Saudi airport deal: Turkey’s TAV says local partnerships help business take off

TAV Airports president and CEO Sani Sener
Updated 26 March 2017

Saudi airport deal: Turkey’s TAV says local partnerships help business take off

ISTANBUL: The CEO of Turkey’s TAV Airports, which recently won a deal to expand and operate an airport in Saudi Arabia’s western port city of Yanbu, has said working with a local partner is key to boosting business.
The Yanbu airport, which will be operated by TAV for 30 years, is the 15th airport project in the company’s portfolio. The new terminal will span 30,000 square meters, and occupy a strategic location close to Makkah and Madinah.
TAV and its Saudi partner Al-Rajhi Holding recently signed a joint venture agreement with the Kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) to complete the project. Passenger capacity could reach 3 million annually after the completion of the new terminal.
TAV Construction, which previously built the Doha airport, is also currently building airports in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. In all these projects, TAV cooperates with local and international companies such as Taisei, CCC and Arabtec.
“We always value the local power and we always had local partners in the regions where we work. Cultural commonality, geographical proximity and administrative similarity help us a lot,” Sani Sener, TAV Group chief executive, said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.
The first-ever airport operated by TAV in Saudi Arabia was Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah. In a consortium called TIBAH with Al-Rajhi Holding, TAV has a 25-year deal to operate that airport, starting in 2012, and has invested around $1.1 billion in the project. In 2015 Madinah airport, which is Saudi Arabia’s first airport privatization project, was named the “world’s best airport project” at the Global Construction Summit in New York.
“We evaluate the decision to work with local contractors according to the necessities of the project. It makes it easier for us to overcome local problems. If it is a new region, it is beneficial to have a local partner for the transfer of knowhow. TIBAH consortium is a good example of successful partnership with local contractors,” Sener said.
According to Sener, GACA’s privatization program has generated a big potential.
“We’ll keep on following opportunities that match our vision of being the leading airport operating company in our target regions, including the Middle East, with the mission of creating highest value for all our stakeholders in airport operations, and we hope to continue our cooperation with GACA for further successful projects,” he said.
Sener added: “We believe in Saudi economy and in its human capital. We have brought only few experts from Turkey and we are now training young Saudi graduates and giving them on-site training in our other airports.”
TAV operates many airports globally, including Istanbul Ataturk, Batumi Airport in Georgia and Zagreb Airport in Croatia.
Sener believes that the expansion of airport services can have a boost in the local area.
“One million extra passenger means 3,000 extra jobs, so these investments will automatically lead to an increase in the employment rates in the region,” he said.
Eyup Ersoy, an Ankara-based scholar of Middle Eastern affairs, said the latest contract for the operation and expansion of Yanbu airport is indicative of TAV’s solid market share in Middle Eastern markets, given its operational presence in Qatar, the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
“It is also indicative of the auspicious prospects of market expansion for TAV despite the financial difficulties of the public sector in the Gulf region due to low oil prices,” Ersoy told Arab News.
According to Ersoy, private-sector investments are expected to serve as diplomatic assets to facilitate the cultivation of cordial political relations, as well as being impediments to the deterioration of political relations in times of diplomatic discord.
“Accordingly, investments of the Turkish private sector in Middle Eastern markets is expected to ‘subsidize’ Turkey’s diplomacy in the region, in the sense of reducing political costs and increasing political benefits of diplomatic relations,” he said.
“Turkish private-sector ventures could be further improved by fostering a ‘virtuous cycle’ between the private sector’s economic and financial initiatives in regional markets and the public sector’s political and diplomatic efforts in regional politics,” Ersoy added.
“Positive feedbacks between the private sector and the public sector in Turkey’s external relations would certainly contribute to the efficacy of both parties’ enterprises, be it financial or diplomatic, in the Middle East, and around the globe.”

Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

Updated 14 October 2019

Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

  • “It (Saudi Movies) will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi,” Shahrukh Khan 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia took another step toward establishing its place on the global entertainment map with a major industry event in Riyadh on Sunday.

The Joy Forum19 brought together entertainment promoters and pioneers from around the world, along with global stars such as Indian actor and film producer Shah Rukh Khan; Hong Kong martial artist, actor, film director Jackie Chan and Belgian actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The event was organized by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which signed several important agreements on the day, including a financing guarantee program for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Participants are ushered in on the first day of the Joy Forum19 event in Riyadh. (AN photo by Noor Nugali)

“Our message is for both, locally and internationally. Me and my generation suffered a lot, we had lots of time on our hands,” GEA chairman Turki Al-Sheikh said at the event.

“Today you are witnessing things we have never had in Saudi Arabia. We have 300,000 visitors to our events, and our sales have hit 80 percent.

