UK eyes return of Middle East investors in 2021

UK eyes return of Middle East investors in 2021
An example of Middle Eastern investment in the UK is The London Resort which is funded by Kuwaiti money. (@LondonResort)
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Updated 08 January 2021

UK eyes return of Middle East investors in 2021

UK eyes return of Middle East investors in 2021
  • The virus outbreak and falling oil prices led to a decline last year in outbound global commercial real estate investment in the Middle East
  • COVID-19 and travel restrictions in the region had a significant effect on UK commercial real estate levels

JEDDAH: Middle Eastern investment in the UK has always been active, and despite the economic turmoil brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, British real estate companies reported a noticeable rise in buyer interest in June and July.
The virus outbreak and falling oil prices led to a decline last year in outbound global commercial real estate investment in the Middle East.
COVID-19 and travel restrictions in the region had a significant effect on UK commercial real estate levels, with a total of £32 million ($43 million) in second-quarter (Q2) investment from the region, its lowest level since Q3 2010.
Alex James, head of private client advisory, private office commercial at Knight Frank, said with the opening of the borders between the UK, the UAE, and Bahrain in November, real estate demands from investors would increase.
“Travelers arriving in the UK from these countries will no longer have to quarantine for two weeks, promoting opportunities for investors for when the current UK lockdown restrictions are removed.
“We estimate that the year-end total transaction volume for Middle East capital into the UK is around £1.4 billion, down 6 percent on last year. The recent recovery in transactions seen in Q3 will unfortunately not continue into the normal final quarter rally as long income and distressed investment opportunities remain scarce,” he added.
James said depending on further lockdown measures, he expected that real estate investment would see a recovery in 2021 in volumes to £1.6 billion, representing an annual rise of 14 percent.
A recent example of Middle Eastern investment in the UK was The London Resort. The high-profile $2.6 billion theme-park development, funded by Kuwaiti money, has proven popular in the Gulf Cooperation Council and the UK with Middle Eastern investors.
The London Resort was launched in October 2012 by London Resort Co. Holdings and is supported by the Kuwaiti European Holding Group.
In a previous interview with Arab News, James Hayward, investment director at London-based investment brokerage Farrbury Capital Partners, said although British investment from locals was active, many of them were of Middle Eastern descent.
“We market globally. We still have healthy investment in the UK, although I would also say those who invest from the UK have been predominantly of Middle Eastern descent. It is very, very popular in this neck of the woods. So that is predominantly where we are seeing investment coming from,” he added.


Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China
Terry He, the CEO of Huawei Tech Investment in Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom is a very important market for the company. (AFP)
Updated 59 min 30 sec ago

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China

Flagship Huawei store in Saudi Arabia will be its biggest outside China

RIYADH/JEDDAH: Chinese tech firm Huawei has signed an agreement with Kaden Investment for the launch in Saudi Arabia of its largest store outside China.
During the signing ceremony, at the Ministry of Investment headquarters in Riyadh, Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih highlighted the importance of investment in information and communications technology, along with energy and entertainment, which are important pillars of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan.
He said that the agreement with Huawei is a symbol of the prosperity that comes from long-term partnerships, in this case a 20-year relationship with the Chinese business. It is a “long-standing digital partner and ahead of the curve” in spotting the potential offered by the Kingdom, he added.
“Huawei has played an instrumental role in Saudi Arabia’s development, collaborating with government and private enterprises to enhance our nation’s technological infrastructure,” said Al-Falih. “It continues to share our commitment to talent development, innovation and ambition, the values which underpin Vision 2030.”
Terry He, the CEO of Huawei Tech Investment in Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom is a very important market for the company.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce the next step in Huawei’s commitment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to open the largest Huawei flagship store in the overseas market,” he added. “This will provide customers with an unprecedented, immersive full-scenario experience.”
Fahad Alarjani, a member of the Saudi Chinese Business Council, welcomed the agreement as a “huge success” for the Ministry of Investment, in collaboration with other Saudi ministries, in attracting high-tech investments to Saudi Arabia, “especially given that Huawei is considered a technology giant in China and the world.”
Alarjani, a doctorate-level scholar in sustainable entrepreneurship, SMEs development, and marketing strategies, said it is important that agencies in the Kingdom work together to create a fertile, world-leading environment for investors so that they can attract the latest, and sustainable, technological innovations.
“This will help to open new markets and speed up entrepreneurial development,” he added. “It is important to be aware of the fact that Chinese companies are working hard on being pioneers of 5G.”

The agreement with Huawei is a symbol of the prosperity that comes from long-term partnerships, in this case a 20-year relationship with the Chinese business.

Khalid Al-Falih, Investment minister

Saleh M. Al-Saleem, a professor of computer and information sciences at King Saud University, said: “The agreement will definitely entail training programs to transfer technology, and an investment by a company of this size in the Saudi market is an acknowledgment on its part of the huge size of the technological sector in the Kingdom.”


He added that the agreement opens the door for increased competition between the biggest international companies in the sector, and will contribute to lower costs and enhanced services in the Kingdom.
Saudi consumers also expressed excitement about the news. Pharmaceutical science graduate Ruwaid Mahalawi, 29, who lives in Jeddah and describes himself as a Huawei fan, said: “It’s nice to see big names coming into Saudi Arabia and this is only the start — it will inspire more companies to invest in the Kingdom and recognize the market is extremely welcoming.”
Saudis are a very tech savvy society, he said. “Children and adults alike use electronic devices — especially now, with the pandemic — whether it’s for work or schooling. I think it’s shedding light on how big the market is here.”
Mahalawi’s wife, 26-year-old Wajd Abdullah, is also a fan of the Chinese firm and said she ditched her iPhone for a Huawei Mate. She appreciates the added level of service that is provided when a tech brand sells its products through its own stores, rather than through third-party retailers.
“It’s always best when a brand’s own store opens,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about insurance for the gadgets or quality. The store staff will be more knowledgeable and helpful, too, and that helps to ensure customers will return.”
An opening date for the new store, which will be in Riyadh, has yet to be announced.