Saudi Arabia achieves 63% self-sufficiency in value-added agriculture sector: Reef 

Saudi Arabia achieves 63% self-sufficiency in value-added agriculture sector: Reef 
Fruits reached a self-sufficiency rate of 22 percent, producing 90,000 tons this year (Shutterstock)
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Updated 02 August 2023
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Saudi Arabia achieves 63% self-sufficiency in value-added agriculture sector: Reef 

Saudi Arabia achieves 63% self-sufficiency in value-added agriculture sector: Reef 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has reached a 63 percent self-sufficiency rate in the value-added agriculture sector following the drive of the state-run Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program, also known as Reef, to ensure food security in the Kingdom. 

The program, introduced in 2019 to boost the processing and marketing of food produce, has increased and diversified the Kingdom’s agricultural production.  

Besides supporting 63,000 agricultural projects in the Kingdom, the initiative has helped manage the local markets and lessen the impact of fluctuations in food prices worldwide.     

According to an infographic released by Reef on Wednesday, the Kingdom’s coffee industry achieved a self-sufficiency rate of 16 percent, producing 1,009 tons of coffee in 2023. The goal is to reach 7,000 tons by 2026.  

Fruits reached a self-sufficiency rate of 22 percent, producing 90,000 tons this year. Reef expects food production to reach 305,000 tons in 2026. 

Rose and aromatic plants realized 33 percent self-sufficiency as Reef planted 651 million roses. It expects to grow 2 billion such plants in 2026. 

The honey industry accomplished a self-sufficiency rate of 49 percent, with an output of 3.75 million tons in 2023 and an anticipated increase to 7.5 million tons in 2026. 

Rain-fed crops, or the produce that depends on rainfall, attained 13 percent self-sufficiency, cultivating 27,000 tons this year. Its yield should touch 195,000 tons in 2026. 

Reef has been instrumental in achieving food security and self-sufficiency for various agricultural goods in the Kingdom, with output totaling 350.54 million tons this year. 

Its inclusive programs offer assistance for 70 other goods, all of which aid small-scale farmers in raising their income and living standards by fostering social stability and opening up job opportunities.   

Reef also backed conservation initiatives for the environment and natural resources, and it plans to plant 18 million seedlings throughout a region larger than 150,000 hectares by the end of this year.   

The state-run body has also diversified its scope by increasing the income of farming families by attracting tourists and ecological enthusiasts to local cultivations and providing tourist outlets to sell farmers’ products. 


Oil Updates – prices rise as US crude, fuel inventories seen shrinking

Oil Updates – prices rise as US crude, fuel inventories seen shrinking
Updated 14 sec ago
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Oil Updates – prices rise as US crude, fuel inventories seen shrinking

Oil Updates – prices rise as US crude, fuel inventories seen shrinking

NEW YORK/SINGAPORE: Oil prices rebounded on Wednesday, snapping three straight sessions of decline, as falling US crude inventories and growing supply risks from wildfires in Canada boosted prices.

Brent crude futures for September rose 40 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $81.41 a barrel by 8:50 a.m. Saudi time. US West Texas Intermediate crude for September also increased 40 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $77.36 per barrel.

WTI had lost 7 percent over the previous three sessions, while Brent shed nearly 5 percent.

US crude oil, gasoline and distillate inventories fell for the fourth straight week in the previous week, according to market sources citing the American Petroleum Institute, reflecting steady demand in the world’s largest consumer of oil.

Wildfires in Canada were also supporting prices. The fires have forced some producers to curtail production and were threatening a large amount of supply, ING analysts said.

“Market is nearing oversold territory and we still believe that the fundamentals support prices moving higher from current levels over the remainder of the third quarter on the back of a deficit environment,” ING analysts said in a note.

The API figures showed crude stocks falling by 3.9 million barrels in the week ended July 19, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Gasoline inventories fell by 2.8 million barrels and distillates shed 1.5 million barrels.

That would be the first time crude stocks in the US fell for four weeks in a row since September 2023.

Official government data on oil inventory data is due for release on Wednesday.

