Saudi Arabia's King Salman names new central bank governor

Former governor Fahad Almubarak takes on the role of adviser at the royal court

The headquarters of Saudi Arabia's central bank stand in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. Saudi Arabia's stock market is the Gulf Cooperation Council's second-best performing measure this year after Dubai's, as companies including Al Rajhi Bank posted higher quarterly earnings. Photographer: Waseem Obaidi/Bloomberg
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman has appointed Ayman Alsayari as the kingdom's new central bank governor, according to a decree carried by the state news agency on Thursday.

The king issued two royal orders, first relieving Fahad Almubarak of his post as the governor of Saudi Central Bank, better known as Sama, and the second, appointing Mr Alsayari to the role at the rank of a minister, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Mr Alsayari was vice governor for investment and research at Sama and is a member of the board of directors of Saudi Arabia's National Debt Management Centre.

Mr Almubarak, a former Morgan Stanley banker, now takes on the role of adviser at the royal court, the report said.

He was appointed to the top role at Sama in January 2021 for a second time. He was previously the bank's governor from 2011 to 2016.

The kingdom's central bank plays a key role in the monetary policy management of the Arab world’s largest economy.

On Wednesday, Sama raised its repurchase agreement (repo) rate by a quarter-point to 5.25 per cent and its reverse repo rate by a similar margin to 4.75 per cent, following the US Federal Reserve’s decision to raise its key interest rate by 25 basis points.

Most central banks in the GCC follow the Fed's policy rate moves due to their currencies being pegged to the US dollar.

The kingdom's inflation rate for 2022 was estimated at 2.6 per cent and has been forecast at 2.1 per cent in 2023, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan said in December.

Saudi Arabia's economy grew by 8.7 per cent in 2022, boosted by a sharp increase in the kingdom's oil and non-oil sectors, initial government estimates this week showed. The latest growth estimate is slightly higher than the 8.5 per cent expansion forecast by Mr Al Jadaan in December.

A 15.4 per cent rise in oil sector activities — including the production of crude, natural gas and refining operations — drove the sharp increase in gross domestic product, said the General Authority for Statistics (Gastat).

Non-oil activities increased by 5.4 per cent during the 12-month period to the end of December while government services activities were up 2.2 per cent, Gastat said.

The kingdom, the world's largest exporter of oil, benefitted from the rally in crude prices last year after Brent, the global benchmark for two thirds of the world's oil, rose by about 10 per cent, following a 50 per cent gain in 2021.

High oil prices last year helped Saudi Arabia's fiscal balance tilt to its first surplus since 2013. The kingdom is expected to post a surplus in 2023 despite the global economic slowdown and an uncertain oil demand outlook.

Last month, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva called Saudi Arabia an economic bright spot at a time of difficulty for the global economy at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Updated: February 02, 2023, 3:55 PM