Saudi, UK Discuss Developing Trade and Investment

A general view is seen of the London skyline from Canary Wharf in London, Britain, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
A general view is seen of the London skyline from Canary Wharf in London, Britain, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
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Saudi, UK Discuss Developing Trade and Investment

A general view is seen of the London skyline from Canary Wharf in London, Britain, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
A general view is seen of the London skyline from Canary Wharf in London, Britain, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

The Economic and Social Committee of the Saudi Arabia-UK Strategic Partnership Council held its third meeting in London, headed by Saudi Minister of Commerce, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, and UK Secretary of State for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Grant Shapps.

The meeting discussed improving bilateral relations and enhancing cooperation in fields agreed upon in the Strategic Partnership, in addition to highlighting the significant economic and social progress recognized since the launch of the Saudi Vision 2030.

It also reaffirmed the continuous commitment to support the goals of the vision and the Saudi program for economic diversification, in addition to working to develop trade and investment between the two kingdoms.

The Saudi-UK Strategic Partnership Council seeks to boost economic relations in several fields, mainly financial services, especially FinTech (financial technology), open banking, green finance, and priority investment sectors.

It also aims at strengthening educational partnerships, cooperation in health care (including preparedness for epidemics) and health technology, and the general development of the entire healthcare system.

This comes in addition to cooperation in carbon capture, utilization and storage, hydrogen production, renewable energy sources, space, mining, pharmaceuticals, and aviation, and partnerships in the film, heritage, arts, tourism, and entertainment sectors.

The Economic and Social Committee held its first meeting in Jeddah in 2019.



Saudi Arabia's PIF Buys 49% of Rocco Forte's Luxury Hotel Chain

Founder Rocco Forte indicated that Saudi Arabia's support will give the company more financial strength (Rocco Forte)
Founder Rocco Forte indicated that Saudi Arabia's support will give the company more financial strength (Rocco Forte)
Founder Rocco Forte indicated that Saudi Arabia's support will give the company more financial strength (Rocco Forte) Founder Rocco Forte indicated that Saudi Arabia's support will give the company more financial strength (Rocco Forte)
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Saudi Arabia's PIF Buys 49% of Rocco Forte's Luxury Hotel Chain

Founder Rocco Forte indicated that Saudi Arabia's support will give the company more financial strength (Rocco Forte)
Founder Rocco Forte indicated that Saudi Arabia's support will give the company more financial strength (Rocco Forte)
Founder Rocco Forte indicated that Saudi Arabia's support will give the company more financial strength (Rocco Forte) Founder Rocco Forte indicated that Saudi Arabia's support will give the company more financial strength (Rocco Forte)

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has bought a 49 percent stake in Sir Rocco Forte's luxury hotel group and plans to double the chain's size over the next five years with new hotels in the Middle East, Italy, and the US.

The deal, announced on Monday, values Forte's group of 14 hotels across Europe at £1.2bn and implies an enterprise value, including debt, of £1.4bn, according to people familiar with the details.

As part of the deal, Italian sovereign wealth fund CDP Equity, which owned a 23 percent stake, will exit the business, along with four of Forte's five sisters, according to the Financial Times.

Founder Rocco Forte, alongside his sister Olga Polizzi, will retain a controlling 51 percent stake. They will remain in the positions of CEO and Vice President, respectively.

In an interview with the Financial Times in Brown's Hotel in London's Mayfair, Forte, who chairs the group, said he was "very bullish" about demand from US travelers, which account for more than a third of turnover, and that he expected "a lot more business" from visitors based in the Middle East thanks to the partnership with Saudi Arabia.

It is not the first time that Forte has promised expansion, but he said the backing of Saudi Arabia would give the business more financial firepower this time.

"We're in a good position in the right industry at the right time," said Forte, arguing that the luxury hotel sector was "quite protected [from an economic slowdown] compared to the rest of the economy."

"Having a partner like PIF gives you much more solidity to the outside eye . . . banks love you much more," said Forte.

The deal is the latest in a long line of investments in the luxury hospitality sector by the PIF as part of a push by the Fund to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy away from fossil fuels.

PIF Deputy Governor Turqi al-Nowaiser said the investment reflects the Fund's belief in the "current potential of the hospitality and tourism industry."

The Fund will be given two board seats, and the Forte family will have three.

