Saudi Arabia ranks first among G20 countries in labor force growth rate 

Saudi Arabia ranks first among G20 countries in labor force growth rate 
According to Saudi Arabia's Central Department of Statistics and Information, the unemployment rate in the Kingdom decreased to 5.80 percent in the second quarter of 2022 from 6 percent in the first quarter of 2022. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 21 November 2022

Saudi Arabia ranks first among G20 countries in labor force growth rate 

Saudi Arabia ranks first among G20 countries in labor force growth rate 

RIYADH: As Saudi Arabia is undertaking massive economic diversification, the Kingdom has ranked first in the labor force growth rate among the Group of 20 countries during the period 2012 - 2021, according to a recent report launched by the National Labor Observatory. 

This comes as Saudi Arabia has shown positive signs in the main labor indicators, which are based on global benchmarks issued by the International Labor Organization, as the Kingdom is steadily progressing in its efforts to create more jobs in line with Vision 2030. 

The labor indicators include the annual labor force growth, labor force participation rate, employment, and unemployment rates, in addition to the rate of those outside the scope of education, work, and training. 

The NLO and the Saudi Labor Market Indices were launched in 2019 with the objective of further boosting Saudization and regulating the labor market. The NLO provides a set of services and products specialized in the labor market, based on comprehensive and accurate data that enables anticipating the future of the labor market, evaluating policies and programs and measuring their impact. 

According to Saudi Arabia's Central Department of Statistics and Information, the unemployment rate in the Kingdom decreased to 5.80 percent in the second quarter of 2022 from 6 percent in the first quarter of 2022. 

Saudization, officially known as the Saudi nationalization scheme, or Nitaqat, is considered a crucial step towards economic success.  

Although the process of Saudization has been going on since 1985, major regulatory and economic reforms have accelerated in recent years under the Vision 2030 agenda, with the aim of increasing the participation of young Saudis in the economy, promoting non-oil sectors and improving the overall quality of life. 

The Kingdom’s public sector is quickly adapting to international standards and labor market demands by digitalizing services. While the ministry is using the latest business management methods to help public organizations increase the competency and productivity of workers while creating a competitive labor market that can partner with the private sector. 

Last week, Saudi Arabia was ranked the best in the region and third globally for its digital government transformation by the World Bank’s GovTech Maturity Index for 2022. 

The Kingdom excelled with very high performance in its digital government transformation, putting it in the group of “very developed countries”, according to the index report. 

The GTMI was developed as part of the World Bank’s GovTech Initiative to measure digital government maturity in four focus areas: supporting core government systems, enhancing service delivery, mainstreaming citizen engagement, and fostering GovTech enablers. 

Vision 2030 promotes Saudi women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength. It aims to develop their talents, invest their energies, and provide them with the right opportunities to build their futures, contributing to the development of society. 

Saudi women now comprise 33.6 percent of the Saudi workforce as of March 2022, according to the General Authority for Statistics. That figure is up from 17.4 percent just five years ago. 

The unemployment rate of women was the lowest in 20 years as of the first quarter of 2022, falling to 20.2 percent from 22.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Saad A. Al-Hammad, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, told Arab News: “The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has implemented policies and initiatives that support inclusivity, and diversity in the labor market through introducing various incentives to enhance the positive image of women in the workplace, and to create a supportive and inclusive environment to facilitate women’s entry into the labor market.” 

Al-Hammad added that the percentage of women in senior and middle management positions rose from 28.6 percent in 2017 to 39 percent as of the first quarter of 2022. 

Also adding to the employment surge is Saudi Arabia’s small and medium enterprises sector, which witnessed a growth trajectory in the first half of 2022, as the Kingdom pushes ahead with fostering entrepreneurship and stimulating investment in startups and small businesses as part of Vision 2030. 

The number of registered SMEs in Saudi Arabia hit 892,063 at the close of June, registering a 25.6 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises. 


TASI closes on a positive note, gains 144 points

TASI closes on a positive note, gains 144 points
Updated 16 sec ago

TASI closes on a positive note, gains 144 points

TASI closes on a positive note, gains 144 points

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index gained ground on Wednesday, with 148 of the 219 listed companies closing higher as investors came in droves to kick-start a bull run.

The Tadawul All Share Index added 142 points to close at 10,896.91, while the parallel market Nomu soared 473 points to finish at 18,866.

The total trading turnover closed at SR8 billion ($2.13 billion), an encouraging figure from the SR2.58 billion clocked on Sunday.

