2023 will be the ‘year of recovery’ for cryptocurrency industry, says SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci

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Updated 05 March 2023

2023 will be the ‘year of recovery’ for cryptocurrency industry, says SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci

Anthony Scaramucci remains firm in his conviction that 2023 will be the “year of recovery” for the cryptocurrency industry
  • “It is volatile but it’s been a very good start of the year for cryptocurrency,” US financier and entrepreneur tells “Frankly Speaking” talkshow
  • He says former President Trump has a “very strong base,” could win the nomination again if “10 or 12 Republicans are going to compete with him”

DUBAI: Anthony Scaramucci, the Wall Street banker who founded the investment firm SkyBridge Capital and the thought-leadership forum SALT, remains firm in his conviction that 2023 will be the “year of recovery” for the cryptocurrency industry.

He does not dispute that 2022 was a terrible year for crypto assets, with billions wiped off the market, a number of companies shutting down and bitcoin losing about 60 percent of its value. But appearing on “Frankly Speaking,” the weekly current-affairs talkshow of Arab News, he said: “The good news for the crypto industry is that things move very quickly.

“In the case of bitcoin, it is probably up right now roughly 30 to 40 percent. It is volatile, so it’s moving around a lot. But it’s been a very good start of the year for cryptocurrency … . It was a slight setback in February, but the crypto markets remain strong. And I maintain my view that this will be a recovery year for crypto.”

Speaking from Abu Dhabi, where he was attending the second Investopia conference, Scaramucci touched on a wide range of topics during the interview, lauded the economic opportunities in the Gulf region, and confirmed plans to take the SALT conference to Riyadh.

As with many notable businessmen, he has experienced his fair share of economic ups and downs.

Last year, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, paid $45 million for a 30 percent share of SkyBridge Capital, an investment firm founded by Scaramucci.

The deal fell through after FTX went bust and the former billionaire was charged in December with a litany of crimes including wire fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations.

As one of Wall Street’s toughest investment bankers, does he consider the decision to give 30 percent of his business to SBF the worst deal of his life?

Appearing on Frankly Speaking, the weekly current-affairs talkshow of Arab News, Scaramucci said: “The good news for the crypto industry is that things move very quickly.”

“I didn’t give him the business. He purchased the business and paid $45 million for it. We are in the process now of buying that back from the bankruptcy court,” said Scaramucci, who also briefly served in the Trump administration in 2017.

“I trusted him. I was close to his father, had the opportunity to spend time with his mother, both of whom were tenured professors at Stanford Law School. And so that was a real betrayal to me. I thought that he was going to build a next-generation cryptocurrency exchange, basically an exchange and a tokenization model for many different assets.

“But of course, he was a fraud. And when that was uncovered, I was very disappointed.”

Scaramucci said he wanted to make an important point in this regard. “I brought (SBF) to Saudi Arabia and I brought him here to the UAE. And if I hadn’t done that, I don’t think that that fraud would’ve unraveled as quickly as it did,” he told Katie Jensen, the host of “Frankly Speaking.”

“Sometimes things happen for a reason. There’s a silver lining perspective to certain things. But that was certainly my worst business deal. I don’t think anything comes close to how bad that was.”

According to Scaramucci, SkyBridge will be able to buy back its shares in bankruptcy court, and the firm has many “long-term committed investors that have ridden many cycles with SkyBridge.”

Comparing his bruising experience with SBF to being a White House adviser for just 11 days in July 2017, Scaramucci said: “I would say that was way worse than working for President Trump … as ill-fated as it was for me and ultimately being fired from the administration after 11 days.”

He said there was also a silver lining to briefly being Trump’s director of communications. “It increased my profile; it gave me an opportunity to speak out against some of the things that the president was doing, that were against the values of the American people. I had a platform to do that. And I learned a lot,” he said.

“It was a very humbling experience, for those reasons way more psychologically minded, and so I value that time. The mistake with Sam, though, is a totally different situation.”

With the 2024 US elections on the horizon, Trump has announced his intention to run again. Though critical of his former boss after leaving the White House, Scaramucci says that the former president may have a chance at nomination.

“As critical as I’ve been of President Trump, I want to be objective. Right now, we only have Nikki Haley as another announced candidate. But if there are 10 or 12 Republicans that are going to compete with Trump for the Republican nomination, I believe he will win that nomination because he has a very strong base,” he said.

Scaramucci initially supported Trump for much of his tenure. “When Mr. Trump went after the four congresswomen in our Congress and basically said they needed to go back to the countries they originally came from, that was a bridge too far from me,” he said, adding that the events of Jan. 6 at the US Capitol and Trump’s refusal to assist the incoming administration with the transition soured his opinion of the former president.

