Oil Falls as US Rate Hike Expectations Offset Tight Supply Outlook

FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub, in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford//File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub, in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford//File Photo
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Oil Falls as US Rate Hike Expectations Offset Tight Supply Outlook

FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub, in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford//File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub, in Cushing, Oklahoma, March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nick Oxford//File Photo

Oil prices fell in early Asian trade on Thursday, after posting the largest fall in a month in the previous session, as US interest rate hike expectations offset the impact of drawdowns in US crude stockpiles.
Brent futures for November delivery were down 71 cents, or 0.76%, to $92.82 a barrel by 0608 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) fell 70 cents, or 0.78%, to $88.96, the lowest since Sept. 14.
"The Fed kept rates unchanged at yesterday's FOMC meeting, as widely expected. However, it was still seen as a hawkish pause, which put some pressure on risk assets" such as oil, said ING analysts in a client note.
The US Federal Reserve maintained interest rates after its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, but stiffened its hawkish stance with a rate increase projected by year-end which could dampen economic growth and overall fuel demand, Reuters reported.
Fed policymakers still see the bank's benchmark overnight rate range peaking this year at 5.50% to 5.75%, a quarter of a percentage point above the current range.
The hawkish stance also led to the US dollar surging to its highest since early March, placing downside pressure on oil prices. A stronger dollar typically makes commodities such as oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies.
Energy markets reacted little to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday showing crude inventories fell in line with expectations last week, with some analysts saying the decline was smaller than they expected.
"EIA data showed US stockpiles fell 2.14 million barrels last week, well short of the 5.25 million barrel drop reported by the American Petroleum Institute. The disappointing inventory drawdown gave impetus for traders to lock in profits following the 10% gain since the start of the month," ANZ analysts said in a note.
The stock draw was mainly driven by strong oil exports, while gasoline and diesel inventories were drawn down as refiners began annual autumn maintenance, the EIA said in a weekly report.
However, price falls were limited by continuous concern on tight supply globally entering the fourth quarter, with crude stocks at Cushing - the WTI delivery hub - at their lowest since July 2022 and production cuts continuing by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+.



ACWA Power Signs $738 Million Worth Agreements to Finance Water Desalination Project in the Emirates

The headquarters of ACWA Power
The headquarters of ACWA Power
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ACWA Power Signs $738 Million Worth Agreements to Finance Water Desalination Project in the Emirates

The headquarters of ACWA Power
The headquarters of ACWA Power

Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power announced on Thursday the signing of agreements with a group of local and international banks to secure the funding of the Hassyan Independent Water Producer (IWP) plant in Dubai.
In a statement, the company said it secured SAR 2.76 billion from local and international lenders for a period of 32.5 years.
The banks proving the funding include Standard Chartered, MUFG Bank, Emirates NBD, Korea Development Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP), Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Boubyan Bank, and Saudi EXIM Bank.
The loan agreements were signed by Hassyan Water Company, which is owned 20.40 percent by ACWA Power.

For its part, the Saudi Export-Import Bank announced that it had signed a financing agreement with ACWA Power worth $75 million to finance the Hassyan complex project.

The bank said, in a post on X, that the aim of the financing was “to enable Saudi content in international projects, in a way that enhances the development of Saudi non-oil exports, and stimulates projects that are compatible with the principles of sustainability.”


HCI Conference: Preparing a Generation for Tech Challenges

The Human Capability Initiative (HCI) conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Human Capability Initiative (HCI) conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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HCI Conference: Preparing a Generation for Tech Challenges

The Human Capability Initiative (HCI) conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Human Capability Initiative (HCI) conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Human Capability Initiative (HCI) conference, held over two days in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, focused on preparing the next generation to tackle modern technologies like artificial intelligence.

Sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the event aimed to find sustainable funding for education and strengthen public-private partnerships.

During the conference, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih announced licenses for 450 international investors to set up regional headquarters in the Kingdom.

He highlighted a significant increase in international licenses since the launch of Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan, “Vision 2030.”

Al-Falih revealed that the number of licenses for international investments in Saudi Arabia has increased from 3,000 at the beginning of the vision to 30,000 business licenses, stressing the Kingdom’s commitment to creating the best conditions for investors to develop skills and learn to enhance innovation and entrepreneurship and to consolidate the growth of the private sector.

Al-Falih also shared plans to double the economy by the end of the decade, with a focus on increasing partnerships with the private sector.

