How Saudi Arabia can capitalize on Chinese expertise to achieve its diversification goals

How Saudi Arabia can capitalize on Chinese expertise to achieve its diversification goals
Saudi Arabia is the single largest recipient of Chinese investments under the Belt and Road Initiative at about $5.5 billion. (AFP)
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Updated 10 December 2022

How Saudi Arabia can capitalize on Chinese expertise to achieve its diversification goals

How Saudi Arabia can capitalize on Chinese expertise to achieve its diversification goals
  • In the first half of 2022, the Kingdom was largest recipient of Chinese investments under the Belt and Road Initiative
  • Beyond energy, they are also exploring cooperation on the circular carbon economy and digital infrastructure

RIYADH: While strengthening trade ties and regional security will be priorities when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Saudi Arabia, Beijing could use this opportunity to further its Belt and Road Initiative as the Middle East, more specifically so the Kingdom, remains at the center of its ambitious project.

Saudi Arabia was the single largest recipient of Chinese investments under BRI, with about $5.5 billion in investments made in the Kingdom during the first half of 2022, according to a report by the Shanghai-based Green Finance and Development Center.

This comes as BRI countries in the Middle East received about 57 percent of BRI investments as the regional countries increased their share of overall BRI engagement from 8 percent in the first half of 2020 to 32 percent in the first half of 2022.




Energy was the main avenue for investment as Saudi Arabia received the most energy engagement in the first half of 2022. (AFP)

Among the sectors, energy was the main avenue for investment as Saudi Arabia received the most energy engagement in the first half of 2022, elevating the Kingdom to fourth place in the BRI for energy engagement between 2013 and 2022.

In the gas sector too, Saudi Arabia was the main recipient of investments from China at $4.6 billion in the first half. The Kingdom also saw its cooperation with China on solar projects improving with a $210-million project with Jinko Solar.

In October, Saudi Arabia and China in a virtual meeting agreed to jointly coordinate investments in the countries of BRI to ensure oil supply and demand security to BRI countries, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Co-chaired by Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the meeting discussed areas where both countries can strengthen their relationships such as oil and petrochemicals, decarbonization technologies, electricity and renewables, and hydrogen.

This was the fourth gathering of the Belt and Road Major Investment Projects and Energy Subcommittee of which Prince Abdulaziz is the Saudi chairman, SPA reported.




Saudi Arabia and China are exploring new frontiers of common interest that are set to drive the future economy. (AFP)

However, both countries look to go beyond the energy sector and are exploring new frontiers of common interest — such as the circular carbon economy and digital infrastructure — that are set to drive the future economy.

Saudi Arabia’s massive push toward sustainability and green economy received further boost when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month announced that the Kingdom would contribute $2.5 billion to a green initiative in the Middle East over the next 10 years.

China, being an early adopter of clean technology with thousands of patents under its name, can play an important role in helping Saudi Arabia achieve its sustainability goals.  Over the last 20 years, China has established its global position as an energy innovator, with significant success in the areas of solar power and, more recently, electric mobility, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.

In the space of digital infrastructure, China’s growing technological expertise in areas like cloud computing, 5G, surveillance technology and virtual currency is expected to set benchmarks for the rest of the world.

This sector offers huge opportunities for both countries to engage as the world embraces the fourth industrial revolution.

Earlier this year, the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology approved a new Communications and Information Technology Law to overhaul the Kingdom’s digital infrastructure as it intends to bolster growth in the communications and information sectors.

As part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to grow its ICT sector by 50 percent, while increasing the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product by $13.3 billion. These initiatives will include 50 percent localization but, at the same time, attract more foreign investment.

Saudi Arabia can capitalize on China’s technological expertise to foster its ambition of becoming a regional leader in the information and communication technology sector.

While the Chinese president’s visit to Saudi Arabia is set to strengthen trade ties, both countries have the opportunity to expand their cooperation beyond energy, technology or green economy as they prepare for a new dawn.


SAMA annual conference discusses impact of inflation on economies 

SAMA annual conference discusses impact of inflation on economies 
Updated 14 sec ago

SAMA annual conference discusses impact of inflation on economies 

SAMA annual conference discusses impact of inflation on economies 

RIYADH: The impact of soaring inflation on the world’s economies, and the Middle East and North Africa region in particular, was among the most important topics that dominated this year’s annual conference of the Saudi Central Bank. 

