SABIC and Sinopec Launch Joint Project in Tianjin

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) is seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) is seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo
TT

SABIC and Sinopec Launch Joint Project in Tianjin

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) is seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) is seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo

The Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and China's Sinopec have announced the start of the commercial operation of their new polycarbonate plant, located within their equally-owned joint venture Sinopec-SABIC-Tianjin Petrochemical Co., Ltd.

Sinopec SABIC Tianjin Petrochemical Co., Ltd. was established in 2009 and is a vast petrochemical complex consisting of nine world-class manufacturing units designed to produce chemicals, polyethylene and polypropylene.

The production capacity of the new polycarbonate factory, a vital element in SABIC's strategy for growth in the field of polycarbonate production in China, is 260,000 tons per year, allowing the company to further cooperate with global and local customers, as the operation of the polycarbonate factory represents a new stage in the progress of the joint project between SABIC and Sinopec, and enhances the partners' ability to meet the requirements of the regional polycarbonate market.

SABIC CEO Eng. Abdul Rahman Al-Fageeh said that his company and Sinopec are opening up tremendous and mutual growth opportunities that achieve the goals of the national programs of Saudi Arabia and China.

“Based on our position as one of the largest leading companies in the field of manufacturing Polycarbonate in the world, our first-ever factory in Asia confirms our commitment to operating in markets close to our customers, enabling us to increase the level of service, speed of work and reliability of supplies,” he added.



Saudi Diriyah Company Announces 'Zallal' in the Bujairi District

Upon completion, the project will feature two low-rise office buildings, offering a combined leasable area of approximately 6,000 square meters, alongside 12 mixed retail and F&B outlets spanning around 8,000 square meters. (SPA)
Upon completion, the project will feature two low-rise office buildings, offering a combined leasable area of approximately 6,000 square meters, alongside 12 mixed retail and F&B outlets spanning around 8,000 square meters. (SPA)
TT

Saudi Diriyah Company Announces 'Zallal' in the Bujairi District

Upon completion, the project will feature two low-rise office buildings, offering a combined leasable area of approximately 6,000 square meters, alongside 12 mixed retail and F&B outlets spanning around 8,000 square meters. (SPA)
Upon completion, the project will feature two low-rise office buildings, offering a combined leasable area of approximately 6,000 square meters, alongside 12 mixed retail and F&B outlets spanning around 8,000 square meters. (SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah Company unveiled on Monday details of Zallal, its inaugural major versatile commercial office and retail project, slated to debut in the first half of 2025 in the Bujairi District.

Upon completion, the project will feature two low-rise office buildings, offering a combined leasable area of approximately 6,000 square meters, alongside 12 mixed retail and F&B outlets spanning around 8,000 square meters, said the company in a statement.

The project has garnered enthusiastic interest from potential tenants, with advanced leasing negotiations currently underway with numerous companies and organizations.

Zallal's strategic location adjacent to the popular Bujairi Terrace positions it to benefit from the proximity to a venue already drawing thousands of visitors daily. Situated near the recently concluded Diriyah Art Futures and the forthcoming Bab Samhan Hotel, the offering promises a dynamic environment for both visitors and tenants.

Diriyah Company's Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo said: “We have been thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response to Zallal from the commercial sector, and we are currently in advanced negotiations with international and local companies eager to capitalize on the prime location in the heart of Diriyah and the diverse array of accessible retail, F&B, and office spaces available."

"With construction well underway, Zallal sustains the exhilarating momentum at Diriyah and, upon completion, will capitalize on the daily influx of visitors to Bujairi Terrace, emerging as the latest completed precinct in our rapidly evolving master plan,” he added.

Visitors and staff will enjoy the convenience of an easily accessible, 1,400-space basement car park beneath Zallal, featuring direct links to Wadi Hanifah, Al Imam Abdulaziz bin Muhammad ibn Saud Road, and public transportation. Coach drop-off points for tourists and visitors will ensure a seamless arrival experience in a pedestrian-friendly environment.

