Egypt, Lebanon discuss launching ro-ro line to boost trade

Egypt and Lebanon discussed Monday launching a ro-ro (roll-on/roll-off) line with the aim of increasing import/export trade between the two countries.

The proposal was tabled during a meeting between Egyptian Minister of Transport Kamel El-Wazir and Lebanese Minister of Public Works and Transport Ali Hamieh on the sideline of the 69th session of the Executive Office of the Council of Arab Transport Ministers in Alexandria.

Ro-ro cargo shipping describes a vessel transporting wheeled cargo, including cars, trucks, buses, trailers or industrial vehicles.

These kind of ships have built-in ramps on their bow or stern to make the loading and unloading of the wheeled cargo much easier than if it was done with a crane.

Both ministers agreed to hold intensive meetings in the near future between specialists from both countries to study the proposal, according to a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Transport.

Monday’s meeting also tackled means of bolstering cooperation between the two sides in the various transport sectors.

Hamieh expressed his country’s interest in cooperation with Egyptian construction companies to execute infrastructure projects, underlining the Egyptian experience in the field.

El-Wazir emphasised that all Egyptian companies “are fully prepared to carry out all the work required by the Lebanese side as per the international quality standards,” the statement noted.

Lebanon ranked seventh among Arab countries as a destination for Egyptian exports in the first half of FY2022/23, according the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS).

Egypt’s exports to the Arab country hit $220 million while its imports stood at $108.4 million during the six-month period.


Lozan Urban Development launches 2nd phase of Apex Business Mall at NAC

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“The second phase of the project comprises unique units in a variety of areas that meet the ambitions and desires of customers by providing a number of commercial units under the ‘franchise system’ to achieve the highest investment return for customers in its project,” said Adel Abdel Moneim — Chairperson of LUD’s Board of Directors.

Lozan Urban Development (LUD) announced the launch of the second phase of its Apex Business Complex in the Downtown area of the New Administrative Capital (NAC).

“The second phase of the project comprises unique units in a variety of areas that meet the ambitions and desires of customers by providing a number of commercial units under the ‘franchise system’ to achieve the highest investment return for customers in its project,” said Adel Abdel Moneim — Chairperson of LUD’s Board of Directors.

Abdel Moneim added that the new phase includes a variety of facilities and flexible payment systems provided by the company to its customers in accordance with their different needs.

He explained that the mixed-use project comprises administrative, commercial, and medical units on an area of 2,600 sqm with investments of approximately EGP 700m.

The project also includes a ground floor and 12 storeys with a variety of units, with areas starting from 35 metres up to 100 sqm.

The chairperson added that the company offers payment plans with 5% down payment and payment periods up to 12 years, and that it expects to fully deliver the project within four years of construction.

He also noted that LUD has contracted engineering consultant office HAFEZ Consultants for the project’s engineering designs, in addition to CAD — a business management company — as a management and operating consultant to ensure the operation and management of the Apex Business Mall.

LUD has succeeded in developing a number of various projects in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with investments that exceeded AED 250m, in addition to its strategic partnership with a number of companies operating in the NAC with investments of up to EGP 300m.

Moreover, the company is currently working on a number of administrative, commercial, residential, and tourism projects in the Delta’s governorates with investments amounting to EGP 350m.

Saudi oil chief Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman says energy security imperiled by attacks

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Saudi Arabia’s oil chief said markets are going through a “jittery period” and reiterated Tuesday that the kingdom’s ability to ensure energy security is no longer guaranteed.

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said cross-border attacks have put to question “our ability to supply the world with the necessary energy requirements.” The attacks have been carried out by Yemen’s rebel Houthis, who are supported by Iran.

“It goes without saying that if this security supply is impacted, it will impact us … but more fundamentally, I think it also will affect the world economy,” he said.

Prince Abdulaziz said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could once rely on a collective effort to ensure their energy security. “These pillars are no longer there,” he added. The prince spoke at the World Government Summit, an event sponsored by the government of Dubai in the UAE.

Oil prices, already at their highest in years, have shot up further amid the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest oil producer. Brent crude prices are trading above $110 a barrel, though have soared at times past $120.

