Lebanon: Speculations Swing Beirut’s Dollar Up, Down

 A man counts US dollar banknotes next to Lebanese pounds at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
A man counts US dollar banknotes next to Lebanese pounds at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
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Lebanon: Speculations Swing Beirut’s Dollar Up, Down

 A man counts US dollar banknotes next to Lebanese pounds at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
A man counts US dollar banknotes next to Lebanese pounds at a currency exchange shop in Beirut, Lebanon April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

The Lebanese people’s cheers did not last long with the tangible improvement in the exchange rate and the speculations about the US dollar reaching the threshold of LBP 5,000.

The green currency rose again on Monday and reached LBP 8,000 by the end of day.

Banking sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that unfounded information spread about a dramatic decrease in the value of the USD against the Lebanese pound, with the aim to motivate some home savers and non-currency dealers to offer hard currency.

According to the sources, rumors also overstated unconfirmed political moves and inflated imminent external support, in addition to amounts “brought in by expatriates after the reopening of Beirut’s international airport.”

However, the banking officials noted that the re-delegation of the banks to manage the subsidized dollar portfolio - which is provided by the central bank at a price of LBP 3,900 for the benefit of importers of the food and basic commodity basket approved by the Ministry of Economy - actually contributed to curbing the real and justified demand for the dollar at the licensed cashiers and created a less tense atmosphere in the parallel market.

On the other hand, Lebanon’s stumbled negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have generated negative factors that put further pressure on the national currency.

The talks with the IMF experts were aimed at securing an easy financing program to help the government tackle the large financial gap that has affected all production, labor and employment sectors.



Saudi Arabia Wins First-Ever Seat in International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board

PIOB announced the selection of Sami bin Mohammad Al-Shorafa, the General Director of the General Department of Financial Statements and Auditors at the Capital Market Authority, to represent Saudi Arabia on the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) for a period of three years.
PIOB announced the selection of Sami bin Mohammad Al-Shorafa, the General Director of the General Department of Financial Statements and Auditors at the Capital Market Authority, to represent Saudi Arabia on the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) for a period of three years.
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Saudi Arabia Wins First-Ever Seat in International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board

PIOB announced the selection of Sami bin Mohammad Al-Shorafa, the General Director of the General Department of Financial Statements and Auditors at the Capital Market Authority, to represent Saudi Arabia on the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) for a period of three years.
PIOB announced the selection of Sami bin Mohammad Al-Shorafa, the General Director of the General Department of Financial Statements and Auditors at the Capital Market Authority, to represent Saudi Arabia on the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) for a period of three years.

The Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB) announced the selection of Sami bin Mohammad Al-Shorafa, the General Director of the General Department of Financial Statements and Auditors at the Capital Market Authority, to represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) for a period of three years, SPA said on Thursday.
This marks the first-ever Saudi seat at the IAASB.
The selection comes as part of the announcement by the PIOB approving appointments and reappointments to both the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) and the IAASB, which will be effective from January 1, 2024.


Saudi Arabia’s PIF to Buy 10% Stake in London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow is one of the world’s largest air traffic platforms, connecting the UK with global trading partners to help stimulate economic growth. (Reuters)
Heathrow is one of the world’s largest air traffic platforms, connecting the UK with global trading partners to help stimulate economic growth. (Reuters)
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Saudi Arabia’s PIF to Buy 10% Stake in London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow is one of the world’s largest air traffic platforms, connecting the UK with global trading partners to help stimulate economic growth. (Reuters)
Heathrow is one of the world’s largest air traffic platforms, connecting the UK with global trading partners to help stimulate economic growth. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced that it has entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire a 10% stake in London Heathrow Airport as part of a shareholder reshuffle, SPA said on Wednesday.
Under the terms of the agreement, PIF will acquire 10% in FGP TopCo, the holding firm of Heathrow Airport Holdings, while French-based private equity fund Ardian will acquire 15% through separate vehicles.
The transaction is subject to complying with ROFO (Right of First Offer) and full tag-along rights which may be exercised by the other TopCo shareholders pursuant to the Shareholders’ Agreement and the Articles of Association of the company, in addition to satisfaction of applicable regulatory conditions.

PIF is pleased to be investing in Heathrow, a world-class airport, which acts as a key gateway to the world.
PIF’s investment in Heathrow is in line with its strategy to support the business as a long-term partner.
Heathrow is one of the world’s largest air traffic platforms, connecting the UK with global trading partners to help stimulate economic growth.


