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Dubai Expo 2020 adds 2% to the UAE's GDP growth – Arab News

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RIYADH: Dubai Expo 2020 exhibition added about 2 percent to the gross domestic product of the UAE, and played a major role in its recovery from the pandemic.
The Expo is also a major contributor to the digital transformation in Dubai, Emarat Alyoum local paper reported, citing a report by Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce.
The exhibition attracted millions of visitors and will continue until March 31, 2022.
 
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia saw a significant jump in venture capital investments in the financial technology sector, hitting 16 deals in the first eight months of 2021 totaling $157.2 million.
This compares with 2020, when seven venture capital deals were signed worth $7.8 million as pandemic restrictions curtailed activity, according to the annual Saudi Fintech annual report.
This year has also seen backing spread across a range of early-stage projects, with 46 percent at series A and B stages, 38 percent at the seed stage, and 15 percent at pre-seed levels.
Pre-seed funding is the earliest stage of investment, often from founders, family and close supporters. This is followed by more formal seed and series stages, where equity in the business is traded.
This spread of investment demonstrates that backing is available to support fintech companies at key stages of their development.
This year has seen backing spread across a range of early- stage projects, with 46 percent at series A and B stages, 38 percent at the seed stage, and 15 percent at pre-seed levels.
Pre-seed funding is the earliest stage of investment, often from founders, family and close supporters.
This is followed by more formal seed and series stages, where equity in the business is traded.
This spread of investment demonstrates that backing is available to support fintech companies at key stages of their development.
There has been an increase in the level of early seed-stage and pre seed stage investment, in particular.
There has been an increase in the level of early seed-stage and pre-seed stage investment, in particular.
So far in 2021, investors have signed deals worth $12.9 million at seed and pre-seed stage investment, a 108 percent jump from $6.2 million invested in 2020.
The payments sector remains the most attractive fintech area in the Kingdom, so far accounting for around 93% of total venture capital investments this year.
Highlights include series A investments in mobile payments platform Hala $6.5 million and buy-now-pay-later business Tamara $110 million. While restaurant point-of-sale provider Foodics attracted $20 million of series B funding.
Despite growing levels of fintech investment in the Kingdom, the median deal size in Saudi Arabia is $2.7 million compared to a global median deal size of $7.3 million.
The launch of Open Banking in Saudi Arabia in 2022, which allows firms to share consumer current account data once permission has been given, is also expected to speed up the pace of fintech development.
Experts expect this move will provide existing fintech investors with more opportunities, and will attract funds to the sector.
The number of financial technology companies in Saudi Arabia continues to grow, as the number of companies increased this year to 82, a 37 percent rise on the previous year.
 
Commitment to Vision 2030
The move by the Kingdom’s central bank, SAMA, to Open Banking is set to support the further development of the sector, in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and the Financial Sector Development Program, launched in 2017.
The plan includes developing the digital economy, and allowing financial intermediaries to support private sector growth by opening up the financial services industry to new players. It also encourages the building of an advanced capital market in the Kingdom.