Among the companies currently engaged in leasing negotiations are esteemed international brands venturing into Saudi Arabia for the first time, locally grown enterprises, and innovative Saudi concepts.


Saudi PIF, stc Group Sign Agreements to Form Region’s Largest Telecom Tower Company

The new merged entity will boast approximately 30,000 mobile tower sites and will become one of the largest tower companies globally with estimated annual revenues of approximately $1.3 billion. (SPA)
The new merged entity will boast approximately 30,000 mobile tower sites and will become one of the largest tower companies globally with estimated annual revenues of approximately $1.3 billion. (SPA)
TT

Saudi PIF, stc Group Sign Agreements to Form Region’s Largest Telecom Tower Company

The new merged entity will boast approximately 30,000 mobile tower sites and will become one of the largest tower companies globally with estimated annual revenues of approximately $1.3 billion. (SPA)
The new merged entity will boast approximately 30,000 mobile tower sites and will become one of the largest tower companies globally with estimated annual revenues of approximately $1.3 billion. (SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Saudi Telecommunications Company (stc Group) announced on Monday the signing of definitive agreements whereby PIF will acquire a 51% stake in Telecommunication Towers Company Limited (TAWAL) from stc Group.

TAWAL is the largest telecommunications infrastructure company in Saudi Arabia and one of the largest in the region, with an enterprise value of $5.85 billion per the agreement.

Subsequently, PIF and stc Group will consolidate TAWAL and Golden Lattice Investment Company (GLIC) – in which PIF holds a majority shareholding – into a new merged entity, forming the largest regional company in the telecommunication infrastructure sector, said a PIF statement.

The combined new entity will be owned 54% by PIF and 43.1% by stc Group, with GLIC minority shareholders owning the remaining issued share capital.

The transactions are expected to be completed in the second half of 2024 after obtaining all required regulatory approvals and satisfying other necessary conditions under the agreements.

Head of MENA Direct Investments at PIF Raid Ismail said: “Today's announcement is a significant milestone for the telecommunications industry in Saudi Arabia and the wider region. By bringing together the assets of GLIC and TAWAL, we will establish a consolidated platform on which the telecommunications sector can flourish and give people a better experience to best connect communities and businesses.”

“It is also in line with PIF’s strategy and the Saudi Vision 2030. Fast, reliable and accessible connectivity is a key enabler of growth and a cornerstone for the society, and these agreements mark a major stride towards a more interconnected digital future,” he stressed.

Group Chief Investment Officer of stc Group Motaz Alangari said: “These agreements are part of stc Group’s continuous endeavor to grow and maximize value in the most sustainable manner, by recycling capital while retaining ownership in strategic value-added assets to benefit from the return on these assets and enable expansion into new domains.”

“Today’s announcement is in line with stc Group’s strategy and the pivotal role that the group is playing in accelerating the digital transformation of society and the economy in Saudi Arabia and the region,” he went on to say.

“Combining TAWAL and GLIC is a stepping-stone to consolidating the Saudi tower market and driving further efficiencies and operational excellence to deliver superior experiences and value for customers,” he added.

The new entity is expected to significantly enhance consumer experience and network coverage, as well as improve connectivity and mobile internet speeds by consolidating Saudi Arabia’s tower assets. It will also deliver operational efficiencies, help drive wider innovation in the telecommunication sector across the region and globally, and support development of a more efficient and frictionless business environment.

The agreements mark PIF and stc Group’s ambition to integrate and strengthen the Saudi telecommunication infrastructure sector to unlock its consolidated potential. This follows TAWAL’s acquisition of infrastructure assets in Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia, making it the region’s largest independent tower company.

The new merged entity will boast approximately 30,000 mobile tower sites and will become one of the largest tower companies globally with estimated annual revenues of approximately $1.3 billion.

