Egypt Announces Measures to Boost Tourism

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmad Essa (Ministry of Tourism Facebook account)
Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmad Essa (Ministry of Tourism Facebook account)
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Egypt Announces Measures to Boost Tourism

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmad Essa (Ministry of Tourism Facebook account)
Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmad Essa (Ministry of Tourism Facebook account)

As part of an endeavor to boost tourism and secure 30 million visitors annually, Egypt announced on Monday certain measures under the emergency visa system.

The measures give citizens of China and India, and certain segments of the Turkish population, the possibility to obtain a visa upon arrival through one of the Egyptian ports, while allowing citizens of Iran and Israel to enter certain regions of the country with a visa upon arrival, but after coordination with tourism companies.

In a press conference on Monday, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmad Essa said that the new system would allow Chinese citizens to obtain a single-entry visa upon arrival through the various Egyptian ports and airports.

He added that citizens of India will also be allowed to obtain an emergency visa upon arrival, if they have residency in the Gulf countries, or have an entry visa to the United States, Britain, the European Union, Australia or New Zealand.

According to the new facilities, an emergency visa is granted upon arrival to tourists coming from the Arab Maghreb countries (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia).

As for Israel and Iran, the minister said that their citizens would be allowed to enter certain areas in Egypt, in coordination with tourism companies, where they can obtain an emergency visa upon arrival.

Essa added that the visits of Iranian tourists were limited to the cities of South Sinai, while Israeli citizens were allowed to visit the cities of the Red Sea and Hurghada.

Moreover, citizens of Türkiye, with the exception of some segments, will be granted an entry visa at Egyptian airports, instead of obtaining it at the Egyptian embassy in their country, according to the minister.

Under the system, emergency entry visas will be given to Iraqi tourists upon their arrival at Egyptian ports and airports, provided that they have a valid visa to enter America, Britain, or European Union countries. This does not apply, however, to Iraqi tourists under 16 and over 60, who will have to obtain electronic visas to enter the country.

The minister also revealed the approval of issuing a multiple-entry visa for a period of five years, with a $700 fee, for citizens of 180 countries.

Tourism expert Ahmed Abdelaziz said the new measures announced by the Egyptian government were aimed at “reviving tourism” and attracting more visitors, but called for more steps.

Egypt aims to increase tourist visitation rates by up to 30 percent annually. In this context, Essa said: “The ministry has begun implementing a national strategy for the advancement of the sector, which relied on three axes."

Those include improving the tourism experience, supporting aviation, and strengthening the investment climate.

“The ministry aims to double spending on museums and antiquities, to improve the tourism experience, and to reach 30 million tourists annually by 2028,” the minister underlined, expecting the number of tourists during 2023 to reach 15 million.



Saudi EXIM Signs Line of Credit Agreement with Ziraat Bank of Türkiye

Saudi EXIM chief executive Saad bin Abdulaziz AlKhalb signed the agreement in Istanbul, Republic of Türkiye. - SPA
Saudi EXIM chief executive Saad bin Abdulaziz AlKhalb signed the agreement in Istanbul, Republic of Türkiye. - SPA
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Saudi EXIM Signs Line of Credit Agreement with Ziraat Bank of Türkiye

Saudi EXIM chief executive Saad bin Abdulaziz AlKhalb signed the agreement in Istanbul, Republic of Türkiye. - SPA
Saudi EXIM chief executive Saad bin Abdulaziz AlKhalb signed the agreement in Istanbul, Republic of Türkiye. - SPA

The Saudi Export-Import Bank (Saudi EXIM) announced it signed a line of credit agreement worth $100 million with the Turkish Ziraat Bank, which aims at financing the export activities of Saudi non-oil products and services to Turkish markets.
The agreement comes within the EXIM’s efforts to empower the non-oil national economy and enhance the competitiveness of Saudi products in international markets, according to SPA.
Saudi EXIM chief executive Saad bin Abdulaziz AlKhalb signed the agreement in Istanbul, Republic of Türkiye.
AlKhalb explained that the agreement comes within the framework of the bank’s efforts to strengthen international trade relations to open new markets for Saudi exporters to expand their activities and increase Saudi products and services to global markets, underlying the bank’s endeavor to achieve the targets of the Saudi Vision 2030 in creating a diversified and sustainable economy, maximizing the economic impact of export activities, and increasing Its contribution to non-oil gross domestic product (GDP) to 50% by 2030.