The Houthis have used drones and missiles to target the kingdom’s oil facilities, and have also attacked targets in the UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi.

On Friday, they hit a Saudi oil products storage facility in the Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah, sending huge plumes of black smoke into the air that were visible from the vicinity of the Formula One race where practice laps were underway.

The war in Yemen – where a Saudi-led military coalition, which includes the UAE, has been battling the Houthis since 2015 – has rattled these two Gulf Arab states, revealing the vulnerability of their oil facilities.

Saudi Arabia has expressed its frustrations in official statements, saying it will not bear any responsibility for shortages in oil supplies due to the attacks.

Crude oil prices have also been buoyed by a deal struck by leading producers, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, in an alliance known as OPEC+, which limited oil production to keep prices from crashing amid pandemic lockdowns in 2020. The group has stuck to its cautious plan of releasing more barrels on a monthly basis as COVID-1 9 restrictions have eased. Critics of the plan say the Russian war in Ukraine is roiling markets and sending energy prices soaring for consumers at the pump.

High energy prices have not only benefited oil exporters, but have also helped Russia offset some of the economic pain from Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

The United States, European nations and Japan have either called on Gulf Arab producers with spare capacity to pump more oil or, at a minimum, suggested they should. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered that request in person in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi this month.

“What we are asking for (is) not to tell us ‘do this and do that’. We are experts in our field and we have been doing it for a very long time,” UAE energy minister, Suhail al-Mazrouei, said at the summit.

Al-Mazrouei, doubled-down on the OPEC+ alliance a day earlier in remarks at an energy forum in Dubai. Again on Tuesday, he and the Saudi energy minister stressed the importance of Russia’s roughly 10 million barrels a day in crude output, saying it amounts to almost 10% of global oil demand. They insisted that politics – in reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – should be separated from energy policy.

We are not taking a side today,” the Emirati minister said. The aim of OPEC+, he said, is stabilizing the market.

Gulf Arab states have been hedging their policies since the start of the Russian invasion, careful not to be seen as choosing a side.

Despite U.S. condemnation of the Houthis and U.S.-supplied anti-missile systems for Saudi Arabia, relations between the Biden administration and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de-factor ruler, remain tense. There has been no direct call between the two since the U.S. president took office, though President Joe Biden has spoken to the prince’s father, King Salman.

As the White House inches closer to a nuclear deal with Iran, the Biden administration has tried to reassure traditional Mideast allies of its commitment to their security. Israel and several Gulf Arab states remain fiercely opposed to any efforts that would lift sanctions on Iran.

“We have developed and delivered our side of the story,” Prince Abdulaziz said, referring to the kingdom’s position on the link between its national security and global energy market stability.

“People, others, need to deliver their own side of the commitment,” he added. “Otherwise, the very pillar of energy security will be disturbed, to say the least.”

This year, the World Government Summit is being held on the premises of Dubai Expo 2020, the six-month-long world’s fair that concludes later this week.


Tethys oil production from Oman reaches 325,632 barrels in January

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Tethys Oil’s share of the production, before government, take, from Blocks 3&4 onshore the Sultanate of Oman, in January 2022 amounted to 325,632 barrels of oil, corresponding to 10,504 barrels of oil per day.

The Official Selling Price (OSP) for Oman Export Blend Crude Oil for January 2022 was $80.26 per barrel. The OSP, as published by Sultanate of Oman’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals, is the benchmark price for Tethys Oil’s monthly oil sales excluding trading and quality adjustments.

Tethys Oil, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Tethys Oil Block 3 & 4, has a 30 per cent interest in Blocks 3&4. Partners are Mitsui E&P Middle East B.V. with 20 per cent and the operator CC Energy Development (Oman branch) holding the remaining 50 per cent.
Tethys Oil is a Swedish oil company with a focus on onshore areas with known oil discoveries.