“By the end of this decade, our economy aims to be two and a half times larger than what it was before the beginning of Vision 2030,” said Al-Falih while noting that the private sector’s participation in the economy will jump from 40 % to more than 65 % and the size of the private sector will be four times higher than that of its current size.

He outlined a target of adding over $3 trillion in investments, with a focus on new sectors like digital economy, tourism, finance, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.

Al-Falih emphasized that these investments will create huge opportunities for skill development.

He pointed out that as new sectors like renewable energy and biotechnology emerge, skill gaps will be filled through training, ensuring the Kingdom has a skilled workforce ready for deployment.

Al-Falih pointed out that Vision 2030 is the most comprehensive transformation in the Kingdom’s history.

“We are transforming and developing our economy into a green economy and enhancing the business environment and our international competitiveness,” said the minister.


Bitcoin’s Strong Comeback: Heading Toward $100,000 Mark?

The logo of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Bitcoin with the words “Approval of Exchange-Traded Funds” (Reuters)
The logo of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Bitcoin with the words “Approval of Exchange-Traded Funds” (Reuters)
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Bitcoin’s Strong Comeback: Heading Toward $100,000 Mark?

The logo of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Bitcoin with the words “Approval of Exchange-Traded Funds” (Reuters)
The logo of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Bitcoin with the words “Approval of Exchange-Traded Funds” (Reuters)

Bitcoin, the top cryptocurrency, has bounced back strongly, recovering all losses since the crypto market downturn in May 2022. Today, it’s steadily nearing its record high of $64,000, last seen in November 2021.

With investors rushing into cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETFs), Bitcoin's price is rising rapidly, bringing it back to early 2021 levels.

The value of Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency by market cap, jumped 3.4% to $62,205 after briefly touching $63,933 overnight Thursday, its highest level since late 2021.

This rise shows renewed confidence in the cryptocurrency market, helped by ETFs making crypto trading easier for investors.

US market sentiment towards Bitcoin is shifting positively, with big investors continuing to buy Bitcoin. This suggests long-term optimism and makes Bitcoin more appealing to investors looking for steady gains.

This surge is a big moment for Bitcoin and could lead to more growth in the future. It also shows Bitcoin is gaining acceptance as an investment.

Bitcoin holders expect the price to keep rising, possibly exceeding $69,000.

As Bitcoin hits new highs, 2024 is predicted to be its big year, with expectations reaching $100,000.

Bitcoin surged notably after approval was granted for cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETFs) focused on immediate Bitcoin.

Optimism grew when the US Securities and Exchange Commission greenlit 11 of these funds in mid-January, allowing institutional investors to join the Bitcoin market, leading to increased demand and significant price rises.

These funds allow institutional investors to trade Bitcoin at its current price. Previously, Bitcoin ETFs were limited to trading futures contracts, complex financial tools suitable only for experienced investors.

After the approval of the first Bitcoin ETFs for immediate trading in the US, the world’s oldest cryptocurrency skyrocketed. It surged over 42% since the year began, jumping from under $50,000 at approval time to over $60,000 today.


New Murabba Signs MoU with the Tourism Development Fund

The MoU was signed by New Murabba Development Company CEO Michael Dyke and TDF chief executive Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri. - SPA
The MoU was signed by New Murabba Development Company CEO Michael Dyke and TDF chief executive Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri. - SPA
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New Murabba Signs MoU with the Tourism Development Fund

The MoU was signed by New Murabba Development Company CEO Michael Dyke and TDF chief executive Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri. - SPA
The MoU was signed by New Murabba Development Company CEO Michael Dyke and TDF chief executive Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri. - SPA

New Murabba Development Company (NMDC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Tourism Development Fund (TDF) to spearhead the transformation of Riyadh. The agreement will see the two entities work closely together to create New Murabba, the world’s largest modern downtown, serving as a model for future urban development and contributing towards Riyadh city’s evolution, in line with Vision 2030, SPA reported.

The MoU was signed by New Murabba Development Company CEO Michael Dyke and TDF chief executive Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri.

