PIF spearheads energy transition with $8.5bn green bond proceeds in 12 months: Moody’s

PIF spearheads energy transition with $8.5bn green bond proceeds in 12 months: Moody’s
Moody’s added that the funds raised by the PIF will be allocated to initiatives in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean transportation. Shutterstock.
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Updated 05 December 2023
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PIF spearheads energy transition with $8.5bn green bond proceeds in 12 months: Moody’s

PIF spearheads energy transition with $8.5bn green bond proceeds in 12 months: Moody’s

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is spearheading sustainable efforts in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, as it raised a total of $8.5 billion in green bond proceeds in the last 12 months, according to Moody’s Investors Service.  

In its latest report, the credit rating agency noted that the green bond issuance from the Public Investment Fund in the last 12 months is more than half the $16.2 billion of green issuance proceeds raised by rated Gulf Cooperation Council companies since 2020.  

Moody’s added that the funds raised by the PIF will be allocated to initiatives in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean transportation.  

GCC-based companies improve reporting on environmental issues 

According to the report, GCC-based companies have improved their reporting on environment-related issues, primarily driven by increased requests from stakeholders for such disclosures, evolving climate-related reporting standards and the implementation of sustainability strategies by governments.  

“Since 2019, the number of companies publishing sustainability-minded reports has almost doubled. However, the level of disclosure varies significantly from one company to another, illustrating a lack of uniformity in reporting practices in the region, which is also the case in many other parts of the world,’’ said Julien Haddad, vice president and senior analyst at Moody’s.  

The report noted that around 50 percent of GCC-based rated issuers disclose scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions. Out of these, almost half have established scope 1 emission targets, and nearly 40 percent have set scope 2 targets.  

Scope 1 emissions are “direct emissions” from sources that are owned or controlled by the company, while scope 2 denotes emissions released into the atmosphere from the use of purchased energy.  

Scope 2 emissions are also known as indirect emissions as the actual emissions are generated at another facility such as a power station. 

Moody’s further noted that around 40 percent of issuers disclose their carbon emission intensities, which allows comparability of carbon footprints among peers, and more than half of these have set carbon intensity targets.  

The report, however, added that only 35 percent of issuers have established net zero targets, and in the vast majority of cases, these targets do not include scope 3, which forms the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions.  

Scope 3 emissions include all indirect emissions that occur across the value chain and are outside of the organization’s direct control, which includes transportation of purchased fuel, commutation of employees working in the company, etc.  

Similarly, several utility and oil and gas firms in the GCC have set long-term scope 1 and 2 targets, but they have not set scope 3 emission goals.  

“Utilities and integrated oil and gas companies are high contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the GCC, reflecting the scale of their activities,” said Moody’s in the report.  

It added: “National oil companies are also likely to increase production to meet rising demand while investing in renewables to reduce carbon transition risk and support government emission reduction goals.” 

On a positive note, Moody’s said that oil and gas companies in the region are looking at a wide range of options to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which includes carbon capture storage and the production of hydrogen.  

“However, the economic feasibility of these initiatives is unclear given the early-stage nature of these technologies and hurdles in large-scale deployment,” Moody’s added.  

Moody’s also lauded Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, for its sustainability efforts.  

Aramco has set an ambitious target to reach net zero emissions, both scope 1 and 2, across their wholly owned operated assets by 2050, 10 years ahead of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to net zero. The company has also set an interim target to reduce its upstream carbon intensity by 15 percent by 2035.  

Similarly, QatarEnergy is also aiming to reduce the carbon intensity of its operations which includes scope 1 and 2 emissions by 35 percent across its liquefied natural gas facilities and by 25 percent across its upstream facilities by 2035.  

Saudi Arabia leading sustainable journey in the region 

In its report, Moody’s said that Saudi Arabia has established one of the most accelerated timelines in the region to ensure sustainability, as it plans to generate 50 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2030.  

Saudi Arabia’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office has outlined plans to build around 59 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030. Repdo will spearhead the development of 30 percent of the total capacity through competitive bidding, while PIF will oversee the development of the remaining 70 percent.  

Talking about the role of Saudi Electricity Co., Moody’s said: “SEC is focused on transitioning toward a clean energy mix including the full displacement of liquid fuel by 2030. As the sole transmitter and distributor of electricity in Saudi Arabia, it has allocated substantial capital investment to upgrade the grid’s infrastructure.”  

The report added that SEC has started the rollout of 25 new renewable interconnection projects and is targeting to reach a 100 percent completion rate by 2030.  


NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies

NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies
Updated 04 March 2024
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NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies

NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Housing Co. signed two agreements at LEAP 2024, aiming to support real estate activities in the Kingdom by crafting unique business intelligence solutions.

