Saudi-Greek Investment Forum sees $3.7bn deals on energy, economy and technology

Saudi-Greek Investment Forum sees $3.7bn deals on energy, economy and technology
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih at the forum (Supplied)
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Updated 27 July 2022

Saudi-Greek Investment Forum sees $3.7bn deals on energy, economy and technology

Saudi-Greek Investment Forum sees $3.7bn deals on energy, economy and technology
  • The meeting included discussions on communications, transport, logistics and energy
  • Saudi minister of investment: Saudi-Greek Investment Forum will strengthen bilateral economic relationship

RIYADH: Ministers from Saudi Arabia and Greece came together with leading private sector officials to discuss ways to enhance economic and investment cooperation between the two countries at a special Forum on Wednesday.

The meeting included discussions on communications, transport, logistics and energy, in addition to a signing ceremony for a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding, amounting to around SR14 billion ($3.7 billion).

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih said that the Saudi-Greek Investment Forum will strengthen bilateral economic relationship between the two countries.

“For everything that we do to advance our relations are about this — whether in the form of a fiber optic data cable, electricity, culture, shipping or people to people contacts. We are truly at a historical inflection point in our bilateral economic relations,” said Al-Falih in a tweet.

During the investment forum, Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with Greece to extend a submarine cable to help the Kingdom become a “major player” in the digital economy, Saudi Minister of Communications Abdullah Al-Sawaha told Al-Sharq.

“We seek for Saudi Arabia to be a magnet for cloud computing and building a new economy based on artificial intelligence,” Al-Sawaha said.

He added: “Today, we started from the stage of building the local leadership, then the digital regional leadership, and we will be the global leadership in 2030.”

During the forum, Bahri, the national shipping carrier of Saudi Arabia signed two memorandum of understanding to strengthen the maritime sector.

A strategic partnership was announced between the Saudi and Greek private sectors on the sidelines of the Crown Prince's visit to build a data cable project linking the East to the West.

This cable will ensure the smooth digital supply of data worldwide at a time when the data traffic is growing by more than 30 percent, SPA said.

This comes through the leadership of the Saudi Telecom Co. on the submarine cable project in partnership with the Greek Telecom Co., the General Energy Co. of Greece and the Cyprus Telecom Co.

STC Group announced that its subsidiary Middle East and North Africa Hub will cooperate with the Greek telecom firm TSSA to build a data corridor that extends from the Kingdom to Europe through a modern, high-capacity network of terrestrial optical fibers under the sea and will connect Europe with Asia.

The project aims to position the two countries as an eastern digital station for Europe to reach the Middle East, the continents of Africa and Asia. 

Along with 21 investment agreements, Saudi Arabia and Greece also signed a deal to promote digital transformation and innovation in the fields of energy, including cybersecurity, while working to develop qualitative partnerships to localize materials, products and services related to all energy sectors and their associated supply chains and technologies.


Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn

Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn
Updated 07 August 2022

Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn

Market value of top 30 banks in Middle East totals $586.6bn
  • Gulf banks dominate this year’s ranking, with 25 out of the 30 based in the GCC

LONDON: The Middle East’s top 30 banks have a total market value of $586.6 billion and assets worth $2.5 trillion as of June 28, Forbes Middle East has reported.

Saudi Arabia leads the ranking with 10 entries, followed by the UAE with seven, Qatar with four, Morocco with three, Kuwait with two, and Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, and Oman with one each.

Qatar's QNB Group topped the list for the second year in a row, with $300.3 billion in total assets.

The UAE’s FAB, Saudi Arabia's Al-Rajhi Bank, and Saudi National Bank tied for second place.

The UAE-based Emirates NBD was ranked third.

Last year, these five banks combined made $16.8 billion in profit, accounting for 49 percent of the total profit of the 30 banks on the list.

The list “recognizes the region’s resilient banking heavyweights that have emerged stronger from the pandemic crisis.”

