Egypt increases funding needed in 2024-2025 budget by over $59bn 

The added funding aims to alleviate the inflationary effects that have been burdening the Egyptian public. Shutterstock
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Updated 23 April 2024

Egypt increases funding needed in 2024-2025 budget by over $59bn 

RIYADH: Egypt has increased the amount of funding required in its 2024-2025 budget by over 2.8 trillion pounds ($59 billion) following successive shock waves.

In the financial statement of the new draft budget, Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait highlighted that the changes are reflective of the continuous struggles that the North African country has been facing following the COVID-19 epidemic. 

The added funding aims to alleviate the inflationary effects that have been burdening the Egyptian public, improve the standard of living, and meet the developmental needs of citizens, the report said. 

The allocation of spending in the budget will also seemingly reflect the needs of individuals by increasing spending on health and education and aiming to improve job opportunities. 

Egypt’s economy has witnessed blows over the last half year due to the ongoing crisis in Gaza, which has slowed tourism growth and cut into Suez Canal revenue, two of the country’s biggest sources of foreign currency.

Amid a staggering shortage of foreign currency and rapidly increasing inflation, the challenges prompted the International Monetary Fund to expand its financial support to Egypt to $8 billion in an attempt to shore up the country’s economy.

In a statement in March, the IMF board said its decision would enable Egypt to immediately receive about $820 million.

Similarly, the UAE, represented by a private consortium led by the Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Co., signed a landmark agreement with Egypt in February to invest $35 billion in Ras El-Hekma, a region on the Mediterranean coast 350 km northwest of Cairo. 

Since securing the deal, which marked the single largest foreign direct investment in the North African country, the nation launched some long-sought reforms with the central bank delivering a 600 basis-point interest rate hike and a pledge to unshackle its currency alongside a devaluation.

This led S&P Global Ratings to note that it has been encouraged by the rush of financial support to Egypt, therefore lifting its economic outlook for the country to positive from stable after the long-awaited currency devaluation, which is poised to ease foreign currency shortages. 

Saudi Arabia to reshape global tourism landscape, says Al-Khateeb 

Updated 5 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to reshape global tourism landscape, says Al-Khateeb 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is on track to change the map of tourism on a global level, according to a top minister.  

Participating in a dialogue session on the sidelines of the 50th UN Tourism Regional Commission for the Middle East taking place from May 22 to 24 in Muscat, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb stressed that the Kingdom is working in cooperation with regional member states of the organization to further develop the industry. 

This is in line with Saudi Arabia’s National Tourism Strategy, which aims to reach 150 million visitors by 2030, grow the private sector’s contribution, and attract direct foreign investments, adding to the economic growth and diversification. 

“The Kingdom will change the map of tourism in the world, and the opportunities and facilities that we provide to investors will make the tourism sector more attractive, and we are proceeding in a distinctive way in building the sector,” Al-Khateeb affirmed. 

During the session, the minister also indicated that Saudi Arabia has begun to develop the tourism division as part of its Vision 2030 plan, noting that the development efforts have succeeded in raising the sector’s contribution from 3 percent of the local economy to 4.5 percent by the end of the last year.  

Al-Khateeb also drew attention to the fact that the Middle East has great potential and natural resources that enable it to become one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.  

He explained that the countries in the region are moving as a single bloc in the right direction regarding developing the tourism sector, as they have begun designing plans and strategies to benefit from this promising industry.  

The minister highlighted that attracting and qualifying the national human resources are two important factors for developing the regional sector, stressing that the Saudi Ministry of Tourism pays great attention to the issue of qualifying national cadres working in the field. 

The body also works to attract young men and women in the Kingdom to work in the industry. 

In April, the deputy minister of destination enablement at the Ministry of Tourism said that Saudi Arabia is open to readjusting its goal of attracting 150 million visitors by 2030 if those numbers are achieved ahead of time.  

Speaking in an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the first day of the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh, Mahmoud Abdulhadi explained that goals are adjusted based on performance.    

“As we hit our target seven years ahead of target, our 100 million target, we therefore now have a new goal. I’m sure if we were to hit that new target with a significant overperformance in terms of the timeline, our targets would also be adjusted,” Abdulhadi said.

Saudi Arabia reveals theme for 8th annual FII conference

Updated 21 min 2 sec ago

Saudi Arabia reveals theme for 8th annual FII conference

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has unveiled the theme for the eighth annual Future Investment Initiative Institute forum, with a focus on future prosperity

“Infinite Horizons: Investing Today, Shaping Tomorrow” will be the focus of the event, the FII Institute has announced, which is scheduled to take place from Oct. 29 to 31 at Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz International Conference Centre.