The deal were signed with data science company Quant and Paseetah Tech Solutions to empower technologies in the real estate market to enhance services provided to customers interested in making investments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The chief of solutions sector, Rayan Al-Aql, represented the National Housing Co. in signing the agreement, while Quant CEO Ahmed Bukhamseen and Omar Al-Omar, CEO of Paseetah Tech Solutions, represented their respective companies.

The agreements aim to enable modern technologies in the real estate sector by leveraging information owned by the NHC to contribute to creating unique solutions serving the market.

This includes generating more accurate real estate analytics, supporting innovation in data analysis, and creating real estate indicators that enhance the market’s reliance on data in property decisions. This facilitates informed decision-making for investors and buyers, the SPA reported.

NHC is showcasing its services and technological achievements at the LEAP conference currently underway in Riyadh. 

These achievements have benefited over 10 million people across eight government digital platforms. 

The company has also documented more than 9 million residential and commercial lease contracts, achieved over 6.5 million downloads for the “Sakani” application, operated and developed the “Balady” platform under the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, among other technological accomplishments associated with the digital platforms operated and developed by the NHC.

Earlier in February, the National Housing Co. announced that it would build a total of 3,800 homes after forging six partnership agreements worth SR2 billion ($533 million). 

These deals, which were signed with several real estate developers, aim to build residential units in the Riyadh southwestern community of Al-Asalah, with prices starting from SR475,000, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

SPA added that this initiative is part of a comprehensive program of urban development spearheaded by the NHC aiming to revolutionize the housing landscape by introducing innovative concepts and integrated services, ultimately enhancing the quality of life across all sectors of society.


Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index

Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index

Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has received recognition as “the most improved country overall” in the 12th edition of the US Chamber of Commerce International Intellectual Property Index. 

Released on March 2, the report emphasizes the several achievements of the Kingdom, with Vice President of Middle East Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce Steve Lutes telling Arab News that Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in the technology sector over the past year.

“Specifically, I think this year the Kingdom did sign on to some important international treaties and they’ve made some other progress on both the enforcement side and some other of the indicators,” Lutes said on the sidelines of the LEAP 2024 conference.

“The Kingdom moving up in ranking gives more confidence to investors,” he added. 

Lutes went on to say that the body aims to encourage partnerships with the business community, government, and academia in Saudi Arabia to drive the establishment of a diversified, knowledge-based economy aligned with Vision 2030.

The US Chamber of Commerce considers over 50 indices when ranking countries, Lutes added. 

“Some of this looks very marginal. But really, when you think about it from an economic perspective, these are very important drivers because these are the sorts of things that companies look at. Is my IP going to be safe? Is it going to be protected? Are rules going to be enforced? And that’s where you get the investment in value and innovation,” said the vice-president.

The Kingdom allocates a total of $2 million across all funding rounds dedicated to artificial intelligence companies and over $3 billion proportional to gross domestic product with a ranking position of 31 in the Global AI index.

“We’ve been looking at this as governments around the globe start to grapple with the regulatory frameworks for artificial intelligence. The Chamber commissioned a report that was largely targeted toward a domestic audience and had some policy recommendations in that,” said Lutes.

A report by the European Centre for International Political Economy and the US Chamber of Commerce, titled “The Opportunity of Artificial Intelligence: Boosting Productivity and Growth in Saudi Arabia,” will be released in March.

The study will include a breakdown covering the benefits of AI for the Kingdom, endowments and digital industry structures, and AI policies going forward. 

“It has some sector-by-sector analysis where we think it can be the most impactful. In my mind, though, the biggest message is for policymakers,” Lutes said, adding: “One of those is investing, for example, in human capital. You have to have the workforce that’s ready to take on these technologies and bring it to government processes, to business processes and see it diffuse. So, when it comes to the sectors, I think, you know, healthcare and education are two that are highlighted in particular as having the most upside.”

Lutes added this is his first time attending LEAP, which is now in its third edition, and the Chamber has been collaborating with the Ministry of Communications and the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence. 

“We are at the LEAP Conference and IP is so fundamental to that. So, kudos to the Kingdom this year. And I guess our message is let’s not rest on our laurels. Let’s continue to work together to see if we can continue to see the Kingdom climb in that index as well,” he concluded. 

LEAP, held in Riyadh from March 4-7, is an annual premier tech event founded in 2022 by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. It convenes leading professionals from the sector to deliberate on the industry’s future and the innovative opportunities ahead.


Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties

Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties
Updated 04 March 2024
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Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties

Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties
  • South American country ‘an important trading partner’ for the Kingdom, says envoy
  • Joint council launched after Brazilian president’s visit late last year

LONDON: The Saudi-Brazilian Business Forum in Riyadh was attended by more than 150 investors from both countries on Monday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The event, hosted by the Federation of Saudi Chambers and Brazil’s Lide Group, aimed to improve business and trade ties.

