Saudi housing ministry to levy fines on non-fenced vacant land from July 1 - Arab News

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing called on owners of vacant lands to fence their plots before July 01, 2022, to avoid a fine of SR100 ($26.6) for every square meter.
The fine is re-imposed in case of not fencing the land, the ministry said on its Twitter account.

عدم الالتزام بتسوير الأراضي الفضاء بعد تاريخ 2022/7/1 يعرضك للغرامات والجزاءات الواردة في لائحة المخالفات البلدية.#وزارة_الشؤون_البلدية_والقروية_والإسكان pic.twitter.com/b9DOVMaPTa
— وزارة الشؤون البلدية والقروية والإسكان (@saudimomra) April 7, 2022
The ministry aims to improve the urban landscape, protect property from encroachments, reduce visual distortions, encourage citizens to become environmentally friendly and preserve lands from waste and rubble.
The ministry said that Riyadh, Dammam, Makkah, Al-Madinah and Jeddah are the target cities in the first phase where the decision will take effect.
Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Sunday, up 0.64 percent to $42,782 as of 08:30 a.m. Riyadh time.
Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $3,254, up 1.21 percent, according to data from Coindesk.
Tesla, Block and Blockstream to mine bitcoin off solar power
Electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc., payments firm Block Inc. and blockchain company Blockstream Corp. will collaborate to mine bitcoin using solar power in Texas, Blockstream CEO Adam Back said on Friday.
Tesla is building the solar power infrastructure and providing its Megapack batteries, Back added.
Blockstream and Block, which was previously known as Square, had said in June that they were collaborating to build an open-source and solar-powered bitcoin mining facility in the United States.
EU targets Russian crypto wallets
The European Union on Friday targeted crypto wallets, banks, currencies and trusts in its fifth package of sanctions on Russia to close potential loopholes which could allow Russians to move money abroad.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, EU-based crypto exchanges were already required to apply sanctions that bar transactions from targeted individuals, but there were concerns that loopholes remained.
The EU on Friday said it was extending the prohibition to deposits to crypto wallets.
“This will contribute to closing potential loopholes,” the EU’s executive European Commission said in a statement.
Crypto wallets allow individuals to keep the password that gives them access to cryptocurrencies safe and to send, receive and spend cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
Honduras SEZ adopts bitcoin as legal tender
A special economic zone, or SEZ, on a tourist-centric island on Honduras’ Caribbean coast has adopted bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as legal tender, officials of the zone said on Thursday.
Called “Honduras Prospera,” the special zone was established in 2020 to help encourage investment and has administrative, fiscal and budgetary autonomy.
“Prospera’s flexible regulatory framework enables crypto-innovation and the use of Bitcoin by residents, businesses, and governments,” Honduras Prospera said in a statement.
The SEZ will also let municipalities, local governments and international firms issue bitcoin bonds from the area’s jurisdiction.
(With inputs from Reuters)
RIYADH: Chicago wheat, corn and soybean futures firmed on Friday after the US Department of Agriculture assessed global supply and demand, reflecting what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had on Black Sea exports.
Soybean and corn futures remained elevated, supported by reduced production in South America and questions of US acreage decisions as planting neared.
The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade, or CBOT, gained 33 cents to $10.58-1/4 per bushel, adding 7.49 percent, its biggest weekly gain since March 4.
CBOT soybeans added 43-1/2 cents to end at $16.89 per bushel, firming 6.7 percent, its biggest weekly addition since July 2, 2021.
CBOT corn firmed 10-1/2 cents to $7.60-3/4 a bushel, ending the week up 4.49 percent, its most significant weekly increase since the week ended March 4.
Palladium rises
Palladium rose 11 percent on Friday on renewed supply concerns after trading in the metal from Russian refineries was suspended in London over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Palladium, used by automakers in catalytic converters to curb emissions, rose 7.8 percent to hit its highest since March 25 following the announcement by the London Platinum and Palladium Market, a trade association that accredits refineries.
Palladium rose to $2,408.50 en route to its first weekly gain in five. 
Spot gold rose 0.5 percent to $1,941.94 per ounce and was up 0.9 percent for the week, while US gold futures rose 0.4 percent to $1,945.6.
EU closes borders for some Russian cargo vehicles
European Union countries sharing borders with Russia and Belarus have barred some cargo vehicles registered in the two countries from entering since Friday due to sanctions, the Russian customs service said on Saturday.
The EU on Friday formally adopted new sanctions against Russia, including bans on the import of coal, wood, chemicals and other products, while also preventing many Russian vessels and trucks from accessing the bloc.
The Russian customs service said that vehicles used as international transport that have Russian and Belarusian number plates would not be able to move goods on EU territory.
US curbs Russian access to foreign fertilizers and valves
The US on Friday broadened its export curbs against Russia and Belarus, restricting access to imports of items such as fertilizer and pipe valves as it seeks to ratchet up pressure on Moscow and Minsk following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
