Multibillion-dollar deals sealed at Saudi-US CEO Forum

Representatives of companies granted licenses at the Saudi-US CEO Forum. (AN photo by Lulwa Shalhoub)
Updated 21 May 2017
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Multibillion-dollar deals sealed at Saudi-US CEO Forum

RIYADH: The inaugural Saudi-US CEO Forum witnessed the signing of dozens of business agreements on Saturday as part of enhancing the bilateral trade relations between the two countries.
General Electric (GE) announced signing $15 billion in business deals with the Kingdom, which falls within Saudi Arabia’s drive toward economic diversification away from oil, Reuters reported.
The forum, which coincided with US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Kingdom, focused on exchanging ideas and exploring investment opportunities.
Saudi Aramco and Jacobs created a joint venture for social infrastructure program management throughout Saudi Arabia and the region.
“Our joint venture exemplifies the power of bringing together Saudi Aramco and Jacobs as an effective economic catalyst to support the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” said Steve Demetriou, chairman and CEO of Jacobs.
Honeywell and Saudi Aramco also announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that advances the In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) Program, which drives localization of content. As part of the agreement, Honeywell will undertake commercial efforts to assist Saudi Aramco in achieving the goals of the IKTVA Program by 2021.
Over 50 US companies, 40 Saudi businesses, nine companies from key international markets and nine senior government officials attended the Saudi-US CEO forum at the Four Seasons Hotel
The forum is a testament to the bilateral commercial relationship, Khush Choksy, senior vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Middle East and Turkey Affairs International Division, told Arab News.
“We have 50 of our CEOs representing the largest companies in the US at this Saudi-US summit,” he said.
Choksy added that the political and security relationship is stronger than it has been in recent times.
“I have never seen this much optimism demonstrated by the American business community... It is tremendous progress that the Kingdom has envisaged toward the goals of the Vision 2030 over the past two-to-three years.”
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih disclosed that the relationship in the fields of trade and investment between the Kingdom and the US is part of the close friendship between the two countries, during his speech in the “Ministerial Panel: 21st Century Partnership.”
He pointed out that there are many great opportunities to move the relationship between the two countries to higher levels. “Our slogan in this forum is partnerships for future generations, not only the historical relationship between the two countries but also a transitional phase and a major impact on generations in both countries, Al-Falih said.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that Vision 2030 came in response to a number of challenges facing the Kingdom. “The private sector is one of the important factors in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to contribute to the domestic product,” he said.
The ongoing US-Saudi summit and the parallel high-level activities constitute “a historical opportunity to strengthen and deepen the economic and financial relations and the partnership between the two parties,” Mohammed Al-Ardhi, executive chairman of Investcorp, told Arab News.
Investcorp started this work 35 years ago and “we became an established investment bridge that keeps growing and offering investments opportunities on both sides,” Al-Ardhi added.
In her speech on the forum’s ministerial panel, Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company, said that licenses being issued and joint ventures being signed on Saturday will add to the historic relations.
“We should not lose sight of the fact that defense, oil, investment and finance, education and medicine are all areas where there is a long history of cooperation,” she said.
Trade relations are evident in both established and new sectors. Choksy said that in addition to the Kingdom’s expansion in the petrochemical sector, the mining sector is also developing. “Digitization and new economy, information communication technologies (ICT), as well as health care, defense and security are among the strongest sectors in which Saudi Arabia and the US are cooperative.
The strong political relationship makes a solid basis to resilient bilateral trade relations, Choksy added: “Saudi (Arabia) has experienced economic progress at a tremendous pace in terms of accomplishments. So the political relationship is an enabler. The economic progress is a facilitator in terms of companies being able to engage and do business in the Kingdom. And I think it has come together beautifully.”

DEALS SIGNED DURING TRUMP VISIT

GE: Announced in partnership with the Kingdom a range of memorandums of understanding (MoU) and projects valued at $15 billion.

Jacobs: MoU to localize design, engineering, procurement, construction and project management services for the oil and gas industry. The value of the MoU is $250 million and will create 300 jobs, with a focus on increasing construction management and engineering services.

Weatherford: MoU to deliver a series of projects related to localizing oil field goods and services. The potential value of the MoU is $2 billion and will create over 900 jobs, as well as support suppliers with $16 million in funding.

McDermott: MoU to deliver projects localizing goods and services along Saudi Aramco’s supply chain. The potential value of the MoU is approximately $2.8 billion and will create up to 2,000 jobs.

Rowan Companies: MoU to deliver projects localizing goods and services along Saudi Aramco’s supply chain. The initial value of the investment is $1.2 billion.

Nabors: MoU to deliver projects localizing goods and services along Saudi Aramco’s supply chain. The value of the MoU is $1.6 billion and will create 1,000 jobs, as well as support suppliers with $6 million in funding.

• Honeywell: MoU to deliver projects localizing goods and services along Saudi Aramco’s supply chain. The value of the MoU is $3.6 billion and will create over 400 jobs, as well as support the development of SMEs, suppliers and partners with $10 million in funding.