Today’s announcement aims to ensure the resilience and international competitiveness of a critical national digital infrastructure asset and aligns with the goals of Vision 2030. It also builds on PIF’s and stc Group’s strategy to enhance Saudi Arabia’s innovation capabilities as a globally competitive hub for the technology, media and telecommunication sector.


Saudi Aramco in Talks to Acquire 10% Stake in China's Hengli Petrochemical

Saudi Aramco entered into discussions with China’s Hengli Group Co., Ltd. regarding the potential acquisition of a 10% stake in Hengli Petrochemical Co., Ltd. (SPA)
Saudi Aramco entered into discussions with China’s Hengli Group Co., Ltd. regarding the potential acquisition of a 10% stake in Hengli Petrochemical Co., Ltd. (SPA)
TT

Saudi Aramco in Talks to Acquire 10% Stake in China's Hengli Petrochemical

Saudi Aramco entered into discussions with China’s Hengli Group Co., Ltd. regarding the potential acquisition of a 10% stake in Hengli Petrochemical Co., Ltd. (SPA)
Saudi Aramco entered into discussions with China’s Hengli Group Co., Ltd. regarding the potential acquisition of a 10% stake in Hengli Petrochemical Co., Ltd. (SPA)

Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals companies, said on Monday that it has entered into discussions with China’s Hengli Group Co., Ltd. (Hengli Group) regarding the potential acquisition of a 10% stake in Hengli Petrochemical Co., Ltd. (Hengli Petrochemical), subject to due diligence and required regulatory clearances.

Aramco and Hengli Group signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding regarding the proposed transaction, which "aligns with Aramco’s strategy to expand its downstream presence in key high-value markets, advance its liquids-to-chemicals program, and secure long-term crude oil supply agreements", said Aramco in a statement.

Hengli Petrochemical, a controlled subsidiary of Hengli Group, owns and operates a 400,000 barrel per day refinery and integrated chemicals complex in Liaoning Province, China, and several plants and production facilities in Jiangsu and Guangdong Provinces.

Aramco Downstream President Mohammed Al Qahtani said: "This MoU supports our efforts to grow our global downstream footprint. We continue to explore new opportunities in important markets, as we seek to progress in our liquids-to-chemicals strategy."

"We look forward to forging new partnerships and are excited by the prospect of expanding our presence in the important Chinese market," he added.


Digital Transformation, Technical Development Boost Profitability of Saudi Tech Firms in 2023

Tech companies will continue to see their profits grow thanks to their efforts to raise their operational efficiency. (SPA)
Tech companies will continue to see their profits grow thanks to their efforts to raise their operational efficiency. (SPA)
TT

Digital Transformation, Technical Development Boost Profitability of Saudi Tech Firms in 2023

Tech companies will continue to see their profits grow thanks to their efforts to raise their operational efficiency. (SPA)
Tech companies will continue to see their profits grow thanks to their efforts to raise their operational efficiency. (SPA)

Financial analysts have linked the growth of net profits of Saudi application and technology services companies by 22 percent during 2023 with the Kingdom’s significant digital and technical transformation since the launch of its Vision 2030.

They explained that the sector’s companies are likely to see their net profits increase thanks to the implementation of digital transformation plans, the growth of the Kingdom’s digital indicators, and the high demand from government and private agencies to provide integrated digital solutions in the field of transformation to e-government.

The five applications and technology services companies listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) achieved a 22 percent growth in their net profits by the end of 2023, compared to the previous year. They increased to SAR 2.68 billion ($700 million) in 2023, from SAR 2.2 billion ($600 million) in 2022.

According to the financial results announced in the Saudi financial market, the revenues of the tech sector during 2023 reached about SAR 20 billion ($5.2 billion), with a growth rate of 29 percent over the previous year.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Economic Analyst and CEO of G.World, Mohamed Hamdy Omar said the Saudi applications and technical services market offered many opportunities for growth in the sector, thanks to the Kingdom’s digital transformation plans.