When asked about the rumors that he himself might run for president in 2024, Scaramucci responded with the quip: “I am running for re-election of my marriage, OK. I’m not running for anything other than that.”

Saudi Arabia, IAEA discuss cooperation on development of nuclear energy

Saudi Arabia, IAEA discuss cooperation on development of  nuclear energy
Updated 06 December 2023

Saudi Arabia, IAEA discuss cooperation on development of nuclear energy

Saudi Arabia, IAEA discuss cooperation on development of  nuclear energy

DUBAI: The International Atomic Energy Agency, the global overseer of the nuclear industry, says it is collaborating with Saudi Arabia to assist the Kingdom in developing its nuclear power production sector.

Given its key role in the regional energy landscape, there is a pressing need for production to transition from fossil fuels to low-carbon or zero-carbon emitting sources.

“We have noticed very fast development in Saudi Arabia toward nuclear energy. Now they are in the bidding process to try to get nuclear power into their energy mix. So, we hope we can see a substantial outcome of this process. We are seeing quite strong interest in this region in using nuclear power to improve the energy mix and the security energy mix, but also help to decarbonize the greenhouse gas emissions in the region,” Wei Huang, director at the Department of Nuclear Energy of IAEA told Arab News in an interview on the sidelines of the 2023 Climate Change Conference. 

He noted it is encouraging that the countries in this region, which are rich in fossil fuels, are now looking at nuclear energy as an alternative to minimize carbon emissions. He added that the IAEA supports member nations looking to develop nuclear power production. 

“Our agents provide a lot of technical support to make sure the country can be prepared well before they are moving toward nuclear power, including help them to review their infrastructure.”

He added that there are 19 milestones that every country must achieve before taking the nuclear route and that IAEA assists them in reaching these landmarks, which cover a vast spectrum from nuclear, finance, funding, human resources, safety and safeguards.

Huang welcomed statements from US Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry, voicing his appreciation for Kerry’s emphasis on global collaboration in nuclear fusion. He highlighted the proactive engagement of the IAEA in nuclear fusion technology alongside its partners and member states.

“We see quite a significant development in this area. Of course, compared to fission, which has been widely used over decades, there is still a lot of work to be to be done to make sure that fusion can be really be deployed in the coming decades. And so our agency has, you know, discussed with our member states and also partner to see how much we can do. We are now working on how to transfer nuclear fusion from mainly the science focus to more engineering-focused activities, including the regulatory framework on the fusion. So this is what the agency is doing now and there will be a lot of work to be done in a couple of years to make sure all the aspects had been prepared well for,” Huang said.

While Saudi Arabia is at the initial stage of nuclear power development, its neighbor, the UAE, has already established three operational units at its Barakah Nuclear Power Station, while the fourth unit is in the pipeline. 

“At Barakah, we have four units, of which three are operational. The fourth unit will come online soon. Together, the four units will produce about 5.6 gigawatts of electricity, which is equivalent to 25 percent of the total electricity production in the UAE. At Barakah, we have used APR1400 reactors, a Generation 3+ nuclear reactor built with Korean technology, constructed to the highest level of safety and quality. Moving forward, we would like to invest in other nuclear power plants and will examine all options,” Khaled Al-Shehhi, nuclear fuel quality surveillance manager at Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp., which owns Barakah, told Arab News.

The Barakah Nuclear Power Station is a $20 billion project bagged by the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., a state-owned enterprise and one of the world’s largest operators of nuclear power plants. The company says it is also looking to develop its exports in other markets.

“We are here at COP28 to introduce our Korea Small Modular Reactor known as ISMR. They are really sustainable energy solutions that will help nations to reach net zero goals. Regarding the development and export of our ISMR, KHNP is actively engaged in discussions with various countries, including Philippines and the UAE. The adoption of our ISMR is expected to accelerate the journey toward a carbon neutrality, especially in countries facing infrastructure limitations for large nuclear power plants such as South East Asia region and some regions which have difficulties in tapping renewable energies,” Sonia Sunyoung Hong, SMR overseas business team manager at KHNP told Arab News.

She added that KHNP’s relationship with the UAE could be a perfect example for other nations in the region, including Saudi Arabia. 

“Our relationship with the UAE is a good example of how we get countries with no nuclear experience. For instance, when we began working with the UAE in 2009, the UAE government had no experience of nuclear industry. They did not have any regulations, guidelines at all. KHNP helped and supported the government in developing concrete regulations and guidelines for the nuclear power plant implementation for the first time for the world,” Hong said.

Along with KHNP and the IAEA engaging in discussion with Saudi Arabia to help the country realize its nuclear ambitions, the World Nuclear Association, the global nuclear industry trade body, has also been holding talks with the Kingdom, said King Lee, head of policy and industry engagement at WNA.