Fantastic four: Saudi women fly the flag for cycling

Updated 19 July 2018
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Fantastic four: Saudi women fly the flag for cycling

  • Saudi Arabia’s first women-only 10-kilometer cycling race was held in April 2018 at the King Abdullah City for Sports in Jeddah
  • More than 70 Saudi cyclists took part in the tour, including the four HerRide members

JEDDAH: Before Saudi Arabia’s women drivers there were Saudi women cyclists. Thousands of women around the Kingdom have taken to two wheels in the past few years, and groups of female cyclists are a common sight on city streets.

Now four young women have taken cycling to a new level by becoming the first Saudi female cycling team to join the Global Biking Initiative (GBI) European tour, an annual seven-day ride that highlights the sport and raises money for a range of charitable causes.

Sisters Fatimah and Yasa Al-Bloushi, Dina Al-Nasser and Anoud Aljuraid — founder members of the HerRide cycling group — joined hundreds of cyclists from all over the world earlier this month when the tour kicked off from Gothenburg in Sweden before heading through Denmark and on to the port of Hamburg in northern Germany.

More than 70 Saudi cyclists took part in the tour, including the four HerRide members. 

The dynamic HerRide team shares a passion for adventure, and a love of outdoor activities and sports. Fatimah Al-Bloushi, the team captain, told Arab News that when she started the group in July, 2017, “we were a group of amateur cycling enthusiasts and our idea was to train to be the first Saudi female team to participate in GBI Europe 2018.” 

This year was Fatimah’s second time in the GBI tour. Last year she was the first and only Saudi woman to take part in the event. 

“I want to empower Saudi women and encourage cycling,” she said.

Fatimah also enjoys skydiving, surfing, abseiling and climbing, and is also the first woman member of the Saudi Cycling Federation. In her hometown of Alkhobar, she organizes women’s gatherings twice a week to cycle together along the beachfront. She also volunteers to teach cycling for beginners. 

Like all sports events and tours, training plays a crucial role in preparing for the GBI tour. Team member Anoud Aljuraid, an accomplished hiker and technical climber, met Fatimah two years ago while climbing the Ol Doinyo Lengai, or “Mountain of God,” volcano in Tanzania.

“For me the challenge was sitting on the bike for up to eight hours while riding up to 100 kilometers a day,” Aljuraid said. “It was also hard to maintain a certain speed to reach the next destination or nutrition point on time, but my training helped me get over those challenges.”

Although the number of women cyclists on the streets of Saudi Arabia is growing, challenges remain for those joining the sport.

Team member Dina Al-Nasser lives in Riyadh and enjoys long-distance cycling as well as hiking and boxing. Her biggest challenge during the GBI tour was cycling alongside cars.

“I mostly trained at home, but it’s hard for me to train in areas where men usually train, such as Wadi Hanifa and Ammariyah,” she said. “However, I was able to get over my fear and by the third day on the tour I was riding alongside trucks and didn’t even notice.”

Al-Nasser said that cycling is challenging not only for women in Saudi Arabia but for professional cyclists in general.

“We hope that the streets will be more bike friendly, and that people can adopt the same infrastructure for cyclists that we have seen on the tour — such as special paved paths and traffic lights — here in the Kingdom,” she said. 

“Hopefully, cycling will become a lifestyle in Saudi Arabia and we will see people cycling to work one day.” 

The Saudi HerRide women’s team celebrate a challenging stage finish on the GBI European tour. (Supplied photo)

Despite the challenges, the HerRide team say they are hoping to join the next GBI tour. “It was a great experience to cross three countries by bicycle,” Yasa Al-Bloushi said. “Of course, we got some bruises and had falls here and there, but I look at that as a sign of accomplishment.”

The team members gained valuable skills from watching other riders during the tour. “I learned how to be a part of a team and to look out for each other. It was important to listen to my team-mates and focus on their needs,” said Dina Al-Nasser.

 Fatima Al-Bloushi said that the support of her team made her second tour more special than the first. “We knew each other’s weaknesses from day one and we always had each other’s back. If our energy levels were low, someone would provide nutrition. When our spirits were down, we had music to give us a boost, and when someone was nervous, we reminded each other to have fun,” she said.

“I experienced GBI twice. The first time I went alone and came back with a family of friends. The second time I went with friends and came back with family.”

The woman said the spirit of cooperation among cyclists on the tour was empowering. “What made this experience even more amazing, besides the beautiful scenery, was the quality of people we met,” said Fatima. “If we were struggling, they would pass by with a smile, give you a pat on the back and tell you that you were strong enough to push through — it really did make us feel stronger.”

 In future, the group plans to hire a professional trainer and offer cycling workshops for Saudi women. They also hope long-distance cycling events, such as the GBI, will one day be held in Saudi Arabia. 

“Under Vision 2030, I’m sure there will be a lot of local events for cyclists in the Kingdom, including women,” said Al-Nasser.

The four cyclists have some words of encouragement for Saudi women hoping to fulfil their dreams. “You will always find people who will give you negative comments, but as long as you are doing what you love and are not hurting anyone, just keep going,” said Al-Nasser. 

Fatimah said: “Two years ago I was looking to join a cycling team, but as a woman in Saudi Arabia I was unable to — now things have changed. My advice to all women out there is never say ‘no,’ always say ‘yes’ to opportunities.”