Egypt’s Suez Canal Records All-time Highest Daily Traffic Rate on Saturday

A shipping container passes through the Suez Canal in Suez, Egypt February 15, 2022. Picture taken February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A shipping container passes through the Suez Canal in Suez, Egypt February 15, 2022. Picture taken February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
TT

Egypt’s Suez Canal Records All-time Highest Daily Traffic Rate on Saturday

A shipping container passes through the Suez Canal in Suez, Egypt February 15, 2022. Picture taken February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A shipping container passes through the Suez Canal in Suez, Egypt February 15, 2022. Picture taken February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Traffic passing through Egypt's Suez Canal on Saturday reached an all-time record per day in the canal's history with 89 ships carrying a total net tonnage of 5.2 million tons passing through both directions.

Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabea said in a statement that a total of 44 ships had passed through the canal from the north with a net tonnage of three million tons.

He confirmed that 45 ships also crossed from the south with a net tonnage of 2.2 million tons.

Earlier in July, Rabea said the Canal revenue reached $704 million.

The figure reflected a 32.4% increase from the same month last year, when the canal only recorded $531.8 million.

The canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and one of the Egyptian government’s main sources of foreign currency.



Saudi Arabia Ranks 3rd in Global Retail Development Index

The retail sector represents about 12% of the Kingdom's GDP, according to Kearney (Reuters)
The retail sector represents about 12% of the Kingdom's GDP, according to Kearney (Reuters)
TT

Saudi Arabia Ranks 3rd in Global Retail Development Index

The retail sector represents about 12% of the Kingdom's GDP, according to Kearney (Reuters)
The retail sector represents about 12% of the Kingdom's GDP, according to Kearney (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia jumped nine places in the Global Retail Development Index, ranking third globally and first in the Arab world.

Kearney International Consulting issued the Global Retail Development Index by the end of 2023.

It is prepared based on a survey conducted every two years to evaluate promising retail markets and measure progress in developing trade globally, taking into account economic growth, consumer wealth, and the regulatory framework.

Based on a report issued by Kearney and viewed by Asharq Al-Awsat, the retail sector represented about 12% of Riyadh's GDP.

With more than 5 million households, Saudi Arabia has the largest consumer market among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations.

Saudi Arabia's economy has been consciously evolving away from oil dependence, which accounts for about 40% of the GDP.

Kearney partner Mohammed Dhedhi expected Saudi Arabia to continue its excellent performance in the index for 2024, influenced by the continued growth in its non-oil sector and the rise in disposable income.

Dhedhi explained to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the 10th edition of the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit in Riyadh that the non-oil domestic product in Saudi Arabia will continue to grow at a faster pace than the gross domestic product, expecting it to grow in the range of 0.3-0.5% points in 2024.

He further noted that several factors enhance the retail sector's contribution to the Saudi economy, noting that Saudization, government reforms, and increasing digitization in the retail ecosystem will accelerate growth.

Saudi Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing Majed al-Hogail said that the retail sector currently constitutes 23% of the non-oil GDP in the Kingdom and is expected to grow to more than $122.6 billion by the end of 2024.

Speaking during the Summit, Hogail noted that the total number of active commercial licenses for the sector exceeded 400,000 licenses from 2019 until the end of 2023, as efforts to stimulate the industry resulted in the issuance of no less than 70,000 annual licenses, recording a steady growth of about 6%.

According to the report, Kearney expects the non-oil sector growth to remain robust thanks to steady, ongoing investment activity in Vision 2030-related projects, local industrial and construction sector expansion, and the government's resilient commitment to progress with Vision 2030 reforms.

Saudi Arabia has made significant regulatory strides to promote diversification and private sector growth. New laws promote entrepreneurship, protect investors' rights, and reduce business costs in the Kingdom.


