Saudi Arabia Launches Technical Regulations for Degradable Plastic Products


Jeddah – Saudi Arabia began facing environmental and health risks of plastic products that violate the regulations after approving a list of new standards that ensures all non-complying products will not be allowed into the country.

Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) informed the customs of the new standards for the degradable plastic products. The organization stressed that any product that is not approved will not be allowed inside the country.

SASO asked the customs to work with laboratories to test the imports. It also requested Saudi Council of Chambers to notify all businessmen and importers of the new regulations.

Head of Jeddah customs chamber, Ibrahim al-Oqaily said that all agents have been informed of the new regulations. He pointed out that this step aims to control plastic imports after several harmful products have been found in the Saudi market.

Oqaily stated that this new order improves the product’s efficiency. He ensured that products are tests to make sure they conform with the protocols.

The committee aims to establish plans for higher efficiency and productivity in developing projects as well as increasing products’ quality.

The committee launched 1183 new standards in order to improve local products, that were derived from the international regulations. Thus, enhancing the trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

SASO board also approved 140 regulations’ update, thus making the number of Saudi regulations 8.26 thousand in total.

The committee granted importers until mid this year to begin applying the list of regulations on degradable plastic products on all national facilities, that include mail packages and other packaging for bread and others.

Saudi Arabia’s four major cities: Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah and Medina produce about five million tons of waste products.

Khartoum Provides Saudi Investors New Guarantees


Jeddah- Council of Saudi Chambers is discussing forming a delegation of its councils and the business sector to tackle the potential agricultural and food security investments – this coincides with Khartoum hosting the third Arab Conference to be held by Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment Development (AAID).

“Our Food .Our Responsibility” will be the theme under which AAID will hold on 27-28 February the third Arab Conference, with the patronage of President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir. According to the authority, organizing the conference launches from its vision to reinforce Arab food security.

The conference will host an elite group of senior officials from Arab countries, businessmen and investors in the agricultural sector, international and Arab organizations, representatives of farmers and economists unions and other researchers in the agricultural sector.

The conference aims to highlight the significance of creating an attractive investment climate to increase agricultural investment in Arab countries, particularly those rich in agricultural resources.

The conference will be held in Sudan given the country’s promising investments in agriculture sector and its compliance to al-Bashir Food Security Initiative.

Saudi Arabia is considered the biggest Arab investor in Sudan and is expected to increase its investments to around USD15 billion in the current year – there are 196 Saudis investing in the agricultural sector in Sudan and they basically focus on wheat, corn and feed.

Sudan, for its part, represents a high importance to Saudi Arabia due to its strategic location and for possessing natural resources. Days earlier, it has been announced that Sudan allocated a one-million acre land for Saudi businessmen.

Most recent statistics reveal that food consumption reached 29 million tons in 2014 and is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 4.5% by 2019.

Australia to Boost Agricultural Exports to Saudi Arabia


Jeddah- Australia made an announcement on intentions for future expansion of Gulf-Australian relations, namely with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Exporting agricultural goods is one of the domains that will be propped up between the two.

Officials in both Saudi Arabia and Australia have been holding extensive deliberations on drafting an efficient and cooperative partnership between the two countries especially with respect to the agricultural sector.

Commissioner of Western Australian Trade Office Mr. Pankaj Savara told Asharq Al-Awsat that Australia is willing and looking forward to provide agricultural produce in Arab Gulf markets, and that the initiative is being presented to prominent Australian producers, companies and health researchers based in Gulf states.

Mr. Savara says that the upcoming period is expected to display notable agricultural cooperation.

He added that great opportunity for commercial and investment expansion between the two countries is present, saying that Australia can contribute largely to a Saudi-Australian partnership.

More so, Australia, home two the second international best higher education facilities, is expected to channel that sense of quality and commitment through the partnership to Saudi Arabia.

Tourism, health and vocational training are also domains to be expected to be enhanced via the partnership.

The Council of Saudi Chambers says that mutual desire to amp trade relations and investment will be improving a $1.5 million worth trade exchange between the two countries.

The Australia Saudi Business Council has been working towards pumping up Saudi exporters’ participation in the council in an effort to grow the rate on non-oil Saudi world-class exports to Australia.

