Oil Updates — crude prices slip on weaker demand outlook 

Update Oil Updates — crude prices slip on weaker demand outlook 
Brent crude increase 62 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $77.57 a barrel by 15:17 p.m. Saudi time. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 08 June 2023

Oil Updates — crude prices slip on weaker demand outlook 

Oil Updates — crude prices slip on weaker demand outlook 

RIYADH: Oil rose on Thursday as tighter supply resulting from Saudi Arabia’s pledged production cut and a potential pause to US interest rate hikes offset worries over demand weakness and a global economic slowdown.

Brent crude increase 62 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $77.57 a barrel by 15:17 p.m. Saudi time. US West Texas Intermediate crude gained 68 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $73.21.

Both benchmarks settled up by about 1 percent on Wednesday, supported by Saudi Arabia’s plans for deep output cuts, though price gains remain capped by rising US fuel stocks and weak Chinese export data. 

A larger-than-expected build in US fuel inventories reported on Wednesday raised concerns over demand from the world’s top oil consumer, especially as travel was expected to have grown during the Memorial Day weekend. 

Saudi crown prince and Russia’s Putin praise OPEC+ cooperation 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman praised their collaboration during a phone call on Wednesday in a discussion of the work of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, the Kremlin said. 

“The topic of ensuring stability on world energy markets was discussed in detail,” according to a Kremlin statement on the Telegram messaging app. 

“Both sides praised cooperation within the framework of OPEC+, allowing for the adoption of timely and effective steps to ensure a balance between supply and demand for oil.” 

The statement noted the importance of agreements reached at the group’s meeting this week, under which Saudi Arabia will make a deep cut to its output in July on top of a broader OPEC+ deal to limit supply into 2024. 

Stricter UAE ship insurance rules to cut oil spill risks 

Tougher requirements for some ship insurers covering the UAE ships are aimed at boosting environmental safety amid growing concerns over unregulated shipping, reported the state-run news agency WAM. 

The UAE’s energy and infrastructure ministry, in a June 2 circular, announced it would tighten insurance criteria for vessels registered under its flag for insurers that are not part of the leading ship insurers, known as the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs, which cover 90 percent of the world’s ocean-going fleet. 

“By prioritizing stringent P&I standards, we ensure the safety, financial security, and environmental stewardship of our maritime activities, attracting reputable investors,” said Hessa Al Malek, adviser to the minister for maritime transport affairs. 

The WAM report added that the move would reduce the risk of accidents and oil spills, leading to a safer and more secure marine environment. 

(With input from Reuters) 

World Bank chief sees $100bn-plus lending boost from capital moves 

World Bank chief sees $100bn-plus lending boost from capital moves 
Updated 27 September 2023

World Bank chief sees $100bn-plus lending boost from capital moves 

World Bank chief sees $100bn-plus lending boost from capital moves 

RIYADH: World Bank Group President Ajay Banga on Tuesday said proposed new contributions from wealthy countries combined with balance sheet changes could boost the bank’s lending capacity by $100 billion to $125 billion over a decade. 

Banga told a Council on Foreign Relations event that the contributions would come outside the bank’s normal shareholding structure and regular country contributions to the International Development Association fund for the poorest countries. 

They would include US President Joe Biden’s proposed $2.25 billion supplemental budget request for the World Bank, along with expected contributions from Germany, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Nordic countries, he said. 

“I believe that if all this goes through, including the US, we could raise somewhere between $100 billion and $125 billion of extra lending capacity in the bank, which is pretty good. Not enough, but good,” Banga said. 

The total increase he described would include measures now underway to stretch the bank’s balance sheet, such as a leverage ratio increase agreed in April that would yield $50 billion in new lending over 10 years, a World Bank spokesperson said later. 

The bank is also examining other ways to expand lending, including providing more loan guarantees, lending against callable capital that is pledged but not paid-in, and special bonds that can serve as hybrid capital. 


