Saudi participation in private sector increases by 30 percent in 2023

The presence of Saudi women in leadership positions and new fields, such as the tourism and entertainment sectors, has also increased. (File/SPA)
The presence of Saudi women in leadership positions and new fields, such as the tourism and entertainment sectors, has also increased. (File/SPA)
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Updated 27 December 2023

Saudi participation in private sector increases by 30 percent in 2023

Saudi participation in private sector increases by 30 percent in 2023
  • Saudi participation in the private sector increased from 1.7 million in 2019 to 2.3 million this year
  • Saudi women’s participation in the workforce increased from 17 percent in 2017 to 35.3 percent in 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has seen a noticeable increase in the participation rate of nationals in the private sector, statistics recently published by the Human Resources and Social Development System showed.

The participation rate of Saudis in the private sector increased from 1.7 million in 2019 to 2.3 million this year, including more than 360,000 who had entered the labor market for the first time, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

This led to a decrease in the total unemployment rate to 8.3 percent in the second quarter of 2023, according to the statistics of the Labor Market Bulletin, as a result of the reforms, strategy, and great support that was reflected in the major transformations in the labor market for Saudis.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has made many efforts to turn the labor market in the Kingdom into an attractive one for talent and competition in global markets.

The labor market strategy, through its initiatives in support of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, has contributed to achieving tangible results at the national level, with the Kingdom achieving first place among the G20 countries in the growth rate of worker productivity for 2022, with a growth rate of 4.9 percent. The efforts also contributed to reducing unemployment rates among Saudi women to 15.7 percent.

A World Bank report released on Nov. 22 praised the progress of Saudi women in the workforce, with their participation increasing from 17 percent in 2017 to 35.3 percent in 2023. The presence of women in leadership positions and new fields, such as the tourism and entertainment sectors, has also increased.

A report issued by the National Labor Observatory recently showed the success of the ministry’s plans in sustaining citizens in the private sector for more than 20 years, the result of training opportunities and financial incentives.

Through its strategy, the ministry has worked to empower women, increase nationalization, build skills, and develop the work environment.

It has also worked to increase the level of Saudi participation in the labor market through initiatives to activate the supply and demand forecasting unit.

The management of the Saudization file was transferred to six ministries for direct supervision, and 45 localization decisions were issued in specific activities and professions in various sectors. It also launched the National Skills Strategy to raise the Kingdom’s ranking in the Global Talent Index from 30 to 20 in 2026.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development established 12 sectoral skills councils to develop professions according to standards that meet market requirements.

These efforts resulted in an increase in the rate of Saudis in the targeted professions, such as engineering from 40,000 to 70,000 and accounting from 42,000 to 103,000.

The ministry is working to cover 2,000 skills and develop standards for 300 jobs by 2025.

It also launched the Skills Accelerator initiative and provided training vouchers to individuals to develop high, medium and low-level skills of national cadres and raise their productivity.

The initiative aims to train more than 322,000 employees in 126 professions in the private sector. Also launched was the national training campaign Waad, in cooperation with 14 national companies, to motivate the private sector to train workers.

The initiative succeeded in achieving its goals during the first half of 2023, with the number of opportunities exceeding 193,000. The campaign aspires to reach 1,155,000 people by 2025.

Female beneficiaries were also trained on the job as part of the Parallel Training Initiative 2023, achieving 62 percent of the initiative’s target with 62,254 participants.

The ministry was able to automate more than 80 percent of its services, offering over 1,000 digital services, and it aims to add 300 new services to its digital platforms next year.

The ministry’s Qiwa platform, which is designed to simplify and streamline the process of founding and operating businesses in the Kingdom, documented more than 5 million contracts that contributed to preserving the contractual relationship between workers and employers.

The platform also contributes daily to the completion of more than 1 million digital transactions for the labor sector. The rate of amicable settlement of labor disputes rose to 73 percent, the rate of compliance of private sector establishments with the regulations and decisions of the labor system to 92 percent, and compliance with localization decisions to 98 percent.

The number of beneficiaries of the remote work model over the previous year exceeded 135,000 contracts with a growth rate of 10 percent, 240,000 self-employment documents with a growth rate of 7 percent, and 365,000 flexible jobs with a growth rate of 6 percent.

The Human Resources Development Fund helped 1.4 million Saudis through training, empowerment and guidance support programs during the first half of 2023.

