Oil-rich Gulf countries have announced some of the world’s most ambitious renewable energy plans but analysts say the next year marks a big test to show whether these pledges will turn into contracts, writes Camilla Hall.
Both Saudi Arabia, which has announced a $109bn spending drive into solar energy, and Qatar, which aims to use a sustainable energy base to host the World Cup in 2022, have signalled they intend to launch tender contracts for solar energy projects. Continue reading »
Gulf states are intensifying their efforts to create jobs for nationals at the expense of expatriate workers as they face youth unemployment and pressure to prepare for a future less reliant on crude exports, writes Camilla Hall.
Kuwait has said it will reduce foreign workers by 100,000 a year, while hundreds of thousands of companies in Saudi Arabia faced a deadline last month to meet the proscribed quota of Saudi employees or risk having their licences removed. Continue reading »
Last year was supposed to represent the pivotal moment in which sukuk debt – Islamic versions of bonds – came into their own as a deep, mature and liquid source of funding.
Issuance data from January suggest the jury is still out. Continue reading »
Saudi Basic Industries Corp, Saudi Arabia’s biggest publicly-traded company, has a very non-Saudi problem: striking workers.
The Riyadh-based petrochemicals behemoth is facing the wrath of the labour unions – not at home in the kingdom where such groups are banned but at its Chemicals Geleen plant in the Netherlands. Continue reading »
Some might say it was a good day for Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker.
When it announced on Wednesday that third quarter net profits fell 23 per cent from a year ago its share price in Saudi Arabia rose 1.4 per cent. Clearly, the numbers weren’t as bad as had been expected in the light of plunging world prices for petrochemicals. Continue reading »
Hyundai Heavy Industries has won a $3.2bn contract from Saudi Electricity Company to build an oil-fired thermal power plant in Jeddah by 2017.
The turnkey project is important for both parties. Hyundai Heavy needs to make up for business lost in other sectors, notably shipping, and in other regions in the global economic downturn. And Saudi Arabia is using its oil revenues to boost the economy in an attempt to stave off any risk of the social unrest in surrounding Arab states. Continue reading »
“Don’t forget, revolutions are expensive”, says Dimitris Tsitsiragos. He should know: his responsibilities as a vice president at the International Finance Corporation include north Africa and the Middle East, not least the countries hit by the Arab Spring.
The IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm, has, in the last five years, boosted its annual commitments to the region by nearly 50 per cent to over $2bn. But, Tsitsiragos says it’s not enough: without more private sector involvement, the region cannot generate the investments required to produce faster economic growth and more jobs. Continue reading »
After running into trouble with international sanctions in Iran, India’s top basmati rice exporter is focusing on Africa.
While Africa today consumes only small amounts of basmati, KRBL is seeing rapid growth – and it hopes to see much more in the coming years. As African consumers get richer, they are expected to develop a taste for more expensive imported foods. Continue reading »
Six months of intense pressure from Washington to persuade Turkey to reduce its oil imports from Iran have apparently paid off.
Figures released on Tuesday by Turkey’s state statistics office TUIK indicate that of the 1.87m tonnes of crude Turkey imported in June only 684,000 tonnes – 37 per cent came from Iran. This is a significant drop on last year when Turkey sourced 51 per cent of its crude from Iran, and on March this year when imports from Iran peaked at 68 per cent of total imports. Continue reading »
Halwani Bros, a Saudi food producer, seems to think it has a recipe for labour market transformation – beyond the dense, sesame halawa dessert, for which it is famous. The 60-year-old, Riyadh-listed company has set a minimum wage of SAR3,000 ($800) per month for Saudi employees, according to a report in Arab News.
The move may only benefit 80 nationals employed at food production plants across the kingdom, as well as 50 more that the company plans to hire – but the decision could have far-reaching ramifications for other Saudis. Continue reading »
Some investors in the Saudi stock market breathed sigh of relief on Wednesday after the Capital Markets Authority lifted a suspension of trading on Saudi Integrated Telecom Company, known in Arabic as AlMutakamela.
The telecoms operator has been at the center of Riyadh market gossip for the past few months as bankers tried to piece together exactly why trading in its shares was halted on April 1, less than a year after its initial public offering. Continue reading »
It’s no fun being a bond investor these days. You either invest in safe havens like US and German bonds and get a negative return, or go on adventure in countries like Spain and can’t be sure you’ll get your money back.
So the emergence of Shariah compliant sukuk offers an appealing middle way. With the London 2012 Sukuk Summit being held on June 6 and 7, beyondbrics reviews the latest developments in the market. Continue reading »
Investors have lost their appetite for IPOs. Banks are unwilling to lend. But for some sovereign wealth funds, there is hardly a crisis at all.
The Qatar Investment Authority recently bought significant stakes in high-profile companies such as Shell and Tiffany’s and is eyeing a 10 per cent stake in mining company Xstrata. The China Investment Corporation recently launched a €5oom SME investment fund in Europe and is looking for opportunities in emerging Europe and Africa. How come emerging market SWFs are so active in an otherwise depressed financial world? Continue reading »
After a discreet but damaging spat over licensing that saw Saudi Arabia fall out of MSCI’s indices in 2009, the Middle East’s largest economy and the world’s most influential emerging markets index provider appear to have kissed and made up.
MSCI said on Monday that it will reintroduce its Saudi Arabia Domestic Indices and related regional indices – such as the MSCI Arabian Markets – in June, a move that some hope could signal another move by Saudi Arabia to ease foreign investor access to its bourse, the largest and most liquid in the Arab world. Continue reading »