: Saudi Arabia Economical and other News


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25-12-12, 04:58 PM
Saudi to remain regional hub for IPOs in 2013

Saudi Arabia led the country standings in initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2012, raising $1.4 billion through seven IPOs, followed by the UAE with $277 million and Oman with $264.4 million, Ernst & Young said in its new report.

Morocco and Tunisia were the only other MENA countries with IPO activity in 2012, the report added.

In terms of industries, five IPOs were in the materials sector, three each came from the financial and consumer products sectors, two were issued in the healthcare sector and one IPO was in the packaged foods sector.

Its been an eventful year for the region, with mixed implications for the capital markets, said Phil Gandier, MENA head of Transaction Advisory Services, E&Y.

Drawing comparisons over the last two years we have noticed a steady climb in the amount of funds being raised by IPOs possibly hinting that markets are inching towards better results.

The outlook for 2013 will be to a great extent influenced by investor sentiments, against the backdrop of regional developments. We are confident that Saudi Arabia and the UAE will continue to be the regional hubs of IPO activity for investors in 2013.

Companies in the MENA region raised approximately $2 billion through 14 IPOs in 2012, up 134 percent from $843.9 million in 2011, the report said.

In Q4 2012, regional companies raised a total of $339.8 million through three IPOs, up 50 percent from the $226.1 million raised in Q4. The biggest issuance during the quarter came from Dallah Healthcare Holding Company with its $143 million listing on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in November. The other two were Al Izz Islamic Banks $106 million listing on Muscat Securities Market.

Source: Saudi Gazette

25-12-12, 05:00 PM
Saudi car industry to reach SR 94b

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia, as well as the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, are both working to reinforce the Kingdoms status by funding research and development, design, vehicle assembly and infrastructure initiatives to boost automobile exports. With plans underway to turn the Kingdom into a regional automotive powerhouse, the governments strong support is significantly motivating the sector to expedite growth and reinforce local business strategies.

Today, the Kingdom is a leading automotive market with firm restrictions on the age of imported vehicles, a rapid population growth, an increasing per capita spending power, and a robust economy currently the largest in the Gulf and car sales are expected to hit SR94 billion in 2013 said Maher Al Nabawi, Deputy General Manager of Suzuki Saudia, on the sidelines of the Jeddah Motor Show 2012.

Suzuki Saudia is closely tracking the changes in the automotive market in KSA and accordingly we are responding to the market demands. Our participation in the Jeddah Motor Show 2012 reaffirms our confidence in the robust growth of the local automotive industry. This year we are showcasing vehicles under four categories SUVs, sports cars, sedans (large and medium) and small vehicles. Given that Suzukis SUV Grand Vitara, Jimny, Swift sports and Dzire have performed consistently well in the Saudi market, we expect another fruitful participation at this years motor show, he added.

The Suzuki Kizashi is another model that has been widely popular in KSA, in addition to Suzukis other small cars Celerio and Alto, which are considered the most fuel efficient vehicles. With the new modifications and enhancements done by Suzuki Motors, we expect the 2013 models to be even more appealing in KSA, and we believe this event is ideally positioned for us to introduce Suzukis 2013 models to this demanding market, Al Nabawi noted.

Source: Saudi Gazette

25-12-12, 05:01 PM
Saudi to build two new medical cities

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build two new medical cities in Riyadh and Jeddah following a direction from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

The medical cities will come under the Ministry of Interior, Interior Minister Prince Muhammad bin Naif was quoted as saying by an Arab News report.

The minister said King Abdullahs gesture reflects his care for the security officers and their families, and added that the medical cities will provide specialised health services to all citizens.

Meanwhile, a 800-bed hospital will be established at Taibah University in Madinah. Higher Education Minister Khaled Al-Anqari has signed a contract to implement the project, the report said.

It will have 750 doctors and teaching staff, 2,350 students, 475 nurses, 800 patients, 700 administrators and workers, 2,850 visitors and will have a capacity to hold more than 10,000 people.

Source: Trade Arabia

25-12-12, 05:05 PM
Sabic units ink deal to build Jubial plant

Two affiliates of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) have signed initial deals to build an ultra-high molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) plant in Jubail, Saudi Arabia's major industrial hub, Saudi Kayan said on Monday.

Saudi Kayan and Petrokemya will equally own and finance the project, located at Kayan's petrochemicals complex, Kayan said in a statement to the Saudi bourse, without giving a cost figure.

The plant will have production capacity of 35,000 tonnes per year and is expected to start production in the second half of 2014. UHMWPE is used in industrial applications including batteries and industrial fibres.

Kayan said in April that the plant would use ethylene from its olefins plant and in June, US firm Jacobs Engineering said it would conduct engineering and design work for the plant.

Source: Reuters

25-12-12, 05:09 PM
Saudi Kayan Petrochemical rises on MoU with Petrokemya

The Saudi equity market measure Tasi declined 0.13% to 6,881.16 points Monday. Shares of Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Company rose 0.40% to SR12.85. Earlier in the day, Saudi Kayan said it has signed an MoU on Sunday, 23 Dec. 2012 with Arabian Petrochemical Company Petrokemya by which the parties have agreed that the both sides each will own a 50% interest in the Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) plant. It will be constructed at Saudi Kayan complex in Al-Jubail (...) with a design capacity capable of producing 35,000 metric tons per year, said Saudi Kayan. Both parties will share all the associated costs for the project.

Source: Saudi Gazette

25-12-12, 05:10 PM
Broadband, corporate segments to bolster Saudi telecom growth

The expected strong demand in both the broadband and corporate segments will drive the growth of the Saudi telecom industry, NCB Capital, the GCCs leading wealth manager and the Kingdoms largest asset manager, said Monday in its report.

The report noted that while pricing competition remains high and margins could be pressured as a result, valuations remain attractive with the sector trading at 8.6x 2013 P/E.

NCB Capital continues to be Overweight on STC, with a PT of SR50.8 (upside of 19percent), and Mobily with a PT of SR88.6 (upside of 17percent), while remaining Neutral on Zain KSA, with a PT of SR8.4 (upside of 5percent).

Although the outlook for STC and Mobily remains positive, we prefer the latter due to strong fundamentals, good dividends and its Saudi focused business, said Farouk Miah, Head of Equity Research at NCB Capital.

We have raised our price target for Mobily by 8.2percent due to the strong outlook of the broadband and corporate segment. On the other hand, our PT of STC is down by 1.9percent due to weaker than expected 3Q12 numbers and limited change in terms of outlook. STC has benefited from improved local operations; however, FX volatility remains a concern given around 31percent of 2012 revenues are expected to be from abroad, he said.

The report noted that Zain KSA PT is down by 26percent to SR8.4. This is primarily, due to the very weak 3Q12 results (net losses increased YoY for the first time in two years), as well as ongoing concerns of how it will deal with its high interest costs and compete with STC and Mobily.

The report further said that the sector has a strong growth potential. The outlook on broadband remains strong with lower cost handsets expected to increase penetration rates.

The report said profit growth will be driven by growth in data, costs efficiencies, and international operations for STC, while Mobilys recent MOU with Atheeb coupled with its JV with IBM positions it strongly to take market share in the corporate segment and drive its bottom line.

Miah said: We believe the sectors main concern remains price-led competition in the main growth segments i.e. data and corporate. Additionally, with increasing penetration rates across all segments, additional areas of growth may become difficult to source.

The Saudi telecom sector trades at a 2013 P/E of 8.6x, 10percent below regional peers. A relatively stronger macro environment in the Kingdom is likely to support faster growth in the sector than in other regional countries.

Specific ratings: Saudi Telecom Company

NCB Capital retains its Overweight call on STC with the PT down 1.9percent to of SR50.8. Growth will come from both its domestic and international operations with a focus on broadband. Margin pressures in key growth segments as well as the volatility of FX are the stocks main concerns. Use of excess cash is a key catalyst, with any increase in dividends will be seen as a positive, continued international expansion may be put pressure on the stock.

Mobily

NCB Capital remains Overweight on Mobily, with the PT increasing by 8.2percent to SR88.6. The recent joint venture with IBM as well as the success of the MOU with Atheeb will strongly position Mobily for growth in the corporate segment. Mobily remains well positioned to benefit from increased broadband penetration. The bonus share should be a shor-term catalyst with the strong dividend outlook also supporting the stock.

Zain KSA

NCB Capital remains Neutral on Zain KSA, with its PT falling significantly to SR8.4. Currently, the companys main concern is refinancing its debt under improved terms; however the long-term concern remains its ability to effectively compete with STC and Mobily. Due to its weak balance sheet, capital investment remains behind what is required to compete effectively. A significant restructuring of its business model is needed to improve the outlook of Zain KSA

Source: Saudi Gazette

26-05-13, 11:56 AM
Construction Sector is robust
 
The magnitude of contracts within the construction sector continues to illustrate the Kingdoms appetite for heavy capital expenditures as approximately SR49.1 billion worth of contracts were awarded during the first quarter of 2013, according to the NCB Construction Contracts Index.
The focus on improving the Kingdoms physical and social infrastructure as was planned by the government in its 2013 budget was evident as approximately SR11.7 billion worth of contracts were awarded for physical infrastructure projects, according to the NCB report.
Sectors within the social infrastructure category, such as healthcare, residential real estate and education, contributed approximately SR28 billion of the overall value of awarded contracts. Anchor sectors, such as oil & gas, petrochemical and industrial had relatively modest contract values as they accounted for nearly SR7.5 billion.
The state of the construction sector appears to reflect its robustness that it has exhibited over the last couple of years even though there was a slight dip in the value of awarded contracts from SR52.2 billion during Q112 to SR49.1 billion during Q113.
All signs point towards the continued growth within the construction sector as the value of awarded contracts were sustained by non-anchor sectors during Q113. The mega-projects that will be awarded within the anchor sectors will further catapult the ongoing construction boom during 2013.
The Construction Contracts Index (CCI) pushed higher following a successful 2012 to reach 288.33 points by the end of March. The CCI ended at 279.99 points during January and reached its highest level of the quarter during February to climb to 298.16 points.
The CCI retracted during Q113 compared to Q112, which reached 349.03 points. However, the CCI should rebound as more mega-projects are expected to be awarded, which will gradually escalate the CCI to higher levels.
Given the nature of the awarded contracts, which were significantly skewed towards infrastructure related projects, the Riyadh and Makkah regions captured significant shares of the value of awarded contracts by region with 44% and 27%, respectively.
Significant mega-projects in the residential real estate and healthcare sectors were a major reason for Riyadhs dominance. The residential real estate sector also played a significant role in the Makkah region along with the roads sector.
The Eastern Province, which accumulated approximately 17% of the share by region was mainly attributed to the petrochemical, industrial and education sectors. The education sector comprised a significant portion of awarded contracts for each of the three areas of Madinah, Asir and Hail.
The rate and value at which contracts have been awarded during Q113 reaffirms the sustainability of the construction sector and ensures that the projects market will continue to stay increasingly active over the medium-term.
It is worth noting the anchor sectors were surpassed by sectors within the infrastructure category by a wide margin. However, this also indicates that anchor sectors are expected to witness aggressive spending during the remaining of the year as they usually accumulate the highest share of awarded contracts by value.
Several mega-projects are expected to be awarded over the next few months that will further flourish the construction sector. An example is the expected contract award by SEC for the Rabigh 2 IPP that could reach nearly SR10 billion.
Additionally, the residential real estate sector is expected to see numerous contract awards as part of the Ministry of Housings mandates to develop a significant portion of the planned 250,00 housing units, of which more than 40,000 units are expected to begin construction as contracts are being awarded as part of the first phase of the project.
Source: Saudi Gazette

29-05-13, 07:38 PM
172 tons of medical waste per year

The first seminar of its kind in the medical sector entitled "Medical Waste Management and Hazardous Materials and their Relevance to Human Health" revealed that Kingdom disposes of 172 tons of medical waste per year.
The seminar was hosted by Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) and organized by the chambers Advisory Committee in collaboration with the IT Company (Intec) to improve the environment. Some 100 experts, specialists and many business owners participated in the seminar.
Director of Health Affairs in Jeddah Dr. Sami Badawood said that the strategy of the Ministry of Health is to reduce diseases and epidemics resulting from waste material.
Source: Saudi Gazette

29-05-13, 07:39 PM
Bright future for Saudi tourism sector 
 
Dr Salah Al Bukhayyet, Vice President, Investments of Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), outlined at a summit here on Sunday the progress of the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia over the next three to five years, where as many as 38,000 housing units and 50,000 rooms are expected to be added.
Amongst our national goals and tourism development strategies are critical ones such as supporting domestic tourism, limiting the financial leakage to external tourism, developing tourist investments inside the Kingdom, and accomplishing the most important and ultimate goal of Saudization, he said, addressing the 5th Annual Kingdom Hotel Expansion Summit at the InterContinental Hotel Riyadh.
Saudi people are historically known for their generosity, so we are speaking about a community which is used to hosting visitors and serving them in the best way. Governmental organisation for the hospitality sector started 30 years ago, Al Bukhayyet added.
Organized by French deal facilitation group naseba, the annual summit is the only platform bringing together diverse stakeholders from the hospitality sector, including owners, operators, government authorities, designers, architects and global solution providers. With almost 100 new properties under construction in Saudi Arabia the largest in the GCC this is an important time for the Kingdom, and ensuring this growth is sustainable is vital.
A key discussion on Monday outlined the macro-economic viewpoint of new developments in Saudi Arabias hotel sector. It featured expert panelists Yazan Al Shouly, Associate Director - Acquisitions and Development, Starwood Hotels and Resorts; Ronald Egelman, Director of Development, Middle East & Africa, InterContinental Hotels Group; and Khalid Anib, Managing Director Hospitality, Al Hokair Group all of whom have first-hand expertise of investing, expanding and managing hotels.
The two-day summit was also timely given last weeks announcement by InterContinental Hotel Group (the largest international hotel group in the world) of the signing of an agreement with Dyafah Al Mutahida LLC to open a 200-key Staybridge Suites property in Jeddah. This will be the first Staybridge Suites property, offering an extended stay experience, in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is currently a really strong market and perhaps the most unique in the world. With more than 100 new hotel projects in development across the Kingdom, we are excited to have the support of the Saudi Commission of Tourism and Antiquities for this initiative, which aims to help further drive the hospitality sector, explained Fabien Faure, naseba Managing Director.
 
Source: Saudi Gazette

29-05-13, 07:47 PM
 Kingdom Human Asset Mangement Summit opens in Riyadh

The two-day Fleming Gulfs inaugural Kingdom Human Asset Management Summit was officially opened on Tuesday at the Novotel Riyadh Al Anoud.
Over 60 participants gathered to gain insights and leverage the knowledge of breakthrough HR strategies and solutions that are driving the development of HR function in a highly dynamic and robust market.
The summit aims at addressing the new roles HR is taking on, from building competitive advantage to developing and retaining talent management & building diverse teams. HR professionals from across the region are attending to learn about current best practices and inspiring case studies which will guide them to re-align their strategy with the evolving corporate strategy.
The summit hosts industry leaders such as Dr. Edrward Shelton from Competency Consultant, Saudi Aramco, Thamer Shaker from NESMA Holding Co, Mahmoud M. Alturkistani from The National Commercial Bank, Abdallah Al Slaim from BAE Systems, Eng Saalem S Baabdullah from Saudi Arabian Airlines, to name a few, orate on HR success in their organizations in the midst of trying times in the current market scenario. Presentations, panel discussions and case studies that will feature across all 2 days include - Innovating strategies: Kingdoms HR development, driving organizational effectiveness, developing the young Saudi nationals mindset for private sector culture, the shift from traditional to the contemporary: the required approach to engage todays human resource, controlling attrition in the view of Saudization and transferring local talents from traditional to non-traditional jobs - Creating a Career Basket within a diversified group.
Sponsors of the summit: FranklinCovey Middle East, Protential Human Capital Development , MEGA Training and PA Consulting Group will showcase their solutions being implemented successfully across the globe and concluding the summit on Day 2 will be two exclusive workshops on A sustainable nationalization strategy and Talent management which will be conducted by Carel Oberholzer, Director, Organization Design & HR Strategy, HR - Organization Development from MAADEN and Satish Kini, Business Unit Manager from Business Ventures Division NESMA group respectively.
Source: Saudi Gazette

29-05-13, 07:52 PM
 
 SEDCO holding embraces innovation

After adopting the culture of innovation throughout its operations, SEDCO Holding continues to invest in creativity through Multaqa SEDCO 2013 under the theme Embracing Innovation.
The event, held at Leylaty Hall in Jeddah, was attended by Sheikh Saleh Salem Bin Mahfouz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of SEDCO Group; Anees Moumina, CEO of SEDCO Holding Group, heads of sister companies, senior executives, administrative staff and employees.
Multaqa SEDCO is a platform where the groups companies and employees meet to exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences, and discuss ways to help the groups growth and development. During the event Sheikh Saleh bin Mahfouz gave the opening speech saying that SEDCO Group continues its quest for innovation and excellence, and has renewed its commitment to adopt the highest standards to achieve the greatest results. We look forward to continuing the growth achieved by the groups companies, while striving to create new projects and acquire others, which is why we need creativity and innovation to seize promising opportunities that are available in our business.
Sheikh Saleh went on to say: After establishing innovation as an essential element in SEDCOs structure, we are working intensely to harness the tools through which we can improve performance, enhance revenue and duplicate success in order to maintain SEDCOs position at the forefront and confirm its leadership in the areas in which we operate. Ambition and spirit of innovation, which is embodied by the employees of SEDCO, is what we are celebrating today. The growth and the expansion of our business is a direct consequence of the fact that our employees are at the top of our priority list and because their value is ingrained in our considerations and goals.
CEO, Mr. Anees Moumina stated that Last year SEDCO created a new tactic which depends on innovation as a key to success, and this year we continue to walk the path of innovation towards a better working environment, greater productivity and higher quality of work. I would also like to emphasize the importance of investing in individuals, since SEDCOs employees are our best assets and we will continue to invest in their creativity and innovative spirit.
To ensure that the group is embracing innovation, and to show its support and encouragement to employees to innovate and change, SEDCO Holding has launched the Eureka! e-portal, a website dedicated to collect the ideas of employees and turn them into realty. Employees can register their names in order to preserve their intellectual rights and the most creative and feasible ideas will receive cash prizes, in addition to individual appreciation.
Source: Saudi Gazette

29-05-13, 07:55 PM
 KSA shrugs off rating agencies
 
Saudi Arabia is set for achieving substantial economic growth this year, much more than the 4.4 percent growth predicted by the International Monetary Fund, Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said yesterday.
IMF makes independent assessment based on its criteria. We did not agree with its estimate last year as it was low and our estimate and expectation was correct and we achieved higher growth, the minister said.
This year the IMF prediction for the Kingdoms economic growth was 4.4 percent. We dont agree with them and expect higher growth, he said while talking to reporters after attending an international forum in Riyadh.
Al-Assaf criticized international rating agencies, saying they classify countries as developed or developing without considering the basis of each economy accurately whether they may be in America, Europe and Arabian Peninsula.
As a result, we see the estimate of Saudi economy higher than what they report, Al-Assaf said. At the same time we appreciate their efforts. This year they have raised the rating for the Saudi economy.
He said the Saudi Credit Bank reviews the feasibility of projects before financing them. During the last two years there was substantial increase in loans given to small and medium enterprises. He said SMEs create 51 percent of jobs in the Kingdoms private sector.
Source: Arab News

29-05-13, 08:01 PM
 Saudi firms forge new links at WEF
 
The World Economic Forum (WEF) held in the Dead Sea over the past week concluded with a great and positive Saudi impact. Many Saudi companies invited for this annual forum showcased their experiences to the world in the fields of employment and sustainability.
Khalid Alkhudair, curator of the Global Shapers Riyadh hub at the WEF, spoke on "Business case for gender diversity" where panelists remarked some women would only work in certain sectors, such as education and health, which limits their employment opportunities.
Experts on Sunday said laws and policies alone could not boost Arab women's participation in the economy as long as society perceived it negatively.
According to Jordanian Minister of Social Development Reem Abu Hassan, despite the legal framework in Jordan, the international agreements it has signed and the constitutional guarantee of equal gender opportunities, women's participation in the economy and labor force still stand at 14 percent, a figure that is among the lowest worldwide.
Among the challenges hindering women from taking on a larger role in the economy, she highlighted the negative cultural perception in Arab countries toward working women.
Abu Hassan, who is the only woman minister in the current 19-member Cabinet, noted that women's participation in the public sector in Jordan is higher than in the private sector.
Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel, wife of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said women in Saudi Arabia have seen improvements in terms of work opportunities in the last two years, adding that despite the reforms that seek to strengthen their presence in the work force, unemployment among females remains high.
The unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia is currently around 12 percent, with women constituting 85 percent of those unemployed.
"This is a big challenge for us," Princess Ameerah, a women's rights advocate in her country, said.
Alkhudair spoke of the positive steps the Ministry of Labor has taken and highlighted some key initiatives. "Saudi Arabia will soon be a global benchmark when it comes to women's employment," he said. The message received huge impact as the WEF's twitter account tweeted his remark and sent to over 1.8 million subscribers.
Alkhudair pointed out that the orientations of the Kingdom in the empowerment of women working through the decisions of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and the recent decision to allow women's participation in the Shoura Council and municipalities, is great evidence of the potential of Saudi women in decision-making roles and the vision of this great country when it comes to equality.
Source: Arab News

29-05-13, 08:21 PM
 Aramco production hits record
 
Saudi Aramcos production reached record level last year with output risng to 3.479 billion barrels, compared with 3.310 billion barrels in 2011.
A statement on Saudi Aramco website says it was the highest production in the companys history.
It says exports reached 2.521 billion barrels last year, up from 2.421 billion barrels in 2011.
Saudi Aramco manages conventional crude oil reserves of 260.2 billion barrels and gas reserves of 284.8 trillion standard cubic feet.
In 2012, it produced 3.479 billion barrels of oil, about one in every eight barrels of the worlds crude oil production and the most we have produced in a single year in our history, the company said.
Our gas production, in terms of raw gas to gas plants, was 3.924 trillion standard cubic feet, an 8.3 percent increase from 2011 and also the most in a single year in our history. We also produced 482 million barrels of NGLs, including 82 million barrels of condensate, Aramco said.
Saudi Aramco and its subsidiaries own or have equity interest in domestic and international refineries with a total worldwide refining capacity of almost 4.5 million barrels per day (bpd), of which the companys equity share is 2.4 million bpd, making it the worlds sixth-largest refiner.
In 2012, Aramco increased its refined products production from 495 million barrels in 2011 to 507 million barrels.
Exports of Aramcos refined products also increased by 2.4 percent to 126 million barrels.
Crude oil exports increased by 100 million barrels to 2.521 billion barrels in 2012, with 53.2 percent exported to the Far East.
The company said: In compiling these achievements, we continued to meet our commitments to our customers. Demand for oil and gas products is forecast to grow at a healthy pace supported by abundant resources, and Saudi Aramco continues to significantly contribute to maintaining the global availability of these resources.
Aramco said it plays a key role in the global economy by maintaining substantial spare crude oil production capacity to contribute stability to worldwide oil prices.
Saudi Aramco has grown tremendously during its 80-year history.
Once strictly an oil and gas production company, it has now boosted its refining business and ventured into petrochemicals while exploring renewables.
The Aramco document added: With this expansion has come a substantial increase in the complexity of the decisions we must make. Also trending upward in relation to our growth have been volatility, financial market risk, and an increasingly complex domestic development agenda.
Growth will require changes in how we develop our strategy, for the short and long term alike. Our Strategy Development and Corporate Decision Making Initiative is designed to help us ensure an agile corporate decision-making process that enables us to continue to compete effectively as we grow across our multiple businesses and in the face of challenges.
To achieve our 2020 strategic intent, to continue to provide safe and reliable operations, and to execute with excellence and strong controls we must perform at an even higher level.
Our multi-billion dollar investments are futile without investing in the skilled workforce
to manage and operate them.
Our goal remains to further develop our people to be the best they can be, whether that be as a leader, a technician, an operator or a professional.
We will continue to challenge our employees with appropriate developmental opportunities and meaningful work assignments to engage, inspire, motivate and retain our best people.
Aramco said: Our commitment is to continue to attract the most talented and motivated men and women in the industry as we become a global employer of choice, because we offer the most challenging career opportunities that enrich their learning and allow them to develop and see the real impact and result of their work on themselves, on our company, on the Kingdom, and on the world.
The oil giant said: At Saudi Aramco, we do more because what we do makes it possible for people around the globe to achieve more, live more and be more. Thats true today, and we are hard at work to ensure that its true in the tomorrow we are shaping.
Source: Arab News

29-05-13, 08:46 PM
 Maaden-Alcoa move to conserve water
 
Alcoa and the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) yesterday announced completion of a first-of-its-kind engineered wetlands wastewater management system in Saudi Arabia at the Maaden-Alcoa joint venture (JV) project site.
The newly constructed system will reduce water demand by nearly two million gallons (7.5 million liters) per day and save more than $ 7 million (SR 26 million) annually that would otherwise be used to purchase fresh water.
The Alcoa-designed and engineered technology, known as a Natural Engineered Wastewater Treatment system, collects sanitary and industrial wastewater and then cleans and disinfects the water without the use of chemicals or the creation of water discharge and odors associated with conventional tank systems. The water will then be reused in the manufacturing process and for irrigation at the Maaden-Alcoa aluminum complex at Ras Al-Khair. The complex includes a refinery, smelter and rolling mill.
"Sustainable development is a core value for Maaden," said Abdulaziz A. Al-Harbi, Maaden Aluminium's president. "It is also a critical component of our operating excellence that will enable Maaden Aluminium to become the world's lowest-cost producer of primary aluminum, alumina and aluminum products, with access to growing markets in the Middle East and beyond."
"This innovative waste management system demonstrates the value of combining Maaden's local knowledge and expertise with the technological depth and sustainability leadership that Alcoa brings to the Maaden-Alcoa joint venture," said Ray Kilmer, Alcoa's executive vice president and chief technology officer.
"Together with Maaden, we are bringing to life this oasis in the desert, which will safely treat and conserve water in a way that is good for the environment and the bottom line."
This sustainable technology, demonstrated via full-scale deployment at the Alcoa Technical Center near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is now being considered for other wastewater treatment applications throughout Saudi Arabia.
Alcoa technical experts developed the system to mimic the physical, chemical and biological processes of natural wetlands. In addition to saving water and money, the innovative design was constructed six months faster than a conventional tank-based system and eliminated an estimated 1,000 tons of steel for piping and tanks. The project is expected to be fully operational by the end of July this year.
Alcoa's wetlands system comprises three steps, including an anaerobic treatment tank, which breaks down and separates organic material in the water; a passive engineered wetland that utilizes vegetation for further treatment of organics and removal of nitrogen and metals; and a cell housing bauxite-based technology that disinfects and polishes the water. The result is water treated to the same or better quality as that of a conventional system.
Source: Arab News

29-05-13, 09:23 PM
Saudi Arabian Airlines ready for summer rush
 
Saudi Arabian Airlines is well-prepared to handle the summer rush of local travelers, said Khaled Al-Mulhim, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Arab News reported."
Saudia has prepared weekly additional flights for increased capacity in many local airports. Al-Mulhim confirmed that Saudia is working hard to develop its fleets and overcome the annual problem of summer crowds.
Due to high demand on local flights, we have increased the capacity of local flights across the Kingdom. We have targeted tourist destinations like Abha, Jazan, Tabuk, Najran and Al-Baha as a priority. We hope not to see any further rush in local airports during the summer of 2013, he said.
According to Al-Mulhim, Saudia is trying to tackle the annual summer crowd.
We have increased seat capacity for northern areas by 47 percent and the southern region by 53 percent compared to what it was in the summer of 2010, and especially to tourist destinations, he said.
Our recent reports show that the seat capacity for Abha Airport is estimated at 40,656 and the increased rate is estimated at 56 percent.
However, Saudia also increased the total seat capacity to and from Jazan Airport by 19,998 seats per week. The increase rate is estimated at 63 percent compared to the seat capacity in summer 2010.
Samar Al-Ghamdi, a tourist adviser working for a local tourism company, said that local destinations are gaining the interest of Saudi travelers due to unstable politics in neighboring countries. She claimed that increasing the capacity of local flights was a must to tackle the higher demand on local tourist destinations.
Source: Mubasher News

29-05-13, 09:37 PM
Almbti: Saudi Investment opportunities worth nearly $ 1 trln available till 2020

Eng. Abdullah Almbti, President of the Council of Saudi Chambers, said that several German companies plan to foray into Saudi Arabia, to capitalize on the $1 trillion investment opportunities available there till 2020.
Almbti added that Saudi Arabia dominates 40% of the investments heading to the Arab region. He noted that the Kingdom took the 12th rank in the Ease of Doing Business Index, Al-Sharq newspaper reported.
Source: Mubasher News

29-05-13, 09:39 PM
Jadwa expects further rise in private sector's credit this year 
 
Jadwa Investment stated in a report that the net credit issued to the private sector accelerated this year, recording SR 49 billion year-to-April and growth of 16 percent year-on-year in April.
Claims on non-financial government entireties also maintained strong growth of 23 percent year-on-year in April. Total deposits increased by SR 53 billion year-to-April. The latest data shows a growth of 14.5 percent year-on-year in April.
The loan-to-deposit ratio declined slightly to 80.4 percent. SAMAs gross foreign assets continued to grow, rising SR 78 billion year-to-April.
The additional FX reserves was allocated entirely to investment in foreign currencies. Bank excess deposits with SAMA remained elevated at SR89.6 billion in April, though it is significantly lower than its level earlier this year (SR111 billion in January), reflecting the strong liquidity position of the domestic banks.
Rapid money supply growth
The monetary conditions in the Kingdom reflects the strong performance of domestic economic activities particularly with all three measures of money supply showing strong growth rates since early 2011.
Expansionary fiscal policy and low interest rate environment played an important role in supporting such a trend. Growth in broad money (M3) picked up slightly to 14 percent year-on-year (1.5 percent month-on-month) in April from 12.3 percent in March. The narrower M2 measure, which includes demand deposits, time and savings deposits and currency outside banks, also expanded 15 percent year-on-year (1.2 percent month-on-month) in April versus 13 percent in March.
The growth in both measures were driven by healthy growth in demand, time and saving deposits, which increased 15.8 percent year-on-year (1.3 percent month-on-month) in April compared with 13.5 percent in March.
The monetary base also contributed to expanding money supply, recording a month-on-month growth of 2 percent which pushed the annual growth to 10.7 percent. The monetary base acceleration was driven by an increase in bank deposits with SAMA (3.9 percent month-on-month) owing to stable credit expansion versus a strong growth in deposits.
At the same time, currency outside banks reversed the previous months contraction and expanded 0.15 percent month-on-month in April. Given such monetary dynamic, the money multiplier reversed its upward trend and slightly eased to 4.48 percent.
Net foreign asset position continues to improve The net foreign assets (NFAs) of the Saudi financial system continued to expand, reaching SR2,638 billion in April compared with SR2,566 billion at the end of last year.
SAMAs NFAs recorded SR2,506 billion ($668.4 billion) in April owing to SR78 billion increase in gross foreign assets year-to-April. Its foreign liabilities have marginally increased from SR4.1 billion at the end of last year to SR4.7 billion in April.
The improvement in gross foreign assets reflects in part a rebound in oil exports during February and March, which were scaled slightly up to 7.2 million barrel per day (mbpd) compared with 7.1mbpd in December and January.
Foreign asset position also contributed to an expansion in SAMAs total assets, which grew 3 percent year-to-April to SR2,558 billion. Within foreign assets, SAMA increased its investment in foreign currencies by SR137.5 billion year-to-April while reducing deposits with banks abroad (SR-59.4 billion) as well as investment in currencies convertible to gold (SR-717 million).
Jadwa expects the positive momentum in SAMAs foreign assets to slightly slow over the coming few months relative to their strong growth last year as oil prices shift to below $105 per barrel (pb). The NFAs of the commercial banks contracted by SR6.4 billion, or 4.8 percent year-to-April.
Although gross foreign assets slipped by 5.5 percent year-to-April, to SR201 billion, foreign liabilities also contracted but at a slower base of 5.4 percent year-to-April, to SR74 billion. At the same time, banks total deposits with SAMA maintained a positive trend for the second consecutive month in April, increasing by SR6.2 billion to SR167 billion, of which 53.6 percent or SR89.6 billion was excess reserves.
While this is considerably less than the excess deposits earlier this year (SR111 billion in January), it remains 8 percent higher than in April 2012. This reflects the amble liquidity in the Saudi banking system which could translate into higher credit growth in the coming months. With such liquidity conditions and strong growth in all measures of the money supply, the risk is on the upside for domestic inflation.
Credit to private sector maintains a solid path Credit to the private sector (excluding securities lending) expanded 16 percent year-on-year (1.6 percent month-on-month) in April compared with 15.4 percent year-on-year (1.1 percent month-on-month) in March.
In year-to-date basis, credit expanded by 5.1 percent in April compared with 5.6 percent the same period last year. In nominal terms, however, net credit issued year-to-April was SR49 billion compared with SR45.9 billion same period of last year.
Loans, advances and overdrafts combined to make the largest contribution (5 percentage point) to the year-to-Aprils credit growth. In addition, total claims on the private sector, which include investment in private securities, expanded 5.6 percent year-to-April and were 16 percent higher than a year earlier in April.
Jadwa expects growth in credit to the private sector to expand further this year (16 percent year-on-year), although with a smoother trajectory than the report issuer saw last year (16.4 percent year-on-year). On this basis, Jadwa expects net credit issuance to total SR144 billion in 2013 compared with SR136 billion in 2012.
Expansionary government fiscal policy is expected to be the main growth driver, while regional geopolitical risk and external economic environment present a downside risk on general market sentiment. While credit with long-term maturity profiles should expand on higher government capital spending, the relatively small share of longer-term deposits (24 percent of total deposits) is expected to weigh on such expansion.
Nonetheless, the share of long term credit to total credit improved to 28.4 percent in April compared with 24 percent a year earlier. Medium-term credit should also improve given the governments expansionary consumption spending, gains in Saudi public- and private-sector employment and the positive outlook for the housing market development. In fact, the share of medium term credit to total credit improved from 17 percent in April 2012 to 18.2 percent in April 2013. Bank claims on government continues to expand owing to greater investment in treasury bills, while banks holding of development bonds continues its downward trend. While commercial banks holdings of treasury bills slightly rose by SR858 million in April, they are 40 percent higher than their level a year ago, owing to a significant issuance in February (SR24.8 billion).
Credit to nonfinancial government entities maintained a strong annual growth since February last year, it increased 23 percent year-on-year pushed by a significant 18 percent year-to-April growth. Jadwa expects the momentum to remain the theme throughout this year on the back of an expansionary fiscal policy. Funding and liquidity profiles remain strong A rapid growth in total deposits since the introduction of the two fiscal packages in early 2011 has supported the banking sector funding profile. The growth of banks total deposits accelerated to 14.5 percent year-on-year (1.7 percent month-on-month) in April from 12.5 percent year-on-year in March.
In nominal terms, banks deposit increased by SR53 billion year-to-April with demand deposits increasing at a faster pace (SR67 billion year-to-April) while other type of deposits contracted.
The contraction in saving and time deposits, however, slowed to SR13 billion year-to-April compared with SR-13.5 billion in January-April 2012. As monthly growth in credit to private sector and non-financial government entities (1.6 percent month-on-month) was slower than the monthly expansion in deposits (1.7 percent month-on-month), the system-wide loan-to-deposit ratio eased to 80.4 percent in April from 80.5 percent in March.
At the same time, 3-month Sibor continued on a downward trend after the January peak of 0.9975 percent to record 0.9637 percent on May 26. While the amble liquidity of the banking sector played a role on pushing the rate down, external political and economic environment are likely to slow the process. The expansion in credit and low funding costs continue to contribute to a pick-up in bank profits, which registered SR12.4 billion year-to-April compared with 12.5 billion January-April 2012. Jadwa remains positive on bank profit growth, based on a solid path projection for credit growth and low funding costs in 2013
Source: Mubasher
Source: Mubasher News

29-05-13, 09:41 PM
Tabuk Cement starts experimental operation of new mill

Tabuk Cement announced that it started today the pilot operation of its new mill. Chairman Khalid bin Saleh Al Shathri said that the daily production capacity of the new mill reaches 4000 tons of cement. Thus, the production increases 75% to 9000 tons. He added that the project was fully financed from the companys revenue. It is worth mentioning that the commercial production will be duly announced.
Source: Mubasher News

29-05-13, 09:45 PM
 Expansion to up Riyadh airport capacity to 35 m
 
The new expansion plan for Riyadhs King Khaled International Airport aims at increasing its capacity from 12 million to 35 million, said Khaled Al-Khaibary, spokesman of the General Authority for Civil Aviation.
He said the project that includes construction of a new terminal (No. 5) and development of an existing closed terminal (No. 4) would be completed in five years.
He also disclosed plans to privatize the airport.
The No. 4 terminal was not provided with the required facilities, Al-Khaibary said while explaining the reason for constructing a new terminal. KKIA has not witnessed any development since its establishment 30 years ago.
Last year 17.7 million passengers used the airport, he said stressing the need to expand it.
The airport will be linked with the citys new metro system and the GACA has reached an agreement with Riyadh Development Authority for the purpose. The metro will help passengers reach the city center quickly and comfortably, Al-Khaibary said, adding that spots have been allocated in the project for the metro lines.
Saudi Railway Company will construct the main railway station on the southeastern part of the airport to be linked with the terminal through the metro system.
He said the development of the closed terminal would lead to increasing the airports capacity to 18 million if used for domestic flights and 15 million if used for international flights. The airports expansion was required to meet the needs of increasing number of passengers, the spokesman said.
He said GACA would publish project details on its website following the completion of designs after Ramadan (mid August).
We are working rapidly for the privatization of KKIA, which will operate independently from GACA on the basis of competitive standards to extend better services to customers including passengers and airlines, he said.
 
Source: Arab News

29-05-13, 09:52 PM
Prince Khaled to launch new desal plant 
 
Makkah Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal will launch a new desalination plant and pipeline in Jeddah on Sunday evening.
Construction of the plant is being overseen by the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) and the 10-km-long pipeline is being carried out by the National Water Company. Other prominent figures who will be present at the launch include Prince Mishal Bin Majed, Governor of Jeddah; Abdullah Al-Hussayen, Minister of Water and Electricity; Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim, Governor of SWCC; and Luay Musallam, Executive President of the National Water Company.
Hussayen said the launch of the two projects by Prince Khaled reflects their importance to citizens and residents of the city. He congratulated all citizens and expressed happiness that the launch coincides with the eighth anniversary of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullahs ascension to the throne.
He went on to say the progress the country has enjoyed during this period reflects the leaderships concern for citizens and expatriates living in the country. He prayed to Allah to grant the King continued health, and security and stability for the nation.
During the era of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques services in water and electricity sectors have made big strides, and during a short period, the Ministry of Water and Electricity and its affiliated sectors have been able to build big projects comparable to those in other countries, said Al-Hussayen.
The production capacity of the reverse osmosis desalination plant is 240,000 cubic meters of water daily. The water produced is expected to give a big boost to desalinated water reaching Jeddah from Al-Shuaibah 3 desalination plant. The cost of constructing the new plant was SR1.115 billion and took 48 months to complete.
Meanwhile, Prince Khaled received Maj. Gen. Ali Al-Ghamdi on the occasion of his appointment as the director of police in the province.
Prince Khaled praised the efforts being exerted by the regions police and wished Maj. Gen. Al-Ghamdi all success in his new position.
Maj. Gen. Al-Ghamdi said he was honored to be given the chance to lead the regions police force and hoped he would be successful in continuing the long streak of success the regions police has achieved. He thanked Prince Khaled for the directives and support the regions police receive.
Source: Arab News

29-05-13, 10:10 PM
 SR 404 million Riyadh hospital deal awarded
 
Arabtec Holding announced that its joint venture between Arabtec Saudi Arabia and Greeces Terna has been awarded a SR 404 million contract by Aldara Medical Corporation to build Aldara Hospital and Medical Center, a 105-bed hospital in Riyadh.
Arabtec, which has a strong track record of complex construction projects, is implementing a strategy to diversify across the GCC region and expand into specialized, high-margin areas of construction. The company has a 60 percent stake in the Arabtec-Terna joint venture.
The hospital is being constructed on a built-up area of 107,000 square meters. It will consist of six floors and include two medical centers.
"Saudi Arabia is rapidly developing its social and physical infrastructure, and we believe there is a strong opportunity for Arabtec to participate in construction projects in the Kingdom such as hospitals, schools and transportation. This is another sign that the regional construction market is returning to health," said Arabtec Holding CEO Hasan Abdullah Ismaik.
Arabtecs current backlog is valued at nearly AED 21 billion.
Arabtecs operations in Saudi Arabia, where the company is building a 5,000-villa project, have been a key driver of revenue growth.
Construction work on the Aldara Hospital and Medical Center is expected to be completed in early 2015.
Arabtec is a UAE-based construction company specializing in complex projects, including high-rise commercial and residential development, infrastructure and oil and gas.
The company delivers demanding projects, ranging from iconic buildings such as the worlds tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Abu Dhabi landmark, the Emirates Palace Hotel, to technically challenging work on airports and oil and gas installations.
Arabtecs strong track record and commitment to timely and cost-efficient delivery have contributed to rapid growth in recent years and a reputation for quality that has often translated into a market-led pricing premium for completed projects.
The company is currently working on some of the most prestigious projects in the Middle East, such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi and a regeneration project in the center of the Qatari capital, Doha, and is also expanding into other regions.
Source: Arab News

29-05-13, 10:14 PM
US dollars 750 million sukuk

Saudi developer closes 1st tranche  

Bank Alkhair has announced the successful close of the first tranche of a $ 750 million sukuk program established by Dar Al Al-Arkan Real estate Development Company (Dar Al-Arkan), a major residential real estate developer in Saudi Arabia.
Bank Alkhair jointly led the sukuk program, which is based on the Islamic Wakala structure. The program was established to fund Dar Al-Arkans current and upcoming development projects. Bank Alkhair also acted as the Shariah adviser of the program.
The first issue, a benchmark sized, 5-year, Regulation S issue (Reg S), was offered to the market on May 20. The sukuk, which offers investors a coupon of 5.75 percent, received an overwhelming response from regional and international investors and was significantly oversubscribed. Dar Al-Arkan opted to close the first issue at $ 450 million on May 21, despite it being almost 4 times oversubscribed, with overall book order reaching up to $ 1.68 billion.
Bank Alkhair, Deustche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Emirates NBD Capital were the joint bookrunners of the transaction.
Commenting on the successful close of the first tranche, Ikbal Daredia, head of Bank Alkhairs global capital markets division, said: "The oversubscription of the issue demonstrates increasing investor appetite for sukuk and for quality issuers like Dar Al-Arkan."
Yousef Al-Shelash, chairman of Dar Al-Arkan, said: "The success of this sukuk issue is a testament to investor confidence in Dar Al-Arkans solid business model and Saudi Arabias robust economy."
Standard & Poor's Ratings Service is expected to assign a rating of "B+" to the issue. Standard & Poors recently affirmed Dar Al-Arkans B+ credit rating and revised its outlook to positive from stable due to the companys resilient operating performance.
The sukuk, which was issued through the Dar Al-Arkan Sukuk Company Ltd., marks Dar Al-Arkan's fourth international sukuk issue to date.
Source: Arab News

19-06-13, 02:03 PM
Sadara gets funding for its $19.3bn plant 
 
Sadara Chemical Co, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical, confirmed Monday that it had signed loan facilities to support the construction of a $19.3 billion petrochemical complex.
Loan agreements worth SR39.375 billion ($10.5 billion) were signed Sunday with local and foreign banks, Export Development Bank Canada, Islamic Development Bank, the Saudi Public Investment Fund and export credit agencies, the statement to the Saudi stock exchange said.
The loans will run until June 30, 2025, with the first drawdown of funds expected in the third quarter of 2013. Added to a SR7.5 billion sukuk (Islamic bond) sold at the beginning of April, the total financing package for the plant totaled SR46.88 billion, the statement added.
Loan agreements had been signed for a financing package worth around $12.5 billion, citing banking sources.
The facility, located at Jubail Industrial City, will be the worlds largest chemical complex ever built in a single phase. It will produce over 3 million tons of petrochemicals a year when completed in 2016
Source: Reuters

19-06-13, 02:05 PM
 KSA produces 67% of GCC's petrochem output
 
Petrochemicals production in Saudi Arabia hit 86.4 million tons in 2012, up from 80.5 million tons of capacity in the previous year, the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) Annual Report 2012 said.
According to the sixth edition of the report, Saudi Arabia dominates the regional market with a 67 percent of the GCCs total petrochemicals capacity.
The notable milestone reached in 2012 was the commencement of full operations of the Saudi Polymers manufacturing facility in October, located in Jubail. A joint venture between National Petrochemicals Company (Petrochem) and Arabian Chevron Phillips Petrochemical Company, this facility has the production capacity for 3 million tons of ethylene, polyethylene, propylene and hexene.
Saudi Arabias fertilizer capacity continued to expand when in June 2012, SAFCO awarded a $500 million contract to build a large-scale fertilizer complex. When fully onstream, this plant will have the capacity to produce 1 million tons of urea every year.
Saudi companies like Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and Saudi Aramco also ventured into overseas projects last year. In January 2012, SABIC signed a cooperation agreement with Chinas Sinopec that involves the building of a new polycarbonate production facility in Tianjin, China with a capacity of 260,000 tons per annum. SABIC and Sinopec further solidified their business partnership by agreeing to study the development of a methanol complex in Trinidad and Tobago.
Saudi Aramco, meanwhile, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PT Peramina to evaluate the possibility of developing an integrated oil refining and petrochemicals project to meet the rising demand in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
The entry of SABIC and Saudi Aramco into the Asian markets is a positive development as it means that the GCC petrochemicals sector has truly gone global, said Dr. Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, Secretary General of the GPCA.
Production of petrochemicals in the GCC market increased by 5.5 percent in 2012, despite a global slowdown in chemical production due to market weakness, the report said.
The regional petrochemicals production capacity grew to 127.8 million tons in 2012, up from 121.1 million tons in 2011. Conversely, the global growth in petrochemical production stood at 2.6 percent in 2012, compared to 3.8 percent growth rate in 2011.
The latest report describes 2012 as a year in which the industry has flourished, even though chemicals production worldwide had decreased due to the recession in Europe, inventory discrepancies and deterioration in global manufacturing.
As a host of major projects come online, along with a collection of significant new agreements, the GCC petrochemicals industry is demonstrating their potential as a market leader, said Dr. Al Sadoun. The GPCA is pleased to announce this market growth and to recognize the contribution of every industry player across the region.
The GCC petrochemicals sector is forecast to reach a production capacity of 183.9 million tons by 2017, a 7 percent annual growth rate over the next four years.
We are optimistic about the future, he further said. Industry growth will usher in a transformation for the petrochemicals sector, into one that is focused on technology, sustainability and enduring partnerships.
SABIC, for example, is already making great strides toward a bigger and brighter future by developing the worlds largest integrated methacrylate(MMA) and polymethylmethacrylate(PMMA) plant in the world. When completed, this plant will produce 250,000 tons per annum of MMA and 40,000 tons per annum of PMMA.
Source: Saudi Gazette

19-06-13, 02:07 PM
SABIC'S UK Plant makes dramatic turnaround 
 
After nearly 20 years of under-investment, SABIC UK Petrochemicals ethylene liquefaction plant on Teesside has witnessed a dramatic turnaround and is on track to make productivity gains of more than 10 million a year, following an intensive reliability program with change management specialists, Reliable Manufacturing.
Saudi-owned SABIC is one of the worlds largest manufacturers of chemicals, fertilizers, plastics and metals. Its Teesside plant forms an integral part of its European operations.
Just 18 months after embarking on its manufacturing excellence program with Reliable Manufacturing, plant breakdowns and performance issues have been dramatically reduced. Communication between the plants two sites has improved, saving the company more than 1 million a year; asset care improvement teams have uncovered issues making great efficiency savings, which on just one propylene dryer is estimated to be in excess of 400k a year. And the plant has set a precedent for the rest of SABIC.
We've managed to achieve reliable production week after week, despite the plants age and without any significant investment, says Wayne Alexander, former senior operations manager. Its about the teams operating the plant correctly, being slick at what they do, and working to plans and targets.
The previously disenfranchised workforce has really got behind the project, with an estimated 75 percent of process team members involved in some way. When people start to see changes happening, they begin to have more pride in the assets; it increases their motivation and has an indirect effect on performance, says John Burluraux, manufacturing excellence project manager.
Source: Arab News

19-06-13, 02:09 PM
 Investcorp buys 38% stake in KSA energy firm
 
Bahrain-based Investcorp has bought a 38 percent stake in a Saudi oil and gas services company and expects to complete up to three more deals via its $1 billion Gulf fund in 2013, an executive at the firm said Monday.
Investcorp is buying the stake in Saudi-based Al Yusr Industrial Contracting Co. from two members of its controlling family for an undisclosed sum, said managing director Tristan de Boysson, due to an expected boom in infrastructure spending in the largest Gulf Arab economy.
The private equity firm was scouting for more deals worth between $50 million and $70 million, the executive added.
This is the funds eighth deal and brings (it) ... to roughly 80 percent deployment. Were looking at two to three more deals and hope to fully invest it by the end of this year, de Boysson said.
Founded in 1979, Al Yusr provides support services to the petrochemical, oil and gas and other industrial sectors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The market in which this company operates is growing rapidly, between 12 and 14 percent per year, de Boysson added. We plan to support it through organic growth and inorganically inside Saudi and in new markets.
The deal is the asset managers latest investment through its Gulf fund and comes four months after it invested in Hydrasun, an international provider of fluid control equipment and solutions for the global offshore oil and gas sector. The company also bought last year a 35 percent stake in Kuwaiti car leasing and rental firm Automak Automotive Co, as well as a 30 percent stake in Turkish menswear retailer Orka Group.
Investcorp had $11.5 billion in assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2012.
 