From the year to the end of April, Rocco Forte Hotels recorded group revenues of £ 293.5 million, up from £ 166.5 million a year earlier when coronavirus restrictions affected trading. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization were £64 million, up from £18.1 million a year earlier.


Saudi Green Initiative Forum at COP28: Kingdom Advances Climate Ambitions

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman (Ministry of Energy)
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman (Ministry of Energy)
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Saudi Green Initiative Forum at COP28: Kingdom Advances Climate Ambitions

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman (Ministry of Energy)
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman (Ministry of Energy)

Saudi Arabia has unveiled its efforts to launch renewable energy projects with a capacity of 20 gigawatts by 2024. This comes after the kingdom having quadrupled its renewable energy production from 700 megawatts to 2.8 gigawatts so far.
Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman announced on Monday that the Saudi Green Initiative was launched in 2021 to achieve the country’s climate ambitions of reaching zero neutrality by 2060.
“Within this initiative, the Kingdom is committed to reducing 278 million tons of carbon emissions annually by 2030,” he said while inaugurating the third edition of the Saudi Green Initiative 2023 (SGI) Forum in Dubai on Monday.
“When the international community called for increasing climate ambition, the Kingdom came forward and launched the Green Saudi Arabia initiative as a fundamental pillar for achieving the Kingdom’s climate ambitions.”
“We are working to expand our efforts regionally and internationally through the Green Middle East Initiative to achieve global climate goals,” said Prince Abdulaziz.
The energy minister further said that Saudi Arabia, through the previous session of the SGI forum during “COP27,” which was held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, and during the current “COP28” being held in Dubai, showed its utmost keenness and strenuous efforts to achieve those ambitions regarding renewable energy.
“The Kingdom’s concrete action on implementing renewables are reflected by its ability to quadruple its capacity from 700 megawatts last year to 2.8 gigawatts with more than eight gigawatts of renewable under construction and around 13 gigawatts in various development stages,” said Prince Abdulaziz.
“We are also planning to tender an additional 20 gigawatt by 2024 as part of our commitment to accelerate the development to renewable energy projects,” he added.
He explained that Saudi Arabia has launched a geophysical survey project, starting next year, which is one of the few projects of this extensive scale implemented nationally, involving over 1200 measurement stations.
Prince Abdulaziz stressed that Saudi Arabia aims to become a major exporter of green hydrogen globally, as the NEOM Project has completed its first phase and achieved investments worth $8.5 billion.
This project will produce 1.2 million tons of green ammonia annually, he said while pointing out that the Kingdom is developing international partnerships to develop more green hydrogen projects in the country, in addition to hydrogen mobility solutions, including trains.
The minister said that Saudi Arabia, in its bid to boost its ambition to export clean and green electricity and hydrogen, has signed a memorandum of understanding for the economic corridor between India, the Middle East and Europe, during the G20 summit meetings in India.
“This will be an essential possibility for export, and this corridor includes electricity, transmission lines and hydrogen pipelines, where we will supply clean energy on a large scale at a low cost and in a reliable manner,” said Prince Abdulaziz.
“Saudi Arabia is working closely to achieve circular carbon in the energy transition, which was approved by the G20 summit,” he affirmed.

 

 


Türkiye's Inflation Ticks up to 62%

A woman shops at a street market in Istanbul, Türkiye, 04 December 2023. (EPA)
A woman shops at a street market in Istanbul, Türkiye, 04 December 2023. (EPA)
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Türkiye's Inflation Ticks up to 62%

A woman shops at a street market in Istanbul, Türkiye, 04 December 2023. (EPA)
A woman shops at a street market in Istanbul, Türkiye, 04 December 2023. (EPA)

Türkiye's annual inflation rate ticked up slightly in November, the state statistics agency said on Monday, showing further signs of levelling off following a series of sharp interest rate hikes.

The rate moved to 61.98 percent last month from 61.36 percent in October, the TUIK state statistics agency said.

The pace at which consumer prices are rising has started to ease, after six successive months of interest rate hikes took borrowing cost to 40 percent from 8.5 percent.

Analysts are penciling in a final rate hike of 2.5 percentage points at the central bank's next policy meeting on December 21.

The latest batch of data show higher borrowing costs starting to slow down consumption -- a key goal of the central bank.

