Saudi Arabia, GCC economies ‘world leading’ in green transition, says City of London’s lord mayor

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Updated 26 September 2023
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Saudi Arabia, GCC economies ‘world leading’ in green transition, says City of London’s lord mayor

  • Nicholas Lyons said: ‘I take my hat off … particularly those hydrocarbon nations who have really grasped the scale of the challenge and are really driving forward now with solutions’
  • ‘As far as the City of London is concerned, we are absolutely committed to helping do everything that we can to fund that journey to net zero as efficiently as possible,’ he added

LONDON: The efforts Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are making to transition toward cleaner, greener economies are “world leading,” the lord mayor of the City of London said on Monday.

Nicholas Lyons, who visited the Kingdom and the UAE this year and is set to visit Qatar and Bahrain next week, also said there is “fantastic energy” in the Saudi Vision 2030 agenda for reforms and diversification of the nation’s economy.

“The scale of the transition is very substantial, of course, and the hydrocarbon economies have to manage very deftly this transition away from what has been a source of huge wealth,” he told Arab News.

“But they really are, genuinely, world-leading in the moves that they’re making into renewable technologies and clean energy, and they’re investing huge amounts of money in that.”

The levels of investment being made in this regard by Gulf Cooperation Council countries not only offer the prospect of significant financial returns, Lyons said, but will be critical in driving the growth of renewable technology companies and accelerating solutions to the climate crisis.

“I take my hat off to those nations, particularly those hydrocarbon nations who have really grasped the scale of the challenge and are really driving forward now with solutions,” he said.

With the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, set to return to the Gulf in November this year, when Dubai will host, Lyons said he was positive about the role the City of London can play in assisting countries achieve sustainable development.

“As far as the City of London is concerned, we are absolutely committed to helping do everything that we can to fund that journey to net zero as efficiently as possible,” he said.

“That’s not just a comment about how we can help in the UK but how London, as a global financial center, plays its part as a leading underwriter of green bonds and green loans, and with its expertise in insurance, risk and project management, working with countries around the world on sustainable infrastructure programs.”

Lyons, who has been lord mayor since November 2022, a role he called a “privilege” and “a dream come true,” said discussions in some countries surrounding the revision of net-zero and carbon-neutrality targets was more a case of realistic thinking rather than defeatism.

“I think it’s certainly possible to interpret some of the things that we’re hearing now as slightly backward steps,” he said. “I’d like to think rather than it being a backward step in terms of commitment, it’s just more realism in terms of the ability to deliver.

“That, I think, is particularly true where countries, in wanting to be bold and make clear statements of their intent, have set unrealistic targets in terms of timing.

“Maybe I’m being optimistic but I choose to interpret most of the comments that we’ve heard as being in that category, rather than people scaling back.”

Lyons said that much like his discussions with GCC officials in February, talks during his upcoming trip to the region will highlight both the dynamic inward investment opportunities the UK can offer and the ways in which the City of London can offer expertise to countries in the Gulf and the British firms looking to operate in the region.

“There are two big areas that tend to dominate the conversation,” he said. “One is inward investment into the UK. We have a multi-year campaign to get overseas asset owners investing more money through the UK — not necessarily in the UK, but through the UK asset-management structure. There have been very significant investments in the UK by GCC countries, which is terrific, but that’s one of the areas that we’ll talk about.

“The other is around green and sustainable finance. The two come together when it comes to investment in sort of green tech-type companies and fintech (financial technology).

“The conversation is often about how London can help that process and talking about the different strengths of London and what we could do, particularly, I think, in Gulf areas, (where) the insurance market is relatively underdeveloped and also the long-term savings market is also quite small and needs to be built up. And so there are conversations about whether or not we can encourage British firms to set up in the Gulf countries.”

The City of London published its “Vision for Economic Growth — A Roadmap to Prosperity” report this month, the preparation of which involved collaboration with more than 300 stakeholders across the financial and professional services industries over a half-year period.

The report identified the challenges and shifts facing the financial sector, from the application of artificial intelligence to cryptocurrencies, big data, and ways in which they can be addressed, Lyons said.

“With all of the strengths that London has as a global financial center, there are nevertheless seismic challenges and changes taking place in the world of finance,” he added.

“You can’t hide under a duvet and pretend they’re not coming; they may be complicated issues but you have to have a strategy around them. You have to have your regulators start to develop a regime that can manage them.”

