Qatar Central Bank releases notification on BNPL licenses

Qatar Central Bank releases notification on BNPL licenses
The Qatar Central Bank stated that firms willing to operate in this sector must apply for a license, adding that the application process will open in September. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 August 2023
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Qatar Central Bank releases notification on BNPL licenses

Qatar Central Bank releases notification on BNPL licenses

RIYADH: Residents in Qatar will soon have access to buy now, pay later services as the country’s central bank issued a notification asking interested companies to apply for licenses to offer this facility.  

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Qatar Central Bank stated that firms willing to operate in this sector must apply for a license, adding that the application process will open in September. 

This move aims to license and regulate the BNPL services in the country as it embarks on a journey to support diversification and innovation within the financial sector under Qatar National Vision 2030. 

The licensing also aligns with the QCB’s continuous efforts to regulate and develop the country’s financial sector.

The BNPL system is an alternative payment method that allows customers to purchase products and services and split the total cost into affordable time-specific repayment options.

“This payment method not only allows customers to indulge in their desired purchases without straining their budget, while providing multiple benefits like easy budgeting and planning future payments,” the bank said in a statement.

“Additionally, most BNPL services do not charge late or other fees if the installments are paid on time, making it accessible to a wider range of customer segments,” it added.

In fact, BNPL has become the preferred mode of payment in the region, said top financial technology players speaking at a panel discussion on the system’s evolution at the DIFC Fintech in June 2022.

During the event, the industry leaders pointed out how this finance option has revolutionized the fintech industry.

At the time, the bank disclosed that this journey constitutes diversification and innovation of the financial services industry as a central pillar of the Qatari economy, positioning the country as an attractive hub for foreign direct investment, talent and building a knowledge-based economy.

In addition, this strategy has been designed considering several critical principles, including leveraging investments Qatar has made and the country’s geographical and global reach.


Lilium agrees deal to supply electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft to Saudia

Lilium agrees deal to supply electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft to Saudia
Updated 18 sec ago
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Lilium agrees deal to supply electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft to Saudia

Lilium agrees deal to supply electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft to Saudia
  • Saudia will receive the first vehicle in 2026

MUNICH: German aerospace company Lilium NV is making its debut in Saudi Arabia with a groundbreaking deal to supply up to 100 electric vertical take off and landing jets to Saudia, the Kingdom’s first national carrier.

The formalization of this agreement comes after a framework deal was initially arranged in late 2022, making Saudia the first airline in the region to invest in sustainable air mobility.

The Saudia Group and the German developer of fully electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft have entered into an agreement to purchase 50 confirmed Lilium Jets, with an option for an additional 50 aircraft. 

Thursday’s signing ceremony took place at the German firm’s headquarters in Munich, attended by Arab News and key industry stakeholders.

CEO of Lilium, Klaus Roewe, underscored in his speech the significance of this partnership, stating: “It (the deal) signals a transformation and a readiness to shape the future.”

In an interview with Arab News on the sideline of the event, he described Saudia as a very important customer because it’s a “very high-ranking, high-class airline, a very demanding airline.”

Roewe added: “On the other side, it’s also representing a country which we believe is the perfect mirror of what Lilium wants to do, because Lilium is definitively the most advanced, the most innovative product.” 

The CEO went on to say that Saudi Arabia’s ambitions for its tourism and aviation sectors as outlined by the Vision 2030 economic diversification plan show a focus on sustainability and innovation.

“We believe it’s a perfect match between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Lilium,” said Roewe.

Saudi Arabia will receive the first plane in 2026. 

The aircraft’s operations will be approved and conducted in accordance with the quality and safety standards of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, and it will be operated and managed through Saudia Private Aviation.

Ibrahim Al-Omar, the director general of Saudia Group, expressed his enthusiasm for the milestone, saying: “Our partnership with Lilium supports the ambitious goal of Vision 2030 by transforming the future of aviation in Saudi Arabia and beyond.”

He added that starting in 2026, the arrival of the first Lilium Jet will help transport 330 million travelers, providing faster and more efficient connections that exceed industry standards and expectations. This development is set to play a crucial role in key areas such as hygiene, entertainment, and business travel.

The director general said that the group is committed to leading aviation innovation with this collaboration with Lilium being “just the beginning.”

He added: “We will continue to explore new heights, offering the best to our guests and positively impacting regional and global aviation.” 

The German ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Michael Kindsgrab, highlighted in his address the transformative potential of this collaboration in advancing decarbonization and sustainability goals under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

“One of the most important areas of this new cooperation is decarbonization and sustainability,” he said, adding: “This is truly a revolutionary concept, and we are very happy that Saudi Arabia, Saudia in this case, is at the forefront of launching this new technology.”

The ambassador said that this is a big event for Saudi Arabia and for Germany, with economic relations between two countries – with their shared focus on transformation, decarbonization and ecology – being some of the biggest common denominators in this relationship.

Roewe’s praised the collaboration between Lilium and Saudia, and said: “Our teams have been working together intensively after signing of the MoU in late 2022, and we received outstanding support and trust in the process for which we are enormously grateful and thank you for that.”