Saudi-Pakistani Business Forum Aims for Stronger Economic Ties, More Trade

The forum highlighted the growing importance of private sector collaboration in unlocking further trade potential. SPA
The forum highlighted the growing importance of private sector collaboration in unlocking further trade potential. SPA
TT

Saudi-Pakistani Business Forum Aims for Stronger Economic Ties, More Trade

The forum highlighted the growing importance of private sector collaboration in unlocking further trade potential. SPA
The forum highlighted the growing importance of private sector collaboration in unlocking further trade potential. SPA

The Saudi-Pakistani Business Forum kicked off on Wednesday in Riyadh under the patronage of Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi.

Organized by the Federation of Saudi Chambers and attended by key players from both countries, the forum highlighted the growing importance of private sector collaboration in unlocking further trade potential.

On behalf of the Commerce Minister, Acting Deputy Governor of the General Authority of Foreign Trade's Deputyship of Private Sector Affairs and Global Presence Fawaz bin Rafaah underscored the crucial role of private businesses in expanding trade ties.

He pointed to the Kingdom's position as Pakistan's fourth largest trading partner and lauded the efforts made to approve the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between the GCC states and Pakistan, emphasizing its potential to strengthen economic bonds.

Pakistani Federal Minister for Commerce, Industries & Investment Dr. Gohar Ejaz highlighted the Free Trade Agreement's ability to create new opportunities for investors. He noted the agreement's role in safeguarding Saudi and Gulf investments and expressed Pakistan's keenness to leverage Vision 2030 projects as a catalyst for deeper collaboration.

Ejaz further outlined Pakistan's ambitious goal of reaching $20 billion in trade exchange with Saudi Arabia, emphasizing the need for enhanced business environments and private sector engagement. He underscored Pakistan's potential as a major market for Saudi investors.

Federation of Saudi Chambers Chairman Hassan Al-Huwaizi affirmed the forum's focus on boosting investment and trade partnerships between the two countries. He showcased the positive trajectory of bilateral trade, exceeding $5.7 billion, and Pakistan's growing position as a key trading partner for the Kingdom. He envisioned broader collaboration opportunities within the framework of Vision 2030 projects.

Chairman of the Saudi-Pakistani Business Council Eng. Fahd Al-Bash outlined ongoing initiatives that have been jointly developed by investors from both countries.

The initiatives encompassed a dedicated portal for Pakistani rice importers, a technology center in Riyadh, a halal meat center in Makkah, a market for Pakistani products within the Kingdom, and joint petrochemical ventures catering to the Pakistani market.


HSBC Profits Plummet 80% After Chinese Losses

The logo of HSBC in one of its branches in the German city of Dusseldorf. (dpa)
The logo of HSBC in one of its branches in the German city of Dusseldorf. (dpa)
TT

HSBC Profits Plummet 80% After Chinese Losses

The logo of HSBC in one of its branches in the German city of Dusseldorf. (dpa)
The logo of HSBC in one of its branches in the German city of Dusseldorf. (dpa)

HSBC’s quarterly profit plunged 80 percent as it took a $3 billion charge on the value of its stake in a Chinese bank and a further write-down on commercial real estate, underlining how a slowdown in the country’s economy continues to hit international lenders.

Profits for the final three months of 2023 fell to $1 billion from $5 billion in the same period a year earlier, HSBC said on Wednesday.

The UK-based lender earns most of its profits in Asia and holds a 19 percent stake in Bank of Communications.

“BoCom remains a strong partner in China, and we remain focused on maximizing the mutual value of our partnership. Our positive views on the medium and long-term structural growth opportunities in mainland China are unchanged,” it said.

While rising interest rates globally boosted HSBC’s full-year earnings to a record, the bank has faced headwinds over the past year in China, one of its key growth markets.

The ongoing real estate meltdown has not only hurt the world’s second-largest economy but has forced HSBC to set aside money to cover potential losses, including $200 million in the quarter.

At the same time, HSBC announced a $2 billion share buy-back and a fourth-quarter interim dividend of 31 cents a share. Chief executive officer Noel Quinn warned in the statement that the macro environment remains “challenging”, and the outlook remains uncertain amid geopolitical volatility in Europe and the Middle East.