This falls in line with the 2023 theme of the conference — Inflation Dynamics During Uncertain Times: The Path Toward Stable and Sustainable Recovery. 

The second annual Central Bank Conference on Development Economics in the Middle East and North Africa was held on Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, in Riyadh. 

During his opening speech, SAMA Deputy Governor for Research and International Affairs Fahad Alshathri encouraged academic research on behalf of the conference to enhance economic growth and stability.   

The governor added that the conference promoted the participation of the region’s economic entities to discuss the main issues facing policymakers.  

Alshathri also drew on the initiatives launched by SAMA to develop economic and financial research to boost the Kingdom’s economy further, which backs the Saudi Vision 2030 goals.   

Held under the patronage of SAMA Governor Fahad Almubarak, the event saw the participation of several central bank officials, senior economic researchers and top international speakers including the vice president of the World Bank Ferid Belhaj. 

The conference aligns with SAMA’s continuous efforts to develop research in different fields, as well as promote collaboration with local and international researchers and economists. 


UAE’s Pure Harvest inks food partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Nadec 

UAE’s Pure Harvest inks food partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Nadec 
Updated 10 min 27 sec ago

UAE’s Pure Harvest inks food partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Nadec 

UAE’s Pure Harvest inks food partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Nadec 

CAIRO: UAE-based agriculture technology startup Pure Harvest has signed a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia’s National Agricultural Development Co. to deliver a large-scale national food security project. 

Pure Harvest will increase production capacity over the next five years by farming a wide range of crops, while the Saudi company, also known as Nadec, will market these products to its consumer base, hotels, restaurants, and catering partners. 

The partnership will enable the production of locally and sustainably grown fresh produce on more than 27 hectares on Nadec's farms. 

“Nadec is a formidable incumbent food supplier with a sterling reputation and brand, sizeable landholdings and enabling infrastructure, and an experienced leadership team,” Sky Kurtz, Founder and CEO of Pure Harvest Smart Farms, said. 

Nadec is the first listed agricultural company in the Saudi exchange market and produces over 1.5 million liters of dairy and juice per day, serving over 40,000 stories in the region as well as employing over 7,000 people. 

Both Nadec and Pure Harvest completed and commissioned their first-ever project in December 2021, producing over fifteen varieties of high-quality, hydroponically-grown tomatoes in an approximately six-hectare high-tech, climate-controlled growing system in Nadec City, Haradh. 

Pure Harvest raised $64.5 million in funding last October, and has secured over $280 million in total funding since its inception. 


Egypt fintech firm MNT-Halan securing $400m in new finance

Egypt fintech firm MNT-Halan securing $400m in new finance
Updated 01 February 2023

Egypt fintech firm MNT-Halan securing $400m in new finance

Egypt fintech firm MNT-Halan securing $400m in new finance

CAIRO: Egyptian microfinance lending and payments company MNT-Halan is securing $400 million in new equity and finance, bringing its valuation to more than $1 billion, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The investments include an equity stake of at least 20 percent of MNT-Halan worth more than $200 million taken by private equity firm Chimera Abu Dhabi. Another $60 million in primary capital is being secured from international investors, the statement said.

These investors include the International Finance Corporation, according to data on the IFC's website.

MNT-Halan obtained $140 million in financing by securitizing part of its loan book, the statement said.

MNT-Halan provides small- and micro-business lending, payments, consumer finance and e-commerce, the company said. It has more than 5 million customers in Egypt, of which 3.5 million are financial clients and 2 million are borrowers. About 1.3 million of the customers are active monthly.

New legislation and regulatory changes in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, have been helping attract a surge in new fintech investments and change the way the country's largely unbanked citizens do business.

"Following the completion of these investments, MNT-Halan’s valuation will exceed $1 billion," the statement added.

Previous investors in MNT-Halan include Cairo-based Lorax Capital Partners, and Middle Eastern venture capitalists Algebra Ventures, DisrupTech, Endeavor Catalyst, Egypt Ventures, MEVP and Wamda.


UAE's DFM net profit up 41.7% to $40m in 2022 

UAE's DFM net profit up 41.7% to $40m in 2022 
Updated 01 February 2023

UAE's DFM net profit up 41.7% to $40m in 2022 

UAE's DFM net profit up 41.7% to $40m in 2022 

RIYADH: Dubai Financial Market Co. reported an increase of 41.7 percent in net profit to 147.1 million dirhams ($40 million) for the fiscal year ending on Dec. 31, 2022, compared to 103.8 million dirhams in 2021. 

