Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1

Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1
The Sakani program was founded in 2017 by the Saudi Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund. Shutterstock
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Updated 15 April 2024
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Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1

Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1

RIYADH: As many as 32,343 Saudi families benefitted from Sakani’s housing options during the first quarter of 2024, marking an annual 15 percent increase.

In collaboration with the Real Estate Development Fund and financial institutions, the program provides a variety of housing support packages to encourage first-time house buyers, including non-refundable financial assistance of SR100,000 ($26,659) or SR150,000.

The number of the Kingdom’s households that purchased their first homes reached 25,391 in the first three months of the year, reflecting the objective of Sakani to offer a variety of residential options and financial solutions.

Founded in 2017 by the Saudi Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund, the program aims to increase the proportion of families that own a home in the Kingdom to 70 percent by 2030, in line with the economic diversification strategy Vision 2030.

Figures from Sakani showed that the number of beneficiary households reached 12,184 in March, with 9,381 Saudi families obtaining their first residence.

In January, Sakani announced that more than 100,000 Saudi families benefited from the initiative in 2023, while the number of applicants who obtained their first home over that 12 month period reaching 98,475.

The core objectives of the Sakani initiative are to enable homeownership in the Kingdom by creating new housing stock, assigning plots and properties to citizens, and providing financing for their purchases.

The Sakani website and application provide a wide range of housing facilities and services, such as real estate consultancy, issuance of real estate transaction tax certificates and a display of financing institution rates.

It also provides electronic financing and the disbursement of land contracts, engineering design services, access to certified contractors, and additional services.


Riyadh Air and Saudia agree new joint training programs

Riyadh Air and Saudia agree new joint training programs
Updated 3 min 21 sec ago
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Riyadh Air and Saudia agree new joint training programs

Riyadh Air and Saudia agree new joint training programs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s two national airlines will work together to train pilots, aircraft crews and other aviation employees thanks to a new deal.

Riyadh Air, the airline announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March 2023, has reached an agreement with the Saudi Academy – affiliated with the Saudia group, the national carrier of the Kingdom.

The memorandum of cooperation, signed at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh, represents a turning point in specialized education in the field of aviation for Saudi Arabia’s national carriers, paving the way towards improving the training standards of pilots, aircraft crews and air operations, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The agreement will enable the two national carriers to integrate their expertise and resources to provide training programs covering a wide range of specializations, SPA’s report added.

These programs will include technical training, aviation basics, and ground operations, as well as management principles, linguistic proficiency, and compliance with regulatory provisions and standards.


Pakistan GDP grows 2.09% in Q3, supported by agriculture

Pakistan GDP grows 2.09% in Q3, supported by agriculture
Updated 14 min 5 sec ago
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Pakistan GDP grows 2.09% in Q3, supported by agriculture

Pakistan GDP grows 2.09% in Q3, supported by agriculture
  • Pakistan’s central bank in latest report projected real GDP growth of 2-3% for the fiscal year 2024 
  • Provisional 2024 financial year growth in agriculture estimated at 6.25%, 1.21% for industry and services

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s economy grew 2.09% in the third quarter of the financial year 2023-2024, supported by higher growth in agriculture, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics said in a press release on Tuesday.

The estimated provisional growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the financial year ending June 2024 is 2.38%, the bureau said in a statement. That compares with a revised 0.21% economic contraction in the 2023 year when political unrest, a combination of tax and gas tariff hikes, controlled imports, and a steep fall in the rupee currency rapidly pushed up inflation.

Last week in its half yearly report, Pakistan’s central bank projected real GDP growth of 2-3% for the fiscal year 2024.

There was no comparable year-ago third quarter GDP data as Pakistan only began releasing quarterly growth numbers from November. That was done in compliance with the structural benchmarks of the current $3 billion bailout program agreed with the International Monetary Fund and completed last month.

The bureau revised the first and second quarter GDP estimates for financial year 2023-2024 to 2.71% and 1.79% respectively, compared to earlier estimates of 2.5% and 1%.

The provisional 2024 financial year growth in agriculture was estimated at 6.25%, and 1.21% for both industry as well as services, it added.

“The healthy growth of agriculture is mainly due to double-digit growth in important crops,” the bureau said, adding that bumper crop of wheat, cotton, and rice contributed to the positive result.


IMF expects UAE’s economy to grow by 4% in 2024

IMF expects UAE’s economy to grow by 4% in 2024
Updated 15 min 40 sec ago
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IMF expects UAE’s economy to grow by 4% in 2024

IMF expects UAE’s economy to grow by 4% in 2024

RIYADH: The UAE’s gross domestic product is set to expand by 4 percent this year, driven by robust domestic activities and relatively high oil prices, an International Monetary Fund has forecast.

In its latest Article IV end of mission statement, the IMF noted that the Emirates is experiencing strong growth in domestic sectors, including tourism, construction, and financial services. 

The report further noted that UAE’s oil GDP will also expand this year if the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, decide to ease the previously proposed output cuts. 

“Economic growth in the UAE is broad-based, led by robust activity in the tourism, construction, manufacturing, and financial services sectors. Foreign demand for real estate, increased bilateral and multilateral ties, and the UAE’s safe haven status continue to drive rapid growth in housing prices and an increase in rents while adding to ample domestic liquidity,” said the IMF in the statement. 

