Saudi banking sector’s assets to reach $1.2tn by 2030, minister says

Saudi banking sector’s assets to reach $1.2tn by 2030, minister says
The total banking assets amounted to SR3.5 trillion by the end of the second quarter of 2022. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 25 September 2022

Saudi banking sector’s assets to reach $1.2tn by 2030, minister says

Saudi banking sector’s assets to reach $1.2tn by 2030, minister says

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s financial sector aims to increase the total assets of the banking sector to over SR4.5 trillion ($1.2 trillion) by 2030, the Kingdom’s Minister of Finance said. 

During his speech on the occasion of the 92nd National Day, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan added that the total banking assets amounted to SR3.5 trillion by the end of the second quarter of 2022, according to Asharq Alawsat. 

He noted that the growing strength of the Saudi economy reflects the solidness of financial policies, and its ability to adapt in the face of challenges.

He praised the results achieved by the Financial Sector Development Program, the Financial Sustainability Program and the National Center for Privatization Program.

The Financial Sector Development Program has increased the number of bodies that are effective in financial technology to over 120 companies until September 2022, he explained. 

With regards to the Financial Sustainability Program, the minister noted that it contributed to carrying out many structural reforms.

This is in addition to contributing to raising growth and employment rates, and maintaining financial sustainability, through which financial and economic stability would be achieved, he added.

Speaking of the privatization program, Al-Jadaan explained it contributed to strengthening the partnership between the public and private sectors.

He added that the National Center for Privatization Program has contributed to setting the general frameworks for the privatization system. 

In August, Saudi Arabia’s banking sector showed its continuation to outperform its regional counterparts in 2021, with assets growing by a record 10 percent to SR3.3 trillion, according to a report by The Banker.

The Banker’s Top 100 Arab Banks ranking showed that Saudi lenders’ combined Tier 1 capital base is higher than any other country in the region.

The ranking was issued for the year 2022 and data used for the listing pertained to 2021.

While higher oil prices helped economic growth in the Kingdom recover to 3.1 percent in 2021, up from a 4.1 percent contraction the previous year, it is the country’s booming mortgage market — fueled by government initiatives to help Saudi nationals acquire a property — that continues to boost banks’ balance sheets.


Crown Prince announces Sindalah, NEOM’s first luxury island development

Crown Prince announces Sindalah, NEOM’s first luxury island development
Updated 9 min 58 sec ago

Crown Prince announces Sindalah, NEOM’s first luxury island development

Crown Prince announces Sindalah, NEOM’s first luxury island development
  • Sindalah is one of a group of islands that will be developed in the giga-project

RIYADH: NEOM’s first luxury island destination Sindalah will play host to superyachts and top-end apartments, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed as he announced the latest project set to boost Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry.

Extending over an area of approximately 840,000sq. m., Sindalah is one of a group of islands that will be developed in the giga-project, and is expected to create 3,500 jobs for the tourism sector and hospitality and leisure services.

The island will act as a main gateway to the Red Sea, offering bespoke nautical experiences and is expected to start welcoming guests from early 2024, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The Crown Prince said: “This is another significant moment for NEOM and a major step in the Kingdom realizing its tourism ambitions under Vision 2030. 

“Sindalah will be NEOM’s first luxury island and yacht club destination in the Red Sea, providing a scenic gateway to the Red Sea that will become the region’s most exciting and attractive tourism location. 

“It will be a destination where travelers can experience the true beauty of NEOM and Saudi Arabia, above and below the water, making Sindalah the future of luxury travel.”

 

 

Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the chairman of NEOM’s Board of Directors, said the launch of Sindalah is a major step in realizing the Kingdom’s tourism ambitions, in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030.

Sindalah will have an 86-berth marina, as well as hosting 413 ultra-premium hotel rooms, in addition to 333 top-end serviced apartments. 

Other attractions in Sindalah include a luxe beach club, yacht club and 38 unique culinary offerings that will provide an incomparable experience in the Red Sea.

Sindalah is also expected to become a popular golfing destination by offering enthusiasts the opportunity to experience a world-class 6,474-yard (5,920 meters) par 70 course. With its 18 tees, the Sindalah golf course will deliver two unique nine-hole experiences.

NEOM, the $500 billion smart city, is one of the most important projects supporting Saudi Arabia’s national tourism strategy, as the Kingdom steadily diversifies its economy which was heavily dependent on oil for decades. 

In November, speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM said that the hanging stadiums in the smart city will make tourists reimagine and visualize the future. 

“In The Line, we want people to come and see how sports stadiums are built, and where they are built. The sports stadiums in NEOM are 300 meter high, loose and hanging in the air,” said Al-Nasr.

