Digital asset deals in KSA top $20bn in 2021, says BitOasis executive

Alobaid says their core platform allows retail users to track and manage their crypto portfolio without the complexity of going through a sophisticated trading experience. (Shutterstock)
Alobaid says their core platform allows retail users to track and manage their crypto portfolio without the complexity of going through a sophisticated trading experience. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 15 May 2022

Digital asset deals in KSA top $20bn in 2021, says BitOasis executive

Alobaid says their core platform allows retail users to track and manage their crypto portfolio without the complexity of going
  • Ali Alobaid expects cryptocurrency use in the MENA to grow quickly over the next few years

RIYADH: The value of virtual asset transactions in Saudi Arabia was worth around $20 billion with over 800,000 Saudis using digital currencies last year, according to the managing director of trading platform BitOasis in the Kingdom, Ali Alobaid.

He told Arab News: “We believe that this can grow by five times over the next five years. Last year, KSA probably represented 15 percent of Gulf Cooperation Council and Middle East and North Africa activity.”
Alobaid joined BitOasis, a leading crypto trading platform operating in seven countries across the MENA region, as managing director for the Kingdom this year, following other roles in the payments and fintech space in the country.




By the end of the year across MENA, about 4 percent of the adult population will have
invested in crypto-currencies, says Ali Alobaid, Managing director of BitOasis in KSA

The executive added: “In terms of demographics, our user base in the Kingdom is primarily made up of millennials. More specifically, close to 45 percent of all trading activity on BitOasis is driven by 25-34-year-olds, while another 30 percent is driven by 35- 44-year-olds.”
He expected cryptocurrency use in the MENA to grow quickly over the next few years.

FASTFACTS

• BitOasis introduced a swap feature on its core platform last month, which allows users to simply buy cryptocurrencies with other digital coins.

• The platform also has a partnership with UK-based online payment firm Checkout.com, which makes it easier for users to transfer funds and ‘reduces friction.’

The BitOasis MD added: “We are still at an early stage in the region’s journey toward mass adoption of virtual assets or cryptocurrency. We estimate that by the end of the year across MENA, about 4 percent of the adult population will have invested in crypto-currencies. In the US the number is about 20 percent.”
He also expected this type of currency will be embraced more by a younger, tech-savvy, generation.
Alobaid said: “We do expect markets that are characterized by young, tech-savvy early adopters that are keen to get exposure to a diversity of investable assets, where nations such as Saudi Arabia, will witness accelerating adoption and growth in the next few years. The adoption of these assets in the MENA region grew by 15 times between July 2020 to June 2021 — twice the global average. The Kingdom is one of the fastest growing markets for crypto-adoption in the MENA region.”
BitOasis, which launched in 2015, allows retail and institutional investors across the region to buy, hold, and sell over 40 virtual assets or cryptocurrencies.


Alobaid said: “We offer trading pairs in the UAE dirhams and the Saudi riyals and provide Arabic-language customer support. We generate revenues from the commissions we charge on buying and selling just like an exchange or brokerage platform that operates with shares or other assets.”
However, BitOasis does not enable peer-to-peer trading of virtual assets on its platform.
Alobaid added: “Such activity is more likely to lead to frauds and scams. It’s simply not in the consumer’s interest, and that includes Saudi residents, to allow such trading. There is also a lack of supervision from a regulatory perspective. Our advice would always be to use a supervised centralized platform for trading activity.”
He added BitOasis introduced a swap feature on its core platform last month, which allows users to simply buy cryptocurrencies with other digital coins.
Alobaid said: “Our core platform allows retail users to track and manage their crypto portfolio without the complexity of going through a sophisticated trading experience. With the new feature, core users can now swap a chosen percentage of bitcoin, ethereum or other crypto assets in their existing portfolio with another, in a few clicks. Users also have full visibility on conversion rates in real-time as they start and execute a swap transaction.”
Alobaid said the platform also has a partnership with UK-based online payment firm Checkout.com, which makes it easier for users to transfer funds and “reduces friction.”
Alobaid expects cryptocurrencies will be gradually regulated over the next two years.
He said: “We currently have the Central Bank of Bahrain, the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and the Dubai World Trade Center that regulate virtual asset activity. The Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority has indicated that they intend to launch a framework for the UAE.”
He added: “This will further drive consumer protection, foreign investment, and innovation and ensure that the region develops its own relevant use-cases around Web 3.0 (blockchain-based) technologies.”
Alobaid is well aware of the debate about the volatility of digital coins, but maintains they are a useful asset class.
He said: “It is true that virtual assets are subject to volatility, not unlike many financial assets, however, over the long-term investors in virtual assets have reaped significant gains.”
The platform head added: “Virtual assets are another type of investable asset class and one that has increased in popularity globally over the last decade. Today the market cap of virtual assets is approximately $2 trillion against $12 trillion for gold. Investors can diversify their portfolios, which today may consist of stocks, or real estate, along with virtual assets to achieve diversification.”


Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target

Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target

Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is now establishing a new hydrogen company and it will be like a mediator in many of the PIF’s initiatives.

Speaking in a regional forum on ESG organized by the Future Investment Initiative in London, the governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said the sovereign wealth fund  plans to develop 70 percent of renewable energy targets under vision 2030.

