Saudi Arabia highlights progress made in efforts to achieve UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Saudi Arabia highlights progress made in efforts to achieve UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
Delegates discussed the Kingdom’s plans to prevent desertification(Twitter/@IISD_ENB)
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Updated 14 July 2022

Saudi Arabia highlights progress made in efforts to achieve UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Saudi Arabia highlights progress made in efforts to achieve UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
  • Delegates spoke about what the Kingdom has already achieved through recent initiatives and its goal to further increase the participation of women in the labor market

NEW YORK: Saudi authorities stressed the importance of international cooperation in efforts to overcome global challenges, as they highlighted the progress the country has made in efforts to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s own Vision 2030 development and diversification agenda.

It came during the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2022, a UN platform established to follow up and review progress toward the 17 SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is being held at the UN Headquarters in New York this week under the auspices of Economic and Social Council.

On the sidelines of the forum the Saudi delegation held a virtual session, titled The Kingdom’s Efforts Toward Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was led by representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Planning, and also included participants from the ministries of education, human resources and social development, environment, and water and agriculture, along with the General Authority for Statistics.

The delegates stressed the Kingdom’s commitment to accelerating its sustainable development efforts in partnership and coordination with the international community, discussed the progress made so far, and highlighted the Kingdom’s current contributions and future plans relating to the SDGS. Set in 2015 with the aim of achieving them by 2030, the SDGs are 17 interlinked global goals — covering a wide range of issues including education, gender equality, marine life, life on land and partnerships — designed to help bring about a better and more sustainable future for all.

Regarding the Kingdom’s efforts to improve the quality of education, the delegates highlighted enhanced investment in the capabilities of the Kingdom’s youth, who have an important role to play in plans for the future of the country and its ambitious vision for development. About 40 percent of the population in Saudi Arabia is under the age of 25, and authorities are seeking to open new educational pathways, including e-learning and digital skills.

In terms of gender equality, delegates spoke about what the Kingdom has already achieved through recent initiatives and its goal to further increase the participation of women in the labor market. They highlighted the findings of the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2020 report, which underlined the tremendous improvements the Kingdom has made on this issue, with its rating increasing from 70.6 percent in 2020 to 80 percent in 2021.

Another topic addressed during the session was the pioneering scientific and technological projects underway in the Kingdom to protect marine life, including a joint six-week project in cooperation with Ocean X on its OceanXplorer ship, which will carry out scientific research expected to advance knowledge of marine ecosystems in the Kingdom and help improve protection of coral reefs and the wider marine environment.

In addition, delegates discussed the Kingdom’s plans to prevent desertification, and the Saudi Green Initiative, which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tons annually and plant 10 billion trees locally.

They also highlighted a number of other initiatives, including the National Program for Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Development, a plan to increase the use of local and regionally grown native plants in parks and public places, and the launch of the Youth Green Summit, which aims to provide young leaders of tomorrow in the Kingdom and abroad with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure a more sustainable future.

Speaking about the importance of partnerships and international cooperation, the Saudi delegates stressed the need to enhance the sharing of data and statistics to help mitigate the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hindered the effective collection of data.

PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger to make the sport as popular as football: PIF’s Al-Rumayyan  

PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger to make the sport as popular as football: PIF’s Al-Rumayyan  
Updated 13 sec ago

PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger to make the sport as popular as football: PIF’s Al-Rumayyan  

PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger to make the sport as popular as football: PIF’s Al-Rumayyan  

RIYADH: The merger of the PGA Tour with Saudi-backed LIV Golf will make the sport more popular as the new partnership will help engage better with players, broadcasters and sponsors while ultimately giving more access for people to enjoy the game of golf, according to Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.   

On June 6, LIV Golf and the PGA Tour signed an agreement that would combine both the entities’ commercial businesses and rights into a new, yet-to-be-named for-profit company. The deal also includes the DP World Tour, also known as the PGA European Tour.  

Speaking to CNBC, Al-Rumayyan said they would love to make the game of golf very much accessible, “just like any other sport, just like football, basketball or any other sport.”  

“We will have both LIV and the PGA Tour, in addition to all of our assets, and we will be investing in the growth of the game of golf and doing many new things that I think will have a better engagement from the players, the fans, the broadcasters, the sponsors, everyone else,” he said.   