Lyons said he also hopes a future growth fund can tap into the “huge expertise” in the UK in sectors such as fintech, green tech and biotech, and offer additional home-grown funding to what is already available from North America and the Gulf.

“These companies, at the moment, are very heavily reliant on international money, particularly North American money (and) we love the fact that we have great investment from the Gulf in these industries,” he said.

“But if we can also provide lots of UK money to sit alongside all of this foreign direct investment, those companies don’t need ultimately to go and list in the United States, where we lose the intellectual property, we lose the people and we lose the value and all of the tax revenue that comes from it.”


Closing Bell: TASI loses 34.45 points to close at 12,465 

Updated 17 April 2024
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Closing Bell: TASI loses 34.45 points to close at 12,465 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index closed at 12,465.98 points on Wednesday, dipping 34.45 points or 0.28 percent. 

The parallel market, Nomu, gained 92.53 points or 0.35 percent to close at 26,401.91. 

Meanwhile, the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index also slightly declined 9.29 points or 0.59 percent to conclude at 1,569.13.  

The main index posted a trading value of SR9.5 billion ($2.55 billion), with 96 stocks advancing and 131 declining. 

Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co. was the top performer on TASI as its share price surged 9.95 percent to SR21.44. Batic Investments and Logistics Co. followed with its share pricing jumping 9.27 percent to close at SR2.83. 

Saudi Ground Services Co. also performed well, climbing 9.09 percent to SR58.80. The Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co. and Almunajem Foods Co. increased 8.53 and 6.32 percent to SR28 and SR117.80, respectively. 

Conversely, Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co. recorded the most significant dip, declining 5.16 percent to SR11.40. 

Astra Industrial Group and Etihad Etisalat Co. also experienced setbacks, with their shares dropping to SR175.40 and SR51.39, reflecting declines of 3.73 and 3.39 percent, respectively. 

Saudi Chemical Co. and Saudi Real Estate Co. also reported significant losses of 3.08 percent and 2.88 percent to SR7.87 and SR22.22, respectively. 

Nomu’s top performer was Future Care Trading Co., which saw a 10.68 percent jump to SR9.64. 

Ladun Investment Co. and Mayar Holding Co. also recorded notable gains, with their shares closing at SR5.63 and SR4.10, marking an increase of 9.96 and 7.89 percent, respectively. 

Lana Medical Co. and Al-Modawat Specialized Medical Co. also fared well, as their share price increased by 7.25 and 6.92 percent, closing at SR42.90 and SR151.40. 

On Nomu, Alqemam for Computer Systems Co. was the worst performer, declining by 9.72 percent to SR90.10. Other underperformers included Saudi Parts Center Co. and Clean Life Co., whose share prices dropped 6.10 percent and 5.71 percent to SR60.0 and SR94.20, respectively. 


Chinese businesses shown NEOM opportunities as ‘Discover’ tour hits Beijing, Shanghai

Updated 17 April 2024
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Chinese businesses shown NEOM opportunities as ‘Discover’ tour hits Beijing, Shanghai

RIYADH: Opportunities for Chinese companies to engage with and invest in NEOM have been showcased in Beijing and Shanghai, attracting significant interest from several companies. 

The giga-project kicked off the Chinese leg of its global “Discover NEOM” tour in the capital on April 15, followed by a visit to the country’s biggest city on April 17, attracting a cumulation of over 500 business and industry leaders. 

Organized in partnership with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Beijing and CCPIT Shanghai, the events featured presentations by NEOM’s leadership team that highlighted on-the-ground progress and milestones, as well as detailed overviews of the initiative’s diverse economic sectors.  

Numerous opportunities for Chinese companies to engage and invest in the advanced urban and economic zone were showcased during these gatherings, eliciting significant interest. Many companies expressed enthusiasm and discussed concrete next steps with NEOM’s leadership, according to a release. 

“We are grateful to CCPIT Beijing and CCPIT Shanghai for supporting our visit to China and for the opportunity to present NEOM’s vision,” Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM, said.  

“To date, NEOM has already engaged with over 15 major Chinese businesses and invested in a number of Chinese startups to support the growth and diversification of NEOM. Collaboration with China will continue to play a vital role in the development of NEOM, and we look forward to strengthening our engagement with the country’s business community,” he added. 