DUBAI: The inaugural Future Mineral Forum in Riyadh will mark the beginning of a new era for Saudi Arabia’s mining industry.
Key mining players across the globe are taking part in the event, which is hosted by the Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources.
The ministry said that the event promotes three themes: Mining’s contribution to society, reimagining mining, and investing in new and emerging mining regions.
It comes as part of Saudi Vision 2030’s goal to diversify the economy.
The Kingdom has identified mining as a key sector of the future, with an untapped potential of $1.3 trillion, according to recent data.
Saudi authorities have launched one of the world’s largest geophysical and geochemical surveys, on top of other reforms to fully take advantage of the growing industry.
Organizers are optimistic that miners and global investors will see the opportunities that the emerging region presents.
According to an event briefing document, the Middle East, West and Central Asia, and Africa “represent a blank canvas on which to develop modern mining industries.”
The ministry hopes that the Riyadh forum will kick-start a global conversation about the future of the industry, with minerals expected to play a crucial role in a global energy transition.
The future global economy is characterized by low-carbon technologies including electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines, organizers said, adding that these innovations are “powered by mined materials such as copper, zinc, tin, tungsten and lithium.”
More than 2,000 participants are expected to attend the three-day event at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center.
More than 150 international investors will also attend, along with thought leaders and global speakers who will take part in speaking sessions.
Among the mining leaders and industry experts who have confirmed their attendance to the conference are Canada’s Mark Bristow of Barrick Gold Corporation, Robert Friedland of Ivahone Mines, Anil Agarwal of UK-based Vedanta Resources, Jeffrey Dawes of US-based Komatsu Mining Corporation and Roy Harvey of US aluminum producer Alcoa.
Major Saudi figures are also taking part in the event: Abdulaziz Al-Harbi, CEO of Ma’aden; Yousef Al-Benyan, CEO of SABIC; and NEOM chief Nadhmi Al-Nasr.
A key part of the event is showcasing investment opportunities, drawing major investors and sovereign fund leaders, including officials from Resource Capital Funds, Pacific Road Capital, Rousseau Asset Management, EMR Capital and Sprott.
The forum will discuss the “establishment or transformation of a new, modern and responsible future minerals industry in the Middle East, West and Central Asia, and Africa.”
Attendees will experience an in-depth look at the resource endowment of these regions as well as better understand legal and regulatory frameworks, the organizers said.

Another key theme of the summit is the application of environment, social, and governance principles in the industry. One session will discuss “building a sustainable mining future.”
A brochure said that the event will mark “growing societal expectations for a mining industry that protects the environment, contributes to community development and behaves ethically.”
The Kingdom is optimistic about the potential role of mining in its ambitious diversification strategy, and aims to “emerge as a major new player in global mining.”
RIYADH: 2021 was a record year for cryptocurrency, which saw the market value for digital coins briefly top $3 trillion (SR11.3 trillion) in November.
Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market value and the second-largest cryptocurrency, ether, also hit all-time highs. While altcoins and the meme-inspired Dogecoin gained traction.
Other digital assets, such as nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, sold for millions of dollars alongside fine art in major auction houses. A digital collage by US artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million in March.
In addition to art, NFTs for use in video games to buy digital land or other items soared in value.
And El Salvador became the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender in September, in a move that saw the government provide digital wallets giving away $30 in Bitcoin to every citizen. 
El Salvador became the first country to accept bitcoin as legal tender in September, in a move that saw the government provide digital wallets giving away $30 in Bitcoin to every citizen.
Blockchain-based applications, including decentralized finance, or DeFi, garnered interest from both retail and institutional investors, pushing the growth of Web3, which is the decentralized version of the internet based on blockchain technology that powers NFTs and underpins cryptocurrencies.
All of this helped push cryptocurrency into the mainstream in 2021.
Here are the crypto highlights of 2021.
 
Most searched cryptocurrencies
Receiving an average of 1,100,000 Google searches per month, Bitcoin was the most Googled cryptocurrency in the UK in 2021, according to a new study.
Research conducted by Bacancy, a software firm, added that Dogecoin is the second most searched digital coin in the UK with a monthly average of 596,000 Google searches over the past year.
In third place with 378,000 searches is Ethereum, the blockchain-based software platform for receiving and sending value globally.
With 189,000 searches per month, the Shiba Inu token, another digital coin with a dog theme, was in fourth place.
Cardano is the fifth most-searched, with 187,000, followed by XRP in sixth place with 185,000 monthly searches and in seventh place is Ripple with 83,000 Google searches in 2021.
Meanwhile, Dogecoin has overtaken Bitcoin in popularity in the US in 2021 as it is the most searched cryptocurrency in the country’s 23 states, according to research.
This survey was conducted by financial adviser The Advisor Coach to establish the cryptocurrency each US might want to invest in based on searches.
Analysis of the Google Trends data revealed that Dogecoin had the highest number of states who were interested in investing in the digital coin with a total of 23 states, including Illinois, Florida, Hawaii and New Jersey. The rise in interest can be partially attributed to the endorsement of US billionaire Elon Musk who said in December that his electric carmaker Tesla would accept Dogecoin as a form of payment.
Bitcoin was the second most popular with 10 states looking up investments opportunities in cryptocurrency, including Connecticut, Alaska, Mississippi, and New Hampshire.
A total of eight states inquired into Ethereum, the third-highest spot in the research, with states such as Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia and Ohio showing an interest.
 
