Jordan is an international investment platform, new minister tells UK businesses

Jordan’s Investment Minister Khairy Amr speaks during a roundtable discussion at the Arab British Chamber of Commerce. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
Jordan’s Investment Minister Khairy Amr speaks during a roundtable discussion at the Arab British Chamber of Commerce. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
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Updated 01 June 2022

Jordan is an international investment platform, new minister tells UK businesses

Jordan is an international investment platform, new minister tells UK businesses
  • He said the country had identified six sectors to focus on that were of ‘key relevance’ to Jordan at this stage

LONDON: Jordan’s new investment minister used his first visit to the UK to highlight prospects for cooperation and encourage British businesses to take advantage of the economic and investment opportunities available.

“We’re here on a mission to bring Jordan on the international platform to highlight the opportunities and the key driving factors that can make for good investments in Jordan,” Khairy Amr told Arab News on the sidelines of a roundtable discussion hosted by the London-based Arab British Chamber of Commerce.

He said the country had identified six sectors to focus on that were of “key relevance” to Jordan at this stage: Information technology, tourism, healthcare, transportation and logistics, agriculture, and life sciences.

“These are important areas that we highlight the need for further investment from our friends here in the UK,” he said, adding that trade, commerce, direct investment, and exchange of expertise with Britain were also being explored to open up new markets for Jordan-based businesses.

The new Investment Ministry was established last October following a cabinet reshuffle by the prime minister, signaling Jordan's commitment to accelerating inward investment and enhancing the competitiveness of its economy.

It replaced the Jordan Investment Commission and has joined the few entities representing investment in Jordan to become one big ministry, he said.

Amr, who met his British counterpart Gerry Grimstone and other officials during his visit, called on investors to use Jordan as a platform to access other markets due to its strategic location connecting three continents.

“This was historically the case, and that’s why places like Petra were built to accommodate trade and links with different countries and different continents.

“Today, the role has evolved significantly, there is the element of technology involved, and also there is an element of specific knowledge of regional markets and their specific requirements.”

The minister said his country played an important role because it had significant resident talent from Jordan and the region who knew these markets and their needs so it provided a platform for investors.

On top of that, he said they had built a significant array of bilateral trade agreements with Europe, the US, the Arab world, and Asia that allowed investors unencumbered, quota-free, and customs-free access to all these markets.

The former banker said he would like to see bilateral relations between the two countries elevated significantly to become an important partner.

“The UK has always been a very close ally and partner to Jordan in almost every aspect of economic and commercial activity and we would like to emphasize that, grow it, build further cooperation, and bring in more expertise and investment from the UK, as well as explore ways how we can open up UK markets for Jordan-based investors,” he said.

The Department for International Trade said in a May report that Jordan was the UK’s 89th largest trading partner in 2021, accounting for 0.1 percent of total UK trade.

Total trade in goods and services between the two countries was £653 million ($824 million) last year, an increase of 3.7 percent or £23 million from 2020.

Bandar Reda, secretary-general and CEO of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce, said the roundtable provided a great opportunity for their members to hear “firsthand from the investment decision maker of Jordan and to see the development of that great country.”

He also said the timing of the minister’s visit and that he chose the UK was perfect because it presented a real opportunity to show the country’s new regulations and development, particularly after the ministry was formed.

“The Arab British Chamber of Commerce, we consider it to be the house of all the Arab business community in the UK,” he said, adding that the organization was keen to facilitate cooperation with Arab countries, the British government, and businesses.


Oil settles lower after hitting $90/bbl as OPEC+ considers output cut

Oil settles lower after hitting $90/bbl as OPEC+ considers output cut
Updated 30 September 2022

Oil settles lower after hitting $90/bbl as OPEC+ considers output cut

Oil settles lower after hitting $90/bbl as OPEC+ considers output cut
  • OPEC+ has begun talks on output cut at Oct. 5 meet and Russia seen suggesting OPEC+ cuts output by 1 mln bpd — source
  • US markets slide on Fed’s aggressive moves to tame inflation; US production to return after shutting for Hurricane Ian

NEW YORK: Oil prices settled lower on Thursday in choppy trading, rising above $90 per barrel and then retreating as traders weighed a worsening economic outlook against potential OPEC+ output cuts next week.

Brent crude futures settled down 83 cents at $88.49 per barrel, after rising as high as $90.12 during the session. US crude futures for November settled 92 cents lower at $81.23 a barrel.

Leading members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, have begun discussions about an oil output cut at their next meeting on Oct. 5, three sources told Reuters.

OPEC+, which combines OPEC countries and allies such as Russia, agreed a small oil output cut of 100,000 barrels a day at its September meeting to bolster prices.

