Saudi Public Investment Fund emerges as most valuable and second-strongest sovereign wealth fund globally

Saudi Public Investment Fund emerges as most valuable and second-strongest sovereign wealth fund globally
Brand Finance ranks Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund as the most valuable and second-strongest sovereign wealth fund in the world. (File/AFP)
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Updated 05 June 2024
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Saudi Public Investment Fund emerges as most valuable and second-strongest sovereign wealth fund globally

Saudi Public Investment Fund emerges as most valuable and second-strongest sovereign wealth fund globally
  • Asset Management and Sovereign Wealth Funds 2024 report released

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has topped the list of the most valuable brands among global sovereign wealth funds, according to a report by UK-based brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance.

The list includes 50 of the largest asset management companies and sovereign wealth funds in the world.

The inaugural Asset Management and Sovereign Wealth Funds 2024 report, which was released on Wednesday, was based on a survey of more than 4,400 entities around the world, including companies, individuals and media from the investment and financial sectors.

The Brand Finance report estimated the value of the PIF’s brand at $1.1 billion (more than SR4.1 billion), making it the highest among the regional and international sovereign funds included in the list.

 

 

It said the PIF emerged as the world’s second-strongest SWF brand in terms of brand strength, with a score index of 62.1 out of 100, and is “one of only three SWF brands to earn an A+ brand strength rating.”

The report added that the PIF had ambitious growth prospects in light of its targets for the year 2030, which contributed to enhancing the value of its brand, especially as it distinguished itself among other sovereign funds in its focus on investing in the local economy, unlocking the capabilities of new sectors and creating job opportunities, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

“Through this unique approach to ranking asset managers and SWF funds, Brand Finance has revealed a novel and useful new insight: actively managed asset managers tend to have higher brand value to AUM (assets under management) rations,” the report said.

“As the most active SWF by a large margin, PIF epitomizes this trend with a brand value to AUM ratio that is almost double that of its nearest SWF competitor,” it added.

 

 

The report stated that the advanced position of the fund’s brand was due to its influential economic activity and investment performance.

Those surveyed expressed a positive outlook toward the PIF’s innovative strategy and its role as a catalyst for promoting growth and development.

The report added: “Looking ahead, PIF has ambitious growth prospects, aiming to reach USD2 trillion in AUM by 2030. This ambition has also turbocharged PIF’s brand value and brand strength as it has adopted bold investment strategies that contract other SWF brands.

“PIF is also the 15th most valuable brand in a combined ranking of both asset managers and SWFs, a reflection of how PIF leadership envisions the fund as an asset manager, SWF, and a national development entity.”

The value of assets under management at the PIF has reached more than $930 billion, and the fund works to develop strategic sectors and opportunities that will contribute to shaping the future of the global economy, the SPA reported.

The fund is an active investor and a major driver of economic transformation in the Kingdom, and since 2017 it has launched 94 new companies and contributed to creating more than 644,000 job opportunities at the local level, the SPA added.

Brand Finance has been working for more than 25 years to evaluate the strength of brands and determine their financial value, and publishes more than 100 reports classifying brands in all sectors and countries.


Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport

Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport
Updated 6 min 32 sec ago
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Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport

Saudi MMA fighters make waves in world of combat sport
  • Al-Saif and Al-Qahtani reflect on their career journeys

RIYADH: Two trailblazing Saudi mixed martial arts fighters making waves in the Professional Fighters League praised the development of the sport in the Kingdom.

Hattan Al-Saif and Abdullah Al-Qahtani, the most recent guests on “The Mayman Show” by Arab News, recalled their journeys in the world of combat sports.

“Combat sports were unknown in Saudi Arabia, but thanks to the Ministry of Sports, everyone was really pushing, pushing in different ways in Saudi Arabia to develop the sports in a really good way,” Al-Saif said. “We have Saudi games ... we have a lot of tournaments, I’m really proud to be Saudi and I feel like I’m prouder day by day for being a sports person from Saudi in Saudi.”