The company’s core area is Oman, where it holds interests in Blocks 3&4, Block 49, Block 56 and Block 58. Tethys Oil has net working interest 2P reserves of 26.2 million barrels of oil (mmbo) and net working interest 2C Contingent Resources of 15.6 mmbo and had an average oil production of 11,136 barrels per day from Blocks 3&4 during 2021.


Kuwait’s $33bn holding company appoints female CEO

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Kuwait Projects Co, the holding company with assets of about $33 billion, has appointed Sheikha Dana Nasser Sabah Al Ahmad as its CEO, in another senior appointment for a woman in the Gulf.

Sheikha Dana was previously the CEO of Al Futtooh Holding Co and on Kuwait Projects’ board since 2020, according to a statement.

She holds board positions in Gulf Insurance Group, OSN and Kamco Invest and her Her appointment is effective January 1.

In neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Sarah Al-Suhaimi became the first woman to chair the Saudi Arabian stock exchange, known as Tadawul (pictured above), in 2017.

The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund has also appointed Rania Nashar as head of compliance and governance, making her one of the most senior women at the kingdom’s $450 billion Public Investment Fund.

Kuwait Projects, also known as Kipco, said Faisal Al Ayyar will retire as an executive after more than 30 years with the company. He will, however, continue to be the vice chairman.


Chevron’s Latest Oil Deal With Iraq Is One To Watch


The newly resuscitated Iraq National Oil Company (INOC) has been authorised by the government in Baghdad to directly negotiate with U.S. oil giant, Chevron, for it to develop the long-delayed Nasiriyah oil field in the southern DhiQar province, according to several domestic news sources.

The idea of developing the 4.36 billion-barrel Nasiriyah oilfield has been mooted by a rapid succession of governments in Iraq since it was discovered by INOC in 1975. The original plan to develop the field on a standalone basis was shelved in the lead-up to the Iran-Iraq war that began in 1980 and lasted until 1988. The field eventually came on-stream in 2009 and was listed on the 2009-2010 fast-track development plan, which aimed to raise its output to at least 50,000 bpd in the first phase.

In the first half of 2009, Chevron was one of four international oil companies (IOCs), along with Italy’s ENI, Japan’s Nippon Oil, and Spain’s Repsol, to be invited to submit bids to develop the field on an engineering procurement construction (EPC) contract basis. The Japanese consortium led by Nippon Oil, and comprising Inpex, and JGC Corporation, then looked set to win the contract before negotiations broke down again.

In 2014, a serious push was made to resuscitate the development of the Nasiriyah field within the broader scope of the ‘Nasiriyah Integrated Project’ (NIP) that also included the development of adjunct lesser oil sites to the main Nassiriyah site and the construction of a 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery. Bids for this wider project were encouraged by the government-ordered changes to the original Iraq technical service contract (TSC) that were aimed at addressing the concern of many IOCs that saw the contract model as falling short of the production sharing contracts model that they preferred.

Unlike the previous contracts, the new TSC variant offered investors a share in project revenues, but only when production began, and the Oil Ministry would pay recovery costs from the date of commencement of work. This differed from the previous contract where the costs were only paid when the contractor raised production by 10 per cent. This said, investors would still have to pay 35 per cent taxes on the profit they made from the Nassiriya project, the same amount as in previous deals.

At that point in 2014, the international engineering and construction firm Foster Wheeler had already completed a front end engineering and design study for the refinery, and 12 potential bidders were on the list. These comprised: India’s Reliance Industries, Oil and Natural Gas Corp, and Essar Oil, Russia’s Rosneft, Lukoil, and Zarubezhneft, France’s Total, and Maurel & Prom, China’s CNPC, the U.S.’s Brown Energy, a Japanese joint bidding team from JGC and Tonen General, and South Korea’s GS Engineering & Construction.

Given longstanding IOC concerns about legal, accounting, and financial transparency in Iraq, this 2014 initiative to develop the Nassiriyah oil field foundered. As summarised by the independent international non-governmental organisation, Transparency International (TI), in its ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’, Iraq demonstrates: “Massive embezzlement, procurement scams, money laundering, oil smuggling and widespread bureaucratic bribery that have led the country to the bottom of international corruption rankings, fuelled political violence and hampered effective state building and service delivery.”