The bank’s shares slid as much as 3.8%, as trading resumed in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

HSBC on Wednesday reported a 6% hike in costs in 2023, blaming spending on levies in the US and Britain. Europe's biggest bank by assets also forecasts a 5% rise in costs in 2024, after committing to invest despite stubbornly high inflation.


Morocco's Economy Set to Grow 3.5%, IMF Says

IMF expects the Moroccan economy to grow by 3.5% in the medium term, driven by investments. (Reuters)
IMF expects the Moroccan economy to grow by 3.5% in the medium term, driven by investments. (Reuters)
TT

Morocco's Economy Set to Grow 3.5%, IMF Says

IMF expects the Moroccan economy to grow by 3.5% in the medium term, driven by investments. (Reuters)
IMF expects the Moroccan economy to grow by 3.5% in the medium term, driven by investments. (Reuters)

Morocco’s economy strengthened last year on recovery in domestic demand and exports, with growth expected to pick up to about 3.5 percent over the medium term, boosted by stronger investment, the International Monetary Fund has said.

Stronger domestic demand should gradually “widen the current account deficit towards 3 percent” of gross domestic product, while inflation is projected to “continue to fall slowly as pressures on commodity and food prices fade”, the IMF said on Wednesday, following a staff visit.

The gradual reduction of the fiscal deficit over the next three years looks “appropriate”, the IMF added.

“This will require completing the reform of the tax system, including the VAT [value added tax], improving tax administration, rationalizing spending, including the transfers to state-owned enterprises, and expanding the use of the Unified Social Registry to all social programs.”

Morocco must focus on accelerating structural reforms to boost inclusive growth, the IMF said.


Saudi Arabia, US Discuss Partnership in Digital Economy Expansion

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology met with a group of members from the US House of Representatives in Riyadh. SPA
The Minister of Communications and Information Technology met with a group of members from the US House of Representatives in Riyadh. SPA
TT

Saudi Arabia, US Discuss Partnership in Digital Economy Expansion

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology met with a group of members from the US House of Representatives in Riyadh. SPA
The Minister of Communications and Information Technology met with a group of members from the US House of Representatives in Riyadh. SPA

The Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Alswaha, has met with US House of Representatives members in Riyadh.

Alswaha commended on Wednesday the strong relations between Saudi Arabia and the US, emphasizing the significance that leaders from both countries place on advancing the partnership to greater levels.

The discussions focused on opportunities to enhance the partnership between Saudi Arabia and the US, aiming to expand the digital economy and develop the space industry in the Kingdom.

The meeting also explored collaboration in fifth-generation (5G), sixth-generation (6G), and Open RAN (ORAN) technologies. Furthermore, they exchanged ideas on opening technology markets, promoting investment opportunities, empowering digital entrepreneurship, and fostering innovation in both countries.

Saudi Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz was also present at the meeting.


FII Institute PRIORITY Summit to Be Held in US on February 22-23

FII Institute PRIORITY Summit to Be Held in US on February 22-23
TT

FII Institute PRIORITY Summit to Be Held in US on February 22-23

FII Institute PRIORITY Summit to Be Held in US on February 22-23

Leaders from across the world, and across the political spectrum will gather in Miami for the Future Investment Initiative PRIORITY Summit on February 22 and 23.

The event will bring together 1,000 investors, business leaders and policy experts at a time of heightened global tensions.

With the world experiencing an array of immediate and long-term risks, including geopolitical tension, contested elections, polarized discourse, climate concerns, AI threats and economic headwinds, the FII Institute is convening an international summit to encourage the mobilization of investment as a force for good.

The summit, held under the theme “On the Edge of a New Frontier”, will address the changing economic, social and political realities, and the issues that are of concern to citizens the world over. Discussions will include the digitization of every economic sector, investor outlook, climate tech, the new AI ecosystem, innovations for better urban environments, and the forthcoming US elections.

