Saudi Arabia launches two initiatives at cost of $10.4 billion to combat climate change: Crown Prince

Update Saudi Arabia launches two initiatives at cost of $10.4 billion to combat climate change: Crown Prince
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
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Updated 26 October 2021

Saudi Arabia launches two initiatives at cost of $10.4 billion to combat climate change: Crown Prince

Saudi Arabia launches two initiatives at cost of $10.4 billion to combat climate change: Crown Prince
  • 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 and announced two initiatives at a cost of SR39 billion ($10.39 billion) to combat climate change, of which Saudi Arabia will contribute about 15 percent of the entire cost.

Opening the summit, the Crown Prince said the gathering also planned to put a regional roadmap into place for combating climate change.

“We gather today at this summit to join forces and coordinate our efforts to protect the environment, confront climate change, and develop a roadmap towards reducing carbon emissions in the region by more than 10 percent of global contribution, and plant 50 billion trees in the region, though the largest tree-planting program globally, this will contribute to achieving 5 percent of the global target for afforestation,” said the Crown Prince.

The Crown Prince also said that the Kingdom will be establishing an investment fund for carbon economy solutions in the region, and a global initiative that contributes to clean fuel solutions to feed more than 750 million people worldwide.

He added that the Kingdom will build a regional program to reduce carbon emissions within the framework of the Green Middle East Initiative, and create a cooperation platform to implement the concept of a circular carbon economy.

“There are gaps in the regional climate action system. And through coordinating regional efforts and sharing experiences and technologies, we can accelerate achievements in our initiatives,” he said.

“To enable this, the Kingdom announces that it will establish a Cooperative Platform to implement the concepts of Circular Carbon Economy (CCE), establish a regional hub for climate change, develop a regional centre for Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), a regional centre for early warning of storms; a regional centre for sustainable development of fisheries; and a regional cloud seeding program. These centres and programs will play a major role in establishing the necessary infrastructure to protect the environment, reduce emissions and raise the level of regional coordination.”

Heads of state from around the world are taking 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.


Saudi Arabia targets $3.3tr of cumulative investments till 2030, says deputy minister

Saudi Arabia targets $3.3tr of cumulative investments till 2030, says deputy minister
Updated 14 sec ago

Saudi Arabia targets $3.3tr of cumulative investments till 2030, says deputy minister

Saudi Arabia targets $3.3tr of cumulative investments till 2030, says deputy minister
  • Saudi Arabia’s regulatory transformation is directly impacting the base economy, Al-Shahrani says

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has enacted over 600 economic reforms since the launch of the Vision 2030 blueprint in a bid to attract SR12.4 trillion ($3.3 trillion) of cumulative investment and SR1.8 trillion in foreign direct investment inflows between 2021 and 2030 as part of the National Investment Strategy, said a deputy minister from the investment ministry. 

Speaking to Arab News Saad Al-Shahrani, the acting deputy minister for investment promotion in the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom achieved an 18 percent increase in foreign direct investment in 2020, even as the global FDI declined by 35 percent due to the pandemic. 

FDI flow in 2021 increased by 257 percent compared to 2020 largely driven by a SR46.5 billion infrastructure deal closed by Aramco with a global investor consortium in Q2 2021.

If Aramco's huge deal is excluded, the Kingdom attracted SR5.3bn in Q2 last year.

Al-Shahrani added that the NIS launched in 2021 is a blueprint for turning the Kingdom into a global hub for business and talent. 

Saad Al-Shahrani

During the interview, the minister revealed that FDI flow in the first quarter of 2022 increased 10 percent to SR7.4 billion compared to the same period last year.

He further stated that NIS helped MISA achieve 49 investment deals valued at SR3.5 billion in the second quarter of 2022, creating 2,000 jobs across industries. 

“These figures are a testament to the sound execution of the government’s strategy and the impact of new reforms, initiatives and investment opportunities,” said the deputy minister. 

He added: “The Kingdom has achieved remarkable progress in many economic and investment indicators, ranking third in Ease of Protecting Minority Investors Index out of 132 countries, for the year 2021.”

Fastest growing among G-20 countries

The deputy minister further noted that the Kingdom achieved the top spot among 22 countries in the May 2022 Ipsos’ Global Consumer Confidence Index. 

Citing the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook 2022, Al-Shahrani said that the Kingdom is now the fastest-growing nation among the Group of 20 countries, with a growth rate of 7.6 percent. 

“Saudi Arabia’s regulatory transformation is directly impacting the base economy. Alongside healthy demand and investor interest in the oil sector, our non-oil economy has shown strong growth,” he added. 

The deputy minister said that flash estimates of real growth in the gross domestic product in the second quarter showed 11.8 percent year-on-year growth, the highest rate since 2011, supported by the growth in real GDP of oil and non-oil activities by 23.1 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.

Industrial production on the rise

Commenting on the rise in Industrial Production Index, Al-Shahrani said: “The IPI expanded by 24 percent year on year in May 2022, with manufacturing growing by over 28 percent. These figures are a direct consequence of the government’s active diversification efforts.” 

He also asserted that the Kingdom will become one of the world’s most competitive economies and attractive investment destinations by 2030. 

The deputy minister further noted that digital transactions are rising in Saudi Arabia, aligning with the government’s goal of having 70 percent of all transactions are digital by 2025.

“Policymakers have listened to the needs of investors and have responded appropriately to create an investment ecosystem that rivals the best in the world,” he continued.

Saudi Arabia’s future is tourism

The deputy minister further conveyed that tourism will soon become one of the prime drivers of the Saudi economy as the economic diversification effort continues. 