The fund owns companies that are already developing hydrogen such as NEOM and Aramco. 

Rewilding Arabia
Return of the leopard is at the heart of plans to conserve and regenerate Saudi Arabia’s landscapes and wildlife
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PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit
Updated 20 May 2022

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

RIYADH: The Future Investment Initiative Foundation will host its first ever regional summit on Friday, in Rosewood London, England, entitled Inclusive Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance in Emerging Markets.

The most prominent participants in the event include the FII Chairman and Governor of the Public Investment Fund, Yasser Al-Rumayyan, Egypt’s Minister of Environment, Yasmine Fouad and Blackrock CEO Larry Fink.

The summit will bring together international investors, world leaders, thought leaders, policy makers, global CEOs, and chiefs of sustainability to discuss and shape the future of ESG, particularly in emerging markets.

“The planet has major problems with climate, with destruction of nature, peace and security. But we also have tremendous resources, including our common humanity,” Executive Director of the FII Institute, Richard Attias said.

“We believe that ESG is an important tool to bring us together and channel capital to meet these challenges,” he said.

Using ESG standards to make investment decisions is a global boom, with assets expected to reach $53 trillion, about a third of global assets under management, by 2025, a statement showed.

Still, the lack of a framework for the effective implementation of ESG in emerging economies represent a stumbling block for investors. 

The FII says it will finally have the tool needed to develop sustainable investment strategies in these markets, through its proprietary measurement framework, developed in collaboration with investors, global companies, and FII’s strategic partners.

The Foundation works to impact humanity across four focus areas: artificial intelligence, robotics, education, health care, and sustainability.

The event is part of a series of events hosted by the Foundation, which will culminate in the sixth edition of the annual FII Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in October.

 

The PIF view

The PIF understands that being engaged in ESG is the right thing to do, Rania Nashar, head of compliance and governance at the fund, told the conference.

PIF companies are announcing emission reductions but it's not only about the destination, it is about the journey, she added.

“We approach the ESG through multiple aspects. Through creating platforms, sponsoring events and launching initiatives,” she said.


China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent
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Updated 20 May 2022

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s crude oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia soared 38 percent in April from a year earlier, hitting the highest monthly volume since May 2020, according to Reuters’ calculations based on official Chinese customs data.

Saudi shipments amounted to 8.93 million tons last month, equivalent to 2.17 million barrels per day, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs.

The hefty purchases, with trades completed mostly in February, compare with 1.61 million bpd in March and 1.57 million bpd a year earlier.

Imports from second-largest supplier Russia rose a more modest 4 percent last month from a year earlier, with cargoes booked before western governments toughened sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Russian oil arrivals in April totalled 6.55 million tons, or 1.59 million bpd, data showed, up slightly from 1.5 million bpd in March and 1.53 million bpd a year earlier.

China’s overall crude oil imports last month rose nearly 7 percent on the year, its first rise in three months, although widespread COVID-19 lockdowns crimped fuel demand and dampened refinery output.

Friday’s data showed zero imports in April from Iran. However, customs next month is likely to report for May the import of nearly 2 million barrels of Iranian oil that was being discharged this week into a reserve base in south China.

Despite US sanctions on Iran, China has kept taking Iranian oil passed off as supplies from other countries. The import levels are roughly equivalent to 7 percent of China’s total crude oil imports.

Iranian oil, often priced lower than competing grades, have squeezed out rival supplies such as from Brazil and West Africa.

Customs reported zero imports from Venezuela, as state oil firms shunned purchases since late 2019 for fear of falling afoul of secondary US sanctions.

Imports from Malaysia, often used as a transfer point in the last two years for oil originating from Iran and Venezuela, jumped 84 percent on year to 2.165 million tons, the second highest on record.


Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism has signed two agreements to enhance joint cooperation and support training and localization programs to qualify those wishing to work in the hospitality sector.
The move, which aims to support workers in the food, beverage and accommodation sectors, in support of achieving the Kingdom’s’ tourism human capacity development strategy.
Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Safir, director general of training and localization at the ministry, stressed that these two agreements aim to develop human resources in the tourism sector through quality training programs that will contribute to developing localized skills in the tourism sector.
Under the two agreements, which were signed with Kempinski Al-Othman Hotel and Carlton Al-Moaibed Hotel, the ministry will support dualifying Saudi nationals in the tourism sector within the “Your Future has Arrived” initiative.


Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO
Updated 20 May 2022

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

DUBAI: Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, said that startup businesses are an excellent opportunity for investment in venture capital funds and microfinance banks.

During an interview with Arab News at the Top CEO event in Dubai, Khammas Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, highlighted that startups are a good investment idea because the “ticket size is smaller, and the product ranges are higher.”

Khammas pointed out the risks that arise for startups are not in their early stages but rather when they become successful.

“The challenge is not when they’re trying to have a major impact on the economy; the problems occur when they become successful. All of those are calculated risks,” he said.

Khammas continued to add that regardless of these risks, investing in new, innovative startups is “absolutely the best opportunity.”

Also, during his talk at the event, Khammas  urged banks to fund new and innovative products and ideas in the area after he shed light on how banks are hesitant to invest in creative ideas.