S&P forecast up to 20% surge in UAE insurance premiums

S&P forecast up to 20% surge in UAE insurance premiums
S&P Global’s observations revealed a trend of increasing business concentration in the UAE insurance industry. Shutterstock
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Updated 31 January 2024
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S&P forecast up to 20% surge in UAE insurance premiums

S&P forecast up to 20% surge in UAE insurance premiums

RIYADH: UAE-listed insurance companies are projected to have seen a 15 to 20 percent surge in policy premiums in 2023 compared to the previous year.

In an interview with the Emirates News Agency, Emir Mujkic, the director and lead analyst for Insurance Ratings at S&P Global, noted that listed insurance companies witnessed a 19 percent increase in net profits year-on-year ing the first nine months of 2023.

He expected this positive trend to have continued to the end of the year, primarily due to improved investment returns fueled by favorable economic conditions and recent structural advancements within the sector. 

Mujkic estimated that the car insurance industry alone will have seen a 5 to 10 percent growth rate.

Looking forward, he forecast the momentum for the whole sector to extend into 2024, driven by increasing vehicle premiums and higher interest rates, which will further enhance investment returns.

 

While acknowledging the evolving nature of life insurance in the UAE, Mujkic emphasized that S&P Global’s assessment of the property, casualty coverage, and health protection sectors aligns with global benchmarks for these policies.

He highlighted the growth prospects of the UAE’s property casualty and health insurance sectors, propelled by recent healthcare policy acquisitions. 

Factors such as low-risk products, high market entry barriers, and supportive regulatory frameworks contribute to the strong outlook, positioning the UAE market as one of the most profitable in the Gulf Cooperation Council for property and casualty insurance and health insurance, primarily driven by the performance of the top five listed companies.

S&P Global’s observations revealed a trend of increasing business concentration in the UAE insurance industry, suggesting a potential shift toward market consolidation as the top five players exhibit robust net profit growth compared to other market participants.

Addressing global regulatory alignment, Mujkic commended the UAE’s governance and transparency practices, with traditional and Islamic insurance companies adhering to International Financial Reporting Standards for financial reporting. 

Notably, all local insurers successfully implemented the new IFRS 17 accounting standards in 2023.

IFRS 17 requires a company to measure insurance contracts using updated estimates and assumptions that reflect the timing of cash flows and any uncertainty relating to insurance contracts.

Mujkic also noted the significant consolidation within the takaful segment, citing mergers that have nearly halved the number of listed takaful companies over the past two years. 

He attributed this trend to a combination of merger and acquisition activities and the need for smaller companies to mitigate costs through expansion. 

Intense competition and cost pressures are expected to drive further integration among small and medium-sized insurance companies, according to Mujkic.


Saudi Arabia and Thailand strengthen economic ties with new investment office in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia and Thailand strengthen economic ties with new investment office in Riyadh
Updated 5 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia and Thailand strengthen economic ties with new investment office in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia and Thailand strengthen economic ties with new investment office in Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is set to enhance private sector cooperation with Thailand as the Southeast Asian nation opens its first Board of Investment office in Riyadh, a top official announced. 

On the sidelines of a business forum in the Saudi capital, Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih highlighted that this marks Thailand’s inaugural office in the Middle East, encouraging stronger bonds and new investment opportunities in both countries. 

This came as the minister lauded the steady trade relations, that saw business soar to $8.8 billion in 2023, up from $7.5 billion following the nations’ restored ties in 2022. This represents nearly 22 percent of Thailand’s total trade with the Middle East, underscoring a flourishing economic partnership. 

Addressing the business delegation at the Saudi-Thailand Investment Forum, Al-Falih said: “Representative offices from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and your country will do a great deal of facilitating private sector to private sector cooperation and allowing us to reach the potential that I mentioned.”  

He added: “I believe it will continue to grow at double digits as it has been the last couple of years. In investment, we’ve also seen growth, although from very small numbers, with FDI (foreign direct investment) stock doubling since 2019 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”  

The minister added that travel and tourism are returning to previous levels, with close to 200,000 tourists and visitors traveling from Saudi Arabia to Thailand. He also noted that over 30,000 Thai visitors had come to the Kingdom the previous year to experience Saudi Arabia. 


