Saudi minister visits China to enhance collaboration in housing sector

Saudi minister visits China to enhance collaboration in housing sector
Saudi Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing Majid Al-Hogail arrived in Beijing on Sunday (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 14 August 2023
Follow

Saudi minister visits China to enhance collaboration in housing sector

Saudi minister visits China to enhance collaboration in housing sector
  • Business forum planned to attract top Chinese companies interested in investing in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Aimed at strengthening bilateral ties in the fields of housing and civic infrastructure, Saudi Arabia’s housing minister began a four-day visit to China to hold meetings with top officials, construction companies, and financiers.   

Saudi Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing Majid Al-Hogail arrived in Beijing on Sunday and will explore exchanging experiences and expertise regarding infrastructure, urban development, real estate development, and finance, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the visit, Al-Hogail is also set to patronize the Saudi-Chinese Business Forum, scheduled on the last day of the visit. The event aims at attracting top Chinese companies to invest in Saudi Arabia while cementing the two countries’ partnerships.    

The forum will review the investment opportunities and advantages Saudi Arabia offers in infrastructure and housing. It will be attended by Saudi officials and investors, along with representatives of Chinese companies.

HIGHLIGHT

Minister will explore exchanging experiences and expertise regarding infrastructure, urban development, real estate development, and finance.

As scheduled, the Saudi minister will meet with top executives of Chinese companies, including CITIC Group, CITIC Construction, and China Insurance Co. He will also hold meetings with several senior officials of Chinese banks, such as Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, Bank of China, Export-Import Bank of China, and China Development Bank.

Al-Hogail will discuss ways to increase collaboration with Chinese firms for infrastructure development and housing projects.

Moreover, he will also visit the Beijing development exhibition to learn about Chinese experiences in urban development.   

It is noteworthy that Saudi Arabia and China sealed 35 investment agreements worth around $30 billion during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Kingdom last December. Among these was an action plan to activate the housing memorandum of cooperation provisions, penned by Al-Hogail and Wang Wentao, China’s commerce minister.

Last month, Al-Hogail visited Turkiye, where he attended the launch of the Saudi-Turkish Business Forum in Istanbul. He also met with several Turkish officials, businesspeople, and investors.

The visit to Turkiye also sought to enhance cooperation opportunities with Turkish companies in urban and real estate development, construction, contracting, and smart cities.  


Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry

Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry
Updated 25 sec ago
Follow

Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry

Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s digital banking has achieved a significant advancement after a leading bank introduced artificial intelligence technology, significantly enhancing its operational efficiency and customer experience.

Riyad Bank announced on July 23 the launch of the first-of-its-kind specialized center for artificial intelligence technologies and services in the Saudi banking sector, known as the Center of Intelligence.

The center will allow the bank and its business sectors to harness the latest AI innovations and derive significant value from advanced, proactive analytical insights, while advancing the bank’s vision with the highest standards of quality and innovation, according to a statement from the financial institution.

The move aligns with the broader national goals outlined in Saudi Vision 2030, particularly the Financial Sector Development Program, which works together with the Saudi Central Bank to provide banking services that are more accessible.

The program is committed to contributing to the stability and growth of the banking system to make it even more convenient by investing in technology and offering a wide range of financial products and services.


Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 

Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 
Updated 24 July 2024
Follow

Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 

Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale spending reached SR10.9 billion ($2.9 billion) in the week ending July 20, with the education sector recording the largest surge, according to official data.

Figures released by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed that this section of the economy saw a 10.4 percent increase over the seven-day period, with the total value of transactions hitting SR94.1 million.

The data also showed that spending in hotels increased by 0.2 percent compared to the previous seven days to reach SR270.2 million. 

This small rise came after larger increases in the sector in the previous two weeks, with a 17.9 percent surge from June 30 to July 6 and a 3.8 percent jump from July 7 to 13.

Despite growth in these sectors, POS spending in the Kingdom continued its reverse trajectory, declining by 8.8 percent after decreasing the week before by 9.8 percent. 

Spending on construction and building materials dipped by 5.2 percent over the most recent seven-day period, representing the smallest decrease of any sector compared to the previous week, to reach SR312.6 million.

The health sector witnessed the second-smallest dip, recording a 10.2 percent drop to come in at SR696.3 million.

Spending on clothing and footwear ranked joint-third in decline, along with electric devices, with both categories recording an 11.3 percent drop.

The highest value decrease was seen in the telecommunication sector, which posted a transaction total of SR89.5 million following a 13 percent drop.

Restaurant and cafe outlays dominated POS spending with SR1.67 billion, followed by SR1.64 billion on food and beverages, and SR1.41 billion on miscellaneous goods and services. Combined, these three categories account for 43.27 percent of the total POS spending value.

According to data from SAMA, 33.2 percent of POS spending occurred in Riyadh, with the total transaction value reaching SR3.63 billion, representing a 7.1 percent decline from the previous week.

Spending in Jeddah followed, accounting for 14.4 percent of the total and reaching SR1.58 billion, marking a 7.7 percent weekly negative change.

Expenditures in Hail, Tabuk, and Buraidah decreased by 14 percent, 12.4 percent, and 9.7 percent, respectively, with the figures reaching SR168.2 million, SR189.3 million, and SR249.6 million.

The smallest decrease was recorded in Makkah, which saw a 3.9 percent weekly change to come in at SR441.4 million.


Oil Updates – prices hover near lowest in 6 weeks

Oil Updates – prices hover near lowest in 6 weeks
Updated 19 min 14 sec ago
Follow

Oil Updates – prices hover near lowest in 6 weeks

Oil Updates – prices hover near lowest in 6 weeks

LONDON: Oil prices traded around their lowest level in six weeks on Wednesday, as the northern hemisphere gets deeper into summer with limited signs of the expected fuel consumption surge the period usually sees.

Wednesday saw only a slight reprieve, as prices snapped three straight sessions of decline on falling US crude inventories and growing supply risks from wildfires in Canada boosted prices.

Brent crude futures for September rose 66 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $81.67 a barrel by 11:08 a.m. Saudi time. US West Texas Intermediate crude for September increased 65 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $77.61 per barrel.

The likely reason for the wider sell-off has been the “diminishing hopes of demand resurrection,” with “an admission from refiners that the summer leap in consumption is simply not taking place,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

Prices had fallen 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.

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 market 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.


Saudi Arabia issues $856m of sukuk in July

Saudi Arabia issues $856m of sukuk in July
Updated 24 July 2024
Follow

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
Follow

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.