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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
An oil rig in the Yarakta Oil Field in Russia. Moscow have also agreed to extend cuts through December

Saudi Arabia extends oil cuts to end of year

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it will continue its additional voluntary oil output cuts to the end of the year as part of an Opec+ policy of acting to stabilise and balance the markets.  The production cuts, which began in April, come as prices cool after hitting a 2023 high in September of nearly $98 […]

Solar power installation is expected to sharply rise in the coming decade

Saudi Arabia urging businesses to make solar shift 

Saudi Arabia is doing more to encourage commercial and industrial enterprises to shift to solar energy as part of its green transition but the regulatory environment is still lagging due to a conservative gradualist approach, industry players say.  The kingdom is trying to put itself at the forefront of green energy technology and consumption through […]

Time for a change: Saudi Arabia is to use the Western calendar for all purposes except in Islamic contexts

Saudi Arabia shifts to Western calendar

Saudi Arabia is to shift towards using the Gregorian calendar in all official transactions, reserving the Islamic system only for religious occasions, the cabinet said this week, in a move that could presage aligning the weekend with international norms.  A statement was issued on October 31 after a cabinet meeting chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed […]

Ford Mustang Mach-E at golden hour electric vehicle in the sun

Startup touts alternative EV batteries for Saudi industry

A startup developing non-lithium batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) says they are better suited to Gulf climates where flammability is a risk. But industry experts say it will be difficult to penetrate the car industry where lithium options are baked into budgets.  Mukesh Chatter, founder of Alsym Energy, argued his case to regional political and […]

Saudi Arabia produced one of the great World Cup shocks when they defeated Argentina at Qatar 2022. Lionel Messi's team recovered to eventually win the tournament

Saudi Arabia to host 2034 World Cup

Saudi Arabia is to be formally declared as the host of the 2034 Fifa World Cup after Australia said on Tuesday – the final day for bids – that it would not submit an application.  Football Australia said in a statement that it had decided to focus instead on bids for the 2026 Women’s Asian […]

Saudi Aramaco oil facility - the kingdom has made output cuts

Saudi GDP shrinks following oil output cuts

Real GDP growth in Saudi Arabia contracted by 4.5 percent in the third quarter, as ongoing Opec+ oil output cuts affect the broader economy. Government data released this week showed oil activities decreased by 17.3 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier. However the General Authority for Statistics said there was an expansion […]

Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company said the issuance had garnered interest from institutional investors

Saudi construction under pressure to deliver on its promise

The Saudi construction sector is growing as the state showers money on giga-projects while oil prices are high, but the industry is under increasing government pressure to deliver, industry players say.  A market that was previously dominated by favoured government contractors such as Binladin Group and the now defunct Saudi Oger has been liberalised. This […]

Saudi Arabia's minister of energy Abdulaziz bin Salman

Saudi sticks to green energy goals despite pressures

Saudi Arabia aims to be a model for green energy transition despite being home to the world’s largest oil production company, its minister of energy said in Riyadh this week.  Abdulaziz bin Salman added that it will not let regional turmoil slow its progress. “We will be challenging everybody to ensure they can do what […]

Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s lower retirement thresholds of 60 years old for both men and women

Saudi Arabia should raise retirement age, study shows 

Saudi Arabia should raise the retirement age to create a sustainable pension system and institute other much-needed improvements, according to a study released this week.  The Global Pension Index by Mercer, a New York professional services company, ranked Saudi Arabia – the leading Arab economy and world’s biggest oil exporter – at 28 out of […]

PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said the kingdom has ample funds to foster AI's development

PIF’s sukuk may test investor appetite for Middle East

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is planning to issue its first dollar-denominated Islamic bonds, but the move could be a test of investor appetite as regional tensions rise over the conflict in Gaza.  Citi, HSBC, JP Morgan and Standard Chartered Bank have been nominated as global joint co-ordinators to organise a series of investor calls […]

A construction site in Riyadh. Developing the real estate sector is a priority for the Saudi government

Saudi inflation eases but real estate buoys the index

Saudi inflation eased to 1.7 percent in September, from 2 percent the previous month, but the booming real estate sector continued to push up prices.  Housing rents rose 9.8 percent, including a 19.8 percent increase in apartment rents, forming “the main driver of the inflation rate in September 2023”, the General Authority for Statistics said.  […]

