Saudi Arabia attained a budget surplus of SR27.8 billion in the first quarter of 2019, in comparison to a budget deficit of SR34.3 billion during the same period last year, the Kingdom’s Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said at the Financial Sector Conference (FSC) in Riyadh on Wednesday.
This is the first time that the Kingdom recorded a surplus in its budget since the 2014 oil price slump, and increased income from hydrocarbons’ sales as well as revenue from non-oil industries contributed to the country’s economic growth.
The Kingdom plans to increase state spending by 7 percent this year in an effort to spur economic growth that has been weakened by low oil prices, according to its 2019 state budget.
“We are committed to the reform, this is not about the oil, this is about an economy that needs to be diversified,” said Al-Jadaan. “The ministry has launched initiatives worth SR12.5 billion to support the growth of private sector, including SMEs.”
Foreign investments to Saudi Arabia doubled, while direct investments rose by about 5 percent during Q1, Al-Jadaan noted. Moreover, the Ministry of Finance is working with 18 other ministries to sort out all the obstacles faced by investors. Expenditure in the first quarter amounted to SR 217.6 billion, slightly higher in comparison to last year, he added.
Mubasher – April 24 2019
As Saudi Arabia is boosting its infrastructure spending in line with the objectives of Vision 2030, the world’s leading oil-exporting nation is witnessing more master development launches than ever before, says management consultancy firm Faithful+Gould.
Saudi Arabia has plans to spend $1.1 trillion on infrastructure projects from 2019-2038 and already has a long list of multi-billion dollar mega projects such as NEOM, Al-Ula, Red Sea and Qiddiya under construction. In addition, last month King Salman launched four well-being projects – King Salman Park, Sports Boulevard, Green Riyadh, and Riyadh Art – worth $23 billion (SR 86 billion) in the capital city.
Spencer Wylie, Faithful+Gould’s country director said,”We are seeing more master developments launched to provide integrated and dynamic lifestyle destinations with commercial, residential, retail, leisure and entertainment offerings that cater to the growing population’s needs and support the tourism sector”.
Argaam – April 2019
Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector has reached its highest level since December 2017 as confidence in the Kingdom starts to return, reveals data published by the Emirates NBD Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).
The survey shows that the Kingdom’s private sector’s new order growth accelerated to its fastest since April 2015. According to Khatija Haque, head of MENA Research at Emirates NBD, the average PMI reading for Q1 2019 was 56.5, indicating the strongest quarterly expansion in the non-oil private sector since Q4 2017.
The latest poll showed that the output of goods and services across the non-oil private sector increased at a faster rate in March and reached a seven-month high. This has influenced companies to raise their buying levels and boost stocks of purchases. New export order rose marginally for the first time in three months.
Companies participating in this monthly survey of business conditions in the Saudi Arabian private sector reported that the upturn in the market reflected stronger market conditions. In addition, greater sales efforts, improved product offerings and competitive pricing attracted customers.
With firms looking to increase sales through competitive pricing, last month saw a slight drop in average prices for goods and services. However, confidence towards future output remained strongly positive in the poll results.
Arabian Business – April 2019
Saudi Aramco’s debut bond sale orders have reached $100 billion, far exceeding previous highs for a bond issue by an emerging market entity, indicating that global investors are confident than ever to invest in the Kingdom. The world’s largest oil company is planning to raise $12 billion from the $100 billion demand at its first international bond sale.
The demand for the state owned firm’s bond issue which is split into maturities ranging from three to thirty years reportedly sets a record for emerging market bond demand, surpassing Qatar’s $52 billion orders for $12 billion deal last year, Saudi Arabia’s $67 billion for its own bond sale in 2016 and Argentina’s $69 billion orders for $16.5 billion trade that same year.
The current demand for the bond of more than $100 billion is equal to the amount Aramco expects to raise through international equity markets in an initial public offering on stock exchanges later in 2021.
Last week, documents from Saudi Aramco’s bond offering revealed that with an annual revenue of $355.9 billion, the company emerged as the world’s most profitable business, with its 2018 profits of $111.1 billion overtaking Apple at $59.5 billion.
Arab News – April 11 2019
Saudi Arabian Mining Company Ma’aden plans to boost its gold output from 415,000 ounces this year to one million by 2025, announced Chief Executive Officer Darren Davis in an interview. This would transform Saudi Arabia from a marginal gold producer to one of the world’s top-20 suppliers in a few years.
As part of a $426 billion infrastructure spending plan that seeks to exploit $1.3 trillion in resources, Saudi Arabia hopes to spend at least $7.4 billion for exploring metals and minerals by 2035. A rise in global demand for gold with increasing US-China trade tensions and fear of a recession has struck a positive chord for the state-backed mining company, which is exploring new ways to deal with the declining prices of some commodities, including aluminium.
David added that Ma’aden will lift its exploration budget to SR250 million this year, about triple its average annual spending over the past decade and focus on gold, copper and zinc.
Saudi Gazette – April 05 2019
The Saudi Human Resources Development Fund’s (HADAF) “Wusul” program, launched to support the transfer of working women, is ensuring that female employees working in Saudi Arabia’s private sector are being given up to SR800 per month to cover the cost of their travel to and from work.
The scheme covers 80 percent of working women’s transport fees and provides safe, high-quality transportation services in partnership with private taxi companies through licensed smart apps. HADAf has updated the transfer program to benefit more female employees as part of its vision to support working women in the private sector.
To qualify for the scheme, working women must have been registered with the social welfare system for less than 36 months and receive a maximum salary of SR8000 per month.
Arab News – March 28 2019
International artists will be able to take residency in Saudi Arabia as part of a new”cultural residency” program, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Culture said during an event in Riyadh.
The residency scheme is one among a series of initiatives announced at the launch of the Ministry of Culture’s vision and strategy for future. Other major programs announced at the event includes arts prizes, festivals, exhibitions, libraries, fashion weeks, a national theater, a national film archive, a cultural city, scholarship programs and a culture fund to support artists.
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, Minister of Culture, announced initiatives designed to transform the Kingdom’s cultural sector into an essential part of people’s everyday lives. He focused on creating an environment that supports national talents in all areas and sectors, while simultaneously preserving the country’s culture and wealth.
The announcements have been seen as a key part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plan for future, Vision 2030, launched by Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman in 2016. The plan outlined culture and entertainment as key sectors that could help drive the country away from oil dependency.
Arab News – March 28 2019