Saudi Arabia, GEMS launch $800m schools drive

Saudi Arabia and GEMS have announced an $800 million schools initiative across the Kingdom. (Supplied)
Updated 24 October 2018

Saudi Arabia, GEMS launch $800m schools drive

  • 10-year initiative could educate 130,000 students
  • Plan envisages jobs for 16,000 people in Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has launched an $800 million, 10-year initiative for a network of modern schools across the country in partnership with GEMS Education, the Dubai-based schools group.
The ambitious plan could eventually provide education for up to 130,000 students across the Kingdom and create jobs for 16,000 people, around 40 percent of them for Saudi citizens.
The partnership was formalized at a signing ceremony on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, involving executives from GEMS, and from the investment arm of the Saudi General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).
An official statement said: “The partners intend to develop the network by acquiring and upgrading existing schools, alongside implementing a sizable construction program of new schools.”
GEMS chief executive Majed Al-Mutairi said: “GEMS Education, which is among the world’s oldest and largest private education providers, is a strong supporter of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The Vision’s focus on opening up public service sectors such as education highlights a commitment to developing human capital and allowing the private sector to enable long-term positive change for Saudi citizens.”
Saad Al-Fadhli, chief executive of Hassana, GOSI’s asset-management arm, set out the rationale for the program: “This partnership is driven by our view that the education market in Saudi Arabia is one of the most attractive growth markets over the long-term.
“Benefiting from Hassana’s role as a long-term, financial and strategic institutional investor and GEMS’ international expertise, both partners expect to create a strong, innovative and successful education platform in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
The GEMS Hassana education program will play a key role in delivering the goals of the Saudi National Character Enrichment Program, with a strong emphasis on national identity, global citizenship, individual development and personal enrichment, the statement added.
The partnership is backed by the new initiative Invest Saudi, launched as part of the National Transformation Plan, to identify, develop and market the significant opportunities that Saudi Arabia has to offer for international, regional and local investors, across all sectors.
This announcement comes against the backdrop of advancing economic reforms in the Kingdom. This year Saudi Arabia achieved its best progress in the WEF Global Competitiveness index since 2012, moving to 39 of 140 economies. In addition, the World Bank ranked Saudi Arabia second amongst the G-20 countries in implementing economic reform.
“Opening the education sector for this scale of investment will ensure this progress continues at pace,” the statement added.


Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad launches more fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Updated 18 min 22 sec ago

Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad launches more fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner

  • Etihad’s CEO Tony Douglas described the aircraft as a flying laboratory for testing that could benefit the entire industry
  • This year, Etihad flew the world’s first passenger flight using sustainable biofuel made from a plant that grows in saltwater

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi’s flagship carrier Etihad Airways announced on Monday it is launching one of the world’s most fuel-efficient long-haul airplanes as the company seeks to save costs on fuel and position itself as a more environmentally-conscious choice for travelers.
Etihad’s “Greenliner” is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that will depart on its first route from Abu Dhabi to Brussels in January 2020. Etihad’s CEO Tony Douglas described the aircraft as a flying laboratory for testing that could benefit the entire industry.
With fuel costs eating up around a quarter of airline spending, Douglas said the goal of the Greenliner is to be 20 percent more fuel efficient than other aircraft in Etihad’s fleet.
“This is not just a box-ticking exercise,” he told reporters at the unveiling of the initiative at the Dubai Airshow alongside executives from Boeing.
Douglas said the aircraft “not only makes sense economically from a profit and loss account point of view, but because it also directly impacts the CO2 because of the fuel burn.”
Etihad has reported losses of $4.75 billion since 2016 as its strategy of aggressively buying stakes in airlines from Europe to Australia exposed the company to major risks.
Despite its financials, the airline continues to be among the most innovative.
This year, Etihad flew the world’s first passenger flight using sustainable biofuel made from a plant that grows in saltwater. It also became the first in the Middle East to operate a flight without any single-use plastics on board to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution.
Aviation accounts for a small but rapidly growing share of greenhouse-gas emissions — about 2.5 percent worldwide. But forecasters expect air travel to grow rapidly in the coming years.
Etihad says it plans to make the Greenliner a “social media star” to bring under sharper focus its developments and achievements worldwide. Douglas said anything that Eithad learns with Boeing from this aircraft’s operations will be open domain knowledge “because it’s about moving the industry forward in a responsible fashion.”
“We’re like a millennial and like all good millennials, they’re really focused on the environment and the sustainability agenda,” Douglas said, referring to Etihad’s 16 years in operation.
The Greenliner will be the only aircraft of its kind in Etihad’s fleet of Dreamliners. The company currently has 36 of the 787s in its fleet with plans to operate 50.
“This is a small step today, but in a very, very long journey,” Douglas said.