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.”


Wait is almost over for music fans eager to learn who will headline E-Prix concerts

Updated 13 November 2019

Wait is almost over for music fans eager to learn who will headline E-Prix concerts

  • Organizers promise this year’s line-up of international stars at Diriyah event will be bigger than ever

RIYADH: The first of the major international music acts that will perform at the Diriyah E-Prix this month will be announced on Wednesday.

There were incredible scenes at the event last year when David Guetta, One Republic, the Black Eyed Peas, Amr Diab, Enrique Iglesias and Jason Derulo rocked the UNESCO World Heritage site. About 40,000 fans flocked to the Diriyah Circuit, on the outskirts of Riyadh, for the after-race concerts, the first unsegregated music events in Saudi Arabia

The stage is set for even bigger and better things this year, with the promise of another two nights of unmissable music on Nov. 22 and 23 as the E-Prix racing returns.

“If you were one of the 40,000 who were lucky enough to be part of that watershed moment (last year) for the Kingdom, believe me, you have not seen anything yet,” said Prince Abdul Aziz Al-Faisal Al-Saud, chairman of the General Sports Authority.

“Last year we told people before we announced (the acts) they should get their tickets early to avoid disappointment. Once we revealed who was coming, the tickets sold out incredibly quickly. This year will be the same but even bigger, so for music fans who want to enjoy the biggest concerts in Saudi Arabia, the smart move is to get your ticket now.”

The Diriyah E Prix kicks off the sixth season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the world’s premier all-electric motorsport series, with a double header of races. It also marks the start of Diriyah Season, a month of sport, entertainment, art, cultural festivities, food and retail experiences. Tickets for the Diriyah E Prix, which include entry to the after-race concerts, are available at www.diriyahseason.sa.