UAE to host major finance expo, US fintech conference told, as leaders speak of aggressive rebound in market – Arab News
NEW YORK: Abu Dhabi will host Investopia, one of the biggest financial events in the MENA region, in March, the cryptocurrency conference SALT New York was told on Monday.
The announcement was made during a session in which UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri and the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, Mohamed Al-Shorafa, described how the country had refocused its economy away from oil and gas.
Al-Marri said the UAE had introduced some of the world’s first regulations into cryptocurrency as part of the country’s roadmap to modernizing its economy.
“Last year we announced our vision for the next 50 years. We are a country of visions and our leaders are visionaries,” he said.
Al-Marri explained that the country had changed 40 laws, including the decriminalization of bouncing cheques, and the 100 percent ownership law was also introduced to allow onshore ownership of companies by non-Emiratis.
He said the aim of the UAE was to drive the economy from a regional player to being truly global.
Al-Marri said that in the UAE the aim was to “push new economies, not future economies.”
The SALT New York event opened Monday amid a turbulent time — the virtual economy has experienced a monumental drop in the market, with cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and other tokens, all plummeting in value, with investors losing thousands on a market that offers no tangible goods.
In his opening remarks Anthony Scaramucci, founder and managing partner of SkyBridge, reflected on turbulent times since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Markets are changing again, he said, telling journalists in an impromptu media briefing that he was continuing to invest millions in funds that he believes are valued at their lowest, but he said he recognized there was always a risk that they could fall further.
“I am already seeing my investment improve in value,” Scaramucci later told Arab News on the sidelines.
“I think we all have to recognize that we are going through a cyclical bear (down) market,” he added, saying that there was already some sign of activity in the applications for cryptocurrencies as values were going down.
Referring to the current situation with the market downturn he said “we have got things that we really haven’t seen since the 1970s.”
The global inflation rises he said were two-pronged — with a drop in supply, but also a labor issue where there was a workforce shortage with people demanding higher salaries.
Asked when the economy would recover he told Arab News: “I think this time next year we will see a very aggressive recovery.”
Despite the downturn in the market, there nonetheless seemed to be an upbeat energy at the opening day of the conference
Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX, one of the world’s largest crypto-trading platforms, speaking remotely told the conference he remains optimistic about digital assets because “more regulatory clarity is coming.”
He said that would help to “unlock the asset class” for a number of institutions who want to get involved in the sector.
And Frank Chaparro, editor-at-large at The Block — a website dedicated to cryptocurrency news — said he believed there was still hope that the “winter has thawed and that the spring is upon us.”
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the conference, he said, “we don’t know how long this winter is going to last,” adding that 2018-2019 were two years of what he called “crypto winters.”
He said now was a time of hope in the market — adding that people should not focus on the value.
“It’s hopeful,” he said, “because it is a unique dynamic space. So if anything, this (is) a great time to build because we are not getting distracted by price and we can focus on doing the work.
“We have to think about what we have just got out of, we have got out of a massive price decline. We saw liquidity sucked out of the system, we saw leverage sucked out of the system. This was a dramatic collapse,” he explained.
Referring to the near 100 percent fall of the Terra (known as LUNA) crypto token, wiping billions of dollars off the market, he said: “LUNA was a dramatic collapse, the likes of which we have never really seen, a coin going from $50 billion market cap to zero, effectively.”
And he warned that people should not expect a “v-shaped rebound,” and added “patience is warranted; optimism, just in life, is always important.”
RIYADH: Taiba Investments Co. received its shareholders’ approval to purchase all stakes owned by Savola Group in Knowledge Economic City Co. for  SR459 million ($122 million).
Savola owns an 11.47 percent stake in KEC — a direct ownership of 6.40 percent and an indirect ownership of 5.07 percent — through Knowledge Economic City Developers, according to a bourse filing.
The deal comes in line with Savola’s plans to exit investments in non-core sectors in order to focus on its main operations in the food and retail sectors, Savola said in a separate statement.
RIYADH: Saudi stocks extended gains for a third straight day on Tuesday in line with higher oil prices which lifted most major Gulf markets.
The Kingdom’s main index TASI and its parallel Nomu market both finished the session 0.5 percent higher at 12,084 and 20,997 points, respectively.
Dubai’s DFMGI led the region’s gains as it surged 1.6 percent, bolstered by the initial public offering of its road-toll operator Salik.
Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain recorded gains amounting up to 0.8 percent, while the Omani bourse slipped 0.3 percent.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Egypt’s EGX30 reversed multi-session gains to end 0.4 percent lower.
Brent crude reached $92.76 per barrel on Wednesday, and US West Texas Intermediate traded at $86.92 per barrel by 8:59 a.m. Saudi time.
Stock news
Seera Group signed a non-binding deal to sell a SR3.75 billion ($1 billion) stake in its travel unit Almosafer to the Public Investment Fund 
Taiba Investments Co.’s shareholders approved the purchase of all Savola Group Co.’s shares in Knowledge Economic City Co. for SR459 million
Scientific & Medical Equipment House co. was awarded a SR118 million contract from the Ministry of Education to operate and maintain a health center at Najran University
United Electronics Co., known as eXtra, invited its shareholders to vote on a 33 percent capital increase to SR800 million
Keir International Co. reported a 63 percent growth in net profit to SR7 million in the first half of 2022
Gas Arabian Services Co. won SR108 million contract from Advanced Polyolefins Industry Co.
