Visa partners with Monsha’at to support Saudi SMEs and female entrepreneurs 

Special Visa partners with Monsha’at to support Saudi SMEs and female entrepreneurs 
Visa’s Regional General Manager for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, Ali Bailoun. (AN Photo)
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Updated 13 March 2023

Visa partners with Monsha’at to support Saudi SMEs and female entrepreneurs 

Visa partners with Monsha’at to support Saudi SMEs and female entrepreneurs 

RIYADH: American digital payment solution provider Visa has partnered with Saudi Arabia’s Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, known as Monsha’at, to build capacity for a digital economy while enabling female entrepreneurs in the Kingdom.   

A memorandum of understanding in this regard was signed during Biban 23 in Riyadh to foster an environment that facilitates the Kingdom’s SMEs with digital capabilities and business skills, revealed a top Visa official.   

“With Monsha’at, we’re signing an MOU to support and enable small and medium businesses in the Kingdom,” Visa’s Regional General Manager for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman, Ali Bailoun told Arab News.  

The contract was signed by Bailoun and Saud Alsabhan, the Vice Governor of Entrepreneurship at Monsha’at. 

Furthermore, Bailoun revealed that they also took several initiatives aimed at fostering the economic empowerment of female entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia.  

“This year we're partnering with Monsha’at to support women startups and women entrepreneurs,” he said.   

The program will offer women the tools, training and networking to progress with their business, with grants and prizes to be handed out around June or July.    

He added that such a collaboration is set to drive the country’s economic growth, as well as bring the Kingdom one step closer to its Saudi Vision 2030.    

The world’s leader in digital payments also launched a program for merchants called SoftPos, a software-based solution that allows them to download software and accept payments through mobile.   

“Click to Pay is another solution that we're working on with the merchant and small and medium enterprises or entities to support,” he added.    

SMEs have come a long way over the past years through digital transformation and digital experience, the general manager noted. He added that Visa is working closely with SMEs, in collaboration with the central bank, and Saudi payments, to launch numerous programs.   

Bailoun revealed that they have reached around 41 million enabled SMEs globally, adding that “by end of 2023, we will enable 50 million.”   

During the interview, the general manager stressed the progressiveness of e-commerce, delivery applications and digital payments in Saudi Arabia ever since the pandemic.  

“The digital transformation and the future of payments in Saudi are moving very fast,” he added.  

He pointed out that delivery apps are now able to provide almost all goods and services across different sectors, “whereas the cash on delivery drastically fell by 85 percent post-COVID.”   

As for contactless payment, the Visa executive said the Kingdom transitioned from 4 percent to 95-96 percent, ranking among the top in the Middle East and North Africa region.    

Saudi Arabia is “moving very fast in line with the Vision 2030 in a cashless society, and enabling entrepreneurs, and enabling SMEs,” said Bailoun.   

Biban 2023 is organized by Monsha’at, and this year’s theme is ‘Attract-Connect-Achieve’.    

Oil up 1% to one-week high despite crude build

Oil up 1% to one-week high despite crude build
Updated 22 March 2023

Oil up 1% to one-week high despite crude build

Oil up 1% to one-week high despite crude build

NEW YORK: Oil prices rose about 1 percent to a one-week high on Wednesday despite a surprise weekly build in US crude inventories, as the dollar slid to a six-week low ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates which could affect the fuel demand outlook.

Brent futures rose 74 cents, or 1 percent, to $76.06 a barrel by 11:14 a.m. EDT (1514 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate crude rose 64 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $70.31. Each benchmarks was on track for the highest close since March 14.

The US dollar fell to its lowest level since Feb. 3 against a basket of other currencies, supporting oil demand by making crude cheaper for buyers using other currencies.

The US Energy Information Administration said crude stockpiles rose 1.1 million barrels during the week ended March 17. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a 1.6-million barrel withdrawal. But the official data showed a smaller build than the 3.3-million barrel increase reported on Tuesday in industry data.

“The big story here is that build ... in crude, which is enough to get us to the 22-month high in crude oil storage. We just have a lot of crude oil in storage and it’s not going to go away anytime soon,” said Bob Yawger at Mizuho, a bank.

US crude stockpiles have grown during 12 of the past 13 weeks, boosting inventories to their highest since May 2021.

