Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions grow 11% to reach $14.35bn in January

The surge in POS payments reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to digitalization and investments in a tech-driven future. Saudi Arabia is taking several measures to foster sustainable cities and a robust digital economy embraced by a tech-savvy population.
The surge in POS payments reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to digitalization and investments in a tech-driven future. Saudi Arabia is taking several measures to foster sustainable cities and a robust digital economy embraced by a tech-savvy population.
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Updated 24 March 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions grow 11% to reach $14.35bn in January

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale transactions grow 11% to reach $14.35bn in January

RIYADH: Point-of-sale payments in Saudi Arabia recorded an 11 percent annual increase in January to reach SR53.8 billion ($14.35 billion), the latest data issued by the Saudi Central Bank showed.

The surge in POS payments reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to digitalization and investments in a tech-driven future. Saudi Arabia is taking several measures to foster sustainable cities and a robust digital economy embraced by a tech-savvy population.

The largest portion of POS spending in January was allocated to beverages and food, comprising 16 percent of the total at SR8.44 billion. It was followed by spending on restaurants and cafes, accounting for 15 percent and reaching SR8.14 billion, according to the central bank, also known as SAMA, data.

The surge in spending on miscellaneous goods and services, encompassing personal care items, supplies, maintenance, and cleaning, represented the largest portion at 20 percent of the overall increase in POS sales during the aforementioned period. This category accounted for 12 percent of the total expenditure in January 2024, reaching SR6.47 billion with a growth rate of 21 percent.

Noteworthy increases in POS payments were observed in utilities, rising by 34 percent to reach SR516.77 million, and hotels, which grew by 28 percent, totaling SR1.56 billion. Spending on jewelry also experienced a substantial growth of 27 percent to reach SR957.58 million.

Saudi Arabia’s Digital Government Authority, established in March 2021, is driving the digitization of utility payments, to create an efficient digital government. It focuses on integrating state entities and improving service delivery through technology, emphasizing secure and accessible government services.

Riyadh stood out as the city where 34 percent of the total POS transactions took place, followed by Jeddah at 14 percent.

The growing population of Riyadh, from about half a million in 1972 to over 7.8 million in 2024, alongside the city’s increasing urbanization and the establishment of numerous international headquarters, has contributed to its evolution into a bustling business and digital hub, where the majority of sales transactions occur.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 targets a 70 percent non-cash transaction rate by 2030, paving the way for significant fintech expansion. With strong government backing and a tech-savvy millennial population eager to adopt innovative payment methods like digital wallets and contactless cards, the market holds vast potential.

Data from SAMA showed the closure of 354 ATMs since January 2023 and a 0.32 percent reduction in bank cash withdrawals. Conversely, the issuance of 5.16 million cards during this period suggests a shift from physical cash toward digital methods.

In February 2024, Mastercard signed a deal with Loop, a SAMA-licensed digital payments technology firm in Saudi Arabia, to broaden access to advanced credit card options and cutting-edge payment solutions for businesses and consumers.

Loop intends to enrich its products and services by tapping into Mastercard’s technology and expertise, as outlined in a statement from Mastercard.

Under the deal, both companies will jointly issue Bank Identification Number ranges, enabling access to cutting-edge payment solutions for consumers, merchants, and fintech entities throughout the Kingdom.

This collaboration signifies progress in Saudi Arabia’s digital payments infrastructure, potentially creating new opportunities for seamless and secure transactions.

According to Adam Jones, country general manager, MENA central at Mastercard: “Today, technology and innovation are the bedrocks of sustained success; particularly with businesses and financial institutions around the world being confronted with new and unprecedented challenges.”

“We work to empower our clients and partners with the tools to meet their targets and accomplish their goals. We aim to enable Loop to do just that, catering to the needs of Saudi businesses and consumers with an innovative range of payment solutions,” he added.

The agreement also highlighted the dedication of both parties to strengthen the Saudi fintech environment. Collaboratively, they will introduce a range of innovative offerings to the expanding community of small and medium enterprises and fintech firms in the Kingdom, empowering them to address the needs of a swiftly changing global economy.

Loop CEO Ali Al-Obaid said: “We believe financial inclusion is vital to powering social and economic reform in Saudi Arabia.”

“Partnering with Mastercard and leveraging the company’s technology will enable us to do that and more, contributing to the Kingdom’s prosperity,” he added.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia is focused on enhancing the tourist experience through collaborations and investments in technologies. For instance, in March of this year, Amazon Payment Services, a digital payments provider in the MENA region, partnered with Red Sea Global to enhance the online payment experience for travelers in Saudi Arabia.

