Saudi Arabia Advances 10 Ranks Internationally in Gender Pay Gap

The Saudi government has enacted many laws to improve the labor market and enhance women’s participation in various sectors. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Saudi government has enacted many laws to improve the labor market and enhance women’s participation in various sectors. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia Advances 10 Ranks Internationally in Gender Pay Gap

The Saudi government has enacted many laws to improve the labor market and enhance women’s participation in various sectors. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Saudi government has enacted many laws to improve the labor market and enhance women’s participation in various sectors. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Arabia has achieved remarkable progress in the fields of training and gender balance in the labor market, after it approved several regulations and legislation for the development of human capabilities and women empowerment.

Last year, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman launched the Human Capacity Development Program, within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which constitutes a national strategy aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of national capabilities at the local and global levels.

Pointing to the global report on the gender gap, which was recently issued by the World Economic Forum, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) said that Saudi Arabia advanced 10 places in the index of equal wages for similar work for both genders, to achieve the 16th place worldwide, and 12 places in terms of the percentage of women’s participation in the labor force.

With regard to training, the Kingdom jumped 22 ranks in the employee training index to achieve the 14th place globally, and 12 ranks in vocational training, to occupy the 9th rank in this indicator, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY).

The Saudi Council of Ministers has recently approved the adoption of the national policy to encourage equal opportunities and equal treatment in employment, which aims to eliminate any discrimination in this field.

The percentage of women’s participation in the local labor market during the past year reached 37 percent, exceeding the target of 30 percent, which was set within Vision 2030.

The MHRSD recently announced that the percentage of commitment to the new decisions and regulations by establishments operating in the labor market reached 98 percent, while the percentage of commitment to wage protection reached 80 percent. The rate of the amicable settlement of labor disputes rose to 74 percent.



Saudi E-commerce Set to Reach $44 Bln by 2030

The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)
The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)
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Saudi E-commerce Set to Reach $44 Bln by 2030

The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)
The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)

Saudi Arabia is working to improve its investment climate for e-commerce, aiming to attract more local and international companies to tap into this rapidly growing market, projected to reach $44 billion by 2030.

Enhancing the e-commerce sector is a key goal of the National Transformation Program, supporting Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030.”

This move is vital for boosting the national economy, as the Kingdom ranks among the top 10 fastest-growing countries in e-commerce.

The program plays a crucial role in empowering the private sector and improving government efficiency to drive the country's transformation and meet the vision's targets.

Experts emphasize the importance of e-commerce for large companies, both locally and globally, as they increasingly turn to online platforms to expand their businesses.

Saudi Arabia is creating a competitive environment for both local and foreign companies by adopting new technologies, which is energizing the Saudi market.

Dr. Mohammed bin Duleim Al-Qahtani, an economic analyst and academic at King Faisal University, predicts a 13.5% annual growth in Saudi Arabia's e-commerce sector, surpassing the global average of 11.2%.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he expected the sector, currently valued at $21 billion, to exceed $30 billion by 2027 and reach around $44 billion by 2030.

Al-Qahtani highlighted Saudi Arabia’s focus on digital infrastructure and e-commerce, leveraging its strategic location.

He stressed the importance of expanding e-commerce and digital banking, suggesting internationalizing branches of major local banks.

Al-Qahtani also emphasized global efforts, led by G20 nations like Saudi Arabia, to address e-commerce challenges and ensure cyber and financial security.


ECB Pressures Banks to Speed Up Russia Exits

The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
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ECB Pressures Banks to Speed Up Russia Exits

The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

The European Central Bank has told all Eurozone lenders with operations in Russia to speed up their withdrawal plans because of fears they could be hit by US punitive measures.

The ECB has written to lenders in recent weeks asking for detailed plans on their exit strategies, according to several people with knowledge of the communication, the Financial Times wrote.

Lenders need to provide the regulator with an “action plan” for their Russian business as early as June, some of the people said.

