New Murabba Development Co. launched by Saudi crown prince to transform downtown Riyadh

New Murabba Development Co. launched by Saudi crown prince to transform downtown Riyadh
The Mukaab will be one of the largest built structures in the world at 400 meters high, 400 meters wide, and 400 meters long (Twitter)
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Updated 16 February 2023
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New Murabba Development Co. launched by Saudi crown prince to transform downtown Riyadh

New Murabba Development Co. launched by Saudi crown prince to transform downtown Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced the launch of the New Murabba Development Co. which is set to transform downtown Riyadh through the building of a unique living, working, and entertainment experience.

The New Murabba project will be built around the concept of sustainability by featuring green areas and walking and cycling paths that will enhance the quality of life by promoting healthy lifestyles and community activities. 

The project will also include an iconic museum, a technology and design university, a multipurpose immersive theater, and more than 80 entertainment and cultural venues. 

The development will be situated at the intersection of King Salman and King Khalid roads to the northwest of Riyadh over an area of 19 sq. km and set to accommodate hundreds of thousands of residents. 

The New Murabba will offer more than 25 million sq. km of floor area, 104,000 residential units, 9,000 hotel rooms, 980,000 sq. m of retail space, 1.4 million sq. m of office space, 620,000 sq. m of leisure assets, and 1.8 million sq. m of community facilities. 

The project will feature a 15-minute walking radius and have its own internal transport system with a 20-minute drive from the airport. 

The area will host the Mukaab, an iconic landmark that features the latest innovative technologies and will be one of the largest built structures in the world at 400 meters high, 400 meters wide, and 400 meters long to take a cubic shape to ensure ultimate utilization of space. 

Inspired by the modern Najdi architectural style, the Mukaab will be the world’s first immersive destination offering an experience created by digital and virtual technology with the latest holographics. 

The building will encompass a tower atop a spiral base, and a structure featuring 2 million sq. m of floor space that will be a premium hospitality destination with a multitude of retail, cultural and tourist attractions, along with residential and hotel units, commercial spaces, and recreational facilities. 

The project is part of the Public Investment Fund’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors, enable the private sector and increase local content, contribute to the development of real estate projects and the local infrastructure, and diversify sources of income for the Saudi economy. 

It is expected to add around $50 billion to the non-oil economy and create 334,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030. The project is due to be completed in 2030.


Pakistan stock market crosses another historic milestone by surging past 66,000 points

Pakistan stock market crosses another historic milestone by surging past 66,000 points
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Pakistan stock market crosses another historic milestone by surging past 66,000 points

Pakistan stock market crosses another historic milestone by surging past 66,000 points
  • Analysts say the current bull run at the stock market is fueled by IMF program and policy measures for economic improvement
  • An economic expert asks the government to comply with the IMF standby arrangement to ensure macroeconomic stability

KARACHI: Pakistan equities on Friday hit yet another record high by breaching the 66,000-mark amid bullish sentiments built on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program and completion of its first review, rupee stability, and the government’s plan to raise Rs90 billion through Islamic bonds, equity analysts said.
The key stock index, KSE100, closed the weekend trading session at a historic high level of 66,223 after gaining 1,505 points, or rising 2.33 percent. During the trading week, the index collectively gained 3,730 points. The recent rally has increased the market capitalization from $31.3 billion to $32.8 billion in a week.
“The stocks closed at a new record surge and new all-time high amid rupee stability and the government’s plan to launch Rs90 billion worth of Ijarah Sukuks for retail investors to diversify funding sources,” Ahsan Mehanti, CEO of Arif Habib Corporation, told Arab News.
He attributed the bull run to falling external debt, the positive outcome of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a civil-military hybrid forum established to fast-track decision-making and promote investment from foreign nations, and expectations for a current account surplus in November 2023.
In a landmark development for the country’s financial markets, the federal government launched one-year Ijarah Sukuk earlier in the day from the platform of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in the first phase.
In total, the government plans to raise Rs90 billion through three auctions of the bond.
Speaking at the gong ceremony, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said Pakistan’s economy faced multiple challenges at the start of the financial year 2023-2024, but the government had tried to solve the structural and macroeconomic issues which helped improve the situation.
“I would like to thank the effort of all stakeholders to bring our economy back on track by lowering the exchange rate of dollar from all-time high of approximately 307 on September 5, 2023, in the interbank market to around 284 today,” he said.
Kakar maintained the capital market served as a catalyst for innovation, entrepreneurship and growth in the realm of finance.
“It provides fuel to business to expend, create jobs and contribute to overall development of society. As a part of federal government, we are committed to fostering an environment that nurtures and sustains this growth,” he added.
The prime minister said the capital market acted as a stabilizing force, absorbing shocks and steering the economy toward stability.
Economists say the current bull run is fueled by the successful completion of $3 billion IMF bailout program review, strong earnings growth and the steps taken by the government to discourage smuggling of various commodities and foreign currencies.
Pakistan expects another tranche of $700 million from IMF after the global lender’s board meeting on January 11, 2024.
“Pakistan stock exchange has tailwind of the IMF program, the completion of the first review, the enforcement measures by the establishment including curbing smuggling, de-dollarization and some improvements in the Afghan transit trade,” Dr. Khaqan Najeeb, former advisor to the finance ministry, told Arab News.
Going forward, he said the country would have to comply with the IMF standby arrangement to design another program for long term macroeconomic stability.
He noted this required more structural reforms in the economy after the new government takes over in the wake of the next general elections.