Under this banner, the event will ignite discussions on how investment can serve as a catalyst for a prosperous and sustainable future, pushing the boundaries of what is possible for humanity.

As reported by the Saudi Press Agency, the conference discussions will be data-driven, ensuring that insights are based on facts and actionable strategies.

Richard Attias, who acts as the institute’s chief executive and board member, emphasized the significance of the theme, stating that it is not just a theme, highlighting that it is a loud call” ‘to expand our collective vision and embrace the limitless prospects of the future.” 

He added: “It embodies our commitment to driving conversations that lead to a future where investment knows no bounds and works toward a better tomorrow for all.”

FII8, organized by the FII Institute and founded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, will adopt an innovative format as an exclusive week for FII Institute members, invited delegates, and strategic partners.

Moreover, the organization announced its inaugural Latin American FII PRIORITY summit to be held in Brazil under the theme “Invest in Dignity.”

SDAIA chief calls for strong legal frameworks to mitigate AI risks

Updated 28 min 9 sec ago

SDAIA chief calls for strong legal frameworks to mitigate AI risks

RIYADH: The chief of Saudi Arabia’s artificial intelligence authority took part in a top-level summit on AI held in South Korea from May 21-22.

Co-hosted by South Korea and the UK, the summit focused on international cooperation in data and AI, as well as preparations for the third edition of the Global AI Summit, hosted in Riyadh by the Saudi Data and AI Authority in September.

The authority’s president, Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, in a roundtable discussion at the Seoul summit, said that AI technologies will “experience significant developments” that will result in more efficient and scalable models capable of handling a wider range of tasks.

He highlighted the significance of open-source AI, which fuels innovation and reshapes the technological landscape. A goal of the summit was to explore the transformative potential of open-source AI and open-access databases, he added.

“Open-source AI has the capability to add flexible character to technology, making advanced tools and algorithms accessible to a broad spectrum of creators, such as large companies and individual developers,” Al-Ghamdi said.

This inclusivity accelerates technological advancement through collaboration and ensures a level of transparency in the digital age, Al-Ghamdi added, calling for robust governance frameworks, international cooperation and continuous public awareness efforts to mitigate risks.

Governments require strategies that balance the need for open-source databases to fuel AI innovations while protecting individual privacy and ensuring data security, a balance that can be achieved through strict data protection laws and technical solutions, the SDAIA chief said.

As data flows transcend national borders, coordinating international standards for data access and privacy becomes critical, he added.

“This requires the presence of globally standardized data protection laws, where local regulations must adapt to address specific cultural and economic contexts. This coordination facilitates smoother data exchange, enhances security and privacy, and helps address global challenges collectively.”

By adopting open-source AI and open databases, “we can bring technology to a larger number of people, promote transparency, and foster a more inclusive technological landscape,” Al-Ghamdi said.

“However, this future also requires effective governance, strong regulatory frameworks, and proactive international collaboration to overcome risks and harness the full potential of AI responsibly.”

The Seoul summit was attended by technology and communications ministers as well as AI experts from countries around the world.

Saudi Arabia set to host UNCTAD Global Supply Chain Forum in 2026 

Updated 28 min 42 sec ago

Saudi Arabia set to host UNCTAD Global Supply Chain Forum in 2026 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will host the UN Trade and Development Global Supply Chain Forum in 2026, reinforcing its growing status as a global logistics hub. 

The international event will bring together leaders, experts, and organizations to shape the future of international trade.  

The biannual event — the first edition of which is being held from May 21 to 24 in Bridgetown, Barbados — aims to serve as a platform for global dialogue, shaping the investment environment in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 

As per a statement from the Saudi Ports Authority, also known as Mawani, this accomplishment solidifies the Kingdom’s position as a key global logistics center and a pivotal point for connecting three continents. 

Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, minister of transport and logistics services and chairman of the authority, stated that hosting this event reflects Saudi Arabia’s prominent position on the global stage and its significant influence in international organizations.  

He underscored the leadership’s commitment to supporting the transport and logistics sector to achieve developmental and service-oriented projects and initiatives, aligned with the ambitious goals of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy under Vision 2030. 

Al-Jasser added that winning the bid to host the 2026 UNCTAD Global Supply Chain Forum is a testament to the remarkable efforts in the ports and supply chain sector.  

It also mirrors the growth in operational capabilities and efficiency, as well as the substantial investments Mawani has made in developing infrastructure and maritime services in collaboration with the private sector, the release added.  

The current situation involves incidents targeting commercial vessels in the Red Sea, disruptions to Suez Canal shipping, instability in the Black Sea due to the conflict in Ukraine, and drought-related water level reductions in the Panama Canal, impacting vital trade routes. 