Saudi Aramco Signs MoUs with US firms Aeroseal, Spiritus and Rondo

 (FILES) This picture shows Aramco tower at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh on April 16, 2023. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)
(FILES) This picture shows Aramco tower at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh on April 16, 2023. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)
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Saudi Aramco Signs MoUs with US firms Aeroseal, Spiritus and Rondo

 (FILES) This picture shows Aramco tower at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh on April 16, 2023. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)
(FILES) This picture shows Aramco tower at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh on April 16, 2023. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)

Saudi Aramco signed three memorandums of understanding (MOU) with US companies Aeroseal, Spiritus and Rondo, the state-owned oil giant said on Friday.

Under the MoU the companies will develop potential lower-carbon energy solutions, Aramco's statement said.

Aramco and Aeroseal agreed to deploy Aeroseal’s technology to expand its fleet and commercialize the technology in novel applications such as gas pipelines, the statement said.

With Spiritus, Aramco has agreed to explore opportunities in direct air capture to reduce energy needs.

The statement added that Aramco and Rondo agreed to explore deployment of heat batteries in Aramco’s global facilities to reduce operating costs and cut emissions.

The MoUs were signed during the visit of US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to Saudi Arabia.


Morocco to Impose Anti-dumping Duty on Turkish Electric Ovens

A man waves a Turkish flag - REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
A man waves a Turkish flag - REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
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Morocco to Impose Anti-dumping Duty on Turkish Electric Ovens

A man waves a Turkish flag - REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
A man waves a Turkish flag - REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Morocco's trade ministry plans to introduce an anti-dumping duty on electric ovens imported from Türkiye that would amount to 62% to protect the local market, a ministry source said on Friday.

However, Turkish brand ITIMAT will be subject to an import duty of 34%, the source said.

The dumping margin of Turkish oven makers stood at up to 71.4%, while that of ITIMAT was at 34%, the ministry said on its website.

Morocco and Türkiye signed a free trade agreement in 2004, Reuters reported.

The deal was amended in 2020 to introduce import duties on some Turkish goods following complaints by Moroccan textile manufacturers.


Gold Heads for Second Weekly Gain, Extending Support to Silver and Platinum

Gold bullion displayed in a store in the German city of Pforzheim (dpa)
Gold bullion displayed in a store in the German city of Pforzheim (dpa)
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Gold Heads for Second Weekly Gain, Extending Support to Silver and Platinum

Gold bullion displayed in a store in the German city of Pforzheim (dpa)
Gold bullion displayed in a store in the German city of Pforzheim (dpa)

Gold prices were on track for a second consecutive weekly gain on Friday due to improved interest rate cut expectations, providing support to silver and platinum, which are up 5.6% and 6.3%, respectively, this week.

Spot gold rose 0.5% to $2,387.85 per ounce by 1141 GMT. Bullion prices are up 1% so far this week after hitting a one-month high on Thursday.

"Signs that inflation may be slowing down raise the prospect of interest rate cuts in the coming months, which tend to support gold and silver prices," said Frank Watson, market analyst at Kinesis Money, Reuters reported.

On the demand side, expectations of continuing strong demand in China got a boost after the country announced more efforts to stabilize its crisis-hit property sector.

Demand in China, which contributed to the gold price rally in recent months, is becoming more crucial as the market is waiting to see if high gold prices prompt some central banks to slow down purchases and as outflows from physically backed gold exchange-traded funds continue.

Global central banks actively bought gold in 2022-2023, but the largest purchaser among them, China's central bank slowed down buying in April when spot gold prices hit a record high of $2,431.29.

"Central banks these days are much more nuanced in their buying behaviour and will alter the programme to be more opportunistic - that is to say buying on dips and scaling back on rallies," independent analyst Ross Norman said.

In the physical market, dealers were offering lower premiums in China and deeper discounts in India this week.

On the supply side, the 15% increase in gold price since the start of 2024 keeps margins robust for gold miners. According to the World Gold Council, gold miners' global average total expenses were at $1,342 per ounce in the last quarter of 2023.

Meanwhile, silver and platinum got support from higher prices for gold and base metals.

Spot silver rose 0.5% to $29.74 per ounce after hitting a more than three-year high and flirting with a major resistance level of $30 in the previous session.

