Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company

Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched on Wednesday the Soudah Development Company. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched on Wednesday the Soudah Development Company with an investment of SR 11 billion. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched on Wednesday the Soudah Development Company. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched on Wednesday the Soudah Development Company. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched on Wednesday the Soudah Development Company. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched on Wednesday the Soudah Development Company. (SPA)
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Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company

Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company
  • The company aims to attract more than two million visitors annually, and create 8,000 direct and indirect permanent jobs by 2030
  • Investment of $3 billion in tourism infrastructure and attractions to create a world-class mountain destination in the Asir region

RIYADH: Saudi crown prince and chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Mohammed bin Salman, announced on Wednesday the launch of the Soudah Development Company (SDC) in the Asir region.

The new entity, fully owned by PIF, will lead the development of a luxury mountain destination with immersive cultural experiences. It will be a celebration of natural assets empowering the local and national economies.

Launched to be a key driver of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 ambitions, SDC will infuse SR11 billion ($3 billion) into infrastructure and tourism projects, aimed at enhancing the visitor experience in Soudah and parts of Rijal Alma’a governorate.

The planned developments include 2,700 hotel rooms, 1,300 residential units, and 30 commercial and entertainment attractions.

SDC aims to develop Soudah and Rijal Alma’a into a repeat, year-long sustainable destination for residents and visitors that will contribute an estimated SR29 billion to the Kingdom’s cumulative GDP by 2030.

FASTFACT

Tourism

SDC to collaborate with the private sector to enhance tourism infrastructure with hotel, residential units and commercial and entertainment attractions by 2030.

The company also intends to partner and collaborate with the local community and private sector to build a robust and diverse network of year-long offerings across the hospitality, residential, commercial and entertainment sectors.

It aims to attract more than 2 million visitors annually, targeting adventure-seekers and culture travelers who are looking for one-off experiences. It is also forecast to create 8,000 direct and indirect permanent jobs by 2030.

“Our investment in the Asir region reflects our confidence in the character of the location, which is a rich amalgamation of identity, heritage and experience,” said Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, PIF governor. “Through careful and considerate development, SDC will provide yet another remarkable destination in the diverse and growing portfolio of Saudi Arabian experiences capturing the imagination of a broad range of investors and travelers.”

The fund will inject at least SR150 billion a year into the local economy and aims to grow assets under management to more than SR7 trillion by 2030.

The destination adds another dimension to Saudi Arabia’s ambitious tourism goals, and complements those destinations created on the Red Sea coast and around the capital city of Riyadh.

Preserving the environmental integrity of the destination will be a priority for the SDC, and the development will follow a rigorous regulatory framework and urban planning code.


Saudi unemployment rate drops in Q4 2020

Saudi unemployment rate drops in Q4 2020
Updated 9 min 59 sec ago

Saudi unemployment rate drops in Q4 2020

Saudi unemployment rate drops in Q4 2020
  • Unemployment among young people decreased from 34.2 percent in Q3 2020 to 28 percent in Q4

JEDDAH: The unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia decreased to 12.6 percent in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020, down from 14.9 percent the previous quarter, according to the latest data from the General Authority for Statistics (GaStat).

According to a report by Riyadh-based investment management advisory Jadwa Investment, the decrease in joblessness was due to more women and young people joining the Saudi labor force at the end of 2020.

“The recovery in the labor market has proceeded quicker than we anticipated (with Saudi unemployment at 12.6 percent at the end of 2020, versus our forecast of 14 percent). At the same time, however, the swift recovery reinforces our view that Saudi unemployment will decline to 12.1 percent by the end of 2021,” the Jadwa report said.

Unemployment among young people decreased from 34.2 percent in Q3 2020 to 28 percent in Q4. Among men it declined from 7.9 percent to 7.1, while for women it was down from 30.1 percent to 24.4 percent, across the same period. 

According to GaStat’s numbers, 200,000 new private sector expatriate work visas were issued in Q4, compared to 46,000 in Q3. The sharp increase was largely due to a big increase in female expat visas, which increased by 181,000 in Q4 compared to just 4,000 in Q3.

