Qatar’s economic growth stabilizes after FIFA World Cup boom: IMF 

Qatar’s economic growth stabilizes after FIFA World Cup boom: IMF 
The World Cup was hosted by Qatar in 2022. Shutterstock.
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Updated 22 November 2023
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Qatar’s economic growth stabilizes after FIFA World Cup boom: IMF 

Qatar’s economic growth stabilizes after FIFA World Cup boom: IMF 

RIYADH: The economic growth of Qatar has normalized after the country’s strong fiscal performance in 2022, driven by the FIFA World Cup, according to the International Monetary Fund. 

In its consultation report released on Nov. 21, the IMF disclosed that Qatar’s economic outlook in the medium term seems favorable, with output expected to expand by about 1.75 percent per annum during 2023–25. 

It further revealed that the medium-term expansion would be fueled by the nonhydrocarbon sector, which is expected to grow at 2.75 percent, driven by domestic demand. 

“Qatar’s economic growth has normalized in 2023 following the World Cup-driven boom. Medium-term growth is set to increase to around 5 percent per annum supported by LNG production expansion,” said IMF in the report. 

The report added that the country’s reform to achieve its National Vision 2030, which aims to ensure sustainable development by the end of this decade and is guided by the Third National Development Strategy, will also start to bear fruit. 

The IMF added that inflation in Qatar will likely moderate to 2 percent this year, while fiscal and current accounts are projected to remain in surpluses over the medium term. 

Qatar’s Planning and Statistics Authority also revealed on Nov. 15 that higher expenses toward communication, recreation and food led the country’s inflation to rise 2.52 percent in October on an annual basis. 

Additionally, the IMF report said that inflation has moderated following monetary policy tightening in tandem with the US Federal Reserve, consistent with the currency peg to the US dollar. 

“Broad fiscal discipline amid sizeable hydrocarbon windfalls in 2022–23 has strengthened fiscal position significantly and is commendable. Continued fiscal prudence is expected under the upcoming 2024 budget,” added the IMF. 

According to the IMF, the Qatar Central Bank has successfully maintained price and financial stability. 

Moreover, the banks in Qatar remain healthy, although the non-performing loan ratio has increased as pandemic-related restructured loans turned non-performing. 

“The QCB has refined macroprudential measures to reduce further risks associated with banks’ external asset-liability mismatches, especially those of short maturities, which is welcome,” noted the IMF.   

The agency also pointed out that continued diligence is critical to strengthening the banking sector in a “higher-for-longer” interest rate environment. 


Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum

Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum
Updated 17 min 28 sec ago
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Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum

Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum
  • The aim of the gathering is to find solutions to global challenges relating to humanitarian issues, the climate and the economy

RIYADH: Final preparations are taking place this week in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in the city on April 28 and 29.

Heads of state and senior executives from the public and private sectors are expected to be among the participants, who will discuss a range of global economic issues and developments under the theme “Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development.”

The aim of the meeting is to find solutions to a host of global challenges relating to humanitarian issues, the climate and the economy. On the sidelines of the main event, the Kingdom will host exhibitions and other events to highlight the latest developments and trends in areas such as sustainability, innovation and culture.

The selection of Riyadh as host of the special meeting reflects the extensive partnership between Saudi Arabia and the WEF, officials said.

It builds upon the Kingdom’s active participation and contributions to the WEF’s Annual Meetings in Davos.

The agenda is designed to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and collaboration with various panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities. It represents a significant gathering of global leaders and experts dedicated to forging a path toward a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable world.


ACWA Power inks deal to drive renewable energy development in Azerbaijan 

ACWA Power inks deal to drive renewable energy development in Azerbaijan 
Updated 22 April 2024
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ACWA Power inks deal to drive renewable energy development in Azerbaijan 

ACWA Power inks deal to drive renewable energy development in Azerbaijan 

RIYADH: Saudi energy giant ACWA Power is signing a new agreement to accelerate the development of renewable projects in Azerbaijan. 

The private water desalination company, known for its extensive green hydrogen storage capacity, announced it has now finalized an agreement with SOCAR, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic.

This development follows an initial cooperation understanding signed in February 2023.

This deal focuses on the joint evaluation of the “Low-Carbon/Green Fertilizer” project, in which the two bodies will collaborate on assessing the production of green hydrogen to support the decarbonization of SOCAR downstream assets.

Marco Arcelli, CEO of ACWA Power, said in a statement, “I am proud to announce our collaboration with SOCAR to ignite a new era of renewable energy development in Azerbaijan. With our shared vision and commitment to sustainability, this partnership will not only drive innovation but also pave the way for a cleaner and brighter future for this country.”

