EP ‘energy city’ to add $9bn to GDP annually

Updated 06 December 2014
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EP ‘energy city’ to add $9bn to GDP annually

Saudi Aramco plans to establish a mega energy city in the Eastern Province that would contribute about SR33.75 billion ($9 billion) annually to the country’s gross domestic product, a top official has revealed.
“The project is aimed at achieving integrated development of oil and gas, petrochemicals, electricity and desalination of seawater,” said Mohammed Al-Qahtani, vice president for planning. Addressing a conference in Skhirat, Morocco, organized by the Arab Thought Foundation, Al-Qahtani said the project would also create more than 300,000 direct and indirect jobs.
In his keynote speech, Al-Qahtani highlighted the Saudi oil giant’s efforts to develop the country’s human and material resources to achieve integrated growth and make the Kingdom more competitive.
“Three years ago, Saudi Aramco took a strategic decision to strengthen the Kingdom’s position in oil production and refining by investing heavily in the sector and achieving integration with petrochemical, industrial and service sectors,” the vice president said.
He said Saudi Aramco has established alliances with major national companies to invest in education and training projects. “We have increased our investment in this sector five times compared with what we were doing three years ago.”
Speaking about investments in petrochemicals and downstream industries, Al-Qahtani said: “We are involved in several joint ventures such as Sadara in Jubail with Dow Chemical, which is one of the biggest projects with a total investment of $20 billion (SR75 billion).”
He also referred to Aramco’s support for Saudi Arabia Advanced Research Alliance (SAARA), which was launched on Wednesday to drive the commercialization and application of innovative research and development activities in the Kingdom.
SAARA is a new partner-based collaboration between six organizations that span Saudi Arabia’s public and private sectors. SAARA will provide a focal point within Saudi Arabia to bring industry and academia together to find ways to translate technology and intellectual property into commercially available products and applications.
Its six partners are Saudi Aramco, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Taqnia, the technology arm of the Saudi Public Investment Fund and RTI International, one of the world’s leading research institutes dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”