7.3 Billion Tons of Potential Phosphate Reserves in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Mining Affairs Khalid Saleh Al-Mudaifer (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Mining Affairs Khalid Saleh Al-Mudaifer (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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7.3 Billion Tons of Potential Phosphate Reserves in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Mining Affairs Khalid Saleh Al-Mudaifer (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Saudi Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Mining Affairs Khalid Saleh Al-Mudaifer (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The world will need to increase the production of some types of minerals by 500% to meet the future demand for clean energy, according to Saudi Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Mining Affairs Khalid Saleh Al-Mudaifer.

Saudi Arabia has become one of the most prominent countries in the field of producing phosphate fertilizers, with potential reserves of phosphate amounting to 7.3 billion tons, revealed Al-Mudaifer.

Al-Mudaifer made the remarks during the Mines and Money conference in London.

The vice minister further explained that minerals are indispensable for achieving the process of energy transition to renewable sources, which requires expanding the scope of finds and increasing production.

The World Bank estimated that there is a need for more than 3 billion tons of minerals and metals.

By 2050, the world will need to increase the production of minerals such as “graphite, lithium, cobalt, and copper” by about 500% to meet the future demand for clean energy technologies.

Al-Mudaifer highlighted the advances that Saudi Arabia has already made in its mining industry. As he noted, the significant potential for the Kingdom largely lies in precious and base metals—including gold, zinc, copper, and silver in addition to a few specialty metals such as niobium and tantalum.

In terms of phosphate fertilizer production alone, Al-Mudaifer stated that Saudi Arabia has already become the world leader. Estimates for total phosphate reserves vary from approximately 2.3 billion to almost 7.3 billion tons.

He stated that the Kingdom stabilized aluminum markets by building an industrial city that focuses on extracting and producing final products for the world. Moreover, the Kingdom is working with well-known electric vehicle manufacturers such as Lucid Motors and automotive sector suppliers such as EV Metals to build an integrated electric vehicle manufacturing complex.

Al-Mudaifer further pointed to important projects such as the Kingdom’s work in hydrogen, with the Kingdom creating the largest green hydrogen plant in the world. Additionally, 8 months ago, it announced a $5 billion project that – from a standing start – is expected to produce up to 250,000 tons, by 2026.



Saudi Budget 2024: Anticipated Spending of SAR 1.251 Bn, Revenues of SAR 1.172 Bn

Expectations for the Saudi economy are an extension of its positive performance (SPA)
Expectations for the Saudi economy are an extension of its positive performance (SPA)
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Saudi Budget 2024: Anticipated Spending of SAR 1.251 Bn, Revenues of SAR 1.172 Bn

Expectations for the Saudi economy are an extension of its positive performance (SPA)
Expectations for the Saudi economy are an extension of its positive performance (SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry has announced a preliminary statement of budget for the fiscal year 2024 with expenditures valued at SAR 1,251 billion and revenues projected to be SAR 1,172 billion.

A limited deficit is estimated to be recorded at about 1.9 percent.

Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan reaffirmed the Saudi government’s commitment to ongoing structural reforms on both the financial and economic fronts.

These reforms aim to foster economic growth, diversify the economy, and sustain economic growth rates while maintaining financial sustainability.

According to al-Jadaan, this will be achieved through the continued implementation of programs and projects outlined in the Kingdom’s national transformation plan, “Vision 2030”.

The launch of various initiatives and strategies will also help in the development of promising economic sectors, attracting investments, stimulating industries, and increasing both local content and non-oil exports in Saudi Arabia.
The minister further emphasized the significant and active role played by the Public Investment Fund and development funds in ensuring the ongoing implementation of structural reforms.

These reforms aim to boost the growth of non-oil sector activities at high and sustainable rates over the medium term, said al-Jadaan.

He also projected a growth in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 4.4% for the upcoming fiscal year.

In addition to achieving the Kingdom’s goals of financial sustainability and directing expansionary spending to expedite the implementation of major projects and strategies, the budget also focuses on attracting investment, stimulating economic activity, and developing Saudi Arabia’s public financial performance.

The minister added that “the process of analyzing the financial and economic risks facing the Kingdom’s economy is a vital part of understanding the current situation, as it contributes to adopting effective policies and strategies to deal with these risks.”

He said that despite any crises the world is witnessing and their negative impact on the global economy – as was the case with the coronavirus pandemic and geopolitical tensions that negatively affected global supply chains – Saudi Arabia is in a “solid financial position.”