Over one hundred luminaries from finance, business and government are due to speak, including Michael Dell, Founder, Chairman, & CEO, Dell Technologies; Larry Summers, President Emeritus, Harvard University & Board Member at OpenAI; Jennifer Johnson, President & CEO, Franklin Templeton; Pamela Liebman, President and CEO, The Corcoran Group; Julie Sweet, Chair and CEO, Accenture; Tom Vice, CEO, Sierra Space; Magda Wierzycka, Sygnia Ltd; Josh Harris, Founder, 26North and Managing Partner, Washington Commanders; Dr Chloé Bakalar, Chief Ethicist, Responsible AI, Meta; Caroline Yap, Managing Director, Global AI Business, Google; and Todd Boehly, Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO, Eldridge Industries

The Future Investment Initiative’s (FII) Founding Partner, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, will be joined by 25 Strategic Partners, including international companies Pepsico, Franklin Templeton, HSBC, Softbank Vision Fund, Standard Chartered, Straight Street, and GFH Financial Group. Strategic Partners support the ongoing work of the institute.

The FII Institute conducts ongoing research to identify the issues that matter to citizens worldwide. This year’s polling sampled 50,000 people from 23 countries to identify humanity’s priorities. The findings are used to shape FII’s policy agenda and program of summits.

This year’s research revealed a dramatic global drop of 20% in satisfaction levels, and discontent across a range of issues, including cost of living, loneliness, technology, and climate concerns. Meanwhile, 62% of respondents in the United States say their government is not doing enough to regulate the impact of emerging technology on society.

FII PRIORITY Summit Miami continues conversations held in Hong Kong and Riyadh in fall 2023. It is part of an ongoing global program of summits held next in forward looking global cities throughout the year, with summits coming up in Rio de Janeiro and Nairobi in the spring and summer.

Miami has been chosen for its vibrancy, diversity, economic significance, and its role as a vital link between continents, economies, and societies.

Richard Attias, CEO of the Future Investment Initiative Institute said: “This year marks an historic moment with nearly half of the world’s population participating in national elections in 2024, underscoring the significance of citizen priorities and leaders’ effective responses to them.”

“The choices made by leaders in government and investment during this period will have far-reaching consequences for global peace, prosperity, and stability and I am delighted that over 1,000 leaders will spend time in Miami deliberating on those issues that matter to the world,” he added.


Saudi Capital Market Forum to Host CONNECT Hong Kong Edition in May

Saudi Arabia represents 70% of the relative weight of the Middle East and North Africa markets in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Arabia represents 70% of the relative weight of the Middle East and North Africa markets in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
TT

Saudi Capital Market Forum to Host CONNECT Hong Kong Edition in May

Saudi Arabia represents 70% of the relative weight of the Middle East and North Africa markets in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Arabia represents 70% of the relative weight of the Middle East and North Africa markets in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Forum is set to enhance ties with China’s capital markets by venturing beyond borders to host the next edition in Hong Kong.
The Capital Market Forum — CONNECT Hong Kong, set for May 9 in the port city, was announced by Khalid Al-Hussan, CEO of Saudi Tadawul Group, during a fireside chat at the Riyadh forum.
The forum, designed to facilitate cross-border investments and foster collaboration, will feature a series of strategic discussions and networking platforms, inviting key financial minds and decision-makers.
Deputy of Financing and Investment Abdullah Binghannam revealed that the Kingdom has commenced its public consultation for the so-called “FMO” framework, aiming to enhance the market’s liquidity and accessibility.
During his participation in a dialogue session within the activities of the Forum, Professor Richard Cormack, Co-Head of Capital Markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and Co-Head of Investment Banking in the United Kingdom at Goldman Sachs, revealed the bank’s expectations that the weight of the Middle East and North Africa markets will reach to 10% on the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, with Saudi Arabia representing 70% of this percentage, according to a research study published by Goldman Sachs.
Cormack stressed that these expectations mean the influx of active and passive investments worth approximately $50 billion into the Kingdom, which contributes to strengthening its position as a leading financial power equivalent to the economic bloc in Latin America, which is considered the largest bloc outside Asia.
Cormack also stressed that the Kingdom continues to record strong performance in line with the performance of advanced financial markets, noting that the profitability factor for stocks traded in the Saudi financial market has reached approximately 21 times, which is the same ratio recorded for stocks traded in the American market.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development and Saudi Exchange signed a new cooperation agreement on the sidelines of the third Saudi Capital Market Forum to launch a Social Responsibility Index.
Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Saudi Tadawul Group and Atrum, supporting artistic initiatives, educational programs, and cultural exchanges within the Kingdom.
SALIC signed an MoU with Tadawul with the aim of establishing the foundations for effective cooperation and integrated coordination between the two parties towards aligning and sharing strategic initiatives in the field of sustainability.
An MoU was signed between Riyad Capital and E Fund to foster knowledge sharing on local investment expertise and stimulate collaboration on developing future investment products.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Capital Market, Muqassa and Swiss cash management company Instimatch Global signed an agreement to launch a Repo Trading Platform for the Kingdom’s market.

