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Andrew Hammond

Senior editor

Andrew Hammond began as a trainee journalist at BBC World Service Arabic radio before working with Reuters in Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia. He was also a political analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations and HSBC Middle East, and has published books including Popular Culture in North Africa and the Middle East

Andrew Hammond
The Line at Neom

Saudi Arabia strives to counter giga-project doubts

As Saudi Arabia ramps up its global tour to attract more giga-project investment, doubts have begun to set in over costs and whether they will meet the imminent 2030 deadline. The kingdom’s officials put on a big show at an international real estate event in Cannes in March and this week Neom kicked off the […]

Saudi Arabia Ronnie O'Sullivan snooker

Ronnie O’Sullivan to be Saudi snooker ambassador

Saudi Arabia has signed a deal with the world’s top snooker player, Ronnie O’Sullivan, for him to act as an “ambassador” for the sport in Saudi Arabia.  It was announced alongside news that Saudi Arabia has become an official sponsor of the World Snooker Championship that begins this weekend in Sheffield, UK. Under the three-year […]

A solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh. Solar power will contribute to Saudi Arabia's 2030 renewable goal

Renewables target for 2030 in sight for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia will expand its renewable energy output sixfold by 2030 if it continues at its current pace, a survey found this week. But it will need to add 20GW of capacity annually if it is to reach an ambitious government target laid out last year. In December the government set a new target of […]

Saudi Arabia’s GDP in 2025 should rise 6 percent, the IMF has predicted

IMF cuts Saudi GDP growth prediction

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its estimate for Saudi economic growth in 2024 to 2.6 percent in its most recent World Economic Outlook, but raised its expectation for 2025.  The IMF’s April report says it’s GDP estimate is down from the 2.7 percent in predicted in January. However, the it said that Saudi […]

The Saudi government is trying to raise home ownership among nationals to 70 percent of the population by 2030, which is helping to drive up residential property prices

Residential price rise counters slip in Saudi commercial property

Residential property was the driving force behind a rise in Saudi Arabian real estate prices in the first quarter of 2024 as prices of commercial real estate fell, government statistics released this week showed.  The overall real estate price index rose by 0.6 percent compared with the same quarter in 2023. But while there was […]

Robots on the production line of an EV factory in Guangzhou, China. Saudi Arabia has yet to open its first EV manufacturing facility

EV imports rise in Saudi Arabia, but only to 779 cars

Saudi imports of electric vehicles rose sharply in 2023 – but to a total of just 779 EVs, despite government hopes that it can become a green economy leader through the manufacture and use of electric cars. The kingdom imported only 210 EVs in 2022, showing the mountain it has to climb to realise ambitions […]

Passengers board a bus in Riyadh. Saudi transport costs fell 1.8 percent year on year

Inflation eases to 1.6% in Saudi Arabia

Inflation in Saudi Arabia fell to 1.6 percent in March, from 1.8 percent in February, driven mainly by housing rents. The trend of lower price rises over the past year continued.  The consumer price index hit a high of 2.8 percent year-on-year inflation in May 2023 but has been under 2 percent since September.  The […]

More than 100 developers recently visited the key developments across Saudi Arabia's Neom giga-project

Neom increases workforce to get vision over the line

The pace of construction on Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion giga-project Neom is to accelerate, with the workforce rising by almost half by next year. The number of people employed in construction will increase from more than 140,000 to more than 200,000 in 2025, the developer said in a statement, after reports of construction workers being […]

STC Bank has grown out of Saudi Telecom's pay app, which has 12m customers

Saudi Telecom’s pay app to offer full banking service

State-owned Saudi Telecom’s pay app has received central bank approval to become a fully fledged digital bank.  Part of the kingdom’s fintech expansion strategy, the new STC Bank will offer traditional and Sharia-compliant services fully aligned with the international banking system.  The service will be available to a small test group in the coming months […]

The reported $1 billion stake in the copper-gold mine would give PIF a 25% share

PIF close to buying Pakistan copper mine stake

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is close to finalising a deal to buy a $1 billion stake in Pakistan’s Reko Diq copper-gold mine, in what would be a Saudi lifeline for the debt-ridden country, a Pakistani newspaper has reported. Barrick Gold, the Canadian-listed company that owns a 50 percent stake in the Reko Diq mine, […]

2BF61E1 Young Arab woman using laptop for online shopping at home

Electronic retail payments rise to 70% in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi central bank said this week that the share of electronic payments in the retail sector rose to 70 percent in 2023 from 62 percent the year before, as the government tries to boost online banking and the fintech sector.  A total 10.8 billion transactions were processed in 2023 compared to 8.7 billion transactions […]