Saudia aims to integrate these electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft into its fleet, revolutionizing domestic air transport with efficient, zero-emission solutions. 

The Lilium Jets, designed for regional high-speed travel with zero CO2 emissions, align with Saudi Arabia’s focus on sustainability and innovation under Vision 2030.

Lilium has the capacity to produce up to 80 aircraft per year. The aircraft features a 14-meter-long wing and an 80-meter-long body, with a maximum flight altitude of 3,000 meters. 

It boasts an operating distance of up to 175 kilometers and can reach speeds of 300 kms per hour. The airplane’s battery is recharged, not swapped, requiring 30-40 minutes to reach 80 percent capacity. 

The German ambassador to the Kingdom further elaborated on the economic implications of the deal, stating: “Today, we open another chapter for green mobility and green energy. This is truly a revolutionary concept, and we’re very pleased that Saudi Arabia, represented by Saudia, is at the forefront of launching this new technology.”

Saudia’s commitment to leading aviation innovation through its collaboration with the German firm sets the stage for continued exploration and advancement in sustainable aviation. 

The airline will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of air transport in the Middle East and beyond, reaffirming its position as a global leader in the aviation industry.

With this strategic initiative, Saudia and Lilium are poised to set new standards for sustainable aviation, driving forward the vision of a greener and more interconnected world through cutting-edge technology and collaborative partnerships.


Saudi Arabia’s Tharwah to expand footprint with $13m proceeds from Nomu offering: CEO

Saudi Arabia’s Tharwah to expand footprint with $13m proceeds from Nomu offering: CEO
Updated 52 min 14 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s Tharwah to expand footprint with $13m proceeds from Nomu offering: CEO

Saudi Arabia’s Tharwah to expand footprint with $13m proceeds from Nomu offering: CEO

RIYADH: Saudi-based human resources firm Tharwah is planning to use the anticipated SR50 million ($13 million) raised from its Nomu listing to fund its expansion plans, according to its CEO.   

In an interview with CNBC, Abdullah Al-Zahrani explained that the company aims to allocate more than 80 percent of the proceeds to support its horizontal and vertical expansion in the Gulf region, noting that the company recently opened offices in the UAE and Egypt.  

This follows Tadawul’s statement released earlier this month, in which Value Capital Co., in its capacity as the financial adviser and lead manager on the potential offering of Tharwah, announced the firm’s intention to present 705,735 ordinary shares, representing 15 percent of its offerings. It was also revealed that the company’s shares would be listed on Nomu.  

This move falls in line with the firm’s goal to become a leading expert center in human capacity development by delivering best-in-class solutions that meet global standards while considering local understanding.  

Al-Zahrani said it also aligns well with Saudi Arabia’s promising consulting market and the company’s consistent approach to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.  

During the interview, the CEO said that the company implemented over 90 projects with government agencies and the private sector, which was worth an accumulated SR150 million during the last period.

Al-Zahrani added that since the beginning of 2024, the volume of existing contracts has reached 30, totaling SR90 million.  

It is anticipated that the company will grow by more than 20 percent this year.  

He also revealed that Tharwah’s market share has reached 7 percent in the human capital consulting sector and it is targetting to further boost it during the coming period, expecting revenues to reach SR90 million by the end of 2024.  

The CEO said that the coming period after listing will focus on growth, in addition to having a strategy for dividends after supporting the expansion plan and then reaching the balance stage that enables the company to make dividend distributions.  

Established in 2012, Tharwah is a Saudi firm specializing in Human Capital Advisory Services. Its goal is to enable clients to empower their human capital to achieve their strategic objectives.


Suez Canal revenue drops as some shippers shun Red Sea 

Suez Canal revenue drops as some shippers shun Red Sea 
Updated 18 July 2024
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Suez Canal revenue drops as some shippers shun Red Sea 

Suez Canal revenue drops as some shippers shun Red Sea 

RIYADH: The Suez Canal’s annual revenue dropped by almost a quarter in its latest financial year as some shippers switched to alternative routes to avoid attacks by Iran-aligned Houthis in the Red Sea. 

Osama Rabie, the head of the Egyptian canal’s authority said on Thursday revenues fell to $7.2 billion in its 2023-24 financial year from $9.4 billion the year before. 

Since November, the Houthis have been attacking commercial vessels in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean to show support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas in its fight against Israel. 

Rabie said the number of ships using the canal fell to 20,148 in 2023-24 from 25,911 the year before. 

The Suez Canal is a key source of foreign currency for Egypt, and authorities have been trying to boost its revenues in recent years, including via an expansion in 2015. 

The canal is vital for global trade, handling a large portion of goods like oil and gas, with its tolls and services crucial to Egypt’s income, supporting infrastructure, jobs, and economic stability. 

About 15 percent of world shipping traffic transits via the Suez Canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia. 

A statement issued by the Egyptian Cabinet in May revealed that the Suez Canal Economic Zone had secured 144 projects worth $3.2 billion between July 2023 and April 2024, down from $4.9 billion recorded between July 2022 and May 2023. 