Oil prices fell to a six-week low on Tuesday, with Brent closing at its lowest level since June 9 on ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas in a plan outlined by US President Joe Biden in May and mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

Prices also suffered due to continued concern that the economic slowdown in China, the world’s biggest crude importer, would weaken global oil demand.


Saudi Arabia issues $856m of sukuk in July

Saudi Arabia issues $856m of sukuk in July
Updated 54 min 23 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia issues $856m of sukuk in July

Saudi Arabia issues $856m of sukuk in July

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia completed its riyal-denominated sukuk issuance for July at SR3.21 billion ($855.7 million), according to the National Debt Management Center.  

The level once again remained above SR3 billion, following a June issuance level of SR4.4 billion, SR3.23 billion in May, SR7.39 billion in April, and SR4.4 billion in March. 

NDMC revealed that the Shariah-compliant debt product in July was divided into five tranches. 

The first tranche is valued at SR612 million and is set to mature in 2029, while the second amounted to SR159 million maturing in 2031. 

The third tranche’s value stood at SR961 million, maturing in 2034, and the fourth was a SR1.25 million tranche with a maturity date in 2036. 

The fifth tranche had a size of SR226 million maturing 2039. 

This is part of the Kingdom’s Sukuk Issuance Program, which started in 2017, with the aim of establishing an unlimited riyal-denominated sukuk initiative under the NDMC. 

The announcement from NDMC came as Kuwait’s financial center Markaz published its own figures for bond and sukuk issuance across the Gulf Cooperation Council region for the first half of 2024.

The analysis showed that Saudi Arabia was the leading player in the six months to the end of June, raising $37 billion through 44 issuances.

A report released by S&P Global in April said that sukuk issuance globally is expected to hover between the $160 billion to $170 billion mark in 2024, holding steady compared to the $168.4 billion seen in 2023 and $179.4 billion in 2022. 

According to the US-based firm, the issuance of this Shariah-compliant debt product began on a “strong footing” in 2024, with Saudi Arabia becoming a key contributor to the performance. 

The credit rating agency also noted that the sukuk market will continue to grow in the near term driven by financing needs in core Islamic finance countries, along with the ongoing economic transformation programs which are currently underway in nations like Saudi Arabia. 

It added: “The drop in issuance volumes in 2023, which mainly resulted from tighter liquidity conditions in Saudi Arabia’s banking system and Indonesia’s lower fiscal deficit, was somewhat compensated by an increase in foreign currency-denominated sukuk issuance.” 

In April, another report released by Fitch Ratings also echoed similar views and noted that global sukuk issuance is expected to continue growing in the coming months of this year. 

Fitch noted that economic diversification efforts and the rapid development of the debt capital market in the Gulf Cooperation Council region will propel the growth of the sukuk market in the coming months. 


Flydubai in early talks for largest ever airplane order

Flydubai in early talks for largest ever airplane order
Updated 23 July 2024
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Flydubai in early talks for largest ever airplane order

Flydubai in early talks for largest ever airplane order

FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom: Government-owned airline flydubai is in early talks with planemakers Boeing and Airbus to place its largest-ever airplane order, CEO Chief Executive Ghaith Al-Ghaith said on Tuesday.
“The last order we did was 175 and this (next one) is going to be the biggest, I’m sure,” Al-Ghaith told Reuters in an interview at the Farnborough Air Show. Flydubai announced the purchase of 175 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes in 2017. 


Closing Bell: Saudi main market slips to close at 12,105

Closing Bell: Saudi main market slips to close at 12,105
Updated 23 July 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main market slips to close at 12,105

Closing Bell: Saudi main market slips to close at 12,105

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Tuesday, losing 69.22 points, or 0.57 percent, to close at 12,105.54.        

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR6.8 billion ($1.8 billion) as 55 of the listed stocks advanced, while 173 retreated.    

The MSCI Tadawul Index also dropped 10.49 points, or 0.69 percent, to close at 1,512.94.    

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu gained 123.53 points, or 0.47 percent, to close at 26,164. This comes as 33 of the listed stocks advanced, while 32 retreated.  

Sumou Real Estate Co. was TASI’s best-performing stock as the company’s share price surged 9.98 percent to SR47.95.        

