Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister

A total of 150 deals, valued at SR19 billion ($5 billion), were signed during the first half of 2022. File 
A total of 150 deals, valued at SR19 billion ($5 billion), were signed during the first half of 2022. File 
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Updated 11 August 2022

Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister

Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has implemented over 600 structural and legislative reforms that contributed to accelerating and improving the country’s business environment, deputy minister at the Ministry of Investment told CNBC Arabia. 

Saad Al-Shahrani said (the reforms) included facilitating the procedures for issuing investment licenses, whether from inside or outside the Kingdom.

He noted that a total of 150 deals, valued at SR19 billion ($5 billion), were signed during the first half of 2022, reflecting the attractiveness of Saudi Arabia for investors. 

This comes as part of the ministry’s efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s competitiveness as a regional business hub through a series of incentives and initiatives, Al-Shahrani added. 


Saudi Central Bank gets a new governor

Saudi Central Bank gets a new governor
Updated 1 min 22 sec ago

Saudi Central Bank gets a new governor

Saudi Central Bank gets a new governor

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has appointed Ayman bin Mohammed Al-Sayari as the governor of the Saudi Central Bank, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday. 

He is replacing Fahad Al-Mubarak, who has been named an adviser at the royal court with the rank of a minister, the agency said. 

Al-Sayari was appointed as the deputy governor of the central bank on Oct. 17, 2019. 

He had previously been SAMA’s deputy governor for investment since 2013, playing a key role in formulating the Kingdom’s sovereign debt strategy. 

Al-Sayari obtained a master’s degree in finance at George Washington University in the US. He was awarded his bachelors in accounting from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran and completed a general management program at Harvard Business School. 

He is also a chartered financial analyst. 

Al-Sayari is a board member of the Saudi Fund for Development, which participates in investment projects in developing countries by granting loans and providing technical aid for financing studies. He is also a board member of the Public Pension Agency and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity and Programming. 

Al-Sayari began his professional career as a financial analyst for the Saudi Industrial Development Fund. Before joining SAMA in 1999, he earned an investment analyst certificate from Chase Manhattan Bank. 


Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 82 points to 10,702  

Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 82 points to 10,702  
Updated 22 min 26 sec ago

Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 82 points to 10,702  

Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 82 points to 10,702  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index on Thursday lost 81.94 points — or 0.76 percent — to close at 10,701.79.  

MSCI Tadawul 30 Index dropped 0.95 percent to 1,475.52, while the parallel market Nomu slipped 0.79 percent to 18,996.50.  

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index on Thursday was SR4.04 billion ($1.08 billion), with 77 stocks of the listed 224 advancing and 130 retreating.  

Salama Cooperative Insurance Co. was the topmost gainer for the second day in a row, rising 5.84 percent on Thursday to SR16.30.   

The other top gainers were Dar Alarkan Real Estate Development Co., Saudi Arabian Cooperative Insurance Co., Knowledge Economic City and Americana Restaurants International.  

The worst performer on Thursday was Alinma Bank, which fell 4.25 percent to SR31.55. The bank on Feb. 2 posted a net profit increase of 33 percent to SR3.59 billion in 2022 from SR2.70 billion in 2021.  

The net profit growth was driven by an increase in total operating income by 19.6 percent year-on-year, mainly due to higher net income from financing and investment, fee income, the fair value of investments income through the income statement and currency exchange income.   

Net income from specialized commissions, financing and investments increased 18 percent to SR6.01 billion in 2022 from SR5.14 in 2021.  

The net profit for the fourth quarter of 2022 grew 39 percent to SR860.2 million from SR619.1 million during the same period in 2021.   

The other stocks that performed poorly included Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services Group, Banque Saudi Fransi, Saudi Industrial Investment Group and Etihad Etisalat Co.  

Among sectoral indices, 14 of the 21 listed on the stock exchange declined, while the rest advanced.  

The Real Estate Management & Development Index was the best-performing sector of the day as it gained 2.14 percent to 2,733.75, points led by Dar Alarkan Real Estate Development Co.’s 4.85 percent leap to SR12.96.  