World Economy Will Slow Next Year Because of Inflation, High Rates and War, OECD Says 

Tourists browse inside a souvenir shop at the Nanluoguxiang tourism area in Beijing, China, 25 November 2023. (EPA)
Tourists browse inside a souvenir shop at the Nanluoguxiang tourism area in Beijing, China, 25 November 2023. (EPA)
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World Economy Will Slow Next Year Because of Inflation, High Rates and War, OECD Says 

Tourists browse inside a souvenir shop at the Nanluoguxiang tourism area in Beijing, China, 25 November 2023. (EPA)
Tourists browse inside a souvenir shop at the Nanluoguxiang tourism area in Beijing, China, 25 November 2023. (EPA)

The global economy, which has proved surprisingly resilient this year, is expected to falter next year under the strain of wars, still-elevated inflation and continued high interest rates.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated Wednesday that international growth would slow to 2.7% in 2024 from an expected 2.9% pace this year. That would amount to the slowest calendar-year growth since the pandemic year of 2020.

A key factor is that the OECD expects the world's two biggest economies, the United States and China, to decelerate next year. The US economy is forecast to expand just 1.5% in 2024, from 2.4% in 2023, as the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases — 11 of them since March 2022 — continue to restrain growth.

The Fed's higher rates have made borrowing far more expensive for consumers and businesses and, in the process, have helped slow inflation from its four-decade peak in 2022. The OECD foresees US inflation dropping from 3.9% this year to 2.8% in 2024 and 2.2% in 2025, just above the Fed’s 2% target level.

The Chinese economy, beset by a destructive real estate crisis, rising unemployment and slowing exports, is expected to expand 4.7% in 2024, down from 5.2% this year. China’s “consumption growth will likely remain subdued due to increased precautionary savings, gloomier prospects for employment creation and heightened uncertainty,” the OECD said.

Also likely to contribute to a global slowdown are the 20 countries that share the euro currency. They have been hurt by heightened interest rates and by the jump in energy prices that followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The OECD expects the collective growth of the eurozone to amount to 0.9% next year — weak but still an improvement over a predicted 0.6% growth in 2023.

The world economy has endured one shock after another since early 2020 — the eruption of COVID-19, a resurgence of inflation as the rebound from the pandemic showed unexpected strength, Moscow's war against Ukraine and painfully high borrowing rates as central banks acted aggressively to combat the acceleration of consumer prices.

Yet through it all, economic expansion has proved unexpectedly sturdy. A year ago, the OECD had predicted global growth of 2.2% for 2023. That forecast proved too pessimistic. Now, the organization warns, the respite may be over.

“Growth has been stronger than expected so far in 2023,” the OECD said in its 221-page report, “but is now moderating as the impact of tighter financial conditions, weak trade growth and lower business and consumer confidence is increasingly felt.”

Moreover, the OECD warned, the world economy is confronting new risks resulting from heightened geopolitical tensions amid the Israel-Hamas war — “particularly if the conflict were to broaden.”

“This could result in significant disruptions to energy markets and major trade routes,” it said.


Morocco to Prolong Wheat Import Campaign in January-April 

An ear of wheat is seen during a harvesting in a field near the village Kyshchentsi, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Cherkasy region, Ukraine July 18, 2023. (Reuters)
An ear of wheat is seen during a harvesting in a field near the village Kyshchentsi, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Cherkasy region, Ukraine July 18, 2023. (Reuters)
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Morocco to Prolong Wheat Import Campaign in January-April 

An ear of wheat is seen during a harvesting in a field near the village Kyshchentsi, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Cherkasy region, Ukraine July 18, 2023. (Reuters)
An ear of wheat is seen during a harvesting in a field near the village Kyshchentsi, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Cherkasy region, Ukraine July 18, 2023. (Reuters)

Morocco will offer subsidies to import up to 2.5 million metric tons of soft wheat between Jan. 1 and April 30, 2024, state grains agency ONICL said, as the North African country pursues an import program to offset drought-affected local production.

The January to April import scheme was approved by Morocco's finance and agriculture ministries, with subsidy details to be published separately, ONICL said in a note on its website.

After drought reduced its domestic wheat crop for a second year, Morocco launched an import program for the 2023/24 season covering up to 2.5 million tons for July to September, followed by a second round for October to December allowing up to 2 million tons.

Traders had expected the import campaign to continue after shipments so far this season lagged volumes available under the subsidy schemes, and with low rainfall again creating uncertainty about Morocco's next harvest.