“Saudi Arabia has been planning to deploy nuclear energy, and they have been planning that for some time. It is really aimed to address that quality need for clean power. Currently, most of the electricity generated from Saudi Arabia is from fossil fuels, from both burning of gas and oil. So nuclear power can help to generate clean power for Saudi Arabia. So Saudi Arabia is looking for both large reactors and the small, more advanced technology, small modular reactors. So, both the technologies are being considered for Saudi Arabia. We have been discussing with the Saudi government and institutions,” the official told Arab News.

When discussing fusion energy, he agreed with Huang of IAEA that it was still an evolving technology. 

 “Fusion is a technology that is currently under development, and we continue to support the research and development so that, hopefully, fusion reactors will become technically and commercially deployable. Research is going on in many countries, but we don’t have a timetable on as to when it may become available,” the WNA executive added.

Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget set to aid the Kingdom’s successful trajectory, says finance minister

Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget set to aid the Kingdom’s successful trajectory, says finance minister
Updated 06 December 2023

Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget set to aid the Kingdom’s successful trajectory, says finance minister

Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget set to aid the Kingdom’s successful trajectory, says finance minister


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget is set to sustain the Kingdom’s positive economic momentum, with an emphasis on strategic  capital expenditure aligned with approved national strategies, according to the Minister of Finance.

In a statement following the 2024 budget approval, Mohammed Al-Jadaan highlighted the success of the ongoing economic transformation spearheaded by the government of the Kingdom.

The 2024 budget, according to the minister, is poised to continue the trajectory of success, aligning with the national strategies closely linked to the goals outlined in Saudi Vision 2030 and national priorities, reinforcing the commitment to long-term sustainable development.

Responding to a question by Arab News on Expo 2030, the minister said: “The country that is capable of receiving and building the infrastructure to accommodate 150 million individuals, can host our guests at Expo 2030 without increasing costs.”

Al-Jadaan emphasized Saudi Vision 2030 and the set of projects, initiatives, and measures included in the vision. He also highlighted the Kingdom’s initial plan to welcome 100 million visitors and revealed that the number will increase to 150 million by 2030.

In his response to Arab News, the minister revealed that: “The infrastructure and projects planned for construction in the Kingdom, particularly in Riyadh, from now until 2030 as outlined in the early stages of the vision, including the transportation and logistical services strategy, tourism strategy, expansion in hotel construction, and also the expansion of water projects, will be sufficient to provide the necessary infrastructure for hosting the expo and potentially three other expos.”

He added: “Expo village is going to be a commercial property, built by commercial companies and will be invested in beyond the six months,” adding: “That site will be a commercial site, it will not be wasted. And it will be obviously built sustainably.”

The minister said in a statement that the government is working on continuing borrowing according to the approved annual borrowing plan to finance the expected budget deficit and repay the outstanding debt by 2024.

The minister also revealed that since the inception of Saudi Vision 2030, the country has undergone considerable economic and structural reforms, resulting in the gross domestic product an increase, reaching more than SR4.1 trillion today, with an expected growth average at a rate of 6 percent from now until 2030.

Following the budget approval, he also stated in a press conference that the Kingdom’s economy created more than 1 million jobs during 2023, adding that oil price fluctuations that previously affected the budget have become much less affected thanks to non-oil revenues.

Highlighting the pivotal role of the Saudi citizens in the nation’s development, Al-Jadaan emphasized their contribution, saying: “The Saudi citizen plays a vital role in achieving comprehensive and sustainable economic development, as well as in accomplishing progress in various promising fields and sectors.”

The minister underscored the government’s commitment to social welfare through its ongoing efforts to conduct regular reviews of social support and benefit system initiatives to enhance these programs continually, ensuring access for the intended target groups and fostering an environment of inclusivity.

As Saudi Arabia charts its course into 2024, the government remains steadfast in its commitment to building a robust and diversified economy that not only meets the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 but also ensures a sustainable and prosperous future for its citizens.

Crown prince affirms government’s commitment to enhance economic growth

Crown prince affirms government’s commitment to enhance economic growth
Updated 06 December 2023

Crown prince affirms government’s commitment to enhance economic growth

Crown prince affirms government’s commitment to enhance economic growth

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman affirmed the government’s commitment to enhance economic growth through the expansion of government spending as reflected in budget 2024 on Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

He said the budget announced by King Salman will help support various ongoing programs and initiatives to improve the Kingdom’s investment environment, strengthen infrastructure, and raise the quality of services provided to citizens, residents, and visitors to the country.

The crown prince said the budget seeks to develop promising economic sectors by stimulating the Kingdom’s industrial sector with a focus on increasing the local content and boosting non-oil exports.

He praised the role of the Public Investment Fund and the National Development Fund in helping diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from oil through major investments in different economic sectors.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also noted the achievements of the Kingdom in various sectors since the launching of Vision 2030 and the government’s efforts to introduce structural reforms in the financial sector.

