Bitcoin, Ether fall; Brazilian Congress may approve regulation; North Korean hackers blamed for heist: Crypto Moves

Update Bitcoin, Ether fall; Brazilian Congress may approve regulation; North Korean hackers blamed for heist: Crypto Moves
Bitcoin traded lower on Sunday, down 0.56 percent to $40,296. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 17 April 2022

Bitcoin, Ether fall; Brazilian Congress may approve regulation; North Korean hackers blamed for heist: Crypto Moves

Bitcoin, Ether fall; Brazilian Congress may approve regulation; North Korean hackers blamed for heist: Crypto Moves

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Sunday, down 0.56 percent to $40,296 as of 08.15 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $3.037, down 0.27 percent, according to data from Coindesk

The Brazilian Congress may approve a legal framework for cryptocurrency 

The proponents of various proposed law projects presented in the Senate and the Congress have stated they will seek the unification of the projects due to their similarity, according to reports from local media. 

This new consolidated project provides incentives for green mining and the inclusion of crypto-related fraud as a crime, according to 

“There is a market demand for a safer business environment and the need for criminal classification to avoid fraud, in addition to adjusting Brazil to international agreements,” senator Iraja Abreu said. 

The senator believes that with a clear and well-established legal framework for cryptocurrencies in place that adapts the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, known as FATF, the sector will be more suitable for investors interested in Brazil.

Oman integrates real estate tokenization in virtual assets regulatory framework  

The Oman Capital Market Authority, known as OCMA, is set to include real estate tokenization in its virtual asset regulatory framework, reported.  

Oman expects to complete the drafting of the regulatory framework for virtual assets by the third quarter of 2022, according to the report. 

“The Regulatory Framework for Virtual Assets and Virtual asset service providers currently being established will allow the issuance of virtual assets such as real estate tokens for the first time in the Sultanate of Oman,” the advisor Kemal Rizadi said at the real estate conference held in Muscat. 

Rizadi suggested the tokenization of real estate — the supposed conversion of real estate property into several blockchain-based tokens — will likely open up investment opportunities in the real estate sector for local and foreign investors. 

North Korean hackers blamed for crypto theft

The US has linked North Korean hackers to the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency tied to the popular online game Axie Infinity, the US Treasury Department said on April 14.

Ronin, a blockchain network that lets users transfer crypto in and out of the game, said digital cash worth almost $615 million was stolen on March 23.

No one has explicitly assigned blame for the hack, but on Thursday the US Treasury identified a digital currency address used by the hackers as being under the control of a North Korean hacking group often dubbed “Lazarus.”

“The US is aware that the DPRK has increasingly relied on illicit activities — including cybercrime — to generate revenue for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs as it tries to evade robust US and UN sanctions,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.

The spokesperson warned that those transacting with the wallet risk exposure to US sanctions.

Amazon not ready for crypto payments Inc. CEO Andy Jassy said the e-commerce giant is not close to adding cryptocurrency as a payment option to its retail business, in an interview with CNBC on April 14.

He also said it might be possible to sell NFTs on its e-commerce platform and expects NFTs to continue to grow “significantly.”

NFT, a type of digital asset that exists on a blockchain, has exploded in popularity in 2021, with NFT artworks selling for millions of dollars.

Jassy said cryptocurrencies will become bigger in the longer term, but added he himself does not own any bitcoin.

A growing number of companies have started to accept virtual currencies for payment, bringing an asset class shunned by major financial institutions until a few years ago closer to the mainstream.

Last year, eBay Inc. allowed the sale of NFTs for digital collectibles like trading cards, images, or video clips on its platform, the first e-commerce company to tap into the frenzy around NFTs.

eBay had also said it was open to the possibility of accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment in the future.

(With inputs from Reuters) 


Arab Petroleum provided 93.2% of Japan’s imports in December

Arab Petroleum provided 93.2% of Japan’s imports in December
Updated 9 sec ago

Arab Petroleum provided 93.2% of Japan’s imports in December

Arab Petroleum provided 93.2% of Japan’s imports in December

TOKYO: Japan remained heavily dependent on Arab crude oil to generate about 30 percent of its energy needs for its economy in December 2022, data showed.

