Uber to launch new services in Saudi Arabia later this year

Uber to launch new services in Saudi Arabia later this year
Uber has been hiring female drivers in Saudi Arabia for more than two years. (AN photo)
Short Url
Updated 29 April 2021

Uber to launch new services in Saudi Arabia later this year

Uber to launch new services in Saudi Arabia later this year
  • Saudi passengers will be able to book Ubers 30 days in advance
  • Uber's Hourly service is also due to launch in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Uber users in Saudi Arabia will soon be able to book rides up to 30 days in advance and reserve cars for an hour or more at a time, the company announced on Wednesday.

As part of a wide range of new product launches, the Californian ride-hailing app has launched the Uber Reserve function, allowing customers to give up to 30 days’ notice of ride reservations.

This is aimed primarily at those arriving at airports, and as part of the booking users can insert their flight details so drivers know if the flight has been delayed or what time the passenger is scheduled to arrive at their destination.

While a specific timeframe for the roll out of the service was not given, Uber said in a press statement that Saudi Arabia would be among the first international markets to receive the service later this year.

“We’re making the reservations experience even more affordable by expanding Reserve to UberX in hundreds of US cities and towns, and in more places nationwide this summer.

“And as travel returns, we’re launching Reserve in cities like Paris and London, as well as 20-plus of the country’s busiest airports later this year … including Saudi Arabia,” the company said on its website.

Flights were grounded in the Kingdom in March 2020. Domestic traffic resumed at the end of May and international flights are due to restart on May 17.

Uber on Wednesday also launched its Hourly function, where users can book a car by the hour if they have multiple stops or trips throughout the day and want to keep the same car and driver on standby.

The service is currently available in the US and while it will soon be available in international markets, including Saudi Arabia, no exact timeframe was given.

“Today Hourly on Uber Black (and Premier) is available in more than 1,000 US cities and towns. And we’re bringing Hourly to UberX and to thousands of new cities across the US, Europe, Latin America, Australia, India, and Saudi Arabia late this summer,” a statement on the Uber website said.

The San Francisco-based company also announced it was adding valet delivery of rental cars to its new product range.

As part of the partnership with Avis Budget Group Inc., Hertz, and other vehicle rental agencies, Uber app users will be able to book a rental car and the vehicle will delivered to them and then returned once they are finished using it.

The company is also expanding its Uber Easts food delivery service to include a wider variety of items and allowing users to order and pick up items at retail outlets during their ride.

Uber has also partnered in the US with Walgreens to allow users to book a vaccine appointment and take an Uber to the pharmacy to get their jab.

It is not clear if, or when, any of the Uber delivery or vaccine services will be launched in Saudi Arabia or the wider Middle East. An Uber spokesperson did not rule out the possibility of rolling out the list of new services through Careem, the Dubai-based app Uber bought for around $3 billion in 2019.

“Our goal is to bring as many of these products to as many people as possible globally, whether that’s through integration with Careem or we figure out another platform integration to do so more broadly,” Steve Imm, Uber’s communications spokesperson, told Arab News.

“Our goal is to do that, as far as global expansion goes ... but I think, in terms of those markets mentioned (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the wider Middle East), they’re absolutely something that we’re thinking about and continue to focus on for future goal expansion and will have more to share in the future,” he added.

A Careem spokesperson told Arab News: “There are no plans at this stage for Careem to introduce any of the products mentioned in Uber’s announcement. Uber and Careem will continue working closely together, sharing relevant product development plans with each other. Any future product updates will be announced by Careem in due course.”


