Egypt Plans Privatizations Every Month or Two, Says Planning Minister

Egypt's Minister of Planning Hala al-Said speaks on the country's economic outlook and post-COVID-19 recovery during an interview with Reuters at her office in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2022. Picture taken January 24, 2022. (Reuters)
Egypt's Minister of Planning Hala al-Said speaks on the country's economic outlook and post-COVID-19 recovery during an interview with Reuters at her office in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2022. Picture taken January 24, 2022. (Reuters)
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Egypt Plans Privatizations Every Month or Two, Says Planning Minister

Egypt's Minister of Planning Hala al-Said speaks on the country's economic outlook and post-COVID-19 recovery during an interview with Reuters at her office in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2022. Picture taken January 24, 2022. (Reuters)
Egypt's Minister of Planning Hala al-Said speaks on the country's economic outlook and post-COVID-19 recovery during an interview with Reuters at her office in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2022. Picture taken January 24, 2022. (Reuters)

Egypt aims to press ahead with stake sales in state-owned companies every month or two and will soon classify the openness of different sectors of the economy to private investment, Planning Minister Hala al-Said said.

The recent initial public offering (IPO) of payments firm e-Finance had shown strong appetite from institutional investors returning to the market after a long absence, Said said in an interview.

"We're trying to select the right companies that can attract good institutional and good private sector (investors), and at the same time help in deepening the capital market in Egypt," she said, declining to name any firms.

"We're almost targeting a company every month, or every two months."

In 2018, Egypt named 23 state companies slated for privatization but almost all the sales have been delayed, partly due to market turbulence linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The restructuring of the state-owned National Investment Bank (NIB) had been 45-50% settled and would be finished by 2026, Said said.

Said, who chairs NIB, helped guide the sale of NIB's controlling stake of the Arab Investment Bank to EFG Hermes last year, Egypt's first bank privatization in more than a decade.

As part of a three-year structural reform program Egypt would begin classifying of different sectors of the economy and their potential for private investment, Said said.

They will produce a document that "will say this is a green light where this is totally private sector, this is a red zone where this is totally for the government to invest, and this is a yellow zone where we can work together with guidelines and a level playing field."

Efforts to boost the labor market include working with the private sector and Egypt's Sovereign Fund to launch technical schools, and a three-year, $45-50 billion Haya Karima rural development scheme, Said said.

The government should be operating from a new capital city being built in the desert outside Cairo by the second half of the year, with plans for civil servants to start moving there gradually from March, according to Said.



Report: Saudi Arabia’s Exports to Hit $418 Bn by 2030

The Standard Chartered bank logo is seen at their headquarters in London, Britain, July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
The Standard Chartered bank logo is seen at their headquarters in London, Britain, July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
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Report: Saudi Arabia’s Exports to Hit $418 Bn by 2030

The Standard Chartered bank logo is seen at their headquarters in London, Britain, July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
The Standard Chartered bank logo is seen at their headquarters in London, Britain, July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

A research report by Standard Chartered projects that Saudi Arabia will be a key driver of a global trade growth, with its exports projected to reach $418 billion by 2030 and an annual growth rate of 4.8% percent.

The report - Future of Trade: New opportunities in high-growth corridors – said Thursday that global trade is set to reach $32.6 trillion with a growth rate of five percent by 2030.

Trade corridors anchored in Asia, Africa and the Middle East will outpace global trade growth rate by up to four percentage points, driving combined trade volume in these regions to $14.4 trillion to account for 44 percent of global trade by 2030.

India, Singapore, and the UAE are among the fastest-growing export corridors, while Mainland China will remain the largest export destination for Saudi Arabia, said the report.

Saudi Arabia is boosting trade through increasing industrial production. The Saudi Vision 2030 provides a roadmap for the development of new economic sectors, in order to diversify its economy away from oil, and transition to one that is digital and knowledge-based.

The report also said that Saudi Arabia envisions itself to become the next global logistics hub. In October 2022, the Kingdom announced plans to build 59 new logistic zones across the nation and is also aiming to improve its liner shipping connectivity by introducing new routes between Asia and Europe.

CEO of Standard Chartered, Saudi Arabia, Mazen Bunyan, said the Kingdom “aspires to become the next global logistics hub, and has pledged to make its economy more sustainable and innovative.”

