Top-level Saudi delegation to attend UN forum on SDGs in New York

Top-level Saudi delegation to attend UN forum on SDGs in New York
The forum will be held from July 10-19 and focus on accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease and fully implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 06 July 2023
Follow

Top-level Saudi delegation to attend UN forum on SDGs in New York

Top-level Saudi delegation to attend UN forum on SDGs in New York

RIYADH: A Saudi delegation of top ministers, government officials and business leaders will take part at the UN High-level Political Forum next week as representatives from over 100 countries gather in New York to assess the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The forum will be held from July 10-19 and focus on accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease and fully implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, aimed at ending poverty in all forms.

It will discuss the effective and inclusive recovery measures to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SDGs and explore actionable policy guidance for the full implementation of the 2030 agenda and the SDGs at all levels, according to its website.

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Alibrahim will lead the delegation, comprising representatives from 22 government entities, private sector companies and nonprofit organizations.

According to a press statement, Saudi Arabia will submit its second Voluntary National Review report on progress in its commitment to SDGs at the forum.

The VNR is a mechanism established by the UN for countries to voluntarily report on their progress in implementing the SDGs.

During the VNR, countries are expected to share their experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The Saudi delegation will also include Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadley and Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb. 

Launched in 2015, the event will host panel discussions and exhibitions of various Saudi entities, including the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and NEOM.

The Kingdom has been participating in the event since 2018. It will share its experiences and achievements in sustainable development, including various efforts it takes to achieve its net-zero target of 2060. 

Achieving sustainability is a key agenda in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals, as the Kingdom aims to increase its domestic generation capacity from renewable energy to 50 percent by the end of this decade.


Bahrain’s NBB hires Goldman Sachs to explore merger worth $2.43bn

Bahrain’s NBB hires Goldman Sachs to explore merger worth $2.43bn
Updated 7 sec ago
Follow

Bahrain’s NBB hires Goldman Sachs to explore merger worth $2.43bn

Bahrain’s NBB hires Goldman Sachs to explore merger worth $2.43bn

RIYADH: Bahrain’s national bank appointed Goldman Sachs as a financial adviser for its negotiation with top banking institutions regarding a potential merger deal between the two, a disclosure showed.

According to a statement by the body on the country’s stock exchange, National Bank of Bahrain – which currently holds a market capitalization of $3.25 billion – is in the process of appointing an advisor to conduct due studies and diligence related to its merger with rival Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait, known as BBK, which has a valuation of $2.43 billion.

The potential deal coincides with the recent surge of mergers and acquisitions in the region, where businesses and financial institutions within the Gulf Cooperation Council have increasingly favored pooling their resources to achieve operational efficiency and maximize profits.

In Saudi Arabia, for example, the total volume of mergers and acquisitions deals during the first quarter of 2024 reached $955 million, with the chemicals sector accounting for 52.4 percent of the total. 

NBB also appointed Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, a leading international law firm, as a legal advisor for the deal, according to the disclosure while BBK announced the selection of Citigroup Global Markets as its financial advisor.

This continues a trend in the region’s banking sector. Last year, Oman’s second-largest financial institute, Bank Dhofar, pursued a merger with its smaller rival, Ahli United Bank, creating a lender with just under $20 billion in assets.

These deals come as a testament to global rating agency Moody’s expectation in March of last year that banks in the GCC region will witness a rise in M&A activity, enabling future synergies and oil revenue divergences in the area. 

“Consolidation among GCC region banks brings scale to support the diversification of Gulf economies away from oil and benefits in revenue and cost synergies,” said Francesca Paolino, an analyst at Moody’s. 

The rating agency noted that this development would occur despite the region’s pre-existing strong bank financial fundamentals and modest over-banking level.  

It also said that the majority of Middle East M&A activities were concentrated in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, which collectively recorded 563 deals or 89 percent of the region’s total volume. 


Closing Bell: Saudi main index rises to close at 11,730.77

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rises to close at 11,730.77
Updated 23 min 2 sec ago
Follow

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rises to close at 11,730.77

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rises to close at 11,730.77

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index rose on Tuesday, gaining 33.73 points, or 0.29 percent, to close at 11,730.77.

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR7.09 billion ($1.89 billion) as 169 of the stocks advanced, while 54 retreated. 

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index gained 0.35 points, or 0.02 percent, to close at 1.470.96.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu lost 354.77 points, or 1.32 percent, to close at 26,423.10. This comes as 33 of the listed stocks advanced, while 26 retreated.

