New support measures announced to help Saudi Arabia’s tourism ‘renaissance’: Cabinet

Update New support measures announced to help Saudi Arabia’s tourism ‘renaissance’: Cabinet
The new regulatory system will help tourism’s development in line with Saudi Vision 2030’s objectives (Shutterstock)
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Updated 25 August 2022

New support measures announced to help Saudi Arabia’s tourism ‘renaissance’: Cabinet

New support measures announced to help Saudi Arabia’s tourism ‘renaissance’: Cabinet
  • Domestic cultural tourism in Saudi Arabia surged by 30% in 2021 compared to 2020: Culture Ministry report

RIYADH: Crisis management measures and financial guarantees will be part of a new tourism law unveiled by the Saudi Cabinet to boost a “renaissance” in the sector.

The incoming regulatory system, which will help tourism’s development in line with Saudi Vision 2030’s objectives, addresses the development of the regulatory and legislative environment of the sector.

The changes include measures to manage crises, ward off risks, and provide financial guarantees for certain tourism activities, strengthening the relation between investors, tourists and relevant authorities. 

Overall tourism spending in Saudi Arabia, including residents and foreigners, rose 52 percent in 2021 to SR95.6 billion ($25.5 billion) from SR63.4 billion the previous year, data published by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed earlier this month.

“The new system will enable us to carry out our tasks to ensure the provision of high-quality services that enrich the experience of the tourist and visitor and enable us to attract investments and supervise the sector efficiently and effectively,” Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said on his Twitter account.

“The new system will contribute to a qualitative renaissance of the Saudi tourism sector and its development in line with the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030,” he added.

In a separate statement, Al-Khateeb added: “This law follows the Kingdom’s recent announcement of the Regional Tourism Development Councils Regulation, a major milestone in advancing Saudi Arabia’s National Tourism Strategy. The regulation will accelerate the development of tourist destinations in the various regions, including NEOM, Al-Soudah, the Red Sea, and Diriyah Gate.”

The new system includes a set of articles related to the licensing of activities, their classifications, standards, requirements, and control over them, while also providing sufficient flexibility for the sector, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

It aims to support and facilitate the completion of procedures for obtaining licenses for hospitality facilities and other tourism activities. 

All tourism activities will now be processed through a comprehensive service center. 

The minister of tourism explained that the regulatory system comes as a culmination of the sector’s reform process, as it was built based on the best international practices selected from the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index.

“This system is not enough, it provides solutions to current problems, but sets a future vision for tourism patterns that may arise later,” Al-Khateeb said.

The Ministry of Tourism also intends to provide a set of incentives, such as the exemption from taxes or customs duties after the approval of the concerned authorities.

There will also be a database providing statistics and information on all aspects of the tourism sector in the Kingdom.

Jamil Attar, CEO of hospitality firm Tarfeeh Fakieh, told Arab News: “This pioneering national strategy aims to increase the tourism sector’s overall contribution to Saudi Arabia’s GDP from its current rate of 3 percent to more than 10 percent by 2030.” 

He said it will empower the private sector by offering various services and resources, helping organizations overcome challenges ranging from accessibility issues to quality management. 

“The framework also helps new projects secure permits for hospitality activities and events to cultivate the tourism experience further and help position Saudi Arabia as a key destination worldwide,” he further noted. 

The Cabinet also gave the green light for transfer of ownership of assets, as well as financial and contractual liabilities and rights related to healthcare services provided by the Ministry of Health, to Health Holding Co. or any of its subsidiaries.

Culture tourism up

Domestic cultural tourism in Saudi Arabia surged by 30 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, according to a report published by the Saudi Ministry of Culture. 

According to the report, the driving factors behind this rebound in cultural tourism are the lifting of pandemic restrictions and increase in cultural activities. 

The report also showed a consistent upward trend in demand for cultural activities, with domestic cultural tourism seeing annual growth rates of 4.5 percent between 2017 and 2021.