Across the various sectors, public administration and accommodation and food services recorded the largest increase in employment among Saudi nationals and expat workers.

“That said, with the ongoing roll-out of vaccines in the Kingdom, we are expecting a more vigorous economic recovery in the second half of 2021, which, along with ongoing localization efforts (such as the recent
Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development decision to raise the level of Saudization in shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants and coffee shops), will help create more employment opportunities for citizens,” Jadwa said in its report.


PIF’s Noon launches Ramadan drive to help poor families

PIF’s Noon launches Ramadan drive to help poor families
Updated 13 min 46 sec ago

PIF’s Noon launches Ramadan drive to help poor families

PIF’s Noon launches Ramadan drive to help poor families
  • The project runs until May 12

RIYADH: Noon, an online platform backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar, have teamed up with a charity to let online shoppers donate food to needy families during Ramadan.

Noon Daily, which is Noon.com’s grocery website, will partner with Bunyan Women’s Charitable Association for the initiative. 

The project runs until May 12.

Kaushik Mukherjee, senior vice president of customer experience and seller operations at Noon, said: “We’re proud to work with Bunyan to help our customers and team more easily contribute to people in need. Noon Daily will pack and ship Ramadan donation bundles purchased by customers and our own employees to Bunyan throughout the holy month. Thousands of families and frontline workers across the country will benefit from the food parcels distributed by the charity, and we couldn’t be happier to provide a service that helps bridge the donation process between customers and the community.”

Bunyan Women’s Charitable Association was established in 2011 with the aim of improving the physical and social conditions of poor families by assisting them through significant charity initiatives.

Noon was launched in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in Dec. 2017, and in Egypt in Feb. 2019. 

With an initial investment of $1 billion and working from headquarters in Riyadh, Noon said in 2016 that it aimed to expand online sales in the region from 2 percent of the total retail market ($3 billion) to 15 percent ($70 billion) within a decade.


Chalhoub Group organizes Ramadan initiatives

Chalhoub Group organizes Ramadan initiatives
Updated 17 min 51 sec ago

Chalhoub Group organizes Ramadan initiatives

Chalhoub Group organizes Ramadan initiatives
  • Employees from the group will also be able to participate in the “mychalhoub” Eid initiative for orphans

JEDDAH: Luxury retailer the Chalhoub Group has launched a number of initiatives for Ramadan.

The company launched the Chalhoub Impact program before Ramadan, in which about 200 food packages were distributed to the poor through the office of the mayor in Old Jeddah District.

Employees from the group will also be able to participate in the “mychalhoub” Eid initiative for orphans. 

Level Shoes, the group’s designer footwear and accessories operation, will run a social media campaign to donate Ramadan meals. MUSE, the group’s loyalty program, in collaboration with the Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, will donate 1,000 iftar meals to those in need.

“The holy month of Ramadan is the season for giving and an important opportunity to make a difference to the community,” Bachar Sabbagh, managing director, KSA, at Chalhoub Group, said in a press statement.


Egypt’s non-oil exports rise to $7.4bn in Q1 2021

Egypt’s non-oil exports rise to $7.4bn in Q1 2021
Updated 24 min 55 sec ago

Egypt’s non-oil exports rise to $7.4bn in Q1 2021

Egypt’s non-oil exports rise to $7.4bn in Q1 2021
  • Trade deficit also decreased by 1 percent to $9.5 billion in the same period

CAIRO: Egypt’s non-oil exports rose 7.2 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, reaching $7.4 billion, said Trade and Industry Minister Nevin Jameh.

“This tangible increase came despite the current circumstances related to the coronavirus crisis that the whole world is suffering from, thanks to the efforts made by the government to support the production and export sectors during the crisis,” she added.

Egyptian imports saw a slight increase in the first quarter of 2021 to $16.9 billion, compared to $16.67 billion in the same period last year.