These plans have encouraged the rise of modern digital and technical services and the launch of many companies operating in the sector.

He noted that the implementation of digital transformation procedures will lead to “a clear rise in the revenues of application and technology services companies in the coming years, in parallel with the growth in the Kingdom’s digital indicators and improvement in the quality of the digital infrastructure, and interest in introducing emerging technologies into the services of government and private agencies.”

Financial Analyst Tariq Al-Ateeq said applications and technical services companies will continue to see their net profits grow during the current year as a result of the sector’s continued efforts to raise its operational efficiency, provide new digital and technical activities, and focus on development, marketing and technical investment services.


World Energy Congress Convenes in Rotterdam, Saudi Arabia to Host 27th Edition

The World Energy Council announcing Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as the official host of the 27th World Energy Congress to be held 26-29 October 2026 (Saudi Ministry of Energy)
The World Energy Council announcing Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as the official host of the 27th World Energy Congress to be held 26-29 October 2026 (Saudi Ministry of Energy)
TT

World Energy Congress Convenes in Rotterdam, Saudi Arabia to Host 27th Edition

The World Energy Council announcing Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as the official host of the 27th World Energy Congress to be held 26-29 October 2026 (Saudi Ministry of Energy)
The World Energy Council announcing Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as the official host of the 27th World Energy Congress to be held 26-29 October 2026 (Saudi Ministry of Energy)

More than 7,000 international energy stakeholders will gather in Rotterdam on Monday to attend the 26th edition of the World Energy Congress, the world’s most prestigious, inclusive and influential energy event.
The Congress is the most visionary and truly inclusive world energy leadership convening. It will bring together 18,000 attendees, including 7,000 delegates, 70 ministers, C-suite executives, NGOs, experts and academia, entrepreneurs and young energy leaders to reflect on the role of connected energy societies in driving forward global energy transitions.
Co-hosted by the World Energy Council and the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and taking place from 22-25 April 2024, this edition celebrates 100 years since the Council's formation.
Angela Wilkinson, Secretary General of World Energy Council, said that the World Energy Congress is the most significant convention of visionary and practical leadership in energy, gathering the diverse needs and interests of energy ecosystems from all corners of the world.
She added that joined by new platinum sponsors, Aramco and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy, the congress is confident it will be an important moment in resetting strategic conversations on energy transitions and redesigning energy for the benefit of people and the planet.
Wilkinson also said that both Aramco and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy will bring important perspectives to the dynamic conversations and collaborative charge forward from one of the world’s most important energy regions currently engaged in its own transformational energy journey.
For his part, Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser said there is no doubt that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a critical priority for the world.
“But along with reducing emissions, equally important are energy security, energy affordability and economic development. Aramco is very much committed to supporting all of these goals,” he added.
Last November, the World Energy Council announced Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as the official host of the 27th World Energy Congress to be held 26-29 October 2026.
The award follows a highly competitive bidding process open to all the Council’s 70+ national member committees representing more than 3,000 organizations across the entire energy ecosystem.
The World Energy Congress has helped drive energy transitions forward for more than a century by bringing together stakeholders representing energy interests from all corners of the world.
“Saudi Arabia is pleased to have been awarded the opportunity to host the 2026 World Energy Congress at this important moment in global energy,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, Minister of Energy and Chairman of the Saudi Arabia member committee.
In Rotterdam, the program of the 26th World Energy Congress will revolve around five core topics central to progressing a clean and inclusive energy transition: navigating new energy maps, refueling the future, humanizing energy by engaging people and communities in making global energy transitions happen, pathfinding with the world energy trilemma by connecting energy security, affordability and sustainability and closing the gaps by enabling faster, fairer and more far-reaching energy transitions.
Also, leading the program will be a truly diverse group of experts from across industry, government and civil society, with over 260 confirmed speakers, 200+ being C-suite.
Wilkinson also stated that it is neither easy nor enough to translate net zero roadmaps into reality against a backdrop of new energy insecurity concerns and the increasing damages that climate change is inflicting on the earth’s natural life support system.
She added that it is important to develop a shared and deeper understanding of the role of increasingly diverse energy systems in enabling a safe operating space for humanity. It is urgent to involve more people and communities and identify leading practices in inclusive implementation.
According to the World Energy Council’s Secretary General, “The best way forward is to support diverse regions in leading with and learning from each other and appreciate the diversity of place-based, clean and just energy transitions.”