The report further noted that the Kingdom witnessed 85 percent growth in cinema ticket sales between 2020 and 2021 and the rate of those who attended a musical concert at least once rose by 12.5 percent in the same period. 

“The Kingdom is undergoing an unprecedented cultural transformation and which is continuing to gather pace. We have built an environment that enables creatives to flourish; proud of their shared history while eager to embrace their future,” said Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan. 

 

 


Oil Updates — Crude slips; Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 

Oil Updates — Crude slips; Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 
Updated 7 sec ago

Oil Updates — Crude slips; Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 

Oil Updates — Crude slips; Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 

RIYADH: Oil prices extended losses on Tuesday as the threat of further interest rate increases and continued Russian crude flows canceled out demand recovery expectations from China. 

March Brent crude futures fell 5 cents or .06 percent to $84.85 per barrel by 08.15 a.m. Saudi time, while the more heavily traded April contracts fell by 32 cents or 0.38 percent to $84.18 a barrel. 

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures slipped 33 cents, or 0.44 percent, to $77.57 a barrel. 

Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps 

The Russian government on Monday banned domestic oil exporters and customs bodies from adhering to Western-imposed price caps on Russian crude. 

The measure was issued to help enforce President Vladimir Putin’s decree of Dec. 27 that prohibited the supply of crude oil and oil products from Feb. 1, for five months, to nations that abide by the caps. 

The Group of Seven economies, the EU and Australia agreed on Dec. 5 to ban the use of Western-supplied maritime insurance, finance and brokering for seaborne Russian oil priced above $60 per barrel as part of Western sanctions on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine. 

The new Russian act bans corporates and individuals from including oil price cap mechanisms in their contracts. 

They also have to report to customs officials and the energy ministry any attempts to impose oil price caps. 

In addition, customs bodies have to prevent goods from leaving Russia if they find such mechanisms have been applied. 

CNOOC’s $3 billion UK portfolio sale halted on valuation gap 

CNOOC Ltd., China’s top offshore oil and gas producer, has halted a planned sale of its UK North Sea portfolio, which could have been valued at as much as $3 billion, according to a Bloomberg News report.  

Although initial offers failed to meet CNOOC’s expectations for the business, it could still resume a sale once conditions improve, the report added, citing people familiar with the matter.  

CNOOC did not immediately respond to Reuter's request for comment. 

Reuters has reported that CNOOC was preparing to exit its operations in Britain, Canada and the United States because of concerns in Beijing the assets could become subject to Western sanctions. 

(With input from Reuters) 

 

 

 


IMF lowers Saudi Arabia’s economic growth to 2.6% for 2023

IMF lowers Saudi Arabia’s economic growth to 2.6% for 2023
Updated 10 min 38 sec ago

IMF lowers Saudi Arabia’s economic growth to 2.6% for 2023

IMF lowers Saudi Arabia’s economic growth to 2.6% for 2023

RIYADH: The International Monetary Fund has lowered Saudi Arabia’s economic growth forecast to 2.6 percent for 2023, 1.1 percentage points lower than its October estimate of 3.7 percent, its latest report showed. 

This is in line with its projection for the Middle East region which is projected to decline from 5.3 percent in 2022 to 3.2 percent in 2023, primarily attributed to Saudi Arabia’s growth slowdown, according to IMF’s World Economic Outlook report.

In 2022, Saudi Arabia witnessed an economic growth of 8.7 percent, the highest in the region. 

IMF, in its report, noted that the economic growth slowdown in Saudi Arabia could be due to the decision made by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies known as OPEC+ to reduce the oil output. 

Earlier in October 2022, OPEC+ had agreed to cut output by 2 million barrels per day, which equals to about 2 percent of world demand, from November 2022 until the end of 2023.

The IMF report, however, noted that non-oil growth in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region will remain robust in 2023. 


Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform

Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform
Updated 30 January 2023

Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform

Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform
  • Strategy aims to grow the region’s GDP, attract companies

DUBAI: Dubai International Financial Centre announced the launch of the DIFC Metaverse Platform on Monday in a bid to attract technology innovators from across the globe, Emirates News Agency reported.

