World Bank chooses Saudi Arabia as location for new knowledge hub

A knowledge hub will be established in Saudi Arabia in a partnership between the Kingdom’s National Competitiveness Center and the World Bank Group. (SPA)
A knowledge hub will be established in Saudi Arabia in a partnership between the Kingdom’s National Competitiveness Center and the World Bank Group. (SPA)
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Updated 20 April 2024
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World Bank chooses Saudi Arabia as location for new knowledge hub

World Bank chooses Saudi Arabia as location for new knowledge hub
  • Hub will enable Kingdom to assist other countries looking to boost economic standings

WASHINGTON DC: A knowledge hub will be established in Saudi Arabia in a partnership between the Kingdom’s National Competitiveness Center and the World Bank Group, it was announced in Washington DC on Friday.

The new knowledge center will serve as a hub for sharing Saudi Arabia’s experience of economic reform and enhancing regional and global competitiveness collaborations with other countries looking to boost their economic standings, a statement released by the NCC said.

Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi, who is also chairman of the NCC board of directors, said the deal was testament to the significant progress made by the Kingdom in global competitiveness reports and indicators, which had been made possible by the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar, the President of the World Bank Group Ajay Banga and the Chief Economist of the World Bank Group Intermit Gill also attended the announcement event.

The hub, currently in the preparatory stage, will be overseen by a founding committee including the ministries of finance, economy, and planning, alongside several relevant government agencies.


Riyadh residential market sales surge 77%: CBRE report

Riyadh residential market sales surge 77%: CBRE report
Updated 5 sec ago
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Riyadh residential market sales surge 77%: CBRE report

Riyadh residential market sales surge 77%: CBRE report

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s residential market experienced robust growth in demand, with Riyadh witnessing a 77 percent year-on-year increase in sales transactions in the first quarter, a new report showed. 

According to global consultancy firm CBRE, Jeddah residential transactions surged by 92.9 percent in the first three months of this year, while Dammam saw a 28.0 percent increase year-over-year. 

Taimur Khan, head of research MENA, said: “Whilst we have seen strong performance across commercial sectors within Saudi Arabia in the recent past, something which continues to date, we are now beginning to see the residential sector also register a significant surge in demand. This is, in turn, underpinning performance in the sector.” 

As new stock continues to be delivered, he said they expect this trend to continue, with demand outpacing supply for some time to come. 

“However, we also expect that there might be some bifurcation in performance within the residential sector, with new quality assets likely to register record rates,” added Khan.

Villa prices in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Khobar rose by 3.6 percent, 0.2 percent, and 3.1 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Dammam saw a slight decline of 0.5 percent. 

In the apartment segment, prices in Riyadh, Dammam, and Khobar increased by 8.4 percent, 0.9 percent, and 0.4 percent, respectively, compared to the previous year.  

However, Jeddah experienced a 1.1 percent decrease in average apartment prices over the same period.   

Throughout the first quarter of this year, the office sector witnessed a slowdown in rental growth across all market segments.  

Prime rents in Riyadh’s occupier market surged by 14.5 percent, while Grade A and Grade B rents increased by 11.8 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively.  

In Dammam, Grade A rents rose by 8.0 percent, Grade B by 6.2 percent, and Khobar’s Grade A rents saw a 4.6 percent increase.  

Occupancy rates stood at 93.8 percent, 99.7 percent, and 99.4 percent for Prime, Grade A, and Grade B segments in Riyadh, while Dammam and Khobar displayed respective Grade A occupancy rates of 86.3 percent and 85.2 percent as of the first quarter.  

In Jeddah, Grade A and Grade B rents increased by 13.6 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively, with occupancy rates reaching 92.5 percent and 86.6 percent. 

The hospitality sector’s performance remained strong throughout the first quarter due to high visitation levels.  

Year-on-year, from January to March 2024, the average occupancy rate saw a slight uptick of 0.1 percentage points.  

Additionally, the country experienced an 11.8 percent increase in average daily rate, leading to a 12.0 percent rise in revenue per available room.


Closing Bell: TASI dips to close at 11,503 points

Closing Bell: TASI dips to close at 11,503 points
Updated 25 min 46 sec ago
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Closing Bell: TASI dips to close at 11,503 points

Closing Bell: TASI dips to close at 11,503 points

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index dipped on Thursday, losing 193.02 points, or 1.65 percent to close at 11,503.49

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR13.13 billion ($3.50 billion) as 65 stocks advanced while 161 retreated.   

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index dipped by 24.77 points, or 1.70 percent, to close at 1,436.07.

However, the Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, increased by 307.64 points or 1.17 percent, to close at 26,610.57. This comes as 28 stocks advanced, while as many as 30 retreated. 

The best-performing stock was the Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co., as its share price surged by 7.66 percent to SR29.50.

Other top performers included Almasane Alkobra Mining Co. and Alkhorayef Water and Power Technologies Co., whose share prices soared by 5.37 percent and 4.55 percent, to stand at SR62.80 and SR161 respectively.

National Co. for Learning and Education and East Pipes Integrated Co. for Industry also performed well.

The worst performer was ACWA Power Co. whose share price dropped by 9.98 percent to SR402.40.

Share prices of Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co. as well as the Co. for Cooperative Insurance dropped by 7.89 percent and 6.41 percent to stand at SR8.40 and SR131.40, respectively.

