Riyadh, Jeddah take top spots as Saudi Arabia mobile bookings for air travel up 116% in 2017

Over a quarter of trips taken last year had an average duration of six days while about 18 percent took 35 days or more, with the most preferred months for travel in August and July. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Riyadh, Jeddah take top spots as Saudi Arabia mobile bookings for air travel up 116% in 2017

DUBAI: Mobile bookings for air travel rose a hefty 116 percent in Saudi Arabia in 2017, although desktop remained the dominant platform in the wider region for purchasing flight tickets, travel company Cleartrip said in its 2017 Travel Insights Report.

Among the major cities in the region, Riyadh had the highest rate of mobile bookings at 32 percent of all transactions there, with Jeddah close by at 31 percent, the report said. Mobile bookings in the kingdom also comprised almost a third of all tickets purchases in the kingdom last year, Cleartrip added.

The 2017 Travel Insights Report also noted the tendency to book tickets through the desktop as the number of customers increased, while solo travelers tended to use mobile devices for their flight reservations. The majority of bookings in the region – and Saudi Arabia in particular – were usually made a week prior to travel, although the report noted that mobile platforms were popular late-minute travel bookings.

“Interestingly, the findings showed that there is a clear correlation between the number of travelers per ticket and the platform used for booking,” Cleartrip said. The report consolidated proprietary information from Cleartrip as well as data from the company’s more than 400 partner airlines.

“We closely monitor the new and dominant trends in the market to inform our business and product decisions and the 2017 Travel Insights Report is a natural outcome of our intense focus on understanding and solving customers’ needs,” said Stuart Crighton, the founder and chief executive of Cleartrip, said in a statement.

Dubai was the top destination for travelers in the region last year, followed by Sharjah, Manila and Abu Dhabi. The Armenian capital Yerevan meanwhile was the most trending destination for 2017, with bookings posting a whopping 498 percent rise over the previous year, followed by Georgia’s Tbilisi and Nepal’s Kathmandu with both destinations recording twofold increases in online bookings.

Yerevan and Tbilisi have been heavily promoted as affordable travel and tourism alternatives and are extremely popular destinations particularly for individuals in the UAE who need to go on a visa run to renew their stay in the Emirate.

Over a quarter of trips taken last year had an average duration of six days while about 18 percent took 35 days or more, with the most preferred months for travel in August and July, which coincide with the summer holiday trips expatriates and residents in the region.


Saudi Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

Updated 26 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

  • Kingdom is home to three quarters of region's foundations
  • Combined asets of global foundations is $1.5 trillion

Nearly three quarters of philanthropic foundations in the Middle East are concentrated in Saudi Arabia, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard Kennedy School’s Hauser Institute with funding from Swiss bank UBS, also found that resources were highly concentrated in certain areas with education the most popular area for investment globally.

That trend was best illustrated in the Kingdom, where education ranked first among the target areas of local foundations.

While the combined assets of the world’s foundations are estimated at close to $1.5 trillion, half have no paid staff and small budgets of under $1 million. In fact, 90 percent of identified foundations have assets of less than $10 million, according to the Global Philanthropy Report. 

Developed over three years with inputs from twenty research teams across nineteen countries and Hong Kong, the report highlights the magnitude of global philanthropic investment.

A rapidly growing number of philanthropists are establishing foundations and institutions to focus, practice, and amplify these investments, said the report.

In recent years, philanthropy has witnessed a major shift. Wealthy individuals, families, and corporations are looking to give more, to give more strategically, and to increase the impact of their social investments.

Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have become increasingly high profile — but at the same time, some governments, including India and China, have sought to limit the spread of cross-border philanthropy in certain sectors.

As the world is falling well short of raising the $ 5-7 trillion of annual investment needed to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UBS sees the report findings as a call for philanthropists to work together to scale their impact.

Understanding this need for collaboration, UBS has established a global community where philanthropists can work together to drive sustainable impact.

Established in 2015 and with over 400 members, the Global Philanthropists Community hosted by UBS is the world’s largest private network exclusively for philanthropists and social investors, facilitating collaboration and sharing of best practices.

Josef Stadler, head of ultra high net worth wealth, UBS Global Management, said: “This report takes a much-needed step toward understanding global philanthropy so that, collectively, we might shape a more strategic and collaborative future, with philanthropists leading the way toward solving the great challenges of our time.”

This week Saudi Arabia said it would provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid in Syria, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The UAE also this week said it had contributed $192 million to a housing project in Afghanistan through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.