UK to Build Undersea Cable to Tap Moroccan Renewable Power

An aerial view of solar panels at the Nour 1 concentrated solar power plant outside Ouarzazate in central Morocco (AFP)
An aerial view of solar panels at the Nour 1 concentrated solar power plant outside Ouarzazate in central Morocco (AFP)
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UK to Build Undersea Cable to Tap Moroccan Renewable Power

An aerial view of solar panels at the Nour 1 concentrated solar power plant outside Ouarzazate in central Morocco (AFP)
An aerial view of solar panels at the Nour 1 concentrated solar power plant outside Ouarzazate in central Morocco (AFP)

The United Kingdom is planning to extend a subsea cable for the transmission of renewable energy from Morocco in a project declared a project of "national significance."

Reuters reported that Xlinks, a company chaired by former Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis, wants to build 3,800 kilometers of subsea cables to supply solar and wind power from the Sahara to seven million British homes by 2030.

While Xlinks called the government's recognition of its project "a major milestone," many challenges remain.

As well as building the world's most extended high-voltage direct current subsea cable, Xlinks needs to secure more funding, agree on long-term pricing contracts, and be granted permission to run through Spanish and French waters.

Lewis disclosed to the Financial Times that the estimated cost is between £20 billion and £22 billion.

Xlinks also noted that the initiative would generate approximately 10,000 jobs in Morocco, with 2,000 becoming permanent positions, aligning with the country's energy export strategy.

New UK energy security and net zero minister Claire Coutinho said the project was nationally significant because of its potential to help Britain ditch fossil fuels.

"The proposed project could play an important role in enabling an energy system that meets the UK's commitment to reduce carbon emissions and the government's objectives to create a secure, reliable, and affordable energy supply for consumers," the statement said.


WTD 2023 Concludes in Riyadh with Participation of More Than 500 Experts from 120 Countries

More than 50 tourism ministers, 120 officials, and over 500 experts and leaders in the sector and in this year’s celebration of the WTD. SPA
More than 50 tourism ministers, 120 officials, and over 500 experts and leaders in the sector and in this year’s celebration of the WTD. SPA
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WTD 2023 Concludes in Riyadh with Participation of More Than 500 Experts from 120 Countries

More than 50 tourism ministers, 120 officials, and over 500 experts and leaders in the sector and in this year’s celebration of the WTD. SPA
More than 50 tourism ministers, 120 officials, and over 500 experts and leaders in the sector and in this year’s celebration of the WTD. SPA

A series of events organized in Riyadh on the occasion of the 2023 World Tourism Day (WTD) concluded with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) hailing this year’s celebration as the largest and most influential ever in its 43-year history.

More than 50 tourism ministers, 120 officials, and over 500 experts and leaders in the sector and UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili participated in this year’s celebration of the WTD which was held under the theme, “Tourism & Green Investments.”

Minister of Tourism Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb extended his thanks and gratitude to the Kingdom’s leadership for their constant and endless support to the tourism sector, attributing the historic leaps the sector has achieved in terms of creating jobs and investments to the special attention and tremendous support of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.

Al-Khateeb has also highlighted the successes the Kingdom has achieved and its contributions to the global tourism landscape through organizing and hosting several international events that had their impact on bringing the global tourism sector to pre-pandemic levels.

The activities and sessions of the WTD in Riyadh focused on enhancing international cooperation and sustainable development in the global tourism sector. The WTD also witnessed the Kingdom’s announcement of new details about the International Tourism Academy, Riyadh’s gift to the world. The academy provides international educational and vocational programs in tourism and hospitality fields.


Saudi Finance Minister Participates in Berlin Global Dialogue 2023

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan attends the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, 15 July 2022. Made Nagi/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan attends the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, 15 July 2022. Made Nagi/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
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Saudi Finance Minister Participates in Berlin Global Dialogue 2023

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan attends the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, 15 July 2022. Made Nagi/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan attends the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, 15 July 2022. Made Nagi/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan participated in the Berlin Global Dialogue 2023 hosted by the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) on September 28 and 29.

During the event in the German capital, Al-Jadaan held meetings with government officials and major global investors and participated in sessions on macro-financial policies and economic and financial affairs.

The dialogue seeks to provide a platform for effective communication and dialogue between government leaders and the business sector.

The goal of the platform is to contribute to formulating proper policies and promoting global economic growth.


