Financial institutions hold key to helping Mideast reach net-zero, says report

Financial institutions hold key to helping Mideast reach net-zero, says report
BCG said out of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries only Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have made clear decarbonization commitments. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 17 January 2023

Financial institutions hold key to helping Mideast reach net-zero, says report

Financial institutions hold key to helping Mideast reach net-zero, says report

RIYADH: As Middle Eastern countries are set to face funding gaps in achieving their energy transition goals, regional regulators, development banks, and financial institutions hold the key to reaching net zero in the region, noted Boston Consulting Group in its latest sustainability report. 

The group said out of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries only Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have made clear decarbonization commitments, but even they face funding gaps as the amount needed to achieve national net-zero goals is “enormous.” 

Giving an example of the UAE, Boston Consulting said the emirate has already committed $163 billion to its net-zero pledges, but independent analysis suggests that the total investment needed is $680 billion, leaving a gap of more than $500 billion. 

Shelly Trench, managing director and partner at BCG and co-author of the report, said: “The Middle East banking sector has an opportunity to benefit significantly from financing the transition of the oil and gas industry and other strategically important sectors to cleaner, more sustainable technologies.”  

Even though the climate crisis poses a significant threat to banks’ portfolios, Boston Consulting said the regulatory pressure in most of the region is not yet strong enough to push banks into taking immediate action.  The comparative lack of regulation of green financial instruments in the Middle East poses a significant challenge in seizing its potential for growth.  

Trench noted that regulators and policymakers could address this challenge by establishing carbon prices that adequately represent the cost of greenhouse gases and are aligned with international carbon price levels. “In addition, they could create financial and other incentives to support decarbonization and develop environmental and industrial policies that align with climate objectives,” she added.  

The report noted that overall issuance of green and sustainability-linked debt in the region quadrupled in 2021 compared to the four years prior and continues to grow despite the lack of regulation of financing instruments in the region.  

Governments in the region drove 97 percent of green bonds in 2020 compared to only 13 percent in 2016, showed the report.  

“With time, as climate finance regulation is rolled out and green projects become more bankable, banks and financial institutions will become the key source of funding for the climate transition,” stated Aytech Pseunokov, project leader at BCG.  

He explained that financial institutions must take the necessary steps toward becoming the key funding sources, or else put their portfolios at risk.  

He added that until they are suited to be the main source of funding, “Middle Eastern banks would benefit from reviewing the impact of transition risk on their portfolios and preparing themselves for the future by declaring portfolio emissions reduction targets and joining global alliances to exchange best practices.”


74% of online shoppers prefer local e-commerce over cross-border platforms

Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa
Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa
Updated 03 June 2023

74% of online shoppers prefer local e-commerce over cross-border platforms

Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s retail sector is eyeing significant growth on the back of its e-commerce market, as 74 percent of online shoppers in the Kingdom are expected to shift from global to local platforms.
In its recent report, leading global management consulting firm Kearney and Saudi consulting company Mukatafa noted that local and hybrid players are making strong headway against their international counterparts from China, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Europe and the US.
Valued at SR19.3 billion ($5.14 billion), the Kingdom’s e-commerce market is 6 percent of the overall SR347.2 billion retail market. It is expected to further grow to SR34.7 billion to reach 7.5 percent of the overall retail market by 2026, according to the report.
An expanding e-commerce ecosystem will pave the way for innovation, job creation and private-sector growth in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objectives.

It is a strong sign that local e-commerce businesses are gaining more traction in the market. We must make sure that these businesses are supported to thrive as well as cross-border accounts.

Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa

“This flourishing e-commerce ecosystem empowers citizens to use innovative digital payment options, in line with government initiatives under Vision 2030 to guide private sector investments to provide critical pillars for the sector’s growth, such as increasing cashless transactions and expanding the geographical coverage of e-commerce delivery beyond the Kingdom’s major cities,” said Mohammed Dhedhi, partner at Kearney Middle East.
He added: “The growth of the local and hybrid e-commerce players will contribute to protecting consumer interest and promoting local investments with strong potential for job creation.” The report revealed that cross-border online shopping is expected to generate less income as local and hybrid companies gain traction.

FASTFACTS

• The report noted that local and hybrid players are making strong headway against their international counterparts from China, the GCC, Europe and the US.

• Valued at SR19.3 billion, the Kingdom’s e-commerce market is 6 percent of the overall SR347.2 billion retail market.