Banga said he expected shareholders at the World Bank’s annual meetings in Marrakech, Morocco, in October to formally adopt a new vision statement that expands its role beyond reducing poverty and promoting shared prosperity to incorporate global challenges such as climate, pandemics, food insecurity and fragility. 

“I think the twin goals have to change to being the elimination of poverty. But on a livable planet,” he said, adding that he expects support from all shareholders. 

Banga said that he has not yet held any discussions with the US and China regarding a general capital increase and changes to the bank's shareholding structure. 

China, India and Brazil got larger shareholdings in the bank in a 2018 capital increase and would likely want more say in a future capital increase, Banga said. 

The former MasterCard CEO, who took over the World Bank’s top job in June, has said he wants to build a “better bank” — increasing its urgency, focusing it on high-impact, replicable projects and expanding beyond its anti-poverty mission — before seeking a general capital increase from shareholders.  

He told the CFR event that he was impressed by the dedication and talents of the bank's staff, but its organizational structure was “dysfunctional,” holding it back. 

Asked about the legacy of his presidency, Banga said: “I'm going to fix the plumbing ... I want people to say when I’m gone, that I left the bank working much better than what I got it.” 


Banga said G20 countries will struggle to agree with an experts’ report commissioned by the group that calls for a massive capital infusion into the World Bank and other multilateral development banks to help finance the $3 trillion in annual spending needed by 2030 for climate adaptation, resilience and mitigation. 

But he said the bank’s resources, even with moves to stretch its balance sheet, are woefully inadequate, with paid-in capital of just $22.6 billion for the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development over its 78-year history. 

“That is a pimple on a dimple on an ant’s left cheek compared to what we need in the world,” Banga said. 

Banga said that deeper conversations were needed on the World Bank's future funding, but added that he would “not try and put an idealistic number out there” for the size of a future capital increase. 

Newly launched company set sights on Saudi coastal city as first tourism project

Newly launched company set sights on Saudi coastal city as first tourism project
Updated 27 September 2023

Newly launched company set sights on Saudi coastal city as first tourism project

Newly launched company set sights on Saudi coastal city as first tourism project

ABU DHABI: A Saudi coastal city will be the site of Baheej’s first project in its strategy to develop exciting tourist destinations as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plans.

The development company was launched on Tuesday by Asfar, a Saudi-based tourism investment firm, and a joint venture between AWN Enterprises and Tamimi Group.

Baheej will study each city in Saudi Arabia to identify gaps in a tourist’s itinerary, and speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi, one of the executives involved with the company gave more details of its future plans.

“We are extremely in the early stages. That will be the first asset that will be developed and up and running by, I would say, the beginning of 2027,” said Abdulrahman Al-Bassam, executive chairman of AWN Enterprises and a member of Baheej’s board of directors.

Without sharing further details about the project’s site, the executive confirmed that “it will be a coastal city.”

Al-Bassam said he hoped Baheej would help Saudi Arabia meet its economic diversification goals for tourism, which includes attracting 100 million local and international visitors annually by 2030.

Norah Al-Tamimi, who hails from one of the Kingdom’s most influential family businesses, has been appointed the acting chief executive.

Expanding on the remit of the new initiative, Al-Bassam said: “So if the gap is in, for example, accommodation, we provide accommodation. If the gap is in, let’s say, a visitor center or a beach retreat or you name it, that would be part of the project assets that we would like to develop in a certain city.”

Baheej is also focused on destination management, and will work hand-in-hand with local governments and authorities, as well as “a local tour operator who owns, say, a couple of horses to use in a touristic experience,” said the executive.

Al-Bassam noted that Asfar comes in “with its power as an investor, as well as a catalyst with regional players, be them regulators or service providers or affiliates and companies within the PIF conglomerate.”

Asfar was created by the Public Investment Fund earlier this year to support the Kingdom’s tourism strategy, which is a key part of Vision 2030.

Al-Bassam went on to state: “Whereas our alliance — Tamimi Group and AWN Enterprises — that’s the private partner within this partnership, comes in with their experience in contracting and in professional services as well as the hospitality, restaurants, and catering business.”

