Hotel investments in Makkah to reach SR500bn by 2015

Hotel investments in Makkah to reach SR500bn by 2015
Updated 22 July 2013

Hotel investments in Makkah to reach SR500bn by 2015

Hotel investments in Makkah to reach SR500bn by 2015

The volume of hotel investments in Makkah is predicted to hit SR500 billion ($133 billion) by 2015 in light of the number of hotels and tower buildings currently under way in the central area of the holy city, accommodation dealers told local media.
The volume of hotel investments for 450 categorized hotels in Makkah stands at nearly $500 million per annum with the exception of other buildings and hotels, which have not yet received categorization certificates approved by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), head of Hotels Committee at Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Walid Abu Sabaa was quoted by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
He stated that Makkah is considered the best destination for hotel investments globally due to its strategic position, as millions of people come to the city for the performance of Umrah and Haj rituals.
Ali Tashqandi, a hotel manager, said: "If we try to draw a picture of the culture of hotels, we have to think of the 10-year plans undertaken by the Saudi government for the development of the holy city. Facts remain indicative for a prosperous future for hotels that will lure global companies to enter the Saudi market."
Challenges in the field of hotels in Makkah impose several scenarios, the most important one being to achieve an integrated outlook that will assimilate all global hotel capacities. Many countries with broad-based hotel experiences have stressed that customer satisfaction should constitute major strategies and assumptions upon which a hotel project is based, he said.
Saad Al-Judi, another hotel expert, says the central area of the Grand Mosque in Makkah has been a target by businessmen and investors concerned with real estate development which, in turn, will lead to a boom in hotel construction. The influx of more than 2.5 million Haj pilgrims to Makkah every year will call the appetite of investors to provide world-class chains of hotels.
He estimated the volume of real estate investments in Makkah and Madinah to reach $120 billion in the next 10 years. Some experts maintain that one square meter of land in areas adjacent to the Grand Mosque could reach up to $100,000, which will make it the most expensive in the world.
Earlier, SCTA announced that the volume of hotel investments surrounding the Grand Mosque has exceeded SR18 billion ($4.8 billion). Hotel projects currently under construction in Makkah include more than 100 towers that will add over 24,480 rooms. the SCTA report said.


EU poised to unveil green investment list

EU poised to unveil green investment list
Updated 3 min 9 sec ago

EU poised to unveil green investment list

EU poised to unveil green investment list
  • Bloc aims to become carbon neutral by 2050 and mitigate climate change

BRUSSELS: The European Commission will next week present the first part of a “green taxonomy” list of energy sources and technology to be labeled as sustainable investments, but a question mark hangs over the inclusion of natural gas.

The classification system, to be published on Wednesday, is mandated under a 2019 agreement between member states and the European Parliament meant to define durable economic activities and green finance.

It seeks to define what the EU would deem as sustainable as it moves toward a goal of Europe becoming carbon neutral by 2050, with criteria focusing on mitigating climate change or preparing for it.

A second commission proposal is to follow later this year covering four other subjects — protection of water and marine resources, the circular economy, preventing pollution and biodiversity — all part of the EU’s “Green Deal” to reach that ambition.

For an investment to be considered “green” it has to meet one of these objectives without hurting any of the others.

The proposal is to become a “delegated act,” meaning it becomes law unless member states or the European Parliament reject it.

But a leak of the commission’s taxonomy list last month raised an outcry from NGOs, experts and MEPs, in particular over the inclusion of gas as a partially sustainable energy source.

Nine experts the commission consulted threatened to break off cooperation over the perceived “greenwashing,” according to a letter sent to the commission and seen by AFP.

The commission plan, according to the leak, is to have gas-fueled power stations labeled as “green” as transitional facilities up to 2025 where they replace ones using coal. One of the experts signing the letter, Sebastien Godinot, economist at the environmental protection NGO WWF, said that would give a “blank check” to gas operators and risk a long-term dependence on fossil fuels.

“This proposal could potentially create a direct incentive to build even more gas co-generation plants than already planned,” Godinot warned.

A Green MEP from the Netherlands, Bas Eickhout said: “A gas-fired power plant built now is there to stay for 40 years. So brings you way over the 2050 deadline.”

As a result, “we are going to object” to the commission proposal, based on the version leaked in March, Eickhout said.

Several sources said that the governments of Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and Spain had written a joint letter to the commission to voice their objection to including gas in the taxonomy.

Godinot noted that, while natural gas releases less carbon dioxide than coal, it also emits methane, considered a worse greenhouse emission.

