Masterplan for Pakistani oil city, including Aramco refinery, to be ready by year-end

Masterplan for Pakistani oil city, including Aramco refinery, to be ready by year-end
A masterplan for Pakistan’s largest oil city, including a $10 billion Aramco oil refinery project, is underway and expected to be ready before the end of the year. (File/AFP)
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Updated 02 March 2021

Masterplan for Pakistani oil city, including Aramco refinery, to be ready by year-end

Masterplan for Pakistani oil city, including Aramco refinery, to be ready by year-end
  • Officials: Investment in province “could increase per capita income to $15,000 by 2025”
  • The $10 billion Aramco Oil Refinery is expected to take five to six years from inception to commissioning

GWADAR: A masterplan for Pakistan’s largest oil city, including a $10 billion Aramco oil refinery project, is underway and expected to be ready before the end of the year, Pakistani officials said this week.
The proposed mega oil city will be developed on 88,000 acres of land in the Gwadar district of the southwestern Balochistan province to refine and process petroleum products mainly imported from the Gulf region, for local and regional consumption.
“The planning for the mega oil city which will host an Aramco refinery and petrochemical complex is in progress, and we will take six to seven months to complete the masterplan,” Shahzeb Khan Kakar, director general of Gwadar Development Authority (GDA), told Arab News.
During a 2019 visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan signed seven investment deals worth $21 billion. The deals covered mineral, energy, petrochemical and food and agriculture projects, and involved players such as Aramco, Acwa Power and the Saudi Fund for Pakistan.
The $10 billion Aramco Oil Refinery — with a 250,000-300,000 barrel per day capacity — is expected to be commissioned in about five to six years.
The project will have a $1 billion petrochemical complex that will lay the foundations for Pakistan’s petrochemical industry by producing polyethylene and polypropylene.
“Though the federal government is directly dealing with the Saudis, we will invite them after the planning is completed,” Kakar said, adding: “The oil city is equally big as Gwadar. We have made the masterplan of Gwadar as a smart city with an area of 88,000 acres, keeping in view requirements up to 2050.”
Apart from the oil city, Gwadar authorities are also developing an industrial zone expected to be completed by 2023 that will also attract significant investment in the area.
“Industrialization is expected to start from 2023 with the provision of basic utilities, including electricity,” Attaullah Jogezai, managing director of the Gwadar Industrial Estate Development Authority, told Arab News.
Gwadar has been touted as the “crown jewel” of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Through the development projects backed by Saudi and Chinese investment, the GDA chief forecast that the per capita income of Gwadar will surge to $15,000 by 2050.
“Fisheries, an oil refinery, petrochemical complexes, a shipyard, the tourism industry, and most importantly the operations of Gwadar port, will all generate huge incomes and increase per capita income,” Kakar said.
“This can be achieved by providing electricity, protection and a sound management system.”
Authorities developing a 300 MW coal-fired power plant and a 5 million gallon per day desalination plant say both projects will be functional by January 2023.
“Regulations have been framed to allocate lands in the industrial zone,” Manzoor Hussain, additional secretary of industries for Balochistan, told Arab News, adding: “Now land will be allotted only to those industrialists who will set them up within the given time frame.
“Our mission is to create employment in the province.”

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Saudi Arabia retail sales fall for third week in a row: SAMA

Saudi Arabia retail sales fall for third week in a row: SAMA
A woman walks along a promenade outside a shopping centre in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh. Getty Images
Updated 35 sec ago

Saudi Arabia retail sales fall for third week in a row: SAMA

Saudi Arabia retail sales fall for third week in a row: SAMA
  • Falls were steepest in the education, telecommunication, and recreation and culture sectors

Riyadh: The value of point-of-sale transactions in Saudi Arabia fell 7.6 percent in the week ending 23 October, the third week in a row of decline, according to Saudi's Central Bank (SAMA).

Bank data showed that PoS transactions fell to SR 8.02 billion ($2.14 billion) last week, down from SR 8.68 billion ($2.31 billion) in the previous week, a 5.2 percent slide. Before that shop sales tumbled 17 percent in the week ending 9 October.

In the latest report, falls were steepest in the education, telecommunication, and recreation and culture sectors, which dropped by 26.5 percent, 23.8 percent, and 13.6 percent, respectively.

Construction and building materials was the only sector to post an increase, with sales edging up by 0.4 percent.