The Australia Saudi Business Council Inc. is a new association formed with the support of the Australian and Saudi Governments, by a consortium of Industry leaders and the two national Industry Associations, with its key objective being to increase all levels of engagement between Australia and Saudi Arabia.

The Australia Saudi Business Council Inc. was established to develop and promote business and commercial links between Australia and Saudi Arabia. Its secondary aim is to establish, promote, facilitate or participate in joint business councils or other joint business organizations in partnership with the Association of Saudi Chambers of Commerce or other Saudi business organizations.

Saudi Arabia Launches Program to Limit Internet Usage, Enhance Information Security Level


Jeddah – The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has announced a project to limit the internet consumption in the country and to enhance the level of information security. The ministry also announced operating a new extension for internet.

Experts in the Information Technology told Asharq al-Awsat that this step aims at raising awareness towards the dangers of information security, coordinating efforts in the field of cyber security and increasing confidence in cyber dealings.

Security Advisor Professor Yusuf al-Rumaih said that this procedure is to protect the social and economic system of the country from insecure hacking especially amidst the internet criminal organizations exploitation to reach for individuals in target such as teenagers and the youths.

The number of spam messages sent daily on the social network websites is estimated as more than 100,000. They basically encourage chaos and jihad. Security Consultant and Researcher Professor Ali al-Khashaiban said that focusing on information security is one of the basic steps that protect the society from any violations on the security and mental levels.

According to official warnings, the offenses against governmental bodies and huge companies seek coding websites through spreading malice viruses—this fact pushed parties to send warning letters for devices users to avoid falling for these attempts.

The spying program includes sending messages via the social network websites—however if users examined the messages carefully then they can deleted them and avoid the damage.

Saudi Arabia Eases Procedures to Boost Mining Sector

oil market

Jeddah- The Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia announced willingness to launch more investment licenses in the mining sector for the purpose of developing the domain and increasing its contribution to USD25 billion by 2020 amid rising interest of foreign investors in exploiting opportunities.

Reliable sources in the mining sector told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources received new instructions on easing procedures to urge foreign investors’ involvement in the sector. Previously, some investors faced prolonged procedures that led them to change their mind.”

Same sources added that the ministry has presented a new ongoing project that targets re-planning mining chances, knowing its details and offering them to investors during investment related conferences as well as providing motives that would boost investors in the domain.

Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sultan Shawli declared that efforts are exerted to develop the mining sector and increase its contribution to the GDP via the implementation of the Saudi Vision 2030 goals.

According to the ministry, the current contribution of mining in GDP is 2.5% and is expected to rise in case investments grew and opportunities were exploited. The sector also grants licenses in zink, phosphate and other minerals.

The ministry is implementing a strategy that enhances investment opportunities in the mining sector, provides an appealing investment environment, develops skills of Saudi labor force, protects promising mining zones and improves technical information and data related to mining investments.

Saudi lands are rich in natural mineral resources and there are several factors that ensure success in this field, represented in availability of: nearby energy, financial solvency, increasing demand and mining investment regulations.

The domestic market is expected to witness a rising demand on local products of metal ores, which are forecast to grow up to 7.5% in upcoming years.

IATA Forecasts 7.2 Billion Passengers in 2035

Emirates Airlines aircrafts are seen at Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates May 10, 2016.

Jeddah-The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects 7.2 billion passengers to travel in 2035, a near doubling of the 3.8 billion air travelers in 2016.

“Runways, terminals, security and baggage systems, air traffic control, and a whole raft of other elements need to be expanded to be ready for the growing number of flyers,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“It cannot be done by the industry alone. Planning for change requires governments, communities and the industry working together in partnership.”

De Juniac said that the roadmap to turn this dream into reality is being developed through IATA’s Simplifying the Business (StB) program.

StB looks over the passenger experience from an end-to-end perspective across all processes, from shopping for travel, to the airport experience, to arriving at the destination, with a special focus on transformation.

Programs under the StB umbrella include Smart Security, a joint initiative with Airports Council International (ACI) to make airport security checkpoints more efficient and less intrusive. It is making inroads in Europe and the first U.S. airport—Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport—just joined the program.

The StB also includes The New Distribution Capability (NDC), which will change how consumers shop for air travel by enabling travel agents to have access to products and services currently available only on airline websites owing to technology limitations. Already 26 airlines have implemented a part of the NDC standard.

