Saudi HR ministry bans employees from working under the sun

Saudi HR ministry bans employees from working under the sun
This decision comes to preserve the safety and health of employees in the private sector. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 13 June 2022

Saudi HR ministry bans employees from working under the sun

Saudi HR ministry bans employees from working under the sun

RIYADH: The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development is scheduled to ban all private-sector employees from working under the sun between June 15 and Sept. 15.

The ministry called on employers to organize working hours and implement the decision to limit vocational injuries and diseases and improve productivity.

It also published a guide to health and occupational safety procedures to prevent the risks of exposure to sunlight and heat stress on its website for employers to view and apply it.

This decision comes to preserve the safety and health of employees in the private sector and to ensure their commitment to providing a healthy and safe environment under safety conditions and vocational health requirements.

PIF to buy 30% shares in Kingdom’s leading grocery chain

PIF to buy 30% shares in Kingdom’s leading grocery chain
Updated 10 sec ago

PIF to buy 30% shares in Kingdom’s leading grocery chain

PIF to buy 30% shares in Kingdom’s leading grocery chain


RIYADH: In a bid to expand its existing portfolio and strengthen the private sector, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has inked a deal to invest in Tamimi Markets Co., one of the leading grocery chains in the Kingdom. 

According to the agreement, the Public Investment Fund will become a shareholder with 30 percent ownership of Tamimi Markets by way of a capital increase and subscription of new shares. 

In a press statement, the fund said that this new investment aims to enable Tamimi Markets to transform from a national grocery chain to a major regional player. 

PIF currently has several strategic investments in the consumer goods and retail sector, which includes, a shopping platform, Halal Products Development Co., and Americana Restaurants International. 

“PIF is investing in the grocery and food supply chain to ensure a strong Saudi presence in the market, enabling the private sector to capitalize on positive market demand,” said Majed Al-Assaf, head of consumer goods and retail, Middle East and North Africa Investments Division at PIF. 

He added: “This partnership is expected to contribute to the expansion of Tamimi Markets’ operations and product offering, accelerating its regional growth plans and benefiting consumers through greater choice. Our investment aligns with PIF’s strategy to create Saudi national champions in key sectors that contribute to the diversification of the economy.” 

Tariq Al-Tamimi, chairman of Tamimi Holding said that PIF’s new investment could help the firm to expand further across the region in the next few years.

Earlier in January, data released by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute revealed that the PIF has maintained the sixth spot in the list of top sovereign wealth funds worldwide, with assets worth $607.42 billion. 

Currently, the sovereign fund owns 71 companies in 10 different sectors, and until now, it has created more than 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Gulf nations invest in Latin America energy projects

Gulf nations invest in Latin America energy projects
Updated 46 min 23 sec ago

Gulf nations invest in Latin America energy projects

Gulf nations invest in Latin America energy projects
  • Saudi Arabia, UAE among most promising partners as region strives to meet needs brought by economic development

SAO PAULO: As Latin American countries have been moving to enhance their energy infrastructure and meet the needs brought by economic development, investors worldwide have been demonstrating their desire to explore the region’s new opportunities.

Gulf nations, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have been among the most promising partners in the region’s upcoming energy endeavors.

The most recent announcement regarding Latin American-Middle Eastern energy partnerships was made last week, when Paraguayan authorities met with their Emirati counterparts and discussed the terms of a memorandum on economic cooperation. Partnerships in renewable energy projects were part of the deal.

With three hydroelectric power plants, Paraguay produces much more electricity than it needs, and exports the excess — more than 60 percent — to Brazil and Argentina.

“But in eight or 10 years, our situation will be much less comfortable. We’ll need to invest in electricity production, something that we’ve never thought about over the past 40 years,” Victorio Oxilia, an energy expert and professor at the National University of Asuncion, told Arab News.

Not only will demand from the population grow, but new industries will implement projects in Paraguay and require more energy, he added.

