Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises

Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises
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Updated 26 September 2021

Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises

Saudi-government Kafalah grants $115m in loans to female-led enterprises
  • Businesses in the central region of Riyadh got the lion's share as they received the highest Kafalah support
  • The Kafalah program spans several business sectors

The Small and Medium Enterprises Loan Guarantee Program (Kafalah), a government initiative to finance small and medium enterprises, granted SR432 million ($115 million) of loans to 456 businesses led by women in the first half of 2021, according to Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper.


Businesses in the central region of Riyadh got the lion's share as they received the highest Kafalah support, with 151 establishments accounting for 33 percent of the total, taking SR178 million in financing. This was followed closely by Makkah region with 115 establishments, or 25 percent, receiving SR97 million. The Eastern Province came third, with 102 establishments, or 22 percent, receiving SR99 million.


The Kafalah program spans several business sectors including wholesale commerce, catering and hotels, manufacturing industries, and administrative and support services.


Saudi Arabia to host World Travel and Tourism Council summit next year

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb and President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council Julia Simpson. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb and President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council Julia Simpson. (SPA)
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to host World Travel and Tourism Council summit next year

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb and President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council Julia Simpson. (SPA)
  • The summit is the largest travel and tourism event in the world
  • WTTC CEO says the Kingdom has been instrumental in leading the recovery of this critical sector

LONDON: Riyadh has been chosen to host the 22nd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC) next year.
The summit, the largest travel and tourism event in the world, will be hosted by the Kingdom at the end of next year following the upcoming edition in Manila from March 14 to 16.
Speaking during the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the WTTC, said: “Since the very beginning, when the pandemic brought international travel to an almost complete standstill, Saudi Arabia has shown its total commitment to our sector, ensuring it has remained at the forefront of the global agenda.”
She said the Kingdom “has been instrumental in leading the recovery of a sector which is critical to economies, jobs and livelihoods around the world.

“For that we are grateful and want to recognize their incredible efforts by bringing the global travel and tourism sector to the Kingdom next year.”
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb welcomed the Kingdom’s selection as the host country for the summit’s next edition, adding that it is “a critical forum for the private sector and government to come together to redesign tourism for the future.”
He said this was “recognition of the Saudi leadership to help the global tourism sector recover, and more importantly, become more sustainable.”
WTTC research shows that the Middle East’s tourism sector is expected to grow by 27.1 percent this year, outpacing Europe and Latin America.
Research also confirms that if governments place the travel and tourism sector at the top of their priorities, the job opportunities provided by the sector will reach 6.6 million jobs in 2022, which would come close to the employment numbers in the sector before the pandemic hit.


Pandemic provided 33,000 industrial job opportunities in 2020, minister says

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef speaking to Arab News at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh. (Screenshot)
Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef speaking to Arab News at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh. (Screenshot)
Updated 3 min 17 sec ago

Pandemic provided 33,000 industrial job opportunities in 2020, minister says

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef speaking to Arab News at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh. (Screenshot)
  • Saudi Arabia’s industrial index rose by 5.8 percent from a year ago and 5 percent from the previous month

RIYADH: The Kingdom is witnessing steady financial growth and recovery after the COVID-19 economic setback, according to Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef.

Alkhorayef said that the industrial sector enjoyed some growth in 2020, during which 33,000 jobs were created. 

“We had more than $23 billion of new investments and also the pandemic has shown us the importance of building our own logistics,” he told Arab News.

“Logistics is a capability of the country and is going to also be enhanced to ensure that we are moving with our strategy to not only cover the Saudi market, but regional and global markets, so that Saudi Arabia can become an industrial powerhouse in the region and the world despite the setback,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s industrial index rose by 5.8 percent from a year ago and 5 percent from the previous month, government data showed earlier this month.

The increase in industrial activity resulted from higher production in mining and quarrying activity, which makes up 74.5 percent of the index, the General Authority for Statistics said.