(With inputs from Reuters)
RIYADH: Oil prices rose 2 percent on Friday but notched their second straight weekly decline after countries announced plans to release crude from their strategic stocks.
Brent crude futures settled up $2.20, or 2.19 percent, at $102.78 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude futures rose $2.23 to $98.26.
For the week, Brent dropped 1.5 percent while WTI slid 1 percent. For several weeks, the benchmarks have been at their most volatile since June 2020.
Germany to stop Russian oil import
Germany could end Russian oil imports this year, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, signaling the urgency driving Europe’s biggest economy to wean itself off energy from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
Scholz was responding to a journalist’s question about whether he felt a sense of shame that EU countries were paying Russia billions of euros for fossil fuels.
“We are actively working to get independent from the import of Russian oil, and we think that we will be able to make it during this year,” Scholz said during a news conference in London with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Ukraine calls for more sanctions
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia’s aggression was never limited to just Ukraine and the whole of Europe was a target as he urged the West to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy products and to supply Ukraine with more weapons.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has banned all imports from Russia, one of its key trading partners before the war with annual imports valued at about $6 billion and called on other countries to follow and impose harsher economic sanctions on Moscow.
“Today we officially announced a complete termination of trade in goods with the aggressor state,” Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko wrote on her Facebook page on Saturday.
“From now on, no Russian Federation’s products will be able to be imported into the territory of our state.”
RIYADH : Saudi-based dairy giant Almarai has recorded a 9-percent increase in profit for the first quarter of 2022 on the back of higher revenue.
Net profit rose to SR420 million ($112 million) from SR385 million a year ago, a bourse statement revealed.
Results were attributed to a hike in revenue of 23.6 percent and gross profit of 7.8 percent, even as selling and administration expenses went up.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s micro, small and medium enterprises continue to grow in 2022 on the back of strong consumer demand, as is evident from the steady increase in MSME lending by the country’s banks and financial companies. 
Last month alone, investment deals worth $13.8 billion were signed at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress held in Riyadh this week, which also saw global firms announce expansion plans into Saudi Arabia.
Read More: Kafalah Fund signs 10 agreements, MoUs worth $1.67bn to finance SMEs
The lending boom this year follows a similar trend last year. 
Saudi Arabia is ranked second in MENA in startup funding activities, providing SR2 billion ($533 million) to entrepreneurs in 2021, Abdulaziz Al-Nashwan, general manager of equity at Monsha’at, told Arab News last month on the sidelines of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.
Saudi banks and finance companies have been on a lending spree over the last few years, with both collectively extending loans worth SR200.3 billion ($53.4 billion) to the MSME sector in the third quarter of 2021, up from SR175.7 billion in the third quarter of 2020, the latest Saudi Central Bank, or SAMA, data revealed. This is a 14-percent increase on a year-on-year basis. 
This included SR14.2 billion credit provided by financial companies to MSMEs in the third quarter of 2021. This came as an increase from around SR10.75 billion in the third quarter of 2020, recording 31-percent growth on a year-on-year basis. This amounts to almost 22 percent of finance companies’ total credit facilities. 
Saudi housing ministry to levy fines on non-fenced vacant land from July 1 - Arab News
Recent surges in MSME credit indicate that the country’s business environment is improving despite COVID-infused challenges as the financial sector sees a strong capital liquidity value in lending to the Kingdom’s MSME sector.  
SAMA statistics indicated credit facilities provided by local commercial banks to MSMEs also grew to SR186.2 billion in the third quarter of 2021 from SR165 billion in the same period the previous year, recording a 12.9-percent increase. This value equates to roughly 7.9 percent of the banks’ total credit facilities. It comes on the back of credit facilities by banks to MSMEs spanning over three years from 2018 through 2020 increasing by a noticeable 69 percent.
Read More: Saudi Arabia doles out $533m on startups in 2021, says Monsha’at official
This indicates a steady expansion of monetary loans to MSMEs, providing a promising future to the sector, with loans from finance companies increasing by 53.2 percent over the same duration.
With consumer spending continuing to increase in Saudi Arabia, this is creating a pent-up demand for goods and services provided by the country’s MSME sector. This, in turn, is pushing companies to go for further lending to meet the growing demand in the market. 
This steady growth in MSME lending has been witnessed despite the Saudi Central Bank recently increasing the interest rates to tackle inflation. This event could be seen as a positive indicator of how the Kingdom’s financial sector can look for promising short-term revenues. This, in return, could aggrandize loans to MSME in the future as the economy and money market stabilize.

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