Envoy upbeat about Saudi Arabian Airlines plans to double flights to Maldives

Maldives Ambassador Abdullah Hameed
Updated 04 March 2017
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Envoy upbeat about Saudi Arabian Airlines plans to double flights to Maldives

RIYADH: Maldives Ambassador Abdullah Hameed has expressed optimism regarding plans by Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) to double its flights to the South Asian country from two to four weekly.
The envoy told Arab News the two additional flights would originate from Jeddah. Saudia, the Kingdom’s flagship carrier, started its bi-weekly flights to the Maldives from Riyadh at the end of March last year.
Hameed said the two additional flights would increase the number of Saudi tourists to the Maldives, a tropical island nation located just north of the equator in the Indian Ocean.
The country comprises 26 atolls that are made up of more than 1,000 coral islands, and is known for its white-sand beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs. About 200 of the islands are inhabited.
Hameed said it is encouraging to see the considerable increase in Saudi tourists. In 2015, 15,749 Saudis visited the Maldives, with a 39.5 percent increase last year to 21,944, he added.
Hameed, a veteran diplomat with more than 20 years experience in the Maldives Foreign Service, said 1.3 million tourists visited his country last year. The Maldives has a population of 393,988.
Besides Saudia, other airlines with flights to the country include Maldives Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Air India and Sri Lankan Airlines, among others.


Saudi reforms encourage investment in Kingdom: Davos panel

Updated 13 min 39 sec ago
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Saudi reforms encourage investment in Kingdom: Davos panel

  • Morgan Stanley’s CEO James Gorman welcomed the social reforms, calling them essential progress to provide the backbone for the economic reforms
  • Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri said to attract investors into Saudi Arabia needed to improve its infrastructure

The recent reforms in the Kingdom have been the drive behind foreign investment in the country, a panel debate on the “Next Steps for Saudi Arabia” at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos said Thursday.

Chairperson of the board of directors of the Saudi Stock Exchange, Sarah Al-Suhaimi said WEF reports reflected the positive changes in Saudi Arabia that had improved the country’s ranking in terms of investment.

“We have worked on developing the financial system of the capital market,” Al-Suhaimi told the panel, adding that in 2018 Saudi Arabia joined the FTSE Emerging Index which provides investors with a comprehensive means of measuring the performance

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri said to attract investors into Saudi Arabia needed to improve its infrastructure, which he says the Kingdom had been working on. This includes the 68 initiatives that were introduced last year to help the private sector.

Al-Tuwaijri also said unemployment rates had been kept steady over the past two years, while more women had entered the workforce, which he said played an important role in diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy.

Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that since the “significant economic and social reform,” the GDP of Saudi Arabia grew 2.3 percent in 2018.

In 2019 Saudi Arabia announced a $295 billion budget, which Al-Jadaan says with help the growth of the economy and create more jobs.

“We are determined to reduce the deficit from 19 percent to 5 percent,” he said.

Morgan Stanley’s CEO James Gorman welcomed the social reforms, calling them essential progress to provide the backbone for the economic reforms.

Meanwhile, French oil major Total’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said that Total was investing heavily in Saudi Arabia and that a petrol network in be established soon in the Kingdom.

When pressed by journalists on the Jamal Khashoggi case – the journalist who was killed in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul last year – Al-Jadaan said that Saudi Arabia was taking serious measures to hold those involved accountable.

Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia have said they will seek the death penalty for five defendants accused the murder of the journalist Khashoggi.

“We are absolutely sad about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. Everyone in Saudi Arabia is sad. It goes against our beliefs and morals,” Al-Jadaan said, adding that the government has restructured the intelligence service as a result of the incident.