Public Investment Fund Launches the ‘Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company’

Riyadh – The Public Investment Fund (PIF) has announced the establishment of the Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC), in line with Saudi Vision 2030 objectives to improve the performance of the real estate market, increase its contribution to GDP, and raise the rate of home-ownership among Saudis to 52% by the end of 2020.

Demand for real estate financing in the Kingdom is expected to increase from SAR280 billion in 2017 to SAR500 billion in 2020.

Launched in partnership with the Ministry of Housing, and under the chairmanship of Majed al-Hogail, the Minister of Housing, the new company is designed to stimulate housing sector development in the Kingdom by injecting liquidity into the real estate market.

SRC is anticipated to refinance up to SAR75 billion for the Kingdom’s housing sector over the next five years, reaching SAR170 billion by 2026.

The company will act as an intermediary access point for investors, aligning the liquidity, capital, and risk management requirements of real estate mortgage companies, with the risk acceptability and return on equity to meet investor targets.

It endeavors to create stability and growth in the Kingdom’s housing sector by injecting liquidity into the secondary mortgage market, improving standards, and facilitating access to local and international financing sources.

SRC will adopt a strategy of acquiring mortgage funds to increase financial capabilities and broaden the activities of real estate financing companies. It will also work on linking the investment capital of foreign and local investors with the range of opportunities available in the Kingdom’s growing housing market.

In addition, the company’s activities will include issuing bonds as securities, supported through real estate mortgage contracts over the short and long term, to real estate financing companies. SRC is considered a leading new initiative for the Kingdom’s housing sector, launched in line with the highest international standards.

SRC has been granted a license to undertake real estate refinancing activities by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).

Top Scholars Say Terror Cells Target Saudi Youth

Security forces found arms, ammunition and cash from the possession of the two terrorists.

Riyadh- Chief of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia Fahad Al-Majid stressed that terrorist cells aim to target and deceive youth, adding that targeting national security is a crime of treason.

The nationwide condemnation by all sects of the Saudi society against these rings confirms the failure of these deviant groups and the rabble-rousing parties to harm national unity, said Majid.

He called on state institutions and civil society organizations to do more to raise awareness against the “gravity” of the threat these cells pose against the security of the Kingdom, the top scholar told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Saudi security forces are working around the clock to apprehend those affiliated with terror activities and extremism.

He stressed that targeting Saudi security and interests is among “the greatest evil practiced by terrorist groups, which have repeatedly tried to target the security of the country and carry out sabotage activities.”

Majid pointed out that establishing the Presidency of State Security and linking it to the King directly, as well as the Public Prosecutor’s Office had a great impact on the effective steps which see into protecting the homeland’s security, capabilities, and achievements.

The Presidency of State Security enabled the Interior Ministry to provide the best services to citizens and residents in all sectors. The new presidency will be able to focus on the fight against terrorism on the security and intelligence levels, as well as monitor its financing.

Moreover, the scholars’ Twitter account posted that a true Muslim is a part of the whole Muslim community, pointing out that harming the national faith (Islam), homeland security and national unity is a crime and cannot be accepted.

The State Security Presidency in Saudi Arabia announced in two separate statements detecting and thwarting ISIS-plotted terrorist attacks targeting two defense ministry headquarters in Riyadh.

Saudi Minister discusses with the Iraqi PM Ways of Boosting Trade, Investment

The Minister of Commerce and Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, who is also Chairman of the Saudi side in the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, discussed on Tuesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi ways to enhance bilateral relations.

Boosting ties will influence both economies, trade relations, agriculture and investment fields, said the Saudi state news agency SPA.

Al-Qasabi’s discussions, which took place in Baghdad, were designed to develop and deepen strategic and economic relations, discuss promising investment opportunities and distinctive partnerships that serve the interests of the two parties, promote trade exchanges and find suitable opportunities that serve development plans for the two sides.

The Saudi delegation included high-level government officials and businessmen chosen to strengthen the partnership of the two countries during the visit which comes in line with the priorities of the Kingdom in all sectors, foremost of which are the industrial, agricultural, education, health and other sectors.

The minister said that the visit comes after the opening of border crossings between the two countries, stressing the Kingdom’s desire to open trade and investment, develop trade exchanges with the Iraqi side, and strengthen ties between the two countries.

The two sides discussed the Kingdom’s participation in the international economic forum which will be held in Baghdad, the establishment of the Saudi-Iraqi Business Council during the coming period, and the Saudi-Iraqi Business Opportunities Forum in the Kingdom next year.