Last week, Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International was forced to abandon a deal to swap assets in Russia for ones in Europe after pressure from US authorities.

The US intervention has led to concern at the ECB that RBI and other lenders could be targeted in future crackdowns.

“This could lead to serious damage to the banking system if the US authorities take sanctions,” said a person briefed on the ECB’s position.

The letters underline the increasing pressure from Washington over European groups that might support Russia’s war in Ukraine more than two years after the invasion.

“The ECB’s response to the US interventions shows the big dependency of Europe on the US,” said an adviser to the banks with Russian subsidiaries.

“We are more followers than leaders on judgments involving European companies.”

The US Treasury did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The person briefed on the ECB’s position said supervisors there wanted to avoid European banks facing a similar fate as ABLV, a Latvian bank that was shut down after the US Treasury department accused it of “institutionalized money laundering” as well as breaches of North Korean sanctions and cut off its access to the US financial system in 2018.

The central bank has been calling on Eurozone banks to look for an exit from Russia since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

At one extreme, RBI, which has the biggest exposure to Russia among the European lenders, has been told to reduce its lending in the country by two-thirds from its current level by 2026.

The bank, which faces potential fines by the ECB if it fails to comply, has already shrunk its Russian loan book by 56% since the war began.

Meanwhile, other banks including Italy’s UniCredit — the lender with the second-biggest exposure — have been asked to provide the ECB with a detailed breakdown of their plans for their operations. UniCredit has been given a deadline of June 1 to respond.

Last Thursday, a Russian court ordered that UniCredit's assets, accounts and property, as well as shares in two subsidiaries, be seized as part of a lawsuit over an aborted gas project involving the Italian bank, court documents showed.
UniCredit and OTP — the Hungarian bank that is not under direct supervision of the ECB — have in the past year started to repatriate profits from their Russian subsidiaries in the form of quarterly dividend payments.


Kuwait to Buy 500MW of Power Through GCC Interconnection Authority

Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)
Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)
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Kuwait to Buy 500MW of Power Through GCC Interconnection Authority

Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)
Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)

Kuwait on Sunday signed contracts to buy 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity through the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) to avoid summer blackouts.
The contracts are for 300 MW from Oman and 200 MW from Qatar, the electricity ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, told reporters at the signing event, adding that the contracts would last from June 1 to Aug. 31.
Al-Ali explained that the contracts were signed directly with the Gulf Interconnection Authority, which coordinates these transactions with Oman and Qatar on behalf of Kuwait.
He said this brings technical and economic benefits to Kuwait, especially with the proximity of the offers submitted for energy purchase prices to the cost of production.
The GCC Electricity Interconnection Authority oversees the management of a transmission system that integrates the power grids of all six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, said in a similar statement that the energy market is one of the most efficient markets in the region.
He noted that the Gulf Electricity Market enables GCC countries to enter into bilateral agreements through a platform, which is responsible for the settlement and billing system that covers the needs of traders.
El-Ebrahim pointed out that the Ministry and the Gulf Interconnection Authority have agreed on the offers submitted for the supply of electric energy to Kuwait during the coming June so that they can be renewed during the coming July and August according to the conditions and needs of interconnected networks from member states.
The State of Kuwait owns 26.7% of the founding shares of the Gulf Interconnection Authority, a joint stock company registered by GCC member states to create an interconnection of power grids between its members, ensure energy supply to the networks of GCC member states, invest and achieve economic benefits in the areas of energy exchange and to diversify the sources of their energy imports.


Aljadaan Heads Kingdom's Delegation to Saudi-Chinese Meetings in Beijing

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA
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Aljadaan Heads Kingdom's Delegation to Saudi-Chinese Meetings in Beijing

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA

The Saudi Minister of Finance, Mohammed Aljadaan, heads the Kingdom's delegation participating in the two-day Saudi-Chinese meetings to be held on Monday in Beijing.

