Boeing boosting ties with Saudi Arabia

Marc Allen, president of Boeing International. (AN photo)
Updated 15 March 2017
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Boeing boosting ties with Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Boeing Co. has pledged to strengthen its partnerships with the Kingdom to build local capabilities within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030.
The US aerospace giant — which supplies commercial aircraft and defense equipment to Saudi government agencies and aviation companies — said it is going ahead with the establishment of the Saudi Rotorcraft Support Company (SRSC), to be inaugurated later this year.
The pledge was made by Marc Allen, president of Boeing International, in a special interview with Arab News in Riyadh on Monday.
Allen spoke about the growing relations between the Kingdom and Boeing, training of Saudi personnel, new orders for commercial planes and defense equipment. He also touched upon the growth of commercial aviation in the region with a special reference to the partnership of Boeing with local industries, educational institutions and ongoing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Asked about Boeing’s partnership with the Kingdom, Allen said that Boeing signed an agreement with Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) and Al-Salam Aerospace Industries (AEI) to establish the SRSC in Saudi Arabia two years ago. The joint venture, once functional, will boost the capabilities of the Kingdom in commercial and defense rotorcraft sectors. It will have locations in Riyadh and Jeddah providing comprehensive maintenance and overhaul support for Saudi Arabia’s diverse rotorcraft fleet.
He said: “Boeing management is very excited about it, and the SRSC builds on our decades-long partnership with the country.”
When it is fully operational, the Saudi stakeholders will have a national asset that affordably enhances the readiness of their rotorcraft personnel and fleet.
“This collaboration brings together the expertise of world-class companies to further strengthen the local industry in the Kingdom,” said Allen, while referring to Boeing’s support in performance-based logistics, data analysis and service to the platforms that will eventually unleash elements to build capability and efficiency.
“By engaging the Saudi industry, we are developing new business opportunities that foster broader capabilities in Saudi Arabia,” he added. Allen reiterated that “there is a big commitment on the defense side, and there is a long-standing relationship on the commercial side.”
He said that the market is growing in the Middle East region in general and the Gulf in particular. “I start with the global level, then come to the regional level. There has been a lot of spending in defense,” said the Boeing executive.
To this end, he noted: “Boeing is proud of delivering the F-15SA, the world’s most advanced F15 fighter to Saudi Arabia early this year.”
Referring to the training of Saudi personnel and Boeing’s partnership with Saudi academic institutions, he said that “the company has started research consortiums with universities like King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).”
Boeing is a member of the KAUST Industrial Collaboration Program, which aims to facilitate local and industrial partnerships with academics and students on research and development initiatives. This is in addition to Boeing’s Saudi Emerging Leaders Program and KSA College Graduate Program, launched and implemented by the US company for training Saudis. Also, Boeing is a co-founding member of Al-Faisal University.
Asked about Boeing’s plan to cooperate with the Kingdom within the framework of the Vision 2030 reform plan, Allen said that “we are committed to the next generation of partnerships that meet the goals of Vision 2030.”
“We are very excited about that opportunity,” added the Boeing executive, while saying that “the commercial aviation growth is about 5.5 percent during the last year globally. That is a very strong growth rate when you think about broad global economic progress.”
“And that is an important part of the story of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) development too, and Saudi Arabia’s development as well,” he said.
On CSR initiatives in which Boeing is involved regionally and globally, Allen said that “the company is working to focus on the next generation and motivate them for the aerospace industry, that is very important to us, we are playing a major role in that.”
In fact, Boeing’s GCC programs partner with organizations across the region including the Kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, there are many beneficiaries including King Salman Center for Disability Research, Hope Center for Exceptional Needs and the King Abdul Aziz Women Charity Association.


Going, going, gone: A slice of Europe on Dubai’s doorstep

Updated 17 August 2018
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Going, going, gone: A slice of Europe on Dubai’s doorstep

