Phase one of SPARK 60% complete

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

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.


Remittances from KSA surge as expats help families in lockdown

Updated 31 min 3 sec ago

Remittances from KSA surge as expats help families in lockdown

Remittances from KSA surge as expats help families in lockdown
  • Foreign workers defy World Bank forecasts by sending home $32.9bn in first 10 months of year, an 18.58% rise on 2019

RIYADH: Expats in Saudi Arabia sent SR123.4 billion ($32.9 billion) in remittances to their home countries in the first 10 months of this year, a rise of 18.58 percent compared with 2019.

The surge in payments came as foreign workers in the Kingdom looked to support their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

The growth is despite forecasts from the World Bank in April estimating that remittances to low- and middle-income countries would decline by 19.6 percent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region this year as workers struggled to cope with the impact of the global health crisis.

Expat workers make up three-quarters of the 13.6 million workers in the Kingdom, with most coming from countries such as Syria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Figures from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) showed that while remittances by expats in the Kingdom rose by 18.58 percent year-on-year between January and October, the biggest spike was in June when the monthly amount surged 60 percent compared with June 2019.

July also witnessed a rise of 32 percent, while August, September, and October saw monthly levels increase 24.7 percent, 28.5 percent, and 19.2 percent, respectively, compared with the equivalent months last year.

Mazen Al-Sudairi, head of research at Riyadh-based financial services company Al Rajhi Capital, told Arab News: “Debt to GDP (gross domestic product) ratio in emerging economies has increased up to 70 percent recently, and the unemployment rate led by COVID-19 has also increased in countries such as India and the Philippines, which are the countries forming the majority of the expat population in the Kingdom.

“Therefore, we believe that increased remittances are due to rising unemployment and difficult economic conditions back in the home countries of expats.”

He said another reason why expats may have been sending more funds home was because their surplus income had increased as a result of being unable to travel or spend as much as normal due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Once the unemployment risks recede for expats in KSA, as well as in home countries, this level should normalize in our view,” Al-Sudairi added.

While the expats’ remittances increased in the 10-month period, the relative amount sent abroad by Saudi nationals declined by 17.5 percent to $12.58 billion during the same period, compared with $10.38 billion between January and October 2019.

Coronavirus travel restrictions were introduced in the Kingdom in March, leading to a 41.7 percent drop in funds transferred overseas by Saudi nationals in April compared with the same month last year. While domestic travel resumed in late May, funds sent overseas by Saudi nationals still fell 52 percent that month compared with May 2019.

FASTFACT

13.6 million

Expat workers make up three-quarters of the 13.6 million workers in the Kingdom.

Remittances briefly spiked by 17 percent in June, before reducing to declines again for the remainder of the year.

Al-Sudairi said that the drop in Saudis forwarding money out of the country was also due to the pandemic and travel restrictions.

“This affected tourism and medical treatment-related remittances. Even the business-related remittances were impacted in the earlier months of lockdown due to negative confidence.”

He added that he was “expecting the trend to be better next year” once international travel resumed.

The World Bank, despite its pessimistic outline in April, also predicted that remittances would recover in 2021 and rise by 5.6 percent globally and 1.6 percent in the MENA region.

In a statement issued in April, Michal Rutkowski, global director of the World Bank’s social protection and jobs global practice, said: “Effective social protection systems are crucial to safeguarding the poor and vulnerable during this crisis in both developing countries as well as advanced countries.

“In host countries, social protection interventions should also support migrant populations,” he added.