Forbes Middle East compiled data from listed stock exchanges in the Arab world and ranked companies based on sales, profits, assets, and market value.


Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn

Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn
Updated 07 August 2022

Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn

Qatar foreign reserves up 2.79% in July to $58bn

DOHA: Qatar’s Central Bank foreign reserves and hard currency liquidity rose 2.79 percent year-on-year in July to 211.325 billion riyals ($57.74 billion), the Gulf state’s official news agency QNA reported on Sunday.

According to FocusEconomics’ report, Qatar’s gross domestic product per capita may exceed $100,000 in 2026 as the national economy is expected to pick up steam in the years ahead.

The country’s GDP per capita in 2026 will be $101,816, it estimated.

National GDP has been estimated by FocusEconomics to reach $217 billion this year.

The Qatar Central Bank hiked rates by 50 basis points in July, diverging from the Federal Reserve’s 75 basis points hike, the researcher said.

Inflation is expected to average almost double its 2021 level this year due to recovering demand and higher commodity prices.


Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1

Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1
Updated 07 August 2022

Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1

Oman posts $2bn budget surplus for H1

MUSCAT: The Omani government posted a budget surplus of 784 million rials ($2.04 billion) at the end of first half of 2022, Oman’s state news agency reported on Sunday.

The Gulf Arab state’s oil revenues increased to 3.187 billion rials by the end of first half, the report added.

Oman’s crude oil and condensate production reached 189.6 million barrels during the first half of 2022, recording a 9.7 percent growth over the same period last year, according to data released by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

The oil prices continued to rise throughout June trading, reaching $112.9 per barrel as a consequence of global economic conditions and political escalations around the world, the ministry added. 


Aramco, Saudia’s real estate arm sign MoU to develop fuel service stations

Aramco, Saudia’s real estate arm sign MoU to develop fuel service stations
Updated 07 August 2022

Aramco, Saudia’s real estate arm sign MoU to develop fuel service stations

Aramco, Saudia’s real estate arm sign MoU to develop fuel service stations

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Airlines Real Estate Development Co., to develop fuel service stations.

The MoU envisages evaluation of strategic sites to build and develop Aramco-branded fuel service stations, according to a statement. 

It also includes exploring the possibility of adding special services for Saudia’s guests, as well as the potential for the airline to provide catering services for Aramco-branded convenience stores.
“This cooperation with Saudia aims to expand Aramco’s presence in the fuel sector around the Kingdom, capitalizing on the strategically located sites for Saudia across various regions in the Kingdom,” said Yasser Mufti, Aramco vice president of fuels. 


Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA

Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA
Updated 07 August 2022

Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA

Mastercard sees rise in digital payment methods across MENA
  • Use of digital payments is accelerating at a faster rate amongst younger audiences than older ones

LONDON: A recent report by Mastercard has revealed a rise in the use  of digital payment methods in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Mastercard’s New Payments Index 2022 found that 85 percent of MENA consumers have used at least one emerging payment method in the last year, including tappable smartphone mobile wallets, buy now, pay later schemes, biometrics, and payment-enabled wearable tech devices. 

While traditional payment methods remain popular, 19 percent of MENA consumers reported using less cash in the past year.

According to the report, security is a key factor when deciding what payment methods to use. Other factors are ease of use, rewards and promotions. 

Sustainability is also a key driver in the region, with 31 percent of MENA consumers citing social and environmental benefits as factors.

BNPL instalments are increasingly used as a budgeting tool in the region, the report found. About  45 percent of MENA consumers said they are comfortable using BNPL today.

“Consumers want the flexibility and convenience of BNPL, but with the sense of security associated with a trusted provider like a bank or payment network,” the report noted.

MENA consumers are also turning to fintech, with 73 percent using open banking to meet their daily financial needs.

Furthermore, 64 percent agreed that using biometrics rather than a card or device makes payments easier.