Saudi government raises $5bn in 2022 to become the MENA’s biggest debt issuer

Saudi government raises $5bn in 2022 to become the MENA’s biggest debt issuer
Saudi Arabia was ranked second in the region when private and public sectors issuance was totaled (Shutterstock)
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Updated 16 January 2023

Saudi government raises $5bn in 2022 to become the MENA’s biggest debt issuer

Saudi government raises $5bn in 2022 to become the MENA’s biggest debt issuer

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s government was the Middle East and North Africa’s biggest debt issuer in 2022 as it raised $5 billion, according to a report released by global provider of financial market data and infrastructure Refinitiv.

The Kingdom’s administration was also in the lead when it came to the issuance of Islamic bonds, securing $2.5 billion.

The UAE government came second in the ranking with $3 billion, the report disclosed.

Islamic bonds raised $12.2 billion across the MENA region during 2022, reflecting a seven-year low as well as a 55 percent drop from 2021.

As for sukuks, they accounted for one-third of the total bond proceeds in 2022. 

The Islamic Development Bank Trust Service has raised as much as $1.6 billion during the year, making it the largest issuer of sukuk from the financial sector in 2022.

Overall, MENA debt issuance has hit $37.3 billion in 2022, reflecting the lowest full year total since 2011.

In addition to this, the figure also reflects a 65 percent drop in value when compared to the corresponding period in 2021.

The UAE was the biggest debt issuer in 2022 when the private and public sectors combined, accounting for 42 percent of the total, while the Kingdom ranked second with 40 percent.

Qatar followed with 10 percent of total bond proceeds and then Bahrain with 3 percent.

While financial issuers accounted for as much as 67 percent of total proceeds during the year, government and agency issuers made up 25 percent.

From the financial sector, the Kingdom’s GACI First Investment Co posed the largest issuer having raised $2.87 billion.

Earlier in January, the Kingdom’s National Debt Management Center confirmed it had received more than $38 billion in bids for its dollar-denominated bonds issuance, as it announced the completion of receiving investor requests for this year’s first international issuance. 

The issuances were made under the Kingdom’s Global Medium-Trust Note Issuance Program, NDMC said in a statement.

The NDMC mission is to secure the Kingdom’s financing needs at the best possible costs in the short, medium, and long term and to achieve Saudi Arabia’s sustainable access to various global markets at fair prices.


Chinese FM, central bank governor to attend debt roundtable in India, says IMF MD

Chinese FM, central bank governor to attend debt roundtable in India, says IMF MD
Updated 29 min 20 sec ago

Chinese FM, central bank governor to attend debt roundtable in India, says IMF MD

Chinese FM, central bank governor to attend debt roundtable in India, says IMF MD

RIYADH: China's finance minister and its central bank governor will attend a roundtable with other creditors and some borrowing countries in February in India, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a CBS' 60 Minutes interview on Sunday. 

"China has to change its policies because low-income countries cannot pay," she said. 

"What we are working towards is to bring all creditors, the traditional creditors from advanced economies, new creditors like China, Saudi Arabia, India, as well as the private sector, and put them around the table with the debtor countries." 

Georgieva said last month the first such gathering will take place on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of 20 finance officials in India. 

Georgieva, the first person from an emerging market economy to head the International Monetary Fund, has said debt relief was critical for heavily indebted nations to avoid cuts in social services and other repercussions. 

"China is going to participate at the level of minister of finance and the governor of People's Bank of China," she told 60 Minutes. 


Oracle to invest $1.5bn in Saudi Arabia, plans cloud region in Riyadh 

Oracle to invest $1.5bn in Saudi Arabia, plans cloud region in Riyadh 
Updated 30 min 41 sec ago

Oracle to invest $1.5bn in Saudi Arabia, plans cloud region in Riyadh 

Oracle to invest $1.5bn in Saudi Arabia, plans cloud region in Riyadh 
  • The Kingdom is a very high priority for Oracle, says top official

RIYADH: Aiming to meet the growing demand for its cloud services, Oracle plans to open a third public cloud region in Saudi Arabia, the company’s senior vice president, technology cloud, Middle East and Africa, told Arab News in an exclusive interview. 

“Saudi Arabia is a very high priority for Oracle right now,” said Nick Redshaw. “We’re seeing unprecedented growth in the region, which is tremendous and LEAP 2023 will reiterate our commitment to that unprecedented growth with what we think are unprecedented investments and expansion and innovation into the Kingdom and the region.” 

Oracle unveiled its expansion plans at LEAP 2023 International Technology Conference, which is taking place in Riyadh from Feb. 6-9.