Cross-border online shopping is likely to decrease from 59 percent of all e-commerce revenue in 2021 to 49 percent by 2026.
The report noted that more assistance should be provided to create a level playing field for all e-commerce participants, safeguarding consumer interests and encouraging domestic investment.
“It is a strong sign that local e-commerce businesses are gaining more traction in the market. We must make sure that these businesses are supported to thrive as well as cross-border accounts,” Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa, said. He added: “Thresholds on import quantities could be introduced, and local quality standards could be mandated for cross-border players. It is these types of initiatives that will need to be addressed if we are to create a level playing field for all e-commerce players. As it stands, current regulations in the market favor cross-border players, and until that changes, cross-border sales will continue to hold a major share of the e-commerce market compared to local players.”

 

 


‘Women in Tech’ competition brings Saudi female entrepreneurs to the fore

Doaa Aref, CEO of Chefaa
Doaa Aref, CEO of Chefaa
Updated 03 June 2023

‘Women in Tech’ competition brings Saudi female entrepreneurs to the fore

Doaa Aref, CEO of Chefaa
  • Sahm app claims first place and received $25k, Nqoodlet bags second position with a prize of $15k

CAIRO: Going by the success of the “Women in Tech” competition, it is evident that female-led startups are set to revolutionize Saudi Arabia’s technology sector.  

The competition that was recently held in Riyadh saw entrepreneurs undergo an eight-week incubator program, showcasing innovative ideas in various sectors, including fintech, health tech, property tech and edutainment.
In collaboration between global banking group Standard Chartered and Saudi-based investment firm Falak Investment Hub, the program hosted eight startups with the top three being awarded a total of $50,000 in equity-free grants.   

The most significant shift in our landscape in KSA will be the change in sentiment, investment appetite and innovation, says Adwa Al-Dakheel
CEO of Falak Investment Hub

Sahm, a stock trading app, claimed first place and received $25,000. Nqoodlet, a fintech company, bagged second position with a prize of $15,000, and Chefaa, a health-tech platform, secured third place and received $10,000.  
Speaking with Arab News, Jawaher Al-Yahya, the CEO of Sahm, said that the company will continue to optimize and refine its product to achieve the right market fit.  

HIGHLIGHTS

• The competition that was recently held in Riyadh saw entrepreneurs undergo an eight-week incubator program, showcasing innovative ideas in various sectors, including fintech, health tech, property tech and edutainment.

• In collaboration between global banking group Standard Chartered and Saudi-based investment firm Falak Investment Hub, the program hosted eight startups with the top three being awarded a total of $50,000 in equity-free grants.

She further added that women faced difficulty in gaining experience in leadership positions in addition to a lack of funding and resources.  
Sahm will utilize its funding to invest in marketing initiatives to increase brand awareness as well as enhance product capabilities, Al-Yahya reiterated.  
Replying to a question regarding hurdles women in the technology sector are faced with, CEO of Falak Investment Hub Adwa Al-Dakheel attributed the pursuit of perfection as the major barrier for women entering the tech scene.
“Seeking perfection in innovation and startups means not launching in the right market timing and waiting for extreme validation instead of building upon continuous yet smaller validations,” Al-Dakheel told Arab News.  
Doaa Aref, CEO of Chefaa, and Mai Abdulwahab, founder of Nqoodlet, both said that lack of funding is the main barrier for women in tech globally.
Awards were distributed during a special event, under the patronage of the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, known as Monsha’at, in the presence of its Deputy Gov. Saud Al-Sabhan.  
Al-Sabhan delivered a speech during the event about the importance of women entrepreneurs stating that Monsha’at contributed to increasing the number of female-led enterprises to more than 467,000.  
“The most significant shift in our landscape in the Kingdom will be the change in sentiment, investment appetite and innovation. Top founders will move to Saudi Arabia to grow and start their businesses here, and the world’s biggest investors will follow,” Al-Dakheel said. 

 


Respite for oil market amid rate hike worries

Respite for oil market amid rate hike worries
Updated 01 June 2023

Respite for oil market amid rate hike worries

Respite for oil market amid rate hike worries
  • Oil markets may have been oversold in the last two trading days, says analyst

RIYADH: Oil steadied on Thursday as a potential pause in US interest rate hikes and the passing of a crucial vote on the US debt ceiling bill were offset by a report of rising inventories in the world’s biggest oil consumer.

US Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday suggested interest rates could be kept on hold this month and the US House of Representatives passed a bill suspending the government’s debt ceiling, improving the chance of averting a disastrous default.

Brent crude futures fell 10 cents, or 0.14 percent, to $72.50 a barrel by 1339 GMT while US West Texas Intermediate crude rose 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $68.16. Both benchmarks fell on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Oil markets may have been oversold in the last two trading days,” said CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng. “Sentiment rebounded amid the debt bill’s passage in the House and (the) Fed’s rate hike pause signal.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Wednesday said that US crude inventories rose by about 5.2 million barrels last week.

