Global South must focus on developing human capabilities, experts say

Rami Ahmad, Islamic Development Bank’s senior adviser to the president.
Rami Ahmad, Islamic Development Bank’s senior adviser to the president.
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Updated 29 February 2024
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Global South must focus on developing human capabilities, experts say

Global South must focus on developing human capabilities, experts say

RIYADH: Discussions on investing in human capital in the Global South must consider the effects of geopolitical tensions, refugee crises, and disease outbreaks, a panel of experts said. 

Rami Ahmad, Islamic Development Bank’s senior adviser to the president, noted that, like many other multilateral development banks, the ISDB was “priding itself” on its investments in human capital and infrastructure in the region prior to 2011. 

Following the events of the Arab Spring in the early 2010s, when many countries “erupted,” it became evident that investments in human capital, from early education to vocational training, rather than merely in infrastructure, create more sustainable outcomes. 

Speaking on a panel at the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh, the senior adviser affirmed that at the heart of “all this chaos” is a lack of “real development” of the human capabilities in these countries.

Ahmad cited the ongoing war in Gaza, saying: “Look at how many years of developing and financing health and education projects in a place like Gaza, for example, just to see it go down the drain in a few weeks. That how we deal with restoring the capabilities of 2 million people and storing the capabilities of 2 million people. We, as financial institutions, we plan, we implement, and then something like this happens.”

He added: “This is why we need to do education differently. We need to come at the early stages of childhood. We need to have this dialogue instead of monologue. We need to deal with the minorities, people like we were talking about — the refugees. There are 70 million people in the world who are refugees or internally displaced people. How do you deal with their education and we need a holistic approach. It’s not the education only. We need to talk about food security, we need to talk about health and well-being.” 

As the World Health Organization’s regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Hanan Balkhy, declared that in the scenarios outlined by Ahmad of internally displaced populations and geopolitics, retaining the health workforce becomes “very challenging.”

She stressed the need for a “heavy lift” for education within the sector in the region and a shift in mindset that pushes nations toward looking at peace as a worthy investment. 

The director said: “We talk about building for years and destroying within hours. So, if we can preach for peace as much as we can, that’s number one. Number two, we need to be innovative in preparing the youngsters.”

Balkhy highlighted the region’s “very low” focus on public health and how comprehensive strategies are now essential given that infrastructure alone isn’t sufficient to address complex health scenarios. 

“It’s not that tertiary care hospital, it’s not that very well-equipped ICU or operating room. It is how do you give vaccinations for two million people who are actually having babies on a border between two countries? How do you access them,” she posed. 

Echoing the notions introduced by the regional director, the IsDB executive affirmed that whether public health outbreaks or conflicts, there needs to be a significant shift in how “we provide finance” ensuring that investments are used to build in a “real sustainable development way.”

One of the proposed solutions by the panelists was ensuring the ability to retain local talent. 

According to the World Bank, there is $160 billion annually in forgone income within advanced economies, caused by the “brain drain” that is trickling from the developing nations to the developed world. 

Similarly, the WTO outlined that while the African continent carries 24 percent of the world’s disease burden, it has only 2 percent of the global workforce because “all these brains have migrated to the north,” Ahmed noted. 

“We in ISDB provide 18,000 scholarships, some of them came back to their countries but many of them really they stay in the north, and they feel more comfortable. We need to change the policies about scholarships, which makes sure they come back via the attractive environment for them to come back or try to benefit from what they are doing,” he said

“Without doing so, we are basically giving our best and brightest and having a bad investment, very policies, where we finance and we invest in basic education and then we send the best and brightest and we don’t reap the benefits from them in charging the future,” he concluded.


GCC logistics sector set to expand as Saudi Cabinet approves regional transport law

GCC logistics sector set to expand as Saudi Cabinet approves regional transport law
Updated 6 sec ago
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GCC logistics sector set to expand as Saudi Cabinet approves regional transport law

GCC logistics sector set to expand as Saudi Cabinet approves regional transport law

RIYADH: The logistics sector across the Gulf Cooperation Council region is set to prosper following the Saudi Cabinet’s approval of a land transport law within the region.