Redshaw added: “Oracle is going to invest $1.5 billion in Saudi Arabia to meet the unprecedented acceleration of cloud computing and demand that we’re seeing in the Kingdom. We are also going to expand our first (public cloud) region in the Kingdom, which is in Jeddah, to provide incremental capacity to service the current demand. 

“In addition, we are opening a new public cloud region in Riyadh.”

The opening of the new region in the Saudi capital will “take our total to six across the Middle East and three regions in the Kingdom,” the official said. 

He said the Riyadh region will primarily service the expanding requirements of the Kingdom’s eastern region and Oracle’s government clients who are predominantly based in Riyadh. 

The cloud region in Riyadh will join the existing regions in Jeddah and the futuristic city of NEOM. 

This investment was earlier included in a memorandum of understanding that was signed during Oracle CEO Safra Catz’s recent visit to Riyadh in the presence of Haytham Al-Ohali, vice minister at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. 

“The aim here is to help the government and businesses take advantage of all the latest innovation in the cloud and digital transformation that we can deliver,” said Redshaw. 

As part of the MoU, Oracle will work with MCIT and the Communications and Information Technology Commission to establish a commercial and operational model for an additional cloud region in Saudi Arabia that is aligned with the Saudi government’s requirements and local data residency regulations. 

Meeting unprecedented demand 

“We’re seeing an unprecedented rise in cloud computing across the whole region, particularly in Saudi Arabia,” said Redshaw. 

Indeed, according to IDC — a global provider of market intelligence — public cloud spending in Saudi Arabia will increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 26.8 percent over the coming years to reach $3.1 billion in 2026, spurred by organizations looking to leverage the power of the cloud to modernize their critical business applications and become cloud native. 

Redshaw continued: “I anticipate it to grow even more rapidly over the next few years.” 

With regard to the rise of cloud adoption, he said, it’s all about organizations wanting to transform. 

“Cloud adoption is making them more cost-efficient, more secure, more agile, more flexible as businesses as they capitalize on cloud,” he explained. “You’ve got the Kingdom’s demand going up, cloud transformation going up, and then really innovating as businesses on top of that to take advantage of it.” 

Creating job opportunities 

Asked how the new initiatives are likely to impact the job market, Redshaw explained, that since the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is continuing at a fast pace, it is enabling businesses to transition to the new digital environment and take advantage of technology to drive business outcomes and innovation. 

“Whether it’s Jeddah or Riyadh, what we’re doing is providing the capability to take advantage of that demand which is very strong,” he said. 

Redshaw went on to list a couple of measures that Oracle is taking within the Kingdom to foster and promote talent.

“One is around skills enablement and building capability, both in businesses, in engineering, in startups,” he said. “We have a number of programs running where we bring in young individuals, train them, educate them, and then they can go back into the broader technology market and take advantage of that innovation.” 

He also mentioned the Oracle Academy where educators from around the globe work with institutions in the Kingdom to build learning programs.  

“In addition, we have innovation hubs we’ve built — in Riyadh and the UAE as well,” he continued. “This is where people can meet. We put experts in there. They can brainstorm, train and figure out how to take advantage of all the technology.” 

Focus on sustainability 

Underscoring its ongoing focus on sustainability, Oracle is committed to powering all its cloud regions worldwide with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. 

Several Oracle cloud regions, including regions in the North and South Americas, and all 10 regions in Europe, are already powered by 100 percent renewable energy, which enables customers to run their computing services more sustainably and with a lower carbon footprint. 

To further advance its commitment to sustainable operations, Oracle recycled 99.9 percent of its retired hardware in 2022. 

“We’re very proud of the sustainability plan that we have and everything we roll out, we roll out consistently worldwide, including Saudi Arabia,” informed Redshaw. 

He added: “We stand committed to our goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy in all the next-generation cloud regions by 2025 and that would include Riyadh, Jeddah, and all the ones we are bringing on board in the region. We also do a lot around the hardware recycling, so that’s our continued effort to reduce e-waste.” 

“We also decreased the amount of waste sent to landfill in Oracle-owned buildings by 25 percent per square foot since 2015,” Redshaw continued. “In addition, we do a lot of work around responsible sourcing and by 2025 the aim is that 100 percent of our key suppliers will also have an environmental program in place.” 

Not surprisingly, according to him, Oracle is well on its way to achieving its aim of net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Redshaw concluded by saying that they apparently found that 95 percent of businesses believe they make more progress toward sustainability and social goals with the help of artificial intelligence. 

“When you look at technological capability and how people take advantage of it and innovate, there’s a lot you can do with data and AI to actually make your business more sustainable as well,” he said. 
 


