Saudi Arabia and regional peers raise interest rates following US Fed’s hike

Saudi Arabia and regional peers raise interest rates following US Fed’s hike
SAMA also increased the rate of Reverse Repo by 50 basis points to 4.50 percent. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 15 December 2022

Saudi Arabia and regional peers raise interest rates following US Fed’s hike

Saudi Arabia and regional peers raise interest rates following US Fed’s hike

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and its regional peers raised interest rates following the US Federal Reserve's decision to hike its benchmark level by an expected 50 basis points as the world continues to battle rising inflation.

The Saudi Central Bank, known as SAMA, raised the rates of both the Repo and Reverse Repo by 50 basis points to 5 percent and 4.50 percent respectively. It said this decision is in line with the central bank’s objectives of maintaining monetary stability and supporting financial stability.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its interest rate by half a percentage point to reach a targeted range between 4.25 percent and 4.5 percent, the highest level in 15 years.

The Federal official indicated that they expect to keep rates higher through next year, with no reductions until 2024.  

The Fed’s hike “is a partly welcomed development after witnessing a total of seven rate hikes with four consecutive 75 bps hikes this year,” Albara'a Al-Wazir, an economist at the US-Saudi Business Council, told Arab News.  

On the one hand, he said it appears as though the most acute phase of quantitative tightening might be “behind us.”  

“While on the other hand, there are still sizeable concerns given that the US inflation rate is still high at 7.1 percent,” said Alwazir, adding that competing forces such as a tight labor market coupled with an increase in wages entail future interest rate increases, albeit at a slower pace into 2023.  

The repo rate is primarily used as a tool to control inflation, charged when commercial banks borrow funds by leveraging securities, whereas the reverse repo — the rate at which banks earn interest when they park surplus funds — is used to increase liquidity.   

Alwazir noted that the interest rate hike will result in lower demand for credit, thus having adverse effects on financial assets as witnessed throughout the year.  

“This will exert further downward pressure on Tadawul’s performance, where the Tadawul All Share Index is already down 9 percent year to date.”  

Hikes by the Gulf Cooperation Council nations, whose currencies have been pegged to the dollar for over 35 years, are as follows:

Oman’s central bank raised its Repo rate by 50 basis points to 5 percent on Thursday, and announced that it continues to monitor global and local markets closely to take necessary actions.   

Qatar’s central bank too increased deposit, Repo, and lending rates by 50 basis points to reach 5, 5.25 and 5.5 percent respectively.   

The Central Bank of Bahrain raised its key policy interest rate, overnight deposit rate, four-week deposit rate and lending rates by 50 basis points each, to 5.25 percent, 5 percent, 6 percent and 6.5 percent respectively.  

The UAE's central bank raised the Base Rate applicable to the overnight deposit facility by 50 basis points, from 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent.   

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar responded to the Fed’s hikes by rising their main policy rates simultaneously and largely by the same amount in 2022.   

The Gulf nations hiked their rates in March, May, June, July, September and November, in line with the Fed’s move to raise interest rates.   

Kuwait, which differs from its Gulf counterparts in its peg to a basket of currencies, has been taking a different approach reflecting a rather bullish outlook on inflation.   

In the months of May and June, as other Gulf states raised their rates by 50 basis points, Kuwait raised its rate by only 25 basis points.     

In November, Kuwait abstained from rate hikes, whereas Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain increased rates by 75 basis points at the time while Qatar raised rates by 50 basis points.   

Saudi-Portuguese committee seeks to bolster economic ties

Saudi-Portuguese committee seeks to bolster economic ties
Updated 01 October 2023

Saudi-Portuguese committee seeks to bolster economic ties

Saudi-Portuguese committee seeks to bolster economic ties

RIYADH: Economic relations between Saudi Arabia and Portugal are on track to further strengthen as a top-level delegation heads to Lisbon for a meeting to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim will lead the delegation at the sixth session of the Saudi-Portuguese Joint Committee which begins on Monday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The two-day meeting will review investment opportunities between the two countries and explore venues for further collaboration across different sectors.

Al-Ibrahim is scheduled to deliver both the opening and closing speeches at the meeting alongside Portuguese Minister of Economy and Maritime Affairs Antonio Costa Silva.

The Saudi minister is also expected to deliver the opening speech at the Saudi-Portuguese Investment Forum.

He will also hold several meetings with senior government officials in Portugal and sign agreements aimed at boosting economic cooperation.