Chaired by King Salman, a ministerial session was held in Jeddah, during which the Cabinet reached consensus on several key proposals. Among these was the endorsement of the unified law.

The system is crafted to enhance the organizational environment, simplify procedures, and foster unity. Moreover, it aims to boost road safety, elevate service quality, protect investments, and stimulate growth in the logistics sector throughout the GCC region.


Global airline body calls for release of $720 million in held revenues by Pakistan, Bangladesh

Global airline body calls for release of $720 million in held revenues by Pakistan, Bangladesh
Updated 40 min 8 sec ago
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Global airline body calls for release of $720 million in held revenues by Pakistan, Bangladesh

Global airline body calls for release of $720 million in held revenues by Pakistan, Bangladesh
  • IATA asks Pakistan in a statement to simplify the ‘onerous’ repatriation process causing ‘unnecessary delays’
  • The international organization says airlines are unable to repatriate $399 million from the Pakistani market alone

KARACHI: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Wednesday asked Pakistan and Bangladesh to release airline revenues amounting to $720 million, saying the two countries were holding it in contravention of international agreements.

IATA, an international organization representing the global airline industry, asked Pakistan to simplify the “onerous” repatriation process involving audit and tax exemption certificates in a statement, pointing out such procedures caused “unnecessary delays.”

Bangladesh, it said, had a more standardized system, though aviation needed to be a higher central bank priority to facilitate access to foreign exchange.

“The situation has become severe with airlines unable to repatriate over $720 million ($399 million in Pakistan and $323 million in Bangladesh) of revenues earned in these markets,” the statement informed.

IATA’s regional vice president for Asia-Pacific Philip Goh emphasized that the timely repatriation of revenues to different countries was critical for payment of dollar denominated expenses such as lease agreements, spare parts, overflight fees and fuel.

“Delaying repatriation contravenes international obligations written into bilateral agreements and increases exchange rate risks for airlines,” he said. “Pakistan and Bangladesh must release the more than $720 million that they are blocking with immediate effect so that airlines can continue to efficiently provide the air connectivity on which both these economies rely.”

Goh maintained that his organization recognized the two governments were facing difficult challenges, making it necessary for them to determine how to utilize foreign currencies strategically.

“Airlines operate on razor-thin margins,” he continued. “They need to prioritize the markets they serve based on the confidence they have in being able to pay their expenses with revenues that are remitted in a timely and efficient fashion.”

He pointed out reduced air connectivity limited the potential for economic growth, foreign investment and exports, adding such large sums of money involved in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi markets necessitated urgent solutions.


Saudi Arabia to develop 320k new hotel rooms by 2030: Knight Frank 

Saudi Arabia to develop 320k new hotel rooms by 2030: Knight Frank 
Updated 41 min 43 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia to develop 320k new hotel rooms by 2030: Knight Frank 

Saudi Arabia to develop 320k new hotel rooms by 2030: Knight Frank 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is gearing up to expand its hospitality sector by developing 320,000 new hotel rooms by 2030, according to an analysis by global property giant Knight Frank.

The consultancy’s study disclosed that as much as 67 percent of the planned hotel room supply in the Kingdom would fall in the “upscale” or “luxury” categories, referring to 4-star and 5-star accommodations, respectively. 

This move aims to cater to the projected surge in tourism, with 150 million domestic and international tourists expected by 2030.

“With a target of welcoming 150 million visitors by 2030—a 50 percent increase from its previous goal—the government is actively exploring various strategies to attract to international travelers,” Partner and Head of Hospitality at Tourism and Leisure Advisory in Middle East and Africa Turab Saleem said.

Saleem noted that this includes the development of cultural and entertainment offerings nationwide, which complement existing attractions like the Jeddah F1 Grand Prix and numerous entertainment seasons.

“Noteworthy additions include theme parks such as Boulevard World in Riyadh, alongside the licensing of 24 additional theme parks by the Saudi General Entertainment Authority over the past year,” he added.


