Bahrain’s GFH successfully lists on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange

In what is the fourth dual listing on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), GFH Financial Group B.S.C. announced its secondary listing on the exchange on Tuesday.

The listing is set to further expand GFH’s investor base and enhance liquidity in its shares amid increased regional and international participation on the exchange.

This is GFH’s fourth regional listing with its shares already listed and actively traded on the Bahrain Bourse, Boursa Kuwait and the Dubai Financial Market.

“As part of our ADX One strategy to promote greater market liquidity, we have been actively encouraging listings on our dynamic capital market and forging deeper ties with regional markets, including the Bahrain Bourse,” said Saeed Hamad Al Dhaheri, ADX managing director.

“The pipeline for IPOs and listings on our main market and growth market remains strong for the remainder of the year, a testament to our strength and resilience amid global market volatility,” he added.

The listing comes as GFH undergoes continued expansion and growth having recently partnered with SQ Asset Management Company in the USA, completed the acquisition of logistic warehouses with assets of more than $2 billion and spun out infrastructure and real estate assets.

Currently, GFH has over $15bn of assets and funds under management including a global portfolio of investments in logistics, healthcare, education and technology in the MENA region, Europe and North America. This includes new investments of more than $2bn over the past 12 months alone.

“GFH is delighted to celebrate another landmark achievement for the Group with our listing on ADX. This is a strategic move supporting our expansion and enhancing our financial position and funding for the next phase of growth,” said Hisham Alrayes, GFH’s Group CEO.

“With our listing, we continue to broaden our shareholder base and increase our reach and visibility among key global and regional investors. Importantly, we also underscore the strong demand for GFH’s shares and the market and investor confidence that exists in the Group, our performance and prospects,” he continued.

The listing of GFH on ADX brings the number of dual listings on the exchange to four. Shares of Ooredoo, Sudan Telecom Group and Oman and Emirates Investment Holding Company also have secondary listings on the exchange.

During the first quarter of 2022, ADX recorded an 87 percent year-on-year increase in the value of total trades made in the first quarter of 2022. Traded values (buy + sell) on the exchange rose to AED202bn in Q1 2022 from AED108bn in Q1 2021.

Meanwhile, the market value of shares owned by foreign investors in Q1 2022 jumped 163 percent to AED131bn from AED50bn in Q1 2021.

GFH was advised on the cross-listing by First Abu Dhabi Bank as its listing advisor and Al Tamimi and Company as its legal advisor.


Bahrain’s Al Waha to invest $85mn in Israel-based digital health-focused fund

Bahrain-based Al Waha Fund of Funds announced on Monday its participation in LionBird III, an $85 million digital health-focused fund, floated by Tel Aviv-based venture capital LionBird.

Al Waha’s partnership with LionBird will also seek to aid Bahraini and GCC startups in navigating the complex US healthcare market and connecting with the right experts and partners, the company said in a statement.

LionBird is a US-focused digital health fund that specialises in seed-stage venture capital.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with LionBird in its latest fund and to help startups in the region access advice on digital health best practices, and support in penetrating the lucrative US healthcare market,” said Khalid Al Rumaihi, chief executive officer of Mumtalakat and vice chairman of Al Waha Fund.

Al Waha also said it was partnering with LionBird based on the latter’s track record of success helping startups access the burgeoning US healthcare market.

Jonathan Friedman, partner at LionBird, said the partnership with Al Waha Fund will give the venture capital access to innovation and networking opportunities in Bahrain, expanding its exposure in the MENA region.

“We believe we are well-positioned to support startups in Bahrain and the region as they plan their entry into the US market,” Friedman said.

The US currently spends around 17 percent of its GDP on healthcare, around twice as much than most other developed countries. Post-pandemic, the US healthcare market is undergoing significant shifts, which are opening new opportunities for startups.

There is a greater focus on health-tech startups as the sector pivots towards outpatient services and solutions such as telemedicine.

The digital startups in the US are estimated to have raised about $30 billion in 2021 across 729 deals, with investment in the market nearly doubling compared to 2020.

Al Rumaihi said Al Waha was committed to connecting the startup ecosystem in Bahrain and the Gulf with others around the world, providing a supportive environment for tech businesses to thrive.

“There are significant opportunities for the region’s startups in international markets, but the lack of access to capital remains a significant challenge for entrepreneurs,” Al Rumaihi, said.

The partnership between Al Waha Fund and LionBird could also lead to more Israeli companies choosing Bahrain as the location for their Middle East headquarters as they seek to leverage Al Waha Fund’s unique platform of value creation, Al Rumaihi added.

Al Waha Fund, launched in 2018 with a $100 million corpus with the aim of driving greater venture capital investment in the region, has deployed $80 million in 11 venture capital funds to date.