The Healthcare Equipment & Service Index was the worst-performing sector, losing 169.9 points to close at 9,384.11.  

On the announcements front, Bank AlJazira also reported a rise of 10 percent in 2022 net profit to SR1.10 billion, compared to SR1 billion in 2021.  

The growth was spurred by a 10 percent decline in total operating expenses year on year.   

“The reduction in total operating expenses came primarily due to a decrease in the net impairment charge for financing and other financial assets, impairment charge for another real estate, rent and premises-related expenses and depreciation and amortization expenses,” the bank said in a statement to Tadawul.  

In the fourth quarter of 2022, net profit rose 7 percent to SR243.8 million from SR228.8 million a year earlier. Bank AlJazira’s share price fell 0.52 percent to SR19.16.  

Saudi Chemical Holding Co., through its pharmaceutical sector represented by the subsidiary AJA Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, signed on Feb. 1 a memorandum of understanding with Lagap SA, a Swiss-based pharmaceuticals producer.  

The MoU was signed at the Saudi Export stand during the Arab Health Exhibition 2023, the company said in a statement to Tadawul. The MoU is aimed at the co-development of pharmaceutical products and launching them in European and Middle East markets. The company’s share slumped 2.33 percent to SR27.30. 


Not voting for Saudi Arabia to host 2027 Asian Cup was ‘a mistake’, says Palestinian official

Not voting for Saudi Arabia to host 2027 Asian Cup was ‘a mistake’, says Palestinian official
Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association. AFP
Updated 24 min 23 sec ago

Not voting for Saudi Arabia to host 2027 Asian Cup was ‘a mistake’, says Palestinian official

Not voting for Saudi Arabia to host 2027 Asian Cup was ‘a mistake’, says Palestinian official
  • Palestine was criticized on social media for failing to vote for Saudi Arabia in its bid to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027

Riyadh: Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, has apologized after his country was criticized on social media for failing to vote for Saudi Arabia in its bid to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027.

The Kingdom will be hosting the competition for the first time in its history in an outcome confirmed on Wednesday during the 33rd Asian Football Confederation Congress held in Manama, Bahrain.

Rajoub admitted the decision not to vote for Saudi Arabia’s bid was a “mistake.”

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “It is clear that a technical issue occurred from our representative’s side during the voting process.

“I, personally, left after electing the representatives of West Asia at the executive office, for urgent health reasons.

“Palestine was and still is biased towards any Arab candidate in the matter of hosting [the Asian Cup], let alone if it was Saudi Arabia.”

Rajoub added that he believed it must have been the Palestinian representative’s first time participating in the conference.

Saudi TV channel Al Ekhbariya later announced that the Iranian Football Association had voted for Saudi Arabia while the Palestinian organization had not, sparking reactions on social media.

Twitter user Mohammed Alzahrani posted: “Let him apologize. Saudi Arabia won with 43 votes. We don’t need their vote. It won’t make any difference.”

Abdullah Alsaeed, another Twitter user, said: “Almost everything they do is wrong — historically. Their alliances are wrong, their media is misdirected, their policies towards the Palestinian cause are wrong.”

The user added that the problem was with Palestinian leaders and not its people.

Others on social media demanded the dismissal of the head of the Palestinian delegation at the vote.


Turkiye slams West for security warnings ‘harming’ tourism

Turkiye slams West for security warnings ‘harming’ tourism
Updated 44 min 53 sec ago

Turkiye slams West for security warnings ‘harming’ tourism

Turkiye slams West for security warnings ‘harming’ tourism
  • The German Embassy cited the risk of possible retaliatory attacks following Quran-burning incidents in some European countries
  • The US and other countries issued travel warnings urging citizens to exercise vigilance

