Saudi commercial banks’ June consumer loans rise 13% to $118.9bn

The most significant change in POS value between the first half of 2021 and 2022 was in ‘miscellaneous goods and services,’ which grew 42.6 percent from SR19.7 billion to SR28.2 billion during this period. (File)
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Updated 09 August 2022

Saudi commercial banks’ June consumer loans rise 13% to $118.9bn

  • Share of consumer loans in total bank credit falls to 19.9 percent, data shows

CAIRO: Consumer loans of Saudi commercial banks increased 13 percent to SR445.8 billion ($118.9 billion) on June 30, 2022, compared to SR394.2 billion on the same day last year, the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed.

This growth, however, pales in comparison to the 17.4 percent growth between June 30, 2021, and June 30, 2020, the data pointed out.

Moreover, the share of consumer loans in total bank credit has fallen to 19.9 percent on June 30, 2022, the lowest share percentage on record, data compiled by Arab News revealed.

It is worth mentioning that consumer loans do not include real estate financing, finance leasing and margin lending, according to SAMA.

From June 2017-2022, consumer loans have had a positive trend. The value grew 0.5, 0.6, 5.3, 17.4, and 13.1 percent year on year, respectively. The consumer loans stood at SR315.1 billion on June 30, 2017.

According to SAMA, 90 percent of consumer loans fall under the “other” products category.

“The ‘other’ major loan component is related to general consumer bank overdraft short- and medium-term funding as credit card loans are captured separately,” said Mohamed Ramady, a London-based consultant and former professor.

The balance of consumer loans to finance “other” products increased 19 percent to SR402.3 billion on June 30 this year from SR338.2 billion the same day last year.

The remaining 10 percent is distributed among renovation and home improvement, vehicles and private transport, furniture and durable goods, education, healthcare, tourism and travel.

Renovation and home improvement, which makes up 3.4 percent of the 10 percent, saw a 31.4 percent decline to SR15.2 billion on June 30, 2022, from SR22.2 billion a year ago.

Moreover, car loans experienced a 20.6 percent year-on-year decrease from SR15.5 billion to SR12.3 billion during the period under study.

“Consumer loans have decreased in some items, especially in capital home goods and home improvements as well as vehicles as consumers await to take stock of increased input price hikes,” he added.

Furniture and durable goods underwent a 31.1 percent decrease from SR12.6 billion to SR8.7 billion over the same period. In contrast, education loans grew by 33 percent to SR5.9 billion.

Looking at consumer spending during the first half of 2022, the total value of point of sale transactions grew 12.9 percent year on year, reaching SR271.2 billion in June year-to-date compared to SR240.3 billion over the same period in 2021, SAMA data stated.

“POS transactions have gone up over H1 2022 in the items that were expected to increase with the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions such as food and beverages, restaurants and cafes and goods and services,” revealed Ramady while pointing out that this trend was also apparent in other countries coming out of the lockdown.

The most significant change in POS value between the first half of 2021 and 2022 was in “miscellaneous goods and services,” which grew 42.6 percent from SR19.7 billion to SR28.2 billion during this period.

The “others” category in POS, which makes up 21.2 percent of the total value of transactions in the first half of 2022, surged 33.6 percent from SR42.7 billion in the first half of 2021 to SR57.1 billion in the first half of 2022.

“The “others” in POS capture general personal services sales, including home delivery and uber services not captured in the broader items,” specified Ramady.

Food and beverages, another component that exhibits a prominent share of 14.7 percent in POS sales, showed an increase of 14.8 percent from SR35.8 in June year-to-date last year to SR41.0 billion in June this year.

On the other hand, restaurants and cafes increased 31.4 percent from SR28.3 billion in the first half of 2021 to SR37.2 billion in the first half of 2022.

Saudi Arabia issues 136 industrial licenses in August 2023

Updated 54 sec ago

Saudi Arabia issues 136 industrial licenses in August 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s economic activity gained momentum with the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources issuing 136 industrial licenses in August compared to 102 in July.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the food product manufacturing sector received 29 permits, followed by the non-metallic mineral industry with 21.

Moreover, the rubber and plastics industry obtained 15 permits, and 12 licenses were issued in the paper production sector.

The SPA report added that the ministry issued 795 industrial licenses between January and August. The number of factories during this period reached 11,110, taking the total investments made by these firms to SR1.489 trillion ($400 billion).

The SPA report further noted that investment volume in August for new licenses stood at SR1.6 billion.

Small enterprises accounted for 83.09 percent of the total licenses issued in August, followed by medium enterprises with 16.18 percent and micro-enterprises with 0.74 percent.

The report added that national factories held the most significant chunk of the total licenses at 76.47 percent, followed by foreign establishments and joint-investment firms with 16.18 percent and 7.35 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, 87 factories started production in August, with an investment of SR1.5 billion. Of these plants, 79.31 percent were national factories, 12.64 were foreign establishments and 8.64 percent were joint investment firms.

Meanwhile, the ministry issued 36,293 certificates of origin in August, up from 34,926 in July.

The initiative is seen as a part of the ministry’s efforts to boost exports across various sectors.

A certificate of origin is a pivotal document in international trade, validating that the exported goods are on a nationality basis.

Banks in GCC benefiting from strong operating conditions: Fitch Ratings  

Updated 53 min ago

Banks in GCC benefiting from strong operating conditions: Fitch Ratings  

RIYADH: Banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council are currently reaping the benefits of robust operating conditions, driven by factors such as high oil prices, contained inflation, and rising interest rates, according to Fitch Ratings.  

