Saudi Arabia aims to be world’s largest renewable energy market

Updated 23 July 2013
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Saudi Arabia aims to be world’s largest renewable energy market

Saudi Arabia aims to become the world’s foremost market for renewable energy with an aggressive investment budget of $109 billion. By 2032, the country strives to generate as much as a third of the Kingdom’s energy demands using renewable energy (54 GW).
Following the publicity surrounding the country’s major investment drive, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) released a series of documents detailing the revised National Energy Plan. In addition to the 41 GW of solar power, 25 GW of CSP and 16 GW of PV, the Kingdom is aiming to generate 18 GW of nuclear energy, 3 GW of waste to energy, 1 GW of geothermal and an additional 9 GW of wind power, specifically for water desalination plants.
Impressive and noble though the country’s renewable energy goals maybe, the question remains how will the world’s largest exporter of oil, so dependent on conventional energy sources for their power demand, achieve such a transformation.
Establishing a time-line with long-term policies is at the top of the list.
According to Keisuke Sadamori, director of the energy markets and security directorate, International Energy Agency (IEA), "One of the key messages from the Medium Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2013 by the IEA is that policy uncertainty is the largest risk for renewable investment. Every country, including Saudi Arabia, should introduce long-term policies to provide a predictable and reliable framework to support renewable deployment."
Sadamori, alongside various other international and regional renewable energy experts, will be discussing the key challenges faced by Saudi Arabia and the steps toward overcoming them at the upcoming 3rd Annual Solar Arabia Summit. Taking place on Sept. 29-30 in Riyadh, the summit is hosting 35 experts who will each share their experience in the industry and discuss the latest market trends and policy development in the Kingdom.
Rasheed M. Alzahrani, CEO, Riyadh Valley Company, is also speaking at the summit to discuss joint ventures, partnerships and investments in renewable energy in the Kingdom.
He also acknowledges that "high level plans are already in place, but the major challenge in the Kingdom lies in the absence of a detailed time-line for a clear and gradual shift to renewable energy in the country and the slow adoption and advancement in renewable energy initiatives."
When asked about his company’s participation in the summit, Alzahrani said: "We intend to invest in this sector both in early and late stage opportunities that will add value to the local needs. We will use this platform to introduce RVC and its initiatives and to help foster the development of an energy ecosystem in KSA."
Alongside the summit’s conference agenda, 250 Saudi energy stakeholders are attending to have one-to-one business meetings with up to 40 international solution and service providers.
Confirmed participants include Schneider Electric, Total, Sterling and Wilson, SMA Technology and Trishe Renewables.


Saudi tourism sector in the spotlight at Arabian Travel Market

Updated 21 April 2018
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Saudi tourism sector in the spotlight at Arabian Travel Market

  • Kingdom developing tourism sector as part of economic diversification strategy
  • Vision 2030 foresees 1.2 million new tourist jobs by 2030

It is the leading global event for Middle Eastern tourism and it opens on Sunday in Dubai. The Arabian Travel Market attracts the big players of the industry and the wannabes. It showcases 2,800 products to more than 28,000 potential buyers and generates deals worth more than $2.5 billion.

No wonder the world wants to be there, from spas to safaris, from Armenia to Zanzibar and all points between in both the globe and the alphabet.

But this year, one destination is set to attract more attention than any other: Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom’s tourism industry has hitherto centered primarily on the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah; last year’s Hajj attracted around 2.35 million pilgrims, with about 1.75 million of those coming from abroad.

When it comes to non-religious tourism however, it is in the unique position of creating that industry more or less from scratch, which is an enviable place to be.

“It means we are able to learn from the mistakes of others and we can take the best from everywhere,” said Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia’s archaeological treasure house and home to the Unesco-listed Madain Saleh.

“And we are determined to offer the best in every way,” he added.

Al-Madani recently returned from presenting the plans for Al-Ula at a high-profile gala at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, an occasion that coincided with the visit of Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the driving force behind Vision2030, the ambitious program designed to revamp not only the national economy but Saudi society as a whole.

Once regarded as practically off-limits to visitors and particularly Westerners (although that was never true), Saudi Arabia is throwing open the gates, as part of plans to diversify its economy and create jobs for its citizens.

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic development plan, designed to create new revenue streams to lower its reliance on oil, envisages the creation of 1.2 million new jobs in the tourism sector by 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority in February said it planned to invest $64 billion in its entertainment sector in the coming 10 years. This investment will include the development of a countrywide network of cinemas, following the lifting of a ban last year.

As well as opening up the 5,000-year-old wonders of Al-Ula, there are plans to develop 34,000 square kilometers of Red Sea coastline and 50 outlying islands into luxury beach resorts.

The scheme has already attracted Sir Richard Branson, founder and boss of the Virgin Group, as its first international investor. He is involved in developing the islands — which he described as “breathtakingly beautiful” — as luxury destinations, and has also visited Madain Saleh.

“This is an incredibly exciting time in the country’s history and I’ve always felt that there is inothing like getting a first-hand impression,” he said after his visit.

He praised the Crown Prince for his vision, telling Arab News, “If you want to succeed you should have an idea and a plan to implement it and just do it. He is doing that and his heart is in the right place.”

Though he is overseeing the development of the Al-Ula sites, Amr Al-Madani said one plan was to offer two-center holidays: “Some days exploring the archaeology and the nature in Al-Ula and then a few days relaxing at the beach,” he said.

As well as unspoilt beaches, the Red Sea coast also enjoys the best climate in Saudi Arabia with pleasant sea breezes offsetting the heat.

The Red Sea project is expected to generate 35,000 jobs.

The Royal Commission has already recruited the first 200 future employees who will work in Al-Ula. The group — half boys, half girls — are all high school-leavers or university students from the region. They have already begun three months of training in Riyadh, learning languages and undergoing assessment by psychologists and careers advisers and will later be dispatched to several locations in Britain and the US to continue learning.

Al-Madani said Al-Ula should be ready to receive its first tourists in three to five years, eventually accommodating a million to 1.5 million a year.