Visitors to Saudi Arabia spend record $26.6bn in first 9 months of 2023

A visitor walks past a billboard at the Saudi Arabia stand at the International Tourism Trade Fair in Berlin on March 8, 2023. (AFP)
A visitor walks past a billboard at the Saudi Arabia stand at the International Tourism Trade Fair in Berlin on March 8, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 02 January 2024
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Visitors to Saudi Arabia spend record $26.6bn in first 9 months of 2023

Visitors to Saudi Arabia spend record $26.6bn in first 9 months of 2023
  • Figure represents 53% increase on equivalent period of 2022

RIYADH: Spending by visitors to the Kingdom in the first three-quarters of last year rose to a record high of SR102.6 billion ($27.36 billion), according to data from the Saudi Central Bank.

The figure represents a 53 percent increase on tourist spending in the equivalent period of 2022, the Ministry of Tourism said in a post on X on Monday.

Outbound travelers from the Kingdom spent SR64.8 billion in the January to September period, creating a balance of payments surplus for the travel sector — inbound spending minus outbound spending — of SR37.8 billion, or 72 percent higher than it was for the same period of 2022.

According to a report by the UN’s World Tourism Organization, Saudi Arabia achieved one of the highest growth rates for inbound tourism among the G20 group of leading and developing nations in the first three-quarters of 2023.

The Kingdom’s tourism sector has rebounded well since the COVID-19 pandemic, with tourist destinations reporting increases in the number of both domestic and foreign visitors, the Saudi Press Agency reported.


Australia, Saudi Arabia trade expo to be held in Riyadh in October

Australia, Saudi Arabia trade expo to be held in Riyadh in October
Updated 16 sec ago
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Australia, Saudi Arabia trade expo to be held in Riyadh in October

Australia, Saudi Arabia trade expo to be held in Riyadh in October

RIYADH: Agriculture, healthcare, and education are among the sectors that will benefit from a new conference aiming to boost partnership deals between Saudi Arabia and Australia. 

Set to be held from Oct. 21 to 22 at the KAFD Conference Centre in Riyadh, the inaugural Aussie Expo will also see a focus on technology, infrastructure, and mining.

The event is being organised by the Trademark Group of Companies – a conglomerate dedicated to facilitating the expansion of Australian businesses into the Kingdom and the broader Gulf Cooperation Council region, as well as supporting businesses from these areas in entering the domestic market.

On June 1, Trademark Group of Companies opened its office in Riyadh, eyeing economic opportunities in Saudi Arabia and providing a platform for Australian companies to explore and deepen trade ties with the Kingdom.

Guided by the theme “Accelerating Partnerships, Unlocking New Opportunities,” Aussie Expo Riyadh 2024 will showcase excellence across various industries, according to its website. 

This will be achieved through a series of conference sessions and workshops during which key government officials, industry leaders, decision-makers, and entrepreneurs from both countries will converge. 

These networking opportunities are expected to be a major draw for attendees, providing a platform to explore potential partnerships that drive mutual success.

Renewable energy and sustainability as well as tourism and hospitality, retail and consumer goods, and transport and logistics will be discussed at the evemt

Talking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Australian Saudi Business Networking Event in Riyadh earlier in June, Australian Ambassador Mark Donovan said the opening of the Trademark Group of Companies’ office in the Kingdom  would help both countries explore investment opportunities in various sectors.

Earlier in May, Saudi Arabia and Australia signed an agreement to improve cooperation across multiple sectors and strengthen bilateral trade ties.

The Australia Saudi Business Council and Forum and the Export Council of Australia signed an agreement to boost collaboration in industry, mining, food, technology, and artificial intelligence, with an aim to enhance opportunities for Australian exporters to work with Saudi entities, strengthening bilateral cooperation.


Saudi Arabia expands access for Chinese tourists with new agreement

Saudi Arabia expands access for Chinese tourists with new agreement
Updated 32 min 4 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia expands access for Chinese tourists with new agreement

Saudi Arabia expands access for Chinese tourists with new agreement

RIYADH: Chinese tourist groups will now find it easier to visit Saudi Arabia following the implementation of the Approved Destination Status arrangement, effective July 1.  