The Saudi delegation includes the Vice Minister of Finance Abdulmuhsen Alkhalaf, as well as officials from the Ministry of Finance; the National Center For Privatization (NCP); the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA); the Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA); the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA); the National Development Fund (NDF); the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD); and the National Infrastructure Fund.

Aljadaan and the Chinese Minister of Finance, Lan Fo'an, will co-chair the third meeting of the Financial Sub-Committee for the High-level Chinese-Saudi Joint Committee.

Aljadaan will also participate in a roundtable meeting organized by the Saudi National Center for Privatization in cooperation with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Alkhalaf and the Chinese Vice Minister of Finance, Liao Min, will co-chair a roundtable meeting hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Finance, and organized by China Development Bank (CDB) and China Investment Corporation (CIC).

Aljadaan will also meet with several Chinese ministers, officials, and investors to discuss the latest economic and financial developments, topics of common interest, as well as investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia in light of Saudi Vision 2030.

These meetings come as an extension of efforts to strengthen cooperation and enhance relations between Saudi Arabia and China in various fields to promote global economic growth.


Gold Hits Record Peak, Silver Jumps

FILE PHOTO: A saleswoman picks gold necklaces to show it to a customer inside a jewelry showroom on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold buying festival, in Kochi, India, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A saleswoman picks gold necklaces to show it to a customer inside a jewelry showroom on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold buying festival, in Kochi, India, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo
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Gold Hits Record Peak, Silver Jumps

FILE PHOTO: A saleswoman picks gold necklaces to show it to a customer inside a jewelry showroom on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold buying festival, in Kochi, India, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A saleswoman picks gold necklaces to show it to a customer inside a jewelry showroom on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold buying festival, in Kochi, India, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo

Gold prices hit an all-time high on Monday as a slowing US inflation trend boosted expectations that the Federal Reserve could deliver its first interest rate cut soon, while silver scaled a more than 11-year peak.
Spot gold was up 0.9% at $2,436.76 per ounce, as of 0340 GMT after hitting a record high of $2440.49 earlier in the session.
US gold futures rose 1% at $2,440.60, Reuters reported.
The main driver for gold is that there is a soft US dollar and sentiment is being boosted on the basis that the Federal Reserve is expected to cut rates soon, said Kyle Rodda, a financial market analyst at Capital.com. The dollar index> remained subdued, making greenback-priced bullion more attractive to buyers holding other currencies. Data last week showed signs of cooling inflation and traders now expect a 65% chance of a US rate cut by September.
Bullion is known as an inflation hedge, but higher rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold.
Minutes of the Fed's last policy meeting due on Wednesday along with comments from a slew of Fed speakers will be on investors' radar for this week.
"Gold prices sneaked in a cheeky record high ahead of China's (market) open on Monday. Yet as the move has not been confirmed with by a weaker US dollar, it seems to have been caught a tailwind from higher metals futures on China's exchanges," said City Index senior analyst Matt Simpson.
China, the top consumer of bullion and a majority of industrial metals, announced "historic" steps on Friday to stabilize its crisis-hit property sector.
According to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao, spot gold may test resistance at $2,447 per ounce, a break above could trigger a gain to $2,455.
Spot silver rose 2.5% to $32.28 after hitting an over 11-year high.
Platinum rose 0.7% to $1,088.75, after hitting its highest since May 12, 2023. Palladium dropped 0.5% to $1,013.56.


Qatar Posts $549 Mln First-quarter Budget Surplus

Qatari flag flutters in Doha - AAWSAT/File
Qatari flag flutters in Doha - AAWSAT/File
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Qatar Posts $549 Mln First-quarter Budget Surplus

Qatari flag flutters in Doha - AAWSAT/File
Qatari flag flutters in Doha - AAWSAT/File

Qatar, the world's second-largest LNG exporter, achieved a budget surplus of 2 billion riyals ($548.9 million) in the first quarter of 2024, which was used to reduce public debt, the finance ministry said on Sunday.

