Saudi minister sees tech-savvy youth help the region return to growth

Saudi Communications Minister Abdullah Alswaha emphasized that the Arab world was on a trajectory for growth and prosperity due to its youthful population. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Saudi minister sees tech-savvy youth help the region return to growth

  • Saudi Communications Minister Abdullah Alswaha: The whole world is complaining of an aging population, while 70 percent of the population of the Middle East is youth
  • Abdullah Alswaha: The growth of the Middle East is no longer a question of if but when

DAVOS: Saudi Communications Minister Abdullah Alswaha said he believed the Middle East would return to a growth path despite a number of headwinds facing Arab economies that were highlighted on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
His comments struck an upbeat note on a day otherwise characterized by concerns over threats from climate change to cybersecurity.
“There’s a growing inequality that dictates to us to put an agenda to focus on women, youth, technology and close down the digital divide and leave nobody behind,” Alswaha said. “That is why for the G20 theme we are focusing on realizing the opportunities of the 21st century while leaving no one behind by empowering people, by safeguarding the planet, and by shaping new frontiers.”
Saudi Arabia will host the G20 gathering in November.
The minister was speaking on an Al Arabiya panel at Davos on Tuesday focused on the strategic outlook of Middle East economies.
He emphasized that the Arab world was on a trajectory for growth and prosperity due to its youthful population.
“I’m very optimistic and very bullish that this is the region that will go back to the days of the growth, because if you look at today, the whole world is complaining of an aging population, while 70 percent of the population of the Middle East is youth. . . They spend a third of their day in the tech world and they have the highest penetration in terms of social media and other aspects. The growth of the Middle East is no longer a question of if but when.”


Saudi and Egyptian firms sign $450m hotel deal

Updated 6 min 46 sec ago

Saudi and Egyptian firms sign $450m hotel deal

  • Total Saudi investments in Egypt have reached $54 billion

CAIRO: Egypt’s Tharawat International Investment Corp. has signed a $450 million deal with the Saudi Hospitality Development Group (HDG) to manage Swiss International.

HDG owns and represents the Swiss hotel and resort brand with its three brands: Swiss Spirit, Swiss International and Royal Swiss.

“Many of our investors are interested in investing in Egypt and we have started tourist projects mainly in Hurghada, Sharm El-Shiekh and Cairo,” Jamal Al-Hamed, chief development officer of Swiss International Hotels and Resorts, told Arab News.

Ahmed Awad, who is chairman of the board at Tharawat, said the company aimed to build eight hotels for the Swiss chain in two years with investments worth $450 million in Cairo, Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh and Marsa Alam on the northern coast, as well as Luxor and Aswan.

Awad said the company intended to invest in the management and operation of hotels in the administrative capital and the new city of El-Alamein.

Swiss International Group CEO, Nagy Al-Shiha, confirmed that the group aimed to reach 30 hotels by the end of 2020.

Al-Shiha said the group planned to build and manage 20 hotels in Egypt in addition to tourist resorts during the next five years.

“We started our long-term strategy to expand in Arab countries which includes Jordan and Egypt,” Al-Hamed said. “We are already present in all Gulf countries and, in the next period, our focus will be on north African countries. We aim for Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco but we will start first with Egypt.”

Economic and commercial relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia have experienced continuous growth since the 1980s. Saudi investments in Egypt rank first among Arab countries and second globally.

Total Saudi investments in Egypt have reached $54 billion, including $44 billion in investments for Saudi companies or their Saudi partners in Egypt and $10 billion in investments from the Saudi government through the public investment fund.

According to the vice-chairman of the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council, Abdullah bin Mahfouz, the top sectors for Saudi investments are services, followed by industry, construction, real estate development, agriculture, communications, IT, tourism and banking.