Qatar’s August inflation drops 0.58% as key sectors see price softening 

The figures were released by Qatar’s Planning and Statistics Authority. Shutterstock.
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Updated 21 September 2023

Qatar’s August inflation drops 0.58% as key sectors see price softening 

RIYADH: Qatar’s consumer price index experienced a monthly decline of 0.58 percent in August, reaching 106.25 points, according to the country’s Planning and Statistics Authority.   

The data showed CPI decreased in six groups, rose in three and remained unchanged in three. 

Among them, recreation and culture experienced a 3.37 percent drop in August compared to July.  

The transport sector softened by 1.65 percent, and clothing and footwear fell 0.99 percent.   

The housing and utilities sectors also declined by 0.79 percent, while miscellaneous goods and services dropped by 0.14 percent.   

A similar trend was observed in the prices of restaurants and hotels, with a slight fall of 0.13 percent.   

However, the food and beverages sector recorded an increase of 1.46 percent, followed by education, which rose by 1.62 percent. The furniture and household equipment sector grew by 0.11 percent.  

In contrast, the tobacco, healthcare, and communication sectors showed no change compared to July. 

Moreover, the country’s CPI witnessed a 2.38 percent surge compared to the same month last year. 

On a year-on-year basis, communication costs in August surged 15.85 percent compared to the year-ago period, followed by a 7.91 percent rise in recreation and culture, 5.7 percent in education and 2.33 percent in furniture and household equipment. 

Additionally, the transport sector saw a year-on-year price increase of 1.85 percent. The housing, water, electricity, other fuel, food and beverages, and health sectors saw price escalations. 

Conversely, there were dips in restaurants and hotels by 4.59 percent in August compared to the same month last year. Clothing, footwear, miscellaneous goods, and services also saw yearly declines, while tobacco remained steady. 

Kuwait CPI rose 0.15% in August  

Kuwait recorded a 0.15 percent monthly increase in its CPI in August, mainly driven by a surge in food, education and clothing prices. 

The inflation figure also saw a 3.82 percent increase in August compared to the same month last year. 

According to data from the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics, food and beverages saw a 5.7 percent yearly increase in August, while the clothing sector saw a 6.97 percent surge. 

CBUAE and People’s Bank of China renew currency swap agreement, sign MoU 

Updated 51 min 37 sec ago

CBUAE and People’s Bank of China renew currency swap agreement, sign MoU 

RIYADH: The UAE and China have entered into a renewed currency swap arrangement facilitated by agreements that aim to advance technical and technological cooperation between the two nations. 

The understanding, which will renew the currency swap between the Central Bank of the UAE and the People’s Bank of China, bears a nominal value of 18 billion dirhams ($4.9 billion) over the next five years. This deal aims to enable the provision of liquidity in local currency into the financial markets. 

This agreement is expected to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of settling financial and trade transactions between the two nations. 

Both banks also signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance collaboration with central bank digital currency development and strengthen cooperation between CBUAE and the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China in the field of financial technology. 

The MoU will allow information to be shared on best practices and regulations pertaining to digital currencies and will support the implementation of cooperative undertakings, such as Project mBridge, a multi-central bank digital currency platform that facilitates quick and secure cross-border trade payments.

“The renewal of the currency swap agreement between our two countries and the MoU with our partners in China reflect the depth of the relationship between the UAE and China, embodying the Central Bank’s commitment to solidifying the partnership with our Chinese counterpart in financial, trade and investment fields,” Khaled Mohamed Balama, governor of CBUAE said. 

Additionally, the MoU includes cooperation in training and skills development for specialists on both sides and the exchange of bilateral visits to discuss matters of common interest. 

Last week, the Dubai Financial Market, in collaboration with Nasdaq Dubai and the Shanghai Stock Exchange, signed an MoU to advance joint products, including indices and electronic fund transfer initiatives. 

