Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget set to aid the Kingdom’s successful trajectory, says finance minister

Mohammed Al-Jadaan highlighted the success of the ongoing economic transformation spearheaded by the government of the Kingdom.
Mohammed Al-Jadaan highlighted the success of the ongoing economic transformation spearheaded by the government of the Kingdom.
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Updated 06 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget set to aid the Kingdom’s successful trajectory, says finance minister

Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget set to aid the Kingdom’s successful trajectory, says finance minister

 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget is set to sustain the Kingdom’s positive economic momentum, with an emphasis on strategic  capital expenditure aligned with approved national strategies, according to the Minister of Finance.

In a statement following the 2024 budget approval, Mohammed Al-Jadaan highlighted the success of the ongoing economic transformation spearheaded by the government of the Kingdom.

The 2024 budget, according to the minister, is poised to continue the trajectory of success, aligning with the national strategies closely linked to the goals outlined in Saudi Vision 2030 and national priorities, reinforcing the commitment to long-term sustainable development.

Responding to a question by Arab News on Expo 2030, the minister said: “The country that is capable of receiving and building the infrastructure to accommodate 150 million individuals, can host our guests at Expo 2030 without increasing costs.”

Al-Jadaan emphasized Saudi Vision 2030 and the set of projects, initiatives, and measures included in the vision. He also highlighted the Kingdom’s initial plan to welcome 100 million visitors and revealed that the number will increase to 150 million by 2030.

In his response to Arab News, the minister revealed that: “The infrastructure and projects planned for construction in the Kingdom, particularly in Riyadh, from now until 2030 as outlined in the early stages of the vision, including the transportation and logistical services strategy, tourism strategy, expansion in hotel construction, and also the expansion of water projects, will be sufficient to provide the necessary infrastructure for hosting the expo and potentially three other expos.”

He added: “Expo village is going to be a commercial property, built by commercial companies and will be invested in beyond the six months,” adding: “That site will be a commercial site, it will not be wasted. And it will be obviously built sustainably.”

The minister said in a statement that the government is working on continuing borrowing according to the approved annual borrowing plan to finance the expected budget deficit and repay the outstanding debt by 2024.

The minister also revealed that since the inception of Saudi Vision 2030, the country has undergone considerable economic and structural reforms, resulting in the gross domestic product an increase, reaching more than SR4.1 trillion today, with an expected growth average at a rate of 6 percent from now until 2030.

Following the budget approval, he also stated in a press conference that the Kingdom’s economy created more than 1 million jobs during 2023, adding that oil price fluctuations that previously affected the budget have become much less affected thanks to non-oil revenues.

Highlighting the pivotal role of the Saudi citizens in the nation’s development, Al-Jadaan emphasized their contribution, saying: “The Saudi citizen plays a vital role in achieving comprehensive and sustainable economic development, as well as in accomplishing progress in various promising fields and sectors.”

The minister underscored the government’s commitment to social welfare through its ongoing efforts to conduct regular reviews of social support and benefit system initiatives to enhance these programs continually, ensuring access for the intended target groups and fostering an environment of inclusivity.

As Saudi Arabia charts its course into 2024, the government remains steadfast in its commitment to building a robust and diversified economy that not only meets the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 but also ensures a sustainable and prosperous future for its citizens.


Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605
Updated 25 February 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Sunday, shedding 29.74 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 12,604.59.

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR6.63 billion ($1.77 billion) as 148 of the stocks advanced while 74 retreated.  

On the other hand, the Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, rose 194.49 points, or 0.76 percent, to close at 25,702.15. This comes as 44 of the stocks advanced while as many as 22 retreated.

Meanwhile, the MSCI Tadawul Index slipped 7.60 points, or 0.47 percent, to close at 1,620.57.

The best-performing stock of the day was Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. The company’s share price surged 9.96 percent to SR29.25. 

Other top performers include Arabian Pipes Co. as well as Saudi Steel Pipe Co.

The worst performer was Al-Baha Investment and Development Co., whose share price dropped by 6.67 percent to SR0.14.

On the announcements front, Hail Cement Co. announced its annual financial results for the period ending Dec. 31. 

According to a Tadawul statement, the firm’s net profit reached SR24.61 million in 2023, reflecting a 49.95 percent rise compared to 2022.  

The increase in net profit was mainly attributed to a decrease in general and administrative costs as well as a drop in zakat expenses. 

It was also primarily linked to achieving profits from financial investments at fair value as well as high returns on Murabaha deposits during the aforementioned period.

Additionally, Saudi Steel Pipe Co. has also revealed its annual consolidated financial results for 2023. 

A bourse filing disclosed that the company’s net profit hit SR217 million in the year ending on Dec. 31, up 301.85 percent in comparison to the corresponding period a year earlier. 

The rise in net profit is mainly driven by a surge in gross profit, recognition of a bargain purchase gain, a rise in other income, and a drop in Zakat and tax expense.

Saudi Lime Industries Co. announced the signing of a conditional binding agreement with Astra Industrial Group and Tharawat Mining Co. to acquire a 100 percent stake in the share capital of Astra Mining Ltd. Co.