In 2017, China relaxed its directive of the previous two years to all state-owned hydrocarbons companies to cut budgets. From the Iraqi side, this coincided with a fresh impetus for expediting as much production from the south of the country ahead of the chaos in oil supplies from the north that was likely to result (and did) from Kurdistan’s independence referendum to be held in September.

These factors then led to China’s Sinopec and PetroChina proposing a deal that would see the NIP being rolled out as part of the broader ‘Integrated South Project’ (ISP). The ISP (later rebranded as the ‘South Iraq Integrated Project’) aimed to boost output across Iraq’s southern oilfields, and also to build out related infrastructure, including pipelines, transport routes, and the construction of the Common Seawater Supply Project (CSSP).

“The Chinese said that they would spend US$9 billion on the [NIP-related] refinery and the first phase of developing Nassiryah but as, under the terms of Iraqi oil contracts, the Iraqis would have to pay back this cost to the Chinese from the value of oil recovered,” a source who works closely with Iraq’s Oil Ministry told “The initial reaction from the Oil Ministry was to decline the offer, and to say that the development should only cost around US$4 billion, which the Chinese in turn flatly turned down.”

The Chinese had other demands that grated on Iraq at that time as well. “China also wanted its firms to receive their costs back in a much shorter timeframe than most other similar projects,” said the source. “This meant that they were effectively asking for a per barrel remuneration fee at a 15 per cent premium to the highest maximum fee being paid to any company in Iraq for a regular crude oil producing field, which was US$6 per barrel to PetroChina for al-Ahdab,” he added. “This would mean that the Chinese would get around US$6.90 per barrel, more than [Angola’s] Sonangol for its heavy oil extraction at Najmah [US$6 per barrel] and Qairayah [US$5 per barrel] and would dwarf the US$1.49 per barrel that [Malaysia’s] Petronas was getting for the same type of field of Gharraf,” he told “China also demanded that it was given [Iraq] dinar-denominated government-backed bonds for the entire amount [US$9 billion] that could be cashed in if the development did not start to generate large amounts of oil quickly,” he underlined.

Given the negative history of dealing with China over the Nassiriyah project and the fact that Russia is occupied elsewhere in the country and the region, the U.S. might be in an unusually positive position to take a significant role in either the Nassiryah field development alone or in the broader NIP. This has been bolstered by the apparent willingness of Iraq’s de facto leader – radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr – to engage with U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia, and by the shift in tone from one key player in Iraq’s influential al-Hakim family.

Whether this shift in attitude towards doing substantial and enduring business with the U.S. across its oil, gas, and petrochemicals sectors is genuine, or whether it is just the usual games-playing by Baghdad to keep the money flowing from Washington, remains to be seen but the slew of deals signaled recently appear propitious at this stage.


Saudi Arabia licenses 44 companies to open regional headquarters in Riyadh

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Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had licensed 44 international companies to set up regional headquarters in the capital Riyadh under the kingdom’s push to become a regional commercial hub and vie for foreign capital and talent.

Among the 44 companies are multinationals in sectors including technology, food and beverages, consulting and construction including Unilever, Baker Hughes and Siemens, a press release said.

The world’s top oil exporter and largest Arab economy in February said it would give foreign firms until the end of 2023 to set up headquarters in the country or risk losing out on government contracts.

The move, part of efforts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to wean the economy off oil by creating new industries that also generate jobs for Saudis, has put the kingdom in competition with regional business hub the United Arab Emirates.

The new headquarter establishments would add 67 billion riyals ($18 billion) to the economy and provide around 30,000 job opportunities by 2030, the President of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, Fahd al-Rasheed, said in a statement.

Rasheed told Reuters he expects the 44 firms to move to Riyadh within a year, adding that some had already done so. He said the target was for 480 companies by 2030.

The kingdom earlier this year said that 24 companies had signed agreements to establish main regional offices – including PepsiCo, Schlumberger, Deloitte, PwC and Bechtel – rather than oversee operations remotely from the UAE’s Dubai emirate.