As part of the agreement, TDF will provide direct financing opportunities in collaboration with its network of partners and contracted investors, solidifying NMDC’s access to TDF’s expertise, networks, and investment capabilities.
The agreement is poised to unlock New Murabba's immense potential, placing Riyadh at the forefront of global destinations and showcasing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's commitment to innovative, sustainable urban development, cultural richness, and unparalleled visitor experiences on the world stage.
“We are pleased to have partnered with the New Murabba Development Company to bring this bold undertaking to life: an innovative undertaking that will enhance Riyadh’s status on the global stage as one of the commercial and financial capitals of the world,” TDF’s Al-Fakhri said. “This is a future-focused partnership that extends our efforts to work in a fully aligned manner with the private sector to create a greater, more prosperous Saudi Arabia.”
“In line with Vision 2030 and the National Tourism Strategy, our agreement with New Murabba Development Company marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Riyadh; one that adds to the richness of the Kingdom’s inspiring story of transformation,” the TDF chief said. “Together, we aim to create a modern downtown in the Saudi capital that provides even greater access to exceptional living, working, and entertainment experiences. Representing the very best of Saudi excellence, we believe New Murabba will attract tourists, as well as investors, to the Kingdom and improve citizens’ and residents’ quality of life.”
“New Murabba will be a gateway to the future,” NMDC’s Dyke said. “We are confident that our partnership with TDF will enable us to play a transformative role in diversifying sources of income for the Saudi economy, aligning seamlessly with the objectives of Vision 2030. Together, we will create groundbreaking opportunities that will not only elevate the Saudi tourism landscape but drive New Murabba to the forefront of global innovation.”


Oil Prices Rise as Gaza Deaths Complicate Ceasefire Talks

The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant
The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant
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Oil Prices Rise as Gaza Deaths Complicate Ceasefire Talks

The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant
The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US, November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant

Oil prices rose on Friday and were set to end the week modestly higher as talks over a potential ceasefire in Gaza were further complicated by the deaths of more than 100 Palestinians waiting for an aid delivery.
Brent futures for May rose 29 cents, or 0.4%, to $82.20 a barrel by 0118 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose 22 cents, or 0.3%, to $78.48, Reuters said.
WTI is on track for a 4% increase this week, while Brent is holding near last week's settlement price. Brent has hovered comfortably above the $80 mark for three weeks, with the Middle East conflict having only a modest impact on crude flows from attacks on shipping traffic in the Red Sea.
President Joe Biden said the US was checking reports of Israeli troops firing on people waiting for food aid in Gaza, saying he believed the deadly incident would complicate talks of a ceasefire. Israel has blamed the deaths on crowds surrounding the aid trucks, saying victims were trampled or run over.
Even before Thursday's incident, Israel and Hamas had said there was a big gulf between them in the talks in Qatar to hammer out details of a 40-day truce in the Gaza war. Qatari mediators have said there has been no breakthrough and the most contentious issues remain unresolved.
In other news, China's manufacturing activity in February contracted for a fifth straight month, an official factory survey showed on Friday, raising pressure on Beijing policymakers to roll out further stimulus measures as factory owners struggle for orders.
Also, the US Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge, the US personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, showed January inflation in line with economists' expectations, keeping a June interest rate cut on the table.
On the supply side, a Reuters survey showed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pumped 26.42 million barrels per day (bpd) this month, up 90,000 bpd from January. Libyan output rose month-on-month by 150,000 bpd.
A Reuters survey of 40 economists and analysts forecast an average price of $81.13 a barrel for the front-month contract this year.


UAE's ADNOC Closes Acquisition of 24.9% Stake in Austria's OMV

FILE PHOTO: A worker injects a car with fuel at an ADNOC petrol station in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A worker injects a car with fuel at an ADNOC petrol station in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
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UAE's ADNOC Closes Acquisition of 24.9% Stake in Austria's OMV

FILE PHOTO: A worker injects a car with fuel at an ADNOC petrol station in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A worker injects a car with fuel at an ADNOC petrol station in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) said on Thursday it formally closed the acquisition of a 24.9% stake in Austria's Austrian oil and gas group OMV from Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company.

"The transaction accelerates delivery of ADNOC's global chemicals growth strategy and reinforces its status as a responsible, long-term partner and growth-oriented investor," ADNOC said in a statement.

Following the successful completion of the transaction, ADNOC owns 24.9 percent of OMV, while Österreichische Beteiligungs AG (ÖBAG), an Austrian independent holding company, holds 31.5 percent, with the remaining share capital in free float.

“ADNOC is proud to become a shareholder in OMV, a leading international energy and chemicals company, with whom we share a long-standing strategic partnership. Together, we have created significant value through our joint venture Borouge, and today’s investment will unlock further value and future growth opportunities for both companies,” said Khaled Salmeen, Executive Director, Downstream Industry, Marketing and Trading at ADNOC.

“Building on our 25 percent shareholding in Borealis, this transaction marks the next transformative step as we accelerate our ambitious chemicals growth strategy, unlocking significant growth and value creation opportunities for ADNOC, OMV and their respective shareholders.”