Saudi Fund for Development, Seychelles Sign $25 Million Development Loans

The CEO of the SFD signed two development loan agreements with Seychelles Minister of Finance, National Planning and Trade. SPA
The CEO of the SFD signed two development loan agreements with Seychelles Minister of Finance, National Planning and Trade. SPA
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Saudi Fund for Development, Seychelles Sign $25 Million Development Loans

The CEO of the SFD signed two development loan agreements with Seychelles Minister of Finance, National Planning and Trade. SPA
The CEO of the SFD signed two development loan agreements with Seychelles Minister of Finance, National Planning and Trade. SPA

CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Marshad signed on Friday two development loan agreements with Seychelles Minister of Finance, National Planning and Trade Naadir Hassan.

Through the loans, the SFD is contributing $25 million to support the social housing project in the Seychelles and the reconstruction of La Digue School project.

The first loan agreement worth $15 million will contribute to establishing residential buildings for low-income families in various regions of the country.

The second agreement worth $10 million will help provide a modern educational environment in the Seychelles.

Since its establishment in 1974, the SFD has implemented 700 development projects and programs in more than 90 countries with a value surpassing $18.7 billion.


Oil Up $1 on Tight US Supply, China Demand

Gas prices are seen at a gas station in Los Angeles on September 28, 2023. California gas prices are nearing USD $7 per gallon in some locations as oil prices surge toward $100 a barrel. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)
Gas prices are seen at a gas station in Los Angeles on September 28, 2023. California gas prices are nearing USD $7 per gallon in some locations as oil prices surge toward $100 a barrel. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)
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Oil Up $1 on Tight US Supply, China Demand

Gas prices are seen at a gas station in Los Angeles on September 28, 2023. California gas prices are nearing USD $7 per gallon in some locations as oil prices surge toward $100 a barrel. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)
Gas prices are seen at a gas station in Los Angeles on September 28, 2023. California gas prices are nearing USD $7 per gallon in some locations as oil prices surge toward $100 a barrel. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

Oil prices rose on Friday and were headed for a gain of about 3% for the week, driven by tight US supply and expectations of strong fuel demand in China during the Golden Week holiday.

US West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) was up $1.31, or 1.43%, to $93.02 per barrel at 1208 GMT.

Front-month Brent November futures were up 88 cents, or 0.92%, at $96.26 per barrel ahead of the contract's expiry later in the day. The more-liquid Brent December contract was up 97 cents, or 1.04%, at $94.07 per barrel.

A backdrop of tight supplies in the US provided further price support, with storage at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for US crude futures, already at its lowest since July 2022.

"Any additional decline would threaten to bring them down to a critical level, which could make further withdrawals difficult," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

China's fuel demand was set to firm as the week-long Golden Week holiday began on Friday.

"(An) increase in international travel during the Golden Week holiday is boosting Chinese oil demand," ANZ analysts said in a client note.

Domestic travel is also expected to boost demand, with data from flight app Umetrip showing the average number of daily flights booked is a fifth higher than for Golden Week in 2019, before COVID.

Meanwhile, inflation in the euro zone fell to a two-year low of 4.3% in September, the latest Eurostat flash reading showed, suggesting the European Central Bank's policy of steady interest rate hikes was taking effect.

Russia is considering introducing fuel export quotas if the current export ban is not effective in bringing down domestic prices.

Russian gasoline and diesel exchange prices on the St. Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange (SPIMEX) fell slightly on Friday.

Brent is forecast to average $89.85 a barrel in the fourth quarter, and $86.45 in 2024, according to a survey of 42 economists compiled by Reuters on Friday.


IMF: Saudi Economy Grows as it Diversifies

The International Monetary Fund says that non-oil exports reached a record high of $84.4 billion in 2022 (SPA)
The International Monetary Fund says that non-oil exports reached a record high of $84.4 billion in 2022 (SPA)
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IMF: Saudi Economy Grows as it Diversifies

The International Monetary Fund says that non-oil exports reached a record high of $84.4 billion in 2022 (SPA)
The International Monetary Fund says that non-oil exports reached a record high of $84.4 billion in 2022 (SPA)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has affirmed that the Saudi economy is undergoing a transformation, as reforms are being implemented to reduce dependence on oil, diversify sources of income, and enhance competitiveness.

In an article published on its website on Thursday, titled “Saudi Arabia's Economy Grows as it Diversifies,” authored by IMF economists Amine Mati and Sidra Rehman, the Fund stated that this year marks a significant turning point in the ambitious journey of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia towards its “Vision 2030.”

As shown in the latest IMF annual review of the Kingdom’s economy, progress has been most notably reflected in non-oil growth, which has accelerated since 2021, averaging 4.8% in 2022.

Non-oil revenue doubled in just four years due to VAT rate increases and high regulatory compliance.