He also added that OXAGON, the industrial city in NEOM also has all the potential to become a world-class tourist destination, where visitors can come and see how the future will be.

“It is in OXAGON where all industries will be, and it is the port of NEOM. Yet, we would like to see tourists spending a day or two in OXAGON. They will see the future of industries in OXAGON. Everything in NEOM is built for the future era. We want them to come and see how future sea ports will operate,” he added.


Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5
Updated 05 December 2022

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Purchasing Managers’ Index hit 58.5 in November — the strongest level since September 2021 — as the Kingdom’s non-oil private sector continues to expand amid rising inflationary pressure, according to a report.

The latest Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia PMI report noted that the Kingdom has maintained growth in the non-oil private sector for the 27th consecutive month.

In October, Saudi Arabia’s PMI was 57.2, while in September, it was 56.6.

According to the index, released by S&P Global, readings above the 50 mark show growth, while those below 50 signal contraction.

“The Saudi economy (continued) its expansion in the non-oil sector in November, business conditions have improved across the board in light of rising demand,” said Naif Al-Ghaith, chief economist at Riyad Bank.

Al-Ghaith added that output levels in the Kingdom’s non-oil sector have expanded at the fastest rate in seven years, driving cost pressures higher, and resulting in increased prices charged to customers.

He added: “Improved business expectations were also observed as a result of the ongoing execution of Vision 2030 initiatives, which provided confidence to the outlook of the future output of the non-oil activities.”

According to the report, the rate of sales growth of non-oil companies picked up by the sharpest level in over a year in November, as over 41 percent of surveyed businesses reported an increase from the prior month.

The report further noted that these companies saw the quickest rise in new export business since November 2015, due to strong domestic conditions.

The PMI report also hinted at the uptick in input cost inflation during November, with average input prices rising sharply and at the quickest pace since July.

“The faster pace of cost inflation led to a solid and quicker increase in output charges, as firms looked to pass through higher expenses to their customers,” the report added.

The report further pointed out that output prices rose in the manufacturing, wholesale & retail and services sectors, while it fell in the construction industry.

According to the report, job creation in the non-oil sector was very mild in November, as most of the firms kept staffing unchanged.


Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  

Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  
Updated 05 December 2022

Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  

Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  

CAIRO: Cairo-based e-commerce services provider SIDEUP secured $1.2 million in a seed funding round to launch operations in Saudi Arabia.  

Established in 2019, the company provides e-commerce businesses with various technological solutions to enable integrations, partnerships and payments to scale revenue.  

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Waleed Rashed, CEO and founder at SIDEUP, said that the company is relocating its headquarters to Saudi Arabia with plans to hire and expand its team. 

Waleed Rashed, CEO and founder at SIDEUP (Supplied)

“We have already opened up roles in the Kingdom, by next month we will have added 10 people to our on-ground team in Riyadh which will amount to almost 30 percent of our total employee base,” he told Arab News.  

Rashed added that the company will continue hiring in Saudi Arabia throughout 2023 as the new headquarters will be their biggest office.  

“The e-commerce sector in Saudi Arabia is going to grow exponentially. The Kingdom is also going to be our gateway to the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council as we plan our entry into new markets,” he stated.  

The company plans to support small businesses in the Kingdom by providing services like warehousing, payments, customer service and more.  

SIDEUP has also partnered with e-commerce platforms Zid, Zammit, and Wuilt as well as payment service providers Paytab, Cowpay, and Paymob in addition to logistics companies Aramec, J&T and iMile.  

Rashed explained that the company’s presence in Saudi Arabia will boost its growth exponentially, thanks to the Kingdom’s young population as well as the digital infrastructure in place.  

“There’s no place more exciting to build a Middle East business than in Saudi Arabia. We have made great strides in setting up the right partnerships. The government has also created an environment for founders to thrive, being here has a number of benefits,” he added.  

The founder stated that the Kingdom will be a stepping stone for the company to expand and explore other markets in the Middle East and Africa as it plans to enter two new countries within the next 12 months.  

“We have the backing of renowned investors such as Launch Africa VC, 500 Global, Riyadh Angels, Alex Angels, Al Tuwaijri Fund and also Saudi angel investor Faisal AlAbdulsalam. This allows us to plan ahead while benefiting from the expertise of these investors,” he said.  

The company has been seeing positive growth since its launch as it hit profitability with over $500,000 gross merchandise value per month and growing at 30 percent monthly.  


Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising in KSA 

Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising in KSA 
Updated 28 min 51 sec ago

Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising in KSA 

Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising in KSA 

RIYADH: In alignment with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ strategy to expand its midscale offering in the Middle East, the company has reintroduced direct franchising and management rights for the Ramada brand in Saudi Arabia.