“Leveraging its strategic location at the center of Asia, Africa and Europe, its enhancing its shipping networks to connect these regions and is continuously liberalizing international trade of goods and services.”

“With various initiatives across the logistics, sustainability and innovation fronts, Saudi Arabia is poised to lead the Gulf and wider Middle East into a new era of trade and economic prosperity," he added.


Saudi Arabia's PIF to Acquire 30% of Tamimi Markets

PIF said it signed a share subscription agreement to invest in Tamimi Markets.
PIF said it signed a share subscription agreement to invest in Tamimi Markets.
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Saudi Arabia's PIF to Acquire 30% of Tamimi Markets

PIF said it signed a share subscription agreement to invest in Tamimi Markets.
PIF said it signed a share subscription agreement to invest in Tamimi Markets.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) plans to acquire a 30% stake in local supermarket chain Tamimi Markets Company, the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund said on Thursday.

PIF said it signed a share subscription agreement to invest in Tamimi Markets.

It said the transaction, which will involve a capital increase and subscription for new shares, aligns with the fund's strategy to enable the private sector and create Saudi national champions.

"This investment aims to enable Tamimi Markets to realize its full potential, transforming it from one of the leading national grocery chains to a major regional chain," PIF said in a statement.

"It aims to support the company’s ambitious plans through expansion of its operations and commercial opportunities, including acceleration of regional growth and a potential initial public offering," it added.


Saudi Arabia Adopts Measures to Control Used Cars Market, Reduce Prices

A car showroom in Al-Shifa district, Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
A car showroom in Al-Shifa district, Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia Adopts Measures to Control Used Cars Market, Reduce Prices

A car showroom in Al-Shifa district, Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
A car showroom in Al-Shifa district, Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Saudi Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority announced that it was possible to calculate the value-added tax (VAT) on the profit margin of the sale of certified used cars, without taking into account of the total sale value.

This regulation will be implemented conditionally, effective from July 1, 2023.

According to information obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, the new steps came in response to the demands of the Federation of Saudi Chambers, in order to regulate and control the local market as well as reduce the prices of used vehicles.

The Federation of Saudi Chambers has held several meetings with the authority for the purpose of implementing Article 48 of the executive regulations of the value-added tax system, which defines the mechanisms for the supply of used goods.

Faisal Abu Shusheh, head of the National Committee for Car Dealers in the Federation of Saudi Chambers, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the decision would balance prices by calculating value-added tax on profit margins, and therefore the addition would be symbolic and contribute to lowering prices.

For his part, Muqrin Al-Mutairi, owner of a car showroom, said that the new measure would contribute to regulating the market and limiting manipulation in the sale of used cars. He also stressed that the decision would help reduce the prices of used vehicles in the local market.

The Saudi Ministry of Commerce has recently taken accelerated moves to protect the local car market from improper practices, after it witnessed a rise in prices and delays in delivering vehicles to customers.

The Ministry of Commerce requested car dealers to publish prices, policies, instructions and special procedures on their websites, and prevented rental companies from selling new vehicles.


Saudi Non-Oil Exports Achieve New Levels

Saudi Non-Oil Exports Achieve New Levels
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Saudi Non-Oil Exports Achieve New Levels

Saudi Non-Oil Exports Achieve New Levels

The General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) announced on Wednesday that the Saudi trade balance in 2022 registered record results of SAR 830 billion ($222 billion), with exports exceeding SAR 1.5 trillion ($411 billion) against imports amounting to SAR 712 billion ($189.8 billion).

During the same period, non-oil exports reached their highest levels, amounting to SAR 315.7 billion ($84 billion).

Experts told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Saudi government has put forward a package of initiatives to empower the private sector and reduce clearance time, which contributed to accelerating trade between the Kingdom and other countries.

They added that programs and initiatives presented by the competent authorities contributed to the access of international companies and factories to the local market, in addition to the growth of the local business sector.

According to the International Trade Bulletin issued by GASTAT, merchandise exports increased 48.9 percent in the past year, after their value exceeded SAR 1.5 trillion ($411 billion), as a result of a rise in oil exports by SAR 468 billion ($124.8 billion).