Some 79,000 establishments benefited from the support of the fund in various regions of the Kingdom, with around 95 percent of these medium, small and micro enterprises. The support expenses provided to empower Saudis exceeded SR4.6 billion ($1.226 billion) during the first half of 2023.

GCC countries to lead Mideast energy transition 

GCC countries to lead Mideast energy transition 
Updated 30 May 2024

GCC countries to lead Mideast energy transition 

GCC countries to lead Mideast energy transition 
  • Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman to account for two-third of region’s solar capacity

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman are set to lead the Middle East’s solar transition thanks to several key factors, according to a new report.

In its latest analysis, Norwegian business intelligence and research company Rystad Energy stated that solar power is becoming increasingly important in the energy policies of Middle Eastern countries.

As the cheapest energy source, solar photovoltaics in Saudi Arabia has achieved a world record-low levelized cost of electricity of $10.4 per megawatt-hour, the report stated. It further explained that this is due to factors such as low hurdle rates, large-scale projects, and declining hardware prices, as well as low labor costs and high solar irradiance.
“The region has exceptional solar energy potential, receiving more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours per sq. m. annually in solar irradiation in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman,” the report stated.
The total solar capacity in the Middle East at the end of 2023 exceeded 16 gigawatts and is expected to approach 23 GW by the end of 2024, the report added.
Rystad Energy’s projections indicate that by 2030, the capacity will surpass 100 GW, with green hydrogen projects contributing an annual growth rate of 30 percent.
The report stated that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman are on track to collectively account for nearly two third of the region’s total solar capacity by the end of the decade.
By 2050, renewable sources, including hydro, solar, and wind, are expected to constitute 70 percent of the Middle East’s power generation mix, a significant leap from 5 percent at the end of 2023, the report stated.
Despite this surge, the region will rely heavily on natural gas in the short term, with usage peaking around 2030.
The report added that at the end of 2023, 93 percent of the Middle East’s power generation was from fossil fuels, with renewables at 3 percent and nuclear and hydro at 2 percent each.
By 2030, 30 percent of installed capacity is expected from renewables, potentially reaching 75 percent by 2050.
Rystad Energy predicts battery energy storage will grow significantly in the 2030s, supporting the transition to solar and wind power. The share of gas in power generation is expected to decrease from 74 percent in 2023 to 22 percent by 2050.

Saudi Manpower Solutions Co. eyes expansion following its public listing

Saudi Manpower Solutions Co. eyes expansion following its public listing
Updated 30 May 2024

Saudi Manpower Solutions Co. eyes expansion following its public listing

Saudi Manpower Solutions Co. eyes expansion following its public listing

RIYADH: Various sectors across different parts of Saudi Arabia will soon have greater and easy access to manpower as the country’s first service provider eyes expansion with its initial public offering.

Speaking to Arab News, Abdullah Al-Timyat, CEO of Saudi Manpower Solutions Co., known as SMASCO, said the IPO will help propel SMASCO within the Saudi market, drive growth initiatives, and fortify its presence and stakeholders’ trust.

Al-Timyat said the IPO proceeds will not be utilized for internal operations but will be earmarked for strategic growth initiatives to expand the company’s footprint across the Kingdom’s diverse market. 

He added the company’s capital-light model, fortified by no debt and robust cash management, positions it for agile expansion. “We have zero debt and funding. We have strong cash management, and we have enough internal funds for our operations. So, the IPO will enable SMASCO in its future steps and strategic direction in expanding within the Saudi market, reaching new geographic cities and regions within Saudi Arabia.”

With an eye on deepening market penetration, Al-Timyat outlined SMASCO’s strategic direction, leveraging the IPO’s support to enhance brand awareness and stakeholders’ trust.

“We will even go deeper … within specific sectors, in business industry and professional manpower, depending on a more trusted bond that we have available because of the IPO and the support that we will have.”

The executive outlined the company’s current focus on the Kingdom’s market, emphasizing its vast potential and opportunities for manpower companies, including SMASCO.

He also underscored the entity’s mature model and expertise in technologies, which position it to potentially expand into new markets in the future. While there are no immediate plans to venture beyond Saudi Arabia, SMASCO remains prepared to seize opportunities should they arise, he said.