This collaboration aims to deliver a suite of payment solutions customized to meet the needs of Red Sea Global’s customers.

In this partnership, the digital payments provider is also offering its core payment processing services to facilitate online booking and payments for Red Sea Global travelers. By collaborating with industry leaders, the provider aims to support Saudi Arabia’s citizens and businesses.

According to Peter George, managing director of Amazon Payment Services: “Our payment methods fully and seamlessly integrate with Red Sea Global’s infrastructure, making their offering even more accessible, reliable, and easy to use.”

This effort contributes to a diversified financial sector, aligning with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to bolster the tourism and heritage sector.


Saudi Arabia’s tourist expenditure hits $40bn with 10% growth, says minister

Saudi Arabia’s tourist expenditure hits $40bn with 10% growth, says minister
Updated 1 min 18 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s tourist expenditure hits $40bn with 10% growth, says minister

Saudi Arabia’s tourist expenditure hits $40bn with 10% growth, says minister

RIYADH: Tourist spending in Saudi Arabia reached approximately SR150 billion ($40 billion), reflecting a 10 percent increase in both traveler numbers and expenditure compared to last year, as revealed by a top minister. 

At a conference convened to review the 2024 summer tourism program, the Kingdom’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb also said that Saudi Arabia will launch a tourist visa next month, aimed at attracting more international visitors and bolstering the sector’s growth. 

This comes as Saudi Arabia has set an ambitious target to host 150 million tourists annually by 2030, underscoring its commitment to transforming the Kingdom into a premier global tourism destination. 

The country’s passenger air traffic surged by 17 percent in the first half of 2024, reaching 62 million compared to 53 million in the same period last year, according to statistics released by the General Authority of Civil Aviation.  

This growth was supported by a 12 percent increase in flights, with 446,000 recorded compared to 399,000 in the first half of 2023. 

Highlighting the sector’s rapid expansion, Al-Khateeb shared the statistics from the first half of the year. “We achieved 60 million visits and approximately SR150 billion in tourist spending,” he stated, emphasizing a 10 percent rise in both visitor numbers and expenditure compared to the previous year. 

Emphasizing Saudi Arabia’s diverse attractions and substantial economic impact, the minister described the country as a “continent,” highlighting its vast natural beauty and varied landscapes, including mountains, resorts, Red Sea beaches, and vibrant cities.  

This diversity, he noted, positions Saudi Arabia uniquely to offer a wide array of tourism products to global travelers. 

Highlighting the government’s commitment to its citizens, he outlined initiatives aimed at enhancing opportunities and training for Saudis. “We’ve raised salaries and conduct over 100,000 training courses annually,” he emphasized, stressing the ministry’s proactive stance in encouraging private sector investment in Saudi human capital. 

Al-Khateeb also emphasized the crucial role of the private sector in shaping the tourism landscape. “The tourism and travel sector worldwide is primarily managed by the private sector, and we recognize its pivotal role in our sector’s development,” he affirmed. 

Underscoring the government’s support for infrastructure, Al-Khateeb pointed to the substantial impact of the Tourism Development Fund. Launched a year and a half ago, the fund has already financed over 100 projects totaling SR35 billion, encompassing a mix of small to medium-sized ventures and larger-scale initiatives. 

“In Aseer (region) alone, the Tourism Development Fund has allocated SR1 billion to 10 projects, reflecting a significant focus on enhancing hospitality offerings in the region,” Al-Khateeb highlighted, showcasing the Kingdom’s commitment to regional development through strategic investment. 

To enhance transparency and support stakeholders, the minister announced the launch of comprehensive tourism statistics on the ministry’s website. “An annual report will provide valuable insights for the media and investors, detailing every statistic and figure relevant to Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector,” he concluded. 


Egypt achieves record primary surplus of $18.14bn in fiscal year 2023/24

Egypt achieves record primary surplus of $18.14bn in fiscal year 2023/24
Updated 17 July 2024
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Egypt achieves record primary surplus of $18.14bn in fiscal year 2023/24

Egypt achieves record primary surplus of $18.14bn in fiscal year 2023/24

RIYADH: Egypt’s budget recorded a preliminary surplus of 875 billion Egyptian pounds ($18.14 billion) for the fiscal year 2023/2024, compared to 164 billion during the previous period, a top official revealed.

During a Cabinet meeting chaired by Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk highlighted that this improvement came despite economic activity shocks.

The North African country’s economy has witnessed blows over the last year due to the ongoing crisis in Gaza, which has slowed tourism growth and cut into Suez Canal revenue, two of Egypt’s biggest sources of foreign currency.