“At the same time, we need to diversify our sources. All our hydroelectric plants depend on the River Parana. Severe droughts can easily impact power generation,” he said.

Investing in solar energy plants is the natural response to those challenges. A government strategic plan for 2040 established it as a priority, Oxilia said, adding: “It’s a resource that abounds in the whole territory, so it’s a great candidate to be developed not only by Paraguay’s public energy company, but also by private agents.”

The projects currently being discussed will probably be followed by many more in the coming years, and will encompass wind power, hydrogen and synthetic biofuels.

A recent law, promulgated in January, determined a series of incentives for renewable energy production.

“There’s great potential when it comes to substituting the fossil fuels we now use in transportation and which we have to import,” Oxilia said.

Paraguay’s economy has been growing over the past few years thanks to agriculture — the nation is a major grain producer and exporter.

That is opening new opportunities in different areas, and may also include green energy in the future, Oxilia said.

“The Chaco region is near the big lithium reserves in Chile and Argentina. It’s a region that … can concentrate a cluster of lithium battery manufacturers,” he added.

In January, during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Paraguayan officials met with directors of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, who promised to fund — or at least lend money for — renewable energy projects in the South American country.

On the same occasion, Costa Rican authorities discussed with Emirati officials potential partnerships in electricity production.

In an interview with local news website La Republica, Environment and Energy Minister Franz Tattenbach said the Central American nation needs to transform its transportation sector and adopt electric buses, for instance.

Mario Alvarado Mora, who directs the Costa Rican Association of Energy Producers, told Arab News that 99 percent of the electricity produced in the country is environmentally clean, “but two-thirds of the nation’s energy come from nonrenewable sources and are used mostly in transportation.”

He added: “Costa Rica has a great challenge, and also a great opportunity, to decarbonize its energy mix and use renewable resources.”

The energy sector is pushing the government for legislative changes in order to increase legal safety and attract more foreign investors, he said. A bill containing some of these changes is being analyzed in Congress.

In Argentina, where both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are planning to invest in energy endeavors, the most pressing needs concern not so much energy production but its distribution infrastructure, said Juan Jose Carbajales, a professor at Jose Clemente Paz National University in Buenos Aires.

“We lack pipelines to take crude and natural gas from Vaca Muerta deposits to regional markets. We also need to expand our high-voltage grid,” he told Arab News, referring to the giant geological formation in Neuquen, Rio Negro, La Pampa and Mendoza provinces that contains major reserves of oil and gas.

Carbajales lamented that there are many projects for wind and hydroelectric power plants currently suspended due to the lack of distribution infrastructure.

“That situation also limits the expansion of hydrogen fuel because electricity is needed in its production,” he added.

In April, Argentina signed a $500 million deal with the Saudi Fund for Development for food and energy projects, including the gas pipeline Nestor Kirchner.

Scheduled to be completed in June, the pipeline will connect Vaca Muerta to Buenos Aires province. The SFD loan will also fund transmission lines.

In 2022, the sovereign funds of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait announced that they would invest $1 billion in Argentina until the end of 2023. Some of the partnerships include energy generation and infrastructure.

Such investments are fundamental for Argentina given that it is facing serious macroeconomic challenges, including high inflation.

“Those problems make it harder for the country to have access to the international capital markets,” Carbajales said.

Another Latin American country with great plans involving energy — especially renewable energy — is Mexico, which in February disclosed its project for that sector and invited nations worldwide to invest in it during the inauguration of a solar plant in the state of Sonora.

Also in February, Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim told Mexican magazine Expansion that investments in energy were part of the potential partnerships between the two countries.

Lawyer and energy expert Marcial Diaz told Arab News: “Mexico doesn’t have the means to make the necessary investments in projects connected to wind power, solar power and the market of fuels.”

He added that Mexico imports almost 70 percent of its fuel, so a transformation in that area is fundamental, with private investors directly collaborating in new endeavors.

