Qatar and Malaysia forge partnership to strengthen financial markets

Qatar and Malaysia forge partnership to strengthen financial markets
the tripartite memorandum outlines various initiatives to foster growth and sustainability in the financial markets, both domestically and internationally. Shutterstock
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Updated 10 September 2023
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Qatar and Malaysia forge partnership to strengthen financial markets

Qatar and Malaysia forge partnership to strengthen financial markets

RIYADH: In a move aimed at fortifying Qatar’s financial landscape and positioning it as a global finance player, the country’s Financial Centre Regulatory Authority and stock exchange have entered into a strategic agreement with the Malaysian Rating Corp. Berhad, also known as MARC.

According to a report by the Qatar News Agency, the tripartite memorandum outlines various initiatives to foster growth and sustainability in the financial markets, both domestically and internationally.

This cooperation aims to promote knowledge exchange and build the necessary capacities to uplift Qatar’s bonds and sukuk market.

The agreement seeks to develop the financial market’s infrastructure, enhance standards in sustainability, and foster best practices in capital markets.

“The agreement embodies the common vision that brings us together with MARC, which is to strengthen the infrastructure of the financial sector, stimulate market growth and explore new horizons for mutual benefit and future cooperation,” said Qatar Financial Centre CEO Yousuf Al-Jaida in a statement.

He added: “This step confirms the QFC’s ongoing commitment to strengthening the financial system in the state of Qatar. By cooperating with a prestigious institution like MARC, we will be in a better position to leave an influential mark and enhance our role in setting high standards and stimulating the growth of the financial market.”

Qatar Stock Exchange CEO Abdelaziz Al-Emadi highlighted the partnership as a crucial step toward close cooperation among the three parties.  

MARC CEO Datuk Nasir also noted that strategic cooperation is another milestone in the financial services and credit rating agency’s transformation and growth journey.  

“Through cooperation with the QFC and QSE, we look forward to achieving excellence in the bond and sukuk markets, enhancing sustainability and developing the financial system in Qatar and beyond,” Nasir stated. 

The deal also underscores Qatar’s efforts to become a significant financial hub in the Middle East, capable of influencing economic trends and standards on a global scale.  

The cooperation is expected to unfold within the legal and regulatory frameworks of the parties based on reciprocity. 

The tripartite agreement is seen as a model for collaborative ventures in the region, setting the stage for future partnerships and alliances that contribute to a robust and resilient financial ecosystem.


DP World, Mawani launch $250m logistics park project at Jeddah Islamic Port

DP World, Mawani launch $250m logistics park project at Jeddah Islamic Port
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DP World, Mawani launch $250m logistics park project at Jeddah Islamic Port

DP World, Mawani launch $250m logistics park project at Jeddah Islamic Port

RIYADH: The Saudi logistics sector is poised for growth with DP World’s investment of SR900 million ($250 million) to build a distribution center at the Jeddah Islamic Port.

With this strategic move, the UAE multinational logistics company will also enhance its operational capabilities, providing more efficient and comprehensive services to its clients.

As reported by Bloomberg Asharq, Sunday’s announcement signals the start of construction on the quarter-billion-dollar project, which will be developed in two phases and is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2025.

The park offers an in-land container depot with a handling capacity of 250,000 twenty-foot equivalent units and warehouse space of 100,000 sq. meters.

Integrated with the recently awarded 30-year concession for the South Container Terminal, the state-of-the-art facility will bolster trade to enable Saudi Arabia’s strategy to become an economic powerhouse by 2030.

In June 2022, DP World and the Saudi Ports Authority, known as Mawani, signed a 30-year agreement, with an investment exceeding SR500 million, to construct a cutting-edge, port-centric logistics park in Jeddah.

The deal aims to develop the park, covering 415,000 sq. meters, featuring an in-land container depot capable of accommodating around 250,000 TEU and warehousing storage space totaling 100,000 sq. meters. Potential expansions could raise the storage capacity to 200,000 sq. meters.