Jay Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner, added that the new deal will unify the game and help grow and expand the game of golf to new heights.   

“It is a historical day for the PGA Tour and the game of golf. There has been a lot of tension in our sport over the last couple of years. But what we are talking about today is coming together and unifying the game of golf,” said Monahan.   

He also thanked Al-Rumayyan for taking the initiative to make this deal happen and added that the agreement was made in the best interests of the PGA Tour members.   

“We have recognized that, together, we can have a far better impact on this game than working apart. I give Yasir great credit for coming to the table and coming to discussions with an open heart and an open mind. We did the same and the game of golf is better for what we’ve done here today,” said Monahan.   

He added: “This transformational partnership recognizes the immeasurable strength of the PGA Tour’s history, legacy and pro-competitive model and combines with it the DP World Tour and LIV — including the team golf concept — to create an organization that will benefit golf’s players, commercial and charitable partners and fans.”   

China’s exports tumble in May as global demand falters 

China’s exports tumble in May as global demand falters 
Updated 07 June 2023

China’s exports tumble in May as global demand falters 

China’s exports tumble in May as global demand falters 

BEIJING: China’s exports shrank much faster than expected in May while imports extended declines with a grim outlook for global demand, especially from developed markets, raising doubts about the fragile economic recovery. 

The world’s second-largest economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter thanks to robust services consumption and a backlog of orders following years of COVID disruptions, but factory output has slowed as rising interest rates and inflation squeeze demand in the US and Europe. 

Exports slumped 7.5 percent year-on-year in May, data from China’s Customs Bureau showed on Wednesday, much larger than the forecast 0.4 percent fall and the biggest decline since January. Imports contracted 4.5 percent, slower than an expected 8.0 percent decline and April’s 7.9 percent fall. 

“The weak exports confirm that China needs to rely on domestic demand as the global economy slows,” said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management. “There is more pressure for the government to boost domestic consumption in the rest of the year, as global demand will likely weaken further in the second half.” 

Highlighting the extent of the weakness, the data shows trade was worse even than when the port of Shanghai, China’s busiest, was shut down due to strict COVID curbs a year earlier. 

The figures also add to a growing list of indicators that suggest China’s post-COVID economic recovery is quickly losing steam, bolstering the case for more policy stimulus. 

Demand Squeeze  

Asian stocks fell into the red after the data as did the yuan and the Australian dollar, a commodity currency that is highly sensitive to swings in Chinese demand. 

China’s post-pandemic stock rally has faded as small-time investors turn bearish on equities and double down instead on safer assets amid a stuttering economic recovery. 

The economy has been hit by a double whammy of faltering demand at home and abroad with the ripple effects felt across the region. 

South Korean data last week showed shipments to China slid 20.8 percent in May, marking a full year of monthly declines, with Korean semiconductor exports dropping 36.2 percent, suggesting weak demand for components for final manufacture. Chinese imports of semiconductors fell 15.3 percent, as the market for the consumer electronics exports that include such parts softened. 

Demand for raw materials broadly weakened with coal imports pulling back from the 15-month high hit in March, amid soft appetite from the power and steel sectors. Copper imports slid 4.6 percent in May from a year ago. 

China’s official purchasing managers’ index released last week showed factory activity shrank faster than expected in May. 

The PMI’s subindexes also showed factory output swung to contraction from expansion while new orders, including new exports, fell for a second month. 

While economic growth beat expectations in the first quarter, analysts are now downgrading their forecasts for the rest of the year, as factory output slows. 

The government has set a modest gross domestic product growth target of around 5 percent for this year, after badly missing the 2022 goal. 

“Looking forward, we think exports will fall further before bottoming out later this year,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, head of China economics at Capital Economics. 

“Although interest rates outside of China are near a peak, the lagged impact from the sharp rate hikes is set to weaken activity in developed economies later this year, triggering mild recessions in most cases.”  