Source: Reuters

19-06-13, 02:11 PM
  Cisco reaffirms commitment to Saudi Arabia

Ciscos Chairman and CEO John Chambers arrived in Saudi Arabia Monday to meet with Saudi government officials and strategic business partners in the Kingdom. Chambers has been a regular visitor to the Kingdom in his capacity as Executive Country sponsor over the past years.
During discussions with leading business representatives in the Kingdom,
Chambers will highlight Ciscos continued commitment to collaborate with indigenous organizations and local government to help further accelerate development in information communications technology (ICT) energy, critical national infrastructure, healthcare, defense and national security, and the service provider market.
Chambers said I am very encouraged by the technology advances that have taken place since my last visit. We have a highly skilled, professional and talented team committed to the success of the Kingdom and our customers. As more devices and people are connected on the network, we will continue to innovate and transform our business to meet the demands of our customers in Saudi Arabia. Business leaders in the Kingdom today want partners who can guide them through change and help shape their organizations for the future. The question high on their agendas is how can all this connectivity help me grow my business, deliver better services and experiences, and open up new possibilities? The Internet of Everything will transform the way we live, work, and play and learn, and Cisco is right at the center.
Dr Tarig Enaya, Managing Director, Cisco, Saudi Arabia, said the meetings that Mr. Chambers is hosting with some of the leading business leaders in the Kingdom will yield some useful discussions that will help define our agenda for the Kingdom for the remainder of 2013 and into 2014. Both Cisco and our strategic partners in Saudi Arabia are ready and willing to embrace the change that the next phase of the Internet will bring. I look forward to announcing some key new developments from Cisco here in Saudi Arabia that will help shape this change in the very near future.
During his visit to the Kingdom, Chambers will outline the phenomenal opportunities that are expected to be created for businesses and individuals as we enter into the era of the Internet of Everything (IoE). Cisco defines IoE as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.
Cisco established a presence in Saudi Arabia in 1997
 
Source: Saudi Gazette

19-06-13, 02:13 PM
 80% of building projects to be hit by labor cleanup in Saudi Arabia
 
Many ongoing construction projects in the Kingdom are expected to be delayed due a rising labor shortage caused by the exit of tens of thousands of illegal workers taking advantage of the Kingdom's amnesty offer, according to some experts in the realty sector.
As much as 80 percent of construction projects could suffer in the coming days and months, said Raed Al-Aqeeli, vice chairman of the Contractors Committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Pointing out that only 10 percent of the laborers who had committed violations could correct their status, the experts believe that lack of labor could cause a major setback to the sector and result in project completion delays.
Raed Al-Aqeeli, vice chairman of the Contractors Committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is of the view that as much as 80 percent of the construction projects could suffer in the coming days and months. "With only a few days remaining for the amnesty period to end, we still can't see the government apparatus gearing up to accommodate and clear the large numbers of paperwork and transactions which are estimated at 450,000," he said, adding that projects would have to be put on hold since both employers and workers are worried about the punitive measures they would face in case of violations.
Stating that they were in the process of addressing high-level authorities to extend the grace period, Al-Aqeeli said: "The time period is just not enough considering the fact that the sector was totally dependent on illegal laborers and part time workers, as well as small enterprises. Under the circumstances, it would be difficult for companies to manage the worker shortage issue."
Waleed Abu Sabah, chairman of the Hotels Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, claimed that companies were facing problems in paying the fees due to the allocated sum of money that government bodies should receive per day, pegged at just SR 20,000.
Fahad Al-Said, CEO of Al Akaria Real Estate Co., however, believes that fears about projects getting delayed following the implementation of the new labor laws was grossly exaggerated. "I don't foresee any significant delays in completing ongoing projects. Undoubtedly, some projects will be delayed but the overall percentage should not be high. In any case, construction activity can be expected to slow down in the coming days because of the hot weather. And with Ramadan and the season round the corner, any slowdown in the sector would only be logical," he said.
Al-Said also considers the launch of the correction campaign as being healthy which would help in organizing the real estate job market besides facilitating issue of visas to professional companies. "We have noticed that there are a large number of fake or small companies which seek large number of visas from the Labor Ministry only to sell these later. Such companies force the MoL to be more parsimonious while issuing visas.
The new labor laws will ensure that such small and fake companies are weeded out, following which the ministry can start issuing large number of visas to big professional companies that take on mega projects," he said.
Faisal Aqil, director of the Business Development Department and chairman of social responsibility at CPC Holding, said professional contractors had to handle labor issues regardless of the current changes. Most of the major projects are being handled by professional companies and they will finish their projects on time, he said, adding: "I don't think there are many companies that couldn't handle their workers' issues, unless they are not serious. Professional contractors with high levels of capability will never hire illegal workers for their projects."
Source: Arab News

19-06-13, 02:15 PM
Ministry of Agriculture implements 16 joint projects with FAO


The Minister of Agriculture Dr. Fahd bin Abdulrahman Balghunaim said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is keen to support Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through the joint contributions of the two sides in the combat of hunger and poverty in the world.
In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) during the 38th annual conference of FAO currently in progress in Italian capital of Rome , he said that the Kingdom has signed a cooperation agreement with FAO ending in 2016 , including the implementation of 16 joint projects in the Kingdom for the advancement of agriculture and the support of livestock, the state news agency reported.
Source: Mubasher News

19-06-13, 02:16 PM
Makkah SAR 88 mln development porjects signed


The municipality of Makkah has signed three new contracts relating to roads projects valued at more than SR 88,000,000, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The signing is part of a plan to develop the city's roads.
Source: Mubasher News

19-06-13, 02:19 PM
 Abdullatif Alissa ranked 10th among
Top 100 Making an Impact in the Arab World
 
AAGH is recognised for its social contribution, governance, transparency, size and legacy Abdullatif Alissa Group Holding Company (AAGH) the pioneer of automotive sales, service, financing and leasing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been ranked 10th of the 'Top 100 Making an Impact in the Arab World' by Forbes.
Forbes is one of the world's leading providers of reliable business news and financial information.
The Forbes survey looked at unlisted, private companies across the Arab World, with a particular focus on those companies seen to be contributing to social development, charities and charitable work and to companies adjudged to be supporting economic growth in their home countries and the wider region.
The criteria for the ranking included transparency in financial information in terms of operations and business results, quality of sustainable CSR programmes, global presence and size, the number of years of trading, social interactivity, charitable initiatives and the size of the CSR and overall expenditures.
Since AAGH's inception by the late Sheikh Abdullatif Al Issa in the 1940's the Company has evolved substantially from its original focus in textiles and food stuff trading. Today AAGH is a diversified conglomerate with annual revenue exceeding SR4bn and around 3,000 employees, AME Info reported.
Source: Mubasher News

19-06-13, 02:20 PM
SABIC sponsors Smart Investor Program

The Capital Market Authority (CMA) has signed an agreement with Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) to sponsor the Smart Investor Program.
This program is part of the CMA's awareness initiatives aimed at youngsters.
Source: Mubasher News

19-06-13, 02:22 PM
  
Dubai's Drake & Scull mulls Saudi bourse listing

Dubai contractor Drake and Scull may consider an additional listing of its shares on Saudi Arabia's Tadawul bourse though the firm does not have any imminent plans for it, its chief executive has said.
Tadawul is the largest market in the Gulf Arab region, with much greater liquidity and trading volumes than other exchanges.
Its market regulator amended listing rules in January last year to allow cross-listings, and the stock exchange said it would focus on attracting firms from elsewhere in the Gulf.
"It's a logical thing to do. I recognise there is a potential in the Saudi market," Drake chief executive Khaldoun Tabari told reporters in Dubai. He did not provide a timeline for any potential listing.
Drake, which specialises in mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP), has a unit in Saudi Arabia and about half of the company's project backlog is in the kingdom.
Last month, Drake said it won a contract worth SR1.73bn ($461.3m) to build a twin-tower residential and commercial development in the western Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah.
Abu Dhabi's Eshraq Properties said in March that it was seeking regulatory approvals for a cross listing of its shares in Saudi Arabia.
Drake shares have risen 41 percent year-to-date on the back of new project wins and increased speculation that the firm was a takeover target. Tabari said in May that he has no plans to sell his 44 percent stake in Drake.
Source: Arabian Business

12-09-13, 07:42 PM
Saudi dairy giant says 50% capital hike approved

Saudi Arabia's Almarai has received shareholder approval to increase its capital by 50 percent to SR6bn ($1.60 billion), the dairy firm said in a statement on Tuesday.
The company will increase the number shares to 600 million from 400 million by issuing one bonus share for every two outstanding shares. Each share has a nominal value of 10 riyals.
The capital increase will support Almarai's SR15.7bn five-year capital funding programme, according to a statement to the Saudi bourse.
Almarai last week mandated four banks to arrange the sale of a SR1.7bn Islamic hybrid bond, or sukuk.
Source: Reuters

12-09-13, 07:44 PM
UAE hotel group eyes Saudi with budget brand

A UAE-based hotel group is planning to launch a budget brand with contracts signed for properties in Saudi Arabia.
Time Hotels Management CEO Mohamed Awadalla said in comments published by Hotelier Middle East on Tuesday that the hotel group will be launching the Time Express budget hotel brand specifically targeted at the three-star hotel segment.
He said the company has signed a contract for five properties in Riyadh and Dammam, which will open over the next five to six years.
Speaking during the Hotelier Middle East Great GM Debate, Awadalla said: We did not sign anything yet in UAE, we are working on Doha and Saudi Arabia at the moment.
Awadalla said Time Express hotels will have extra value like the size of the room, the quality of mattresses and the showers" in a bid to compete with international rivals in the three-star sector such as Accor.
Time Hotels Management currently operates TIME Oak Hotels & Suites and TIME Grand Plaza Hotel in Dubai.
The group also has four hotel apartments in its portfolio TIME Crystal Hotel Apartments, TIME Opal Hotel Apartments, TIME Ruby Hotel Apartments, and TIME Topaz Hotel Apartments in the UAE.
Source: Arabian Business

12-09-13, 07:46 PM
Kingdom aims to cut energy use by 30% in 17 years 
 
The use of electricity in the Kingdom has increased by 30 percent over the last 20 years and is expected to reduce exports of both oil and gas, said a leading official of Saudi Arabias initiative to reduce energy in the country.
Other countries, however, managed to reduce their use of power by 51 percent over the last 30 years, said Abulaziz Al-Mulhim, head of the awareness campaign of the Saudi Energy Efficiency Program (SEEP).
Al-Mulhim, who was speaking at an open workshop with private sector organizations at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) to convince them to reduce consumption of electricity, said the program targeted a 30 percent decrease in energy usage in the Kingdom by 2030.
According to him, the Kingdoms annual consumption of petroleum and gas was increasing by around 5 percent.
Set up in 2012, SEEP has focused its efforts on reducing energy usage in buildings, transportation, and industry. These three sectors so far consume 90 percent of all power being used in the Kingdom.
The program has come up with its own plan to ensure new housing units are using less power. This includes 500,000 units to be built by the Ministry of Housing, 70,000 constructed by Aramco and 4,000 housing units constructed by SABIC.
In the industry sector, SEEP will work on reducing energy consumption in the manufacturing of iron, cement, and petrochemicals that accounts for 80 percent of all power being used in the industry sector.
The transportation sector, explained Al-Mulhim, still uses a lot of energy because of the lack of public transportation and also because old vehicles that use more power than newer models are still on the roads.
SEEP will be obliging companies that import vehicles to provide detailed information about them, including energy usage.
Through a public awareness campaign, Al-Mulhim said they would encourage the public to drive vehicles that use less energy.
SEEP, said Al-Mulhim, will work in cooperation with the media, the education sector and the private sector as well as government bodies.
Recently, the SEEP team visited JCCI to help their businesses reduce their energy consumption.
Muhyi Al-Deen Hakami assistant secretary general of JCCI, said the organization would work closely with the program.
The JCCI, he said, already has 70,000 members and 1,000 registered factories in Jeddah that will be cooperating with SEEP.
SEEP has also contributed in setting up systems to help in the reduction of energy usage.
The program also works on setting standards for different machines that enter the Kingdom so they consume less power, in turn leading to more investment in energy efficient methods and research in energy usage reduction techniques.
Over 100 experts from 20 different government bodies are working on this SEEP program, including the Ministry of Finance, Saudi Energy Efficiency Center, Ministry of Information, Electricity & Cogeneration Regulatory Authority, Saudi Aramco, Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the Saudi Standards, Metrology, and Quality Organization and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.
According to figures by Aramco, the service sector accounts for 51 percent of energy usage in the Kingdom, transportation 21 percent, industry uses 15 percent and other sectors use 5 percent.
Source: Saudi Gazette

12-09-13, 07:48 PM
 GAB questions govt departments for inappropiate speding of SR 3.5 billion
 
The report of the General Auditing Bureau (GAB), which was reviewed by the Shoura Council, uncovered the increasing number of financial violations in sectors that are subjected to debt monitoring. The report said the bureau discovered the inappropriate payment of SR3.5 billion, a sum discharged without a regular receipt during the year of the report. The financial affairs committee in the Shoura Council studied the annual report of the GABs achievement during 2012 and 2013, and came up with the number of violations in sectors regulated by the Diwan is growing.
The report said the bureau found observation notes in 69 percent of the final accounts for government departments. There were also observations about 86 percent of reviewed accounts and warehouses, as well as observations about 70 percent of government funds inventoried.
The report pointed out the bureau implemented field tasks to examine contracts and found observations about 93 percent of these. Observations were also found in 100 percent in the closing accounts of public establishments. Financial statements and documents for 136 companies that have government shares were reviewed and the bureau demanded the collection and supply of SR1.59 billion to the treasury from these companies.
The Financial Committee stated the repetition of these financial violations calls for identifying the roots of the problem and the reasons and loopholes behind their increase. Dealing with problems can be done by amending and developing relevant rules and regulations, or raise the competency of financial sector employees in addition to any other reasons discovered by the study.
They called on the bureau to conduct a study by professionals to uncover the reasons that cause repeated violations and come up with suitable suggestions to curtail or stop them; this was the committees first recommendation.
The committee agreed with the bureau's vision, which says provinces governors and councils should be provided with a copy of performance reports and financial statement reviews for public sectors that are under their supervision.
The fifth, seventh and eighth paragraphs of article seven of provinces regulations state that the provinces governor should develop public services in the area, raise its capacity and maintain the property and finances of the state, in addition to supervising government apparatuses and its employees to ensure they perform their job honestly and sincerely. These should take into account the correlation of ministry employees and other departments with their reviewers.
The committee added that the bureau's reports include violations that take place in the ministries branches in various provinces, and the audit performance reports which focus on objective and regular evaluation for activities,that include funds, equipment, and human resources to ensure the ideal use of all available resources and its effective use to achieve its goals.
The report said it conducted 107 performance evaluations for government sector projects and works in the Kingdom. It presented a copy of these reports to provinces governors and councils, to strengthen supervision of government apparatuses branches, and enable them to look into and develop their performance and reduce the number of financial violations, which was the committees second recommendation.
Economic and financial developments witnessed by the Kingdom during the past few years, especially in relation to the volume of government spending over programs and projects, and the government expansion in using technology, demand the speedy development of a government audit system. This will keep up with these developments and ensures the good use of public funds. Resolution number (235) was issued by Council of Ministers in 2004.
Source: Arab News

12-09-13, 07:50 PM
 Saudi nonoil exports reach SR 17 billion in June
 
Saudi Arabias external trade in June realized SR17.1 billion of export revenue, leaping over last year's figures by 6.4 percent. This came despite the 9 percent decrease in tonnage which recorded 3.8 megatons. Imports, on the other hand, grew in value by 0.2 percent over the previous year, amounting to SR50.21 billion. Volume-wise, imports receded by 3.4 percent Y/Y to 6 megatons. The appreciating returns from exports indicate that prices are still supportive, according to a Saudi Economic Review released by the National Commercial Bank.
Saudi nonoil exports are in line with last year's trend which also moderately grew in June before it dropped in July and August. By export category, plastics still dominate nonoil exports by 31.4 percent, generating SR5.4 billion. They surged by 22.7 percent compared to the same period last year. Chemical products, which make up 31.1 percent of nonoil exports fell by 10.8 percent Y/Y to SR5.3 billion. Transport equipment has been gaining traction since the beginning of the year, expanding to constitute 14 percent of nonoil exports and surging by a staggering 67.7 percent compared to last year. It reached SR2.4 billion in value. This might be due to a transition from base metals into more processed goods, or a change in the category's definition, the NCB report said.
Base metals, which make up 5.4 percent of nonoil exports rose by 4.4 percent Y/Y, totaling SR0.92 billion. By Destination, 13.3 percent of non-oil ex-ports headed to the UAE. The value of exports went up by 38.9% Y/Y, registering SAR2.3 billion. China received 12.9 percent of the exports advancing by 17.9 percent over last year to record SR2.2 billion. Bahrain, for the first time, took over Singapore as the third largest trade partner. It received 8.2 percent of exports, surging by 160.3 percent over last June, marking SR1.4 billion.
Nonoil imports continued a mildly downward sloping trend that started in March. This limited major increases over last year's figures. By import category, machinery and electrical equipment, which make up 25.8 percent of nonoil imports decreased by 4.1 percent, settling at SR12.9 billion. Transport equipment, which occupies 18.3 percent of the imports made SR9.2 billion, an increase of 12.2 percent. Base metals make up 13.5 percent of nonoil imports.
It re-lapsed by 5.5 percent Y/Y, registering SR6.8 billion. By origin, the US is home of 14.9 percent of nonoil imports. It surpassed China since last year to exponentially grow by 20.7 percent. About 14.9 percent of June's nonoil imports total balance was allocated for US imports which realized SR7.4 billion. China comes as a close second with 14.5 percent of imports allocation. Imports of Chinese nonoil imports rose by 9.3 percent Y/Y, recording SR7.2 billion. Germany is the third largest importer to the Kingdom with accounting for 6.4 percent of imports allocation. German imports shrunk by 11.1 percent in comparison to June of 2012, the NCB report said.
Settled letters of credit (LCs) in the month of July grew annually by 1 percent to SR22.7 billion. The overall growth was affected by negative growth in machinery and building materials by 14 percent and 26.5 percent, respectively. It was counterbalanced by a solid 23.6 percent growth in demand for motor vehicles. The report said open LCs for July confirmed the same direction as it increased annually by 2.4 percent, a total of SR17.2 billion. Motor vehicles rose by 30.2 percent, while machinery and building materials tumbled by 33.6 percent and 29 percent, respectively.
Source: Arab News

12-09-13, 07:52 PM
 KSA donates $ 10 million to Palestinian Refugees Fund
 
Saudi Arabia has donated $10 million to the Palestinian Refugees in Syria Fund of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNWRA), Al-Arabiya reported citing a statement released today.
The kingdoms donation came via its Saudi Fund for Development and will support UNRWAs efforts to deliver food and cash assistance, as well as emergency relief, health and education services to the Palestinian refugee population in Syria.
The UNRWA is a United Nations agency mandated to provide assistance to a population of some five million registered Palestine refugees.
The Agency estimates that over half of the 529,000 thousand Palestine refugees in Syria are now displaced, either within Syria or in neighboring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan.
Source: Mubasher News

12-09-13, 07:54 PM
SIDC shareholders to discuss establishing JV

The next ordinary general meeting of Saudi Industrial Development Co. (SIDC) will discuss agenda items, including the establishment of a limited liability company by Sleep High and Desert Storm Contracting.
The joint venture will operate with SAR 3 million capital.
Source: Mubasher News

12-09-13, 07:56 PM
Almarai gets shareholders' nod for capital increase


The Tadawul All-Share Index jumped 2.9% to hit 7,864.56 points on Tuesday. Shares of dairy food and beverages producer gained 1.37%, finishing at SR55.50 points. Earlier in the day, Almarai said shareholders approved the proposed increase in the share capital from SR4bn to SR6bn, representing an increase of 50% by issuing 200m shares totalling SR2bn. "This will increase the number of shares from 400m shares to 600m shares through the distribution of one bonus share for every two outstanding shares for existing shareholder", said Almarai in a filing to the Saudi Stock Exchange.
Source: Ame Info

12-09-13, 07:58 PM
Kingdom tops GCC chart with 6% salary increase for 2014 
 
Companies across Saudi Arabia are predicting an average salary increase of 6 percent in 2014, a slight increase on last years forecast of 5.8 percent, indicating a rise in confidence in the countrys economic outlook and a burgeoning business environment. This figure comes at a time when the Kingdoms economy is growing, with economists forecasting a growth rate of 5.3 percent for 2013.
These are the latest figures from Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc, released as part of its annual Global Salary Increase Survey 2013. Based on data from a robust comparative group of over 500 organizations across the region, including 91 in Saudi Arabia, the report offers a unique snapshot of salary increase trends which, in turn, enables organizations to benchmark forecasts with the market in order to remain competitive.
Across the GCC, companies are predicting an average salary increase of 5.5 percent for 2014, a figure in line with forecasts made for 2013 and 2012, which were both at 5.4 percent, indicating a continued confidence in the economic stability of the whole region and an increasingly resilient business environment.
Among the participating GCC organizations, UAE-based companies predicted the lowest salary increase at 5 percent, which is in line with last years predictions of 5.1 percent, indicating stability. Kuwait and Oman both estimated a 5.6 percent salary growth, similar to the 2013 predictions, while companies in Bahrain forecasted 5.2 percent an increase on last years 4.7 percent projection.
Looking back to 2012 and comparing the predictions from the survey for 2013 (5.4 percent) with actual rises awarded earlier this year (5.3 percent), we see good alignment, allowing employees to feel confident the trend is set to continue into 2014.
Robert Richter, compensation survey manager, Aon Hewitt Middle East, said: Our latest predictions indicate that organizations in Saudi Arabia are increasingly confident in the Kingdoms economy and are optimistic about future growth. It is promising to see that these figures are in line with recent years, showing stability and steady growth.
We have also seen a clear correlation between performance and salary increases and while linking individual performance to pay is not uncommon, we advise employers to use annual bonus payments as the larger component for rewarding high performers. Salary increases typically take into a consideration a number of other factors as well as performance, including inflation, rises to reflect promotions, and the need to ensure employees at the same grade remain within a single pay band.
Aon Hewitt has been conducting the survey on an annual basis across the globe for 36 years and launched it in the Middle East for the first time in 2009.
The survey is part of Aon Hewitts suite of evidence-based, research-led studies, including Qudurat, Best Employers Middle East (BEME), Total Compensation Measurement (TCM) and People Risk Index (PRI).
 
Source: Arab News

12-09-13, 08:01 PM
 Rising construction costs could hit Saudi housing goals
 
Saudi Arabias ambitious housing goal is under threat as the kingdom struggles to import enough building materials and industry wages rise, according to Arab News.
The kingdom wants to build 40,000 houses and 500,000 properties for low-income citizens to help ease the burgeoning shortage and meet the expected population rise.
Contractors told Arab News, the onslaught of demand for building materials had sent prices up by 20 percent.
There were particular difficulties in transporting iron from the kingdoms historical trading partner, Turkey, because trucks could not pass through Syria. That meant Saudi iron factories were unable to increase their productivity to meet demand.
"Transportation by sea is very expensive. Most building material companies and factories in the kingdom prefer to transport material by land, Abdullah Mussaed, a general manger at a building materials company in Dammam, said.
However, there are many difficulties in importing building material from Turkey by land.
"The high prices of construction material are not limited to the Saudi market alone. There is a global phenomenon of high shipping prices.
There are consumers demanding that the Ministry of Trade and Industry intervene for controlling rising prices.
Rising wages in the construction industry also are having a detrimental effect.
Overall, construction costs have increased from SR95 ($25) to SR130 ($34.65) per metre, according to Arab News.
The increasing costs will likely affect the eventual sale price of homes, potentially making the apartments intended for low-income families unaffordable, defeating the purpose.
Some in the real estate industry have said the high costs could see the construction of apartments for low-income families stop.
Source: Arabian Business

12-09-13, 08:03 PM
 Sofitel hired to run new luxury Saudi hotel
 
A unit of French hotel giant Accor has been hired by Al Tamiuz Hotels & Resorts to manage a new luxury property planned for Saudi Arabia, it was announced on Monday.
Sofitel Hotels, the luxury brand of Accor, will operate the Sofitel Jeddah which is slated to open in 2014.
The Sofitel Jeddah will feature 189 rooms and suites, and will also include six food and beverage outlets, meeting facilities, two swimming pools, a health club, a spa and a squash court and a cinema.
Sofitel, which currently has eight properties in the GCC, is already operating in Al Khobar and has also signed a flagship property in Riyadh which is scheduled to open for 2015.
"We trust there is a great potential for Sofitel in the Middle East and we are delighted to sign a new agreement for this beautiful project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by blending our different cultures: our French heritage of elegance and lifestyle with the finest of the Islamic culture and the Arabic tradition for hospitality," said Robert Gaymer Jones, Sofitel CEO.
Source: Arabian Business

12-09-13, 08:04 PM
 No fresh move on Saudi Bourse opening - Regulator
 
Saudi Arabian officials are still discussing the opening of the stock market to direct foreign investment and no timetable has been set, the chief market regulator said on Sunday.
"We are still discussing the issue. I said this a few months ago and I don't think anything has changed," Mohammed bin Abdulmalik Al Al Sheikh, head of the Capital Market Authority, said at a securities industry conference.
"Some government entities are looking into the issue and once there is something we will announce it. So far there is nothing new."
Foreigners - excluding Gulf Cooperation Council nationals, who have special access - can only buy Saudi shares through swap deals made by international investment banks or via a small number of exchange-traded funds. Al Sheikh said foreign investment through swap agreements now accounted for 1.25 percent of the market, compared to zero about five years ago.
Saudi authorities have for years been laying plans to open the market, but they have not fixed a date to do so. Al Sheikh on Sunday dampened heightened speculation in the securities industry over the last several months that an opening might be near.
"The market is abundant with liquidity and we do not need foreign investors' liquidity. What we need is the other things like increasing transparency, improving governance and training Saudis, so we focus on the other things," he said.
Al Sheikh also said authorities aimed to increase the overall level of institutional investment in the stock market and therefore hoped soon to launch new tools for institutional investors.
Current tools are mutual funds, real estate investment funds and swap agreements; the swap agreements exceeded 20 billion riyals.
Source: Reuters

12-09-13, 08:21 PM
FIDIC contracts expected to solve 80% of Saudi contractors' problems


Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) has said the implementation of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) contracts in the country could solve 80% of the contracting sector problems and save rights of all concerned parties, Arab News has reported. The government has given 180-day period that expires in November for the completion of the new FIDIC-compliant system, said head of the contracting committee at the JCCI, Abdullah Rudwan. FIDIC contracts conforms to global systems, which regulate work in the construction sector, preserve rights of the local contractors vis-a-vis other parties and act as a reference for differences arising from the implementation of contracts, he added.
Source: Ame Info

12-09-13, 08:22 PM
Saudi Arabia's CMA sets up advisory body

The Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) has set up an advisory committee comprising all stakeholders in the money market in the kingdom, Saudi Gazette has reported. "The committee, composed of members from the Authority, banks, investment corporations, investors, academics, financial consultants, and journalists, will provide consultation, advise, suggestion and recommendations that will enhance the role of the Authority in doing its mandate and develop the Saudi capital market to better levels," said CMA governor, Mohammed Al Sheikh.
Source: Ame Info

12-09-13, 08:24 PM
 
 NCB Capital introduces new service for brokerage clients

NCB Capital, the leading provider of wealth management services and the Kingdoms largest asset manager, offers investors all the tools they need to make smarter stock market trading decisions that best suit their needs in the Saudi Stock Market.
It has now augmented those tools by launching a new technical analysis service free to subscribers of its trading platform. These daily alerts, provided in conjunction with leading market technicians Recognia, are themed Supporting you for a smarter decision and are designed to aid investors by providing technical analysis reports that highlight trading opportunities.
The innovative new service automatically identifies opportunities in the stock market and expected buying/selling prices in companies in an easy-to-read format, using simple graphics and charts to present important data. Clients can quickly read the analysis in either Arabic or English without having any technical knowledge.
Commenting on this new service, Jawdat Al Halabi, CEO of NCB Capital, said an essential component in building our role as a trusted advisor to clients is the depth of thinking and analysis that we offer them. Over the last few years we have invested in building a platform that incorporates the latest trading tools and research analysis and these new alerts will play an important role in helping our clients make the right financial decisions. Combining the latest technologies with award-winning equity research and real-time analytical tools, NCB Capital helps clients make the right trades. And for those engaged in larger volume trading it provides direct access to expert brokers in its central dealing room, who track market news, interpret research and provide insights and information to help them make the most appropriate trading and investment decisions of the day.
Al Halabi further said putting these tools in place was as a direct result of understanding what investors really need to be successful. NCB Capital undertook an extensive study of the Saudi market and trading habits and found that many investors made their decisions unsupported by market information, or on information from informal sources, while only a few relied on any technical analyses of the stock market.
The firm understood that good decisions can only be made with a full understanding of relevant facts and so launched the first research services that addressed a fundamental analysis of the Saudi stock market. Our new alerts service is a direct evolution of that approach.
Source: Saudi Gazette

12-09-13, 08:25 PM
 Northern Trust gearing up to start business in Kingdom
 
Saudi investors are most sophisticated as investors in the rest of the world and their appetite for alternative assets has very much increased, Sheldon W. Woldt, senior vice president at the Northern Trust Company and regional head of the Middle East and chairman of the Northern Trust Company of Saudi Arabia, said Monday.
Northern Trust with assets under custody of $5 trillion and assets under investment management of $803 billion, is gearing up to commence its business in Saudi Arabia very soon upon the final authorization from the Capital Market Authority (CMA).
The CMA granted the Northern Trust Company of Saudi Arabia its initial license on Sept. 12, 2012, for managing investment funds and client portfolios, advising and custody securities business in the Kingdom.
We are close to couple of weeks for final authorization from the CMA, Woldt told Arab News. He said the office in Riyadh will serve its growing Middle East client base and to support opportunities for continued new business in the region.
Northern Trust will be closely working with and adding our expertise to investors, he said.
Investors in Saudi Arabia being sophisticated need diversified asset classes in their portfolios traditional assets (equities, stocks and bonds) and alternative assets (hedge funds, private equity and real estate). We have strong ability to help clients to make understand them, he added.
"Northern Trust brings experience in serving sophisticated institutional and high net worth investors, a long, proven track record of doing business on a global scale and more than 25 years of working closely with Middle East clients," Woldt, who works with sales and relationship managers to support their focus on client satisfaction and on bringing new ideas to large sophisticated investors, said.
"Having a presence in the Kingdom is in line with our commitment to serve our clients as close to their home market as possible. With our more than 120-year heritage of service, expertise and integrity, our presence in Riyadh positions Northern Trust to continue to deliver solutions and services that best meet the evolving requirements of the region's sophisticated investors," Woldt added.
"We are excited to expand our presence in the dynamic Middle East region with a new office in Saudi Arabia, especially at a time when the Kingdom's economy is growing and diversifying," Northern Trust Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frederick H. Waddell said in a statement. "The Kingdom has the largest economy of the six Gulf Cooperation Council and Northern Trust has been serving clients across the Middle East since 1987, providing asset servicing and asset management expertise.
Michael Slater has been named head of Northern Trust's new office and is based in Riyadh. His responsibilities include overall management of the office and leading the development of key strategic relationships with prospective and existing clients in the Kingdom, such as sovereign wealth funds, central banks, pension funds, asset managers, other institutional investors and wealthy families.
Slater joined Northern Trust in 2005 to lead asset servicing business development in the Middle East. In 2008, he was appointed head of Northern Trust's Abu Dhabi office.
Woldt said: We have only one office in Riyadh but we will look at other offices across the region if client base is increased.
Woldt advises Saudi investors: Work closely with advisers to acquire right asset allocations.
He added: We are pleased with the Saudi talent as we have Saudi male and female employees. We follow the Saudi stock market (Tadawul) as we provide emerging market type of products.
For more than 120 years, Northern Trust has earned distinction as an industry leader in combining exceptional service and expertise with innovative products and technology.
Source: Arab News

12-09-13, 08:29 PM
Egypt offers 33 billion-pound investment opportunities to Saudis
 
Egypt is offering Saudis investment opportunities valued at 33 billion Egyptian pounds, including e-trade, financial services, justice and education. It is encouraging Saudi businessmen to explore and exploit these opportunities through partnerships with Egyptians or as individual investors.
The vast investment scope figured during a meeting between Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Jamil Mulla and his Egyptian counterpart Atef Hilmi in Riyadh.
Investment areas included the construction of a broadband infrastructure, development of techno cities in Al-Ma'adi, Asyout and Al-Mansourah, and building a center for gigantic data that uses marine cables, as well as developing the Valley of Technology in Al-Isma'eliah, said the Egyptian minister.
Hilmi and his accompanying delegation visited the headquarters of the Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission, where they met its Gov. Abdullah Al-Darrab and a number of its officials.
The visiting Egyptian delegation watched a power point presentation about the Kingdoms telecommunications and its experience of liberalizing the sector and efforts in spreading information technology and telecommunication services in different parts of Saudi Arabia, including its remote areas.
The delegation also looked at the tasks of the computer emergency response team (CERT) and gave a similar presentation, showing the efforts of the Egyptian government in this field and discussing further cooperation with Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding between the National Center for Digital Certification (NCDC), and the certification center in Egypt to exchange expertise and forge cooperation, in addition to issuing digital certificates in both countries. The agreement was signed by the ministers of communications on behalf of their countries.
According to Mulla, Saudi businessmen are looking for investment opportunities in other countries and are looking for relevant qualities to encourage them to make these investments, and noted that Egypt provides many of these opportunities. He expected Saudis to be the first to invest in Egypt.
Mulla said there are similarities between information technology activities in the various Arab countries, and cooperation can be forged in various matters, especially in connecting citizens.
Source: Arab News

12-09-13, 08:34 PM
 10 new locomotives added to fleet of Saudi Railway
 
Mohammed Al-Suwaiket, president of the Saudi Railway Organization, has unveiled 10 new shipping trailers at Dammam Railway.
Joey Hood, US consul general in Dhahran, and other officials were among those present at the inauguration of the railways new trailers.
These new American made trailers are SD 70 ACS series with 4300 power. The performance and quality of these trailers are designed to operate with modern technologies," said Al-Suwaiket.
Speaking to Media, Al-Suwaiket said there has been an increase in demand for shipping services between King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam and Riyadh by 50 percent compared to the last five years.
SRO launched such projects in order to enhance and strengthen its fleet to meet the increase in demand for shipping services, he added. The number of containers shipped in August was 27,000; however, it remains an important activity that returns more than 60 percent of SRO revenues, Al-Suwaiket said.
He also assured that SRO has signed many contracts with some American and Chinese insurance companies to guarantee 56 new trailers in different sizes. We received ten trailers last year and today we added 10 more to our fleet. We will be adding the remaining trailers by the mid-2015.
Referring to SRO's operational plans, Al-Suwaiket said: These new trailers will increase the current size of our fleet to 51; these will help us to raise the efficiency and improve the quality of performance and production rates through attractive marketing plans.
Source: Arab News

12-09-13, 08:40 PM
Saudi Arabia ready to meet crude demand


Al-Naimi: Speculation about global political events driving oil prices


SEOUL: The global oil market is well balanced and top exporter Saudi Arabia ready to supply whatever volume of crude is needed to meet demand, Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi said.
Saudi Arabia produced record high volumes of crude in August as it boosted output for the second time in two years to cushion the global oil market from supply disruptions.
Al-Naimis comments come after producer group OPEC this week sought to reassure consumers there is sufficient supply to cover a plunge in Libyas output.
For the record, oil market fundamentals are good. The market is well balanced, Al-Naimi said at an industry event.
I repeat the message that Saudi Arabia is willing and capable for meeting any demand.
Despite rising Saudi output, benchmark Brent crude prices spiked above $117 a barrel in late August on the virtual shutdown of Libyan oil output and the prospect of US military action against Syria.
Brent traded at $111.67 on Thursday, after falling this week as the threat of a US strike receded, but the market remains volatile on concern diplomatic efforts to avoid military action might fail.
Speculation about international political events is driving oil prices rather than any shortage in supply, Al-Naimi said.
Our (OPEC) production last month was almost the same as a month before, only 100,000 barrels a day shortage. There is no effect whatsoever...we wont see a crisis, said Abdullah Al-Badri, the secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Saudi Arabia pumped a record 10.19 million barrels per day in August, an industry source told Reuters.
Rising supply from Saudi helped offset losses from other OPEC members. OPEC output in August fell around 124,000 bpd on the month to 30.23 million bpd, but the group said in its monthly report this week that the market was well supplied.
The US Energy Department expressed similar sentiments on supply, but noted that unplanned outages from OPEC members had reached 2.1 million bpd in August, the highest level recorded since it started tracking outages in January 2009.
Protests at oilfields and terminals in Libya saw output slump to a post-war low of just 150,000 bpd in early September, down from 1.4 million bpd earlier this year.
Al-Badri said oil producers would boost supply if they did see any shortage, but said there was no need to pump more for now.
If we see there is a shortage in the market, we will act. Thats how we do business, he said at the same event in Seoul. The market is very well supplied, we dont see a shortage.
Al-Badri, himself from Libya, said he hoped the Libyan government would move swiftly to boost supply.
Libyas attorney general has issued arrest warrants for the leaders of oil strikers and will act soon against protesters, the countrys prime minister said on Wednesday.

Source: Arab News

14-09-13, 12:19 AM
Gold price closed tonight at US 1623 per ounce

14-09-13, 12:25 AM
New Jeddah districts without electricity



Several new neighborhoods in Jeddah, Al-Mohamadia, the three Al-Marwa districts and Harmain 1 and 2, have no electricity.
Hussein Al-Amoudi, a resident in the third Al-Marwa neighborhood, says that he noticed that there was no electricity when he moved in more than six months ago, although light posts were installed on the street outside his house.
He discovered that his neighbors had already made complaints to the secretariat, the government agency responsible for street lighting in the neighborhoods. They had been assured that the electricity company would supply power as soon as possible but that it would take time, as other neighborhoods in Jeddah were experiencing the same problem.
Al-Amoudi approached the secretariat again but there was no progress. In the meantime, his family has endure darkness and depended on lighting from other houses in the street. This is insufficient, he said. The streets have many holes and bumps, which pose a real danger to children in the neighborhood and to cars passing through. The secretariat needs to respond urgently, as electricity is a fundamental right, he added.
An official of the Saudi Electricity Company said that the company has nothing to do with the issue and that it is the secretariats responsibility to ensure that residents have access to electricity. The secretariat is a subscriber and must authorize the company to deliver power to neighborhoods. The company connects the area to a power supply once procedures are complete.
Samy Nawar, an official spokesman at the Jeddah Secretariat, confirmed that the secretariat is the main government entity authorized to deal with the issue of street lighting. He said that the Department of Lighting is currently conducting an inventory for all major roads and side streets in the neighborhoods, including Al-Mohamadia, Al-Marwa 1, 2, and 3, Al-Harmain 1 and 2, among others.
Electricity will be delivered in coordination with the Saudi Electricity Company.
Nawar appealed to residents in neighborhoods currently without electricity to be patient and promised the area would have access to power supplies as soon as possible.

Source: Arab News

14-09-13, 12:28 AM
Electronic system helps stem tide of Umrah overstayers

A new electronic crowd management system adopted by the Ministry of Haj has been instrumental in drastically reducing the number of pilgrims overstaying their Umrah visas this year, Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar has said.
Most of the 5.13 million pilgrims who came for Umrah this year have left the Kingdom. Only 11,000 of them now remain in the country and we hope they leave before the Haj season, the minister said.
He said the same system would be applied to this years Haj pilgrims in order to prevent them from overstaying in the country seeking jobs. Outstaying Haj and Umrah visas has been one of the major problems faced by the Saudi government over the past years.
Hajjar said the new electronic system has reduced the phenomenon of foreign pilgrims being cheated by Umrah service providers. The system helps pilgrims monitor the services offered to them by companies before their arrival in the Kingdom.
The number of complaints we received from pilgrims during this Umrah season was far less than in previous years, he said.
The electronic grouping and disbursement system also solved the problem of pilgrims overcrowding at airports, he pointed out.
Pilgrims were sent to the airport only after ensuring that they held confirmed bookings on return flights. Violators of the system, including Umrah service agents and airlines, were held responsible for providing stranded pilgrims with hotel accommodation, food and return flights.

Source: Arab News

14-09-13, 12:32 AM
Saudi Arabia highlights strong energy bonds with Asia

Ali Al-Naimi, minister of petroleum and mineral resources, has called on policy makers and energy companies to take a long-term view that places economic development and rising living standards before short-term profits.
He was speaking at the 5th Asian Ministerial Energy Roundtable in South Korea. The main topics at the event in Seoul included Asia growth and energy outlook
The following are excerpts from the ministers remarks:
I would like to thank the International Energy Forum for inviting me to attend this important gathering, and for the government of South Korea for being such a generous host.
It is a vital opportunity for Asian nations to promote dialogue between oil producing and consuming nations in Asia and, as such, is rightly seen as a key international meeting.
Saudi Arabia has forged particularly close energy bonds with Asian nations over the past decades.
These relationships are based on trust and friendship, both business and personal.
It is a particular pleasure to be back here in the Republic of Korea, a country I first visited in 1990. The following year, in 1991, I am proud to say that, in S-Oil, we signed one of our most successful joint ventures. I have returned many times since, and enjoyed the wonderful hiking, the delicious food and the fun-loving attitude of my Korean hosts. My only effort at karaoke confirmed I made the right decision to be an earth scientist
Today, I will offer brief thoughts on three points.
First, Asias key role in global energy affairs.
Second, I will cover some of todays energy issues.
Lastly, I will briefly look ahead at what the future holds.
We all know about the importance of Asia to the global economy, particularly in terms of trade and energy.
The region has helped sustain global economic growth over the last few years. And economies across the region are continuing to show positive signs of growth going forward.
Hand-in-hand with this growth is increased demand for energy.
This growing demand in Asia is derived from increasing populations, greater urbanization and rising income levels.
If new businesses are to prosper, they require energy.
If living standards are to continue to rise, they need energy. This is natural, and to be expected.
But while these issues pose clear challenges for policy makers, they also present great opportunities for partnerships and joint ventures.
The Kingdom has entered into a number of enduring trade and business relationships within Asia, many based on energy, but also in a broad range of other industries.
Saudi Arabia has also played its role in terms of being a stable and reliable supplier of energy within Asia. In fact, we have been Asias greatest supplier over the decades and I am sure this will continue well into the future.
This brings me to the next part of my address here today: current energy issues.
First, I would like to comment on current oil price levels.
Clearly, geopolitics and speculation about geopolitics is impacting prices.
But, for the record, oil market fundamentals are good, the market is well-balanced, and stocks remain within range.
I repeat the message that Saudi Arabia, and other producers, remain willing and capable of meeting any additional demands.
A second topic attracting attention is the rise, and impact, of tight or shale oil and gas.
While the US is taking a lead, Asia also has potential, and I welcome the developments. As I have stated before,
I see these new reserves bringing increased depth and stability to world markets. Greater demand in Asia will require increased supplies, from wherever they come. Saudi Arabias commitment to Asia will remain unwavering.
A third issue facing all nations is investment in energy infrastructure.
While locating and extracting new resources is one thing, getting it to people and industry requires long-term plans and large investments.
Ultimately, stable prices are key to this.
That is why the International Energy Forum has such a vital role to play, and why I call on all nations in Asia to continue to support the work of the IEF in helping increase transparency.
Finally, what does the future hold? Of course, I cannot predict the future any more than the next man, but prospects for global economic growth appear positive. And I cannot help but notice that this upturn in potential is closely tied to developments in the increasing range of energy supplies.
I hope that policy makers and energy companies take a long-term view that places economic development and rising living standards before short-term profits. 
Also, I hope that all parts of the energy industry can increasingly work together to ensure price transparency, and that this in turn helps bring greater price stability.
And, of course, I trust that all new developments take into account the importance of protecting the environment for future generations.
The Kingdom will continue to meet all the demands placed upon it, and will continue to be a trusted partner within Asia.
Again, I thank our Korean hosts for their hospitality and friendship. And I look forward to an interesting and informative event, said Minister Ali Al-Naimi.

Source: Arab News

14-09-13, 12:35 AM
Website to help families of prisoners

The Saudi Ministry of Interior has announced that it is creating a webpage on its Facebook and Twitter pages to enable detainees and their families to communicate.
They will be using modern communication channels, which will save families the trouble of making long journeys to see their loved ones.
One Tweet reads: We are pleased to communicate with you through the @NafethahT page in Facebook.
The Ministry of Interior said that there are currently 2,362 detainees in prisons at the General Investigations Department.
Some are under investigation, while others are still in the process of being referred to the attorney general. Others are undergoing rehabilitation at the Muhammad ibn Naif Center for Advice and Counseling.

Source: Arab News

17-09-13, 02:40 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1321

17-09-13, 06:23 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1309

17-09-13, 06:24 PM
Saudi bank sector offers investment opportunity 
 
The Saudi banking sector offers a compelling investment opportunity due to a strong loan growth outlook, coupled with the bottoming out of NIMs contraction, NCB Capital, the GCCs leading wealth manager and the Kingdoms largest asset manager, said Sunday in its newly updated equity research report on the Saudi banking sector.
Off the back of the recent rally in Saudi banks (sector up 19.2 percent YTD), we downgrade Saudi Hollandi Bank Neutral and Bank AlJazira to Underweight, while our top picks include AlRajhi, Samba and Riyad Bank given their superior ability to expand their loan books due to higher capital, said Mahmood Akbar, equity research analyst at NCB Capital.
He further said: Following the significant share price rally of SHB and BJAZ (up 34.7 percent and 17.6 percent YTD respectively), we downgrade each stock to Neutral and Underweight respectively. Nonetheless, we continue to prefer SHB among the small-cap banks and see a high probability of a re-rating once interest rates pick up. BJAZ, on the other hand, trades at a 10.6 percent premium at 12.0x P/E for 2014E compared to the sector average of 10.9x despite reporting a 4.1 percent lower RoE.
The report added that a continued preference for the large-cap banks AlRajhi, Samba and Riyad, due to their large Tier I capital (>17 percent), which will enable them to grow their loan books. However, in a rising interest rate environment, NCB Capital favors the banks which are focused on corporate lending and hence can quickly re-price their asset portfolio. This would include BSF, SHB and Samba.
Based on our recent meetings, the senior management of local banks continue to be broadly neutral on the outlook of interest yields, said Mahmood Akbar. In particular, the high competition among banks has been the major factor keeping a lid on the loan yields. Some of the recent rise in the CoF has been passed on to the borrowers which overall offset the impact on NIMs. However, we believe that NIMs will bottom out this year and have the potential to pick up going forward.
Forecasts broadly unchanged; conservative on (net interest margins) NIMs improvement
Moreover, Akbar said our forecasts for loans and net profit for 2013 and 2014 have not changed significantly. In addition, our forecasts for NIMs continue to be conservative; overall we only expect 5bps improvement during 2012-16 led by a change in the asset mix. We need to see evidence on improving loan yields for like-for-like loans before incorporating a rise in interest rates in our estimates.
Source: Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:26 PM
Saudi Pharma sales to hit $ 7 billion by 2018 
 
Pharmaceuticals products sales in Saudi Arabia are expected to surpass $7 billion by 2018 as compare to $4 billion 2012, Saudi Arabia Pharmaceutical Market Opportunity Analysis report said Sunday.
Saudi Arabia is expected to emerge as one of the fastest growing markets in future, it noted. The country is one of the most developed and technologically advanced medical sectors in the GCC region with modern equipment and amenities.
Saudi pharmaceutical market has recorded significant growth over the years owing to various factors like increasing ageing population mostly in the above 60 years bracket, changing demographics and rise in the incidence of lifestyle diseases, increased spending power, result driven government initiatives to promote the growth of indigenous pharmaceutical companies. In spite of all the progress, the pharmaceutical market in the Saudi Arabia is still in an emerging phase, and the drug manufacturing is at a relatively nascent stage owing to many challenges, which need to be resolved.
The report said the Kingdom relies substantially on imports of pharmaceutical products, primarily from Europe, to meet local demand as a result of insufficient domestic drug production and lack of indigenous research capabilities.
Government is taking efforts to promote FDI in the pharmaceutical sector especially directed to help development of skills of local companies to manufacture patented medicines as well. Policies like free trade agreements have played a significant role in encouraging foreign investments.
Increased penetration of the healthcare sector by insurance providers, price regulation guidelines to ensure uniformity in pricing and dedicated healthcare reforms, have further ensured growth of pharmaceutical market in recent years, the report further said.
Saudi Arabia is the largest pharmaceutical market in the GCC, with a size of $ 5.1 billion in 2012, primarily on account of its large consumer base, Alpen Capital said in another report.
Sales per capita in the year amounted to $175. The market thrives on provision of free medical and healthcare services by the government to its citizens. Around 35 percent of the value of pharmaceuticals sold is purchased by the government. However, compulsory health insurance for expatriates, who reside in the Kingdom in large numbers, and healthy personal income of locals mean that private sectors contribution and out-of-pocket expenditure is also high. Pharmaceutical expenses of expatriates are covered under insurance policies maintained by their employers, while locals are not reluctant to purchase expensive medication even if they have to directly bear the costs, Alpen said.
Saudi Arabia has the largest manufacturing segment in the Gulf, however, most of the local production is destined for the export markets. Domestic production accounts for around 15 percent of the overall supply of pharmaceuticals in the market, the report added.
There are around 15-20 pharmaceutical manufacturers operating in the kingdom including indigenous companies and subsidiaries of multinational pharmaceutical giants. Leading local players in the kingdom include SPIMACO, Jamjoom Pharma, Tabuk Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, and Jazeera Pharmaceutical Industries.