The agreement was signed under the patronage of Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistic Services Saleh Al-Jasser, who is also chairman of the board of Saudi Ports Authority,

According to a statement from the Dubai government’s media office, the 415,000 sq. meter greenfield facility will include 185,000 sq. meters of warehousing space and a vast multi-purpose storage yard, establishing it as the largest integrated logistics park in the Kingdom.

The statement further mentioned that the park will accommodate over 390,000 pallet positions, providing customers with an efficient platform for the smooth movement of goods to and from Jeddah.

The collaboration between Mawani and DP World also includes the management of the South Container Terminal through a separate 30-year concession signed in 2020, the media office said in its release.

It added that the terminal is currently in the final phase of a comprehensive modernization project, scheduled for completion in the last quarter of 2024. This project will ramp up the handling capacity to 5 million TEU. 

“Saudi Arabia has always been a deeply important market for DP World, and this milestone represents our ongoing commitment to the Kingdom,” Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of DP World, said.

He added that Jeddah Logistics Park, strategically located on the vital Asia-Europe shipping route, will provide world-class multimodal connectivity and market access for customers while supporting the ambitious aims of Saudi Vision 2030.

“This investment marks a significant step as we mark 25 years of operations in Jeddah and underscores our enduring commitment to facilitating the flow of trade,” Sulayem added.

On the other hand, Mawani President Omar bin Talal Hariri highlighted that this new logistics area will be connected to DP World’s South Container Terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port, facilitating growth and increasing the number of containers handled at the terminal.

“The project is part of Mawani’s broader efforts to expand the number of logistics centers in Saudi ports, in partnership with major national and international companies, and in line with the objectives of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy and Vision 2030,” Hariri said.


King Khalid International tops Saudi airport rankings with 82% compliance rate: GACA report

King Khalid International tops Saudi airport rankings with 82% compliance rate: GACA report
Updated 13 min 28 sec ago
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King Khalid International tops Saudi airport rankings with 82% compliance rate: GACA report

King Khalid International tops Saudi airport rankings with 82% compliance rate: GACA report

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International Airport emerges as one of the top three performing terminals in the Kingdom, according to official data. 

The Riyadh-based aviation facility topped the category for international terminals with over 15 million passengers annually, achieving an 82 percent compliance rate with the General Authority of Civil Aviation’s standards. 

In its monthly report for April, GAC outlined the performance of the country’s airports, highlighting King Fahd International Airport and Abha International Airport as premier travel hubs. 

Based on 11 key criteria, the evaluation aims to improve service quality and enhance the passenger experience.  

King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah came second with the same commitment rate but was outperformed by King Khalid International in meeting the criteria. 

King Fahd International Airport led the category for international airports with 5 to 15 million passengers annually, also with a 91 percent commitment rate. Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah, which had the same commitment rate, was second. 

In the category of international airports with 2 to 5 million passengers annually, Abha International Airport secured the top spot with a 100 percent commitment rate, outperforming King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Airport in Jazan, which also had a 100 percent commitment rate but lagged in meeting the criteria. 

Al-Qaisumah International Airport ranked first among international terminals with fewer than 2 million passengers annually, with a 100 percent commitment rate, excelling in average waiting times for departure and arrival flights. 

Arar Airport achieved the highest performance among domestic terminals, with a 100 percent commitment rate, leading in average waiting times for departure and arrival flights. 

GACA’s performance evaluation is based on essential criteria such as passenger waiting times, time spent at baggage claim, and passport and customs areas, alongside standards related to accessibility for persons with disabilities and other global best practices. 

In an additional report released earlier in April, GACA revealed that the volume of air cargo handled by airports in the Kingdom saw an annual rise of 7 percent in 2023 to reach 918,000 tonnes.  

The analysis stated that the Kingdom’s aviation sector strongly rebounded in 2023, with airports witnessing a 26 percent rise in passenger transportation compared to 2022. 

GACA said that flight facilities in Saudi Arabia transported 112 million passengers last year, an 8 percent increase compared to 2019.  