COP28: US-UAE climate-friendly farming effort grows to $17bn

COP28: US-UAE climate-friendly farming effort grows to $17bn
Updated 32 min 49 sec ago
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COP28: US-UAE climate-friendly farming effort grows to $17bn

COP28: US-UAE climate-friendly farming effort grows to $17bn

DUBAI: Funding for a joint effort by the US and the UAE to advance climate-friendly farming around the world has grown to more than $17 billion, the countries announced on Friday at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, according to Reuters.

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate was launched in 2021 at COP26 in Glasgow and its funding comes from governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations.

Globally, food and farming contribute about a third of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

Nearly 80 projects have been announced under the AIM for Climate initiative since 2021, with goals to expand agricultural research, implement sustainable farming practices, and reduce methane emissions.

“I think it’s made people think about food and agriculture in a much different way,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference, adding: “And I think it’s reflected, frankly, in the fact that this COP ... has actually elevated food (and) agriculture to the point where it’s an integral part of COP meetings. That has not been the case for the previous 27.”

Funding for the effort has grown from $13 billion in May, when the US and the UAE co-hosted an AIM for Climate summit in Washington, and from $8 billion at COP27.

The new total includes $12 billion from governments and $5 billion from non-government parties such as companies and humanitarian organizations, said an AIM for Climate spokesperson.

The 27 new projects announced at COP28 range in size from $500 million to $150,000.

In one of the largest projects, companies including Bunge and Alphabet’s Google are working with the Nature Conservancy and the Brazilian state of Para to expand regenerative agriculture, which generally refers to practices like reduced tillage of cropland and lower pesticide use.

For the first time, agriculture is a major focus at this year’s climate summit, with a full day on Dec. 10 dedicated to food and farming topics.

“We understand that we need to speed up innovations ... to be able to transform agriculture food systems to more sustainable systems,” the UAE’s Minister for Climate and the Environment Mariam Almheiri told Reuters.

Advocacy groups want the nations and companies in attendance to pledge to tackle agricultural methane emissions in particular, most of which is from livestock production.


New KAPSARC-led analysis shows Saudi methane emissions 73% lower than IEA estimates

New KAPSARC-led analysis shows Saudi methane emissions 73% lower than IEA estimates
Updated 08 December 2023
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New KAPSARC-led analysis shows Saudi methane emissions 73% lower than IEA estimates

New KAPSARC-led analysis shows Saudi methane emissions 73% lower than IEA estimates

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has the second-lowest methane intensity in oil and gas production when compared to other crude-producing countries, according to new research by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center.

Working in collaboration with global environmental intelligence company Kayrros, KAPSARC used satellite technology to analyze emissions from 2016 to 2022.

The findings show that the Kingdom’s oil and gas sector was responsible for approximately 780 kilotons of methane in 2022, second only to Norway.

The emission estimates developed by are around 73 percent lower than those reported by the International Energy Agency and the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research for the same year.

Fahad Alajlan, president of KAPSARC, said: “This stark difference underscores the groundbreaking nature of our findings, challenging existing norms and emphasizing the importance of our innovative approach in redefining our understanding of emissions in Saudi Arabia.”

The project estimates that methane emissions from the Kingdom’s oil and gas industry constitute only one-third of total releases, aligning with the most recent national greenhouse gas inventory submitted by the Saudi Clean Development Mechanism Designated National Authority in 2022.

