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 Investment Opportunities on US Business Radar

General view in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 21 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
General view in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 21 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
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Saudi Investment Opportunities on US Business Radar

General view in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 21 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
General view in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 21 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Saudi Commerce Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi has discussed Vision 2030 achievements and investment opportunities with US business leaders in Washington. The meeting highlighted the strong trade ties between the Kingdom and the US.

The Saudi-US Business Council recently held a virtual seminar on the future of car manufacturing in Saudi Arabia. Over 100 industry leaders from both countries attended.

During the meeting, Al-Qasabi talked about the progress of Vision 2030 and how it’s opening up new sectors and opportunities for businesses in Saudi Arabia. They also discussed improving the business environment in the Kingdom to attract more American companies.

Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Ambassador to the US, joined the meeting along with officials from the US Chamber of Commerce.

Additionally, Al-Qasabi and his team visited Georgetown University to discuss collaboration and review the university’s research in areas like entrepreneurship, corporate governance, trade policy, and more.

Al-Qasabi also met with executives from EcoLab, a water and energy solutions provider, and Bechtel Corporation, a major engineering and construction company.


Oil Prices Climb amid US Stocks Decline, Mideast Conflict

FILE PHOTO: A motorist fills a car with fuel at a petrol station in Sydney August 18, 2004. REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: A motorist fills a car with fuel at a petrol station in Sydney August 18, 2004. REUTERS
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Oil Prices Climb amid US Stocks Decline, Mideast Conflict

FILE PHOTO: A motorist fills a car with fuel at a petrol station in Sydney August 18, 2004. REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: A motorist fills a car with fuel at a petrol station in Sydney August 18, 2004. REUTERS

Oil prices extended gains on Wednesday after industry data showed a surprise drop in US crude stocks last week, a positive sign for demand, though markets were also keeping a close eye on hostilities in the Middle East.
Brent crude futures rose 26 cents, or 0.29%, to $88.68 a barrel and US West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 26 cents, or 0.31%, to $83.62 a barrel at 0634 GMT, Reuters reported.
US crude inventories fell 3.237 million barrels in the week ended April 19, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures. In contrast, six analysts polled by Reuters had expected a rise of 800,000 barrels.
Traders will be watching for the official US data on oil and product stockpiles due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) for confirmation of the big drawdown.
US business activity cooled in April to a four-month low, with S&P Global saying on Tuesday that its flash Composite PMI Output Index, which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors, fell to 50.9 this month from 52.1 in March.
"This could help convince policy makers that rate cuts are required to support the economy," ANZ analysts said in a note.
US interest rate cuts could bolster economic growth and, in turn, demand for oil from the world's top consumer of the fuel.
Analysts were still bullish that any latest developments in conflicts in the Middle East will still support markets, though the impact on oil supplies remains limited for now.
"Overall, crude oil prices are well supported around current levels by on-going Middle East risk premium. On the topside, risk of possible renewed OPEC production increase from Jun will help limit any significant upside," said head of markets strategy for United Overseas Bank (UOB) in Singapore Heng Koon How.
"We maintain our forecast for Brent to consolidate at USD 90/bbl by end of this year," Heng added.
Israeli strikes intensified across Gaza on Tuesday, in some of the heaviest shelling in weeks.
"Recent reports suggest that both Iran and Israel consider the current operations concluded against one another, with no follow-up action required for now," ING analysts said in a note.
"The US and Europe are preparing for new sanctions against Iran – although these may not have a material impact on oil supply in the immediate term," they added.


Venezuela to Accelerate Cryptocurrency Shift as US Sanctions Return

Encouraged by US licenses allowing sales, oil exports reached some 900,000 barrels per day in March, the highest in four years. Reuters
Encouraged by US licenses allowing sales, oil exports reached some 900,000 barrels per day in March, the highest in four years. Reuters
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Venezuela to Accelerate Cryptocurrency Shift as US Sanctions Return

Encouraged by US licenses allowing sales, oil exports reached some 900,000 barrels per day in March, the highest in four years. Reuters
Encouraged by US licenses allowing sales, oil exports reached some 900,000 barrels per day in March, the highest in four years. Reuters

Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA plans to increase digital currency usage in its crude and fuel exports as the US reimposes oil sanctions on the country, three people familiar with the plan said.
The US Treasury Department last week gave PDVSA's customers and providers until May 31 to wind down transactions under a general license it did not renew due to a lack of electoral reforms, Reuters reported. The move will make it more difficult for the country to increase oil output and exports as companies will have to wait for individual US authorizations to do business with Venezuela.
PDVSA since last year had been slowly moving oil sales to USDT, a digital currency also known as Tether whose value is pegged to the US dollar and designed to maintain a stable value. The return of oil sanctions is speeding up the shift, a move to reduce the risk of sale proceeds getting frozen in foreign bank accounts due to the measures, the people said.
"We have different currencies, according to what is stated in contracts," Venezuelan oil minister Pedro Tellechea told Reuters last week, adding that in some contracts digital currencies might be the preferred payment method.
The US dollar is the preferred currency for transactions in the global oil market. Even though they are emerging in some countries, payments in cryptocurrency are not frequent.
Tether said in an email it respects the US Treasury's list of sanctioned entities and "is committed to working to ensure sanction addresses are frozen promptly."
Last year, PDVSA was rocked by a corruption scandal after the discovery of some $21 billion in unaccounted receivables for oil exports in recent years, partially related to prior transactions involving other cryptocurrencies.
The nation's oil exports have increased under Tellechea, who took over Venezuela's oil ministry following the scandal. Encouraged by US licenses allowing sales, exports reached some 900,000 barrels per day in March, the highest in four years.
SLOWLY BUT SURELY
By the end of the first quarter, PDVSA had moved many spot oil deals not involving swaps to a contract model demanding prepayment for half of each cargo's value in USDT.
PDVSA also is requiring any new customer applying to conduct oil transactions to hold cryptocurrency in a digital wallet. The requirement has been enforced even in some old contracts that do not specifically state the use of USDT, one of the people said.
In October, when Washington issued the six-month license that allowed trading houses and former PDVSA customers to resume business with Venezuela, most of them resorted to intermediaries to meet the digital transaction requirements.
"USDT transactions, as PDVSA is demanding them to be, don't pass any trader's compliance department, so the only way to make it work is working with an intermediary," one trader said, referring to how unusual it still is to pay for oil in digital currencies.
PDVSA has relied on middlemen for its own oil sales, especially to China, since the US in 2020 imposed secondary sanctions on Venezuela, disrupting its relationship with large trading partners.
LESS CASH
Increasingly relying on middlemen for transactions could help PDVSA skirt sanctions, but will mean a smaller portion of oil proceeds will end up in its pockets.
Minister Tellechea last week said the country expects to continue signing contracts and crude and gas project expansions during the 45-day wind down period set by the US, and will ask potential clients to request specific licenses after that.
Oil analysts expect that even if Washington promptly issues individual authorizations, Venezuela's oil output, exports and revenue will soon hit a ceiling.
Tellechea rejected that view, saying PDVSA has "a big strength in trading," and is prepared commercially to address the return of Washington's sanctions.


UAE, Oman Establish $35 Bln Investment Partnerships

FILE PHOTO: Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman attend a state visit reception at Qasr Al Watan, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates April 22, 2024. Ryan Carter/UAE Presidential Court/Handout via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman attend a state visit reception at Qasr Al Watan, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates April 22, 2024. Ryan Carter/UAE Presidential Court/Handout via REUTERS
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UAE, Oman Establish $35 Bln Investment Partnerships

FILE PHOTO: Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman attend a state visit reception at Qasr Al Watan, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates April 22, 2024. Ryan Carter/UAE Presidential Court/Handout via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman attend a state visit reception at Qasr Al Watan, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates April 22, 2024. Ryan Carter/UAE Presidential Court/Handout via REUTERS

UAE and Omani companies have signed deals worth 129 billion dirhams ($35.12 billion) in sectors including energy and transport during the Omani ruler's visit to the United Arab Emirates.

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman witnessed the announcement of several memoranda of understanding and agreements aimed at strengthening relations between the two countries to achieve further growth and prosperity.

The announcement was made as part of the official visit of Oman’s Sultan to the UAE.

The agreements were dominated by a 117 billion dirham industrial and energy "megaproject" grouping wind, solar projects and green metals production.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA), Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), Emirates Steel Arkan (ESA), OQ Alternative Energy and Oman Electrical Transmission Co were among the companies involved, the ministry statement said.

Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund ADQ also signed an agreement to set up a 660 million dirham technology-focused fund with the Oman Investment Authority, while the UAE and Oman signed an 11 billion dirham agreement to connect the countries by rail.

“The agreements represent a major milestone in our bilateral ties, as they pave the way for us to leverage our collective strength to realize our shared vision of advancement and prosperity," UAE Minister of Investment Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi said.


Mawani Adds East Africa Shipping Service to King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam

Mawani added a new shipping service to East Africa to King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam.
Mawani added a new shipping service to East Africa to King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam.
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Mawani Adds East Africa Shipping Service to King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam

Mawani added a new shipping service to East Africa to King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam.
Mawani added a new shipping service to East Africa to King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam.

The Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani) has added a new shipping service, East Africa Express, by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), to King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam.
It will connect the Kingdom to the ports of East Africa, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
This move aligns with Mawani's efforts to boost investment and logistics services in the Kingdom, and support the National Transport and Logistics Strategy (NTLS), which aims to strengthen the Kingdom's position as a vital link connecting three continents and a global logistics hub.
The new shipping service links King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam with Mundra Port in India, Qasim Port in Pakistan, and Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali Ports in the UAE through regular weekly trips, offering a capacity of up to 11,000 TEUs.


