Lebanon’s Central Bank sets new rate for withdrawals from dollar deposits

Lebanon’s Central Bank sets new rate for withdrawals from dollar deposits
Lebanon's central bank has set a new rate of 8,000 Lebanese pounds to the US dollar for withdrawals from bank deposits denominated in dollars but only the local currency. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 December 2021

Lebanon’s Central Bank sets new rate for withdrawals from dollar deposits

Lebanon’s Central Bank sets new rate for withdrawals from dollar deposits
  • The rate was previously set at 3,900 pounds
  • The central bank also set a withdrawal ceiling of $3,000 per month equivalent in Lebanese pounds

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s central bank said on Thursday it had set a new rate of 8,000 Lebanese pounds to the US dollar for withdrawals from bank deposits denominated in dollars but which can now only be accessed in the local currency.
The rate was previously set at 3,900 pounds, which implied a “haircut” or loss of more than 80 percent at the current market rate of around 25,000 pounds per dollar. The new rate represents a haircut of around 70 percent.
The central bank also set a withdrawal ceiling of $3,000 per month equivalent in Lebanese pounds for account-holders, who have been unable to freely access their savings since the collapse of the financial sector in 2019.
The central bank had maintained a pegged rate of 1,500 pounds per dollar until summer 2019, when it unofficially allowed the currency to become untethered after accumulating tens of billions of dollars in losses.
The pound has since lost more than 90 percent of its value, throwing the majority of Lebanon’s population into poverty and leading to shortages of basic goods such as medicines in the formerly middle-income country.
The central bank officially maintains a rate of 1,500 but almost all goods trade at the market rate.


Saudi Arabia’s PIF announces establishment of Aseer Investment Company

Saudi Arabia’s PIF announces establishment of Aseer Investment Company
Updated 01 December 2022

Saudi Arabia’s PIF announces establishment of Aseer Investment Company

Saudi Arabia’s PIF announces establishment of Aseer Investment Company
  • AIC will unlock a wide range of investment opportunities for domestic and international investors across number of sectors

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced on Thursday the establishment of the Aseer Investment Company (AIC) to operate as its investment arm in the Aseer region of Saudi Arabia.

The new company will promote and stimulate local and foreign direct investment to develop and transform the region into a year-round tourism destination.

AIC will unlock a wide range of investment opportunities for domestic and international investors across number of sectors including tourism, hospitality, healthcare, sports, education, food, and many other fast-growing domestic industries.

The company will contribute to fostering public-private partnerships, creating jobs for the local community and promoting the region’s tourism and attractive investment opportunities.

“Aseer Investment Company aims to become a leading facilitator of broad-ranging investment opportunities in Aseer, Raid Ismail, head of Direct Investments for the Middle East and North Africa at PIF said.  

“AIC will promote the region’s rugged mountains, stunning nature, and storied culture, preserve its ancient history and heritage, and transform it into a world-class tourist destination for visitors from across the globe in line with PIF’s strategy and Vision 2030,” he added.

The establishment of the company is in line with PIF’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors in Saudi Arabia, support the country, and in line with Asir’s region position as a leading investment destination.


TASI slips 74 points to close at 10,840 amid investor ambiguity: Closing bell

TASI slips 74 points to close at 10,840 amid investor ambiguity: Closing bell
Updated 01 December 2022

TASI slips 74 points to close at 10,840 amid investor ambiguity: Closing bell

TASI slips 74 points to close at 10,840 amid investor ambiguity: Closing bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index on Thursday fell 74.26 points to close at 10,840.74 after touching a peak of 10,957.64 at 10:20 SAST, reflecting a sense of ambiguity among investors. 

The parallel market Nomu also finished its trail 497.85 points lower at 18,903.74 after snowballing to 18,778.82 at 11:53 SAST. 

The advance-decline ratio, however, bucked the trend, with 126 stocks of the listed 219 heading north and 75 turning south. The total trading turnover was SR4.86 billion ($1.29 billion). 

Sahara International Petrochemical Co., in a regulatory filing on Thursday, announced a 15 percent cash dividend or SR1.50 per share, resulting in a dole out of SR1.087 billion for the second half of 2022. The company’s share price picked the drift and closed 5.72 percent higher to SR37.90. 

Taiba Investments Co. on Thursday also announced that it awarded a construction contract worth SR283 million to Orient Construction Company Weavers Ltd. to build a four-star Novotel hotel project in Madinah. The stock closed lower at SR26.90 after peaking at SR27.10. 

