World Bank Calls on G5 Sahel Countries to Diversify Economies, Scale Up Reforms

The World Bank called on the five West African countries to diversify their economies to adapt to climate change. (Reuters)
The World Bank called on the five West African countries to diversify their economies to adapt to climate change. (Reuters)
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World Bank Calls on G5 Sahel Countries to Diversify Economies, Scale Up Reforms

The World Bank called on the five West African countries to diversify their economies to adapt to climate change. (Reuters)
The World Bank called on the five West African countries to diversify their economies to adapt to climate change. (Reuters)

The World Bank on Monday urged five West African countries to diversify their economies to adapt to climate change, warning they are extremely vulnerable to extreme weather patterns.

A report said Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger -- all in the arid Sahel region -- are among the world’s least developed countries and therefore the most vulnerable to extreme droughts, floods and heatwaves.

According to its Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR) for the G5 Sahel region, annual GDP could fall by as much as 11.9% in Niger and by 6.8% in Burkina Faso by 2050 under pessimistic climate scenarios.

The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement and the additional estimates in the CCDR show that over $30 billion are needed across the G5 Sahel countries for climate actions.

The report also showed that damage from climate change can be significantly reduced.

“There are significant opportunities for more resilient development in the Sahel,” said Clara de Sousa, World Bank Country Director for Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger.

“This diagnostic provides a roadmap to help countries scale up reforms and investments to diversify their economies in more resilient and inclusive ways.”

Social protection programs and agricultural landscape initiatives to adopt effective resource management practices and increase use of adaptive technologies could be scaled up to mitigate the impact of the food security crisis and help the agriculture sector become more climate resilient in the medium term, the report noted.

It pointed out that the five countries are developing Adaptive Social Protection systems to provide regular cash transfers and services to the poorest and most vulnerable households, allowing them to cope with, and adapt to future climate-related shocks.



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)
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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)
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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.

 

 

 

 


Oil Hovers Near 3-week Highs on Middle East Tensions, China Demand

Pump Jacks are seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Pump Jacks are seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Oil Hovers Near 3-week Highs on Middle East Tensions, China Demand

Pump Jacks are seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Pump Jacks are seen at sunrise near Bakersfield, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Oil prices edged up on Tuesday, hovering close to three-week highs on heightened Middle East tensions and recovering China demand.

Brent futures ticked up 3 cents to $83.59 a barrel by 0757 GMT.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for April delivery inched up 2 cents to $78.48 a barrel. The March WTI contract rose 24 cents to $79.43 a barrel as traders prepared for that contract to expire during the day. There was no settlement for WTI on Monday due to a US public holiday.

Crude markets were "marginally lower" in "quiet trading over the Presidents' Day holiday in the US and as demand concerns offset ongoing Middle Eastern geopolitical tensions," IG market analyst Tony Sycamore said in a note.

The Iran-aligned Houthis continued their attacks on shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait, with at least four more vessels hit by drone and missile strikes since Friday. One of them, the Belize-flagged, British-registered and Lebanese-managed Rubymar cargo vessel in the Gulf of Aden, was in danger of sinking, Houthis said, raising the stakes in their campaign to disrupt global shipping in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza.

"Signs of stronger demand in China also boosted sentiment," ANZ analysts wrote in a note.

Tourism revenues in China surged 47.3% year-on-year and rose above pre-COVID levels during the national Lunar New Year holiday that ended on Saturday.

China also made a record cut in a benchmark reference rate for mortgages on Tuesday, in a bid to shore up its beleaguered property market and economy.

However, the price-supportive factors did not completely offset demand worries. A bearish International Energy Agency (IEA) report last week revised the 2024 oil demand growth forecast downward on expectations that renewable energy would supplant fossil fuel usage.


Houthi Attacks Cut Suez Canal Revenue By 40-50%, Says Egypt's Sisi

A container ship sails at the Suez Canal, in Ismailia, Egypt March 31, 2021. (Handout via Reuters)
A container ship sails at the Suez Canal, in Ismailia, Egypt March 31, 2021. (Handout via Reuters)
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Houthi Attacks Cut Suez Canal Revenue By 40-50%, Says Egypt's Sisi

A container ship sails at the Suez Canal, in Ismailia, Egypt March 31, 2021. (Handout via Reuters)
A container ship sails at the Suez Canal, in Ismailia, Egypt March 31, 2021. (Handout via Reuters)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Monday that revenues from the Suez Canal had "decreased by 40 to 50 percent" so far this year due to attacks on shipping by Yemen's Houthis.