Mining activities, which include oil production, increased by 6.5 percent during the month. Saudi Arabia increased its oil production from 8.9 million barrels a day in August 2020 to 9.5 million barrels a day in August 2021.

Alkhorayef said that the ministry’s vision was split into different programs to deal with industry, mining, energy and logistics. 

“Today we realize in Saudi Arabia that our Vision can only be accomplished by working together as a government, making sure that we are integrated,” he said.

The program is one of the largest programs in the Vision with huge targets for GDP contribution in investment, and job creation.

The energy program is intended to bring these four sectors together to ensure that they are aligned and complement each other.

“So, factories, they will need energy, energy will need factories, and factories will need transportation,” he said. “Energy will also will need probably transportation or mining,” he said.

In addition, the ministry was also looking at the strategies of the different sectors, and in every strategy it targeted subsectors.

“Also, the policies, enablers, that ensure that we are moving and really implementing that Vision in the right way,” he said.

The minister said that COVID-19 has been disruptive across the board, and that technology was key in strategy for all industries in the future.

“The way we look at human capital development is very important,” he said. “Re-skilling of our people, education, how we look at business models, is also changing.”

“The pandemic, I think, has been a true test of all countries. How they are resilient. It showed us where we are weak, where we are stronger, and that was a live demonstration of where we need to focus and where we need to build on,” he said.

The Kingdom had shown great success in dealing with the pandemic as a result of what it has been doing in the health sector, he said. “What we have done also in the infrastructure of communication, otherwise the health sector will not function.”

“The school system will not function and the government will not function,” he said.

The minister said that industrial companies were seeking to relocate their regional headquarters.

“In fact, some of the companies who announced their headquarters at the FII are industrial companies,” he said.


MAF chief kicks off “humungous” Mall of Saudi project

The new mall, being developed at a cost of 16 billion riyals ($4.3 billion) over the next four years, will include six hotels and around 1,600 residential units. (Supplied/MAF)
The new mall, being developed at a cost of 16 billion riyals ($4.3 billion) over the next four years, will include six hotels and around 1,600 residential units. (Supplied/MAF)
Updated 16 min 51 sec ago

MAF chief kicks off “humungous” Mall of Saudi project

The new mall, being developed at a cost of 16 billion riyals ($4.3 billion) over the next four years, will include six hotels and around 1,600 residential units. (Supplied/MAF)
  • Mall will have the largest indoor ski slope and snow dome in the world

RIYADH: Alain Bejjani, chief executive of the Majid Al-Futtaim retail and hospitality conglomerate, told Arab News about the “humungous project” now under way in the Kingdom after he formally began construction of the Mall of Saudi.

Straight after a ground-breaking ceremony for the new mall, Bejjani said at the FII form in Riyadh: “It will be one the largest malls in the world, and will have a cutting-edge customer experience and at the edge of the leading retail of tomorrow. It will be a big attraction for shopping, leisure and entertainment, but also a big tourist attraction internally and globally.”

The new mall, being developed at a cost of 16 billion riyals ($4.3 billion) over the next four years, will include six hotels and around 1,600 residential units in “an integrated community that offers a very new lifestyle in line with Vision 2030.”

It will also have the largest indoor ski slope and snow dome in the world, he confirmed.

Although progress on the project was slowed last year by the pandemic lockdowns, behind the scenes Bejjani was working to attract tenants to the new development. “I can tell you every global brand is already in Mall of Saudi or has signed up to be there. We started leasing a year ago, and we’re very happy about the level of uptake. It’s a testimony to the Saudi market and the comeback that we’ve seen post-pandemic. This is coming back, we are recovering,” he said.

MAF group, which operates cinemas, supermarkets and hotels, in addition to malls, was seriously affected by the pandemic last year, when many of its businesses were forced to close temporarily. He said that while there was a recovery underway in the Carrefour supermarkets, the retail grocery business in Saudi Arabia was going through a “recalibration.”

“Last year we were hoarding and buying more than we needed. This isn’t happening anymore because people are no longer in fear of meeting their grocery needs. So there was a recalibration in early 2021. But from September, we are seeing growth coming back and this is very important. Next year is definitely going to be a growth year,” he said.