The primary directive of the agreement will be to enhance SOCAR’s carbamide fertilizer facility, striving toward more value-added low-carbon products.

As part of the project, SOCAR and ACWA Power will conduct feasibility studies to assess the potential production and sale of green fertilizers, aligning with Azerbaijan’s vision of achieving a clean environment.

ACWA Power will take a role in driving the project’s renewable energy and green hydrogen production aspects, bringing their expertise to bear on this initiative.

For his part, Anar Mammadov, vice president of SOCAR, said, “Azerbaijan is committed to building a sustainable future, and our partnership with ACWA Power underscores our shared dedication to driving renewable energy development in the region. Together, we will work towards realizing our vision of a cleaner, greener Azerbaijan.”

He added: “The cooperation with ACWA Power represents a significant step forward in Azerbaijan’s transition towards a low-carbon economy and underscores the commitment of both organizations to sustainable development practices.” 

Preceding this announcement, the two nations posed their intent to collaborate on renewables as Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman met with Azerbaijan’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Mukhtar Babayev in March.

During the meeting, the counterparts discussed opportunities for work and cooperation between their two countries in the field of climate change. 

They also talked about joint efforts to achieve the goals of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, the Kingdom’s ministry said in a statement at the time.


Closing Bell: TASI edges down to close at 12,509 points 

Closing Bell: TASI edges down to close at 12,509 points 
Updated 22 April 2024
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Closing Bell: TASI edges down to close at 12,509 points 

Closing Bell: TASI edges down to close at 12,509 points 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index closed at 12,508.93 points on Monday, losing 9.29 points or 0.07 percent. 

The parallel market, Nomu, also shed 343.96 points or 1.28 percent to end the day’s trading at 26,596.22. 

Concurrently, the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index fell 3.95 points or 0.25 percent to finish at 1,567.16. 

The main index posted a trading value of SR8.8 billion ($2.3 billion), with 74 stocks advancing and 148 declining. On the other hand, Nomu reported a trade volume of SR37.7 million. 

Al-Rajhi Company for Cooperative Insurance was the top performer on TASI as its share price surged 9.93 percent to SR126.20. LIVA Insurance Co. followed next with its share price jumping 9.92 percent to close at SR21.50. 

Gulf General Cooperative Insurance Co.  also performed well, climbing 9.16 percent to SR16.44. Raydan Food Co. and Fitaihi Holding Group increased 8.14 and 8.11 percent to SR28.55 and SR4.40, respectively. 

Conversely, Saudi Cable Co. recorded the most significant dip, declining 4.94 percent to SR75. 

Alkhaleej Training and Education Co. and Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co. also experienced setbacks, with their shares dropping to SR31.50 and SR23.40, reflecting declines of 4.83 and 4.10 percent, respectively.

Nomu’s top performer was Dar Almarkabah for Renting Cars Co., which saw a 9.73 percent jump to SR44. Mayar Holding Co. and Alqemam for Computer Systems Co. also recorded notable gains, with their shares closing at SR4.27 and SR89.80, marking an increase of 7.02 and 5.03 percent, respectively. Arabian International Healthcare Holding Co. and Foods Gate Trading Co. also fared well. 

On Nomu, Raoom Trading Co. was the worst performer, declining by 7.28 percent to SR135. Other underperformers included Natural Gas Distribution Co. and National Environmental Recycling Co., whose share prices dropped 5.58 percent and 5.23 percent to SR42.30 and SR12.32, respectively. 

Watani Iron Steel Co. and Future Care Trading Co. declined during the day to settle at SR2.81 and SR8.70, respectively. 


Saudi Aramco in talks to acquire 10% stake in China’s Hengli Petrochemical

Saudi Aramco in talks to acquire 10% stake in China’s Hengli Petrochemical
Updated 22 April 2024
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Saudi Aramco in talks to acquire 10% stake in China’s Hengli Petrochemical

Saudi Aramco in talks to acquire 10% stake in China’s Hengli Petrochemical

RIYADH: Energy giant Saudi Aramco held talks with Chinese Hengli Group Co. to acquire a 10 percent stake in its subsidiary, subject to due diligence and required regulatory clearances.

Aramco and Hengli Petrochemical Co. signed a memorandum of understanding for the proposed deal. The agreement supports the former’s strategy to increase its presence in key downstream markets, enhance its liquids-to-chemicals initiative, and ensure long-term crude oil supply agreements.

Last year, Aramco signed two multibillion-dollar agreements for liquids to chemicals investments in China.

In March 2023, a deal was signed between China’s Norinco Group and Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group to establish a joint venture to build a refinery and petrochemical complex in China’s Liaoning province. The initiative cost stands at approximately $12 billion.