According to a Tadawul statement, the transaction value is up to a maximum of SR35 million for acquiring the company shares and settlement of company debt to local banks amounting to SR129.6 million. Accordingly, the maximum amount is SR164.6 million.

Moreover, the Capital Market Authority approved the public offering of King Khalid University Endowment Fund units.

Meanwhile, Al-Modawat Specialized Medical Co. will list on Nomu today.


Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded
Updated 25 February 2024
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Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s general disposition around capital allocation is diversified, as financial institutions in the Kingdom are “savvy and strong” with long-term strategies, according to a senior executive.

In an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Middle East Investment Conference held in Riyadh, President and CEO of CFA Institute Marg Franklin noted that Saudi Arabia aims to move away from its heavy reliance on oil by diversifying its investment portfolio.

This diversification plan involves investing in small and medium-sized enterprises within the Kingdom to broaden the economy’s scope.

She said: “If you look at Saudi Arabia’s general disposition around capital allocation, it really centers on diversification, and that is really where we’ve seen the savviest and strongest financial institutions who have a very long-term view and very long-term objectives really achieve those ambitions for the capital.”

Franklin highlighted the importance of asset owners in the Middle East, who prioritize serving their citizens over short-term gains, emphasizing long-term objectives and sustainability in capital allocation.

Additionally, amid Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 program, Franklin noted that the CFA Institute emerges as a key player in shaping the nation’s economic landscape.

With a three-pronged approach focused on education, advocacy, and policy, the institute is instrumental in fostering a robust and well-functioning capital market.

“When we look here in Saudi Arabia, it’s an ambitious program for 2030 and what’s exciting about it is how much it’s related to the population of Saudi, so it really lines up with those last six words of our mission for the ultimate benefit of society,” Franklin said.

She added: “The key things where CFA Institute, I think has a distinct role to play is first of all in developing and enhancing the capital markets, making sure they’re efficient and fair.”

Franklin continued: “Because at the end of the day, when you’re bringing in global capital or exporting global capital, there is a common language that goes with it. But there will be unique features here in the region, specifically Islamic finance.”

The second aspect Franklin highlighted is capacity building and talent development. This includes the renowned CFA program, known for its comprehensive curriculum and ethical foundation, providing a common platform for investment professionals globally.

“Then finally, just building those baseline skills, because we know one of Saudi Arabia’s key objectives is to build financial literacy, and that’s crucial if you’re going to increase the savings of citizens,” Franklin said.


Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   

Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   
Updated 25 February 2024
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Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   

Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   

RIYADH: Oman’s insurance sector is expected to have achieved a 10 percent growth in 2023, paving the way for attracting additional regional investors, according to a top official. 

This comes as Oman recorded a growth rate of about 13 percent in insurance premiums in 2022, according to Mustafa Ahmed Salman, member of the board of directors of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  

Salman, also serving as the chairman of the chamber’s Finance and Insurance Committee, emphasized that raising the capital of insurance companies will greatly enhance their ability to attract investors and facilitate business growth, as reported by the Oman News Agency. 

“The contribution of the insurance sector to the gross domestic product of the Sultanate of Oman currently amounts to 1.3 percent, which is a good percentage compared to Arab countries,” he said.  

This positive trend follows the insurance division emerging as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Middle Eastern country. 

The chairman went on to explain that the volume of Arab insurance reached about $45 billion, constituting 1 percent of the volume of global insurance. 

Furthermore, Salman highlighted that the Finance and Insurance Committee of the chamber is actively engaged in studying and developing laws, decisions, and regulations related to the sector.  

He also emphasized that the board is actively addressing challenges, presenting proposals, and offering visions to overcome obstacles. 

All these endeavors demonstrate that increasing the contribution of insurance to the GDP is achieved by establishing large projects and capital for insurance companies, as well as strengthening their reserves, highlighted the chairman. 

Regarding the performance of insurance firms on the Muscat Securities Market, he emphasized that their prices have been traded at appropriate costs and delivered good dividends over the past years. 

Salman further disclosed that efforts are underway to enhance trading in the shares of these companies, aiming to attract more investors for buying and exchanging their assets.  

Oman’s insurance industry is projected to grow at an annualized rate of 4.5 percent, reaching $1.8 billion in 2028, up from around $1.4 billion in 2022, according to the UAE-based investment banking advisory firm Alpen Capital. 

In a recently released study titled “GCC Insurance Industry Report,” the advisory firm stated that several macroeconomic trends, particularly GDP and population growth between 2023 and 2028, are expected to drive this transition. 


Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow

Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow
Updated 26 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow

Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow
  • New regulations approved for establishment of marketing offices to promote KSA globally

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet recently approved regulations for the country’s tourism authority that will give a fresh impetus to the sector and contribute to its overall growth.

The Cabinet, chaired by King Salman, approved 24 regulations concerning the Saudi Tourism Authority with a focus on global promotion, international and regional collaboration and tourists targets.

The regulations will help the authority achieve tourism targets in line with Vision 2030 and empower the body to play a pivotal role in promoting the Kingdom as a tourist destination locally, regionally, and globally.