European law firm DWF Group said on Wednesday that Riyadh would become its regional headquarters for business services.

Rasheed has said the move is not aimed at dismantling corporate operations elsewhere.

“We are simply saying – you need to have your regional headquarter here because this is not simply a contract economy that you come in and come out. We want to see you with us for the long term,” he told Reuters on Monday.

Rasheed defined regional headquarters as housing all major decision-making functions, but it was unclear how all firms themselves are defining Saudi headquarters.

Some people in the business community say companies are unlikely to shut operations in the UAE and may simply shift some operations to Saudi.

Danish wind turbine maker Vestas, not among the list of 44 firms, told Reuters in a statement that it was moving its Middle East sales h ..

Saudi Arabia has launched economic and social reforms aimed at making the kingdom an easier place to live and work in and has cut the red tape that long deterred companies.

source:Saudi Arabia has launched economic and social reforms aimed at making the kingdom an easier place to live and work in and has cut the red tape that long deterred companies.


Humam Miscone: Reflections on Iraq’s Manufacturing Industry

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By Humam Miscone, for The Iraqi Economists Network (IEN). Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

World Bank’s Assessment Is Flawed – Manufacturing Is Viable in Iraq. Additional Reflections on Iraq’s Industry.

These additional reflections are prompted the article of Dr. Amer Hirmis entitled “World Bank’s Assessment Is Flawed: Manufacturing Is Viable in Iraq… Preliminary Brief Comments!” (Hirmis, 2021), which provided critical assessment and comments and challenged some of the analyses and recommendations provided in a recent WBG document entitled “Breaking Out of Fragility A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq” (WBG Memorandum) (October 2020).

Initially, I would like to recognize and record my general agreement with the arguments and comments of Hirmis (2021).

The WBG Memorandum’s envisaged a vision for Iraq’s economic diversification and growth that, while concentrated on agriculture and agroindustry, completely ignored the manufacturing industry that flourished in Iraq in the 1960s – 1980s.

Instead, the WBG Memorandum vision actually brings Iraq’s economy back 70 years ago, to the early 1950s, when Iraq used to be net exporter of crude oil, wheat and dates and had nascent industrial sector, limited to textile and some construction material industries.

These additional reflections are intended to support the arguments on Hirmis (2021) regarding the manufacturing industry and to provide information and evidence that manufacturing industry, particularly mining, mineral and chemical industries, could be of equal importance to agriculture, agroindustry and even oil industry and could ensure the aspired economic diversification, growth, job creation as well as integrated and balanced territorial development.


Emirates A380 premium economy debut is well timed, say experts

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Emirates airline’s recent introduction of ‘premium economy’ seats is indicative of shrewd long-term decision making, according to experts.

The Dubai-owned airline announced on January 3 that it would deploy its latest flagship A380 aircraft featuring new premium economy seats and enhancements across all cabins to London Heathrow.

While the seats are not yet bookable, passengers flying on the daily EK003/004 flight can experience the new-look premium economy as a discretionary upgrade until more seats are rolled out commercially and at scale.

According to Tobias Rueckerl, president and CEO, Advanced Aviation Consulting Limited (AACL), Emirates would likely have had the plan in the offing for “three to four years” but now is a “good time” to roll out the Middle East’s first premium economy offering.

“This is might seem a strange time to launch this product but it’s not a bad move,” said Rueckerl.

“The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for [aviation] developments that have been coming to pass for years. More and more global airlines have decided to remove first-class products, upgrade business class products and install premium economy,” he said.

Global trends such as business teleconferencing and scaling back luxury corporate travel have been on the rise since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, the aviation consultant said.

“After the crisis, many western companies changed their travel policies permitting employees to travel in economy only,” ” said Rueckerl. “First class was often filled with mile-collecting upgraders. In this context, it makes sense to re-think the cabins. In the coming years, business travel will become less important and leisure travel will become more popular.”

The AACL expert predicted that business and first-class cabins could be eradicated entirely in the coming years, making space for more low-cost airlines and products offering economy and premium economy.