In its latest report, the US-based credit rating agency pointed out variations in bank performance across the GCC markets, with financial institutions in the UAE demonstrating signs of improvement compared to their counterparts. 

“We expect this improvement to be overall sustained, which, along with other solid financial metrics being maintained, could lead to positive rating actions on some UAE banks’ Viability Ratings,” said Fitch Ratings.  

The report highlights that banks in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE are well-positioned to benefit from rising interest rates, primarily due to the swift repricing of loan books and substantial funding from low-cost current and savings accounts. 

UAE banks, in particular, have seen significant gains from rising rates, with average net interest margins increasing by 100 base points in the first half of 2023 compared to 2020.  

NIMs in the UAE are anticipated to stabilize in the second half of 2023 before experiencing a slight dip in 2024, the report added. 

Conversely, Qatari banks have experienced only modest NIM improvements due to weak credit demand and ongoing public sector repayment of overdraft facilities. 

Strong operating conditions have contributed to robust asset quality metrics in the UAE and Saudi Arabia during the first half of 2023.  

“UAE mortgage portfolios could be pressured given their high proportion of variable-rate loans, but the rise in property prices should keep losses-given-default close to nil,” added Fitch.   

Saudi banks are projected to outpace the GCC average in financing growth for both 2023 and 2024, driven by increased corporate credit demand and persistent high interest rates. 

With oil prices expected to average $80 per barrel in 2023 and $75 per barrel in 2024, the region’s banks can anticipate continued support for their operating conditions, as per the report. 

Saudi endowment investment funds exceed $133m in net assets 

Updated 49 min 9 sec ago

Saudi endowment investment funds exceed $133m in net assets 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s endowment investment funds have experienced significant growth, with the number of licensed funds increasing by 13 in 2023, reaching a total of 24, as reported by the General Authority of Awqaf. 

In a newly released report, the authority revealed that this expansion has pushed the net assets of endowment investment funds in the Kingdom beyond the SR500 million ($133 million) milestone for the current year. 

This aligns with the government’s strategic objectives to advance the financial sector and streamline the licensing processes for various products.  

Saudi Arabia to grant premium residency for regional HQ executives 

Updated 01 October 2023

Saudi Arabia to grant premium residency for regional HQ executives 

RIYADH: As part of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to enhance its business environment, the Ministry of Investment has developed a mechanism to grant premium residency to executives based at regional headquarters. The initiative is being undertaken in collaboration with the country’s Premium Residency Center, according to an official release. 

In its pre-budget statement for 2024, the Ministry of Finance highlighted the collaborative work between the Ministry of Investment and various government entities to remove obstacles for investors.  

This includes cooperation with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing to establish an exception mechanism and permissions for companies looking to set up their headquarters within one of their branches in the Kingdom. 

Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance revealed that the Investment Ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to implement incentives for employees at regional headquarters. 

These incentives include granting visas based on the company’s requirements, enabling spouses under the family residency to work, and extending the age limit for dependents allowed to stay with regional headquarters employees to 25 years. 

Saudi Arabia continues to make strides in improving its business climate, attracting investments and fostering a more accommodating environment for foreign companies.

S&P upgrades Oman’s credit rating to BB+ with stable outlook  

Updated 15 min 11 sec ago

S&P upgrades Oman’s credit rating to BB+ with stable outlook  

RIYADH: In a new development signaling a shift in Oman’s economic landscape, global credit rating agency Standard & Poor has upgraded the nation’s long-term credit rating from “BB” to “BB+.” 

S&P Global’s assessment underscores a transformation in Oman’s non-oil sector, promising substantial growth in the years ahead, particularly between 2023 and 2026. This shift is expected to play a pivotal role in enhancing the country’s financial prosperity. 

Furthermore, government fiscal and economic momentum is set to continue until 2026, forecasting an average of 2 percent year-on-year growth in the country’s gross domestic product, according to the agency. 

“Oman’s economy depends on the oil sector, which accounts for about 30 percent of GDP, 60 percent of goods exports, and 70 percent of government fiscal receipts. This dependence weighs on our assessment of its fiscal and external resilience, and we reflect this in the rating,” the report stated. 

The agency predicts a deceleration in economic growth by 1 percent in 2023, mainly attributed to reductions in oil production.   

Nonetheless, the dip in oil output is anticipated to be counterbalanced by a surge in condensate and gas. 

In the non-hydrocarbon sector, Oman is projected to witness a 2 percent increase in 2023, with hydrocarbon manufacturing expected to rally in 2024 and 2025. 

Moreover, the banking sector witnessed a marked boost in credit balance, registering a growth of 5.3 percent in July 2023 compared to the same month the previous year. 

Data from the nation’s central bank indicates that credit extended to the private sector surged by 5.2 percent by the end of July 2023, totaling 20.2 billion Omani rials ($52.41 million). 

Highlighting another significant sector, Oman’s tourism industry is poised for expansion over the upcoming years. Its contribution to the GDP is projected to rise to 2.75 percent, up from 2.4 percent in 2023, according to Oman’s Minister of Heritage and Tourism. 

In a statement to Oman News Agency, Salim Al-Mahrouqi detailed that the tourism industry was responsible for 1.07 billion Omani rials of the comprehensive 1.9 billion Omani rials revenue in 2022.