Platinum lost 0.3% to $1,054.54, after hitting a one-year high on Thursday. The metal is up 6.3% so far this week due to continued structural deficits.

Palladium dropped 0.8% to $985.50, under pressure from rising market share of electric vehicles.


Red Sea Int’l Airport in Saudi Launches 8 Weekly Flights

Group CEO of Red Sea Global John Pagano. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Group CEO of Red Sea Global John Pagano. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Red Sea Int’l Airport in Saudi Launches 8 Weekly Flights

Group CEO of Red Sea Global John Pagano. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Group CEO of Red Sea Global John Pagano. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Red Sea International Airport in Saudi Arabia’s western region, which opened last year, is now buzzing with eight weekly flights connecting Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dubai.

The airport is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan, “Vision 2030,” led by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.

It is meant to serve projects in the region developed by Red Sea Global (RSG).

RSG is one of the world’s most visionary developers, wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.

The company is spearheading a new model of development, putting people and planet first and leveraging the most innovative concepts and technologies to deliver projects that actively enhance the well-being of customers, communities and environments.

Its portfolio includes two world-leading destinations announced by Crown Prince Mohammad, The Red Sea and Amaala.

Collectively, these responsible and regenerative tourism destinations will aim to enhance Saudi Arabia’s luxury tourism and sustainability offering, going above and beyond to not only protect the natural environment, but to enhance it for future generations to come.

A cornerstone of Vision 2030, RSG will help transform the nation, creating significant economic opportunities for the people of Saudi Arabia and actively enhancing the Kingdom’s rich environmental and cultural heritage.

By 2030, the airport is expected to serve a million passengers annually, with a peak capacity of 900 passengers per hour for both domestic and international flights.

Domestic flights started in September 2023, followed by international flights from Dubai International Airport on April 18, 2024.

John Pagano, Group CEO of RSG, disclosed to Asharq Al-Awsat at the sidelines of the “GREAT FUTURES” conference in Riyadh that the company has already opened three tourist resorts.

He revealed plans for two more resorts to open later this year.

Pagano explained that RSG has made significant investments and struck diverse deals.

According to the group CEO, around 17 billion riyals ($4.5 billion) in funding and partnerships for infrastructure projects worth 20 billion riyals ($5.3 billion) have been secured.


Saudi PIF Leads Integrated Effort to Build National Car Sector

Saudi PIF launched Saudi Arabia’s first electric car brand, “CEER,” in November 2022. (PIF)
Saudi PIF launched Saudi Arabia’s first electric car brand, “CEER,” in November 2022. (PIF)
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Saudi PIF Leads Integrated Effort to Build National Car Sector

Saudi PIF launched Saudi Arabia’s first electric car brand, “CEER,” in November 2022. (PIF)
Saudi PIF launched Saudi Arabia’s first electric car brand, “CEER,” in November 2022. (PIF)

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is making big moves to kickstart the Kingdom’s own car industry.

It launched Saudi Arabia’s first electric car brand, “CEER,” in November 2022 and is backing the National Automotive and Mobility Academy (NAFAM) while investing heavily in the car and mobility sector.

In one of its reports, PIF emphasized how this sector can create jobs, boost the economy beyond oil, and fill skill gaps regionally. The fund also aims to create opportunities for private businesses and push forward research and development.

Following Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan, Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s investments are driving economic growth and diversification.

PIF’s investment in the US electric vehicle company, Lucid, is a prime example. Lucid opened its first electric car factory in Saudi Arabia in September 2023, coinciding with CEER’s launch.

CEER recently announced a major deal worth about $1.3 billion for a new industrial complex.

According to CEER CEO Jim DeLuca the complex will set new industry standards both locally and globally. It will feature top-notch technologies, equipment, and staff, backed by partnerships with leading industry players like Durr, Schuler, and Siemens.

Mohammed Al-Shiha, who heads the Automotive and Mobility Sector at the Middle East and North Africa division of the fund, underscores their focus on future-ready tech. For cars, this means prioritizing electric and hydrogen vehicles for a greener future.

He noted that Saudi Arabia has laid a strong foundation for its car industry and is now shifting towards building its own suppliers. Examples include partnering with global giant Pirelli for top-notch tires and teaming up with Hyundai Motor to set up an advanced car plant.