Top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia flagged in August the possibility of output cuts to address market volatility. 

Also at the group’s last meeting, OPEC+ members agreed to stick to their forecasts for robust global oil demand growth in 2022 and 2023, citing signs that major economies were faring better than expected despite headwinds such as surging inflation.

Oil demand will increase by 3.1 million barrels per day in 2022 and by 2.7 million bpd in 2023, unchanged from last month, OPEC said in its monthly report.

One OPEC source told Reuters a cut was “likely,” while two other OPEC+ sources said key members had spoken about the topic.

Reuters reported this week that Russia is likely to propose that OPEC+ reduce oil output by about 1 million barrels per day(bpd).

“Right now, the oil market is teetering between the Fed-induced demand destruction and tight oil supplies,” said Ryan Dusek, a director in the Commodity Risk Advisory Group at Opportune LLP.

US stock markets tumbled on worries that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive fight against inflation could hobble the US economy, and as investors fretted about a rout in global currency and debt markets.

“Amid so much uncertainty, seesaw trade may be common over the next week, unless we get more clarity from OPEC+ sources on the likely size of any adjustment and what it means for previous missed quotas,” said Craig Erlam, senior markets analyst at OANDA.

The market also eased as the threat of Hurricane Ian receded with US oil production expected to return in coming days after about 158,000 bpd was shut in the Gulf of Mexico as of Wednesday, according to federal data.

In China, the world’s biggest crude oil importer, travel during the forthcoming week-long national holiday is set to hit its lowest level in years as Beijing’s zero-COVID rules keep people at home while economic woes curb spending.

Crude benchmarks remain on pace to notch weekly gains after a four-week losing streak. Early this week they rebounded from nine-month lows, buoyed by a dip in the US dollar index and a larger than expected US fuel inventory drawdown.

The dollar index dropped again on Thursday, easing off 20-year highs, indicating some more risk appetite from investors.

Further support for oil prices could come from the United States announcing new sanctions against companies that facilitated Iranian oil sales.

“I think traders have almost given up on a nuclear deal being agreed and this announcement from the US appears to be a make or break move,” said Erlam.


Saudi Arabia launches $10bn food security plan: Minister

Saudi Arabia launches $10bn food security plan: Minister
Updated 29 September 2022

Saudi Arabia launches $10bn food security plan: Minister

Saudi Arabia launches $10bn food security plan: Minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, in coordination with its regional partners, has launched a food security action plan with an initial funding of $10 billion to tackle the global food supply crisis, the Kingdom’s minister of environment, water and agriculture said.

Speaking at a meeting of G20 agriculture ministers in Indonesia, Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli said the Kingdom will continue its role in helping stabilize the global food production supply chain.

On the domestic front, he added, the Kingdom has also succeeded in reducing the use of water for agricultural purposes by more than 40 percent, the Saudi Press Agency quoted him as saying.

Al-Fadhli also highlighted the Kingdom’s achievement in the agricultural sector, which according to him, grew by more than 7.8 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year. 

He said the Kingdom is applying modern techniques to boost its agriculture sector and reduce wastage of water.


PIF-owned Savvy aims to transform KSA into gaming hub with $37.8bn investment, says CEO

PIF-owned Savvy aims to transform KSA into gaming hub with $37.8bn investment, says CEO
Updated 29 September 2022

PIF-owned Savvy aims to transform KSA into gaming hub with $37.8bn investment, says CEO

PIF-owned Savvy aims to transform KSA into gaming hub with $37.8bn investment, says CEO

RIYADH: With investments worth SR142 billion ($37.8 billion), Saudi Arabia’s PIF-owned Savvy Games Group seeks to transform the Kingdom into a global gaming hub with world-class gaming companies, said CEO Brian Ward.

Ward was addressing members of the media following the announcement of the company’s strategy by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday.

The investments will include SR70 billion to take several minority stakes in companies that support Savvy’s game development agenda and SR50 billion to acquire “a leading game publisher to become a strategic development partner.”

Another SR20 billion will be invested in industry partners and SR2 billion will target industry disruptors “to grow early-stage games and esports companies.”

“Savvy Games Group is one part of our ambitious strategy aiming to make Saudi Arabia the ultimate global hub for the games and esports sector by 2030,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as saying.

Savvy's CEO Brian Ward

In the press briefing, Ward said: “Our mission will be to lead global investments in the sector.”

He said gaming and esports is the largest entertainment sector with a potential to “exceed $300 billion by 2020 and $400 billion by 2028.”

Ward said Savvy aims to accelerate the growth of the sector in the Kingdom and take advantage of Saudi Arabia’s “unique geopolitical position in the world.”