He revealed that the Kingdom has already issued over 3,500 tourism investment licenses, a crucial leap to achieving 10 percent of the national GDP from tourism by 2030. 

Al-Shahrani added that the Kingdom will welcome over 100 million tourists by 2030 and generate one million jobs in the sector. 

“NEOM, The Red Sea Project, AlUla, Soudah, AMAALA and Diriyah Gate are massive opportunities for investors,” he continued. 

The deputy minister further divulged that the Kingdom’s flag carrier SAUDIA will add 94 new destinations to bring visitors to the Kingdom by 2030. 

Apart from tourism, MISA is also signing deals with companies in the renewables, logistics, and pharmaceutical sectors, the deputy minister added. 

“It is quite clear that the headwinds souring global investor appetite are not blowing in the direction of Saudi Arabia. Government strategy, inspired leadership, talent at every level, well-executed reforms and a clear vision for the future have combined to make the Kingdom an investment powerhouse,” Al-Shahrani said.


Dubai received 7.12m international overnight visitors in H1 20

Dubai received 7.12m international overnight visitors in H1 20
Updated 3 min ago

Dubai received 7.12m international overnight visitors in H1 20

Dubai received 7.12m international overnight visitors in H1 20
  • Western Europe accounted for 22 percent share

DUBAI: Dubai attracted 7.12 million international overnight visitors between January and June 2022, an increase of more than 183 percent compared to the same period in 2021, according to the latest data from its Department of Economy and Tourism.

The figure puts the city on track to meet its tourism targets for 2022.

“The vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the city of the future and the world’s best place to live, work and invest in has resulted in a resurgence of Dubai’s tourism sector,” said Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. “The growth in tourists reflects the resilience and dynamism of the emirate’s economy. His Highness’s vision has helped Dubai create a strong and stable economic foundation and a dynamic business ecosystem, enabling it to become a leading global hub for diverse sectors.

“The rapid rise in international tourist arrivals puts Dubai on track to achieve its ambitious target of becoming the world’s most visited destination. In the years ahead, Dubai will continue to develop itself further as a destination that offers compelling value to international travelers.”

The number of tourists recorded in the first half of the year was close to that achieved in the first six months of 2019, which saw 8.36 million tourists arriving in Dubai.

Western Europe accounted for 22 percent of the total international visitors in the first six months of 2022. Visitors from the MENA region and Gulf Cooperation Council accounted for 34 percent, followed by South Asia with a 16 percent share.

The geographic spread reflects Dubai's strategy of attracting visitors from a diverse range of countries and visitor segments, mitigating the risks associated with over-reliance on any one region.

Between January and June 2022, the average hotel occupancy rate was 74 percent, one of the highest in the world.

The hotel industry outperformed pre-pandemic levels in all key metrics, including occupied room nights, average daily rate, and revenue per available room.

The Dubai government said the highly encouraging industry performance was primarily due to its hugely successful six-month-long Expo 2020 Dubai, which had attracted 24 million visitors by the time it ended on March 31.

It also attributed the industry performance to the many events the city had hosted, including the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Food Festival, the World Government Summit, Finance Blockchain Week, and the Dubai International Boat Show.


Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn

Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn
Updated 07 August 2022

Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn

Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn
  • Gulf banks dominate this year’s ranking, with 25 out of the 30 based in the GCC

LONDON: The Middle East’s top 30 banks have a total market value of $586.6 billion and assets worth $2.5 trillion as of June 28, Forbes Middle East has reported.

Saudi Arabia leads the ranking with 10 entries, followed by the UAE with seven, Qatar with four, Morocco with three, Kuwait with two, and Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, and Oman with one each.

Qatar's QNB Group topped the list for the second year in a row, with $300.3 billion in total assets.

The UAE’s FAB, Saudi Arabia's Al-Rajhi Bank, and Saudi National Bank tied for second place.

The UAE-based Emirates NBD was ranked third.

Last year, these five banks combined made $16.8 billion in profit, accounting for 49 percent of the total profit of the 30 banks on the list.

The list “recognizes the region’s resilient banking heavyweights that have emerged stronger from the pandemic crisis.”

Forbes Middle East compiled data from listed stock exchanges in the Arab world and ranked companies based on sales, profits, assets, and market value.


Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn

Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn
Updated 07 August 2022

Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn

Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn

DOHA: Qatar’s Central Bank foreign reserves and hard currency liquidity rose 2.79 percent year-on-year in July to 211.325 billion riyals ($57.74 billion), the Gulf state’s official news agency QNA reported on Sunday.

According to FocusEconomics’ report, Qatar’s gross domestic product per capita may exceed $100,000 in 2026 as the national economy is expected to pick up steam in the years ahead.

The country’s GDP per capita in 2026 will be $101,816, it estimated.

National GDP has been estimated by FocusEconomics to reach $217 billion this year.

The Qatar Central Bank hiked rates by 50 basis points in July, diverging from the Federal Reserve’s 75 basis points hike, the researcher said.

Inflation is expected to average almost double its 2021 level this year due to recovering demand and higher commodity prices.


Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1

Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1
Updated 07 August 2022

Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1

Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1

MUSCAT: The Omani government posted a budget surplus of 784 million rials ($2.04 billion) at the end of first half of 2022, Oman’s state news agency reported on Sunday.

The Gulf Arab state’s oil revenues increased to 3.187 billion rials by the end of first half, the report added.

Oman’s crude oil and condensate production reached 189.6 million barrels during the first half of 2022, recording a 9.7 percent growth over the same period last year, according to data released by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

The oil prices continued to rise throughout June trading, reaching $112.9 per barrel as a consequence of global economic conditions and political escalations around the world, the ministry added.