The best-performing stock of the day on the parallel market was Mohammed Hadi Al-Rasheed and Partners Co., as its share price surged by 12.58 percent to SR34.90.

Other top performers included Osool and Bakheet Investment Co. and Abdulaziz and Mansour Ibrahim Albabtin Co., whose share prices soared by 12.38 percent and 6.86 percent, to stand at SR44.95 and SR45.95 respectively.


Aramco sets butane, propane prices for June

Aramco sets butane, propane prices for June
Updated 36 min 25 sec ago
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Aramco sets butane, propane prices for June

Aramco sets butane, propane prices for June

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco maintained propane contract prices for June month on month at $580 per tonne while price for butane was set at $565 a tonne.

Propane and butane are types of liquefied petroleum gas with different boiling points.

LPG is mainly used as a fuel for cars, heating and as a feedstock for other petrochemicals.

Aramco’s OSPs for LPG are used as a reference for contracts to supply the product from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region.

China is the world's largest consumer and importer of LPG, or combination of propane and butane.

China’s imports of LPG jumped about 46 percent to 3.08 million metric tons in March from February.


Saudi Shoura Council calls on GACA to establish low-cost airports around Riyadh

Saudi Shoura Council calls on GACA to establish low-cost airports around Riyadh
Updated 39 min 48 sec ago
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Saudi Shoura Council calls on GACA to establish low-cost airports around Riyadh

Saudi Shoura Council calls on GACA to establish low-cost airports around Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will soon assess the feasibility of establishing low-cost airports around Riyadh following a call from the Kingdom’s Shoura Council. 

The country’s Consultative Assembly urged the General Authority of Civil Aviation to build and operate the planned airports or offer them to the private sector in a build-operate-transfer manner, according to a post on X. 

Additionally, the council recommended that GACA collaborate with national carriers to increase domestic flights and diversify their destinations to enhance transportation and tourism services. 

These initiatives align with the Kingdom’s aviation sector goals, such as increasing passenger numbers and expanding flight routes. They also support GACA’s vision of enabling Saudi leadership in aviation through customer-centric and digitally-enabled regulatory services. 

The council also emphasized the need for GACA to activate the annual target for air freight in accordance with the National Transport and Logistics Strategy. 

Earlier this week, Riyadh-based King Khalid International Airport was recognized as one of the top three performing terminals in the Kingdom, according to official data.  

In its monthly report for April, GACA indicated that the airport led the category for international terminals with over 15 million passengers annually, achieving an 82 percent compliance rate with the authority’s standards. 

The evaluation, based on 11 key criteria, aims to improve service quality and enhance the passenger experience.  

Earlier in May, in an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Aviation Forum held in Riyadh, Vice President of GACA for Quality and Traveler Experience, Abdulaziz Al-Dahmash, said the Kingdom has set “very ambitious targets” in this sector.   

He noted that these targets include tripling the number of passengers compared to 2019, handling 4.5 million tonnes of cargo, and establishing more than 250 direct destinations from the Kingdom’s airports to global locations. 

“Those key targets need enablers, and one of the key pillars is our passenger experience, and we always say that the passenger comes first, so from that perspective, we started different programs from a regulator perspective,” Al-Dahmash told Arab News at the time.


Saudi Arabia issues new sukuk worth $17.09 billion

Saudi Arabia issues new sukuk worth $17.09 billion
Updated 30 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia issues new sukuk worth $17.09 billion

Saudi Arabia issues new sukuk worth $17.09 billion

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has issued new sukuk worth SR64.1 billion ($17.09 billion) after it completed an early purchase of more than SR63.1 billion of outstanding debt. 

In a statement, Saudi Arabia’s National Debt Management Center said that the new Shariah-compliant debt product has been divided into three tranches. 

The first tranche valued at SR16 billion is set to mature in 2031, while the second one amounting to SR29.3 billion will be due in 2034. 

The third tranche is worth SR18.8 billion and is set to mature in 2039.

“This initiative is a continuation of NDMC’s efforts to strengthen the domestic market,” said NDMC in the statement. 

It added: “Further, this initiative enables NDMC to exercise its role in managing the government debt obligations and future maturities. This will also align NDMC’s effort with other initiatives to enhance the public fiscal in the medium & long term.” 

On May. 29, NDMC announced the completion of a $5 billion international trust certificate issuance, under the Kingdom’s Global Trust Certificate Issuance Program. 

In a statement, the official body said that the total order book of applications reached around $20 billion, which equals an oversubscription of four times. 

Earlier this month, NDMC revealed that the Kingdom completed its riyal-denominated sukuk issuance for May at SR3.23 billion. 

The Shariah-compliant debt product for May was divided into two tranches. 

The first tranche valued at SR71 million is set to mature in 2029, while the second one amounting to SR3.16 billion is due in 2036. 

In April, an analysis released by S&P Global projected that sukuk issuance globally is expected to hover between $160 billion and $170 billion in 2024. 

In the same month, another report by Fitch Ratings also echoed similar views and said that global sukuk issuance is expected to continue growing in the coming months of this year. 

Fitch noted that economic diversification efforts and the rapid development of the debt capital market in the Gulf Cooperation Council region would propel the growth of the sukuk market in the coming months.