Non-oil exports reached a record $84.4 billion in 2022.

Shares of manufacturing and services increased by 15% over the past 20 years, and the tourism sector is contributing 4.5% to GDP.

According to the IMF, two reforms are playing a key role in Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation: Labor market reform and Digitalization.

The share of Saudis in high-skilled jobs increased from 32 % in 2016 to 42 % in 2022. Female workforce participation has doubled over the past four years, reaching 37% and clearly surpassing the Vision 2030 target of 30%.

Meanwhile, the digital sector’s contribution to overall growth increased from 0.2% in 2016 to 15% in 2022, which has bolstered the financial sector’s resilience, government efficiency and financial inclusion.

Despite lower overall growth reflecting additional oil production cuts, non-oil growth will remain close to 5% in 2023, spurred by strong domestic demand.

As a result of a new set of laws to promote entrepreneurship, protect investors’ rights, and reduce the costs of doing business, new investment deals and licenses grew by 95% and 267% in 2022, respectively.

In addition, the Saudi Investment Fund (PIF) has been deploying capital, including to help stimulate private sector investment.

Moreover, the Saudi economy’s non-oil growth has been spurred by strong domestic demand, particularly private non-oil investment. Sustaining this performance requires pursuing sound macroeconomic policies and maintaining the reform momentum, irrespective of developments in oil markets.

Challenges ahead include making sure large projects generate returns and boost productivity, which are vital for sustained economic growth and will help further diversify the economy.

There is a need to continue the ongoing efforts to foster a more conducive environment for innovation and invest in workforce skills that complement the diversification agenda.


Saudi Arabia Calls for Global Sustainability, Tourism Sector Advancement

One of the sessions on the second day of World Tourism Day with the participation of the Saudi Minister of Investment (Asharq Al-Awsat)
One of the sessions on the second day of World Tourism Day with the participation of the Saudi Minister of Investment (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia Calls for Global Sustainability, Tourism Sector Advancement

One of the sessions on the second day of World Tourism Day with the participation of the Saudi Minister of Investment (Asharq Al-Awsat)
One of the sessions on the second day of World Tourism Day with the participation of the Saudi Minister of Investment (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Pre-pandemic tourism has transformed into something distinct in the post-global health crisis era, according to Saudi Investment Minister Eng. Khalid Al-Falih.

The minister emphasized the crucial need to incorporate sustainability into tourism plans to mitigate potential shocks that the tourism sector may encounter, as was witnessed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Al-Falih’s remarks came during the final day of World Tourism Day (WTD) events held in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

"We aspire to connect our investments related to future capabilities, smart cities, and sustainable transportation with travel and tourism,” said Al-Falih.

“This is aimed at providing the utmost comfort for tourists while enhancing their role in environmental protection and preservation,” he explained.

Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO and a Member of the Board of the Saudi Tourism Authority, announced on the second day of WTD festivities that the Kingdom is currently experiencing a rapid phase of growth and development, particularly in its tourism sector.

He noted that the Kingdom had already welcomed over 17 million tourists in the first seven months of 2023.

“We anticipate surpassing this figure in the latter half of the year,” asserted Hamidaddin.

Zurab Pololikashvili, the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), regarded Saudi Arabia as a new contender in the global tourism sector, following its successful organization of the WTD.

Pololikashvili, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the WTD, pointed out that the Saudi tourism sector had managed to attract over 50 ministers, officials, and visitors from more than 120 countries, who will serve as ambassadors for the Kingdom in their respective nations.

He also noted that the ongoing developments in Europe due to the fallout from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and economic slowdown in China are bolstering tourism in Asia.

Pololikashvili also emphasized the significance of the Middle East region and its tourism sector at this opportune moment.

Regarding the success of Saudi Arabia in enhancing the tourist image, Pololikashvili observed a significant difference between the Saudi tourism sector’s current state and what it was two years ago.

This difference is notable in terms of visa acquisition speed, reception methods, diverse destinations, and various activities.

This is reflected in the attendance at the WTD, which drew participants from over 20 nationalities.

As for the challenges facing the sector, Pololikashvili pointed out the distinction between “welcome” and “come again.”

While easy visa acquisition and the availability of appealing destinations might attract some visitors initially, a warm reception, genuine hospitality, and attention to human interaction will undoubtedly entice tourists to return.


Mobily Signs Agreement with Huawei to Enhance its Cloud, Digital Services

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA
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Mobily Signs Agreement with Huawei to Enhance its Cloud, Digital Services

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA

Mobily has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Huawei to collaborate on cloud services and enhance its digital and Internet of Things (IoT) B2B offerings.