The report revealed that the number of flights through the Kingdom’s airports in 2023 reached about 815,000, an increase of 16 percent compared to 2022. 

In 2023, airports in Saudi Arabia handled 394,000 international and 421,000 domestic journeys, the authority added. 


SME financing in Saudi Arabia surges 20.4% in Q4

SME financing in Saudi Arabia surges 20.4% in Q4
Updated 26 May 2024
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SME financing in Saudi Arabia surges 20.4% in Q4

SME financing in Saudi Arabia surges 20.4% in Q4

RIYADH: Financing provided to small and medium enterprises in Saudi Arabia surged by 20.4 percent year on year to $73.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, official data showed. 

In its latest quarterly report, the Kingdom’s Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority said that credit facilities provided to micro and SMEs amounted to $6.7 billion and $24.6 billion, respectively, in the last three months of 2023. 

On the other hand, medium enterprises in the Kingdom secured finance worth $42.2 billion in the last quarter of the previous year. 

The authority, also known as Monsha’at revealed that banks in Saudi Arabia provided credit facilities worth $68.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, representing a rise of 21.1 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. 

On the other hand, finance companies in the Kingdom provided loans amounting to $4.6 billion in the last three months of 2023, marking a year-on-year rise of 9.3 percent. 

Developing the SME sector is crucial for Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom is currently on a path of economic diversification, as it steadily reduces its dependency on oil. 

The report revealed that 9,644 SMEs were benefitted from Monsha’at support centers in the first quarter of this year. 

Moreover, three SMEs had their initial public offering on the parallel market Nomu through the Tomoh program in the first quarter of 2024. 

Monsha’at also revealed that Saudi Arabia led venture capital funding in the Middle East and North Africa region with $240 million deployed across 35 deals in the first quarter of this year. 

“With $240 million deployed across 35 deals to Saudi-based companies, the Kingdom accounted for a remarkable 65 percent of all VC funding in the region,” said the authority. 

The report attributed 54 percent of this VC funding to the $130 million pre-initial public offering secured by Salla in March. 

“While the $240 million invested in the first quarter maintains the Kingdom’s dominance, it did reflect a considerable quarterly drop of 70 percent from the fourth quarter of 2023, along with a 42 percent year-on-year drop. This downturn mirrors the broader trend across the MENA landscape,” said Philip Bahoshy, founder and CEO of venture capital data platform MAGNiTT. 

He added: “Digging deeper, it becomes evident that while the overall funding has diminished, the Kingdom’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to attract investors.” 


Oman’s banking sector sees 2.9% rise in credit to $80bn by end of March

Oman’s banking sector sees 2.9% rise in credit to $80bn by end of March
Updated 26 May 2024
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Oman’s banking sector sees 2.9% rise in credit to $80bn by end of March

Oman’s banking sector sees 2.9% rise in credit to $80bn by end of March

RIYADH: Oman’s banking sector experienced a 2.9 percent rise in total credit, reaching 30.8 billion Omani rials ($80 billion) by the end of March, official data showed. 

In its monthly review of banking and monetary developments, the Central Bank of Oman disclosed that credit to the private sector rose by 3.6 percent year-on-year, reaching 25.9 billion rials by the end of March. 

Non-financial corporations held the largest share of the total private sector credit, accounting for approximately 45.4 percent by the end of March, followed closely by households at 45 percent. 

Financial corporations constituted 5.8 percent of the total, while the remaining 3.8 percent was allocated to other sectors. 

Total deposits held with other depository corporations witnessed a significant year-on-year growth of 11.7 percent, reaching 30.3 billion rials at the end of March, while total private sector deposits grew by 13.7 percent to 20.2 billion rials. 

The increase in private sector credit and deposits reflects robust economic activity and confidence in the financial system. 

Regarding the sector-wise composition of private sector deposits, household holdings contributed the most at 49.8 percent, followed by non-financial corporations at 30.9 percent, financial corporations at 16.5 percent, and other sectors at 2.8 percent. 