One Order will build on the capabilities of NDC to enable airlines to replace the multiple rigid and paper-based booking and ticketing records by combining the contents into a single and flexible order record. It will eliminate the need for passengers to juggle different reference numbers and documents along their journeys.

De Juniac called for air transport stakeholders to work together and embrace speed and innovation to meet the challenges of growth and rising passenger expectations. “How do we move these concepts forward? The answer is in partnerships. Even as we implement today’s great ideas, we need to be looking for the next innovation that will make air travel even more compelling to the potential traveler. And we should be prepared to face a future where the cycle of innovation is continuously accelerating.”

De Juniac warned, however, that “no matter how much or how quickly we innovate our processes, there is no getting around the need to be both smart and quick in growing airport and airspace capacity.”

“Inadequate infrastructure negatively impacts the passenger experience in the form of flight delays, longer routes and inefficient schedules. Then there is the cost to economies of lost business opportunities, employment and social development. Remember aviation is a critical catalyst for economic and social development, supporting 63 million jobs and some $2.7 trillion in economic impact.”

De Juniac cited the recent historic agreement among member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to enable aviation to grow sustainably as an example of what can be achieved by working together.

“Where we have common interests, we can produce results. With ICAO, the industry worked with governments to achieve the world’s first agreement to offset the environmental impact generated by the growth of an entire industrial sector. Along with our investments in more efficient technologies, infrastructure and operations, we will ensure that aviation grows sustainably as we prepare to meet our long-term commitment to cut net emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050.”

Saudi Arabia Set to Host Global Exhibition on Combating Cyber Crimes

Saudi Arabia

Jeddah – Saudi Arabia will host the Global Internet Forum and Exhibition, which highlights the Saudi government’s efforts in dealing with cybercrimes, the e-government and its mechanism concerning the 2030 Vision; the event will be held with the participation of experts, authorities, and companies specialized in the field of internet and communication from across the world.

Khalid Naqro, supervisor of the exhibition said that this event will be held for the first time in the Middle East and is considered one of the most prominent events called for – by the Kingdom – amid international growth of use and demand on the internet; forecasts have showed that users who benefit from the internet service around the world have reached 3.2 billion, which represents around half of the world’s population.

Naqro added that the exhibition, which targets governmental entities, the private sector, organizations of civil society and companies of e-commerce, in addition to research and e-banking centers, will showcase many projects, services, and apps; the event will also embrace special initiatives on the Arabic content, projects, and new ideas aiming at attracting international apps, exchanging expertise. The event will also focus on highlighting Saudi Arabia’s efforts in the field of information technology (IT) and on providing many chances of partnership between the private and governmental sector.

The exhibition will discuss 20 different topics by featuring global speakers; topics are expected to include services provided by global companies for the Arabian customer, innovations, successes of websites and apps, and how these apps contributed in developing the community, in addition to themes like internet and the family, globalization and intellectual invasion, entertainment, and internet as a bullying platform.

The event will also showcase many global experiences on the role of educational entities and institutions in stimulating efforts of students to enrich the Arabic content, reasons behind this latter’s weakness, experiences of the Global Arab Network (GAN) and news of the internet.

It’s worth mentioning that official figures have showed that internet users in Saudi Arabia reached around 21.6 million by the end of 2015 representing 68.5% of citizens and residents, which shows the leap of internet growth over the past years; users of Twitter in the Kingdom exceeded three million who post more than 1.5 million tweets daily; as per Facebook, its users in Saudi Arabia have reached six millions while a million people use LinkdIn, YouTube, and different mobile apps.

SAMA: Private Sector Loans Register 8% Rise

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA)

Jeddah- The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) — Saudi Arabia’s central bank — reported an eight percent increase in gross loans approved by banks financing non-profitable government institutions and the private sector during August.

August figures amounted to a dashing SAR1,485.2 billion ($396 billion) compared to a SAR1,378.3 billion ($367.4 billion) registered in August, 2015.

According to SAMA’s published report, granted loans funding the private sector in Saudi Arabia had registered a seven percent increase, compared to last year’s 1,337 SAR billion, showing figures at SAR1,437 billion.

Government non-financial institutions have witnessed and increased 16 percent, registering a SAR47.9 billion.

