Morocco plans $220m package to help COVID-hit tourism sector

Morocco plans $220m package to help COVID-hit tourism sector
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Updated 18 January 2022

Morocco plans $220m package to help COVID-hit tourism sector

Morocco plans $220m package to help COVID-hit tourism sector
  • Morocco will provide 2 billion dirhams ($220 million) in aid to help tourism businesses and workers

RABAT: Morocco will provide 2 billion dirhams ($220 million) in aid to help tourism businesses and workers cope with COVID-19 restrictions, the tourism ministry said on Tuesday.

Morocco has kept its borders shut since last November and reinforced its vaccine pass requirements in response to the omicron coronavirus variant.

The aid package includes 1 billion dirhams to help hotels renovate and stay afloat after a 22-month-long crisis, and a 2,000-dirham monthly payment in the first quarter of this year to affected workers, the ministry said in a statement. Other measures include loan payment deferrals and a local tax waiver for 2020 and 2021.

Tourism generated $8 billion, or 7 percent of Morocco’s economy in 2019, when the country received 13 million tourists. But the central bank expects it to have made only $3.6 billion last year.


Saudi pipe producer secures deal to supply Uruguay’s Tenaris with steel pipes

Saudi pipe producer secures deal to supply Uruguay’s Tenaris with steel pipes
Updated 11 sec ago

Saudi pipe producer secures deal to supply Uruguay’s Tenaris with steel pipes

Saudi pipe producer secures deal to supply Uruguay’s Tenaris with steel pipes

RIYADH: The Saudi Steel Pipe Co. has closed a deal to supply Uruguay’s Tenaris Global Services with oil and gas steel pipes.

With orders valued at SR139 million ($37 million), the transaction’s financial impact is expected to roll out in the second half of this year, the Saudi-based pipe manufacturer said in a bourse filing.

Back in 2019, Tenaris, a global supplier of steel tubes, acquired 47.8 percent of Saudi Steel Pipe’s shares in a $141 million deal.


Crypto Moves — Bitcoin, Ether edge up; FTX chief questions Bitcoin’s future

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin, Ether edge up; FTX chief questions Bitcoin’s future
Updated 20 min 13 sec ago

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin, Ether edge up; FTX chief questions Bitcoin’s future

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin, Ether edge up; FTX chief questions Bitcoin’s future

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Monday, up 2.06 percent to $30,373 as of 08:52 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $2,071, up 2.03 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

FTX chief says Bitcoin has no future as a payments network

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX’s founder has said that Bitcoin has no future as a payments network and criticized the digital currency for its inefficiency and high environmental costs, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, is created by a process called “proof of work” that requires computers to “mine” the currency by solving complex puzzles. Powering these computers needs large amounts of electricity.

An alternative to the system is called the “proof of stake” network, where participants can buy tokens that allow them to join the network. The more tokens they own, the more they can mine.

FTX Founder and Chief Executive Sam Bankman-Fried told FT that “proof of stake” networks would be required to evolve crypto as a payments network as they are cheaper and less power-hungry.

Blockchain Ethereum, which houses the second-largest cryptocurrency ether, has been working to move to this proof of stake system, which is intended to be less energy-intensive.

Bankman-Fried also said he didn’t believe Bitcoin had to go as a cryptocurrency, and it may still have a future as “an asset, a commodity and a store of value” like gold, the report said.

(With input from Reuters)


Saudi insurers quarterly profits dragged down by higher claims

Saudi insurers quarterly profits dragged down by higher claims
Updated 20 min 11 sec ago

Saudi insurers quarterly profits dragged down by higher claims

Saudi insurers quarterly profits dragged down by higher claims

RIYADH: Two of the Saudi-listed major insurers have reported losses in the first quarter of 2022, driven by higher claims, revealed their earning announcements on Monday. 

The Co. for Cooperative Insurance, also known as Tawuinya, saw its first-quarter profit drop by 49 percent to SR41 million ($11 million) from SR80.81 million the same period in 2021.

Al-Etihad Cooperative Insurance Co. saw its profits plunge 95 percent to SR689,910 in the first quarter compared to SR14.55 million in the first quarter of 2021, according to their bourse filings. 

Although both companies attributed the drop in their bottom lines to an increase in claims, Tawuinya added that a decrease in earnings from policyholders and shareholders also a major factor.


Oil Updates — Crude slides; China's oil output plunges to two-year low

Oil Updates — Crude slides; China's oil output plunges to two-year low
Updated 59 min 58 sec ago

Oil Updates — Crude slides; China's oil output plunges to two-year low

Oil Updates — Crude slides; China's oil output plunges to two-year low

RIYADH: Oil prices fell on Monday, paring early gains as investors took profit from a surge in the previous session, albeit in the shadow of supply fear as the EU prepares an import ban on Russian crude and with a limited increase in OPEC output.

Brent crude futures were down $1.66, or 1.5 percent, at $109.89 a barrel at 0356 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dropped $1.55, or 1.4 percent, to $108.94 a barrel.

Both benchmarks, which jumped about 4 percent last Friday, earlier climbed by more than $1 a barrel, with WTI reaching its highest since March 28 at $111.71.

China’s April oil refinery output plunges to a two-year low

China processed 11 percent less crude oil in April than a year earlier, with daily throughput falling to the lowest since March 2020 as refiners slashed operations on weaker demand due to widespread COVID-19 lockdowns.

Crude throughput last month was 51.81 million tons, equivalent to 12.61 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday.

This compared with 13.8 million bpd in March and 14.09 million bpd in April last year.

Processing volumes for the January-April period were down 3.8 percent on the year at 223.25 million tons or 13.58 million bpd.

(With input from Reuters) 

 


NEOM project completely falls under Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty, regulations, clarifies official source

NEOM project completely falls under Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty, regulations, clarifies official source
Updated 45 min 2 sec ago

NEOM project completely falls under Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty, regulations, clarifies official source

NEOM project completely falls under Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty, regulations, clarifies official source

RIYADH: NEOM, a project fully owned by Saudi Public Investment Fund, is “completely under Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty and regulations,” the Saudi Press Agency reported early Monday, citing an official source.

The clarification came after NEOM's tourism sector head Andrew McEvoy made comments to media during his participation at Arabian Travel Market in Dubai about demographic status within the megacity, suggesting that residents within NEOM will have a special status, distinguishing them from others.

Read More: NEOM seeks to regenerate the area, offer ‘guilt-free’ vacations

The official source refuted the comment, adding that the NEOM project will operate within “special economic zones subject to the sovereignty and economy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in terms of security, defense and regulatory aspects.” 

Economic legislation specific to the project area will be developed to achieve the best concepts of governance of economic zones in the world, making NEOM one of the most important attractions globally, SPA quoted the source as saying.