Stephen Bechtel Jr, construction giant who helped build Jubail, dies aged 95

Stephen Bechtel Jr, construction giant who helped build Jubail, dies aged 95
Bechtel ran one of the biggest names in US construction for 30 years from 1960, during which time he worked on the creation of Jubail Industrial City. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 March 2021

Stephen Bechtel Jr, construction giant who helped build Jubail, dies aged 95

Stephen Bechtel Jr, construction giant who helped build Jubail, dies aged 95
  • The Stanford-educated billionaire worked his way up from a field engineer to become CEO of the company aged 35
  • Jubail was one of Bechtel's best known mega projects

LONDON: Stephen Bechtel Jr., the third-generation heir of the Bechtel construction empire who helped to build Jubail Industrial City, has died aged 95.
Bechtel ran one of the biggest names in US construction for 30 years from 1960, during which time he worked on the creation of Jubail Industrial City, described by the company as one of the biggest civil engineering projects of modern times and a key milestone in the Kingdom’s industrial evolution.
The firm’s sales grew 11-fold, its employee population five-fold, and major projects from 18 to 119 during his tenure, Bechtel said.
He died peacefully at home on Monday.
“My grandfather leaves a remarkable legacy of accomplishment, integrity, excellence, and commitment to customers and communities,” said Brendan Bechtel, the current chairman and chief executive.

The Stanford-educated billionaire worked his way up from a field engineer to become CEO of the company aged 35.

While Bechtel inherited a company that already had an established reputation for delivering massive projects such as the Hoover Dam and the San Francisco Bay Bridge caisson, he extended its operations worldwide.

Jubail was one of Bechtel's best known mega projects. The company was chosen by the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu in the mid-1970s to help plan and deliver the project — transforming what was an old fishing and pearling village to a massive industrial complex that would help the Kingdom and the then fledgling Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) become a global petrochemicals power.
In 2006, Bechtel was invited to manage a further expansion of the city’s industrial and living areas, building residential accommodation for 120,000 people and an 18,000-student ‘greenfield’ university.
His company also worked on the construction of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.


Dubai real-estate transactions surged 43% in March as sector rebounds

Dubai real-estate transactions surged 43% in March as sector rebounds
Updated 1 min 19 sec ago

Dubai real-estate transactions surged 43% in March as sector rebounds

Dubai real-estate transactions surged 43% in March as sector rebounds
RIYADH: Dubai real-estate transactions jumped 43 percent year over year in March 2021 to 6,590 as investors flooded back into the sector.

The value of sales rose 40 percent to 22.9 billion dirhams ($6.2 billion), according to the real estate bulletin issued by Dubai Land Department (DLD), WAM reported. The number of transactions was the second highest monthly total since February 2017.

The bulletin highlighted continued attractiveness of the real estate sector to new investors, with 5,683 entering the market in Q1 2021, representing 64 percent of the total number of investors in the period.

The value of commissions achieved by active real estate brokers reached 392 million dirhams in Q1 2021, while 143,374 renatal contracts were recorded in Q1 2021, 57 percent of which were new contracts and 43 percent were renewed.

The bulletin highlighted the top five areas for investor attractiveness. In villa sales, Hadaeq Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid topped the list in Q1 2021, followed by Wadi Al Safa 5, Wadi Al Safa 7, Nad Al Sheba 1, and Al Thanyah Fourth. In apartment sales, Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah, Business Bay, Burj Khalifa, and Al Merkadh topped the list in Q1 2021.

Sales of luxury villas, sea-view apartments and second-hand family houses jumped in March, re-energizing a property market that saw a sharp fall in activity at the height of the pandemic and had been in a five-year slump prior to that, Reuters reported at the time.

S&P Global credit analyst Sapna Jagtiani does not expect Dubai’s real estate market to recover to pre-pandemic levels until next year, the agency said.

