German startup to help Saudi hotels utilize empty spaces

German start-up NeuSpace, established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates, is now working in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
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German start-up NeuSpace, established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates, is now working in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Anne Schaeflein, Collaborative Founder NeuSpace. (Supplied)
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Anne Schaeflein, Collaborative Founder NeuSpace. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 January 2021

German startup to help Saudi hotels utilize empty spaces

German start-up NeuSpace, established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates, is now working in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • COVID-19 pandemic has brought slump in average hotel occupancy rates in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: A German start-up established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates is now working in Saudi Arabia.

NeuSpace aims to assist operators in coming up with new ways to generate revenue from their empty spaces.

Anne Schaeflein, a co-founder of the Dusseldorf-based company, told Arab News: “For hotel properties still in the completion phase, we feel it is best to evaluate the perspective, and to diversify pre-opening.

“To be empathic to the existing (or planned) infrastructure and environment of the location, we run a feasibility study and look at how the space could be best used from an ROI (return on investment) as well as community perspective. Turning function spaces into day nurseries, delis, and bakeries,” she said.




Anne Schaeflein, Collaborative Founder NeuSpace. (Supplied)

According to the company’s website, it aims to address the needs of hotel investors, operators, and the wider community surrounding the property.

“We deliver quick solutions to retain some of the hospitality jobs, and add others, and offer attractive living space for communities, all within one to four months, depending on the individual projects,” the company said.

A report in November by global hotel data analysis company, STR, found that the average occupancy rate in Saudi Arabia was 34.7 percent, down 38.7 percent on the previous year. As a result, the average revenue per available room fell 35.5 percent year-on-year to SR172.70 ($46.05).

Looking to the future, real estate consultancy firm, Colliers International, has forecast that average occupancy rates in Riyadh and Alkhobar will be 55 percent, 51 percent in Jeddah and Madinah, and 37 percent in Makkah.

On innovative solutions, Schaeflein said the startup’s concept was formed around the key pillars of value preservation, creating new housing space, and innovative housing concepts.

She pointed out that the company looked at how areas such as roof gardens or social spaces could be used by the wider community, or how pools and spas not being used by guests could be utilized by local residents.

NeuSpace also studies how back-office services and facilities could be offered to residents to better utilize staffing levels. This could include offering dog-minding services, turning rooms into office or retail areas, or renting out restaurant and entertainment spaces when footfall was low.


Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries may bring forward IPO as it pours $1.4bn into fab expansion

Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries may bring forward IPO as it pours $1.4bn into fab expansion
Updated 13 min 40 sec ago

Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries may bring forward IPO as it pours $1.4bn into fab expansion

Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries may bring forward IPO as it pours $1.4bn into fab expansion
  • Global semiconductor shortage boosts demand for chips
  • Shortage has hit automaker output worldwide
WASHINGTON: Abu Dhabi’s GlobalFoundries will invest $1.4 billion this year to raise output at three factories in the United States, Singapore and Germany, as a global shortage of semiconductors has boosted demand for chips, its chief executive said.
The US-based company, a unit of Abu Dhabi’s state-owned fund Mubadala, may also bring forward its initial public offering to late 2021 or the first half of next year, from a previous target of late 2022 or early 2023.
It is aiming for revenue growth of 9 percent to 10 percent from just over $5.7 billion last year.
Automakers and electronics producers are facing a global shortage of chips which has fueled manufacturing delays.
“The adoption of technology that would normally have taken a decade happened in one year in 2020 because of COVID-19,” GlobalFoundries CEO Thomas Caulfield told Reuters.
Before the pandemic, the chip industry was projected to grow 5 percent over a five-year horizon and now it has accelerated to grow at twice that rate, he said.
While the supply crunch has resulted in car makers such as Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors cutting output, an increase in supply would create further demand.
GlobalFoundries said the $1.4 billion, which will be divided evenly among its fabs in Dresden, Germany, Malta, New York and Singapore, will begin to ramp up output through 2022 to produce chips from 12 to 90 nanometers.
About a third of the investment will come from clients seeking to lock in supply over several years, Caulfield said, forecasting a 20% rise in production next year following an expected 13 percent increase in 2021.
If demand continues to rise GlobalFoundries could build a new plant adjacent to its Malta, New York, plant after securing a purchase option agreement for about 66 acres of undeveloped land last year.
But a decision to break ground there would hinge on the US Congress funding a set of measures to incentivise chip manufacturing in the US known as the Chips Act, which was approved last year.
“It’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s just a question of ‘when,’... And a key element of going forward will be the funding of the Chips Act,” Caulfield said.
US President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has pledged to support the effort, and senators are looking at providing emergency funding for the law as part of a bigger package to counter China’s rise, as chipmaking has shifted to Asia.
GlobalFoundries is the world’s third-largest foundry by revenue behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Samsung Electronics but ranks second when factoring out the part of Samsung’s foundry business that makes chips for other elements of the South Korean firm.