The crown prince stressed the importance of strengthening partnerships with the private sector to achieve the goal of economic diversification and increasing job opportunities for the Saudi workforce.

The number of Saudi workforce in the labor market has reached 2.3 million this year, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

He also highlighted the role of the tourism and sports sectors in the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy.

The crown prince expressed the government’s determination to continue with its efforts to increase the Kingdom’s attractiveness as an economic and investment hub for local and foreign investors.

Saudi Arabia set to lead global drive for digital sustainability with new e-waste initiative

Saudi Arabia set to lead global drive for digital sustainability with new e-waste initiative
Updated 06 December 2023

Saudi Arabia set to lead global drive for digital sustainability with new e-waste initiative

Saudi Arabia set to lead global drive for digital sustainability with new e-waste initiative

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is poised to spearhead the global drive for digital sustainability through a new e-waste initiative aimed at implementing comprehensive regulations in Zambia, Rwanda and Paraguay. 

The Kingdom’s Communications, Space and Technology Commission, in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union, launched the new “Developing E-Waste Management Regulations” initiative during COP28 in Dubai. 

The initiative will focus on expediting the shift to green practices by introducing robust regulations that foster a circular economy, according to the statement. 

E-waste has become a pressing concern globally, with 54 million tons generated annually, of which only 17 percent is currently recycled. 

The announcement was made in the presence of key dignitaries, including CST Governor Mohammed Al-Tamimi and Deputy Secretary-General of the ITU Tomas Lamanauskas.  

Representatives from the beneficiary countries also participated in the event, signaling a unified global effort to address the mounting challenge of e-waste. 

Al-Tamimi expressed the Kingdom’s determination to offer innovative solutions for managing e-waste and reducing its environmental impact. The initiative seeks to contribute to the global drive towards a circular economy, promoting responsible consumption and sustainable waste management practices. 

Lamanauskas commended the critical role of strong regulations and legislation in addressing e-waste challenges across both private and public sectors.  

He emphasized transitioning to a circular economy emerging as a top solution to combat the adverse effects of e-waste on the environment.  

Lamanauskas also urged regulators worldwide to adopt and implement similar regulations to expedite the adoption of green practices. 

CST’s participation in COP28 reflects Saudi Arabia’s commitment to spearheading global initiatives for digital sustainability.  

The Kingdom’s ongoing efforts align with its broader transformation towards a circular economy, marked by qualitative initiatives aimed at raising awareness and advocating best technology practices for a sustainable future and society. 

As the new initiative gains momentum, stakeholders anticipate positive outcomes in the global fight against e-waste, setting an example for other nations to follow suit in adopting environmentally responsible practices. 

Global central banks maintain gold buying momentum in October: World Gold Council

Global central banks maintain gold buying momentum in October: World Gold Council
Updated 06 December 2023

Global central banks maintain gold buying momentum in October: World Gold Council

Global central banks maintain gold buying momentum in October: World Gold Council

RIYADH: Central banks worldwide amassed 42 tons of gold into their official reserves in October, continuing their acquisition of the precious metal, the latest data showed. 

According to the World Gold Council, central banks witnessed a 41 percent slowdown in gold buying in October compared to September. However, it still maintained a 23 percent increase above the January-September monthly average of 24 tons. 

In September, central banks added 72 tons of gold to their reserves.

The People’s Bank of China continued its trend as the largest purchaser of gold in October, adding 23 tons to its reserves.  

This marked the twelfth consecutive monthly addition, bringing the year-to-date purchase of gold by PBoC to 204 tons, with its overall reserves reaching 2,215 tons.  

However, this reported increase still constitutes just 4 percent of PBoC’s total international reserves.

The Central Bank of Turkey significantly boosted its official gold reserves in October by purchasing 19 tons, bringing the total to 498 tons.  

Similarly, the National Bank of Poland continued its buying spree, adding 6 more tons to its reserves, totaling an increase of over 100 tons for the year, reaching 340 tons.

In October, the Reserve Bank of India acquired 3 tons of gold, and the Czech National Bank purchased 2 tons.  

Additionally, the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Qatar Central Bank each bought 1 ton of gold during the month, as per the WGC.

Meanwhile, gold prices saw a slight increase, with spot gold rising 0.2 percent to $2,023.62 per ounce, and US gold futures gaining 0.3 percent to $2,041.60 by 03:47 p.m. Saudi time on Wednesday.

“While gold may draw support from speculation around the Fed cutting rates, it may take a fresh fundamental spark to re-ignite the bullish rally. This could come in the form of the highly anticipated US jobs report on Friday,” said FXTM Senior Research Analyst Lukman Otunuga, Reuters reported.