 

 

 

 


GCC Praises OPEC’s Role in Supporting Oil Market Stability

Jasem AlBudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), receives Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary General of OPEC. (OPEC’s LinkedIn account)
Jasem AlBudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), receives Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary General of OPEC. (OPEC’s LinkedIn account)
TT

GCC Praises OPEC’s Role in Supporting Oil Market Stability

Jasem AlBudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), receives Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary General of OPEC. (OPEC’s LinkedIn account)
Jasem AlBudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), receives Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary General of OPEC. (OPEC’s LinkedIn account)

Jasem AlBudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), praised on Tuesday OPEC’s role in supporting oil market stability.
AlBudaiwi made his remarks as he received OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais, according to OPEC’s LinkedIn account.
The two men explored possible ways to enhance cooperation between OPEC and the GCC. They also discussed a number of issues related to the energy sector, including energy transitions, the importance of energy security, and the need for continuous investments.
A recent study of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System has concluded that OPEC’s credible decisions and research ensure the oil markets’ stability.
“We find that OPEC communication reduces oil price volatility and prompts market participants to rebalance their positions,” according to the study published on the Banks’ website.
“Our analysis indicates that market participants assess OPEC communications as providing an important signal to the crude oil market,” the study added.
OPEC on Tuesday stuck to its forecast for relatively strong growth in global oil demand in 2024 and 2025 and raised its economic growth forecasts for both years saying there was further upside potential.
In a monthly report, it said world oil demand will rise by 2.25 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2024 and by 1.85 million bpd in 2025. Both forecasts were unchanged from last month.

 

 

 

 


Media Minister: 2024 Marks Year of Media Transformation in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosary outlined key strategic aspects of the media system for the upcoming year. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosary outlined key strategic aspects of the media system for the upcoming year. (SPA)
TT

Media Minister: 2024 Marks Year of Media Transformation in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosary outlined key strategic aspects of the media system for the upcoming year. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosary outlined key strategic aspects of the media system for the upcoming year. (SPA)

Saudi Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosary expressed on Tuesday optimism about the future of Saudi media, anticipating numerous achievements and transformations across all sectors.

He outlined key strategic aspects of the media system for the upcoming year, detailing various projects and programs set to bring these features to fruition, while announcing 2024 as the "Year of Media Transformation."

"Today, we unveil the strategies for the Year of Media Transformation in the Kingdom, based on four pillars: figures, indicators, passion, and work, guided by a wise vision from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and led by Crown Prince," said Al-Dosary at the opening session of the Saudi Media Forum 3 in Riyadh.

The event was attended by over 2,000 media outlets from within and outside the Kingdom.

Al-Dosary said the Saudi media industry has contributed SAR14.5 billion to the GDP in 2023, projecting an increase to SAR16 billion this year. He emphasized the industry's investment in human capital, which generated 56,000 employment opportunities last year, with expectations to reach 67,000 this year.

He presented three implemented strategies serving as a roadmap for the future of media, fortifying the sector, increasing investment attractiveness, and improving the effectiveness of national cadres. These strategies involve collaboration with over 30 government institutions, shaping the comprehensive strategic direction of the Kingdom's media system.

