ACWA, Air Products to develop gas facilities

Updated 20 October 2012

ACWA, Air Products to develop gas facilities

ACWA Holding signed Monday a joint venture partnership with Air Products for the formation of a new company, ACWA Air Products Arabia.
The partnership was signed by Mohammed A. Abunayyan, ACWA Holding chairman, and Howard Castle-Smith, Air Products’ regional vice president tonnage gases Europe and Middle East.
According to them, the partnership will focus on the successful pursuit of large-scale industrial gas opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
The partnership will support the Kingdom’s speedy economic development by achieving operational excellence, efficient resource utilization, enhanced capital efficiency and environmental protection through value added, innovative and best in global engineering solutions.
Speaking on the occasion, Abunayyan said: “Partnering with Air Products, one of the world’s largest owners and developers of industrial gases, is a strategic move for ACWA Holding to broaden its economic contribution as a major private sector developer for the Kingdom and GCC.”
He continued: “ACWA Holding’s track record as a leading regional owner and developer of facilities in power generation, water desalination and treatment, sewage water treatment, district cooling, and solar and waste management will enable the new joint venture to provide effective and competitive quality industrial gas facilities to serve the region’s hydrocarbon and industrial markets.”
Speaking on his part, Castle-Smith said: “The new venture with ACWA Holding complements Air Products’ existing presence in the Kingdom and the GCC, providing a strong platform to further grow our business there by partnering with prime Saudi industrial investors and developers.”
The new company, ACWA Air Products Arabia, also complements Air Products’ long-standing relationship with Abdullah Hashim Industrial Gases & Equipment Co. Ltd., a company of the privately owned Abdullah Hashim Group based in the Kingdom.
Air Products has been serving the Middle East for over 50 years, and already operates a helium and cylinder gas filling and distribution facility, as well as a specialty gases center in the Jebel Ali Free Zone. Air Products has offices in Bahrain, Qatar and Dubai, and works closely with the region’s petrochemical, gasification and refining industries. It has built, owned and operated air separation units and hydrogen production plants throughout the Middle East.
The new company will add to the success of ACWA Holding as a leading regional infrastructural developer in many areas specializing in power and water and attained remarkable success in just a few years.
ACWA Holding recognized the rapidly growing demand for power and water in Saudi Arabia and identified the benefits that could be gained by both the public and private sectors from the privatization of these two sectors.
Since its founding, ACWA Holding has developed an integrated strategy of diversification into complimentary infrastructure activities including utilities and water management; district cooling; pipe, aluminum and chemicals manufacturing; and industrial mining. More recently, ACWA Holding widened its activities into other infrastructure-related businesses such as the development of privately owned industrial cities, facilities management, and transportation with considerable success in the areas of air cargo and the expansion of the Saudi transportation network and logistics in particular.

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.

The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.