Dr. Faisal Ghulam, Saudi ambassador to Brazil, delivered a speech at the forum in which he praised the strong economic relations between the two countries built over 55 years.

He described Brazil as “an important trading partner” for the Kingdom. Annual trade between the two countries stands at $8 billion.

Ghulam lauded the establishment of a Saudi-Brazilian coordination council following President Lula da Silva’s visit to the Kingdom late last year.

Saudi Vision 2030 is providing Brazilian investors with significant opportunities, paving the way for improved trade ties, said Luiz Fernando Furlan, chairman of Lide’s board.

The newly established council will “work to advance the partnership, overcome challenges, and facilitate visas for the business communities from the two countries,” said its Chairman Mishal bin Hithlain.

Lide chief Joao Doria called on the Brazilian business community to explore the “great investment opportunities” available in the Kingdom through Vision 2030.

The forum covered key sectors at the heart of trade between the two countries, including aviation, energy, logistics, mining, agriculture, real estate and healthcare. It was the first event hosted by Lide after the firm opened offices in Riyadh.

The company’s Saudi representative, Malik Al-Qahtani, pledged to serve the business sectors of both countries and improve the ease of operations for Saudi and Brazilian investors.


Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase

Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase

Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase

RIYADH: The number of Saudi flight attendants and fixed-wing pilots is set to increase as the localization plan for the Kingdom’s aviation sector enters its second phase.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services, has announced the implementation of the second phase of localizing licensed aviation professions in private sector establishments employing five or more individuals in targeted aviation professions.

In the second phase, the HRSD has specified the professions targeted, setting a 60 percent target for flight attendants and a 70 percent ratio for fixed-wing pilots, contingent on employees in the aviation professions obtaining the professional accreditation certificate from the General Authority of Civil Aviation.

The Ministry of Transport has reiterated its commitment to overseeing the implementation of the program’s second phase. It aims to enable private sector establishments to leverage all support and employment programs offered by the Human Resources and Social Development System to aid in the recruitment and retention of national talent.

The HRSD has issued procedural guidelines explaining the details of the decision, its implementation, and the support and employment programs provided to private sector establishments.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Saudi Airport Exhibition, held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center in December 2023, Mervat Sultan, president of the Women in Aviation Middle East Chapter, noted a significant boom, with an increase in airports, establishment of new airlines, and a rising number of tourists. 

She added that the aviation industry in Saudi Arabia is “becoming bigger and bigger and would be leading the industry in the next 20 years.”

In 2022, Ahmed Al-Rajhi, minister of HRSD, issued a notification nationalizing a number of professions and economic activities — including licensed aviation professions, opticians, and periodic inspection activity, as well as postal service outlets and more. 

The decision to localize licensed aviation professions was announced to be implemented in two phases. The first one became effective on March 15, 2023.

In line with its Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is undertaking an ambitious initiative to empower its citizens and boost their global competitiveness. 


Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,434 

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,434 
Updated 04 March 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,434 

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,434 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Monday, losing 120.61 points, or 0.96 percent, to close at 12,434.59. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR10.50 billion ($2.80 billion) as 43 of the listed stocks advanced, while 180 retreated.  

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index decreased by 17.59 points, or 1.09 percent, to close at 1,592.03. 

Also, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu slipped, losing 515.71 points, or 1.91 percent, to close at 26,446.68. This comes as 16 of the listed stocks advanced, while 47 retreated. 

The best-performing stock of the day was Al-Baha Investment and Development Co., with an increase of 7.14 percent in its share price, reaching SR0.15. 

Other top performers include Saudi Steel Pipe Co. and ACWA Power, whose share prices soared by 5.74 percent and 5.41 percent, to stand at SR57.10 and SR276.80, respectively. 

In addition to this, other notable performers included Saudi Ceramic Co. and SAL Saudi Logistics Services Co. 

On the contrary, the day’s least favorable performer was Seera Group Holding, witnessing a 9.91 percent decline in its share price to SR29.55. 

Furthermore, Alkhaleej Training and Education Co. and AYYAN Investment Co. were among the weakest performers, experiencing drops of 9.88 percent and 7.56 percent, settling at SR33.75 and SR26.90, respectively. 

Moreover, other weak performers also included Mobile Telecommunication Co. Saudi Arabia and Maharah Human Resources Co. 

On the announcements front, Al Rajhi Bank disclosed its plan to issue sustainable sukuk in US dollars, as per its statement on Tadawul. The issuance, under the revised international sukuk program, will be facilitated through a special purpose company and extended to qualified investors globally. 

According to the statement, the value and terms of the sustainable sukuk offering will be determined based on market conditions, to meet the bank’s financial and strategic objectives within the framework of its sustainability financing.