Gold at Near 7-month Peak as Dollar, Yields Dip on Fed Rate-cut Bets

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are pictured at the plant of gold and silver refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus in Mendrisio, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are pictured at the plant of gold and silver refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus in Mendrisio, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Photo
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Gold at Near 7-month Peak as Dollar, Yields Dip on Fed Rate-cut Bets

FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are pictured at the plant of gold and silver refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus in Mendrisio, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Gold bars are pictured at the plant of gold and silver refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus in Mendrisio, Switzerland, July 13, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Photo

Gold prices touched nearly a seven-month high on Wednesday, propelled by a decline in the US dollar and bond yields as investors grew confident that the Federal Reserve would likely cut interest rates by the first half of next year.
Spot gold rose 0.1% to $2,042.66 per ounce by 0817 GMT, after hitting its highest since May 5. US gold futures for December delivery rose 0.2% to $2,043.60 per ounce.
"Gold is driven by an increasing market expectation of a Fed pivot from a hawkish tilt to a dovish tilt in the first half of next year - earlier than it did before," said Kelvin Wong, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at OANDA.
"The key point to look for is the PCE (personal consumption expenditures) data and markets are expecting another slowdown in US inflationary pressure."
Fed Governor Christopher Waller on Tuesday flagged a possible rate cut in the months ahead, said Reuters.
Traders are now pricing in a more than 70% chance of rates easing in May, compared with a 50% chance on Tuesday, CME's FedWatch Tool shows.
Lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-interest-bearing bullion.
Investors' attention is now on the revised US third-quarter GDP figures due at 1330 GMT and key PCE data - the Fed's preferred inflation gauge - on Thursday.
Making gold less expensive for other currency holders, the dollar index hit a more than three-month low against its rivals and was poised to mark its worst monthly performance in a year. Yields on 10-year Treasury notes fell to an over two-month low of 4.2802%.
Spot gold may extend gains into a range of $2,059-$2,069 per ounce, Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao said.
Spot silver fell 0.1% to $24.99 per ounce and platinum slipped 0.4% to $936.17. Palladium dropped 1% to $1,044.96 per ounce.


Saudi Arabia's PIF Raises $5Bn from Syndicated Loan

In March 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and K-SURE signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) expressing mutual intention to strengthen their partnership and cooperation (Asharq Al-Awsat)
In March 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and K-SURE signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) expressing mutual intention to strengthen their partnership and cooperation (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia's PIF Raises $5Bn from Syndicated Loan

In March 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and K-SURE signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) expressing mutual intention to strengthen their partnership and cooperation (Asharq Al-Awsat)
In March 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and K-SURE signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) expressing mutual intention to strengthen their partnership and cooperation (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-SURE) signed on Nov. 28 a financing agreement through which PIF has secured a term loan, from a syndicate of nine top international lenders.
The financing carries a door-to-door tenor of 13 years and will initially be set at $3 billion (nearly SAR 11.2 billion), with an option to increase to $5 billion (nearly SAR 18.7 billion), subject to pre-agreed terms and conditions.
The transaction will mark PIF’s first financing covered by an export credit agency, as it continues to diversify its sources of funding.
In March 2022, PIF and K-SURE signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) expressing mutual intention to strengthen their partnership and cooperation. This resulted in achieving, among other matters, the K-SURE covered term loan.
The collaboration between PIF and K-SURE aims to promote the export of Korean goods and services into various projects and subsidiaries either partially or fully owned by PIF while strengthening economic partnerships.
“This collaboration with K-SURE underscores PIF's commitment to foster institutional partnerships as we continue to deliver on our medium-term capital raising strategy,” said Fahad AlSaif, Head of the Global Capital Finance Division at PIF.

“The financing is part of PIF’s four primary sources of funding and strengthens economic ties between Saudi Arabian and South Korean businesses,” he added.
“Through this financial support, Korean companies have not only gained technological competitiveness but also financial competitiveness to increase orders,” said Inho Lee, President of K-SURE.
“We trust this support will contribute to strengthening the future-focused partnership between the two countries,” he added.
This financial agreement marks a continuation of PIF’s efforts to diversify its funding sources.
Recently, it successfully issued international bonds totaling $3.5 billion.