This step marks a significant development in fostering financial collaboration between exchanges. 

Saudi economy to rebound in 2024: Riyadh Capital

Updated 28 November 2023

Saudi economy to rebound in 2024: Riyadh Capital

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s economy is expected to “rebound” in 2024, according to an analysis by Riyadh Capital.

The bank’s “Saudi Economic Chartbook” for the fourth quarter of 2023 outlines a projected continuation of solid growth for non-oil activities, facilitated by a progress-driven financial policy emphasizing an increase in investment spending, leading to the foreseen advancement in 2024.

For 2023, the document estimates non-oil activities to grow by 5.1 percent while projecting a 4.9 percent boost for 2024.

The bank notes that the Kingdom’s economy is expected to consolidate in 2023 due to oil production cuts in the last 12 months.

The decline in crude output in 2023 is expected to gradually reverse over the course of next year, leading the body to forecast an oil sector GDP contribution of 3.6 percent in 2024.

For 2023, the fiscal deficit is estimated at SR82 billion ($21.9 billion), corresponding to 2.1 percent of GDP.

Meanwhile, the 2024 deficit is projected to narrow to SR43 billion or 1.1 percent of GDP, primarily due to gradually higher oil and non-oil revenues.

Closing Bell: Saudi main index inches up to close at 11,101

Updated 28 November 2023

Closing Bell: Saudi main index inches up to close at 11,101

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index rebounded on Tuesday, as it gained 20.18 points or 0.18 percent to close at 11,100.92.

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR4.87 billion ($1.30 billion) as 108 of the listed stocks advanced, while 103 declined.

Saudi Arabia’s parallel market Nomu also performed well on Tuesday, with the index gaining 371.89 points or 1.53 percent, closing at 24,631.21.

The MSCI Tadawul Index too edged up 0.36 percent to close at 1,430.79.

The best-performing stock of the day was Wafrah for Industry and Development Co. The company’s share price soared by 5.36 percent to SR41.30.

Other top performers were Dr. Sulaiman Al-Habib Medical Services Group and Yamama Cement Co., whose share prices surged by 3.73 percent and 3.53 percent, respectively.

The worst performer in the main index was Alamar Foods Co., as its share price dipped by 3.90 percent to SR113.20.

The positive performance of Nomu was driven by Fad International Co., which debuted on the market today. The company’s share price surged by 30 percent to SR109.20.

In the parallel market, Future Care Trading Co.’s share price edged up by 10.10 percent to SR25.50.

On the announcements front, the Saudi exchange said that Armah Sports Co. will be listed and start trading on Nomu on Nov. 30.

Al-Moammar Information Systems Co., also known as MIS, revealed that it was awarded a contract worth SR81.6 million by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice to offer technical support.

In a Tadawul statement, MIS said that there were no related parties involved in the deal.

Meanwhile, Knowledge Tower Trading Co. announced that it purchased land that spans 1,148 sq. meters in Riyadh’s Malaz neighborhood at a value of SR6.3 million.

In a statement to Tadawul, the company said that the purchase would be financed through company sources and added that the land would be developed as an income-generating investment.

Jazan Investment Forum to showcase Saudi ‘food basket’ region

Updated 28 November 2023

Jazan Investment Forum to showcase Saudi ‘food basket’ region

RIYADH: Global investors will get a chance to explore Jazan’s economic opportunities through Saudi Arabia’s southwestern region’s investment forum, which is scheduled to kick off on Nov. 28.   

The Jazan Investment Forum 2023, held under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to introduce economic advantages in the logistics and agriculture sectors.  

In addition, the event will shed light on the environmental and climatic diversity of the region, particularly Farasan Island, according to the Saudi Press Agency.  

It added that visitors will have the opportunity to delve into Jazan's rich heritage, explore monuments dating back to 8000 BC, and learn more about the region’s importance as an agricultural site with diverse crops.   