The value of oil exports amounted to SAR 1.2 trillion ($327 billion), compared to SAR 758 billion ($202 billion) in the previous year, while the percentage of oil exports increased from 73.2 percent in 2021 to 79.5 percent in 2022.

The bulletin revealed that non-oil exports (including re-exports) increased by 13.7 percent in 2021, to record SAR 315.7 billion ($84 billion), compared to SAR 277.5 billion ($74 billion) last year.

Non-oil exports (including re-exports) rose to 14.8 percent, and the value of re-exports increased to 8.6 percent over the same period.

Imports witnessed a 24.2 percent increase last year, amounting to SAR 138.9 billion ($37 billion), as its value reached SAR 712 billion ($189.8 billion), compared to SAR 573.2 billion ($152.8 billion) in 2021.

GASTAT said that the products of chemical industries and related items were among the most important non-oil export commodities, and constituted 35.8 percent of the total exports, with an increase of 34.5 percent compared to 2021.

Beijing was Riyadh’s main partner in merchandise trade during 2022. The value of Saudi exports to China amounted to SAR 249.9 billion ($66.6 billion), accounting for 16.2 percent of total exports.

Economist Ahmed Al-Jubeir told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Saudi government’s initiatives and programs contributed to increasing the value of commodity exports, given the capabilities available to all national factories and the measures that facilitated the export process through air, sea and land ports.

For his part, Nashmi Al-Harbi, a logistics expert, pointed to a significant improvement in the Saudi supply chain system and logistics services.

Al-Harbi added that the initiatives launched by the competent authorities have increased the volume of exports and imports. He stressed that the rise of Saudi Arabia to the 18th place in the global logistics performance index was the culmination of efforts aimed at attracting foreign investments.

 


UAE's Industry Contributed $49.5 Bn to the GDP

UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber speaking at the Make it in the Emirates Forum (Asharq Al-Awsat)
UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber speaking at the Make it in the Emirates Forum (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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UAE's Industry Contributed $49.5 Bn to the GDP

UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber speaking at the Make it in the Emirates Forum (Asharq Al-Awsat)
UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber speaking at the Make it in the Emirates Forum (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The industrial sector's contribution to the UAE's GDP increased from $35.9 billion in 2020 to $49.5 billion in 2022, representing 38 percent growth.

Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Al Jaber said that the national strategy for industry and advanced technology was launched in 2021, contributing to essential achievements in the industrial and technological sectors, especially in 2022.

UAE's industrial exports reached $47.6 billion in 2022, compared to $31.8 billion in 2020, representing 49 percent growth.

The Minister inaugurated the second edition of the Make It in the Emirates Forum.

Make It in the Emirates is held under the theme of "Investment. Sustainability. Growth." and organized by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and ADNOC.

Jaber said that the ministry offered financing solutions worth $816 million to support and enable the Make it in the Emirates initiative in cooperation with the Emirates Development Bank.

It also launched the Technological Transformation Program to accelerate the adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and contribute to lower emission goals.

Increase the value of purchase agreements

"One of the key achievements of last year's forum was several leading national companies announcing their intention to invest AED110 billion over the next decade to purchase 300 products from local manufacturers," Jaber said.

He stated that in the first year alone, 28 percent of these offtake agreements had been implemented, representing a total value of $8.4 billion.

Jaber announced an additional $2.7 billion of offtake agreements in the UAE's industrial sector, taking the total value of products targeted for localization to $32.6 billion.

He also announced over 30 innovative industrial projects worth over $1.6 billion.

"These projects include pioneering initiatives such as setting up the first hydrogen electrolyzer plant in the UAE," he said.

ADNOC will also allocate over $5.4 billion to purchase structures and metal products from national companies.

It was also announced that the MoIAT would adopt a new standard within the National In-Country Value Program called Green ICV to encourage sustainability practices and motivate companies to reduce emissions.

He added that during the forum, competitive financing solutions would be announced for the industrial sector, worth $1.6 billion from local banks.


Aphrodite Gas Field off Cyprus to Be Linked to Egypt

 Image-3-Aphrodite-Gas-Field
Image-3-Aphrodite-Gas-Field
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Aphrodite Gas Field off Cyprus to Be Linked to Egypt

 Image-3-Aphrodite-Gas-Field
Image-3-Aphrodite-Gas-Field

The offshore Aphrodite natural gas field being developed in Cypriot waters will be connected to an existing processing and production facility in Egypt via a subsea pipeline, one of the partners in the project said on Wednesday.