 


Saudi Arabia Offers Attractive Digital Infrastructure for Health Companies

Saudi Minister of Health Fahd Al-Jalajel during the opening of one of the new branches of Magrabi Hospitals in Makkah. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Minister of Health Fahd Al-Jalajel during the opening of one of the new branches of Magrabi Hospitals in Makkah. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
TT

Saudi Arabia Offers Attractive Digital Infrastructure for Health Companies

Saudi Minister of Health Fahd Al-Jalajel during the opening of one of the new branches of Magrabi Hospitals in Makkah. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Minister of Health Fahd Al-Jalajel during the opening of one of the new branches of Magrabi Hospitals in Makkah. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Arabia’s health system has become an attractive investment environment for the private sector at the local and international levels, thanks to the government’s rapid restructuring moves, a solid digital infrastructure and the adoption of modern technologies, including artificial intelligence.
Saudi Minister of Health Fahd Al-Jalajel recently stated that by 2024, the Health Holding Company will take over all health clusters, as part of the privatization plan that seeks to bring a significant change in health services according to a modern care model.
These efforts aim to establish a system capable of facing current and future health care challenges and reducing operational costs for beneficiaries in the Kingdom.
The health sector privatization plan also contributes to improving the quality of health services and ensuring their financial sustainability, and stimulates companies to adopt the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence.
The CEO of Magrabi Hospitals and Centers, Mutasim Ali Reda, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Kingdom is witnessing a radical transformation in the health care sector, in line with the goals of Vision 2030, with the aim of promoting a dynamic society and a strong economy.
He stressed that this transformation focuses on improving access to health care, modernizing facilities and equipment, and enhancing the role of private investment in the sector.
Reda noted that strengthening the primary care system is an important step towards achieving more equitable health services and ensuring that every individual enjoys rapid access to medical treatments.
This objective not only contributes to reducing overall health costs, but also improves patient safety and the quality of healthcare, he underlined.
The CEO of Magrabi Hospitals added that the private sector plays a pivotal role in advancing the Kingdom’s efforts towards achieving its national health goals and ensuring comprehensive access for all to high-quality health care services.

 

 


Markets Bounce as MidEast Fears Ease, US Inflation in View

The easing of tensions in the Middle East has seen oil prices slip. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP
The easing of tensions in the Middle East has seen oil prices slip. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP
TT

Markets Bounce as MidEast Fears Ease, US Inflation in View

The easing of tensions in the Middle East has seen oil prices slip. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP
The easing of tensions in the Middle East has seen oil prices slip. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

Asian markets rose Monday, clawing back some of last week's losses, as Middle East worries subsided while traders look ahead to the release of key US inflation data and corporate earnings.
With Iran downplaying Israel's reported attack on the country, which came days after a drone and missile strike by Tehran, tensions between the regional rivals cooled, AFP said.
While the situation remains tense, the lack of escalation over the weekend provided traders with an opportunity to pick up equities and helped push oil down.
The gains came despite a largely negative lead from Wall Street, where the Nasdaq shed more than two percent owing to hefty selling in tech giants including Amazon, Apple and Netflix.
Investors are now setting their sights on the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, the Federal Reserve's preferred gauge of inflation, which is due Friday.
The reading could play a major role in the central bank's decision-making on interest rates and comes after a third successive month of above-forecast consumer price index figures.
The disappointing CPI data has dented hopes for a cut in June, while traders have scaled back their outlook for how many the Fed will make this year.
The PCE report is followed by the bank's policy announcement next week, which will be pored over for clues about its next step.
Several officials have lined up to temper expectations for cuts, citing sticky inflation as well as a still-strong economy and labor market.
Chicago Fed boss Austan Goolsbee said last week that the battle against surging prices had stalled.
"Right now, it makes sense to wait and get more clarity before moving," he said, warning that bringing inflation back to the bank's two percent goal would likely take longer than initially thought.
Earnings from big-name firms including Google parent Alphabet, Tesla and Microsoft are also in play this week, with investors hoping for strong reports to back up a recent surge in equities.