Tech revolution needed to help achieve net zero by 2060, says Saudi energy minister

Tech revolution needed to help achieve net zero by 2060, says Saudi energy minister
Updated 22 min 37 sec ago

Tech revolution needed to help achieve net zero by 2060, says Saudi energy minister

Tech revolution needed to help achieve net zero by 2060, says Saudi energy minister

Saudi Arabia’s ambition to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2060 is dependent on a revolution in technology, the country’s energy minister has said.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud indicated the goal could be achieved earlier than planned if there are sufficient developments in the technology sector.

“The Circular Carbon Economy depends on revolution of tech,” he said, adding: “If technology evolves faster we don't have to wait till 2060, we could reach it earlier.”

Despite the pledges to reach net zero and become a global leader in renewable energy, Saudi Arabia wants to stay as one of the leading oil producing countries in the world, according to a strategy released by the minister.

The “claim and retain leadership” blueprint shows the Kingdom aiming to continue its dominance in oil, with “preeminence in energy markets” listed as one of its top goals.

Energy security, economic prosperity, and the well-being of people are the three key pillars of Saudi Arabia’s circular carbon economy agenda, the minister added.


AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative 2021, Day Two

AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative 2021, Day Two
Updated 20 min 4 sec ago

AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative 2021, Day Two

AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative 2021, Day Two

DUBAI: The Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh is on its second day with scheduled discussions on a plethora of subjects from the circular carbon economy, green economy, sustainable tourism to investing in equality.

Watch the livestream of FII 2021’s second day:

With more than 250 expert speakers delving on ‘Investing in Humanity’ at the three-day Davos of the Desert, the second day’s opening plenary tackled the concept of circular carbon economy — an integrated and inclusive approach to transitioning toward more comprehensive, resilient, sustainable and climate-friendly energy systems that support and enable sustainable development.

Discussions revolved on how the investment community, business and government work together to achieve progress towards the G20 recommendations of the circular carbon economy.

The scheduled speakers included Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister; Lorenzo Simonelli, chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes; Matt Harris, founding partner of Global Infrastructure Partners and Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech.

(All times in GMT) ­­

07.44 Here's a write up of the energy minister's remarks, including his claim that developments in tech could see Saudi Arabia could reach net zero before 2060

06:57 – “We are suggesting a $500 million program that will take care of about 750 million people, like a micro-financing scheme for energy projects, where other lending agencies can join to form a total of $2 billion,” the Saudi energy minister says.

06:45 – Prince Abdulaziz talks about the Kingdom’s consolidated efforts in pursuit of sustainability, adding “we’ll be issuing our own energy strategy soon.”

06:37 – Energy security, economic prosperity, and the well-being of people are the three key pillars of Saudi Arabia’s circular carbon economy agenda, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman says.

06:24 – Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman opens the discussion on investing in the circular carbon economy.


With half Saudis turning gamers, eSports to add $21b to GDP

With half Saudis turning gamers, eSports to add $21b to GDP
Updated 27 October 2021

With half Saudis turning gamers, eSports to add $21b to GDP

With half Saudis turning gamers, eSports to add $21b to GDP
  • Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, president of the Kingdom’s esports federation, said the sector has the potential to contribute billions of dollars to the local economy
  • Analysts predict that global revenues from esports will grow to more than $1.08 billion in 2021 and will surpass $1.6 billion by 2024

RIYADH: Electronic gaming, or egaming, is an increasingly popular activity, with a recent study suggesting that 50 percent of the Saudi population consider themselves regular gamers.

A frequent criticism of electronic gaming is that it is a waste of time with little or no economic value. However Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, president of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports, believes e-gaming and eSports, which is the term for competitive video gaming, have the potential to contribute billions of dollars to business, job creation and gross domestic product in the Kingdom.

“When you talk about the potential in the Saudi market, one of the first things that I think back to is that we did a study with the Ministry of Sports and more than 23, 24 percent of the population considers themselves avid gamers who play more than once a week,” the prince told Arab News on Tuesday at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh.

“About 23, 24 percent-plus consider themselves regular gamers who play more than once a month. That’s almost 50, if not more than 50, percent of the population that consider themselves gamers.”

The prince predicts that the sector will contribute about 1 percent of Saudi GDP by 2030, which might seem a small proportion but the amount of money potentially involved is significant.

“Do we really want to say 1 percent?” he asked. “Is that really a number? It sounds really small. They said, ‘That is worth more than SR80 billion ($21 billion),’ and I said I’ll go with 1 percent. That sounds like a really good number to me, and that’s both from direct and indirect job creation and GDP creation through the gaming and e-sports industry.”

