Saudi banks’ profits surge 3.4% in April to $1.55bn

Saudi banks’ profits surge 3.4% in April to $1.55bn
The combined deposits in Saudi banks witnessed a 10.38 percent year-on-year rise to SR2.40 trillion by the end of April. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 29 May 2023
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Saudi banks’ profits surge 3.4% in April to $1.55bn

Saudi banks’ profits surge 3.4% in April to $1.55bn

RIYADH: The aggregate profit of banks operating in Saudi Arabia increased by 3.4 percent year on year in April to reach SR5.78 billion ($1.55 billion), according to the latest figures released by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA. 

The report, however, noted that the aggregate profits of Saudi banks fell by SR1.65 billion month on month in April. In March, banks in Saudi Arabia reported an aggregate profit of SR7.43 billion. 

According to the SAMA report, the aggregate assets of banks operating in Saudi Arabia also increased by 10.81 percent year on year in April to hit SR3.75 trillion. 

The report added that the combined deposits in Saudi banks witnessed a 10.38 percent year-on-year rise to SR2.40 trillion by the end of April. 

Highlighting the growth of the non-oil private sector in the Kingdom, the report noted that loans provided to private firms increased by 9.67 percent year on year in April to SR2.36 trillion. 

SAMA’s monthly statistical bulletin covers the results of banks listed in the Saudi exchange and some foreign banks operating in Saudi Arabia. 

“We see downside risks to our mortgage estimate; however, we maintain our corporate loan estimate unchanged and believe the corporate credit growth will accelerate in the second half of the year. Thus, we maintain our positive view on the corporate banks,” Al-Rajhi Capital commented on the SAMA report.  

Meanwhile, the newly released report suggested that assets held by SAMA declined by SR22.8 billion month on month to SR1.82 trillion in April, compared to SR1.85 trillion the cental bank had in March. On an annual basis, its assets shrunk by SR22.8 billion.  

The report added that the central bank’s investments in foreign securities, which account for roughly 56 percent of its total assets, dropped over 9 percent year on year to around SR1.01 trillion in April.  

On the other hand, SAMA’s deposits in banks abroad rose by 10.53 percent year on year in April to SR316.80 billion, compared to SR286.62 billion in the same month of 2022.

Its miscellaneous assets also witnessed a rise in April 2023, as it went up by 46.68 percent year on year to SR208.26 billion, compared to SR141.98 billion in the same month of the previous year. 


UAE-Thailand economic agreement to strengthen bilateral trade, says envoy

UAE-Thailand economic agreement to strengthen bilateral trade, says envoy
Updated 9 sec ago
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UAE-Thailand economic agreement to strengthen bilateral trade, says envoy

UAE-Thailand economic agreement to strengthen bilateral trade, says envoy

RIYADH: Trade and economic relationships between the UAE and Thailand are poised for significant growth as both nations prepare to sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement amid ongoing negotiations, according to a senior envoy. 

Sorayut Chasombat, ambassador of Thailand to the UAE, stated during a media briefing that the CEPA is expected to contribute $300 million to the country’s gross domestic product. 

“We want to be a strong partner of the UAE in this region. We recognize the UAE’s role in this part of the world in promoting peace, stability, and prosperity within the region,” said Chasombat during the briefing at the Royal Thai embassy.  

He added: “With the completion of CEPA, it will add at least $300 million to the Thai GDP. It will add at least $250 million to the bilateral trade between the two countries.”  

Negotiations for the free trade CEPA between Thailand and the UAE began in May, and the latest round of negotiations, currently taking place in Bangkok, is scheduled to conclude on Sept. 28. 

The UAE is Thailand’s sixth-largest trading partner globally and holds the first position in the Middle East. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $11.1 billion in the first seven months of 2023. 

As of July 2023, Thailand exported goods worth $1.81 billion to the UAE, while imports from the Arab nation amounted to $9.3 billion. 

Chasombat also affirmed Thailand’s robust participation in COP28, given the country’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2065. 

“Thailand is well known for sustainable development. We plan to have strong participation at the upcoming COP28, next year’s World Government Summit, and the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. We would give our utmost support to the UAE,” he noted.  

COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference, is scheduled to take place in Dubai from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 this year. 

Highlighting tourism ties, Chasombat disclosed that the UAE is second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of the number of tourists visiting Thailand. 


QatarEnergy inks $3.9bn deal with Hyundai for 17 LNG carriers 

QatarEnergy inks $3.9bn deal with Hyundai for 17 LNG carriers 
Updated 21 min 16 sec ago
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QatarEnergy inks $3.9bn deal with Hyundai for 17 LNG carriers 

QatarEnergy inks $3.9bn deal with Hyundai for 17 LNG carriers 

RIYADH: QatarEnergy has signed a contract with South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries to construct 17 new liquefied natural gas carriers, marking the beginning of the second phase of the energy firm’s maritime fleet expansion program. 

Valued at 14.2 billion Qatari riyals ($3.9 billion), this deal, according to Qatar News Agency, aims to support increased LNG production from the North Field Expansion and Golden Pass projects while addressing long-term fleet modernization needs. 

In addition to the 60 carriers contracted during the first phase of the program, which were constructed in Korean and Chinese shipyards, this agreement will raise the total number of new LNG carriers to be delivered to QatarEnergy and its subsidiaries to 77. 