The canal is one of the main sources of foreign currency for Egypt which is gripped by a severe financial crisis.

Since November, the Iran-backed Houthis have launched numerous attacks on vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, which the group says are aimed at ships with links to Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war-torn Gaza Strip.

The attacks have caused several major shipping firms to suspend passage through the Red Sea, which usually carries around 12 percent of global trade, and divert vessels thousands of miles around Africa.

"See what is happening at our borders... with Gaza, you see the Suez Canal, which used to bring Egypt nearly $10 billion per year, (these revenues) have decreased by 40 to 50 percent and Egypt must continue to pay companies and partners," Sisi said during a conference with oil companies, AFP reported.

The United Nations said in late January that the overall number of ships passing through the Suez Canal, which links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, had fallen 42 percent in the previous two months.

The number of weekly container ship transits through the Suez fell by 67 percent year-on-year, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), while tanker traffic dropped 18 percent, the transit of bulk cargo ships carrying grain and coal was down six percent and gas transport at a standstill.

The engineering landmark, which opened in 1869, raised around $8.6 billion for Egypt in the 2022-23 fiscal year, a vital source of foreign currency, alongside tourism and remittances, in a country where importers and money changers struggle to source dollars.


Israeli Economy Shrinks by 19.4% in 3 Months Due to War in Gaza

Demonstrators hold signs while blocking traffic as they attend a rally calling for the release of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Demonstrators hold signs while blocking traffic as they attend a rally calling for the release of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
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Israeli Economy Shrinks by 19.4% in 3 Months Due to War in Gaza

Demonstrators hold signs while blocking traffic as they attend a rally calling for the release of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Demonstrators hold signs while blocking traffic as they attend a rally calling for the release of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday the Israeli economy plunged 19.4% in the final three months of 2023, affected by the war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

For all of 2023, the Israeli economy grew 2 percent, down from 6.5 percent in 2022.

On February 9, Moody’s Investors Service decided to downgrade Israel’s credit rating.

Moody's lowered Israel's credit ratings to A2 from A1 with a negative outlook, downgraded from stable, underscoring the economic damage of the country's war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The war was sparked by the Hamas October 7 attack on southern Israel.

The Taub Center for Social Policy Studies, an Israeli think tank, said the Israeli economy is expected to shrink by 2 percent this quarter, with hundreds of thousands of workers displaced by the war with Hamas or called up as reservists.

The report, published by The New York Times last December, stated that about 20 percent of the Israeli work force was missing from the labor market in October, up from 3 percent before the fighting began.

The spike in unemployment reflects the fact that about 900,000 people are now either enlisted in the Army, unemployed at home, fled from settlements where attacks have been concentrated, such as by the borders of Lebanon and Gaza, or are unable to work due to the destruction of their work industry, according to the report.


Dubai Airport Could Break Passenger Record This Year, Says CEO

Dubai Airports' official forecast for this year stands at 88.8 million passengers. (AFP)
Dubai Airports' official forecast for this year stands at 88.8 million passengers. (AFP)
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Dubai Airport Could Break Passenger Record This Year, Says CEO

Dubai Airports' official forecast for this year stands at 88.8 million passengers. (AFP)
Dubai Airports' official forecast for this year stands at 88.8 million passengers. (AFP)

Dubai's air hub has "every chance" of breaking its record for passenger traffic this year after surpassing pre-pandemic levels in 2023, Dubai Airports' CEO told AFP on Monday.

Dubai International, the world's busiest airport for international passengers for nearly a decade, hit 87 million visits in 2023, beating the 2019 figure of 86.4 million despite the Gaza war, new figures showed.

Chief executive Paul Griffiths cited early recovery in Dubai -- the United Arab Emirates' business and financial center -- from the pandemic and a quick rebound in airport staffing levels as key factors.

"We were ready sooner. We were back to 100 percent capacity much sooner, and as a result, our traffic has rebounded far more quickly," he said, adding that Dubai's record of 89.1 million passengers, set in 2018, could be surpassed this year.

"I think there's every chance of going above it. It could be a new record," Griffiths said. "I've had a peek at the January numbers and let's say it gives me some cause for optimism."