The platform is part of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which aims to add $4 billion to the emirate’s GDP by 2030, support 40,000 virtual jobs, and attract 1,000 blockchain and metaverse companies. 

The platform also supports the Dubai Economic Agenda’s goal of generating economic value worth $27 billion per year from digital transformation. 

Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications Omar bin Sultan Al Olama said that the metaverse platform is the first in a series of initiatives aimed at bolstering Dubai’s position as a global hub for the latest digital trends, and accelerating the pace of achieving the strategy’s objectives.

DIFC Authority CEO Arif Amiri said: “The Dubai government has shown great foresight in introducing a metaverse strategy that has the objective of making the emirate a global hub for technology and innovation.

“The development of the integrated DIFC Metaverse Platform will accelerate the achievements of Dubai’s aspirations in this sector.

“The initiative is a natural extension of our Innovation Hub proposition that has shaped the technology and innovation landscape in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.”

The DIFC Metaverse Platform includes an accelerator program with a physical studio for metaverse technology, which will foster the growth of a creator community and venture creation.

It will also work on metaverse policy development and legislation on open data, digital identity, and metaverse company law frameworks.


Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows

Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows
Updated 30 January 2023

Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows

Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows

RIYADH: Deposits in Saudi banks grew by 9 percent year-on-year to SR2.29 trillion ($609.97 billion) with the major chunk deposited by government agencies, the monthly bulletin issued by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, showed.

Data showed that deposits by government entities rose by 27 percent, the highest in 16 years, reaching SR651.2 billion.

Saudi-listed banks reported a 21 percent rise in aggregate net profit before zakat and tax to SR6.16 billion in December 2022, compared to SR5.11 billion a year earlier.

The data covered the results of Tadawul-listed banks and some foreign banks operating in Saudi Arabia.

Banks’ aggregate assets increased nearly 10 percent year-on-year to SR3.62 trillion in December.

Loans issued to individuals in the Kingdom saw a 14 percent surge during 2022 reaching SR1.17 trillion by the end of 2022 as compared to SR1.02 trillion by the end of 2021.

The volume of residential real estate financing for individuals declined by 21 percent in 2022 for the first time since 2016. The total volume remained at SR123.4 billion.

The SAMA report showed that remittances from Saudi Arabia fell by 7 percent during 2022 to SR143.2 billion while remittances to the Kingdom from citizens living abroad recorded a growth of 11 percent to reach SR7.25 billion.

Assets held by the central bank shrank by SR63.8 billion month-on-month to SR1.93 trillion in December 2022. However, as compared to December 2021, SAMA’s assets rose by SR85.1 billion.

The central bank’s investments in foreign securities, which make up 58 percent of its total assets, edged down 0.2 percent year-on-year to around SR1.13 trillion last month.


 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool

 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool
Updated 30 January 2023

 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool

 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool

RIYADH: The world’s largest technical conference “LEAP” has launched two competitions with a SR6 million ($1.5 million) prize pool aimed at rewarding Saudi-based startups and boosting cloud technologies.

Supported by the National Information Technology Development Program and the Misk Foundation, the Rocket Fuel competition aims to support new businesses, highlight entrepreneurial projects, and build innovative solutions that address technical challenges.

As many as 90 local startups will compete for a chance to be one of 15 to be awarded a share of SR4 million, with a top prize of almost SR940,000.

As for the Alibaba Cloud hackathon, it aims to enhance cloud technologies in the Kingdom through a number of various challenges that will be set up prior to the start of the conference. The competition offers cash prizes amounting to SR2 million.

LEAP, which is set to kick off its second edition in Riyadh from Feb. 6 to Feb. 9, is anticipating the participation of major government and private agencies as well as technology and communications companies.

The conference is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones, and UAE-based IT services and consulting firm Tahaluf.