Al-Saif, 22, a pioneering female fighter, has already made history with her gold-medal win at the 2023 International Federation of Muay Thai Associations World Championships.

Professional fighter Al-Qahtani said: “When I got the contract I was the first in Saudi Arabia, and then I go there and have a good record and … you know, they love it, and they gave me more of what I need,” he said.

“They push me to be the best, and now I’m in the league, I’m in the PFL MENA League, before it was just two or three fights on the global (stage).”

Of his PFL victories, Al-Qahtani said the contests “made me like a star, because the fights were crazy, and I did something no one can do, you know.”

Both fighters agree that their trailblazing efforts should make the Kingdom proud.

“I’m gonna represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And it’s not an easy country to represent and they’re not easy people to make them satisfied with what you are doing. But I’m quite sure that I’m a good person to do it, and I am so proud to be this person to do it,” Al-Saif said. “So, I’m always pushing myself. I’m always doing the best.”

She added that she is glad to have Al-Qahtani and others who support her.

“I have my team, I have my coach. And also half of Saudi Arabia are in love with me and they are helping me and they are pushing me,” she said. “I see a lot of comments. I see a lot of DMs. I see a lot of messages of Saudi people telling me they believe in me. They are proud of me.”

Al-Qahtani said much of his success is down to the influence of his mother.

“My mom, you know, she wanted me to be a world champion, but which sport? We didn’t know. Just a world champion, in a combat sport.”

Besides combat sports he said he also likes extreme sports such as dirt biking.

“But, when I grew up, I liked Muay Thai, MMA … kickboxing. I know what this sport is, this is a combat sport. I just saw my mom who wanted to push me. I needed to be a world champion … and so, yeah, I just started that.”

At PFL MENA 2 on July 12, when Al-Saif beat Egypt’s Eman Baraka at Riyadh’s Green Halls Auditorium, she had Al-Qahtani, currently the Kingdom’s biggest MMA star, in her corner.


Saudi Arabia’s ozone-depleting gases reduced to 1%

Saudi Arabia’s ozone-depleting gases reduced to 1%
Updated 19 min ago
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Saudi Arabia’s ozone-depleting gases reduced to 1%

Saudi Arabia’s ozone-depleting gases reduced to 1%
  • Results were part of a study conducted on the Kingdom’s refrigeration and air-conditioning facilities to check the extent of their environmental compliance
  • Field survey checked more than 1,200 facilities to evaluate their general condition and respective corrective plans were activated

RIYADH: The National Center for Environmental Compliance revealed today that the proportion of gases emitted in the Kingdom that deplete the ozone layer has decreased to 1 percent.

The results were part of a study conducted on the Kingdom’s refrigeration and air-conditioning facilities to check the extent of their environmental compliance.

A field survey checked more than 1,200 facilities to evaluate their general condition and respective corrective plans were activated.

NCEC made the announcement at the opening of the workshop “Field study of the environmental compliance extent in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector” and attended by executives and specialists from related government and private agencies.

According to SPA, the results of the study showed that, during the past 10 years, the Kingdom’s prohibited gases were reduced to 1 percent, a proportion representing a positive indicator of the reduction of the ozone-depleting gases consumption plan. On the other hand, the Kingdom’s imports of eco-friendly appliances and gases have increased since 2020, as well as an awareness of the Montreal Protocol that aims to reduce the concentration of ozone-depleting gases and use eco-friendly alternatives. As such, the Kingdom could gradually reduce the consumption of ozone-depleting substances and eliminate them radically by 2030.

The study covered 24 factories using the relevant gases (2 percent), 689 maintenance centers (58 percent), 248 gas distributors and suppliers (21 percent) and 28 importers of appliances (2.3 percent).

The Kingdom ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1993 and established the National Ozone Unit, which later joined the NCEC and is responsible for preparing and implementing national plans for compliance with the protocol in cooperation with the pertinent sectors.


