Hyperloop could add $4 billion to Saudi GDP, says new study

The hyperloop technology is expected to reduce journey times across Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf.
Updated 24 October 2019

Hyperloop could add $4 billion to Saudi GDP, says new study

  • A 35-kilometer test and certification track will be built 100 kilometers north of the Red Sea port of Jeddah

JEDDAH: A hyperloop in Saudi Arabia could add $4 billion to the country’s gross domestic product and create 124,000 jobs by 2030, according to the results of a new study.

A 35-kilometer test and certification track will be built 100 kilometers north of the Red Sea port of Jeddah, in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) by US tech transport company Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), which commissioned the study.

The study said that a Center of Excellence, if approved, would drive domestic growth by adding to the creation of more than 124,000 high-tech local jobs, supporting the technology sector by incorporating advances in robotics and ArtificiaI Intelligence, and driving an estimated $4 billion increase in Saudi Arabia’s GDP by 2030.

The hyperloop technology is expected to reduce journey times across Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf.

The journey from Riyadh to Jeddah would be reduced from 10 hours to 76 minutes, VHO said earlier this year, while travel from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi would be shortened to 48 minutes from 8.5 hours.

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, who is group chairman and CEO of DP World and chairman of VHO, said: “The study highlights that hyperloop is more than high-speed connectivity for passengers and cargo. The findings have shown a positive alignment between the project and Saudi Arabia’s ambitious national economic and social development agenda. With this in mind, we are delighted to highlight this vision at the Future Investment Initiative and continue our talks with a multitude of stakeholders.”

The VHO Center of Excellence could break ground in KAEC in 2020 and include an integrated test track, as well as explore the feasibility of creating a manufacturing center and operating facility that would propel the Kingdom to the forefront of hyperloop development worldwide.

“This strategic partnership in Saudi Arabia is a result of a shared ambition to harness the power of technology to drive the next leap forward in transportation,” said Jay Walder, CEO of VHO. 

“It’s a market that has shown a readiness to embrace transformative innovation to achieve the goal of sustainable, energy efficient travel that will have a huge impact on the economy and wider society. This study sets the framework for the advancement of Virgin Hyperloop One’s system, and the creation of a new and unique ecosystem; creating jobs, supporting development and connecting people across the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia had set out a clear strategy for economic diversification and development through its Vision 2030 reform plan, said Ahmed Linjawy, GCEO of KAEC, and attracting world-class technology companies like VHO was an important indicator of momentum. 

“Establishing a center of excellence will drive job creation, connect our cities and people while stimulating R&D and tech investment that will be the foundation of our future economy.”

KAEC was establishing itself as a “strategic location of choice” for companies seeking to expand into Saudi Arabia and the wider region, already attracting more than 118 leading local and international companies, he added.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 28 May 2020

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.