This initiative marks a key step toward the Kingdom’s goal of positioning China as its third-largest source market for international arrivals by 2030, according to a statement.  

This initiative aligns with Saudi Arabia’s goal of attracting 5 million Chinese tourists by 2030, facilitated by new direct flights from Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern, alongside existing Saudia flights. 

Moreover, it highlights Saudi Arabia’s commitment to strengthening its economic ties with China, leveraging opportunities in the tourism sector, and promoting mutual understanding, cooperation, and economic growth between the two nations. 

The Kingdom’s Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said the agreement “demonstrates Saudi Arabia’s readiness for Chinese visitors.”

He added: “The Saudi Tourism Authority has played a crucial role in visa facilitation, reduced fees, improving air connectivity, and ensuring destination readiness with Mandarin-language information available on www.visitsaudi.cn, Mandarin signage at airports, and Mandarin-speaking tour guides and hotel staff.”  

China’s ADS policy is a bilateral agreement between countries that allows its citizens to travel to specific overseas destinations for tourism purposes in organized groups.

It was first introduced in the early 1990s to accommodate the growing interest of Chinese citizens in international travel and the increase in disposable income among the population.  

“By strengthening bilateral ties with China, the ADS agreement opens doors for economic development across sectors, benefiting both nations,” added Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to China Abdulrahman bin Ahmed Al-Harbi. 


‘Historical transformation’ in Saudi Arabia fueling $141.5bn construction output: Knight Frank

‘Historical transformation’ in Saudi Arabia fueling $141.5bn construction output: Knight Frank
Updated 24 June 2024
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‘Historical transformation’ in Saudi Arabia fueling $141.5bn construction output: Knight Frank

‘Historical transformation’ in Saudi Arabia fueling $141.5bn construction output: Knight Frank

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s construction output value is projected to have seen an annual rise of 4.3 percent in the first half of 2024, propelled by growth in Riyadh.

According to a recent analysis by global property consultancy Knight Frank, the $141.5 billion figure takes into account the Kingdom’s activities in the residential, institutional, and infrastructure sectors as well as industrial, energy, utilities, and commercial divisions.

This substantial investment in transforming the sector also serves to strengthen the Kingdom’s position as a global hub for tourism, commerce and trade.

This is further propelled by Saudi Arabia’s giga-projects and goals to deliver over 660,000 residential units, more than 320,000 hotel keys, over 5.3 million sq. m. of retail space, and more than 6.1 million sq. m. of new office space by the end of the decade.

Mohamed Nabil, head of Project and Development Services for the Middle East and North Africa at the body, said: “We are currently witnessing a historical transformation unfolding in Saudi Arabia with construction projects standing out in their design scale and value. 

“Given the scale of the development pipeline, the government is hoping to attract over $3 trillion in investments by 2030, a figure recently confirmed by the Minister of Investment during the inaugural Sino-Gulf Cooperation for Industries and Investments Forum in China last month.”


Oil Updates – crude eases as strong dollar weighs on commodities markets

Oil Updates – crude eases as strong dollar weighs on commodities markets
Updated 24 June 2024
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Oil Updates – crude eases as strong dollar weighs on commodities markets

Oil Updates – crude eases as strong dollar weighs on commodities markets

SINGAPORE: Oil prices inched down on Monday as concerns of higher-for-longer interest rates resurfaced and lifted the dollar, offsetting support for oil markets from geopolitical tensions and OPEC+ supply cuts, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures slipped 3 cents to $85.21 a barrel by 9:32 a.m. Saudi time, after settling down 0.6 percent on Friday. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $80.71 a barrel, down 2 cents.

“The US dollar has opened bid this morning and appears to have broken higher following better US PMI data on Friday night and political concerns ahead of the French election,” said Tony Sycamore, a Sydney-based markets analyst at IG.

A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated commodities less attractive for holders of other currencies.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, climbed on Friday and was up slightly on Monday after purchasing managers index data showed US business activity was at a 26-month high in June.

However, both benchmark crude contracts gained about 3 percent last week on signs of stronger oil products demand in the US, world’s largest consumer, and as cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, kept supply in check.

US crude inventories fell while gasoline demand rose for the seventh straight week and jet fuel consumption has returned to 2019 levels, ANZ analysts said in a note.