One of the approved regulations enables the tourism authority to establish marketing offices both domestically and internationally. The objective is to boost visitor arrivals and realize the vision of positioning the Kingdom as a top-tier tourist destination, according to Umm Al-Qura, the country’s official gazette.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, who is also chairman of the STA, highlighted that the Cabinet’s approval of the authority’s regulations underscores the government’s commitment to supporting the tourism sector in achieving its objectives aligned with Vision 2030.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The regulations will help the authority achieve tourism target in line with Vision 2030 and empower the body to play a pivotal role in promoting the Kingdom as a tourist destination locally, regionally, and globally.

• One of the approved regulations enables the tourism authority to establish marketing offices both domestically and internationally.

• The objective is to boost visitor arrivals and realize the vision of positioning the Kingdom as a top-tier tourist destination.

Among the key objectives is the collaboration with government bodies in the tourism sector to establish marketing offices for traveler destinations and oversee the strategies of these offices. Additionally, the regulations include setting visitation targets and allocating funds in a manner that enhances the involvement of the private sector in this endeavor.

As per the new regulation, the tourism authority is now mandated to undertake all measures essential for realizing its objectives, including formulating comprehensive plans and policies for tourism marketing within the Kingdom, domestically and internationally. 

Additionally, the regulation emphasizes the promotion and enhancement of destinations in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, as well as the support and marketing of activities and events organized by governmental bodies and the private sector.

Moreover, the authority is required to establish and maintain an up-to-date database encompassing all sites, tourist destinations, resorts, and services in collaboration with pertinent authorities. 

Moreover, it is tasked with conducting activities associated with promoting Umrah packages, which includes overseeing the development and management of any designated platform in coordination with relevant agencies. 

Additionally, the authority is mandated to assess visitor experiences, devise essential standards, tools, and mechanisms, identify tourist priorities and challenges, and subsequently share the findings and performance reports with the ministry.

The Umm Al-Qura statement added that the body should propose the necessary designs, policies, and procedures to prepare the development of tourist sites and destinations that need rehabilitation or modernization and submit them to the Ministry of Tourism, in addition to working with distinguished local and international companies and institutions, to provide products and tools with professional content, and to benefit from its expertise in tourism marketing in the Kingdom.

The source further stated that the STA is required to conduct marketing campaigns domestically and internationally to promote travel sites and products. This includes developing trademarks, registering them, and securing any intellectual property rights associated with tourism marketing under the authority’s name. The source emphasized that the body should also undertake any necessary actions related to these tasks and leverage them in accordance with pertinent rules.

The new regulation assigns the authority to develop and execute media plans to promote tourism domestically and globally. This includes organizing forums, conferences, and local and global exhibitions. 

Additionally, the body will offer administrative and technical support to tourism product owners, facilitate small and medium enterprises, and implement training programs to enhance marketing efficiency.

Furthermore, with an independent annual budget, the STA is responsible for overseeing promotional campaigns, proposing investment opportunities, and coordinating with relevant entities to enhance the travel experience. It will also collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism, government bodies, and the private sector to formulate marketing policies and ensure alignment with the national tourism strategy.


Arab-Turkish economic ties flourish with $55bn intra-trade 

Arab-Turkish economic ties flourish with $55bn intra-trade 
Updated 25 February 2024
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Arab-Turkish economic ties flourish with $55bn intra-trade 

Arab-Turkish economic ties flourish with $55bn intra-trade 

RIYADH: Arab-Turkish economic relations are continuing to progress at all levels, with the volume of intra-trade standing at $55 billion, as stated by the secretary-general of the Union of Arab Chambers.  

Khaled Hanafi added that exports from the Turkish nation are increasing annually by about 10 percent, and the presence of direct and indirect Arab investments in Turkiye has grown significantly in recent years. 

The discussion took place during the fifth joint meeting of the Arab and Turkish Chambers, convened in Egypt. The event was attended by numerous heads of chambers of commerce and industry leaders from Arab nations and Turkiye. 

During the meeting, Sameer Abdulla Nass, president of the Union of Arab Chambers and president of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce, stressed the significance of increasing the openness of Arab economies at both regional and international levels. 

He further underscored the importance of achieving optimal benefits from trade agreements concluded by Arab countries to boost their exports and enhance their capacity. 

The president explained that this step would help remove all challenges and restrictions on the movement of trade between countries and attract foreign capital to contribute to creating opportunities for partnerships that achieve the common interest of all parties. 

He also highlighted the importance of such meetings and conferences as opportunities to build strong relations between the Arab world and Turkiye. Especially noteworthy is the Arab-Turkish chamber, which, since its establishment, has played a significant role in raising the level of trade, economic, and investment exchange. 

For his part, the Minister of Trade and Industry of Egypt, Ahmed Samir, stressed the importance of the business community in the Arab countries and Turkiye benefiting from the political relations between their nations. This collaboration aims to develop economic cooperation in areas such as joint manufacturing, the enhancement of intra-trade, support for transportation and logistics, and ensuring food security. 

He urged the Arab and Turkish chambers to capitalize on the opportunities presented in the Arab Republic of Egypt, including those associated with the Suez Canal axis, the golden license, and the state ownership policy.