Who’s mining
Most Bitcoin mining took place in China, according to internet protocol, or IP, addresses that used the mathematical functions needed to search for the digital coin.
In 2021, the world’s top Bitcoin mining pools all came from China, with five pools being responsible for over half of the cryptocurrency’s total hash, or mathematical mining functions. 
This is likely related to energy prices around the world as the cost of electricity in Germany is more than 10 times the price in China. Successful mining for Bitcoin uses banks of high-powered computers that use a great deal of energy.
Digital coin mining companies bought a lot of hardware this year, which resulted in the price of some mining accessories jumping roughly 10 percent a week in 2021, according to Statista.
However, on the currency’s dark side, the US Internal Revenue Service revealed in November that $3.5 billion of cryptocurrency was seized last year.
This represents 93 percent of all funds seized by the criminal investigation unit during 2021.
The agency expects to confiscate billions more dollars in cryptocurrency next year.
“I expect a trend of crypto seizures to continue as we move forward into fiscal year 2022. We are seeing crypto involved in a number of our crimes as we move forward,” IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Jim Lee said.

Riyadh: Fairness, transparency, and feasibility will now all be taken into consideration before private public partnerships are given the green light in Saudi Arabia after a law change was signed off. 
The National Center for Privatization and PPP have approved a new set of rules which govern how such agreements are reached. 
The Private Sector Participation Law Implementing Regulations will also require there to be real competition in the tendering process and make sure the public interest is protected. 
The new laws also provide provisions that ensure all participants are dealt with fairly and any conflict of interest is avoided. 
The change has been made in a bid to encourage investors to bid for contracts and therefore increase private sector contribution to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product.
It is also a key aim of Saudi Vision 2030 to unlock state-owned assets to the private sector and privatize selected government services.
The new rules were first published in the official newspaper Umm Al-Qura.
Oil prices rose and were heading for their biggest weekly gains since mid-December on Friday as unrest in Kazakhstan and outages in Libya spurred concerns over supply, according to Reuters.
Brent crude climbed 70 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $82.69 a barrel at 1229 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 59 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $80.05 a barrel.
Brent and WTI were on track for gains of almost 6.5 percent in the first week of the year, with prices at their highest since late November, as supply concerns overtook worries that the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant might hurt demand.
“The upward jump in oil prices mostly reflects the market jitters as unrest escalates in Kazakhstan and the political situation in Libya continues to deteriorate and sideline oil output,” Rystad Energy analyst Louise Dickson said.
Security forces appeared to be in control of the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city Almaty on Friday and the president said constitutional order had mostly been restored, a day after Russia sent troops to put down an uprising.
The protests began in Kazakhstan’s oil-rich western regions after state price caps on butane and propane were removed on New Year’s Day.
Oil production at Kazakhstan’s top field Tengiz was reduced on Thursday, its operator Chevron said, as some contractors disrupted train lines in support of protests taking place across the central Asian country.
Meanwhile, supply additions from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and allies, together called OPEC+, are not keeping up with demand growth.
OPEC’s output in December rose by 70,000 barrels per day from the previous month, versus the 253,000 bpd increase allowed under the OPEC+ supply deal, which restored output that was slashed in 2020 when demand collapsed under COVID-19 lockdowns.
Production in Libya has dropped to 729,000 barrels per day, down from a high of 1.3 million bpd last year, partly due to pipeline maintenance work.
While the Omicron coronavirus variant is rapidly taking hold, demand-side concerns are easing amid rising evidence that it is less severe than previous variants.
“The concerns about a massive slump in oil demand have faded now that it has become clear that Omicron leads to milder forms of the disease than previous variants of the virus, meaning that massive mobility restrictions are not likely,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

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