Oil hits top price in 3 years as global recovery gathers pace

Oil hits top price in 3 years as global recovery gathers pace
Updated 28 September 2021

Oil hits top price in 3 years as global recovery gathers pace

Oil hits top price in 3 years as global recovery gathers pace
  • Analysts forecast higher demand for oil as the global economy recovered from the pandemic downturn more quickly than expected

DUBAI: The price of oil surged on Monday to within a few cents of $80 a barrel, its highest level for nearly three years, as traders reassessed their outlook for global economic recovery amid tightening crude supply.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, ended the day at $79.60 a barrel — a 90 per cent rise in the last year — and analysts forecast higher demand for oil as the global economy recovered from the pandemic downturn more quickly than expected.
Damien Courvalin, commodities analyst at US bank Goldman Sachs, said: “While we have long held a bullish oil view, the current global oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected.” Global demand recovery from the impact of the coronavirus delta variant had been faster than previous estimates, he said, and Goldman raised its year-end forecast by $10 to $90 per barrel.
Christian Malek of JP Morgan restated his forecast of $100 per barrel as all commodities go through a “supercycle” in prices. “The oil supercycle is underway,” he said.
The recovery in oil prices from last spring has been in part driven by improving economic conditions around the world, but also to the action taken by OPEC+ — the alliance of producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia — to curb supplies when demand was weak.
Although OPEC+ has begun to reverse the cuts, with an extra 400,000 barrels per month allowed until Dec. 2022, Goldman said the oil market would be in “structural deficit” again in 2023 as demand exceeded supply and investment remained low.
Despite the increased OPEC+ output quotas, some big producers have found it difficult to meet the new limits and give the global market all it needs. Saudi Arabia, with the biggest spare capacity in OPEC+, will probablybe a big winner from rising prices and output.
Gas shortages in Europe and elsewhere are also likely to give a boost to oil prices. “Winter demand risks are further now squarely skewed to the upside as to the global gas shortage will increase oil-fired power generation,” Goldman said.
The next OPEC+ meeting will decide whether to stick to the agreed 400,000 increase, but faces a conundrum if prices continue to rise. Some energy experts believe US shale oil could be on the cusp of a resurgence that could eat into OPEC+ market share.
West Texas Intermediate, the US standard, rose above $75 a barrel yesterday, a level many producers will regard as sufficient to justify resuming drilling.


Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap

Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap
Updated 27 September 2021

Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap

Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap

RIYADH: Oil prices rose on Monday for a fifth straight day, with Brent at its highest since October 2018 and heading for $80, as investors fretted about tighter supplies because of rising demand in parts of the world.

Brent crude was up $1.44, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $79.53 a barrel, having posted three straight weeks of gains. US crude futures rose $1.47, or 2 percent, to settle at $75.45 a barrel, its highest since July, after rising for a fifth straight week.

Goldman Sachs raised by $10 its year-end forecast for Brent crude to $90 per barrel. Global supplies have tightened due to the fast recovery of fuel demand from the outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus and Hurricane Ida's hit to US production.

“While we have long held a bullish oil view, the current global supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above-consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts,” Goldman said.

Caught short by the demand rebound, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, known as OPEC+, have had difficulty raising output as underinvestment or maintenance delays persist from the pandemic.

Global oil demand is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by early next year as the economy recovers, although spare refining capacity could weigh on the outlook, producers and traders said at an industry conference.

Global demand is seen rising to 100 million barrels per day by the end of 2021 or in the first quarter of 2022, Hess Corp President Greg Hill said. The world consumed 99.7 million bpd of oil in 2019, according to the IEA, before the COVID-19 pandemic hammered economic activities and fuel demand.

In India, oil imports hit a three-month peak in August, rebounding from nearly one-year lows touched in July, as refiners in the second-biggest importer of crude stocked up in anticipation of higher demand.


Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market


Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market

Updated 27 September 2021

Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market


Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market

  • TASI gains 0.1 percent to 11,369 points
  • Tadawul ends session in green zone for second consecutive season

RIYADH: The Saudi stock market ended Monday’s session in the green zone for the second consecutive session. 

The Tadawul All Share Index edged up 0.1 percent with fertilizers maker SABIC Agri-Nutrients increasing 6.7 percent and its parent company, Saudi Basic Industries, advancing 2.2 percent.

