Emirates doesn’t see travel recovery until year-end

Emirates doesn’t see travel recovery until year-end
Unlike some other airlines, Emirates lacks a domestic market to cushion it against the downturn in international travel. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 February 2021

Emirates doesn’t see travel recovery until year-end

Emirates doesn’t see travel recovery until year-end
  • Clark said he expected governments would continue to close borders and place restrictions on international travel

DUBAI: International travel is likely to remain subdued until the end of the year as countries reintroduce tough restrictions to control COVID-19 infections, the head of Dubai-based airline Emirates said on Wednesday.
The comments from Tim Clark represent a more pessimistic view after he told Reuters last month he did not believe the recovery would be further impeded by a new wave of infections and restrictions.
"It is going to take longer than I would have hoped and I think probably we are going to see some difficulties. We are not going to see capacity return that I hoped in July and August, I think, maybe (it will return) in the last quarter this year," Clark told a virtual summit by aviation consultancy CAPA.
Britain this week announced passengers arriving from certain countries would have to enter mandatory hotel quarantine for 10 days, a similar system to Australia.
Clark, who has delayed his retirement to tackle the coronavirus crisis, said countries like Britain had taken "fairly draconian positions" with regards to international travel.
The British government has said the stronger measures are needed to prevent new variants of the virus from thwarting its rapid vaccination programme.
Britain in January reimposed quarantine restrictions on travellers from the United Arab Emirates as cases in the Gulf state rapidly increased.
Clark said he expected governments would continue to close borders and place restrictions on international travel until they get a better understanding of how to deal with the new variants.
The 71-year-old, a respected industry veteran, has throughout the crisis tended to be more bullish about a rebound than many of his peers.
Unlike some other airlines, Emirates lacks a domestic market to cushion it against the downturn in international travel.


Pure Harvest secures $64.5m investment; Saudi Arabia expansion continues

Pure Harvest secures $64.5m investment; Saudi Arabia expansion continues
Updated 16 sec ago

Pure Harvest secures $64.5m investment; Saudi Arabia expansion continues

Pure Harvest secures $64.5m investment; Saudi Arabia expansion continues

RIYADH: Pure Harvest Smart Farms has secured a $64.5 million investment from Korean private equity company IMM, it was announced on Thursday at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.
Now one of the highest-funded agribusinesses in the UAE, Pure Harvest aims to use the investment to expand its farms and the advanced technology it uses to further its food security mission through the use of sustainable and localized hybrid-farming with limited water usage.
“Most countries want both localized food security and food sovereignty, where they actually have sovereign access and protection for food,” said Sky Kurtz, the CEO and founder of Pure Harvest.
The company designs and operates climate-controlled greenhouse systems that allow for the localization of food production anywhere in the world, regardless of climate.
“This is a marriage of real-estate development, agronomic science, technology and manufacturing consumer-packaged goods,” Kurtz said.
Pure Harvest began in the UAE and is now expanding into Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with the aim of producing affordable and natural produce across the region. Kurtz said that the company’s entry into the Kingdom will involve several farms in a number of cities to provide as many consumers as possible with reliable access to fresh and sustainable produce.
“Saudi Arabia is a big country and our goal is to have multiple assets across the country serving the major population centers,” he added.

HIGHLIGHT

The company, one of the highest-funded agribusinesses in UAE, uses technology to improve food security through the use of sustainable and localized hybrid farming.

Kurtz told Arab News that the first Pure Harvest farms in the Kingdom will be located in NADEC City, in Haradh.
“We are partnered with NADEC (the National Agricultural Development Company),” he said.
“It’s a very large-scale existing farm and we are able to leverage NADEC’s existing infrastructure.”
The partnership will allow Pure Harvest to use a 30 megawatt solar power plant that is already in place to power its climate systems at the site near Riyadh.
“It makes economic sense, resulting in affordable produce to the consumer, but also it’s much more sustainable using solar power, leveraging existing infrastructure and food miles, and that’s where we are starting,” Kurtz said.
Over time, he added, the plan is to expand and establish farms in Jeddah, Makkah and other locations in the Kingdom to provide more sustainable farming options.
“If Saudi consumers embrace it, we will build non-stop,” Kurtz said. “I believe we can build 100 hectares of capacity (in the next few years).”
He added that the company has already hired 20 people in Saudi Arabia and plans to hire another 20 each month, eventually creating thousands of jobs at each farm.
“I encourage young Saudis to join Pure Harvest Farms; this is the future of farming,” said Kurtz.