Bahrain’s residential capital values hold steady during Jan-March

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Capital values across Bahrain’s residential real estate segment have remained largely stable on a quarterly basis, according to real estate service provider Savills.

The capital value index for apartments and villas in the country, when compared annually, however has dropped by an average 1.2 percent and 2.6 percent respectively, Savill’s said in its Q1 2022 Bahrain Market in Minutes report.

Demand for rental properties across villas and townhouses has remained strong across Bahrain during Q1 2022. This led to a marginal rental price increase of 1.5 – 2 percent y-o-y across the high-end and the low-end segment.

Rents across apartments, on the other hand, have largely remained stable on a quarterly basis.

A revival in economic activity followed by a strong push from the government and a general improvement in market sentiment has led to an increase in demand for office space across the city, consequently leading to an increase in asset pricing, according to the report.

The stability that was witnessed in the office rental market in 2021 extended into the first quarter of this year supported by the low-end segment, recording a 1.6 percent y-o-y price increase. However, the mid-end sector’s price correction has sustained, with the y-o-y rental price decreasing 5.5 percent, the report said.

“We have noted an increase in inquiries from prospective tenants in relation to the environmental social and governance (ESG) credentials of current office stock with higher interest for those possessing sustainability accreditations. Given the demand-supply imbalance in the market, developments which incorporate these demands will claim a larger share of the market going forward,” Hashim Kadhem, head of professional services, Savills Bahrain, said.

The recovery also continues in the retail and tourism space. The number of mall visitors rose by 26.9 percent y-o-y in the first quarter of 2022, while the volume of commercial licenses issued increased by 35.4 percent y-o-y.

On the back of Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2022, international tourist arrivals increased by 50 percent during January-March this year, compared with the same period in 2019.

Speaking on the outlook for the industrial and logistics sector, Swapnil Pillai, Associate Director Research, Middle East at Savills, said, “Bahrain has launched the fastest Global Sea-to-Air Logistics Hub in the region with only a 2-hour turnaround time for all containers.

“This means that products can reach customers in half the time it took earlier and at 40 percent of the cost. This move is likely to significantly improve Bahrain’s position as a hub for logistics activity in the future,” Pillai said.


Saudi stocks start the week on a positive note

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Saudi stock markets opened higher in early morning trade, as oil prices fluctuated steadily.

Oil prices rose on Friday, with Brent crude exiting the week at $119.72 and US West Texas Intermediate settling at $$118.87.

The main index, TASI, opened 0.18 percent higher at 12,627, while the parallel market, Nomu, started 0.08 higher at 22,861 as of 10:07 a.m. Saudi time.

Saudi Public Transport Co. climbed 4.46 percent, leading the gainers; Saudi Printing and Packaging Co. slipped 2.05 percent, leading the market fallers.

Among the fallers on the list, Amana Cooperative Insurance Co. lost 1.17 percent and Saudi Tadawul Group Holding Co. declined 1.42 percent.

Among the gainers on the list, Tabuk Agricultural Development Co. gained 2.21 percent, and Arab National Bank edged up 2.64 percent

In the pharma sector, Aldawaa Medical Services Co. shed 0.13 percent and Nahdi Medical Co. rose 0.75 percent

In the financial sector, the Kingdom’s largest valued bank Al Rajhi gained 0.10 percent, while Alinma Bank slid 0.27 percent.

The shares of both telecom giants stc and Zain KSA started the day flat

Saudi Aramco, the largest player on the Saudi oil market, opened today’s trading up 0.75 percent.

DMS attracts local and international investors in transportation, logistics and mobility

DMS is the outcome of Vision 2030’s revolutionary potential in shaking up the fields of mobility and logistics. It is a digital growth engine launched by SAPTCO to explore new possibilities and build innovative startups. DMS is working toward becoming the leading venture builder in the mobility sector; it aims to make it seamless, smart and sustainable.

DMS plans on uplifting the digital mobility sector and on building more radically innovative ideas from the ground up. It is implementing new strategies to create innovative solutions in ride-sharing technologies, shipping aggregation and travel marketplaces.

It is also adopting new business models that are “light asset” and “future ready” for revenue opportunities. Its groundbreaking plan of action can already be seen in ventures like Rekab, Fastmile and ejourney. They represent a creative approach to transportation in the region, each with its unique points of strength that are garnering more and more users daily.

DMS has already embarked on a number of ventures and is currently developing two new ones. It utilizes a diverse team that combines talents, research skills, and expertise all directed to take startups to the next level. It is on a mission to empower brilliant minds and to unlock the potential of mobility in the region by creating new digital solutions across Saudi Arabia and the MENA region.

DMS is pioneering the way through a board of experts in entrepreneurship, technology and transportation headed by Chairman of the Board of Directors of DMS and SAPTCO Khalid Al-Mudaifer and President of the International Association of Public Transportation (UITP) and CEO of SAPTCO Khalid Al-Hogail.