ANKARA: Turkiye on Thursday slammed a group of Western countries that temporarily closed down their consulates in Istanbul over security concerns, accusing them of waging “psychological warfare” and attempting to wreck Turkiye’s tourism industry.
Germany, the Netherlands and Britain were among countries that shut down their consulates in the city of around 16 million people this week. The German Embassy cited the risk of possible retaliatory attacks following Qur’an-burning incidents in some European countries. The United States and other countries issued travel warnings urging citizens to exercise vigilance.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the consulate closures and travel warnings were part of a Western plot to prevent a rebound in Turkiye’s tourism sector following the coronavirus pandemic.
“On a day when we declared our aim of (attracting) 60 million tourists, at a time when 51.5 million tourists arrived and we obtained $46 billion in tourism revenue, they were on the verge of starting a new psychological warfare (against) Turkiye,” said Soylu, who is known for his anti-Western rhetoric.
The minister said Turkiye had conducted as many as 60 operations against the Daesh group so far this year and detained 95 people. Last year, close to 2,000 Daesh suspects were detained in more than 1,000 operations against the group, he said.
Earlier this week, the Interior Ministry said Turkish authorities had detained a number of suspects following a warning from a “friendly country,” but hadn’t found any weapons, ammunition or sign of a planned act of violence.
In November, a bombing on Istanbul’s bustling Istiklal Avenue, located in the heart of the city and near a number of foreign consulates, killed six people and wounded several others. Turkish authorities blamed the attack on Kurdish militants.
Last weekend, Turkiye’s foreign ministry issued a travel warning for European countries due to anti-Turkish demonstrations and what it described as Islamophobia. The warning followed demonstrations the week before outside the Turkish Embassy in Sweden, where an anti-Islam activist burned the Qur’an and pro-Kurdish groups protested against Turkiye.
In a related development, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned Norway’s ambassador to ask for a protest planned for Friday in the Scandinavian country to be prevented because there would be an “attack” on the Qur’an during the event, Turkiye’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported Thursday.
Norwegian newspaper VG said a group called Stop Islamization of Norway planned to burn the Qur’an outside the Turkish Embassy in Oslo on Friday.
The group’s leader, Lars Thorsen, told VG that he planned to carry out his protest “in the context of Turkiye’s intolerance of Western values of freedom.”
Recent demonstrations in Europe where activists desecrated Islam’s holy book have infuriated Muslims in Turkiye and elsewhere.
Anadolu said the Norwegian ambassador was told that the planned action would constitute a “hate crime” that should not be allowed.


Iranian film director Jafar Panahi starts hunger strike in prison — rights group

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi starts hunger strike in prison — rights group
Updated 45 min 54 sec ago

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi starts hunger strike in prison — rights group

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi starts hunger strike in prison — rights group
  • Panahi was detained in July and told he would serve a six-year prison sentence originally issued by a Tehran court in 2010
  • Panahi has won several international awards

DUBAI: Iranian film director Jafar Panahi has started a hunger strike in prison to protest against authorities’ refusal to release him temporarily on bail pending retrial, the activist HRANA news agency reported on Thursday.
Panahi was detained in July and told he would serve a six-year prison sentence originally issued by a Tehran court in 2010, amid a stepped-up crackdown on dissent in the Islamic Republic.
“According to the law, I should have been released on bail after my request for retrial was accepted but my case has been delayed for more than 100 days,” the 62-year-old film director wrote in a letter, according to HRANA.
“This is in stark contrast with the speedy trials of innocent youth which are brought to the gallows 30 days after their arrest,” added the director, who won the Cannes Film Festival’s Camera d’Or prize for his 1995 movie “White Balloon.”
There was no immediate reaction to the HRANA report from Iranian authorities on state media.
Iran’s judiciary said in July Panahi would serve a six-year sentence over charges of “propaganda against the system” and inciting opposition protests after the 2009 election that led to months of political turmoil.
Since then, nationwide protests sparked by the death in police custody of Kurdish Iranian young woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 2022 have represented one of the toughest challenges to the Islamic Republic.
At least four people have been hanged since the demonstrations started, according to the judiciary. Iran has accused foreign enemies of fomenting the unrest.
Panahi has won several international awards, including the 2015 Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear for his film “Taxi.”