Crown Prince Conveys King’s Condolences to Family of Martyr Major Tareq Alaqi

Saudi

Mecca – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, has conveyed condolences of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to the father of Major Tareq bin Abdul Latif al-Alaqi who was martyred after a security patrol was hit by an explosive projectile while carrying out its missions to maintain order in Mousawarah, Qatif.

The Crown Prince expressed his condolences in a phone call on Wednesday to the father and the family of martyr Alaqi, confirming that the leadership is proud of its heroic sons who have devoted themselves to confront the terrorist elements and thwart their plans in order to safeguard the security and stability of the country.

He affirmed that all security sectors are ready to fight terrorism and eliminate terrorists, expressing the depth of cohesion between people and the wise Government at all times and places in order to protect the kingdom against any one who wants to tamper with its security.

Father of Major Tareq expressed gratitude and appreciation for King Salman and Crown Prince for offering condolences.

Saudi National Security Center Established

Royal Saudi Land Forces

Riyadh – The directives issued by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Saturday were topped by establishing a National Security Center affiliated to the Royal Court.

In a Royal Order, he also appointed Mohammad bin Salih Alghfaili as an advisor for national security. Designating the name “advisor” resembles the nomenclature of the axial states, such as the United States, where the position is of high importance in the chain of command.

Security centers are very crucial in the states as they are considered an assembly of centers for strategic studies which analyze data and enhance decision making in the country.

The order said the national security advisor shall be a member of the Political and Security Affairs Council and supervisor of the Secretariat of the Council.

According to experts, national security is what the state does to maintain its unity against any threat through a variety of power projections, such as political power, diplomacy, economic power, military might, and so on.

Professor of international relations Abdul Latif al-Salimi pointed out that the challenges compel the formation of a national security center linked to the decision maker. He added that security is the basis of the policies that works on putting the national interest first and detecting risks.

Salimi considered the establishment of a national security center an indication of the new spirit that activates the strong and soft power of the kingdom.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Salimi explained that the role of national security centers is to perform strategic analysis according to the institutional work, adding that they contribute to establishing balance and enhancing the national identity of the country internally and externally.

The decision is part of the country’s continuous attempt to reach the Vision 2030, during the economic growth reflected by the recent royal orders like the restoration of financial allowances for civil servants and military personnel that had been cut previously. This confirms the precise direction to reach strategic goals as it was preceded two years ago by the formation of two councils: Political and Security Affairs Council chaired by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef, and Economic Affairs and Development Council chaired by deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Amid the changes in the region, national security centers and national centers for strategic studies contribute to the determination of the policies that should be used as part of the futuristic view of these developments. This comes in accordance with a strategic balance that maintains the sovereignty of the state and its economic and social composition. It also helps in achieving nationalism in its current form which is based on linking former events with current and future possible ones through analysis, deductions, and exploration of the future.

KSA, Jordan Sign $1Billion-Worth Trade Agreements

Saudi-Jordanian Joint Economic Forum in Amman, Jordan

Riyadh- Saudi and Jordanian business sectors anticipate the soon boosting of economic, investment and commercial cooperation. Fourteen agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoU) were signed on Tuesday between the two in Jordan’s capital Amman.

The dealings between the MoUs and agreements mounted to 4 billion riyals (1.06 billion dollars).

“The joint economic forum organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers, the Jordan Commerce and Industry chambers, and under the patronage of Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulqi, was concluded yesterday,” said Mohammad Al-Ouda, a member of the Saudi-Jordanian Business Council said.

He cited a number of key Saudi and Jordanian officials attending the forum, which wrapped up its activities successfully.

Ouda added that the signed 14 agreements address a number of fields, including medical sectors, industries, engineering consultancy and others. A spectrum of over 100 businessmen from both countries has participated at the event, discussing trade and investment prospects and bilateral cooperation.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Samarain, Chairman of the Saudi-Jordanian Business Council, addressed the attendees at the forum’s opening session with a great emphasis on the event coinciding with the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to Jordan.

Saudi Arabia was the top trade partner of Jordan in 2015 with a trade volume of some $ 4.1 billion, while Saudi exports to Jordan reached about $ 3.1 billion.

The majority of these dealings were in terms of oil crude and byproducts, polyethylene, polypropylene–while the value of Saudi imports from Jordan amounted to an estimated $1 billion dollars.

