Tata Group sets sights on KSA expansion with new luxury hotel

Tata Group sets sights on KSA expansion with new luxury hotel
Tata’s interests in the region include information technology and telecoms through Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Communications Ltd. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 31 March 2021

Tata Group sets sights on KSA expansion with new luxury hotel

Tata Group sets sights on KSA expansion with new luxury hotel
  • Indian conglomerate has been in MENA region for 50 years having combined revenues of more than $3bn

RIYADH: Indian multinational conglomerate Tata is looking to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia, starting with a new luxury hotel.

The group’s Taj brand of hotels, which promotes itself as offering “a fusion of warm Indian hospitality and world-class service,” has already become established in the cut-throat Dubai market with two hotels in operation in the UAE city and two more under development.

Sunil Sinha, Tata’s resident director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, revealed that a fifth hotel was now on the way in Saudi Arabia, with a number of other locations being looked at for future expansion.

“A 340-room luxury development is coming up in Makkah and is slated to open in 2022. With the focus on tourism and development such as the Red Sea (luxury destination project), NEOM, and Qiddiya, there is a lot of opportunity for us to expand our hospitality brand as an operator in this region,” he told Arab News.

Tata has had a MENA presence for more than 50 years, operating through 24 companies in eight sectors which employ in excess of 10,000 workers and have combined revenues of at least $3 billion.

The group’s interests in the region include information technology and telecoms through Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Communications Ltd., respectively, automotive with Tata Motors and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), infrastructure run by its Voltas enterprise, Tata Consulting Engineers, and Tata Projects, and consumer and retail through Titan watches, and the Tetley and Tata Tea brands.

“We are also pleased to count the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Saudi Aramco, STC, SABIC, SEC, Riyadh Metro, NCB, Al Rajhi, NWC, GE, Ma’aden, Saudia, and Panda among our customers,” said Sinha. 




Sunil Sinha

Despite the group’s numerous successes in the region, the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has presented a challenge for Tata employees, customers, and businesses alike.

Sinha pointed out that the impact of the global health crisis was evident in the holding group’s revenues for financial year 2019-2020 which were down by $7 billion on financial year 2018-2019 across its operations in more than 100 countries.

However, he praised the group’s leadership for taking swift and decisive action when the pandemic hit that avoided the need for immediate layoffs.

“We set up daily calls, monitored what was happening in each part of our operations and quickly scrambled all our resources to figure out how we could help our communities as well. People were our highest priority. Employees were given full flexibility to work from home or any other safe environment,” he added.

He noted that Tata also introduced several initiatives to help its more than 750,000 employees around the world.

“Apart from financial aid, supporting our front-line care givers, and sourcing of essential supplies, we also helped build digital and physical infrastructure to support this fight. We were one of the first enterprises to announce a large financial assistance package of $200 million-plus in support of the fight against the virus.

“All employees of the group also contributed a day’s salary, and actual financial help far exceeded our earlier commitment,” he said.

In terms of further expansion into the MENA region, Sinha added that while most of the group’s large businesses were already present in the Middle East, it saw emerging opportunities in many areas, namely technology and telecoms, hospitality, infrastructure, consumer and retail, and aerospace and defense.

“With focus on the Saudi government toward Indian suppliers as a strategic partner, we are keen to service the requirements of the country with our integrated solutions in this space,” he said.

Two areas targeted for particular development were retail and transport. “We already distribute our watches under the Titan brand, beverages under the Tata Tea, Kanan Devan, and Tetley brands, and foods under the Tata Salt and Tata Sampann brands in most GCC countries and will expand part of these businesses in the region,” he added.

Tata Motors Group, which consists of JLR and Tata Motors, is a major player in the Kingdom. Since 2009, JLR has been represented by the importer Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Co. LLC, with showrooms and service centers in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Alkhobar.

“Our two new launches, I-Pace and the Defender, have received a great initial response and we look forward to the success of these launches,” Sinha said.

At the same time, Tata Motors has more than 10,000 vehicles currently on Saudi roads and is a dominant player in the staff and school bus segment, while the company also sees potential development in pickups and heavy trucks, especially as the Kingdom pushes ahead with its massive infrastructure and megaprojects development program.


Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees

Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees
Updated 6 min 23 sec ago

Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees

Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees
  • Red Sea project will have 50 hotels
  • First guests to be welcomed next year

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development Company is building accommodation for some 14,000 people working on the mega project.
It signed a contract with Contracting & Construction Enterprises (CCE), to design and construct the infrastructure for the staff city, Al Eqtisadiah reported.
The contractor will also help to develop infrastructure designed to reduce carbon emissions.
The project will include the construction of roads, van lanes, pedestrian and cyclists’ paths, as well as the excavation and construction of central facilities.
The road and track network will be dedicated to sustainable transportation, the report said.
Lighting will also be designed to reduce energy consumption in line with the Red Sea Dark Skies Program.
The Red Sea project will consist of some 50 hotels providing up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties spread over 22 islands and six indoor sites, upon completion in 2030.
The project aims to receive its first guests next year as a new airport and the first of the planned hotels come online.
The new staff accommodation will welcome employees by the second quarter of 2021, the newspaper said.


Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles
Updated 41 min 37 sec ago

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles
  • The latest IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlights a surge in input price inflation in recent weeks

LONDON: Global product shortages are starting to push up prices as consumers are forced to pay more and wait longer for everyday items.

The latest IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlights a surge in input price inflation in recent weeks “driven by mounting input shortages, restocking efforts by companies and an intensification of global supply delays.” It reported the largest rise in prices in the emirate in 28 months.

It is part of a global trend as the world’s manufacturing engines struggle to keep pace with accelerating consumer demand pushing up prices from hardware stores to garages.

Builders merchants from the US and Europe have started to flag shortages of materials that are already adding to the cost of new homes.

The UK’s Builders Merchants Federation and the Construction Products Association have warned that building material shortages are likely to get worse, especially for timber, steel and roof products.

They said concrete tiles are now taking as long as 36 weeks to be delivered, forcing some projects to be redesigned to use products in better supply.

Timber prices are also being driven by surging demand from the US construction sector, where prices have already jumped by around 150 percent over the last year.

Containers that previously cost $2,100 at this time last year are now costing between $15,000 and $30,000, the trade bodies said.

The Gulf states, which rely heavily on imports that arrive in such containers, are feeling the impact as prices climb and delivery times lengthen.

“We are seeing supply constraints impact on economic activity, and it is also impacting on inflation,” Doug Bitcon, Rasmala Investment Bank’s head of credit strategies, told Bloomberg TV on Monday.

He shared his experience of trying to buy a set of new tires for his vehicle in Dubai this weekend. He was only able to source a set made in 2020 but still had to pay full price.

“This is just one example of the supply constraints you are seeing in the PMI numbers for Dubai,” he said. “This is just the start of what we are going to see in economies around the world.”

China factory gate prices are now running at more than a two-year-high according to March data, while the latest US inflation data is expected on Tuesday.

“We are set to see the first evidence of the much anticipated surge in inflation that is widely expected through the coming months as base effects from a year ago begin to take effect as the sharp declines post-COVID start to fall out of the annual calculations,” said MUFG analysts.


Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
Updated 12 April 2021

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
  • Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams
  • Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying

DUBAI: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has announced three new routes connecting the UAE capital to Belgrade, Sohag and Luxor.
Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams, it said on Monday.
"The new connection between the capital of the United Arab Emirates and these three new cities within Europe and the Middle East will continue to stimulate air traffic demand and support the growth of Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector and economic agenda," said Kees Van Schaick, managing director of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.
Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is a joint venture between ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies and Wizz Air Holdings, the fastest growing European airline which operates a fleet of 137 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.


Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
Updated 12 April 2021

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
  • Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic

Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar is to lead a new digital bank set to be launched soon in the UAE.

Zand is being billed as “the world’s first combined digital corporate and retail bank” and is currently going through final approvals ahead of its launch, according to an announcement issued on Monday.

Alabbar is the founder of Emaar Properties — the Dubai developer behind The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa — and also teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to launch the Noon online shopping platform in 2017. As part of his latest venture, he will take on the role of chairman of Zand.

“The UAE combines progressive regulations with commercial, financial, and technology hubs. This provides the perfect environment for a world-leading digital bank that can launch in the UAE and scale beyond,” Alabbar said in a statement.

“As the first fully independent digital bank in the country, with a full UAE banking license, Zand will provide innovative, effective financial solutions that help simplify businesses and lives, addressing the needs of both retail and corporate customers.”

Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic, which made it harder to get to a physical bank branch.

A survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last October found that 70 percent of respondents said that they are actively searching for a new bank and 87 percent said they would be willing to open an account with a branchless digital-only lender.

The same BCG survey found that 53 percent said that they were using banking mobile apps more often as a result of the pandemic and half of those surveyed had started using digital banking for the first time.

“UAE’s banking customers’ have a strong appetite for digital banks, and we see more growth in the demand of digital products during the pandemic,” Mohammad Khan, partner at BCG, was quoted as saying.


Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
Updated 12 April 2021

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
  • The pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings

RIYADH: Bahrain Bourse is expected to attract two new public offerings this year, its CEO told Asharq Business.
The first is a logistics company and the second an oil company, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, told the website
However, he said that the pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings.
He said that the exchange was focused on easing the entry of investors into the market.
He also highlighted the launch of the Bahrain Bourse environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting guideline for listed companies, in response to rising appetite for such investments from global institutions.
The stock exchange applies the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) to classify listed companies, he said, highlighting continued cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, the largest in the region.
He said the bourse’s main objective was to diversify its investor based which is currently dominated by institutions, unlike some other regional exchanges where individual investors are more strongly represented,
Al-Khalifa pointed to the adoption of new listing rules that better guarantee the rights of investors, including those directed at companies with large accumulated losses.