Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

Marg Franklin, president and CEO of CFA Institute, speaks at the Middle East Investment Conference in Riyadh. AN photo by Huda Bashatah
Marg Franklin, president and CEO of CFA Institute, speaks at the Middle East Investment Conference in Riyadh. AN photo by Huda Bashatah
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Updated 26 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.


Zain KSA introduces first 100% Saudi-made fleet tracking solution for businesses 

Zain KSA introduces first 100% Saudi-made fleet tracking solution for businesses 
Updated 17 April 2024
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Zain KSA introduces first 100% Saudi-made fleet tracking solution for businesses 

Zain KSA introduces first 100% Saudi-made fleet tracking solution for businesses 

RIYADH: Saudi telecom provider Zain KSA has become the first operator in the Kingdom to offer a 100 percent domestically-made fleet tracking system for businesses.   

The new system is expected to empower businesses in Saudi Arabia to make informed decisions through comprehensive reports generated from precise data collection. 

The launch of the system, entirely made in the Kingdom for the business sector, integrates cutting-edge tracking devices that are locally designed, manufactured, and assembled under the country’s “Saudi Made” program, the company said in a statement. 

The telecom company further explained that the monitoring solution is a comprehensive cloud-based platform, providing businesses of all sizes with tools to optimize logistics operations, enhance travel routes, and minimize fuel consumption. This, in turn, reduces carbon emissions, preserves the environment, and fosters sustainability. 


Saudi Arabia and Spain strengthen collaboration in urban infrastructure and renewable energy sector

Saudi Arabia and Spain strengthen collaboration in urban infrastructure and renewable energy sector
Updated 9 min 53 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia and Spain strengthen collaboration in urban infrastructure and renewable energy sector

Saudi Arabia and Spain strengthen collaboration in urban infrastructure and renewable energy sector

RIYADH: Saudi-Spanish collaboration is set to flourish in the fields of urban infrastructure development, renewable energy, and engineering technology after a high-level meeting in Madrid. 

During a three-day visit from April 15-17, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing, Majed Al-Hogail, met with executives from leading Spanish companies to explore collaboration opportunities. 

The tour is part of the Kingdom’s broader initiative to foster international partnerships that enhance its urban and infrastructure capabilities, the Saudi Press Agency reported.   

Al-Hogail’s engagements included a discussion with Pablo Bueno, CEO of TYPSA, focusing on potential collaboration in the fields of infrastructure solutions, energy efficiency, and sustainable urban development.   

They discussed activating a circular economy in buildings and infrastructure and creating new asset management platforms and engineering value solutions.  

Additionally, the minister met with José Vicente, CEO of Indra, one of the leading engineering technology and consulting firms, to discuss digital transformation in municipal services.   

This collaboration aims to enhance the quality of services provided to Saudi citizens and residents and foster innovation.  

Al-Hogail also held a meeting with Pedro Fernandez Alen, president of the National Construction Confederation, to discuss collaboration opportunities and share insights on Vision 2030’s strategic objectives for the housing sector. The discussions highlighted the significant Spanish investments in Saudi Arabia, which exceed $3 billion, with a substantial portion directed toward real estate ventures.

The minister underscored the robust growth in Saudi Arabia’s housing sector, noting the provision of housing solutions for 1.5 million families over the past five years. He highlighted the delivery of approximately half a million housing units and the launch of major residential developments. With plans to add more than 300,000 housing units by 2025 and aiming for nearly one million units by 2030, these efforts are set to further boost the Kingdom’s attractiveness for domestic and international investments.

Al-Hogail also pointed out the significant contribution of the real estate sector to the Kingdom’s non-oil gross domestic product, which reached 12.2 percent, while the construction and building sector contributed 11.3  percent by the third quarter of 2023.

Concluding his visit, Al-Hogail will preside over the Saudi-Spanish Business Forum, organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers and Saudi-Spanish Business Council.


New air route strengthening Saudi-China connectivity has inaugural flight

New air route strengthening Saudi-China connectivity has inaugural flight
Updated 36 min 25 sec ago
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New air route strengthening Saudi-China connectivity has inaugural flight

New air route strengthening Saudi-China connectivity has inaugural flight

RIYADH: With the inaugural flight of China Southern Airlines landing in Riyadh on April 16, Saudi Arabia and Beijing are further enhancing air connectivity.

The Chinese airplane arrived at the King Khalid International Airport at night, carrying approximately 247 passengers, achieving a load factor of 86 percent, according to Al-Ekhbariya Channel.

The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation previously announced the licensing of China Southern Airlines to conduct regular weekly passenger and freight flights from Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen to Riyadh during the summer season of 2024.

This includes four passenger and commercial flights and three cargo flights commencing on April 16.

Ayman Aboabah, CEO of Riyadh Airport Co., informed the media channel that depending on peak seasons, the new route could achieve a utilization rate of up to 90 percent. He emphasized that this reflects substantial demand for the updated passage.

Aboabah also said that another station is scheduled to be operational by June and that plans are in place to attract three to four additional carriers in the coming year.

