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)
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Updated 16 January 2021

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.


Oil prices rise after Saudi minister urges caution on market

Oil prices rise after Saudi minister urges caution on market
Updated 18 sec ago

Oil prices rise after Saudi minister urges caution on market

Oil prices rise after Saudi minister urges caution on market
  • OPEC and allies meet today
  • Oil price rises ahead of meeting

LONDON Oil prices rose more than $1 per barrel on Thursday after Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman urged caution and vigilance at the beginning of a meeting of OPEC ministers and their allies about the future of supply cut
Brent crude futures were up $1.11, or 1.7 percent, at $65.18 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose $1.07, or 1.8 percent to $62.35.
Ministers from OPEC members and their allies started a meeting to discuss the future of an oil output cut at 1300 GMT.
Analysts and traders say a four-month price rally from below $40 a barrel is now out of step with demand and that physical sales are not expected to match supply until later in 2021.
In the United States, despite a record surge of more than 21 million barrels in crude oil stockpiles last week, gasoline stocks fell by the most in 30 years as refining plunged to a record low because of the Texas freeze.


Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways reports $1.7 billion loss in 2020

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways reports $1.7 billion loss in 2020
Updated 37 min 7 sec ago

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways reports $1.7 billion loss in 2020

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways reports $1.7 billion loss in 2020
  • Regional carriers hit hard by pandemic
  • CEO says airline stood firm in face of downturn

ABU DHABI: Etihad on Thursday reported core operating losses of $1.7 billion in 2020, reflecting the severe toll of the coronavirus pandemic on the long-troubled airline that has lost billions in recent years.
Etihad reported revenues of $2.7 billion in 2020 compared to $5.6 billion the year before, a precipitous decline it attributed to “drastically fewer people traveling” as the surging pandemic crippled air travel.
But the airline, one of the Middle East’s top carriers, struggled with financial losses long before the pandemic wiped out the global aviation industry. Since 2016, Etihad has lost a total of $5.62 billion as it has aggressively bought up stakes in airlines from Europe to Asia to compete against the region’s other leading airlines, Dubai-based Emirates and Qatar Airways.
With cost-cutting measures, the company was just starting to recover from the economic pain early last year. It announced the sale of 38 aircraft to an investment firm in an attempt to bolster profits, in a deal valued at $1 billion.
Then, the pandemic struck. Last March, the United Arab Emirates halted flights to stem the spread of the virus. Passenger traffic plummeted to just 4.2 million travelers from 17.5 million the year before, the airline said. Total passenger capacity on planes dropped 64 percent. The carrier lost $758 million over the first half of 2020 alone. The losses rippled across the company, forcing the airline to cut 33% of its workforce and slash salaries by 25-50 percent.
By comparison, Etihad lost $870 million in 2019. The airline reported losses of $1.28 billion in 2018 and $1.52 billion for 2017.
While rollout of coronavirus vaccines has stoked hopes for a global return to travel, the industry is not expected to see meaningful recovery for months, until vaccines are widely administered.
Still, Etihad CEO Tony Douglas struck an optimistic tone in the earnings announcement.
“While nobody could have predicted how 2020 would unfold,” he said, “Etihad stood firm and is ready to play a key role as the world returns to flying.”


India merchants almost halt exports to Iran as its rupee reserves fall

India merchants almost halt exports to Iran as its rupee reserves fall
Updated 04 March 2021

India merchants almost halt exports to Iran as its rupee reserves fall

India merchants almost halt exports to Iran as its rupee reserves fall
  • Under US sanctions, Tehran is unable to use US dollars to transact oil sales
  • The Islamic Republic was buying mainly basmati rice, tea, sugar, soymeal and medicines from India