World Bank offers dim outlook for the global economy in face of higher interest rates

World Bank offers dim outlook for the global economy in face of higher interest rates
Updated 07 June 2023

World Bank offers dim outlook for the global economy in face of higher interest rates

World Bank offers dim outlook for the global economy in face of higher interest rates

WASHINGTON: The global economy is likely slowing sharply this year, hobbled by high interest rates, the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s the latest outlook of the World Bank, a 189-country anti-poverty agency, which estimates that the international economy will expand just 2.1 percent in 2023 after growing 3.1 percent in 2022.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Indermit Gill, the World Bank’s chief economist, called the latest findings “another gloomy report.” The bank, he said, expects “last year’s sharp and synchronized slowdown to continue to this year into a sharp slowdown.”
“By the end of next year, a third of the developing world will not meet the per-capita income level that they had at the end of 2019,” he said.
Still, the bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report marks an upgrade from its previous forecast in January. That estimate had envisioned worldwide growth of just 1.7 percent this year.
The Federal Reserve and other major central banks have been aggressively raising interest rates to combat a resurgence of inflation, set off by a stronger-than-expected rebound from the pandemic recession, persistent supply shortages and energy and food price shocks caused by the Ukraine war.
But the global economy has proved surprisingly resilient in the face of higher borrowing costs, and the World Bank predicts that growth will accelerate to 2.4 percent in 2024.
The United States has continued to generate unexpectedly robust job gains — employers added 339,000 workers in May, far more than economists had forecast — even though the Fed has raised its benchmark rate 10 times in the past 15 months. In its report Tuesday, the World Bank upgraded its forecast for US economic growth this year to 1.1 percent. Though weak, that is more than double the growth the World Bank had envisioned in January.
The eurozone, which represents the 20 countries that share the euro currency, is expected to post collective growth of 0.4 percent this year. That, too, marks a slight upgrade: In January, the World Bank had expected no growth at all for the eurozone this year. Europe, struggling with higher energy prices caused by the Ukraine war, enjoyed relief from a surprisingly warm winter, which reduced demand for heat.
The World Bank upgraded its 2023 outlook for China after Beijing late last year relaxed its draconian zero-COVID policies, which had restricted travel and hammered its economy. The world’s second-biggest economy is now expected to grow 5.6 percent in 2023, up from 3 percent last year. The World Bank envisions Japan’s growth decelerating to 0.8 percent this year from 1 percent in 2022. It foresees India’s growth slowing to a still-strong 6.3 percent from 7.2 percent last year.
The bank predicts that global trade will slow markedly this year. It foresees a sharp drop in the price of energy and other commodities this year and next.

Kuwait’s non-oil sector to grow 3.8% in 2023: IMF  

Kuwait’s non-oil sector to grow 3.8% in 2023: IMF  
Updated 06 June 2023

Kuwait’s non-oil sector to grow 3.8% in 2023: IMF  

Kuwait’s non-oil sector to grow 3.8% in 2023: IMF  

RIYADH: Kuwait’s non-oil growth is projected to increase to about 3.8 percent in 2023 on account of a robust expatriate community, the International Monetary Fund has forecast.   

While overall growth is anticipated to drop to 0.1 percent this year, the non-oil economy will be strengthened on the back of the financial stimulus and partial recovery in the employment of expatriates, according to the IMF’s latest analysis of Kuwait.

The county’s advancement will occur despite the slow growth of real credit, said the report, adding: “Benefiting from high oil production and prices, Kuwait’s economic recovery continues.” 

The report noted that Kuwait showed adequate recovery from the effects of the pandemic, and inflation has been controlled given the limited spillover from higher global food and energy prices. 

This resulted from managed prices and subsidies, as well as the general tightening of monetary policy in line with major central banks.  

Kuwait’s fiscal balance has developed since its overall fiscal surplus is expected to have increased by 22.5 percent of the gross domestic product in 2022, up from 6.4 percent in 2021.   

As for the country’s external balance, the current account surplus is estimated to have increased to 33 percent of the GDP last year, up from 26.6 percent in 2021.   

Additionally, the country’s financial stability has been preserved as its banking sector sustains an efficient level of capital and liquidity.  

Economic threats  

The instability of oil prices and production brought on by external factors pose risks to Kuwait’s external balance, public finances, growth and inflation, according to the report.   

Kuwait’s economy could also be at risk of the slowdown in global growth due to further tightening of monetary policy or pressures in the banking sectors of major advanced economies.   

