Oil Prices on Track for Fourth Straight Week of Gains

FILE PHOTO: Oil pump jacks are seen at Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas drilling, in the Patagonian province of Neuquen, Argentina January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Oil pump jacks are seen at Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas drilling, in the Patagonian province of Neuquen, Argentina January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo
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Oil Prices on Track for Fourth Straight Week of Gains

FILE PHOTO: Oil pump jacks are seen at Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas drilling, in the Patagonian province of Neuquen, Argentina January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Oil pump jacks are seen at Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas drilling, in the Patagonian province of Neuquen, Argentina January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

Oil prices dipped on Friday but were on track for a fourth straight week of gains and were near their highest levels since late April on hopes of strong summer fuel demand and some supply concerns.
Brent crude futures, which have risen 7% over the last four weeks, slipped 31 cents, or 0.4%, to $87.12 a barrel by 0415 GMT, Reuters said.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures, which have climbed 9% over the past four weeks, was at $83.70, down 18 cents, or 0.2%. With the US market shut for the Fourth of July holiday on Thursday, trading was thin and there was no settlement for WTI.
Oil rose this week on strong summer demand expectations in the United States, the world's largest oil consumer.
"Market sentiment has been supported this week by strong mobility indicators and intensifying geopolitical tension in the Middle East," analysts at ANZ Research said in a note on Friday.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a massive 12.2 million barrel draw in inventories last week, compared with analysts' expectations for a draw of 700,000 barrels.
US data on Wednesday showed that first-time applications for unemployment benefits increased last week while jobless numbers also rose, which analysts said could potentially hasten interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserves and support oil markets.
On the supply side, Reuters reported on Thursday that Russia's oil producers Rosneft and Lukoil will sharply cut oil exports from the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk in July.
Traders were also tracking the war in Gaza and elections in France and the United Kingdom, analysts said.



New Legislation Facilitates Investment in Saudi Tourism Sector

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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New Legislation Facilitates Investment in Saudi Tourism Sector

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib said, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, that work is underway on new regulations and legislation that will facilitate the investment process in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia is witnessing a major transformation in the tourism sector after it enacted and developed a number of regulations and launched mega projects that allowed the country to attract more than 100 million visitors last year, the target initially set for 2030.
During a press conference on Wednesday at the Abu Faraj heritage palaces in Al-Aziza, west of the city of Abha in the southern Aseer region, Al-Khatib revealed the ministry’s moves to provide appropriate long-term funding at a competitive cost in order to encourage investment in the Saudi tourism system.
In his remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the minister pointed to the most prominent achievements in the sector, revealing that the Kingdom received 60 million visitors during the first half of 2024, with spending amounting to SAR 143 billion ($38.1 billion), recording about 10 percent growth in the number of tourists and spending.
He added that by the end of the first half of this year, the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product had reached 5 percent, and was moving steadily toward achieving 10 percent, which is equivalent to SAR 600-700 billion of tourism income.
Moreover, Al-Khatib also spoke about the launch of the Bachelor of International Hospitality Management program, a partnership between the Ministry of Tourism, King Khalid University, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
He noted that a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Tourism and the Colleges of Excellence Company, with the aim of developing human capabilities and expanding international specialized technical colleges and strategic partnership institutes in the field of tourism and hospitality.
Al-Khateeb said 10,000 training opportunities both inside and outside the Kingdom would be allocated to those working in the Aseer region’s tourism sector.
The National Tourism Strategy aims to reach over 150 million local and international tourists by 2030. In 2023, it reached 109 million.
The minister added: “The Tourism Development Fund plays an important role in providing financing, allocating SAR 7.4 billion to enable over 100 tourism projects around the Kingdom with a value exceeding SAR 35 billion.”
He pointed out that the fund financed 10 major projects in the Aseer region, ranging from international hotels to multi-use projects with a value exceeding one billion riyals. International hotel brands included: InterContinental Residence in Abha, DoubleTree in Khamis Mushait Governorate, and Khayal Walk Boulevard.