Saudi Arabia to host World Travel and Tourism Council summit next year

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb and President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council Julia Simpson. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb and President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council Julia Simpson. (SPA)
Updated 43 min 47 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to host World Travel and Tourism Council summit next year

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb and President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council Julia Simpson. (SPA)
  • The summit is the largest travel and tourism event in the world
  • WTTC CEO says the Kingdom has been instrumental in leading the recovery of this critical sector

LONDON: Riyadh has been chosen to host the 22nd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC) next year.
The summit, the largest travel and tourism event in the world, will be hosted by the Kingdom at the end of next year following the upcoming edition in Manila from March 14 to 16.
Speaking during the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the WTTC, said: “Since the very beginning, when the pandemic brought international travel to an almost complete standstill, Saudi Arabia has shown its total commitment to our sector, ensuring it has remained at the forefront of the global agenda.”
She said the Kingdom “has been instrumental in leading the recovery of a sector which is critical to economies, jobs and livelihoods around the world.

“For that we are grateful and want to recognize their incredible efforts by bringing the global travel and tourism sector to the Kingdom next year.”
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb welcomed the Kingdom’s selection as the host country for the summit’s next edition, adding that it is “a critical forum for the private sector and government to come together to redesign tourism for the future.”
He said this was “recognition of the Saudi leadership to help the global tourism sector recover, and more importantly, become more sustainable.”
WTTC research shows that the Middle East’s tourism sector is expected to grow by 27.1 percent this year, outpacing Europe and Latin America.
Research also confirms that if governments place the travel and tourism sector at the top of their priorities, the job opportunities provided by the sector will reach 6.6 million jobs in 2022, which would come close to the employment numbers in the sector before the pandemic hit.


Pandemic provided 33,000 industrial job opportunities in 2020, minister says

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef speaking to Arab News at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh. (Screenshot)
Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef speaking to Arab News at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh. (Screenshot)
Updated 46 min 52 sec ago

Pandemic provided 33,000 industrial job opportunities in 2020, minister says

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef speaking to Arab News at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh. (Screenshot)
  • Saudi Arabia’s industrial index rose by 5.8 percent from a year ago and 5 percent from the previous month

RIYADH: The Kingdom is witnessing steady financial growth and recovery after the COVID-19 economic setback, according to Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef.

Alkhorayef said that the industrial sector enjoyed some growth in 2020, during which 33,000 jobs were created. 

“We had more than $23 billion of new investments and also the pandemic has shown us the importance of building our own logistics,” he told Arab News.

“Logistics is a capability of the country and is going to also be enhanced to ensure that we are moving with our strategy to not only cover the Saudi market, but regional and global markets, so that Saudi Arabia can become an industrial powerhouse in the region and the world despite the setback,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s industrial index rose by 5.8 percent from a year ago and 5 percent from the previous month, government data showed earlier this month.

The increase in industrial activity resulted from higher production in mining and quarrying activity, which makes up 74.5 percent of the index, the General Authority for Statistics said.

Mining activities, which include oil production, increased by 6.5 percent during the month. Saudi Arabia increased its oil production from 8.9 million barrels a day in August 2020 to 9.5 million barrels a day in August 2021.

Alkhorayef said that the ministry’s vision was split into different programs to deal with industry, mining, energy and logistics. 

“Today we realize in Saudi Arabia that our Vision can only be accomplished by working together as a government, making sure that we are integrated,” he said.

The program is one of the largest programs in the Vision with huge targets for GDP contribution in investment, and job creation.

The energy program is intended to bring these four sectors together to ensure that they are aligned and complement each other.

“So, factories, they will need energy, energy will need factories, and factories will need transportation,” he said. “Energy will also will need probably transportation or mining,” he said.

In addition, the ministry was also looking at the strategies of the different sectors, and in every strategy it targeted subsectors.

“Also, the policies, enablers, that ensure that we are moving and really implementing that Vision in the right way,” he said.

The minister said that COVID-19 has been disruptive across the board, and that technology was key in strategy for all industries in the future.

“The way we look at human capital development is very important,” he said. “Re-skilling of our people, education, how we look at business models, is also changing.”

“The pandemic, I think, has been a true test of all countries. How they are resilient. It showed us where we are weak, where we are stronger, and that was a live demonstration of where we need to focus and where we need to build on,” he said.

The Kingdom had shown great success in dealing with the pandemic as a result of what it has been doing in the health sector, he said. “What we have done also in the infrastructure of communication, otherwise the health sector will not function.”

“The school system will not function and the government will not function,” he said.

The minister said that industrial companies were seeking to relocate their regional headquarters.