UAE’s debt market soars 11.8% to $281bn in H1, 71.5% dominated by US dollars

UAE’s debt market soars 11.8% to $281bn in H1, 71.5% dominated by US dollars
Updated 20 min 22 sec ago
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UAE’s debt market soars 11.8% to $281bn in H1, 71.5% dominated by US dollars

UAE’s debt market soars 11.8% to $281bn in H1, 71.5% dominated by US dollars
  • Emirate’s debt capital markets outstanding are expected to reach $300 billion in the second half of 2025

RIYADH: The UAE’s debt capital market outstanding surged by 11.8 percent annually to $281 billion in the first half of this year, with 71.5 percent of US-denominated dollars, a new report has revealed.
According to data released by the credit agency Fitch Ratings, the country’s debt capital markets outstanding are expected to reach $300 billion in the second half of 2025.
“The DCM structural reforms, the implementation of the Dirham Monetary Framework, and generally resilient investor appetite have led to notable growth over the past five years,” said the Global Head of Islamic Finance at Fitch Ratings, Bashar Al-Natoor.
“However, there are still gaps to address,” he added. “The dirham market remains nascent, the investor base is highly concentrated in banks and most corporates still prefer bank financing over bonds or sukuk.”
Following the UN climate change conference COP28 in the UAE in late 2023, environmental, social, and governance debt issuance in the first half of this year fell 35 percent to $3.3 billion, with sukuk accounting for the vast majority of 67.5 percent.
The Emirates was the third-largest US dollar debt issuer among emerging markets, excluding China, with an 8.9 percent share of the total in the first half of 2024.
Al-Natoor said that despite the growth in Islamic finance, many corporates still prefer traditional bank financing over issuing bonds or sukuk due to perceived complexities in adhering to Shariah standards set by the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions.
The only countries with a larger percentage than the UAE were Saudi Arabia, with a 17.4 percent share, and Brazil, with 9.4 percent, according to Fitch Ratings.

Sukuk issuance in all currencies increased by 9.8 percent annually, totaling $8.4 billion, outperforming bond issuance, which decreased by 44.3 percent to $39 billion.

Dollar-denominated DCM issuances included a notable share of sukuk at 27.7 percent in the first half, down from 35.3 percent in the same period last year. 

Fitch has assigned ratings to $26.5 billion worth of UAE sukuk, with 94.3 percent maintaining investment-grade status.

Certain UAE banks, both Islamic and conventional, have been restricted from investing in specific sukuk unless they hold them until maturity due to guidelines from the Higher Shariah Authority of the Central Bank.

“We forecast consolidated UAE government debt at 24 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) at end-2024, well below the 49 percent ‘AA’ category median,” the credit rating agency said, adding: “Individual emirates have varied debt profiles; Sharjah stands out with a higher debt burden.”

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are expected to post surpluses, whereas deficits are projected for Sharjah and Ras Al-Khaimah, where Fitch upgraded RAK’s rating to “A+” from “A” in May 2024.


Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today

Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today
Updated 38 min 32 sec ago
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Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today

Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today
  • Four Pakistani nationals were among six killed when gunmen opened fire at Shia Mosque in Oman this week
  • All four Pakistani nationals to be brought back to the country today via Pakistan International Airlines’ flights