DUBAI: Billionaire investors from Saudi Arabia are snapping up a slice of Europe — minutes from Dubai’s coast — as work on a luxurious man-made archipelago gathers pace.
On the emirate’s “The World” archipelago, the Heart of Europe project provides a series of island destinations, made up of opulent palaces, island villas and 13 luxury hotels on six small islands. Each offers a different aspect of European life and aims to bring European hospitality “with a Maldivian twist” to the Middle East’s Arabian Sea.
According to its developer, Joseph Kleindienst, chairman of the Dubai property developer Kleindienst Group, wealthy investors across the Kingdom are among the most prominent buyers of the multimillion-dollar properties being developed on the island, with almost a quarter of investments to date being made by Saudi nationals.
“We have a very good interest from Saudis in the Heart of Europe project,” said Kleindienst, speaking to Arab News during a private tour of Sweden Island. “Here in Sweden Island, soon you will find very, very famous Saudi names. It is not for us to disclose these names, but later on, as the development grows, you will meet very interesting Saudis here.”
The Heart of Europe is the first big project to go ahead as part of The World project, a 60-square-kilometer archipelago of more than 200 islands laid out in the shape of a world map, which was created from millions of tons of sand and rock. Currently, Lebanon Island is the only one open to the public; it operates The World Island Beach Club.
Construction of the Heart of Europe project was due to begin in November 2008 but was delayed by the global financial crisis. Development finally began in 2014. The project’s value has grown from an initial Dh1.5 billion ($408 million) equity undertaking by the Kleindienst Group to Dh5 billion ($1.36 billion) after sales.
On Monday thousands of workers at Heart of Europe were busy across the islands striving to get the project ready for the completion deadline of 2020, ahead of Dubai’s Expo; with an initial focus on Germany Island and Sweden Island.
The Heart of Europe has 10 beach palaces on Sweden, 32 beach villas on Germany and 131 “Floating Seahorse” villas, marketed as the world’s “first luxury underwater living experience.”
Kleindienst expects that all of the homes for sale across the Heart of Europe project will be handed over by the end of this year.
In total, 4,000 residential and hotel units will eventually be available across the project, about 1,000 of which have already been bought by investors, Kleindienst said.
Besides handing over residences to owners by the end of the year, The Heart of Europe is due to have the first of its planned hotel “soft openings,” at the Portofino Hotel in Italy, in December.
Lying five kilometers (3.1 miles) off mainland Dubai, the Heart of Europe will feature Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss and German architecture as well as landscaped gardens and streets that will, in some cases, feature artificial snow, due to climate control technology. And, for those who miss Europe’s winter drizzle, some streets will also feature artificial rain.
Sweden will feature 10 Scandinavian-style villas. This week, the Kleindienst Group unveiled the first completed six-floor Sweden Beach Palace, and invited Arab News for a viewing.
With a price tag of Dh100million, the villa comes with Bentley Home interiors, seven bedrooms, a fitness center, an underground “snow room” that can be set as low as minus 5C, a Swedish massage room, an entertainment room and an observation deck — designed to mimic the upturned hull of a Viking ship — with 360-degree views of the Arabian Gulf.
Each property has its own private section of beach. The palaces also own a piece of the marine area plot, including a private coral reef.
Of the 10 for sale, three have already been bought by investors based in Saudi Arabia, said Kleindienst.
Saudis, along with other wealthy Middle Eastern residents, are an important segment of the investors the Kleindienst Group hopes to attract. “It is an excellent product for investors from Saudi Arabia because we are selling this ‘second-home’ concept here in the Heart of Europe.
“People from Saudi Arabia can travel to Dubai and enjoy their time in the Heart of Europe. And when they are not here, we hope they can rent their homes out and produce an income from the property,” he said.
Heart of Europe properties are not for people to live in 365 days a year, but for the uber-rich looking to snap up a second home in the Middle East, with a unique setting.
Kleindienst said that the project is Dubai’s first purpose-built luxury area offering UAE residents a holiday property in their own country, rather than in the Maldives, Mauritius or Seychelles.
“The second-home market is a new concept for Dubai,” he said, adding that while New York has places such as The Hamptons and many cities in Europe have countryside and seaside getaways, Dubai has lacked a luxury weekender destination.
“The Heart of Europe is a unique and ambitious project aiming to develop Dubai’s luxury freehold second-home market in an idyllic island location,” he said. “Our journey to date has taken us to the unveiling of the Sweden Beach Palaces, one of the most luxurious freehold second homes in the UAE. Our vision is turning into reality.”
Aside from Sweden Island, Saudis are also snapping up the Floating Seahorse vessels, which come with a slightly less eye-watering price tag of Dh16million, said Kleindienst. Of the 131 for sale, 60 have already been bought, he said. Figures from April show that about 40 percent of the buyers are from the Kingdom.
On the tour, Arab News saw a completed prototype. The bespoke one, two or three-bed floating homes have bathrooms and bedrooms below sea level so owners have only a pane of glass separating them from hundreds of fish and an abundance of marine life as they sleep and bathe.
Kleindienst hopes the Heart of Europe project will be the catalyst for world-breaking firsts, including a record he aims to break this year.
The soft opening of the 488-room Portofino Hotel, located on the Main Europe Island, will take place on the last quarter of 2018, despite only breaking ground on the construction site this year.
“No one has broken ground on a hotel, then completed it the same year,” he said. “We want to show that it is possible. That anything is possible. That there is the ability to build a hotel in a year on an island.”