Non-oil activities increasingly important for Aramco

Updated 07 July 2017

Non-oil activities increasingly important for Aramco

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco’s annual review, published on Thursday, highlights activities outside the traditional energy business — technology, innovation and human capital — which it sees as central to its corporate structure and which it believes will help maximize its value for the upcoming initial public offering (IPO).
“Technology and innovation are key drivers of our strategy to maximize the inherent value of the resource base, enable a more diversified and globally competitive domestic market for our products, and create a Saudi workforce with a world-class knowledge base,” the review said.
“We realize these goals by developing and commercializing new technologies, evolving strategic alliances with industry partners, forging relationships with world-leading research and academic institutions, and pursuing strategic acquisitions and investments to generate additional value,” it added.
In research and development, Aramco’s efforts focus on the upstream, downstream, and sustainability domains — specifically on high-impact technologies that have the potential to create significant competitive advantage for operations, and help grow new businesses.
In 2016, Aramco “progressed initiatives across the hydrocarbon value chain, from underwater robotic seismic acquisition and faster reservoir modeling, to improved refinery yields and new fuel formulations,” the review said.
Research network
Research is an increasingly important part of Aramco’s corporate strategy. Its Global Research Network has 11 offices in the Kingdom and around the world. Three in the US — in Detroit, Boston and Houston — came together to collaborate on climate change issues in 2016.
The venture capital subsidiary, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), headquartered in Dhahran and with a presence in North America, Europe, and Asia, invests globally in startup and high-growth companies developing technologies of strategic importance.
In 2016, SAEV made eight new direct investments and began a series of technology pilot projects, the review said.
Human resources and localization of jobs and services also play a prominent part in the review.
“The Kingdom is a land rich in natural resources — especially oil and gas. But its real wealth lies in the talents of its people and the potential of its younger generations. We help unleash this potential by delivering community-based corporate citizenship initiatives that give people the tools they need to seize the opportunities of the future,” it said.
Aramco runs 141 company schools in the Kingdom, and launched a program to encourage women’s employment in science, technology, education and mathematics.
In 2016, the flagship King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, an initiative for enabling the knowledge economy through creativity and culture, opened in Dhahran. It organizes activities in Saudi Arabia and abroad on the themes of history, archaeology, arts and film of the Kingdom.


Saudi mall operator Arabian Centres bucks retail malaise as profits surge

Updated 21 August 2019

Saudi mall operator Arabian Centres bucks retail malaise as profits surge

  • Mall operator defies online shopping pressure by lowering discounts to tenants, boosting occupancy and rental revenues

LONDON: Arabian Centres, the Saudi mall operator which went public in May, said first-quarter consolidated net profit almost trebled to SR227 million ($60.53 million) as occupancy edged higher across its shopping centers. Revenues increased by about 2.5 percent over the year to SR572.5 million.

The results helped to propel the group’s shares 3 percent higher on Tuesday.

The group said that it boosted performance by offering lower discounts to its tenants which helped to drive rental revenues. Like-for-like occupancy across all malls increased  to 93.2 percent from 92.4 percent in the year earlier period. Finance costs fell by about 65 percent from a year earlier to SR73.9 million.

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27 - Arabian Centres plans to expand its mall portfolio to 27 within four years.

Retailers across the Middle East are coming under increased pressure as more consumers shop online, while at the same time, tourists are spending less in dollar-pegged economies because their purchasing power has been cut by the strength of the greenback. Still, in Saudi Arabia, the under-served retail market is expected to receive a boost from rising investment in the entertainment sector, especially new cinemas.

“Faced with the rising challenge of online shopping, the brick-and-mortar retail segment has sought to diversify its offering to secure its customer base, providing an increased range of leisure and entertainment facilities,” said Oxford Business Group, in a report analyzing emerging trends in the Saudi retail sector.

“The reintroduction of cinemas to the Kingdom in April last year ... is expected to increase retail footfall,” it said.

Arabian Centres, majority-owned by Fawaz Alhokair Group, listed its shares on the Tadawul stock exchange in May — the first to do so in the Kingdom under Rule 144a, allowing the sale of securities, mainly to qualified institutional buyers in the US.

The group aims to expand to 27 malls within four years.