In February 2013, the Saudi health ministry was reported to have launched preparations for making health insurance coverage compulsory for the dependents of expatriates.
In January 2013, the Kingdoms health minister announced that a health budget of SR54.4 billion for 2013 would help to improve healthcare services and meet the health requirements of citizens.
Source: The Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:28 PM
Saudi Agriculture 2013 kicks off over 13 countries show products 
 
Saudi Minister of Agriculture Dr. Fahd Bin Abdul Rahman Balghunaim inaugurated on Sunday Saudi Agriculture 2013 the 32nd International Agriculture, Water and Agro-Industry Show organized by Riyadh Exhibitions Company. The event will run until Wednesday at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.
Aimed at enhancing communication, exchange of knowledge and business networking among corporate and government entities, the four-day exhibition underlines the importance of such events to highlight the leading position of the Saudi market, as well as to support the determined governmental efforts in this sector, in order to further stimulate regional and international investors and visitors.
The premier agriculture exhibition in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East gathered over 300 local and international exhibitors from more than 13 countries, including China, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Turkey, UAE and USA, across a 15,000 sqm exhibition space. The event attracts high profile visitors, figures, and exhibitors, and succeeded in offering a major opportunity for networking, as well as conducting business and sales in the agricultural sector.
Saudi Agriculture 2013 provides the ideal business-to-business platform for exhibitors and trade visitors to capitalize on the growth of the Saudi agriculture and food market that has achieved the highest growth rates in the region and holds major potential for new businesses.
Saudi Agriculture 2013 offers a wide scope of different exhibits profiles that include the latest in animal health and production, agricultural finance & banking, agricultural products and services, chemicals and fertilizers, cold storage and crop production, dairy farming products and equipment, fisheries and fish farming, greenhouses, handling and transport systems, irrigation and landscaping equipment, machinery and spare parts, organic farming, packaging systems and products, pesticides, pumps and pipe systems, seeds and soil nutrition products, spraying machinery, water treatment, water management systems, and warehousing.
Saudi Agriculture 2013 is being held concurrently with Saudi Agro-Food 2013 and Saudi Food-Pack 2013 to feature the latest products, technologies and services in areas ranging from frozen and chilled foods, confectionery, chocolates, health and natural foods, to presentation, processing and packaging equipment.
Accredited by UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, Saudi Agriculture 2013 is regarded as the Middle Easts largest agricultural exhibition. ARASCO and Fakieh are the Diamond Sponsors while IYA Investments is the Gold Sponsor of the event.
NCB Capital in an earlier report gave the sector a positive outlook due to growth in demand supported by a young and growing population, and expansions into new segments.
The report said that this year to date there has been stability in global food prices which should in theory support margins for the Saudi food sector.
However, longer-term volatility and increases in global food prices remain a key risk for Saudi food companies given the majority of their raw materials are imported, coupled with limited pricing power which leads to margin pressure.
Source: Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:29 PM
Investcorp buys 25% stake in Leejam
 
Investcorp, a global provider and manager of alternative investment products, and Leejam Sports Company, Saudi Arabias leading health and fitness club management company managing the brand Fitness Time, announced Sunday that Investcorps Gulf Opportunity Fund has acquired a 25 percent minority stake in the Leejam business. As part of the agreement, the Fund will be represented on Leejams Board and will play an active role in its strategic choices and growth opportunities.
Mohammed Al Shroogi, Investcorp's President, Gulf Business, said: Leejam is the Funds third investment in the Kingdom and ninth in the wider region. This investment reaffirms our commitment to supporting regional businesses that are committed to grow and expand. We are happy to partner with Leejam and we believe that our combined efforts will result in even more success for the company.
Walid Majdalani, Managing Director, Investcorp Corporate Investments-MENA, said: A key focus for our team will be to help generate additional growth opportunities for the business, while at the same time working with the management to consolidate the foundations, resources and infrastructure that are needed to support and ensure sustainable growth.
Leejam founder and CEO Abdulmohsen Al Haqbani said: We are delighted to be partnering with Investcorp.
Source: Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:31 PM
 Alkhabeer Capital buys stake in Anchor Allied
 
MASHARIE LLC, an investments subsidiary of Dubai Investments PJSC, sold a strategic equity stake in Anchor Allied Factory LLC to Alkhabeer Capital, Saudi Arabia.
The investment is another cross-border M&A which has seen the flow of funds between the Arab countries and is testimony to the potential partnership opportunities existing in the region for investors and entrepreneurs. The investment was made through Alkhabeers Asset Management Private Equity division. This acquisition will help Anchor Allied further expand its footprint within Saudi Arabia and also focus on growth opportunities through vertical as well as horizontal integration.

Our partnership with the Nalwala family was very successful; Anchor Allied has become one of the leading sealants and adhesives manufacturers in the Middle East with tremendous growth potential.

We are proud to have been able to contribute to its success and wish both the Nalwala family as well as Alkhabeer Capital all the success in the future, said Khalid Al Jarwan, General Manager, Masharie LLC.
Ammar Shata, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Alkhabeer Capital, said our investment in Anchor Allied goes in line with our corporate and private equity strategies at Alkhabeer.
The Nalwala family has built a great business in the past decades. I am confident of the attractive future awaiting Anchor Allied in the coming years and look forward to a fruitful partnership with the Nalwala family to achieve the companys anticipated growth potential, Ammar added.
Established in 1993, Anchor Allied is one of the largest integrated producers and suppliers of adhesive tapes, silicone sealants and spray paints in the Middle East. The company has a large distribution network selling its products in over 43 countries including all GCC countries, the Indian sub-continent, Eastern Europe, USA, African countries and CIS countries.
Alkhabeer Capital, founded in 2008, is a boutique investment banking and asset management firm headquartered in Jeddah and regulated by Saudi Arabias Capital Market Authority
Source: Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:33 PM
Kingdom seeks more private sectyor role in boosting food production 
 
Fahd Abdulrahman Balghunaim, minister of agriculture, opened the 32nd international agriculture, water and agro-industry trade show at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center (RICEC) on Sunday.
Balghunaim said: The Saudi government is encouraging its private sector to participate globally and increase food production through positioning itself as a facilitator for the Saudi private sector, seeking land and agricultural investments, and providing funds, credit, and logistics.
He added: The Saudi Agriculture provides the ideal business-to-business platform for exhibitors and trade visitors to capitalize on the growth of the Saudi agriculture and food market that has achieved the highest growth rates in the region and holds major potential for new businesses.
Aimed at enhancing communication, exchange of knowledge, and business networking among corporate and government entities, the four-day exhibition underlines the importance of such events to highlight the leading position of the Saudi market, as well as to support the determined governmental efforts in this sector, in order to further stimulate regional and international investors and visitors.
Saudi Agriculture 2013 offers a wide scope of different exhibits profiles that include the latest in animal health and production, agricultural finance and banking, agricultural products and services, chemicals and fertilizers, cold storage and crop production, dairy farming products and equipment, fisheries and fish farming, greenhouses, handling and transport systems, irrigation and landscaping equipment, machinery and spare parts, organic farming, packaging systems and products, pesticides, pumps and pipe systems, seeds and soil nutrition products, spraying machinery, water treatment, water management systems, and warehousing.
Saudi Agriculture is being held concurrently with Saudi Agro-Food and Saudi Food-Pack to feature the latest products, technologies and services in areas ranging from frozen and chilled foods, confectionery, chocolates, health and natural foods, to presentation, processing and packaging equipment.
The Agro-Food sector in the Kingdom is witnessing a steady growth rate, due in part to the rapidly increasing population. The Kingdoms recent food and beverages market is worth 16 billion.
More than $400 million has been earmarked for the establishment of Saudi Organic Farming Association providing support to organic farmers.
The Kingdoms domestic organic and natural foods sector is currently valued at around $27 billion, accounting for 90 percent of the regional GCC market.
International Agriculture Trade show is certified by the UFI the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry in recognition of its world-class activities prepared and managed under international standards.
Saudi Agriculture is one of the regions most important exhibitions in the field of agriculture products and technologies, addressing every aspects of the industry through the dissemination of the latest on-farm and off-farm technologies and modern practices, which cover pre and post-harvest activities, marketing and imports.
The premier agriculture exhibition in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East gathered over 300 local and international exhibitors from more than 13 countries, including China, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Malaysia, Pakistan, Taiwan, Turkey, the UAE and the United States, aside from Saudi Arabia.
The exhibition attracts hundreds of business visitors including professionals, decision makers, experts, farmers, agriculture associations and investors from government and private organizations.
It is a unique platform to expand existing exports or establish new ones, at the center of the region's fastest growing market.
Source: Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:35 PM
SR 5.6 billion deal for 68 road projects 
 
Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry on Sunday signed contracts worth SR5.6 billion to implement 68 new road projects in various parts of the Kingdom.
These new projects have been approved by the current fiscal budget, the minister told reporters after signing the contracts.
We had invited tenders from national companies soon after the declaration of the budget in order to implement the projects this year, Al-Seraisry said.
He said new contracts would be awarded shortly to carry out remaining projects approved by this years budget.
We are determined to implement all road projects following international standards and within specific periods, he said.
Al-Seraisry had signed number of road projects worth SR2.47 billion a few months ago, bringing the total amount of road contracts signed this year to SR8.06 billion.
He awarded 55 new road projects worth SR2.04 billion last June for improving transport services in the country's 13 regions.
Of these projects, Makkah region received seven projects valued at SR153 million, including the second phase of the Jeddah-Makkah Expressway and completion of the Ring Road in Taif.
The projects in the Madinah region include the second phase of the Madinah-Al-Ula-Tabuk Expressway. Madinah has got five projects valued at SR114 million.
The Riyadh region has won 12 projects worth SR919 million including the construction of an intersection between Khorais Road and Sheikh Jaber Al-Sabah Road at a cost of SR514 million. Binladin Group won the intersection contract.
Source: Arab News

17-09-13, 06:36 PM
Petro Rabigh gains as firm fixes outage at ethane plant

The Tadawul All-Share Index closed 1.78% higher at 8,034.20 points on Sunday, a three-week high. Like most GCC markets, the Saudi bourse regained the entire territory it lost during the last two weeks when jitters over the crisis in Syria weighed on indices. Sabic advanced 1.28% to reach SR98.75. Petro Rabigh surged two percent to hit SR15.20. Earlier in the day, Petro Rabigh said it has fixed the power and steam supply for some of its ethane cracker units last Wednesday after an outage occurred. The reinstallment of production will take 16 day and will lead to a loos of opportunity profits of SR250m. The impact on financial results will occur for the results of the third quarter.
Source: Ame Info

17-09-13, 06:38 PM
STC to repay 90% of Malaysian unit's $ 1.2 billion loan

Saudi Telecom Co (STC) has resolved a tussle with creditors over a $1.2bn loan tied to its Indonesian unit, Axis Telekom, by offering to repay about 90% of the loan, Reuters has reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. STC, which owns 84% of Axis, is in advanced negotiations with Axis' rival XL Axiata on a potential sale of the unit and proceeds from the sale will be largely used to repay the loan, the sources said. Axiata is a unit of Axiata Group, Malaysia's biggest mobile phone operator by market value.
Source: Ame Info

17-09-13, 06:39 PM
KSA to launch Jabal Al-Sharashef development after Haj

The investment arm of Makkah municipality, Al-Balad Al-Ameen Development and Urban Regeneration Co, has said the development of Jabal Al-Sharashef area is set to start once the Haj ends, Arab News has reported. The firm said that 60 individual and institutional investors met in the holy city recently to study tender documents for the development of the area. Eight investment partnerships, including major local banks, the Public Pension Agency and a number of mutual funds will compete for the project, the firm said. The project plan includes hotels and pilgrim accommodation on two sides of the mountain, with local residents making up a maximum of 30% of the housing.
Source: Mubasher News

17-09-13, 06:40 PM
KSA blames private firm for sinking JIP's King Fahd Ship Repair Yard

Saudi Arabia's Jeddah Islamic Port (JIP) has said the Ports Authority has launched an investigation to determine the reasons that made King Fahd Ship Repair Yard sink shortly after repair works for a large vessel were completed at the yard, Saudi Gazette has reported. The authority rented the yard out to a private company, which is fully accountable for the yard and anything that happens to or on it, said JIP director Saher Al-Tahlawee. "It's the company which should be responsible for pulling up the yard again and getting it back up and running," said Al-Tahlawee. The yard, which provides routine maintenance as well as mechanical and electrical services to oil and gas vessels and large passenger ships, has two dry docks, the first is 215 metres long with a load capacity of 19,000 tonnes, and the second is 165 metres long and has a load capacity of 11,000 tonnes. Both dry docks are among the largest in the Middle East.
Source: Ame Info

17-09-13, 06:42 PM
SAR 551m water and electricity projects signed

Riyadh - The Minister of Water and Electricity, Eng. Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Hossein, has signed a number of contracts to implement several water and sanitation projects in various parts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at a total cost of more than SR 551 million.
The implementation of these projects by the Ministry of Water and Electricity comes within the framework of royal directives of the wise government under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his constant care to provide all necessary utility services to citizens in all parts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
They also reflect the Ministry's continual services for the benefit of citizens and take into account the requirements of the next phase of the urbanization and rapid population growth in cities and governorates of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Source: Saudi Press Agency

17-09-13, 06:43 PM
S. Korea's Daewoo E&C wins $ 521 million order in Saudi Arabia

SEOUL, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co Ltd said on Tuesday it won a 564.4 billion won ($521.49 million) order from Japan's JGC Corp to build naphtha treatment and other facilities for a refinery in Jazan, Saudi Arabia.
JGC Corp, which won a larger order from oil giant Saudi Aramco in November 2012, entered into a joint venture agreement with Daewoo, the South Korean builder said in a regulatory filing. The contract is expected to expire by February 2017, Daewoo said.
($1 = 1,082.27 Korean won)
Source: Zawya

17-09-13, 06:45 PM
Nowayrah launches "Obhur Townhouses' project 
 
Nowayrah Real Estate Development Company set out to build residential units on 200 sq.m plots of land, named the 'D200 Design' taking into consideration design concept and use of space. This created a very spacious layout, which offers all the amenities one could need in a home, combining with a high standard of building methods, finishes and materials used. This resulted in homes which are fit for a modern family, offering quality with affordable prices.
Nowayrah is creating complete turnkey solutions for the cities' residential and commercial needs. Starting from the careful procurement of land, which considers such attributes as, location, future prospect, and price.
Nowayrah attempts to solve the housing problem in the Kingdom by not only adding to the supply of housing units, but by offering ones in which homeowners can enjoy by living in comfort and style through our careful consideration to the small amounts of space available due to scarcity of land and making them feel spacious and large.
Nowayrah believes in generating return business earned through a good reputation and good work which is worth more to us than earning huge profits on one off projects at the expense of the home owners.
This is why Nowayrah is looking to the future and hopes to revolutionize the modern day concept of living through the creation of harmony between the needs of Saudi families and the availability of resources and facilities.
The base prices for a sin ingle unit phase one of "Obhur Townhouses" Project is SR1,675,000 and goes up to SR1,750,000 depending on whether it is a corner unit or facing the public park. The project offers 12 exclusive duplexes in total on 200 sq.m land, with a 343 sq.m built up area, 6 of which are facing a park. Phase one offers 4 units, 2 of which are facing a park, offering great views of the surrounding area, which are also ideal for watching over your children while they play. Two duplexes have the benefit of being situated on corners, offering access to the main streets.
Source: Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:46 PM
SBG to build Damac luxury housing project in Riyadh 
 
JEDDAH - Dubai real estate developer Damac Properties has handed Saudi Binladin Group ( SBG ) a SR353 million ($96 million) to construct a luxury housing project located on King Fahad Road, Riyadh.
The work will be completed by Binladin subsidiary Haramain Gate for Construction, the main construction contract for Damac's Esclusiva Luxury Serviced Apartments.
The 150m tower will include 100 luxury apartments and features interiors designed by Italian fashion house Fendi Casa.
Saudi Binladin Group is considered the world's largest construction company and recently signed a $1.23 billion deal to build Kingdom Tower, which will be the world's tallest building when complete.
"Damac Properties is thrilled to be working with Biladin group on the construction of Damac Esclusiva which will take the standards of luxury home living in the Middle East to a new level," said Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president, Damac Properties.
"Together we can bring an experience to the market which the region is yet to see. It is a perfect synergy between two visionary companies looking to reach the pinnacle of luxury living," he added.
Damac, one of the property developers worst hit by Dubai's financial crisis of 2008-2009 when a number of its projects stalled or cancelled, has launched several new developments this year on a back of a resurgence in the emirate's housing market.
Earlier this year it announced its Akoya by Damac development, which will include a gold course designed by flamboyant US business magnate Donald Trump.
The residences will each have views of the golf course, the first in Asia by Trump's Trump International. Akoya by Damac is the company's largest development to date, spanning 28 million square feet off Umm Sequim Road.
It will also include a spa, boutique hotels and international schools from kindergarten to secondary, as well as globally-recognized retail brands, leisure and entertainment offerings and a sports complex.
The land has already been bought from Dubailand, but no timeline for construction has been announced.
Damac, regarded as the largest luxury developer in the Middle East, is also building two mixed-use developments in partnership with movie producer Paramount.
Source: Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:47 PM
Cityscape Riyadh 2013 fixed 
 
The next Riyadh Urban Development and Real Estate Investment Event - Cityscape Riyadh will be held on Dec. 10-12, 2013 at the Riyadh Exhibition Center, under the patronage of Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz.
Abdullah bin Mahfouz, Chairman, National Exhibitions Company, said: "Cityscape is renowned as a brand in the field of real estate events. However, with the growing importance of the real estate market in Saudi Arabia, Cityscape Jeddah and Cityscape Riyadh have also recently been acclaimed as essential components and among the biggest names in real estate events taking place in the region."
The exhibition, covering 5,000 sq. meters of space and featuring more than 50 exhibitors, is expected to attract over 5,000 visitors, while the summit and post-summit workshops will include the participation of local and regional developers, architects, designers, government authorities, key decision makers and senior executives involved in the design and construction of public and private real estate developments.
The Cityscape Saudi Arabia awards ceremony designed to reward industry professionals and companies that have shown outstanding real estate development and architecture in the Kingdom will be held on Dec. 10.
"Strong demographic trends are increasing the demand for housing in Saudi Arabia. According to recent studies, only 30 percent of Saudis own their own home. compared to 65.4 percent in the US and, according to global real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle, there is a shortage of one million housing units. While affordability remains a key concern in the Kingdom, government initiatives, including a $66.65 billion development fund and an increase in publicly funded housing loans, in addition to new laws in place to help grow the local mortgage market, should combine to help boost the real estate sector in Saudi Arabia. Such issues will be key topics of discussion at Cityscape Riyadh 2013," Bin Mahfouz noted.
Source: Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:49 PM
Recruitment ban for firms failing to audit accounts in Saudi Arabia
 
Several newly established businesses that have failed to maintain their bank accounts or get their accounts audited are finding it difficult to take their expatriate employees under their sponsorship.
"Companies that do not maintain their bank accounts will not be able to renew the iqamas of current employees who are already under their sponsorship or take on new employees under their sponsorship because they are not fully registered with the Ministry," says Badr Mohammed, former member of the Entrepreneurs Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).
"Companies receiving commercial licensing must provide entrepreneurs with some kind of training or workshop to educate them and keep their companies from closing down due to inaccuracies."
Mohammed added that companies won't receive a zakat certificate (FGFG) if bank accounts and company audits are not maintained and that this will eventually result in their being unable to qualify for the stamped legal certificate from the Ministry of Finance.
"A business will only be allowed to sponsor expatriate employees and renew the iqama of their current staff under their sponsorship with these certificates at hand."
Businesses are given commercial licenses at the time of their establishment, but some companies fail to maintain their accounts. This has been the case with several small and medium-sized businesses in the Kingdom.
"I agree that there should be some kind of awareness given to the entrepreneur about why it is so important to keep a record of all their business transactions and maintain checks and balances of business accounts," said Ali Shah, CEO of business-consulting firms ASCS and VRS.
"There must be an entire department devoted to dealing with such matters. The prime reason is to maintain standards of service and products given to the public in order to avoid corruption and money laundering in the name of business."
Source: Arab News

17-09-13, 06:50 PM
KSA: HP keen on further develping business in the Kingdom 
 
RIYADH - HP launched the second leg of their HP World event in Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, following a successful event in Shanghai earlier this year, to an astounding turnout of over 4,000 people on Sunday.
HP World 2013 is a multifaceted technology event that brings together various IT professionals, clients and consumers to showcase the company's innovations and products and discuss IT topics relevant to the Saudi market. It was under the patronage of Eng. Abdullah Al-Darrab, Governor of CITC.
"We were pleasantly surprised by the attendance. We had thousands of registrations, and we're extremely encouraged," said Executive Vice President and General Manager of HP Software, George Kadifa.
"This shows the acceptance of HP as an important technology partner in Saudi Arabia and it gives us a very strong foundation to proceed forward in Saudi Arabia."
HP World 2013 emphasizes the company's interest in further developing their business in the Kingdom, where HP has many contracts in both the public and private sector, including the Ministry of Health and several large enterprises.
"Saudi Arabia is a very large economy comprised of a young population that is learning and open to new ideas," Kadifa added.
"Everyone wants to learn and to contribute," he said, emphasizing HP's role in Saudi Arabia's growth as an information leader in the region.
Internet penetration in Saudi Arabia is currently at 53.6 percent, which is considerably high per capita when compared to other third world countries such as Brazil, where internet penetration is roughly at 30 percent, Kadifa added, quoting Al-Darrab.
This level of Internet penetration, Kadifa said, is beneficial in creating networks between the various constituencies in the Kingdom where value-added services come into play.
One of the products relevant to establishing these networks is HP's revolutionary new Moonshot hardware, which was launched at the event, running HP's Application Ready Networks, allowing enterprises to establish a greater level of efficiency and control in running the software their business depends on.
On HP's position as a pioneer in enterprise IT solutions, Vice President and Managing Director of HP Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa Ernest Sales said: "When we go to market, our marketing activities in mass are on consumer products, but with enterprise, we communicate one-to-one and one-to-many on events like this one," emphasizing the role of events like HP World 2013 in acquiring business on the level of enterprises and long-term clients.
One of these services centers around HP's software-defined networks, which promote what the company calls a "bring your own device" mentality.
Sales and Kadifa both emphasized the importance of these networks in Saudi Arabia, where smartphone usage is high above the world average. These networks would help integrate the technologies used at home with the technologies used in the office, where hardware limitations are mitigated and users are given a choice of how, when and where they access and create their data.
"You want to write a program one time," Kadifa said, "so let's say you have an important business application and you don't want to write it for every device. You write it once and now you have software that translates that across other devices."
As an example, Sales said: "Normal tablets have 17 points of failure that we have recognized, so when HP entered the tablet world, we put a logical solution for executive who like to use tablets for comfort in the office and for leisure at home."
For CEO's and executives who require a high level of security on their tablets, Sales continued, HP has addressed these 17 points of failure.
"We look at it from the working perspective, where malware is a possibility." Mobility, Sales said, adds security threats that need to be addressed, and with HP's cloud services, users are able to download their tablet software from the authorized publishers directly without having to rely on stores such as the Android Market's open-source policies.
At HP World 2013, the above issues were addressed through various keynotes. "HP World 2013 has been created to further enhance awareness of HP's offerings in the Kingdom to deliver end-to-end solutions and help shape enterprises of the future," Sales noted.
HP has been present in the Kingdom for 30 years, where their business ranges from consumer products to large enterprise IT solutions.
HP World 2013 is taking place this week at the Four Seasons Hotel's Kingdom ballroom in Riyadh, providing information on services that range from converged cloud solutions, big data, security, and mobility, under the banner "Shape the Future of the Enterprise."
Source: Mubasher News

17-09-13, 06:52 PM
Justice, interior ministries to be linked electronically
 
RIYADH The Justice Ministry will sign an agreement with the National Center for Information and Statistics (NCIS) of the Interior Ministry to document data on marriages, divorces, heritage and the court verdicts that need to be enforced by the concerned security organs, a local daily reported Monday quoting the ministry's undersecretary.
"The link between the two ministries will be done through the Yusr e-government electronic system," Fahd Al-Bakran said.
He said the ministry is endeavoring to reduce the need for witnesses in a number of cases by ascertaining the people's data through electronic fingerprinting which the courts and the notaries public need.
"For these reasons the ministry will sign an agreement with the NCIS to establish the electronic linkage," the official said.
Al-Bakran said the electronic fingerprinting will greatly reduce forging of identity and other official documents.
"All the departments under the Interior Ministry such as the Passport Department, Civil Affairs, the Police and others will benefit from the new electronic linkage system," he said.
Al-Bakran said the objective behind the linkage is to correlate and document data in a manner that would best serve the interests of the citizens and expatriates. "The two ministries will benefit from each others' data," the official added.
He pointed out that the ministry was determined to perform all its work electronically within the project of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to upgrade and modernize the country's judicial system.
Source: Saudi Gazette

17-09-13, 06:53 PM
Saudi crackdown on 'illegal' tourism operators 
 
Saudi authorities have warned 142 foreign tourism firms that they face penalties and could have their licences cancelled unless they meet a deadline to update their files, it was reported.
Weeks after it emerged airlines transporting haj pilgrims were being forced to pay a bond to guarantee they will be returned, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) said a 15-day deadline to rectify their status ended Tuesday, the Saudi Gazette reports.
SAGIA said all 142 firms had obtained work licenses in hospitality and operation and management of tourism facilities.
These included 53 limited liability companies, while the remaining 89 were individual establishments and branches of companies.
The Gazette reported that the number of violating companies was highest in Makkah with 50 companies and establishments, followed by Jeddah with 41 and Madinah with 27.
Others were in Riyadh, Al Khobar, Dammam and Taif.
One of the key conditions for a foreign investor to get a license is that the invested capital should be at least $533,289 (SR2 million), according to rules laid out by the SAGIA.
The board can reduce the minimum invested capital in projects within specified regions, or projects that need high technical expertise or are prepared for export.
Earlier this month it emerged that airlines transporting haj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia were being forced to pay a minimum SR600,000 ($160,000) as a guarantee they will return all passengers by the end of the season.
The total value of the bond will depend on the number of haj passengers and the cost of a one-way ticket from Jeddah to the pilgrims country of origin, the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) said.
Airlines must pay the money into a Saudi financial institution and give the bank guarantee to GACA, which has the authority to deduct the cost of returning any pilgrim not flown out of the country by the end of the haj season.
 
Source: Arabian Business

17-09-13, 06:55 PM
Our Members and our visitors

are mostly welcome to this subject

17-09-13, 07:09 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1308

18-09-13, 02:28 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1300

18-09-13, 04:43 PM
Up dating Gold price now US dollar 1297

19-09-13, 01:36 PM
Gold price jumped up yesterday about 70 dollars in the night (Saudi Arabia time)

19-09-13, 01:37 PM
The price now is US dollar 1365

19-09-13, 06:24 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1372

20-09-13, 11:14 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1325

20-09-13, 11:24 PM
Alwaleed approves Rotana expansion & restructuring plans

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, Chairman of Rotana Holding, chaired Rotanas Board of Directors meeting attended by Dr. Walid Arab Hashem, Vice Chairman; Fahad Alsukait, CEO Rotana Group; and Nada Alsugair, Board Member and Executive Director, Finance and Administration, HRHs Private Office.
It was also attended by the Board members and representatives of 21 Century Fox Gary Davy; and Charlotte Burr, Head of Strategy and Development, Asia Pac, 21 Century Fox. In addition to John Ireland, CFO Rotana Group; Turki Alshabanah, President of Rotana TV Channels; Nezar Nagro, President of Rotana Media Services; and James Ward, Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel were also present.
During the meeting, the board members discussed Rotanas achievements and commended Rotana Group for these achievements.
The company said in a statement Wednesday that the Board reviewed and discussed 2013 strategic plans, the operating and financial budget, and referred to the latest developments of Rotana and approved expansion and restructuring plans.
Rotana, which is majority owned by Prince Alwaleed, operates one of the largest TV networks and ad sales operations in the region and owns the largest Arabic film library. It has also built the leading record label in the Middle East, managing many of the most popular artists in the region and controlling the biggest Arabic music catalogue. Moreover, 21 Century Fox owns 19 percent stake in Rotana.
Rotana Group is a diversified media company in the Middle East. It is the worlds largest producer of Arabic music and a key distributor and producer of Arabic movies with a library comprising more than 1,600 movies. Rotana also owns a bouquet of leading free-to-air TV channels including LBC Group, Cinema, Khalijiyah, Masryiah , Clip and Musica broadcasting the latest Arabic movies, series and music videos globally. Furthermore, Rotana has radio stations, a chain of cafes and its own magazine. It also operates a leading regional advertising sales arm (Rotana Media Services), responsible for advertising sales on its TV channels as well other media businesses in the region. Rotanas content is also digitally distributed globally.
Prince Alwaleed, the principal shareholder of the Rotana Group, is also the beneficial owner of approximately 7 percent of 21 Century Foxs Class B Common Stock
Source: Saudi Gazette

20-09-13, 11:26 PM
Saudi current account surplus to drop on lower oil revenues 
 
Saudi Arabias current account (CA) surplus in 2013 will drop compared to last year because of lower oil export revenues, though the surplus will remain in the double-digit territory, Jadwa Investment in its latest update on the Saudi economy.
The Riyadh-based investment firm forecast that the surplus will decline to 14.2 percent of GDP from 23.2 percent of GDP last year. In dollar terms the surplus is expected to fall by 35.7 percent to $105.8 billion down from the all-time high of $164.8 billion recorded in 2012. Imports should grow on the back of healthy domestic demand and are likely to be faster than the expansion of non-oil exports. The invisibles balance, which consists of flows of remittances, incomes and payments and receipts for services, will remain in a large deficit.
Balance of payments data is only available for the first quarter and this is subject to revision. It puts the current account surplus at $34 billion, 27.9 percent lower than the level of the first quarter of 2012, owing to much lower oil revenues. Services payments (for such things such as transport, travel financial and communications) slightly decreased owing to lower travel and financial payments. The transfers position worsened slightly owing to a 3 percent year-on-year increase in workers remittances.
More recent data is available on the trade position. Imports over the first six months of the year are 9 percent higher than in January to June of last year. Most categories of imports are up over this period except metals and plant products. Import growth is expected to maintain this positive trend owing to the ongoing infrastructure work and the expansion of the economy. High consumer spending will also boost imports of household goods, vehicles and electronics.
Based on production and price data, we think that oil exports averaged $23 billion per month so far this year. Non-oil exports are up by 2 percent year-on-year in the first six months, with petrochemicals contracting by 9 percent. For the whole year, we think oil exports will reach $289.4 billion, 15 percent less than in 2012 owing to lower oil production and prices while non-oil exports should rise only modestly to $51 billion. Therefore, we expect the trade surplus to record $190 billion in 2013 from a record high of $245.6 billion in 2012.
Remittances of foreign workers will remain the main source of outflows from the invisibles accounts. The huge amount of construction work means that the number of foreign workers in the Kingdom will remain high despite recent measures to increase the number of nationals working in the private sector. As a result, remittances are on track to record an all-time high of $32 billion in 2013, in our view. The latest data shows that non-Saudi transfers increased by 14 percent year-on-year to $23.1 billion over the first seven months of this year. There will also be higher outflows to foreign companies providing construction and related services. As the economy expands, payments to foreign providers of other services, such as communications, insurance and financial, should also rise.
Returns on the governments investment portfolio are the main source of non-trade revenues. We expect little growth in returns this year, as the stock of foreign assets will rise further. The bulk of these assets are invested in foreign sovereign securities, primarily US, and with yields on treasury bonds expected to increase as a result changes in the US monetary policy, investment inflows will pick up toward the end of the year.
Inflation is forecast to average 3.8 percent for this year, which is consistent with the five-year average inflation in the Kingdom, Jadwa said. The risk is now on the upside owing to domestic inflationary pressures while external factors remain muted, it added.
Despite growth recovery in many of the Kingdoms trading partners, there is still a lot of spare capacity with high unemployment leading to low pressure on inflation.
According to the International Monetary Fund, export weighted non-fuel commodity prices are likely to contract by 0.9 percent this year. In addition, a stronger dollar vis--vis other trading partner currencies (therefore the riyal) would reduce any external inflationary pressures.

Domestically, the pressures stem from domestic monetary conditions, government spending, rise in disposable income and recent and expected labor market reforms. Broad money supply growth has picked up this year with a year-to-July expansion of 5.8 percent compared with 4.7 percent for the same period last year while the non-oil GDP growth was little changed.
Credit to private sector also continued on a solid positive path, increasing by 9 percent year-to-July, with an upward potential given the low interest rate environment, and the healthy growth in demand deposits.
The latter which grew by 10.4 percent year-to-July reflects the increase in domestic disposable income. While recent push to raise Saudi employment in the private sector will also contribute to higher disposable income leading to demand-pull type of inflation, it is also likely to result in cost-push inflation, though there is little evidence it has done so yet. The expected revision to Nitaqat (the Saudization initiatives) to take into account wages for Saudi nationals working in the private sector will also contribute to the upside risk to domestic prices.
While year-to-date average oil production has so far been in line with Jadwas forecasts, oil prices recorded a stronger than expected positive trend in the last two months.
As a result, Jadwa adjusted its forecasts for Brent crude upward to $108 per barrel (pb) this year, while keeping annual oil production average at 9.6mbpd, 1.7 percent lower than last year.
Consequently, Jadwa raised its projections for both the budget and current account surpluses.
The price of oil recouped some recent losses and rose to over $106 a barrel Wednesday as traders prepared for an expected reduction in the US Federal Reserves massive monetary stimulus.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for October delivery was up 66 cents to $106.08 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.17 to close at $105.42 on Tuesday. Oil fell $1.62 on Monday.
Source: Saudi Gazette

20-09-13, 11:30 PM
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain approve new oil pipeline 
 
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have approved plans to lay a 350,000-barrel per day (bpd) oil pipeline between the two countries, with the link expected to be commissioned by the third quarter of 2016, Bahrain Petroleum Co. (BAPCO) said on Wednesday.
The pipeline will replace an ageing 230,000 bpd link and will help Bapco expand its 267,000 bpd Sitra refinery to up to 460,000 bpd pf capacity. Crude oil will flow from Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq plant via the 115 km pipeline, 74 km of which will run overland and the rest under the Gulf, Bapco said.
Bapco said it was working with Saudi Aramco to prepare for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract tender in the fourth quarter of 2013, with the contract expected to be awarded by the second quarter of 2014.
Bahrain relies on output from the Abu Safa oil field that it shares with Saudi Arabia.
Source: Reuters

20-09-13, 11:31 PM
$718 billion KSA spending boom
 
Total volume of government spending in Saudi Arabia amounted to $718 billion during the last five years while investments during the same period reached $141 billion, a senior Saudi official told a major forum in Los Angeles.
The size of the Saudi economy has quadrupled during the last 10 years to rank first among countries of the region and 19th at the global level, said Abdullatif Al-Othman, governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).
Addressing the US-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum, he emphasized the growing economic and trade relations between the two countries.
The three-day event, which opened on Monday, focused on expanding cooperation in education, health, petrochemicals, water and electricity and infrastructure.
The volume of trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and US amounted to $77 billion in 2012, Al-Othman said in Los Angeles.
The SAGIA chief invited Americans to invest in the Kingdoms vital economic sectors.
Saudi Arabia is offering $1 trillion worth of investment opportunities.
Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, who was one of the keynote speakers, said 150 new US companies had entered the Saudi market last year.
Our relationship is a true partnership and it goes beyond trade, the minister said.
He referred to the new joint ventures including the Sadara Chemical Company involving Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical.
Saudi Arabia has been focusing on transfer of technology to diversify its economy and develop its hydrocarbon sector, Al-Rabiah said inviting more US investment in the thriving sector.
US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said trade between the two countries had tripled compared to what it was just a decade ago.
Our department has helped more than 450 US companies export to Saudi Arabia for the first time, she said noting that more such partnerships are expected as the Kingdom plans for infrastructure growth AND economic expansion.
This gives US companies opportunities to team up to build a strong and vibrant Saudi economy, she added.
Source: Arab News

21-09-13, 12:03 AM
US offers to participate in Saudi projects worth $ 500 billion 
 
American firms are contributing to the $200 billion infrastructure projects that the Saudi government has committed over the past two years, said US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on Tuesday.
Even more firms want to serve as partners in the next five years as Saudi Arabia spends $500 billion more, she told the US-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum in Los Angeles.
Pritzker emphasized her countrys desire to invest in the Kingdoms vital sectors. From rail transportation to water utilities to solar power US companies can partner to help build strong and vibrant communities in Saudi Arabia.
In her keynote speech at the third US-Saudi forum, the secretary of commerce said more US businesses of all sizes are recognizing that Saudi Arabia is a place where they can find partners and do business.
In fact, Saudi Arabias ranking on the World Banks Ease of Doing Business Index has risen to and remained in the top 25 in recent years, she pointed out.
She added: As the growth of this forum reflects, our commercial relationship is blossoming both in trade and investment. Last year, trade in both directions hit all-time record highs. It surpassed pre-recession levels for the first time. We are now more than triple our bilateral trade of just a decade ago, she added.
If current trends continue, Pritzker said, nearly $20 billion in US merchandise would go to Saudi Arabia this year including cars, planes, machinery, medical instruments, and more.
I know that many of the people in this room are helping to bring innovative US products to business partners and consumers in Saudi Arabia, she said.
Im pleased that our Advocacy Center is helping US businesses compete for dozens of Saudi projects valued at billions of dollars particularly in areas like defense, energy, and information technology, she said while stressing the need to achieve a greater balance in commercial relationship.
Pritzker highlighted future investment prospects in Saudi Arabia. In the coming years, we will have many opportunities. The Saudi population is growing quickly, with 28 percent of its population age 14 or younger. The Saudi economy is diversifying into fields like education, technology, and financial services, she said.
The forum saw the signing of three agreements in the presence of Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah for expanding cooperation. The first agreement was between the Saudi Ministry of Health and Creative Associates International, the second between the Ministry and Childrens Mercy Hospitals and Clinics and the third between Tamimi Group and Pentair Middle East.
Al-Rabiah noted the historic Saudi-American ties. The Saudi-US relationship is in its eighth decade. It has weathered many storms. It has been tried, it has been tested, and it has always come out stronger after each experience.
He noted the continued strength of trade between Saudi Arabia and US. Our trade relationship has grown considerably over the past few years, he said. While oil remains an important part, the relationship has developed far beyond.
He cited the many sectors where business cooperation is flourishing and partnerships currently in the making. Al-Rabiah closed his speech by saying, I believe that the relationship today is very strong. I hope that the relationship will continue to grow stronger for the benefit and worth of our countries.
The forum quickly jumped from the background and context of the Saudi-US commercial relationship to the details associated with business opportunities in a broad spectrum of sectors. The first plenary session provided a distinguished panel to address technological innovation in the realm of education. This was followed by eight concurrent panels that focused on education, information technology, healthcare, water, construction, energy, finance, chemicals, transportation, agriculture, industrial infrastructure and power generation.
Source: Arab News

21-09-13, 12:07 AM
Saudi's Al Jaber inks human rights agreement

Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, founder and chairman of the MBI Al Jaber Foundation, has signed an agreement to support the work of Human Rights Watch in the Arab world.
The agreement was signed with Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, in the presence of Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watchs Middle East and North Africa division.
The deal is with particular reference to the cause of human rights in Arab countries in transition, a statement said.
The MBI Al Jaber Foundation said it is committed to supportingthe strengthening of civil society across the Arab world.
For more than a decade the Foundation has sponsoredcivil society training programmes in the region, and this collaboration with Human Rights Watch, which was formalised in 2012, is within the broader context of theFoundations work in the three key areas of education, cultural dialogue, and citizenship and good governance.
Source: Arabian Business

21-09-13, 12:09 AM
ICT advancements spur Saudi workplace mobility 
 
As many organizations race to adopt new mobility policies in the workplace, representatives from Saudi Arabias government, healthcare, and education sectors came together in Jeddah to evaluate how new smart mobility advancements can be used in organizations to improve employee productivity.
The leadership roundtablehosted by global ICT solutions provider Huaweiwas organized as a prelude to this weeks IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2013 which kicked off Tuesday at the InterContinental Hotel in Jeddah.
Roundtable participants included Asfar Zaidi, Principal Consultant at Huawei Enterprise Middle East, as well as Paul Black, Director of Telecoms at IDC.
Held under the theme of Jumping on the Mobility Bandwagon Without Falling Off, Zaidi opened the discussions by reaffirming how the growing Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) culture is empowering employees to do more on-the-go through secure access to corporate information at anytime, anywhere, from any device.
The fact is that many employees would prefer to use their personal mobile devices for work purposes, and some businesses are still being challenged to fully capitalize on this potential while keeping their corporate data secure, said Zaidi. Over the years Huawei has built strong capabilities in mobile security and management. Forums like this are essential in allowing local stakeholders to share their views on the opportunities they see in the market, and what challenges they need to overcome in embracing mobility in the workplace, he added.
Huawei BYOD solution boosts enterprise network mobility and security by combining multiple technologies into one comprehensive offering. IDC estimates that enterprise mobility will become the main driver of enterprise transformation over the next decade, with some experts predicting that about half of the worlds companies will enact BYOD programmes by 2017. This is in part being fuelled by the expansion of the worldwide smart device market, which is forecast to grow 27.8 percent year over year in 2013.
As an official Summit Partner of this weeks IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2013, Huawei will also be supporting industry dialogue on hot topics such as big data analysis and improving security assurance within enterprise networks. The company provides a wide range of enterprise ICT solutions to organizations across the Middle East spanning the government and public sector, healthcare, education, transportation, energy, utilities, and more.
The Summit organizers IDC have predicted that IT investment in the region will reach $32 billion in 2013, with one of the largest market being Saudi Arabia. The most recent Global Innovation Index 2013 which Huawei supported as a Knowledge Partner further found that Saudi Arabia together with the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait lead the Middle East in overall innovation performance.
Huawei is committed to helping organizations in Saudi Arabia capitalize on opportunities brought about by ICT convergence without constraints of high costs and security challenges, said Tony Shi, General Manager of Huawei Enterprise in Saudi Arabia.
Huawei hosted a keynote discussion titled Cashing in on Big Data with the company previewing new ICT tools which allow local businesses to make sense of their ever-increasing digital assets through more effective storage and analytical processes.
Source: Saudi Gazette

21-09-13, 12:11 AM
 USD 1 trn projects: KSA woos American inventors
 
Saudi Arabia is offering $1 trillion worth of investment opportunities in vital sectors such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, transport, electricity and desalination to American businessmen and businesswomen at a major forum in Los Angeles.
Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah is one of the keynote Saudi speakers at the three-day Saudi-US Business Forum that opened on Monday.
Officials and business leaders attending the event will explore how US companies can participate in the Kingdom's economic expansion and build new and lasting business ties between their executives.
The Committee for International Trade (CIT), the Saudi-US Trade Group (SUSTG) and the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council are organizing the event.
"American businesses at every level can benefit from attending the forum to learn how to get involved in the $1 trillion-plus trade and investment opportunities that Saudi Arabia represents over the next decade," said Omar Bahlaiwa, secretary-general of CIT.
"We look at Los Angeles not only as a single city, or California as a single state," SUSRIS (Saudi-US Relations Information Service) quoted him as saying.
"We look at California's standing in the world, the ninth largest economy, just behind Brazil and ahead of the booming country of India. This is a very important market. California is home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other US state," he said.
Bahlaiwa said Saudi officials had made two successful preparatory visits to California.
"We've found lots of enthusiasm and friendship on all levels of the public and private sectors. We are working closely with many new partners for the forum -- chambers of commerce, business roundtables, the mayor's office and many others," he said.
This is the third forum organized by CIT in US cities.
The previous forums were in Chicago and Atlanta.
"During this period of severe global economic downturn and historic social and political upheaval across many regions including the Middle East, Saudi Arabia remains a stable and reliable partner," Bahlaiwa said.
It is not only the regional economic powerhouse but also a leading voice for moderation and dialogue among Arab states and the Islamic world, he added.
Source: Arab News

21-09-13, 12:12 AM
Dutch launch website to assist Saudi agri sector
 
The Netherlands, the second largest exporter of agricultural goods globally, has launched the Dutch agro-food website in English and Arabic to bring industry leaders together and create solutions for the Saudi market.
The concerns over the depletion of precious non-renewable water resources resulted in ambitious programs, said Dr. Hans van der Beek, Agricultural Counsellor at the Netherlands Embassy in Riyadh.
Steps have to be taken in order to be able to continue to feed a growing population and at the same time manage underground water reserves.
The agro-food website, accessible at www.dutchagrofood.com (http://www.dutchagrofood.com), allows businessmen, consumers and farmers in the region to connect and collaborate with their Dutch counterpart on industry solutions, providing an up-to-date agenda, particularly highlighting the sectors of fisheries and aquaculture, horticulture, and poultry.
The website comes from the Dutch agro-food representation in the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, with specialized staff in Riyadh, Algiers, Cairo, and Rabat.
Cooperation in agriculture between the two kingdoms has been active since the 70s, when a large cooperative program on potato cultivation helped develop the sector in Saudi Arabia.
At present, we are engaged in setting up a dedicated center for agricultural information, and developing an institute for sustainable agriculture where water-use efficiency will be the main driver, said Beek.
Estidamah will help train Saudis of all related sectors on sustainable progress, where supply is utilized efficiently, Beek added.
With the Ministry of Agriculture, we are at present participating in designing a program to restructure the fish farming sector, Beek indicated, adding that the Dutch private sector is heavily involved in the poultry industry here.
The three main aspects of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands in the field of agriculture are in water use efficiency, food safety, and value-supply chain management.
The Netherlands wants to promote green-education, meaning capacity building at all levels in agro-food matters, ranging from vocational training to academic MSc and Ph.D programs, Beek further said.
Source: Saudi Gazette

21-09-13, 12:28 AM
Driving rights: No new directives








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The ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia is not mandated by any text in Shariah, says Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, head of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia).
Al-Asheikh stressed that he has no authority to change the government policy on women driving, but his comment may feed into a national discussion in the Kingdom, Reuters reported.
The Shariah does not have a text forbidding women driving, Al-Asheikh told Reuters.
Al-Asheikh was appointed last year to head the commission.
He said the morality police had not pursued or stopped any women for driving since he was made head of the organization and said he was not aware of such cases before his appointment.
But he told Reuters that a report in Al-Hayat on Thursday that members of the morality police had recently been instructed not to pursue or stop women drivers in future was untrue. We have not given any new instructions, he said.
Al-Asheikh commended Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his social reforms.
Al-Asheikh said he had improved the commissions image over the past 18 months.

Source: Arab news

21-09-13, 12:33 AM
GCC to discuss single fuel price




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Oil ministers in GCC countries will discuss steps that have been taken toward finalizing a study on a single price of petroleum products in GCC countries next Tuesday during the 32nd Petroleum Cooperation Committee meeting.
The meeting will be held in Riyadh at the headquarters of the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Oil analyst Rashid Abanami expects the process to contribute to saving 30 percent of the total consumption of fuel in Saudi Arabia, which is smuggled to neighboring countries to be sold at higher prices.
A unified market for petroleum products could exist within the next six years, said Abanami.
Such a decision could be implemented only after services for public transportation projects in GCC countries become effective. Most residents in these countries use their own means of transport.
Abanami referred to the big disparities in the prices of petrol and diesel in Gulf states. Petrol and diesel enjoy the support of both Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which makes for much lower fuel prices compared to other GCC states, he said, pointing out that oil prices in the UAE are comparable to international prices.
He said a uniform fuel price would lead to a hike in some countries. This in turn will prompt consumers to rationalize fuel consumption or decide to use cheaper means of transport.
Oil ministers will discuss other issues concerning the joint efforts of GCC states in the oil sector, which include the executive list of draft regulations in the common law on GCC mining and energy reports for GCC countries, as well as the results of their meetings with economic partners of other countries and economic groups.
The meeting will also discuss a follow-up report on meetings held for the development of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol and the updated strategic petroleum summary of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
It will look into the recommendations made by the first petroleum media forum at the GCC and the reports of the Cooperation Council for Energy Affairs in the World Trade Organization and free trade agreements.

21-09-13, 12:41 AM
Saudis in UAE prepare for National Day festivities

The Saudi Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is preparing a special event on Sept. 26 to mark the Kingdoms 83rd National Day.
The event will bring together Saudi students, those working in the country and Gulf intellectuals and academics at the Dubai Culture and Science Center.
The celebration, under the auspices of Ambassador Ibrahim Saad Al-Ibrahim, is entitled Humanitarian Homeland and aims to spread awareness about the Kingdom's assistance to its own citizens and needy nations across the world.
Dr. Saleh Hamad Al-Suhaibani, cultural attach in the UAE, said the event would be a celebration of the loyalty Saudis have to their country.
He praised Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for taking care of orphans, the youth, the disabled and children of martyrs.
Dr. Khalid bin Hamad Anqari, the minister of higher education, is also supporting the celebrations, which promotes loyalty and affiliation between the government and its nationals.
The cultural attach has prepared a special edition of the cultural magazine and a comprehensive list of the governments humanitarian efforts for the occasion.