The agreement is part of Mobily’s wider strategy to accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies that can deliver exciting new services to the consumer, industry, and governmental sectors, according to SPA.

The partnership deal was signed during a special ceremony at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China between representatives of Mobily and Huawei.

Under the agreement, both parties will work closely on a range of areas that aim to level up Mobily’s digital offerings in Saudi Arabia.

CEO of Mobily Eng. Salman Albadran said: “Our new partnership with Huawei is the latest example of how Mobily is continuing to build upon the success we have already achieved in the digital and telecoms fields. We are investing in new technologies such as cloud computing and IoT while continuing to push ahead with further digitization and enhancement of services and solutions. As a company, we are determined not to rest upon our previous success and continue to push to higher achievements in realizing Saudi Vision 2030 goals.”

For his part, Huawei President for Middle East and Central Asia Steven Yi said: “We are delighted to have finalized this agreement with Mobily. The partnership perfectly complements the strengths of both companies in a way that will truly deliver on the goals of the MoU."

"Huawei brings extensive experience and expertise in digital technology for a wide range of use cases, and we are looking forward to working with Mobily to deliver game-changing solutions to meet the evolving needs of consumers and public and private organizations,” he added.

The MoU aims to form a framework of collaboration between Mobily and Huawei for the next 2-3 years in the two areas while setting a clear goal to create an action plan for further cooperation after signing the agreement.


Saudi Unemployment Declines, Approaching Government Targets

One of the job fairs in Saudi Arabia that brings job seekers together with companies (Asharq Al-Awsat)
One of the job fairs in Saudi Arabia that brings job seekers together with companies (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Unemployment Declines, Approaching Government Targets

One of the job fairs in Saudi Arabia that brings job seekers together with companies (Asharq Al-Awsat)
One of the job fairs in Saudi Arabia that brings job seekers together with companies (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The unemployment rate among Saudis, during Q2 of 2023, decreased to 8.3%, marking a notable decline from the 9.7% recorded in the corresponding period in 2022.

This development aligns more closely with the ambitious target set by the Saudi government in its “Vision 2030” initiative, which seeks to achieve a 7% unemployment rate in the Kingdom.

Progress in reducing the rate of joblessness in the Kingdom can be traced back to the government’s steadfast commitment to addressing unemployment issues among both Saudi men and women by actively fostering increased job prospects within the local job market.

In Q1 of 2023, the unemployment rate among Saudis stood at 8.5%, but it dropped to 8.3% in Q2 thanks to government programs, initiatives, and decisions aimed at localizing a number of jobs within its labor market reform measures.

The Saudi Human Resources and Social Development Ministry is intensifying its efforts to localize several sectors within the Saudi market.

It is doing so through various initiatives aimed at supporting private sector establishments, which are expected to have a positive impact on unemployment rates for the overall population.

The ministry’s workforce-supporting strategy has played a role in reducing the overall unemployment rates.

Aligning with the Kingdom’s objectives of empowering women and enhancing their economic participation, the ministry'’ efforts have yielded an unprecedented reduction in the unemployment rate among Saudi women in Q2, 2023, reaching 15.7% compared to 19.3% in the same period in 2022.

A recent report by S&P Global showed that labor market reforms in Saudi Arabia have nearly doubled the women’s labor force participation rate in the country from approximately 19% in 2016 to nearly 36% in 2022.

As a result of measures aimed at improving access to the labor market requirements and the effectiveness of policies involving young Saudi talents in various fields, an official report showed that the participation rate in the labor force for the total Saudi population (males and females aged 15 and above) in Q2, 2023, is approximately 51.7%.

This figure remains largely stable compared to 52.4% in the previous quarter.

It is worth noting that Saudi Arabia’s Human Resources Development Fund has contributed to supporting 1.4 million Saudis through training, empowerment, and guidance programs during the first half of 2023.

Approximately 79,000 establishments across various regions of the kingdom have benefited from the fund’s support, with about 95% of these establishments falling under the category of medium, small, and micro-sized enterprises.

Saudi Shura Council member Fadel al-Buainain told Asharq Al-Awsat that fluctuations in the unemployment rate on a quarterly basis are expected due to economic and commercial variables, as well as changes in the labor market.

Buainain believes that such relative fluctuations during a quarter help direct efforts and address any issues if they arise or enhance gains.

He explained that during the current year, the unemployment rate rose to 8.5% in Q1, then decreased to 8.3% in Q2, indicating that there have been corrective measures and improvements within a span of three months.