Saudi Banks to Increase their Capital Following Record Profits

The loan-to-deposit ratio ended 2023 at above 100% (Reuters)
The loan-to-deposit ratio ended 2023 at above 100% (Reuters)
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Saudi Banks to Increase their Capital Following Record Profits

The loan-to-deposit ratio ended 2023 at above 100% (Reuters)
The loan-to-deposit ratio ended 2023 at above 100% (Reuters)

Many Saudi banks have recently increased their capital, and five others on the financial market: al-Inma, al-Jazira, al-Bilad, Arab National, and Saudi Investment Bank announced their plans to increase capital, which will contribute to a total increase of $4.5 billion, according to analysts.

What prompts banks to increase their capital?

The head of asset management at Arbah Capital, Mohamed al-Farraj, indicated that this measure aims to adhere to Basel standards, seeking to enhance the banking sector by ensuring capital adequacy to cover credit and operational risks.

Farraj told Asharq Al-Awsat that the remarkable recovery of the Saudi economy after the COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged banks to expand and invest.

The expert said that the huge bank profits, due to high-interest rates, have strengthened their plans to finance the capital increase from retained profits.

He said that these increases enhance investors' confidence in the stability of banks and would push towards improving the value of their shares in the financial market, contributing to an increase in shareholders' profits.

By the end of 2023, Saudi banks witnessed the highest annual profits in their history, reaching about $18.7 billion due to the rise in interest rates and the growth of operating income and investment commissions.

Farraj expected Saudi banks to continue to increase their capital during the current year, with a total increase of 16-25%, and that the capital adequacy ratio would record a noticeable increase by the end of the current year, reaching from 15-18%.

The capital adequacy ratio (CAR) indicates how well a bank can meet its obligations. It compares capital to risk-weighted assets and is watched by regulators to determine a bank's risk of failure.

The ratio protects depositors and promotes the stability and efficiency of financial systems worldwide.

The capital adequacy ratio calculates a bank's capital by its risk-weighted assets. Currently, the minimum ratio of capital to risk-weighted assets is 8% under Basel II and 10.5% under Basel III, based on the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision guidelines.

Farraj also indicated that the increase will enhance the banks' ability to finance major projects, especially those included in "Vision 2030," and said that banks could find solutions to provide liquidity in foreign currencies by issuing bonds and instruments denominated in different currencies.

He said that credit growth is expected to rise during the current year, supported by economic recovery and capital increases, as the total value of loans in the banking sector equals more than $533 billion.

The expert explained that inflation leads to the erosion of the actual value of assets, noting that the Saudi banking sector faces increasing competition from technical financial companies.

- Lending support

Economic analyst and member of the Saudi Economic Association Saad al-Thagfan believes banks undertook capital increase operations to support their capital, expand their activities, and support lending operations.

Thagfan said that Saudi banks, under the supervision of the Central Bank of Saudi Arabia (SAMA), enjoy an excellent capital adequacy ratio exceeding the required rate.

The expert indicated that no obstacles were preventing the expansion of lending and achieving growth in profits, attributing this to the strength of the Kingdom's economy.

Meanwhile, Fitch forecasts Saudi banking sector financing growth of 10% in 2024, well above the GCC average (5%) but down from an estimated 12% in 2023 and 14% in 2022.

The cost of funding will remain sensitive to changes in the US Fed rate, but Fitch expects the average net interest margin (NIM) to stay around 3%.

Fitch also forecasts deposit growth of 10% in 2024, mainly from term deposits, with the proportion of demand deposits likely to decrease to below 50% of total deposits.

For its part, Standard & Poor's expected a robust credit growth of 8%-9% in 2024. The Agency expected the Saudi government and its related entities to continue to inject deposits into the banking system to support the banks' credit growth.

- Financing challenges

In the same context, Jadwa Investment Company does not expect banks to shoulder the burden of Vision 2030 financing, but they will need to keep diversifying their funding sources to support the private sector.

"Saudi banks have historically been highly liquid, well-capitalized and profitable. This is still broadly the case, but while Vision 2030 has opened up new lending opportunities, funding challenges are becoming more pressing. "

The company noted that it was clear from the loan-deposit ratio (LDR), which measures lending to the private sector against available deposits.

In recent years, buoyant economic growth has propelled brisk credit demand, and although deposits have grown, they have not kept pace with lending.

Consequently, the LDR finished 2023 above 100, an uncomfortable metric for risk managers.