NWC initiates $150m in projects to enhance water services in Qassim region 

NWC initiates $150m in projects to enhance water services in Qassim region 
Updated 48 min 58 sec ago
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NWC initiates $150m in projects to enhance water services in Qassim region 

NWC initiates $150m in projects to enhance water services in Qassim region 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region is set to see improvements in water services, with the National Water Co. initiating 14 projects valued at over SR561 million ($150 million). 

The state-owned firm announced that its Northern Cluster has initiated the implementation of water and environmental projects across various parts of the region. These initiatives aim to enhance water and wastewater services, improve their quality, and meet the growing demand. 

Saudi Arabia ranks among the world’s largest water consumers. With limited natural resources, the country continues to rely on the construction of desalination facilities to meet its increasing water demands. The Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture has announced several investments in water projects scheduled for the coming years. 

These projects are part of its strategic goals to expand water and environmental services, meet growing demand, and enhance the quality of life and services for the population in line with the Kingdom's Vision 2030. 

The Public Investment Fund-owned company noted that the initiative includes seven projects worth about SR283 million. These include sewerage channels and networks totaling over 329,000 meters and the construction of a lifting station capable of handling 1,350 cubic meters per day. 

Additionally, the company outlined seven water projects valued at over SR278 million. These initiatives involve networks and pipelines spanning more than 833,000 meters and the establishment of a water distribution system for the Al-Mukharram and Umm Hazm well areas. 


Oman’s Islamic banks report 13.2% asset growth to $19.5bn

Oman’s Islamic banks report 13.2% asset growth to $19.5bn
Updated 14 July 2024
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Oman’s Islamic banks report 13.2% asset growth to $19.5bn

Oman’s Islamic banks report 13.2% asset growth to $19.5bn

RIYADH: Islamic banks in Oman reported total assets of about 7.5 billion Omani riyals ($19.5 billion) by the end of April, a 13.2 percent increase from the previous year. 

According to official data, this represents 17.7 percent of the country’s total banking sector capital, highlighting the growing influence of Islamic finance in the nation. 

The total financing extended by these Shariah-compliant units increased by 12 percent annually, amounting to 6.3 billion riyals by the end of April, according to the Central Bank of Oman. 

In tandem, deposits at these banks and windows saw a 15.9 percent annual increase, reaching about 5.8 billion riyals.  

The broad money supply in Oman experienced a 12 percent year-on-year growth, reaching approximately 23.6 billion riyals by the end of April.  

This boost was driven by a 7 percent rise in the narrow money supply and a 13.9 percent increase in quasi-money, which includes total savings and time deposits in riyals, certificates of deposit issued by banks, margin accounts, and all foreign currency deposits within the banking sector.  

However, cash held by the public decreased by 7 percent, while demand deposits rose by 11.2 percent.  

The weighted average interest rate on deposits in riyals at conventional commercial banks rose from 2.19 percent in April 2023 to 2.58 percent by April 2024. 

Similarly, the weighted average interest rate on loans in riyal rose from 5.36 percent to 5.60 percent during the same period.  

On the industrial front, the total output of refineries and petroleum industries in Oman saw a slight decline of 0.4 percent by the end of May compared to the same period in 2023, reported the Oman News Agency, citing preliminary statistics from the National Centre for Statistics and Information.  

Despite this overall decrease, the production of automotive fuel increased by 1.8 percent.  

Breaking down the figures, the production of regular 91-octane automotive fuel decreased by 5.2 percent, totaling approximately 6.67 million barrels, with sales of 5.67 million barrels.  

In contrast, the production of premium 95-octane automotive fuel rose by 12 percent, recording 5.40 million barrels, with sales reaching 5.30 million barrels. The production of diesel fuel fell by 8.8 percent to 13.28 million barrels, with sales amounting to 5.68 million barrels.  

Conversely, jet fuel production increased by 13.5 percent, reaching 4.75 million barrels with sales of 1.666 million barrels. The production of liquefied petroleum gas stood at 3.78 million barrels, with sales reaching 4.25 million barrels.