On another front, the increasing connectivity of Saudi ports with global counterparts, along with significant advancements in strategic partnerships with major international shipping lines, has led to the introduction of new maritime services linking the Kingdom with continents across the globe. This development is contributing to enhanced trade, exports, and global market connectivity. 

Omar bin Talal Hariri, president of Mawani, highlighted that this accomplishment reflects the successful efforts in developing logistics service standards. 

He added that the endeavor aids in supporting global trade, adopting innovative technologies in the maritime and logistics sector, and employing artificial intelligence to enhance services provided to beneficiaries.  

These efforts contribute to ensuring a more inclusive and sustainable future for global supply chains. 

Saudi-Jordanian mining, pharma ties to advance thanks to ministerial visit

Updated 23 May 2024

Saudi-Jordanian mining, pharma ties to advance thanks to ministerial visit

RIYADH: Mining and pharmaceutical cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Jordan is poised to advance after a top official’s visit to the Hashemite Kingdom.

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef met with the chairman of the Arab Mining Co., Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi, during his trip, which commenced on May 21.

With a current focus on the advancements between nations, a Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources statement highlighted that Saudi Arabia’s exports to Jordan in 2023 reached SR7.6 billion ($2 billion), while its imports from Jordan amounted to SR7.5 billion.

The release noted that the Kingdom’s exports to Jordan included food products, petrochemicals and polymers as well as construction materials. 

Meanwhile, its imports from Jordan included commodities and medical drugs.

Saudi Arabia has previously introduced several investment opportunities in vaccines and biologics totaling $3.4 billion. This initiative aligns with the Kingdom’s efforts to ensure the consistent availability of pharmaceutical products, aiming to meet its healthcare demands while establishing itself as a significant drug supply hub.     

Forging mining ties

During the minister’s visit, Alkhorayef and Al-Shehhi discussed ways of enhancing cooperation in the mining sector in the presence of Khalid bin Saleh Al-Mudaifer, the vice minister of mining affairs. They also explored opportunities to leverage the mining resources available in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

In a post on his X account, the minister said that he discussed with several officials in Jordanian mining companies the prospects for joint cooperation to develop the mining sector in the region and to benefit from the large mineral resources in both countries, especially in a number of strategic and rare minerals.

He also spoke of attracting qualitative investments in this vital sector and held meetings with officials from Jordanian companies operating in the mining sector.

In his discussions with representatives from Jordan Phosphate Mines Co., a publicly traded company established in 1949, both parties explored potential collaboration opportunities in extracting and producing phosphorus compounds, considering Saudi Arabia’s significant reserves.

Additionally, the minister touched on cooperation with officials from the Arab Potash Co., the eighth-largest potash producer worldwide by volume of production and the sole producer of this product in the Arab World.

The two sides reviewed the progress made in implementing the memorandum of understanding signed between the company and the Saudi Arabian Mining Co., also known as Ma’aden, aiming to enhance collaboration in specialized fertilizers and products in both nations.

Injecting pharmaceutical cooperation

Alkhorayef also met the chairman of the Jordanian Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Tareq Darwazeh, while in Amman.

The two explored avenues to enhance cooperation in pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing, aiming to leverage the advanced expertise and capabilities of both countries.         

Moreover, Alkhorayef visited several Jordanian pharmaceutical factories and companies, where he held meetings with their senior officials.

“I gained insight into their operational plans and engaged in discussions with their senior officials regarding opportunities to strengthen cooperation. We also explored avenues for exchanging experiences in localizing the vital and specialized pharmaceutical industry, as well as attracting investments in this crucial sector,” he said in a post on X.

The minister visited MS Pharma’s sterile injectables factory in the Sahab area and toured Hikma Pharmaceuticals, including its factory in Al-Bayader. 

During the visit, he attended a virtual presentation highlighting the company’s facilities in Portugal and the US, which specialize in the production of oncology drugs and injections.

He also visited the Saudi embassy in Amman, where he met with various Jordanian investors and businesspeople. 

During these meetings, they discussed opportunities for cooperation in trade and investments, focusing on the mining and industry sectors.

The visits underscore the Kingdom’s commitment to attracting qualitative investments in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors while facilitating exports to international markets.

During his visit, Alkhorayef is scheduled to meet with Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh, as well as the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Supply, Yousef Mahmoud Al-Shamali, and the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Saleh Al-Kharabsheh. 

According to SPA, the Saudi minister will also meet with the Minister of Investment, Khuloud Al-Saqqaf, along with several investors and heads of private sector companies.