Alongside global brands, the fund is launching a joint venture with the Saudi Electricity Company to establish “Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Company.” Their aim is to provide fast charging services across the Kingdom by 2030.


Saudi Arabia Launches Training Program to Combat Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing

Director-General of Saudi Arabia’s Financial Academy Mana bin Mohammed Al-Khamsan. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Director-General of Saudi Arabia’s Financial Academy Mana bin Mohammed Al-Khamsan. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia Launches Training Program to Combat Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing

Director-General of Saudi Arabia’s Financial Academy Mana bin Mohammed Al-Khamsan. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Director-General of Saudi Arabia’s Financial Academy Mana bin Mohammed Al-Khamsan. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Arabia has unveiled a new training program to fight money laundering and terrorism financing. The initiative targets leaders in financial and non-financial sectors across the country.

The announcement was made during the "Arab Forum for Anti-Corruption Agencies and Financial Intelligence Units," a two-day event sponsored by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh.

The 18-month program aims to train personnel to better prevent, analyze, and report illegal activities. It also seeks to improve information sharing between financial institutions and regulatory bodies, bolstering the overall integrity of the financial system.

The program, presented by Mana bin Mohammed Al-Khamsan, Director-General of Saudi Arabia’s Financial Academy, is a joint effort with the Kingdom’s state security and an international consultancy.

Al-Khamsan stressed the importance of combating financial crimes and highlighted the academy’s commitment to providing specialized training and certifications.

Aligned with Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan, Vision 2030, the academy aims to support entities combating corruption and financial crimes. It has conducted over 500 training programs benefiting thousands of professionals from various sectors.

Al-Khamsan emphasized the value of professional certifications in boosting workforce efficiency, noting partnerships with respected international associations and institutions.


Saudi Arabia Tops G20 Countries in Financial Regulation Compliance

The Arab Forum for Anti-Corruption Agencies and Financial Intelligence Units was held over two days in Riyadh. (X)
The Arab Forum for Anti-Corruption Agencies and Financial Intelligence Units was held over two days in Riyadh. (X)
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Saudi Arabia Tops G20 Countries in Financial Regulation Compliance

The Arab Forum for Anti-Corruption Agencies and Financial Intelligence Units was held over two days in Riyadh. (X)
The Arab Forum for Anti-Corruption Agencies and Financial Intelligence Units was held over two days in Riyadh. (X)

Saudi Central Bank Governor Ayman Al-Sayari announced that Saudi Arabia has the highest compliance in supervision and regulation among G20 countries. He warned that financial crimes are costly for countries, harming their financial stability and investment levels.

Al-Sayari spoke at the “Arab Forum for Anti-Corruption Agencies and Financial Intelligence Units,” a two-day event sponsored by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia and held in Riyadh.

The forum aimed to strengthen cooperation and build capacity among agencies fighting financial crimes, money laundering, and terrorism financing in the Middle East and North Africa.

Al-Sayari highlighted that Saudi Arabia’s compliance with international anti-corruption and organized crime standards has strengthened the Kingdom’s financial system and increased trust.

He pointed out the effective measures taken against financial crimes and corruption, including preventive steps.

The Saudi Central Bank uses a comprehensive approach to balance growth with acceptable risk levels, ensuring financial stability and integrity, asserted the governor.

Al-Sayari stressed the importance of working closely with regulatory bodies and authorities, especially in combating financial crimes and corruption.

He also noted that Saudi Arabia’s financial regulators provide specialized training to employees, equipping them with the technological tools needed to detect crimes.

At the end of its sessions on Thursday, the forum issued recommendations for Arab countries to adopt a model agreement to boost local cooperation between anti-corruption agencies and financial intelligence units.

The forum suggested Arab countries promote this model agreement in international forums to showcase their efforts in fighting money laundering, terrorism financing, and related crimes, especially corruption.

The recommendations also called for stronger local and international cooperation to combat money laundering, terrorism financing, and corruption.

This includes effectively implementing the UN Convention against Corruption and other relevant agreements.

The forum emphasized working with the private sector and building partnerships to protect societies from these crimes. It also highlighted the need for capacity building and knowledge enhancement through specialized courses, workshops, and the exchange of expertise.