The combined balance sheet of conventional banks showed a year-on-year growth of 0.8 percent in total outstanding credit as of the end of March. 

Credit to the private sector increased by 1.6 percent, reaching 20.3 billion rials, while overall investments in securities surged by 28.0 percent to 5.7 billion rials. 

Investment in government development bonds decreased by 17.1 percent to 1.8 billion rials, while investments in foreign securities saw a dramatic increase of 139.0 percent to 2.3 billion rials. 

Moreover, aggregate deposits in conventional banks experienced significant growth, while government deposits declined. Public enterprise holdings increased substantially, and private sector deposits rose. 

Simultaneously, Islamic banks and windows witnessed notable growth in total assets, financing, and deposits, underscoring their expanding role within the banking system. 

The report further highlighted that the nation’s nominal gross domestic product declined by 2.8 percent at the end of the fourth quarter of 2023, primarily due to a significant drop in the hydrocarbon sector despite growth in the non-hydrocarbon sector. 

However, real GDP increased by 1.3 percent during the same period. Both the average oil price and daily production saw decreases, while inflation remained minimal. 


Saudi fashion industry projected to expand by 48% by 2025

Saudi fashion industry projected to expand by 48% by 2025
Updated 26 May 2024
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Saudi fashion industry projected to expand by 48% by 2025

Saudi fashion industry projected to expand by 48% by 2025

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s fashion industry is set to post a cumulative annual growth of 48 percent from 2021 to 2025 as the Kingdom diversifies its economy, a report said. 

In its latest quarterly release, the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority said that Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission is playing a crucial role in building a more robust ecosystem to propel the sector’s growth. 

The authority, also known as Monsha’at, revealed that the fashion industry contributed 1.4 percent of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product in 2022. 

The report added that the total value of the fashion sector in Saudi Arabia, including international brands, stood at $24.6 billion in 2022. 

On the other hand, the domestic fashion industry in the Kingdom was worth $12.5 billion in 2022. 

“Saudi Arabia has embarked on a profound transformation across multiple industries. This renaissance spans architecture, music, film, art, food, and more. Through diverse initiatives at the Fashion Commission, we are revolutionizing the fashion sector and elevating our talents to global stages while adhering to the core pillars that drive growth and sustainability,” said Burak Cakmak, CEO of the Fashion Commission. 

He added: “Due to several strategic initiatives that fostered a dynamic ecosystem of creativity and business acumen, the growth of the fashion industry in Saudi Arabia over the past few years has been unprecedented.” 

Cakmak said that developing local talent in the Kingdom is one of the crucial missions of the Fashion Commission. 

He added that the organization has initiated comprehensive educational programs, workshops, and mentorship opportunities to develop the growth of Saudi nationals in the sector. 

The official also noted that the commission assists small and medium enterprises operating in the sector in growing and expanding their businesses. 

“We also advance the industry by providing essential support to entrepreneurs and SMEs, offering assistance and resources that help businesses scale. Regulatory frameworks are established and enforced to ensure ethical practices and sustainability, while cultural preservation initiatives highlight Saudi heritage, promoting it both locally and globally,” said Cakmark. 

The Monsha’at report added that the fashion industry in Saudi Arabia has employed over 230,000 people as of 2022, and 52 percent of the workforce is female. 

The authority revealed that the women’s apparel market in the Kingdom will witness a 20 percent growth by 2027, while the men’s market is set to expand by 27 percent during the same period. 

Cakmak added that participation in international fashion events by Saudi companies will help affirm the place of the Kingdom in the global arena. 

“Market expansion efforts, including marketing campaigns and participation in international fashion events, further enhance the visibility and competitiveness of Saudi fashion brands. All of these are core strategic pillars that effectively nurture a vibrant, dynamic, and globally competitive fashion industry in the Kingdom,” Cakmak noted. 

He concluded: “We believe that the future of Saudi fashion lies in the hands of our talented designers and visionary entrepreneurs. As we continue to support and nurture these individuals, we are confident that the Kingdom’s fashion industry will continue to flourish.”