Phase one of SPARK 60% complete

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) in December 2018. (SPA)
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Updated 21 July 2020

Phase one of SPARK 60% complete

  • 15 major companies already signed deals; project to create massive job opportunities

DHAHRAN: The King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) has completed 60 percent of its first phase, which consists of infrastructure, roads, utilities, and real estate assets established across 14 square kilometers, in addition to a dedicated 3-square-kilometer logistics zone and dry port.

A total of SR6 billion ($1.6 billion) was invested in the first phase of the project, which is set to be completed in 2021. Upon completion the project will add SR22 billion annually to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by 2035, while creating thousands of new highly skilled job opportunities.

Chairman of the King Salman Energy Park, Dr. Mohammed Yahya Al-Qahtani, said: “Achieving this feat strongly reflects our commitment to implement this unique project that is designed for the betterment of our community. SPARK will be a new engine fueling the growth of the energy sector, as well as driving the diversification agenda of our economy. As we take huge economic leaps, soon we will be ready to attract the best talent and create new opportunities for our ambitious youth.”

He thanked SPARK’s employees, tenants and contractors for their “dedication and commitment” to ensuring continued progress by using new technologies and innovative methods to meet deadlines in a “safe and effective manner.”

Fifteen major energy companies have already signed agreements to invest in SPARK, and another 15 companies are currently in the pipeline. It is forecast that foreign direct investment in SPARK will exceed $2 billion in the next 2 years once these investors finalize the construction of their facilities.

SPARK has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the leading global logistics specialists, Hutchison Ports, to create a joint venture company to manage and operate the dry port and logistics zone. Once completed, SPARK’s investors and neighboring regional hubs will be able to benefit from world class logistics infrastructure and enhanced global reach.

In April 2019, Schlumberger commenced work on a $46 million facility that will produce drilling solutions for the regional energy industry, adding 260 jobs to the workforce. 

Yokogawa, another anchor investor in SPARK, is in the final stages of construction work on its new high-tech equipment center. The Oilfields Supply Company Saudi (OSC) is building an oil and gas industry user supply base to accelerate the growth of small and medium enterprises by providing ready-to-use factories with the latest specifications, along with a range of integrated services and logistical solutions.  

OSC Saudi has completed 10 percent of its construction and building work to date, becoming one of the largest investments in SPARK, with a forecast investment of $400 million spanning over a million square meters. 

Other investors, including Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Al-Rushaid Group and Sawafi-Borets, are in various stages of development, ranging from facilities design to appointing building contractors.

In Dec. 2018 Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman laid the foundation stone for a 50 square kilometer park that would become a global center for the energy industry and technology. SPARK will contribute to supporting the national economic development process for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.   

SPARK is strategically located in the eastern region of the Kingdom, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa. Last year Saudi Aramco established the Energy City Development Company to develop the park’s infrastructure, roads and facilities, and to oversee partnerships for the operation and management of logistical and residential areas. The park will serve the entire energy sector and the Arabian Gulf, connected by railway to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

SPARK aims to attract local and international industry investors across five strategic sectors including upstream, downstream, petrochemicals, power and water treatment. Investors will benefit from SPARK’s wide range of services to help them achieve success and sustainability of their projects.

Its industrial project sites offer high-quality infrastructure that includes internal road networks, an advanced network of electrical power, water, natural gas, sanitation systems, rainwater drainage and the most modern communication network in the Kingdom.

Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

Updated 14 August 2020

Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

  • Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store
  • Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games

NEW YORK: Apple and Google dropped the popular game Fortnite from their app stores after the game’s developer introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses their platforms.
Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games, which has long been a sore spot with developers.
Fortnite is free, but users can pay for in game accoutrements like weapons and skins. Its developer, Epic Games, said in a blog post Thursday that it was introducing Epic Direct payments, a direct payment plan for Apple’s iOS and Google Play. Epic said the system is the same payment system it already uses to process payments on PC and Mac computers and Android phones.
Apple and Google said the service violates their guidelines.
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services,” Apple said in statement.
Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store. Android users can download the app from other app stores, although that’s generally not an option for iPhone users.
Epic Games did not immediately return a request for comment. Epic’s Fortnite Twitter account said the company would debut a new short film called “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” a seeming parody of Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer. It has also filed a complaint against Apple in the US District Court in Northern California for dropping Fortnite.