The swift introduction of integrated stimulus and support measures by the authorities as soon as the coronavirus crisis reached Saudi Arabia, and their part in enabling local banks to bolster the real economy, are explored in a new Covid-19 Response Report (CRR) by Oxford Business Group, produced with Riyad Bank.
The CRR provides an in-depth analysis of Saudi Arabia’s response to the coronavirus in an easy-to-navigate and accessible format, focusing on key data and infographics relating to the country’s socio-economic landscape.
Licence-holders will find coverage of the benefits that steps taken by the country’s institutions to cushion the impact of the pandemic brought, with the result that commercial banks felt sufficiently confident to expand credit to the private sector during the first quarter of the year.
A key focus of the report is the accelerated transition witnessed to digital banking and commerce, coming on the back of major reforms implemented under Vision 2030. A case study on Riyad Bank highlights the way in which the lender responded with agility and innovation to shifts in demand, while positioning itself to tap new opportunities in the digital sphere, culminating in strong first-quarter growth.
In separate analysis, the report documents the healthy position of the banking sector, supported by strong balance sheets and adequate risk levels, which bode well for recovery.
The CRR also shines a spotlight on the Kingdom’s plans for the future of the financial services industry, which include encouraging a savings culture as part of a broader bid to enhance future resilience.
Andrew Jeffreys, OBG’s CEO, said the CRR showed that prudent decisions taken to invest in health infrastructure, combined with favourable demographics and firm economic foundations, meant Saudi Arabia had found itself well placed to tackle the challenges of the pandemic and eye a comparatively swift recovery.
“Low public debt, a strong credit rating and high FX reserves provided the Kingdom with a cushion against external shocks, including the decline in global demand for oil and other commodities,” he said. “While the authorities have had to accommodate these temporary shortfalls in revenue, the country’s outlook for recovery is bright, supported by the competitive cost of oil production and an abundance of reserves.”
Tareq alsadhan, Riyad Bank’s CEO, added that like the broader economy, Saudi Arabia’s banks had faced the coronavirus from an advantageous position, buoyed by consecutives years of solid performances.
“Looking ahead, the industry is expected to play its part by adopting a prudent approach that balances risk with the need to support the economy,” he said. “We look forward to playing a key role in the post-pandemic recovery phase, while continuing to strengthen our position in the corporate and retail banking segments, and supporting the needs of businesses and consumers.”
The CRR forms part of a series of tailored reports which OBG is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Covid-19 Economic Impact Assessment articles and interviews.
You can find the full report here.