Oil Updates — Crude up; IEA chief says price caps hit Russia’s export revenue  

Oil Updates — Crude up; IEA chief says price caps hit Russia’s export revenue  
Updated 06 February 2023

Oil Updates — Crude up; IEA chief says price caps hit Russia’s export revenue  

Oil Updates — Crude up; IEA chief says price caps hit Russia’s export revenue  

RIYADH: Oil prices inched up in early trade on Monday after falling around 8 percent last week to more than three-week lows as jitters over major economies outweighed signs of a demand recovery in China, the world’s top oil importer. 

Brent crude futures crawled up 24 cents, or 0.30 percent, to $80.18 a barrel at 08.30 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 12 cents, also 0.16 percent higher, to $73.51 a barrel. 

Last Friday, WTI and Brent slid 3 percent after strong US jobs data raised concerns that the Federal Reserve would keep raising interest rates, which in turn boosted the dollar. 

Price caps hit Russia’s export revenue by about $8 billion in January: IEA 

Price caps on Russian oil likely hit Moscow’s revenues from oil and gas exports by nearly 30 percent in January, or about $8 billion, from a year ago period, International Energy Agency chief Fatih Birol said on Sunday 

He said the growth in global oil demand this year will come from China and that may need the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, to look at their output policies. 

“And now this year Chinese economy is rebounding...this is putting upward pressure on the demand,” he said referring to the ‘exploding’ demand for jet fuel in China. 

Germany’s Scholz says Berlin is preparing wind power roadmap: Bild 

Berlin is preparing a roadmap for speedy wind power plant constructions to achieve a planned roll-out of renewable energy to meet climate goals for 2030, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a newspaper interview on Sunday. 

Germany aims to cut 65 percent of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 compared with 1990 and to become carbon-neutral by 2045. 

“By 2030, there will be an average of four to five onshore wind turbines on land every day,” Scholz, a Social Democrat, told the Bild am Sonntag. 

“Every month, there will be a discussion with the states on how far they have progressed. Anything that is not done on time must be made up for,” said the Chancellor. 

The energy crisis, brought about by the war in Ukraine, has shown Germany’s resilience amid supply shocks, he said. 

But beyond that capability, more innovation and modernization of Germany’s export-geared manufacturing industry was necessary. 

Once the expansion of wind and solar power was progressing in full swing, Europe’s biggest economy would become less dependent on imports of fossil fuels such as gas, coal or crude oil, he said. 

Berlin has approved measures to speed up the wind and solar power roll-out as well as that of offshore wind. 

In total, Germany should have access to 360 megawatts of green electricity capacity by 2030. 

(With input from Reuters) 


Closing bell: TASI plunges 143 points to close at 10,589 

Closing bell: TASI plunges 143 points to close at 10,589 
Updated 05 February 2023

Closing bell: TASI plunges 143 points to close at 10,589 

Closing bell: TASI plunges 143 points to close at 10,589 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index on Sunday lost 143.21 points — or 1.34 percent — to close at 10,588.58. 

MSCI Tadawul 30 Index dropped 1.45 percent to 1,454.10, while the parallel market, Nomu, slipped 0.48 percent to 18,905.15. 

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR3.77 billion ($1 billion), with 46 stocks of the listed 224 advancing and 172 retreating. 

The worst performer was Al Yamamah Steel Industries Co., which crashed 5.06 percent to SR22.90. Other stocks that performed poorly were Saudi Printing and Packaging Co., Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co., Halwani Bros. Co. and Arabian Pipes Co. — all falling in the 4 percent range. 

Americana Restaurants International PLC was the top gainer, rising 4.76 percent in the week's first trading session to SR3.74.  

The other top gainers were Makkah Construction and Development Co., Buruj Cooperative Insurance Co., Amana Cooperative Insurance Co. and Salama Cooperative Insurance Co. 

Among sectoral indices, 18 of the 21 listed on the stock exchange declined, while the rest advanced. 

The Software & Services Index took the biggest hit plunging 1,104.79 points to close at 39,941.28. 

On the announcements front, Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. informed the stock exchange that it booked a net profit of SR13 million in the nine-month period that ended on Dec. 31, 2022, from a net loss of SR 29.2 million in the year-ago period.  

The profit was driven by higher revenue, lower allowance for impairment in trade receivables, lower general and administrative expenses, and financial charges. 

The telco turned to a net profit of SR 8 million in the third quarter of 2022-2023, against a net loss of SR7.37 million a year earlier. Its share price fell 0.14 percent to SR69.90. 