Oil Updates – prices climb amid US stocks decline, Middle East conflict

Oil Updates – prices climb amid US stocks decline, Middle East conflict
Updated 24 April 2024
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Oil Updates – prices climb amid US stocks decline, Middle East conflict

Oil Updates – prices climb amid US stocks decline, Middle East conflict

TOKYO: Oil prices extended gains on Wednesday after industry data showed a surprise drop in US crude stocks last week, a positive sign for demand, though markets were also keeping a close eye on hostilities in the Middle East, according to Reuters

Brent crude futures rose 26 cents, or 0.29 percent, to $88.68 a barrel and US West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 26 cents, or 0.31 percent, to $83.62 a barrel at 9:34 a.m. Saudi time.

US crude inventories fell 3.237 million barrels in the week ended April 19, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures. In contrast, six analysts polled by Reuters had expected a rise of 800,000 barrels.

Traders will be watching for the official US data on oil and product stockpiles due at 5:30 p.m. Saudi time for confirmation of the big drawdown.

US business activity cooled in April to a four-month low, with S&P Global saying on Tuesday that its flash Composite PMI Output Index, which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors, fell to 50.9 this month from 52.1 in March.

“This could help convince policy makers that rate cuts are required to support the economy,” ANZ analysts said in a note.

US interest rate cuts could bolster economic growth and, in turn, demand for oil from the world’s top consumer of the fuel.

Analysts were still bullish that any latest developments in conflicts in the Middle East will still support markets, though the impact on oil supplies remains limited for now.

“Overall, crude oil prices are well supported around current levels by on-going Middle East risk premium. On the topside, risk of possible renewed OPEC production increase from Jun will help limit any significant upside,” said head of markets strategy for United Overseas Bank in Singapore Heng Koon How.

“We maintain our forecast for Brent to consolidate at USD 90/bbl by end of this year,” Heng added.

Israeli strikes intensified across Gaza on Tuesday, in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks.

“Recent reports suggest that both Iran and Israel consider the current operations concluded against one another, with no follow-up action required for now,” ING analysts said in a note.

“The US and Europe are preparing for new sanctions against Iran – although these may not have a material impact on oil supply in the immediate term,” they added.
 


Pakistan Stock Exchange hits record high, breaks 72,000 points in intraday trade

Pakistan Stock Exchange hits record high, breaks 72,000 points in intraday trade
Updated 24 April 2024
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Pakistan Stock Exchange hits record high, breaks 72,000 points in intraday trade

Pakistan Stock Exchange hits record high, breaks 72,000 points in intraday trade
  • Analysts say investors expect a significant decline in April inflation data that may lead to a cut in interest rates
  • The Pakistani bourse has recently been trading at record highs due to hopes of positive loan talks with the IMF

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s benchmark share index breached the key level of 72,000 to trade at a record high of 72,414 points during intraday trade earlier on Wednesday, according to data from the Pakistan Stock Exchange website.

The Pakistani bourse has recently been trading at record highs amid positive sentiment prevailing among investors due to hopes of the country’s successful talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a new loan program.

The country’s finance minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, recently visited Washington to hold talks with IMF officials for a long-term bailout facility as Pakistan’s current $3 billion program is due to expire this month.

The finance minister expressed hopes the outline of the new program would soon become visible, adding that the loan would help Pakistan continue with structural economic reforms.

“After a record current account surplus, investors are now expecting a big fall in April inflation data that may result in a cut in interest rates in the coming months,” Sohail Mohammed, CEO of Karachi-based brokerage company Topline Securities, told Reuters.

Pakistan’s benchmark KSE100 index has surged 75.5 percent over the past year and is up 11.5 percent year-to-date.

The equity market is expected to surge further as an IMF delegation arrives in Pakistan next month to determine the contours of the new loan facility.

“We are still hoping that we can get into a staff-level agreement [with the IMF] by the time June is done or early July so that we can move on,” the finance minister said on Tuesday while addressing a news conference in Islamabad.

With input from Reuters