Arab News

21-09-13, 12:45 AM
New face veil specifications spell trouble


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The womens face veil, which is an essential part of the clothing of the majority of Saudi women, has been at the center of a crisis for importers in Jeddah after recent changes to the specifications and standards for imported fabrics.
The chairman of the committee of textiles and garments at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), Mohammed Al-Shehary, said that importing the face veil, known as Niqab, Al-Lithma or Al-Tarha, from industrialized countries has become problematic for Saudi merchants, particularly after the changes were introduced.
Al-Shehary said the problems surrounding the face veil and headscarf imports are the weight specifications, and alleged questionable decisions of the Saudi Organization for Standardization and Metrology (SASO).
The weight of 55 grams for the face and head cover required by the laboratories specifications commission contrasts with the requests of the majority of Saudi women.
The new specifications of the commission require typing the name of the factory source of the fabrics, and the purpose and details of use. Such requirements conflict with those in the country of origin, as investors in these countries prefer to write down the quality of the fabrics used in the manufacturing of the product, whether it is for the face or the head. This is the global standard that manufacturers follow for all countries, and if they have to do something specific, it will increase the cost of the piece.
The committee of textiles and garments at the JCCI has received over the past few months hundreds of complaints from dealers and importers of fabrics for clothing. The majority of these complaints are about the delays in releasing goods from Jeddah Islamic Port, he said.
The lengthy procedures and the different results from various laboratories examining the samples have contributed to delays in getting the clothing and fabric containers released at Jeddah Islamic Port, which amounted to almost 400 containers. Such delays have cost traders nearly SR300 million, thus pushing many out of the domestic market and toward neighboring countries for better business, said Al-Shehary.
The holding of the goods at the port for long periods of time make them more vulnerable to damage, especially since the port environment is not suitable for many types of fabric.
Al-Shehary said the alleged hesitation and changes in the decisions of SASO has weakened the prestige of and confidence in Saudi importers on the global markets.
The fabric and clothing dealers and importers are also resentful over the laboratories specifications commissions alleged continuous rejection of the global source certifications, which are internationally accredited.
The commissions insistence on re-testing the fabrics, whether raw materials or manufactured clothing of all types, is problematic, he said.
Al-Shehary said the committee on textiles and garments at the JCCI is seeking a meeting to resolve these issues with officials from the laboratory management department at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the head of the fraud department at the Jeddah Islamic Port and the director of laboratories at SASO.

source: Arab news

21-09-13, 01:02 AM
Tadawul: Multi-investment sector advances 1.61%

Saudi Arabias benchmark Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) dug in at 8,024.71 and ended its Thursday's trading up over 26 points.
It jumped (+66.6 points) just after the opening bell and spending entire session above the breakeven line gained 0.33 percent.
All market cap indices ended the day in the safe area, with Micro cap adding 0.6 percent. Sectoral performance was positive, with 12 sectors accumulating an aggregate of 373 points.
Multi-Investment sector dominated the performance at Tadawul, advancing 1.61 percent to close at 3,632.85. Real estate development was another key gaining sector, growing by 0.81 percent.
On the other hand, Media and Publishing with 0.22 percent negative change became the major declining sector.
Advancing stocks outnumbered decliners by a margin of 89 to 56 and the prices of 12 companies remained unchanged.
Wafa Insurance (+5.6 percent) and Al-Jouf agriculture development Co. (+5.0 percent) showing notable gains became the top performers among all Saudi stocks.
Most of heavyweights closed in the upward territory, with Kingdom holding outdid rest of its peers, surging over three percent and closing at SR 18.6. The bellwether SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corp.) closed the day up 0.77 percent.
Market activity remained roughly 10 percent greater than previous level.
More than 235 million shares worth SR5.7 billion changed hands on the Saudi stock market. The 50-day average for trading volume is closer to 219.5 million shares.
Trading activity was led by Mobile Telecommunications Co. Zain, which liquidated roughly 35 million shares, a relative market share of 14.9 percent.
While, Aljazira Takaful Taawuni Company with a liquidity of SR418.7 million topped the value chart, closing at SR 63.5.

Arab News

21-09-13, 01:04 AM
Gold price posts biggest daily gain in 15 months

LONDON: Gold prices hit one-week highs after the Federal Reserve shocked markets by choosing not to cut back on its asset-buying program for now, knocking the dollar to a seven-month low against a currency basket.
Bullion gained 4.2 percent on Wednesday, its biggest daily gain since June 2012, after US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke refused to commit to curbing quantitative easing this year.
Many economists had expected a $10 billion reduction in the central banks $85 billion monthly bond purchases, part of a package of monetary easing measures that have driven a sharp rally in gold in recent years.
Spot gold hit its highest since Sept 10 at $1,373.20, before steadying to $1,363.80 an ounce by 1436 GMT. US gold futures for December delivery jumped 4.3 percent, or $56.10 an ounce, to $1,363.70.
The market is still digesting the surprise news, Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at MKS, said. I personally think the numbers we are seeing out of the States are still poor, and QE may remain in place for a bit longer. If my reasoning is correct, gold ought to see a bigger boost on the up side.
For the next day or two, we ought to trade between 1350-1385, he added. It should be interesting to see the reaction of the Chinese market when they come in on Monday they could come in as buyers, as we may have seen the lows in gold for the time being.
Chinas markets are currently closed for the mid-autumn festival holiday.
Gold, often seen as an inflation hedge and safe-haven investment, has lost some 20 percent of its value this year after the Fed signaled it would start reining in QE, which could indicate the end to ultra-loose monetary policy.
The chance that US interest rates could stay low for longer was enhanced by news from the White House that noted dove Janet Yellen was the front-runner to take over the Fed when Bernanke steps down in January.
An environment of low interest rates encourages investors to put money into the non-interest-bearing assets such as gold.
The (Fed) decision, combined with the upcoming debt ceiling debate, leaves risks to gold prices as skewed to the upside in the near term, Goldman Sachs said in a note.
(But) we continue to expect that gold prices will resume their decline heading into 2014, when we expect economic data to solidly confirm a re-acceleration in US growth and warrant a less accommodative monetary policy stance.
Analysts say they are watching for signs that the Feds move is boosting inflows into gold-backed exchange-traded funds. The development of ETF holdings over the next few days will give us a clearer picture here, Commerzbank said in a note.
Among other precious metals, silver rose 1.2 percent to $23.15 an ounce, having rallied around 6.5 percent on Wednesday, its biggest one-day gain since November 2008.
Spot platinum XPT= rose to a one-week high of $1,478 an ounce, and was later up 0.2 percent at $1,462.70. Spot palladium was up 1 percent at $724 an ounce.
Platinums premium over gold edged back above $100 an ounce after falling below that level during Wednesdays rally.

Arab News

21-09-13, 01:08 AM
Asia snaps up Apples first gold-colored iPhone


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SINGAPORE: Asian consumers have snapped up Apples first gold-colored iPhone, but many were left disappointed and frustrated at missing out during Fridays highly anticipated global launch of the 5S.
From Japan to Singapore, China and Hong Kong, there was a particular clamor for the gold-colored version, closely associated with wealth in Asian cultures.
It was not clear how many of the golden 5S also available in silver and space grey were available.
Some people had been able to pre-order, if they were fast enough, but those who had not queued early or even overnight to get a piece of the gold rush.
Our gold-color iPhones were completely sold out within four minutes when we opened online reservations on September 18, a spokesman for market leader Singapore Telecom told AFP.
Long lines snaked through SingTels launch event at the cavernous Marina Bay Sands convention center as thousands of Apple fans who had made online reservations trooped there to pick up their new gadgets.
John Yap, the first in line, said he decided to buy the golden iPhone because it was refreshing and a welcome change from the look of all the previous models.
The 24-year-old accountant queued for nearly 12 hours before he got his hand on a 64-gigabyte version, but said the wait was well worth it.
I think its worth the time especially when it is something you cherish. It is just like queing for concert tickets, he said.
A spokeswoman for StarHub, another Singaporean carrier, said the gold iPhone 5S was sold out within an hour in its 10 outlets across the city-state.
Singapores third carrier, M1, also ran out of the golden phones, according to a chart on its website.
There were similar scenes elsewhere in Asia.
In China, state-run news website sh.eastday.com reported earlier that the gold iPhone 5S models were quickly bought up after online pre-orders began Tuesday morning.
Those looking to get their hands on Apples much-coveted latest offering said they did not mind the cost of the 5S at least 5,288 yuan ($864).
In Beijing, Apple customer Yao Guibing said: Ive been using iPhone since its first generation.
The color is very special.. I believe in Apples idea of design, so golden color must be excellent.
Though some people on the Internet say the golden color is for nouveau riche, I dont think so.
Favoured by emperors and representing wealth and luxury in Chinese culture, gold has become a badge of the countrys newly wealthy.
In status-conscious Hong Kong, the golden version was almost nowhere to be found.
We were able to acquire the 16 gigabyte models, weve gotten around 30 to 40 of the gold ones, Lau Chi-kong, of G-world Mobile in the commercial district of Mong Kok, told AFP, which he described to be a small number.
I think Apple released a limited amount of the gold version, Lau said.
Lau will sell the 16 gigabyte version of the gold colored phone for HK$10,800, almost double its retail price, he said.
There is demand for it, everyone wants it, he added.
Some customers who were left empty-handed vented their frustration online.
Whats the point of having priority to purchase when (companies dont) even provide sufficient phones for us? asked Lipingg Jaimelody on M1s Facebook page.
Launches at 8am, and (at) 8.40am gold was all sold out, she ranted.
Should sack Tim **** who aint **** enough gold for the consumer, customer Teo PC also wrote on M1s Facebook page, referring to the Apple chief executive.

Arab News

21-09-13, 01:15 AM
Microsoft CEO most regrets lapse in mobile phones

NEW YORK CITY: Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said his biggest regret is missing the boat on smartphones but he said the software giant should not admit defeat just yet.
I regret that there was a period in the early 2000s when we were so focused on what we had to do around Windows that we werent able to redeploy talent to the new device called the phone, Ballmer said in a conference with analysts.
That is thing I regret the most, he repeated, adding It would have been better for Windows and our success in other foreign factors.
The smartphone and tablet computer market is currently dominated by Apples iPhone and iPad and by devices powered by Googles Android operating system.
Microsoft has almost no share in mobile devices, Ballmer conceded, but said that leaves the company with significant upside opportunities.
In telephones, the company is counting on the recently announced acquisition of Finnish mobile telephone company Nokia, with which it is already collaborating to make a new smartphone, the Lumia, to popularise its Windows mobile software.
The companys Surface tablet failed to win over buyers last year and Microsoft was forced to lower the price of the device, which translated into a loss of nearly a billion dollars in its latest quarterly figures.
A new generation of the tablet is to be unveiled Monday.
Beyond mobile devices, Ballmer said, Microsoft must seize crucial opportunities in cloud computing services, in online subscriptions to its word processing suite Office, and with its search engine Bing.
Ballmer took over as CEO of Microsoft in 2000 from co-founder Bill Gates, a classmate and friend from their days at Harvard University in the 1970s. He announced in August that he would retire within 12 months.

Arab News

21-09-13, 01:26 AM
Lufthansa upgrades fleet with 34 Boeing and 25 Airbus jets

FRANKFURT: Lufthansa, Germanys biggest airline, said it had placed orders for 59 new fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft worth a total list price of 14 billion euros ($19 billion).
Lufthansa said in a statement it has ordered 34 new Boeing 777-9X jets and 25 Airbus A350-900 to renew its fleet.
The order described by Lufthansa as the single largest investment ever made by a private investor in Germany will build a fleet of more fuel-efficient aircraft to combat high oil prices.
With these aircraft, we make a quantum leap in terms of efficiency, chief executive Christoph Franz told a news conference.
Delivery is scheduled from 2016, the company said.
The new aeroplanes would primarily serve to replace existing aircraft at Lufthansa, with older Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A340-300s to be phased out by 2025, Franz explained.
This investment will safeguard about 13,000 jobs at Lufthansa alone as well as thousands of jobs at our partners in aviation and other suppliers, he said.
Lufthansa currently operates a wide-body fleet of around 107 aircraft, among them 10 ultra-modern Airbus A380s and nine Boeing 747-8s as well as the Airbus A330-300.
The fleet also includes Airbus A340s and Boeing 747-400s.
The aim is to reduce the number of different models and fleet complexity and also replace existing aircraft with state-of-the-art aeroplanes, Franz said.
Following an order already placed in March of this year, Lufthansa currently has a total of 295 brand-new aircraft on order with a list value of 36 billion euros.
These should be delivered by 2025, he said.
In Seattle, Boeing issued a statement saying it was delighted by Lufthansas choice of its 777-9X jet, which is expected to be launched later this year and come into service around the end of the decade.
With its new engines, new composite wing and superior aerodynamics, the 777X would be able to reduce fuel consumption by 20 percent and lower operating costs by 15 percent compared with the current 777, Boeing boasted.
For its part, Airbus said Lufthansas order underpins its status as Airbus largest airline customer and operator.
On the Frankfurt stock exchange, Lufthansa shares were up 0.87 percent shortly after midday, while the blue-chip DAX index gained 1.13 percent overall.

Arab news

21-09-13, 01:29 AM
Only 15% of Saudi women have IDs


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The Civil Status Department at the Ministry of Interior has so far issued 1,487,000 ID cards to Saudi women since the system was put in place in 2002.
This translates to just 15 percent of the 9,876,051 women who are eligible for ID cards as indicated in a recent survey by the Central Department of Statistics and Information.
Mohammad Al-Jasir, a spokesman for the Civil Status Department, told local media that there was an increase in the number of Saudi women who wish to be in possession of an ID card.
This has encouraged the Civil Status Department to keep pace with the increasing demand from women for IDs by creating more female sections in its branches in the Kingdom to facilitate this service and approve the reservation system through its electronic portal, he said.
Al-Jasir said that the functioning of the Civil Status Department is not limited to issuing ID cards for women, but also to register or amend their social status and profession, in addition to obtaining copies of registered records for themselves, their husbands, siblings and descendants.
A female ID card contains fingerprint recording and photo to prevent identity theft and tampering.
There were only five offices dealing with IDs when the department began issuing ID cards to Saudi women in 2002. There are now 20 offices in various governorates and major cities.
Though the agencys branches in remote areas dont have female sections, they are served by mobile units and other modern means approved by the Civil Status Department.
Employees at female sections in the Civil Status Agency have undergone extensive training programs in the field of civil status, information technology and administrative behavior. These programs are aimed at developing skills and abilities, as well as achieving quality services, he added.

Arab news

21-09-13, 01:33 AM
Sudan engineer in court for refusing to cover her hair

A Sudanese woman who refuses to cover her hair under the countrys morality law has appeared in court and her case was adjourned until Nov. 4, her lawyer said.
Amira Osman Hamed, 35, has said she is prepared to be flogged to defend the right to leave her hair uncovered in defiance of what she has called a Talebanlike law.
The defense asked the court that the charges against this woman be withdrawn, and the court adjourned the hearing until Oct. 4 while it considers the request, Moezz Hadhra told AFP.
Hameds case has drawn support from civil rights activists and is the latest to highlight Sudans series of laws governing morality that took effect after the 1989 coup by President Omar Al-Bashir.
They want us to be like Taleban women, Hamed said in an interview with AFP this month, referring to the militant movement in Afghanistan.
She is charged under Article 152 which prohibits indecent clothing.
Hamed said she was visiting a government office in Jebel Aulia, just outside Khartoum, on August 27 when a policeman told her to cover her head.
This public order law changed Sudanese women from victims to criminals, Hamed, a divorced computer engineer who runs her own company, told AFP.
This law is targeting the dignity of Sudanese people.

Arab news

21-09-13, 01:41 AM
Chemical arms: Assad reliability in doubt

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he isnt 100 percent certain that Syrian President Bashar Assad will fulfill his commitment to give up chemical weapons.
Putins published remarks may indicate that Russia, Syrias arms provider and ally, harbors doubts about Assads reliability, though less so than the US, which has demanded a quick and intrusive process to prevent the use of Syrias chemical arsenal and to test whether the Syrian leader will give it up.
According to news agencies, Putin said Syria has taken practical steps by joining the Chemical Weapons Convention barring such arms and it now faces a disarmament process under a US-Russia accord reached last week in Geneva that begins with an accounting of the weapons inventory due Sept. 21.
Will it be possible to bring everything to a conclusion? Putin said in Valdai, Russia. I cant say 100 percent.
Assad said earlier that he envisions it will take about a year to destroy his chemical weapons and related equipment.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, acknowledged a sharp disagreement with China over how the international community should respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria and urged Beijing to play a positive role in the UN Security Council on the issue.
Kerry spoke at the State Department before a meeting and working lunch with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
While we appreciate Chinas support for a political solution the only solution we believe is ultimately available and possible we do have differences between our nations and have disagreed sharply over how the international community should respond to the Syrian regimes use of chemical weapons, Kerry said.

Arab news

21-09-13, 01:44 AM
Turkey shuts Syria crossing following raid by militants

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ANKARA/BEIRUT: Turkey closed a border crossing to Syria after an Al-Qaeda-linked group stormed a nearby town and expelled opposition fighters from an Arab and Western-backed unit, officials said on Thursday.
Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Wednesday killed at least five members of the Northern Storm Brigade, a rebel unit that controls the border, highlighting the deep opposition divisions.
The confrontation in the town of Azaz was one of the most serious clashes between the Al-Qaeda affiliate, made up mostly of foreign fighters, and the more ideologically moderate home-grown rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad.
Their struggle, however, is less about ideology and more about a fight for territory, resources and the spoils of war with armed ISIL fighters positioned to defend the town and a nearby rebel brigade trying to broker a cease-fire.
A Turkish official told Reuters the Oncupinar border gate about 5 km (3 miles) from Azaz and opposite the Syrian Bab Al-Salameh gate had been closed for security reasons.
There is still confusion about what is happening on the Syrian side. All humanitarian assistance that normally goes through the gate has ceased, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Crossings such as Azaz have been a lifeline for rebel-held territories in Syrias north, allowing in humanitarian aid, building materials and food as well as giving refugees a route out of Syria.
While Turkey says it normally operates an open door policy, from time to time it temporarily closes its border crossings following clashes near the frontier.
The crossing fell into opposition hands last year when rebels launched an offensive to take the northern business hub of Aleppo.
Ankara has been one of the strongest backers of the rebels in the 2-1/2-year uprising against Assad. While it denies arming them, fighters including militants have been able to cross its volatile border into Syria.
At the same time, many activists and Kurdish forces accuse Turkey of allowing radical groups to go through its territory to launch attacks on its other foe Kurdish militias, who are now operating on the frontier in northeastern Syria. Turkey denies those charges.
Syrian activists said the fighting in Azaz had subsided by Thursday and there were no rebel preparations under way to take the town back from ISIL by force.
ISIL fighters were now spread throughout Azaz and had positioned snipers on rooftops, activists said.
Northern Storm fighters were stationed at the border crossing, where they were joined by fighters from the powerful Tawheed Brigade who came from Aleppo to try to broker a truce. Tawheed has a large presence in Aleppo, Syrias largest city, about 30 km south of Azaz.
Reinforcements from the Tawheed Brigade were sent to impose a cease-fire on the two sides, said Abu Obeida, a Tawheed spokesman. There is still no cease-fire yet ... There are negotiations under way.
The clashes were a stark illustration of the relative strength of the Al-Qaeda-linked fighters compared to Syrias larger but less experienced moderate forces. It also highlights the divisions that have plagued the opposition.
Both dilemmas have left Western powers hesitant to supply the rebels with advanced weapons.
ISIL declared an offensive last week against two other rebel factions, accusing them of attacking its forces and suggesting they may have collaborated with the government.
What is worrying are the clashes themselves, a second Turkish official said, referring to rebel infighting generally.
What we want is to see the various coalition groups put their house in order and focus on the struggle with the regime, because that is the real issue the violence inflicted by the regime on the Syrian people.
An activist from Azaz who identified himself as Mohamed Al-Azizi said he expected more violence before the confrontation was over.
These people are very dangerous for Syria, he said via Skype, referring to the ISIL fighters. They say theyre Islamists but they have nothing to do with religion.

Arab news

21-09-13, 01:50 AM
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Germany sold chemicals with military potential to Syria





Economy ministry says chemicals exported from 2002-2006
Leftists say Germany may share responsibility for gas attacks
Government says no reason to think were used for weapons


BERLIN: Germany exported 111 tons of chemicals to Syria between 2002 and 2006 that could be used in the production of sarin gas, according to a government document published on Wednesday.
But the government rejected a suggestion from an opposition lawmaker that Germany might thereby have inadvertently contributed to the Aug. 21 sarin attack in Syria, which the West blames on President Bashar Assad.
The chemicals sodium fluoride, hydrofluoric acid and ammonium hydrogen fluoride are classified as dual use under European Union law, meaning they can be used for either civil or military purposes. They require special export permits.
In a written response to a parliamentary question from Germanys Left Party, the economy ministry said the chemicals sold between 2002 and 2003, in 2005 and 2006 had a total value of 174,000 euros ($232,300) and were sold for civilian use.
Permits were granted after careful consideration of all possible risks, including of the goods misuse or transfer into chemical weapons use. In all cases their planned civil use was considered to be plausible, the ministry stated.
The German government has no information to suggest that the delivered goods were later used for purposes other than the originally declared civilian purpose, it added.
Chancellor Angela Merkel told ARD television: We are of course looking into all allegations on this but from what we can see so far the export licence was for civil use.
Jan van Aken, foreign affairs spokesman for the Left party condemned the sale of the chemicals to Syria a country which the whole world knew had a huge chemical weapons program.
We cannot be sure then whether Germany is not also culpable for the deadly sarin attack in Damascus on Aug. 21, said van Aken, whose party is staunchly pacifist and opposed to arms exports and German involvement in overseas military operations.
United Nations investigators confirmed on Monday that the nerve agent sarin was used in the attack, which Washington says killed 1,400 people in a rebel-held area of Damascus.
Last week, British media reported that Britain also approved the export to Syria of chemicals that can make sarin.
Merkels center-right government, which has taken a cautious stance on the Syria crisis before a German general election on Sunday, has come under opposition pressure over a surge in German arms exports, including to Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Arms exports are a sensitive issue in Germany, given the countrys Nazi past and the role arms makers like Krupp played in fueling numerous 19th and 20th century wars.
Modern chemical warfare began on the battlefields of World War I, pioneered by the Germans.

Arab news

21-09-13, 02:18 AM
Local market in Riyadh to be relocated

The Riyadh Municipality has ordered the relocation of the Haraj Ibn Qassim market to a road connecting the area of Mansouria, west of Riyadh, to Hair, east of the Saudi capital, which will make the market more accessible to consumers.
The market is popular among city residents due to affordable prices of its products.
The Riyadh Holding Company will assume relocation costs and various groups are cooperating to help relocate the market.
The market is currently located on Riyadhs southern ring road.
The move aims to contribute to the elimination of irregularities such as theft and to provide investment opportunities to citizens.
The project will be built on an area of 282,413 sqm. In addition, 217,587 sqm has been allotted for future expansion.
The market will include 792 shops spanning a total area of 39,172 square meters and 448 tents for the sale of second-hand goods such as home products, clothing, hand tools, electronic devices, minor electrical and small furniture items.
It will also include mosques and parking areas, as well as waiting areas and zones for uploading and downloading Internet material.

Arab news

21-09-13, 02:21 AM
KSUs Reading Club to join UNESCO

King Saud Universitys Reading Club has achieved the distinction of becoming the first Saudi club to be a permanent member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The public relations official of KSU official said in a statement Friday: UNESCO has approved an application from the Reading Club at KSU to join the international organization as an affiliate member. KSUs Reading Club is the first Saudi, non-government organization to become a UNESCO member.
Spelling out the criteria for approval, he said, the Clubs membership indicates the similarities between its goals and programs, and those of UNESCO. UNESCO seeks to bring about peace and security by raising the level of cooperation between countries across educational and cultural fields to establish global respect for freedom, law, and human rights, the PRO said.

Arab news

21-09-13, 02:23 AM
German firms showcase products in Jazan

Eighteen German firms showcased their products and services to the Jazan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) recently. About 100 representatives of Saudi companies attended the event.
German and Saudi business relations are traditionally sustainable and win-win partnerships, said Andreas Hergenroether, delegate of German Industry in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
During the show, Saudi businessmen had the opportunity to see a wide range of high quality products and services from Germany. The portfolio included construction, engineering, healthcare, paint, industrial automation, food, sewage systems and higher education.
The exhibition in Jazan, with Volkswagen Saudi Arabia and Zarka Al-Yamama as platinum sponsors, was the third show held by German companies. It was held in Riyadh and the Eastern Province last May.
Nasser Abdo Moraie, JCCI chairman and Ahmed Mohammed Al-Qunfodi, JCCI secretary general; were present to open the event.
The product show was established in 2006 to enable German companies to gain access to the Saudi market, particularly those domestic businesses seeking new and innovative products and partners.

Arab news

21-09-13, 02:25 AM
Experts to learn from KSAs experience in mass gathering medicine

Fifteen health ministers from various parts of the world will attend the Second World Congress on Mass Gathering Medicine, which begins in the Saudi capital Saturday.
The three-day conference, hosted by the Kingdom, is being organized by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO). The conference will discuss, among other topics, the MERS coronavirus.
The conference is also expected to be attended by the secretary-general of the Arab League, the GCC secretary-general, the WHO director general and the regional director of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Office in Alexandria.
Health ministers participating in the congress will represent the United States, France, Cuba, Canada, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia and South Korea.
Arrangements are being overseen by a high-powered committee headed by Ziad Al-Memish, undersecretary for public health at the Ministry of Health. Several subcommittees were also formed to ensure that arrangements are in place for the event.
Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for extending his support for the event.
Al-Memish said the conference would study the results of scientific experiments initiated in mass gatherings, which would help in dealing with health measures during the Umrah and Haj seasons.
The Kingdom, he said, will be in a position to project its experience in handling mass gatherings and looking after health care needs. International experts can throw more light on our experiences for the benefit of other participating countries, he noted.
Deputy Health Minister for Health Affairs Mansour Al-Hawasi said that the conference was being held under the national strategic health plan of the Kingdom and stressed that the Saudi leadership had lent unlimited support for the success of the program.
The first conference on the impact of mass gatherings on public health was held in Jeddah in 2010 under the aegis of King Abdullah. It was attended by more than 500 experts and specialists and 30 speakers from all over the world.
A Kingdom-based international referential entity specialized in mass gathering medicine has been established with the aim of coming up with classification and definition of concepts, tasks and activities related to mass health management. It shall also be responsible for spreading the culture, programs and regulations of mass gathering health, all of which are based on the premise of considerable, fact-based research.
The conference adopted the Jeddah Declaration on mass gathering health, the first regional and global declaration emphasizing the importance of providing holistic and health care services to beneficiaries.
Strategies and benefits for upgrading mass gathering medicine worldwide were the most tangible outcomes of the conference, Al-Memish said, emphasizing the need to establish an international reference authority on mass gathering medicine, preferably based in the Kingdom.
This authority would be commissioned with several tasks, including classifying and defining terminology, developing mass gathering health culture, developing programs and systems based on the results of established research, conducting in-depth analytical studies on all aspects of mass gathering health, and creating a database to study and monitor the present situation to assess the extent of progress achieved in embedding this concept.
The recommendations also called for feedback and futuristic studies, adopting measures to redress health systems at national, regional and international levels, providing consultations and advice to various countries to develop mass gathering health plans and programs and exchanging successful experiences in the area of mass gathering health in cooperation with international agencies and organizations, Al-Memish said.

21-09-13, 02:47 AM
Kingdom bids to host Asia Cup 2019

Saudi Arabias is joining a group of countries bidding to host Asia Cup soccer tournament in 2019.
Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, president of Youth Welfare, said authorities had approved the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committees plan.
Prince Nawaf bin Faisal thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister defense, for granting the permission to the committee to complete the formalities.
This is the first time the Kingdom is making a bid to hold the largest football event in Asia. The UAE and Iran are also competing to host the event, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Arab news

21-09-13, 02:50 AM
Air show to mark national day

The Saudi Aviation Club and the Arab Air Sport Federation are organizing a microlight air show to mark National Day celebrations.
The first-time event, being held with the support of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, will include individual and group air displays and a colored smoke show.
Riyadh will host a fireworks display at 9 p.m. Monday.
They will be launched from King Fahd Stadium, Prince Faisal bin Fahad Stadium, Prince Sultan University in Salah Addin District, near western-Riyadh causeway and east of King Abdulaziz Park in the southern-ring road area.

21-09-13, 03:15 AM
Kingdom lacks special needs professionals

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The Kingdom needs qualified and experienced medical and teaching professionals for the increasing number of children with autism and disabilities, according to a local psychologist.
There are over 200,000 disabled children in schools across the Kingdom. The Kingdom doesnt really lack disability centers for children, but it does lack professionals in the field, said Uzma Raheem, a clinical psychologist. Raheem is the founder of the Hope Center for Exceptional Needs, where she also works as a therapist.
The education is not up to standard, said Raheem. The education system is only producing people with BA degrees. It is not creating the kind of people you need to supervise, head or lead.
Raheem says the country needs more qualified occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and hearing professionals. However, the education system is only producing young girls with newly awarded BA degrees, who have just been let loose in the field. I wouldnt send my child to them but parents with disabled children in the Kingdom are left with no choice and are desperate for services.
Raheem said universities should focus on offering courses on occupational therapy and speech and hearing with qualifications at the masters level to be on par with international standards.
Right now, we dont need people to take top positions, said Raheem. There are plenty of people for top positions today. What we really need right now are people who will supervise, people who will direct and monitor and those who are going to make sure proper work is done. These are the kind of people we are missing in the field of special education.
For example, I am the director of the Hope Center in Jeddah, but my job is mostly a desk job, said Raheem. When I started out, I used to train and thats how it went. You really need people in that stage. What we have right now is people at the top level and the bottom level. The hierarchy that is needed to create a perfect setup is not available.
I want the disabled students to get a chance in life, says Haya Al-Shahrani, a graduate in special education studies. For example, they must be able to continue their education and take up jobs, just like other regular children. For this, we need a set of expert trainers who will provide the best guidance in this field.
Schools devoted to special education are launched almost randomly and most teachers are not qualified or at the very least, trained enough to handle complex cases, let alone educate children with special needs, wrote Abdullah Sayel, a Saudi columnist.

Arab news

21-09-13, 03:18 AM
Asian diplomats briefed on MERS safety measures

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Representatives of various Asian diplomatic missions in the Kingdom, worried over the spread of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), met with officials of the Ministry of Health recently to specifically check on safety measures being adopted to contain the virus.
The meeting comes in the wake of Asian medical professionals working at local hospitals being infected with the virus, including a Filipino nurse.
Dr. Khalid Al-Mirghalani, health ministry spokesman, said Asian diplomats were assured that safety measures were in place at Saudi hospitals.
Scientists and health experts have called for watchful surveillance and vigilance to contain the disease.
Scientists said genetic analysis of samples of the MERS virus that had killed 58 people in the Middle East and Europe shows the disease has jumped from animals to humans several times.
Our findings suggest that different lineages of the virus have originated from the virus jumping across to humans from an animal source a number of times, said Paul Kellam, a professor of viral pathogenesis at Britains Sanger Institute and University College London (UCL), who led the research, told Reuters.
Dr. Ziad Al-Memish, undersecretary to the Ministry of Health for Public Health and one of the researchers on this study, said pinning down the animal source or sources would be critical in allowing health authorities to get on top of the outbreak.

21-09-13, 03:35 AM
Campaign seeks passage of laws against child abuse


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Sayidaty Magazine and the National Family Safety Program (NFSP) have recently launched a campaign against child abuse that will last for three months.
The White Campaign aims to pass a law against child abusers and raise awareness on this phenomenon since there are currently no Saudi laws that criminalize sexual abuse.
There is, however, a law to protect children at the Shoura Council and another law against abuse and assault.
The campaign also seeks also to educate children and their parents about ways of protecting children and to encourage standing up to such crimes. It also sheds light on psychological remedies to help victims of child abuse.
The campaign contains a series of initiatives, such as the launching of activities and seminars. These will be announced on Sayidatys website and within a weekly report published in the magazine.
Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, editor-in-chief of Sayidaty Magazine, said, Sayidaty took it upon itself to talk in absolute transparency about this issue. We talk about painful stories and harsh experiences forced upon children who grew up in an awful world of silence, marring their innocence and scarring their childhood dreams.
Educational and family consultant, Nadia Nasseer, explains that there are different types of abuse. There is verbal abuse and abuse through social media networks, since our children have access to modern technology. Children can be electronically abused through photos or obscene images. Harassment often starts when children are asked to give personal information on the Internet. This can lead to blackmailing children into acts they should not be engaged in.
Sayidaty Magazine had earlier run campaigns against the marriage of minors, in which more than 10,000 people in the Arab world took part by signing petitions presented to Parliaments and legislative bodies in several Arab countries.

Arab news

21-09-13, 03:58 AM
SAMA chief upbeat on Saudi growth path


Saudi Arabia's banking sector registered a robust and steady growth over the past decade unruffled by the financial crisis elsewhere in the world, says a top official.
Fahd Al-Mubarak, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), said the assets of commercial banks tripled from SR508 billion in 2003 to SR1.73 trillion in 2012.
The liabilities of the banks grew five fold from SR206 billion to SR999 billion during the same period, Al-Mubarak said.
Al-Mubarak also said the AA- rating given by international credit rating agencies such as Fitch attested to the robust economic performance of the Kingdom.
"The rating shows the strength of the Kingdom's economy and its excellent financial position besides the success of its financial and economic policies," the governor said.
Commenting on the SAMA report, Jarmo T. Kotilaine, a regional analyst, said: "It is clear that efforts to develop a diverse financial sector have borne fruit in Saudi Arabia and this success has in turn served as one of the drivers of economic growth."
He said: "Financial services have a fundamental role to play in pooling savings and channeling them into investments. The performance of the sector has also benefited from cautious regulation and the proactive stance taken by the authorities in stimulating the economy during the global downturn."
Fahad Alturki, head of research at Jadwa Investment, told Arab News: "The real GDP growth in the Kingdom to record 4 percent this year as public and private sector performance picks up in the second half and the oil sector becomes less of a drag on growth."
He said elevated current and capital expenditures will keep growth of retail, construction and transport sectors on the lead despite recent changes in labor market regulations. "The Kingdom is set to post fiscal and current account surpluses of 6.8 and 14.2 percent of GDP, respectively," Alturki added.
He said record high remittances and bigger import bill to weigh on current account balance this year, but higher oil export revenues keep it in the positive territory and supports growth in foreign assets.
Meanwhile, SAMA report said it regulates the insurance sector in line with the best international standards and practices and strives to push up performance standards of its workers with the aim of offering best services to clients.
The governor said the insurance sector registered a four-fold growth in terms of premiums since 2005.
The total value of insurance premium subscriptions reached SR21 billion last year against SR5.2 billion in 2005. He put the number of insurance and reinsurance firms at 33 in addition to 166 companies offering support services in the sector.
The SAMA also promotes legitimate and fair competition between companies in financial sectors and takes the appropriate steps to develop them.
It also stresses the need for nationalizing the jobs and raising performance level of workers.
SAMA also coordinates with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Housing in order to achieve its goal of meticulously implementing all financial regulations, he said

24-09-13, 02:26 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1314

27-09-13, 11:16 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1336

30-09-13, 08:57 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1329 per ounce

30-09-13, 09:00 PM
Saudi's SABIC sees strong demand for $ 1bn bond 
 
Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the world's largest petrochemicals maker by market value, priced a $1 billion five-year bond on Thursday, with investor demand high for a rare dollar-denominated debt offering from a Saudi entity.
The transaction, the company's first bond market visit since 2010, attracted commitments from investors worth $5.25 billion, according to a document from lead managers released earlier in the day.
The level of demand allowed pricing for the deal to be tightened twice on Thursday, initially going to 135 basis points, plus or minus 5 bps, over the equivalent US Treasuries and then to 130 bps over the same benchmark. Initial pricing guidance on Wednesday was 150 bps over.
Proceeds from the deal, which carries a 2.625 percent coupon and has an reoffer price of 99.559, will be used to repay existing debt and to fund its operations in the United States, the document from lead managers said.
SABIC's bond was always likely to attract high demand from international fixed-income investors, given its blue-chip status and the rarity with which Saudi entities print dollar deals.
Two others have priced in 2013 - from Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Co and Saudi Electricity Co - while only two deals were completed in 2012.
Saudi issuers have traditionally relied on the country's highly liquid local finance sector because of the bountiful cheap cash it can provide, from both bank loans and institutional investors.
However, as Saudi companies have looked to expand outside the kingdom, and hit limits in terms of how much banks can lend to one firm, they have explored other financing avenues, including international fixed-income investors.
Citigroup Inc, HSBC Holdings, Mizuho and Royal Bank of Scotland were the lead managers on the deal, sold through the firm's SABIC Capital unit.

Source: Reuters

30-09-13, 09:02 PM
KSA big-ticket projects boost cement demand 
 
Saudi Arabia continues to enjoy hefty cement demand owing to large numbers of big-ticket projects being announced by the developers every now and then, Global Research said in its June 2013 sectoral report. Overall, Saudi cement companies profit witnessed an increase of 8.2 percent mainly because of increase in cement sales volume.
Cement demand in the Kingdom during 1Q13 stood at 15.5 million compared to 14.0 million in the same period last year. Saudi Cement and Southern Province Cement sold most volumes amongst all. Market share of Saudi Cement stood at 15.7 percent while that of Southern Province Cement was 13.0 percent at the end of the quarter.
Cement and clinker production during the quarter stood at 13.1 million ton and 15.6 million ton respectively which is 16.3 percent and 9.3 percent higher than the comparable period. Clinker production of Yanbu witnessed the most growth at 61.4 percent followed by that of 30.3 percent of Saudi Cement. Cement production of Yanbu topped with 51 percent growth followed by that of AL Jouf at 12.5 percent.
Average realization prices in the Kingdom dropped by 2.5 percent SR254.1 per ton in 1Q13. Increasing cement demand compensated for the drop in the prices, which many of the companies would have also taken into account and reduced their realization prices. Arabian Cement and Eastern Cement prices topped at SR306/ton and 276/ton respectively. Lowest realization price was that of Al Jouf Cement and Southern Province Cement at SR224/ton and SR247/ton, respectively.
Overall GCC cement companies witnessed better demand in 1Q13 compared to 1Q12 which are clearly visible from the double digits growth in revenue and profits. Although exact cement demand cannot be ascertained due to unavailability of any statistical body, but with average cement price in the range of $66/ton and revenue at $1.43 billion, the rough amount of cement sold by the 25 listed players stand at 22 million tons during the quarters.
Apart from these, the newly listed cement companies which we have not incorporated yet into our calculation and other unlisted players along with exports to GCC from neighboring countries, the overall demand should be roughly in the range of 26-27 million in the quarter.
Saudi Arabian Ports Authority has announced that the commercial ports are now ready to receive cement and clinker. The supply aims to meet rising demand for the building material, which has been boosted by infrastructure and construction works.
GCC cement sector top-line grew by 13.8 percent during 1Q13 to reach $1.4 billion, mainly due to pick up in real estate and construction activity in Oman and Qatar along with continuation of big ticket projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Top-line of Qatar increased the most during the quarter by 10 percent. Oman stood second and reported a growth of 6 percent, while Saudi Arabia reported an increase of 3.2 percent during 1Q13. On the other hand, UAE which reported better performance in previous quarters, reported a drop in the revenue by 2 percent during the period.
Although lots of projects are being rolled out by some of the big developers in UAE but same has not been able to translate for the cement companies, which gives rise to the speculation that their share of the pie is being taken up by neighboring countries.
Net profit of GCCs 25 listed cement players during the quarters witnessed an increase of 16.9 percent, mainly because of the strong growth in Omani companies which recorded a 34.0 percent increase in profits.
Ever since Saudi Arabia opened its market for cement, most of USEs produce has diverted from Oman to Saudi Arabia which is improving the financial performance of the local Omani companies which were previously badly hit by the cheap imports from UAE.
UAE which reported a drop in the revenue, ended with report second highest growth in income during the quarter. Profitability of the UAE companies rose by 25.4 percent during 1Q13 to $99.5 million. Such a decent growth in profits was only possible because of hefty contribution from the noncore income sources of the players.
Noncore income of the UAE companies grew by 55 percent during 1Q13 and contributed 111 percent to the overall income of the sector. Such a high growth in the noncore income was possible because majority of the UAE listed companies are significantly invested in equity and real estate market of UAE and both of them witnessed significant improvement during the period.
Source: Saudi Gazette

30-09-13, 09:03 PM
Kingdom's tax & regulatory framework strongest in G20 
 
Saudi Arabia has the strongest tax and regulatory framework across all of the G20 countries, The Ernst & Youngs (EY) G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013 showed.
The study was based on a survey that canvassed more than 1,500 leading entrepreneurs and other qualitative data across G20 countries.
It also relied extensively on EYs own research of more than 200 governments leading practices.
Saudi Arabia ranks first in tax and regulation, ahead of Canada, the UK, Japan, Germany and the EU.
Saudi Arabia is one of the best performing, rapid-growth economies in the barometer, thanks to its laudable efforts to reform its overall business environment in the recent years, said Ashraf Abu-Sharkh, strategic growth markets leader at EY MENA.
Its ranking in tax and regulation is a testament to the streamlined tax regime in the country. As the government is gradually diversifying away from oil, a strengthened culture of entrepreneurship is developing.
The tax system in Saudi Arabia imposes a particularly light administrative burden on entrepreneurs. There are only three payments to be made each year, whereas double figures are common in other G20 countries. Similarly, the average time spent by businesses on tax affairs amounts to just 77 hours, which is the lowest (average taken from 2010 to 2012). In addition, the cost of setting up a business is approximately one third less than the G20 average. In terms of employment regulations, labor tax in the Kingdom is the lowest.
This year, the barometer calls on G20 governments to collaborate with entrepreneurs in order to kick-start their economies and create jobs, Abu-Sharkh added.
Among G20 countries, Saudi Arabia ranks 20th, which means fostering an entrepreneurship culture is a primary challenge. In the survey, Saudi entrepreneurs pointed out the attitudes towards risk and fear of failure, which are reflected in local rules, such as the high financial costs of business failure. Insolvency costs in Saudi Arabia are one of the highest among G20 countries.
From our discussions with business owners in Saudi Arabia, we found that risk aversion is a tough challenge to overcome from both entrepreneurs and investors. As the country invests more in entrepreneurial initiatives, more role models will need to emerge to encourage and inspire future entrepreneurs, Abu-Sharkh further said.
One of the potential improvements is the countrys coordinated support ranking in the barometer. This reflects local entrepreneurs views about trends on three constituent elements networks, mentoring and incubators. Saudi Arabia scores below the rapid-growth countries average, thus highlighting the need for a stronger emphasis on and backing for this area.
Nevertheless, 43 percent of entrepreneurs said that access to business incubators has improved in the past three years and Saudi Arabia comes 12th, ahead of the EU, the UK, Japan and the US.
Entrepreneurs provide one of the main engines of growth in any healthy economy.
They act as vital agents of change by developing new products and services, implementing more efficient production methods, and creating new business models and industries. They generate jobs, support local communities and build prosperous societies.
For all these reasons, there is growing recognition of entrepreneurs importance across the G20. Many countries have introduced a range of programs and policy initiatives to help boost entrepreneurship.
But, as this report reveals, there are still huge areas where G20 countries need to take urgent action to improve support for their entrepreneurs.
The EY G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013 is designed to help leading countries benchmark their progress and performance on this vital issue.
It enables each G20 nation to identify current strengths in its entrepreneurial environment, as well as the main opportunities for further development.
As a result, the Barometer provides a powerful framework to help countries understand and improve the ecosystems that are vital to the success of the entrepreneurs of the future.
Source: Saudi Gazette

30-09-13, 09:04 PM
Sipchem starts Jubail plant operations 
 
Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem) has announced the commencement of operations of utility and offsite units, and initial operation of some process units of ethylene vinyl acetates (EVA) and low density poly ethylene (LDPE) plant owned by its affiliate International Polymers Company, at its complex in Jubail Industrial City on Thursday (Sept. 26), according to Tadawul website.
By this accomplishment, the company, which issued a statement in this connection earlier on June 11, has said that it has completed the first phase.
The phase includes installation and testing of major equipment and pre-manufactured modules, whose installation and testing required longer time, prior to completion of basic preparations for initial startup expected during fourth quarter of this year.
Plant capacity is 200 KTPA of ethylene vinyl acetates (EVA) and low density poly ethylene (LDPE).
EVA and LDPE products are in line with Sipchem strategies to implement downstream projects that are integrated with Sipchem current products to satisfy local needs and in addition to meet international demand.
Raw material required for EVA and LDPE production is ethylene, which will be supplied by Jubail United Petrochemical Company, an affiliate of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and vinyl acetate monomers (VAM) which will be supplied by International Vinyl Acetate Company, a Sipchem affiliate.
The company will announce initial operation and financial impact or any other developments in due course. The total cost of construction of this project is SR3 billion.
Sipchem owns 75 percent of International Polymers Company (IPC) while Hanwha Chemical Company of Korea owns 25 percent.
Source: Saudi Gazette

30-09-13, 09:06 PM
 Saudi Readymix expands capacity
 
Saudi Readymix is about to complete the installation of a second 120 cubic meter per hour batch plant at its factory in Qassim, which only began production in March of this year. Once expansion is complete, the factory will have a production capacity of more than 1,500 cubic meters of ready-mixed concrete per day.
The Qassim factory is fully equipped with a testing lab, an ice batching plant and a sufficient number of truck mixers and mobile pumps to serve the regions growing need for high quality concrete.
We have been serving the market in Qassim for six months and our production is rising steadily. With this expansion, we aim to double the delivery of ready-mixed concrete to our customers in Qassim before the end of the year, said Fadi Mujahed, Chief Commercial Officer at Saudi Readymix.
Saudi Readymix is the leading producer and supplier of concrete in the Kingdom. The company employs over 3,300 employees and operates 30 concrete factories, 2 quarries and 3 concrete-block factories throughout the country.
Source: Saudi Gazette

30-09-13, 09:07 PM
 Jeddah, Riyadh hotel occupancy subdued
 
Jeddah recorded the lowest occupancy levels of the year due to intensive competition from other regional destinations such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the latest HotStats survey of full service hotels in seven MENA cities by TRI Hospitality Consulting revealed Sunday.
Although average rates increased 6.2 percent to $273.54 during the month, a 10.1 percentage point drop in occupancy to 69.0 percent dragged the RevPAR down by 7.3 percent to $188.85, the report said. The decline in top line revenues coupled with the 7.0 percent retraction in TRevPAR resulted in GOPPAR falling 12.8 percent to $139.73.
After several months of low performance due to the effects of seasonality, RevPAR showed improvements in Riyadh during August. Occupancy increased by a marginal 1.5 percentage points to 32.0 percent and average rates grew 4.6 percent to $226.02 driving RevPAR upwards by 9.9 percent to $72.30. Nonetheless, low operating profits and higher payroll costs resulted in a fall in GOPPAR to $37.93.
During Eid-Al-Fitr is traditionally one of the busiest periods for leisure destinations as visitors take advantage of extended holiday periods. However, Jeddah recorded a reduction in occupancy during the month as other regional destinations namely Dubai and Abu Dhabi targeted Saudi nationals. While performance improved marginally in Riyadh, it remained subdued due to low corporate demand incurred during Ramadan and the Eid, however the market is expected to pick up as business and government activity returns to normal, said Peter Goddard, Managing Director of TRI Hospitality Consulting in Dubai.
Elsewhere in the region, Hotels in Abu Dhabi posted a 31.3 percent growth in RevPar in August as demand was elevated by successful government-initiated tourism promotions, according to the latest HotStats survey of full service hotels in seven MENA cities by TRI Hospitality Consulting.
Average occupancy at four and five star chain hotels in the city reached 63.1 percent, growing by 12.4 percentage points, while Average Room Rates (ARR) increased to $112.12, up by 5.5 percent compared to the same period last year.
As a result, Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) for the month increased by 31.3 percent to $70.74 while Total Revenue Per Available Room (TRevPAR) increased by 24.2 percent to $159.00.
However, the effect of a 7.7 percentage points rise in payroll costs drove Gross Operating Profit Per Available Room (GOPPAR) up from the previous year to $13.21.
SummerFest Abu Dhabi is a summer promotion initiated by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority intended to increase the number of visitors from within the region. The authorities announced a five-week extension on the Thrilling Stays hotel deal that offers entry to Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World on Yas Island. Over 40 hotels were involved in this family-orientated package that continued to raise the citys profile as a regional leisure destination, Goddard said.
Hotels in Dubai saw positive performance as the city hosted a plethora of events and activities surrounding the Eid in Dubai campaign, in addition to the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships. The Eid Al Fitr weekend recorded stronger occupancy and average rates than those seen during the corresponding period of 2012 and elevated performance for the remainder of August.
Source: Saudi Gazette

30-09-13, 09:09 PM
 Allianz Saudi Fransi gains on SAMA apporoval for medical malpractice insurance
 
The Saudi Stock Exchange lost 0.40% on Sunday, closing at 7,949.81 points. Market bellwether share Sabic (the world's 1st petrochemical blue chip company) fell by 0.26% to SR96.25. Shares of Allianz Saudi Fransi Cooperative Insurance Co. jumped 2% to hit SR77.50. The share gained 7% in the last 12 months but failed several times this year to break through the resistance level at SR80. Earlier in the day, the insurance firm said it got the nod from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) for an extension of six months for SAMA's temporary approval for its "Medical Malpractice Insurance" product.
Saudi Arabia currently completes the implementation of a compulsory health insurance scheme for nationals and expats alike, a process which will have far reaching consequences for the insurance landscape in the Kingdom, according to Wayne Jones, partner at law firm Clyde & Co. in Dubai. Jones, who spoke earlier today at the 7th Middle East Healthcare Insurance, said health insurance providers will have to make better use of market data, cut costs through the use of data mining and improve the claims management in order to be ready for stricter regulatory requirements in Saudi Arabia and the entire GCC. According to the Middle East Insurance Review, insurance penetration in KSA stood at below 1% (premiums as a percentage of GDP) in 2012, compared to 1.98% in the UAE. Insurance density in Saudi Arabia (premiums per capita in U$) reached last year $200, compared to over $1,400 in the UAE which the largest insurance market in the GCC in relation to gross written premiums ($7.14bn, life and non-life insurances, as of 2012).
Source: Ame Info

30-09-13, 09:16 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1332 per ounce

01-10-13, 06:34 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1292 per ounce

02-10-13, 08:19 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1318 per ounce

03-10-13, 10:40 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1318 per ounce

03-10-13, 10:42 PM
KSA major player in world water market 
 
Saudi Arabia has solidified its place as a major player in the world water market as the pressure on the existing water system continues to mount, prompting large investment from Saudi government, BMI said in its Saudi Arabia Water Report Q4 2013.
In addition to the basic provision of water services to the public, an expansionary economic policy, active construction sector and water intensive operational developments in the oil and gas industry create an increased urgency.
Backed by a multi-billion dollar infrastructure expenditure program, the Kingdom is ploughing resources into its water sector and prioritising contractor awards across the key desalination, wastewater and network areas. The Minister of Water and Electricity, Abdullah Al-Hussayen, announced in January 2013 that the government allocated $6.4 billion for water and sanitation projects in 2013 alone and committed over $66 billion to long-term capital investments over the next 10 years.
The most favourable aspect of the Saudi landscape is the abundance of liquidity and the willingness of key projects sponsors and utilities to furnish this on what is a critical economic sector, in a country where water resources are highly restricted yet demand continues to grow.
Projects worth around $1 billion have been ordered since Saudi Arabia decided to push ahead with its IWPP program. They are set to add over 1 billion m3/d to the nation's water supply and nearly 10 gigawatts (GW) of power capacity. These have made Saudi Arabia a hotspot for international engineering firms and foreign investment.
PPPs have been established for a number of cities with international and domestic companies, typically under six- or seven-year contracts, which cover water distribution and wastewater collection. Wastewater treatment is being handled through a separate program. These contracts are also designed to limit the loss of water in the system, defined as non-revenue water. Saudi Arabia has one of the largest infrastructure project pipelines, with around $400 billion.
The construction industry is going to be one of the hardest hit by this policy, with contractors estimating that 80 percent of construction projects will face delays as a direct consequence of the labor shortages.
The industry accounts for around 45 percent of the total private sector workforce, with 3.5 million officially employed - not including those without proper documentation. Whilst the Saudi officials have put the quota for national employees in the industry at 5 percent, which is low compared to financial companies having a quota close to 49 percent, the numbers of employees affected are much higher in the construction industry.
In response to the dual demand for power and water, Independent Water and Power Projects (IWPPs) have been key to tackling demand in the Gulf states. Saudi Arabia has three IWPPs and has planned several more of these projects, which are envisaged to add 15,000MW to the country's generating capacity at a cost of $15 billion. In terms of IWPPs, there are three core projects: the Shuaiba IWPP, the Jubail IWPP and the Ras Al Zour IWPP. The latter project, Ras Al Zour, which is expected to have 850-1,150MW of electricity generating capacity and production capacity of 1mn cubic metres (Mcm) of desalinated water per day, ran into trouble in 2009, with the government eventually taking the project under its jurisdiction, transferring it from an IWPP to an EPC contract. The project has since been retendered on an EPC basis, with separate contracts for the water and power units. Equally, NWC have kept to their promise to diversify the market.
The awarding of the $3.01 billion contract to build a the Yanbu III facility and water desalination plant in to a mixed consortium of Saudi Arabian engineering company Al-Toukhi Company, South Korean conglomerate Samsung Engineering and Chinese state-owned electricity utility Shanghai Electric indicates that shared national and international benefit in the market growth will continue

Source: Saudi Gazette

03-10-13, 10:43 PM
 High Saudi loan growth sustainable, says SABB
 
High loan growth to the private sector in Saudi Arabia is likely to continue in the next two to three years as government spending supports a surging economy, Saudi British Bank (SABB) Managing Director David Dew told Reuters.
According to central bank data, bank lending to the private sector was up 15 percent in August against the same period in 2012, growth that will likely push SABB to raise its own capital as it loan book grows, Dew said.
 