September 22, 2022
Tadawul will be closed for the Saudi National Day
RIYADH: The Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence has signed an agreement with healthcare management solutions provider Lean to explore the development of AI-powered solutions for the Saudi healthcare sector.
Under the terms of the agreement, SCAI —  fully owned by the Public Investment Fund —  and Lean will collaborate on taking AI-driven technologies to the next level to deliver innovative healthcare solutions, a statement showed.
This collaboration reflects the two companies’ shared commitments to serve the healthcare sector nationwide through sustainable projects and services driven by public-private partnerships, according to Lean CEO, Mohanned AlRasheed.
SCAI CEO Ayman AlRashed said they seek to strengthen the role of Big Data in creating smarter, technology-based economic sectors that “enhance the quality of living across the Kingdom and directly support the objectives of Vision 2030.” 
SCAI said it aims to position Saudi Arabia as a global AI leader by supporting local firms as they develop AI solutions.
The company has announced an investment of $776 million in a joint venture with China’s SenseTime to develop the AI ecosystem in the nation. The announcement was made by Al-Rashed, during the Global AI Summit in Riyadh on Sept.13.
RIYADH: Oil prices inched lower in early trade on Wednesday as US consumer prices unexpectedly rose in August, giving cover for the US Federal Reserve to deliver another hefty interest rate increase next week.
Brent crude futures were down 0.53 percent at $93.20 a barrel at 07.30 a.m Saudi time.
US West Texas Intermediate crude is priced at $86.90 a barrel, down 0.47 percent.
OPEC sticks to oil demand growth view, sees pre-pandemic demand in 2023
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, known as OPEC, on Tuesday stuck to its forecasts for robust global oil demand growth in 2022 and 2023 citing signs that major economies were faring better than expected despite headwinds such as surging inflation.
Oil demand will increase by 3.1 million barrels per day in 2022 and by 2.7 million bpd in 2023, unchanged from last month, the OPEC said in a monthly report.
Oil use has rebounded from the lows of the pandemic, although high prices and Chinese coronavirus outbreaks have trimmed 2022 projections. The downgrades, in OPEC’s view, have delayed recovery in oil use to above 2019 levels until 2023, it said last month.
“Oil demand in 2023 is expected to be supported by a still-solid economic performance in major consuming countries, as well as potential improvements in COVID-19 restrictions and reduced geopolitical uncertainties,” OPEC said in Tuesday’s report.
It expects world oil consumption in 2023 to average 102.73 million bpd, above the pre-pandemic rate during 2019.
Earlier this year, OPEC had forecast a move above pre-pandemic demand levels in 2022.
“While the US and China especially were facing challenges in the first half of 2022, their economies are very likely to recover in the second half,” the report said.
The report added: “The eurozone enjoyed an unexpectedly strong first half of 2022 despite weak sentiment and inflationary trends.”
Iran controls fire at southern oilfield
Iran on Tuesday brought under control a fire at its Shadegan oilfield which was caused by an apparent act of sabotage, a local oil company official told state television.
The fire was caused early on Tuesday after “tampering by unknown elements,” but it was quickly brought under control, Qobad Nasseri, head of the Maroon Oil and Gas Production Company which exploits Shadegan, told state television.
The oilfield is located in the oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province, home to Iran’s Arab minority, which has long been the scene of anti-government unrest.
Iran has accused Israel of several attacks on facilities and scientists linked to its nuclear program. Israel has neither denied nor confirmed the allegations.
Nasseri said: “The situation is completely under control and there is no cause for concern… The damage is being evaluated but the field will return to production shortly.”
The fire apparently occurred at one of some 20 active wells in the Shadegan field, which has an estimated total production capacity of about 70,000 barrels per day.
(With input from Reuters) 

DUBAI: State-backed digital bank Wio announced on Tuesday it had launched in the United Arab Emirates and would focus initially on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) while eyeing an eventual public listing.
Wio, which calls itself a “platform bank,” has three main business lines: digital banking apps, embedded finance and banking-as-a-service, the provision of banking through third-party distributors.
Wio is 65 percent owned by Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ and Alpha Dhabi, 25 percent by Etisalat and 10 percent by First Abu Dhabi Bank. The UAE central bank in February gave it initial approval to begin operations.
“SMEs have a lot of pain points that have been under-catered to historically for many reasons. And we believe that starting by being close to them and understanding them is very important,” Wio chairman Salem Al Nuaimi told Reuters in an interview.
“Finding funding for them in different ways is something which we will have to do.”
Wio chief executive Jayesh Patel said the bank could provide its own funding to SMEs, which it would serve with its Wio Business division, and also help them find other financing options.
Setting up Wio Business was currently the core focus, said Al Nuaimi.
Patel said Wio was in talks with businesses, including a regional e-commerce player, to distribute its services.
It planned to expand its offerings to retail customers “in the next few quarters.” Wio would also look at potential acquisitions in the region as it sought to become the Middle East’s leading platform bank, the chairman said.
Al Nuaimi said Wio was well-funded thanks to its shareholders, so did not need an initial public offering of shares to raise funds, but nonetheless said one would likely happen at some point.
“I think here in the UAE there is a good market that has been and will continue to grow for listed companies. And so I think eventually we will get there,” Al Nuaimi said.
“There’s no timeline for an IPO,” he added. “The timeline is to get things done right.”


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