Saudi utility major ACWA Power announced that it signed a power purchase agreement with the Water and Electricity Holding Co. to develop the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the Middle East.

Based in Makkah, the 2,060-megawatt project will be ready by the fourth quarter of 2025 and is expected to power 350,000 homes.

The news led to a flurry among investors to purchase the shares, leading to a 4.32 percent increase in share price while closing at SR140.20.

Saudi Arabian food delivery app Jahez announced a share purchase agreement to acquire 134,620 shares in The Chefz SPV Ltd., representing a 100 percent stake, for SR325 million. The share price closed 12 points higher to SR602.

Saudi Telecom Co. revealed the repurchase of 11.59 million shares for SR453 million at an average price of SR39.16 to facilitate its employee stock incentive plan. The stock opened at SR38.10 and closed at SR38.45, up 1.1 percent.

The stock exchange also witnessed a slew of dividends and bonus shares that steamed up the market.

Healthcare player Al Hammadi Holding on Tuesday recommended a 3.5 percent cash dividend of SR0.35 per share for the fourth quarter this year, amounting to a total of SR56 million. Its share barely inched up to close at SR42.

Nafiyat Finance Co. also recommended a 20 percent increase in capital through a bonus issue of one-for-five shares, leading to a marginal increase in its share price, which closed at SR20.70.

International Human Resources Co.’s shareholders approved a recommendation to distribute cash dividends at 7.5 percent of the company’s capital, or SR0.75 per share, for the first half of 2022. The share price gained 3 percent to close at SR64.

The topmost grosser of the day was Dallah Healthcare Co., with its share price increasing 9.8 percent to end at SR173.60.

Other companies reigning the market included the National Company for Learning and Education, Amlak International for Real Estate Finance Co., Arabian Internet and Communications Services Co. and Almasane Alkobra Mining Co, which clocked on average a 7.54 percent increase.

The top losers were Tourism Enterprise Co., Jadwa REIT Saudi Fund, Riyad REIT Fund, Yanbu Cement Co. and Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co.


Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA

Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA
Updated 19 min 14 sec ago

Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA

Middle East carriers see 15% fall in air cargo volumes in October: IATA

RIYADH: Economic headwinds across the globe continued to affect air cargo demand in October, as Middle Eastern carriers witnessed a 15 percent fall in air cargo volumes compared to the same period last year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The October report from the organization, which represents some 290 airlines comprising 83 percent of global air traffic, revealed the impact of the economic headwinds on the aviation sector could even follow into 2023.

“Air cargo continues to demonstrate resilience as headwinds persist. Cargo demand in October — while tracking below the exceptional performance of October 2021 — saw a 3.5 percent increase in demand compared to September. This indicates that the year-end will still bring a traditional peak-season boost despite economic uncertainties,” said IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh. 

He added: “As 2022 closes out it appears that the current economic uncertainties will follow into the New Year and need continued close monitoring.” 

In October 2022, air cargo volumes in Asia-Pacific airlines decreased by 14.7 percent compared to the same month in 2021. 

The report noted that the fall of air cargo volumes in the Asia Pacific was impacted by conflict in Europe, and lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity due to omicron-related restrictions in China

North American carriers posted an 8.6 percent decrease in cargo volumes in October 2022, while European carriers saw an 18.8 percent decrease compared to the same month last year, primarily due to the war in Ukraine and high inflation levels. 

Latin American and African carriers also witnessed a fall in cargo volumes by 1.4 percent and 8.3 percent over the same period.

The report also suggested that the global demand for air cargo measured in cargo ton-kilometers fell 13.6 percent in October 2022 from the same month last year. 

“Capacity was 0.6 percent below October 2021. This was the first year-on-year contraction since April 2022, however, month-on-month capacity increased by 2.4 percent in preparation for the year-end peak season,” said IATA in the report. 

International cargo capacity grew 2.4 percent in October 2022, compared to the same month in the previous year. 


Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan

Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan
Updated 56 min 20 sec ago

Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan

Saudi PIF secures record-breaking $17bn seven-year senior unsecured term loan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has announced that it has secured a new $17 billion seven-year senior unsecured term loan, according to a statement.

The loan is the largest-of-its-kind general corporate purpose loan worldwide and was twice oversubscribed.

The new loan falls in line with the sovereign wealth fund’s strategy of diversifying its funding sources in an attempt to prompt effective investment in the Kingdom and globally.