This happened as there was a 50 percent drop in Suez Canal trade and a 32 percent decrease in trade through the Panama Canal during the first two months of 2024 compared to the previous year, as reported by the International Monetary Fund in a March blog post. 

At that time, Walid Gamal El-Din, chairman of the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone, disclosed that out of the 144 projects in its industrial zones and ports, 67 had received final approvals, with 77 securing initial approvals. 

He added that more than 25,000 direct and indirect job opportunities would be created upon the completion and operation of these projects. 

Furthermore, the chairman disclosed that the implementation rates of investment projects within the industrial zones had reached 77 percent, while those in ports had reached 71 percent. 

(With inputs from Reuters)
 


Real Estate Brokerage Law spurs 17% surge in Saudi property transactions, watchdog head reveals

Real Estate Brokerage Law spurs 17% surge in Saudi property transactions, watchdog head reveals
Updated 53 min 20 sec ago
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Real Estate Brokerage Law spurs 17% surge in Saudi property transactions, watchdog head reveals

Real Estate Brokerage Law spurs 17% surge in Saudi property transactions, watchdog head reveals

RIYADH: New regulations providing safeguards in Saudi Arabia’s real estate sector helped drive up residential and commercial property transactions by 17 percent within their first year, according to a senior official.

Speaking at the launch of the Real Estate Brokerage Forum, CEO of the Kingdom’s Real Estate General Authority Abdullah bin Saud Al-Hammad highlighted the positive outcomes in the sector since the law was enacted on June 29, 2022, which helped deliver SR605 billion ($161.2 billion) worth of deals within 12 months.

The new regulations mean the Real Estate General Authority is responsible for preparing mandatory contract forms, promoting brokerage and services, and defining marketing criteria as well as setting standards, and managing violations and complaints.

This law applies universally to individuals, partnerships, and corporate entities involved in estate brokerage activities.

The regulation is part of a drive to increase home ownership in Saudi Arabia, with the Kingdom aiming for a 70 percent rate by 2030.

Reflecting on the law's success, Al-Hammad added that residential transactions reached approximately 2.9 million, up 18 percent, while commercial transactions increased by 11 percent to 604,000, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

He went on to say that the real estate brokerage and services legislation provided extensive opportunities for innovation and development and played a pivotal role in the economic framework and real estate transactions. 

Furthermore, the Real Estate General Authority  registered around 219,000 real estate brokerage contracts and issued 35,255 individual brokerage licenses along with 19,735 licenses for corporate entities. 

It also licensed 52 real estate platforms, which contributed to removing over half a million unreliable property advertisements, according to the CEO.

The law ensures transparency and boosts the efficiency of real estate brokers through regulatory practices and defined responsibilities.

Al-Hammad said that the authority conducted 58 joint inspection campaigns with relevant entities, inspected over 34,000 public advertisements, and processed more than 67,000 electronic surveys and 9,100 reports, showcasing the rigorous oversight mechanisms in place.

He added that this forum edition is part of ongoing efforts to enhance real estate brokerage services and transactions, building a robust and advanced sector that contributes to economic growth and aligns with strategic aspirations. 

The event’s discussions focused on the impact, opportunities, and challenges posed by real estate platforms on the future of the market.


Oil Updates – prices rise on bigger-than-expected drop in US crude stocks

Oil Updates – prices rise on bigger-than-expected drop in US crude stocks
Updated 18 July 2024
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Oil Updates – prices rise on bigger-than-expected drop in US crude stocks

Oil Updates – prices rise on bigger-than-expected drop in US crude stocks

SINGAPORE: Oil prices extended gains from the previous session on Thursday, buoyed by a bigger-than-expected decline last week in crude stocks in the US, the world’s largest oil consumer, according to Reuters.

Brent futures rose 58 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $85.66 a barrel by 8:30 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude gained 75 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $83.60.

Both contracts settled higher on Wednesday.

US crude inventories fell by 4.9 million barrels last week, the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration showed. That exceeds a decline of 30,000 barrels forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll and a drop of 4.4 million barrels in a report from the American Petroleum Institute trade group.

“Healthy demand signals from the US outweighs concerns from modest Chinese growth last week,” said Priyanka Sachdeva, senior market analyst at Phillip Nova.

“Hopes of a Fed easing, which can boost economic growth, and current summer travel in the US are ensuring enough traction in oil demand from the world’s largest economy,” Sachdeva said.

The prospects of cuts in interest rates in coming months in the both the US and Europe helped to support the market.

Federal Reserve officials said on Wednesday the US central bank is “closer” to cutting interest rates given inflation’s improved trajectory and a labor market in better balance, possibly setting the stage for a reduction in borrowing costs in September.

Also, US economic activity expanded at a slight to modest pace from late May through early July with firms expecting slower growth ahead.

The European Central Bank, meanwhile, is all but certain to keep interest rates unchanged on Thursday, but signalled that its next move is likely to be a cut.

Investors are also awaiting policy news from a key leadership gathering in China that is to end on Thursday.

The dollar eased on Thursday for a third straight session. A weaker dollar can boost demand for oil by making greenback-denominated commodities like oil cheaper for holders of other currencies.