Al-Dosary discussed the Saudi Broadcasting Authority’s (SBA) strategy, aiming to expand the Authority, enhance business competitiveness, nurture media professionals and talents, and produce outstanding content for international digital platforms. He also highlighted the Saudi Press Agency's (SPA) strategy, focusing on improving its global network, offices, and correspondents while aligning media content with public expectations and contemporary developments.

Additionally, the minister spotlighted noteworthy projects, including the "Media Oasis" coinciding with the Kingdom's participation in major summits and events. This initiative engaged over 2,600 journalists from 60 countries, providing insights into more than 30 national projects. Initiatives, like the "Mediazone", have completed their work or are in the process of developing new editions to stay aligned with creative advancements in media arts and expertise.

Al-Dosary emphasized the significance of the Hajj and Umrah seasons, highlighting the recent launch of the "Hajj and Umrah Mediathon" project. This initiative encourages interested parties and media professionals to compete in developing media initiatives and projects promoting innovative and creative media coverage.

He also announced the initiation of the "Hajj Media Hub" project, aiming to establish an integrated media community and environment to assist media professionals in their coverage. Additionally, there will be an interactive media exhibition showcasing services during the Hajj season. The minister disclosed an anticipated outreach to more than 2,000 media professionals and international visitors.

Moreover, Al-Dosary announced the establishment of the Saudi Media Academy that aims to empower, develop, and train individuals in future disciplines. It also aims to form early and innovative strategic partnerships with major technology companies and global media platforms such as Google, Huawei, Alibaba, and others.

Following the minister's remarks, President of the Saudi Media Forum and Chairman of the Saudi Broadcasting Authority (SBA) Mohammed Al-Harthi delivered a speech highlighting a comprehensive development renaissance witnessed by the Kingdom at all levels and fields. He emphasized that the media serves as a mirror reflecting global changes.


Al-Hogail at the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit: The Sector Represents 23% of Non-Oil Output

Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing speaking during the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit in Riyadh. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing speaking during the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit in Riyadh. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
TT

Al-Hogail at the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit: The Sector Represents 23% of Non-Oil Output

Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing speaking during the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit in Riyadh. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing speaking during the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit in Riyadh. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing, Majed Al-Hogail, said that the retail sector currently constitutes 23 percent of the non-oil GDP in the Kingdom and is expected to grow to more than SAR 460 billion ($122.6 billion) by the end of 2024.
Speaking during the 10th edition of the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit in Riyadh, Al-Hogail noted that the total number of active commercial licenses for the sector exceeded 400,000 licenses from 2019 until the end of 2023, as efforts to stimulate the sector resulted in the issuance of no less than 70,000 annual licenses, recording a steady growth of about 6 percent.
The minister emphasized that the Kingdom has worked to develop many legislations supporting the retail sector, with the aim to regulate its operation, sustainability and effectiveness, in addition to finding solutions, services and facilitations that encourage investors and help them overcome obstacles.
“We have made important steps towards developing the sector by enacting and introducing the necessary legislation, regulations and requirements for integration and partnership with the private sector... We have held many meetings and workshops with chambers of commerce in all regions,” with the aim of raising the standards of commercial and investment activities, updating licensing and oversight regulations and enhancing the principle of transparency in legislation and procedures,” Al-Hogail told the attendees.
He also pointed to continued efforts in cooperation with relevant authorities to build capabilities and develop skills according to the needs of the current labor market, as well as anticipating future requirements to empower the local workforce in the sector.
Al-Hogail stated that the retail sector contributes 23 percent to the non-oil GDP in the Kingdom, while the average occupancy rates of the sector in Riyadh and Jeddah reached 88 percent during 2023.
For his part, the General Supervisor of the Licensing and Compliance Agency at the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing Affairs, Mohammad Al-Melhem, told Asharq Al-Awsat that as of the beginning of 2023, the ministry has worked to review all legislation related to business requirements, in cooperation with the private sector.
“Today, this qualitative change brought about by the Ministry, which will see the light at the beginning of the second quarter of 2024, will result in a major shift in terms of clarity of requirements and procedures,” he said.