“Saudi Arabia has never seen anything like Riyadh Season, we have over 400 sponsors, which is unprecedented.”

Al-Sheikh announced that the authority had named a stadium after singer Mohammed Abdo, the “Artist of Arabs,” and another after Abu Baker Salim, the father of Khaleeji music. 

READ MORE: Three MoUs signed at opening day of Joy Forum19 in Riyadh

Drunken master

The actors expressed what it meant to be movie stars and how wide-reaching their influence could be.

Jackie Chan recalled that when he was a new actor, he often acted like a drunken fighter until he realized that he has a responsibility towards younger fans. 

Jackie Chan: no longer a "drunken master". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“All over the world I keep drinking and fighting (in films).  I realized that I made drunken master cool — so I stopped,” he said. One of Chan's most popular movies was the 1978 action comedy martial arts film "Drunken Master".

“When you’re 20 you don’t have this inner thought — anything that makes the audience laugh you do, but later on especially (when I went) to Africa so many years ago — they started doing the drunken style — the children look up to me. So, I realized we have a responsibility to the children so all those years I corrected those actions: no dirty comedy words or action,” he said.

He attributed his awareness in being responsible for the content he produces to the fans. “I’m really thankful to the fans in making me a good actor.”

Chan spoke about his experience in acting martial arts in both the United States and Asia. “I realized we have two different markets one for America another for Asia. They are totally two different things.”

The safety measures the US takes for stunts is very impeccable making sure of the wellbeing of the actor comes first. However, in Asia it’s a different story, “In Asia when I want to do a stunt, I roll, jump (and then go to the) hospital, he said laughingly.

“It’s so difficult sometimes in the USA so many rules- Jackie Chan movies: NO RULES!” he said and received applause from the audience.


Good start

Jean Claude Van Damme gave a shout out and a big thank you to all his “brother and sisters from Saudi Arabia,” He said he got a royal treatment fit for “Kings and Queens”. He went on to reveal that his hotel room at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh was so big he could easily “roller-skate” in it.

Jean Claude Van Damme: "Let's do a movie together". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“I’m honored to be invited here. I know it’s your first time to do this event, but I know it will have a very bright future and I hope next year you will invite more people,” he said.

He said he may not be a “good talker” but expressed his joy at being in Saudi Arabia saying. “I’m happy to be here and I hope to have more connection later with the audience.”

Van Damme remarked how that in every country in the world you have treasure actors and movies with different cultures, “In the Middle East I don’t know what the taste will be, but I know they love American, Asian and Indian movies. They have a broad taste. (Saudi Arabia) should do a movie with all of us together!”


Crossing barriers

Sharukh Khan emphasized the importance of every country telling their story through movies; “As long as we are telling the story in whatever language it doesn’t matter. Cinema crosses all barriers.”

Shahrukh Khan: "I'd audition for a Saudi movie". (AN photo by Noor Nugali)

With the opening of Saudi Arabia to the world and Cinemas, he said, “I can’t wait to talk about the Saudi films...It will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi.”

“The stories that you tell should talk about goodness and people should be engaged with the content and it should bring them together. People want to laugh and sadly have to cry, to be entertained and to feel.”

Sharukh noted that Saudi Arabia has started to make movies and he’s watched the King Faisal movie, "Born a King". 

“You’ll always find gems in all movie industries and I think there’s are gems in Saudi and as a matter of fact one of the things I’d like to do is audition for a Saudi movie … Please give me an opportunity!” he said, eliciting a thunderous applause from the audience.

Red carpet

Abdulaziz AlMuzaini, co-founder and CEO of the Saudi Arabian Myrkott Animation Studio; gave a heartfelt thanks full of gratitude to King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying: “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have dreamed of this moment or this panel.”

Some of the celebrities invited to the event walk the red carpet. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

Lebanese actor Wahid Jalal, who was the voice of Long John Silver in Treasure Island, came onstage for the opening of the event. “Children love heroes and they try to imitate them,” he said. 

He also delighted the crowd by performing Silver’s famous laugh.

Some of the celebrities who walked down the red carpet were American actor Jason Momoa, star of Aquaman; Amr Adeeb, Balqis Fathi, Yusra, Boosy Shalabi, Lojien and Aseel Omran, Mohammed Hamaki, Nawal AlZoghbi, Talal Salama, Ahlam Al-Shamsi, Hussain AlJismi, Suad Abdulla, Ibrahem Alharbi, Tariq Alali and Abdulnaser Darweesh.

The gala dinner hosted 500 guests and was a private event, but the red carpet captured the essence of where Saudi is moving to culturally.