Saudi Arabia and Thailand sign landmark agreements on energy

Saudi Arabia and Thailand sign landmark agreements on energy
The Saudi crown prince’s visit to Thailand is a historic moment in Riyadh-Bangkok ties. (SPA)
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Updated 20 November 2022

Saudi Arabia and Thailand sign landmark agreements on energy

Saudi Arabia and Thailand sign landmark agreements on energy
  • Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is special guest at Asia-Pacific summit in Bangkok
  • Diplomatic ties between the two kingdoms were restored after three decades
  • Thais say they hope for more exchanges, cultural interaction with Saudi Arabia

BANGKOK: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Bangkok this week has had more of an impact than just forging a bond between the two kingdoms — it touched the sentiments of Thais, spurring hopes of a fruitful and lasting relationship.  

The crown prince’s arrival in Thailand marked the first visit by a Saudi royal to the country after three decades of frozen diplomatic and economic ties.

Ties between Saudi Arabia and Thailand were restored earlier this year when Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited Riyadh in January and the two countries agreed to work on bilateral cooperation in a “historic breakthrough.”

Thailand invited the crown prince to be a special guest at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on Nov. 18-19.

HIGHLIGHT

Thailand invited Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be a special guest at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on Nov. 18-19.

While his meetings with Thailand’s leadership have yielded numerous memorandums on energy, tourism and normalizing diplomatic relations, Thais who spoke to Arab News said it was also important to them on a personal level.

“The leader of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince and prime minister, is very widely well respected by our people,” said Tanee Sangrat, director-general of information at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and soon to be Thailand’s ambassador to the US.

The visit has been “closely watched and followed by the Thai people in Thailand and around the world,” he told Arab News.

With the restoration of ties with Saudi Arabia, Thailand has found not only a new powerful partner in navigating volatile energy markets and energy transition, but also, as many have said, a “gateway” to the Middle East.

Business development professional Suppalerk Aramkitphotha saw the crown prince’s visit as a “great opportunity.”

“We are very glad that we have this opportunity,” he said. “Business and everything, that can come to Thailand, or any business from Thailand can go to the Middle East.”

Jirayut Srupsrisopa, a fintech professional, was glad that the crown prince was visiting Thailand and “bridging” the relationship.

“Now we can do so much more between Thailand and Saudi,” he said. “We can work with Saudis for the future of energy, the future of green hydrogen or a future growth in other aspects like the digital economy.”

But there is much more to the renewed ties than the immense business opportunities for both nations.

Voralak Tulaphorn, a marketing professional, said that a Saudi presence is something that has been missing from the diverse multicultural landscape of Thailand.

“Saudi Arabia and Thais actually have a lot of rich cultures, and with rich cultures it would be nice to have an exchange … I think from food to nature, fashion, to many handicrafts and all.”

But the biggest potential for her was in bringing Thais and Saudis together by exchanging cuisines, and if the way to another’s heart is through their stomach, Thai cuisine is definitely one that can offer a hearty fare.

“People love Thai street food,” she said, adding that she hoped that Thais will try Saudi food soon.

“In the last 30 years, we have not seen many Saudi restaurants in Bangkok. We would love to taste Saudi Arabian food, too.”


Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources stresses importance of strategic partnership with China's industrial and mining sector 

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources stresses importance of strategic partnership with China's industrial and mining sector 
Updated 08 December 2022

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources stresses importance of strategic partnership with China's industrial and mining sector 

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources stresses importance of strategic partnership with China's industrial and mining sector 

RIYADH: Strategic partnership between Saudi Arabia and China in the industrial and mining sector is important and crucial, the Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Al-Khorayef said.

Cooperation between the two countries has witnessed remarkable growth during the past five years, Al-Khorayef is cited by Saudi Press Agency as saying.

Non-oil exports during 2021 amounted to more than SR36 billion ($9.5 billion), while the Kingdom's imports from China during the same period reached SR112 billion riyals, Al-Khorayef said.

Topping the list of Saudi's exports to China were Petrochemicals and minerals as well as heavy machinery, electronics, vehicles and spare parts he explained.

Moreover, joint projects account for an important part of the volume of cooperation between the two countries. The Saudi Industrial Fund, alone, contributes to financing six joint projects.

During the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to China in February 2019, both countries concluded agreements to establish joint projects covering several sectors including manufacturing, petrochemicals, pharmaceutical, and others.

The countries already share a good history of cooperation, Al-Khorayef said, citing the example of the seven Chinese factories operating in different fields in the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones

In addition to this, there are an estimated 10 other factories in different stages of planning, construction, and implementation.

Furthermore,  there are approximately 12 projects for the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu with Chinese companies in different stages, some of them are in operation, and others are under procedure or design.


Saudi governors hail Kingdom’s surplus budget as it set to propel economic growth   

Saudi governors hail Kingdom’s surplus budget as it set to propel economic growth   
Updated 08 December 2022

Saudi governors hail Kingdom’s surplus budget as it set to propel economic growth   

Saudi governors hail Kingdom’s surplus budget as it set to propel economic growth   

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s bumper budget surplus has received thumbs up from the Kingdom’s governors as they term it a reflection of “the strength and durability” of the economy that will go long way to improve the lives of its citizens. 