NewMed Energy said it had submitted with partners Chevron and Shell a development plan for Cypriot government approval. The group met the Cypriot energy minister on Monday to discuss progress, Reuters said.

"The updated plan is expected to accelerate and reduce the cost of development," NewMed said.

Aphrodite, discovered more than a decade ago about 170 km (105 miles) from Limassol, holds an estimated 124 billion cubic meters of gas. NewMed has a 30% stake in the field, while Chevron and Shell each hold a 35% share.

The group said earlier this month that it had begun drilling an exploration well meant to confirm the estimates. It would later be used for production.

Chevron said in a statement it was "currently working to progress the Aphrodite project."

"Beyond this, it is not our policy to comment on commercial matters," it said.


Oman Launches $5B Investment Fund to Diversify Economy

A general view of Muscat, Oman. (AP)
A general view of Muscat, Oman. (AP)
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Oman Launches $5B Investment Fund to Diversify Economy

A general view of Muscat, Oman. (AP)
A general view of Muscat, Oman. (AP)

Oman plans to launch a $5 billion public investment fund to support plans to overhaul the economy in the Gulf Arab nation over the next two decades, state media reported Wednesday.

The Oman Future Fund will aim to increase economic activity and support the private sector as the country looks to reduce its reliance on oil.

State media said Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said approved the new fund, which would launch with 2 million riyals, or around $5.2 billion. It would support the country's Vision 2040 plans to grow and diversify the economy.

The Oman Investment Authority was established in 2020 and incorporated an earlier fund dating back to 1980.


Saudi Retail Market Expected to Reach $176 billion in 2026

A man walks in a shop in Jizan, southern Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
A man walks in a shop in Jizan, southern Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Retail Market Expected to Reach $176 billion in 2026

A man walks in a shop in Jizan, southern Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
A man walks in a shop in Jizan, southern Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)

A newly released report predicted an increase in the size of the retail trade market in Saudi Arabia to reach SAR 661.1 billion ($176.5 billion) by 2026.

The report noted that the value of e-commerce in the country witnessed steady growth over the past years by 18.24 percent.

According to the report issued by the G World company, which is specialized in studies and sectors analysis, retail trade sales increased to SAR 16 billion ($4.2 billion) in 2017, while the value of sales in 2022 reached more than SAR 37 billion ($9.8 billion), as many merchants have turned to modern retail.

Per capita gross domestic product at current prices increased to SAR 29,000 ($7,700) during the second quarter of the previous year compared to SAR 20,000 ($5,300) in the same period in 2021, the report stated.

Purchases through e-commerce sites increased in the kingdom, the report underlined, noting that the total number of users reached 22 million, at an annual rate of 2.7 percent in 2022.

Meshaal Alshammari, Director of Marketing at Lean Node software development company, said: “The biggest challenge facing the modern retail sector is coordination between daily operations and data follow-up, for both the technical and traditional sides.”

He explained: “Every company must put in place the necessary and basic resources to cover the gaps and guarantee a healthy expansion.”

During a recent lecture organized by the Riyadh Chamber, Alshammari noted that some resources were yet to be exploited in the best possible ways, stressing that the current corporate structure was not ideal to reach sustainability.

“Entrepreneurs find it difficult to obtain capital and launch products quickly and efficiently,” he said, pointing to the presence of a large gap in the Saudi financial technology companies sector.

There are only 147 financial technology companies operating in Saudi Arabia, compared to 1,900 companies in Britain, he remarked.

Mohammad Abu Alsaud, general manager of Paytabs, told Asharq Al-Awsat that one of the means to help entrepreneurs was to resort to qualitative companies in the field of e-commerce.

He stressed that the biggest challenge facing emerging merchants is “their neglect of the feasibility study and its method of operation.”


Saudi Real Estate Refinancing Co. Issues $933 Million in Sukuk

Saudi Arabia’s housing project is part of government’s plans to raise the rate of citizens’ real estate ownership. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Arabia’s housing project is part of government’s plans to raise the rate of citizens’ real estate ownership. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Real Estate Refinancing Co. Issues $933 Million in Sukuk

Saudi Arabia’s housing project is part of government’s plans to raise the rate of citizens’ real estate ownership. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Arabia’s housing project is part of government’s plans to raise the rate of citizens’ real estate ownership. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. announced the issuance of SR3.5 billion ($933 million) in sukuk, within the local sukuk program that amounts to SR20 billion ($5.3 billion).