Türkiye's gross domestic product rose by just 0.3 percent between July and September. It had risen by 3.3 between April and June.

"The central bank will welcome these figures as evidence that demand is cooling and inflation pressures continue to soften," said analyst Liam Peach of Capital Economics.

Reset will take time

"However, bringing inflation down to much lower levels will require monetary policy to remain tight for a prolonged period and we expect the central bank to leave interest rates unchanged throughout 2024," Peach said.

Signs of Türkiye's economy starting to emerge from crisis are starting to be noticed by foreign investors, who had pulled out of the market because of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's unpredictable past policies.

Analysts blame Erdogan for setting off the inflation spiral by forcing the nominally independent central bank to slash borrowing costs far below the rate at which prices were rising.

The official annual inflation rate peaked at 85.51 percent in October 2022.

Standard and Poor's revised Türkiye's long-term sovereign credit rating to positive from stable last month.

"Inflation appears to have peaked, albeit at elevated levels of over 60 percent," the ratings agency said.

But it also warned: "The policy reset will take at least two years to tame inflation."

Türkiye's central bank expects inflation to peak in May of next year at between 70 and 75 percent.


UAE Banks Pledge $200 bln in Green Finance at COP28 Climate Talks

A general view of Abu Dhabi, UAE. (WAM)
A general view of Abu Dhabi, UAE. (WAM)
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UAE Banks Pledge $200 bln in Green Finance at COP28 Climate Talks

A general view of Abu Dhabi, UAE. (WAM)
A general view of Abu Dhabi, UAE. (WAM)

Banks in the United Arab Emirates on Monday pledged to mobilize 1 trillion dirhams, or around $200 billion, in green finance, the chair of the country's banking federation told the COP28 climate talks.

Announced on the day dedicated to finance at the event in Dubai, it joins a growing list of pledges on everything from building renewable energy to helping farmers improve soil quality, Reuters reported.

"At this pivotal moment it is my great honor to announce a landmark commitment that, fulfilling the UAE ambition, our UBF banking, national banks, have collectively pledged to mobilize over 1 trillion dirham," Abdul Aziz Al Ghurai said.


COP28 Focuses on Protecting Health from Climate Risks

Participants walk next to COP28 flags in Expo City in Dubai (AFP)
Participants walk next to COP28 flags in Expo City in Dubai (AFP)
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COP28 Focuses on Protecting Health from Climate Risks

Participants walk next to COP28 flags in Expo City in Dubai (AFP)
Participants walk next to COP28 flags in Expo City in Dubai (AFP)

UN Climate Conference (COP28) focused on climate-related health issues, while discussions behind closed doors addressed vital other problems, such as the future of energy.

The UAE and several charities at the climate summit on Sunday offered $777 million in funding to eradicate neglected tropical diseases that are expected to worsen as temperatures rise.

COP28 President Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber said in a statement that climate-related factors "have become one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st century."

The pledges made during the summit on Sunday, which focused on climate-related health risks, included $100 million from the UAE and another $100 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Others to announce funds for climate-related health issues included Belgium, Germany, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The World Bank launched a program to explore possible support measures for public health in developing countries where climate-related health risks are incredibly high.

The burden of tropical diseases will worsen as the world warms, along with other climate-driven health threats, including malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress.

More than 120 countries have signed a COP28 declaration acknowledging their responsibility to keep people safe amid global warming.

Climate change also increases the frequency of dangerous storms and more erratic rainfall.

In September, Storm Daniel killed more than 11,000 people in Libya, and last year's massive flooding in Pakistan fueled a 400 percent increase in malaria cases across the country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Earlier on Sunday, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said scientists were working on new treatments for and prevention of mosquito-spread malaria as the rise in temperatures creates more hospitable habitat for the insects to breed.

"We have new tools at the lab level that decimate mosquito populations," said Gates, whose foundation supports public health research and projects for the developing world.

"These innovations give us a chance, at a reasonable cost, to make progress."

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke on Sunday, urging reform of the global insurance system as another key demand to keep people safe.

"Right now, insurance companies are pulling out of so many places; they're not insuring homes, they're not insuring businesses," Clinton said, addressing a panel on women and climate resiliency.

She continued, "People everywhere will be left out with no backup, no insurance for their business or home."