World Bank Explains to Asharq Al-Awsat Saudi Growth Forecast Surge for 2025

Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the World Bank (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the World Bank (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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World Bank Explains to Asharq Al-Awsat Saudi Growth Forecast Surge for 2025

Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the World Bank (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the World Bank (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The World Bank is forecasting a 5.9% growth for Saudi Arabia’s economy in 2025, surpassing previous estimates. This surge is fueled by heightened non-oil activities and anticipated increases in oil prices, as explained by Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at the World Bank.

The bank now expects the Kingdom’s economy to expand by 5.9% next year, a significant increase from its earlier prediction of 4.2%. It also forecasts a 4.8% growth in the non-oil private sector in Saudi Arabia this year.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Gatti explained that the higher forecast for Saudi Arabia’s economy next year relies on two main factors:

Firstly, boosting non-oil activities through loose fiscal policy, large investments (especially public ones), and strong private spending, all while keeping inflation low with generous subsidies.

Secondly, expecting a significant rise in oil production in 2025 due to current trends and extending oil production cuts until mid-2024, leading to a 5.9% GDP growth.

Economic Shocks and Debt Impact

Discussing a report about conflict and debt in the MENA region, Gatti highlighted how conflict exacerbates major weaknesses in the region, notably the surge in debt compared to GDP.

Over the past decade, most regional economies saw their debt levels rise, a trend accelerated by the pandemic.

By 2023, debt had climbed to 88% of GDP in oil-importing countries, up from 81% in 2013. Importantly, debt levels are much higher for oil-importing nations, averaging 88% of GDP in 2023 compared to 34% for oil-exporting ones.

Gatti stressed the importance of transparency in debt management, particularly for oil-importing nations. She also underscored the need to address off-budget expenditures, which are not officially recorded.

She warned that financial adjustments made to handle high interest payments might not fully tackle the increasing debt burdens resulting from off-budget spending. This is especially pertinent for oil-importing countries in the MENA region, Gatti noted.

Oil-exporting nations face the task of broadening their economic and financial sources due to shifts in global oil markets and rising demand for renewable energy.

Gatti explained that uncertainty in the MENA region, already higher than in other emerging markets and developing countries, intensified after October 7 (the start of the conflict between Israel and Hamas) and remains higher than in those regions.

While noting that the report assumes no escalation in conflict, she cautioned about its lasting effects.

As per Gatti, studies show that debt patterns after conflict differ from other disasters. Debt tends to rise after nearly any natural disaster, and GDP growth drops in the disaster year. But growth rebounds in the following years.

After armed conflict, debt spikes significantly, like in any disaster. However, economic recovery post-conflict doesn’t happen, meaning government actions after fighting may not boost economic growth. This means pre-existing debt vulnerabilities could worsen if conflict escalates in the Middle East and North Africa.


Oil Prices Stabilize, Middle East Tensions Remain in Focus

FILE PHOTO: A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, US June 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, US June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo
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Oil Prices Stabilize, Middle East Tensions Remain in Focus

FILE PHOTO: A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, US June 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A maze of crude oil pipes and valves is pictured during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, US June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo

Oil prices edged higher on Tuesday, after falling in the previous session, as investors continued to assess the risk from geopolitical concerns in the Middle East.
Global benchmark Brent crude oil futures traded 27 cents higher at $87.27 a barrel by 0308 GMT, and US West Texas Intermediate crude futures also gained 26 cents to $82.16 a barrel.
Both benchmarks fell 29 cents in the previous session on signs that a recent escalation of tensions between Israel and Iran had little near-term impact on oil supplies from the region, Reuters reported.
"The unwinding of geo-political risk premium has dented crude oil prices recently as supply was not disrupted meaningfully," said Sugandha Sachdeva, founder of Delhi-based research firm SS WealthStreet.
But the evolving geopolitical landscape remains critical in steering crude oil prices, she said.
"While there are no indications of an imminent full-scale war between the countries involved, any escalation in tensions could quickly reverse the current trend," Sachdeva added.
ANZ analysts echoed the sentiment and highlighted US approval of new sanctions on Iran's oil sector that broaden current sanctions to include foreign ports, vessels and refineries that knowingly process or ship Iranian crude.
Also, EU foreign ministers agreed in principle on Monday to expand sanctions on Iran following Tehran's missile and drone attack on Israel, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
"The geopolitical backdrop is still very fraught with so many risks at the moment, so clearly we're going to see a lot of volatility until there's a lot more clarity around it," the ANZ analysts said in a podcast.
Israeli troops fought their way back into an eastern section of Khan Younis in a surprise raid, residents said on Monday, sending people who had returned to abandoned homes in the ruins of the southern Gaza Strip's main city fleeing once more.
Investors are waiting for the release of the US gross domestic product figures and the March personal consumption expenditure data - the Fed's preferred inflation gauge - later this week to assess the trajectory of monetary policy.
US crude oil inventories are expected to have increased last week while refined product stockpiles likely fell, according to a preliminary Reuters poll of analysts.
"Sticky US inflation figures, hawkish statements from key Fed officials, and rising US inventories are all acting as constraints on crude oil price growth," Sachdeva said.


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)
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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)
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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)
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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.