A worker counts Turkish lira at a currency exchange in Ankara. S&P Global Ratings this month upgraded Turkey to 'stable' from 'negative'

Turkey and Egypt can trip up Gulf lenders says analyst

Gulf banks are in a resilient position as oil production cuts crimp economic growth, but lenders could face headwinds from macroeconomic volatility in Egypt and Turkey, an S&P Global analyst said this week.  In Turkey, Dubai’s Emirates NBD owns Denizbank and Qatar National Bank owns QNB Finansbank, the country’s eighth and ninth largest banks by […]

military helicopters

Saudi grant programme to develop local defence sector

Two Saudi government entities have launched a four-year programme of grants worth 664 million riyals ($177 million) to support the development of a local defence sector, part of plans to diversify its arms industry sources by 2030.   The General Authority for Defense Development and Public Investment Fund-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (Sami) launched the initiative […]

DP World is using renewable energy generated by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority

Islamic finance set to grow 10% in 2023

The Islamic finance industry is set to grow by 10 percent this year, driven by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, according to a new report by ratings agency S&P Global. This is despite a slowdown in growth in the Gulf region caused by Opec+ oil production cuts.   “We generally expect sukuk issuance volume to diminish […]

Nuclear power plant in Belgium Saudi nuclear deal Video length: 07:09

Riyadh adds safety valve to US and China nuclear quest

Saudi Arabia is to allow inspections of future nuclear facilities, in an effort to persuade Washington to allow transfer of US reactor technology. The decision by Riyadh will appease Washington, but the Saudis are still courting China as a possible alternative option if US fears of nuclear proliferation prevent a deal.  The Saudi government presented […]

Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser. The World Bank has taken a more hawkish view of the effects of the kingdom's oil output cuts

Saudi economy will contract due to oil output cuts says World Bank

The World Bank has forecast that the Saudi economy will contract by 0.9 percent this year with a budget deficit of 2 percent of GDP.  This is a slightly more hawkish assessment than Saudi Arabia’s most recent estimations of an economic slowdown.  Analysts and ratings agencies have been revising their assessments in light of oil […]

Nujuma, A Ritz Carlton Reserve at Red Sea Global

Saudi Arabia among biggest gainers in tourism rebound 

The Middle East is the best-performing global tourism region as the world undergoes a tourism rebound after the Covid-19 pandemic, and Saudi Arabia the second best-performing country, according to the UN’s tourism body. The United Nations World Tourism Organization said tourism in terms of traveller numbers had rebounded globally to 84 percent of levels before […]

City, Urban, Construction, Jeddah Tower

Doubts still swirl around completion of Jeddah Tower

No final decision has been taken on construction the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, despite reports that building work on the controversial project had restarted. The planned skyscraper, which was set to be the tallest building in the world, was announced in 2009 by Kingdom Holding. Work stopped in 2017, however, after only a few […]

Saudi budget deficit

Saudi Arabia to report budget deficits until 2026

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, expects to report budgetary deficits each year until 2026, the kingdom’s finance ministry said. It added that GDP is likely to rebound after taking a hit this year from extended oil production cuts. The Arab world’s largest economy anticipates real GDP to grow by 0.03 percent in 2023, […]

Israeli Muslims could visit Saudi holy sites

Israel expects religious tourism to Saudi holy cities

Israel sees religious tourism among its Muslim population as a major benefit of a peace deal with Saudi Arabia, Israeli minister of tourism Haim Katz said in Riyadh this week.  “Twenty percent of Israel is Muslim, two million, and they will come to Mecca easily,” Katz told AGBI on September 27 at a gala dinner […]

Qiddiya tourism

$1bn tourism school to open in Saudi’s Qiddiya

Saudi Arabia plans to build a $1 billion tourism school in the Qiddiya sports, culture and entertainment city giga-project.  The Riyadh School for Tourism and Hospitality will train workers from around the world, not only Saudi Arabia, tourism minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb told a UN World Tourism Organization gathering in the capital. The training headquarters at […]