Jameh said these positive indicators contributed to achieving a 1 percent decrease in the trade balance deficit to $9.5 billion, compared to $9.6 billion in the same period last year.

Ismail Jaber, head of the General Organization for Export and Import Control, said the chemical products and fertilizer sectors dominated Egypt’s export list in the first quarter of 2021.

Exports of chemical products and fertilizers amounted to $1.5 billion, building materials $1.3 billion, food industries $965 million, and engineering and electronic goods $739 million.

FASTFACTS

• Chemical products and fertilizer sectors dominated Egypt’s export list in the first quarter of 2021.

• Egypt’s top export destinations were China ($3.1 billion), the US ($1.49 billion), Germany ($970 million), Russia ($855 million) and Italy ($689 million).

• These five countries accounted for 42.1 percent of Egyptian imports.

Jaber said Egypt’s top export destinations were China ($3.1 billion), the US ($1.49 billion), Germany ($970 million), Russia ($855 million) and Italy ($689 million). These five countries, he added, accounted for 42.1 percent of Egyptian imports.

Egypt is expecting economic growth of 5.4 percent in the next fiscal year 2021/2022, up from 3.3 percent expected in 2020/2021.

The country recently approved its budget, which aims to reduce the country’s deficit and focuses on pushing social protection efforts, improving citizens’ standard of living, increasing wage allocations and rewards for workers, and financing grant incentives and transportation allowances for workers transferred to the New Administrative Capital.

The proceeds of budget revenues are likely to reach about EGP1.3 trillion  ($80 billion), according to estimates for the next fiscal year 2020/2021, compared to expected revenues of EGP1.117 trillion during the current fiscal year.

The estimates reflect an annual growth in revenues of 16.4 percent, achieved by expanding the tax base, activating electronic payments, expanding the use of modern methods of risk management, collecting government revenues and working to increase linking the proceeds to economic activity.


From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla Berlin plant

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla Berlin plant
Updated 33 min 6 sec ago

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla Berlin plant

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla Berlin plant
  • The extra demand could place a huge burden on a region already affected by water shortages

BERLIN: In the green forest outside Berlin, a battle is playing out between electric carmaker Tesla and environmental campaigners who want to stop its planned “gigafactory.”

“When I saw on TV that the Tesla factory was going to be built here, I could not believe it,” said Steffen Schorch.

The 60-year-old from Erkner village in the Berlin commuter belt has become one of the faces of the fight against the US auto giant’s first European factory, due to open in the Brandenburg region near Berlin in July. “Tesla needs far too much water, and the region does not have this water,” said the environmental activist, a local representative of the Nabu ecologist campaign group.

Announced in November 2019, Tesla’s gigafactory project was warmly welcomed as an endorsement of the “Made in Germany” quality mark — but was immediately met with opposition from local residents.

Demonstrations, legal action, open letters — residents have done everything in their power to delay the project, supported by powerful environmental campaign groups Nabu and Gruene Liga.

Tesla was forced to temporarily suspend forest clearing last year after campaigners won an injunction over threats to the habitats of resident lizards and snakes during their winter slumber.

And now they have focused their attention on water consumption — which could reach up to 3.6 million cubic meters a year, or around 30 percent of the region’s available supply, according to the ZDF public broadcaster.

The extra demand could place a huge burden on a region already affected by water shortages and hit by summer droughts for the past three years.

Local residents and environmentalists are also concerned about the impact on the wetlands, an important source of biodiversity in the region. “The water situation is bad, and will get worse,” Heiko Baschin, a spokesman for the neighborhood association IG Freienbrink, told AFP.

Brandenburg’s Environment Minister Axel Vogel sought to play down the issue, saying in March that “capacity has not been exceeded for now.”

But the authorities admit that “the impact of droughts is significant” and have set up a working group to examine the issue in the long term.

The gigafactory is set to sprawl over 300 hectares — equivalent to approximately 560 football fields — southwest of the German capital.

Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year at the plant, which will also be home to “the largest battery factory in the world,” according to group boss Elon Musk.