Meanwhile, Emirates News Agency (WAM) quoted a senior World Bank official saying that the bank had offered to host the Lost and Damage Fund.

Speaking to WAM, World Bank's Senior Managing Director (SMD) Axel van Trotsenburg said the agency will "work very closely with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to create that fund."

Van Trotsenburg mentioned that countries face different challenges related to climate change.

"COP28 started with great announcements on the Loss and Damage Fund. It has been an extremely important decision and now needs to be set up."

He pointed out that small island countries with rising sea levels face different challenges than coastal regions. Therefore, solutions must be tailored to each country, but there is a global challenge.

"We need to be global. We need all countries to participate in this global challenge," van Trotsenburg noted, adding, "We need to ensure that we can keep the 1.5 degrees. So that means consequences for all of us."


Gold Prices Sprint to All-time Peak on Fed Rate-cut Bets

(FILES) Gold bullion bars are pictured after being inspected and polished at the ABC Refinery in Sydney on August 5, 2020. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)
(FILES) Gold bullion bars are pictured after being inspected and polished at the ABC Refinery in Sydney on August 5, 2020. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)
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Gold Prices Sprint to All-time Peak on Fed Rate-cut Bets

(FILES) Gold bullion bars are pictured after being inspected and polished at the ABC Refinery in Sydney on August 5, 2020. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)
(FILES) Gold bullion bars are pictured after being inspected and polished at the ABC Refinery in Sydney on August 5, 2020. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)

Gold prices hit all-time highs above $2,100 per ounce on Monday as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's remarks elevated traders' confidence that the US central bank could cut interest rates early next year.

Spot gold was up 0.6% at $2,083.81 per ounce by 0627 GMT, after surging to an all-time high of $2,111.39 earlier.

US gold futures rose 0.7% to $2,103.30.

"After his (Powell) speech, traders were more convinced that we're currently at the peak of the US interest rates and therefore, the path forward from here is more likely to be down rather than up," said KCM Trade chief market analyst Tim Waterer.

Powell on Friday said "the risks of under- and over-tightening are becoming more balanced", but the Fed is not thinking about lowering rates right now.
Lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding a non-interest-bearing bullion.

Traders are now pricing in a 70% chance for a Fed rate cut by next March, CME's FedWatch Tool showed, according to Reuters.

Backing market sentiment, data last week pointed out to cooling inflationary pressures, a gradually easing labor market, with Fed Governor Christopher Waller flagging a possible rate cut if inflation continues to decline.

"Technically, momentum is still looking strong after prices broke the resistance of $2,050/oz. Investors have been adding fresh long to position both against rising geopolitical tensions and rising prospects of Fed rate cuts," ANZ commodity strategist Soni Kumari said.

"Long positions have reached the highest since May 2022, still positionings are not crowded. This suggest there will be further move up this week, if news flows remain supportive."


COP28: Saudi Green Initiative Discusses Climate Initiatives

Saudi Green Initiative sessions are held on the sidelines of the COP28 conference (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Green Initiative sessions are held on the sidelines of the COP28 conference (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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COP28: Saudi Green Initiative Discusses Climate Initiatives

Saudi Green Initiative sessions are held on the sidelines of the COP28 conference (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Green Initiative sessions are held on the sidelines of the COP28 conference (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The third edition of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum 2023 activities kicked off on Monday in Dubai, coinciding with the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28).

The third edition of the Saudi Green Initiative is held under the slogan "From Ambition to Action."

It will address several topics, including financing climate action activities, innovating clean energy solutions, and activating the role of various society groups in climate action, as well as protecting land and marine areas in the Kingdom.

A group of the most prominent global policymakers, opinion leaders, and climate experts participate in the Forum to exchange ideas and vision, in addition to having deep discussions regarding the best available ways to efficiently address climate challenges and reach a more sustainable future locally and globally.

The Saudi Green Initiative Forum 2023 will also discuss topics related to sustainability, activating the role of financing to enable climate action, in addition to tree planting and environmental rehabilitation.

The Forum's activities allow visitors to listen to an elite group of climate experts from Saudi Arabia and the world, in addition to interacting with them about the most critical trends in the field of sustainability.

The Saudi Green Initiative will feature a series of panel discussions that will explore the key themes under four event pillars: "Industrial Plays,The Financial Architecture of Tomorrow,Innovative Transitions," and "Coherence for Impact."