The best-performing stock of the day was Al-Rajhi Co. for Cooperative Insurance. The company’s share price surged 8.96 percent to SR180.

Other top performers include Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance Co. as well as Sustained Infrastructure Holding Co., whose share prices rose 6.97 percent and 5.49 percent respectively. 

The worst performer was Ades Holding Co., whose share price dropped by 2.83 percent to SR21.3.

Other fallers were Miahona Co. as well as Saudi Manpower Solutions Co. and Qassim Cement Co, whose shares declined 2.56 percent and 2.4 percent respectively.

On the announcements front, United International Transportation Co., known as Budget Saudi’s shareholders, approved raising capital by issuing new shares in order to fully acquire Al Jazira Equipment Co. Ltd., known as AutoWorld. 

According to a Tadawul statement, the decision came during the extraordinary general meeting held on June 24.

Neft Alsharq for Chemical Industries began trading on the Nomu parallel market at SR3.6 per share and a total offering size of 5 million shares.

Furthermore, the Capital Market Authority, known as CMA, approved an application submitted by Arabian Mills Co. to float and list 15.39 million shares, or 30 percent of its capital, in an initial public offering on the main market.

The prospectus will be published ahead of the subscription start date, the market regulator said in a statement.

The CMA’s approval is valid for six months from the board’s resolution date, and will be deemed cancelled if the offering and listing of the company’s shares are not completed within this period, it added.


Gulf luxury market set to soar on strong economic growth and consumer confidence: report  

Gulf luxury market set to soar on strong economic growth and consumer confidence: report  
Updated 27 min 57 sec ago
Follow

Gulf luxury market set to soar on strong economic growth and consumer confidence: report  

Gulf luxury market set to soar on strong economic growth and consumer confidence: report  

RIYADH: The Gulf region’s luxury sector is growing twice as fast as the global industry, reaching $12.5 billion in 2023, driven by strong macroeconomics and flourishing tourism, a new report revealed.      

According to the findings by luxury goods retailer and distributor Chalhoub Group, further growth is anticipated, bolstered by projected robust economic reforms set to enhance the market due to high consumer confidence.   

In its analysis of the Gulf Cooperation Council luxury retail market, the group noted a positive outlook on the regional economy, reflected in consumers’ personal finances, with 93 percent of respondents claiming to be doing well financially.     

Jasmina Banda, chief strategy officer at Chalhoub Group, said: “The region’s luxury market is expected to continue its impressive growth trajectory, driven by strong macroeconomic fundamentals, a thriving tourism sector, and dynamic consumer behavior with 53 percent of GCC residents expressing optimism about the state of the economy.”    

In Saudi Arabia, 60 percent of respondents believe the economy is stronger, with 70 percent of affluent consumers reporting that the economy has improved over the past three months.     

Despite concerns about the rising cost of living, environmental factors, and geopolitical issues, GCC consumers predominantly express positive feelings, citing hopefulness, happiness, and confidence as their top emotions, the report added.    

Banda added: “This ongoing growth and dynamism is underpinned by numerous new openings including those of “new luxury” brands such as Zimmermann in Mall of Emirates and Jacquemus in Dubai Mall, pop-ups inside and outside of malls, and events happening across the region.”    

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are boosting the region’s growth with high-end fashion, luxury watches and jewelry, and prestige beauty products witnessing significant demand.    

Fashion, valued at $5.2 billion, leads as the largest sector within the GCC luxury market, closely followed by watches at $5.1 billion, according to the report by Chalhoub Group.

The high-end fashion segment alone grew by 10 percent in 2023, significantly outpacing the global average growth rate of 4 percent, and maintained strong momentum with a 7 percent increase in the first quarter of 2024, compared to the same quarter last year.     

The ultra-high-end and high-end segments, representing 86 percent of the total luxury fashion market, saw growth rates of 11 percent and 6 percent respectively from the previous year.  

The UAE has emerged as the leading market across all high-end fashion segments, including ultra-high-end, high-end, aspirational, and accessible luxury.   

This dominance is attributed to the Emirates’ tourism sector, the influx of high-net-worth individuals, and resilient local spending.  

The beauty category within the GCC is also experiencing robust growth. The sector saw a 15 percent year-on-year increase in 2023 and a further 10 percent rise in the first quarter of 2024.  

The UAE leads the market in prestige beauty, driven by strong domestic spending and healthy tourism, with Saudi Arabia following closely.   