Red Sea Project uses smart light systems as it seeks dark sky accreditation

Red Sea Project uses smart light systems as it seeks dark sky accreditation
Updated 29 min 7 sec ago

Red Sea Project uses smart light systems as it seeks dark sky accreditation

Red Sea Project uses smart light systems as it seeks dark sky accreditation
  • Smart systems help reduce waste and minimize light pollution
  • Red Sea Project wants to be certified by the International Dark Sky Association

RIYADH: All Red Sea Project assets, including resorts, hotels and facilities, run through smart control systems that allow enough light as needed while being careful to save energy consumption and reduce waste, said Myriam Yaniz, director of lighting management at the company.

Red Sea Project is using the technology as it looks to be certified as an International Dark Sky Place by the International Dark Sky Association.

The company reviews different scenarios to know the adequate amount of lighting required during different times of the day and during the different seasons, Yaniz told Al Eqtisadiyah paper, during the World's Earth Day celebration on Thursday.

"At the design stage and during the first meeting of any destination project, our night vision is conveyed to our team of consultants and provided with our list of criteria to ensure that the work is carried out accordingly," she said.

Red Sea Project is a land and property development on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast announced by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in July 2017.


Saudi bank deposit growth accelerated to 11-month high in February

Saudi bank deposit growth accelerated to 11-month high in February
Updated 23 April 2021

Saudi bank deposit growth accelerated to 11-month high in February

Saudi bank deposit growth accelerated to 11-month high in February
  • Bank deposit growth was the fastest since March 2020

RIYADH: Bank deposits in Saudi Arabia grew during February at the fastest pace since March 2020 as the economy continued to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

Deposits reached SR1.96 trillion ($522.5 billion) at the end of February, an increase of 1.83 percent, the most since the previous March’s 1.92 percent gain, Al Eqtisadiah reported, citing SAMA data.

On an annual basis, bank deposits in Saudi Arabia increased by 10.2 percent, or SR180.47 billion. Individual and corporate deposits, which made up 74.6 percent of total deposits, increased by 9.8 percent year over year.

Demand deposits increased 14.2 percent to SR1.29 trillion in the 12 months to the end of February, making up 88 percent of total deposits with savings and foreign deposits accounting for the rest.


Egypt and Russia agree to resume all flights, including to resorts

Egypt and Russia agree to resume all flights, including to resorts
Updated 23 April 2021

Egypt and Russia agree to resume all flights, including to resorts

Egypt and Russia agree to resume all flights, including to resorts
CAIRO: Egypt and Russia have agreed to resume all flights between the two countries in a call between their presidents, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Vladimir Putin, Egypt’s presidency said in a statement.
Flights to resort destinations Sharm Al-Sheikh and Hurghada were suspended after a Russian passenger plane crashed in Sinai in October 2015, killing 224 people.
The Egyptian statement did not specify a timeline for the resumption of flights, but Russia’s Interfax news agency reported this week that flights could resume in the second half of May.
An Airbus A321, operated by Metrojet, had been taking Russian holiday makers home from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg in 2015, when it broke up over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all on board. A group affiliated with Daesh militants claimed responsibility.
The decision to resume flights followed “the joint cooperation between the two sides on this issue, and based on the standards of security and convenience provided for visits at Egyptian tourist destination airports,” the statement said.

Egypt raises domestic fuel prices for first time since subsidy reform

Egypt raises domestic fuel prices for first time since subsidy reform
Updated 23 April 2021

Egypt raises domestic fuel prices for first time since subsidy reform

Egypt raises domestic fuel prices for first time since subsidy reform
RIYADH: Egypt’s price-setting committee raised domestic fuel prices on Friday for the first time since it was formed in October 2019 following the completion of subsidy reforms, the petroleum ministry said in a statement.

Prices were last raised in July 2019 when Egypt, a net oil importer, finished phasing out subsides on fuel products as part of a reform program backed by the International Monetary Fund. Prices had remained stable over the past year after being lowered in April 2020 and October 2019.

The prices of 80-octane, 92-octane, and 95-octane fuel were raised by 0.25 Egyptian pounds each, to 6.25 Egyptian pounds ($0.40), 7.5, and 8.5 pounds per liter, respectively, the statement said.

The pricing committee’s mechanism links energy prices to international markets, and takes into account the exchange rate as well as the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the statement said.

Egypt lowered fuel prices in October 2019 following several rounds of price hikes as part of an austerity program that triggered discontent, including protests against President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.