Saudi delegation includes representatives of different ministries and top officials of various government agencies.

In August, Al-Ibrahim met in Riyadh with the Ambassador of Portugal to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Nuno Mathias, SPA reported at the time. They both discussed ways to enhance cooperation.

Saudia reveals bold rebranding for a tech-infused future

Saudia reveals bold rebranding for a tech-infused future
Updated 1 min 16 sec ago

Saudia reveals bold rebranding for a tech-infused future

Saudia reveals bold rebranding for a tech-infused future
  • Top official says it is more than a change in logo or colors

RIYADH: The unveiling of a new brand identity for Saudi Arabian Airlines is more than a change in its appearance, as according to a top official it is but a part of a huge transformation in the company’s approach in line with the ongoing digital transformation.

Khaled Tash, group chief marketing officer at Saudia, told Arab News on Sunday the new look represented the airline’s commitment to digital advancement and an array of new services and products in the pipeline.

He said the rebranding signifies the company’s embrace of the developing tech industry, reflecting the Kingdom’s broader ambitions.

The official said: “This is not about changing our logo or changing our colors.” It is, he added, more about improving our services and introducing new products.

“We are very keen to accelerate the transition…the overall reaction from the market” has been overwhelming, Tash said.


Elaborating on how the update reinforces the airline’s digital transformation, Tash noted that Saudia stands out as one of the pioneering airlines in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to integrate artificial intelligence into its customer experience.

“The Travel Companion is an AI-driven personal aide. When users access the Saudia app, it intuitively recognizes them without requiring manual data input and promptly aids with all travel-related queries,” elaborated Tash.

Highlighting its capabilities, he mentioned that users can ask Saudia’s travel companion bot for holiday recommendations, which will engage in an interactive dialogue to understand preferences before offering tailored suggestions.

Additionally, users can seamlessly book their flights directly within the chat interface when conversing with the travel companion, eliminating the need to navigate away from the conversation.

The AI-driven bot is slated for launch by the end of this year, coinciding with an enhanced version of the airline’s application.

“Digital transformation is not just a buzzword that we use, we aim to improve the customer experience using new innovations,” Tash stated.

He elaborated that, guided by that motto, the company has pinpointed 260 features and services for introduction or enhancement if they already exist.

The airline has also launched a VIP meet-and-greet service. Tash expects this addition to boost revenue from booking services by 10 percent.

In alignment with Arab culture, the airline has introduced an option for female passengers to request seating next to other female passengers on specific, long-duration flights.

Tash said the unprecedented growth in the Kingdom’s tourism sector is also proving to be fruitful for the airline and it is part of the ongoing transformation. He specifically mentioned the fact that Saudia is the first airline to begin operations to and from the Red Sea International Airport.

The marketing head also revealed that the airline has ambitious goals to more than triple its passenger count over the next seven years.

Clarifying the shift in Saudia’s vision, Tash mentioned that historically, the airline’s objective was to connect the Kingdom’s citizens to the world. However, the current goal emphasizes bringing the world to Saudi Arabia.

Closing bell: Saudi main index closes lower at 11,040  

Closing bell: Saudi main index closes lower at 11,040  
Updated 01 October 2023

Closing bell: Saudi main index closes lower at 11,040  

Closing bell: Saudi main index closes lower at 11,040  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index closed lower on Sunday, slipping 15.79 points or 0.14 percent to finish at 11,040.17. The benchmark index saw a total trading turnover of SR4.08 billion ($1.08 billion) with 79 listed stocks advancing and 135 retreating. 

In contrast, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu inched up 8.33 points, or 0.04 percent, to close at 22,698.64, with 24 listed stocks advancing and 30 retreating. 

The MSCI Tadawul Index declined 0.55 points, or 0.04 percent, closing at 1,415.12. 

The best-performing stock of the day was Middle East Healthcare Co., with its share price surging 8.35 percent to SR59.70. Other top performers included Electrical Industries Co. and Development Works Food Co., with their share prices soaring 5.37 percent and 4.90 percent, respectively, to stand at SR2.16 and SR111.40. 

Development Works Food Co. and the Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co. were also among the top performers of the day. 

The worst performer was Raydan Food Co., as its share price dropped 3.80 percent to SR26.60. Other decliners included National Agricultural Development Co. and Naseej International Trading Co., with their share prices dropping 3.05 percent and 2.63 percent, respectively, to SR46.05 and SR44.50. 

Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co. and Thimar Development Holding Co. were also among the poor performers of the day. 