DMS is revolutionizing the field with top tech talents, entrepreneurial minds and digital endeavors as it is guided by Vision 2030 and its objectives to provide a better and more effective environment for everyone in the country.


New York to propel 22 renewable energy projects; EU set to boost LNG capacity

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New York is on track to advance with 22 green projects, in line with the state’s climate ambitions. In addition, EU countries will use money from the EU recovery fund to expand liquified natural gas capacity. Meanwhile, Moscow is seeing a jump in profits from energy exports in 2022, despite sanctions from the West.

Looking at the bigger picture:

· New York has unveiled a total of 22 renewable energy projects in line with the state’s target to achieve net-zero by 2040, Bloomberg reported, citing Gov. Kathy Hochul. The projects are expected to generate enough power to cater to 620,00 homes in the city for at least 20 years. In addition to this, the projects are also likely to create over 3,000 jobs and spur up to $2.7 billion in private investments.

· EU countries are set to utilize the money coming from the EU recovery fund to bolster liquified natural gas capacity, Reuters reported, citing EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni. Originally created to facilitate pots-pandemic economic growth, the EU recovery fund will help EU countries gain dependency from Russian gas imports.

· Qatar has exported less than 35 million tons of liquified natural gas in the period between January and May of 2022, down from 36 million tons in the corresponding period a year ago, Bloomberg reported, citing ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. This is despite the major delivery requests from European countries keen on finding alternative sources to Russian fuels.

· Moscow is anticipating an increase in profits from the export of energy resources in 2022 despite Western sanctions on Russian oil, Reuters reported, citing Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.


Saudi partners with WEF to launch new strategy to boost industrial sector

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Saudi Arabia has launched a new strategy with the World Economic Forum to promote industrial innovation and advanced manufacturing in the country.

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources and Chairman of the Saudi Industrial Development Fund Bandar bin Ibrahim Al-Khorayef launched the Saudi Advanced Manufacturing Hub, or Saudi AMHUB, strategy, which will look to position Saudi Arabia at the global forefront of industrial innovation and advanced manufacturing.

This will pave the way for Saudi’s industrial sector to implement the advanced mechanisms and practices of leading industrial experiences around the world, said Al-Khorayef, during the launch ceremony held in Riyadh on April 12.

Led by SIDF, Saudi AMHUB will have 24 core members from the public, private and academic sectors, and it will promote the Kingdom’s industrial sector towards adopting advanced manufacturing.

“In addition to that, it will be strengthening links between investors and providers of advanced technologies globally and enabling the local industrial sector to use such advanced technologies,” said SIDF CEO Ibrahim bin Saad Al-Mojel in a press statement.

The strategy’s main aim is to provide practical solutions to the country’s industrial sector while raising the operational and financial efficiency of factories.

SIDF joined the WEF in January 2021, in a move to adopt advanced industrial practices in the Kingdom.


Young Saudis helping to achieve Vision 2030 goals, says deputy minister

The young population in Saudi Arabia is helping the country to achieve the goals of Vision 2030, according to Saad Al-Shahrani, deputy minister at the Saudi Ministry of Investment.

While speaking at the Saudi Spanish Investment Forum in Riyadh on Sunday, the minister revealed that the young population in the nation is tackling all the challenges that are arising as the country progresses toward achieving the goals of Vision 2030.

The minister noted that the oil industry was the key driver of the Kingdom’s economy before 2016.

“In 2016, the crown prince came up with Vision 2030 and set up the rules and guidelines for our economy to be more ambitious, effective, and diverse. We had 13 programs launched in 2016 from diverse fields including macroeconomic reforms, microstructure reforms and other institutional reforms,” said Al-Shahrani.


Saudi Arabia sees 26% rise in industrial licenses, ministry reveals

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Saudi Arabia issued 260 new industrial licenses during the first quarter of 2022 — up from the 206 handed out in the previous three months, the government has revealed.

Figures issued by the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources show that while there was a quarter-on-quarter rise, the number approved was down from 308 in the same period of 2021.

Riyadh benefited from most of the new licenses — 109 — with the Eastern region securing 61 and Makkah receiving 45.

The size of new industrial investment totaled SR5.53 billion ($1.47 billion), while the number of jobs provided by licensed companies amounted to 8,053.


As at the end of the first quarter, the total number of factories both operating and under establishment totaled 10,489.

Factories processing non-ferrous metals had the largest share, followed by rubber and plastic products and non-metallic minerals.

The cumulative size of investment in capital of these factories amounted to SR1.35 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 2022.

Small and medium enterprises dominated the industry, accounting for 5,273 and 4,386 factories respectively, with the remaining 830 being large companies.

The Riyadh administrative region held the highest level of industrial units at 5,273 factories. The Eastern region came second with 2,291 factories, and the Makkah region 1,783 factories.