Saudi Arabia’s inflation holds steady at 1.6% in May: GASTAT  

Saudi Arabia’s inflation holds steady at 1.6% in May: GASTAT  
According to the report by the General Authority for Statistics, expenses for housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels increased by 0.4 percent month-on-month in May.  Shutterstock
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Updated 16 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s inflation holds steady at 1.6% in May: GASTAT  

Saudi Arabia’s inflation holds steady at 1.6% in May: GASTAT  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s annual inflation rate held steady at 1.6 percent for the third consecutive month in May, driven by rising housing rents, according to official data. 

The General Authority for Statistics report stated that the Consumer Price Index increased due to a 10.5 percent rise in actual housing rents, which included a 14.3 percent surge in apartment rents. 

“This increase had a significant impact on maintaining the annual inflation rate for May 2024, due to the substantial weight of this category at 21 percent,” said the authority in the report.  

Similarly, costs of food and beverages increased by 1.4 percent, driven by a 6.9 percent rise in vegetable prices.  

On the other hand, prices of furnishing and home equipment decreased by 3.8 percent.  

Similarly, expenses for clothing and footwear decreased by 4 percent year-on-year in May, while transport costs also decreased by 2.4 percent during the same period. 

Monthly inflation  

Meanwhile, the monthly inflation rate rose marginally by 0.2 percent in May compared to the previous month, driven by changes in housing prices. 

The expenses for housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels increased by 0.4 percent month-on-month in May.  

The monthly inflation index was also impacted by expenses for food and beverages, which went up by 0.7 percent in May compared to April.  

Additionally, expenses for restaurants and hotels edged up by 0.2 percent, while costs for personal goods and services increased by 0.1 percent month-on-month in May.  

On the other hand, prices for clothing and footwear dipped by 0.6 percent in May compared to the previous month, while costs for transportation edged down by 0.4 percent.  

The report further pointed out that prices of education, furnishing and home equipment, and tobacco products did not show any significant change in May compared to April.  

In May, a report released by Riyad Capital revealed that Saudi Arabia’s inflation rate is expected to average around 2 percent in 2024, with a moderate acceleration to 2.4 percent in 2025.

The Riyad Capital analysis also added that the Kingdom’s non-oil sector is projected to grow at a rate of 4.8 percent in 2024, driven by growth-oriented fiscal policy.

The report further noted that non-oil activities in Saudi Arabia will accelerate further in 2025, with a projected expansion rate of 5.2 percent.

Last year, the International Monetary Fund noted that the likelihood of a rise in headline and core inflation in oil-exporting countries like Saudi Arabia is low.

“Headline and core inflation in many oil-exporting countries like Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia remain relatively lower than elsewhere,” said the IMF.

Wholesale price index increases 

In another report, GASTAT revealed that Saudi Arabia’s Wholesale Price Index increased by 3.2 percent in May compared to the same month of the previous year. 

This increase is mainly driven by a 14.5 percent rise in prices of basic chemicals and a 12 percent increase in the costs of refined petroleum products, the authority added. 

Similarly, prices of food products, beverages, tobacco, and textiles rose by 1.8 percent year-on-year in May, due to a 7.4 percent increase in the prices of leather, leather products, and footwear. 

On the other hand, the costs of ores and minerals decreased by 2.8 percent, mainly due to a 2.8 percent decrease in stone and sand prices.

Additionally, agricultural and fishery product expenses experienced a 1.3 percent year-on-year decrease in May, driven by a 2.8 percent decrease in fish and other fishing product prices and a 2.7 percent decline in live animals and animal product prices.

Furthermore, the prices of metal products, machinery, and equipment decreased by 0.4 percent in May compared to the same month of the previous year, attributed to a 6.6 percent decline in the prices of radio, television, and communication equipment and apparatus.

Compared to April, the Kingdom’s WPI decreased by 0.1 percent in May, driven by a 0.3 percent drop in the prices of food products, beverages, tobacco, and textiles. 

This decline resulted from a 1.7 percent decrease in the prices of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, oils, and fats, and a 0.4 percent decline in the prices of leather, leather products, and footwear.