"With deposit growth now softening, pulling this ratio back to acceptable levels will mean putting the brakes on lending growth—unless other funding sources can be captured."


Saudi Tourism Development Fund Signs MoU with Spain's IE University

The agreement aims to improve employee knowledge, awareness, and competencies in the tourism field. SPA
The agreement aims to improve employee knowledge, awareness, and competencies in the tourism field. SPA
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Saudi Tourism Development Fund Signs MoU with Spain's IE University

The agreement aims to improve employee knowledge, awareness, and competencies in the tourism field. SPA
The agreement aims to improve employee knowledge, awareness, and competencies in the tourism field. SPA

The Saudi Tourism Development Fund (TDF) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IE University in Spain, a higher education institution focused on training influential leaders. The objective is to implement tailored educational programs and training courses for TDF employees, aligning with the National Tourism Strategy and Saudi Vision 2030.

The agreement, inked by TDF CEO Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri and IE University President Santiago Iñiguez, aims to elevate employee knowledge, awareness, and competencies in the tourism field.

Al-Fakhri stated that the MoU signifies a significant step toward fostering positive interaction between the tourism sector and educational institutions. The goal is to enhance human capabilities, equip individuals with necessary skills and knowledge, and align development with quality and excellence standards. This, in turn, contributes to professional growth, active participation in Saudi Arabia's tourism boom, and a role in driving growth and prosperity.

Furthermore, Al-Fakhri emphasized TDF's commitment to developing skills and competencies, providing professional development opportunities, and ensuring a qualified workforce to meet the demands of the growing tourism sector. The collaboration with IE University reflects the commitment to creating a supportive educational environment in crucial tourism regions.

IE University's President highlighted the importance of cooperation between higher education and tourism, emphasizing the need to develop specialized professionals in the field.

The agreement aims to achieve integration between education and tourism, working towards producing qualified individuals.

The MoU is part of the TDF's broader initiative, collaborating with top universities, training centers, and international expertise houses. The Graduate Development Program (Tourism Olou) is among the launched educational programs designed to develop Saudi talents, enhance competitiveness, and provide essential skills for the tourism sector.


Human Capability Initiative Conference in Riyadh Explores Increasing Employment Rate in New Industries

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaking to the audience at the HCI conference in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaking to the audience at the HCI conference in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Human Capability Initiative Conference in Riyadh Explores Increasing Employment Rate in New Industries

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaking to the audience at the HCI conference in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaking to the audience at the HCI conference in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Human Capability Initiative (HCI) Conference was launched in Riyadh at the King Abdulaziz International Convention Center under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

On the sidelines of the conference, Energy Minister and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, inaugurated the Kingdom's first specialized educational institution for higher studies in public policy.

- Women's Empowerment

During his speech, the Energy Minister stated that the government is committed to a localization program with 75%, highlighting the global disparity in female participation across sectors.

He pointed out that while most sectors have 39-49% female participation, the energy sector lags with only about 15% globally.

"With our current leadership, we went to self-discovery of what truly drives our economy, and you will find it in no more than the two factors that I'm going to mention: youth and women empowerment," added Prince Abdulaziz.

He added that developing human resources is the most critical measure for determining the development of any society, stressing that there is a need to fill the gaps in education and training.

- Attracting talent

He pointed out that the energy sector can't be isolated from other entities and institutions, adding that there must be cooperation with all concerned parties to develop the human resources.

The Energy Minister asserted the need for cooperation with the Ministries of Education and Labor.

He noted the attempt to involve training institutions to ensure the achievement of the strategic goal of covering the workforce, organizing its affairs, building capabilities, attracting and retaining talented people, and empowering women.

The energy minister announced the launch of the Saudi Technical Institute for Petroleum Services, rebranded as the Energy Tech Institute.

Saudi Arabia is set to create 150,000 new jobs in chemical plants and renewable energy facilities with a commitment to achieving 75% localization, said the Minister.

"We see somewhere around 150,000 jobs being created, including not only working in chemical plants and with heavy wind or renewable facilities, but also we see many jobs are coming through the localization programs," announced Prince Abdulaziz.

"We also are committed to a localization program which is 75%."

- Enhance strategies

For his part, Saudi Education Minister Yousef al-Benyan stressed during his opening speech at the conference that the Human Capability Initiative demonstrates the Kingdom's commitment to enriching the global dialogue and promoting implementable strategies and solutions.

He stated that more than 200 global leaders and experts will join the conference to share their views on unleashing the potential of human capabilities and stimulate international cooperation to achieve maximum flexibility in times of uncertainty.

