Saudi investors pump $144m into London’s office market

Saudi investors pump $144m into London’s office market
Arab investors have invested £1.2 billion ($1.68 billion) in London’s office real estate market since 2018, with Saudi Arabia accounting for £103 million, according to industry data. (File/AFP)
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Updated 20 February 2021

Saudi investors pump $144m into London’s office market

Saudi investors pump $144m into London’s office market
  • Despite Brexit and the pandemic, the UK capital remained attractive in 2020
  • Investors from the UAE have been the most active since 2018, followed by investors from Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Arab investors have invested £1.2 billion ($1.68 billion) in London’s office real estate market since 2018, with Saudi Arabia accounting for £103 million, according to industry data.
Figures from global real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank found that over the last decade (2010-2020), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, excluding Oman, together invested £8 billion into London’s office market, £1.2 billion of that since 2018.
Investors from the UAE have been the most active since 2018, injecting £531 million into the UK capital, followed by investors from Qatar (£435 million), Kuwait (£120 million), Saudi Arabia (£103 million) and Bahrain (£8.8 million).
“Brexit has been less of an issue, given that most investors looking at the London office market invest because of London’s attractiveness as an investment destination — relatively more favorable returns compared to other asset classes and indeed many mainland-European cities, a proven track record of delivering strong returns, the transparency of law and governance, and its strong historic and cultural links,” Faisal Durrani, head of London commercial research at Knight Frank, told Arab News.
“That said, with weak oil prices prevailing, investors from the Middle East have been a little more domestically focused than in recent years,” he said.
“Despite the complications of Brexit and the pandemic, London was the world’s No. 1 recipient for cross-border investment in 2020,” he added.
“COVID-19 … has been a game changer, particularly the impact of global travel restrictions, which reduced investment turnover substantially during the UK’s first lockdown last spring. The opening of an air-travel corridor recently between the UK and UAE led to the creation of the world’s busiest passenger exchange route between Heathrow and Dubai, but flights have now been suspended. Still, while direct links help to foster greater investment flows, some investors, through the course of the pandemic, have begun to use on-the-ground advisers in London to facilitate deals.”
Durrani said investment by Arab investors will normalize, and the slowdown during the pandemic will see an increase in available supply.
“Our annual Global Capital Tracker Survey has identified £46 billion around the world, taking aim at London’s office investment market, with the Middle East accounting for £3.9 billion of the total,” he added.
“The deployment of this full amount will be hinged on the identification of suitable stock. However, with investment stock 58 percent higher than this time last year, we expect 2021 to be busier.”
One of the key projects in the UK that has seen interest from the region has been The London Resort, a $2.6-billion, high-profile theme park development backed by Kuwaiti money.
“Generally speaking, those whom we’ve spoken to have been of Middle Eastern origin,” James Hayward, investment director at London-based investment brokerage Farrbury Capital Partners, told Arab News in December.
“We market globally ... We still have healthy investment in the UK, although I’d also say those who invest from the UK have been predominantly of Middle Eastern descent. It’s very, very popular in this neck of the woods. So that’s predominantly where we’re seeing investment coming from.”
The London Resort was launched in October 2012 by the London Resort Co. Holdings, and is backed by the Kuwaiti European Holding Group.
The theme park will be the first major project of its kind in Europe since Disneyland Paris opened in 1992.
Located on a 535-acre site on Kent’s Swanscombe peninsula, 17 minutes on the train from central London, it has struck content agreements with international media partners including the BBC, ITV Studios and Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures.
The deals will see the partners’ media brands transformed into theme park rides and attractions. The first phase of the project is due to open in 2024.


Saudi PIF's developer to hand over Riyadh homes in 2022

Saudi PIF's developer to hand over Riyadh homes in 2022
Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi PIF's developer to hand over Riyadh homes in 2022

Saudi PIF's developer to hand over Riyadh homes in 2022
  • The Kingdom’s state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF) launched Roshn as a real estate company last year
  • Roshn announced the signing of $930 million worth of construction contracts earlier this year

RIYADH: Roshn, Saudi Arabia’s national community developer, is planning to start off-plan sales at its flagship project in Riyadh later this year, with the handover of the first homes to tenants likely in early 2022, a senior executive said.

The Kingdom’s state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF) launched Roshn as a real estate company last year. 

The developer’s master project in the Saudi capital will extend over an area of more than 20 million square meters and will include more than 30,000 homes. The project’s first phase involves 4,000 homes that will become available for sale by the middle of this year.

“In due course, we will be providing detailed information on how citizens can apply for a home, in addition to all available financing options,” Roshn’s Group CEO David Grover told Arab News.