CEO Fabrice Susini said the real estate finance company would keep boosting market liquidity and assisting lenders and investors, which would stabilize the Saudi mortgage market.

“The positive response from investors to SRC’s latest sukuk issuance is a clear testament to the strength of the Kingdom’s housing market and economy,” he remarked.

Susini continued: “As SRC continues to refinance existing financings for financiers, we are proud to contribute to developing a robust secondary home financing market that supports the efficiency and stability of the primary housing market.”

Majed Al-Hogail, Saudi Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, said real estate financing in the country exceeded $194 billion until the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Earlier this month, SRC received an “A-” classification at the level of global credit and “ksaAAA” at the level of local credit with a stable outlook from the credit rating agency S&P Global.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) established the SRC in 2017 to be a major pillar and catalyst for the growth and sustainability of residential real estate financing in the country.

SRC’s primary role is to provide banks and real estate finance companies with liquidity, enabling growth in the home financing sector to increase homeownership rates among Saudi citizens.

The SRC stated that it contributed to raising the percentage of citizens’ home ownership from 47 to 60 percent. Since its establishment in 2017, the company has witnessed strong growth in its business and partnerships in the real estate financing sector, as part of the various initiatives and programs within the objectives of Vision 2030.


UAE Launches Global EV Market

An electric car displayed by Dubai Police during the Arabian Travel Market exhibition earlier in May (WAM)
An electric car displayed by Dubai Police during the Arabian Travel Market exhibition earlier in May (WAM)
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UAE Launches Global EV Market

An electric car displayed by Dubai Police during the Arabian Travel Market exhibition earlier in May (WAM)
An electric car displayed by Dubai Police during the Arabian Travel Market exhibition earlier in May (WAM)

The UAE launched the Global EV Market, a transformational project under the performance agreements signed by federal authorities, which enhances its competitiveness in a sector that is one of the future transformational projects.

Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Suhail al-Mazrouei, said the new market comprises a comprehensive plan and an ambitious national program to integrate the energy and infrastructure sectors and align the work of federal and local government entities and private sector businesses.

- National roadmap

The minister explained that the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MoEI) launched the UAE Roadmap for Electric Vehicles as a comprehensive action plan that involves developing guides and policies.

The roadmap offers government incentives and sets ambitious strategies to integrate the work of federal and local government entities and the private sector to promote the adoption of electric vehicles in the UAE.

MoEI also launched the National Platform for Electric Vehicles' Chargers, a mobile app to link users and a guide for installing electric vehicle charging stations to unify their specifications nationwide and align them with world-class standards.

"We seek to create a conducive environment for the growth of the EV market in the UAE through policy levers for investment and socio-economic and environmental incentive schemes. To support the shift to green mobility, we aim to increase the share of EVs to 50% of total vehicles on our roads by 2050."

- Agreements

The Ministry signed several cooperation agreements to support the Global EV Market transformational project, through which the partners would cooperate to create incentives for people to own EVs.

They also aim to facilitate investment in the UAE network of electric vehicle charging stations and install them across federal buildings and roads and MoEI's truck rest stops.

The private sector partners will play a key role in promoting EVs.

They will invest in establishing EV charging stations and operating them, and setting up EV service centers across the country to offer dedicated services to EV owners.

- 700 EV chargers

For his part, the Undersecretary for Infrastructure and Transport Affairs at MoEI, Hassan al-Mansouri, indicated that the project includes a national interactive platform that provides more than 700 EV chargers nationwide.

Furthermore, Undersecretary for Energy and Petroleum Affairs at MoEI, Sharif al-Olama, said the UAE has clear targets for the transport sector, including the green mobility program, which aims to increase the share of electric cars and electric buses and create a mix of options for trucks.

It aims to reduce energy consumption by 40 percent by 2050, per the objectives of the transport sector's National Demand Side Management Program.

According to unofficial data, the number of electric vehicles in the UAE has reached more than 5,100, and it aims to reach 42,000 EVs by 2030.