Similarly, the costs of agriculture and fishery products also decreased by 0.2 percent month-on-month, driven by a 1.6 percent fall in the prices of live animals and animal products.

Compared to April, the prices of other transportable goods declined by 0.1 percent in May, driven by a 0.7 percent decrease in the costs of basic chemicals.

In contrast, the costs of metal products, machinery, and equipment rose by 0.1 percent, as a result of a 1.1 percent increase in the prices of electrical machinery and apparatus.

Average prices rising

Meanwhile, in another report, GASTAT revealed that the prices of Abu Sorra Egyptian oranges increased by 22.70 percent in May compared to the previous month.

Similarly, the prices of local tomatoes and Turkish plums rose by 12.80 percent and 10.33 percent, respectively, in May from April.

Additionally, Indian pomegranates and Pakistani mandarins also experienced notable increases, rising by 10.15 percent and 9.71 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, hotel accommodation prices in Saudi Arabia witnessed a 13.94 percent month-on-month decline.

Similarly, the costs of local melons, Lebanese peaches, and imported onions dipped by 13.30 percent, 11.37 percent, and 9.34 percent, respectively.


Riyadh Air signs 5-year deal to use GE Aerospace’s software

Riyadh Air signs 5-year deal to use GE Aerospace’s software
Updated 22 July 2024
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Riyadh Air signs 5-year deal to use GE Aerospace’s software

Riyadh Air signs 5-year deal to use GE Aerospace’s software
  • Partnership will equip airline with data-driven analytics

LONDON: Riyadh Air signed a five-year agreement on Monday to use GE Aerospace’s flight operations software, the airline has announced.

The partnership will equip the new Saudi Arabian airline with data-driven analytics to optimize fuel consumption, enhance safety measures, and fortify its sustainability initiatives, a statement said.

It added that the Fuel Insight software will help Riyadh Air position itself as a leader in sustainable aviation.

The airline will also use real-time Flight Data Monitoring and Flight Operations Quality Assurance to ensure high standards of safety and quality across its advanced fleet.

Riyadh Air’s use of FlightPulse technology will allow pilots to identify opportunities for improvement and help maintain best practices in safety and efficiency across the airline’s flight operations.

Peter Bellew, chief operating officer at Riyadh Air, said: “Sustainability and efficiency sit at the core of our operations.

“Our collaboration with GE Aerospace represents a significant advancement in adopting state-of-the-art technology to enhance safety protocols, streamline fuel usage, and uphold our dedication to operational excellence, as we are currently preparing for flight trials and working towards obtaining AOC certification, starting (in) September 2024.”

Andrew Coleman, general manager of software at GE Aerospace, said: “With an incredible partner like Riyadh Air, we are thrilled to see our decades of research, development, and innovation empower their transformative digital journey to help them set new benchmarks for operational excellence, safety standards, and more sustainability in the skies.”


Saudi GACA, Germany’s Lilium sign MoU to boost air mobility roadmap   

Saudi GACA, Germany’s Lilium sign MoU to boost air mobility roadmap   
Updated 22 July 2024
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Saudi GACA, Germany’s Lilium sign MoU to boost air mobility roadmap   

Saudi GACA, Germany’s Lilium sign MoU to boost air mobility roadmap   

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation has inked a deal with German electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle manufacturer Lilium, propelling the Kingdom’s advanced air mobility roadmap.

The memorandum of understanding, signed between the authority and the aerospace firm at the Farnborough International Airshow, supports GACA’s development of AAM solutions in the Kingdom, according to a statement. 

This comes as the authority collaborates with stakeholders and companies globally to create a thorough national plan for AAM. 

This strategy encompasses the essential elements and regulatory framework needed to ensure AAM technologies’ secure and effective integration. During the implementation phase, the focus will be on incorporating eVTOL operations with existing aviation systems and other transportation modes.

The newly signed MoU falls in line with the authority’s engagement with global companies to bring new aviation mobility solutions to Saudi Arabia.

It also aligns well with GACA’s continuous efforts across the industry to ensure the Kingdom has regulations that encourage growth, ensure the highest levels of safety, and put passengers first.