Al Moammar Information Systems announced that it was awarded a project with a legal entity on Jan. 29 for SR42.4 million, including value added tax.  

The project includes the renewal of the technical support service for infrastructure systems, and the company expects to sign the contract on Feb. 28, it said in a statement. Its share price fell 0.43 percent to SR93.60. 

Meanwhile, Saudi Industrial Investment Group disclosed that the unplanned maintenance works in its subsidiary, Saudi Polymers Co., are still ongoing due to the nature of the mechanical repairs, which require additional downtime to guarantee safe and reliable operations.  

SIIG said that it expects to restart its operation a week later. Its share price fell 2.71 percent to SR22.28. 

Meanwhile, Batic Investments and Logistics Co.’s fully-owned subsidiary, Batic Real Estate Co., said, on Feb. 2, that it received the approval of Madinah Municipality to develop the Al-Khuzama residential neighborhood community. Its share price stayed flat at SR23.44. 


Energy-rich countries should lead transition journey, says IAEE president

Energy-rich countries should lead transition journey, says IAEE president
Updated 05 February 2023

Energy-rich countries should lead transition journey, says IAEE president

Energy-rich countries should lead transition journey, says IAEE president

RIYADH: Stressing the need for cooperation in the journey toward energy transition, the president of the International Association of Energy Economics said the shift should be led by energy-rich countries.

“Energy tech is coming to strengthen energy transition. Oil and gas-rich countries are now building their own way for the energy transition. The energy transition is not coming from western countries or India or China, and it is being led by energy-rich countries, but we have to learn, what time, what speed, etc,” Jean-Michael Glachant said. He also made it clear that financing is the key to achieving these goals.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Glachant said it will take another 30-50 years to achieve a transition to green energy.

“We are not close. But we are really starting. For about 15 years, we discussed; should we start, and when should we start. And now we are all understanding, yes, we have to do it. It will take 30 to 50 years,” he said.

“As long as we stay together, we are able to contain the damage. We have to find a way to compensate for damages because some countries will suffer more, while other countries less.”

The IAEE official said his organization is not just grateful but also lucky to host its 44th conference in Saudi Arabia, as the country is one of the key players in accelerating the global energy transition.

Glachant said that in line with its Vision 2030 blueprint, the Kingdom is charting its national sustainability path and setting an example for the rest of the world.

“There are many many advantages for IAEE to have Saudi Arabia as the host country. We are an association for energy economics. Saudi Arabia is building its own national sustainability path with its 2030 agenda. It is not only a pleasure, but it is an honor to enter the Kingdom and to discuss and interact with open-minded people of the region,” said the IAEE president.

“Saudi Arabia is leading a voice of the developing world in energy affairs. And we, at IAEE, want to discover what we can learn from Saudi Arabia,” he added.

It should be noted that the 44th IAEE conference is taking place in Riyadh from Feb. 4-9, and this is for the first time this event is being hosted in the Middle East.

“In this program, you would see that no big region in the world has been left behind. Really, the Saudis have done their best to have all the relevant people and all the relevant issues being put together,” he said.

According to Glachant, Saudi Arabia has several ideas about sustainable energy transition to share with the world and the IAEE event will serve as the perfect platform to showcase and discuss those ideas.

“To learn something is the core of the IAEE conference. When we do not learn something, the event is a failure. This is the first event in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is becoming independent in the way it is seeing the future and becoming rich to finance the future. If we cannot learn from such a place, I think we are sick,” he noted.

Glachant noted that the Middle East and North Africa region is leading the energy sector in the world and that the Saudi capital Riyadh is one of the most prominent global destinations for business and finance.

“Saudi Arabia is the world’s No. 1 country in terms of growth these days; not just growth in the oil sector, but also in the non-oil sector. So, Saudi Arabia is doing the unexpected by exploring new paths,” added Glachant.

He also lauded the efforts of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Saudi Arabia in carrying out research and framing energy policies to support a sustainable transition to green energy.

According to Glachant, the IAEE conference in Riyadh will help exchange ideas with big names in the region, and added that MENA is the “hotspot of energy which is also building its own energy economy.”

Glachant pointed out that there are several pillars of the energy transition, which include technology and innovation, direct and indirect investments, etc.

“It (energy transition) is a kind of car race. When you see your neighbor driving faster, sometimes, you try to do better than your neighbor,” he added.

Glachant was of the view that more progress was needed in the maritime and aviation sectors to meet sustainable targets.

“It is about technology innovation. We have to find ways of having that (aviation and maritime sectors) sustainable in a different way. Some planes run on electricity for small distances. But for long distances, what do we do? For maritime, what do we do,” Glachant questioned.