Dubai Airports' official forecast for this year stands at 88.8 million passengers, just shy of the record, despite Israel's war against Hamas which began in October.

"We've demonstrated the absolute resilience of the network that we operate," said Griffiths, adding that Dubai's airport serves 104 countries via 102 airlines.

"If there is a bit of a dip in demand from one destination or point of origin, then that tends to be compensated by the rest of the network filling the space," he added.

Cargo traffic was up 20.4 percent in the last quarter, perhaps because of attacks on shipping through the Red Sea by Yemen's Houthis, Griffiths said.

He would not discuss security arrangements for the airport, beyond saying they were "well developed".

Griffiths said the growth in traffic to and from fast-developing Saudi Arabia had been "phenomenal", with Riyadh now Dubai's second busiest route behind London.

"If you look at the growth of travel and tourism across the world, we are only scratching the surface in this region," he said.


Saudi Minister: Unified GCC Tourist Visa Boosts Tourism

The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
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Saudi Minister: Unified GCC Tourist Visa Boosts Tourism

The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb took part in the eighth meeting of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) tourism ministers in Doha during which he said a unified GCC tourist visa improves the position of Gulf countries as top tourism destinations.

The meeting addressed means of enhancing collaboration in implementing the unified tourist visa for GCC countries.

Al-Khateeb, in his speech, commended the historic step taken by the GCC Supreme Council in approving this initiative, which reflects the commitment of GCC countries to strengthen tourism cooperation.

He further emphasized that the unified GCC tourist visa will significantly improve the Gulf states' standing as a distinguished global tourist destination.

Al-Khateeb commended the progress in activating the Gulf Tourism Strategy and stressed the importance of continuing efforts to implement the agreed-upon initiatives and programs within the strategy.

Highlighting the Saudi plans, the minister noted that the Kingdom will invest $800 billion in various cities and major tourist destinations over the next decade. He recognized tourism as a prominent economic sector contributing to achieving Saudi Vision 2030 by welcoming 27 million international visitors by 2030.

Al-Khateeb said during the first three quarters of 2023, visitors to the Kingdom spent SAR100 billion. The minister stated that the Kingdom ranked first among the Group of Twenty (G20) countries and second globally in terms of the growth in the number of international tourists, with a remarkable 56% increase in 2023 compared to 2019.

Building on these achievements, the Kingdom aims to welcome 150 million visitors by 2030, including 80 million domestic tourists and 70 million international tourists, Al-Khateeb said.

He emphasized that investments will not only benefit the Kingdom but also have a positive impact on all GCC countries and highlighted the need to increase the percentage of the travel and tourism sector's contribution to the GDP in GCC countries from the current 7.8% to 10%.

The minister stressed the importance of joint tourism efforts in the Gulf region, especially considering the upcoming investments in mega tourism projects. He called for the activation of initiatives, programs, and activities that maximize the benefits of attracting international visitors.

"We affirm our continuous support to achieve further achievements and successes aspired by the leaders of the GCC countries," the minister concluded.


Saudi Public Investment Fund Invests in Zamil Offshore

Saudi Public Investment Fund Invests in Zamil Offshore
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Saudi Public Investment Fund Invests in Zamil Offshore

Saudi Public Investment Fund Invests in Zamil Offshore

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced on Monday that it had acquired a 40% stake of the total issued capital of Zamil Offshore Services Company (Zamil Offshore), one of the largest Saudi-based offshore support vessel operators and construction service providers.

PIF’s investment aims to further strengthen the capital base of Zamil Offshore, to enable this Saudi private sector company to continue expanding its services and fleet, to serve the growing demand for offshore support services, including wind power generation activities in the future, said PIF in a statement.

The transaction forms part of PIF’s wider strategy to contribute to the development of Saudi Arabia’s energy base.

Zamil Offshore is one of the largest offshore support companies in Saudi Arabia in terms of market share and fleet size; it manages and operates more than 90 vessels in the Arabian Gulf. It has two joint ventures, with Zamil Mermaid, which provides subsea diving services, and SBS Oceanics, which offers maintenance, modification and upgrade of services for offshore platforms.

Director of investments at PIF, heading the Logistics and Transportation investments in the MENA region Bakr AlMuhanna said: "The offshore support industry remains strategically important to Saudi Arabia and will continue to play a crucial role in addressing the world's energy demand. Our investment in Zamil Offshore will strengthen this vital sector, contributing to PIF’s wider efforts to develop Saudi Arabia’s energy ecosystem."

