Egypt applies to join BRICS bloc, confirms Russian envoy

Egypt applies to join BRICS bloc, confirms Russian envoy
Egypt’s request to join BRICS comes a few days after the foreign ministers of member states held a meeting in Cape Town, which also witnessed the attendance of diplomats from other countries, including Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. (Photo/ Reuters)
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Updated 21 August 2023
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Egypt applies to join BRICS bloc, confirms Russian envoy

Egypt applies to join BRICS bloc, confirms Russian envoy

RIYADH: In a bid to enhance trade and economic cooperation, Egypt has officially applied to join the five-member BRICS bloc of emerging economies, according to Georgy Borizenko, the Russian ambassador to Cairo. 

The BRICS group comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“Egypt has applied to join the BRICS group because one of the initiatives that BRICS is currently engaged in is the maximum transfer of trade to alternative currencies, whether national or the creation of some kind of joint currency. Egypt is very interested in this,” said Borizenko. 

The Russian envoy also added that Egypt wants to boost ties with Russia.

“New payment mechanisms are being created for trade transactions,” he added.

The confirmation regarding Egypt’s request to join BRICS comes a few days after the foreign ministers of member states held a meeting in Cape Town, which also witnessed the attendance of diplomats from other countries, including Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

In February, Egypt joined the BRICS New Development Bank, which could boost the country’s infrastructure and solve its ongoing economic crisis. Lawmakers of the country welcomed this step as it could help the crisis-hit nation to reduce demand for US dollars.

On June 13, Egyptian Supply Minister Ali Moselhy said that the country is planning to pay for imports from India, China and Russia in their local currencies instead of the US dollar.

“Nothing of the sort has been implemented, but there are discussions so that we can trade in local currencies of countries like India, Russia or China,” said Moselhy, according to Reuters. 

Meanwhile, Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation rate in May accelerated to 32.7 percent from 30.6 percent in April, primarily driven by increased food prices, according to the country’s statistics agency CAPMAS. 

The report stated that Egypt’s month-on-month urban inflation also witnessed a surge, as it went up to 2.7 percent in May from 1.7 percent in April.


Council of Ministers to approve Saudi general budget on Wednesday

Council of Ministers to approve Saudi general budget on Wednesday
Updated 23 sec ago
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Council of Ministers to approve Saudi general budget on Wednesday

Council of Ministers to approve Saudi general budget on Wednesday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers will hold a session on Wednesday to approve the Kingdom’s general budget for the new fiscal year, Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

A preliminary budget statement issued in October showed predictions of real gross domestic product growing by 0.03 percent this year compared with a previous forecast for growth of 3.1 percent.

The document also projected the government would post a budget deficit of 1.9 percent of the gross domestic project in 2024, 1.6 percent of GDP in 2025, and 2.3 percent of GDP in 2026.

The statement said “limited budget deficits” would continue in the medium term.

Meanwhile, total expenditure was seen as rising to SR1.262 billion in 2023, from an earlier estimate of SR1.114 billion, before slowing down marginally to SR1.251 billion in 2024.


Saudi Arabia offers tax incentives for companies moving regional HQs to Riyadh

Saudi Arabia offers tax incentives for companies moving regional HQs to Riyadh
Updated 05 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia offers tax incentives for companies moving regional HQs to Riyadh

Saudi Arabia offers tax incentives for companies moving regional HQs to Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it will offer tax incentives for foreign companies that locate their regional headquarters in the Kingdom, including a 30-year exemption for corporate income tax.

The tax incentives include zero income tax for foreign entities that move their regional headquarters in the Kingdom, and these benefits can be availed from the date of the regional headquarters issuance license, according to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment. 

Saudi Arabia’s program to attract foreign companies to open their regional headquarters in the Kingdom is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Investment and the Royal Commission for Riyadh City. 

The regional headquarters program aims to encourage international companies to open their regional headquarters in the Middle East and North Africa region in Saudi Arabia, and to materialize that the Kingdom is offering a wide range of benefits and incentives. 