MBC Shahid Ashghal Shaqa

Streaming platform Shahid to drive growth, says MBC TV

The Arabic TV network MBC says its new Shahid streaming platform will lead its growth after subscriptions grew 40 percent in 2023 to nearly four million.  The Saudi-owned group recently completed an IPO on the Saudi stock exchange, requiring it to open its books to the public for the first time.  It reported net profit […]

A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange agency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Riyad Bank plans IPO of its investment arm

Riyad Bank’s board is planning to list its investment arm, Riyad Capital, on the Saudi stock exchange, as the government tries to increase market offerings to raise the status of Saudi capital markets in global rankings.   The bank said in a statement to the Saudi stock exchange on Thursday that it and its subsidiary […]

Foreign labourers work at the construction site of a building in Riyadh Foreign workers on a building site in Riyadh; thousands of migrants who have the right to work in Saudi Arabia could have their work permit fees covered for four years from the date of recognition

Saudi Arabia will pay costs of normalising migrants’ status

Saudi Arabia said this week it will take on the costs of normalising the status of displaced individuals from neighbouring countries in what could amount to amnesty for thousands of illegal migrants and refugees.  “The state assumes the costs on behalf of individuals permitted to stay and rectify their status among the displaced from neighbouring […]

Workers on an Aramco rig. For the first time, the non-oil sector accounted for 50% of Saudi real GDP in 2023

Saudi-listed companies’ total profits tumble by 17%

The total profits of Saudi-listed companies fell 17 percent year on year to SAR126.8 billion ($33.8 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2023, research has found. The drop has been attributed to the country’s economic contraction as oil production cuts continue.  But sectors such as banks, insurance, transport and pharmaceuticals showed improvement in Q4, reflecting […]

Traditional Hijazi tower house with wooden Rosan windows

Roshn to build its first residential district in Mecca

The Saudi giga-project Roshn is building its first residential community in Mecca, which will cater to middle income Saudis.  The Almanar project will sit on the western outskirts of the city, with easy access to Jeddah airport. It will house 17,000 people in its first phase, Roshn said this week.  The development will include three […]

Of potential buyers interested in living in the giga-project Neom, 42 percent said they would favour The Line

Neom and Jeddah offer appeal to expat buyers

Many expatriates in Saudi Arabia are interested in buying property in Neom and Jeddah Central and willing to spend over $1 million, a real estate survey showed this week. “When asked about which giga-project they would most like to buy a home to live in, Neom emerges as the clear favourite, followed by Jeddah Central […]

Saudi Arabia's minister of human resources Ahmad bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi. The sector is the latest to be targeted in the kingdom's Saudisation drive

Saudi Arabia steps up Saudisation job drive

Saudi Arabia’s government said this week that jobs in human resources (HR) in the kingdom are now restricted to Saudi nationals only. It is another step in the country’s plan to localise skilled jobs and reduce unemployment.  The ministry of human resources made the statement on social media site X, formerly Twitter, in response to […]

A Saudi woman works inside the first all-female call centre in the kingdom's security sector, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Saudi Arabia unemployment fell in Q4 2023

Unemployment among Saudi Arabian nationals fell to 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023, from 8 percent during the same period in 2022, the government said this week, reflecting the growth of the non-oil sector despite an economic contraction.  Unemployment among Saudi males was 4.6 percent, which was up from 4.2 percent the year […]

Saudi finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan

Saudi FDI inflow up but still far short of target

The net inflow of foreign direct investment into Saudi Arabia was just over SAR13 billion ($3.5 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2023, up 16 percent on the previous period, government data said this week.  The data, released by the General Authority for Statistics, puts the total net inflow for 2023 at SAR46 billion, which […]

Drilling rigs in Saudi Arabia's Hasbah field. The country's GDP contracted by 0.8% in 2023

Saudi exports fall 10% on oil output cuts

Saudi Arabia’s exports fell by more than 10 percent in January compared to the previous year due to a reduction in oil exports.  The Saudi economy has taken a hit from Opec+ oil output cuts over the past year, although non-oil exports rose slightly by 0.8 percent.  Riyadh promoted the cuts in an effort to […]

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Saudi giga-project designs to merge tradition and futurism

Saudi Arabia wants to ensure that the futurism of its giga-projects does not smother the diversity of its local architecture, according to the head of the government’s Architecture and Design Commission.  One of the most striking features of the kingdom’s transformation plan launched in 2016 has been its design – from otherworldly resorts planned for […]