acquisitions but declined to comment on specific targets.

He said: “We first need to identify gaps in our capability, and then see where it can be filled. We should be clearer by next year in terms of a business case for where the gaps are and what we need to acquire.”

He added: “We want SAMI to be one of the top 25 companies in the world by 2030. We cannot do that all internally and we will have to acquire ability from both inside and outside the Kingdom.”

Abukhaled added he was also confident in delivering the Kingdom’s 50 percent localisation target.

He said: “We’re already over 50 percent in terms of a number of the contracts we have won. Some will be less of course, but overall I think the target will be achieved.”

Abukhaled said it was likely there would be more information on acquisitions and partnerships to coincide with next year’s World Defence Show which is due to take place in Riyadh in March 2022.

SAMI is the strategic partner for the event which promises to be the world’s biggest defence trade fair.

While praising what he called the ”transformation” of the Kingdom in recent years, Abukhaled, an engineer by training, admitted more needed to be done to create the localised skill base for the sector desired by the 2030 Vision program.

Abukhaled insisted that while he was confident that SAMI will achieve its target of employing a skilled workforce of 20,000 local staff by 2030, that depended on the training of more domestic technicians and engineers.

That concern was also flagged up by Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, the governor of the Kingdom’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) in a separate interview with Arab News. 

Al-Ohali admitted the success of the 50 percent strategy depends heavily on creating a “healthy ecosystem” which includes research centers, universities, academic institutions, and public and private institutions.

GAMI has a vision to establish partnerships with academic institutions to close the local skills gap in areas like engineering and skilled craftsmanship, said Al-Ohali.


Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022
Updated 13 sec ago

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

CAIRO: Egypt will launch its first fleet of buses powered by natural gas next year, Minister of Public Enterprise Hisham Tawfik has said.

About 70 percent of the components used in the manufacturing of the buses will be sourced locally, in cooperation with several Egyptian companies, he said.

Tawfiq said that the fleet will include buses that can accommodate 14 to 50 passengers, and that the goal of the project is to localize technology and transport production.

“Our strategy is to work in the production of environmentally friendly vehicles, whether they run on natural gas or electricity,” he added.

A delegation from the Belarusian Minsk Automobile Plant signed a contract to supply production materials for the project.

Production is expected to begin in mid-2022, with a target of 250 buses completed per year.

Tawfiq welcomed cooperation with the Belarusian side, especially in light of the distinguished relations between the two countries, which have developed significantly in recent years.


PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering
Updated 05 December 2021

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (selling shareholder) and stc on Sunday announced the launch of a secondary public offering of stc’s ordinary shares, Argaam reported.

“The potential transaction is in line with the PIF’s strategy to recycle its capital to new investments,” the fund said in an earlier statement. 

A total of 10.02 million shares will be allocated to retail subscribers.

The offering comprises a fully marketed secondary public offering of 100.2 million stc shares, representing 5.01 percent of its share capital

The price range has been set between SR100 and SR116 per share. The final offer price will announced on Dec. 10.

Goldman Sachs Saudi Arabia, HSBC Saudi Arabia, Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia and SNB Capital are acting as joint financial advisers for STC and joint global coordinators for STC and PIF. The Citigroup Saudi Arabia and Credit Suisse Saudi Arabia are acting as joint bookrunners, according to a bourse filing.


Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap
Updated 05 December 2021

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, plunged around 30 percent from the year’s high of $69,000 on Nov. 10.

It, however, traded higher on Sunday, rising by 2.82 percent to $48,972 at 5:14 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most popular cryptocurrency, traded at $4,140 up 4.16 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.

“Corrections and declines do occur in almost all markets including crypto. The current decline is considered the largest in terms of market value since the late March 2020 decline,” Abdullah Mashat, managing director of a private Saudi retail company told Arab News.

Mashat said: “Current decline is due to investors being concerned of tapering talks in the US, which resulted in the decline in stock exchanges and later this caused liquidity crunch in the crypto markets."

Anto Paroian, COO at crypto hedge fund ARK36 said: “The market sentiments  have decisively soured as a result of deepening concerns about omicron variant and its (likely) effect on the economy. The current situation resembles closely what happened in March 2020 as we’re seeing equities plunge 5 percent off recent highs and the negativity is spreading to other markets as well including the digital asset markets. 

“On the other hand, the current price levels aren’t unexpected after the bulls failed to flip the $60,000 resistance multiple times in the past few weeks. During previous Bitcoin bull markets violent swings of 20-30 percent happened a few times before the market topped and let’s remember what happened in July - and how well the market rebounded afterward."

 "It must be noted, though, that one of the key Bitcoin bull market indicators — the 20-week simple moving average — has now been decisively breached so the outlook is currently bearish in the short to medium term. What’s more, since there are widespread expectations that interest rates will rise as central banks are signaling a more aggressive stance on inflation, the violent price move in the digital asset market may also suggest that some investors are preparing to go into a risk-off mode for the time being," Paroian added.

Meanwhile, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said the Central American country had acquired an additional 150 bitcoins after the digital currency’s value slumped again, enlarging his bet on the cryptocurrency despite criticism.

Bukele said last week that El Salvador had acquired 100 additional coins to take advantage of the currency weakening.


Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line
Updated 05 December 2021

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco on Sunday announced its entry into the Kingdom’s domestic lubricants market with the launch of a new line of products.

The oil giant timed the ORIZON® launch to coincide with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Jeddah.

The product line has been introduced in more than 20 cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam with more locations planned. The products include synthetic and semisynthetic lubricants for gasoline engines and heavy-duty diesel engines, as well as driveline products, greases and brake fluids. 

The company has also expanded the brand to include ORIZONPRO® which is a high-performance line for the industrial sector.

Yasser M. Mufti, Aramco vice president of fuels, said: “Entering the lubricants market is an important milestone for the company, as we continue to expand our presence throughout the downstream value chain.” 

The launch “further complements Aramco’s presence in the Kingdom’s downstream direct-to-consumer segment, following the inauguration of our first two service stations in Riyadh and Saihat recently.”


Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap
Updated 05 December 2021

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

CAIRO: The Australian government is expected to raise its economic growth forecast for 2022 in its midyear budget review, according to the country’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

He said omicron’s effect, the new COVID-19 variant, is still unclear.

The country’s fiscal year runs until June.

The Australian economy narrowed by 1.9 percent in the third quarter of this year on the back of the delta variant which led to a national lockdown.

However, the treasurer said the country now enjoys one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, boosting market conditions.

France avoids more restrictions

France will try to refrain from the imposition of any health-related restrictions even as virus cases continue to rise, the country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

France is also avoiding any mandatory vaccination campaigns, Bloomberg reported, citing the minister.

He said two sectors, restaurants and hospitality, were particularly hit by the wave of new cases, adding that they will receive government support.

He also stated the new variant, omicron, is yet to have an effect on the country’s economic growth.

US growth rate

Unlike other countries, US expected growth rates for both 2021 and next year were trimmed down by Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s leading investment banks. 

It said this downward revision was attributed to a potential adverse effect by omicron, according to Bloomberg.

The world’s largest economy is now predicted to grow by 3.8 percent in 2021, instead of the previous 4.2 percent forecast. As for next year, the US is set to expand by 2.9 percent, down from 3.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the country’s unemployment rate plunged to a 21-month low to hit 4.2 percent in November, according to the Labor Department. This is a 2.1 percent drop compared to January’s level, a considerable decline.

However, employment growth slowed down during the month.

The economy is still expected to experience strong growth in the fourth quarter, following the previous quarter’s weak performance.