Within the prestige beauty market, skincare has emerged as the leader in terms of growth, achieving a 30 percent increase.   

Mid-range and limited-distribution brands were the fastest-growing segments within skincare, while high-end and prestige brands grew at a slower pace.  

Fragrances remain the most purchased beauty product by females in the GCC, accounting for 48 percent of this market, followed closely by facial moisturizers and lip makeup.   

Key factors influencing beauty product purchases include good value for money, clean ingredients, and ease of use, the report stated.  

To enhance the shopping experience, consumers emphasize the importance of personalized services and convenience.  

According to the report, two-thirds of consumers actively seek guidance for fashion purchases, whether from personal stylists or in-store sales assistants. 

“The insights provided by Chalhoub Group highlight the GCC’s pivotal role in the luxury market’s evolution. With strong performance across various segments and countries, the region is poised for sustained growth and innovation in the years to come,” the report stated.  

Established in 1955, Chalhoub Group is a Dubai-based luxury goods retailer and distributor with eight owned brands and over 300 international brands.  


EY chooses Riyadh for regional HQ amid Saudi Vision 2030 drive

EY chooses Riyadh for regional HQ amid Saudi Vision 2030 drive
Updated 16 min 50 sec ago
Follow

EY chooses Riyadh for regional HQ amid Saudi Vision 2030 drive

EY chooses Riyadh for regional HQ amid Saudi Vision 2030 drive

RIYADH: Multinational professional services firm EY has chosen to locate its regional headquarters in Riyadh, joining a growing list of international companies in the city. 

The London-based entity – formely known as Ernst & Young – has operations across the Middle East and North Africa, and will manage a workforce of 8,000 across 15 countries from its new regional headquarters in the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, according to a press release. 

This comes as in December 2023, the Saudi Investment Ministry announced tax incentives for foreign companies establishing regional headquarters in the Kingdom, part of efforts to attract regional bases and diversify the economy under Vision 2030. 

During the first quarter of 2024, over 120 international firms obtained licenses to relocate their regional headquarters to Saudi Arabia, marking a 477 percent year-on-year increase. 

EY MENA stated it is set to reveal its expansive new office later this year, emphasizing that this strategic decision underscores its century-long commitment to the region and represents a significant milestone in its ongoing journey of transformative impact. 

Abdulaziz Al-Sowailim, EY MENA chairman and CEO, said: “EY is proud to be playing a part in the innovative and cutting-edge strategies that are elevating KSA’s position as a trailblazer, both regionally and globally.”  

He added: “EY has leveraged our services and solutions not only to benefit government and local businesses but to give back to the Saudi community with programs focused on entrepreneurs, education, and empowering the youth of today as they become the leaders of tomorrow.” 

EY underscored its commitment to Saudi Arabia through a recent recruitment drive that saw the appointment of nearly 1,000 Saudi professionals over the past year. This effort is supported by initiatives like the Falcon Program, which aims to advance the careers of high-performing Gulf Cooperation Council nationals, including a significant number from Saudi Arabia, it added. 

In addition to housing EY’s regional operations, the Riyadh office will feature the EY Wavespace Center, spanning over 930 sq. m.

The company said the facility will serve as a collaborative platform for clients, EY teams, and entrepreneurs, as well as students, and academia to explore technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and advanced analytics. The aim is to foster innovation and tackle intricate business challenges. 

The RHQ Program, developed jointly by the Ministry of Investment and the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, supports Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the National Investment Strategy. It facilitates the growth plans of participating organizations in the region. 

The effort to attract regional headquarters to Saudi Arabia supports economic diversification goals, offering new tax incentives such as a 30-year exemption from corporate income tax and withholding tax on headquarters activities, alongside discounts and support services. 

In its quarterly report, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment revealed that the 127 permits issued in the first three months of the year underscores the Kingdom’s attractive and favorable business environment. 


Climate change ambitions proving ‘futile’ as fossil fuel consumption hits new highs: report

Climate change ambitions proving ‘futile’ as fossil fuel consumption hits new highs: report
Updated 25 June 2024
Follow

Climate change ambitions proving ‘futile’ as fossil fuel consumption hits new highs: report

Climate change ambitions proving ‘futile’ as fossil fuel consumption hits new highs: report

RIYADH: “Drastic and coordinated actions” are needed to reduce the global reliance on fossil fuels, a climate think tank leader has warned after a new analysis showed oil and coal consumption are at record levels.