WTI and Brent prices last week fell to their lowest since 2021 on concern that banking sector turmoil could trigger a global recession and cut oil demand. An emergency rescue of Credit Suisse Group AG over the weekend helped revive oil prices.

Moody’s affirms ratings of 10 Saudi banks

Moody’s affirms ratings of 10 Saudi banks
Updated 22 March 2023

Moody’s affirms ratings of 10 Saudi banks

Moody’s affirms ratings of 10 Saudi banks

RIYADH: Amid a challenging global financial environment, global credit ratings agency Moody’s on Wednesday affirmed the long-term deposit ratings on 10 banks in Saudi Arabia and the senior unsecured and subordinated debt ratings of their affiliated entities.

Moody’s changed the outlook on the long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings (where applicable) to positive from stable on nine banks while the long-term deposit rating outlook for one bank remained stable.

“The outlook on the long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings (where applicable) was changed to positive from stable for Saudi National Bank, Riyad Bank, Saudi British Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Arab National Bank, Bank AlBilad, the Saudi Investment Bank, Bank AlJazira and Gulf International Bank — Saudi Arabia,” the report said.

The ratings agency said the outlook for Al Rajhi Bank on the long-term deposit rating remains stable.

The rating action was primarily driven by Moody’s affirmation of the A1 Saudi government issuer rating and change in outlook to positive from stable.

Closing bell: Tasi slightly slips amid oil prices uncertainty  

Closing bell: Tasi slightly slips amid oil prices uncertainty  
Updated 22 March 2023

Closing bell: Tasi slightly slips amid oil prices uncertainty  

Closing bell: Tasi slightly slips amid oil prices uncertainty  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped slightly on Wednesday and lost 9.23 points – or 0.09 percent – to close at 10,350.51, as oil prices were down following fresh indications of weak demand and the market awaited a crucial interest rate decision by the US Federal Reserve.  

MCSI Tadawul 30 Index dropped by 0.12 percent to 1,408.99, while the parallel market Nomu gained 165.55 points or 0.87 percent to close at 19,094.44.  

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index on Wednesday was SR5.01 billion ($1.33 billion).  

The top performer of the day was Mouwasat Medical Services Co., as its share prices surged 10 percent to SR220.  

Other major gainers on Wednesday were Thimar Development Holding Co. and Alinma Tokio Marine Co., whose share prices surged 9.95 percent and 6.98 percent respectively.  

The worst performer of the day was Al-Etihad Cooperative Insurance Co. whose share prices dropped by 8.93 percent, after reporting a fall in total comprehensive income of 73.93 percent in 2022.  

Gulf Insurance Group is another company that saw its shares fall by 7.45 percent as it reported a decrease in net income of SR73.4 million, or 44 percent, in 2022, driven by a lower surplus from insurance operations.  

On the announcements front, Obeikan Glass Co. reported an annual profit of SR177.65 million in 2022, up 2.29 percent compared to 2021, driven by an increase in sales prices as a result of the rise in demand and the expansion of the company in new markets.  

Amid the marginal profit rise, Obeikan Glass Co.’s shares, which are listed in Nomu, dropped by 12.45 percent to SR76.20.  

Basic Chemical Industries Co. announced that its net profit hit SR70.4 million in 2022, up 21.97 percent from the previous year. Even as the profits soared, the share prices of Basic Chemical Industries fell 4.32 percent to SR33.20.   

Driven by the rise in profits, the board of directors of BCI recommended the payment of a cash dividend at 10 percent of capital, or SR1 a share, for 2022.  

Meanwhile, Saudi Printing and Packaging Co. also announced in its financial results that its losses narrowed to SR9.2 million in 2022, from SR59.3 million in the year-ago period. 

Despite narrowing the losses, the share prices of Saudi Printing and Packaging Co. went down 0.24 percent to SR16.86.  

Allied Cooperative Insurance Group also trimmed its loss to SR13.7 million in 2022, from SR114.6 million in 2021. The company’s share prices rose 1.31 percent to SR10.80 at the end of Wednesday’s closing.  

AME Co. for Medical Supplies reported an annual net profit of SR26.6 million in 2022, up 25.73 percent compared to 2021, due to the increase in net revenues driven by a rise in sales of medical supplies.  