Meanwhile, Arabian Internet and Communications Services Co. (Solutions) informed Tadawul just before closing about its agreement with Saudi Telecom Company worth SR372.92 million to provide technical, administrative and logistical services. The share closed slightly lower at SR246. 

The Capital Market Authority on Thursday also Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co.’s request to increase its capital through a rights issue worth SAR 346.5 million. 

There was a blip of a bullish wave in the Software & Services index, which closed up 401 points at 36,540.33. The Healthcare Equipment & Services index also increased 103.04 points to close at 9,380.2.  

However, some of Thursday’s biggest losers were the Saudi British Bank, the National Company for Learning and Education, Arab National Bank, The Company for Cooperative Insurance and Bank Albilad. 

The Diversified Financial index was under the weather in November as it recorded the steepest decline of 15.9 percent in the Gulf Cooperation Council in November. 

A Kamco Invest research report highlighted that the Saudi Stock Exchange witnessed the after all the constituents of the index reported declines. 

Barring the Consumer Service index, the monthly sectoral performance chart declined across the board.  

The Utilities and Capital Goods indices were next with a decline of 15.2 percent and 11.7 percent, followed by Consumer Durables & Apparel and Materials indices with declines of 10.8 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively. 


Egypt to build 21 desalination plants in phase 1 of scheme -sovereign fund

Egypt to build 21 desalination plants in phase 1 of scheme -sovereign fund
Updated 01 December 2022

Egypt to build 21 desalination plants in phase 1 of scheme -sovereign fund

Egypt to build 21 desalination plants in phase 1 of scheme -sovereign fund
  • Egypt also aims to start production at a series of proposed green hydrogen projects in 2025-2026
  • The Sovereign Fund was set up in 2018 with a goal of attracting private investment in state-owned assets through partnerships and co-investments

CAIRO: Egypt plans to award deals next year to build 21 water desalination plants in the first $3 billion phase of a program that will draw on cheap renewable energy, the CEO of the country’s sovereign fund said on Thursday.
Egypt, which recently hosted the COP27 UN climate talks and is trying to boost lagging investment in renewables, also aims to start production at a series of proposed green hydrogen projects in 2025-2026, Ayman Soliman told the Reuters NEXT conference.
Egypt depends almost entirely on the Nile for fresh water, and faces rising water scarcity for its population of 104 million. The desalination program aims to generate 3.3 million cubic meters of water daily in the first phase, and eventually reach 8.8 million cubic meters daily at a cost of $8 billion.
There had been expressions of interest from more than 200 developers from at least 35 countries for the first phase, Soliman said.
The Sovereign Fund was set up in 2018 with a goal of attracting private investment in state-owned assets through partnerships and co-investments.
It is currently focused on getting private consortia to develop brownfield infrastructure, and private equity to develop state-owned enterprises ahead of public listings.
Privatization plans in Egypt have been repeatedly pushed back, with the government blaming delays on economic shocks including the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine as well as on legal obstacles. The plans have also met resistance from advocates of continued state control, analysts say.
’ECONOMIC CONSTITUTION’
Soliman said a state ownership policy that is meant to map out which parts of the economy are open to private investment would serve as the government’s “economic constitution” going forward, and as a platform to crowd in private investment despite the rising cost of capital.
“We as a fund are very sharply focused on trying to find those champions to scale up, be it in agriculture be it in tourism, be it in infrastructure, or be it in banking financial services,” he said.
At the climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, the government converted into framework agreements nine of 15 memoranda of understanding (MoU) for green hydrogen projects concentrated in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE) that would produce millions of tons of hydrogen and ammonia.
At least another three or four MoUs were close to being converted, and more MoUs were planned, with cheap renewable costs and the scale of the potential fuel export market toward Europe making Egypt competitive, Soliman said.
Framework agreements give developers access to specific locations to allow them to plan production.
“This is not a competition. We are creating a pipeline or a blueprint for that process, aiming to start production in 2025-26 and all the developers are working backwards from there,” Soliman said.
So-called green or clean hydrogen is produced using electrolyzers powered by renewable energy to split water from oxygen. It is seen as a potential future power source that could reduce emissions, though to date it is largely limited to experimental projects. Analysts say challenges facing its growth include high costs and energy inputs, as well as safety concerns.
Egypt’s projects would have desalinated water built in, and quantities required would be negligible compared to those produced under the national desalination scheme, according to the Sovereign Fund.