Commenting on the latest edition of the Statistical Review of World Energy by the Energy Institute, co-authored with KPMG and Kearney, Romain Debarre, managing director of the Energy Transition Institute, stressed that green ambitions are “futile” without moves that immediately impact global warming.

Countries worldwide have pledged to transform their energy systems following global deals, such as the Paris Agreement, and decisions at COP28 in Dubai – which concluded last December with a landmark agreement among 198 parties, signaling a new era of climate action.

Despite these pledges, global primary energy consumption increased by 2 percent in 2023, surpassing its 10-year average and pre-COVID-19 levels, according to the report.

“COP28 and rhetoric from world leaders on the energy transition demonstrates the ambition to reduce the world’s fossil fuel dependency. However, this ambition is futile unless it is matched with drastic and coordinated actions resulting in real and immediate impact on climate change mitigation,” said Debarre.

The report noted that oil consumption across the world surged to unprecedented levels in 2023, largely due to China’s relaxation of its stringent zero-COVID-19 policies. 

Alongside this, coal use also hit new highs.

There were some signs of climate policies having an impact, with renewables’ share of total primary energy consumption up 14.6 percent, and nuclear power bringing the combined share of low-carbon sources to over 18 percent.

Oil and gas

Caption

The 73rd annual edition explained that as supply chain issues eased, most markets returned to their pre-2019 trends, marking 2023 as a year of notable recovery.

“The Asia Pacific region saw an increase of over 5 percent to 38 million barrels per day in oil consumption, while China’s refining capacity exceeded the US for the first time ever, making it the largest oil refining market by capacity,” the release said.

The Middle East, with its substantial oil reserves, saw increased activity, contributing to global oil consumption exceeding 100 million bpd for the first time. This rebound was especially pronounced in the Asia Pacific region, where oil demand rose by over 5 percent to 38 million bpd.

While China’s energy sector witnessed remarkable growth, the US retained higher throughput with an overall utilization of 86.6 percent compared to the Asian country’s 81.7 percent.

Natural gas prices saw significant declines in Europe and Asia, dropping 30 percent from their 2022 peaks. However, global gas production remained relatively stable. The US emerged as the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, overtaking Qatar, with the Asia Pacific region, particularly China and India, driving increased demand.

The report noted that the European gas market experienced a significant shift in 2023. European gas demand fell by 7 percent, following a 13 percent decline the previous year. 

Russia’s share of EU gas imports plummeted to 15 percent, down from 45 percent in 2021, as LNG imports outpaced piped gas for the second consecutive year. 

This rebalancing of gas supply has been largely influenced by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which has prompted European countries to seek alternative energy sources.

Fuel, renewable energy, and electricity

Renewable energy continued its rapid expansion, growing six times the total primary energy consumption rate, as per the Energy Institute, KPMG, and Kearney.

The Middle East and Asia contributed to a 25 percent increase in global electricity demand. Grid-scale battery electricity storage capacity in China, which accounted for nearly 50 percent of the worldwide total, exemplified the region’s push toward sustainable energy solutions.

Fossil fuel use appears to have peaked in advanced economies. Europe’s use dropped below 70 percent of primary energy for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, driven by reduced demand and renewable power growth. The US saw fuel consumption fall to 80 percent of total primary energy. 

EI CEO Nick Wayth pointed out that while the transition’s progress is slow, diverse energy stories are unfolding across regions.

“In advanced economies, we observe signs of demand for fossil fuels peaking, contrasting with economies in the Global South for whom economic development and improvements in quality of life continue to drive fossil fuel growth,” he said.

Emerging economies, however, face challenges in curbing fuel growth. In India, for example, fuel consumption rose by 8 percent, now representing 89 percent of total energy use. 

For the first time, India used more coal than Europe and North America combined. Africa saw a 0.5 percent decline in primary energy consumption, with fossil fuels accounting for 90 percent of the total and renewables for 6 percent of electricity. 

China’s post-COVID-19 recovery led to a 6 percent rise in fuel use, though its share of primary energy has been declining since 2011, reaching 81.6 percent in 2023. 

The Asian powerhouse also accounted for 55 percent of global renewable energy additions, surpassing Europe in energy per capita for the first time.

“In advanced economies, we observe signs of demand for fossil fuels peaking, contrasting with economies in the Global South for whom economic development and improvements in quality of life continue to drive fossil growth,” Wayth said.

The EI CEO added: “The progress of the transition is slow, but the big picture masks diverse energy stories playing out across different geographies.”

The EI Statistical Review of World Energy has been a key resource since 1952, providing comprehensive data on global energy markets.