“This agreement reflects GACA’s commitment to advancing innovative and sustainable air mobility solutions for Saudi Arabia in support of Vision 2030,” GACA President Abdulaziz Al-Duailej said. 

“By working with global advanced air mobility companies, we aim to establish a robust regulatory framework that ensures the safe and efficient operation of eVTOL aircraft,” Al-Duailej added. 

From Lilium’s side, CEO Klaus Roewe said: “Our goal is to jointly advance regulatory and practical steps for suitable framework conditions for electric aviation and our customers in Saudi Arabia.”

He added: “Today’s agreement delivers on one of the main ingredients required to successfully launch eVTOL operations — a definitive path to all relevant regulatory cornerstones.”

The announcement builds on the momentum of recent successful air taxi trials in support of GACA’s AAM roadmap development, the statement added. 

Last week, Lilium confirmed that it is making its debut in Saudi Arabia with a groundbreaking agreement to supply up to 100 eVTOL vehicles to Saudia, the Kingdom’s first national carrier.

The formalization of this agreement came after a framework deal was initially arranged in late 2022, making Saudia the first airline in the region to invest in sustainable air mobility. 


Saudi logistics platform OTO secures $8m funding for UAE and Turkiye expansion

Saudi logistics platform OTO secures $8m funding for UAE and Turkiye expansion
Updated 22 July 2024
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Saudi logistics platform OTO secures $8m funding for UAE and Turkiye expansion

Saudi logistics platform OTO secures $8m funding for UAE and Turkiye expansion

RIYADH: Saudi logistics platform OTO is set to expand into the UAE and Turkiye, following a successful SR30 million ($8 million) series A funding round. 

The company announced that the financing was led by Sanabil Investments, a wholly-owned entity of the Public Investment Fund, with additional contributions from Sadu Capital, and Iliad Partners. Propeller and Soma Capital also participated in the deal, according to a press release. 

This follows a previous raise of SR12.3 million from venture capital funds and angel investors including Middle East Venture Partners, Derayah Ventures, and 500 Global.  

This investment supports Saudi Arabia's National Logistics Strategy, which seeks to rank the Kingdom among the top 10 countries globally in performance in the sector by the end of the decade, in line with Vision 2030 objectives. 

Mohammad Al-Razaz, co-founder and CEO of OTO, said: “Securing this funding round is a testament to our team’s dedication and our commitment to transforming the shipping and logistics sector in line with Saudi Vision 2030.”   

The company claims its platform integrates with over 250 local and international shipping companies and e-commerce platforms, enabling merchants to manage, ship, track, and analyze their logistics activities.   

The platform also offers merchants the option to connect their own shipping contracts or purchase shipping labels at pre-negotiated rates. 

He added: “We are focused on delivering innovative solutions that enable merchants to streamline their operations and manage logistics with unmatched efficiency.”

Investor confidence in OTO’s platform is bolstered by projections showing Saudi Arabia’s e-commerce revenue is expected to grow at 13.5 percent annually through 2027, outpacing the global average growth rate of 11.2 percent, according to Agility Logistics. 

The platform plans to use this funding to expand its presence in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkiye by adding new features and enhancing its platform, focusing on small and medium-sized businesses and e-commerce merchants. 

The release stated that the Turkish e-commerce market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 11.58 percent from 2024 to 2029, reaching $49.5 billion by 2029.   

“The last few years have put a significant spotlight on the shipping industry and increased the need for smart shipping solutions. OTO has built a platform with a fully integrated set of functionalities to help companies of all shapes and sizes meet their logistics requirements,” a spokesperson from Sanabil Investments stated.  

OTO serves over 10,000 local and international brands and has seen its revenue double along with a notable increase in orders processed year-over-year. 

Furkan Uzar, chief technology officer and co-founder of OTO, said that this funding propels the company toward its vision of becoming the shipping gateway of the internet.   

“By bridging the tech gap between sales channels and shipping providers, we can accelerate our growth and offer customers streamlined, automated shipping solutions,” he added. 


Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,174

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,174
Updated 22 July 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,174

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,174

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Monday, losing 28.17 points, or 0.23 percent, to close at 12,174.76. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR8.34 billion ($2.22 billion) as 127 of the stocks advanced, while 96 retreated.  