Saudi Arabia to Host World Expo in 2030, Crown Prince Hails Win as Culmination of Saudi Vision Goals

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, accompanied by the Secretary-General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) following Riyadh’s victory in securing hosting rights to Expo 2030 (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, accompanied by the Secretary-General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) following Riyadh’s victory in securing hosting rights to Expo 2030 (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia to Host World Expo in 2030, Crown Prince Hails Win as Culmination of Saudi Vision Goals

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, accompanied by the Secretary-General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) following Riyadh’s victory in securing hosting rights to Expo 2030 (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, accompanied by the Secretary-General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) following Riyadh’s victory in securing hosting rights to Expo 2030 (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Arabia secured a decisive victory in the bid to host the Expo 2030 World Fair, as announced by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in Paris on Tuesday.
The confirmation came after Riyadh overwhelmingly garnered 119 votes in the initial round, marking a landslide triumph.
Following this announcement, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman declared that the Kingdom is set to deliver an “unprecedented edition in the history of hosting Expos,” emphasizing that “Riyadh's win in hosting Expo solidifies its leading role.”
Riyadh outperformed the Italian capital, Rome, and the South Korean city of Busan by a wide margin during the initial round of voting.
BIE announced that the kingdom would be hosting the exhibition after a secret ballot was cast during the 173rd General Assembly of BIE in Paris.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman extended his congratulations to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to mark the landmark occasion.
“The kingdom’s selection as the host of the World Expo 2030 underlines its influential and leading role and the international confidence it enjoys. Saudi Arabia has become an ideal destination for hosting major international events, including the esteemed World Expo,” said the Crown Prince.
“The World Expo 2030 coincides with a crucial year for the realization of the goals and plans outlined in Saudi Vision 2030.”
“This Expo represents a remarkable opportunity to share with the world the lessons learned from our unprecedented journey of transformation,” he added.
The Crown Prince stressed Riyadh’s readiness to welcome the world at Expo 2030, and the fact that it will fulfill the obligations stipulated in the bid with the aim of achieving the main theme of the expo, “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow”, and its subtopics: “A Different Tomorrow”, “Climate Action”, and “Prosperity for All.”
The Kingdom's bid to host the Expo received strong and direct support from the Crown Prince, starting with the Kingdom’s official application to the BIE on October 29, 2021.
The Long Parisian Day: Unraveling the Details
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s confidence in Riyadh’s bid to host Expo 2030 was not misplaced. In his presentation of Riyadh’s file before the BIE, Prince Faisal asserted that the Kingdom would emerge victorious in the competition against Italy and South Korea.
The top diplomat had affirmed that 130 countries expressed confidence in Riyadh’s proposal, and its capability to host the exposition.
According to BIE’s secretary-general, it is rare for a candidate country to secure victory from the first round, a feat achieved by Saudi Arabia with two-thirds of the votes from the outset.
During Tuesday’s session, the Saudi delegation was the last to address the General Assembly, following the diverse presentation from the South Korean and Italian delegations.
The Saudi Presentation
The Saudi delegation, led by Prince Faisal, delivered a cohesive presentation under the theme “From the World, To the World.”
They emphasized Saudi Arabia’s commitment to establishing the largest network of cooperation with nations worldwide.
Notably, Riyadh expressed its intent to allocate $384 million to assist 100 nations in need, enabling their participation in “Expo Riyadh 2030” under the banner of “One World, One Pavilion.”
Prince Faisal underscored the Kingdom’s focus on developmental goals, accelerating progress on all fronts, and addressing global challenges, including climate change, sustainable development, and international cooperation.
Speaking as he led the Saudi delegation at the general assembly on Tuesday, Prince Faisal stated, "The Kingdom is committed to collaborating with all stakeholders to deliver a distinctive edition of Expo 2030."
Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin, Saudi Arabia's representative to UNESCO, stated that the Kingdom will collaborate with all nations every step of the way until 2030.
She highlighted the focus on providing opportunities for education, health, environment, and prosperity for all.
Expo Hosting Journey
Among the five cities that initially submitted bids to host Expo 2030, two dropped out of the race early: Moscow and the Ukrainian city of Odessa, overlooking the Black Sea.
Moscow withdrew its bid due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Odessa was not considered by the BIE as it did not meet the necessary conditions for organizing such a significant event.
This left Riyadh, Rome, and Busan as the remaining contenders, each presenting ambitious plans to host the prestigious expo, considered the global event in the exhibition field.
After a series of successive stages in the bidding process, the decisive moment arrived on Nov.28 with the electronic voting by the 180 member countries.
The BIE provided the final opportunity for the three competing parties to present their arguments and focus on key points they deemed “winning.”
The BIE director emphasized the need for strict adherence to the allocated time, not exceeding 20 minutes per presentation.
After Riyadh’s bid won the right to host the Expo 2030 world fair, Prince Faisal affirmed that Saudi Arabia’s victory “signifies the Kingdom's status and the international community's confidence in it.”
Prince Faisal emphasized that Saudi Arabia would present a “new type” of Expo in 2030, changing the dynamics of international exhibitions.
He expressed pride in the Kingdom’s exceptional success and thanked the nations that voted in Riyadh’s favor, acknowledging the presentations by South Korea and Italy.
Once again, he underscored that the expo is “not just for Saudi Arabia but for the entire world,” with Riyadh planning to involve all nations in its conception, planning, and execution.