The company recorded a total revenue of 351.2 million dirhams, up 19 percent compared to the previous year’s 294.6 million dirhams. 

In the fourth quarter of 2022, DFM posted a net profit of 58.1 million dirhams compared to 65.7 million dirhams in the corresponding period of 2021, according to a press release. 

Its total revenue for the period reached 113.4 million dirhams, compared to 111.5 million dirhams in the fourth quarter of 2021.  

Helal Al Marri, chairman of DFM said: “Our relentless focus on our capital markets development strategy has borne fruit, making DFM one of the most active markets globally for new IPOs and listings with the successful listing of 5 IPOs for leading government-related and private companies.” 

The company’s board of directors also recommended the distribution of a cash dividend of 134.7 million dirhams, equivalent to 1.68 percent of the capital and 100 percent of the total retained earnings available for distribution, it added.  

Moreover, the board also resolved to submit a recommendation to the annual general meeting to adopt a new fixed dividend policy, stipulating that the company annually distributes a minimum of 50 percent of its net profit as opposed to the current practice of cash dividend every two years. 

DFM ended the year on a strong note with trading value increased by 24.5 percent to 90 billion dirhams compared to 2021, and the market capitalization of listed securities increased by 41.4 percent to 582 billion dirhams.  

Over the past year, DFM has attracted 167,332 new investors, registering 23 times jump compared to 2021.  


Saudi National Bank 2022 net profit surges 47% to $4.96bn 

Saudi National Bank 2022 net profit surges 47% to $4.96bn 
Updated 01 February 2023

Saudi National Bank 2022 net profit surges 47% to $4.96bn 

Saudi National Bank 2022 net profit surges 47% to $4.96bn 

RIYADH: Saudi National Bank reported a 46.7 percent increase in net profit in 2022 to SR18.6 billion ($4.96 billion) from SR12.7 billion in 2021, spurred by higher operating income and a decline in provisions for expected credit losses. 

The Kingdom’s biggest bank, which last year acquired a 9.88 percent stake in the troubled Swiss investment institution Credit Suisse, also booked a 61 percent surge in net profit in the fourth quarter of 2022 to SR4.8 billion from SR2.96 billion during the same period in 2021. 

The results beat the average analyst estimate of SR18.2 billion, according to Refinitiv data. 

The bank said in a statement to the Saudi Stock Exchange that total operating income grew 16.9 percent to SR33 billion in 2022 from SR28.23 billion in 2021.  

Its net special commission income jumped 18.4 percent to SR26.29 billion between January and December 2022 from SR22.21 billion in 2021. 

“Total operating income increased mainly due to higher net special commission income by 18.4 percent, fee income from banking services by 21.1 percent, and lower other operating expenses by 12.4 percent,” the bank said in a statement to Tadawul. 

Moreover, total operating expenses, including impairments, were lower by 15.2 percent, mainly due to a 13.5 percent decline in other general and administrative expenses and a 57.4 percent fall in a net impairment charge for expected credit losses. 

Earnings per share clocked an impressive 46.7 percent increase to SR4.15 in 2022 from SR2.83 in 2021. 

SNB’s total assets also increased 3.43 percent to SR945.46 billion in 2022 from SR914.15 billion in 2021, even as loans and advances gained 9.6 percent to SR543.31 billion to SR497.57 billion during the period under review. 

Customer deposits, however, dropped 3.45 percent to SR568 billion in 2022 compared to SR588.57 in 2021. 

Last month, SNB announced its intention to raise its paid-up capital by SR15.22 billion to boost its financial position. Its board recommended that shareholders approve the increase in capital by about 34 percent, from SR44.78 billion to SR60 billion riyals, through the issuance of bonus shares. 

“The recommendation is aimed to strengthen the bank’s financial position, which contributes to achieving its strategic objectives,” the bank said in a statement to Tadawul. 

The bank will issue about one bonus share for every three owned by shareholders, it said. 

“The eligibility of the bonus shares shall be for shareholders owning shares by the end of the trading day of the bank’s extraordinary general assembly meeting, which will be announced at a later date,” the bank said.