To help alleviate the inflationary effects that have been burdening the Egyptian public, the government in April increased the amount of funding required in its 2024/2025 budget by over 2.8 trillion pounds ($59 billion).

Kouchouk stated that revenues represented an annual growth of about 59.3 percent during the fiscal year 2023/2024.

The budget also achieved a total deficit that was about 706 billion pounds lower than what was listed in the revised budget.

Kouchouk noted the reduction in the overall deficit in the general budget during 2023/2024, which amounted to about 505 billion Egyptian pounds, compared to a deficit of about 610 billion pounds in the previous fiscal year – a decrease of 17 percent.

Despite the deficit shrinking, there were sectors that exceeded their allocated budgets. 

Education required around 256 billion pounds in funding, compared to around 230 billion pounds in the original budget.

Health sector needs totaled about 180 billion pounds, against an initial allocation of about 148 billion pounds.

The public treasury paid the Insurance and Pensions Fund’s dues, which amounted to 185 billion pounds, and settled all fees related to food subsidy support, amounting to 133 billion pounds, compared to about 128 billion pounds in the original budget.

He noted that this, alongside increasing wages and salaries of government employees and providing adequate allocations for various support items and social protection programs, contributed to an annual expenditure growth rate of 37.4 percent.

Kouchouk emphasized the continued efforts to improve the expenditure structure, which was generally achieved for all budget chapters, pointing out that the debt service bill remains high, and efforts are underway to reduce it.

The Minister of Finance reviewed the rates and developments regarding allocations for subsidies, grants, and social benefits, especially those related to supporting industrial production, export incentives, as well as social protection programs, and the health and education sectors.

Kouchouk also discussed the future budget estimates for the fiscal year 2024/2025, explaining that the Ministry of Finance aims to reduce the budget’s debt and place it on a downward trajectory.

Despite the difficulties the public treasury faced in the fiscal year 2023/2024 as a result of regional geopolitical unrest, high rates of inflation, and social programs put in place to protect citizens and pensioners, Kouchouk reiterated that the ministry was able to achieve strong financial performance by taking the required steps to mobilize revenues and control public finances.


Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,157

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,157
Updated 17 July 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,157

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,157

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index rose on Wednesday, gaining 77.24 points, or 0.64 percent, to close at 12,157.61. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR7.37 billion ($1.96 billion) as 157 of the listed stocks advanced, while 64 retreated.    

The MSCI Tadawul Index increased by 6.82 points, or 0.45 percent, to close at 1,520.39. 

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu decreased by 31.22 points, or 0.12 percent, to close at 25,887.91. This comes as 36 of the listed stocks advanced, while as many as 32 retreated. 

The best-performing stock of the day was AYYAN Investment Co., with its share price surging by 9.97 percent to SR19.42. 

Other top performers include the Miahona Co. and Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co., whose share prices soared by 9.88 percent and 9.41 percent, to stand at SR42.25 and SR24.88, respectively. 

National Gas and Industrialization Co. and Al-Baha Investment and Development Co. were also amongst the top gainers.  

The worst performer was the Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co. whose share price dropped by 2.46 percent to SR31.70. 

Other underperformers included Baazeem Trading Co. and Arabian Pipes Co., with their share prices declining by 1.53 percent to SR64.30 and 1.20 percent to SR131.40, respectively.

Saudi Public Transport Co. and Red Sea International Co. also experienced declines in their stock prices.

Value Capital Co., serving as the financial advisor and lead manager, announced that Tharwah Co. intends to offer 705,735 ordinary shares, representing 15 percent of its total shares post-offering. The company’s shares will be listed on Nomu. 

Tharwah Co.’s application for listing on the parallel market. was approved by the Saudi Exchange on May 19, and the Capital Market Authority approved the offering on June 3. The price per share for subscribers will be determined after the book-building period. The one-week offering period is scheduled to commence on Aug. 4. 

Alkhabeer Capital, a Shariah-compliant investment and financial services firm, has announced the listing and commencement of trading for the Alkhabeer Diversified Income Fund 2030 on the Saudi Exchange. 

In an official statement, the fund reported successful participation from a diverse group of investors, including individuals and institutions, during its initial public offering.  

The IPO concluded on June 13, attracting 144,132 subscribers and raising a total of SR305.4 million. 


