Qatar FM: Sovereign fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as tensions ease

Qatar FM: Sovereign fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as tensions ease
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as diplomatic tensions ease. (File/SPA)
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Updated 10 January 2021

Qatar FM: Sovereign fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as tensions ease

Qatar FM: Sovereign fund could invest in Saudi Arabia as tensions ease
  • The minister said that Doha had agreed to suspend legal cases against Saudi Arabia and its allies
  • He said that through the easing of tensions in the region, “every state is a winner”

DUBAI: Qatar’s foreign minister has said that the country’s sovereign wealth fund could invest in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states as diplomatic tensions ease following the AlUla agreement.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who is also chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority, told the Financial Times that “if there are opportunities that we see in the future and we see a continuation of the political will of the countries to engage, we are very open.”
He added: “The Qatar Investment Authority is an investment fund that takes its decisions based on business benefit and the feasibility of projects. I am sure that we saw some ambitious opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and if we see opportunities there, the Qatar Investment Authority will certainly explore them.”
The Kingdom is keen to attract foreign investment backing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plans to modernize the Saudi economy and overhaul its dependency on oil.
The minister said that Doha had agreed to suspend legal cases against Saudi Arabia and its allies, including lawsuits filed at the World Trade Organization and the International Court of Justice. “When it comes to the appropriate schedule, these legal cases should then be terminated,” he added.
He said that through the easing of tensions in the region, “every state is a winner.”
However, the minister warned that Qatar “will not change relations” with Iran and Turkey, in a sign that it has made few concessions after securing a deal with Saudi Arabia and its allies to end a bitter dispute between the rival Gulf states.
“Doha had agreed to cooperate on fighting against terrorism and transnational security with Saudi Arabia and three states that had imposed an embargo on Qatar,” he said, adding that “bilateral relationships are mainly driven by a sovereign decision of the country and national interest.
“That is why there is no effect on our relationship with any other country.” he said.
“We hope that things take the steps to come back to normal within a week from the signing.
“It will take some steps among the countries to rebuild the relationship. There will be differences and some pending issues that will be discussed bilaterally between the countries, as each country has a different set of disagreements with Qatar,” the minister added.


Bahrain’s Gulf Air signs up for IATA travel pass

Bahrain’s Gulf Air signs up for IATA travel pass
Updated 04 March 2021

Bahrain’s Gulf Air signs up for IATA travel pass

Bahrain’s Gulf Air signs up for IATA travel pass
  • Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways already signed up
  • E-pass soon to be available on app stores

DUBAI: Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, became the fourth Middle East airline to sign up for the trial phase of a digital travel pass launched to accelerate the revival of the global aviation industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline joined three other Gulf-based carriers — Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways — who will be working with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to test the travel pass in the coming weeks.

“Gulf Air is proud to partner with IATA to trial IATA Travel Pass to simplify and enhance compliance with Covid-19 health requirements and ensure passengers can fly with confidence,” Waleed Abdulhameed Al-Alawi, Gulf Air’s acting chief executive, said.

The e-pass, which will be made available soon on mobile application stores, includes documented health information about passengers, such as checks and vaccinations, as well as specific country requirements related to COVID-19 precautions.

“IATA Travel Pass acts as a ‘digital passport’ enabling travelers to securely and effortlessly navigate their travel plans, knowing that their verified travel credential is based on the latest Covid-19 information, strict data privacy regulations and entry rules for their destination,” Al-Alawi explained.

The travel body was ramping up efforts to encourage governments and airlines to cooperate in creating a standardized system to accelerate the aviation industry’s return to normal operations — which was heavily hit when international borders were first shuttered in March last year.


STC partners with Irish software firm to develop in-car applications

Saudi Telecom Co. (STC), the Kingdom’s largest mobile network operator, has entered into a partnership with Irish vehicle software firm Cubic Telecom to develop in-car software solutions for Saudi drivers. (Supplied)
Saudi Telecom Co. (STC), the Kingdom’s largest mobile network operator, has entered into a partnership with Irish vehicle software firm Cubic Telecom to develop in-car software solutions for Saudi drivers. (Supplied)
Updated 04 March 2021

STC partners with Irish software firm to develop in-car applications

Saudi Telecom Co. (STC), the Kingdom’s largest mobile network operator, has entered into a partnership with Irish vehicle software firm Cubic Telecom to develop in-car software solutions for Saudi drivers. (Supplied)
  • As a result of the link up, the software will then also allow STC to easily add a range of in-car services to Saudi vehicles

RIYADH: Saudi Telecom Co. (STC), the Kingdom’s largest mobile network operator, has entered into a partnership with Irish vehicle software firm Cubic Telecom to develop in-car software solutions for Saudi drivers.

As a result of the link up, the software will then also allow STC to easily add a range of in-car services to Saudi vehicles, including an emergency call system which automatically alerts healthcare services in the event of an accident.

Gerry McQuaid, chief commercial officer at Cubic, told Arab News: “Basically we partnered with STC as a premier car integrity partner in Saudi Arabia. We are enabling the customer to benefit from a range of safety, entertainment, and navigation features when they purchase the car.”

Similar to every market, Saudi Arabia had a strict range of regulations for how connectivity was managed, he said, adding that the software partnership would make it easier for features to be added by carmakers and third-party developers.

“I can’t give a precise date, but in a not-too-distant future you actually don’t need a driving license, the car will actually drive autonomously for the citizens. That is the big difference,” McQuaid said.