Saudi Arabia Showcases Its National Programs, Global Contributions at World Energy Congress

Saudi Arabia participates in the 26th edition of the World Energy Congress taking place from April 22 to 25, 2024, in the Netherlands. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia participates in the 26th edition of the World Energy Congress taking place from April 22 to 25, 2024, in the Netherlands. (SPA)
TT

Saudi Arabia Showcases Its National Programs, Global Contributions at World Energy Congress

Saudi Arabia participates in the 26th edition of the World Energy Congress taking place from April 22 to 25, 2024, in the Netherlands. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia participates in the 26th edition of the World Energy Congress taking place from April 22 to 25, 2024, in the Netherlands. (SPA)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by its energy system, is actively engaging in the 26th edition of the World Energy Congress, taking place from April 22 to 25, 2024, in the Netherlands, the Saudi Press Agency said on Monday.
This congress aims to address various challenges within the energy sector and its ongoing transformations, emphasizing the imperative to manage these transitions equitably without compromising environmental integrity.
Saudi Arabia's participation involves showcasing a cadre of specialists and experts to underscore the nation's contributions to the energy sector and its global leadership. This is demonstrated through various national programs and initiatives.
Additionally, the Kingdom will feature a special pavilion at the congress exhibition, themed "Sustainable Energy - Shared Future," focusing on its role as a prominent global energy producer and its steadfast commitment to combating climate change.
The pavilion will spotlight Saudi Arabia's strides toward achieving its national ambitions of reaching net zero emissions by 2060, or sooner with advancements in technology. These efforts are driven by the imperative of ensuring sustainable energy for individuals and communities, while safeguarding the Earth's future and its inhabitants.
Throughout the 26th edition, Saudi Arabia will participate in discussions covering pivotal topics in the energy domain, including the development of renewable and nuclear energy sectors, enhancing energy efficiency by 2030, and leveraging liquid fuel displacement.
Moreover, the Kingdom will actively engage in dialogues aimed at expediting the deployment of emission reduction and removal technologies such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), as well as the production of low-carbon hydrogen.


World Bank Seeks to Spread Saudi Arabia’s Reform Experience

Saudi Arabia was chosen as a knowledge center thanks to its pioneering experience over the past years. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia was chosen as a knowledge center thanks to its pioneering experience over the past years. (SPA)
TT

World Bank Seeks to Spread Saudi Arabia’s Reform Experience

Saudi Arabia was chosen as a knowledge center thanks to its pioneering experience over the past years. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia was chosen as a knowledge center thanks to its pioneering experience over the past years. (SPA)

The World Bank, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, intends to establish a knowledge center in the Kingdom to support countries in implementing necessary economic reforms to bolster their competitive capabilities.

The center, which was announced in Washington on the sidelines of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, aims to spread the culture of economic reforms undertaken by the Kingdom in view of its experience during the last seven years since the announcement of Vision 2030, which established the rules for economic diversification in the country.

Saudi Arabia ranked 17th globally in the Global Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) report, issued by the Global Competitiveness Center. It advanced seven places in the 2023 edition, supported by strong economic and financial performance in 2022.

According to economists who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, the center will boost the transformation of Riyadh into an incubator for global centers and regional headquarters for international companies.

