Saudi Arabia’s Jabal Omar Development Company returns to profit

The biggest clock in the world with a 45 meters diameter, overlooks the Grand Mosque. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Jabal Omar Development Company returns to profit

  • Developer launches roadshow to promote 'Address' brand
  • Taps into rising occupancy rates in holy city

LONDON: The Saudi developer behind the transformation of the center of Makkah — Jabal Omar Development Company — has returned to profit in the third quarter after a string of losses over the last year.
The change in fortune will be welcomed by the Tadawul-listed company as it pushes forward with its luxury hotel, residential and retail developments being built to meet the anticipated growth in demand from visitors and pilgrims to the holy city.
Net profit — minus Zakat and tax — reached SR469.62 million ($125.13 million) for the three months ending Sept. 30 in a Saudi exchange filing on Tuesday. This compared to a loss of SR593.97 million recorded in the same quarter last year.
Jabal Omar said the improved profits were due to increased revenue from sales of residential units.
Third-quarter revenue reached SR1.32 billion compared to revenue of SR45.52 million in the same time period the previous year.
The developer also cited a “positive performance” within its commercial sector as well as a reduction in some of the company’s financial burdens.
The results come in the same month Jabal Omar launched a three-day roadshow on Oct. 8 to market its new “Address“-branded Makkah luxury hotel development.
It is a project being managed by Dubai-based Emaar Hospitality Group — the company behind the high-end “Address” hotel brand. Jabal Omar said is looking to sell 741 freehold units.
The project marks the first time Emaar’s ‘Address Hotels and Resorts’ brand has expanded into Saudi Arabia. It is scheduled to open in 2019 and it will be just a few steps away from the Grand Mosque.
Market commentators say they expect demand for luxury hotels and other residential projects in Makkah to continue to be “strong” in the coming year — something Jabal Omar Development Co. will be keen to capitalize on.
“Makkah is a unique market and there is strong demand for luxury hotels throughout the year. A large proportion of demand for luxury hotels come from wealthy GCC travelers, who are largely repeat visitors to the Holy City,” said Rashid Aboobacker, director at the Dubai-based tourism consultancy, TRI Consulting.
“There has always been high demand for luxury residences in Makkah close to the Haram, driven by the prestige and special status of the location as well as the limited supply,” he said.
“Once the ongoing expansion works are complete, the visitor numbers are set to increase substantially. Consequently, we do not foresee any risk of overcapacity in Makkah in the foreseeable future,” he added.
He added that alongside the growth in luxury developments, there is also a “growing need” for midscale and economy hotels and apartments.
“We believe that there is also need for upgrade of the existing stock as a large proportion of them do not fully conform to international quality standards and guest requirements,” he said.
Christopher Lund, head of hotels, Mena, at the consultancy Colliers International, noted that the luxury sector tends to perform better than other parts of the Makkah hospitality market.
“The 5-star upper-upscale and luxury hotels in Makkah have outperformed the overall market, achieving a 12 percent higher occupancy level year-to-date September 2018, which is primarily due to the fact that the 5-star hotels are located in the most prime locations in the central area,” he said.
“So far in 2018, hotels in the central area have achieved a 49 percent higher RevPar (revenue per available room than the overall Makkah quality hotel market.”

UAE passenger jet makes long haul journey on locally produced biofuel

Updated 27 min 7 sec ago

UAE passenger jet makes long haul journey on locally produced biofuel

  • The biofuel was produced from plants grown in a local saltwater ecosystem in Abu Dhabi
  • It can be refined using existing infrastructure and used with current engines and airport fueling systems

DUBAI: Etihad Airways flew the first commercial flight powered by locally produced sustainable fuel Wednesday, Emirati airlines Etihad Airways reported on their website from an announcement by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC).

The Boeing 787, flying from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam, used biofuel produced from the oil of Salicornia plants, which are grown in the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS), in Masdar City near the UAE capital - Abu Dhabi.

The SEAS project is the world’s first desert ecosystem made specially to produce fuel and food in saltwater.

While Etihad is not the first airline to use biofuel in its aircraft, it is the first time in the UAE for the source of the biofuel to be grown and produced in the country.

“Etihad’s flight proves SEAS is a game-changer that can substantially benefit air transport and the world,” said Vice President of strategy and market development for Boeing International Sean Schwinn.

“The research and technology being developed shows significant promise to transform coastal deserts into productive farmland supporting food security and cleaner skies.”

The biofuel can be produced using existing refinery facilities, it can be blended with regular jet fuel, and used with existing aircraft, engines and airport fueling delivery systems

Biofuels were introduced for commercial flight use in 2011.

Since then nearly 160,000 passengers have flown on flights powered by a blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuels.

The water used for the SEAS project is drawn from fish and shrimp farmeries that produce food for the UAE.

The system is expected to expand to cover 2 mln square meters over the course of the next few years.