The company’s head noted that he views gaps in Saudi Arabia’s tourism as opportunities rather than problems, as this denotes room for improved tourism experiences.

“Each town in Saudi Arabia has its own uniqueness and we would like to tap into this,” he said.

Closing Bell – TASI grows 40 points; ADES Holding begins retail subscription 

Closing Bell – TASI grows 40 points; ADES Holding begins retail subscription 
Updated 26 September 2023

Closing Bell – TASI grows 40 points; ADES Holding begins retail subscription 

Closing Bell – TASI grows 40 points; ADES Holding begins retail subscription 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index concluded its trading on Tuesday at 10,918.24 points, rising 0.37 percent. 

Parallel market Nomu closed at 22,406.83, gaining 169.84 points, or 0.76 percent.   

MSCI Tadawul 30 Index edged up 2.83 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,402.31.   

The primary index’s total turnover touched SR6.2 billion ($1.6 billion), as 93 stocks rose and 126 retreated. Conversely, Nomu recorded a trading turnover of SR86 million. 

Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co. was the topmost performer in TASI, soaring 7.86 percent to SR23.60.  

Additionally, Saudi Automotive Services Co. soared 7.77 percent to SR62.40. 

Another notable performer, Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co., jumped 6.27 percent to SR51.70.  

Abdulmohsen Alhokair Group for Tourism and Development and Aldrees Petroleum and Transport Services Co. climbed 5.56 percent and 5.27 percent to SR2.28 and SR139.80, respectively. 

On the flip side, Al-Baha Investment and Development Co. experienced the most significant drop, plunging 6.25 percent to SR0.15.  

Shares of Thimar Development Holding Co. and Saudi Real Estate Co. dipped 5.14 percent and 3.13 percent to SR26.75 and SR13.62, respectively. 

Sumou Real Estate Co. and First Milling Co. both slumped about 2.7 percent to finish at SR1.30 and SR2, respectively. 

On the announcement front, ADES Holding opened its doors for public subscription of 33.87 million shares, priced at SR13.50 each.   

This valuation pegged at a nominal value of SR1 per share was ascertained through a structured order book-building process. 

The subscription window, initiated by the company, will span three days, concluding on Sept. 28.   

This move follows the green light from the Financial Market Authority on June 21, granting the drilling services company permission to register and make available 338.72 million shares from its total capital pool. 

Saudi Arabia’s transformation turns it into a must-visit tourism destination

Saudi Arabia’s transformation turns it into a must-visit tourism destination
Updated 26 September 2023

Saudi Arabia’s transformation turns it into a must-visit tourism destination

Saudi Arabia’s transformation turns it into a must-visit tourism destination

ABU DHABI: Tourists are expected to add Saudi Arabia to their “bucket list” due to the government’s transformation of the sector, according to industry veteran William Heinecke, founder and chairman of Minor Hotels. 

Speaking during a panel discussion on the second day of the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi, Heinecke noted that Saudi Arabia is on the verge of significant change, predicting that the Kingdom will achieve in 10 years what it took Dubai 30 years to accomplish. 

The Kingdom is currently undergoing a remarkable tourism boom, with the sector expanding by 121 percent in 2022, positioning it as the fastest-growing destination in the G20 and surpassing the global average prior to COVID-19, as detailed in an annual report tracking the progress of Vision 2030.   

Data from the real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank revealed that, under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s hotel industry is poised for further expansion, targeting a total of 310,000 hotel rooms by 2030, with an estimated investment of $110 billion. 

Heinecke expressed his admiration for Saudi Arabia’s visionary leader, who is young enough to see through ambitious initiatives. 

“You need someone not only who has the money, but you need someone who has the vision and the passion to stay with it,” he said.  

“When you look at what’s happening in Saudi Arabia, it’s incredible. It’s going to make so many new bucket lists for everybody in the world. And even what’s happened in the Middle East, Dubai, Doha, it's incredible,” Heinecke added.  