Skeptical about the current administration’s ability to draw foreign investments for energy projects, Diaz said such plans usually take a long time, “so endeavors being conceived now will only be carried out during the next administration.”

He added: “No Latin American country is self-sufficient in energy terms, so it’s important for all of us to count on long-term investments.”


Wallen Trading signs partnership with Renault Group to distribute cars in KSA

Wallen Trading signs partnership with Renault Group to distribute cars in KSA
Updated 01 June 2023

Wallen Trading signs partnership with Renault Group to distribute cars in KSA

Wallen Trading signs partnership with Renault Group to distribute cars in KSA

RIYADH: Wallan Trading Co., one of the leading players in the Saudi car market, signed a strategic partnership to become the official distributor of Renault Group as the Riyadh-based firm looks to expand its automotive offerings in the Kingdom.

A key distributor of global automobile brands including Hyundai Motors, Genesis, Kenworth, and Geely Motors, Wallan Trading says the new partnership will help boost its services in the Kingdom.  

Fahad bin Saad Al-Waalan, chairman of the Wallan Group, said: “We are pleased to cooperate with the giant Renault Group. This alliance allows us to expand our areas of services to our customers in the Kingdom by offering world-class Renault cars.”  

“We are confident that this partnership will provide a unique experience for customers, based on the Renault Group’s commitment to technological innovation and our solid experience in the Saudi market,” he added.  

Wallan started its business in the 1980s when it became the official agent of Hyundai in the central region of Saudi Arabia. The company has been growing its automobile portfolio since then with partnerships with other global passenger and commercial vehicle brands.

Jerome Banaud, managing director of Renault operations in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, said: “We are delighted to proceed with this strategic alliance with the Wallan Group as its long-standing experience in the automotive sector and its strong customer focus perfectly match our brand goals.”  

Renault Group has a long history of providing automotive innovation and technology, including the introduction of Europe’s first mass-produced electric car. 

Eurozone inflation tumbles, fuelling ECB rates debate 

Eurozone inflation tumbles, fuelling ECB rates debate 
Updated 01 June 2023

Eurozone inflation tumbles, fuelling ECB rates debate 

Eurozone inflation tumbles, fuelling ECB rates debate 

FRANKFURT: Eurozone inflation eased more than expected last month as underlying price growth also slowed, fuelling a debate about the need for further European Central Bank rate hikes beyond an increase later this month. 

Inflation in the 20 nations sharing the euro eased to 6.1 percent in May from 7.0 percent in April, below expectations for 6.3 percent in a Reuters poll of economists. 

The reading came as only a modest surprise for investors, however, as national data earlier this week foreshadowed the drop. 

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel prices, and which has played an increasing role in the ECB’s policy deliberations, fell to 5.3 percent from 5.6 percent, coming well under expectations for 5.5 percent. 

The ECB has raised base rates by a combined 375 basis points to 3.25 percent over the past year to combat runaway prices and has essentially committed to another 25-basis point hike on June 15 given high underlying price pressures. 

“Today, inflation is too high, and it is set to remain so for too long,” ECB President Christine Lagarde said on Thursday. “That is why we have hiked rates at our fastest pace ever – and we have made clear that we still have ground to cover to bring interest rates to sufficiently restrictive levels.” 

Some economists argued that the bigger-than-forecast drop in underlying inflation suggests that not much work is left to be done. 

“Underlying inflation has probably passed its peak,” Commerzbank economist Christoph Weil said. “This supports our expectation that the ECB will raise key interest rates by 25 basis points for the last time in June.” 

Several influential policymakers, including the central bank governors of Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland, have already put a July rate hike on the table, and other economists sided with the policy hawks. 

They argue that July must be in play, partly because the ECB has been wrong about the inflation path for so long, it would rather err on the side of caution. 

“The May numbers and broader economic data will most likely convince the ECB to continue 25 basis points hikes in June and July and in our baseline forecast to pause after that,” Nordea said in a note. 

