Royal visit a boost to Saudi-Spanish ties

King Salman honors King Felipe VI of Spain at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Sunday. (SPA)
Updated 16 January 2017
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Royal visit a boost to Saudi-Spanish ties

RIYADH: The three-day visit to Saudi Arabia by Spain's King Felipe Vl “is a shot in the arm for Saudi-Spanish bilateral trade relations,” said Abdullah Al-Meleihi, a board member of the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, on Sunday.

Spanish Ambassador Joaquin Perez Villanueva said King Felipe Vl’s visit “is mainly intended to exchange notes on subjects of mutual interest … and drum up support for consolidating economic relations.”
The Spanish king’s delegation comprises a high-level delegation that was expected to meet local business leaders to promote bilateral trade and investment.
“Spain has longstanding … economic relations with the Kingdom, thanks in part to the excellent relationship between former King Juan Carlos and the Saudi royal family,” said Villanueva.
Al-Meleihi, president of Al-Ramez International Group, said: “Saudi Arabia as a country needs know-how, which Spain has in various sectors such as mining, solar energy and construction, among others.”
He added that the visit engenders the transfer of technology, paving the way for Saudi Arabia to eventually export its own finished products to other countries instead of raw materials.
“It would be in stark contrast to the situation some 30 years ago when we were after imports and looking for foreign investors to come to our country for investment purposes,” said Al-Meleihi, whose group is an investor in Euromarche, a major shopping center in the Saudi capital, and in other business ventures.
Dr. Yasser Al-Harbi, a member of the Saudi-Spanish Business Council, said he hoped the meetings would bolster bilateral trade.
“The Saudi and Spanish leaderships have been enjoying a good friendship for a long time now, and we in the private sector in the Kingdom consider Spain a good partner in technology and knowledge transfer,” said Al-Harbi, who is also vice chairman of the Aparal Group, which is involved in information and communications technology (ICT) in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia is Spain’s third-largest trade partner in the Arab world, and is ranked 12th among exporting countries to Spain from outside the EU.
The two countries are near to finalizing a $2.1 billion deal that will see Spain sell five warships to Saudi Arabia.
Spain is also involved in the $22.5 billion Riyadh Metro project, also called the King Abdulaziz Project for Riyadh Public Transport. The Spanish construction group FCC leads the FAST consortium in the ongoing project.
The Metro system will meet the demand of the city’s growing population while reducing congestion in the city. The population in Riyadh by 2030 is expected to reach 8 million.
The FCC said Riyadh Metro is the largest international contract in the history of construction in which a Spanish company has been awarded a contract. The contract covers the design and construction of three lines totaling 64.6 km.
Spain is also involved in building a high-speed rail line between Makkah and Madinah. Major Spanish companies such as Talgo, OHL, Adif and RENFE formed a consortium and won the railway project in 2011.


Saudi Aramco recognized as a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Updated 22 January 2019
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Saudi Aramco recognized as a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

JEDDAH: Saudi Aramco’s Uthmaniyah Gas Plant (UGP) has been recognized by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a “Lighthouse” manufacturing facility and a leader in technology applications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 
Saudi Aramco is the first energy company globally to be included in this select group of manufacturing sites. The plant is also the only facility in the Middle East to be recognized by WEF. 
The announcement was made ahead of WEFs annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
The gas plant is one of the world’s largest gas processing plants and was commissioned in 1981 as part of Saudi Aramco’s Master Gas System to process associated gas from oil wells. 
The use of drones and wearable technologies to inspect pipelines and machinery has helped cut inspection time by 90% in this industrial facility.
“The recognition of the Uthmaniyah Gas Plant demonstrates Saudi Aramco’s shift to transform and adapt in the rapidly changing global energy landscape. Uthmaniyah is only one part of our large integrated energy value chain where IR 4.0 technologies are playing a critical role to enable significant capital and operational efficiencies,” said Amin H. Nasser, Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco.
The seven new facilities join nine other “Manufacturing Lighthouses” which WEF unveiled in September 2018. The 16 factories were selected from an initial list of 1,000 manufacturers based on their successful implementation of cutting-edge technologies of the future that drive financial and operational impact.
The “Lighthouse” program was conducted by WEF in collaboration with McKinsey during a year-long study. A study team visited UGP in Saudi Arabia and performed a thorough audit.