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced a larger-than-expected budget surplus of SR102 billion ($27.13 billion) for 2022 — SR12 billion higher than previously forecast. 

The Kingdom also upwardly revised the growth of its gross domestic product to 8.5 percent for 2022, compared with the 7.5 percent estimated in December 2021 and the 8 percent forecast in the pre-Budget statement published at the end of September. 

“The Kingdom is witnessing a historical transformation in various fields in line with the goals and objectives of Vision 2030 in bringing about qualitative leaps across various fields,” said Deputy Governor of Makkah region Badr bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, as reported by Saudi Press Agency.  

He noted that the budget also takes into consideration diversifying income sources, stimulating the non-oil economy, and focusing on development sustainability.  

In return, Abdulaziz highlighted that this will provide a decent life and prosperous society for the Kingdom’s citizens and residents.  

The Governor of Makkah Khaled Al-Faisal agrees that the Saudi 2023 budget meets the aspirations of the citizens, and it is set to boost and further propel development rates in the Kingdom.  

The governor further emphasized that the budget also aligns well with the Kingdom’s goal of developing the homeland and the citizen, especially when the world is fraught with geopolitical tensions, an energy crisis and a looming threat of a global economic downturn.   

“The Kingdom is witnessing a massive development following the comprehensive development plans that meet the aspirations of the Saudi people and contribute to improving the quality of life and enhancing development rates across fields,” he added.  

Meanwhile, Governor of Jazan Muhammad bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz echoed the same views when he pointed out that the strength of economic and financial reforms would ensure the prosperity of the Kingdom and its people.  

“It ensures financial sustainability and the implementation of programs and projects with an economic and social return,” he said.  

The Governor of Jazan stressed that the Saudi 2023 budget will also help achieve economic diversification and empower the private sector by overcoming all obstacles to create an attractive investment environment for it.  

Governor of Taif Saud bin Nahar bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, added: “The promising figures in the budget reflect the serious steps taken by the Kingdom to achieve growth and development in various fields, overcome obstacles and challenges, and continue to work for the Kingdom to assume its position regionally and internationally.”

According to London based economist and former KFUPM Professor Mohamed Ramady, several key aspects stand out in the 2022 budget that set the Kingdom apart from other economies: " Firstly, the actual real GDP growth is on target to achieve a sterling rate of 8.5 percent, higher than the 7.4 percent initial forecast, despite fluctuating oil prices and is the highest in the G20 economies. Inflation which is a major concern in many economies, is set to average 2.6 percent for 2022, one of the lowest globally, compared to the forecasted 1.3 percent but still lower than the 3.1 percent in 2021," he said.

 "Lastly," Ramady continued, "the Saudi budget continues to be both expansionary with revenues of SR 1.234 trillion, around 25 percent higher than 2021 and with this year's expenditures boosted by around 9 percent to reach around SR 1.132 trillion. This allows the Kingdom to continue building up its fiscal buffers and at the same time attract global lenders, the last being the jumbo $17 billion PIF borrowing at competitive rates. The Kingdom is still very much open to quality business opportunities."


Saudi bourse slowly recovers from a 19-month low in a volatile market: Closing bell

Saudi bourse slowly recovers from a 19-month low in a volatile market: Closing bell
Updated 08 December 2022

Saudi bourse slowly recovers from a 19-month low in a volatile market: Closing bell

Saudi bourse slowly recovers from a 19-month low in a volatile market: Closing bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index, known as the Tadawul All Share Index, started showing signs of recovery on Thursday, after falling to a 19-month low on Wednesday.

On Thursday, TASI gained 61 points to close at 10,246, while the parallel market Nomu closed at 18,767, up 39 points.

Of the 219 companies listed in TASI, 123 advanced, while 80 declined.

On Thursday, share prices of Saudi Arabian Cooperative Insurance Co. rose 9.85 percent to lead the gainers, followed by Astra Industrial Group and Saudi British Bank which went up 3.78 percent and 3.66 percent respectively.

Tourism Enterprise Co. led the fallers, as it was down 7.42 percent at the end of Thursday’s trading session.

Other fallers include Nahdi Medical Co. and Saudi Tadawul Group Holding Co. which went down 5.52 percent and 4.57 percent respectively.

On Thursday, Tadawul announced that shares of Americana Restaurants International will be listed for trading on Dec.12. as a concurrent and dual listing in Saudi Arabia and UAE.

According to a statement, the daily price fluctuation limits will not be applied to the company’s shares during the first three days of listing, while the +/- 10 percent static price fluctuation limits will be applicable.

The statement further noted that the daily price fluctuation limits of -/+ 10 percent will be applied from the fourth day of trading, while the static price fluctuation limits will be no longer applicable.

Meanwhile, ACWA Power’s wholly owned subsidiary, ACWA Power Management and Investments One Limited, known as APMIOne, has purchased ACWA39 bonds at $400.7 million in total value before amortization at the early settlement date.