Over 100 Chinese building companies participated in the event’s construction-focused forum, which presented many collaboration opportunities. 

Furthermore, the private showcase, “Discover NEOM: A New Future by Design,” was a highlight of the events.  

It offered guests an immersive experience exploring NEOM’s developments. These included THE LINE, a 170-km-long city designed as the future of urban living; Oxagon, which is reshaping the traditional industrial model; Trojena, NEOM’s mountain resort; and Sindalah, a luxury island destination in the Red Sea set to open later this year. 

“Both Beijing and NEOM are accelerating the development of new modes of productivity, deepening comprehensive reforms, promoting scientific and technological innovation, and working to ensure the protection of our environment,” Guo Huaigang, chairman of CCPIT Beijing, said. 

“We look forward to the role our cooperation can have in Beijing’s future prosperity,” he added. 

Expressing Shanghai’s interest in fostering its relationship with Saudi Arabia, Zhao Zhuping, deputy secretary general of the Shanghai Municipal Government, stated that the entity looks forward to deepening mutually beneficial engagement with NEOM. 

“Discover NEOM China” marks the latest installment of NEOM’s global roadshow, following engagements in major international cities such as Seoul, Tokyo, and Singapore, as well as New York, Boston, and Miami. 

Paris, Berlin, and London have also been visited by the expedition. 


Saudi crude production hits 7-month high in February

Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi crude production hits 7-month high in February

  • The Kingdom’s crude exports rose to 6.32 million bpd or 0.32 percent: JODI data

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s crude production reached a seven-month high of 9.01 million barrels per day in February, data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative showed. 

This represented a rise of 55,000 bpd or 0.61 percent compared to the previous month.  

Furthermore, the data indicated that the Kingdom’s crude exports rose to 6.32 million bpd, reflecting a monthly increase of 0.32 percent.  

In early April, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, chose to keep their existing output policy unchanged as oil prices hit a five-month high.  

Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ extended voluntary output cuts of 2.2 million bpd until June to bolster the market. The decision was reached during the 53rd meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee on April 3.  

Oil prices surged due to supply constraints, attacks on Russian energy infrastructure, and conflicts in the Middle East, with Brent crude exceeding $89 a barrel.  

This extension of cuts, alongside voluntary reductions announced in April 2023, including 500,000 bpd cuts from both Saudi Arabia and Russia, now extends through December of this year. 

As a result of this decision, despite the monthly increase, crude output remains approximately 14 percent lower than the levels observed during the same month last year. 

The next JMMC meeting is scheduled for June 1.  

Refinery output 

Meanwhile, refinery crude output, representing the processed volume of crude oil yielding gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil, surged to a five-month high. It increased by 10 percent compared to the previous month, reaching 2.68 million bpd, according to JODI data. This also marked a 10 percent increase from the 2.44 million bpd recorded during the same period last year. 

As one of the world’s leading oil producers, Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in supplying these refined products to meet global energy demands. 

In February, diesel, constituting 38 percent of the total output, declined by 7 percent to 1.02 million bpd, with its percentage share decreasing from 45 percent in January. Motor aviation or jet fuel maintained a 22 percent share, experiencing an 11 percent increase to 597,000 bpd. Meanwhile, fuel oil, making up 17 percent of the total refinery output, saw a slight uptick of 0.22 percent, totaling 455,000 bpd. 

Conversely, refinery output exports surged to a 10-month high, reaching 1.39 million bpd, a 12 percent monthly increase. The most significant rise was observed in motor and aviation oil, up by 45 percent to 275,000 bpd. Fuel oil exports followed with a 38 percent increase to 219,000 bpd, while diesel oil saw a 13 percent rise to 629,000 bpd. 

In February, 62 percent of refinery diesel oil output was exported, marking the highest percentage in eight months. Fuel oil and motor and aviation gasoline followed suit with export percentages of 48 percent and 46 percent, respectively. 

Direct crude usage 

Saudi Arabia’s direct burn of crude oil, involving the utilization of oil without substantial refining processes, experienced an increase of 52,000 bpd in February, representing a 17 percent rise compared to the preceding month. The total direct burn for the month amounted to 360,000 bpd. 

The Ministry of Energy aims to enhance the contributions of natural gas and renewable sources as part of the Kingdom’s goal to achieve an optimal, highly efficient, and cost-effective energy mix. 