This announcement by the world’s largest hotel franchising company, with approximately 9,100 hotels across more than 95 countries, replaces exclusive master license agreements for the brand in the Kingdom.

With more than 900 hotels globally, Ramada is Wyndham’s largest brand in Europe, Middle East, Eurasia and Africa, with over 200 hotels in approximately 40 countries in the region, of which over 30 are in the Middle East and Africa alone.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the recently held World Travel and Tourism Global Summit in Riyadh, Dimitris Manikis, president EMEA at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said: “With this announcement we, as Wyndham, are 100 percent responsible for the development of the Ramada brand in Saudi Arabia. It was the right time for us to step in and take the destiny or the future of Ramada in our own hands.  It’s a major step for us.”

He added: “This signifies our belief in the future of the Kingdom and that we want to have a direct relationship with our partners here.”

Going on to explain that Wyndham was in the franchise business where they worked with local partners, Manikis said, as a company, they are “asset light.”

“Just to give you an idea, out of the 9,000-plus hotels, we don’t own any hotels,” he said, adding: “We give our local partners the brand, we give them the technology, the distribution, and we support them through a franchise agreement.”

As part of the company’s expansion plan in Saudi Arabia, Wyndham has recently opened Ramada by Wyndham in Riyadh's King Fahd Road, its 13th hotel in the country.

According to Manikis, the real strength of Wyndham was in economy and midscale offerings, and that is where he believes the future is for Saudi Arabia.

“We are committed to contributing to the development of the Kingdom’s tourism through the expansion of our mid-market and economy presence, to help bring even more accommodation options to suit all visitors to the Kingdom,” Manikis said.

He added: “Five percent of the world travels luxury, 95 percent is ordinary people like me that want to travel and have a great and affordable experience.”

“Hospitality is not just about stay at the hotel. It’s about the restaurants. It’s about the theme parks. It’s about a holistic experience,” Manikis continued.  

Not surprisingly he said that, from an investment perspective, Wyndham is working with the Saudi government to look at the midscale and economy sector.

“I believe there’s a huge future for that sector in Saudi Arabia,” he reiterated.

Manikis was also very optimistic about the future of the hospitality sector in the Kingdom. “Saudi Arabia is on the map,” he said.

“You would be crazy not to have Saudi Arabia as one of your top three destinations for the next five years in terms of arrivals, in terms of adding your brands, investments and bringing people in. You cannot close your eyes to what is happening in Saudi Arabia at this point, you just cannot ignore it.”

Moving on to talk about the hospitality industry in general, Manikis said it was one of the most resilient industries in the world. “We survived COVID-19 but we lost valuable people, we lost enormous talent,” he said. “Our number one priority now is to bring the talent back,” he concluded. 


Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  
Updated 05 December 2022

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  

RIYADH: Oil prices rose as much as 2 percent on Monday after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, held their output targets steady ahead of an EU ban and a price cap kicking in on Russian crude. 

At the same time, in a positive sign for fuel demand, more Chinese cities eased COVID-19 curbs over the weekend, though a patchwork easing in policies sowed confusion across the country on Monday. 

Brent crude futures were last up 72 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $86.29 a barrel at 0430 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 70 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $80.68 a barrel. 

OPEC+ agreed on Sunday to stick to their October plan to cut output by 2 million barrels per day from November through 2023. 

Japan sets price cap on Russian crude oil, excluding Sakhalin-2 

Japan implemented a price cap on Russian crude oil from Monday, but crude oil imported from the Sakhalin-2 plant will be excluded, the government said in a statement. 

The decision follows an agreement by the Group of Seven nations and Australia on Friday to limit the price of Russian crude oil at $60 per barrel in the latest move to slap sanctions on Moscow over its war in Ukraine. 

The exclusion of crude oil from the far eastern Russian Sakhalin-2 project, which Japanese energy operators hold stakes in after the exit of Shell, was decided “in light of Japan’s energy security,” the government said in the statement. 

Further measures on Russian petroleum products, set to begin on Feb. 5, 2023, will be announced at a later date, the statement added. 

Algeria says OPEC+ decision to keep output unchanged appropriate 

Algeria’s energy minister said on Sunday that the OPEC+ decision to keep output unchanged was appropriate to market fluctuations, the country’s state news agency reported. 

The OPEC+ group will closely monitor crude markets for any developments, minister Mohamed Arkab said in remarks after its Sunday meeting, adding that the decision kept Algerian output unchanged at 1.007 million bpd. 

(With input from Reuters)