In numbers, Arab Petroleum provided 93.2% of the 91.87 million barrels of oil imported by Japan in that month, with 93.2% of that amount, or 85.62 million barrels, coming from the six Arab countries of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, according to data from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Saudi Arabia alone provided the biggest share of the imports, 37.64 million barrels or 41% of the total. The United Arab Emirates supplied 36.4% or 33.47 million barrels. Kuwait provided 8.8% or 7.27 million barrels, and Qatar supplied 5% or 3.89 million barrels. Japan also imported 2.1%, about two million barrels, from Bahrain and another 0.5% or, 479 thousand barrels, from Oman.

Notably, imports of crude oil from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates amounted to 77.4% of the country’s total oil imports in December 2022 making both countries crucial for Japan to maintain its energy security.

The data showed a notable increase from the United States of America at 4%. Central and South America provided 1.4%, Southeast Asia 1.2%, Brunei 0.3%, and Oceania 0.1%.

Sanctions against Russian and Iranian oil have continued as Japanese companies followed the policy of the USA.

The figures cited represent the quantities of oil that reached refineries, tanks, and warehouses in ports in Japan during December 2022. Japan uses oil to generate about a third of its energy needs.

This story was originally published on Arab News Japan

More than 100 of Aramco’s international suppliers on course to establish regional hubs in Saudi Arabia: Top official

More than 100 of Aramco’s international suppliers on course to establish regional hubs in Saudi Arabia: Top official
Updated 17 min 20 sec ago

More than 100 of Aramco’s international suppliers on course to establish regional hubs in Saudi Arabia: Top official

More than 100 of Aramco’s international suppliers on course to establish regional hubs in Saudi Arabia: Top official

RIYADH: Some 40 international materials suppliers for Saudi Aramco have already obtained certificates from the Kingdom’s Ministry of Investment to establish headquarters in Saudi Arabia, as localization efforts steadily continue, according to a top official.

Speaking at the seventh edition of the In-Kingdom Total Value Add Forum in Dhahran, Salem Al-Huraish, vice president of procurement at Saudi Aramco, said more than 60 other firms have put in the paperwork to begin the process of setting-up regional headquarters in the Kingdom.

“We are working hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Investment. And now, we are giving incentives for the companies when they move their regional headquarters to the Kingdom,” said Al-Huraish.

He added: “I am glad to highlight that 40 of our top suppliers, those are international suppliers, already obtained certificates from MISA which is the first step for their localization or migration of their regional headquarters in the Kingdom. Another more than 60 suppliers have already filed the request to get the license.”

According to Al-Huraish, these localization efforts and the migration of regional headquarters will definitely contribute to the economy of Saudi Arabia.

During the panel discussion, Al-Huraish noted Saudi Aramco is always focussing to ensure a sustainable supply chain within the Kingdom, and made it clear that this is in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

“ESG (environmental, social, and governance) was in the DNA of the company since its inception. We always realize the importance of ESG in our ecosystem, strategy, and all our business ethics. We are trying to establish a local platform here in the Kingdom to measure how much each company are contributing to ESG. Now, our suppliers are being rewarded for their ESG contribution locally,” Al-Huraish added.

Al-Huraish further pointed out that Saudi Aramco is very much focused on cybersecurity, and added that it is giving incentives to all the companies that meet these requirements as a part of the iktva program.

“All in all, we are on a continuous journey for improvement by keeping an eye on the market. Whenever we see an area of improvement, we will just capture it and have it part of our program,” said Al-Huraish.

Al-Huraish further pointed out that the iktva program achieved 63 percent local content in 2022, up from 35 percent in 2015 when it was initially launched.

On the first day of the iktva forum on Monday, Saudi Aramco signed over 100 agreements valued at $7.2 billion, primarily aimed at collective localization in key focus areas including digital space, sustainability, industrial, and manufacturing sectors.

Ayman Al Fallaj, CEO of Thiqah (Screenshot)

For his part, Ayman Al Fallaj, CEO of Thiqah, said that digitalization is needed to ensure a sustainable supply chain and localization.

“Without digitalization, we face tons of challenges, as we do not know where to start. We believe digitalization has played a crucial role in the smooth transition and transformation after the pandemic and in bringing more local content to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Al Fallaj.

During the panel discussion, ACWA Power CEO Paddy Padmanathan said that the company has been very transparent in its investment plan which will in turn help to ensure a resilient and sustainable local supply chain.

“We are very transparent in our investment plans, and we show the path on where ACWA Power is going to invest, and what ACWA Power is going to invest in. And therefore, what are the areas in which they (companies) can reliably look at investing in the Kingdom in order to supply into the project that we procure,” said Padmanathan.