The second agreement, signed in July, is an acquisition of a 10 percent stake in China-based firm Rongsheng Petrochemical Co. for $3.4 billion.

“This MoU supports our efforts to grow our global downstream footprint. We continue to explore new opportunities in important markets as we seek to progress in our liquids-to-chemicals strategy,” Mohammed Al-Qahtani, Aramco’s downstream president, said in a press release.

He continued: “We look forward to forging new partnerships and are excited by the prospect of expanding our presence in the important Chinese market.”

Hengli Petrochemical, a controlled subsidiary of Hengli Group, owns and operates a 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery and integrated chemicals complex in Liaoning province, and several plants and production facilities in Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces.

Speaking at a development forum held in March 2023 in Beijing, Amin Nasser, president and CEO of Aramco, highlighted substantial opportunities for cooperation between Saudi Aramco and Chinese partners in sectors aimed at reducing emissions.

“China has distinct strengths in renewables and critical materials, while Aramco and Saudi Arabia have a clear interest in solar, wind, hydrogen, and electrofuels. These areas have great long-term potential, and combining our strengths could match our ambitions,” he noted.

Saudi Arabia and China are working together to strengthen their already well-established strategic ties.

In September, the Kingdom’s minister of industry and mineral resources held meetings with key Chinese officials in Beijing. Bandar Alkhorayef also toured various companies and factories in different Chinese cities as part of his trip.

He held talks with China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen, during which they discussed ways to boost economic collaboration and trade ties, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The top officials also discussed investment opportunities in several economic sectors, including mining. At the time, the Saudi minister highlighted the Kingdom’s progress in the field of industries and mining.


IsDB leads multilateral development banks group in $300-$400bn lending boost target

IsDB leads multilateral development banks group in $300-$400bn lending boost target
Updated 22 April 2024
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IsDB leads multilateral development banks group in $300-$400bn lending boost target

IsDB leads multilateral development banks group in $300-$400bn lending boost target

RIYADH: A group of elite financial institutions, led by the Islamic Development Bank, is aiming to increase its lending margin by $300-$400 billion over the next decade to reduce global inequalities.

The announcement came after presidents of ten multilateral development banks met in Washington, D.C., to discuss new strategies to strengthen their impact on tackling development issues and improve coordinated efforts in 2024 and beyond.

The MDB Heads Group, of which IsDB currently holds the presidency, is seeking to expand its financing capacity by implementing the G20 Capital Adequacy Frameworks Review report recommendations as well as other initiatives.

A joint statement issued by the group, which includes African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, and World Bank Group, at the conclusion of the meeting read: “Collectively, these efforts on balance sheet optimization and financial innovation are expected to generate additional lending headroom in the order of $300 billion to $400 billion over the next decade, with strong contributions from shareholders and development partners. Related actions … have already created additional lending capacity.”

Among the actions set out to help increase funding include introducing diverse, innovative financial instruments, such as hybrid capital tools and risk transfer methods, to shareholders, development partners, and capital markets.

There will also be efforts to encourage the direction of International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights through the MDBs and to provide greater clarity on callable capital, helping rating agencies better assess its value.

Another area of focus seeks to boost action on climate change by presenting the first common approach for measuring environmental outcomes in terms of adaptation and mitigation, aligning operations with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and providing joint reporting on climate-related finance.

Additionally, the MDBs will engage in the UN-led process toward a new collective climate finance goal.

A third area is strengthening country-level collaboration and co-financing. The MDB heads emphasized enhancing partnership and co-financing and assessing proposals for nation-led and owned platforms to reach a common understanding.

Some MDBs will establish platforms and use one another’s procurement policies to cut transaction costs, boost efficiency, and promote sustainability.

They will also accelerate co-financing for public sector projects through the newly launched co-financing collaboration gateway.

A fourth area focuses on mobilizing the private sector, with MDBs committing to increase the division’s financing for development goals, expand local currency lending, and offer foreign exchange hedging solutions to boost private investment.

The heads agreed to develop the type and classification of statistics issued by MDBs and development finance through the Global Emerging Markets Risk Database Consortium.

Moreover, in a fifth area, MDBs agreed to emphasize impact more through enhanced collaboration in joint impact assessments.

This includes sharing approaches for measuring and monitoring outcomes, maintaining ongoing coordination efforts, and assessing key performance indicators tied to nature and biodiversity.

The statement added that the MDB group “recognize our collective duty to accelerate international efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, reduce inequalities, tackle regional and global challenges including on climate and health, as well as boost inclusive socioeconomic development.”

It continued. “As a group, we reaffirm our determination to deliver on our commitments and continue strengthening our collaboration for the benefit of poor and vulnerable countries, communities, and people.”