Looking ahead, the CEO highlighted artificial intelligence’s transformative potential emphasizing its role in enhancing efficiency and service delivery. 

He said: “AI and advanced technology is an opportunity for manpower companies. This is how we see it in SMASCO, this will provide us more opportunities, a faster a road to (achieve) our objectives operationally, financially and even for our customers.”

Al-Timyat highlighted the pivotal role of Vision 2030 benchmarks in providing clarity and direction to SMASCO’s future endeavors.

“Since the government launched Vision 2030, we have a clarity where we are going and this makes it easier for any industry, for any investor. We see a persistence of execution by the government, which we have never witnessed before and this is actually aligned with what we are seeing.”

This synergy between technological innovation and national objectives supports industry advancement. The executive noted that it is set to drive economic growth and societal development in alignment with the Kingdom’s ambitious vision.

Al-Timyat also outlined the global demand for various industries, including medical, logistics, tourism, and entertainment, which are also prevalent in Saudi Arabia.

Each of these industries requires specific qualities for talents and specialized manpower services to address their unique needs, he noted.

The executive said SMASCO, specialized in manpower solutions, has created subsectors within its team to cater to diverse industries.

This focus on specialization enables SMASCO to provide high-quality services that align with the economy, market trends, and specific requirements of each industry.

Saudi banks’ risk profiles stronger than GCC counterparts: Fitch 

Saudi banks’ risk profiles stronger than GCC counterparts: Fitch 
Updated 30 May 2024

Saudi banks’ risk profiles stronger than GCC counterparts: Fitch 

Saudi banks’ risk profiles stronger than GCC counterparts: Fitch 

RIYADH: Saudi banks exceed their Gulf Cooperation Council counterparts in terms of risk profiles underpinning their asset quality, according to Fitch Ratings.

The credit rating agency said in a statement that there is a strong correlation between asset quality and risk profile scores among regional banks, particularly in the GCC, due to their lending-focused business models. Saudi banks boast a weighted-average risk-profile score slightly below “bbb+” and a similar asset quality score.

Conversely, in the UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait, both weighted-average scores stand two notches lower, at “bbb-.”

Despite experiencing credit growth around double the GCC average between 2022 and 2023, Saudi banks maintain stronger scores. This surge is attributed to heightened government spending and robust non-oil gross domestic product growth.

However, banking assets remained at 99 percent of GDP by the end of 2023, contrasting with figures of 206 percent in the UAE, 240 percent in Qatar, and 159 percent in Kuwait.

The stronger risk profiles of Saudi banks are evident in their asset quality metrics. From 2019 to 2023, the sector’s cost of risk averaged 60 basis points, lower than the averages observed in the UAE, Qatari, and Kuwaiti banking sectors.

Similarly, the combined Stage 2 and 3 loans ratio of 7.2 percent was the lowest among the four markets.

Fitch’s assessment of Saudi banks’ stronger risk profiles reflects their generally conservative underwriting standards and risk controls.

This evaluation also acknowledges the perception that the Saudi Central Bank,  also known as SAMA, is the region’s strictest and most prudent banking regulator.

“Saudi banks have less borrower concentration than the UAE and Qatari banks, but a similar level to Kuwaiti banks, due to a larger and more diversified economy and strong retail financing in 2021-2023,” the rating agency stated.

It added: “The 20 largest exposures at Saudi and Kuwaiti banks account for about 20 percent of the loan books on average, but significantly more — about 35 percent — at UAE and Qatari banks.”          

Moreover, Saudi banks extend lower levels of financing to companies owned or managed by high-net-worth individuals compared to certain UAE and Qatari banks.

Saudi banks’ exposure to real estate and construction companies rose to 15 percent of gross sector financing by the end of the first quarter of 2024, up from 12 percent at the end of 2021.

This trend is anticipated to persist as non-oil sectors continue to expand. While Saudi banks’ real estate financing proportion now resembles that of Qatari and the UAE banks, it remains below the average for Kuwaiti lenders, standing at 24 percent of gross loans as of end 2023.

“We typically view high exposure to real estate financing as a weakness for GCC banks’ risk profiles and asset quality, as the exposures are mostly long-term and often non-amortizing with final repayment contingent upon full completion of the building,” Fitch said in the statement.

It added: “Potential difficulty in realizing underlying collateral or repossessing prime residences can also weigh on how Fitch views the exposures.”