In its previous projection in April, the organization predicted that the UAE’s economy would grow by 3.5 percent in 2024. 

The UN financial agency added that the impact of geopolitical tensions in the Emirates so far is still minimal, and the country’s response to the recent flooding was rapid and effective. 

IMF further pointed out that the inflation rate in the UAE is expected to be contained at 2 percent in 2024. 

According to the study, the UAE’s fiscal and external surpluses are expected to remain high this year due to relatively surging oil prices. 

“The general government surplus is projected to be around 5 percent of GDP in 2024 and public debt is on track to decline further toward 30 percent of GDP, benefitting from active debt management strategies,” said IMF. 

It added: “Capital spending is expected to meet ongoing infrastructure needs, and the introduction of the corporate income tax will support non-hydrocarbon revenue with its full implementation in the coming years. The current account surplus is projected at around 9 percent of GDP in 2024.” 

The international financial institution also noted that accelerated public and private investment and structural reforms in areas like renewable energy and technology could further accelerate economic growth in the Emirates. 

However, the IMF noted that the UAE’s economic outlook is subject to uncertainty and external risks, including those related to geopolitical tensions, global growth, and commodity price volatility. 

The study highlighted that banks in the Emirates have considerable capital and liquidity buffers, while credit growth is resilient despite higher domestic interest rates. 

“The efforts to digitalize the financial system and payment landscape are welcome and should continue to follow a risk-conscious approach. Initiatives to develop and regulate the virtual asset industry should be informed by a careful assessment of macroeconomic and financial stability risks,” said the IMF. 

The report concluded by saying that gradual fiscal consolidation and further structural reforms will ensure the UAE’s economic prudence and medium-term sustainability. 


Saudi Power Procurement Co. signs two power purchase agreements with Japan’s Marubeni

Saudi Power Procurement Co. signs two power purchase agreements with Japan’s Marubeni
Updated 23 min 45 sec ago
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Saudi Power Procurement Co. signs two power purchase agreements with Japan’s Marubeni

Saudi Power Procurement Co. signs two power purchase agreements with Japan’s Marubeni

TOKYO: The Saudi Power Procurement Co. signed two power purchase agreements with a consortium led by Japan’s Marubeni Corporation on Tuesday in Tokyo. 

The deals are part of the fourth phase of Saudi Arabia’s National Renewable Energy Program, supervised by the Ministry of Energy. 

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Minister of Energy and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry SAITO Ken were present at the signing. 

The agreements pertain to the Al-Ghat wind power project, with a capacity of 600 MW, and the Waad Al-Shamal wind power project, with a capacity of 500 MW. These agreements were signed during the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum, held in Japan on Tuesday. 

On this occasion, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Minister of Energy, expressed his gratitude to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chairman of the Supreme Committee for Energy, for the support, assistance and follow-up provided by the leadership, which aids the Ministry of Energy and its system in achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 in the energy sector. 

Prince Abdulaziz stated: “I am pleased to announce that the Al-Ghat project has set a new world record for the lowest cost of electricity production from wind energy, with a cost of 1.56558 US cents per kilowatt-hour, equivalent to 5.87094 halalas per kilowatt-hour. The Waad Al-Shamal project achieved the second-best global record in this field, with a cost of 1.70187 US cents per kilowatt-hour, equivalent to 6.38201 halalas per kilowatt-hour.” 

The minister added: “The annual energy produced by both projects will be sufficient for the consumption of 257,000 residential units, demonstrating the significant success of these projects in enhancing energy efficiency in the Kingdom.” 

He noted that these projects are part of the objectives of the National Renewable Energy Program, which aims to utilize renewable energy sources available throughout the Kingdom to contribute to displacing liquid fuels used in the electricity production sector and achieving the optimal energy mix for electricity generation, with renewable energy sources expected to account for about 50% of the mix by 2030.


Saudi crude exports reach 9-month high: JODI

Saudi crude exports reach 9-month high: JODI
Updated 21 May 2024
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Saudi crude exports reach 9-month high: JODI

Saudi crude exports reach 9-month high: JODI

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s crude exports reached 6.41 million barrels per day in March, according to an analysis from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative.

This figure increased by 96,000 bpd, or 1.52 percent, compared to the previous month, marking a nine-month high.

Furthermore, the data indicated that the Kingdom’s crude production fell to 8.97 million bpd, reflecting a monthly decrease of 0.42 percent. 

This can be linked to the voluntary oil production cuts adopted by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, known as OPEC+. Saudi Arabia announced in March the extension of its 1 million bpd cut, initially implemented in July 2023, until the end of the second quarter of 2024.

The Ministry of Energy said that the Kingdom’s production will be approximately 9 million bpd until the end of June.

Meanwhile, refinery crude output, representing the processed volume of crude oil yielding gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil, fell by 4 percent compared to the previous month, reaching 2.56 million bpd, according to JODI data.

Saudi Arabia’s direct burn of crude oil, which involves using oil without substantial refining processes, decreased by 53,000 bpd in March, representing a 14.7 percent fall compared to the preceding month. The total direct burn for the month amounted to 307,000 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.