Samarain stressed the need to make the most of opportunities which improve bilateral trade and investment—stepping up the rate of exchanged data and visits of officials under that category.

The Kingdom’s 2030 vision, which is aimed at diversifying national income and attracting investment, could benefit Jordanians in terms of investment prospects offered by the Kingdom across various economic sectors, Samarain added.

On that note, the forum witnessed the signing of 14 exclusive trade agreements between Saudi and Jordanian companies, including the establishment of a Saudi-Jordanian company for the rehabilitation of cars (SAJO), a factory for the manufacture of smart meters and gadgets related to smart electricity networks.

Reconstructing the Private Sector

Saudi

Oil incomes had severely increased over the past year, to an extent where many in Saudi Arabia are accepting the callings for abandoning total dependency on oil revenues which they had been addicted-to for decades.

The suggested remedy is bitter, but necessary to save the country, secure better future for the coming generations, and building a stronger state and a healthier economy.

The announcement of the new budget had awakened many: we are entering a new stage. The work has begun to decrease oil dependency and the role of the “mother” government.

Saudi Arabia is transporting into a new phase, in compliance with the Vision 2030, saying it will depend more on the private sector which it chose as a primary partner in providing services like education, medicine, transportation, and others.

A successful example is a one whose economy doesn’t depend on the public sector.

Shifting a part to the private sector is a wise move, but I believe the problem lies in the fact that this sector is still weak and can’t be relied upon to perform all the required tasks.

Only few companies can be considered, while the rest are shops that depend on the easy money of the oil.

If the government is looking forward to transform into a country of productive private sector, it should consider the economy of the large corporations.

With all due respect to those who speak about supporting the middle and small enterprises as a solution to employing thousands of the unemployed, I believe the better option for Saudi Arabia is otherwise.

Converting into large corporation market, will enhance services and productions and facilitate the processes of training and employing citizens, as well as protecting the Saudization program which for thirty years, the government failed to impose on the private sector.

Corporations of large capitals can introduce high technologies, spend on constructing large allocation networks, and expand all over the country. Maybe it is best for countries with large employment like Egypt or low investments like Pakistan to develop its small enterprises because it is the way to hire citizens with least cost possible.

The choice for Saudi Arabia is to transform into large corporations’ economy in all sectors including technology, education, health services, engineering, and electricity.

By referring to international experiences and using latest technologies, Saudi Arabia can build a huge and organized market.

Large enterprises can, along with governmental organizations, serve the market by imposing its needs on the educational and training sector.

The role of the government hence becomes to generate large enterprises through programs and loans. We have few previous experiences in this area, like SABIC for instance.

SABIC has forty thousand employees, most of which are Saudis, who provide advanced services.

Other endeavors have failed, usually for lack of regulations and systems. The latest one was Panda’s trial in residential areas and thousands of franchises similar to large U.S. corporations. This probably failed because of the chaos in the market and lack of regulations for permits through which companies can give its services in the neighborhoods.

Since the government is the source of life for the economy, it can rebuild the market from scratch. For instance, it can set a condition for its large contracts that a percentage of its work will be for local companies specialized in providing engineering services and employing thousands of Saudi technicians with minimum wages and long term contracts that ensure the safety of consumers for years to come.

Currently, Saudi Arabia’s private sector is poor with specialized large corporations. Most companies in the market are franchises that can’t be relied upon to form a real productive market.

Large enterprises are no no more than five and it is impossible to take in hundreds of thousands of graduates, especially after the government decided to let go of the role of the employer.

The government’s philosophy is that it helps them learn, and promotes training, saying they have to work in simple markets.

Since the government had decided that the private sector is its partner, it should therefore shake it off and rebuild it.

The current market was built for other purposes and a different time.

I believe that the government should plan and encourage the establishment of similar companies for the advanced markets and of all sectors. It should also launch its subscription in the market as it did with SABIC, and the electric and transportation companies.

Through that, the government can rely on the private sector and its role becomes regulatory and monitory.

Saudi King Launches Oil, Cultural Projects Standing at $43.5 Billion

Dhahran- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz launched five Saudi Aramco expansion projects with an estimated worth of $43.5 billion (equivalent to some SAR163 billion.)

The projects encompass production-oriented expansion for the national oil and gas giant, Aramco. The projects are expected to produce a daily 3 million barrels equivalent of crude oil and gas.

