Private funds to expand Saudi water plant investments

Environment, Water and Agriculture Minister Abdul Rahman Al-Fadli visits the exhibition stand after the inauguration of the Water Investment Forum in Riyadh.
Updated 28 November 2016

Private funds to expand Saudi water plant investments

RIYADH: Environment, Water and Agriculture Minister Abdul Rahman Al-Fadli says that the volume of desalinated water produced in the Kingdom will be doubled during the next 15 years to cater to the growing demand. 
At present, the Kingdom is producing 4.6 million of cubic meters of desalinated water daily from its 29 desalination plants spread throughout the Kingdom.
The minister was delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the two-day Water Investment Forum 2016 in Riyadh on Saturday.
A top official said Saudi Arabia could need more than $53 billion in water sector investment supported by private funds as demand grows.
“Future plants will be tendered to the private sector,” Ali Al-Hazmi, Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) governor, told the Water Investment Forum.
“We have everything ready for privatization,” AFP quoted him as saying.
Saudi water demand is increasing by more than five percent annually, Al-Hazmi said.
By 2020 Saudi Arabia is targeting 52 percent of desalinated water production through “strategic partners.”
Saudi Arabia obtains most of its water from desalination and the rest from ground sources.
“This requires a lot of money and a lot of capital investment,” Mansour Al-Mushaiti, a deputy minister with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, told the forum. “We are envisaging that the capital requirements in the next five years will reach up to SR200 billion ($53.3 billion),” AFP quoted him as saying.
Five agreements on water related projects between private enterprises were signed at the event under the supervision of the minister. 
Following the inauguration of the forum, the minister also opened an exhibition that highlighted the investment opportunities in the Kingdom.
More than 350 experts, international specialists, local and foreign investors were present at the forum.
The forum is being held under the slogan, “Building a strategic partnership for promising opportunities,” aimed to promote investment and partnership with the private sector in the field of water in various competencies (production, processing, transportation and distribution) and presenting investment opportunities in the water sector in the Kingdom and the exchange of ideas with government agencies and private organizations at the regional and global level.
The minister said that the meeting is organized to achieve the goals of Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP 2020).
The Water Investment Forum 2016 acts as a platform that brings together investors and key national and global water players to promote investment opportunities in the Kingdom, he said.
Some of the many venture prospects include new IWPPs (Independent Water & Power Producers), renewable technologies in desalination, O&M contract for water production and transmission, externalization of shared services, localization of manufacturing, and research partnerships.
In addition, the forum will also announce facilities offered to investors, and highlight the substantial advantages of investing in the Kingdom.
It will emphasize public-private-partnerships (PPP), sharing many successful PPP stories in the Saudi water sector.
SWCC, created in 1974, is the world’s largest producer of desalinated water. It operates 28 plants and as part of the process is able to generate electricity for the national power grid.


In streaming wars, Disney reaches beyond kids and families

Updated 12 November 2019

In streaming wars, Disney reaches beyond kids and families

  • Disney’s marketing force is reaching beyond its traditional family audience to send a message that its $7-a-month subscription service Disney+ offers something for all ages

LOS ANGELES: During commercial breaks in a broadcast of World Wrestling Entertainment’s WWE SmackDown, fans were shown ads for Walt Disney Co’s new streaming service, Disney+. So were “Monday Night Football” viewers and video gamers watching Twitch.
“Try to keep up,” said Captain Marvel in one ad after a series of fast-paced clips from “Star Wars,” “The Simpsons,” “The Avengers” and other Disney-owned hits from outside of its deep catalogue of children’s classics.
Disney’s marketing force is reaching beyond its traditional family audience to send a message that its $7-a-month subscription service Disney+ offers something for all ages. The service debuted on Tuesday in the United States, Canada and The Netherlands.
“It’s incumbent upon us to market it the right way to emphasize the fact that it’s not just for kids,” Disney executive Kevin Mayer said during a briefing at the company’s Burbank, California, headquarters. “It’s all family friendly, but everyone can enjoy this product.”
Disney has told investors it can hook 60 million to 90 million customers within about five years as it competes for customers in a crowded streaming market dominated by Netflix Inc. 
Signing up adults who do not have children at home is part of that plan.
Consumers may not realize that after a series of acquisitions Disney is much more than classics like “Cinderella” and “Mary Poppins” that charmed generations of families. The company now owns the celebrated “Star Wars” movie franchise; Iron Man, the Hulk and dozens of other Marvel superheroes; “Toy Story” animation house Pixar, and nature programming channel National Geographic.
Previously released movies and TV series from all of those brands, plus 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” are available on Disney+ alongside decades of Disney’s family-centric offerings.
Disney+ also offers new programming from those brands.
To raise awareness, the company is promoting Disney+ during sports and primetime TV telecasts to get in front of what Hollywood calls the four quadrants of viewers: male, female, young and old.
“We’re unmatched in quality and appeal across our four-quadrant audience spanning a variety of genres, formats and arenas, and will continue to build on that year after year,” said Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing for Disney+.
In addition to the wrestling, football and gaming contests, ads ran during the World Series and the ABC News late-night program “Nightline,” and on social media networks.
Early testing in The Netherlands, where Disney offered a free two-month trial of Disney+, attracted a “very large and diverse audience,” said Mayer, who runs Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international unit.
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” a series aimed at 18- to 49-year olds, ranked as the most-watched piece of content, Mayer said. Next was tween-oriented show “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” followed by “Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” a cartoon for young children.
“Our hypothesis was we will have a lot of different types of viewership, that it’s not going to be centered among any one of our brands,” Mayer said. “It’s quite a nice confirmation of what we want accomplished.”
The initial response in The Netherlands has cheered industry analysts.
“They have some surprising and encouraging signs about this potential that Disney+ is not just kids and family,” Forrester analyst Jim Nail said.
But unlike Netflix, Disney+ limits how far its programming will go to attract older viewers. To keep it family friendly, the service will not have any R-rated movies or TV shows designated TV-MA for mature audiences.
Programming considered too adult for Disney+ may stream on Hulu, which Disney also owns. That will include FX series such as “American Horror Story” and “Fargo” and possibly movies starring Deadpool, a Marvel character known for foul-mouthed humor, when rights become available.
“There are boundaries to what we’ll put on Disney+,” Mayer said. “’Deadpool’ is definitely not for Disney+.”