UAE prepares national crypto licensing: Bloomberg

UAE prepares national crypto licensing: Bloomberg
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Updated 17 February 2022

UAE prepares national crypto licensing: Bloomberg

UAE prepares national crypto licensing: Bloomberg

RIYADH: UAE is preparing to issue federal licenses to virtual asset service providers by the end of the first quarter of the year.

The move comes in an effort to attract some of the world's largest crypto companies to the country, Bloomberg reported, citing a government official.

Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange by trading volume, is among those considering a larger presence in the country.

The Securities and Commodities Authority, or SCA, is in the final stage of amending legislation to allow Virtual Asset Service Providers, or VASPs to set up, said the official, who requested anonymity due to government policy.

A nationwide licensing system for virtual-asset firms could help the UAE better compete with rival financial centers like Singapore and Hong Kong, which are also in the midst of creating fully regulated environments for crypto trading.

Some financial free zones in the UAE have also already issued permits for VASPs.

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre has licensed 22, while Abu Dhabi Global Market has six and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority has at least one, according to a government report seen by Bloomberg.

In an effort to attract more business, the UAE completed a risk assessment on virtual assets late last year, with the participation of 14 public sector agencies and 16 private sector players.

While there’s a high risk that VASPs may be used to engage in illicit finance schemes, the government concluded proper regulation, rather than an outright ban, can mitigate those threats, the report said.

The SCA will handle regulation with input from the central bank, while local financial centers can establish their own day-to-day procedures around licensing, the official said.

In terms of cryptocurrency mining, the UAE wants to build a crypto mining ecosystem, the official said.

It also seeks to overcome concerns about volatility and financial crime that continue to hamper the crypto industry, according to Bloomberg.

In the coming weeks, the Financial Action Task Force is set to decide whether to include the UAE in the gray list of countries subject to further oversight for deficiencies in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.


Egypt poised to announce detailed plan for state stake sales

Egypt poised to announce detailed plan for state stake sales
Updated 11 sec ago

Egypt poised to announce detailed plan for state stake sales

Egypt poised to announce detailed plan for state stake sales

CAIRO: Egypt's government aims to announce a detailed plan next week to offer stakes in at least 20 state companies over the coming year, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

An Egyptian plan to sell stakes in public companies, first announced more than five years ago, has gained new urgency since the Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered heavy foreign investment outflows from Egyptian financial markets and threw the economy into crisis.

Egypt in December agreed to a $3 billion rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund in expectation that the state withdraws from some non-strategic sectors of the economy to allow space for the private sector to grow.

"The whole goal is to increase the participation of citizens and the private sector in the development process and their management and participation in public institutions that have been owned by the state," Madbouly said, adding that a detailed plan should be in place after the next cabinet meeting.

The company offerings will be made over the course of a year, with some being sold on the stock exchange and others to strategic investors, Madbouly said.

"Large investors will also participate in restructuring and expanding production lines of the companies while also increasing their capital," he added.


Basra Oil Co. head expects Qatar to take 20-25% stake in TotalEnergies’ Iraq project 

Basra Oil Co. head expects Qatar to take 20-25% stake in TotalEnergies’ Iraq project 
Updated 6 min 15 sec ago

Basra Oil Co. head expects Qatar to take 20-25% stake in TotalEnergies’ Iraq project 

Basra Oil Co. head expects Qatar to take 20-25% stake in TotalEnergies’ Iraq project 

BASRA: The head of Iraq's Basra Oil Co. told Reuters on Wednesday that he expects Qatar to acquire a 20-25 percent stake in TotalEnergies' $27 billion cluster of energy projects in the country, with the Baghdad government aiming to hold around 40 percent. 

A major investment in the projects by a Gulf state would be an important win for Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, who took office last October following more than a year of political turmoil. It would also be considered a step towards countering Iranian influence. 

"Qatar is one of the promising and developed countries in this regard...we determine our percentage as an Iraqi country, and the rest is for Total and QatarEnergy...I don't expect more than 20-25 percent, they are talking about 30 percent," said Bassem Abdul Karim, director general of state-run BOC, referring to Qatar's potential stake. 

"The important thing for us is to set our share...Iraq is talking about 40 percent." 

Talks are ongoing, Abdul Karim added. Sources told Reuters last week that Qatar was looking to acquire a stake of around 30 percent in the project. 

QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Abdul Karim said he hopes that the contract with France's TotalEnergies — which was signed in 2021 and requires an initial investment of $10 billion to build four giant solar, gas, power and water projects in southern Iraq over 25 years — would be activated within three months. 

The deal had stalled amid disputes between Iraqi politicians over the terms of the deal, which have not been made public, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters early last year, although the oil ministry said it just "needed time". 

France and Iraq signed a treaty last month seeking to strengthen bilateral relations in anti-corruption, security, renewable energy and culture, while committing to the implementation of the TotalEnergies project. 

Separately, Abdul Karim said that Iraq’s oil production from its southern oilfields currently stands at 3.59 million barrels per day. 

 


Abu Dhabi's Borouge announces $400m cost savings drive; Q4 profit drops

Abu Dhabi's Borouge announces $400m cost savings drive; Q4 profit drops
Updated 15 min 23 sec ago

Abu Dhabi's Borouge announces $400m cost savings drive; Q4 profit drops

Abu Dhabi's Borouge announces $400m cost savings drive; Q4 profit drops

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi's Borouge announced a $400 million cost savings drive on Thursday to navigate inflation and supply chain disruptions, as it reported a 17 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit on pricing compression for polyethylene and polypropylene.

The program was introduced "in response to the prevailing market challenges and to sustain its competitive positioning," adding that its core markets, the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, remain stronger than in developed markets, the petrochemicals firm said in a statement.