This involves replacing liquid fuel with natural gas and integrating renewables to constitute approximately 50 percent of the electricity production energy mix by 2030. 


Zain KSA introduces first 100% Saudi-made fleet tracking solution for businesses 

Updated 17 April 2024
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Zain KSA introduces first 100% Saudi-made fleet tracking solution for businesses 

RIYADH: Saudi telecom provider Zain KSA has become the first operator in the Kingdom to offer a 100 percent locally made fleet tracking system for businesses.  

The new system is expected to empower businesses in Saudi Arabia to make informed decisions through comprehensive reports generated from precise data collection. 

The launch of the system, entirely made in the Kingdom for the business sector, integrates cutting-edge tracking devices that are locally designed, manufactured, and assembled under the country’s “Saudi Made” program, the company said in a statement.

The telecom company further explained that the monitoring solution is a comprehensive cloud-based platform, providing businesses of all sizes with tools to optimize logistics operations, enhance travel routes, and minimize fuel consumption. This, in turn, reduces carbon emissions, preserves the environment, and fosters sustainability.

Saad bin Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan, chief business and wholesale officer at Zain KSA, said: “We are proud to be the first telecom and digital services provider to offer an integrated solution designed and developed in the Kingdom, aligning with our sustainability strategy of supporting local content.”

He added that their achievement aligns with the aspirations of the country’s leadership and Vision 2030 in enhancing the digital economy and localizing technology.

He also emphasized his company’s commitment to building an integrated technological ecosystem aiming at leveraging digitization and automation to serve and empower the productive, service, and logistical sectors across the Kingdom.

The executive further said that their fleet management method is a direct result of this commitment, and they take immense pride in being at the forefront of companies providing 100 percent national digital solutions.

The firm said in its release that by offering real-time GPS tracking, its system enhances road safety and security across the transportation and logistics sectors, empowering decision-makers with crucial insights through comprehensive reports based on accurate data.

It added that the system allows for informed decisions that boost operational efficiency and save costs.


Saudi Arabia and Spain strengthen collaboration in urban infrastructure and renewable energy sector

Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia and Spain strengthen collaboration in urban infrastructure and renewable energy sector

RIYADH: Saudi-Spanish collaboration is set to flourish in the fields of urban infrastructure development, renewable energy, and engineering technology after a high-level meeting in Madrid. 

During a three-day visit from April 15-17, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing, Majed Al-Hogail, met with executives from leading Spanish companies to explore collaboration opportunities. 

The tour is part of the Kingdom’s broader initiative to foster international partnerships that enhance its urban and infrastructure capabilities, the Saudi Press Agency reported.   

Al-Hogail’s engagements included a discussion with Pablo Bueno, CEO of TYPSA, focusing on potential collaboration in the fields of infrastructure solutions, energy efficiency, and sustainable urban development.   

They discussed activating a circular economy in buildings and infrastructure and creating new asset management platforms and engineering value solutions.  

Additionally, the minister met with José Vicente, CEO of Indra, one of the leading engineering technology and consulting firms, to discuss digital transformation in municipal services.   

This collaboration aims to enhance the quality of services provided to Saudi citizens and residents and foster innovation.  

Al-Hogail also held a meeting with Pedro Fernandez Alen, president of the National Construction Confederation, to discuss collaboration opportunities and share insights on Vision 2030’s strategic objectives for the housing sector. The discussions highlighted the significant Spanish investments in Saudi Arabia, which exceed $3 billion, with a substantial portion directed toward real estate ventures.

The minister underscored the robust growth in Saudi Arabia’s housing sector, noting the provision of housing solutions for 1.5 million families over the past five years. He highlighted the delivery of approximately half a million housing units and the launch of major residential developments. With plans to add more than 300,000 housing units by 2025 and aiming for nearly one million units by 2030, these efforts are set to further boost the Kingdom’s attractiveness for domestic and international investments.

Al-Hogail also pointed out the significant contribution of the real estate sector to the Kingdom’s non-oil gross domestic product, which reached 12.2 percent, while the construction and building sector contributed 11.3  percent by the third quarter of 2023.

Concluding his visit, Al-Hogail will preside over the Saudi-Spanish Business Forum, organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers and Saudi-Spanish Business Council.