“Our communities are entirely inclusive, with homes to suit all tastes and budgets. Our aim is to provide a modern, aspirational living experience while giving residents the freedom to interpret what this means to them in their own unique way. Our communities have been designed to inspire a strong sense of neighborly spirit and genuine connection between residents.”

Roshn announced the signing of $930 million worth of construction contracts earlier this year. Grover said the developer partnered with Rezaik Abdallah Al-Gedrawy & Co. as the main contractor for the first phase of the flagship development and have also awarded contracts to Posco E&C, AWJ International and Zuheir Ahmad Al Zahran and Company.

In relation to the timeline for their existing projects, Grover said: “Roshn’s customer experience center is expected to be ready in Q1 2021, while the handover process of homes will start in early 2022. Construction is planned to be completed by Q4 2023.”

With facilities such as mosques, schools, cafes, restaurants, healthcare, leisure and entertainment options, the community aims to cater to the needs of future residents and act as a self-contained “city within a city,” he added.

Roshn was launched in August 2020 by the PIF to deliver high-quality residential neighborhoods to Saudi nationals. The company is committed to supporting the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goal of increasing the rate of homeownership in the country to 70 percent.

“Saudi Arabia is home to a number of world-class developers, and we are consistently looking to collaborate and partner with highly ambitious local firms to deliver on our mandate,” he said.

Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Grover said Roshn has hit more than 90 percent of its 2020 business targets.

“Roshn will work closely with the mortgage industry to help meet the needs of each individual buyer’s personal circumstances and financial situation,” the CEO said of his immediate priorities for 2021.


Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce to open Riyadh office

Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce to open Riyadh office
Updated 27 February 2021

Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce to open Riyadh office

Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce to open Riyadh office
  • The ABCC said the new office would offer ‘enormous’ economic benefits to the Brazilian and Arab markets

RIYADH: The Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) is to set up an international office in the Saudi capital of Riyadh to capitalise on trade between the two countries.

The move follows the success of ABCC’s first office in the region, which opened in Dubai two years ago. In addition to the Riyadh office, ABCC also plans to open an outpost in Egypt, it was announced last week.

The facilities, which aim to bolster trade relations between major Arab markets and Brazil, will assist companies looking to partner Brazilian firms, and vice versa.

ABCC President Rubens Hannun said that the development would give members a competitive edge and offer “enormous” economic benefits to the Brazilian and Arab markets.

“It will bolster trade activities among relevant parties as we remain committed to deliver solutions through our offices in the Arab world, including cost-effective procedures and faster import-export processes. It is a milestone in our ongoing efforts to reinforce trade ties between Brazil and the Arab countries,” he said.

While Brazilian food and beverage exports to the Arab region were down 8.7 percent year-on-year in 2020, the region accounts for $6.19 billion worth of produce and is Brazil’s second largest purchasing market after Asia, according to figures published last week by the Brazilian Food Industry Association (ABIA). Saudi Arabia is ranked the ABIA’s sixth largest market, with the UAE eighth.

“There’s a major focus on Asia and the Arab countries, where we have decades-long partnerships and there’s a very fruitful, complementary economy, and we still have many opportunities to tap into,” ABIA board chair Grazielle Parenti said during a press conference, according to a report by the Brazil-Arab News Agency.

For more than 68 years, the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce has been working to connect the Brazilian and Arab peoples to promote economic, social and cultural development, playing a pivotal role in developing the relationship between the two countries over the years.


KSA sees rising demand for PC devices

KSA sees rising demand for PC devices
Updated 27 February 2021

KSA sees rising demand for PC devices

KSA sees rising demand for PC devices
  • Virtual school and working remote during pandemic is driving market, analysts say

RIYADH: The personal computing devices (PCD) market, which is made up of desktops, notebooks, workstations and tablets, recorded strong growth in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East in the final quarter of 2020, according to a new industry report.

“The Saudi Arabian market experienced an overall 7.1 percent growth in shipments of PCs and notebooks in Q4 2020,” said Isaac Ngatia, a senior research analyst at the American research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) 

“This was driven by continued demand for computing devices mainly for homeschooling.”

In the PC market, the consumer segment grew by 9 percent quarter-on-quarter, while the commercial segment grew 3.9 percent, he added.

The Kingdom's Ministry of Education emphasized the need for digital platforms so students could attend class virtually during the pandemic. Each child and teacher now needs their own device, while previously they may have been able to share with a fellow colleague or student.

Ngatia said there was a strong demand for notebooks. They feature a better user experience for learning purposes compared to tablets, which saw sales decline by 6 percent quarter-on-quarter.

“Demand for PC devices remained strong across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, with end-users still requiring these devices to work remotely or study from home,” said Fouad Charakla, the IDC's senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa.