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al Falih said that Saudi Arabia is offering more incentives to foreign companies which open their regional headquarters in the Kingdom which includes special benefits for firms complying with Saudization requirements. 

He added that the friendly business environment in Saudi Arabia has made over 200 companies relocate their headquarters to the Kingdom. 

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said: “The new tax exemptions, granted on the activities of regional headquarters of international companies in the Kingdom will give these firms more clarity of vision and stability, which will enhance their capabilities for future planning and expanding their business in the region, starting from the Kingdom,” Al-Ekhbariya reported. 

Earlier in November, Al-Falih said that Saudi Arabia has already surpassed the targets of the regional headquarters program which aimed to attract 160 international firms by the end of this year. 

In an interview with Bloomberg, Al-Falih noted that the regional headquarters program is a long journey and added that the Kingdom is working with international entities to create the right ecosystem to open their offices in Saudi Arabia. 

Some of the noted companies that opened their regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia in recent months are PwC Middle East and GE Healthcare. 

He also added that Saudi Arabia is a stable destination for international investors, at a time of geopolitical tensions and economic headwinds. 


Riyadh, Doha sign multiple deals across various sectors

Riyadh, Doha sign multiple deals across various sectors
Updated 05 December 2023
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Riyadh, Doha sign multiple deals across various sectors

Riyadh, Doha sign multiple deals across various sectors

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Qatar have signed multiple agreements and memorandums of understanding as both nations continue to strengthen their relationship. 

These deals, which are expected to enhance trade and economic relationships between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were signed during the 44th Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Doha on Tuesday. 

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and the Qatar Investment Authority signed an MoU to accelerate investments in the energy and infrastructure sector, according to a report by the Qatar News Agency.

Another MoU was signed between Saudi Arabia’s Digital Government Authority and Qatar’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to promote cooperation between the two nations in the field of digital governance. 

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Saud Al-Faisal Institute for Diplomatic Studies signed an additional MoU with Qatar’s Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cooperate in the field of diplomatic training. 

The Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, signed an MoU with its counterpart in Qatar for cooperation between financial institutions. 

Another agreement was signed between the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property and Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry to further collaborate in the field of intellectual property. 

An additional cooperation agreement was signed between the Saudi Broadcasting Authority and Qatar Media Corporation to develop relations in the radio and television industries. 

The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the fields of sports. 

On Dec.4, foreign ministers of Qatar and Saudi Arabia held a meeting in Doha to develop bilateral relations. 

“Today we held the first meeting of the executive committee of the Qatari-Saudi Coordination Council in Doha, where we discussed ways to develop bilateral relations within the framework of the executive committee,” said Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who is also the country’s prime minister. 

During the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Al-Thani discussed ways to deepen cooperation in areas of mutual interest. 


COP28 president hails global leaders’ practical initiatives at final dialogue

COP28 president hails global leaders’ practical initiatives at final dialogue
Updated 05 December 2023
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COP28 president hails global leaders’ practical initiatives at final dialogue

COP28 president hails global leaders’ practical initiatives at final dialogue

RIYADH: COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber has applauded world leaders for their practical initiatives during the final dialogue, expressing optimism for the continued “open mindset” throughout the remainder of COP.  

This comes as high-level dialogues between the COP28 Presidency and the International Energy Agency received a strong endorsement of practical actions. 

The conclusion of the dialogues, co-chaired by Al-Jaber and the executive director of the IEA, Fatih Birol, marked a significant achievement, bringing together over 40 high-level leaders, including four heads of state and 18 heads of delegation and ministers from diverse regions.  

Al-Jaber said: “I am encouraged by the practical actions brought forward by world leaders today at the final dialogue, and I hope that you take this open mindset and optimism throughout this COP.” 

Addressing the significance of the dialogues, Al-Jaber emphasized the need for collaboration, stating: “This series of dialogues has allowed us to converge on the critical elements of the just energy transition. The transition will not be straightforward, but it will be harder if we cannot agree on its central components.”  