According to the Global Esports and Live Streaming Market Report, published in March by games and esports analyst Newzoo, global revenues from esports, or competitive video gaming, are projected to grow to more than $1.08 billion in 2021, an increase of 14 percent on the previous year.
 

Market and consumer data company Statista predicts that global esports revenue will surpass $1.6 billion by 2024.

Like their counterparts in other countries, a growing number of Saudis are taking part in esports and streaming their gaming activities on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. Audience numbers are also growing.

Video gaming and esports are known for fostering creativity, collaboration and leadership, skills that are highly valued in the business world. Consequently, esports and egaming can provide a path to a range of careers and employment opportunities. And as the esports sector grows, these could increasingly include opportunities for tournament organizers.

The esports industry in Saudi Arabia has experienced impressive growth in the past few years, and the Kingdom has stepped up its efforts to support it. SAFEIS held its first esports/gaming tournaments in the Kingdom recently and more are planned. Other tournaments are hosted by platforms such as the Saudi-based KAFU Games.

Meanwhile there are plans for an esports academy as part of the NEOM smart city development. And for those interested in the development of games, Tuwaiq1000 has offered course for beginners interested in learning how to program from scratch, or for professionals who want to refine their programming skills.

Thanks to all this support that is increasingly available, “sooner rather than later Saudi Arabia will become a world leader in esports,” according to academic Ali Alshammari, a game developer and researcher from Tabuk.

Gaming and esports therefore represent an emerging opportunity for Saudi authorities to support and develop a new sector that can make a significant contribution to non-oil revenues, in keeping with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

“We are a part of a global community,” said Prince Faisal, who added that it is important for this community to come together and dispel misconceptions about gaming and esports.

“There are two things I want people to always remember about gaming,” he said. “Try and be positive. And please don’t ever forget that at the end of the day, gaming is about fun and if you are not having fun then you shouldn’t be doing it.”


Fashion, money, power and sustainability: Welcome to the new FII

Fashion, money, power and sustainability: Welcome to the new FII
Updated 27 October 2021

Fashion, money, power and sustainability: Welcome to the new FII

Fashion, money, power and sustainability: Welcome to the new FII
  • Business bigwigs debate and brainstorm how to solve big problems at global level

RIYADH: The Future Investment Initiative Forum returned to Riyadh on Tuesday, two years after the city last hosted the event, at which powerful and affluent people from around the world traditionally gather to look for big contract opportunities.

But this year, the fifth staging of the forum, is different. There was no talk about big contracts; instead, the powerful participants were discussing how can we give back to humanity and solve big problems at a global level. It is all about sustainability and investing in humanity.

The return of the FII after a postponement of a year caused by the pandemic, is a sign that the worst is behind us — at least in Saudi Arabia, which is going through a deep transformation.

Riyadh is no longer talking a language all of its own. It is now talking a global language that includes terms such as “saving the planet,” “sustainability,” “carbon emissions reduction” and “planning for a better world.”

The Saudis wanted to make sure that the launch of this year’s forum would send a strong message and they found no better way of achieving than by having renowned singer Gloria Gaynor appear and perform her famous song, “I Will Survive,” during the opening.

The world, and Saudi Arabia, has survived the pandemic, with all the hard decisions and tough measures this took, from the rapid development of vaccines to prohibiting Muslims from gathering in mosques to pray.

It is perhaps hard to imagine that big asset-management businesses such as BlackRock and Blackstone might exist for anything other than making big deals, but their respective bosses Larry Fink and Stephen Schwarzman are talking about subjects such as inequality and future generations at the forum.

Still, some things at the FII remain the same. The corridors are filled with people in fancy suits and dresses and the event is still a gathering place for the biggest deal-makers on the planet, who collectively manage trillions of dollars in assets.

Empowerment of women is another hot topic, and it was surprising to hear Schwarzman, Blackstone’s co-founder, talk candidly about how his company has had trouble recruiting women.

“Like many people in finance, we were having a lot of trouble hiring women,” he said during the opening panel discussion on Tuesday. “It was a male-dominated business and we made a decision to change that in 2015.

“We analyzed it and what we realized is that women weren’t applying to Blackstone. We tried to find out why and we found out that they were scared of us. I don’t think I’m very scary.”

Ana Botin, chairperson of Banco Santander, was the only woman on the eight-person panel, although there were female speakers at the opening of the forum.

As the first day of the event was ending, Saudi Aramco announced deals that will help it become more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Indeed, the world has changed.