ING analysts led by Warren Patterson said speculators have also become more constructive toward oil into summer and increased their net-long positions in ICE Brent.

“We remain supportive toward the oil market with a deficit over the third quarter set to tighten the oil balance,” the analysts said in a note.

Geopolitical risks in the Middle East from the Gaza crisis and a ramp-up in Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian refineries are also underpinning oil prices.

In Ecuador, state oil company Petroecuador has declared force majeure over deliveries of Napo heavy crude for exports following the shutdown of a key pipeline and oil wells due to heavy rains, sources said on Friday.

In the US, the number of operating oil rigs fell three to 485 last week, their lowest since January 2022, Baker Hughes said in its report on Friday. 


Saudi Arabia’s trade surplus hits yearly high of $11bn in April amid surge in non-oil exports

 Saudi Arabia’s trade surplus hits yearly high of $11bn in April amid surge in non-oil exports
Updated 24 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s trade surplus hits yearly high of $11bn in April amid surge in non-oil exports

 Saudi Arabia’s trade surplus hits yearly high of $11bn in April amid surge in non-oil exports

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s trade balance surplus hit a year-high of SR41.4 billion ($11.04 billion) in April, a 36 percent increase from the previous month, fueled by a surge in non-oil exports. 

According to the General Authority for Statistics, the Kingdom’s non-oil shipments rose by 12.4 percent in April compared to the same month last year. 

This comes as the Kingdom intensifies its efforts to boost non-oil exports to reduce its reliance on the energy sector and diversify its economy. The significant growth underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to strengthening other sectors and achieving a more balanced economic structure. 

National non-oil exports, excluding re-exports, saw a modest rise of 1.6 percent in April this year compared to April 2023, while re-exported goods experienced a substantial increase of 56.4 percent over the same period. 

In contrast, overall outbound merchandise supply fell by 1.0 percent, primarily due to a 4.2 percent decline in oil exports. As a result, the proportion of oil in total outbound supply decreased from 80.6 percent in April 2023 to 78.0 percent in April this year. 

Imports also saw a slight decline of 1.3 percent, and the merchandise trade balance surplus dropped by 0.5 percent compared to the previous year. 

Month-over-month comparisons show a decrease in the value of merchandise exports by 1.7 percent, non-oil exports by 6.3 percent, and imports by 17.4 percent. However, the Kingdom’s trade balance still saw a substantial increase. 

The ratio of non-oil merchandise exports to imports improved significantly, rising to 37.1 percent in April from 32.6 percent in April 2023. This improvement is attributed to the increase in non-oil exports and the decrease in imports. 

Plastics, rubber, and their products were among the top non-oil exports, making up 26.2 percent of the total and growing by 20.5 percent compared to April 2023. 

Chemical products also constituted a significant portion, accounting for 25.7 percent of non-oil exports, although they saw a 13.8 percent decrease from the previous year. 

On the import side, machinery, electrical equipment, and parts were the leading category, representing 26.6 percent of total imports and increasing by 32.4 percent compared to April 2023. 

Transportation equipment and parts followed, making up 11.7 percent of imports but decreasing by 24.5 percent from the previous year. 

China remained Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, receiving 16.6 percent of total exports in April 2024. Japan and India followed with 9.2 percent and 8.1 percent of total exports, respectively. 

These top three countries, along with South Korea, the UAE, and the US, alongside Poland, Bahrain, Malaysia, and Singapore, collectively accounted for 65.6 percent of the Kingdom’s total exports. 

China also led in imports to Saudi Arabia, constituting 22.4 percent of total imports. The US and India followed, with 8.3 percent and 6.6 percent of total imports, respectively. 

Imports from the top ten countries made up 62.2 percent of the total. 

The main entry points for imports into the Kingdom included King Abdulaziz Sea Port in Dammam with 29.7 percent, Jeddah Islamic Sea Port with 18.4 percent, and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh with 14.3 percent. 

Other ports included King Abdulaziz International Airport with 7.6 percent and King Fahad International Airport in Dammam with 5.9 percent. 

Together, these five ports handled 76.0 percent of Saudi Arabia’s total merchandise imports. 

These statistics are based on administrative records from the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority and the Ministry of Energy, with classifications according to the Harmonized System maintained by the World Customs Organization.