Other top performers included Kingdom Holding Co. as well as Perfect Presentation for Commercial Services Co., whose share prices soared by 9.93 percent and 4.04 percent, to stand at SR7.86 and SR15.96 respectively.        

Other top gainers included Nayifat Finance Co. and Gulf Union Alahlia Cooperative Insurance Co.      

Miahona Co. was the worst performer, wth its share price dropping by 6.82 percent to SR39.60.    

Nama Chemicals Co. and Jadwa REIT Saudi Fund saw their share prices drop by 3.39 percent and 3.22 percent to SR27.10 and SR12.02, respectively.

Other poor performers included Rasan Information Technology Co. and National Medical Care Co.

On the announcements front, First Mills Co. reported a net profit of SR45.5 million in the second quarter of the year, representing a rise of 30.3 percent compared to the same period in 2023.

Revenue also saw an annual increase of 13 percent in the second quarter of this year to reach SR242.3 million.

The company announced that it will distribute cash dividends of SR1.55 per share to shareholders for the first half of 2024.

The total dividend distribution amounts to SR86.03 million, to be allocated across 55 million shares.    

Saudi telecom Etihad Etisalat Co., also known as Mobily, reported a 33 percent increase in profits, reaching SR661 million in the second quarter of 2024, compared to SR497 million in the same period last year.  

The company attributed the rise in net profit to higher operating profits and a 26.2 percent reduction in financing expenses, which decreased to SR130 million due to a reduced debt portfolio.    

Lower zakat and income tax expenses also contributed to the improved financial performance, it added.  

Saudi Telecom Co. also reported a 9 percent increase in profits, reaching SR3.3 billion in the second quarter, compared to SR3.0 billion in the same period last year.  

The company attributed the rise in net profit to a revenue increase of SR828 million, which was partially offset by a SR272 million rise in the cost of revenues, resulting in a gross profit increase of SR556 million.    

Operating expenses decreased by SR48 million, and zakat and income tax expenses fell by SR23 million, it added.


Fitch Ratings withdraws from Lebanon 

Fitch Ratings withdraws from Lebanon 
Updated 23 July 2024
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Fitch Ratings withdraws from Lebanon 

Fitch Ratings withdraws from Lebanon 

RIYADH: The unavailability of certain key data has led Fitch Ratings to withdraw from categorizing Lebanon, as the agency no longer has sufficient information to maintain its assessment of the nation. 

The global credit rating agency has affirmed Lebanon’s long-term foreign and local-currency issuer default ratings as restricted and has subsequently withdrawn the nation’s IDR and country ceiling. 

Restricted default indicates a country has neglected specific financial obligations while continuing to meet others. 

This means that the agency has confirmed Lebanon’s long-term debt ratings as restricted and ceased providing assessments and analysis for the country due to insufficient data. 

Lebanon has been in default on its foreign-currency obligations since March 2020, significantly influencing its rating assessment. 

The government’s failure to repay the Eurobond, which was due on March 9, 2020, led to its categorization as restricted default.

“The government has stopped servicing its outstanding stock of Eurobonds pending a debt restructuring,” the agency said.  

The local-currency IDRs remain in restricted default due to the government’s failure to resume interest payments on Banque du Liban’s holdings of local-currency securities despite continuing to serve local-currency debt to private creditors. 

Fitch also stated that the authorities have not initiated a local-currency debt restructuring. 

The agency’s decision to withdraw Lebanon’s ratings was driven by the issuer’s cessation of publishing national accounts and fiscal data, which are now only available up to 2021. 

This lack of up-to-date financial information has made it unfeasible for Fitch to maintain accurate ratings. 

The agency added that Lebanon’s environmental, social, and governance relevance score for political stability and rights and for the rule of law, institutional and regulatory quality, and control of corruption stands at five. 

This reflects the high impact of the World Bank Governance Indicators in Fitch’s Sovereign Rating Model. 

“Lebanon has a low WBGI ranking at 14.8, reflecting the absence of a recent track record of peaceful political transitions, relatively weak rights for participation in the political process, weak institutional capacity, uneven application of the rule of law and a high level of corruption,” the agency added.