Meanwhile, Alqemam for Computer Systems Co. was the top performer on Nomu, while Academy of Learning Co. was the worst performer. 

In announcements, Al-Babtain Power and Telecommunication Co. disclosed the results of the third extraordinary general assembly meeting, which included the approval of around a SR213 million increase in the firm’s capital.

The company’s capital has surged from SR426 million to an estimated SR639 million, and the number of shares has increased to 63 million from the previous 42 million. This capital increase aligns with the company’s plan to support its financial position and explore new investments in available untapped opportunities, according to a bourse filing. 

In another development, Saudi Awwal Bank announced its intention to offer first-tier capital sukuk denominated in riyals through private placement within the Kingdom. HSBC Saudi Arabia has been appointed as the organizer and distributor of the program, with the offering value to be determined based on market conditions at a later time. 

RSI secures $88m financing from Al Rajhi Bank for acquisition 

RSI secures $88m financing from Al Rajhi Bank for acquisition 
Updated 01 October 2023

RSI secures $88m financing from Al Rajhi Bank for acquisition 

RSI secures $88m financing from Al Rajhi Bank for acquisition 

RIYADH: Saudi modular building solution provider Red Sea International has sealed a SR330 million ($87.9 million) financing deal with Al Rajhi Bank. The arrangement includes a SR250 million loan to facilitate RSI’s acquisition of a 51 percent stake in the Fundamental Installation for Electric Work Co. Ltd., also known as First Fix. 

The agreement is valid until the completion of the acquisition process, with a repayment tenure of seven years, providing both RSI and Al Rajhi Bank with financial clarity, according to a bourse filing.  

Guarantees for the financing include a pledge of shares in RSI’s sister company and First Fix.  

RSI has also allocated project proceeds to cover the loan’s annual repayment, including interest, and has provided a promissory note under the agreement, backed by one of its sister companies, noted the filing. 

The deal involves related parties Al-Dabbagh Group, Tanmiah Commercial Group, and Petromin Corp. 

In June, RSI announced the acquisition of 51 percent of the share capital of First Fix through cash consideration. 

“RSI will gain a critical stream of electromechanical construction capability which are very crucial to every single client need,” said RSI CEO Khalid Fagih in a statement issued during the stake buyout.  

Established in 2014, First Fix is a Saudi construction firm with over 190 top projects, offering integrated design, engineering, and construction disciplines in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing. 

In another development, Al Rajhi Bank, in August, entered into an agreement with the National Center for Privatization to enhance public-private partnerships.  

The deal aims to create opportunities for local and international investors in privatization initiatives. It also involves market research, financial guidance, local and international marketing consultancy, events management, training programs, and knowledge development. 

The deal was signed by Hani Al-Saigh, vice president for strategic marketing and knowledge management at the NCP, and Hossam Al-Basrawi, general manager of corporate banking at Al Rajhi Bank. 

Saudi Arabia issues 136 industrial licenses in August 2023

Saudi Arabia issues 136 industrial licenses in August 2023
Updated 01 October 2023

Saudi Arabia issues 136 industrial licenses in August 2023

Saudi Arabia issues 136 industrial licenses in August 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s economic activity gained momentum with the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources issuing 136 industrial licenses in August compared to 102 in July.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the food product manufacturing sector received 29 permits, followed by the non-metallic mineral industry with 21.

Moreover, the rubber and plastics industry obtained 15 permits, and 12 licenses were issued in the paper production sector.

The SPA report added that the ministry issued 795 industrial licenses between January and August. The number of factories during this period reached 11,110, taking the total investments made by these firms to SR1.489 trillion ($400 billion).

The SPA report further noted that investment volume in August for new licenses stood at SR1.6 billion.

Small enterprises accounted for 83.09 percent of the total licenses issued in August, followed by medium enterprises with 16.18 percent and micro-enterprises with 0.74 percent.

The report added that national factories held the most significant chunk of the total licenses at 76.47 percent, followed by foreign establishments and joint-investment firms with 16.18 percent and 7.35 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, 87 factories started production in August, with an investment of SR1.5 billion. Of these plants, 79.31 percent were national factories, 12.64 were foreign establishments and 8.64 percent were joint investment firms.

Meanwhile, the ministry issued 36,293 certificates of origin in August, up from 34,926 in July.

The initiative is seen as a part of the ministry’s efforts to boost exports across various sectors.

A certificate of origin is a pivotal document in international trade, validating that the exported goods are on a nationality basis.