While Thursday’s benign price data add to the case for caution, Europe’s inflation problem is far from solved as price growth for many core items, particularly services, remains stubbornly high. 

Services inflation slowed to 5.0 percent from 5.2 percent while price growth for industrial goods eased to 5.8 percent from 6.2 percent, still excessive but both moving in the right direction. 

The ECB is also likely to take some comfort from the slowdown in food inflation to 12.5 percent from 13.5 percent as pressures on that front were still expected to build for some time. 

Recession risk  

Lower energy prices could push down headline inflation faster than some forecasts, but recent wage settlements could keep core inflation high. 

Eurozone wage growth is hovering in the 5 percent to 6 percent range, twice the rate that would be consistent with the ECB’s inflation target. 

But wages need to catch up after inflation ate deep into real incomes for years and the ECB is hoping that once inflation slows, wage growth will follow, so they will mutually extinguish each other. 

While that is a plausible scenario, the bloc’s labor market is exceptionally tight and firms, particularly in services, are reporting increasing labor shortages, an upside risk for wages and hence inflation. 

Another potential concern for the ECB is that economic growth appears less resilient than thought, particularly in manufacturing, with a raft of indicators showing that industrial activity could weigh on the overall economy even as services boom. 

This raises the risk that sharply higher borrowing costs could tip the bloc into recession, an outcome the ECB has tried to avoid. 

Financial investors see two more rate hikes from the ECB, with the first move fully priced in by June and a second in either July or September. 

Oil Updates — crude edges up on potential US rate hike pause 

Oil Updates — crude edges up on potential US rate hike pause 
Updated 01 June 2023

Oil Updates — crude edges up on potential US rate hike pause 

Oil Updates — crude edges up on potential US rate hike pause 

RIYADH: Oil prices rose on Thursday, reversing earlier losses, as a potential pause in US interest rate hikes and the debt ceiling bill passing a crucial vote renewed optimism about further fuel demand growth in the world’s biggest oil consumer. 

Brent crude futures for August rose 58 cents, or 0.80 percent, to $72.18 a barrel by 9:55 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude edged up by 49 cents, or 0.72 percent, to $68.58 a barrel. 

US Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday pointed toward a potential rate hike “skip” in June that reversed market expectations of an imminent hike that could slow economic growth and weaken oil demand. 

Additionally, the US House of Representatives’ passage of a bill suspending the US government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling improved the chances of averting a disastrous government default. 

Barclays slashes Brent oil price

British multinational bank Barclays has slashed the average price of its Brent crude forecast for this year from $92 to $87 a barrel. 

The bank also slashed its price forecast of Brent for 2024 as it cut the average projected price to $87 a barrel from $97. 

China’s CNOOC begins production at new offshore well in Brazil 

China’s CNOOC Ltd. has begun production at the Buzios5 well off the coast of Brazil, the company said in a statement on Thursday. 

The well is the fifth phase of the Buzios oil field off Brazil’s southeast coast. At an average water depth of 1,900 meters to 2,200 meters, the field is the world’s largest deep-water pre-salt oil field, with daily production of 600,000 barrels, the company said. 

CNOOC’s Brazilian subsidiary owns 7.34 percent of the Buzios shared reservoir, which is 88.99 percent owned by Brazilian state-owned oil and gas company Petrobras. 

CNOOC paid $1.9 billion to Petrobras last year to secure a 5 percent stake in a production sharing agreement at the field. 

Russia says ‘no final decisions’ yet on oil refiner subsidies 

Russia’s Finance Ministry said on Wednesday that no final decision had been made regarding plans to halve subsidies for oil refiners. 

The Interfax News Agency, citing sources, said the plans to halve the subsidies may be postponed to September. 

“The issue is being discussed in the government. No final decisions have been taken,” a finance ministry spokesperson told Reuters. 

(With input from Reuters)