We do see that range (of loan growth) in the mid-teens as sustainable over the next two-three years because of the underlying growth of the economy and government revenues, he said in a rare interview with a head of a Saudi bank.
Real gross domestic product growth in Saudi Arabia, the worlds top oil exporter, was 5.1 percent last year and 8.5 percent in 2011 when government spending surged to help avert protests during the Arab Spring.
If youre going to maintain your capital adequacy ratios, which we are, youve got to grow your capital at least at the same rate as your loans, Dew said.
While Dew said he would not discuss specific plans to raise the banks capital, banking sources told Reuters in August SABB was aiming to sell a riyal-denominated sukuk by the year-end to boost its Tier 2 capital position. However, he said other options were also available.
Instruments such as convertible bonds that will convert to equity or be written down in the event of breaches of ratios and so on, those are being issued with increasing regularity around the world and I think you will see them in Saudi Arabia, he said.
From a capital perspective, the Saudi banks are pretty much qualified for Basel III already ... given the positive economic environment, we dont expect to see any material changes in provisioning levels in the next two-three years, he said.
Saudi Arabia introduced a long-awaited package of new mortgage laws last year aimed at addressing a shortage of affordable housing and regulating an existing market in home loans.
However, Dew said expectations voiced by some analysts that the changes would revolutionize the sector were misplaced.
The (lack of) mortgage laws did not stop us introducing a home loan product and growing a product and getting the second largest market share. And I dont think the mortgage laws will significantly change our approach to that part of the business, which we are keen to develop, he said.
SABB was the first Saudi bank to introduce a dedicated home loan product and its mortgage business is growing in the 15-20 percent range each year, Dew added, saying that growth rate would likely continue.
He said Saudi banks would need to develop ways to hedge against interest rates rising above the historically low levels they are at now, and that it would be important to develop a securitization market in the Kingdom.
Clearly if youve got a large fixed interest rate loan or investment portfolio thats going to hurt you when rates start to rise. So youve got to have a better ability to hedge against that risk, he said.
A strong securitization market in the Kingdom, at least for home loans ... is going to be an important part of the overall solution, he added.
Many Saudi investors are keenly anticipating plans to open the Kingdoms stock market up to more direct foreign investment. At present foreign institutions can only invest in the Saudi bourse via swap deals, something the Capital Market Authority has said may change.
However, Dew said he did not see any need to open the market quickly and that it was important to reduce the risk of destabilization.
I certainly dont see any particular need for urgency. The country does not need additional funds. The fiscal position is unbelievably strong, he said.
There is no point opening up any economy including the Saudi economy to potentially destabilizing capital flows. So I expect any continuing opening up to be gradual and to take place over an extended period of time, he added.
Dew said SABBs main focus in the next two years would likely be on its corporate business, rather than in retail.
Our strategic objective is to be the leading international bank in Saudi Arabia so our corporate and international business is relatively more important to SABB than to some of the other Saudi banks, he said.
Comparing SABB to its peers, Dew said the lender had outperformed the market in net earnings and margins in recent years.
If you look at market share of corporate business, youve got five or six banks that are broadly similar. If you look at retail, its a very different story with over half the market accounted for by the two largest banks, he said.
Source: Reuters

03-10-13, 10:46 PM
Saudi investments in foreign securities hit SR 1,92 trn 
 
Saudi Arabia has invested 73 percent of its total reserves in securities of foreign countries, according to a financial report.
Saudi total assets reached SR2.62 trillion last August while the invested portion in foreign securities reached SR1.92 trillion, the report prepared by Al-Eqtisadiah daily, said.
The Kingdom has steadily increased investments in foreign securities and jumped tenfold in a nine-year period at SR1.92 trillion in August compared to SR202 billion in January 2005, the report said quoting the latest data released by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).
Saudi investments in (foreign) securities reportedly increased by 21 percent compared to the levels of August 2012, which stood at SR1.6 trillion and 1.3 percent compared to figures of July 2013 at SR1.9 trillion.
Saudi investments in foreign securities reached more than twice the Kingdom's budget in 2013, which amounted to SR820 billion, the report said.
SAMA's assets (reserves) are composed of gold, special drawing rights (SDRs), reserves at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), foreign currencies and deposits abroad, in addition to investments in foreign securities.
Investments in (foreign) securities captured 73 percent of Saudi total reserves, followed by foreign currency and deposits abroad at 25 percent, reserves at IMF (1 percent), SDRs (1 percent), and gold (less than 1 percent).
Growth in SAMA's reserve assets has recorded the highest during last August on year-to-year basis where share of investments in foreign securities pushed the growth by 102 percent to reach in total SR1.92 trillion.
Share of other components of reserves dropped at different levels: foreign currencies and deposits abroad contracted by 1 percent to reach SR644.3 billion compared to SR648,6 billion in August 2012, reserves at IMF by 2 percent (SR19.9 billion), SDRs by 4 percent (SR35.6 billion), whereas gold has maintained its levels since five years at SR1.56 billion, the report said.
Earlier, a report released by Jadwa Investments said Saudi foreign assets surged to a record high of SR2.56 trillion ($682 billion) in July 2013 as a result of robust oil revenues and possibly a higher return on SAMA's investments.
The oil prices (Brent) averaged $108.6 per barrel in July compared to $103.2 per barrel in June while the Kingdom oil output rose from 9.6 million barrel per day (mbpd) in June to 9.7 mbpd in July, said the report.
Within foreign assets, SAMA's deposits with foreign banks contracted 9 percent year-on-year in July, investments in foreign securities accelerated by 21.4 percent and foreign currency assets (excluding gold reserves) rose by 13.4 percent, it said.
Source: Arab News

04-10-13, 02:39 PM
Gold price now US dollar per ounce 1316

04-10-13, 02:45 PM
Saudi FM arrives in Italy

Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, arrived in Rome yesterday.
The Prince was received upon arrival by Saudi Ambassador to Italy Saleh bin Mohammed Al-Ghamdi.

04-10-13, 02:47 PM
Bank of Japan holds off new monetary easing measures

The Bank of Japan on Friday held off launching fresh monetary easing measures despite worries that a possible US default and a sales hike at home would take steam out of the world's third-largest economy.
After a two-day policy meeting, BoJ officials issued an upbeat statement that said the economy was still "recovering moderately" while overseas economies were "heading toward a pick-up".

Source: Arab today

04-10-13, 02:49 PM
Samsung expects record Q3 profit

Samsung Electronics Co. said Friday it expected to post a record operating profit of 10.1 trillion won ($9.4 billion) in the third quarter of this year.
The estimate represents a 25 percent increase from a revised operating profit of 8.06 trillion won a year earlier, said the world's top maker of smartphones, memory chips and flat-panel TVs.

Source: Arab Today

04-10-13, 02:53 PM
White House official: Obama cancels APEC trip

President Barack Obama has canceled his upcoming trip to the APEC summit in Bali due to the US government shutdown, the White House confirmed Thursday.
A White House statement said Obama had scrapped travel to Bali and a subsequent trip to nearby Brunei for the East Asia Summit.
"Due to the government shut-down, President Obamas travel to Indonesia and Brunei has been cancelled," the statement said.
"The President made this decision based on the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown, and his determination to continue pressing his case that Republicans should immediately allow a vote to reopen the government."
Secretary of State John Kerry would lead the US delegations to both countries in place of Obama, the statement said.

Source: Arab Today

04-10-13, 02:55 PM
Pope: Day of tears for migrant shipwreck tragedy

Pope Francis said Friday was a "day of tears" for the victims of a shipwreck tragedy on the Italian island of Lampedusa where 111 people have been confirmed dead and scores more are missing.
"Today is a day of tears," the pope said during a visit to the sites associated with the life of St Francis in the Italian hilltown of Assisi.

Source: Arab Today

04-10-13, 02:57 PM
Greek judicial official: Third Golden Dawn MP remanded in custody

The second most powerful figure in Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party was taken into custody on Thursday after he was charged with helping to run a criminal organisation, a judicial official said.
Christos Pappas was the final MP of six from the extreme-right movement arrested over the weekend and one of three including Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos placed in detention pending a future trial.

Source: Arab Today

04-10-13, 02:59 PM
Damascus calls US-Russia deal 'victory for Syria'

The US-Russia deal on removing Syrian chemical weapons averted war and is "a victory for Syria," Syrian minister of state for national reconciliation Ali Haidar said Sunday.
"On one hand, it helps the Syrians emerge from the crisis and on the other it has allowed for averting war against Syria...," Haidar said in an interview with Russian news agency Ria Novosti. "It's a victory for Syria that was achieved thanks to our Russian friends."

Source: Arab Today

04-10-13, 03:00 PM
Suspect in US Capitol shooting confirmed dead

The female suspect who led US police on a car chase through the streets of Washington from near the White House to Capitol Hill has been pronounced dead, the city's police chief said Thursday.
"The suspect in the vehicle, we do know, was struck by gunfire... the suspect has been pronounced," police chief Cathy Lanier told reporters.

Source: Arab Today

04-10-13, 03:07 PM
First concert outside Arab world
Mohammed Assaf in European debut

The Gazan winner of the Arab Idol talent competition, a rare symbol of Palestinian unity, is to give his first concert outside the Arab world in The Hague on Sunday.
Mohammed Assaf, 24, became a national hero when he won the pan-Arab contest in June after transfixing millions of television viewers with his soaring renditions of Arab love ballads and patriotic Palestinian songs.
?I am happy, this is an opportunity to be in front of a non-Arab audience, and that's a good thing," Assaf told AFP in an interview. "I?d like to reach out to the world.?
Organisers said they expected the 800 tickets for the young heartthrob's concert in The Hague's town hall on Sunday night, his first outside the Middle East and north Africa, to be sold out.
Music is a unifying message," Assaf said.
"Maybe there are different audiences, or the techniques are different in the Middle East and in Europe and America, but what I know is music is something that when people first hear, they love.?
Assaf arrived in The Netherlands from his new home in Dubai and had dinner with Arab ambassadors on Saturday evening, a spokesman for the Palestinian delegation in The Netherlands, Roel Raterink, told AFP.
Organisers said Palestinians from Germany and Belgium are also expected to travel to The Netherlands for the concert, which will also be attended by most Arab ambassadors.
Israel in August took the exceptional step of allowing Assaf to move from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli-occupied West Bank as a "humanitarian gesture".
Israel has maintained a land, sea and air blockade on Gaza since 2006 which was tightened further when the Islamist movement Hamas seized control there the following year.
Assaf said he was now living in Dubai "because of the conditions in my country".
"Because of the siege, it is easier for me to go to Dubai, it makes travel easier because I have concerts in some Arab countries and in Europe, and in America over the next months.?
No Israeli diplomats will be attending. Israeli President Shimon Peres is on a visit to Amsterdam at the same time, the Israeli embassy said.
One-time wedding crooner Assaf was also to meet members of The Netherlands' Palestinian community before heading to Italy for another European concert, Raterink said.
Born to Palestinian parents in Misrata, Libya, Assaf grew up in the teeming Khan Yunis refugee camp in southern Gaza before winning the 2013 edition of Arab Idol in Beirut in June.
His victory sparked scenes of jubilation across the Palestinian territories.
The week after he won, Assaf performed in front of some 40,000 fans in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The contest in Beirut transfixed the viewing public with Assaf's story which saw him sneaking out of Gaza, nearly missing his initial audition in Cairo, and then only making it through after a fellow Gazan pulled out.
Palestinians remain divided between the Islamist Hamas movement which rules the Gaza Strip and its Fatah rival which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
On his return to Gaza in June, Assaf called for an end to the "division" with the West Bank, and urged unity between Palestinians.
While this is his first performance in Europe as Arab Idol winner, he says he went to summer camp in France in 2003 and performed in Marseille in 2006.
We took first prize for a cultural song. I was singing and there were guys dancing the debke, an Arab dance," he said.
Source: AFP

04-10-13, 03:14 PM
'Clinical disorders' upon their children
Driving hurts women's ovaries


Riyadh - Arab Today
A Saudi cleric sparked a wave of mockery online when he warned women that driving would affect their ovaries and bring "clinical disorders" upon their children.
The warning came ahead of an October 26 initiative to defy a longstanding driving ban on women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
"Physiological science" has found that driving "automatically affects the ovaries and pushes up the pelvis," Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaydan warned women in remarks to local news website Sabq.org.
"This is why we find that children born to most women who continuously drive suffer from clinical disorders of varying degrees," he said.
His comments prompted criticism on Twitter, which has become a rare platform for Saudis to voice their opinions in the absolute monarchy.
"What a mentality we have. People went to space and you still ban women from driving. Idiots," said one comment.
"When idiocy marries dogma in the chapel of medieval traditions, this is their prodigal child," wrote a female tweeter.
Luhaydan, a member of the senior Ulema (Muslim scholars) Commission and former head of the Supreme Judicial Council, said that "evidence from the Quran and Sunna (the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed) completely prohibit (women's driving) on moral and social background."
An online petition titled "Oct 26th, driving for women" amassed nearly 12,000 signatures, while access to it was blocked in the kingdom on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are banned from driving.
Activists declared a day of defiance against the ban on June 17, 2011, but few women answered the call to drive. Some of those who did were stopped by police and forced to sign a pledge not to take to the wheel again.
Saudi Arabia imposes other restrictions on women, including a requirement to cover themselves from head to toe when in public.
The 2011 call, which spread through Facebook and Twitter, was the largest mass action since November 1990, when 47 Saudi women were arrested and severely punished after demonstrating in cars.
Source: AFP

04-10-13, 03:18 PM
To end ban on women driving

Saudi women call new day of defiance

Saudi women activists have called for a new day of defiance next month of the long-standing ban on women driving in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
An online petition entitled "Oct 26th, driving for women" had on Sunday gathered more than 5,800 signatories, as activists try again to push authorities to end the unique ban.
"I will drive on October 26," activist Nasima al-Sada told AFP on Sunday, saying that some 20 women are going to take part in the campaign in the kingdom's Eastern Province.
"Many women are enthusiastic about learning to drive, or to teach other" women how to drive, she said, as many Saudi women have obtained abroad the driving licences they are denied in their homeland.
"There is not a single text in the Sharia Islamic law that prevents us (from driving). Any pretexts used to do that are based on inherited customs," said the online petition.
"Just as revered women (at the time of the prophet) rode horses and camels, it is our right to drive cars -- the mode of our modern age, unless you want us to go back to mules and horses," the petition said.
The last day of of defiance against the ban was on June, 17 2011, when few women answered a call to drive, with some stopped by police and forced to sign a pledge not to take to the wheel again.
"I can't drive because of the pledge I signed," said Najla al-Hariri, who took part in the protest in 2011, expressing strong support for the new campaign.
In addition to the driving ban, Saudi Arabia imposes other major restrictions on women, including a requirement to cover from head to toe when in public.
The 2011 call, which spread through Facebook and Twitter, was the largest mass action since November 1990, when 47 Saudi women were arrested and severely punished after demonstrating in cars.
Source: AFP

04-10-13, 03:21 PM
Rania dedicate award to people of Jordan

New York - Arab Today

In recognition of her humanitarian efforts and the role she plays to support global education, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah received the Atlantic Council Global Citizen Award in a ceremony held yesterday in New York.
"I'd like to dedicate this (award) to the people of Jordan. For it is them from whom I've learned most about how to be a global citizen. Their humanity and benevolence, especially towards the Syrian people at this time, continue to move me," Queen Rania said addressing the audience.
In her speech Queen Rania explained that global citizenship requires taking the time to learn about the world beyond our borders; its merits, challenges and injustices, requiring moral courage and commitment to step up and make a difference.
Her Majesty then expressed her pride in Jordanian people who opened their homes and their hearts and extended the hand of friendship to the Syrian refugees; she also expressed how humbled she was by their selflessness, sacrifice and kindness.
Queen Rania added that Jordan has always been, and will always be, a country of moderation, a haven of tolerance, and a sanctuary for those fleeing insecurity and danger. "His late Majesty King Hussein instilled in us all this value of common humanity. And my husband, His Majesty King Abdullah, proudly honours that legacy," She said.
"But we cannot do it alone," Her Majesty noted. "Jordan has neither the wealth nor resources with which some countries in the region are blessed. Rather, we're burdened by poverty and unemployment." Calling for the global community's help, Queen Rania said: "With over half a million refugees in Jordan, and more arriving every day, we desperately need help." Her Majesty then noted that although governments have been generous, the UN agencies and civil society groups are at breaking point trying to meet growing demand. "We urgently need the global community to dig deeper, help the most vulnerable and show them what it means to belong to a global family," The Queen added.
Queen Rania also asserted that creating a generation of global citizens demands education become a priority. "We must invest in it, train more teachers, build more classrooms and increase access for the 57 million children out of school. Because global citizenship isn't an epithet, it's an ethos. And it's best learned holistically in schools." Her Majesty called on the attendees and the Atlantic Council to continue advocating for more humanitarian help for all those affected by the Syrian conflict, and to lobby for investment in education as the roots of citizenship are best nurtured in schools.
Receiving this year's award, Queen Rania joins other recipients including President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski and Japanese Conductor Seiji Ozawa. Other past recipients include Professor Schwab, Christine Lagarde, Senator John Kerry, Rafik Harriri, Aung San Suu Kyi and Quincy Jones.
The Atlantic Council, founded in 1961, is a non-partisan international organization that works to galvanize the transatlantic community to tackle a host of global challenges. It annually recognizes outstanding individuals who exhibit distinguished leadership in policy, business, military and the arts.
Source: Petra

04-10-13, 03:25 PM
Syrian girl rapped by 3 refugees

official said on Tuesday.Syrian refugees living in the Zaatari camp in Jordan raped a 14-year-old girl, a top security
One of the alleged rapists was arrested and referred to the Supreme Criminal Court while search is underway for the two others at the camp, which is home to more than 120,000 Syrian refugees, the official told Xinhua Tuesday.
The Syrian girl was referred to the camp's Family Protection Unit for receiving medical and psychological treatment, the official added.
A total of 10 sexual assault cases were reported at the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan since the start of influx of Syrians to the kingdom from early 2011, said the official.
There are more than 540,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan at present of whom some 128,000 live at the country's five camps for Syrian refugees.
Source: XINHUA

04-10-13, 03:26 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1313

04-10-13, 03:29 PM
Technology and fashion need to be combined

San Francisco - Arab Today

Models wearing Google Glass eyewear, Pebble smartwatches and other hot gadgets strutted a catwalk late Monday as Internet technology continued to merge with the world of fashion.
A Digital Fall fashion show here marked the close of the first Glazed Conference devoted to setting the stage for wearable computing startups to become billion-dollar businesses.
"It looks like technology for the sake of technology is dead," said Eliane Fiolet, co-founder of popular technology news website Ubergizmo.com and organizer of the fashion show.
"People want a great piece of technology that works well and looks great."
Companies are increasingly tuning into desires for sophisticated gadgets that also let people express personal styles, she noted.
Jawbone lets people customize colors of Jambox wireless speakers that synch wirelessly to smartphones, tablets, or laptop computers.
Nike allows people visiting its website to design their own athletic shoes, and matches some sports attire with wearable devices that track daily active for those chasing fitness goals.
"There will be more and more integration with fashion and technology," Fiolet said. "We are just at the very start of it."
She believed that Google has touched on a winning formula with Google Glass Internet-linked eyewear, which have become a fashion trend in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas.
"We are in the next stage of human evolution," said Glazed Conference organizer Redg Snodgrass, co-founder of Stained Glass Labs startup accelerator devoted to revving up the wearable computing industry.
"Entrepreneurs aren't those nerds living in a closet anymore," Snodgrass said as the fashion show was about to commence in a club not far from Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco. "They are out there pushing the limit. Anything that is technologically fascinating is sexy, and fashion is tied to that."
While fitness has been a winning theme for early wearable computing devices, such as UP and Fitbit bracelets for providing feedback on whether people are hitting activity and sleep goals, Snodgrass thinks films and games will be the next areas to catch fire.
The one-day Glazed Conference was intended to bring together entrepreneurs, investors and others to explore ways to realize ideas and make money in the world of wearable computing.
"Not only did they show up, they brought the heat," Snodgrass said of the turnout. "They brought some great stuff."
Among the attendees was self-described 'cybertechnician' Tyler Freeman, who sported Drum Pants lined with sensors that let him play percussion beats by slapping various spots on his legs. The sensor strips are held in place with Velcro, meaning they can be swapped between pieces of a wardrobe, he explained.
"The goal is to get banned in public schools; then we know we are a success," said the San Francisco-based entrepreneur.
Tapping on Drum Pants sends signals wirelessly to smartphones, which then direct thumps or synthesized sounds to come from speakers. The sensors could be used to control PowerPoint presentations or Google Glass cameras with casual touches of a leg, according to Freeman.
Fiolet already has her sights set on next year's show, with hopes of being able to showcase creations of London-based CuteCircuit, the cyber chic fashion house that wowed the world with a "Twitter Dress" worn by a celebrity to a 4G mobile network launch event in Britain in late 2012.
LED lights designed into the gown displayed posts from the globally-popular one-to-many messaging service.
Technology and fashion need to be combined tastefully to make for a winning creation, according to Fiolet.
"It has to be good looking; be a great piece of technology, and monitor something you care about," she contended. "If you don't care, you will never wear it. And, if it is ugly, you will never wear it."
Source: AFP

04-10-13, 03:35 PM
Twitter launchs a system for emergency alerts

London - Arab Today


Twitter on Wednesday launched a system for emergency alerts which can help spread critical information when other lines of communication are down.
The popular messaging service said its Twitter Alerts could be useful in natural disasters or otheremergencies when traditional channels may be overloaded or unavailable.
"We know from our users how important it is to be able to receive reliable information during these times," Twitter product manager Gaby Pena said in a blog post.
"Twitter Alerts is a new way to get accurate and important information when you need it most."
Last year, Twitter announced a service called Lifeline to help Japanese users find emergency accounts during crises "and since then, we?ve been working on a related feature for people around the world," Pena said.
"Today, we?re launching Twitter Alerts, a new feature that brings us one step closer to helping users get important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communications services aren?t accessible."
Users who sign up to receive an account?s Twitter Alerts will receive a notification directly to their phone for tweets marked as alerts from certain senders.
A number of organizations in the United States, Japan and South Korea have been authorized to send such alerts, and Twitter will expand this to "public institutions and NGOs around the world."
Some of those able to send alerts include the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, World Health Organization, and government and non-government agencies in Japan and South Korea.
Twitter's Bridget Coyne said the messaging platform became a vital information source following the Japan tsunami, and in the United States for Superstorm Sandy and the Boston bomb attacks.
She said those likely to use the alerts include law enforcement and public safety agencies, emergency management agencies, local governments and private organizations involved in disaster relief.
Source: AFP

04-10-13, 04:53 PM
Gold price now US dollar 1310 per ounce

04-10-13, 05:39 PM
Siemens supports KSA growth by developing local talent 
 
For more than 80 years Siemens, with local partner E.A. Juffali & Brothers, has been a key player in the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The company has contributed significantly to some of the countrys most ambitious infrastructure projects, and today Siemens employs more than 2,000 people in Saudi Arabia in the energy, infrastructure and cities, industry and health care sectors.
The last few decades have seen extraordinary industrial growth in Saudi Arabia, fueled by significant infrastructure investment from a booming oil and gas sector.
However, along with many other GCC nations, the Kingdom has begun to diversify its economy away from a traditional reliance on oil and gas, toward a broader suite of disciplines.
The rapid year-on-year growth of the countrys non-oil sector is proof that these efforts are beginning to make an impact.
With this, the importance of building a knowledge-based economy in the Middle East has been underlined by significant government investment in education, especially in Saudi Arabia.
In 2013, for example, Saudi Arabia set aside 25 percent of its annual budget for education; some SR204 billion or 10 percent of the Kingdoms GDP.
As an engineering company, the contribution of Siemens to the education and training of local talent is based upon technical training.
The company is currently sponsoring an electrical and mechanical postsecondary training scheme at Saudi Petroleum Services Polytechnic in Dammam, which will see 36 Saudi Arabian nationals completing a two-year course.
This will be followed by one years on-the-job training within the company.
The program is designed to prepare graduates for technical positions at Siemens, at facilities such as the new Siemens Energy Hub Dammam which is currently under construction.
Recent figures show that more than half of Saudi Arabias population is under the age of 25. This presents challenges for the Kingdom, but also great opportunities.
In the coming years, a significant proportion of these young Saudis will complete their education and enter the local job market.
It is, however, a market which must undergo change if Saudi Arabias long-term strategy 2025 which aims to develop a prosperous, more diversified private-sector economy that provides rewarding job opportunities for Saudi nationals is to be realized.
Siemens Saudi Arabia has a proven track record of training and developing local talent by continuously expanding its technological footprint, says Shadi Aldaoud, head of Legal Council, Siemens Saudi Arabia.
At Siemens Saudi Arabia, we take pride in initiatives that cultivate the development of local Saudi talent and expertise.
The company also looks beyond its own people. Customer initiatives have seen Siemens partner with the likes of Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), training Saudi Arabian engineers from the energy industry at its facilities in Germany and the US. The firm is also looking to expand this concept to other areas of its business, including rail.
Graduate schemes remain a popular method of introducing fresh talent into private sector companies. Siemens runs its own; the international Siemens Graduate Program, which encourages Saudi Arabian men and women to develop with the company locally.
The two-year rotational program offers masters graduates the opportunity to spend time working in different functions across the four sectors of Siemens, with students assigned an individual mentor. One assignment will be completed abroad, with graduates also joining interdisciplinary project teams to encourage the establishment of a global network.
Nada Alsheaiby was the first female candidate to join the program in Saudi Arabia.
The two-year program gave me the opportunity to work on different international assignments in various roles, giving me the chance to experience a challenging yet interesting workplace with different cultural backgrounds. This gave me ample international exposure, networking opportunities, professional development and collaboration. I am proud to be part of the Siemens family.
Another increasingly relevant topic is the employment of women in Saudi Arabia.
Siemens has been employing women in Saudi Arabia since 2004 and has doubled the number of women working at the company in the Kingdom in the last two years.
One of the first women to join the company in Saudi Arabia, Walaa Shaheen started in 2004 in IT department and is now Head of Finance.
I had always wanted to work for an international company, and Siemens is one of the best employers out there, she said.
The prospect of exchanging ideas and knowledge with colleagues from around the world fascinated me, and I applied immediately after finding out Siemens was hiring women.
The next few years will be exciting for Saudi Arabia. As a fresh generation of graduates embarks on careers that will ultimately shape the future of the country, for companies such as Siemens this represents a great opportunity to support the Kingdoms investment in the development of its local talent.
Siemens in Saudi Arabia is fully committed to the country and its people, and will continue to differentiate itself through employment, training and development opportunities for local talent, says Arja Talakar, CEO of Siemens Saudi Arabia.
We will continue to be a proactive contributor and advocate, fully-aligned with the strategic agenda of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Source: Arab News

04-10-13, 05:53 PM
 
Tamimi Markets continues to expand
 
Tamimi Markets, one of the fastest growing supermarket chains in Saudi Arabia, opened its 20th store in Doha, last week with government officials, senior executives and special guests in attendance.
Our Doha store customers will enjoy the same high standards of quality, freshness, variety, competitive prices and customer service established by my father when he opened the first Tamimi Markets in Alkhobar in 1979, said Tariq Al-Tamimi, president of the Tamimi Group.
Tamimi Markets has had a special relationship with the residents of Doha and Dhahran for 34 years now and we look forward to making that relationship even stronger and better with our newest store, Tariq added.
Issam Al-Mulla, mayor of Alkhobar Municipality, was the guest of honor at the ribbon-cutting. Other guests included Eastern Province public officials, dignitaries and representatives of the US Consulate, the American Business Association, American Women of the Eastern Province, the Dhahran Womens Group and the nearby Saudi Aramco compound.
Our business is so competitive that we cant release specific numbers, but we are very pleased with the Doha stores record-setting performance and attendance, said Mohsen S. Husain, CEO, Tamimi Markets.
The new Doha store is colorful, convenient, light and airy with high ceilings, wide aisles, impressive fresh food sections, and wide assortments. The store features state-of-the-art environmental features, including freezer cases with energy-saving lights that turn on and off as customers walk down the aisles.
Tamimi Markets is known for its wide variety of quality produce, meats, seafood, cheeses, dairy, imported foods and household products. A special healthy living department features organic, natural, dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free foods.
Products storewide come from Saudi Arabia and around the world, including GCC countries, Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
Source: Arab News

04-10-13, 05:55 PM
 France ready to be KSA's strategic partner in nuke, renewable energy
 
French companies AREVA and EDF hosted a number of Saudi business and industry representatives at their Second Suppliers Day event held in Jeddah on Tuesday to take part in the framework of the sustainable energy program suggested by King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) focused on nuclear and renewable energy sources.
Some 200 participants from local companies attended, including Dr. Mohieden Garwan, KA-CARE, French Ambassador to KSA Bertrand Besancenot, representatives of Saudi industry, along with Tarek Choho, AREVA Chief Commercial Officer and Mrs. Valerie Levkov, EDF VP New Nuclear Energy. The suppliers day initiative aimed at providing local industry with a platform for exposure, knowledge sharing, and networking.
Speaking to the Saudi Gazette, the French Ambassador to the Kingdom said the aim of this meeting is very clear, France has been the first country to sign government to government agreement on nuclear and energy because we do think that taking it into account the huge program the Saudi government wants to implement in the nuclear field and France has a lot to bring in terms of the best nuclear technology in the world.
Besancenot added that Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of France in the region and the bilateral relationship is of paramount importance in the economic field as we are seeing that bilateral trade has doubled over the last five years.
He stressed that France is ready to be Saudi Arabia's strategic partner in the field of nuclear and renewable energy.
He also highlighted the competencies of Frances nuclear energy industry and its ability to support the Kingdom goal.
According to organizers, the two French companies have launched two initiatives as part of K.A CARE proposal Educational Outreach Program aimed at human capacity building in the Kingdom through partnership with Saudi universities, technical and vocational centers.
They have launched the first sustainable energy study tour in France in June 2013, which offered a unique opportunity for Saudi students to learn more about activities in nuclear and renewable energy by engaging with leading French industrial, educational and research entities. Dr. Noura Mansouri, manager of strategy and marketing at AREVA Saudi Arabia, said human capacity is an important pillar of the sustainability of the future energy programs. The study tour represents a building block of a long-term partnership between French and Saudi educational systems in the area of nuclear and renewable energies. Through this program, we have also offered more than 50 on-the-job training opportunities to young Saudi graduates in France, UK and Germany
The second initiative is the Industrial Outreach Program aimed at contributing to industrial and technical development of the economic base of the Kingdom as well as focusing on localization by utilizing the existing network of local companies to develop nuclear and renewable technologies.
Localizing skills lies at the heart of the international development strategy implemented by AREVA and EDF, who intend to rely on local partners for the shared industrial projects they export.
AREVA and EDF plan to contribute their expertise to the Saudi energy program, from choosing the appropriate power generation solutions to managing the operating cycle
Source: Saudi Gazette

04-10-13, 06:57 PM
Gold price now 1307

04-07-14, 03:47 AM
SABIC sustainability value creation advancing
 
Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) recorded progress on sustainability value creation and capital management as shown in its 2013 Sustainability Report entitled Creating Lasting Value released on Monday.
The report reflects the companys commitment to continuously create more sustainable business processes and more value for its stakeholders.
The report also shares the latest information on the companys progress on various dimensions of sustainability value creation. It highlighted performance in creating economic value, protecting natural capital, developing human capital and building social and community relationships.
Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thenayan Al-Saud, Chairman of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu and Chairman of SABIC, said: This is our third report and it reflects the companys ongoing journey toward achieving the highest level of sustainable performance possible. Our mission is to become more efficient in reducing our consumption of finite materials and our environmental footprint while, at the same time, aggressively pursuing our strategy of enabling others to operate in a more sustainable manner through our innovative product portfolios.
Commenting on the report, Mohamed Al-Mady, SABIC Vice Chairman and CEO, said the sustainability process is a never ending process for SABIC, noting that we have moved forward in many areas, but we still have much to do. We will continue to be transparent in providing a yearly review of our actions, comparing our results against stated goals and utilizing globally accepted criteria to provide uniform measurement of our performance. Our commitment to sustainability is shared across all divisions of the company it is focused on making a positive impact at every stage of the product life cycle. Our responsibility starts with supply chain decisions and continues through our production processes, distribution, customer applications and product end-of-life.
On the sustainable role played by SABIC products, Al-Mady said: Our mandate and goal has always been to ensure the betterment the communities in which we operate. We are constantly working on finding ways to innovate across the lifecycle for the benefit of our customers and stakeholders. We look at human capital development and organizational relationship development as high priority areas for improvement in every business function.
The report underscored SABICs approach to developing the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and compliance throughout its global business culture.
Creating Lasting Value describes how we are working to address the challenges of society now and in the future; how the impact of global megatrends are embedded in our 2025 and sustainability strategies, Al-Mady further said.
Through a detailed analysis of material issues and risks, we have selected the highest priority sustainability topics to develop and report on. These priorities include protecting natural capital through environmental performance and resource efficiency, aggressively pursuing innovations that enable customers to operate in a more sustainable manner and investing in large projects that produce both economic value and sustainability improvements across several dimensions, he added.
SABIC ranks among the worlds top petrochemical companies. The company is among the worlds market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.
SABIC recorded a net profit of SR25.3 billion ($ 6.7 billion) in 2013. Sales revenues for 2013 totaled SR189 billion ($50.4 billion). Total assets stood at SR339.1 billion ($90.4 billion) at the end of 2013.
SABICs businesses are grouped into chemicals, polymers, performance chemicals, fertilizers, metals and innovative plastics
Source: Saudi Gazette

04-07-14, 03:49 AM
Ma'aden inks $5b loan deal on phosphate project

Maaden Waad Al-Shamal Phosphate Company (MWSPC), an affiliate of Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden), on Monday signed SR18.9 billion ($5 billion) financing facilities with a consortium of 20 financial institutions for the development of MWSPCs phosphate project which is being constructed at sites in Waad Al Shamal and the existing Ras Al-Khair Industrial City.
The estimated cost of the project is approximately SR28 billion ($7.5 billion), and production at the new facility is expected to commence in late 2016.
MWSPC is a joint venture company formed by Maaden to develop the project with the Mosaic Company and the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC). Maaden, Mosaic and SABIC own 60 percent, 25 percent and 15 percent of the project respectively.
The new complex will create significant value to Maaden shareholders. As one of the largest and integrated phosphate fertilizer facilities in the world, it will double Maadens cost effective phosphate production and improve Maadens access to key global markets.
Khalid Al-Rowais, Maaden VP for Finance, said these financing facilities represent another milestone in the growth of Maaden and take the total fund raising by Maaden to almost SR75 billion ($20 billion) since 2008. Commitments received from financial institutions were considerably in excess of the funds required, which is a testament both to the quality of the project itself and to the successful track record that Maaden has established in the financing market.
The financing agreement includes a SR7.5 billion ($2 billion) financing facility provided by the Public Investment Fund, SR7 billion ($1.9 billion) of financing facilities provided by Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporation, Alinma Bank, Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation (APICORP), Banque Saudi Fransi, BNP Paribas, Export Development Canada, Islamic Development Bank, Riyad Bank, Samba Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, the National Commercial Bank, The Saudi British Bank and the Saudi Investment Bank.
A further SR2.3 billion ($600 million) loan facility was signed by the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM). In addition, KEXIM and Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-sure) provided loan insurance and guarantee facilities of SR2.2 billion ($575 million) in respect of loan facilities being provided by HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH, Mizuho Bank, Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.
The financial institutions include the Public Investment Fund, financial institutions from both inside and outside Saudi Arabia as well as the two Korean export credit agencies that have participated in the financing in support of Korean contractors participating in the construction of the project. Funding has also been obtained from the Islamic Development Bank.
Source: Saudi Gazette

04-07-14, 03:51 AM
Saudi solar summit sees key deals as renewable energy demand increases 
 
The Kingdoms longest serving dedicated solar business platform will be held on Oct. 27-28 in Riyadh. Now in its 4th year, the much-anticipated platform will highlight, discuss, share and facilitate agreements on the Kingdoms renewable energy future. Saudi Arabias plans to create its solar energy industry by 2032 is now in sharp focus, particularly since domestic consumption of fossil fuels is expected to nearly treble by 2030, if consumption continues at the rate it has over the last five years.
Saudis renewable energy strategy, managed by King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE), targets renewable energy to contribute 20-23 of its energy needs by 2032, with solar energy responsible for 41GW of this. The 4th Annual Solar Arabia Summit will discuss the practicalities of achieving this crucial target, including the respective contributions of solar PV and CSP, and the policies and incentives required to support the required investment of $109 billion to facilitate a world-class KSA solar industry. Also on the Summit agenda is the KSA smart grid potential and the execution of investment in innovative supporting technologies. The Summit will focus on the solar ecosystem of technologies, and the management skills and distribution needed to enhance the rollout of on- and off-grid utilization.
A major part of the Kingdoms renewable energy strategy is to develop a world-class alternative energy center, and to achieve this, Saudi Arabia is now actively targeting cooperative research and development programs and JVs, fostering international relationships, attracting business and investment, and executing the necessary regulatory, policy and strategic measures to achieve the Kingdoms objectives. The Solar Arabia Summit will welcome international energy industry players to share their expertise, such as General Ismail Gaber, Chairman of the Industrial Development Authority of Egypt, and Tim Polega, the Manager of the Power Systems Renewables Department of Saudi Aramco to address the delegates.
Saudi Aramco CEO, Khalid Al-Falih, said earlier that Saudi Arabia needs to approach its solar strategy with care, and was quoted saying: We are looking at solar investments with great interest. Acknowledging Saudi Aramcos thought leadership in this field, Gasem al-Shaikh, Head of the Energy Unit at Saudi Bin Ladin Group has been quoted as saying: The country cant wait. We are burning more liquids every year, and thats why Saudi Aramco now is taking the lead, which further confirms the urgency, necessity and importance of the Summit, as well as the crucial role Saudi Aramco could play in Saudis sustainable energy future.
The Solar Arabia Summit, organised by French deal facilitation group, naseba, will see local project holders, international project developers, manufacturers and other service providers conduct pre-scheduled meetings to achieve collaborative agreements that contribute to a sustainable future for Saudi Arabia, preserve non-renewable fossil fuel resources, and cement Saudi Arabias international energy leadership status, in line with the Kingdoms Renewable Energy Strategy.
Scott Ragsdale, Chairman of naseba, said: naseba has long standing relationships in the Kingdom, and following discussion with our partners here, we have agreed that the timing is right to expand this years Summit from last year, to facilitate more deal flow. The companies wishing to capitalize on the emergence of this rapidly developing market have proven track records in renewable energy fields and are ready to do business.
Source: Saudi Gazette

04-07-14, 03:52 AM
Insurance premiums up 19% to SR 25bn 
 
The value of insurance premiums in the Saudi market rose by 19.2 percent to reach SR25.2 billion in 2013 compared to SR21.2 billion in 2012, according to a financial report.
Meanwhile, the health insurance sector, which represented 51 percent of the insurance market, grew by 14.3 percent to SR 12.9 billion compared to SR11.3 billion in 2012, the report, based on Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) data, said.
Growth in general insurance, which represented 46 percent of the insurance market, reached 27.8 percent to SR11.5 billion compared to SR9 billion in 2012, whereas growth in protection and saving insurance sector, which represented 3 percent of the insurance market, dropped by 5 percent to SR845 million in 2013 compared to SR 889 million in 2012, the report said.
According to the SAMA report, the insurance companies encountered a series of problems in 2013, notably their need to adjust insurance reserves, rise in claims and non-application of an appropriate pricing before the year 2013.
As regards claims, the report said the value of claims substantially grew to SR15.9 billion in 2013 compared to SR10.9 billion in 2012, or an increase of 45.8 percent, the report said.
The number of settled claims in a three-year period (2010-2013) rose by 36.5 percent whereas insurance premiums rose by only 21 percent during the same period, which has negatively affected the operating income of the companies in general, according to the report.
On the other hand, some of insurance companies are still suffering from non-application of suitable pricing in years preceding 2013 where insurance policies sold by the companies were not based on proper technical standards, a matter that brought losses to the companies in 2013, the report pointed out.
Source: Arab News

04-07-14, 03:55 AM
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p.m. closure to attract Saudis toward shop jobs
 
Saudis and expats have welcomed the move to close retail shops at 9 p.m., saying it would have a positive impact on social life and productivity.
The higher committee for regulating the working hours of retail shops has completed a draft law that will force all shops and sales outlets across the Kingdom to work anywhere between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
The new law will take effect before the end of this year, media reports said. A six-month grace period would be given before its final implementation.
The regulation will exclude the central region in Makkah and Madinah, as the issue will be left to the discretion of the municipal councils in the two holy cities.
Work hours during Ramadan will also be left to the discretion of the municipal councils in each region, but should not be later than 2 a.m., with the exception of restaurants, which will close by sunrise.
Work hours of sales outlets that require opening around the clock will be decided by a joint committee consisting of members from the Labor, Interior and Municipal and Rural Affairs Ministries, one report said.
Abdul Rahman Al-Rabeeah, a prominent businessman, told Arab News that these measures would not have any negative impact on businesses. This law mainly targets small shops.
Al-Rabeeah believes that the new regulation would not affect opening hours at shopping malls. He also said that the law would encourage more Saudis, especially women, to work in small shopsMansour Al-Shathry, chairman of the board of trustees at the Riyadh Center for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, also supported the draft law, saying it would create a suitable work environment for Saudi men and women and encourage them to work in the sector, leading to the nationalization of such jobs.
He said the new measure comes following the Labor Ministrys efforts to nationalize jobs at lingerie shops, as well as shops selling various items required by women and children. The law will remove one of the major obstacles facing Saudis who want to invest in SMEs, he said.
Badr Almotawa, a Saudi political analyst, said the measure would have a big positive impact on Saudi society. The present system of keeping shops open until late night has had a negative impact, he told Arab News.
Crime and road accidents have been on the increase and productivity at offices has been affected because people stay awake late at night.
He said the move would also reduce electricity and petrol consumption. People will also learn to make their purchases during the day instead of at night. It will also reduce assault rates on women.
Almotawa wanted even the big shopping malls to be closed after 10 p.m. so that people would have enough time to rest and work with energy and enthusiasm the next day morning. People need good sleep to maintain their health.
Fuad Kawther, a Saudi engineer, also welcomed the move, saying it goes in line with the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Prophet did not like talking after Isha prayer as he used to sleep soon after it, he told Arab News. He said keeping shops open late is an excuse for youth to stay awake late at night wasting time and energy. The body rejuvenates only at night, he said.
Late sleeping can hinder the repair process, which takes place between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. The body itself repairs the daily damage caused to skin by stress, ultraviolet rays and other forms of unsafe exposure. We have seen that people who sleep early and get up early often come up with innovative ideas that are useful to humanity, Kawther said. Abdul Latheef Nadukany, a planning manager at a reputable company in Jeddah, believes the new measures would change lifestyle habits. It will also bring about a new shopping culture, he said, adding that companies and traders would change their marketing plans according to the new law.
Source: Arab News

04-07-14, 04:17 AM
Quality of Saudi growth spreads to more sectors

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabias economic growth eased to an annual rate of 4.7 percent in the first three months of 2014 as labor market measures curbed activity in some sectors, but the expansion was still stronger and more widespread than growth a year ago, data showed.
Economic growth in the Kingdom reached 5.0 percent in October-December, the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2012.
It is certainly the change in the labor market affecting the annual growth, said Fahad Al-Turki, head of research at Jadwa Investment in Riyadh.
(But) the quality of growth is improving. Its spread over more sectors than the top three.
On a quarterly basis, inflation-adjusted gross domestic product growth accelerated to 3.4 percent, the fastest clip in a year, from 2.7 percent in the previous quarter, the Central Statistics Office data show.
Economic growth is usually at its most robust early in the year, when the weather is at its most favorable and few public holidays halt work.
Overall, the nonoil private sector growth slowed to 4.4 percent year-on-year from 6.2 percent in the previous quarter, the slowest pace in at least a decade, analysts said.
Around a million foreign workers left Saudi Arabia last year after a crackdown on visa irregularities as a part of labor reforms aimed at putting more Saudi nationals into jobs.
Another reason for the slowdown may be that households balance sheets are stretched after a surge in consumer borrowing over the past few years, said William Jackson, emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London.
In the first quarter, growth in all three sectors that relied on cheap foreign labor construction, retail and transport slowed markedly from a year ago.
For example, construction output growth shrank to 5.6 percent in January-March, the slowest pace since end-2012 and down from 9.9 percent in the final three months of 2013.
Manufacturing, however, grew 6.5 percent, the fastest pace in two years and up from 4.0 percent in October-December, as new investment projects come on stream.
In the Kingdoms north, Saudi Arabian Mining Co, or Maaden, is in the middle of a large $9 billion project that includes a phosphate mine, several major processing facilities, smaller downstream factories and a residential area.
Crude oil sector output, which accounts for almost half of the $748 billion Saudi economy, quickened to an annual 5.8 percent in the first quarter, the fastest rate since mid-2012, from 4.1 percent in the previous three months.
This effect is likely to be weaker in the third and fourth quarter as the base is higher, said Khatija Haque, head of MENA research at Emirates NBD. Nonoil growth should pick up in the coming quarters, however.
Saudi Arabia may raise oil output in the second half of the year to meet expected higher seasonal demand, despite Libyas deal with rebels to resume oil exports. Iraqs exports are unaffected by the security situation, but any disruption in crude supplies would put the onus on Riyadh to lift output.
In a separate survey, the Saudi purchasing managers index (PMI) rose to a five-month high in June, suggesting that activity in the non-oil sector have stabilized in the second quarter.
In practice, though, it has been difficult to square the upbeat readings from the PMI with the more downbeat activity data, Jackson said.
Putting all of this together, we think overall Saudi GDP growth is likely to slow further, averaging around 3.5-4.0 percent over the next year or so, he said.
A Reuters poll in April forecast the Saudi economic growth would ease to 3.8 percent in 2014 from 4.0 percent last year and then accelerate to 4.3 percent in 2015.
In Bahrain, real economic growth slowed to 3.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, the weakest performance since end-2012, and to a quarterly 0.1 percent, a separate data showed.
Oman saw its nominal GDP expand by an annual 4.6 percent in January-March as an 8.3 percent rise in non-oil activity offset a 0.2 percent contraction in the hydrocarbon sector, data also showed on Thursday.