Gov. of Jazan Prince Mohammed bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz extended his deepest gratitude to the crown prince for patronizing the forum. The event is organized by the Jazan Chamber in cooperation with the region’s governing department and the Jazan Region Development Strategic Office, along with several relevant government and private agencies. 

The governor emphasized that the forum aims to serve as a platform for attracting direct and high-quality investments to the Jazan region, adding that it will act as a gateway to engage with relevant authorities to enhance the working environment and foster strategic investment partnerships for comprehensive growth and sustainable development in the region.  

The two-day forum will feature a dialogue session where various ministers will discuss investment in Jazan, the region’s competitiveness, and its future aligned with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

The aims are to enhance the investment and development environment and create new opportunities.  

Additionally, topics covering Jazan’s crucial economic role in attracting significant global investments to the region are also on the agenda.  

Furthermore, the governor reviewed the importance of the forum and its activities, as well as the various investment opportunities available in different economic, agricultural, and tourism fields.

He also highlighted the ultimate care and interest the region receives from the leaders as part of their overall keenness to develop services in all regions of the country.   

It is noteworthy that Jazan attracted over SR1 billion ($266 million) in investments in 2022 and 2023, gaining ground as a commercial region.  

The amount secured in the last two years represents 40 percent of the municipality’s total investments over the past 20 years, the SPA reported. 

While the region had a competitive edge with its vast coastline conducive to maritime and oil industries, it was the strategic decision to develop as a special economic zone catering to the logistics industry that gave it the upper hand. 

Besides hosting the third-largest ports in the Kingdom, the coastal region is also home to a refinery, which is one of the largest refining stations in the world. 

Moreover, the rapid development of infrastructure in the region was another crucial factor that led to the spurt in investment over the last two years.  

Saudi Arabia enhances digital economy with National Data Index

Updated 28 November 2023

Saudi Arabia enhances digital economy with National Data Index

RIYADH: The digital economy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia is set to receive a boost with the launch of open data programs, including the introduction of the National Data Index, also known as Nudei, during the Saudi Data Forum in Riyadh.  

The event also saw the launch of upgraded versions of the Open Data Platform and the Data Governance Platform.  

This initiative, a first for the Kingdom, aims to promote transparency, create a national data-based economy, and contribute to the assessment of data maturity in government entities, aligning with Vision 2030. 

Organized by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority and the National Transformation Program, the launch was attended by global and local experts. Participants included Assistant Minister of Interior for Technology Affairs Prince Bandar Bin Abdullah, SDAIA President Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, ministers, senior officials, and representatives from local and international companies. 

The National Data Index, a collaboration between SDAIA and NTP, is a dynamic results-based indicator for follow-up and evaluation. It aims to assess and track the progress of government agencies in data management, compliance, and operational indicators across 14 areas. 

The indicator establishes a robust data governance framework and policies to control data management practices, measure data management maturity and ensure compliance, improve the effectiveness of data management operational processes, and develop compliance and investigation-reporting mechanisms. 

An upgraded version of the Open Data Platform was also released, allowing individuals, government, and non-government agencies to publish their open data for entrepreneurs and other beneficiaries.  

The platform has achieved over 7,000 open data sets, 190 publishers, and 35 use cases. 

Additionally, the Data Governance Platform aims to register entities covered by the Personal Data Protection Law, providing support and advice on preserving the privacy of personal data holders and protecting their rights.  

Government agencies can benefit from the platform through a process that involves filling out the registration form, logging in through the national unified access platform, completing the entity’s profile, and submitting data for evaluation.  

It also provides services, including notification about possible data leaks, privacy impact assessment, legal support, and a self-assessment tool for compliance with the Personal Data Protection Law. 

SDAIA and NTP signed a memorandum of understanding in 2022 to launch new strategic partnerships and smart business solutions that support the strategic objectives of Vision 2030 assigned to NTP, including SDAIA’s initiatives related to data and artificial intelligence.