The sessions will examine critical topics, including clean energy scaling, desertification mitigation, climate technology innovation, safeguarding the Red Sea, sustainable urban planning, CCUS, and hydrogen technology, and ESG investments.

Participants in the sessions will discuss investments in enhancing environmental and social practices, corporate governance, and ongoing reforms in the global financial system.

In the year of global assessment to determine the progress in achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Saudi Green Initiative forum will provide an important platform that contributes to accelerating global efforts to confront climate challenges.

Speakers confirmed at the Forum include CEO of Standard Chartered William Thomas Winters, Secretary General and CEO of World Energy Council Dr. Angela Wilkinson, CEO of Schlumberger Olivier Le Peuch, and CEO of Air Liquide François Jackow, and several Saudi government officials.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the Saudi Green Initiative, an ambitious initiative to combat climate change, improve the quality of life, and protect the planet for future generations.

The initiative seeks to mobilize the efforts to achieve three main goals: reducing emissions, afforestation, and protecting land and nature.


Saudi Minister of Energy: Global Demand for Petrochemicals to Continue to Grow

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaking at a former conference (File photo: Reuters)
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaking at a former conference (File photo: Reuters)
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Saudi Minister of Energy: Global Demand for Petrochemicals to Continue to Grow

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaking at a former conference (File photo: Reuters)
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaking at a former conference (File photo: Reuters)

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman expected global demand for petrochemicals to grow rapidly, bolstering demand for hydrocarbons as raw materials.

Addressing the 17th Annual GPCA Forum, the Saudi Minister stated that those discussing "the energy transition must accept the reality of today and the future.

Prince Abdulaziz explained that the rapid growth of the petrochemical sector will necessarily be reflected in the volume of demand for hydrocarbons as raw materials.

In his speech, Prince Abdulaziz referred to market and analyst reports, which expect the global petrochemical sector to grow by more than 50 percent to about 1.2 trillion tons annually by 2040.

"Petrochemicals are here to stay, and the hydrocarbon sector will continue to generate income and generate money for investors. So I would like to ask our friends talking about transformation to live with the data in their hands and the facts before them today and for decades to come," the minister said.

He pointed out that petrochemicals and their derivatives constitute about 50 percent of the components of our cars, including electric ones.

The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) themed "Mobilizing Chemistry for Impactful Transformation" is held in Doha and hosted by QatarEnergy.

The activities of the Forum kicked off on Sunday, and we will discuss the chemical industry's role in sustainability and the transition to clean energy.

Minister of State for Energy Affairs in Qatar and President and CEO of Qatar Energy Company Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi inaugurated the Forum.


Saudi Arabia, Türkiye Strengthen Collaboration in Agriculture and Water Management

The MoU was signed in Riyadh. SPA
The MoU was signed in Riyadh. SPA
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Saudi Arabia, Türkiye Strengthen Collaboration in Agriculture and Water Management

The MoU was signed in Riyadh. SPA
The MoU was signed in Riyadh. SPA

The Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Eng. Abdurrahman bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadhli, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry İbrahim Yumaklı to strengthen cooperation and enhance production capabilities in agriculture, livestock, and water management.

During Sunday's signing ceremony of the MoU in Riyadh, the two parties expressed their commitment to preparing the agricultural sector in both countries for climate change.

They also pledged to introduce technologies in agriculture and crop production, develop the livestock sector, and strengthen plant and animal health, including their protection and safeguarding.

As per the MoU, the two parties will collaborate on the advancement of biotechnology, organic agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, and the formulation of quality policies in the agricultural sector. Additionally, the agreement covers cooperation in agricultural water management, monitoring water pollution from agricultural activities, and optimizing water usage in agriculture.


Kuwait's al-Zour Refinery Now Fully Operational, KIPIC Says

Kuwait's al-Zour Refinery Now Fully Operational, KIPIC Says
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Kuwait's al-Zour Refinery Now Fully Operational, KIPIC Says

Kuwait's al-Zour Refinery Now Fully Operational, KIPIC Says

Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Company (KIPIC) said in a statement on Sunday that the third and final units at the al-Zour refinery are now operational.

The plant is now fully operational and refining capacity will increase to 615,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 410,000 bpd, the statement said.