In another panel discussion, various factors and trends that are shaping the travel and tourism industry were deliberated. 

Gilda Perez-Alvarado, incoming group chief strategy officer at Accor, a leading hospitality company, highlighted subjects such as innovation, the impact of technology, and broader long-term trends that are affecting the entire ecosystem of travel and hospitality, including hotels.   

“The amount of change we’re witnessing now, which, by the way, was accelerated during the pandemic, is extremely exciting. So, if you ask me what one of the catalysts for change was, it was that,” Perez-Alvarado said during her panel. 

However, she added: “Our industry is still highly fragmented, so there’s plenty of room for growth." 

Perez-Alvarado emphasized that significant changes and developments are taking place in Saudi Arabia that were previously unimaginable. 

“One where you’re seeing things done that no one would have imagined could be done. In 2015, who would have thought that we would have witnessed the changes we’re seeing in Saudi Arabia?” she said. 

Perez-Alvarado concluded by emphasizing that the Middle East is the fastest-growing region, with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 now becoming a reality, demonstrating that ambitious goals can be accomplished, showcasing the region’s ability to turn imaginative ideas into tangible achievements. 

UAE’s Yas, Saadiyat islands ‘great and safe’ investment destinations 

UAE’s Yas, Saadiyat islands ‘great and safe’ investment destinations 
Updated 26 September 2023

UAE’s Yas, Saadiyat islands ‘great and safe’ investment destinations 

UAE’s Yas, Saadiyat islands ‘great and safe’ investment destinations 

ABU DHABI: The UAE’s Yas and Saadiyat islands have emerged as safe havens for investment thanks to the endeavors of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism in grooming them as luxury destinations, said the CEO of a real estate development firm.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Miral Group CEO Mohamed Abdalla Al-Zaabi said both destinations continue to attract investments and tourists in line with the UAE’s vision of economic diversification.

“Abu Dhabi has been listed five times in a row as the safest city in the world. Investment here is very lucrative. Saadiyat and Yas islands are growing very fast,” Al-Zaabi said.

The top executive said: “In 2021, we added three hotels with 1,000 rooms, and now see 90 percent occupancy in summer.”

He said more rooms will be added to help boost the fast-growing tourism sector and ultimately aid the country’s economic diversification plans.   

Al-Zaabi said tourism will play a key role in economic diversification. He said the country wants to increase the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product from 15 percent to 17 percent, which “is not easy to achieve.”

“Hotels will always be a key factor here in that pillar, and we at Miral are proud of what we have done so far. Only in 2021, we opened three hotels on Yas Island. We opened Hilton, DoubleTree and, of course, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Discovery, we opened the WB hotel in Abu Dhabi, which is the first Warner Bros. hotel in the world,” Al-Zaabi said.

He said the Warner Bros. achieved 90 percent occupancy last summer. I think summer now is no longer a low season here in Yas Island.   

“Since 2007, we have been developing Yas Island, introducing new facilities and attractions, and today we see that all coming together under one umbrella, one vision, integrated, and interconnected to provide a very unique and unforgettable experience for our customers,” he said.

Commenting on whether Yas Island can accommodate more, he said they have long been adding attractions, facilities, hotels, and rooms, and they now, with the other partners, are adding more properties, and homes on the islands.

Al-Zaabi also pointed out that they recently announced their environmental, social, and governance strategy focusing on eight areas.

“We have already implemented two great initiatives that I am personally very proud of. We signed an agreement with Emerge, a Masdar subsidiary, to install solar panels, that provide more than 7 megawatts of power to our theme park. And now recently we also did the same at SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, where we installed solar panels to supply almost 5 MW,” he said.

The CEO said they are busy with their Phenomena Abdu Dhabi project, in collaboration with the Japanese TeamLab.   

“We are also building the Natural History Museum. Both projects are the result of our collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism. We are also expanding Warner Bros theme park by adding a Harry Potter area, which would be a good expansion to enrich our customer experience on the island,” he said.