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu rose 277.53 points, or 1.08 percent, to close at 26,040.47. This comes as 35 of the listed stocks advanced, while 30 fell. 

The MSCI Tadawul Index lost 6.03 points, or 0.39 percent, to close at 1,523.43.

The best-performing stock of the day was Dr. Soliman Abdel Kader Fakeeh Hospital Co. The company’s share price surged 7.02 percent to SR64.

Other top performers were Sadr Logistics Co. as well as United Cooperative Assurance Co.

The worst performer was Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co., whose share price dropped by 4.78 percent to SR21.90. 

Other stocks to fall were Miahona Co. and ACWA Power Co.

On the announcements front, Aldrees Petroleum and Transport Services Co. has announced its interim financial results for the period ending on June 30. 

According to a Tadawul statement, the firm’s net profit stood at SR159.8 million at the end of the first six months of 2024, up 13.4 percent from the corresponding period in 2023. 

The increase in net profit is due to the rise in petrol and transport division sales, deposit income, and sukuk, as well as the revenue from the joint venture project investment. 

There was a decrease in the other income and increase marketing, selling, and general costs as well as administrative, financing, and zakat expenses.

Saudi Exchange also announced the listing and trading units of SEDCO Capital Multi Asset Traded Fund as a closed ended investment traded fund on the main market on July 24 with the symbol 4703 and ISIN Code SA162G529FL8, and with +/- 30 percent daily price fluctuation limits and +/- 10 percent static price fluctuation limits.

A bourse filing revealed that these fluctuation limits will be applied during the first three days of listing, and from the fourth trading day onwards, the daily price fluctuation limits will revert to +/- 10 percent and the static price fluctuation limits will no longer apply.


Saudi Arabia awards 4 salt exploration licenses in Eastern Province

Saudi Arabia awards 4 salt exploration licenses in Eastern Province
Updated 22 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia awards 4 salt exploration licenses in Eastern Province

Saudi Arabia awards 4 salt exploration licenses in Eastern Province

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has granted exploration licenses for salt deposits in Eastern Province’s Sabkha Ras Al-Qaryah to four companies following a competitive tendering process.     

The winning firms are Khalid Al-Zahid and Sons Co., Ibrahim Al-Issa and Partner Salt Co., Riyadh Salt Industry Co., and Rastan Limited, as announced by Jarrah bin Muhammad Al-Jarrah, spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources.    

Al-Jarrah noted that the ministry received six applications for the exploration licenses, announced in March through a mining platform. Five applications passed the qualification stage, while one did not meet the requirements.  

This aligns with the government’s goal of maximizing the Kingdom’s mineral resources, valued at SR9.3 trillion ($2.4 trillion), in line with Saudi Vision 2030. The initiative aims to enhance licensing transparency, promote national industries, and contribute to local content development and job creation.    

In its earlier release, the ministry revealed that the total area of the four sites offered for competition is 5 sq. km. The Ras Al-Qaryah complex, a coastal sabkha located approximately 4 km from the sea, has naturally exposed salt deposits in some locations on its surface.   

It added that the salt ore in the area is deposited in a stratified form and is suitable for various industrial applications. It supports the manufacturing and petrochemical industries, as well as the production of high-purity table salt and food-grade salt. This ore is refined into high-quality industrial salt with a purity of approximately 99 percent sodium chloride. 

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia unveiled its largest mineralized belts to date, covering 4,788 sq. km and granting five new exploration licenses. 

Three of these licenses are allocated to the Jabal Sayid site in Madinah, spanning 2,892 sq. km and containing minerals such as gold, silver, copper, zinc, and lead. 

The remaining two licenses are for the Al-Hajjar site in the Asir region, which covers 1,896 sq. km and also includes gold, silver, copper, zinc, and lead, according to a statement from the ministry.

According to a MineHutte and Mining Journal report, Saudi Arabia has experienced the fastest global growth in mining sector investments. Over the past five years, the Kingdom has enhanced its regulatory and infrastructural environment, achieving the second-best global ranking for mining licensing.