Furthermore, there are plans for additional carriers in the future, as reported by QNA. 

The agreement was signed by Saad bin Sherida Al-Kaabi, the minister of state for energy affairs and the CEO of QatarEnergy, and Sam Hyun Ka, vice chairman at Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co. Ltd. 

Al-Kaabi stated that the agreement represents another milestone in the relationship with Hyundai Heavy Industries and the Korean shipbuilding industry.

He added: “Hyundai Heavy Industries will construct these 17 LNG carriers to the highest technical, environmental, and quality standards, ensuring optimal fuel efficiency and significant reductions in carbon emissions. This underscores our ongoing commitment to leadership in sustainability, innovation, and growth in the LNG industry.” 

Hyun Ka said: “We take pride in our partnership with Qatar and participation in one of the world's largest LNG projects. We have strong faith that this opportunity will enhance the long-term cooperation between our two companies and our nations.” 

QatarEnergy’s LNG carrier fleet expansion program plays a crucial role in meeting future shipping demands as the country expands its production capacity from the North Field.


Shura Council urges reevaluation of housing support policies for homebuyers

Shura Council urges reevaluation of housing support policies for homebuyers
Updated 42 min 52 sec ago
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Shura Council urges reevaluation of housing support policies for homebuyers

Shura Council urges reevaluation of housing support policies for homebuyers

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s homebuyers would soon be able to cope with the undue strain of buying a house, with the Shura Council calling upon the Real Estate Development Fund to reevaluate its policies in favor of the people. 

According to El-Ekhbariya TV, the council urged the fund to consider encouraging real estate developers to sell residential units with affordable installments. 

In a resolution passed during the joint session on Wednesday, the council also requested a study to explore the possibility of increasing the nonrefundable amount provided by the fund to citizens, aiding them in acquiring their homes. 

Furthermore, the council encouraged the fund to explore diverse investment opportunities to ensure long-term financial sustainability. 

The potential changes in support mechanisms and increased investment opportunities also signal a commitment to bolstering the country’s property market while developing financial sustainability for citizens and the fund. 

This development is expected to significantly impact the housing market and potentially open new avenues for citizens to achieve their homeownership dreams. 

It remains to be seen how the fund will respond to the Shura Council’s call for reevaluating its housing support policies. Still, this move marks a positive step toward addressing housing issues in Saudi Arabia. 

In June, the fund deposited SR916 million ($244.1 million) in the accounts of affordable housing beneficiaries. 

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the total amount deposited from June 2017 to June 2023 surpassed SR49.3 billion. 

Additionally, the fund approved over 115,000 requests out of the 148,000 submitted to get clearance on the various stages of house construction, which included people seeking to build their own homes. 

To streamline the process, the fund set up electronic channels to enable people to update the construction phases of their homes, ensuring the required engineering and technical standards are met. 

The Kingdom aims to increase the proportion of Saudi households that own a house from 47 percent in 2016 to 70 percent by 2030. 

The fund’s Sakani program is a significant initiative in collaboration with other government entities to provide affordable housing solutions to Saudi citizens.   

It aims to address the housing needs of the population by offering various housing options, financing programs and support services. 


Saudi fund commits $140m for infrastructure projects in Bahamas and Mauritius  

Saudi fund commits $140m for infrastructure projects in Bahamas and Mauritius  
Updated 28 September 2023
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Saudi fund commits $140m for infrastructure projects in Bahamas and Mauritius  

Saudi fund commits $140m for infrastructure projects in Bahamas and Mauritius  

 RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development has inked two loan agreements totaling $140 million, catalyzing progress in the infrastructure projects of the Bahamas and Mauritius. 

The fund’s CEO Ahmed Al-Khateeb signed these deals on the sidelines of the World Tourism Day 2023 event, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh from Sept. 27 to 28, as per an official statement. 

In addition to these agreements, Al-Khateeb also signed a letter of intent with the government of the Republic of San Marino. This letter aims to explore potential cooperation in infrastructure development across economic, cultural, and transportation sectors. 

These initiatives align with the Saudi fund’s commitment to supporting sustainable projects in developing countries and Small Island Developing States worldwide. 


Greece, Saudi Arabia to look at linking their power grids

Greece, Saudi Arabia to look at linking their power grids
Updated 28 September 2023
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Greece, Saudi Arabia to look at linking their power grids

Greece, Saudi Arabia to look at linking their power grids

ATHENS: Greece and Saudi Arabia agreed on Wednesday to set up a jointly-owned company that will look at linking their power grids, taking the first step in their plan to supply Europe with cheaper green energy, the Greek energy ministry said.

Greece’s IPTO and Saudi Arabia’s National Grid will set up a company, Saudi Greek Interconnection, tasked with examining the commercial viability of the power interconnection, the ministry said in a statement.

IPTO and National Grid will each hold a 50 percent stake, it added.

The deal comes after Greece and Saudi Arabia discussed last year the possibility of such a tie-up.

About 40 percent of power in Greece is produced by renewables, and the Mediterranean country is already looking to build an undersea cable linking its grid to Egypt as it seeks an enhanced role in supplying cheap energy produced by renewables.

Greece has also agreed with Cyprus and Israel to build the world’s longest and deepest underwater power cable to link their grids at a cost of about $900 million.