King Salman also inaugurated the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture whose construction works are at a dashing $800 million cost. The center would later serve in growing cultural and academic knowledge.

As for Aramco’s five, King Salman kicked off development works on the Manifa oil field, Wasit Gas Plant, Khurais oil field, and Shaybah oil field and liquefied gas plants in Empty Quarter (Rub Al-Khali).

The Shaybah oil field’s efficiency is expected to increase by 275,000 bpd. After the inauguration of the Chiba project, one of the largest projects in the world, Saudi King Salman al-Saud said that the kingdom’s Empty Quarter is no longer “empty”, but it is a “fully functioning location.”

The site was built in Saudi Arabia’s Rub‘ al Khali (Empy Quarter) desert, the largest contiguous sand desert in the world covering most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula.

The event marked the 80th anniversary of the first shipment of crude oil of Aramco, which was launched by the founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Al Saud, SPA said.

The king, who is on a visit to the Eastern region this week, also launched on Tuesday other industrial projects worth 92.2 billion dollars. The projects aim to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy.

King Salman gave a word to the company’s employees, wishing them success and delivering national and public pride of the undying efforts spent by the workforce. The King watched a video presentation on the history of Saudi Aramco. Then, a group of young Saudis presented crystal stones to the King, symbolizing each of the new projects.

The King launched the mega oil projects with lifting the joystick for energy to flow from various production plants with a total production capacity of about 3 million barrels per day.

The King then interacted through video conferencing with a group of young Saudi employees at each of the newly opened facilities.

Saudi Arabia to Establish National Water,Energy Efficiency Program

Saudi Arabia will establish a national program to optimize water and energy consumption, it announced in a cabinet statement on Monday, further moves in areas where the government is seeking to cut back huge subsidies.

The new program will review policy incentives currently in place for the energy and water sectors, taking into account both economic productivity needs and inequality within society, the statement said.

The announcement comes amid a major movement made on modernizing the kingdom’s energy and water sectors, intended to support sweeping economic reform plans for diversification and unlocking the economic potential of the world’s largest crude exporter beyond oil.

As part of the reform drive, Saudi Arabia aims to reduce electricity and water subsidies by 200 billion riyals ($53 billion) and reduce non-oil subsidies by 20 percent by 2020.

In May, The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz restructured the ministries responsible for handling water and energy policies.

Through royal decrees, King Salman bin Abdulaziz dissolved the old Water and Electricity Ministry and handed responsibility for electricity over to a new Energy, Industry and Natural Resources Ministry headed by Khaled al-Falih, chairman of state oil company Aramco.

The water portfolio was incorporated into a new Environment, Water and Agriculture Ministry.

Saudi Arabia Labor Ministry: We Receive an Annual 1.5 Mln Expatriate Employees

Saudi Arabia Labor Ministry: We Receive an Annual 1.5 Mln Expatriate Employees

Riyadh- Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Development official revealed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia receives approximately million and a half in foreign labor workers annually.

The official highlighted that the Saudi market does not suffer from unemployment; alternatively it struggles with the offered employment posts and the competitive feature of employment featuring local employment vs. foreign employment.

Saudi Deputy Labor and Social Development Minister Ahmed Al-Humaidan told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the Ministry implements standards targeted at lowering the Kingdom’s unemployment rates, among which is stepping up competition between foreign and national employees.

He added that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia experiences an evident issue with employment hierarchy and proportionality of posts. Higher posts are found to be over dominated by expatriates.

A new (Mawzoon) Nitaqat system, which comes into effect on Dec. 11, 2016, will put an end to the dominance of expatriate workers in critical jobs and bring down the unemployment rate, said Deputy Labor and Social Development Minister Ahmed Al-Humaidan.

The new system is anticipated to eventually balance the labor market.

Addressing a press conference, Al-Humaidan said that the revised system will also improve the job market situation, raise the quality of employment, generate suitable jobs for Saudi men and women, create a secured and an inviting working environment and end unproductive Saudization.

The new Saudization system comes in line with the Kingdom’s reform Vision “2030”. It will realize the objectives of the National Transformation Program.

Al- Humaidan also highlighted that the initiative and procedures put in effect will increase the demand on Saudi labor, in addition to protecting its presence in the labor market.

The ministry had recently introduced Mawzoon as part of its efforts to encourage private firms to employ more Saudis and bring about reform in the job market, keeping in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.