OPEC: IEA's Vision is 'Extremely Narrow'

A 3D-printed oil pump jack is seen in front of the OPEC logo (File Photo: Reuters)
A 3D-printed oil pump jack is seen in front of the OPEC logo (File Photo: Reuters)
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OPEC: IEA's Vision is 'Extremely Narrow'

A 3D-printed oil pump jack is seen in front of the OPEC logo (File Photo: Reuters)
A 3D-printed oil pump jack is seen in front of the OPEC logo (File Photo: Reuters)

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) refuted the latest report of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which sparked controversy in the energy sector.

Last week, IEA stated in its report ''The Oil and Gas Industry in Net Zero Transitions'' that the oil and gas industry faces a "moment of truth."

The industry has been told to "choose between fueling the climate crisis or embracing the shift to clean energy" against the IEA's proposed normative net-zero scenario.

OPEC indicated that recently, the IEA presented an "extremely narrow framing of the challenges before us, and perhaps expediently plays down such issues as energy security, energy access, and energy affordability."

It also unjustly vilifies the industry as being behind the climate crisis.

OPEC Secretary General Haitham al-Ghais said it was ironic that the IEA, an agency that has repeatedly shifted its narratives and forecasts in recent years, now addresses the oil and gas industry and says this is a "moment of truth."

Ghais noted that this manner in which the IEA has unfortunately used its "social media platforms in recent days to criticize and instruct the oil and gas industry is undiplomatic, to say the least."

"OPEC itself is not an organization that would prescribe to others what they should do."

OPEC also believes that the proposed IEA' Framework to assess the alignment of company targets with the NZE Scenario' is intended to curtail the sovereign actions and choices of oil- and gas-producing developing countries by pressuring their national oil companies.

The framework also contradicts the Paris Agreement's 'bottom-up' approach, where each country decides the means of contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions reduction based on national capabilities and circumstances.

It would likely lead to reduced investment and undermine the security of supplies, which is one of the IEA's key mandates.

OPEC stated it was regrettable that the IEA report now also calls technologies such as carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) an "illusion," even though Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports endorse such technologies as part of the solution to tackle climate change.

"The truth that needs to be spoken is simple and clear to those who wish to see it. It is that the energy challenges before us are enormous and complex and cannot be limited to one binary question," said Ghais.

"Energy security, energy access, and energy affordability for all must go hand-in-hand with reducing emissions. This requires major investments in all energies, all technologies, and an understanding of the needs of all peoples."

"At OPEC, we repeat that we believe the world has to concentrate on the task of reducing emissions, not choosing energy sources," he added.

The OPEC statement noted that in a world where "more dialogue is needed, we repeat that finger-pointing is not a constructive approach."

It asserted the importance of working collaboratively and acting with determination to ensure that emissions are reduced and people have access to the energy products and services required to live a comfortable life.

"These twin challenges should not be at odds with each other," said Ghais.

Ghais added, "We see a 'moment of truth' ahead. We need to understand that all countries have their own orderly energy transition pathways. We need an assurance that all voices are heard, not just a select few, and we need to ensure that energy transitions enable economic growth, enhance social mobility, boost energy access, and reduce emissions at the same time."

Meanwhile, Kuwait announced it was committed to any OPEC decisions, especially those concerning market quotas and oil production.

The comments came during a meeting between Japan's ambassador to Kuwait, Morino Yasunari, and the Gulf country's OPEC governor, Mohammad al-Shatti, the oil ministry said in a post on social media platform X on Monday.

OPEC+ is looking at deepening oil production cuts despite its policy meeting being postponed to this Thursday amid a quota disagreement between some producers.

OPEC and allies led by Russia, known as OPEC+, will begin online meetings to decide oil output levels at 1300 GMT on Thursday.

Several analysts have said they expect OPEC+ to extend or even deepen supply cuts into next year to support prices.

On Monday, Oil prices fell, with the Brent benchmark dipping below $80 a barrel as investors awaited this week's OPEC+ meeting and expected curbs on supplies into 2024.