Saudi Arabia to lead the world in sustainable metal production: Vice Minister  

Saudi Arabia to lead the world in sustainable metal production: Vice Minister  
Updated 01 December 2022

Saudi Arabia to lead the world in sustainable metal production: Vice Minister  

Saudi Arabia to lead the world in sustainable metal production: Vice Minister  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will become the world leader in sustainable metal production, as the Kingdom explores its mining potential, as a part of its economic diversification in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030, according to Khalid Al-Mudaifer, vice-minister for Mining Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources.   

Speaking at the Mines and Money conference in London, Al-Mudaifer said that minerals are indispensable to the energy transition from hydrocarbons to renewables.   

“Decarbonization – the net-zero transition – cannot happen without minerals and metals: a lot of minerals and metals. We need to scale up discoveries and we need to scale up production,” said Al-Mudaifer.   

He added: “The World Bank says that by 2050 the production of minerals such as graphite, lithium, cobalt and copper needs to increase by nearly 500 percent to meet the future demand for clean energy technologies. To achieve a ‘below 2°C increase’ future, the Bank estimated that more than 3 billion tons of minerals and metals are required.”   

The vice-minister added that mineral and metal supply chains need to become more resilient to meet rising demands, and noted that the ongoing geopolitical tensions have exposed the vulnerabilities in the sector, which may result in “cost spikes of some minerals by 350 percent.”   

The minister further pointed out that the potential of Saudi Arabia in the mining sector largely lies in precious and base metals including gold, zinc, copper, and silver, in addition to a few speciality metals like niobium and tantalum.  

He went on and said that Saudi Arabia is already the world leader in phosphate fertilizer production.   

Al-Mudairef also added that Saudi Arabia is ramping up the green hydrogen production need as a part of its renewable energy push, and the Kingdom will have the largest green hydrogen plant operational by 2026, with a production capacity of 250,000 tons annually.  

Earlier in October, during the Future Investment Initiative, Al-Mudairef said that Saudi Arabia’s ambition is to become a global hub for green minerals and related technologies.

“Minerals now are the medicine to heal our planet,” he said.   

He added that the mining sector should embrace advanced technologies to reduce carbon footprints.

“We need technologies in discovery and survey, and we need technologies in processing and producing green hydrogen and green minerals and to reduce the footprint for smaller mines for the future,” said Al-Mudairef. 


Travel sector emissions nearly 3% lower than reported: WTTC research

Travel sector emissions nearly 3% lower than reported: WTTC research
Updated 01 December 2022

Travel sector emissions nearly 3% lower than reported: WTTC research

Travel sector emissions nearly 3% lower than reported: WTTC research

Riyadh: Greenhouse gas emissions from the tourism sector were lower than previously thought in the run up to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data published by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The research shows that in 2019 the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions totaled 8.1 percent globally — below an earlier estimate of 11 percent.

The findings mean that while between 2010 and 2019 the sector’s gross domestic product grew on average 4.3 percent annually, its environmental footprint only increased by 2.4 percent.

The WTTC’s research, the first of its kind, covers 185 countries and will be updated annually.

Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the WTTC, said: “8.1 percent is the stake in the ground. The key is to become more efficient and decoupling the rate at which we grow from the amount of energy we consume. From today, every decision, every change, will lead to a better and brighter future for all.”

The broader Environmental and Social Research will include measures of the sector’s impact against a range of indicators, including pollutants, energy sources, water use, as well as social data, including age, wage and gender profiles of travel and tourism related employment, the statement said.

WTTC will continue to release data on how the sector fares against these indicators throughout 2023.

The data comes in the same week as the World Travel and Tourism Global Summit in Riyadh.

Simpson used her speech at the event to allude to the research, stating that it was the largest such project ever undertaken by the Council.

“Until now we did not have a sector-wide way to accurately measure our climate footprint. This data will give governments the detailed information they need to make progress against the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals," she said.

“Travel and tourism is making huge strides to decarbonize, but governments must set the framework. We need a steely focus on increasing the production of sustainable aviation fuels with government incentives,” Simpson went on, adding: “The technology exists. We also need greater use of renewable energy in our national grids – so when we turn on a light in a hotel room, it is using a sustainable energy source.”

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb welcomed the research, and said: “We are proud to be a partner to the WTTC in this important research that will monitor impact for the future. Saudi Arabia recognizes that travelers and investors want policies that promote sustainability in the industry and we have embarked on a journey that will make the Kingdom a pioneer in sustainable tourism."

“Under the Saudi Green Initiative, we launched more than 60 initiatives in the past year to do just that. The first wave of initiatives represent more than $186 billion of investment in the green economy.”