Other points of discord are the commission’s approach to forestries and logging, seen by some as not rigorous enough, and it automatically classifying bioenergy as durable even when the biomass it uses comes from dedicated farmland.

A French news website, Contexte, said on Thursday that the commission has been forced to revise its document and could revert to an ordinary legislative process that would be much longer.

The commission did not confirm that. An EU source said the text it is to present is “still in development” and stressed how technical it was.

“Right now, we’re talking about a general approach to gas. Further analyses are needed,” the source said.


Egypt, Sudan airlines sign MoU to boost ties

Egypt, Sudan airlines sign MoU to boost ties
Updated 8 min 50 sec ago

Egypt, Sudan airlines sign MoU to boost ties

Egypt, Sudan airlines sign MoU to boost ties
  • The partnership aims to transfer Egyptian expertise in the aviation sector to Sudan

CAIRO: Egypt’s national carrier EgyptAir has launched a strategic partnership with Sudan Airways to strengthen aviation ties between the two countries.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar and Khaled Al-Sheikh, deputy Sudanese ambassador to Egypt, attended the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing ceremony.

Amr Abu El-Enein, EgyptAir chairman and CEO, and Sudan Airways Director General Yasir Timo signed the MoU.

The Egyptian minister highlighted the importance of the strategic partnership between the airlines and their role in enhancing trade exchange between the two countries. He said the MoU is part of Cairo’s strategy to strengthen bilateral ties in a range of fields, including aviation.The partnership aims to transfer Egyptian expertise in the aviation sector to Sudan.

Manar said the MoU includes training of employees with the Sudanese flag carrier, and helping the country modernize its aircraft fleet by managing network planning, developing maintenance operations, and providing advisory services in quality control and technical approvals. Under the agreement, Egyptian experts will train Sudanese officials in aviation security, ground services and other technical aspects.

The MoU also seeks to increase air traffic between the two countries, leading to increased economic opportunities for both.

A joint working group will have regular meetings to follow up on projects and contracts.

Timo also expressed his happiness at signing the MoU with EgyptAir, due to its expertise, human cadres and technical capabilities.


Musk’s SpaceX wins $2.9bn moon lander contract

Musk’s SpaceX wins $2.9bn moon lander contract
Updated 21 min 1 sec ago

Musk’s SpaceX wins $2.9bn moon lander contract

Musk’s SpaceX wins $2.9bn moon lander contract
  • NASA says the spacecraft will carry two American astronauts in 2024

WASHINGTON: NASA awarded billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the moon as early as 2024, the agency said on Friday, picking it over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc.

Bezos and Musk — the world’s first and third richest people respectively, according to Forbes — were competing to lead humankind’s return to the moon for the first time since 1972.

Musk’s SpaceX bid alone while Amazon.com founder Bezos’ Blue Origin partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Draper. Dynetics is a unit of Leidos Holdings Inc.

“NASA Rules!!” Musk wrote on Twitter after the announcement.

The US space agency awarded the contract for the first commercial human lander, part of its Artemis program. NASA said the lander will carry two American astronauts to the lunar surface.

“We should accomplish the next landing as soon as possible,” Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator, said.

“If they hit their milestones, we have a shot at 2024,” Jurczyk added.

NASA said SpaceX’s Starship includes a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moon walks and that its architecture is intended to evolve to a fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars and other destinations in space.

SpaceX also responded on Twitter, writing: “We are humbled to help @NASAArtemis usher in a new era of human space exploration.”

SpaceX will be required to make a test flight of the lander to the moon before humans make the journey, NASA official Lisa Watson-Morgan told reporters.

NASA had been expected to winnow the lunar lander contest to two companies by the end of April, but instead it picked only SpaceX, a move that deepens their cooperation. On Thursday, NASA said it would send its crew to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket on April 22.

The agency aims to create regular service to the moon and said it will have a separate competition for that contract.

NASA said in a news release that SpaceX’s HLS Starship, designed to land on the moon, “leans on the company’s tested Raptor engines and flight heritage of the Falcon and Dragon vehicles.”


Brazil needs $10bn a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050

Brazil needs $10bn a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050
Updated 29 min 12 sec ago

Brazil needs $10bn a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050

Brazil needs $10bn a year in aid for carbon neutrality by 2050
  • Deforestation in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon rainforest has skyrocketed under Bolsonaro

BRASILIA: Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles told Reuters on Friday that Brazil would need to receive $10 billion annually in foreign aid in order to reach economy-wide net zero carbon emissions by 2050, instead of 2060 as currently planned.