Many households shifted purchase of essential goods online during the pandemic, and some of that has stuck. Saudi online grocery sales are about 10-12 per cent of total sales, he said, among the highest in the region.

Two other big markets for MAF — in the UAE and Egypt — were also showing strong recovery growth, he said. “The recovery in the world retail economy is stronger than in other parts of the economy,” he added.

In the Vox cinema business, he said fears that the movie business would lose out to the streaming services like Netflix had proved to be misplaced. “People want the experience, they are coming back to the movies,” he said.

But the cinema business was still in need of good quality content, after studios were forced to stop production last year.

MAF is considering ways to promote regional and local cinema content. “What our customers want is Arabic content, Khalijee content, Egyptian content, and one of our plans is to foster local content development and production. This is something we are doing with a number of partners,” Bejjani said.

He also spoke about the chronically low levels of cross-border trade in the GCC countries, in comparison with other trading blocs such as the EU and ASEAN.

“The wider Middle East region has half the labour productivity of other parts of the world,” he said, advocating an end to tariffs and freer movement of labour, potentially involving a special “business visa” to give multiple entry in the GCC countries.


GAMI governor meets with major defense, security companies at FII

GAMI governor meets with major defense, security companies at FII
Updated 28 October 2021

GAMI governor meets with major defense, security companies at FII

GAMI governor meets with major defense, security companies at FII
  • Al-Ohali discussed strategic directions in the military industries sector in Saudi Arabia
  • He also highlighted the qualitative opportunities, great potential and unlimited support that the military industries sector enjoys in the Kingdom

RIYADH: The governor of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries met with various CEOs and leaders of major international companies operating in the military industries sector on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative on Thursday.
The meeting was attended by several companies including French defense group Thales, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, General Dynamics Corp., Leonardo SpA and Lockheed Martin.
During the meeting, Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali discussed strategic directions in the military industries sector in Saudi Arabia.
He also discussed the Kingdom’s investment environment, which is witnessing an unprecedented push to empower local and international investors in light of the objectives of the Vision 2030 reform program to localize military industries in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Ohali highlighted the qualitative opportunities, great potential and unlimited support that the military industries sector enjoys in the Kingdom.
He said it is important for these companies to open headquarters in Saudi Arabia to enhance cooperation in the industrial sector and contribute to technology transfer and job creation.


TASI closes 0.4 percent down at 11,758 points: Market Wrap

TASI closes 0.4 percent down at 11,758 points: Market Wrap
Updated 28 October 2021

TASI closes 0.4 percent down at 11,758 points: Market Wrap

TASI closes 0.4 percent down at 11,758 points: Market Wrap

RIYADH: The Tadawul All-Share Index was down 49 points on Thursday closing at 11,758 points.

That represent a 0.4 percent decline.

Some 185.9 million shares changed hands in 301,000 deals, with heavy trading in AlRajhi Bank, Petro Rabigh, Sipchem

The market's decline comes under pressure from Petrochemical shares, led by SABIC's share, which fell 3 percent, to continue its decline for the third session.

On the other hand, Leejam Sports rose 5 percent to SR113.60 ($30.28), recording the highest close since its listing.

The Saudi British Bank's shares fell 2.2 percent after the bank announced a 15.5 percent drop in profits in Q3 to reach SR886 million ($236 million).

“Saudi Aramco" recorded gains of 0.1 percent. The company's shares ended the day at SR37.75 ($37.75) — the highest closing level since December 2019.

Petrochem, Sipchem, Petro Rabigh, SABIC Agri-Nutrients, Chemanol and Maaden declined between 4 percent and 6 percent.

The parallel market index "Nomu" was up 343.62 points, or 1.44 percent. It closed at 24255.84 points, after 1,348 trades.

The shares of MEPCO, Maharah and Astra Industrial recorded gains in today's session between 3 and 5 percent, amid high trading for those shares.