Turkey, which is by far the region's largest single PCD market, experienced the highest growth year on year, almost doubling in shipments, Charakla said. The market's recovery from the slowdown in consumer demand seen in Q4 2019 was the primary driver of growth in Turkey. 

“A massive education deal totaling more than 150,000 tablets was also delivered to the country, which further accelerated the market's growth,” he added.

Each of the region's other large markets, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the UAE, all experienced year-on-year growth as well, with strong demand witnessed in both the commercial and consumer segments. 

“On the flip side, sharp declines were recorded in Egypt and Kenya, primarily because these markets had witnessed massive education deals in Q4 2019 that were not repeated in Q4 2020,” Charakla said.

In the PC segment, Lenovo posted strong year-on-year growth that pushed it to the top of the MEA’s PC market for the first time. HP experienced a sharp decline but still finished second. Dell remained almost flat year on year to remain in third place.

In tablet sales, Samsung is in the top spot, once again backed by a large-scale education delivery, this time in Turkey. Lenovo more than doubled its tablet shipments to place second, while Huawei also experienced growth to rank third.


Saudi Arabia offers Europe ‘green’ hydrogen by pipeline

Saudi Arabia offers Europe ‘green’ hydrogen by pipeline
Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi Arabia offers Europe ‘green’ hydrogen by pipeline

Saudi Arabia offers Europe ‘green’ hydrogen by pipeline
  • Hydrogen is regarded by many experts as the clean energy of the future
  • The need to fight global emissions is key to the “circular carbon economy” championed by Saudi Arabia as a way to achieve climate change goals

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is offering to transport “green” hydrogen by pipeline to Europe in the next stage of the Kingdom’s strategy to combat climate change.

“If Europe would like to buy more hydrogen, Saudi green hydrogen, we would be more than happy, and even, if the economics allow for it, even piping it all the way to somewhere in Europe,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman said.

He also hinted at major developments to come in solar energy production. “I believe in the next month or so we’ll dazzle the world with how cheaply we can get our solar electricity,” he said.

Prince Abdul Aziz was speaking at a virtual meeting of the International Energy Forum and the European Union hosted in Riyadh, at which he added detail to the Kingdom’s strategy to control harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

 

 

Hydrogen is regarded by many experts as the clean energy of the future. Green hydrogen is produced using solar energy, and is a major feature of the energy equation at the planned NEOM megacity. In another form, “blue ammonia” is a byproduct of the oil refining process that Saudi Aramco has already produced and exported to Japan.

The need to fight global emissions is key to the “circular carbon economy” championed by Saudi Arabia as a way to achieve climate change goals, and was endorsed by G20 leaders last year under the Saudi presidency.

Prince Abdul Aziz appealed for “flexibility” by other countries in the debate over how best to mitigate climate change.

 

 

“The goal is to be flexible and mindful of the participants and their priorities,” he said.

Some countries, especially in Europe, have said they would like to move away more quickly from hydrocarbon fuels. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, believes this is the wrong approach.

To address climate change, Prince Abdul Aziz said, “you need to bring everybody on board and you need to be mindful of their priorities and you need to be mindful of how much (energy resources] they are endowed with.

“But I can guarantee you that we’re opening hands, hearts and minds to work with everybody and bring solutions to move forward and work with these ambitions, but with a difference — we are not bragging about it, not talking about it, we are executing these things and providing people with examples.

“Trust us, but more important, collaborate with us in universal solutions.”


NYSE begins move to delist Chinese state oil producer CNOOC

NYSE begins move to delist Chinese state oil producer CNOOC
Updated 27 February 2021

NYSE begins move to delist Chinese state oil producer CNOOC

NYSE begins move to delist Chinese state oil producer CNOOC
  • The Trump administration had last year moved against certain Chinese companies that Washington said were owned or controlled by the Chinese military in an effort to ramp up pressure on Beijing

The New York Stock Exchange on Friday decided to begin formal delisting of Chinese state oil giant CNOOC Ltd. based on an update to an executive order signed by former US President Donald Trump in November last year.
Prohibitions on CNOOC will take effect on March 9, 60 days after the company was added to the list that prohibits US investments, according to a guidance issued by the Treasury Department on Jan. 27.
However, the exchange did not disclose a target date for the completion of the delisting.
The Trump administration had last year moved against certain Chinese companies that Washington said were owned or controlled by the Chinese military in an effort to ramp up pressure on Beijing.
The NYSE said CNOOC has the right to appeal the delisting decision. The exchange will include any appeal it receives in its application to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which will be submitted on completion of all procedures.
CNOOC could not be immediately reached for comment.