The CEO added: “We are truly very proud to inaugurate the return of the first Chinese carrier to the Kingdom, operating two weekly flights, transporting 1,140 passengers between Saudi Arabia and China. In fact, this marks the beginning of a series of carriers we are collaborating with under the Air Connectivity Program and with Chinese carriers.” 

In February, top officials from both countries convened for a high-level meeting in Beijing, focusing on investment opportunities, technology transfer, and enhancing economic cooperation. 

The Saudi delegation, led by Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of GACA, visited the Asian country to convene a joint round table meeting, exploring cooperation in connectivity and discussing partnership aspects across various areas. 

During the visit, the Kingdom’s representatives emphasized the substantial investments in the sector and reiterated Saudi Arabia’s openness to further opportunities.  

This aligns with GACA’s goal of modernizing the airport system and supports the Kingdom’s tourism sector target of attracting 150 million visitors by 2030. 

In August 2023, the Kingdom’s flag carrier, Saudia, launched its first direct flight between Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport.

That move was in line with the Saudi Aviation Strategy, which recognizes the need to increase air connectivity with key markets such as China while accommodating increasing demand from international tourists seeking to discover the Kingdom. 

Before the Jeddah—Beijing route was launched, passengers visiting China from Saudi Arabia could only visit the southern city of Guangzhou.  

Saudia announced at that time that it would operate two flights from Jeddah to the Chinese capital every Monday and Friday, adding that passengers from Riyadh could also travel directly to Beijing every Sunday and Wednesday. 


Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 

Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 
Updated 17 April 2024
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Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 

Turkiye will take steps to strengthen economic program, Erdogan says 

ANKARA: Turkiye will take steps to strengthen its medium-term economic program and the three main priorities are to increase public savings, prioritize investments and accelerate structural reforms, President Tayyip Erdogan said. 

Speaking on Tuesday evening after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said his economic team had made preparations for such steps to strengthen the program, MTP, and, “hopefully we will share them with the public very soon.” 

“We have three main priorities in strengthening the MTP. These are to increase public sector savings, prioritize investments, and accelerate structural reforms.” 

Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz said both the finance ministry and the budget authority were carrying out studies on public sector savings, with more than 15 articles being worked upon. 

“We mean not only reducing expenditures, but making existing expenditures more efficient, prioritizing them, and making them contribute more to the economy’s competitiveness, efficiency and social welfare,” state broadcaster TRT reported him as saying. 

Erdogan also said on Tuesday evening that economic growth will approach 4 percent this year with a positive impact from exports, and forecast that the current account deficit will be 2.5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of the year. 

Official data on Wednesday showed that Turkiye’s current account deficit stood at $3.265 billion in February, less than a Reuters forecast for a deficit of $3.7 billion. 

Central Bank Governor Fatih Karahan told a panel in Washington on Tuesday that Turkiye is on track to reach its 36 percent inflation target by the end of the year after peaking at around 75 percent in the coming months. 


Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 

Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 
Updated 26 min 53 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 

Saudi Arabia launches new program to boost wheat, barley productivity 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s wheat and barley production is set to strengthen, thanks to a new program aimed at inventorying 903 plant genetic resources from fruit trees.    

The process of PGR entails collecting and documenting the genetic material of plants valuable for both present and future generations.   

It is integral to agro-biodiversity, covering crops, livestock, and related species, and serves as the cornerstone of food, agriculture, and nutritional security.    

Launched by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, the implementation of the new program is based on three axes, according to a statement.  

The first includes inventory, purification, and evaluation of local varieties, while the second entails cooperation with international bodies. Meanwhile, the third axis includes implementing a regional breeding program.  

This move falls in line with the ministry’s vision to achieve sustainability of the environment and natural resources, ensuring water security, contributing to food protection, and improving the quality of life in the Kingdom. 

Moreover, the commencement of the program involved the application to register five varieties of soft bread wheat and durum pasta wheat, including three local varieties and two new ones to the Kingdom. 

Additionally, the program encompassed the identification of 52 promising strains of soft wheat and 45 promising strains of durum wheat, which are currently in the final evaluation stages for this season. The ministry anticipates that a significant number of these strains will be selected and registered next year. 

Furthermore, a total of 215 genetic resources of field crops and 17 genetic resources of vegetable crops were also identified. 

In addition, the Seed and Seedling Center disclosed that out of the 903 plant genetic resources, 159 are located in Jazan, 252 in Al-Baha, and 130 in Asir. Moreover, 247 resources are found in Eastern Province, 50 in Riyadh, and 65 in Medinah. 

This underscores the comprehensive genetic fingerprinting being conducted for all genetic resources in the Kingdom, including wheat, barley, coffee, sesame, and others.  

This will help to identify similarities and differences between samples of a single variety at the molecular level, document genetically distinct samples, standardize the name of the local variety, and publish the outputs in international offices. 

The ministry also disclosed the establishment of a database of genetic resources from field and horticultural crops, which includes all associated data and characteristics.