Brent crude futures were down 60 cents, at $79.98 a barrel.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures lost 68 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $74.86.


Single Stock Options Contracts Help in Developing Saudi Market, Attracting Investors

Saudi Exchange (Tadawul) announced that Single Stock Options (SSOs) contracts will be available to trade as of Monday. (SPA)
Saudi Exchange (Tadawul) announced that Single Stock Options (SSOs) contracts will be available to trade as of Monday. (SPA)
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Single Stock Options Contracts Help in Developing Saudi Market, Attracting Investors

Saudi Exchange (Tadawul) announced that Single Stock Options (SSOs) contracts will be available to trade as of Monday. (SPA)
Saudi Exchange (Tadawul) announced that Single Stock Options (SSOs) contracts will be available to trade as of Monday. (SPA)

The Saudi Exchange (Tadawul) launched on Monday single stock options (SSOs) contracts, the newest offering in its derivatives market.

The new offerings include American-style options that are physically settled for some of the Kingdom’s most prominent companies: Saudi Aramco, Al Rajhi Bank, stc and SABIC.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, financial analysts described the launch of the SSOs contracts as a move towards developing the Saudi financial market, diversifying its investment tools and channels, and attracting capital, major investment companies, and foreign investors to the Saudi market.

CEO of Razeen Capital Mohammed Al-Suwayed said options contracts were very important in attracting additional capital to the Saudi Exchange, and helping long-term investors protect their investments and increase methods of controlling financial market risks.

Financial analyst Abdullah Al-Jabali,noted that the SSOs contracts would contribute to the development of the Saudi financial market and its investment tools, and expand the base of channels for investors.

He added that the Capital Market Authority’s selection of four of the largest and most heavily weighted companies in the market for the SSOs contracts confirms the Authority’s keenness on the importance of this investment tool and the necessity of its use by trading and investment professionals in the financial and stock markets.

In a statement, Tadawul announced that SSOs contracts will be available to trade as of Monday, in which investors can trade SSOs on four listed stocks as their underlying assets.

It added that SSOs contracts were the third derivatives product to be introduced in the Saudi Exchange and will be cleared by the Securities Clearing Center Company “Muqassa”.

The first tranche of SSOs will be based on the following listed companies: Aramco, Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Telecom Co. and SABIC.


Decision Day: Which City Will Secure Hosting Rights for Expo 2030?

The vote for the host city of the 2030 World Expo is set to take place in Paris on Nov.28. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The vote for the host city of the 2030 World Expo is set to take place in Paris on Nov.28. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Decision Day: Which City Will Secure Hosting Rights for Expo 2030?

The vote for the host city of the 2030 World Expo is set to take place in Paris on Nov.28. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The vote for the host city of the 2030 World Expo is set to take place in Paris on Nov.28. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) will convene in Paris on Tuesday to vote on the selection of the winning city to host Expo 2030.

The member states of the assembly will vote on one of three files: Saudi Arabia (Riyadh), South Korea (Busan), and Italy (Rome).

Each of the candidates will make a final presentation of their project, after which the eligible and present members of the assembly will vote via secret ballot using electronic voting, with each country having only one vote.

The competition among the three contenders remains intense until the final moments.

Saudi Arabia’s bid for Riyadh will take centerstage, promising an “unprecedented edition” of the world fair.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol concluded a visit to France on Sunday, participating in the final campaign to promote Busan as the host city.

He called for support for Busan’s bid, emphasizing that it would serve as a platform for global challenges and an opportunity for South Korea to reciprocate the support it received from the international community during its economic development.

Simultaneously, Italy is seeking to host the event in its capital, Rome, aiming to boost its economy, reminiscent of the economic upturn experienced when Milan hosted Expo 2015.

Saudi Arabia, as expressed by several high-ranking officials overseeing Riyadh’s bid campaign, also affirmed its commitment to hosting Expo 2030.

The Kingdom is looking to enhance the world’s ability to reshape the planet towards a better future by transforming the international event into a platform for cooperation and knowledge exchange.

To achieve this, Riyadh has allocated a budget of $7.2 billion for organizing the expo, part of Saudi Arabia’s overarching national transformation plan of Vision 2030.

Ibrahim bin Muhammad Al-Sultan, CEO of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, emphasized the Kingdom’s commitment to completing the Expo 2030 hosting site well in advance of the specified deadlines.

By 2028, all preparations for hosting Expo 2030 will be ready, said Al-Sultan.