Padmanathan added that ACWA Power is investing around $13 billion every year in new capacities; roughly half of it is in the Kingdom and another half in other markets the company serves.

Paul Stanley, CEO of Achilles, said during the discussion that maintaining economic competitiveness is one of the main challenges faced as companies try to ensure sustainability.

“As you look at your supply chain, remember you are running a business, and it has to be sustainable economically as well. An ethically sustainable chain should be also commercially competitive, and that is where the real challenge is,” said Stanley.

Siemens Energy aims to support Saudi Arabia achieve its 2060 net-zero goals: CEO 

Siemens Energy aims to support Saudi Arabia achieve its 2060 net-zero goals: CEO 
Updated 31 January 2023

Siemens Energy aims to support Saudi Arabia achieve its 2060 net-zero goals: CEO 

Siemens Energy aims to support Saudi Arabia achieve its 2060 net-zero goals: CEO 

RIYADH: As the world is pushed to up the ante in energy transition, the Middle East region has a significant role to play in achieving this goal. Given the region’s dominant position in the energy sector, Siemens Energy recently launched an innovation hub in the UAE that will help the company drive the transition. 

The company’s CEO and President Christian Bruch, who attended Saudi Aramco’s ‘In-Kingdom Total Value Add’ forum, told Arab News he is excited about the opportunity to work with stakeholders in Saudi Arabia. 

As the Kingdom has some of the best universities as well as the world’s biggest oil and gas industries, Bruch said: “We are currently in various discussions with them and with the government agencies to identify opportunities for innovation.”  

“We have a state-of-the-art manufacturing hub in Dammam, the largest facility of its kind in the region, where we plan to co-develop the technologies of the future.”   

Bruch believes that innovations are more crucial than ever, as 45 percent of all emissions savings in 2050 will come from technologies that are not yet on the market today. 

Renewable energy 

The CEO of one of the world's leading energy technology companies pointed out that the Gulf region in particular is impacted by climate change “because it’s warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and extreme heat and water shortages have been a reality here for decades.”  

However, he said, the good news is that the region has immense potential for generating renewable energy due to its geographic location. 

“We intend to harness this potential through renewable power generation and converting that to green hydrogen,” Brunch informed. 

He went on to cite the example of the UAE, where Siemens Energy is working on a hydrogen project with Masdar, TotalEnergies, Etihad Airways and Lufthansa.   

“In the first phase, we will focus on the production of green hydrogen for passenger cars and buses in the Masdar City area,” he said, adding that at the same time, a kerosene synthesis plant will convert the majority of the green hydrogen into sustainable aviation fuel. 

In the second phase, he revealed the company will produce decarbonized fuels for the maritime sector. 

Accelerating localization  

Bruch explained that Siemens Energy aims to support Saudi Arabia in its journey to reach its 2060 goal of net-zero emissions through its bridging solutions.  

“As part of its journey, the country wants to shift toward cleaner gas-burning instead of oil for its energy production. And we are supporting the country with our highly efficient gas turbine technologies that could later be used for hydrogen,” he said.  

Responding to a question on what needs to be done to accelerate the pace of localization and manufacturing to enable the Kingdom to become a manufacturing hub, Bruch said: “Localizing value chains for the manufacturing processes plays an integral part in Saudi Arabia’s vision to become a manufacturing hub.” 

In order to accelerate the pace to become a manufacturing hub, he feels Saudi Arabia should focus more on increasing knowledge transfer in the manufacturing process; strengthening the infrastructure for industries; improving access to funding; and encouraging innovation and development. 

Bruch went on to say that the Kingdom will also need to address gaps in the supply chain in order to minimize imports of components and rely on homegrown supply chains. 

The CEO revealed that Siemens Energy started its localization journey in Saudi Arabia in 2016 when it produced the first made-in-Saudi Arabia gas turbine from its factory in Dammam. “Since then, we have focused on training young Saudis and transferred knowledge and technology to create the largest facility of its kind in the region.” 

He stressed that they are continuing to expand this facility and increase their localization level in the country. “Because that’s what matters in the end, even if it sounds like a platitude: we only have one planet and we all have to work together to prevent climate catastrophe,” Bruch concluded. 

