Qatar to invest $10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 

Qatar to invest $10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani poses alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron before a state dinner at the Elysee Palace as part of a two day state visit in Paris, France, February 27, 2024. REUTERS
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Updated 28 February 2024
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Qatar to invest $10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 

Qatar to invest $10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 

PARIS: France and Qatar have sealed a strategic partnership under which Qatar has agreed to channel €10 billion ($10.85 billion) into start-ups and investment funds in France between 2024 and 2030, the French presidency said in a statement. 

The investments “to the mutual benefit of both countries” will target key sectors ranging from energy transition, semiconductor, aerospace, artificial intelligence, digital, health, hospitality and culture, it added. 

The investment was announced as Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s ruling emir, started a two-day visit to France on Tuesday, his first state visit to the country since his accession to the throne in 2013. 


Saudi crude production hits 7-month high in February

Saudi crude production hits 7-month high in February
Updated 7 sec ago
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Saudi crude production hits 7-month high in February

Saudi crude production hits 7-month high in February
  • The Kingdom’s crude exports rose to 6.32 million bpd or 0.32 percent: JODI data

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s crude production reached a seven-month high of 9.01 million barrels per day in February, data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative showed. 

This represented a rise of 55,000 bpd or 0.61 percent compared to the previous month.  

Furthermore, the data indicated that the Kingdom’s crude exports rose to 6.32 million bpd, reflecting a monthly increase of 0.32 percent.  

In early April, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, chose to keep their existing output policy unchanged as oil prices hit a five-month high.  

Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ extended voluntary output cuts of 2.2 million bpd until June to bolster the market. The decision was reached during the 53rd meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee on April 3.  

Oil prices surged due to supply constraints, attacks on Russian energy infrastructure, and conflicts in the Middle East, with Brent crude exceeding $89 a barrel.  

This extension of cuts, alongside voluntary reductions announced in April 2023, including 500,000 bpd cuts from both Saudi Arabia and Russia, now extends through December of this year. 

As a result of this decision, despite the monthly increase, crude output remains approximately 14 percent lower than the levels observed during the same month last year. 

The next JMMC meeting is scheduled for June 1.  

Refinery output 

Meanwhile, refinery crude output, representing the processed volume of crude oil yielding gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil, surged to a five-month high. It increased by 10 percent compared to the previous month, reaching 2.68 million bpd, according to JODI data. This also marked a 10 percent increase from the 2.44 million bpd recorded during the same period last year. 

As one of the world’s leading oil producers, Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in supplying these refined products to meet global energy demands. 

In February, diesel, constituting 38 percent of the total output, declined by 7 percent to 1.02 million bpd, with its percentage share decreasing from 45 percent in January. Motor aviation or jet fuel maintained a 22 percent share, experiencing an 11 percent increase to 597,000 bpd. Meanwhile, fuel oil, making up 17 percent of the total refinery output, saw a slight uptick of 0.22 percent, totaling 455,000 bpd. 

Conversely, refinery output exports surged to a 10-month high, reaching 1.39 million bpd, a 12 percent monthly increase. The most significant rise was observed in motor and aviation oil, up by 45 percent to 275,000 bpd. Fuel oil exports followed with a 38 percent increase to 219,000 bpd, while diesel oil saw a 13 percent rise to 629,000 bpd. 

In February, 62 percent of refinery diesel oil output was exported, marking the highest percentage in eight months. Fuel oil and motor and aviation gasoline followed suit with export percentages of 48 percent and 46 percent, respectively. 

Direct crude usage 

Saudi Arabia’s direct burn of crude oil, involving the utilization of oil without substantial refining processes, experienced an increase of 52,000 bpd in February, representing a 17 percent rise compared to the preceding month. The total direct burn for the month amounted to 360,000 bpd. 

The Ministry of Energy aims to enhance the contributions of natural gas and renewable sources as part of the Kingdom’s goal to achieve an optimal, highly efficient, and cost-effective energy mix. 

This involves replacing liquid fuel with natural gas and integrating renewables to constitute approximately 50 percent of the electricity production energy mix by 2030. 


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 14 min 28 sec ago
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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 locally 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.

Saad bin Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan, chief business and wholesale officer at Zain KSA, said: “We are proud to be the first telecom and digital services provider to offer an integrated solution designed and developed in the Kingdom, aligning with our sustainability strategy of supporting local content.”

He added that their achievement aligns with the aspirations of the country’s leadership and Vision 2030 in enhancing the digital economy and localizing technology.

He also emphasized his company’s commitment to building an integrated technological ecosystem aiming at leveraging digitization and automation to serve and empower the productive, service, and logistical sectors across the Kingdom.

The executive further said that their fleet management method is a direct result of this commitment, and they take immense pride in being at the forefront of companies providing 100 percent national digital solutions.

The firm said in its release that by offering real-time GPS tracking, its system enhances road safety and security across the transportation and logistics sectors, empowering decision-makers with crucial insights through comprehensive reports based on accurate data.

It added that the system allows for informed decisions that boost operational efficiency and save costs.


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 29 min 41 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 56 min 13 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.