Despite the rise, banking shares kept the market under pressure. The general index closed trading at 11,369 points.

Liquidity in Tadawul amounted to about SR8.1 billion.

Shares of stc declined by 19 percent, Al-Rajhi Bank’s shares decreased by 0.3 percent, and Riyad Bank shares were down 1.5 percent.

Nomu, the parallel market index, decreased by 1020.82 points, or 4.09 percent, to close at 23923.37 points. Liquidity amounted to about SR152.5 million.

“The Saudi (stock) market is still maintaining its upward trajectory,” Mohammed Al-Omran, head of the Gulf Center for Financial Consultancy, told Arab News.

“We also noticed strong gains today and yesterday in petrochemical companies, whether in high shares or liquidity, and the reason is due to the energy crisis in the world in recent days. Due to these concerns, we are witnessing a rise in the prices of petrochemical companies,” he added.

On Monday, Emaar EC gained 3.6 percent to SR13.7 with over 21 million shares exchanging hands. On Sept. 26, shareholders approved the board’s recommendation to increase capital through converting SR2.83 billion debt owed by the company to the Public Investment Fund.

Six of the 21 market sectors rose, led by basic materials 2.1 percent, commercial and professional services 0.7 percent, and consumer services 0.4 percent.

The biggest gainers on Monday were Gas (21 percent), SABIC Agri-Nutrients (6.7 percent), Fitness Time (5.9 percent), Kayan (4.8 percent), Sipchem (4.7 percent), and Replay (4.4 percent).

 


Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm

Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm
Updated 27 September 2021

Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm

Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm

RIYADH: Sahara International Petrochemical Co. on Monday began supplying hydrogen to Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery Co., Argaam reported citing the company’s bourse filing.

The company attributed the delay in completing the project to the coronavirus pandemic, which further delayed the process of receiving equipment, thus resulting in productivity loss in construction.

The financial impact of this agreement will reflect on the company’s fourth quarter of 2021 financial results.

The agreement will enhance Sipchem’s presence as a reliable supplier in hydrogen production and open up many areas for the company in the gas industry.

According to data compiled by Argaam, Sipchem signed in May 2019 an agreement with SASREF to supply hydrogen gas for a period of 20 years.


Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister

Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister
Updated 27 September 2021

Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister

Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is considering introducing new rules to facilitate and encourage the culture of continued education, said Saudi Education Minister Hamad Al-Alsheikh.

He was addressing a conference in Riyadh on Monday launched under the auspices of the Human Capability Development Program, which was recently launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The program’s strategy will be built on three pillars: Developing a resilient and strong educational base, preparing for the future labor market locally and globally, and providing lifelong learning opportunities.

The education minister said the government is taking measures to ensure that graduates find suitable openings in relevant field within 12 months of their graduation.

He also said by 2030 the Saudization percentage in high-skilled positions will increase to 40 percent.

Referring to the national capability development plan, the minister said it aims to develop a guidance system for high school students to help them make career choices based on their aptitudes.

He said efforts are underway to introduce regulations to attract global educational institutions in the Kingdom, which will boost competition between the local and foreign universities.

Ahmad Al-Faheed, governor of the Technical and Vocational Training Corp., said the government in partnership with the private sector will design training programs to increase employment rates and enhance competitiveness among Saudi graduates.

Minister of Human Resources Ahmed Al-Rajhi said that a primary goal of the program is to match talent with demand in the market, and in case of failure of matching candidates with available jobs, the program will upgrade their skills.

Industry Minister Bandar Alkhorayef said the aim of the program launched by the Saudi crown prince is to transform the Kingdom’s industrial sector along modern lines. He said the Kingdom has no dearth of talent and the local companies have the potential to compete with their global counterparts.

The minister stressed the importance of adopting modern technology for strong industrial growth.