“In fact, some of the companies who announced their headquarters at the FII are industrial companies,” he said.


MAF chief kicks off “humungous” Mall of Saudi project

MAF chief kicks off “humungous” Mall of Saudi project
Updated 6 min 1 sec ago

MAF chief kicks off “humungous” Mall of Saudi project

MAF chief kicks off “humungous” Mall of Saudi project
  • Mall will have the largest indoor ski slope and snow dome in the world

RIYADH: Alain Bejjani, chief executive of the Majid Al-Futtaim retail and hospitality conglomerate, told Arab News about the “humungous project” now under way in the Kingdom after he formally began construction of the Mall of Saudi.

Straight after a ground-breaking ceremony for the new mall, Bejjani said at the FII form in Riyadh: “It will be one the largest malls in the world, and will have a cutting-edge customer experience and at the edge of the leading retail of tomorrow. It will be a big attraction for shopping, leisure and entertainment, but also a big tourist attraction internally and globally.”

The new mall, being developed at a cost of 16 billion riyals ($4.3 billion) over the next four years, will include six hotels and around 1,600 residential units in “an integrated community that offers a very new lifestyle in line with Vision 2030.”

It will also have the largest indoor ski slope and snow dome in the world, he confirmed.

Although progress on the project was slowed last year by the pandemic lockdowns, behind the scenes Bejjani was working to attract tenants to the new development. “I can tell you every global brand is already in Mall of Saudi or has signed up to be there. We started leasing a year ago, and we’re very happy about the level of uptake. It’s a testimony to the Saudi market and the comeback that we’ve seen post-pandemic. This is coming back, we are recovering,” he said.

MAF group, which operates cinemas, supermarkets and hotels, in addition to malls, was seriously affected by the pandemic last year, when many of its businesses were forced to close temporarily. He said that while there was a recovery underway in the Carrefour supermarkets, the retail grocery business in Saudi Arabia was going through a “recalibration.”

“Last year we were hoarding and buying more than we needed. This isn’t happening anymore because people are no longer in fear of meeting their grocery needs. So there was a recalibration in early 2021. But from September, we are seeing growth coming back and this is very important. Next year is definitely going to be a growth year,” he said.

Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al-Futtaim, with Frank Kane in Riyadh. (Supplied)

Many households shifted purchase of essential goods online during the pandemic, and some of that has stuck. Saudi online grocery sales are about 10-12 per cent of total sales, he said, among the highest in the region.

Two other big markets for MAF — in the UAE and Egypt — were also showing strong recovery growth, he said. “The recovery in the world retail economy is stronger than in other parts of the economy,” he added.

In the Vox cinema business, he said fears that the movie business would lose out to the streaming services like Netflix had proved to be misplaced. “People want the experience, they are coming back to the movies,” he said.

But the cinema business was still in need of good quality content, after studios were forced to stop production last year.

MAF is considering ways to promote regional and local cinema content. “What our customers want is Arabic content, Khalijee content, Egyptian content, and one of our plans is to foster local content development and production. This is something we are doing with a number of partners,” Bejjani said.

He also spoke about the chronically low levels of cross-border trade in the GCC countries, in comparison with other trading blocs such as the EU and ASEAN.

“The wider Middle East region has half the labour productivity of other parts of the world,” he said, advocating an end to tariffs and freer movement of labour, potentially involving a special “business visa” to give multiple entry in the GCC countries.


GAMI governor meets with major defense, security companies at FII

GAMI governor meets with major defense, security companies at FII
Updated 28 October 2021

GAMI governor meets with major defense, security companies at FII

GAMI governor meets with major defense, security companies at FII
  • Al-Ohali discussed strategic directions in the military industries sector in Saudi Arabia
  • He also highlighted the qualitative opportunities, great potential and unlimited support that the military industries sector enjoys in the Kingdom

RIYADH: The governor of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries met with various CEOs and leaders of major international companies operating in the military industries sector on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative on Thursday.
The meeting was attended by several companies including French defense group Thales, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, General Dynamics Corp., Leonardo SpA and Lockheed Martin.
During the meeting, Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali discussed strategic directions in the military industries sector in Saudi Arabia.
He also discussed the Kingdom’s investment environment, which is witnessing an unprecedented push to empower local and international investors in light of the objectives of the Vision 2030 reform program to localize military industries in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Ohali highlighted the qualitative opportunities, great potential and unlimited support that the military industries sector enjoys in the Kingdom.
He said it is important for these companies to open headquarters in Saudi Arabia to enhance cooperation in the industrial sector and contribute to technology transfer and job creation.