Bahrain’s oil and gas authority to transition to ‘energy company’

Bahrain’s oil and gas authority to transition to ‘energy company’
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Updated 16 November 2021

Bahrain’s oil and gas authority to transition to ‘energy company’

Bahrain’s oil and gas authority to transition to ‘energy company’
  • Bahrain, one of the financially weakest and most indebted countries in the oil rich Gulf, is expected to sell oil and gas assets

Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) will transition into an energy company that will look at energy resources outside of fossil fuels, an official said on Tuesday.


Bahrain’s king issued a royal decree in September abolishing the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA), with all its functions to be undertaken by the oil ministry.


“We’re now looking at the future of transition, transferring this company from an oil and gas company into an energy company,” said Mohamed bin Mubarak Bin Daina, Special Envoy for Climate Affairs and Chief Executive of Bahrain's Supreme Council for Environment.


“That will help us look at the climate change impact, the energy mix and the diversification of energy sources,” he said, speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the ADIPEC oil and gas forum in Abu Dhabi.


Bahrain, one of the financially weakest and most indebted countries in the oil rich Gulf, is expected to sell oil and gas assets, following steps taken by neighbouring oil giants Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi in recent years, sources have previously told Reuters.


Asked about those plans, Bin Daina said nothing was planned “very soon,” without elaborating. He also did not exclude, when asked, the possibility of a public listing for the new energy company.


NOGA has raised funds in the debt capital markets several times over the past few years, including a $600 million issuance of sukuk, or Islamic bonds, in April.


Bin Daina said the company could issue debt again, if needed.


Moody’s downgrades MEDGULF KSA’s insurance financial strength rating to Ba2

Moody’s downgrades MEDGULF KSA’s insurance financial strength rating to Ba2
Updated 14 sec ago

Moody’s downgrades MEDGULF KSA’s insurance financial strength rating to Ba2

Moody’s downgrades MEDGULF KSA’s insurance financial strength rating to Ba2

RIYADH: Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the Mediterranean and Gulf Cooperative Insurance and Reinsurance Co insurance financial strength rating to Ba2 from Ba1. 

The firm, also known as MEDGULF KSA, is a Saudi joint stock company, and has seen its outlook changed from positive to negative.  

This reflects the challenges MEDGULF KSA faces in improving its underwriting performance and continued pressures on its capitalisation. 

In addition, Moody’s expects the company’s financial flexibility to become more constrained since its rights issue in 2021 with greater uncertainty around its ability to access additional external capital given persistent underwriting losses.

Meanwhile, Moody's has also downgraded the local and foreign currency long-term issuer ratings of Sharjah Islamic Bank to Baa2 from Baa1. 

In addition, the bank's baseline credit assessment was downgraded to ba2 from ba1, while the outlook on its long-term issuer ratings changed to stable from negative.

Moody's says that the downgrade of the bank’s long-term ratings captures the downgrade of the bank’s BCA to ba2 from ba1 and reflects primarily the deterioration in the bank's asset quality.


UAE In-Focus — Arada to open $1.7bn Sharjah office park

UAE In-Focus — Arada to open $1.7bn Sharjah office park
Updated 4 min 39 sec ago

UAE In-Focus — Arada to open $1.7bn Sharjah office park

UAE In-Focus — Arada to open $1.7bn Sharjah office park

DUBAI: Sharjah property developer Arada is boosting its portfolio with a 6.3 billion dirham ($1.71 billion) office park and five new residential projects in the UAE.

Arada CBD is spread over 4.3 million sq. feet of prime leasable space located in 40 smart office blocks. 

It will meet demand for a contemporary business district in Sharjah and will cater to the needs of companies throughout the UAE and beyond in the future, Emirates News Agency WAM reported.

According to analysis firm Oxford Economics, the Sharjah economy is projected to grow at a rate of 5 percent annually for the medium-term due to the launch of Arada CBD.

With 96 percent of its gross domestic product derived from non-oil sectors, the Emirate attracted 808 million dirhams in foreign direct investment in 2021, making it one of the most vibrant and diverse economies in the region.

Arada CBD’s first cluster is scheduled to break ground in 2023 and will feature 812,000 sq. feet of Grade A and Grade B leasable space spread across eight buildings.

There are also 1,666 parking spaces, 76,000 sq. feet of landscaped green space, and 26,500 sq. feet of retail space in the cluster.

Arada will relocate its headquarters to the first building of Arada CBD.

When Arada CBD’s first cluster is ready in 2025, the Aljada community will already have 20,000 residents.

Aljada, Sharjah’s largest ever project, covers 24 million sq. feet and will transform the Emirate.

There are numerous residential districts in Aljada, as well as extensive retail, hospitality, entertainment, sports, educational, and health care facilities, all integrated into a green urban master plan.

Approximately 1,500 homes have already been built at Aljada, and 6,000 more are currently being built.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the top most liveable cities in the Middle East and Africa

A massive vaccination drive against the COVID-19 pandemic made Abu Dhabi and Dubai among the safest and fastest to recover from the pandemic in the Middle East and Africa, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Both cities remain the most liveable in the region.

As a result of the vaccination campaign, the country avoided a full-scale lockdown in 2021 and, so far, in 2022, EIU said.

The report, published on Sept. 26, marks 1,000 days since the first COVID-19 case was announced to the World Health Organization in December 2019.

According to EIU, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have largely remained open for business since the first wave in 2020.

All target groups were vaccinated against COVID-19 by the UAE in June. Dubai was one of the first major cities to reopen during the pandemic.

Authorities implemented strict policies to contain the pandemic and reopen the city earlier.

As a result of strong trust between the two emirates, Dubai Airport handled 7.12 million passengers while Abu Dhabi Airport handled 6.3 million.