Source: Arab News

04-07-14, 04:20 AM
Kingdoms nonoil business activity accelerates in June

Growth in Saudi Arabias nonoil business activity rose to a five-month high in June, bolstered by strong growth in output and new orders, a survey showed.
The Saudi British Bank (SABB) has published the results of the headline SABB HSBC Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for June 2014 a monthly report issued by the bank and HSBC.
It reflects the economic performance of Saudi Arabian nonoil producing private sector companies through monitoring a number of variables, including output, orders, prices, stocks and employment.
June data signalled the continued expansion of the Saudi Arabian nonoil private sector, with the seasonally adjusted headline PMI recording 59.2, up from 57.0 in May.
This highlights a strong improvement in operating conditions and the highest since January.
The improvement in the headline PMI partly emanated from stronger growth in both output and new orders, while record-high buying activity was recorded. The pace of output growth quickened to a 26-month high. New business from abroad also improved, albeit at a slower pace than total new orders.
Companies sought to meet rising demand by ramping up output. Firms also recorded a further increase in backlogs of work as new business rose sharply. However, the rate of accumulation was slower than in the previous month and was moderate overall.
In response to growing signs of capacity constraints at their units, Saudi Arabian nonoil private sector firms increased their workforce numbers for a third successive month.
The net rise in employment was solid overall, with the latest increase the fastest in the current sequence of job creation.
Panellists signalled strong levels of optimism for growth by continuing to increase their purchasing activity during June. The latest data indicated the sharpest rise in input buying since the survey began in August 2009, as companies expanded their inventories in order to meet current levels of demand and in anticipation of higher future workloads. Consequently, stocks of purchases continued to build in June and the rate of increase was the sharpest in four months.
In spite of strong demand for inputs, average delivery times continued to improve. Better vendor performance was encouraged by a competitive market that required shorter delivery times.
Overall input costs in Saudi Arabias nonoil private sector continued to rise in June, and at a faster pace than the previous three months. Staff cost increases were marginal, with purchase prices the driving force behind the rise in overall input costs. Panellists linked higher purchasing costs to a strong level of demand present in the economy.
In response to increased cost inflation, companies raised their selling prices, albeit marginally, during June. The pace of expansion was fractional overall, with the vast majority of the panel reporting no change from the previous month.

Source: Arab News

28-08-14, 08:30 PM
Saudi initiative to boost GCC ties

Three top Saudi officials visited Doha and Manama on Wednesday and held talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Bahrains King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa as part of efforts to strengthen GCC ties and join forces to confront terrorism.
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Intelligence chief Prince Khaled bin Bandar and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif visited Doha before flying to Manama in a major move to mend GCC fences.
Sheikh Tamim and the Saudi officials discussed ways of strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation among the GCC member countries, the Saudi Press Agency said, quoting a report issued by its Qatari counterpart. The report, however, emphasized that the two sides discussed the latest regional and international developments.
Following his meeting with the Saudi delegation, King Hamad highlighted Saudi Arabias pioneering role in strengthening the GCC for the benefit of its peoples. He also noted Riyadhs stances in support of just Arab and Islamic causes.
King Hamad and Prince Saud discussed the latest developments in the Arab region while stressing the importance of preserving its security, the Bahraini News Agency said. King Hamad underscored the deep-rooted relations between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
The meetings come amid growing concern in the Gulf over an increasing threat from the Islamic State (IS), a splinter group of Al-Qaeda that has captured swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq in recent months.
Talks between Saudi officials and Qatari and Bahraini rulers come ahead of a scheduled meeting to be held between GCC foreign ministers on Saturday, which has been described as having special importance since it will discuss a number of issues related to the path of GCC joint action.
GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani has called for regional and international cooperation to contain the worsening security situation and explosive conflicts in the Middle East region.
We have to confront extremism and terrorist organizations and their funders, the GCC chief said while addressing a seminar in London.

Source/Arab News

28-08-14, 08:46 PM
Riyadh, Jeddah top cases of marriage annulment

Riyadh and Jeddah have topped the Kingdoms cities for having the largest number of marriage annulment cases owing to the husbands failure to pay alimony and the wives dissatisfaction with their marriages in the first nine months of the current year, local media said quoting data released by the Ministry of Justice.
Riyadh courts received 10 cases of wives complaints against their husbands for failing to pay alimony whereas Jeddah courts received 5 with one case each in Dammam and Abha.
There were four cases in Riyadh of wives dissatisfied with their husbands compared to one case in Jeddah, Al-Eqtisadiyah daily said.
Legal adviser Abeer Al-Ahmed attributed the growing number of cases in Riyadh and Jeddah to the increased legal awareness among women.
She said that the more awareness women have, the more they tend to follow legal ways to get their rights.

Source: Arab news

28-08-14, 08:49 PM
Consumers to pay fees, fines for restoring electricity connection

The Kingdoms Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Authority has approved imposing a SR50 fee to resume electricity services after bill payment.
The authority also approved imposing a SR200 fee for reconnecting services that had been suspended by officials.
A high-ranking official had amended the electric service guide, which gives electric service providers a grace period of one year to enforce these rulings on residents regardless of whether they are property owners.
The changes will come into effect next May.
The authority stressed the importance of giving consumers four days notice before cutting off their electric supply via text messages, calls or written notices.
Fees are also applicable in cases where meters cannot be read or when electricity overloads and bad connections cause power outages.
Customers who fail to pay their bill must receive a 30-day disconnection notification, not including official holidays.
This includes bills exceeding SR400 or bills that have not been paid for six months in a row.

Source: Arab news

28-08-14, 08:51 PM
Yanbus open wells a threat to life

There are more than 600 unsealed wells in Yanbu, said Salama Al-Refaie, chairman of a committee tasked with addressing opened and abandoned wells.
A committee consisting of several local officials, Civil Defense teams, policemen and water company, agriculture and municipality representatives are conducting field operations to seal open and abandoned wells since they pose a threat to families with children, he said.
The committee sealed off 107 unclaimed open wells this month, while the owners of more than 64 wells have promised to seal off their wells. The committee embarked on the second phase of this initiative in line with directives issued by Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman and under the direct supervision of Yanbu Mayor Musaed Al-Saleem.
The objective of the exercise is to avert the threat and danger posed by these abandoned wells and to seal off potential hideouts for criminals and their weapons, Al-Refaie said.

Source: Arab news

28-08-14, 08:55 PM
War on trade fraud intensified

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has approved the creation of 600 new jobs of inspectors at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to strengthen its fight against trade fraud and illegal practices.
The creation of new jobs will help the ministry intensify its inspection of markets across the Kingdom to prevent foul play and unhealthy practices, said Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Wednesday.
Al-Rabiah said 500 Saudis would be employed to inspect markets and 100 others to inspect companies. The new jobs will strengthen the ministrys monitoring regime and ensure a just business atmosphere, he explained.
King Abdullah approved the appointment of 500 inspectors at the ministry three years ago, Al-Rabiah said, adding that it improved customer satisfaction over the ministrys performance from 25 to 89 percent.
He said consumers were happy over the response of ministry inspectors toward their complaints and actions taken against illicit commercial practices. There was a substantial increase in customer interaction with our monitoring system, he pointed out.
Al-Rabiah said the number of complaints received by the ministry from customers rose by 33 percent this year compared to previous years. The number of complaints we receive a single day is now more than those received in a month three years ago, he added.
The ministry has intensified its market monitoring activities on the kings directives to protect the interests of citizens and residents. We impose stiff punishments on violators, whoever they may be.
He said the ministry interacts directly with the public through the social media and toll-free number 920000667. We have introduced a number of smart phone applications to help the public lodge their complaints quickly.
The ministry has organized a number of campaigns to enlighten the public, organize the market and inform consumers about their rights.
They include the campaign against paying service fees at restaurants, forcing supermarkets to keep enough coins to pay changes of less than one riyal, and actions taken against those writing bad checks as well as campaigns against lottery and misleading advertisements.

Source: Arab news

28-08-14, 08:57 PM
3,300 school buses to be added to existing fleet

The Ministry of Education has announced that it had ordered some 3,300 school buses for

transporting students in schools across the country. The decision comes as part of the ministrys efforts to facilitate students transportation to and from their schools.
A fleet of 1,200 yellow school buses were off loaded from cargo liners at the Jeddah Islamic Port on Tuesday bringing the total fleet of schools buses to 22,000 throughout the Kingdom.
Sources from the ministry said that the consignment which came in three cargo ships will be cleared through the customs before the weekend in time for the new academic year. This year, the government has approved the decision to provide free transportation to students enrolled in public schools.
Six local transportation companies will implement the government project in a four-year contract, which will take effect from the next academic year, an official at King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz for Public Education Development (KAPED) said.

Source: Arab news

28-08-14, 09:00 PM
Saudi Electricity says Riyadh capacity to be on line by 2017

State-run utility Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) plans to bring online more than 4,750 megawatts of natural gas-fired generating capacity in Riyadh between 2015 and 2017, the company said on Sunday.
One power plant there, known as PP10, will have an additional 1,150 MW operational from May 2015, SEC said. Two other plants, PP13 and PP14, with a combined capacity of 3,600 MW, would come online in August 2017.
Meanwhile, some units of plant PP12, which will have a capacity of 1,740 MW, have started operations, the company added. Riyadh accounts for about a quarter of SEC's customers.
The company's total available generating capacity nationally was 61,625 MW at the end of June this year.
SEC will spend 622 billion riyals ($166 billion) between now and 2023 on adding 40,000 MW of installed generating capacity and expanding transmission and distribution networks, chief executive Ziyad Alshiha was quoted as saying in March by state news agency SPA.
Source: Arabian Business

28-08-14, 09:03 PM
TADAWUL: Saudi bank stocks surge over 4% 
 
Saudi Arabias benchmark Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) recorded a smart gain of 168.3 points or 1.57 percent on Sunday, closing at 10,903.04. Banks led TASI to a new 80-month peak.
On a year-to-date basis, the index crossed a positive return of 27.74 percent. The Large cap index showed the best performance, rising 1.87 percent for the day. Twelve out of Tadawuls fifteen sectors extended gains, reflecting an accumulation of 1,414 points.
Banks & Financial Services sector turned in a splendid performance among sectoral indices, soaring up four percent to close at 23,841.54. Media and Petrochemical sectors followed it, advancing more than one percent in a day.
The market breadth was also positive, with 88 stocks witnessing advances and 53 others marking a decline.
Share price of Alinma Bank rallied to a maximum growth of 9.67 percent to SR25.4, clinching the spot as top gainer amongst Saudi stocks. This is all-time high closing level of the bank. Eight other stocks also hit a new all-time high on Sunday.
Trading activity was also led by Alinma, which liquidated over 52 million shares, a relative market share of 17.1 percent. The value of these shares totaled SR1.3 billion, which equates 12 percent of total market liquidity.
Forty-two Saudi companies including Alinma Bank showed an increase in volume from previous day by 100 percent or more.
The heavyweight Riyad Bank rose by 4.17 percent, closing at SR22.72. Bank AlJazira volume went 6.2 times high over its 50-day average, liquidating 6.9 million shares and gaining 4.37 percent.
A good amount of turnover 304.7 million shares worth SR10.8 billion changed hands on the Saudi stock market.
This turnover reflects an increase of 36 percent over the 50-day average level.
Source: Arab News

28-08-14, 09:05 PM
Saudi market reforms to boost demand for corporate ratings 
 
Saudi Arabias plans to open up the domestic capital markets to global investors is expected to boost demand for Saudi equity and sukuks from international investors.
Issuers targeting a share of this demand are likely to seek credit ratings to improve the comfort level of global fund managers, said Stuart Anderson, Managing Director & Regional Head Middle East of Standard & Poors.
According S&Ps estimates, between now and 2020, the number of listed companies in Saudi Arabia is expected to increase somewhere between 250 and 300. In that context, I would imagine a lot of IPOs going to hit the market targeting international investors. I see a lot of those companies valuing ratings to attract these investors, said Anderson.
Saudi Arabia is working on a regulatory framework for global rating agencies to set up operation in the kingdom. The regulation that is currently at a draft stage wants international agencies that want to rate Saudi entities to have local presence and analysts based out of Saudi Arabia.
Although raters view this as too expensive, the Saudi offer to allow 100 per cent ownership of local operations to rating agencies and the relatively large size of the Saudi market is expected to work as attractive factors for agencies to enter that market.
One of the issues we face on the opening of the local office is that if every country in the world where we do business insists that there should be a local physical presence, with our kind of global operations that not would not be compatible with our business model. But what is interesting about Saudi is that it is a G-20 country and the only G20 country in the region. It is a very large economy with a very large financial system, said Anderson.
Domestic liquidity
The financial infrastructure in Saudi Arabia is relatively under developed and that has got to do with the quantum of domestic liquidity and the way that the economy is structured. But there is ample evidence that things are changing and that is very much part of a G20 agenda.
Currently there are only very few companies in Saudi Arabia that are rated. Many of the rating activities in the Kingdom are related to sovereign, the large GREs, banks and insurance companies.
I think the opening up of the equity markets for foreign investments will create more listings and rating opportunities. It is always easier to rate a listed company and a listed company is more willing to have a rating than a private company, said Anderson.
With the entry of foreign investors on the Saudi equity market, the comfort level of these investors with Saudi debt is likely to take a positive turn. So in time, a greater number of rated companies are likely to attract greater number of international investors into both debt and equity markets.
Today, the Saudi fixed income market is largely unrated. The unrated sukuk is largely catering the local market. To be honest the market is limited to banks and most of these sukuks are bought and held to maturities, that is why there is very little liquidity. As we get more international investors comfortable with Saudi risk we see greater opportunities for rated Saudi sukuk, said Anderson.
Source: Gulf News

28-08-14, 09:10 PM
Six jailed for plotting to kill police officer

A special court on Tuesday sentenced five Saudis and one Omani to prison terms ranging between three and 20 years for plotting to murder a police officer, among other charges.
Charges include branding others infidels, issuing religious rulings encouraging dissidence, traveling to Yemen or other conflict zones to joint militants in battle and forging documents.
The first defendant, who was charged with plotting to murder several police officers with the second defendant and planning to opening a terror camp in Sudan, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a travel ban equal to his prison term following his release.
The second defendant, meanwhile, was sentenced to 16 years in prison and a travel ban equal to his prison term after being found guilty of similar charges, such as propagating the belief that fighting in places of civil war was a binding duty on so-called believers. The second defendant had also provided refuge for the first defendant and sent money to other militants.
He was also found to be in possession of banned electronic material supporting Al-Qaeda.
The Omani terror suspect will spend seven-and-a-half years in prison for sending SR10,000 in financial aid to terror fighters in Iraq and also possessing banned material on Al-Qaeda, including videos and photos.
The defendant was also found to guilty of being in possession of a machine gun and training others on how to use it.
The man will be deported from the Kingdom following his release from prison.
The fourth defendant was sentenced to 16 years for opposing and criticizing the Kingdoms policies, in addition to other general charges.
He also used to send money to youth who had joined terrorist fighters in other countries, in addition to circulating terrorist literature, including photos and videos of Al-Qaeda.
The fifth defendant was handed a five-year prison term for being an accomplice in terror-related activities, while the sixth defendant, also an Al-Qaeda supporter, got the lightest sentence of three years for harboring the first defendant knowing he was wanted by authorities.

Source: Arab news

28-08-14, 09:12 PM
Saudi June imports fall 8.2%

Saudi Arabias imports fell an annual 8.2 percent in June, the eighth drop in a row, while nonoil exports rose 14.9 percent, data from the Central Department of Statistics and Information showed.
Nonoil exports account for around 12 percent of overall exports of Saudi Arabia.
Analysts polled by Reuters in April forecast a Saudi Arabian current account surplus of 16.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2014 and 11.9 percent in 2015.
Saudi Arabia does not release complete trade data on a monthly basis. Trade data are often revised by the statistics office.
Percentage changes are Reuters calculations based on the official data.
In a recent, Jadwa Investment projected a current account surplus of $133 billion (16.9 percent of GDP).
Latest trade data have shown a moderate growth in nonoil exports,
According to a research report from National Commercial Bank, the domestic economy imported goods worth SR51.5 billion, an annual 8.2 percent decline during June.
Imports by weight recorded a drastic drop of 20.9 percent annually, declining from 7.1 million tons in June 2013 to 5.6 million tons 12 months later, said the report.
Over a quarter of Saudi imports consist of machinery and mechanical equipment at SR13.2 billion, dropping by 10.0 percent Y/Y in June, said the report.
Additionally, transport equipment imports total value declined by 15.6 percent annually.
As the Saudi economy is heavily reliant on imports for consumer goods, imported inflation influences local prices to a considerable degree. Imports from the European Union represented 27.8% of the total import bill during June, SR14.4 billion.
Consequently, the recent strength of the US dollar will positively impact Saudi Arabias trade balance and reduce pressures on local consumer prices.
China has recently overturned the US as the top source of Saudi imports. Their consistent growth over the past decade provided a competitive alternative for cheaper goods as they have the edge over advanced economies with regards to costs.
Saudi Imported SR7.5 billion worth of goods from China while SR6.0 billion came from the US in June.
Source: Arab News

28-08-14, 09:17 PM
Babies switched at birth in Dammam

Two babies have been handed back to their parents after accidentally being switched at birth at Dammams Maternity and Childrens Hospital.
Conflicting stories have emerged about the incident, with one version of events claiming the hospital contacted the two families after they had been discharged and another claiming that one of the mothers had contacted the hospital after discovering that the child was not hers.
Khaled Usaimi, Eastern Province Health Affairs spokesman, however, denied both stories, saying the error was discovered on hospital premises before the two families had gone home.
A nurse had been told to discharge two babies simultaneously, said Usaimi. What had caused the confusion was the fact that one of the mothers had come into the nursery, had her identification removed and then left the nursery to fetch some of her stuff from her room. In that time, the nurse had handed over her baby to the wrong woman, but quickly realized her mistake and called the father in to explain what had happened.
The situation was resolved within five minutes, he said. Hospital staff usually place two bracelets on both mother and baby, which is standard practice at any maternity ward. The babies both had their bracelets removed at the same time, adding to the confusion.

Source: Arab news

28-08-14, 09:19 PM
 Saudi stock index steadily upward despite projected mild risk aversion in GCC marts
 
GCC equity markets, excluding Saudi Arabia, stumbled on policy changes and expect higher volatility ahead, Emirates NBD said in its latest weekly report.

The Saudi Arabian Index has moved steadily upwards (+9 percent) over the last month. Saudi M&A activity is increasing with Savola officially announcing its interest in Kuwait Foods (Americana), Arjuna Mahendran, Chief Investment Officer of the bank, said in the report.

The Saudi stock benchmark Tadawul All Share Index maintained the upward trajectory closing Sunday at 10,903.04 points or an increase of 1.57 percent from the last trading day over the weekend.

The Saudi food and retail sectors have been outperformers this year (+ 55 percent YTD) with consensus earnings growth forecast at 25 percent and 17 percent for 2014 and 2015, respectively. We like the defensive nature of the sector, with an average beta of 0.9 and would stay invested in Savola, the GCCs largest and most diversified food company.

The Qatar market briefly rallied last week in expectation of increased weightage in the MSCI Emerging Market Index (quarterly August review) but is currently pulling back. It was announced that Qatar National Bank and Industries Qatar, already up +18 percent and +10 percent respectively (from their lows in mid-2014) will have increased weightage in the MSCI indices, as their Foreign Ownership Limits have increased. However, the surprise Monday removal of a small-cap stock, Mesaieed from the MSCI EM Index stunned analysts and looks likely to raise volatility in the near term.

Flight to safety supported the bid for US treasuries with 10 year UST at 2.34 percent after touching 2.30 percent on Friday, 14th August. Over the week, 10-year UK gilts and the German bunds followed suit strengthening 16 bps and 10 bps, respectively. GCC bond and credit spreads were a tad wider given the sharp move in USD benchmark rates.
One of the most popular sukuk Sovereign notes backed by the Ras Al Khaimah government matured ($400 million, 8 percent coupon due July 22, 2014). The month of September also awaits benchmark bond maturities from National Bank of Abu Dhabi, TAQA, ISDB (Islamic Development Bank) and Ras Laffan totaling USD 4 bn. We expect these proceeds to be reinvested, potentially tightening existing credits in the GCC space. Dubai 5 year CDS has already tightened to 160 bps.

Damac 5-year sukuk saw renewed interest over the week, after the company reported positive earnings. TAQA bonds across the curve were well supported after headline news on asset sales as well as news on their not returning to debt capital markets at least till 2017. Regional laggards such as the Investment Corporation of Dubai (sukuk), and the Emaar Malls group saw demand as investors picked up relative value in the 7 to 10 year space. The Tier 1 and Tier 2 UAE-based credits were also in popular demand.

Rising geopolitical tension and slowing global growth should not be ignored
Geopolitical events continue to dominate and volatility increased with the CBOE Volatility Index spiking. There is not much change in the Gaza standoff, the Ukraine Russia conflict and warfare continues in Iraq and Syria. Equity markets, which had begun selling off last week, took a breather with President Putin striking a conciliatory tone. Russian companies have begun feeling the impact of sanctions, with Rosneft Oil being the first to request bailout funds.

As expected, Japans economy shrank 6.8 percent in the second quarter on the back of lower consumption, affected by a 3 percent increase in sales tax on 1st April. The German economy has contracted 0.2 percent while France remains in stagnation.

Chinas bank lending has slowed and additionally Chinese banks are being forced to fortify their balance sheets against an expected rise in bad loans. Investors flew to the safety of the Yen and the Swiss Franc leading to a strengthening of both the currencies.

We remain overweight on Japan as we see an increased allocation by Japans pension fund with equities generating higher returns than the lower yielding Japanese Government bonds. We are neutral on Europe until we see trade return to normal with Russia. However, we remain cautious on markets in the short term and until we see clarity on ECB and Fed policy and an abatement of the current military conflicts.

We favor high dividend yielding equities versus high-yielding bonds
The current year was supposed to mark according to consensus research the first one since the Great Recession in 2008 when the US economy would reach escape velocity, that is a self-sustained growth path whereby the economy would not need stimulus anymore.

Actually the analysis of asset performance across the globe and latest economic data waning investors confidence in Germany and weak retail sales in the US may instill doubts about the strength of global growth, although the escape velocity is there.

The top performing sectors in the MSCI World the world equity benchmark are (year-to-date) information technology and pharma. Both sectors rely heavily on research breakthroughs and thus can easily expand for extended periods of time above GDP growth rates. They tend to outperform the rest of the market when it is difficult to find widespread growth in those pockets more directly related to the business cycle.

Economic data, although good on the surface, do not speak in favor of high-flying expansion rates yet. In all major developed economies, the US, Europe, the UK and Japan, wage growth is sluggish, so much so that inflationary pressures another indicator of rampant growth are non-existent.

Long term bond yields directly linked to long-term economic growth are quite subdued as well. US 10-year yields are stubbornly below 3 percent and in Europe Germany 10-year yields are dangerously close to 1 percent, bringing to mind recollections of what happened in Japan in the so-called lost decade.

In a lower economic growth environment we think it is best to circumvent the world of low returns by investing in high dividend-yielding stocks, which tend to outperform by compensating investors with larger dividends, and by focusing on stock and equity fund selection.

On the other hand we advise clients against a plain overweight strategy in high-yielding bonds, although until recently a favorite asset class supported by the hunt for yield.

The forthcoming end of Quantitative Easing (QE) by the Fed in October, combined with overly tight spreads of junk bonds and the recent outflows recorded in this market segment, do not speak of continued outperformance versus equities.

Commodity prices remain elevated primarily on the Russia Ukraine conflict.

Palladium seems to have broken out from an important level of $890 per ounce and if it manages to sustain these levels we could see new highs.
Source: Saudi Gazette

28-08-14, 09:20 PM
Governor offers help to children of crash victims

Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan has extended support to the three Jordanian children who lost their parents in a road accident on Sunday.
The children, who had also lost a sibling in the accident, were escorted and accompanied by Saudi officials up to the Durra border crossing between the Kingdom and Jordan on their way back home on Tuesday.
The youngsters narrowly escaped sustaining only minor injuries in the fatal accident, which occurred in Al-Bada near Tabuk.
Both the parents and the child died on the spot, while the injured were transferred to hospital.
Two boys, aged 13 and 12, and a two-year-old girl had been discharged from Al-Bada General Hospital after undergoing treatment for their injuries, said Mohammed Ali Alataiwali, Health Ministry director in Tabuk, who had followed up on repatriation procedures as per directives issued by the Tabuk governor.

Source: Arab news

28-08-14, 09:23 PM
KSA to open embassy in Wellington this year

New Zealand Ambassador to the Kingdom Hamish MacMaster said that Saudi Arabia will open its embassy in Wellington late this year. The establishment of the embassy will be a major move toward strengthening the ties between the Kingdom and New Zealand, the ambassador told newsmen.
At present, we have a Saudi consulate generals office in Auckland and the new embassy would further enhance the services of the Saudi government in New Zealand, he said, adding that the Saudi government has already expressed its readiness to set up the embassy soon.
The envoy was talking to reporters during the introduction of a new line of chilled lamb and beef products to Saudi Arabia by Silver Fern Farms, a leading New Zealand processor, marketer and exporter of premium quality red meat products in partnership with Almunajem, its local distributor in the Kingdom.
MacMaster said the two countries have a strong food security partnership. The bilateral trade last year was around 1.5 billion New Zealand dollars, while the countrys exports to Saudi Arabia was 600,000 dollars and its imports were valued at 900,000 dollars. We export dairy products and high quality meat products while we import energy and petrochemical products from the Kingdom, he added.
He also pointed out that his country hosts 5,000 Saudi students who are studying at various universities and colleges. Some of them live with their families.
They study at various universities in New Zealand including Auckland University, Auckland University of Technology, Massey University, Waikato University, Victoria University and Otago University.
We provide them with not only a safe environment but also an atmosphere conducive to the pursuit of their education, he said.
Besides these developments, there has been regular exchange of high-level visits between the two countries. Higher Education Minister Khaled Al-Anqary was in Auckland recently to open the Saudi Cultural Center in New Zealand. Agriculture Minister Fahd Balghunaim also visited News Zealand recently. The foreign minister and agriculture minister of New Zealand also visited the Kingdom in the recent past.
Last month, Higher Education Minister Khaled Al-Anqari inaugurated the headquarters of the new Saudi cultural mission in Auckland.
During a presentation, Sharon Angus, chief of marketing at Silver Fern Farms, said the company brings New Zealands finest halal beef and lamb to the people of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has predominantly been a frozen market and our frozen business with Almunajem has grown strongly over a long period. We are very excited to see our partnership now diversify into the higher value chilled segment, in response to Saudi Arabian consumers telling us they want a fresher, more premium red meat option."

Source: Arab news

28-08-14, 09:25 PM
Saudi Arabia excels in Arab scientific research

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made significant progress in the research output of universities and related centers, the report issued by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in collaboration with Thomson Foundation Reuters on indicators of research performance of scientific institutions in the Kingdom during from 2008-2012 said.

The Kingdom has excelled its counterparts in the Arab countries in the Middle East during the year 2012 as it recorded 7,000 research editions in the global database Web of Knowledge, the state news agency SPA said Sunday.

All areas of basic research in the Kingdom have witnessed remarkable progress in the volume of intellectual productivity in general, it noted.

The report issued by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in collaboration with Thomson Foundation Reuters on indicators of research performance of scientific institutions in the kingdom during the period from 2008 - 2012 AD.
Source: Saudi Gazette

28-08-14, 09:27 PM
Contractors open to sue MOL after rise in worker transfers

Last updated: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 9:40 PM


Saudi Gazette report


RIYADH Several contractors expressed discontent and concern about the increasing numbers of workers transferring without their approval or knowledge to other employers that have met Saudization targets, allegedly using illegal means.

It is expected that employers affected by workers moving sponsors will complain through official channels against the Ministry of Labor if it does not respond to their grievances.

Lawyer Abdulaziz Muhammad Al-Jarallah told Al-Riyadh that if it is proved that workers have transferred their sponsorship without fulfilling the criteria set by the Ministry of Labor and without the approval of the sponsor, the employers could go to the courts.

Al-Jarallah suggested that before transferring the workers sponsorship to a new employer, his current sponsor should be given at least a weeks notice so that it can appeal the decision if it has grounds to.

At a recent meeting of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry's contractors committee, several employers expressed anger at the number of transfers to other companies that were within the green zone of the Nitaqat system, indicating they had met Saudization targets. They said they considered this to be illegal.

The committee also criticized the new decisions of the Ministry of Labor on providing its services to firms in the three levels of the green zone (low, middle and high).

The ministrys aim is to employ more Saudi nationals and differentiate between the incentives provided to each level depending on the Saudization percentage achieved.

The committee confirmed that with its decisions the ministry is tightening control over the building and construction and operation and maintenance sectors in an unprecedented manner.

A committee statement said: The ministry is depriving the companies of its services, which are their rights.

The ministry decision to cut services is increasing the suffering of the sector and development projects are stalling.

Al-Hammadi said the committee repeatedly communicated to the ministry several times through writing, press meetings, workshops or joint seminars that the specified Saudization targets for the building and construction, operation and maintenance and cleaning sectors are unrealistic.

The committee said these targets could not be achieved and maintained. It said the ministry has not responded to these claims.

28-08-14, 09:32 PM
Oil drops on weak US demand

NEW YORK Crude oil futures edged lower on Wednesday after a report showed declining US gasoline demand in the world's top oil consumer and a build at the key Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub.

In its weekly report, the US Energy Information Administration said US crude oil stocks fell by a greater-than-expected 2.07 million barrels last week, but inventories at Cushing, the delivery point for US crude futures, rose 508,000 barrels. The four-week average for gasoline demand fell by 1.4 percent year-over-year.

By 12:49 EDT (1649 GMT), US crude fell 22 cents to $93.64 a barrel after settling 51 cents higher on Tuesday on stronger US economic data.Brent crude for October delivery fell by 7 cents to $102.43 a barrel after earlier rising to $103.07.

Its premium to US crude widened 15 cents to $8.79 a barrel, having hit to its largest in two months on Monday at $9.41. Reuters

Source: Saudi Gazette

28-08-14, 09:46 PM
Saudi hydrocarbon sector outlook dim


JEDDAH The outlook for Saudi Arabias hydrocarbon sector turned bleak in the third quarter of this year, the National Commercial Bank said in its Saudi Arabia Business Optimism Index Q3 2014 report released Wednesday.

The Composite BOI for the hydrocarbon sector shrank from 49 in Q2 2014 to 25 in Q3 2014, reaching the lowest level since Q4 2012 as all constituent parameters reflected a downward trend.

The composite index for non-hydrocarbon sector registered a 14 points slide, partly due to the seasonal downturn during summer and partly on the back of expectations skewed toward a trend of stability.

Further, The Composite BOI for the non-hydrocarbon sector registers a 14 points slide, partly due to the seasonal downturn during summer and partly on the back of expectations skewed towards a trend of stability, the report said.

The SME segment holds a slightly stronger outlook with a Composite BOI of 38 compared to large company BOI at 34.

It further said 50 percent of non-hydrocarbon sector firms and 55 percent of oil & gas companies do not expect any obstacles to hamper business operations during Q3;

Competition and government policies are key concerns for the non-hydrocarbon sector, while shortage of skilled labor and government policies are leading challenges for oil and gas firms.

Despite the investment outlook marginally improves for the hydrocarbon sector but inches lower for the non-hydrocarbon segment.

Even the non-hydrocarbon sector is not spared, the report noted, with sectoral firms indicating a softening in the business environment outlook for Q3; 50 percent of the respondents (compared to 62 percent in Q2) do not anticipate any negative factor to affect business operations this quarter.

Competition, the impact of government policies & fees and the lack of skilled labor as cited by 16 percent, 15 percent and 8 percent of the firms respectively are the primary concerns of the non-hydrocarbon sector respondents in Q3.

Some 55 percent of the hydrocarbon businesses do not anticipate any negative factor to affect business operations in Q2 2014, compared to 53 percent in the previous quarter.

Lack of availability of skilled labor as a result of the countrys labor rules and government policies & fees are the top most concerns affecting businesses this quarter cited by 14 percent of the respondents for each factor.

Forty four percent of the nonhydrocarbon sector businesses plan to invest in business expansion in Q3 compared to 47 percent in the previous quarter.

Construction sector firms are the most optimistic in their investment outlook with 51 percent planning to invest in business expansions.Fifty eight percent of the hydrocarbon businesses plan to invest in expansionary activities, compared to 55 percent in Q2.

Moreover, the Composite BOI for the finance, real estate & business services sector is at 5-year low of 30, losing 18 points q-o-q and 16 points y-o-y. The index has been weighed down by lower optimism on all five parameters.

The Composite BOI for the Finance sub sector has declined by 28 points from the previous quarter and is now at a seven quarter low of 24. The fall is due to a steep drop in the BOIs for all parameters

The Composite BOI for the Real Estate sub-sector sector has once again moderated; the index is lower by 23 points from 38 in Q2 to 15 in Q3. A decline in all five parameters has weighed down on the Composite index.

The Business Services sub-sector has also recorded a weakening in outlook, with the BOI at 36 in Q3 compared to 51 in Q2, as all parameters weighed down.

Source: Saudi Gazette

28-08-14, 09:48 PM
Mobily on track to become ICT leader

MOBILYs plan to transform from just a telecommunication provider to a the leading Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) services provider by 2020, necessitated the building of world class data centers across Saudi Arabia. This major milestone is considered a fundamental foundation in the transformation journey towards the full ICT.

Engineer Ismail Al-Ghamdi, Acting Chief Business Officer, said Mobily owns currently 42 data centers in different parts of Saudi Arabia, four of them are certified by Uptime Institute, which make them the most reliable data centers that provide Mobilys customers with the highest standards of security and reliability.

"Those data centers represent the infrastructure capable to provide ICT solutions and they also represent the starting point toward providing various innovative solutions for public and private sectors in the Kingdom, besides providing hosting and managed services, including cloud computing and information technology solutions, he added.

Mobily is forging strategic partnerships with major international companies providing new technological solutions in order to become a leading provider of information and communications technology services. SG

Source: Saudi Gazette

28-08-14, 09:58 PM
China becomes Dubais top trade partner in H1

DUBAI Dubais foreign trade in the first six months of 2014 fell 3.7 percent to AED654 billion from AED679 billion in the same last year. The emirates foreign trade in 2013 totaled AED1.392 trillion.

Imports during the first half of the year reached AED408 billion, while exports hit AED59 billion and re-exports at AED187 billion, Dubai Customs said in a statement on Wednesday.

China was Dubais top foreign trade partner during the first half of the year, with a trade value of AED80.5 billion, followed by India with AED53 billion, the US with AED41 billion, and Saudi Arabia with AED27 billion. Phones and PCs accounted for 17 percent of Dubais total foreign trade in the first half of the year.

The commodities and markets diversity currently seen in Dubais foreign trade is attributed to the strategic initiatives launched by Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to shift to a smart economy that puts Dubai on the fast track towards becoming the worlds smartest city, said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation.

Phone trade amounted to AED85 billion, up 11 percent compared to the AED76 billion in the first six months of 2013. China was the top importer of phones to Dubai, with a value of AED27 billion, while Saudi Arabia was the main market for phone re-exports, with a value of AED8.5 billion.

Computers trade grew by 9 percent from AED24.6 billion to AED27 billion during the first half of this year.

Jewelry trade was valued at AED29.5 billion during the first half of 2014, up 12 percent from AED26.4 during the same time a year ago. Automotive foreign trade climbed 31 percent from AED24.3 billion to AED32 billion in the period under review.

Helicopters and lightweight aircraft climbed 14 percent to AED9.4 billion against AED8.3 billion.

Petroleum oils trade grew by 31 percent from AED15.6 billion to AED20.5 billion.

Lightweight ships and floating equipment trade grew more than 125 percent to AED3 billion compared to AED1.35 billion in the first half of 2013. Also, the air conditionings business grew by 53 percent to AED3.6 billion against AED2.4 billion. SG

30-08-14, 01:05 AM
Jazan to Riyadh: Is relocation key to economic prosperity?

Mufrih Yahya is from Jazan but for two years, he worked nearly 700 km away in the Southern Province of Sharura in Najran before moving to the capital Riyadh recently. Yahyas story of relocating to another town is one that is shared by scores of young Saudis, who are abandoning their rural hometowns and moving to the Kingdoms major cities in search of better employment opportunities and lifestyle changes, Al-Riyadh daily reported.

When I got my first job in Najran, I would drive over 700 km every two weeks to see my family. This went on for about two years but I found it really hard to live and work in an area that lacked many of the basic resources I am used to having. Moving to a big city like Riyadh changed all of that and I not only enjoy my time here but was also able to complete my higher education, he said.

If I would have stayed in Najran, I would have wasted my time missing my family and lamenting the things I didnt have, he added.

While many young Saudi men complain about the lack of job opportunities in their cities, part of the problem is that few dare to apply for jobs outside of their regions. Yahya said it is important for people to step outside their comfort zones and experience something new and different.

In Riyadh, I joined the media industry and finally found the path to success. My advice to everyone is to follow wherever life takes them because they may find success in places they never expected.

According to Mohammad Al-Malki, young men who are just beginning their careers are often reluctant to leave the stability of living in their hometown for a new region because they are not yet able to provide for themselves financially. Some still depend on their parents and are not confident they can survive living on their own.

Venturing out is actually a positive thing that enables people to discover new capabilities and talents about themselves, adding to their personal development. It also forces one to truly grow and learn from their mistakes, he said.

Echoing the same view was Saud Al-Qarni who spent two fruitless years searching for a job in his home town before he finally realized he had to widen his scope to have a fair chance at landing a job. Al-Qarni now believes life is all about taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

Youth should be ready for all opportunities and circumstances whether they are in their home town or somewhere else. One must face life with an open spirit. Most military, education and private sector jobs usually require the employee to move around but one can always follow the path of entrepreneurship and pick the city they want to be in, he said.

Consultant Saleh Al-Dowsari said getting accustomed to a new job requires patience and time and the same is true for moving to a new city. But if people can get over the initial hardships, moving to a big city will open all kinds of opportunities.

The reasons why many young people will not seek a job far from their home town are many they do not want to leave their family or they are afraid of adjusting to a new lifestyle and failure in general. Big opportunities often come to daring people who are more focused on achieving financial stability so they can start their own families in the near future, he said.

Economist Waleed Al-Nahid said in order to encourage youth to move, jobs that require people to leave their hometowns should offer incentives in the form of monetary compensation. He also said regional governments should do more to retain their youth.

The youth should knock on every door and choose their jobs wisely. Success and prosperity does not only lie in governmental jobs. The economic sector is in need of people. Moreover, industrial cities, where most of the jobs are, should be planned and dispersed more widely in terms of geographical location. That way, more people will have better access to jobs wanted by the people and needed by the country.

The population should be dispersed more equally rather than having a cluster of people in a few marked cities while other areas of the Kingdom are ignored.

Source: SG

03-09-14, 02:04 PM
 Saudi cenbank says may cap consumer lending, limits fees
 
Saudi Arabia's central bank has published new consumer lending regulations which give it the power to cap retail lending at individual banks and limit the fees that banks can charge.
The rules could dent profit growth at banks, especially those that rely heavily on retail activity, as the kingdom prepares to open its stock market to direct foreign investment early next year.
Saudi banks' combined consumer loan book stood at SAR333.8 billion ($89 billion) at the end of March, up 8.6 percent year-on-year. That was 28.7 percent of all their lending.
The regulations, published on the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency's (SAMA) website, state: "SAMA may, at its discretion, impose a restriction on a creditor under which its consumer financing portfolio may not exceed a specified percentage of its total financing portfolio."
They also state that "all fees, costs and administrative services charges" collected by banks must not exceed either 1 percent of the financing amount or 5,000 riyals, whichever is lower.
Previously, processing fees were fixed amounts, regardless of the size of the loan, and varied from 1,500 to 2,500 riyals per loan application, according to brokerage EFG Hermes.
"The imposition of caps on fees should substantially dent the retail loan income for banks, in our view, with the impact likely to be felt more by banks that have significant revenue contribution from retail banking business," it said on Monday.
"While the impact of lower retail banking fee income should be felt across all banks, we estimate that the Islamic banks - Al Rajhi, Aljazira - and NCB <IPO-NACO.SE>, the largest retail banking player amongst conventional banks, should see the biggest negative impact on their fee income growth prospects."
EFG Hermes said the central bank was likely to use the consumer lending cap after closely monitoring the risk management capabilities of individual banks.
The Saudi central bank has a reputation as a conservative and cautious regulator, and has not hesitated in the past to encourage local banks to increase bad loan provisions at times of rapid loan growth.
Source: Reuters

04-09-14, 01:47 PM
Value of Saudi oil exports hit SR 474 billion in 8 months 
 
Saudi Arabia's oil exports reached 1.84 billion barrels in the first eight months of the current year (2014) with proceeds amounting to SR747 billion, local media said quoting an expert.
Meanwhile, domestic consumption during the same period reached nearly 553 million barrels, or 23 percent of the total output, Fahad bin Jumaa was quoted by Al-Riyadh daily.
The above figures came on the back of statements made by Saudi Aramco CEO Khalid Al-Falih that his company is planning to invest SR40 billion (SR150 billion) in the next 10 years to main stability in oil production and double gas production, the daily said.
Jumaa said the last few weeks had witnessed a substantial drop in oil prices at global level in light of geo-political developments and economic sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union (EU) countries on Russia.
Global oil supplies are still abundant and, accordingly, demand tends to be weak.
Oil supplies of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC), however, remain strong than ever before with a record of 30.44 million barrels per day (mbpd) in July supported by the Saudi increased production, he said.
He said West Texas crude oil continued to register low prices to reach $ 93.65 per barrel last week and, likewise, Brent crude dropped to $ 102.29, leaving a price gap of $ 8.64. Similarly, price of OPEC oil basket dropped to $ 99.52 same week, he said.
Source: Arab News

04-09-14, 02:15 PM
Saudi French trade rises to SR 455 billion in 20 years

The volume of trade between Saudi Arabia and France reached SR454.71 billion in the last 20 years (1994-2013) with a growth rate estimated at 166.7 percent, according to a financial report.
France came in the 11th rank among countries to which the Kingdom sent exports by the end of 2013 at SR 32.2 billion, or 2.3 percent of Saudi Arabias total exports to foreign countries, the report carried by Al-Eqtisadiah daily said.
The trade balance between the two countries registered a surplus in favor of the Kingdom in 17 years. France registered surpluses in only 3 years 1998 (SR406 million), 2009 (SR2.9 billion) and 2010 (SR656 million).
However, trade balance witnessed a robust growth at 69.3 percent in favor of the Kingdom in 2013 at SR 5.13 billion compared to figures of 2012, the report said.
Back in 1994, trade exchange between the two countries stood at SR12.3 billion whereas the lowest level of trade came in 1998 at SR11.3 billion. The highest level of trade exchange happened last year (2013) at SR51.8 billion, according to the report.
On the other hand, Saudi exports to France dropped in seven years, notably in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2007 and 2009.
As regards Saudi imports from France, the Kingdom imported goods valued at SR19.7 billion by the end of 2013, an increase of 5.7 percent compared to figures of 2012, representing some 3.1 percent of the Kingdoms total imports in 2013, the report said.Source: Arab News

04-09-14, 07:18 PM
Saudi's largest lender said to eye 15% stake sale

Saudi Arabias largest lender by assets is reportedly looking to sell a 15 percent stake on the Saudi Stock Exchange in the fourth quarter of 2014.
National Commercial Bank has submitted plans for the initial public offering to the Capital Market Authority, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.
The regulator may fast-track the approval so that the share sale can take place before years-end, the report said.
The IPO is set be the countrys largest since Saudi Telecom Co raised $3.92 billion in 2002, Bloomberg added.
NCB said in April that it had appointed HSBC Holdings and Gulf International Bank as financial advisers on the deal.
In July, National Commercial Bank posted a 22 percent jump in second-quarter net profit.
The bank made SR2.425 billion ($647 million) in the three months to June 30, compared with SR1.99 billion in the corresponding period of 2013.
Source: Arabian Business

04-09-14, 07:32 PM
Riyadh-Dammam high - speed line: Railway studies options 
 
Saudi Railways Organization ( SRO ) President Mohamed Khalid Al-Suwaiket has signed a contract for SR6,000,621 with Spanish consortiums headed by Consultrans Company to study options for a high-speed line between Riyadh and Dammam with a design speed of 350 km/h to enable trains to operate at 300 km/h.
Commenting on signing the contract, Al-Suwaiket said that the 10-month contract will include the traffic movement study between the two cities and determine the line comparing with existing main line as well as the preliminary technical description of the infrastructure for the project. It will also include the trainsets to be used for this high-speed line and the estimation of the financial cost of the overall project and the expected revenues.
Al-Suwaiket added that the contract comes within the development plans adopted by the SRO during this stage to raise the level of services provided to meet the growing demand for transportation services by train. This has taken advantage of the technical development and world's pioneering experience in the rail industry.
The new line aims to shorten the journey time of one and a half hours, which means that the use of high-speed line will represent a quantum leap for the services provided by the SRO and will have a positive impact in increasing the number of train users between Riyadh and Dammam, emphasizing the advantages of using the trains in terms of safety and security.
Al-Suwaiket pointed out that the signing of the contract will not affect the parallel plans made by SRO at the current phase to reduce the journey time between Dammam and Riyadh, which remains three hours.
It is possible under the potentials and technologies available in the new trains used until the introduction of the high-speed line trains.
He added that the SRO is planning to take advantage of the high-speed line technology to keep up with the development plans carried out recently, particularly the projects related to the development of its main activity represented in transporting passengers and cargo. This will contribute to improve performance and raise the level of quality in the transport sector to advance the development in all sectors.
Source: Arab News

09-09-14, 06:40 PM
Saudi builder says to diversify into solar, nuclear energy 
 
Major Saudi Arabian construction firm Abdullah Abdul Mohsin AlKhodari Sons Co said on Sunday that it would diversify into solar and nuclear energy.
Khodari's new activities will include supplying and installing solar energy equipment and systems, it said in a statement to the Saudi bourse.
It would also provide contractor services, maintenance and other operations for nuclear energy, the company said without giving details of the size of expected business.
The government body responsible for planning the Saudi energy mix said in 2012 that the world's top oil exporter planned to install around 41 gigawatts of solar power over the next 20 years as well as about 17 GW of nuclear capacity. Saudi Arabia currently has no nuclear reactors.
Source: Reuters

09-09-14, 06:43 PM
2nd bridge linking KSA and Bahrain to cost $ 5 billion 
 
A second causeway linking Bahrain with Saudi Arabia and providing a route for a regional railway network being built by Gulf kingdoms will cost about $5 billion, a minister said.
The cost of the causeway will be roughly $5 billion, Bahrains Transport Minister Kamal bin Ahmed told AFP on the sidelines of a two-day business conference, adding that it will be part of the GCC railway network.
Details of the project for the causeway which will be used by vehicles as well as freight and passenger trains will be discussed at a joint meeting next month, he said.
We have almost finalized the routes of the causeway, he told participants in the conference.
Teams from both countries are still working on other technical issues including financing, especially on how to get the private sector involved, the minister said.
Ahmed however said no date has been fixed for the start of the project. We need it to start soon, he said.
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have been linked since 1986 by a 25-km causeway used by several million people every year.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah announced the plan for the new causeway last week in a meeting with King Hamad, saying the new link would be named after Bahrains monarch.
The GCC railway network, approved by the Gulf leaders in 2004, is expected to be completed by 2017, although progress has been very slow amid differences. The regional network is planned to stretch over a distance of 2,000 km and will cost an estimated $20 billion.
Source: Arab News

09-09-14, 06:47 PM
 Kingdoms' insurance industry outlook bright as SAMA moves to end price ware
 
The insurance price war that raged in Saudi Arabia during 2012-2013 has now largely ended, although competition to win large, prestigious corporate accounts remains intense, according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.
In a report titled "Insurance In Saudi Arabia: The Price War May Be Over But The Fight For Market Share Continues", S&P said that anecdotal evidence suggests that market tariffs for the sector's principal lines of group medical and motor insurance have risen by an average of some 20 percent so far in 2014. Several companies have told the international ratings agency that policyholders have accepted price hikes of up to 40 percent on persistently loss-making accounts.
So far in 2014, motor insurance appears to have experienced the strongest recovery, but pricing in medical insurance is also significantly improving. Only the larger corporate accounts still achieve the best terms when purchasing group medical cover.
The substantial reserve strengthening of late 2013 is also likely to distort the insurance sector's 2014 results If, as many insurers still maintain, a sizable proportion of the extra reserving that external actuaries demanded was overly prudent, then we may well see reserve releases boosting the third- and fourth-quarter results for 2014.
But on the back strong economic recovery and improved operating conditions, a few weaker companies apart, S&P expects that on average across the Saudi Arabian insurance sector, the market recovery is even stronger than current interim and even year-end 2014 results may suggest.
"Anecdotal evidence suggests that market tariffs for the sector's principal lines of group medical and motor insurance have risen by an average of some 20 per cent so far in 2014, and several companies have told us that policyholders have accepted price hikes of up to 40 per cent on persistently loss-making accounts," said David D Anthony, Primary Credit Analyst at S&P.
Despite ongoing competitive pressures between the local 34 insurers in the sector, we expect insurers to maintain today's stronger pricing into 2015 and beyond because the insurance regulator, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency ( SAMA ),has taken a number of steps to encourage the maintenance of reasonable pricing and prudential reserving.
After a number of modest initiatives failed to turn the decline in tariffs around in 2013, SAMA ultimately dealt the price war a fatal blow by openly reminding the kingdom's licensed consulting actuaries of their duty to ensure prudent reserving at the companies with which they work. This had an immediate effect as all Saudi Arabian insurers are obliged to have their reserves signed off by a consulting actuary, and external auditors cannot contest the actuaries' calculations.
Despite ongoing competitive pressures between the local 34 insurers in the sector, S&P expects insurers to maintain the current stronger pricing into 2015 and beyond because the insurance regulator, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency ( SAMA ), has taken a number of steps to encourage the maintenance of reasonable pricing and prudential reserving.
After various more modest initiatives failed to turn the decline in tariffs around in 2013, SAMA ultimately dealt the price war a fatal blow by openly reminding the Kingdom's licensed consulting actuaries of their duty to ensure prudent reserving at the companies with which they work. This had an immediate effect as all Saudi Arabian insurers are obliged to have their reserves signed off by a consulting actuary, and external auditors cannot contest the actuaries' calculations.
As a result, the 2013 year-end accounts at most Saudi Arabia-based insurers and reinsurers saw very significant reserve strengthening both in respect of incurred liabilities and the unexpired risk of insurance policies that were still in force, many of which are now regarded as severely underpriced. SAMA has also recently implemented a requirement that new clients provide insurers with their claims history.
The 2013 year-end accounts at most Saudi Arabia-based insurers and reinsurers saw very significant reserve strengthening both in respect of incurred liabilities and the unexpired risk of insurance policies that were still in force, many of which are now regarded as severely underpriced. SAMA has also recently implemented a requirement that new clients provide insurers with their claims history.
"We believe the enforcement of actuarial pricing by external consulting actuaries will allow larger insurers to factor their economies of scale into premium quotations. Their generally lower overall expense ratios (expenses as a percentage of premium income) should permit large, cost-effective companies to apply actuarial pricing that is below the rate calculated as appropriate for smaller peers that have higher fixed costs relative to turnover. We therefore expect expense control to become just as important to most insurance management teams as market share has been in the recent past," said Anvar Gabidullin, an analyst at S&P.
Source: Saudi Gazette