Birol echoed this sentiment, expressing satisfaction at the alignment and support for the IEA’s five goals for COP28.  

These goals include tripling renewable capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030, a structured decline in fossil fuel use, commitment from the oil and gas industry to align with 1.5 degrees, and financing mechanisms for clean energy in developing countries. 

The leaders showed strong support for the COP28 presidency’s Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, with over 110 countries signing up to the initiative.   

Urgency on the coal front emerged as a key consensus, with a focus not only on preventing new unabated coal plants but also on accelerating the retirement of existing facilities. 

As the final dialogue unfolded during the World Climate Action Summit as part of COP28 in Dubai, heads of state, government leaders, and international organizations convened to solidify their commitment to an orderly energy transition.  

Al-Jaber urged participants to carry the open mind and optimism demonstrated during the final dialogue throughout COP28, reinforcing the importance of collective action in addressing the pressing challenges of our time.  

This positive momentum sets the stage for further deliberations and collaborative efforts at COP28 UAE, hosted at Expo City Dubai till Dec. 12. 


Global Leadership Summit: Top decision-makers discuss real estate trends in Riyadh

Global Leadership Summit: Top decision-makers discuss real estate trends in Riyadh
Updated 05 December 2023
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Global Leadership Summit: Top decision-makers discuss real estate trends in Riyadh

Global Leadership Summit: Top decision-makers discuss real estate trends in Riyadh

RIYADH: Real estate leaders and decision-makers from over 110 countries have assembled in Riyadh to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and explore the latest domestic and international developments in the sector.

The International Real Estate Federation’s 42nd edition of the Global Leadership Summit brought together over 30 speakers under the theme “Resilience for Growth,” featuring high-level sessions with keynote presentations and roundtables addressing critical issues affecting the industry.   

Endorsed by FIABCI and organized by the Eyes of Cities, the event is scheduled to run from Dec. 4 to 7 in Riyadh.

Saudi Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing Majel Al-Hogail used his address to the gatherting to highlight the Kingdom’s pioneering real estate initiatives.

“In Saudi Arabia, we are working to develop two segments. We aim to develop our human (capital) and our real estate. Humans are the building blocks for a great nation and transformation,” Al-Hogail said. 

He further explained that the Kingdom’s human capital serves as a catalyst for the ongoing development and initiatives reshaping the economy. 

“In the heart of this transformation, the Kingdom witnesses a flourishing real estate sector across different projects anticipated on a global level,” the minister added.  

Al-Hogail emphasized that the Kingdom’s ongoing transformative agenda, Vision 2030, is already underway, thanks to grand real estate projects like NEOM, the Line, and Oxagon. 

Furthermore, Mohammad Al-Suliman, the CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Real Estate Registry, highlighted Vision 2030’s impact on the Kingdom’s sector. 

“Vision 2030 is mapping a new era of real estate, which can be navigated by elevating home ownership, achieving investment attractiveness, streamlining digital services, and securing investments,” Al-Suliman said during the event.  

Moreover, Abdullah Al-Hammad, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Real Estate General Authority, shed light on the Kingdom’s approach to boosting its property industry. 

“The Kingdom’s real estate sector holds immense potential, supported by robust legislation and governmental support. This framework, along with the sector’s ability to promptly address challenges, makes it highly promising,” Al-Hammad said.  

During the discussion, other international leaders, including Budiarsa Sastrawinata, the president of FIABCI, highlighted the significant impact of real estate on national development. 

Sastrawinata further applauded the Kingdom’s developments and its hosting of such an event, which is set to bolster investment opportunities and prosperity in the sector. 

Tony Blair, former UK prime minister and founder of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, also highlighted the Kingdom’s developments. 

“Saudi Arabia can become a demonstration of what strong leadership with a clear sense of direction can achieve. The developments here show the potential for real change,” Blair said during the event.