KARACHI: The bodies of four Pakistani nationals killed in a mosque attack on Muscat this week will be brought back to the country today, Thursday, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson confirmed. 
Six people were killed when three gunmen, all brothers and of Omani nationality, opened fire on people in a Shia Muslim mosque in Muscat on Monday evening. 
The six people killed by the gunmen were four Pakistani nationals, an Indian, and a police officer responding to the attack, which militant group Daesh later claimed responsibility for. Pakistan described the assault as a “terror attack” while Oman police said the gunmen were “influenced by misguided ideas.”
“The bodies of the Pakistanis martyred in the Muscat attack will arrive in Pakistan today via PIA flights,” a spokesperson of the airline said in a statement. 
It said Sulaiman Nawaz’s body will reach Lahore via PIA flight PK 230 at 5:00 p.m. while Syed Qaiser Abbas Bukhari’s body will be brought back to the country via PIA flight PK226 from Muscat to Karachi. From there, it will be flown to Lahore by flight PK 302, the spokesperson said. 
Ghulam Abbas and Hasan Abbas’ bodies will reach Islamabad from Muscat by PIA flight PK 292 at 1:00 p.m., the spokesperson said. 
“All steps have been taken to hand over the bodies of the martyred to their relatives immediately after they return to Pakistan,” the spokesperson said. 
Daesh’s operations have indicated the group is attempting a comeback after it was crushed by a US-led coalition following its occupation of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.
It also inspired lone-wolf attacks in the West.
Any inroads in Gulf Arab oil producers such as Oman would raise fears in Washington and the region which has long viewed militant groups as a major threat.
Dozens of people at the mosque in Oman were wounded with around 30 people treated at local hospitals, including for gunshot wounds.
Monday evening marked the beginning of Ashura, an annual period of mourning, which many Shia Muslims mark publicly, to commemorate the 7th-century death of Hussain, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 
The attack was largely unprecedented in Oman, where most of its citizens follow the Ibadi Muslim faith that shares many similarities with mainstream Sunni Islam. Oman has a small but influential Omani Shia population. 
Like other Gulf countries, there is a large and significant foreign workforce in Oman too.
Additional inputs from Reuters


Al-Baha mayor announces launch of ‘Theatrical Nights’ program

Al-Baha mayor announces launch of ‘Theatrical Nights’ program
Updated 34 min 45 sec ago
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Al-Baha mayor announces launch of ‘Theatrical Nights’ program

Al-Baha mayor announces launch of ‘Theatrical Nights’ program
  • Organized by the Al-Baha Municipality in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts and the private sector, the event will be held from July 21 to 27
  • Ali Al-Sawat: Al-Baha Theatrical Nights program will present a diverse range of theatrical performances, including comedic, social, and patriotic themes

RIYADH: Ali Al-Sawat, the mayor of Al-Baha region, announced the upcoming launch of the “Al-Baha Theatrical Nights” program, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Organized by the Al-Baha Municipality in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts and the private sector, the event will be held from July 21 to 27.

Al-Sawat said the program is part of the “A Summer in Al-Baha: Embrace Serenity” festival and includes theatrical performances featuring stars from outside the region, along with artists from Al-Baha. These local artists will introduce themselves to the audience and visitors through seven theatrical performances, all being presented for the first time in Al-Baha region.

He said that the “Al-Baha Theatrical Nights” program will present a diverse range of theatrical performances, including comedic, social, and patriotic themes, all marked by suspense and amazement.”

“These performances will foster a cultural and artistic atmosphere that complements the entertainment events and summer activities. Through this harmony, Al-Baha will be transformed into a vibrant hub featuring international shows, concerts, folk performances, fashion, heritage exhibitions, and culinary arts,” he added.

Al-Sawat confirmed that the theatrical performances include a women-only play, which will be held at the municipality’s theater, the Baljurashi Municipality Theater, and the Wesam Al-Badyah Theater in Al-Mandaq, concluding at the Baljurashi Front Theater. Additionally, the play “Lohmat Watan” (Homeland Kinship) will be staged at the Al-Baha Lights Festival Theater and the Wesam Al-Badyah Theater, with its final performance at the Baljurashi Front Theater.

He said this will be the first time the Al-Baha Summer Festival includes theatrical performances among its various activities, alongside the major events and parties announced in this year’s summer calendar.

According to SPA, with the support of the governor of Al-Baha, the region aims to attract more than 2.5 million visitors and tourists. Al-Baha’s enchanting nature, moderate climate, and well-developed facilities, services and infrastructure have earned it a strong reputation and significant momentum as one of the premier tourist destinations for the Saudi summer this year.