The report also noted that the country is susceptible to the delay in implementing the necessary financial and structural reforms, which could lead to the continuation of the current public fiscal policy.   

In turn, this might damage investor trust, while limiting progress towards diversifying economic activity and boosting its competitiveness.  

“The dominance of oil in the economy, coupled with global decarbonization trends, necessitates fiscal reforms to reinforce sustainability, and structural reforms to boost non-oil private sector-led growth,” said the report, adding: “Political gridlock between the government and parliament has hindered reform progress, which could be made now from a position of strength.”

Dammam hosts important fish and algae conference and exhibition

Dammam hosts important fish and algae conference and exhibition
Updated 06 June 2023

Dammam hosts important fish and algae conference and exhibition

Dammam hosts important fish and algae conference and exhibition

DAMMAM: More than 100 companies from 35 countries descended on the Dhahran Expo for an under-the-sea experience during the International Conference and Exhibition of Algae from June 4-6.

The event, organized in conjunction with the International Fisheries Exhibition — known as SIMEC — played host to 16 workshops in a dedicated interactive space where seafood was offered to visitors, videos were on display, and experts were on hand to discuss everything related to algae and fish.

The exhibition was held under the patronage of the Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, the Ministry of Environment Water and Agriculture, and the National Livestock and Fisheries Development Program.

Abdul Majeed bin Saad Alshehri, chairman of the conference and SIMEC, said: “In this major global event, we proudly bring together global expertise and international expertise that will further advance food processing industries, develop human capacities, localize cutting-edge algae, and aquaculture technologies … I am fully confident that (IACE will) come up with tangible and actionable recommendations that will transform the algae and fisheries industries.”

The hybrid modality conference was presented in both English and Arabic — with headsets providing simultaneous translations for those requiring it. 

The aim of the three-day gathering was to target businesses from the algae sector as well as to increase awareness regarding the potential for algae cultivation. 

Another goal was to attract investors, inform government representatives of updates in the sector and engage stakeholders from the algae and aquaculture production chain. 

It was also a chance for the global community to exchange information and form potential collaborations among academic researchers working on algae biotechnology.

The main conference sponsor, NEOM, had several interactive spaces within the exhibition and hosted several workshops.

There were other forums led by experts from around the world, including local Saudi universities and companies. 

The Dhahran Expo space was also divided into booths with informative experts passing out brochures and samples of fresh seafood.

One such exhibitor was Julien Ropert, export manager from Le Gouessant in France. 

He traveled to Saudi Arabia for the first time in order to participate at the exhibition and to speak on a panel. 

With over 30 years of experience in fish feed manufacturing, Le Gouessant brought its expertise in sustainable fish farming nutrition to the space. 

Having worked for Le Gouessant since 2016, Ropert is the technical sales manager aquaculture based in France but in charge of Africa and the US. 

Saudi Arabia is a new target as they hope to expand into the Middle East.

“I came to this exhibition to see the Saudi people because I saw videos on the internet on many occasions and it’s a huge country with huge capacity and the government is increasing the sector of the efficiency of fish farming,” he told Arab News.

His hope is that he will be able to secure some partnerships within Saudi Arabia in the imminent future in relation to fish farming.

Saleh Bukhamseen, the award-winning underwater cinematographer whose short film “The Whaler” won the Science Award at the 2022 Nice International Film Festival, spoke to Arab News about the importance of algae in the region. 

“We are here at the exhibition to show the people how important algae is and and how it’s important for the whole ecosystem,” Bukhamseen told Arab News.

He emphasized how everything within nature is connected. The green turtle is a vital creature in the controlling of algae since it serves like a mini-cleaner in the water. 

The turtle nibbles on the algae to prevent it from taking over and completely covering and blooming over the coral reef — which is home to a huge population of fish. Coral reefs provide around 25 percent of the fish consumed from the whole ocean and sea. Algae serves as an important source of food for those sea turtles.

The exhibition held in Dammam was significant because the nearby waters produce larger fish meant to be eaten. In the Red Sea, on the opposite coast, those fish are more colorful but are “tiny” and thus not suitable for mass consumption. 

The waters in Dammam are more rocky and shallow and as a result, allow for sea creatures to thrive. The Red Sea is deeper and better for diving.

The next SIMEC AquaFish exhibition will be held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center in early 2024.