“Already software solutions can support this capability, but it does need important regulations to be introduced to start with semi-driving.

“You can request the car on your smart phone, and it will drive to you to get in and the car will drive to your destination. You can listen to music, do some work, and have a conversation while the car drives. This is not science fiction,” he added.

Soon cars will have a whole range of applications, such as an iPhone or other smart phone, with touchscreen interaction and voice regulations, and people will interact with the car from outside using smart phone apps, he said.

On safety regulations, McQuaid pointed out that solutions included an “emergency call” system which would automatically alert emergency services in the event of an accident, give details about the incident, and suggest if it required attention.

Barry Napier, CEO of Cubic Telecom, said: “We are delighted to be working with STC to help car manufacturers activate new opportunities in a very significant market.”

Dr. Sultan bin Saeed, STC’s vice president of business development, said: “Partnering with Cubic enables STC as a digital enabler to simplify the delivery and management of advanced in-car services and gives us a foundation for innovating and meeting the changing needs of customers as new services evolve.”

Cubic Telecom provides connected software solutions in more than 5 million vehicles and devices to at least 100 countries and has already partnered with some of the Gulf region’s largest mobile operators.


Saudi Arabia to ship gas to South Korea and take CO2 back

Saudi Arabia to ship gas to South Korea and take CO2 back
Updated 04 March 2021

Saudi Arabia to ship gas to South Korea and take CO2 back

Saudi Arabia to ship gas to South Korea and take CO2 back
  • Hyundai to take LPG cargoes
  • CO2 sent back to use in oil fields

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia plans to ship gas to South Korea where it will be used to make hydrogen, and the carbon dioxide produced in the process will be transported straight back to the Kingdom, Asharq reported, citing Bloomberg.

Hyundai Oil Bank Co. will take liquefied petroleum gas cargoes from Saudi Aramco and convert them into hydrogen, to use for chemical and power solutions, the Korean energy company’s parent Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Company said.

Aramco and Hyundai OilBank Co. agreed in the deal signed on Wednesday, that the carbon dioxide emitted in the hydrogen-making process will be transported back to Aramco, to use it in its oil production facilities, according to a Hyundai Heavy spokesman.

“It seems the project will bank on the idea that shipping LPG to Korea and carbon dioxide back to Saudi Arabia will be cheaper than shipping hydrogen to Korea,” said Martin Tengler, BloombergNEF’s lead hydrogen analyst.

Saudi Aramco has huge quantities of natural gas, which it has identified as a key area of expansion for domestic supply and export in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“We basically look at natural gas as an area for growth for the company,” Khalid Al-Dabbagh, Aramco’s chief financial officer, said in an investor call in the run-up to its successful IPO back in 2019.


King Salman Energy Park signs anchor tenants

King Salman Energy Park signs anchor tenants
Updated 04 March 2021

King Salman Energy Park signs anchor tenants

King Salman Energy Park signs anchor tenants
  • President and CEO of SPARK Saif Al-Qahtani: SPARK is proud to welcome TAQA and AMCO as they take the first step toward launching their operations
  • By 2035, the park is expected to contribute more than SR22 billion to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product

RIYADH: King Salman Energy Park (SPARK), the Dammam-based project backed by Saudi Aramco, added two new anchor tenants on Thursday, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) and AMCO.

President and CEO of SPARK Saif Al-Qahtani said: “SPARK is proud to welcome TAQA and AMCO as they take the first step toward launching their operations. SPARK sits at the heart of the energy market, offering a world-class ecosystem that facilitates the growth of our tenants’ businesses and brings sustained value to our wider communities. SPARK is set to be a fully integrated city, bringing together major national and international companies and fuelling economic growth and job creation.”

TAQA will expand its local operations with the TAQA Industrial Park at SPARK, including a new facility for oilfield services, a specialist unit for engineering and manufacturing, and a wireline and perforation center of excellence.

The facilities will be constructed in two phases starting in the second quarter of 2021, with the design and developmental planning stages having already commenced.

TAQA CEO Khalid Nouh said: “With our plans for future acquisitions focused on cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions, we further cement our alignment with Vision 2030 and the government’s drive to diversify and localize services and manufacturing in the Kingdom.”

AMCO is investing over SR260 million ($69.33 million) in a new center at SPARK. Its plans include the development of facilities to enable the manufacturing and production of steel pipes, valves, pumps, turbines, and machine and rotary equipment.

AMCO’s facilities will be developed in three phases, allowing for the gradual build-up of manufacturing capabilities and onboarding of local talent.

By 2035, the park is expected to contribute more than SR22 billion to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product, provide up to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs and localize more than 350 new industrial and service facilities.


GRAPHIC: From Beirut to Damascus currencies take a battering

GRAPHIC: From Beirut to Damascus currencies take a battering
Updated 04 March 2021

GRAPHIC: From Beirut to Damascus currencies take a battering

GRAPHIC: From Beirut to Damascus currencies take a battering

Lebanon’s president this week ordered the central bank governor to open an investigation into currency speculation, after the Lebanese pound plunged to record lows on the black market.
But the battered Lebanese pound is not alone among regional currencies that have been decimated by the impact of the pandemic and other factors.
The Syrian pound also fell to a record low on the black market this week, dragged down by its close commercial and banking ties with Lebanon.
“Businessmen and traders are fretting over fears of a free-fall in coming days and watching if unrest grows in Lebanon and its impact on dealings since Lebanon is our lifeline to the outside world,” said one Damascus-based trader told Reuters, who requested anonymity.