It will also contribute to the sustainability of the ongoing development process and stimulate all sectors to achieve competitiveness as a basis for economic development.

Speaking from Washington on Friday, Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi said this step emphasizes the great progress his country has achieved in global competitiveness reports and indicators, thanks to economic reforms implemented with the support and directives of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.

Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim said the World Bank Group’s announcement that it had chosen the Kingdom as a knowledge center reflected Saudi Arabia’s pioneering role and its constant efforts to enable countries to build institutional capabilities to adapt economically to global changes.

Member of the Shura Council and Economic Expert Fadl Al-Buainain told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The Kingdom today is reaping the fruits of its economic reforms that it launched with Vision 2030 in 2016.”

“All the transformation and diversification plans that the economy is witnessing, in addition to the completion of the legislative frameworks related to the economic sectors, is the result of radical reforms led by Crown Prince Mohammed and implemented by government agencies according to a strategic vision and specific goals,” he stressed.


Oil Prices Retreat as Iran-Israel Tensions Ease 

A crew member looks at the oil slick in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig collapse, Thursday, May 6, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP)
A crew member looks at the oil slick in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig collapse, Thursday, May 6, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP)
TT

Oil Prices Retreat as Iran-Israel Tensions Ease 

A crew member looks at the oil slick in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig collapse, Thursday, May 6, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP)
A crew member looks at the oil slick in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig collapse, Thursday, May 6, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP)

Oil prices fell on Monday, dragged down by a renewed focus on market fundamentals as Israel and Iran played down the risks of an escalation of hostilities in the Middle East after Israel's apparently small strike on Iran.

Brent futures fell 67 cents, or 0.77%, to $86.62 a barrel by 0415 GMT. The front-month US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude contract for May, which expires on Monday, fell 63 cents, or 0.76%, to $82.51 a barrel, while the more active June contract dropped 64 cents to $81.58 a barrel.

"Brent crude prices failed to retain its initial surge, with broad expectations that geopolitical tensions between Israel and Iran may fizzle off given Iran's tamed response," said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG.

"With that, markets continue to unwind the geopolitical risk premium tied to potential supply disruptions, which seems more unlikely at current point in time," he added.

Both benchmarks had spiked more than $3 a barrel early on Friday, after explosions were heard in the Iranian city of Isfahan in what sources described as an Israeli attack, though gains were capped after Tehran played down the incident and said it did not plan to retaliate.

"Higher-than-expected build in US crude inventories did not help matters as well, with near-term price movement seeming more of a supply-side story than demand," Yeap told Reuters.

US crude inventories rose by 2.7 million barrels, Energy Information Administration data showed last week, nearly double analysts' expectations of a 1.4 million barrel rise.

"Economic concerns again become a bearish factor of the crude market," with prices "under pressure due to a large build in the US stockpile and a hawkish Fed that led to a strong dollar," said independent market analyst Tina Teng.

Chicago Federal Reserve President Austan Goolsbee on Friday became the latest central banker to signal a longer timeline for interest rate cuts because progress on inflation had "stalled".

On Saturday, the US House of Representatives passed an aid package for Ukraine and Israel containing measures that would let the federal government expand sanctions against Iran and its oil production.

But markets shrugged off the news as the impact of the measures, if passed, would depend on how they are interpreted and implemented. Senate consideration of the bill is set to begin on Tuesday.

For now, ANZ analysts said in a note that volatility in the Middle East will keep oil markets "jittery".

On Saturday, a blast at an Iraqi military base killed a member of a security force that includes Iran-backed groups. The force commander said it was an attack while the army said it was investigating.

Separately, Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah on Sunday said it downed an Israeli drone that was on a combat mission in southern Lebanon.

Israeli forces and Lebanon's armed group Hezbollah have been exchanging fire for over six months in parallel to the Gaza war, fueling concerns about further escalation.