Saudi Arabia remains largest projects market in GCC in 2022, says report

Saudi Arabia remains largest projects market in GCC in 2022, says report
Updated 47 min 15 sec ago

Saudi Arabia remains largest projects market in GCC in 2022, says report

Saudi Arabia remains largest projects market in GCC in 2022, says report

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia remained the largest projects market in the GCC during 2022 recording a total of $54.2 billion worth of contracts awarded as compared to $53.9 billion in 2021, according to Kamco Invest.

Other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, however, witnessed a drop in project awards during 2022 due to mounting global economic challenges. The total value of contracts handed out dropped 18.7 percent to $93.6 billion from $115.2 billion the previous year, said the report.

This was the lowest project awards amount since 2005, barring the pandemic-induced decline in 2020, the regional non-banking financial powerhouse based in Kuwait stated. 

The decline of GCC contract awards was affected by high inflation and continuing supply chain problems, mainly due to China’s intermittent COVID-19 restrictions which are now lifted, it added. 

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar accounted for a combined 93.6 percent of the total value of contracts awarded in the GCC during the year. 

According to the report, total projects awarded in Kuwait during 2022 reached $2.8 billion against $5.2 billion in 2021.

Similarly, Oman witnessed new project awards drop by 27.1 percent year-on-year to hit $2.2 billion, while the aggregate value of contracts awarded in Bahrain reached $96 million in 2022 as compared to $2.7 billion during 2021. 

In terms of sector, the major share of new contract awards went to the construction industry with the value registering a $3.2 billion year-on-year increase to reach a total of $34.3 billion during 2022. 

The growth in the GCC construction sector was mainly driven by the jump in total value of contract awards in Saudi Arabia’s construction sector. 

Of the total value of projects awarded in the GCC, nearly 59.2 percent was awarded by the Kingdom, stated the report. 

The outlook for 2023 remains bright for the GCC projects market with more than $110 billion worth of projects already in the tender stage, according to MEED Projects, that would mostly translate into awards.

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons
Updated 31 January 2023

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons

RIYADH: The Saudi Ports Authority, also known as Mawani, has announced the launch of a new freight service at King Abdulaziz Port operated by the Swiss-based container group MSC.  

The latest connection will bolster the Dammam-based port as a focal point for regional and global trade while strengthening the Kingdom’s hub credentials in fulfillment of the ambitions of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy.

Dammam will also enjoy weekly sailings to eight maritime destinations spanning the Arabian Gulf, South Asia and Southern Africa.  

These include the ports of Khalifa bin Salman in Bahrain, Khalifa in UAE, Qasim in Pakistan, Mundra and Hazira in India, Port Louis in Mauritius, and Durban and Coega in South Africa.  

The service started on Jan. 21 and will feature five vessels with an average carrying capacity exceeding 6,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.

As a world-class logistics center boasting top-tier infrastructure and capabilities, King Abdulaziz Port was an obvious choice for shipping liners looking to expand their routes in 2022.  

Some notable liners include SeaLead Shipping’s Far East to Middle East service, Emirates Shipping Line’s Jebel Ali Bahrain Shuwaikh service, Gulf-India Express 2 service by Aladin Express and Maersk’s Shaheen Express service. 

As Saudi Arabia’s eastern maritime gateway and the Kingdom’s main port on the Arabian Gulf, King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam is the primary entryway for cargo headed to the country’s eastern and central regions from all over the world.  

It has a direct railway connection with the dry port in Riyadh. Saudi Arabian Oil Co. built the dock to meet the rapidly increasing demands of the national oil industry under the orders of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman.  

After further expansions, the port was officially renamed from Dammam Port to King Abdulaziz Port in 1961.

The port has 43 fully equipped berths with mega-ship capabilities, modern cargo handling equipment and general cargo support terminals. Other support terminals include a refrigerated cargo terminal, two cement terminals, a bulk grain terminal, an iron ore terminal, a vessel building berth, and oil and gas terminals.

The announcement comes just over a week after another trade link was added to the Kingdom’s Jubail Commercial Port.

The new shipping service line, India Gulf Service 1, has been added by Hapag-Lloyd, a German international shipping firm.

It will connect the Saudi port to Jebel Ali in the UAE, Karachi in Pakistan, Mundra in India, Sohar in Oman, Shuaiba in Kuwait, and Um Qasr in Iraq.

The new service will be launched weekly starting from Feb. 12 through voyages that include three ships with a total capacity of 2,400 twenty-foot equivalent units each.