Cleartrip acquires Saudi Arabia’s online travel firm Flyin

More young Saudis are traveling further afield. (Reuters)
Updated 21 June 2018
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Cleartrip acquires Saudi Arabia’s online travel firm Flyin

  • Online travel market opens up in Kingdom
  • Growth of budget carriers boosts destination options

LONDON: Dubai-headquartered Cleartrip has acquired the Saudi Arabian online travel company Flyin in an effort to capitalize on the growing online and mobile travel business in the Kingdom.

The deal is considered one of the largest in the travel sector in the Middle East and the combined company will have more than 60 percent of the regional market share.

The two business combine represent $600 million in sales — excluding Cleartrip’s India business.

Cleartrip’s CEO Stuart Crighton said in a phone interview that the deal will help his company “double-down on the growth we’ve been experiencing in the Middle East and allow us to start to explore broader opportunities within the Mena region.”

Abdullah Al Romaih, founder of Flyin, said in a statement: “Cleartrip will also help us to offer our customers new and enhanced travel experiences.

“We look forward to having Cleartrip continue to support the economic growth in the Kingdom, as well as the evolving travel needs of our customers.”
The acquisition reflects the growing appeal of booking holidays and travel online in Saudi Arabia, said Crighton, particularly via mobile phones rather than just on a desktop.

“What we do is bring a lot more technology specifically around our mobile platform, and significantly more content,” said Crighton, which he sees as complementary to Flyin’s localized content. 

He added that there might be an option to expand the Flyin brand, with Cleartrip content, into other Arabic-speaking nations in the future, but that would be “further down the line”.

Not only has the means of booking travel changed in the Kingdom, Saudis are also looking to travel to different regions and seeking a wider variety of accommodation and travel options.

“There has been a disintermediation of the travel world we understand. Traditionally it has been a very luxury-driven market,’ said Crighton.

This has been partly fueled by the emergence of more low-cost airlines in Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region, coupled with a growing youth population that are looking for better value for money.

“It reflects a very young demographic and a digitally-savvy demographic that are looking for affordable choice,” Crighton said.

Travel destinations for both Saudi and other Gulf holidaymakers are also shifting, he said.

“If I just look at my office during the Eid break. Half are off to Baku. others are off to Georgia, some are off to the Dalmatian Coast,” he said, adding these were options not available before the rise of more low-cost travel options.

While noting Saudi Arabia is a “complex” market, Crighton remains optimistic about the growth opportunities for the Kingdom’s travel business.

“There is a lot of new content coming online in Saudi itself — new airlines and the domestic travel environment is changing quickly as well.”
He said he anticipated a lot more interest from other non-Saudi companies.

“There is a lot of fact finding about what is going on in that market … once people get comfortable with that, it will create opportunities and lot of companies will gear themselves up to look for those kind of partnerships,” he said.


US stocks fall amid lingering trade war unease

Updated 23 July 2018
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US stocks fall amid lingering trade war unease

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks retreated early Monday ahead of major earnings reports later this week amid lingering unease over US trade conflicts.
About 40 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1 percent at 25,031.47.
The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.1 percent to 2,799.59, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slid 0.2 percent to 7,801.58.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker heads to Washington on Wednesday to meet with President Donald Trump and try to avert an escalation of tit-for-tat trade tariffs.
Trump already is embroiled in a messy trade spat with China, while negotiations with Canada and Mexico to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled.
“It is hard to imagine a more difficult trading environment due to worsening trade-war rhetoric, a sharp devaluation of the Chinese currency, an unsynchronized global recovery, and the President commenting on Fed policy,” said Canaccord Genuity strategist Tony Dwyer.
Dwyer noted that any pullback would be a buying opportunity given strong corporate earnings.
Earnings season will heat up further in the coming days with reports from Google-parent Alphabet, Boeing and Amazon, among others.
Also on tap this week will be the first reading on second-quarter US growth, which is forecast to be a blockbuster, albeit a one-time burst.
Among individual stocks, US-listed shares of Fiat Chrysler fell 2.3 percent, while Ferrari slumped 4.8 percent after the sudden exit of chief executive Sergio Marchionne due to health reasons.
Amazon dipped 0.7 percent after Trump again attacked the company on Twitter, swiping at the “Amazon Washington Post” and suggesting the company should face antitrust charges.
The Washington Post is owned by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, but is now owned by the online retail giant.