Fitch and Moody’s upgrade Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co.’s credit rating and outlook  

Fitch and Moody’s upgrade Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co.’s credit rating and outlook  
Founded in 2017 by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, SRC’s primary role is to provide banks and real estate finance companies with liquidity, enabling growth in the home financing sector.
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Updated 15 May 2023
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Fitch and Moody’s upgrade Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co.’s credit rating and outlook  

Fitch and Moody’s upgrade Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co.’s credit rating and outlook  

RIYADH: Strong financials backed by robust capitalization has helped Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. improve its credit worthiness as two of the leading agencies have upgraded their ratings for the Public Invest Fund-owned firm. 

Fitch Ratings upgraded SRC’s long-term issuer default ratings to ‘A+’ from ‘A’ with a ‘Stable’ outlook, following the recent upgrade of the Kingdom’s long-term Issuer Default Ratings to ‘A+’ with ‘Stable’ outlooks, the company said in a press release.  

SRC is into providing liquidity and sustainable financing solutions for homebuyers in Saudi Arabia as it looks to increase home ownership rates among its citizens. 

Meanwhile, Moody’s Investor Services has also affirmed SRC’s ‘A2’ long-term issuer ratings and upgraded its outlooks to ‘Positive.’  

The agency noted that SRC has a strong capitalization, which is backed by solid asset quality metrics. It added that the company has an important role to play in increasing home ownership among Saudi national citizens. 

“SRC’s credit upgrades by two of the world’s most influential rating agencies reflect our strong position and the recent positive rating actions for Saudi Arabia connected to the government’s initiatives to transform the Kingdom’s economy,” Fabrice Susini, CEO of SRC, said in a statement.  

He added that the firm looks forward “to continue raising capital locally and soon internationally on favorable terms to support our continued ability to promote the growth of the Saudi real estate sector and Saudi citizens’ access to homeownership.”  

A week earlier, the credit rating firm S&P Global assigned SRC an ‘A-’ rating for global credit and a ‘KsaAA’ rating for local credit, both with a stable outlook.  

It also rated the real estate financing company as ‘A-’ stable, while Moody’s Investors Service rated it as ‘A2-’ stable.  

SRC and Al Rajhi Bank signed a contract in March, to refinance a portfolio of real estate financing totaling more than SR5 billion ($1.33 billion).  

According to SRC, the credit rating will support the company’s goals and boost confidence among local, international investors and stakeholders. 


UAE energy minister: world needs to focus on phasing out coal

UAE energy minister: world needs to focus on phasing out coal
Updated 13 sec ago
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UAE energy minister: world needs to focus on phasing out coal

UAE energy minister: world needs to focus on phasing out coal

DUBAI: The world needs to focus on phasing out coal, UAE Energy Minister Suhail Mohamed Al-Mazrouei said on Thursday on the sidelines of the COP28 climate summit, according to Reuters.

“I don’t think we should talk about (fossil fuel) phase out because the technologies are also improving. What if in the future we have a technology that omits all of the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel and makes it clean, as clean as any other fuel? Why should we fight it before we have the alternative?” he said.


Saudi Arabia’s non-oil activities increase by 3.5% in Q3: GASTAT 

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil activities increase by 3.5% in Q3: GASTAT 
Updated 42 min 23 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s non-oil activities increase by 3.5% in Q3: GASTAT 

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil activities increase by 3.5% in Q3: GASTAT 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s non-oil activities increased by 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2023, compared to the same quarter of 2022, as the Kingdom steadily diversifies its economy away from oil, official data showed. 

According to a report released by the General Authority for Statistics, the Kingdom’s non-activities also rose by 0.4 percent in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter of this year.  

Strengthening the non-oil private sector is crucial for Saudi Arabia, aligning with the goals outlined in Vision 2030 as the Kingdom continues to diversify its economy. 

However, the report noted that Saudi Arabia’s real gross domestic product decreased by 4.4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, and by 3.2 percent compared to the previous quarter. 


Saudi Arabia, IAEA discuss cooperation on development of nuclear energy

Saudi Arabia, IAEA discuss cooperation on development of  nuclear energy
Updated 10 min 13 sec ago
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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.

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 that the Kingdom’s “very fast development” towards nuclear energy has been noticed by the agency.

“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,” he said.

Huang 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 i-SMR. They are really sustainable energy solutions that will help nations to reach net zero goals. Regarding the development and export of our i-SMR, KHNP is actively engaged in discussions with various countries, including Philippines and the UAE. The adoption of our i-SMR 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
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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
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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.