IMF Expects Iraq’s Economy to Grow by 1.4% in 2024, 5.3% in 2025

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday that Iraq’s economy contracted by 2.2% in 2022, projecting a growth by 1.4% in 2024 and 5.3% in 2025. (AFP)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday that Iraq’s economy contracted by 2.2% in 2022, projecting a growth by 1.4% in 2024 and 5.3% in 2025. (AFP)
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IMF Expects Iraq’s Economy to Grow by 1.4% in 2024, 5.3% in 2025

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday that Iraq’s economy contracted by 2.2% in 2022, projecting a growth by 1.4% in 2024 and 5.3% in 2025. (AFP)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday that Iraq’s economy contracted by 2.2% in 2022, projecting a growth by 1.4% in 2024 and 5.3% in 2025. (AFP)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday that Iraq’s economy contracted by 2.2% in 2022, projecting a growth by 1.4% in 2024 and 5.3% in 2025.

The international monetary organization expected fiscal deficit to widen to 7.6% of GDP in 2024 from 1.3% in 2023, noting that Iraq requires an ambitious fiscal adjustment to stabilize debt in the medium term and rebuild buffers.

The findings came in the context of the 2024 Article IV consultation with Iraq. The IMF released documents showing that domestic stability in the country has improved since the new government took office in October 2022, facilitating the passage of Iraq’s first three-year budget, which entailed a large fiscal expansion starting in 2023.

This supported the strong recovery in Iraq’s non-oil economy after a contraction in 2022, while the country was largely unaffected by the ongoing conflict in the region.

“Domestic inflation declined to 4% by end-2023, reflecting lower international food prices, the currency revaluation as of February 2023, and the normalization in trade finance. However, imbalances have worsened due to the large fiscal expansion and lower oil prices,” the IMF said in a statement.

Moreover, it said the ongoing fiscal expansion is expected to boost growth in 2024, at the expense of a further deterioration of fiscal and external accounts and Iraq’s vulnerability to oil price fluctuations.

“Without policy adjustment, the risk of medium-term sovereign debt stress is high and external stability risks could emerge. Key downside risks include much lower oil prices or a spread of the conflict in Gaza and Israel,” the IMF added.

In Iraq, real GDP growth would reach 1.4% in 2024 and accelerate to 5.3% in 2025, the IMF said, also projecting deficit to widen from 1.3% in 2023 to 7.6% of GDP in 2024.

It noted that Iraq’s public debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to reach 48.2% in 2024 and 54.6% in 2025.

IMF directors emphasized that a gradual, yet sizeable fiscal adjustment is needed to stabilize debt in the medium term and rebuild fiscal buffers.

They encouraged the authorities to focus on controlling the public wage bill, phasing out mandatory hiring policies, and mobilizing non-oil revenues, while better targeting social assistance.

The Directors agreed that prompt implementation of customs and revenue administration reforms, a full implementation of the Treasury Single Account, and a strict control and limit of the use of extrabudgetary funds and government guarantees are key to support fiscal consolidation.

Limiting monetary financing and reforming the pension system are also important, they stressed.

They commended the central bank’s efforts to tighten monetary policy and enhance its liquidity management framework. Improving coordination between fiscal and monetary operations would help absorb excess liquidity and bolster monetary policy transmission.

They concurred that accelerating the restructuring of the large state-owned banks is also essential.

They also encouraged further modernizing the private banking sector, including by facilitating the establishment of correspondent banking relationships, reducing regulatory uncertainties, and promoting efficiency and competitiveness of private banks.

Furthermore, they emphasized the need for structural reforms to unlock private sector development. They encouraged leveling the playing field between public and private jobs, boosting female labor force participation, and reforming education and labor laws.

The directors agreed that improving governance and combatting corruption are also key, in addition to bolstering public procurement and business regulations, and addressing electricity sector inefficiencies.

They welcomed the renewed efforts toward the World Trade Organization (WTO) accession and encouraged the authorities to improve the coverage and timeliness of statistics.


Saudi Arabia, Slovenia Discuss Economic Cooperation

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning has met with Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. SPA
The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning has met with Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. SPA
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Saudi Arabia, Slovenia Discuss Economic Cooperation

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning has met with Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. SPA
The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning has met with Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs. SPA

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Alibrahim has met with Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Tanja Fajon.

The two officials discussed their countries' ties, topics of mutual interest, and opportunities to strengthen cooperation.