The new loan also aligns well with the PIF’s medium-term capital raising strategy as well as its 2022 Annual Capital Raising Plan.

“It is a significant achievement for PIF, raising a record-sized term facility in the longest tenor ever for a loan of its size that is subscribed to by an unprecedentedly diversified number of lenders. PIF will continue to explore a variety of debt funding sources as it delivers on its strategic objectives,” said Head of Global Capital Finance Division at PIF Fahad AlSaif in a statement.

The PIF’s $11 billion five-year loan which was arranged back in 2018 is set to be repaid early, the statement disclosed.

While the new transaction recorded the support of 25 financial institutions across Europe, America, the Middle East, and Asia, the $11 billion loan of 2018 was supported by just 15 financial institutions.

In February 2022, the PIF received strong international credit ratings from US credit firm Moody’s as well as US finance and insurance company Fitch, reflecting the creditworthiness and quality of the sovereign wealth fund’s investments.


Saudi airports focus on sustainability through infrastructure projects: Leading official

Saudi airports focus on sustainability through infrastructure projects: Leading official
Updated 30 November 2022

Saudi airports focus on sustainability through infrastructure projects: Leading official

Saudi airports focus on sustainability through infrastructure projects: Leading official

RIYADH: The aviation sector in Saudi Arabia is pushing toward a sustainable model by building infrastructure for the future to deliver a seamless passenger experience, according to Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of the Kingdom's General Authority of Civil Aviation.

Picking up the threads from the universal pandemic that marred the airline industry, the sector is bolstering the infrastructure by addressing core issues such as staff shortage, health mandates and climate change concerns. 

Fresh from the pandemic, the industry had to endure a hiring process that took almost 16 weeks from recruiting a skilled worker to finally deploying him or her to the job, leading to a clogged supply of staff members in the airports. The situation, however, is fast changing. 

“We tried to support the airports by accelerating the training, certification and security clearance of the ground handlers and other players of the ecosystem through digitization programs that have minimized the process,” said Al-Duailej, while speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Global Summit in Riyadh. 

The aviation authority last month also submitted the ‘Harmonizing Air Travel' policy guidelines to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization Council for its approval, encouraging the use of a unified health document that could alleviate traveler concerns that global travelers encountered during the universal pandemic. 

There is also a concerted effort in the Saudi aviation sector to cut the dwell time or time passengers spend in the airport before boarding their flights. 

NEOM Airport, for instance, is working toward developing a high-speed “green” rail system that will transfer air travelers to the city without the need of even finding a parked vehicle, meaning there will be no parking at the NEOM airport. 

“Instead of focusing necessarily on the airport and being a destination, we want to facilitate getting you into the city as fast as we can,” said John Selden, CEO of NEOM Airport. 

The airport is also considering using electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, or EVTOL, to expedite the mobility of incoming passengers. 

“The last two years were incredibly tough for the industry. The check-in process, which usually takes five minutes, took 20 minutes per passenger. We need to find a way to put all the passenger touchpoints together to make travel seamless,” said Luis Felipe de Oliveira, director-general of the Airports Council International, while speaking at the event. 

Airports are also toying with the idea of running the infrastructure to support sustainability, which includes 100 percent green or battery-powered equipment throughout the airport expanse. 

“We need to have systems where passengers don’t leave gates, and we don’t burn fuel on taxiways until we are ready for take-off. We don’t need a queue at the end of the runway,” said Pagano while sharing his vision of a green hydrogen-fueled ecosystem that will power the airports of the future. 


Two new natural gas fields discovered in Saudi Arabia: Energy minister

Two new natural gas fields discovered in Saudi Arabia: Energy minister
Updated 30 November 2022

Two new natural gas fields discovered in Saudi Arabia: Energy minister

Two new natural gas fields discovered in Saudi Arabia: Energy minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has announced the discovery of two new natural gas fields in the Kingdom.

The “Awtad” unconventional natural gas field was discovered southwest of the Ghawar field, 142 kilometers southwest of the city of Hofuf, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The “Al-Dahna” unconventional natural gas field is located 230 kilometers southwest of the city of Dhahran.

Both fields were discovered by Saudi Aramco.

Prince Abdulaziz said that the importance of these discoveries lies in increasing Saudi Arabia’s natural gas reserves, which would in turn support the Kingdom’s strategies and help realize the objectives of the Liquid Fuel Displacement Program.

The Minister of Energy added that the discoveries underline the wealth of natural resources the Kingdom has at its disposal.