Antoine Rostand, co-founder and president at Kayrros, said: “Producers should strive to emulate the Saudi model, introducing strong methane regulations to limit emissions of this potent greenhouse gas and using independent, verifiable, and reliable data to guide action.

“We’re pleased to be working with KAPSARC to advance the collective understanding of methane emissions and to be involved in this first-of-its kind practice.”

KAPSARC and Kayrros will present the project at the UN climate change conference in Dubai on Dec. 10, 2023, during a side-event session titled “Satellite Technology for Measuring and Tracking GHG Emissions.”


Pakistan targets $50 billion export goal in five years with focus on textile sector

Pakistan targets $50 billion export goal in five years with focus on textile sector
Updated 08 December 2023
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Pakistan targets $50 billion export goal in five years with focus on textile sector

Pakistan targets $50 billion export goal in five years with focus on textile sector
  • The country has set up Export Advisory Council while eyeing $100 billion export target in the long term
  • Pakistan’s commerce minister says the country needs export driven growth to alleviate financial challenges

KARACHI: Pakistan wants to increase its exports to $50 billion in five years, according to a commerce ministry statement released on Friday, by strengthening its textile sector and arranging a major expo to promote its products.

The country aims to achieve a $100 billion export target in the long term to address its recurrent economic crises. Last year, its export revenue stood at $39.42 billion, marking a 24.94 percent increase from 2021.

The official statement said an inaugural meeting of the country’s Export Advisory Council was chaired by the commerce minister Dr. Gohar Ejaz earlier in the day to discuss how to increase Pakistani exports and make them more competitive.

“Dr. Ejaz highlighted the importance of increasing exports as a means to bolster national income and drive economic development,” the ministry announced. “He stressed that a robust export strategy can potentially alleviate the burden of debt, positioning Pakistan competitively in the global market.”

“As part of the broader agenda, the council also considered proposals to elevate domestic exports to $50 billion within the next five years,” it added.

The minister acknowledged the textile sector had traditionally made the largest contribution to the country’s exports, though he maintained it had still been operating far below its actual potential.

“To address this, the council discussed plans to organize a Textile Expo, a dedicated platform aimed at boosting textile exports,” said the statement.

Ejaz expressed confidence that Pakistan’s textile exports could reach $50 billion through concerted efforts and strategic initiatives, contributing significantly to the country’s overall economic growth.

Pakistan’s textile sector is frequently described as the backbone of its economy and employs 40-45 percent of the total labor force in the country.

The minister envisioned Pakistan’s GDP to rise to $1 trillion dollars, saying it would increase its average per capita income three times.

He also emphasized that Pakistan needed export driven growth to alleviate balance of payments problem.

The commerce ministry informed the new council comprised of prominent figures and would help address pressing challenges faced by Pakistani export sector.


Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong sign agreement to boost direct investment

Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong sign agreement to boost direct investment
Updated 08 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong sign agreement to boost direct investment

Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong sign agreement to boost direct investment

RIYADH: Direct investment opportunities between Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong are set to grow after a new agreement was inked.

A memorandum of understanding focusing on greater cooperation across funding avenues was signed in the Asian city in presence of the Kingdom’s Minister of Investment, Engineer Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih.

The agreement aims to enhance and encourage direct investment between Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong by facilitating the exchange of rules and regulations related to the business environment and its developments. 

The memorandum also seeks to support and promote exhibitions and work sessions, and facilitate exchange visits and experiences in order to enhance direct investment opportunities.

The agreement came during the visit of a high-level Saudi delegation of government and private sector leaders to China and Hong Kong.

The deal is the latest evidence of the Kingdom’s growing relationship with the city, which is classed as a special administrative region of China.

In November, Hong Kong’s stock market became the first in the Asia Pacific region to allow investors to speculate on an exchange traded fund investing solely in Saudi Arabia’s equities market.

The ETF tracks the FTSE Saudi Arabia Index, and has since attracted $1 billion in initial investment, making it one of the largest ever debuts in the territory. 

Ahead of its launch in November, Paul Chan, the financial secretary of the Hong Kong Government, said: “The asset size of this ETF is the largest of its kind in the world, and it can be said to be a practical example of the financial connectivity of the Belt and Road Initiative.” 

He added: “I look forward to more two-way co-operation on financial products between the two places in the future, so as to make financial connectivity and capital flow wider and broader.”  

In February 2023, both exchanges signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in sectors such as fintech and environmental, social, and governance, exploring listing opportunities.