Saudi Cabinet approves establishment of national minerals program

Saudi Cabinet approves establishment of national minerals program
Updated 17 July 2024
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Saudi Cabinet approves establishment of national minerals program

Saudi Cabinet approves establishment of national minerals program
  • Program aims to develop Kingdom’s infrastructure and support local supply chains
  • Saudi Arabia’s mineral wealth is valued at an estimated $2.5 trillion

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is set to launch a new national minerals program, further strengthening its position as a regional and global center for the mining and metals sector. 
The Saudi Cabinet has approved the establishment of the initiative, which is set to be linked to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, according to a statement. 
The newly announced program is expected to meet the growing local, regional, and global needs for minerals, build local capabilities, and contribute to exploration operations. 
This is in line with Saudi Arabia’s ambition to transform mining into a foundational industrial pillar of the country’s economy. It also aligns with the ministry’s goal to further bolster the sector and contribute to ongoing developments under Saudi Vision 2030. 
According to a ministry statement released earlier this year, the Kingdom’s mineral wealth is valued at an estimated SR9.4 trillion ($2.5 trillion). 
The Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the cabinet’s approval and said the program will effectively drive growth in the minerals sector and exploit the country’s mineral wealth. 
“The Council of Ministers’ decision to establish the National Minerals Program will constitute a qualitative shift in supporting supply chains in the industrial and mining sectors and strengthen the Kingdom’s position as a regional and global center for the mining and minerals sector,” Alkhorayef said in a statement. 
“The Kingdom’s directions aim to develop mineral value chains so that the mining sector becomes the third pillar of the national industry and to benefit from the Kingdom’s geographical location, which represents one of the most important major trade intersections,” he added.
The statement further revealed that the initiative will entail important functions, including ensuring the quality and adequacy of supply chains for current and future minerals and developing and managing their strategic storage.
It will also work on quantifying and following up on securing Saudi Arabia’s mineral needs, developing plans and strategies, and providing industrial supplies of mining raw materials.
The nation’s mining sector has been expanding locally and internationally, with significant strides being made.
In March, the Kingdom’s mining sector recorded a 138 percent increase in the issuance of exploitation licenses since the new Mining Investment Law was implemented in 2021. 
The number of permits recorded rose from eight in 2021 to 19 last year as the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources actively works to boost mineral production and investment. 


Saudi weekly POS spending hits $3bn, driven by hotel sector surge

Saudi weekly POS spending hits $3bn, driven by hotel sector surge
Updated 17 July 2024
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Saudi weekly POS spending hits $3bn, driven by hotel sector surge

Saudi weekly POS spending hits $3bn, driven by hotel sector surge
  • Payments in restaurants and cafe held the largest share of POS transactions

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale spending totaled SR11.9 billion ($3.19 billion) from July 7 to 13, driven by a 3.8 percent weekly surge in hotel sector transactions, official data showed.

The latest data from the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed that the hospitality industry showed the only increase during the week, with total transaction values reaching SR269.6 million. 

Point-of-sale is where transactions between merchants and customers take place, using systems like cash registers or digital terminals to manage sales and payments. 

Saudi Arabia’s apex bank releases weekly POS data to provide insights into consumer spending patterns, economic activity, and trends in various sectors such as retail, hospitality, and services. 

During the seven-day period starting July 7, POS transactions in the Kingdom declined by 9.8 percent, reversing from an increase in the previous week, to reach SR13.2 billion.  

Data from SAMA indicated that payments in restaurants and cafes decreased by 6.4 percent compared to the previous week, totaling SR1.84 billion, while still holding the largest share of POS transactions. 

Expenses on food and beverages dipped by 12.5 percent to reach SR1.79 billion, the third-largest fall compared to the previous week.  

Miscellaneous goods and services came in third place in spending size, recording an 11.2 percent dip, reaching SR1.57 billion. 

Gas stations witnessed the smallest dip this week, recording a 3.2 percent decrease, reaching SR841.4 million.  

Construction and building materials experienced the second-smallest drop in POS transaction value, diminished by 4.7 percent to SR329.7 million. Furthermore, expenses on transportation witnessed the third-smallest surge, with a 5.6 percent decrease, reaching SR733.1 million. 

According to data from SAMA, 33.37 percent of POS deals occurred in Riyadh, with the total transaction value reaching SR3.91 billion, representing an 8.3 percent decline from the previous week when it was SR4.26 billion. 

Riyadh has expanded into a major growth hub, with Spinneys recently debuting its flagship 43,520 sq. ft. outlet at La Strada Yard, marking the start of its expansion in the capital and Jeddah to meet the increasing demand for high-quality groceries in Saudi Arabia.  

In Jeddah, purchases accounted for 14.6 percent of the total, amounting to SR1.71 billion, reflecting an 8 percent weekly decrease, the third-largest decline compared to the previous week.  

Expenditures in Abha and Makkah declined by 4.8 percent and 4.2 percent, reaching SR224.2 million and SR459.5 million, respectively. 

The highest fall was spotted in Tabouk with a 12.8 percent weekly change, reaching SR216.2 million.