The PIF-owned company has five independent subsidiaries, including esports arm EFG, as well as Nine66, which "is building an ecosystem for game developers and studios,” and VOV company, which is building gaming and competition venues.

“We intend to make new investments in startups and (established) tech companies,” the top official said.

He also told the media that more details about the company’s acquisition deals and agreements strategy would be announced in the next six months.

Ward said the strategy unveiled on Wednesday seeks to help local gaming companies grow into global players producing world-class games.


UAE In Focus — Damac Properties targets $150m in monthly online sales by 2023

UAE In Focus — Damac Properties targets $150m in monthly online sales by 2023
Updated 29 September 2022

UAE In Focus — Damac Properties targets $150m in monthly online sales by 2023

UAE In Focus — Damac Properties targets $150m in monthly online sales by 2023

DUBAI: Damac Properties has seen significant growth in pure online sales as a result of its fully interactive virtual real estate and communities designed in the metaverse, according to a senior official.

On the sidelines of the Metaverse Assembly in Dubai, Ali Sajwani, general manager of operations at Damac Properties and CEO of D-Labs, said that online-only transactions are accounting for an increasing portion of the company’s real estate activity, approximately 367 million dirhams ($100 million) a quarter.

By mid-2023, the UAE-based developer aims to grow this figure to $150 million per month, according to a statement.

The realty major has invested up to $100 million to develop and monetize a metaverse that could allow potential customers to check into their luxury properties virtually, choose an apartment, explore furniture options and toy with the paraphernalia on offer.

The company's metaverse platform D-Labs will create digital replicas of its top projects, including Damac Hills, Damac Lagoons, Safa by De Grisogono, and Cavalli Tower in Dubai. It will also host other notable projects such as Damac Tower Nine Elms in London and the upcoming Cavalli Residences in Miami.

AD Ports Group welcomes its first international shipment 

AD Ports Group, one of the leading providers of international trade and logistics, announced Thursday the arrival of its first international shipment at Mugharraq Port, according to a statement.

The UAE’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure has recognized Mugharraq Port as an international port facility under the provisions of the International Code for the Security of Ships and of Port Facilities.

The port gained international recognition after a series of major upgrades including extending the quay wall and adding additional berths, deepening the facility’s depth to eight meters, and constructing additional Ro-Ro ramps.

Combined with its strategic proximity to Ruwais, Hail, Ghasha, and other key upstream oil and gas projects in the region, Mugharraq Port is well-equipped to meet the demands of international operations and will further solidify its position as an ISPS port in the region, the statement said.

As a premier maritime facility, the port offers a wide range of offshore, oil and gas, general cargo, logistic support, bulk, and break-bulk handling services.

Al Dhafra’s long-term development plan will be supported by the ongoing port extensions and the new international certification.


Goods exports fuel 18% rise in Saudi Arabia’s current account balance: SAMA 

Goods exports fuel 18% rise in Saudi Arabia’s current account balance: SAMA 
Updated 29 September 2022

Goods exports fuel 18% rise in Saudi Arabia’s current account balance: SAMA 

Goods exports fuel 18% rise in Saudi Arabia’s current account balance: SAMA 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s current account balance has witnessed a 17.6 percent increase in the second quarter of 2022 to SR170.1 billion ($45.26 billion) , fueled by a rise in oil and non-oil exports, according to the Saudi Central Bank’s monthly bulletin.

The Kingdom’s exports of goods increased to SR272. 2 billion, showing a 23.1 percent surge from SR221.1 billion over the same period.  

Services such as transport and construction all witnessed declines over the second quarter of 2022, resulting in a 53.9 percent reduction in the sector.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets increased 2.4 percent from the first quarter of 2022, hitting SR4.9 trillion in the second quarter of 2022.

Portfolio investments — which include equity and investment fund shares and debt securities — slightly declined by 1.1 percent for the second month in a row, equating to 1.4 trillion by the end of June.

Trade credit, loans, and currency and deposits — which fall under the category of ‘other investments’ grew 2.9 percent to 1.1 trillion in this quarter, slowing down from a 9.6 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Inside the Kingdom, residential new mortgage loans to individuals soared 76.6 percent month-to-month, from SR7.2 billion in July to SR12.7 billion in August.

Moreover, consumer loans and credit card loans both increased 2.1 percent and 4.8 percent respectively from last month.

Consumer loans grew from SR436.5 billion in July to SR445.8 billion in August, and credit card loans increased from SR19.6 billion to SR20.5 billion over the same period.

As for Saudi Arabia’s total bank credit, it rose 1.6 percent — recording SR2.3 trillion worth of brank credit in the transition between July and August.