In a statement to Tadawul, the company noted that no other bonds were offered after the early tender deadline, and as a result, there will be no final settlement date.

The statement further added that the total pre-amortization aggregate principal amount of bonds that will remain outstanding after the expiration date is $413.3 million.

On Thursday, Saudi Aramco, one of the biggest energy producers in the world was down 1.10 percent.

In the banking sector, stock prices of Alinma Bank went down 0.63 percent, while Al Rajhi Bank went up 1.35 percent.


Charter aircraft in demand in Saudi Arabia as Mideast seeing steady growth in business aviation

Charter aircraft in demand in Saudi Arabia as Mideast seeing steady growth in business aviation
Updated 08 December 2022

Charter aircraft in demand in Saudi Arabia as Mideast seeing steady growth in business aviation

Charter aircraft in demand in Saudi Arabia as Mideast seeing steady growth in business aviation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is facing a shortage of charter aircraft as there is a ‘burgeoning demand’ for domestic and international charter in the Kingdom, said a top executive of a Saudi-based private aviation service provider.  

This comes as the Middle East is seeing steady growth in the business aviation sector, with bizjet flight activity recording a 16-percent spike in week 46 compared to the same week last year, according to WingX, a business aviation intelligence firm based in Germany.  

“There's a shortage of charter aircraft in the [Saudi Arabian] market,” Fahad Al Jarboa, CEO of Saudia Private Aviation, said during the Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association show in Dubai, as reported by AIN Online.   

The CEO revealed that SPA has an ambitious growth strategy as it plans to wet lease up to six business aircraft in the coming months to meet the growing demand. 

One of the leading providers of luxury aviation and ground handling services, SPA is expected to boost its fleet size with the arrival of an Embraer Praetor 500 in the third quarter of next year, Al Jarboa told AIN Online, adding that they have the option to add a second one.  

The company hinted at going for business jets of sizes varying up to Boeing BBJs to make air charter at the individual level more possible. 

A subsidiary of Saudia Group, which owns Saudia and flyadeal, SPA has several widebody aircraft from the parent company that it can use for charter.   

But the company is negotiating with lessors and hoping to close a deal in the next two months.

“We will start with one or two aircraft, just to meet immediate demand. Ideally, we should have, between owned and wet-leased, at least four to six aircraft,” he said. 

SPA sold six Dassault Falcon 7Xs over the past four years, as well as a number of its Hawker 400XPs. 

SPA, which runs the largest private aviation terminal in the Kingdom, also announced receiving the second phase of the International Business Aircraft Handling certification during the show. 

The company said the first-of-its-kind ground-handling certificate will meet the requirements of international civil aviation as the standardization has been designed to enhance the safety and efficiency of business and ground-handling service providers for general aviation. 

The growing demand for business jets is driving the aviation market growth in the Middle East as the region is home to a large population of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, according to London-based market research firm Technavio. It said these factors are driving the demand for large-cabin and long-range business jets that offer high luxury and comfort. 

The report noted that the market witnessed the adoption of 14 business jets in the Middle East in 2021, adding that the demand is expected to grow further during the forecast period. With the rising adoption of business jets, the report said the demand for charter operations is also increasing in the region. 


Saudi Arabia to deposit $5bn in Turkiye’s central bank, finance minister confirms

Saudi Arabia to deposit $5bn in Turkiye’s central bank, finance minister confirms
Updated 08 December 2022

Saudi Arabia to deposit $5bn in Turkiye’s central bank, finance minister confirms

Saudi Arabia to deposit $5bn in Turkiye’s central bank, finance minister confirms

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will place a $5 billion deposit at Turkiye’s central bank within days, the Kingdom’s finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan confirmed.

"There is great improvement in our relationship with Turkiye and we aspire for investment opportunities in Turkiye and other countries," he said.

Turkiye’s central bank has swapped deals in local currencies with several of its counterparts worth a total of $28 billion. It signed a deal with China for $6 billion, with Qatar for $15 billion, with the UAE for around $5 billion.

Similarly, last month, the Kingdom extended the term for a $5 billion deposit made to Egypt’s central bank back in March after the country came under increasing financial pressure following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The extension came at the directive of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and aims to enhance economic stability in Egypt. 

Turkiye is seeking more cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other countries as it plans to be an energy hub to Europe, its finance minister said. 

“Turkiye, from its geographical position, is an energy corridor from Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Any kind of natural gas or oil that is going to be transported or shipped, will cost less and will be more safely shipped,” Turkiye's Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati told Arab News in an interview in October. 

Speaking on the sideline of the 6th edition of Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, the minister didn’t elaborate further on how the two countries might cooperate but said that peace in the region will bring energy costs down. 

“Turkiye and Saudi Arabia are also assisting each other, which will bring peace in the region. That peace will bring more affordable gas prices, the energy prices, and will allow both countries to look ahead,” he added.

Turkiye’s economy has been badly strained by a slumping lira and soaring inflation of over 85 percent and a swap or deposit agreement could boost Turkiye’s diminished foreign currency reserves.

Analysts say this could also help President Tayyip Erdogan shore up support ahead of elections due by June 2023.