Fascinating move
Andrew Charlton, managing director at Switzerland-based Aviation Advocacy, said the introduction of premium economy seats by Emirates represents a “fascinating” move.

“There is no doubt that post-pandemic business travel volumes will drop and travel budgets will be tightened, so a value-offer like premium economy may help,” he said. “After the pandemic, many people will want to visit their families or treat their relatives to special flights, so a reasonable upgrade offer might be a good call.”

Charlton predicts that in the coming years business travellers will take occasional longer, consolidated business trips rather than frequent trips.

Stealing a march on competitors
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based aviation consultants StratAero, said Emirate’s use of a solitary A380 to roll out its premium economy offering highlights that limited scheduling is an issue amid pandemic times.

“Until more airplanes with this cabin are made available for use, it is at Emirates’ discretion regarding who uses premium seats,” he said.

“At the same time, it does allow customers to get a first look at a new product: Emirates is the only GCC airline that has a premium economy suite and so the novelty factor will definitely be an eye-catcher for regular travellers.”

Ahmad added that Emirates has “stolen a march” on its Gulf rivals with its new offering.

“Once we’re through this pandemic, Emirates will have yet another string to its bow for engaging and enticing customers,” he said. “You have to wonder how Gulf competitors will sit on the sidelines before they develop and introduce their own versions.”

Major route
The heavily trafficked route between London airports and Dubai has been a growing battleground for global carriers in recent years.

The London Heathrow-Dubai route alone was the fourth busiest route in the world and attracted 3.4 million passengers in 2017, according to a RoutesOnline study.

The UK capital has historically been a leading aviation hub, providing convenient connections for Emirates passengers to the rest of the UK and wider Europe.

Last week, Sir Tim Clark, president Emirates, said: “The Emirates A380 is already one of the most sought-after travel experiences in the skies, and now we’ve made it even better. While others cut back, Emirates is working hard to restore the products and services that we’ve had to suspend or adjust due to pandemic precautions, and introduce new offerings and enhancements.”

The airline received its newest A380 aircraft from Airbus in December and its remaining order of five A380s will also be delivered with premium economy cabins over 2021 and 2022.

What’s in Emirates premium economy?
The premium economy cabin will have 56 seats in a 2-4-2 cabin layout.
With a pitch of up to 40-inches, Emirates’ premium economy seat is 19.5 inches wide, and reclines eight inches into a comfortable cradle position with ample room to stretch out.
Each seat has a 13.3″ screen, one of the largest in its class as well as easily accessible in-seat charging points, a wide dining table and side cocktail table.
Emirates premium economy is located at the front of the main deck, with two lavatories dedicated to customers.

UAE, Saudi Arabia progress with common digital currency for central banks

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The central banks of the UAE (CBUAE) and Saudi Arabia (SAMA) have officially launched a project for a common digital currency.

A final report on the Aber project follows ongoing experiments and research into the initiative which is considered one of the first of its kind internationally at the level of central banks.

It aims to provide proof of concept for the feasibility of issuing a digital currency for central banks called the Wholesale CBDC, with a view of developing cross-border payment systems and reducing transfer times and costs between banks, CBUAE and SAMA said in a joint statement.

It will also experiment with the direct use and application of technologies such as distributed ledgers.

During the trial period, the Wholesale CBDC was only used by the central banks and banks participating in the initiative as a settlement unit for domestic as well as cross-border commercial bank transactions between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the statement added.

Over the course of one year, usage solutions were designed, implemented, and managed… These results showed that the distributed ledger technology would enable central banks to develop payment systems at both local and cross-border levels,” the statement said.

CBUAE and SAMA both expressed satisfaction with the achieved results, which they described as being “beneficial to the central bank community and the financial system in general”.

“The project results are expected to contribute to developing clear perceptions of the potential of this technology and its applications on the financial sector,” they added.

Plans to develop the Aber project were first announced in early 2019 to transact financial settlements between Saudi Arabia and the UAE through Blockchain and distributed ledgers technologies.

It was devised as one of seven initiatives agreed by the Executive Committee of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council at its first meeting in Abu Dhabi last year.