The rise in the overall loan index for the private sector proves clear progress amid circumstances of international economic growth slowdown banking expert Siraj Al-Harthy told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The boost was a result of companies and institutions’ need of liquid assets so that projects reach completion.

Saudi banks are more inclined to approve large loans for established institutions and companies, for the lower risk factor compared to approving personal loans.

Even though, outstanding real estate loans extended by banks to retail customers totaled SR108.2 billion ($28.9 billion) at the end of August, central bank data shows.

Harthy explained that Saudi banks will benefit greatly from investing companies entering the national market, through financing most of their prospect projects. More so, rising competition among banks would add to the national economic wheel.

Managing Director at the National Commercial Bank(NCB) Saeed al-Ghamdi says that the financing rates approved for commercial entities during the first part of 2016 increased by 13.2 percent, setting it at a whopping SAR168 billion.

For his part, Ghamdi pointed out that NCB’s funding of the commercial sector is a major part of the role the bank plays in vitalizing and enhancing Saudi economy.

Saudi-Turkish Cooperation Council: Bilateral Agreements Boost Trade Exchange

Saudi King Salman meets Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Riyadh

Jeddah – Saudi Turkish Cooperation Council revealed that it had begun discussing several agreements that were inked during the two-day visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef to Ankara, which concluded on Friday.

Head of the council Mazen Rajab told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the council will conduct a series of meetings to discuss possible opportunities in the Saudi-Turkish business sector.

The endorsed agreements were mainly in the fields of manpower cooperation, science, culture, cooperation among mass communication channels like radio and television, and a memorandum of understanding in the cultural field.

Rajab added that the agreements will increase the trade exchange between the two countries which reaches $8.5 billion. He also stated that Saudi investments in Turkey have increased 300% last year.

For his part, vice president of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce Ziad al-Bassam told Asharq al-Awsat that the agreements signed will enhance cooperation and increase the opportunities in the Saudi business sector.

He explained that signing agreements at the official level will eliminate obstacles that were limiting joint agreements.

Turkish investors are expected to visit Saudi Arabia with the goal to increase cooperation between companies of the private sector and boost trade exchange.

Economic reports expect Saudi investments in Turkey to exceed $500 billion. In addition, 88% of Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia are industrial products. Turkey depends on Saudi oil to meet its demands.

The council issued recently “Investor’s Guide” that showed investment opportunities and a preview of the industrial projects.

The council works on enhancing cooperation, strengthening cultural ties, and bolstering economic ties between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Saudi Customs Bars Brokers from Securing Freight Clearance

Jeddah- Saudi customs recently barred clearance agents from dealing with hired brokers representing owners when processing imports and exports.

The new regulation warns that all commodity release must be cleared in the presence of direct owners. The stepped up measure comes after the board registering multiple attempts of hired brokers to cheat their way out of customs tariffs by providing forged documents.

Saudi Arabia’s head of Jeddah’s customs chamber, Ibrahim Aloqaily, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the measures will further secure the sector in addition to the rights of those involved in the process of clearing imports and exports.

Authorized clearance agents are held legally responsible for the entire process– limiting dealings to direct owners would ensure fluid processing and guarantee legal equity for trade transactions and partakers, Aloqaily added.

Saudi customs seeks to provide integrated customs services to meet development ‎requirements in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and keep pace with the latest ‎developments at local and international level. This will be achieved through a form of a ‎difficult formula considered Saudi customs mission and slogan represented in ‎‎(accelerating release of permissible goods and preventing entry of prohibited ones).

It ‎requires striking a balance between facilitation of flow of trade for importers and ‎exporters in accordance with the Kingdom’s international obligations on the one hand, ‎and carrying out accurate inspection tasks of consignments, on the other hand, to ensure ‎prevention of entry of prohibited and infringing materials such as counterfeit items as ‎customs represents the first line of defense for the country. ‎

In keep with its mission, Saudi customs had recently upgraded its processing system, offering electronic services aimed at facilitating procedural paperwork for clearance. Among the sea ports upgraded is the Jeddah Islamic Port.

Located at the heart of the international shipping route between east and west, the Jeddah Islamic Port occupies 10.5 square kilometers, with 58 deep water quays having an overall length of 11.2 kilometers with a draft reaching 16 meters.