09-09-14, 06:54 PM
Saudi stocks mixed 
 
Saudi Arabias stocks were mixed and its main index rose just 0.07 percent. Heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries pulled back 0.5 percent.
But shares in construction firm Abdullah Abdul Mohsin Al Khodari Sons Co jumped 4.2 percent after the company said on Sunday that it would diversify into solar and nuclear energy projects.
Saudi Real Estate Co rose 1.4 percent after the firm said it would pay a 5 percent dividend for the first half of 2014, the same as a year earlier, and that shareholders as of Sept. 10 would be eligible.
Elsewhere, Qatars index edged up 0.6 percent to 13,969 points but, for the second time this month, failed to hold above 14,000 points. Conglomerate Industries Qatar was the main support, gaining 1.1 percent.
Dubais bourse climbed 1.1 percent to 5,091 points after briefly dipping below the psychologically important 5,000 point level early in the session. Abu Dhabi index rose 0.5 percent to 5,186 points.
However, Kuwait index slipped 0.08 percent to 7,467 points, so too Oman index which pulled back 0.08 percent to 7,491 points. Bahrain index as well slipped 0.3 percent to 1,467 points.
Egypt index edged down 0.2 percent to 9,703 points.
Source: Saudi Gazette

05-11-14, 10:14 AM
SABIC the only Mideast firm on 2014 Global Innovation 1000 list 
 
Saudi Arabias Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) is the only company in the Middle East to make it into the Global Innovation 1000 list this year. SABIC ranked 272 out of the 1,000-strong list of innovative companies. The companys ranking this year is an improvement over last years 304th position. Total R&D spend by SABIC in 2014 was $440 million, a 19 percent increase from $371 million in 2013. SABICs average R&D intensity increased from 0.7 percent in 2013 to 0.9 percent in 2014.
The tenth annual Global Innovation 1000 Study, which analyzes the R&D investment at the 1,000 biggest-spending public companies in the world, found although R&D spending at large companies rose to its highest level ever in 2014, the rate of growth was the second lowest in a decade.
The new study from Strategy&, formerly Booz & Company, said R&D spending rose by only 1.4 percent last year a more modest increase than the 3.8 percent rise the year before and a marked drop from the 10-year average growth rate of 5.5 percent. R&D spending as a percentage of revenue fell by 17 percent between 2005 and 2014.
Companies say theyre better at innovating today than they were a decade ago, said Barry Jaruzelski, senior partner at Strategy& and a co-author of the report. It seems that companies can now do more with less, allowing them to moderate spending growth while still achieving results.
The decrease in R&D spending growth and intensity may indicate that companies have realized more spending doesnt always produce better results, or that innovation leaders are making progress in leveraging their R&D investments into greater financial performance, said Georges Chehade, Partner with Strategy&.
The software and Internet industry generated the most rapid growth, 17 percent, in R&D spending in 2014. However, despite the industrys ongoing increase in spending, software and Internet companies still accounted for just 9 percent of total corporate R&D spending in 2014. Meanwhile, the computing & electronics and healthcare industries accounted together for 50 percent of total innovation spending over the same period though in 2014, those industries R&D spending dropped by 1.8 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
It is striking that half the industries in the study saw a decline in R&D spending growth. Among them were two of the largest industries within the Global Innovation 1000, computing & electronics and healthcare. And yet, significant investments by smaller industries like software and Internet were large enough to compensate and even drive an overall positive R&D spending growth, said Jaruzelski.
Companies headquartered in China generated a 46 percent increase in R&D spending last year, while North American and European companies increased spending by only 3.4 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, and Japanese companies spent 14 percent less. Furthermore, the number of Chinese companies represented in the Global Innovation 1000 rose from only eight in 2005 to 114 in 2014 an increase of 1,325 percent.
Apple, Google, Amazon and Samsung top the list of the 10 Most Innovative companies in 2014 as identified by survey respondents. Among the full list, only three Google, Samsung and Microsoft are also on the Top 10 R&D Spenders list. In fact, over the past ten years only Microsoft has been among the Top 10 R&D Spenders and Top 10 Most Innovative companies each year. And although four of the Top 10 R&D Spenders in 2014 were healthcare companies, not a single healthcare company were voted among the 10 Most Innovative as identified by survey respondents.
For the 10th year, our research demonstrates that theres no correlation between how much you spend on innovation and how well you perform, said Chehade. You cant just buy your way to the top.
What many highly innovative companies have in common is not a high level of R&D spending, but an understanding of end-users wants and needs, adds Jaruzelski. Instead of depending on market research, these companies intimate connections with customers and innovate around their yet-to-be-articulated needs.
More than three-quarters of innovation leaders (76 percent) said that they are better at innovation today than they were 10 years ago, according to a survey of over 500 innovation leaders across nearly 500 companies. And about the same number (78 percent) believes they have developed a more detailed understanding of their customers wants and needs over the past decade.
Despite this strong sense of improvement, most surveyed innovation leaders believe they have room to grow. Only 41 percent say their companies are highly proficient in the innovation areas that they have tried to improve in the past, and just 27 percent believe they are mastering the elements they will need for innovation success over the next 10 years, Chehade noted.
Source: Saudi Gazette

05-11-14, 10:16 AM
Saudi Arabia adds to oil power with new refineries
 
 
Saudi Arabia's tighter grip on the oil market from the desert derrick to the petrol pump, thanks to two new refineries, is redefining its role as a crude exporter and OPEC kingpin.
The two state-of-the-art plants will give it 800,000 barrels per day in refining capacity online in 2015, part of an ambitious downstream drive which will see its refining capacity rise to 8 million bpd in a decade.
While a lot of that will target its rapidly growing economy with the majority likely to be consumed domestically after 15-20 years, for now Riyadh is to become a major exporter of refined oil products such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
"There is clearly a rebalancing in the kingdom as it is becoming a bigger player in the downstream. While Saudi may lose on crude exports, it will be gaining as product exports rise in the coming years," said Yasser Elguindi of Medley Advisors.
"So you are giving with the right hand even if you are taking away with left."
Crude exports from the OPEC heavyweight have been sliding in recent months to their lowest levels in almost three years.
State run Saudi Aramco and its subsidiaries own, or have equity interest in, domestic and international refineries with a total worldwide refining capacity of 4.9 million bpd, of which its equity share is 2.6 million bpd, making it the world's sixth-largest refiner.
In the kingdom a 400,000-bpd refinery, known as SATORP, in Jubail, reached full capacity in mid 2014 and another 400,000 bpd plant, the Yasref refinery in Yanbu, started trial runs in September with the first gasoil export cargo seen in December.
Aramco's CEO Khaled al-Falih said in May the company's downstream investments would exceed $100 billion over the next decade as high growth markets of the Far East and the Middle East "will make us one of the largest downstream players on the planet by volume."
The company has set up offices in Europe and Singapore to sell more oil products, industry trading sources say.
It has been exporting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of product monthly to Europe and Asia and snapped up spot deals through its trading arm to supply jet fuel to the United Arab Emirates, and gasoline to Kuwait and Bahrain this year, the sources said.
"One thing I think is very sure you are going to see in the next 3-5 years is going to be a shift in Saudi exports away from crude and towards products," Bob McNally, a White House adviser to former President George W. Bush and now president of the Rapidan Group energy consultancy, said after a recent trip to Saudi Arabia.
OPEC ROLE
Aramco Trading was set up in 2012 to trade and sell products directly to refiners. Other national oil companies, including China's Sinopec and CNPC, have significantly increased their trading arms too.
Traders are keeping an eye on Aramco as it starts direct sales of gasoil cargoes in Europe, reducing the role of middle men traders. Privately traders say if more companies followed Aramco's model it could squeeze them out of their niche markets.
"They are very active. They have a lot of volumes of gasoil, they are going to target end users, European customers and they will be moving cargoes that way. We have also seen them moving jet fuel this year," said one Gulf-based trader.
Saudi exported 6.663 million barrels of crude per day in August, down from 6.989 million bpd in July, according to the latest official data reported by the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI). The August crude export figures were the lowest since March 2011.
At the same time, products exports in August were at record high at 1.023 million bpd, the highest since at least 2002, the start of JODI's records. That was up from 707,000 bpd a month earlier and compared to 621,000 bpd in August 2013.
That would take total oil exports from Saudi in August to 7.686 million bpd, close to its crude export levels last year.
The forecast shift to products exports could weaken its hand in the Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), some analysts say.
"By 2018-19 Saudi Arabia will be producing two thirds product and one third crude. That will have great implication for OPEC," Fereidun Fesharaki, chairman of energy consultant FGE, said on the sidelines of the Oil and Money conference in London.
"You can't be the king of crude if you're not the number one exporter."
Source: Reuters

05-11-14, 10:19 AM
Saudi Prince Alwaleed calls for sovereign fund as slides

Saudi Arabia should set up a sovereign wealth fund to protect itself from sliding oil prices by earning higher returns from its foreign reserves, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said on Tuesday.
Brent crude oil futures sank more than $2 a barrel on Tuesday to a four-year low of $82.32, a day after Saudi Arabia cut its official selling prices to the United States.
Prince Alwaleed publicly urged the government last month to do more to protect the economy of the world's top oil exporter from the slide, and on Tuesday he recommended that officials put most of the kingdom's official savings in a new fund.
"The budget of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia depends 90 percent on oil ... I've already said that this is a huge mistake," said the prince, who is one of the kingdom's most prominent businessmen and international investors.
"And I have said before that if the situation remains the same then we could face a deficit in 2015 and have to use the reserves, which is something unfavourable."
Saudi Arabia should therefore set up a sovereign fund similar to those of Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Norway that could earn 5 or 10 percent a year, Prince Alwaleed told reporters.
The annual earnings of the fund would cover a large part of the budget deficits which the government may now run because of cheaper oil, he said. The International Monetary Fund has estimated Saudi Arabia would need an average oil price of $91 a barrel in 2015 to balance its state budget.
"What I'm asking for now in this open forum is to have an active sovereign wealth fund, and to put in it all the excess foreign exchange that you have, all the money you have..." Prince Alwaleed said.
"Clearly the income from our sovereign wealth fund would not cover all our budget, but at least should cover a good size of it."
The Saudi central bank has built up immense foreign reserves over the past several years of high oil prices; net foreign assets totalled 2.76 trillion riyals ($736 billion) in September, up 6 percent from a year earlier.
Economists believe the government could draw down the reserves to keep spending at high levels for many years if necessary, and its low debt means it could easily borrow from the markets. So Saudi Arabia does not face any immediate crisis due to the oil price slide.
But the remarks by Prince Alwaleed, who does not have high-level responsibility for economic policymaking in the kingdom, appear to reflect concern among some Saudis about the impact of any long-term decline in oil.
In contrast to its Gulf neighbours, Saudi Arabia does not invest its oil surpluses aggressively in foreign markets; the Saudi central bank is believed to have placed over half of its foreign reserves in low-risk, low-return U.S. dollar assets such as U.S. Treasury bonds and bank accounts.
In June this year, the country's influential Shura council advisory body discussed a proposal to establish a sovereign wealth fund, but no decision was reached.
Prince Alwaleed, owner of international investment firm Kingdom Holding , was visiting Jeddah to view one of the fruits of Saudi Arabia's oil-fuelled economic boom -- his Kingdom Tower project.
The tower, now under construction, is projected to cost 4.6 billion riyals and be the world's tallest skyscraper at over 1,000 metres (3,280 feet).
It is scheduled to be completed in 2018, featuring 170 stories that will include offices, luxury apartments and a five-star Four Seasons Hotel with 200 rooms.

Source: Reuters

05-11-14, 10:21 AM
 Tadawul index plunges 3.5%
 
Shares in Saudi Arabian telecommunications firm Mobily plunged their 10 percent daily limit on Tuesday after the firm restated 18 months of earnings and posted a shock profit drop, undermining the entire stock market.
Mobily, the counry's second biggest telecommunications operator, tumbled to a 21-month closing low of SR72.00 at the opening and remained at that level for the rest of the day.
At the close, about 310,000 of Mobilys shares had traded while sell orders of about 27.6 million shares were unfulfilled, indicating the stock could decline further on Wednesday.
Its total frustration in such a large and professional company as Mobily, said Mohammad Omran, a member of the Saudi Economic Association, a think tank at Riyadh's King Saud University. We believe the stock will continue to fall until it reaches around SR60.
Omran said such a valuation would be fair after Mobily on Monday cut its profits for 2013 and the first half of 2014 by a combined SR1.43 billion ($381.2 million), citing accounting errors. The firm also revealed a 71 percent drop in third-quarter profit.
The Capital Market Authority subsequently announced it had launched an investigation into Mobily, 28 percent owned by the United Arab Emirates' Etisalat, to determine whether it had violated bourse rules - just a few months before the stock market is due to open up to direct foreign ownership.
Its positive this came out now Saudi still maintains a very good reporting system and accounting standards, and I dont think one company can spoil the whole market, said Omran.
But the whole Saudi market slid, with the main share index falling 3.5 percent to 9,785 points a two-week low, as the Mobily debacle raised concern among some investors about the possibility of the regulator cracking down on other companies' earnings statements before the market opens to foreigners.
In addition to Mobily, the price of Brent crude oil fell to a more than four-year low near $82 a barrel on Tuesday.
Shares in Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the Gulfs largest listed company and one of the worlds top petrochemicals producers, dropped 5.5 percent.
Petrochemical product prices are closely linked to oil, while Saudi manufacturers get cheap energy supplies so higher crude prices provide a competitive advantage and bigger margins.
Most other Gulf markets were flat or suffered minor declines, but telecommunications firms fared poorly across the region.
Vodafone Qatar sank 2.7 percent after it reported a quarterly loss of 53.5 million riyals ($14.7 million), worse than forecasts by two analysts polled by Reuters, who had expected a loss between 21.6 million and 30.6 million riyals.
Shares in Zain, Kuwait's biggest telecommunications firm by subscribers, dropped 1.6 percent after it posted a 13 percent fall in third-quarter profit to 46 million dinars ($158 million); analysts had on average forecast 60.1 million dinars. It cited foreign exchange losses and Iraqs civil war disrupting operations in the country.
But Egypts benchmark index climbed 1.0 percent to a four-week closing high of 9,531 points. It is up 12 percent from Oct. 19's three-month low.
A base was formed at 8,500 points, with the market supported by foreign institutions which have been net buyers for the past week, said Mohamed Radwan, director of international sales at Pharos Securities in Cairo.
The market has confused a lot of people and whether it continues toward the year-high (of 9,811 points) or has another drop is yet to be determined.
Orascom Telecom Media and Technology OTMT.CA was the among the main supports, climbing 2.4 percent and accounting for nearly half of all shares traded. Its shares are up 18 percent since billionaire chairman Naguib Sawiris became chief executive on Oct. 23.
After the close, his brother Nassef Sawiris said his company, OCI, would make "huge" investments in Egypt following the resolution of a tax dispute between its subsidiary Orascom Construction Industries OCIC.CA and the tax authority.
Bahrains bourse was closed for a national holiday.

Source: Arab News

05-11-14, 10:48 AM
 Saudi non-oil business upturn clipped in Oct.
 
Growth in Saudi Arabias non-oil private business sector slowed in October because of competitive pressures and signs of moderating demand, although activity remained robust overall, a survey of companies showed on Tuesday.
The seasonally adjusted SABB HSBC Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers Index eased to a five-month low of 59.1 points last month from 61.8 points in September, which was the highest level in over three years. A reading above 50 means growth and below that level means contraction.
Output growth fell sharply, with the subindex dropping to 64.1 points from 69.5 as new orders tumbled to 65.4 points from 70.6.
However, employment growth accelerated at the fastest pace of since September 2012, with the subindex at 54.7 points. Over 12 percent of companies said their employment rose, some were reacting to expectations for strong order growth in the future.
The hiring pushed staff cost inflation up to 54.5 points in October, its highest level since the survey was launched in August 2009, although overall input price inflation slowed slightly. Output price inflation climbed to 52.8 points, the highest since October 2012.
Backlogs of work rose rapidly, at a pace only slightly slower than Septembers record increase, which was evidence of capacity constraints in Saudi Arabias private sector, the survey said.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabias headline Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) declined to a still strong 59.1 in October, the lowest reading since May, according to Emirates NBD Research. Both output and new order growth expanded at a slower rate last month, as firms cited weaker demand growth. Export order growth also slowed in October.
The backlogs of work continued to rise in October and firms increased employment at the fastest pace since September 2012. Staff costs also rose at the fastest pace on record last month. This helped to push up overall input prices, although input prices rose at a slower pace in October. Firms passed on some of these higher input costs to clients, as output prices rose at the fastest rate in two years.
Despite the easing in the main activity indicators in October, the expansion in the non-oil private sector is robust, with the headline PMI hovering around the 60 mark since June. This is well above the neutral 50 level, and suggests that the non-oil sector should help to offset any easing in oil sector growth in Q4.
Source: Saudi Gazette

05-11-14, 10:52 AM
Kingdom's doors "fully open for investment" 
 
When Abdullatif A. Al-Othman was picked to head the state-owned Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) some 29 months back, he was a wash-ashore from Dhahran with a strong conviction to inflict changes the likes of which the SAGIA had never seen.
As the chief of SAGIA, he immediately fell under the critical watch of every one.
But Al-Othman managed to eventually earn a reputation as a competent administrator, a commercial wizard and a person well-versed in economic diplomacy.
An engineering graduate from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Mineral (KFUPM) with a Masters degree in business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Al-Othman has had a meteoric rise in his career from an engineer to the vice president of Saudi Aramco.
Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Riyadh Bureau Chief of Arab News, caught up with the SAGIA chief to know about his future vision, his mission and his decision that made this regulatory authority to deliver and to make a difference.
Excerpts from the interview:
Let me start with a simple and straight forward question. If I am an international investor, why should I come to Saudi Arabia? What makes Saudi Arabia a viable and promising investment destination?

This question is at the heart of SAGIAs mission. With a GDP exceeding $700 billion, Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab economy, and one of the largest G20 economies.
It has an increasingly open and dynamic economy, with over $540 billion in trade volume, and is a leading recipient of foreign direct investments totaling $208 billion.
In addition to the blessing of plentiful oil and other mineral resources, Saudi Arabias geography located between Asia, Africa and Europe, gives the Kingdom the opportunity to play a much larger role in commercial terms.
Saudi Arabia has a solid well-endowed and securely governed financial and banking system.
This has allowed us to prosper even while many countries were struggling in the most recent world economic crises.
We see this as vital for the establishment and growth of investments. However, our longer term potential lies with our people.
Saudi Arabia has a very young population with an estimated 60 percent under the age of 21, the very nature of this demographic is important, as can be seen in contrast with mature regions such as Western Europe and Japan where an aging population presents a huge economic challenge.
The efforts by the Kingdom to develop high quality education at all levels, for males and females, represents the governments commitment to nurturing this potential, and as a consequence offering investors a rich and versatile workforce.
So in a nutshell, we have the natural reserves, human capital, large and growing economy, location, infrastructure and pro-business leadership.
Can you tell us more about the role which SAGIA plays as far as FDIs are concerned?
Since its creation in 2001, SAGIAs role has been comprehensive, yet well coordinated and vital to the progress of our economy and our people. In addition to promoting and attracting investments, we monitor and give recommendations on investment climate, investment policies, help develop investment opportunities in untapped areas as well as monitor investment performance.
A key part of SAGIAs focus is to provide best-in-class services to investors, and to improve continually its offering. Central to SAGIAs efforts is its one stop shop concept/desk.
Staffed with well-trained professionals, it streamlines the process of investment for foreign investors in particular.
Can you highlight some of the landmark steps, which the Kingdom has taken in its drive toward encouraging foreign investments?
Since its inception, Saudi Arabia has had a long record of actions and initiatives to encourage and support foreign investments.
The Kingdom has become an attractive destination for some of the most successful foreign investments globally, from the early years of oil exploration, to the development of our chemical industries, to a more recent highly sophisticated partnerships between the private sector and international partners.
Today, we are proud to be second home of many leading international corporations and the list is growing. However to look to recent landmarks, I would point to the year 2000, when Saudi Arabia enacted the Foreign Investment Law, which attracted a lot of international investors.
Key features of Foreign Investment Law included opportunities to participate in almost all activities, allowing 100 percent ownership of business entities, low cost of startup, minimal capital requirements, low tax regime, access to financing and equal treatment with local investors.
This led logically to our accession to the World Trade Organization in 2005, which cemented our integration with trading partners and announced a new era of open economic development to the broader business world.
More recently in our membership of the G20 Group of countries has underlined our importance in a regional and international sense, through giving us further opportunity to promote global business and investment environment stability.
Over the years, Saudi Arabia has become a party to over 20 bilateral investment treaties, which represents clear evidence of its legal and policy commitment to providing a safe, secure, non-discriminatory environment for foreign investors.
Today, thanks to the free trade agreements with 17 Arab countries, any product made in the Kingdom can be exported to well over 300 million consumers without any duties and within a radius of a three-hour flight.
Given Saudi Arabias fiscal strength, why the strong drive toward foreign investments? What is the government policy in this regard?
Actually the drive for private sector participation and hence foreign investments is a means to an end.
The underlying goal is the diversification of our economy. Foreign investments, in addition to local ones, facilitate our ability to reach that goal.
Saudi Arabia understands the risks related to building an economy that is over-reliant on oil, regardless of how strong and lucrative that resource may be. The FDI, although it is less than 10 percent of the total investment, is a vote of confidence in our economy and business environment.
It enhances competitiveness and brings in cutting edge knowledge and management practices.
How would you assess Saudi Arabias progress toward economic diversification? Please answer this question with special reference to SAGIAs efforts in this direction.
The Kingdom is moving steadily toward reducing its reliance on petroleum as a single source for its economy. The nonoil sector reached 50 percent of GDP in 2012, with manufacturing, trade and utilities leading this growth and diversification. Both oil-based and new sectors are seeing exciting development possibilities.
Our new growth sectors include health care, transportation, IT, food manufacturing and renewable energy.
Both Saudi and foreign companies are playing a role in building the sustainable future of the economy through these new sectors.
The governments substantial investments in infrastructure have played a key role in the growth of economy, and have helped to incentivize private sector interest through enhancing the prospects for international competitiveness.
The contribution of foreign firms has been considerable in our diversification efforts; they bring leading technologies, share vital knowhow and expertise, and develop Saudi workers and managers.
Their contribution is based on what they see as rewarding business opportunities.
We expect that they are able to make a good return on their investment; our relationship with foreign investors must be win-win.
This helped propel strong economic performance. GDP growth, in the Kingdom, has annually averaged five percent over the past five years, in spite of the global financial crisis and regional challenges.
This growth is expected to continue. In fact, the International Monetary Fund estimates the Kingdom will see average annual growth at a healthy four percent in the next five years.
Such results are due in no small measure to reforms in the business environment.
Measures such as reducing the capital required to start a business, facilitating exports of goods by Saudi firms, and attracting FDIs to develop key strategic sectors have fostered a competitive economic climate.
The beneficiaries are Saudi and foreign investors and the ultimate beneficiary is the national economy as the Kingdoms investment climate started to compare well regionally and globally.
There have been criticism that process of applying for an investment license from SAGIA are time and effort consuming. How would you respond to these criticisms?
We are well aware and thankful for such feedback for the areas where we need to improve. Indeed during the last 18 months, we did experience delays at our service centers.
As part of process to modernize our systems and procedures to streamline applications and compliance, things did slow down more than we would have expected.
However, today we can confidently say that the teething problems are behind us, and we really appreciate the patience and understanding we got from our customers.
Today, we believe we have struck a good balance of ensuring compliance and timely processing of transactions.
As part of the development initiative, SAGIA launched the Fast Track Service and the Investor Care Team, which exist to facilitate and support investors.
The Fast Track Service guarantees investors, large and small, a response within five working days of submitting their application.
Our current average for all new licenses (both Fast and Normal Tracks) is about 7 days and customers are able to check the status of their application on SAGIAs website (investor tools and online services).
They can also check our average service time for main services instantly live from our system through www.sagia.gov.sa (http://www.sagia.gov.sa) (go to investor tools and average service time).
A recent article in the Economist magazine suggested that Saudi Arabias interest in foreign investment is shifting, and that the Kingdom, represented by SAGIA, is becoming picky, thus, rendering the doors to investment in Saudi Arabia half open as they put it!
I read the article you refer to and again while welcoming constructive comments, I believe that on this occasion the Economist got its facts wrong, or at least wrongly interpreted them.
Saudi Arabias investment gates are fully open and we are welcoming investors in all fields.
Investors, who are committed to create a win-win relationship, fullfil the pre-set requirements and abide by the Kingdoms laws and regulations are all welcome on the same footing.
The Kingdom is fully open to many types of foreign investor; from small, high-growth firms to large, well-established multinationals.
In almost all situations, foreign investors can operate fully on the same basis as Saudis.
The Kingdom is the only country in the region that allows foreign Investors to own up to 100 percent of a Saudi enterprise, without co-investors or middlemen. The liberal equity ownership rules are expressly designed to promote foreign investment from all over the world.
I suspect that the comments in the Economist were responding to a very important part of SAGIAs role which is to ensure compliance of licensed entities to our laws and to make sure that businesses are doing what they were licensed to do. In this capacity, SAGIA must ensure that all investors maintain all the requirements that entitled them to their licenses and abide by the Kingdoms laws and regulations.
In small number of cases where there have been problems, the majority of canceled licenses have been due to the egregious non-compliance with rules, often involving businesses that were engaged in activities that they were not licensed for, or involving the abuse of residency regulations as opposed to the creation of any real investment.
In all cases, ample time was given to the related investors to correct their status.
It is very important to highlight that by carrying out this vital duty, SAGIA makes sure that the investment climate in the Kingdom is kept clean, efficient and fair, which is not only a legal requirement of the Kingdom itself, but also a valued expectation of the international foreign investment community.
Since youve mentioned creating jobs for the Saudis, you must have heard some say that Saudization may be a hindrance in the way of inviting foreign investments; what would you say to that end?
The Kingdom is exerting huge efforts to develop education at all levels, and provide young Saudis with the best educational opportunities inside and outside the Kingdom, thus developing the young Saudis into a talented and versatile workforce upon which the investors, local or foreign, can rely.
Recent experiences of prominent business enterprises in Saudi Arabia testifies that qualifying Saudis and creating jobs for them will have a positive effect across the gamut of Saudi and foreign enterprises.
Investors with a long term view, seeing Saudization as an opportunity, can and will benefit from the huge investments the Kingdom has made in human capital programs.
Already, there are success stories for local and international firms, both large and small, which have achieved Saudization levels well in excess of the minimum requirements.
For example, GEs workforce in the Kingdom is 71 percent Saudi, while Sipchem boasts Saudization of 68 percent. Al-Zamil Group has subsidiaries with Saudization ranging from 20 percent to 60 percent. Al-Fanar, another local investor who makes electrical devices, has a plant that is run by 700 Saudi female technicians.
In addition to the above, Boeing, the worlds largest aerospace company, has achieved Saudization of 64 percent, JGCs Saudization levels are at 23 percent from a total of 800 employees, and Samsung currently employs 77 Saudi nationals that constitute 18 percent of the total number of employees in the Kingdom.
These are just a few examples among many that have proven to succeed with a Saudi workforce.
The key point is that Saudi workers are capable, willing and proud to have jobs that put their education and skills to test.
Dont you think that your actions of establishing criteria and scrutinizing licenses affect FDI and rankings?
First I want to stress that our interest is to help investors succeed and fully protect their rights.
Our actions of ensuring compliance are in the interest of all, the country, the public, and investors who do not want to see fraudulent unlawful actions done in the name of investors. Also, we have identified some licenses in low quality investments and are working with them to help the serious ones upgrade their investments.
This is not only a legally sound action but also a nice gesture from us confirming our desire to help investors succeed. As you know, in return for the privilege of being licensed, investors are expected to positively contribute to the objectives behind foreign investment namely economic diversification, knowledge transfer and job creation.
Attributing decline in ranking and FDI to our corrective actions is an unfounded attempt by those who want to resist improving their performance. The ranking is done primarily based on survey and the majority of the participants are local and not foreign investors.
As to Foreign Direct Investments, 90 percent comes from less than three percent of the licenses and most of these are in premier status and well performing investments.
Finally, our ranking and FDI have been declining for the last five years while our corrective action has lasted less than 18 months.
We believe the current decline of FDI is more of a result of global trends, geopolitics around us and business cycles. Investors know that we have the economy, the growth, the business environment and above all the government commitment.
Is there any plan to open new areas for investment? SAGIA possibly has had a negative list of areas in which foreign investment is not allowed. Your comments please.
The negative list is very limited list and it is continuously reviewed.
We are, as a matter of fact, one of the few countries that allow investments in retail sector. We also allow 100 percent ownership to investors in various sectors.
What would you like to say about the opportunities available for Saudi and foreign entrepreneurs and workers, who are looking for lucrative investments and jobs respectively?
I would like to emphasize that this period of time is exceptional and critical, not only for national economic development, but also for the future of the Middle East region and beyond. Saudi Arabia has coped with the global economic crisis and came out with a robust, energetic and growing economy. The Kingdom is witnessing one of its most exciting periods of economic development.
We are experiencing the longest period of sustained growth in our history. On average we are spending more than $80 billion to $100 billion on projects annually, and we must seize this opportunity to maximize the economic impact of these projects in creating sustainable industries and businesses.
As an important part of the Kingdoms economic development approach, SAGIA is committed to an open economy and it promises interested foreign direct investors a welcoming and supporting environment and a pro-business government that will go out of its way to help them.
Finally, SAGIA takes a constructive, collaborative approach to doing its business: its mission is to help investors succeed for their own benefit and that of the Kingdom.
Source: Arab News

20-11-14, 01:09 PM
Alturki and Bawan complete the sale of Inma Pallets

Khalid Ali Alturki & Sons Company (Alturki) announced on June 26, 2014 completing the sale of Inma Pallets Ltd, one of Alturkis fully owned subsidiaries to Bawan Wood Industries and United Wood Products Co., subsidiaries of Bawan . Bawan Wood and United Wood Products Co. are now the sole owners of Inma Pallets Ltd, a leading supplier of industrial wooden pallets in Saudi Arabia.
Rami Alturki, President & CEO of Alturki, commented on sale by saying; We are proud of our success with Inma Pallets over the past 30 years from a pioneer to one of the most recognized brands in its industry. I believe this transaction will add great value to both companies and create an undisputed market leader with significant growth potential under the outstanding leadership of the Bawan executive management team and board of directors. This is the first transaction of 2014 for Alturki having successfully completed 2 acquisitions and created 3 new companies in 2013 as part of its strategic review and transformation.
Source: Al-Turki

20-11-14, 01:11 PM
Saudi Investment firm Jadwa eyes real estate push
 
Saudi Arabia's Jadwa Investment, one of the country's largest privately owned investment firms, says it is planning to invest in domestic real estate as it expands into new asset classes, hoping to cash in on booming demand for new homes.
Supply of housing in Saudi Arabia lags strong demand, the result of rapid population growth and slow progress in government building programmes designed to ease the shortage.
Tariq al-Sudairy, managing director and chief executive officer of Jadwa, said the group will focus on the asset class and target major cities like Riyadh, Mecca, Madina.
"We see a lot of potential for growth in this space - both in terms of real estate development project and income generating projects," he said.
Jadwa would partner with real estate developers to select and execute projects on behalf of clients. Funds would be set up as projects were selected and the size of the investment would be determined on a case-by-case basis.
"The type of projects are localised but in general, we expect residential to be in focus, along with retail and hospitality," Sudairy said.
Jadwa, which is split into asset management, private equity (PE), investment banking and brokerage, had more than 20 billion riyals ($5.33 billion) in assets under management in the third quarter, across its asset classes.
Sudairy said private equity in the kingdom offered significant potential as well, as it represents less than 0.1 percent of the Saudi economy compared with well above 1 percent in more mature markets. Jadwa itself hopes to seal an unspecified deal as early as the first quarter of 2015.
"There is a lot of potential for private equity in Saudi Arabia, which is why we are giving it a lot of attention," Sudairy said. "We're engaged in multiple discussions at various stages of the process."
He did not provide the scale of the deal.
Jadwa has spent over 4 billion riyals on PE investments across multiple sectors since it was established in 2005, targeting a rate of return of at least 20 percent.
Along with Dubai-based Fajr Capital, Jadwa acquired Jeddah-based waste management firm Global Environmental Management Services earlier this year from a group of investors led by Ashmore Group at an undisclosed value.
It has also exited or partially-exited three investments in 2014, including taking hospitality firm Al Hokair and Al Hammadi Company for Development and Investment public.
The Saudi stock market is set to open to foreign investors for the first time in the first half of 2015.
Source: Reuters

23-11-14, 09:55 AM
Riyadh residents upbeat about transport projects

Riyadhs residents have been complaining about heavy traffic during peak hours, but many are upbeat about the prospect of good results once major road projects are completed.
Traffic snarls and missed appointments are normal due to road construction projects, but the benefits will far outweigh the inconveniences once these are complete, said Eric P. Asi, a senior engineer at Nardeen Lighting.
He added that the local government, through the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), is doing its best to make travel for city residents convenient.
Residents in the Saudi capital should do their share by engaging in little acts of sacrifices and be tolerant of the inconveniences for the benefit of the majority later on, he said.
Asi said that he is one of numerous city residents who drops his two children at Suleimania and his wife, who teaches at Exit 9, and then drives to the Second Industrial Area to report for work.
Mohammed Doughan, a Syrian working in public relations, added that traveling will be more convenient once the road projects are completed, including the Riyadh Metro.
If you find driving a hassle during peak hours these days, you wont a few years down the line, he said.





He added that completion of work along Sitteen Street will solve bumper-to-bumper traffic during peak hours in major arteries, like the Airport and Olaya roads.
He also said that city residents will use the Riyadh Metro to commute once the project is complete.
They will drive their cars to the Riyadh Metro station and leave them there. They then take the metro to go to work, he said.
Joe M. Pesig, also an engineer at Light Technologies, added that the air will be cleaner thanks to fewer cars on the roads and the new metro.
This is because there are will be fewer cars, which pollute the environment and the air we breathe. We can say that the metro is not only for us, but also for our children, he said.
He added that the sacrifices we have made are insignificant compared to the benefits we and the future generations will enjoy once the projects are completed.

Source: Arab News

23-11-14, 09:59 AM
Tow trucks doing good business


The heavy downpours in Jeddah over the weekend have brought in a lot of business to tow truck owners in the city where flash floods have resulted in the breakdown of a large number of vehicles requiring to be towed away.
Car owners are also complaining of the high rates of tow trucks which are charging up to SR40 per vehicle. However, tow truck drivers do not feel they are charging too much.
We need to share the SR40 with three other workers who assist us in the job, said Abdul Kawi Muhammad, an Egyptian tow truck driver. He added that at the end of the day, each worker was only able to make up to SR200 and that too, if there were heavy rains, which was rare.
He said it was unfair to think that tow truck drivers were exploiting the situation and overcharging car owners. We are not using the situation to our advantage but on the contrary, we are helping people to get their cars out from the dirty and stagnating waters, he said.
He pointed out that the fees demanded of car owners was very small compared to the service being offered them. Imagine what would happen to the cars if we did not pull them out? They would remain in the water which would damage the engines and further compound the miseries of their owners, he said.
Meanwhile, a general physician at the Ada Medical Center, Dr. Emad Hassan, warned people against coming into contact with contaminated water. It is scientifically proven that water contaminated by human and animal wastes causes 80 percent of infectious diseases including dysentery, cholera, typhoid, bilharzia, polio, liver diseases, intestinal disorders and skin conditions, he said.

Source: Arab News

23-11-14, 10:01 AM
Govt does not buy land from developers


The Ministry of Housing does not buy land from real estate developers because of the danger of prices skyrocketing, a senior official said here recently.
The official, who did not want to be named, said the ministry only purchases land from municipalities and other government bodies. He said the ministry recently purchased land in Hail in this manner for state housing projects.
On housing loans, he said the ministry allows citizens to pay off their loans in installments for land, houses and construction. He said the government would also write off loans of deceased people that were provided by the Real Estate Development Fund. The inheritors have to submit the necessary documentation to the Ministry of Finance, which in turn would repay the amount on behalf of the deceased.
He said the fund does not facilitate loans from banks for those needing extra funding. These are considered personal loans and transactions solely between beneficiaries and banks.
Meanwhile, Minister of Housing Shuwaish Al-Duwaih said earlier that his ministry would next week provide 381 residential units in Buraidah for citizens. He said the ministry would continue providing housing for citizens. The ministry has in total approved 306,629 land, housing and construction loans for citizens. There have been 252,216 loans for land, 12,496 for residential units, and 41,917 loans to buy apartments built on government land in partnership with real estate developers.

During a meeting in Riyadh recently, the ministry said it had posted all this information on its website, including the preferences of citizens for housing products on offer by the government.
The grace period granted for applicants to amend their preferences ended last week. There were 49,165 objections, of which 40,983 were accepted, with 55,893 approvals.

Source: Arab News

23-11-14, 10:19 AM
Motorists in Kingdom spend SR1.4 billion on fuel a month

A recent study estimated motorists spending on fuel in the Kingdom at over SR1.4 billion monthly, an average of SR46.66 million daily. These estimations are based on fuel prices ranging between 42 halala for diesel and 59 halala of petrol per one liter.
According to the study conducted by Aleqtesadiah, a sister publication of Arab News, fuel consumption volume for private vehicles currently amounts to 811,000 barrels per day of oil, which translates to 128.9 liter, which is around 23 percent of the total consumption of energy by the transport sector in the Kingdom.
Diesel and gas are used mainly by vehicles or to generate electricity, as well as factories. Gas sales peaked in 2012 with about 1.18 million barrels sold.
Compared to 2008, the study found an increase of 24 percent in the consumption; from 947,000 barrels daily in 2008 to 1.18 million barrels a day in 2012.
This number attests to the growth in population in the Kingdom from 2008 to 2012 (this period was adopted because of the data available) where the increase exceeded 13 percent. Population growth spiked from 25.79 million at the end of 2008 to 29.2 million at the end of 2012, an increase of 3.41 million.
This growth in population was met with an increase in the demand for vehicles, with about 15.90 million vehicles sold at the end of 2012, meaning that this growth exceeded 24 percent, to 3.12 million vehicles.

The analytical study revealed that the price of one liter of gas in Saudi Arabia is 89 percent less than the global price. In the Kingdom, the average price of one liter of gas stands at 59 halala ($0.16), while the global average for about 165 countries was SR5.17 ($1.40) in 2012.
A comparison between the prices of 2012 and those of 2008, shows the Kingdom did not increase the prices of diesel and gas, while the world price per liter went up 26 percent.
The world price per liter of diesel has risen by 26 percent from SR3.21 ($0.87) to SR4.74 ($1.28). This study is based on the latest World Bank data.
To further reduce cost of gas and diesel, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, deputy minister of petroleum and mineral resources, said recently that the manufacturers pledged to comply with the Saudi standards for fuel efficiency. He added that the Saudi standard for fuel efficiency in light vehicles is seeking to improve the rate of energy efficiency in the Kingdom by 4 percent annually, and shift it from its current level of 12 km per liter of fuel to more than 19 km by 2025.

Source: Arab News

23-11-14, 10:31 AM
Campaign against colorful abayas

Dammam University has launched a campaign against colorful abayas after a number of girls were caught without the customary black outer covering mandatory in educational institutions.
Supervisors at Dammam University confirmed that the campaign against the wearing of colored abayas had begun in all their colleges. They pointed out that although colored abayas are easily available in the market, female students are required to abide by the rule of wearing black as a sign of respect to the educational environment.
Female students also said that supervisors and security employees had begun implementing the campaign since last week and that any girl found in violation of the rule would be penalized. They also said that they had been warned that all violations would be documented and filed. They were also expected to abide by the instructions which authorities say promote modesty in dress and appearance.
Meanwhile, workers in abaya markets said that officials have inspected shops selling colored abayas. They said that designers have also been asked to strictly abide by the set abaya designs and colors to avoid punitive action.
Sellers and store owners said instructions issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stated the importance of abiding by abaya designs.

A social researcher, Mohammad Al-Zahrani said that there is wide-ranging debate on the issue of the abaya. The Permanent Committee for Scientific Research and Iftaa stated about 14 years ago that the abaya should conform to Shariah dress which promotes modesty, he stated.

Source: Arab News

23-11-14, 10:43 AM
Oil and gas firms to forge new links at Dhahran show

Prince Saud bin Naif, governor of the Eastern Province, will patronize the sixth Saudi International Exhibition for Oil and Gas, starting in Dhahran on Monday.
Dhahran International Exhibitions Company is organizing the event on Monday.
Company CEO Muhammad bin Hamad Al-Hussaini said that several officials, investors and interested members of the business sector will take part in the exhibition.
He said that the exhibition is part of the companys efforts to develop the oil industry.
The show is attracting a large number of national and international oil companies and major operating companies. Economic and commercial and attachs from foreign missions in the Kingdom have also expressed interest in the event, said the CEO.
The exhibition provides an important platform for companies, distributors and suppliers in the oil sector.
Al-Hussaini said: The exhibition reviews, through its activities, the latest products in all fields of the oil industry. The main challenges facing the sector in addition to many solutions that have contributed to raising the level of performance and improving the services related to it are also being analyzed, he said.

The exhibition aims at boosting investments by attracting more capital that will contribute to the launch of several projects in vital national industry sectors that characterize the province.
He said that the company has allocated an area of 7,200 square meters for the three-day exhibition.
Organizers expect the show to draw more than 10,000 interested visitors because participating companies are key players in the oil and gas industry.
The previous exhibition attracted more than 9000 interested visitors including investors.
He also said that the exhibition is characterized by the participation of many companies that present different and distinctive ideas to the visitors and those who are keen to study the latest developments in the oil and gas industry. International companies will present their ideas and products to customers in the local market with a view to transferring technology. They will also seek new channels for investment.
Officials say the event gains added significance as a number of giant industrial projects are being carried out in Jubail and Yanbu. According to data made available to Arab News, the total value of these projects exceeds SR400 billion.
The event ends on Nov. 26.

Source: Arab News

23-11-14, 10:46 AM
German delegation keen to promote Saudi trade

Peter Ramsauer, chief of the German-Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has held high-level talks on strengthening bilateral cooperation in Riyadh.
Ramsauer and his delegation met with various government agencies and business sectors, including senior officials in the Shoura Council and the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC).
The two sides discussed the scope for cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Germany in economy, trade and investment fields, and also the mechanism to set up investment projects in the two countries.
They dealt with issues such as trade promotion and ways of boosting Saudi exports to Germany in a bid to increase the volume of trade, taking advantage of business-friendly policies in the Kingdom.
CSC Chairman Abdulrahman Al-Zamil welcomed the efforts to promote closer economic and trade ties between Saudi Arabia and Germany and the possibility to allow a greater flow of trade and wider opportunities for joint ventures.
Referring to growing trade relations between the two countries, Al-Zamil pointed out that German manufacturers set high standards in technological innovation and their commitment to quality raises the chance for stronger business links.

He emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two countries in terms of small and medium enterprises.
According to Al-Zamil, both the Saudi and German Chambers are playing their role in improving the investment climate. He stressed the need to explore the opportunities available under the umbrella of this special relationship in various sectors including renewable energy, transport, electricity, health, housing and various fields of manufacturing.
For the German side, the visiting official highlighted the giant investment projects under way in Saudi Arabia and its healthy investment environment. These factors make it one of the advanced economies of the world, he said.
He expressed his countrys desire to offer more cooperation in technical training, SMEs and housing, infrastructure.
He also called for more cooperation among private sector enterprises.

Source: Arab News

23-11-14, 11:04 AM
Gitmo Saudi comes home after 12 years

WASHINGTON: A Saudi inmate at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was repatriated on Saturday, leaving 142 prisoners still at the jail President Barack Obama has pledged to close, the Pentagon said.
Mohammed Al-Zahrani is the latest of seven prisoners freed from the controversial jail in the past three weeks.
Al-Zahrani was approved for transfer last month by the special review board, created by Obama in his efforts to shut the prison, the Pentagon statement said, adding that Congress was duly informed of the transfer.
Held at Guantanamo for 12 years, the 43 or 44-year-old Saudi was considered until the latest review to present a high risk to American interests.
But the review board, composed of representatives from six government agencies, including the State and Defense departments, decided on Oct. 3 that Al-Zahrani, a suspected Al-Qaeda operative, no longer represented a threat to the United States.