Zamil Offshore Chairman Tawfiq Al Zamil said they are excited to bring in PIF as an investor and strategic partner.

This step will "usher in a new phase for Zamil Offshore’s continued growth and success, and enable the company to carry on its journey of diversifying and expanding its operations to serve offshore projects in Saudi Arabia", he added.


Saudi Aramco Likely to Issue a Bond in 2024, CFO Says

The logo of Aramco is seen as security personnel walk before the start of a press conference by Aramco at the Plaza Conference Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia November 3, 2019. (Reuters)
The logo of Aramco is seen as security personnel walk before the start of a press conference by Aramco at the Plaza Conference Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia November 3, 2019. (Reuters)
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Saudi Aramco Likely to Issue a Bond in 2024, CFO Says

The logo of Aramco is seen as security personnel walk before the start of a press conference by Aramco at the Plaza Conference Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia November 3, 2019. (Reuters)
The logo of Aramco is seen as security personnel walk before the start of a press conference by Aramco at the Plaza Conference Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia November 3, 2019. (Reuters)

Saudi Aramco is likely to issue a bond this year and will prioritize longer maturities of up to 50 years, Chief Financial Officer Ziad Al-Murshed said on Monday.

The planned issuance is part of a strategy to optimize the company's capital structure, Al-Murshed told an audience at the Saudi Capital Markets Forum in Riyadh.

Aramco last tapped global debt markets in 2021, when it raised $6 billion from the sale of a three-tranche sukuk, or Islamic bond.

Gulf companies and governments have rushed to tap debt markets since the start of the year to take advantage of recent falls in global interest rates, with oil-rich Saudi Arabia issuing $12 billion of dollar-denominated bonds in January.

"There was a period of inactivity because the markets were not stable. Now, the markets are becoming more stable so you can expect us to be more active," Al-Murshed said.

The Saudi energy ministry last month ordered Aramco to halt plans to boost its maximum sustainable capacity to 13 million barrels per day (bpd), returning to the previous 12 million bpd target.

The company is due to announce annual financial results and dividend payments in March. Last year, it introduced a special, performance-based dividend.


Saudi Arabia in Top Spot of ESCWA Government Electronic and Mobile Services Maturity Index in 2023

Saudi Arabia in top spot of ESCWA Government Electronic and Mobile Services Maturity Index in 2023. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia in top spot of ESCWA Government Electronic and Mobile Services Maturity Index in 2023. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia in Top Spot of ESCWA Government Electronic and Mobile Services Maturity Index in 2023

Saudi Arabia in top spot of ESCWA Government Electronic and Mobile Services Maturity Index in 2023. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia in top spot of ESCWA Government Electronic and Mobile Services Maturity Index in 2023. (SPA)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has cemented its position as a leader in digital government, once again getting the top spot in the Government Electronic and Mobile Service (GEMS) maturity index in 2023, published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
It is for the second consecutive year that Saudi Arabia achieves this impressive feat, boasting a remarkable overall maturity score of 93%.
Digital Government Authority Governor Eng. Ahmed Alsuwaiyan attributes this achievement to the tireless efforts of government agencies, their commitment to digital transformation, and the unwavering support from the Saudi leadership. This accomplishment aligns with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to build a digital society, embrace cutting-edge technologies, and ultimately deliver the best experience for all beneficiaries.
ESCWA's GEMS index evaluates 17 countries annually, assessing the maturity of 84 essential government services offered electronically and through smart applications. These services are assessed across three key sub-indices: service availability and sophistication, service usage and satisfaction, and public outreach. Saudi Arabia secured the top position in all three; it scored 98% in service availability and sophistication, a 1% increase over 2022, 84% in service usage and satisfaction, a 4.76% increase over 2022, and 100% in public outreach, a 13.52% increase over 2022.
This achievement adds to Saudi Arabia's growing list of accolades in the digital government realm. The Kingdom recently secured third place among 198 countries in the 2022 GovTech Maturity Index of the World Bank. It also achieved its highest historical ranking in the UN E-Government Development Index (EGDI), and the city of Riyadh was ranked fourth globally in the use of technology and its applications, out of 193 cities surveyed.