MUMBAI/ DUBAI: Indian merchants have almost entirely stopped signing new export contracts with Iranian buyers for commodities such as rice, sugar and tea, due to caution about Tehran’s dwindling rupee reserves with Indian banks, six industry officials told Reuters.
“Exporters are avoiding dealing with Iran since payments are getting delayed for months,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading house.
Iran’s rupee reserves in India’s UCO and IDBI Bank , the two lenders authorized to facilitate rupee trade, have depleted significantly and exporters are not sure whether they would be paid on time for new shipments, the dealer said.
Under US sanctions, Tehran is unable to use US dollars to transact oil sales.
Iran previously had a deal to sell oil to India in exchange for rupees, which it used to import critical goods, including agricultural commodities, but New Delhi stopped buying Tehran’s oil in May 2019 after a US sanctions waiver expired.
Tehran continued using its rupees to buy goods from India, but after 22 months of no crude sales, Iran’s rupee reserves have fallen, said the sources, who asked not to be named, citing business privacy.
Iran’s reserves have reduced significantly and “will be over soon probably because trade has stopped,” said a senior official with IDBI Bank.
The Islamic Republic was buying mainly basmati rice, tea, sugar, soymeal and medicines from India.
“Rice exporters are concerned about the current payment mechanism,” said Vijay Setia, a rice exporter and former president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA).
“There was too much of delay in payments from last year’s shipments. Exporters received payments six months after shipments,” Setia said.
In the first quarter of 2020 Iran imported nearly 700,000 tons of basmati rice from India, but in the same period this year shipments would be “very negligible,” Setia said.
Last year, Iran was the biggest buyer of India’s basmati rice and sugar. Iran fulfils more than one-third of its sugar and rice demand through imports, traders estimate.
Iran’s trade ministry and Central Bank of Iran declined to comment on the matter.
“We are in talks with Indian government and Indian traders to resolve these payment issues and I believe it will be resolved soon,” said a senior Iranian official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
“The delay in payments are due to US sanctions on Iran’s financial system that has made such payments very difficult,” he said.
As rupee reserves have depleted and dollar trade is not allowed, sugar exporters are exploring options to conduct trade in euros, Rahil Shaikh, managing director of MEIR Commodities India, said.
Sugar exporters are focusing on other destinations like Indonesia and Sri Lanka, as Iran is unlikely to buy significant quantities this year, said Shaikh.
India’s overall exports to Tehran fell 42% in 2020 from a year ago to $2.2 billion, the lowest in over a decade, said an official with India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The fall is continuing in 2021 and in January this year exports more than halved from a year ago to $100.20 million, the official said.
India’s ministry of commerce and industry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trading houses and exporters were hoping new US President Joe Biden could reverse sanctions imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump on the oil-rich country.
“Exports would rebound even if Biden administration provides a few concessions to Iran like allowing oil trade in rupees,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.


Saudi Arabia pays out more than $16m in salaries to employees of distressed companies in February

Saudi Arabia pays out more than $16m in salaries to employees of distressed companies in February
Updated 04 March 2021

Saudi Arabia pays out more than $16m in salaries to employees of distressed companies in February

Saudi Arabia pays out more than $16m in salaries to employees of distressed companies in February
  • Kingdom helps to pay wages of distressed firms
  • Governments worldwide forced to help employees

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia paid the salaries of 349 workers employed by distressed companies last month, SPA reported.
Some SR60.5 million ($16.1 million) was paid according to the February wage report published by The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.
The pay out included late salaries and end-of-service benefits.
Saudi Arabia moved to support pandemic-hit firms last year by announcing plans to help some employers struggling to pay their staff. Governments worldwide have engaged in different ways to avert mass layoffs across their economies over the last year.


36,000 construction workers on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project given smart badges

36,000 construction workers on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project given smart badges
Updated 04 March 2021

36,000 construction workers on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project given smart badges

36,000 construction workers on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project given smart badges
  • System tracks worker and vehicle movements
  • Supports immediate security alerts to central team

RIYADH: Some 36,0000 construction workers on one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest real estate projects are to be given smart badges.
The Red Sea Development Company has awarded a contract to Machinestalk to provide smart badges and wireless tagging solutions, for its construction workforce and fleet of vehicles, according to a statement on the Saudi Press Agency.
Machinestalk will deploy a “LoRaWan” network over the project area of 3,500 square kilometers, in addition to launching an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, that will also help to track 3000 vehicles in operation on site, said CEO, John Pagano.
The smart badges will control access to areas of the sprawling site preventing unauthorized individuals and vehicles from entering.
The badges will also enable everyone to report any security or safety issues to a dedicated emergency response and security center.
The first phase of the project will see 14 luxury and hyper-luxury hotels across five islands and two inland resorts, providing more than 3,000 hotel rooms.
It will also include a new airport, a yacht marina, leisure and lifestyle facilities, as well as supporting logistics and utilities infrastructure, including 75 kilometers of new roads, according to the company’s website.
The destination is expected to be fully completed by 2030.