The state's total revenue for the period amounted to 53.4 billion riyals, down 22.1% from a year earlier, the ministry said, Reuters reported.

Qatar also recorded total public spending of 51.4 billion riyals in the quarter, up 5% year on year, the ministry added.


Saudi Staffing Company SMASCO Announces Final IPO Price at 7.50 Riyals Per Share

Saudi Staffing Company SMASCO Announces Final IPO Price at 7.50 Riyals Per Share
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Saudi Staffing Company SMASCO Announces Final IPO Price at 7.50 Riyals Per Share

Saudi Staffing Company SMASCO Announces Final IPO Price at 7.50 Riyals Per Share

Saudi Arabian staffing company SMASCO announced its final IPO price at 7.50 riyals per share via the Saudi Exchange on Sunday.
The company aims to raise as much as 900 million riyals ($240 million) in its initial public offering on Riyadh's main bourse, it said earlier this month.
SMASCO plans to offer 120 million shares representing a 30% stake. Reuters reported.
The individual investors subscription process will begin next Sunday and end next Monday, the statement said, with 10% of total shares available to individual investors.

There have been a number of IPOs across the Gulf this year with Saudi flour mills company Modern Mills, UAE supermarket franchisee Spinneys, and Kuwait's BIG Holding coming to the market, among others.
The growth of IPOs in the region comes as part of broad plans to deepen capital markets, grow the private sector and attract investment.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Saudi Aviation Sector Contributes $53 Bln to Economy

A civilian aircraft flies over the skies of the Saudi capital (Riyadh Air)
A civilian aircraft flies over the skies of the Saudi capital (Riyadh Air)
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Saudi Aviation Sector Contributes $53 Bln to Economy

A civilian aircraft flies over the skies of the Saudi capital (Riyadh Air)
A civilian aircraft flies over the skies of the Saudi capital (Riyadh Air)

Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation sector is playing a crucial role in driving the Kingdom’s economic growth, contributing $53 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).

This data was revealed in the inaugural 2024 State of Aviation Report, which GACA will launch at the Future Aviation Forum, detailing the contribution of the aviation sector to Saudi Arabia’s economic development and Vision 2030 transformation program.

The forum, held under the patronage of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, will take place from May 20-22 in Riyadh.

Transport Minister and Chairman of GACA Saleh Al-Jasser emphasized the significant strides made by Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector in international metrics, aligning with the transformative goals of Vision 2030 and the National Transport and Logistics Strategy.

These advancements offer unprecedented opportunities in the aviation sector.

The report, developed by GACA in line with its strategic regulatory mandate, highlights that the Saudi aviation sector contributes $20.8 billion through aviation-related activities, enabling a further estimated $32.2 billion in tourism economic activity.

Moreover, aviation supports 241,000 jobs, and a further estimated 717,000 jobs in the tourism sector.

The report also captures the transformation of Saudi aviation, with Saudi Arabia outperforming global aviation sector growth rates in 2023 – achieving 123% of international pre-pandemic seat capacity compared with a global and regional average recovery rate of 90% and 95% respectively, with 2023 growth amounting to 26% as total passenger volumes reached 111.7 million.

Hosted by GACA under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, the Future Aviation Forum will showcase investment opportunities exceeding $100 billion, aimed at realizing Vision 2030 objectives to position Saudi Arabia as a leading logistics hub in the Middle East.

This includes $50 billion in airport investments and nearly $40 billion in new aircraft orders, with the remaining $10 billion allocated to various projects, including $5 billion for logistics zones at major airports in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam.

The event will convene more than 5,000 aviation experts and leaders from more than 100 countries to shape the future of aviation, including executives from international carriers, all major global manufacturers, airport executives, industry leaders and regulators.