Iraq seeks Egyptian and Saudi investment for developing new cities

Iraq seeks Egyptian and Saudi investment for developing new cities
Updated 14 July 2024
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Iraq seeks Egyptian and Saudi investment for developing new cities

Iraq seeks Egyptian and Saudi investment for developing new cities

RIYADH: Iraq has unveiled plans to attract Egyptian and Saudi investment for five new cities in Baghdad and other governorates, as part of efforts to address the housing shortage. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani presented these projects under the government’s initiative to launch 11 new cities, emphasizing their crucial role in addressing the urban housing challenge, especially for low-income groups, according to an official statement. 

The country has long been affected by political instability, impacting its economy and infrastructure, and faces a significant housing shortage. 

The prime minister highlighted Iraq’s rapid growth and recovery phase, noting numerous promising investment opportunities, particularly in housing and new city projects.  

With a demand for around 3 million housing units, he emphasized the government’s commitment to developing integrated cities that incorporate all sectors, services, entertainment, and commercial facilities, linked to Baghdad through a strong transportation network. 

The prime minister hosted a delegation of Egyptian, Saudi, and Iraqi businessmen, including Hisham Talaat Moustafa, chairman of TMG Holding; Sulaiman Al-Muhaidib, group chairman of Al Muhaidib Group; and businessman Ahmed Talaat Hani. The delegation specializes in real estate development and the establishment of integrated and smart residential cities. The meeting was attended by the Saudi Ambassador to Iraq, Abdulaziz bin Khalid Al-Shammari. 

Al-Sudani urged Egyptian and Saudi company owners to invest in resorts, hotels, and entertainment facilities, highlighting Iraq’s diverse tourist destinations. He emphasized that Iraq’s development and progress align with the economic interests of other Arab countries. 


Saudi stock market’s nominal value split benefits 42 companies in 2023: CMA

Saudi stock market’s nominal value split benefits 42 companies in 2023: CMA
Updated 14 July 2024
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Saudi stock market’s nominal value split benefits 42 companies in 2023: CMA

Saudi stock market’s nominal value split benefits 42 companies in 2023: CMA

RIYADH: Investors saw increased affordability and liquidity as 42 companies on Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index and parallel market benefitted from the nominal value split mechanism in 2023, official data showed. 

In its latest update, the Capital Market Authority noted that the Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, saw significant momentum in stock split operations last year, with 24 companies, representing 37 percent of listed firms, implementing the measure. 

This follows the CMA’s execution of the Companies Law and its Executive Regulations on Jan. 19, 2023, permitting listed firms to split stock par values from SR10 ($2.67) to various lower options. 

As part of the mechanism, a company divides its existing shares into multiples to enhance trading volume and accessibility for investors, without altering its total market capitalization. 

“The Companies Law allowed every company more flexibility to increase or decrease its stock nominal value, which is different from the previous mandatory ones that encompassed all companies with a unified nominal value,” said CMA. 

It added: “The nominal value split of a share can be defined as increasing the number of a company’s shares to a larger number of shares with a lower nominal value, without any impact or change in the shareholders’ rights.”  

This regulatory action, aimed at lowering per-share prices and increasing the number of tradable shares, evaluates the potential trading opportunities for a maximum number of investors. 

On the other hand, 18 companies, comprising 8 percent of the listed firms on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index, also benefited from the mechanism last year. 

The latest update also noted that seven listed companies reversed their split decisions for various reasons. 

CMA plays a crucial role in advancing the goals outlined in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, implementing various measures to transform the Kingdom into a favorable investment destination. 

In its June report, CMA highlighted significant growth in the Kingdom’s sukuk and debt capital market since 2019, surpassing SR30 billion with an annual growth rate of 7.9 percent. 

The report also emphasized that net foreign investments in the Saudi capital market reached SR198 billion in 2023, marking a 7.7 percent increase from the previous year. 

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s capital market achieved prominent global recognition in 2023, ranking first among G20 countries in the Board of Directors Index. 

CMA noted that these achievements underscore the Kingdom’s advancements in governance, market accessibility, investor protections, and overall market vibrancy.