As profits surged, AME Co. for Medical Services’ board of directors recommended a 20 percent dividend payout, or SR2 per share, for 2022. The company’s share prices also went up 2.55 percent to SR40.25 on Wednesday’s closing bell.  

Oil prices edged lower on Wednesday. At 04.10 p.m. Saudi time, Brent crude futures, which have risen by almost 3 percent this week, were down 11 cents, or 0.15 percent, at $75.21 a barrel.  

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 9 cents, or 0.13 percent, at $69.58. 

World Bank approves $7bn financing program for Egypt

World Bank approves $7bn financing program for Egypt
Updated 22 March 2023

World Bank approves $7bn financing program for Egypt

World Bank approves $7bn financing program for Egypt

RIYADH: The World Bank has announced that it has approved a $7 billion financing program for Egypt that extends from 2023 until 2027, according to a statement.

The partnership framework is done in collaboration with the International Finance Corp. as well as the global insurance firm Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

The financing program is projected to support green and inclusive developments as well as growth activities in the African country.

This money comes as Egypt is struggling with negative factors such as low foreign currency reserves, high interest payments, and high inflation.

It is also feeling the economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as reduced tourism, and an increase in food insecurity.

In January, the International Monetary Fund stressed that despite Egypt seeing an “economic recovery” during 2021-2022, “imbalances also started building amidst a stabilized exchange rate.”

The source of World Bank approved funds will be split, with $1 billion annually coming from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, in addition to $2 billion over the entire Central Provident Fund period from the International Finance Corp.

In addition to this, the program will also provide Egypt with guarantees from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

This is not the first time that the lender has approved a green scheme for Egypt.

In October 2022, it signed off on a $400 million development-financing agreement to help boost the African country’s logistics and transportation sectors and facilitate the transition to low-carbon technology along the Alexandria the 6th of October–Greater Cairo Area railway corridor.

In June last year the World Bank also approved a $500 million loan to help Egypt ensure an uninterrupted supply of bread as the country faced food security concerns amid rising prices and supply disruption due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Saudi Arabia and China tourism officials discuss Kingdom’s ambitious tourism target

Saudi Arabia and China tourism officials discuss Kingdom’s ambitious tourism target
Updated 22 March 2023

Saudi Arabia and China tourism officials discuss Kingdom’s ambitious tourism target

Saudi Arabia and China tourism officials discuss Kingdom’s ambitious tourism target

RIYADH: Saudi Tourism Authority’s CEO has held a meeting with China’s Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism to discuss ways to elevate and enhance strategic collaborations in the tourism sector, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Fahd Hamidaddin held talks with Rao Quan amid the Kingdom’s efforts to attract more than 4 million Chinese tourists by the year 2030.

During the meeting, both sides agreed on the general terms of a Memorandum of Understanding to support this target. 

The two sides also settled to introduce and launch several joint tourism initiatives to develop human capacities working within the sector.

Saudi Ambassador to China Abdulrahman bin Ahmed Al-Harbi was also present during the meeting as officials discussed bilateral cooperation prospects in the sector.

In addition to this, the meeting also looked at ways to pave the way for a unified vision as well as efforts through relevant global organizations and associations.

Aside from tourism, the officials reflected on the outcomes of China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Kingdom back in December 2022.

The latest meeting came as part of a promotional tour held by the Saudi Tourism Authority in collaboration with its partners from the Saudi tourism sector in China in an attempt to showcase Saudi tourist destinations and build partnerships between the tourism sectors of both countries.

The tour kicked off in Beijing before moving to Shanghai, and finally Guangzhou.

Earlier this month, the authority completed a successful three days at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest trade fair for the industry. 

Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi minister of tourism and chairman of the authority’s board of directors, opened the Saudi pavilion at the fair, which received a number of presidents, ministers, leaders, and other key officials. 

Al-Khateeb also met officials of major commercial bodies such as TUI Group and FTI Consulting, in addition to leaders of the UN World Tourism Organization and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The Saudi Tourism Authority is working to develop, promote, and distribute packages and products in partnership with the private sector.

The authority also participates in tourism events, exhibitions, trade shows, and roadshows both locally and globally to measure the tourist experience and suggest ways to enhance it to the relevant stakeholders.