Oman has fastest port operations in the world, UN body says

Oman has fastest port operations in the world, UN body says
Updated 03 March 2021

Oman has fastest port operations in the world, UN body says

Oman has fastest port operations in the world, UN body says
  • The Sultanate earlier announced the National Logistics Strategy 2040 in a bid to become a global logistics hub

DUBAI: Oman’s ports have been recognized by the UN’s trade and development arm as first in the world in terms of speed of container handling.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), container vessels only stay in the Sultanate’s ports for an average of 12.5 hours – including all entry, exit, loading, and unloading operations.

The Sultanate earlier announced the National Logistics Strategy 2040 in a bid to become a global logistics hub.

The plan involves adding new maritime routes and more international partnerships to ease the movement of goods.

Oman joined Poland and Gulf neighbor UAE at the top of UNCTAD’s list.


Dubai firm acquires Paris towers in $300m deal

Dubai firm acquires Paris towers in $300m deal
Updated 03 March 2021

Dubai firm acquires Paris towers in $300m deal

Dubai firm acquires Paris towers in $300m deal
  • The acquisition of Altais Towers in the east of the French capital is GII’s first purchase in the city and the firm’s largest real estate deal to date

DUBAI: Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), a Dubai-based Shariah-compliant financial services firm, has bought a commercial tower block in Paris, in a deal valued at around $300 million.

The acquisition of Altais Towers in the east of the French capital is GII’s first purchase in the city and the firm’s largest real estate deal to date, bringing the value of its total investments in Europe to around $800 million.

Mohammed Al-Hassan, founding partner and co-CEO of GII, said: “Altais Towers is an exciting marker in GII’s growth trajectory, as we head toward achieving a total AUM (assets under management) of $3 billion by the end of 2021.

“This acquisition highlights our deep and diversified global experience as we expand into new geographies and execute transactions of this scale and complexity, especially amidst the challenges presented by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Altais Towers is located in the Parisian suburb of Montreuil and comprises two towers with 28 and 16 floors, respectively.

Founded in 2014, GII has nearly $2 billion of assets under management and is currently looking at other projects in Europe, namely in the UK and Germany.


Alhokair and Arabian Centres boost online footprint with Vogacloset deal

Alhokair and Arabian Centres boost online footprint with Vogacloset deal
Updated 03 March 2021

Alhokair and Arabian Centres boost online footprint with Vogacloset deal

Alhokair and Arabian Centres boost online footprint with Vogacloset deal
  • The pandemic has encouraged Saudi retail groups to rapidly ramp up their e-commerce investments in response to the boom in online shopping

DUBAI: Saudi retail giants Alhokair and Arabian Centres Company (ACC) agreed to acquire a combined majority stake in Vogacloset, a UK-based online fashion platform.
It sells some 400 brands across women’s, men’s and kids’ fashion.
Post-transaction, Alhokair and ACC will own a combined 51 percent stake in Vogacloset, they said in a statement.
 “This strategic investment in a sizeable and profitable regional e-commerce player is the most direct route for Alhokair to extend its leadership position in its core Saudi market – from offline to the online space, while safeguarding our competitive market position,” said Marwan Moukarzel, CEO of Alhokair.
The pandemic has encouraged Saudi retail groups to rapidly ramp up their e-commerce investments in response to the boom in online shopping.
Alhokair trades in around 1,800 stores across 100 shopping malls in 13 countries. Meanwhile Arabian Centres operates 21 malls across the Kingdom

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Oman said to agree $2.2bn loan with large group of banks

Oman said to agree $2.2bn loan with large group of banks
Updated 03 March 2021

Oman said to agree $2.2bn loan with large group of banks

Oman said to agree $2.2bn loan with large group of banks
DUBAI: Oman has raised $2.2 billion with a loan in a deal which attracted interest from a large group of regional and international lenders, sources said.
The Gulf state, rated sub-investment grade by all major credit rating agencies, had been working with a group of banks to raise a $1.1 billion loan, which could have gone up to $2 billion depending on market appetite, sources told Reuters in January.
The deal was eventually completed at $2.2 billion last week, the sources said. Oman’s ministry of finance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Oman expects a 2021 budget deficit of 2.24 billion Omani rials ($5.82 billion). To make up the shortfall, the government aims to raise about 1.6 billion rials through borrowing and draw 600 million rials from its reserves.
It was the first Gulf government to tap the international bond markets this year, raising $3.25 billion in three-part bonds in January, taking advantage of positive market conditions to replenish state coffers battered by the coronavirus crisis.
The new loan has a 15-month maturity with the possibility to extend it by an additional 12 months at the borrower’s discretion, the sources said.
It attracted interest from more than a dozen international and regional lenders, which offered around $3 billion for the deal, one of the sources said.
Oman’s external debt maturing this and next year amounts to $10.7 billion, or about 7.5% of gross domestic product, S&P Global Ratings has said.