Benyan highlighted that global estimates indicate a potential disruption of 40% of workers' skills within the next four to five years due to these changes, and technology adoption is set to transform approximately 75% of business practices globally.

Highlighting the critical role of human capital in navigating a dynamic labor market, he emphasized the need for comprehensive efforts to enhance human capabilities.

"The success of industrial developments in green technology, healthcare, generative technology, and artificial intelligence hinges on a future-proof workforce equipped with the necessary skills," Benyan said, stressing that HCI aligns with Vision 2030.

- Shift in the employment landscape

He added that such a global platform aims to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the evolving job market, ultimately fostering empowered individuals and resilient economies for the future.

The Kingdom's Human Capability Development Program has created a dynamic strategy that extends across the stages of learning.

He described the program as a comprehensive strategy designed to empower individuals to unleash their full potential, prioritizing collaboration among government agencies, the private sector, and non-profit organizations to ensure collective success and prosperity.

"The Kingdom welcomes collaboration with all stakeholders to explore opportunities and design innovative policies and solutions that enhance human capabilities," he said.

More than 45 agreements that reflect the Kingdom's commitment to cooperating with all partners will be announced during the conference.

The agreements were reached with representatives of over 70 countries with the shared mission of unlocking human potential.

- Innovation and development

Furthermore, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar al-Khorayef launched the Strategy for Developing Human Capability in the Industrial and Mining Sectors and the National Academy for Industry during the Human Capability Initiative (HCI) Conference, in partnership with the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Khorayef revealed that more than 50,000 employees had been trained during the past year in coordination with the private sector, with a 40% increase in the workforce.

Saudi Arabia should become an innovative country in research, development, and innovation, and those priorities lead to achieving sustainability in many sectors.

Khorayef highlighted efforts in the industry and mining sectors to incorporate new business models and technologies to shape the future of jobs for citizens.

- Attracting talent

The Minister unveiled the Human Capital Development Strategy for mining and industries with four key objectives.

"The first is to cultivate, grow, and attract the right talent; second is to empower the talent and leadership, create and complement the culture and environment for competitive human capital; third, boost innovation, productivity, and future readiness of the human capital," Khorayef said.

It also aims to drive a collaborative ecosystem where the ministry will orchestrate and build the regulatory foundation, and the private sector will lead.

A dialogue session within the "Human Capabilities Initiative Conference" shed light on advanced industries by empowering human capabilities and the importance of technology in creating more jobs.

- Stimulate human potential

The conference included a "Going Far, Going Together – The Critical Role of Collaboration" session with the participation of Saudi Permanent Representative to the EU Haifa al-Jedea, Dean of Said Business School at Oxford University Professor Soumitra Dutta, Udacity CEO Kai Roemmelt, Regional Director – Human Development for MENA at the World Bank Fadia Saadah, and Managing Director World Economic Forum Saadia Zahidi.

Participants pointed out to the importance of the Kingdom's Human Capacity Initiative Conference sponsorship, which is closely linked to Vision 2030.

They indicated that the conference is a testimony to Saudi Arabia's firm commitment to enhancing cooperation to stimulate human potential and innovation and evidence of its dedication to building a prosperous and sustainable future for its citizens and the world.

Jedea discussed providing everyone with good job opportunities, adding that policies must include all concerned parties.

She stressed the importance of government investments and multinational companies in human resources, investment in peace and work efforts, and cooperation with various sectors in empowering human capabilities.

For her part, the World Bank official touched on the influential role of human capabilities and that they are an essential factor in development, as they contribute to achieving 80% of the wealth of any developed country.


Saudi Economy Minister, World Economic Forum President Discuss Preparations for WEF Special Meeting

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning and the World Economic Forum discussed the preparations for the WEF Special Meeting. SPA
The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning and the World Economic Forum discussed the preparations for the WEF Special Meeting. SPA
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Saudi Economy Minister, World Economic Forum President Discuss Preparations for WEF Special Meeting

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning and the World Economic Forum discussed the preparations for the WEF Special Meeting. SPA
The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning and the World Economic Forum discussed the preparations for the WEF Special Meeting. SPA

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadhil Alibrahim and World Economic Forum President Børge Brende have held a meeting to discuss the preparations for the World Economic Forum Special Meeting to be held in the Kingdom in April.

They also discussed global economic issues.

Riyadh will host the WEF Special Meeting on global cooperation, growth and energy, on April 28-29.