Riyadh residential market sales surge 77%: CBRE report

Riyadh residential market sales surge 77%: CBRE report
Updated 30 May 2024

Riyadh residential market sales surge 77%: CBRE report

Riyadh residential market sales surge 77%: CBRE report

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s residential market experienced robust growth in demand, with Riyadh witnessing a 77 percent year-on-year increase in sales transactions in the first quarter, a new report showed. 

According to global consultancy firm CBRE, Jeddah residential transactions surged by 92.9 percent in the first three months of this year, while Dammam saw a 28.0 percent increase year-over-year. 

Taimur Khan, head of research MENA, said: “Whilst we have seen strong performance across commercial sectors within Saudi Arabia in the recent past, something which continues to date, we are now beginning to see the residential sector also register a significant surge in demand. This is, in turn, underpinning performance in the sector.” 

As new stock continues to be delivered, he said they expect this trend to continue, with demand outpacing supply for some time to come. 

“However, we also expect that there might be some bifurcation in performance within the residential sector, with new quality assets likely to register record rates,” added Khan.

Villa prices in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Khobar rose by 3.6 percent, 0.2 percent, and 3.1 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Dammam saw a slight decline of 0.5 percent. 

In the apartment segment, prices in Riyadh, Dammam, and Khobar increased by 8.4 percent, 0.9 percent, and 0.4 percent, respectively, compared to the previous year.  

However, Jeddah experienced a 1.1 percent decrease in average apartment prices over the same period.   

Throughout the first quarter of this year, the office sector witnessed a slowdown in rental growth across all market segments.  

Prime rents in Riyadh’s occupier market surged by 14.5 percent, while Grade A and Grade B rents increased by 11.8 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively.  

In Dammam, Grade A rents rose by 8.0 percent, Grade B by 6.2 percent, and Khobar’s Grade A rents saw a 4.6 percent increase.  

Occupancy rates stood at 93.8 percent, 99.7 percent, and 99.4 percent for Prime, Grade A, and Grade B segments in Riyadh, while Dammam and Khobar displayed respective Grade A occupancy rates of 86.3 percent and 85.2 percent as of the first quarter.  

In Jeddah, Grade A and Grade B rents increased by 13.6 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively, with occupancy rates reaching 92.5 percent and 86.6 percent. 

The hospitality sector’s performance remained strong throughout the first quarter due to high visitation levels.  

Year-on-year, from January to March 2024, the average occupancy rate saw a slight uptick of 0.1 percentage points.  

Additionally, the country experienced an 11.8 percent increase in average daily rate, leading to a 12.0 percent rise in revenue per available room.

Closing Bell: TASI dips to close at 11,503 points

Closing Bell: TASI dips to close at 11,503 points
Updated 30 May 2024

Closing Bell: TASI dips to close at 11,503 points

Closing Bell: TASI dips to close at 11,503 points

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index dipped on Thursday, losing 193.02 points, or 1.65 percent to close at 11,503.49

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR13.13 billion ($3.50 billion) as 65 stocks advanced while 161 retreated.   

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index dipped by 24.77 points, or 1.70 percent, to close at 1,436.07.

However, the Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, increased by 307.64 points or 1.17 percent, to close at 26,610.57. This comes as 28 stocks advanced, while as many as 30 retreated. 

The best-performing stock was the Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co., as its share price surged by 7.66 percent to SR29.50.

Other top performers included Almasane Alkobra Mining Co. and Alkhorayef Water and Power Technologies Co., whose share prices soared by 5.37 percent and 4.55 percent, to stand at SR62.80 and SR161 respectively.

National Co. for Learning and Education and East Pipes Integrated Co. for Industry also performed well.

The worst performer was ACWA Power Co. whose share price dropped by 9.98 percent to SR402.40.

Share prices of Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co. as well as the Co. for Cooperative Insurance dropped by 7.89 percent and 6.41 percent to stand at SR8.40 and SR131.40, respectively.

The best-performing stock of the day on the parallel market was Mohammed Hadi Al-Rasheed and Partners Co., as its share price surged by 12.58 percent to SR34.90.

Other top performers included Osool and Bakheet Investment Co. and Abdulaziz and Mansour Ibrahim Albabtin Co., whose share prices soared by 12.38 percent and 6.86 percent, to stand at SR44.95 and SR45.95 respectively.