This year, Dubai’s population crossed the 3.5 million mark for the first time.

The region’s top cities to live in include Tel Aviv, Kuwait City, and Bahrain after the two emirates. Damascus, Lagos, Tripoli, Algiers, and Harare are the least liveable cities.


Air Arabia Egypt launches new route between Alexandria and Madinah

Air Arabia Egypt launches new route between Alexandria and Madinah
Updated 23 min 8 sec ago

Air Arabia Egypt launches new route between Alexandria and Madinah

Air Arabia Egypt launches new route between Alexandria and Madinah

RIYADH: Egyptian low-cost air carrier Air Arabia Egypt has announced the launch of a new service between Alexandria and Madinah in Saudi Arabia. 

According to a press release, the new flight will be launched from Borg El Arab Airport to Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport on Oct. 31. 

A single flight will operate from Alexandria every Monday and Wednesday, the press release further noted. 

The latest route to Medinah marks the tenth city that Air Arabia Egypt flies to in the Kingdom, after Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Tabuk, Taif, Al Jouf, Hail, Abha and Gassim.

“We are glad to add Medinah to our growing network from Egypt, offering our travelers with direct connectivity between both cities,” said Adel Al Ali, Group CEO of Air Arabia. 

He added: “We are confident that the new service will further contribute to the overall travel and tourism sector of Egypt and Saudi Arabia through providing an affordable and value-driven travel option to passengers traveling between the two countries.” 

 


Riyadh’s real estate sector continues to witness demand, investment opportunities: KPMG

Riyadh’s real estate sector continues to witness demand, investment opportunities: KPMG
Updated 27 min 44 sec ago

Riyadh’s real estate sector continues to witness demand, investment opportunities: KPMG

Riyadh’s real estate sector continues to witness demand, investment opportunities: KPMG

RIYADH: The demand for residential housing units in Riyadh continues to grow despite the recent pandemic-infused slowdown, according to KPMG, citing a rise in population together with increasing urbanization driving demand in the first half of 2022.

In its "Riyadh Real Estate Market Overview" report, the global accounting firm noted that the average selling rate for residential properties in Riyadh stood at SR3,865 ($1,027) per sq.m in the first half of 2022. 

It further revealed that the average residential rental rate in the Kingdom’s capital was SR263 per sq. m in the same period. 

The report further noted that 60.6 percent of Saudi households own villas, while 33.5 of them own apartments. 

On the contrary, 78 percent of non-Saudi households own apartments, while 6 percent of them own villas. 

“The residential market remained resilient during the pandemic which can be attributed to strong demand fundamentals and has witnessed a positive trend in KPIs in the first of 2022,” said Rani Majzoub, head of Real Estate Advisory at KPMG Professional Services. 

Rani Majzoub, Head of Real Estate Advisory at KPMG Professional Services. (Supplied)

The report further noted that the population in Riyadh is expected to reach 7.1 million by the end of this year, and it will touch 7.58 million by 2025, thus opening up more investment opportunities in the real estate sector in Saudi Arabia’s capital city. 

The report pointed out that the current homeownership rate in Saudi Arabia is just above 62 percent, even as the government tries to provide affordable housing to Saudis in line with its goals mentioned in Vision 2030. 

As a part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to raise the percentage of home ownership to 70 percent by the end of this decade. 

Retail sector

In the retail sector, KPMG expects Saudi Arabia to record an average sale of SR550 billion in 2022, with a further forecast to touch SR642 billion by 2025. 

The average rental rate in the retail sector stood at SR2,333 per sq. m in the first half of 2022, the report further added. 

It expects the Saudi retail sector to register a compound annual growth rate of 5 percent between 2022 to 2025, as the Kingdom’s market steadily recovers from the pandemic. 

KPMG added that future real estate developments in Riyadh should focus on both tourists and residents, as the Kingdom is currently positioning itself as a “global tourism destination.”

Majzoub added: “As Riyadh is positioning itself as a prime tourism destination, an influx of inbound and domestic tourists can be expected. Hence, future developments should focus on the needs of both residents and tourists.” 

Hospitality sector

In the hospitality sector, KPMG expects budget hotels, which include 3 and 4 stars, to drive healthy performance.

According to the report, the average daily rate in Riyadh hotels was SR652 during the first half of 2022. 

The report added that the hospitality sector offers huge investment opportunities as the number of tourists, including domestic and inbound, to hit 5.87 million in Riyadh this year, which is expected to touch 7.55 million by 2025.

Office sector

As factors like macro-economic indicators, population, and workforce are expected to remain affirmative, KPMG predicted a positive outlook for office space demand in Riyadh in the coming years. 

According to the report, the office market in Riyadh has witnessed a healthy upsurge in the rental rates of both Grade A and Grade B segments in the first half of 2022 with rental rates touching SR1,067 per sq.m. 


Saudi hospitality giant Alhokair secures $25m contracts to operate entertainment sites

Saudi hospitality giant Alhokair secures $25m contracts to operate entertainment sites
Updated 34 min 51 sec ago

Saudi hospitality giant Alhokair secures $25m contracts to operate entertainment sites

Saudi hospitality giant Alhokair secures $25m contracts to operate entertainment sites

RIYADH: Hospitality firm Abdulmohsen Alhokair Group for Tourism and Development has signed two contracts totaling SR94 million ($25 million) with a company that specializes in the establishment and operation of international brands.

Alhokair aims to operate entertainment sites operated by PlayOCity by Hasbro for SR49 million and by “Cocomelon” for SR45 million, according to a bourse filing.

Alhokair said it has the exclusive right to both brands.

The financial impact of the contract will likely appear in the fourth quarter of 2022 through the end of the contract’s term.