Saudi Arabia’s 2022 budget to see first surplus since 2013 at $24bn

Update Saudi Arabia’s 2022 budget to see first surplus since 2013 at $24bn
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan. (SPA/File)
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Updated 13 December 2021

Saudi Arabia’s 2022 budget to see first surplus since 2013 at $24bn

Saudi Arabia’s 2022 budget to see first surplus since 2013 at $24bn
  • Kingdom’s economy forecast to grow by 7.5 percent amid plans to diversify income activity

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia expects a 2022 budget surplus of SR90 billion ($24 billion), the Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a Cabinet statement.

If achieved, this will be the first fiscal surplus since 2013. Total revenues for 2022 are estimated at SR1.05 trillion, while spending is estimated at SR955 billion — the lowest level since 2017.

The Kingdom’s economy is expected to grow by 7.5 percent. Revenues grew by 12.4 percent compared with estimated revenues in the 2021 fiscal year, while expenditures narrowed by 5.9 percent, the statement said, following a meeting chaired by King Salman.

The Kingdom’s budget surplus is projected to be 2.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2022.

In the pre-budget statement published in September, a SR52 billion deficit was predicted for 2022. The Ministry of Finance had then expected the deficit to be 1.6 percent of the GDP. Yesterday, the ministry of finance expected this to be a surplus.

As for 2021, total revenues are projected at SR930 billion while expendtures are set to be higher than next year, standing at SR1.02 trillion. The ministry kept its deficit estimates for 2021 unchanged from its pre-budget statement in September at SR85 billion.

The ministry had predicted a lower SR849 billion of revenues in last year’s budget statement while expenditures were also forecast at SR990 billion — less than this year’s estimated figure of SR1.02 trillion.

Revenues experienced an upswing due to the weakening of the pandemic’s adverse effects, as well as government support for the private sector. In addition, several non-oil initiatives were adopted by the Kingdom, the report said. This led to an 18.2 percent growth in non-oil revenues compared to 2020, after excluding some profits from government investments last year.

Oil revenues also underwent a boost as higher global demand pushed oil prices up.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 related issues attributed to expenditures being higher than budgeted. Increasing vaccination rates among the Kingdom’s citizens meant that health workers received more overtime compensation while the purchase of vaccines also partly led to the jump in expenditures.

The rise in zakat revenues corresponded to larger social spending by the government, according to the ministry.

Deficit as a percentage of GDP fell notably from 11.2 percent in 2020 to an expected 2.7 percent in 2021.

While public debt increased in value from SR854 billion last year to an estimated SR938 billion this year, its share of GDP declined from 32.5 percent to 29.2 percent. The statement explained that output is set to expand at a higher rate when compared to debt growth, inducing the decline in the latter figure.


Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding
Updated 28 September 2022

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

RIYADH: Bahrain-based restaurant reservation platform, Eat App, raised $11 million in a series B funding round.

The funding round included venture capital firms MEVP, 500 Startups, Derayah VC, Dalah Albaraka, Ali Zaid Al-Quraishi and Brothers, and Rasameel Investment Company.

The firm seeks expand globally and invest in product development to support restaurants and guest experience.

“Looking back, the pandemic impacted Eat App greatly. While it caused a drop in revenue, it was also one of the largest accelerators of the business, as restaurants were forced to implement digital tools,” Nezar Kadhem, co-founder and CEO of Eat App, said in a statement.

Founded in 2015, Eat App currently operates in Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, with more than 800 restaurants on its platform.


Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round
Updated 28 September 2022

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

RIYADH: Alteia, a European artificial intelligence and industrial software company, announced that it closed its latest funding round led by Wa’ed Ventures, Saudi Aramco’s venture capital arm.

Alteia will utilize its funding to increase its presence in the Kingdom by opening an office in Dhahran to support companies in the region as well as invest in research and development.

“To have the world’s leading energy company invest in Alteia through its investment arm is a strong show of faith in our trajectory, and weighs in the value of contextualized, actionable visual data as the foundation to shape a more efficient, more sustainable industrial future,” Benjamin Benharrosh, co-founder of Alteia, said in a statement.


Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round
Updated 28 September 2022

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

RIYADH: Mazaya, an Egypt-based B2B e-commerce marketplace, raised $5 million in a pre-seed round, said a statement issued on Tuesday.

The funding round was led by financial investment firm Raya Trade and Distribution, it added.

The company will use the funds to boost its operation in Egypt as well as expand into new markets and other verticals.

“The funds raised will allow us to quickly scale our operations and expand to other markets beyond Egypt, we have plans to launch our services in Nigeria before this year-end,” Amir Aboul Fotouh, Mazaya co-founder, said.

The Mazaya App provides retailers and merchants of electronic goods and home appliances the ability to procure inventory for their stores from all major brands.

“The platform conveniently supports merchants, particularly small merchants who do not receive adequate services, with the ability to scale their business through a superior level of service and a wide range of electronic devices from all international and local brands at the click of a button,” Bassem Megahed, CEO of Raya Trade and Distribution, said in a statement.

The company also plans to offer financial services and support to their retailers by offering credit facilities and flexible payment options.


Russia to spend $55bn from rainy-day fund to cover 2022 budget gap

Russia to spend $55bn from rainy-day fund to cover 2022 budget gap
Updated 28 September 2022

Russia to spend $55bn from rainy-day fund to cover 2022 budget gap

Russia to spend $55bn from rainy-day fund to cover 2022 budget gap

MOSCOW: Russia plans to spend 3.19 trillion roubles ($54.62 billion) from its National Wealth Fund this year to cover its budget deficit, a draft budget published on the finance ministry’s website showed on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

In 2023, Russia intends to spend 1.95 trillion roubles on budget deficit financing from the NWF, a rainy-day fund made up of oil and gas revenues, and another 643.7 billion roubles in 2024.

The ministry intends to issue 2.5 trillion roubles worth of OFZ treasury bonds as it seeks to ramp up domestic borrowing in 2023, the document showed.

In 2024, the ministry plans to borrow 3.4 trillion roubles and another 3.4 trillion roubles in 2025.


MENA Project Tracker — Petrofac contract extended; ASHGHAL requests pre-qualification document 

MENA Project Tracker — Petrofac contract extended; ASHGHAL requests pre-qualification document 
Updated 28 September 2022

MENA Project Tracker — Petrofac contract extended; ASHGHAL requests pre-qualification document 

MENA Project Tracker — Petrofac contract extended; ASHGHAL requests pre-qualification document 

RIYADH: Iraq has approved a project to build a $50 million industrial city in tandem with its post-war reconstruction initiative, reported Zawya.  

Located in the center of the Najaf Governorate, the new city will stretch over 9.5 sq. km, and encompass many different industries such as petrochemicals, lubricants, glass and detergents.

“This project will provide 5,000 jobs to Iraqis and its cost could exceed $50 million…we have received cabinet approval and have already selected a contractor,” said Dirgham Kiko, chairman of the Najaf Investment Commission.

It is expected to be completed within two years.

Petrofac’s contract extended in the Haliba oil field

UK-based Petrofac will continue supporting operations at the Haliba oil field in Abu Dhabi for the next two years, according to an agreement with Al-Dhafra Petroleum — a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. Group.

Al-Dhafra Petroleum originally selected Petrofac for this contract in September 2019, reported MEED.  

ASHGHAL requests pre-qualification documents

Qatar’s Public Works Authority has requested prequalification documents for four construction contracts that make up the South of Wakrah and New District of Doha pumping station and outfall scheme, reported MEED.

The contract has been tendered since mid-August, and bids will be closed by Oct. 23.