Salles has regularly called for the international community to pick up part of the check for reducing Brazil’s carbon emissions, which predominantly come from deforestation.

His call for $10 billion a year in aid comes as Brazil negotiates a separate potential deal with the US to rally foreign funds to fight soaring deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Salles said he does not expect a deal to be announced at next week’s US Earth Day summit, but that talks with the US would continue.

“There is not and was never the objective of negotiating some kind of deal to deliver on April 22,” Salles said in an interview.

Reuters reported on Thursday that a potential deal had reached an impasse, with Brazil demanding funding up front to increase efforts to fight deforestation while the US demanded results before opening its purse strings.

“We understand their logic, but they need some understanding that Brazil already has a lot of results,” Salles said.

He cited the fact that most of Brazil’s forest is preserved, which means emissions from the carbon they contain has been avoided.

Deforestation in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon rainforest has skyrocketed under Bolsonaro, hitting a 12-year high in 2020 with an area 14 times the size of New York City being destroyed, government data show.

Salles said just $1 billion per year out of the $10 billion would enable Brazil to reach zero illegal deforestation ahead of the existing 2030 target.

About one-third of that money would go toward contracting more environmental agents, probably drawing from the ranks of the national military police, Salles said.

The other two-thirds would be used to invest in sustainable development of the Amazon region, he said.

Vice President Hamilton Mourao, who Bolsonaro has put in charge of Amazon policy, said on Friday that reaching the 2030 target would require a 15-20 percent reduction in Amazon deforestation every year until then.

Mourao said the government is studying extending a military deployment to protect the Amazon if destruction does not come down that much by July.

The expensive military deployment is set to finish at the end of this month, having failed to restore deforestation and fires to levels prior to Bolsonaro taking office.


WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Economic indicators robust as global oil stocks continue to fall

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Economic indicators robust as global oil stocks continue to fall
Updated 12 min 56 sec ago

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Economic indicators robust as global oil stocks continue to fall

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Economic indicators robust as global oil stocks continue to fall
  • The IEA forecast dramatic changes in global oil markets in the latter half of this year

Oil prices made the first weekly gain after three consecutive weeks of decline, despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases and additional travel restrictions.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have both improved their oil demand outlook after huge draws in oil inventories in member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), backed by a recovering global economy that is greatly supported by unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimuli.

On the week closing, oil prices rose to a one-month-high: Brent crude rose to $66.77 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rose to $63.13 per barrel. Trading above $60 per barrel for both benchmarks, and with Brent crude prices at an average of nearly $61 in 2021 so far, represents a huge recovery one year on from “Black April,” when the pandemic caused the largest oil demand shock in history.

Both the IEA and OPEC monthly oil reports came with huge drops in commercial oil inventories in OECD countries for the seventh consecutive month in February. They reported a massive drop in global oil inventories that built up during last year’s COVID-19 demand shock for the data gathered for February. This entailed a further drop in global oil inventories in the coming months.

The IEA reported that OECD industry inventories fell by 55.8 million barrels in February to 28.3 million above the 2016-2020 average. OPEC reported that OECD commercial inventories fell by 44.9 million barrels in February to 30.8 million above the latest five-year average, and 42 million above the 2015-2019 average.

The economic indicators are more robust as global oil stocks continue to fall. Therefore, both OPEC and the IEA hiked the world oil demand forecast as economic recovery gains pace.

The IEA forecast dramatic changes in global oil markets in the latter half of this year, as nearly 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of extra supply may be required to meet expected demand growth, even after factoring in the announced ramp-up of OPEC+ production as the summer high-demand driving season is rapidly approaching.

The IEA’s global oil demand in 2021 is forecast to reach 96.7 million bpd, up 5.7 million bpd from 2020 despite weaker-than-expected data for the first quarter.

OPEC’s global oil demand growth in 2021 is expected to increase by about 6 million bpd, representing an upward revision of only 100,000 bpd from last month’s report. Though this is a tiny revision, it marks an upward change from previous months of lower demand forecasts because of continued lockdowns.

However, OPEC’s cautious approach remained intact when considering the fragile and uncertain oil demand recovery that would require vigilant monitoring of market developments, which include the possibility of rising sovereign debt in most economies, and a potential further rise in inflation that may tighten monetary policies.

The latest figures from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on April 13 showed that long positions on crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange numbered 645,593 contracts, down 9,735 from the previous week (1,000 barrels for each contract). It is the fifth consecutive weekly drop in positions.

• Faisal Faeq is an energy and oil marketing adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Twitter: @faisalfaeq