Saudi Rasan to Sell Shares on Tadawul

Rasan’s pavilion at the Leap 24 international conference in Riyadh (from the company’s account on X)
Rasan’s pavilion at the Leap 24 international conference in Riyadh (from the company’s account on X)
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Saudi Rasan to Sell Shares on Tadawul

Rasan’s pavilion at the Leap 24 international conference in Riyadh (from the company’s account on X)
Rasan’s pavilion at the Leap 24 international conference in Riyadh (from the company’s account on X)

The Saudi Rasan Information Technology Company intends to offer 22.74 million shares on the Tadawul Stock Exchange, 10 percent of which will be allocated to individual subscribers, at the price of SAR 35-37 riyals per share.

MAGNiTT research company estimated that the market value of Rasan would reach around $750 million, after the expected offering of 30 percent of its capital in the main Saudi market (Tadawul), thus becoming one of the sector’s largest companies in the region.

Rasan is one of 216 new fintech companies that have been established in Saudi Arabia since 2016. The cumulative total of venture capital investments in this sector exceeded SAR 6.9 billion ($1.84 billion).

The company, which was founded in 2016 and operates in the financial and insurance technology sectors, achieved a compound annual growth in net profit at a rate of 332 percent between 2020 and 2023. Its revenues at the end of 2023 amounted to SAR 256 million ($68.3 million).

Rasan operates online insurance platforms such as Tameeni and Treza. In 2021 it closed an investment round of SAR 90 million led by Impact46, a Saudi alternative asset manager.

The insurance sector in Saudi Arabia has grown over the past year, as the profits of listed insurance companies increased during the first quarter of 2024 by 50 percent compared to the same period last year, to record SAR 910 million ($242 million).

On the other hand, the Rasan IPO is the seventh and last in the month of May, during which new listings were active on the Saudi Financial Market (Tadawul). The period for individuals to subscribe to the company’s shares begins on Wednesday May 29, and continues until the evening of the following day.

Saudi Arabia is looking to increase the pace of listings in the financial market, by offering 24 companies over the course of 2024, according to the annual report of the Financial Sector Development Program of Vision 2030.


Russian Court Seizes Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank Assets

FILE PHOTO: An exterior view shows an office building, which houses the Russian headquarters of Deutsche Bank, in Moscow, Russia, September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: An exterior view shows an office building, which houses the Russian headquarters of Deutsche Bank, in Moscow, Russia, September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo
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Russian Court Seizes Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank Assets

FILE PHOTO: An exterior view shows an office building, which houses the Russian headquarters of Deutsche Bank, in Moscow, Russia, September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: An exterior view shows an office building, which houses the Russian headquarters of Deutsche Bank, in Moscow, Russia, September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/File Photo

A Russian court has ordered that Deutsche Bank's and Commerzbank's assets, accounts, property and shares be seized in Russia as part of a lawsuit involving the German banks, court documents showed.
The banks were among the guarantor lenders under a contract for the construction of a gas processing plant in Russia with Germany's Linde, which was terminated due to Western sanctions, Reuters reported.
The lawsuits were filed by St Petersburg-based RusChemAlliance, a joint venture 50% owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom which is the operator of the project.
The St Petersburg arbitration court has barred Deutsche Bank from exercising its 100% interest in the authorized capital of its Russian subsidiary, as well as Deutsche Bank Technology Center LLC.
The court has also imposed the seizure of up to 238.6 million euros ($259 million) in securities, real estate and bank accounts of Deutsche Bank, as well as its Russian subsidiary and Deutsche Bank Technology Center.
Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt said it had already provisioned around 260 million euros for the case.
"We will need to see how this claim is implemented by the Russian courts and assess the immediate operational impact in Russia," the bank said in a statement.
The court also seized Commerzbank's assets worth 93.7 million euros ($101.85 million) as well as securities and the bank's building in central Moscow.
Commerzbank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Russian court on Friday ordered UniCredit's assets, accounts and property, as well as shares in two subsidiaries, be seized as part of a parallel lawsuit.