The polyefins producer said the benefits of its program should mostly be felt in the second half of the year, offsetting anticipated market pressures, and expects the recent shifts in China's COVID policy to stimulate demand, but that would take some time to take effect.

"We will be looking at all levers," Chief Financial Officer Jan-Martin Nufer said in a post-earnings interview.

"We will need to look at all the cost areas, into logistics variable cost and conversion variable costs but also at the fixed costs."

Borouge reported a net profit of $247 million in the three months to Dec. 31 on a pro forma basis, down from $299 in the comparable period a year earlier, it said in a regulatory filing.

Borouge's board has mandated its executive management to actively explore growth opportunities through international expansion, the company said in the filing.

It also reiterated its commitment to pay $975 million in post-initial public offering dividends to shareholders for 2022, of which $325 million has already been paid, and at least $1.3 billion for 2023.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. and Austria's Borealis own a 54 percent and 36 percent stake in Borouge, respectively.


Saudi Arabia issues first license at OXAGON to NEOM Green Hydrogen

Saudi Arabia issues first license at OXAGON to NEOM Green Hydrogen
Updated 01 February 2023

Saudi Arabia issues first license at OXAGON to NEOM Green Hydrogen

Saudi Arabia issues first license at OXAGON to NEOM Green Hydrogen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources on Tuesday issued the first industrial license to NEOM Green Hydrogen Co. at OXAGON, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It is an equal joint venture between NEOM, ACWA Power, and Air Products.

It is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to catalyze the global hydrogen economy by becoming the world’s leading hydrogen producer while maintaining its position as a key player in the energy sector.

The NEOM Green Hydrogen plant is expected to begin green hydrogen production using 100 percent renewables in 2026. It will produce up to 1.2 million tons of green ammonia annually, or 600 tons of green hydrogen daily. Green ammonia will be exported to global markets to support the decarbonization of the heavy transport sector.

It is estimated that the plant will provide up to 5 million tons of CO2 annually. When the plant commences operations at OXAGON in 2026, 100 percent of the green hydrogen will be exportable to global markets in the form of green ammonia, under an exclusive long-term agreement with US-based Air Products Co.

The plant will run on around 4 GW of wind and solar energy and produce green hydrogen using the electrolysis 2.2GW technology.


Saudi-Oman Investment Forum sees 13 MoUs signed as trade ties deepen

Saudi-Oman Investment Forum sees 13 MoUs signed as trade ties deepen
Updated 01 February 2023

Saudi-Oman Investment Forum sees 13 MoUs signed as trade ties deepen

Saudi-Oman Investment Forum sees 13 MoUs signed as trade ties deepen

RIYADH: The Saudi-Oman Investment Forum and exhibition beginning in Riyadh on Wednesday discussed various ways and means to enhance long-term economic partnership between the two Gulf states in the investment and industry sectors.

Held under the theme “Partnership and Integration,” the four-day forum aims to build sustainable partnerships in key sectors and contribute to enhancing mutual interests between the two sides.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment hosted a senior delegation from Oman, which culminated in the signing of 13 Memoranda of Understanding in various sectors, including biochemicals, energy, mining, financial investment, logistics, maritime transport, and information technology among others.

The agreements signed at the forum underscore the long-standing partnership between Saudi Arabia and Oman, which has accelerated in recent years with several high-level engagements.

In December 2021, Saudi Arabia and Oman announced the opening of the first land crossing between the Gulf states to promote trade exchange, while in April last year Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih met with the Chairman of the Oman Investment Authority Abdulsalam bin Mohammad Al Murshidi to explore the enhancement of investment cooperation between the two countries.

This week’s four-day forum was opened by Al-Falih with Qais bin Muhammad Al-Yousef, Omani minister of commerce industry and investment promotion, who led the Omani delegation of diplomats and business leaders.

Al-Falih stressed the importance of the private sector’s role in Oman and Saudi Arabia in pushing the wheel of development forward as an active partner and contributor to the growth of economic, investment and trade sectors in the two countries.

He affirmed that the Saudi government is keen to strengthen investment relations with Oman, noting that the volume of trade exchange between the two countries during the first half of 2022 reached SR11.39 billion ($3.03 billion).

“This forum is the embodiment of a deep relationship between Oman and Saudi Arabia, coming together under the theme of ‘Partnership.’ We have the opportunity to create a roadmap that supports businesses and investments for a prosperous future,” said Al-Falih.

Al-Yousef lauded the distinguished relations between Oman and Saudi Arabia, which resulted in an increase of 219 percent in the volume of trade exchange between the two countries until September 2022 as compared to 2021.

Alongside the forum, Al-Falih and Al-Yousef  jointly opened the maiden Saudi-Omani Industries Exhibition.

The exhibition is open to the public from Feb. 1  to 4, highlighting the strong economic relationship between both nations across several sectors, and showcasing products and services from small and medium enterprise, businesses from both sides to stimulate opportunities for investment.

Participating in the exhibition Sumaiya Abdullah AlRamdhani, CEO of the ELIF Entrepreneurship of Oman told Arab News: “This exhibition has opened for us so many lines, sharing experiences, exchanging business ideas with our counterparts from Saudi Arabia, and sharing our experiences with them, if they are interested in what we produce, our perfume. This gives us a new trade opportunity.”  

The session on Wednesday saw several presentations by both Oman and Saudi representatives.

From the Oman side, Invest in 2040 and Special Economic Zones in the Sultanate of Oman were highlighted as opportunities available to Saudi investors, while Saudi officials presented Invest in Saudi Arabia and Special Economic Cities and Zones which showcased the areas available in the Kingdom.

On the sidelines of the forum, business-to-business meetings were held between representatives of the private sector in the two countries, discussing opportunities for cooperation and partnership and reviewing available investment opportunities.