Source: Arab News

10-12-14, 01:55 PM
Fall in oil price creates fears among contractors 
 
The sharp drop in oil prices across global markets has caused panic among contractors in the Kingdom fearing the negative impact on the governments financial budget.
The oil market fell from $120 to less than $66.25 per barrel in the Kingdom where oil is the mainstay of the economy and the source of finance for all its development projects.
The Kingdoms vast construction market is being driven by increased government spending, which depends on high oil prices, according to a Global Investment House report.
The Kingdom allocated a budget of $219 billion in 2013 for spending on various infrastructural projects, up by 18.8 percent from the previous year. From this, almost $76 billion has been set aside for capital expenditure on investment projects.
However, if the current oil prices continue to slide, they will reflect on the infrastructural plans of the Saudi government.
A number of contractors and economy experts told Arab News that the impact of low oil prices will appear on the local contraction market in the long term.
It is important for the government to have enough oil-based income to finance the mega infrastructural projects currently under way and in various stages of completion, said Farouq Al-Khateeb, an economics professor at King Abdul Aziz University.
He added that the growing Saudi population was creating pressure on the government to meet their needs through spending on various projects, especially the housing sector. The high demand for construction projects will increase the labor and materials costs if there are obstacles to implement them, he noted.
Most construction firms do not have precautionary measures or a safety net to deal with low finances in the backdrop of the spiraling oil prices, Mustafa Al-Shalwai, CEO of Al-Monsour Group for construction and Development said.
He added that the Kingdom will remain strong in investments in road, railway, power and housing projects. But the negative impact of the continually declining oil prices may be apparent in another two or three years, he said. There are serious fears among contractors due to the absence of a clear vision to deal with this crisis, he observed.
Source: Arab News

10-12-14, 02:00 PM
Ma'aden spearheads Saudi mining sector development
 
The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) investments have now exceeded SR85 billion making the Kingdom a major player in the phosphate and aluminum industry, according to Maaden sources who discussed in detail about Maadens operation and plans during a media field trip to Ras Al-Khair.
Maaden is playing a key role by developing the mining sector as the third pillar of Saudi industry, beyond oil and petrochemicals. Through its investments, Maaden is turning the Kingdom into a major player in global markets for phosphate, aluminum, gold, copper and industrial minerals.
With its partner SABIC, Maaden has invested SR21 billion in the Maaden Phosphate Company which operates in Al Jalamid in the Northern Province and the Eastern Provinces Ras Al-Khair. The mine produces 11.6 million tons per year of ore, and significant infrastructure investments in Al Jalamid, include a power plant, potable water and communications facilities, and transport networks that make exploration and production viable. From Al Jalamid, concentrated rock is taken by rail to Ras Al- Khair for processing in its network of facilities including phosphoric acid, sulfuuric acid, ammonia, DAP granulation and desalination plants. At full capacity, MPC will produce 3 million tons of DAP (fertilizer) annually. Most of Maaden fertilizer production is sold to international markets
Maadens second large phosphate project is a fully integrated facility at Waad Al Shamal minerals industrial city. With over SR27 billion investments, the new complex will include seven large world-class plants and associated facilities, making it one of the largest phosphate facilities in the world. Total production capacity will be close to 16 million tons per year, including 3 million tons of finished fertilizer products, as well as 440,000 tons of downstream products. Complementary plants to produce ammonia and phosphate-based fertilizers will be built near the port facilities at Ras Al-Khair; the twin sites will be linked by the North-South Railway.
In 2009, Maaden established a joint venture with Alcoa, the worlds third-largest aluminum producer, to build the worlds most efficiently integrated aluminum project in Saudi Arabia. This SR40 billion project includes a bauxite mine in Baitha in the Qassim region, and a refinery, a smelter and a very advanced rolling mill all at Ras Al-Khair. Its product, aluminum of the highest international standards will be sold to the domestic and global markets. It will also encourage the development of additional downstream industries within KSA.
Source: Saudi Gazette

10-12-14, 02:19 PM
 High public sector drives favorable macro outlook for Saudi banks: Fitch
 
High public sector spending will continue to drive a favorable macroeconomic outlook and business opportunities for Saudi banks in 2015, Fitch Ratings said in its new report.
"The performance of Saudi banks remained sound in 1H14, driven by business growth and declining loan impairment charges," said Redmond Ramsdale, a Director in Fitch's Financial Institutions team. "The prospects for Saudi Arabia's economy remain strong due to high, albeit falling, oil prices, significant government spending on infrastructure projects and an expanding non-oil private sector." The banks expanded their loan portfolios by an annualized 17.4 percent in 1H14, compared with 14 percent in 2013. New lending is mostly to retail and government-related projects. We expect credit growth to remain strong in 2H14 and 2015. .Despite strong asset growth, the Saudi banks continue to be well capitalized, with an average Fitch core capital ratio of 16 percent at end-1H14. The joint venture banks' capital ratios are lower but adequate for their overall lower risk profiles, in Fitch's view. Asset quality ratios are generally strong and are likely to remain stable due to the benign operating environment, improving underwriting standards and lending directed mostly toward government-related projects. However, high borrower and sector concentrations expose the banks to event risk. Funding benefits from the banks' strong access to low-cost non-commission-bearing deposits, which helps to alleviate margin pressure. Customer deposits remain short-term, but are behaviorally sticky.
Loan/deposit ratios in Saudi are among the best in the region. The banks also benefit from large volumes of liquid assets, including government securities and deposits with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. However, given the growth in longer-term lending and that all banks have asset/liability maturity gaps, we believe the banks would benefit from a diversification of their funding base by raising long-term funding.
The Long-term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) of The National Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Bank, Riyad Bank, SAMBA Financial Group, Bank Aljazira, The Saudi Investment Bank, Saudi Hollandi Bank and Alinma Bank (i.e., eight of the 11 Saudi banks rated by Fitch) are driven by expected support, if required, from the Saudi sovereign (AA/Stable/F1+). The IDRs of Banque Saudi Fransi, Arab National Bank and Saudi British Bank are driven by their standalone strengths as reflected in their Viability Ratings.
Source: Saudi Gazette

10-12-14, 02:41 PM
 Saudi air-conditioning market poised to exceed SR 9.37 billion by 2019
 
The air-conditioning market in the Kingdom is poised to exceed SR9.37 billion ($2.5 billion) annually by 2019, local media said quoting a report released by a global research firm.
The report comes at a time when demand for air-conditioners in the Saudi market has witnessed a significant growth. In 2013, the Kingdom imported from China and Thailand nearly 2.4 million A/C units for the value of SR2.7 billion, Al-Eqtisadiah daily said.
The report Saudi Arabia Air-Conditioner Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2019 said that centralized air-conditioning units, such as chillers and VRFs, are expected to gain stronger foothold in the Kingdoms markets over the next five years.
However, the share of window air-conditioners is expected to witness a decline during the same period, the report said. The rising numbers of housing units, expansion of commercial and institutional spaces, and extreme climatic conditions are the major growth drivers for the countrys air-conditioner market.
In Saudi Arabia, summers stretch to around nine months in a year with maximum temperatures reaching 55C in some parts of the country, according to the report.
Mega developmental projects announced by the government and private companies, such as educational institutions, hotels, office spaces, and expansion and development of cities in the country, are expected to create a lucrative market for air-conditioner manufacturers and suppliers over the next five years, the report said.
The rapidly expanding affluent population base in the country is increasingly opting for luxury housing units, which is boosting the demand for centralized air-conditioning units in the countrys residential sector. In addition, the booming hospitality and tourism industry in the country is also anticipated to trigger the demand for air-conditioners in Saudi Arabia during 2014-2019, it said.
"Major Saudi cities such as Makkah, Riyadh and Jeddah are witnessing rapid infrastructural development, thereby providing a huge growth opportunity for air-conditioner companies to offer complete air-conditioning solutions to their customers in these cities, said Karan Chechi, Research Director with TechSci Research.
Moreover, as Saudi Arabia experiences very hot climate for the majority of the year, the air-conditioner has become more of a necessity than a luxury item, and with growing income levels, the demand would continue to grow over the next five years, Chechi added.
Source: Arab News

16-12-14, 11:20 AM
Govt to fix prices of goods anew 
 
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced that it will set prices based on import costs, an official source told local media.
According to the source, the ministry's recent study on the prices demanded by merchants, revealed that the amounts charged were exaggerated. Aiming to curb such practices, the ministry claimed that its new policies will allow consumers to buy goods at affordable prices, without harming traders.
Generally, merchants add shipment costs to the value of the goods and then multiply the sum by 2.25 or 5, based on what profits they want to make. "This means the merchant makes a profit of 125 percent. In some cases, shopkeepers can even make profits of over 400 percent, which prompted the Ministry to set out new policies to price goods," said the source.
Another phenomenon that will be curbed with the introduction of the new pricing system is seasonal discounts and liquidations. A number of merchants make big discounts during certain seasons, fooling consumers into believing that they actually incur loses when they sell goods worth SR600 for only SR 200, a common practice that helps the shopkeeper get rid of old merchandise and still make a hefty profit.
The new system will impose sanctions on merchants who manipulate prices. Mohammed Al-Asi, an economic analyst close to the ministry, said it won't be long before this new pricing system is ready. Al-Asi believed the pricing plan will reduce prices of consumer goods. "The ministry will allow a reasonable profit margin for merchants. It's in the country's best interest that we keep the prices and markets under control, the official source commented.
Source: Arab News

16-12-14, 11:24 AM
Hotel deal to provide jobs for hundreds of nationals

Three hundred Saudi youth are to be employed in the hospitality sector under a new franchise system agreed between two of the industry's biggest players.
Addressing a press conference in Riyadh on Sunday, Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Issa, chairman of Dur Hospitality Company, said the cooperation between his company and the Inter Continental Hotels Group (IHG) would create 300 new positions for the locals.
Al-Issa spoke to the press on Sunday following the signing of a formal agreement between his company and the IHG for the franchising of Holiday Inn and its suites throughout the Kingdom. Under the new franchise plan, signatories expect to enhance the brands footprint in the Kingdom by developing a number of Holiday Inn & Suites branded hotels across the country in the course of the next five years.
"This new franchise will definitely strengthen Durs financial position and its investments leadership in the hospitality sector based on the upcoming investments in a number of new hotels in several cities in the Kingdom. We have seen the success IHG has had in KSA and their competition capabilities to have a noticeable market share, and these are the main reasons that led to our partnership, declared Al-Issa.

The growth of tourism in the country and the increase in demand for hotel rooms and hospitality services have led to the rise in investments in this sector, as expectations for further growth will exceed SR95 billion within the next 10 years. "However, and as we announced previously, Dur Hospitality will invest more than SR1.5 billion in the development of new projects in the upcoming five years, he added.
Badr bin Hmoud Al-Badr, CEO of Dur Hospitality, expressed his optimism toward the constant growth in the hotel sector due to the increasing number of foreign businessmen who visit KSA or those who are moving within the cities. Another main reason, Al-Badr explained, is the tremendous growth in the religious tourism sector.
However, Al-Badr recalled the statistics and reports that indicated that more than 350,000 new hotel rooms will be available in Saudi Arabia by the end of 2015 after the implementation of a large number of hotel projects that are currently being developed in several areas.
On the issue of the causes of the continuous growth and demand in hotel sector, Al-Bader explained that the governments direction to diversify the sources of national income from oil was a key motivation for the overall economic development taking place in Saudi Arabia. This development can be seen through the growth of several sectors such as industry, commerce, education, services, transportation and others, including the tourism sector, especially in light of the current gigantic projects that are designed to enlarge infrastructure in all regions.
Pascal Gauvin, IHG's chief operating officer for India, Middle East and Africa, declared that Saudi Arabia is a main player in the regional hospitality sector. We have been operating in Saudi Arabia for the last 40 years and this represents a key market for us as it holds our largest pipeline in the Middle East."
Source: Arab News

16-12-14, 12:15 PM
Shoura suggests linking salaries to price index 
 
The 150-member Shoura Council has passed a proposal to revise the salary scale of the countrys civil servants, taking into consideration the rise in inflation and hike in prices of essential commodities. The Shoura decision will be presented to the Council of Ministers shortly for approval.
The Shoura resolution has recommended an increase in salaries of government employees in tune with a hike in inflation rates, said a Shoura member, who requested anonymity.
The consultative body also asked the authorities concerned not to cap salaries at a particular level, adding that the salary scale should be revised annually considering inflation rate announced by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency.
Mohammed Al-Amr, secretary-general of the Shoura, said the consultative councils resolution was passed by a majority vote. It instructed the Ministry of Civil Service to change the stable salary system into a flexible one in coordination with relevant authorities including the Finance Ministry.
Meanwhile, the Shoura passed another proposal urging the Ministry of Civil Service to increase the transport allowance of female employees. According to press reports some female teachers have been paying SR1,600 monthly to drivers or taxis for commuting to schools.
Some bloggers believe the Shoura move was to defeat calls for allowing women to drive their cars to reduce accidents and protect their rights. Most women workers depend on their parents or brothers to take them to places of work, one blogger said. This dependence was creating problem for many of these workers and restraining their freedom, he added.
Source: Arab News

17-12-14, 11:11 AM
Jeddah municipality, Aramco spar over flood projects 
 
The mayor of Jeddah has sent a letter to Saudi Aramco accusing it of failing to deliver on delayed floodwater drainage projects, which he claimed is not the responsibility of the municipality.
According to media reports, in his letter Hani Abu Ras had responded to alleged claims from Ahmad Saleem, Aramcos general director of rainwater and floods, that Aramco is only responsible for protecting the city from floods, and not the drainage of rainwater.
The letter comes in the wake of flooded city streets after torrential rainfall two weeks ago, which brought some parts of the city to a standstill. In the aftermath of the rain, there were huge pools of water created in many neighborhoods, raising fears of a dengue fever outbreak.
In the letter, Abu Ras said that Aramco was failing to fulfill its mandate as set out in royal orders. He claimed that Saleem had earlier released a press statement that had implied the municipality was responsible for the rainwater drainage system, even though Saleem did not mention any names.
The implementation of the projects was delayed, which led to large pools of water, traffic congestion and complaints from people, said the mayor in his letter. He claimed that he had asked Aramco several times to complete these projects, and even transferred funds into its bank account for this purpose.
The delays in implementing the projects mean that people will continue to suffer, said the mayor. He called on Aramco to complete the projects within the stipulated time frame.

Two weeks ago, the municipality had also said that it was not responsible for the flood and rainwater drainage systems, and that Aramco was in charge of doing so.
There had earlier been a video clip posted on social networking sites featuring Abu Ras saying that contracts were signed to implement the projects. In response, the municipality claimed it was recorded four years ago at the opening of the Prince Majid and Rawdah streets intersection.
The municipality said the mayor was responding to several questions at the time, including one on the municipalitys action plan to ward off the flooding of Jeddahs streets after rain and floods.
It claimed that the mayor had then outlined the conditions and specifications for the projects. After eight months the royal decree no. 2212/mb dated March 6, 2011 was issued to form a ministerial committee to supervise the projects, while the technical and executive tasks were entrusted to Aramco, said the municipalitys statement.
Source: Arab News

18-12-14, 06:20 PM
Saudi Arabia to keep spending on projects in 2015 budget
 
Saudi Arabia will continue spending on development projects and social benefits in its 2015 budget despite "challenging" global economic conditions, Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf said on Wednesday, state news agency SPA reported.
The world's top oil exporter is believed to need an average crude price above $90 a barrel to balance its budget this year, but benchmark Brent crude fell to $59.27 a barrel on Tuesday so current levels of spending may not persist next year.
Economists believe Saudi Arabia's 2015 budget plan, which Alassaf said he had submitted to the Supreme Economic Council and is expected to be announced on Monday, will forecast a deficit for the first time since 2009.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi last week shrugged off suggestions that Saudi Arabia would cut oil production to shore up prices, saying "why should we cut production?".
Alassaf said the kingdom's "counter-cyclical" fiscal policy, which helped build up net foreign assets of $734 billion when oil prices were high in the last few years, would continue in the 2015 budget and beyond.
"This policy...will enable the government to continue carrying out massive development projects and spending on development programmes, particularly in the sectors of health, education and social services," he said.
He added that spending on the military and Saudi security would not be affected, and that the coming budget was expected to achieve positive economic growth.
The Saudi stock market has plunged in the last several weeks partly because investors fear any state spending cuts would slow the economy and corporate profit growth.
Source: Arabian Business

18-12-14, 06:56 PM
Massive spending to continue despite 50% oil price drop 
 
Saudi Arabia will continue massive public spending despite a 50 percent drop in the price of oil, which provides the bulk of its revenue, said Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf.
The minister said the 2015 budget is ready and would be unveiled in the near future. Financial analysts expect that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah would approve the budget on Monday.
Al-Assaf said the budget comes during challenging global economic conditions but surpluses and reserves built over many years by the Kingdom have given it depth and a line of defense that come in handy in times of need.
He said this policy would continue, enabling the government to implement massive projects in health, education, social services and development as well as state security. This spending, combined with private sector activity, is expected to bring positive economic growth, he added.
The Saudi stock market reacted positively to Al-Assafs remarks. The Tadawul All-Share Index jumped 4.21 percent to 7,638.9 points on Wednesday after plunging 7.27 percent on Tuesday. Over SR8.57 billion worth of shares traded on Wednesday.
Basil Al-Ghalayini, CEO of BMG Financial Group, said Al-Assafs positive and bold message was instrumental in calming traders nervousness. It is interesting to witness the timing of this budget to coincide with the first major reshuffle of the Saudi Cabinet in years. It is widely anticipated by Wthe business community to have these fresh and young talents of the newly appointed ministers to add noticeable values in managing this counter-cyclical budget, Al-Ghalayini said.
Another prominent economist, who requested anonymity, said he also expected the government to continue massive spending on development and welfare projects to spur growth. While I would expect spending to continue to increase, the rate of increase may be moderate, he said.
He added: The oil price assumption will be important but one way for the government to demonstrate its resolve might be to unveil a deficit budget. They can certainly afford it. I suspect there will continue to be a strong emphasis on social infrastructure spending, such as education and healthcare. Potentially they may announce some new major projects to highlight continuity.
Crude prices have fallen to multi-year lows since June in the face of a global supply glut and slower growth in demand.
Prices have plunged even further since last month, when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries decided against cutting production.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery sank a further $1.16 in afternoon Asian trade, to $54.77 on Wednesday. Brent crude for February shed 71 cents to $59.30.
In its 2014 budget, the government projected a balanced budget of SR855 billion ($228 billion). This was the sixth budget since the global financial crisis. It continues the expansionary path the Kingdom has taken since then, with substantial additional outlays for education, health and infrastructure, despite the decline in oil revenue.
Government expenditure rose in 2013 to SR927 billion ($247 billion), an increase of 15 percent over 2012. Spending went over budgeted outlays by about 13 percent. Remarkably, despite lavish government expenditure, inflation was kept at around 3 percent. Actual revenue in 2013 exceeded budgeted revenue by a massive 34 percent.
According to experts, the forthcoming budget would be around SR800 billion if the price of oil ranges between $50 to $60 per barrel. The Kingdom would possibly adopt an austerity budget or resort to its huge cash reserves, they said.
Ihsan Buhulaiga, an economist, said government might cut spending by 20 to 30 percent, or SR200 billion, compared to the 2014 budget. This would not affect mega projects, part of which have already been delayed or stalled.
However, if the price of oil falls below $60 per barrel, the Kingdom may resort to reserves to allocate SR855 billion as an estimated spending target for 2015, he said.
Source: Arab News

18-12-14, 07:38 PM
Project to train Saudi contractors
 
The Saudi Basic Industries Corporation has launched a nonprofit national project under the name SABIC project for Saudization of contractors jobs in Jubail and Yanbu industrial cities as a national contribution to the training and employment of Saudi youth in technical jobs available at the company and its sub-companies in Riyadh, Jubail and Yanbu.
There are more than 5,000 jobs in various fields and the participating members in the projects are SABIC as the supervisory and administrative authority, the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY) represented by the colleges and institutes sector as a training academy to provide specially tailored programs to meet contracting companies future requirements of manpower and the Human Resources Development Fund as a financial supporter for the project in terms of training costs and trainees monthly stipends until graduation.
The project is a training program spaced out in three phases ending with the hiring of contractors for companies.
The first phase comprises teaching of the English language, work ethics and safety basics. The second phase consists of technical training while the third phase involves vocational training for the job with contractors working in one of the related companies.
A number of specialists in the industrial labor market in Jubail said that the Saudization program will enable the industry to flourish.
They said that Jubail Industrial City offers the most job opportunities for aspiring Saudi youth through companies of the industrial sector such as SABIC and other private sector companies in basic industries such as Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem), the National Industrialization Company (Tasnee), Sahara Petrochemicals, Saudi Chevron, Advanced Petrochemical Company, Farabi Petrochemicals Company and others. In addition, there are job opportunities offered by the new industrial area in Ras Al-Khair that is supervised by the Royal Commission and operated by the commission and Maaden Company.

Specialists in human resources in the industrial sector in Jubail said that the Royal Commissions colleges and institutes prepare trainees for the industrial market.
Ali Al-Zaied, director of human resources in Takamul Economical Solution Company, said that the reason for the failure of industrial companies to receive young graduates is their lack of sufficient training that prepares them to work in the industrial sector. Most educational institutes need to work on modifying and developing their curricula and focus on creating artistic and technical workshops in order to produce graduates suitable for the industrial labor market, he said.
Source: Arab News

18-12-14, 08:25 PM
Pepsi Co launches new Saudi factory, creates 300 jobs
 
PepsiCo, one of the world's largest food and beverage companies, has inaugurated its newest manufacturing facility in Dammam, Saudi Arabia which will create 300 jobs.
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and CEO, launched the all-new snacks plant, the company's 15th facility in the Middle East.
"The Middle East is a dynamic food and beverage market and a critical engine of growth for PepsiCo," said Nooyi.
"The plant will be a critical hub for our company, bringing some of PepsiCo's best-loved snacks and newest innovations to Saudi Arabia and markets throughout the region," she added.
The Dammam plant covers 55,000 square metres and will employ 300 staff, including 40 women. It will supply the snack market across Saudi Arabia while further enhancing the companies' ability to provide consumers throughout the Middle East with a range of food including local innovations such as Lays Forno.
The Middle East is a key component of PepsiCo's overall plan to drive growth in developing and emerging markets globally. Developing and emerging markets accounted for 35 percent of PepsiCo's net revenue in 2013.
The opening of the Dammam plant follows two months after PepsiCo opened an innovation centre in Dubai's Dubiotech, its first facility in the Middle East.
The facility will serve as a hub of new products and flavors innovations for PepsiCo's businesses across the region.
PepsiCo generated more than $66 billion in net revenue in 2013, driven by brands such as Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana.
Source: Arabian Business

05-01-15, 06:33 PM
Saudi real GDP growth improves in 2014: Jadwa

Using 2010 as the new base year, Saudi real GDP growth improved in 2014 as oil sector growth was higher than expected, while the nonoil sector continued its healthy expansion, Jadwa Investment said in its Saudi Chartbook for January 2015. The nonoil private sector recorded robust growth, continuing to be the main driver of overall GDP growth, the report said.
New data released by the Central Department of Statistics and Information showed a change in the base year (from 1999 to 2010) used to estimate real growth, as well as a revision to sectoral shares of real GDP. This resulted in the oil sector getting a larger share of overall GDP, with most other sectors seeing declines in their share.
The recently introduced changes have resulted in lower real GDP growth in recent years mainly owing to the oil sectors larger share of overall GDP, which increased significantly to 45.1 percent under the new classification... while the breakdown by kind of economic activity shows declining shares to all other nonoil sectors.
Real GDP growth accelerated from 2.7 percent in 2013 to 3.6 percent last year.
Oil production increased slightly, year-on-year, leading to marginal oil sector growth of 1.7 percent in 2014.
Nonoil GDP growth retained its position as the main contributor to overall GDP growth, with private sector continuing to play a vital role in this regard.
November data showed a rebound in consumer spending compared to the previous month. While the PMI index slowed for the second consecutive month, it still points to an expanding economy. Year-to-November cement sales were almost at the same level compared to last year.
Year-on-year growth in point of sale transactions and cash withdrawals from ATMs rebounded strongly to 30 and 19 percent respectively, following a dip in the previous month.


 
 
Using 2010 as the new base year, Saudi real GDP growth improved in 2014 as oil sector growth was higher than expected, while the nonoil sector continued its healthy expansion, Jadwa Investment said in its Saudi Chartbook for January 2015. The nonoil private sector recorded robust growth, continuing to be the main driver of overall GDP growth, the report said.
New data released by the Central Department of Statistics and Information showed a change in the base year (from 1999 to 2010) used to estimate real growth, as well as a revision to sectoral shares of real GDP. This resulted in the oil sector getting a larger share of overall GDP, with most other sectors seeing declines in their share.
The recently introduced changes have resulted in lower real GDP growth in recent years mainly owing to the oil sectors larger share of overall GDP, which increased significantly to 45.1 percent under the new classification... while the breakdown by kind of economic activity shows declining shares to all other nonoil sectors.
Real GDP growth accelerated from 2.7 percent in 2013 to 3.6 percent last year.
Oil production increased slightly, year-on-year, leading to marginal oil sector growth of 1.7 percent in 2014.
Nonoil GDP growth retained its position as the main contributor to overall GDP growth, with private sector continuing to play a vital role in this regard.
November data showed a rebound in consumer spending compared to the previous month. While the PMI index slowed for the second consecutive month, it still points to an expanding economy. Year-to-November cement sales were almost at the same level compared to last year.
Year-on-year growth in point of sale transactions and cash withdrawals from ATMs rebounded strongly to 30 and 19 percent respectively, following a dip in the previous month.
PMI fell for the second consecutive month in November, but remained at healthy levels, pointing to a sustained growth and a continued expansion in the non-oil economy.
Year-to-November cement sales stood at 50 million tons, remaining unchanged compared to the same period in 2013.
Bank lending to private sector declined, month-on-month, in November for the first time in two years, owing to a larger base effect. The commencement of new mortgage lending rules also played a role in our view. Annual growth of time and savings deposits slowed. The loan-to-deposit ratio declined to 81.2 percent.
Month-on-month, bank lending to private sector recorded in November its first negative growth (-2 percent) since December 2011. This was mostly due to a larger base effect given the previous months significant bank financing of NCBs IPO subscriptions.
Annual growth of time and savings deposits slowed in November for the second consecutive month, but maintained its strong double digit growth in 2014.
The loan-to-deposit ratio fell back to its September level of 81.2, down from its 2014 peak in October at 82.5.
Inflation cooled further during November as both the food and housing components slowed. Food inflation slowed for the first time since July, while rental inflation the major subgroup of the housing component recorded a mild slowdown. Other components of the core index recorded mixed results.
Inflation cooled further during November as both the food and housing components slowed.
Rental inflation, the major subgroup under the housing component, slowed for the second consecutive month. Components of the core index recorded mixed results, with communication continuing to be in the negative territory for the third consecutive month.
The current account surplus fell in the third quarter owing to a record high deficit in the services account. We believe that the annual surplus would be lower than the $106.4 billion announced in the budget statement. Both imports and exports fell, with a larger fall in imports resulting in a slight improvement in the trade balance, Jadwa said.
The current account surplus fell to $22.4 billion in the third quarter, down from $31.9 billion in the second quarter.
For the second time in 2014, the services account reached its highest deficit on record. The majority of the deficit again came from the government goods and services account, which is likely to be related to elevated levels of external financial aid and assistance granted to other Middle Eastern countries.
Both import and exports fell in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. The larger fall in imports caused the trade balance to slightly improve from $53 billion to $54 billion.
Brent crude oil fell to a five and half year low below $57 per barrel in December as ample global supply outweighed lost production from Libya. WTI came under pressure as both US crude and gasoline stocks surged, month-on-month. The count in US land oil rigs fell for the second month in a row to December.
Brent fell 23.9 percent, month-on-month, averaging $63 per barrel over December. An uncharacteristic rise in crude stocks in the month of December pressured WTI prices.
Lower WTI prices also led to the US land rig count fall for the second consecutive month to December.
Saudi crude production declined slightly, month-on-month, in November. Saudi crude output declined only slightly in November, month-on-month, as competition over market share intensified.
Latest data for October showed Saudi exports rising slightly, with Asia being the major source of demand.
Moreover, the Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) dropped for the fourth consecutive month to December, as sentiment was again affected by lower oil prices... although an expansionary Saudi budget for 2015 provided some good news, helping limit monthly losses.
Average daily turnover jumped by 19.8 percent in December, month-on-month, reversing the negative trend of the three previous months. Banks and insurance sectors dominated daily turnover with insurance turnover relative to market capitalization also the highest.
Average daily turnover in December increased by 19.8 percent to SR 8.8 billion.
The insurance sector frequently has high monthly turnover to market capitalization levels, as it is a sector in which retail investors look to make quick profits.
The decline in the TASI during December saw valuations recover, month-on-month, although price to earnings (P/E) still remain below the two year average. TASI valuations have improved in recent months, and are more competitive, but remain on the lower end when compared to selected regional benchmarks.
P/E recovered in December but is sitting below the two year average of 16.9bringing the TASI in line with major developed and emerging market indices.
Dividend yields are competitive but slightly below regional indices. The drop in TASI during December meant that only three sectors saw positive performance during the month. Agriculture & food was the largest gainer as the sector benefited from the conclusion of an acquisition deal.
Three of the 15 sectors saw positive performance in December. All sectors saw sell-offs in the first half of December... but this reversed in mid-December after the Ministry of Finance pledged strong government spending for 2015.
Source: Saudi Gazette

05-01-15, 06:36 PM
 Saudi Hollandi Bank okayed to raise capital
 
The Saudi capital markets regulator has approved of Saudi Hollandi Banks plan to raise SR5.715 billion from SR4.762 billion through issue of bonus shares.
The company plans to issue one bonus shares for every existing 5 shares owned by the shareholders, the company said in a statement.
Such increase will be paid by transferring 952 million shares from the retained earnings account to the banks capital. Consequently, this would increase the banks outstanding shares from 476.28 million to 571.53 million.
Source: Saudi Gazette

05-01-15, 06:40 PM
 Jeddah expects a million visitors
 
According to sources, Jeddah is likely to attract more than 1 million domestic tourists for the Historic Jeddah Festival later this month.
More than 536 families reside in Jeddahs historical district. The district, which has nearly 1,866 houses and buildings, was declared last year a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
Property owners and residents of the district, called Balad, say that the families who live there are not simply residents of the city but have been part of the social fabric, culture and traditions for generations. It is not only the buildings and the infrastructure which makes old Jeddah unique but also the prevailing customs which have been handed down the generations.
Owners have striven to preserve the old customs such as the Al-Mekaad which is the meeting point for senior members of households to discuss the districts needs. The members generally meet up between the Asr and Ishaa prayers to follow up on the issues of families in the area among other things.
Residents of the Al-Yemen neighborhood in the district expressed their gratitude to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for developing the area and in delegating efforts to attract more visitors and tourists to learn about the district, particularly through the Historic Jeddah Festival set to launch on Jan. 15.
They said this support has helped showcase the community life in old Jeddah which revolves around customs and centuries-old traditions.
Tariq Pajouh, whose family was involved in the dairy trade, said the history of families living in old Jeddah dates back to over 200 years. He said their history is characterized by many social, political and cultural changes, and has received tremendous attention and support from the countrys leaders over the years.
Abdulaziz Ghurab, whose family worked in the construction industry, said the state has provided a huge amount of support to the historical district, which is valued by property owners and residents. He praised the efforts, programs and projects carried out under the direction of King Abdullah and Jeddah Gov.
Prince Mishaal bin Majed, who is also Chairman of the Supreme Committee for the Historic Jeddah Festival, as well as the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, the Jeddah municipality and others.
Jamal Abdul Qadir Pasha said the development of Jeddahs historical district has had a great impact on the revival of its soul and traditions. He said the Historic Jeddah Festival fosters an atmosphere of cooperation and connection and allows visitors from all over the country and the Gulf to witness the city's heritage.
Source: Arab News

05-01-15, 06:47 PM
 SCTA licenses 4.762 hospitality facilities
 
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) recently revealed in a report a significant increase in licenses for tourism accommodation in 2014 in 16 regions, with a total amount of 4,762 licensed hotels and furnished apartments.
The tourism accommodation report stated that the number of hotels classified up till November 2014, were 797 and 2,247 apartments, with the licenses still being distributed this month for others. Most of the licensed hotels are in Makkah, with 340 facilities, Madinah, with 172, and Riyadh, with 92.
The report stated the furnished housing units in the Kingdom were mostly located in Riyadh, Asir and the Eastern Province. According to the SCTAs document, the number of tour organizers at the end of November reached 453, most of which were working through 672 travel agents and 1,763 offices in the country.
A survey conducted by a local newspaper found a big gap between the prices of a five-star hotel room in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The cost of a single room at the Jeddah Sheraton is SR1,265, while the cost of the room at the same hotel in Dubai is SR919, the survey claimed.
Muhammad Al-Omari, executive director of the SCTA in Makkah, confirmed that the commission detected over 4,000 irregularities in hotel prices in Jeddah.
The commission has issued binding directions to all hospitality facilities that they should clearly and visibly announce their prices, otherwise they will be subjected to fines and penalties, Al-Omari told Arab News.
He added that field teams are making inspection rounds to ensure that all those involved with the hospitality sector comply with the regulations, emphasizing that any offending facility will be given the chance to improve its services.
Source: Arab News

05-01-15, 06:49 PM
Dar Al Wessal to market AlAhli SEDCO Residential Development Fund
 
SEDCO Development, one of the pioneering Jeddah- based real estate developers and a subsidiary of SEDCO Holding Group, signed with Dar Al Wessal, a company specialized in marketing residential projects, to market its residential units. These units pertain to the AlAhli SEDCO Residential Development Fund and are located in the Salamah District 2 in Jeddah.
With a wide expertise in the Saudi real estate market, SEDCO Development is executing this project on a 25.934 sqm plot of land, which was previously acquired by the fund through SEDCO development, the main developer. This project consists of approximately 372 Residential units with different dimensions thus fulfilling the rising demand in the sector of residential units in Jeddah.
CEO of SEDCO Development Company Engineer Khalid Jamjoom said the distinguishing factor of this project is its proximity to key points in Jeddah, such as Madinah Road, Heraa and Quraish streets, providing easy access as well as its distinct design for the project, fulfilling all requirements for residential environments aligned with the communitys privacy. The project is considered one of the typical residential projects targeting those with middle to upper income home buyer especially in terms of what is offered in the real estate market when it comes to design, planning and the distribution of parks and green areas.
NCB Capital has previously announced that this close-end investment fund aims to develop the existing capital and achieve yearly internal revenue for investors worth 10 percent.
Source: Saudi Gazette

08-01-15, 11:32 AM
 SABB capital increase thru bonus share
 
Saudi British Bank (SABB) has received approval to raise its capital by 50 percent to SR15 billion ($4 billion) through a bonus share issue, the bourse regulator said on Wednesday.
The Capital Market Authority said Saudi British Bank, an affiliate of HSBC Holdings, could issue one bonus share for every two shares held, increasing the number of the bank's outstanding shares to 1.5 billion from 1 billion. Each share has a par value of SR10.
SABB offers personal banking products, such as credit cards and Internet cards; personal and home financing, and financing against investments; wealth management; financing solutions, among others.
Source: Saudi Gazette

08-01-15, 11:34 AM
Kingdom doing joint projects with FAO

The Kingdom is currently implementing 16 projects under the FAO-Saudi Technical Cooperation Program, according to Mouhab Fouad Alawar, FAO information and communication officer.
Under the program, the Kingdom has been given agricultural development goals related to food security and the sustainable use of natural resources, said Mouhab Fouad Alawar, FAO information and communication officer.
The development goals include minimizing reliance on oil as a main source of income, diversification of production base and reducing dependence on imports of food commodities.
The projects include the establishment of an international date farm center, improvement of research for sustainable camel production, genetic breeding of Arabian horses, development of non-conventional water sources in Al-Hassa, and giving support to small-scale farmers.
Other projects include strengthening and supporting further the development of local aquaculture, strengthening the national capacity to control diseases of plants and animals, development and extension of technology transfer to farmers, strengthening the capacity of the MOAs staff, development of oil production and processing technique, development of technology transfer in horticulture, conservation of natural forests, development of integrated pest and pesticide management, development of irrigation water management, supporting international cooperation, and improving animal production in the Kingdom.
The projects were formulated based on priorities that were set out in the Ninth Saudi Development Plan, the Agriculture Ministrys Agricultural Development Strategy up to 2030, as well as the Country Program Framework (CPF) and the new FAO Strategic Objectives Framework.
Alawar said that with the help of FAO, the local agriculture sector has benefited from government policies and programs including subsidies, interest-free loans and other assistance services.
Source: Arab News

08-01-15, 11:37 AM
GCC petrochemical sector grows 11% over a decade

Organizers of the 12th ArabPlast have said that the petrochemical sector in the GCC saw an overall growth of about 11 percent (CAGR) over the past 10 years, driven by enhanced capacities across all major sub-sectors.
Organizers of the premiere regional plastics show added that the evolving petrochemical industry in the GCC has become a leading manufacturer of commodity polymers, such as PE and PP, due to availability of cost-effective feedstock. While there was low demand for finished polymers within the region, strong demand from China and other Asian countries continues to present huge opportunities, speakers at the press conference said.
ArabPlast 2015, the regions leading trade show for the plastics industry, will kick off Jan. 10 and continue for four days until Jan.13.
During the press conference, the first industry white paper was unveiled by Frost Sullivan exclusively for ArabPlast 2015 under the title The GCC Petrochemicals Industry, History, Current Trends, and Future Opportunities.
According to the white paper, a decade ago, the GCC accounted for about 11 percent of the total petrochemicals capacity in the world. Today, the capacity has doubled, making the GCC a major supplier through the presence of several major global chemical companies.
Presenting a research-based white paper on Future of petrochemicals in GCC, Aparajit Balan, Frost & Sullivan, USA, said: With urbanization and lifestyle changes in the developing economies, the demand for plastics has witnessed an aggressive growth. Since Asia was not able to scale up capacities to meet the surging demand, the availability of cheaper primary petrochemicals and proximity presented the perfect opportunity for rapid expansion in the plastics and polymers space in the GCC.
Towards the end of the previous decade, large capacities were added across the petrochemicals value chain in the GCC. The base petrochemicals capacity saw an increase of 11 per cent between 2003 and 2013. GCC countries continue to hold a significant position in the manufacture of basic petrochemicals such as ethylene, propylene and methanol. Over the years, the contribution of refining to the overall manufacturing GDP has been declining, accompanied by an increasing contribution from petrochemicals and chemicals manufacturing. This clearly indicates a shift from the export of base chemicals to the export of higher value derivatives. With increasing pressure on employment, diversification into downstream sectors will offer more jobs with less capital investment, in comparison to setting up more refineries. Some of the key petrochemicals in the countries in the GCC are the basic C1-C4 derivatives, Balan said.
Jeen Joshua, Project Manager of Arabplast commented on the KSA participation: Saudi Arabia represents 59 percent of total GCC petrochemical exports, making it the largest chemical exporter in the GCC and the 14th largest exporter worldwide, followed by Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, UAE and Bahrain. Our participation at ArabPlast underpins our keenness to develop the petrochemical industry in the kingdom by showcasing our solutions and enhancing knowledge transfer with key industry players and peers.
According to Emirates NBD Research & Treasury report, Saudi Arabia leads the regions plastics industry, producing an estimated 18.4mn tons per annum (tpa) in 2013, about 74.5 percent of the regions plastics production capacity. An emerging trend for the GCCs plastic industry will be the diversification of its products portfolio, for wide ranging applications in the aviation, transport and food packaging sectors. By 2017, the region is expected to produce 23 plastic products; more than double the current amount
Gabriele Schreiber, Director, Messe Dusseldorf, Germany, said: The GCC petrochemicals industry achieved production capacity of 142.7 mn tpa in 2013, up by 10.5 percent y/y, according to the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), which estimates that GCC petrochemical producers will increase their capacity by 40 percent over the next three years, reaching 199.5mn tpa by 2018. The UAE petrochemical production almost doubled in 2013 reaching 10 million tpa, valued at AED 18 billion, accounting roughly for 7 percent of the total GCC production capacity.
ArabPlast 2015 is concurrently held with four other important international trade shows Metal Middle East, Arabia Essen Welding & Cutting, Tube Arabia and Wire & Cable Arabia at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Source: Saudi Gazette

08-01-15, 01:35 PM
Auto racetrack in EP planned
 
The Grand Prix Racing Company (GPR) has signed contracts for the construction and development of an auto racetrack at King Fahd Park.
Executive Manager of the company, Musaed Al-Khuwaiter, said that the land in King Fahd Park covering an area of 20,000 square meters had been allocated for auto racing to be completed by the end of 2015.
GPR has begun to prepare its own schemes with the cooperation of a specialized Emirati company to establish a world-class racing circuit, which will be the first to be accredited by Go-Karting Union in the Kingdom.
Al-Khwaiter said, The company will achieve investments worth more than SR15 million in three stages which will include the infrastructure, the track and the main buildings.
He said that the automotive sector and its activities have drawn a lot of interest among companies so huge investments have been made in it.
The establishment of local and foreign races provides the required momentum for companies to increase their investments in this sector, he explained.
Auto companies consider these initiatives as a distinctive opportunity to show their models through displaying specialized racing circuits.
Al-Khuwaiter said that auto racing tracks will contribute to the market movement in all related sectors, including car tires, fuel, mechanical services and oils.
These investments will push the private sector to participate in the development of tracks dedicated to racing and other activities.
Al-Khuwaiter pointed out that specialists have been commissioned to draw the tracks to be delivered during the first quarter of this year, indicating that the park district will witness a new start through the events that will take place attracting more investors.
The automotive sector in the Kingdom has achieved several milestones during the past three years, added Al-Khuwaiter, indicating that the race aims to support the automotive sector in the province, and the social responsibility activities of the Traffic Safety Committee to provide guidance for safe driving.
Source: Arab News

08-01-15, 02:55 PM
 Basiexx opens shop in Mall of Dhahran
 
BASICXX, the Gulf regions major fashion, life-style and homeware retailer, has now open doors of their new store in the Mall of Dhahran, one step closer to keeping in line with their commitment to open 50 world-class stores across the Kingdom.
The inauguration of the shop was held in the presence of distinguished gathering of prominent businessmen, government officials and other dignitaries including a large number of local citizens and expatriates. The opening was hosted by Munawwar Hussain, Country Head, Basicxx and Salem Al Maliki, Saudiazation & Recruitment Manager.
Companys Chairman Mohammed Yusuf Al-Sagar said in a statement: The Kingdoms retail sector has been witnessing sustained growth in the last few years, even outperforming the other major sectors by a significant margin. Against this backdrop, we at Basicxx have continued our ambitious plans to open new stores at strategic locations.
He has also pledged to hire more Saudi youths, who will be deployed after training to Basicxx stores across the country. This will open doors for the nationals to work in fast growing retail sector with one of the leading retailer in the industry.
Mohammed Adil, CEO of Basicxx, said: The Basicxx fashion chain is planning to open 10 more stores in Saudi Arabia by end of 2015. He added that phase one of the Basicxx expansion plan will attract about SR100 million investment, while investment in phase two will exceed SR300 million. We want to target all Saudi consumers and residents. The move to open new stores at such a fast pace is mainly aimed at reaching out to large number of customers and gaining a leadership position in the domestic retail market.
Moreover, he said Basicxx is the first fashion store of its kind, which will source and display the latest fashion within 30 days of their launch in Europe, the United States or any other country of the world. He said more than 5000 fashion items were currently on display at the store.

Basicxx is a one-stop shop. Its spacious ambiance, chic interiors and an astonishing range of options, all under one roof, make Basicxx an unforgettable experience for the whole family. Basicxx, which has three stores in Jeddah and 4 in Riyadh; all have on offer the best and latest trends from the world over off the catwalks, into your wardrobe.
Basicxxs Designers travel all over the globe to scout the best fashions and home decor to achieve its unique vision of a stylish lifestyle at low prices, he noted.
The Shop at Mall of Dahran is more than 20,000 sq. feet of area, and it has fashion for ladies, men, kids and home.
The concept Basicxx is owned by Al Yasra Group, one of the leading business conglomerates based in Kuwait and operating in and around the GCC in Several sectors, including food and fashion. Al Yasra has developed Basicxx as a shopping destination for value conscious families and individuals.
Source: Saudi Gazette

08-01-15, 02:57 PM
SFDA orders calcium, iron price cuts 
 
The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) has ordered all pharmacies to reduce the prices of certain products containing calcium and iron, an official announced recently.
The SFDA has sent a circular to pharmacies that they must cut the price of Osteocare and Feroglobin from SR96 to SR33 for a pack of 60 pills, and from SR45 to SR21 for a pack of 30, said the official, who did not want to be named.
He said the SFDA is working with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to check whether pharmacies comply. There would be penalties for violators. Packs must show the new specified prices, he said.
He said 90 percent of calcium and iron supplements are imported from Europe and the United States by Saudi importers.
Khaled Al-Usaimi, spokesman for the health department in the Eastern Province, said the Health Ministry does not set the prices of medicines and medical equipment. The ministry had previously set the prices, but this is now the exclusive responsibility of the SFDA, he said.
Al-Usaimi said the ministry also does not set the prices of baby milk, or check whether products have expired. These are the tasks of other government bodies, he said.
Several pharmacists and workers in the field said there is a shortage of calcium and iron products because of the huge demand in the Kingdom. European and American manufacturers have stopped exporting them because the authorities in the Kingdom have dropped the prices of these products, they claimed.
They said that Vruz is the only alternative for Osteocare and Feroglobin, priced at SR19 and coming in the form of capsules. They said most suppliers, in coordination with the manufacturers, have asked alternative products of the same quality and at lower prices.
Most international manufacturers of Osteocare and Feroglobin have shifted their export operations to Gulf and Arab countries. There are more than 7,000 pharmacies across the Kingdom employing over 13,000 pharmacists, with 90 percent non-Saudis. Each pharmacy sells about three to five packs
Source: Arab News

08-01-15, 03:00 PM
KSA is Pakistan's 'strategic partner' 
 
Pakistani Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique on a visit to the Kingdom addressed the Pakistani community in Jeddah.
At a function organized in his honor at the residence of Consul General Aftab Ahmad Khokher on Tuesday, the railway minister spoke about the development of the sector in Pakistan and on issues of mutual interest concerning both countries.
Newly appointed ambassador to Pakistan, Manzoor ul Haq and prominent members of the Pakistani community in Jeddah including doctors, engineers, journalists, investors, group executives and businessmen participated in the function.
Haq said it was important for both countries to work together for mutual benefits, economic growth and to strengthen relations between the two countries. Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of Pakistan and we are committed to serving Pakistani expats living here. Our country is on the road to progress and the results will soon be there for all to see, he said.
The minister also briefed the gathering on the progress of Pakistans railway sector and promised to resolve the problems of the Pakistani community in the Kingdom.
He referred to the issue of higher education for Pakistani students in the Kingdom, passport problems, high tariffs for calls to Pakistan, the construction of a new building for the Pakistan consulate and the problem of resources.
Stating that the consul general had already briefed him about the issues the Pakistani community is facing, Rafique said: As a collective responsibility of the Cabinet and part of our personal responsibility toward Pakistanis and the Pakistani nation, we will do our best to convey these issues to the Pakistan government and find solutions to all the problems with the help of the consulate.
Source: Arab News

08-01-15, 03:01 PM
 Mataf expansion to be "completed before Haj"
 
The ongoing expansion of mataf, or circumambulation area around the Kaaba, would be completed before this years Haj, said Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, on Wednesday.
Inspecting the Haram expansion project here, he said thousands of pilgrims would be able to use the expanded mataf during the upcoming Haj season. Most of the work would be completed before Ramadan in preparation for the peak Umrah season, he said.
Al-Sudais said the third phase of the mataf expansion was progressing well and would increase its capacity to 105,000 pilgrims an hour. There would be no obstacles in the mataf area, which would be expanded and will have modern facilities.
He said officials were doing their best to ensure that pilgrims are provided with excellent services. The completed areas of the Haram expansion project, including the new building, would be opened to worshippers to reduce congestion caused by work on the mataf, he said.
Meanwhile, Al-Sudais condemned the terrorist attack on a Border Guard checkpoint in the northern city of Arar that resulted in the death of three Saudi soldiers including Brig. Audah Al-Balawi, a commander in the Northern Border Region.
He said the attack was against the teachings of Islam, which urge Muslims to protect the lives and honor of others. He commended the role of security forces in defending the Kingdom, its people and holy places.
This is the treachery of the enemies of Islam who want to make this land of Islam a battleground for them. This is flagrant aggression and a terrorist act, Al-Sudais said.
Source: Arab News

08-01-15, 03:03 PM
Shops must provide car parking 
 
The Riyadh municipality is putting in place new controls for larger restaurants, banks, clinics, car rental offices, and small shops that will force them to provide sufficient parking spaces at their locations. The municipality will allow a moratorium of two years for these establishments to apply the requirements or change locations.
District officials are also working with the Higher Commission for the Development of Riyadh to study the possibility of halting the issuance of licenses to small kiosks, ATMs, or any building in shopping areas that are located less than 60 meters from the main roads. The municipality announced the new measures during a meeting organized by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Sunday.
These new requirements aim to address the issue of heavy traffic caused by shops and other businesses, especially those who fail to provide enough parking spaces. Establishments should be built according to specifications established by the municipality, said officials.
According to officials, over 15 new administrative centers are set to open in Riyadh in early 1437AH, including branches of different government departments, such as the traffic department, Civil Defense and new police stations, among other offices.
After Sundays announcement, tensions ran high among some small shop owners, but authorities cooled down tempers explaining that the future benefits outweigh the current inconveniences.
Source: Arab News

08-01-15, 03:06 PM
1,700
fake engineers to be named, shamed in Saudi Arabia
 
A list of 1,700 people who allegedly forged their engineering degrees will reportedly be released in Saudi Arabia.
Employees with fake credentials had caused tremendous construction delays in some cases, Arab News reported.
The Saudi Council of Engineers was preparing the list in a bid to prevent those named from gaining employment in the kingdom.
A council source told the newspaper none of those on the list had been penalised.
They had been able to work in the kingdom due to lax regulations and low penalties for those caught, the newspaper said.
Exposing them in a list is the lightest way of punishing them, since they deserve far worse, council chairman Hamad Nasser Al Shaqawi was quoted as saying.
Source: Arabian Business

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22-05-15, 07:42 PM
Optimism over KSA domestic tourism expenditure growth

RIYADH: A planned portfolio of 20 hotels and 6 residential complexes in Saudi Arabia over the next seven years with SR1.5 billion investments will definitely enhance Dur Hospitalitys leadership position in Saudi Arabia and will reflect positively on its revenues, which are expected to increase 3 times by 2023.
The hospitality industry in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia was discussed during the Regional Leaders Panel at Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2015.
Badr Al-Badr, CEO of Dur Hospitality, said: The market is promising as reputable sources expect 25 million visitors to Makkah and Madinah by 2025.
He added: The domestic tourism expenditure growth is forecasted to increase by 11 percent annually and inbound tourism by 13 percent annually especially after the completion of the two Holy mosques and the mega infrastructure projects.
Dur Hospitality also revealed its expansionary plan targeting the emerging cities in Saudi Arabia such as Jubail, Yunbu and Tabuk, thus attracting business visitors. It announced the first Holiday Inn in Tabuk. This is the first hotel to be developed under the master development agreement (MDA) inked between IHG and DUR Hospitality Company last year.
Badr Al-Badr added: Hotels are one of the investors most favorite choices but they require professional expertise and operational capabilities.
He said: Dur therefore developed its operational strategy to cope with the investors who are looking for the perfect hospitality partner, by introducing 3 operational models The Dur-owned hotels operated by international brands that rely on management agreements with international operators, under which falls our partnership with Marriott since 1979 and will soon announce 2 new projects in Riyadh.
Another model, are hotels operated by Dur Hospitality under its 10-year-old operational brand, Makarem that has recently re-launched its new brand identity and announced operating 10 new hotels in the coming 5 years. And finally Franchise agreements, represented by our partnership with IHG
Badr Al-Badr highlighted the stability of the Saudi economy, which was not affected by the geo- political environment and the oil prices. On the contrary, he said the government expenditure did not change and with the fresh young leadership, things will become better.
Badr Al-Badr pointed out the Saudization is one of the major challenges for the hospitality industry. He stressed on the importance of attracting Saudi staff to work in the hospitality industry. Their contribution is required for healthy and sustainable development

Source: Arab News

22-05-15, 07:55 PM
Popular expat restaurants shut down

JEDDAH: The Jeddah municipality has closed down several popular restaurants in Jeddahs Aziziah district for not adhering to health and safety standards.
According to expatriates who frequent these restaurants, inspectors shut down Kababish Restaurant, Mehran Restaurant and others for sometime for not keeping their kitchens clean. Some of the restaurants were fined, with stickers pasted on their shutters announcing their closure.
Expatriates have welcomed the municipalitys campaign. We did not know what we were eating at these restaurants, said Salma Mehwish, a mother of three, who said they usually visited on weekends. There is every possibility that they were dishing out stale food, she said.
Arshad Mohsin, a Pakistani expatriate, said the temporary closures mean the owners were dishonest in an attempt to maximize profits. They cut corners by mixing different dishes and serving them in the evening and morning, he said.
Their bad practices and flouting of rules had to be checked before the advent of Ramadan, he said. We congratulate the Jeddah municipality for taking the right decision.
Rehana Afzal said this would act as a deterrent. They will think twice before cutting corners and not adhering to safety and hygiene rules in their kitchens. It serves them right.

Soruce: Arab News

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01-06-15, 01:58 PM
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01-06-15, 02:01 PM
OPEC likely to keep output unchanged

VIENNA: OPEC is likely to keep its output target unchanged when it meets on Friday as the global oil market appears to be in good shape and prices are expected to firm up from current levels, a senior Gulf OPEC delegate told Reuters.

Brent crude settled at $65.56 a barrel on Friday, up $2.98, or 4.8 percent, on the day.
It is unlikely that OPEC will make a decision regarding its production ceiling for two reasons: the first one that Russia and other non-OPEC producers have expressed their non-desire to cooperate in any idea of a production cut, the Gulf delegate said.
And the second one is that the market is firming up. Prices are expected to continue at current level and most likely will go higher. Demand is also strong and the inventories are balanced. Market seems to be in good shape, the delegate said.
Crude oil inventories are above the five-year average but oil products stocks are within the five-year average, the delegate added.
At the end, of course the final decision will be made by the ministers when they meet, the delegate added.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries refused to cut output to shore up prices at its last meeting in November despite a global oil glut, seeking to defend its market share against higher-cost producers in the United States and elsewhere. It left its output target at 30 million barrels per day.
The decision exacerbated an oil price fall, to as low as $46 per barrel in January from as high as $115 in June 2014.
However, early signs of slowing production in the US in the past couple of months and better-than-expected growth in demand has helped push oil prices up to around $65. The next OPEC meeting is scheduled for June 5.

Source: Arab News