• Brent crude futures fell 10 cents, or 0.14 percent, to $72.50 a barrel by 1339 GMT while US West Texas Intermediate crude rose 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $68.16.

Mixed demand indications from China, the world’s biggest oil importer, have nonetheless weighed on the market, as has industry data showing a rise in US crude inventories.

Market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Wednesday said that US crude inventories rose by about 5.2 million barrels last week.

“The current mood is one of pessimism,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM. “Investors have been pragmatic and risk averse of late.”

Also in focus is the June 4 meeting of the OPEC+ producer group, in which the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia will discuss whether or not to cut oil production further.

Barclays forecast

British multinational bank Barclays has slashed the average price of its Brent crude forecast for this year from $92 to $87 a barrel. The bank also slashed its price forecast of Brent for 2024 as it cut the average projected price to $87 a barrel from $97. 

Chinese company in Brazil 

China’s CNOOC Ltd. has begun production at the Buzios5 well off the coast of Brazil, the company said in a statement on Thursday. 

The well is the fifth phase of the Buzios oil field off Brazil’s southeast coast. At an average water depth of 1,900 meters to 2,200 meters, the field is the world’s largest deep-water pre-salt oil field, with daily production of 600,000 barrels, the company said. 

CNOOC’s Brazilian subsidiary owns 7.34 percent of the Buzios shared reservoir, which is 88.99 percent owned by Brazilian state-owned oil and gas company Petrobras.  CNOOC paid $1.9 billion to Petrobras last year to secure a 5 percent stake in a production sharing agreement at the field. 


UAE’s in-country value projects driving billions to local firms

UAE’s in-country value projects driving billions to local firms
Updated 02 June 2023

UAE’s in-country value projects driving billions to local firms

UAE’s in-country value projects driving billions to local firms

ABU DHABI: More than $27.23 billion has been redirected to the local economy since the UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) and ADNOC launched major in-country value programs to support domestic industries.

Speaking at the Make in the Emirates Forum, Abdulla Al-Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary of MoIAT, said more than $14.43 billion of investment was redirected to the local economy last year alone, an increase of 25 percent year-on-year.

“The National In-Country Value Program is a nationwide program that speaks one language across many different sectors,” Al-Shamsi said. “It’s one methodology and this is something we’re very proud of because it benefits the private sector and when the private sector sees this it helps them prepare, invest, and spend.”

The forum heard how the National ICV Program is “functionating well and accelerating.”

The forum also heard how industrial zones are playing a critical role in the in the country’s sustainable industrial development and broader economic prospects. Local industrial leaders described how they are utilizing alternative energy resources such as solar and hydrogen to reduce their carbon footprint.

The second edition of the Make it in the Emirates Forum concluded on Thursday with the UAE showcasing its unique value proposition to international investors.

Investors were invited to explore opportunities and competitive advantages, with panel discussions focusing on the National In-Country Value (ICV) Program, the role of industrial zones, competitive financing as a key enabler and local talent in the private sector.

The UAE’s industrial exports reached $47.6 billion in 2022, growing 49 on 2021. The industrial sector's contribution to GDP rose to $49.5 billion in 2022, a 38 percent increase on 2020.

The Make it in the Emirates Forum is organized by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology in partnership the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and ADNOC.

On the first day of the forum, the UAE government announced $2.7 billion in industrial offtake agreements, building on the $29.9 billion of offtake agreements announced at the 2022 edition of the forum.


Saudi fintech firm secures $3.2m in seed funding

Saudi fintech firm secures $3.2m in seed funding
Updated 01 June 2023

Saudi fintech firm secures $3.2m in seed funding

Saudi fintech firm secures $3.2m in seed funding

RIYADH: EdfaPay, a Saudi-based fintech startup that helps companies use their smartphones for payment, has raised $3.2 million in a seed funding round.

The funding round was led by Sanabil 500 MENA, Nufud Wealth International, Atmiid Investment, Basmah Commercial Investment, and a group of local and international angel investors.

EdfaPay aims to utilize the capital to strengthen its operations in the Kingdom and expand to Pakistan and South American countries.

Founded in 2022 by Ghormallah Alghamdi and Nedal Sabbah, it uses NFC technology to allow companies to collect payments through smartphones.

In February 2022, the firm secured $1.6 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Nuwa Capital, InspireUs VC, and Wallan Investment Group.

The fintech channeled its acquired funds into launching its financial services across the Kingdom and supported its market-entry efforts.

The Kingdom’s fintech investments reached $400 million in 2022, recording a 79 percent increase compared to 2021.

The Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, is one of the country’s key players in enabling fintech across all subsectors.

Earlier this week, SAMA granted licenses to Spotii and Madfu, two fintech companies that aim to offer consumer financing options.