Japan steps up marketing push to win back Saudi tourists

Landscape of Mount Fuji at Lake Kawaguchiko, one of Fuji Five Lakes Area, Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi, Japan. (Shutterstock photo)
Landscape of Mount Fuji at Lake Kawaguchiko, one of Fuji Five Lakes Area, Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi, Japan. (Shutterstock photo)
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Updated 13 May 2021

Japan steps up marketing push to win back Saudi tourists

Japan steps up marketing push to win back Saudi tourists
  • The number of tourists from GCC countries who have visited Japan has doubled in the last five years

RIYADH: Prior to the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Japan had witnessed a surge in the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia, and the country’s tourism board is keen to revitalize this once international travel resumes on May 17.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), a total of 11,152 Saudi tourists visited the East Asian country in 2019, a year-on-year surge of 50.6 percent.

However, due to global travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic, Tomoko Kikuchi, executive director of the JNTO’s Dubai Preparation Office, told Arab News the numbers declined rapidly last year.

“Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, the number decreased more than 90 percent in 2020. We do not expect it to recover soon, but we hope to return to 2019 levels at the soonest,” she said. 




Tomoko Kikuchi

In a bid to revive interest from visitors in the region, the JNTO has put in place a strategy to raise visitor numbers to their pre-pandemic levels.

As part of its goal to attract 60 million international visitors per year by 2030, the JNTO announced in April that it is planning to establish a regional office in Dubai and to exhibit at the Arabian Travel Market, the Middle East’s largest tourism exhibition, which starts in Dubai on May 16.

The number of tourists from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries who have visited Japan has doubled in the last five years, reaching 28,222 in 2019.

With Saudi visitors making up nearly 40 percent of GCC visitors before the pandemic, the JNTO partnered with global travel and tourism sales and marketing firm AVIAREPS Middle East to promote Japan in the Saudi market.

“Many travelers from Saudi Arabia visit Tokyo and Kyoto to enjoy the unique cityscapes that fuse traditional and contemporary culture, to try Japanese food and to do some shopping, but there are many other attractive aspects to Japan. Nature is abundant, and you can enjoy the beach in the summer and skiing in the winter. We would like to promote various Japanese tourist attractions in the Saudi market this year,” Kikuchi said.

“It is great to know that vaccinated Saudi citizens will be allowed to travel overseas from May 17. When the COVID-19 situation improves internationally and domestically in Japan, we would like to welcome tourists from Saudi Arabia,” she added.


IHC’s Alpha Dhabi to list on ADX with $2.72bn paid-in-capital

IHC’s Alpha Dhabi to list on ADX with $2.72bn paid-in-capital
Updated 8 min 53 sec ago

IHC’s Alpha Dhabi to list on ADX with $2.72bn paid-in-capital

IHC’s Alpha Dhabi to list on ADX with $2.72bn paid-in-capital
  • Abu Dhabi IPO slated for June 27

ABU DHABI: Alpha Dhabi Holding (ADH) announced its intention to proceed with an IPO and listing of its ordinary shares on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) on Sunday 27th June with 10 billion Emirati dirhams ($2.72 billion) paid-in capital, WAM reported.

The offering is expected to involve a sale of existing shares to individuals and other investors in the UAE and to qualified institutional and other investors.

“We have made the journey to become a public company in a way that’s going to have a positive reflection on our growth plan, and as a public company we will have a stronger capital structure to invest in additional verticals, expand commercially and accelerate growth both organically and through acquisitions,” said ADH Chairman Mohamed Thani Murshed Al Rumaithi.

IHC acquired a 45 percent stake purchase in ADH in April.

“We invested in Alpha Dhabi in early 2021 and we have used our sector experience to reorganize, integrate and transform Alpha Dhabi into a leading UAE holding company with special focus on construction and hospitality,” said Syed Basar Shueb, CEO IHC.

“The business is growing fast, highlighted by the 30 percent jump in first quarter revenue and gaining a listing on a major stock exchange will enhance its already strong platform and reputation. We are delighted to have supported its management team to deliver on its Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange IPO,” he said.

Incorporated in 2013, Alpha Dhabi operates across five industries, including health care, construction and hospitality. The company’s investment portfolio, local and international, includes 25 subsidiaries and 40,000 employees active in different fields.


Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space
Updated 7 min 58 sec ago

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space

Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly people to space
  • Company completed its first manned space flight from its home port in New Mexico in May
  • SpaceShipTwo craft can hold six passengers

WASHINGTON: Billionaire Richard Branson’s spaceship company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. said on Friday it received approval from the US aviation safety regulator to fly people to space, following a successful test flight last month.

Virgin Galactic completed its first manned space flight from its new home port in New Mexico in May, as its SpaceShipTwo craft, which can hold six passengers, glided to a landing on a runway safely with its two pilots.
The approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) comes at a critical time for Branson as his space venture faces competition from Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
“Today’s approval by the FAA...give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer,” Virgin Galactic Chief Executive Officer Michael Colglazier said in a statement.
Virgin Galactic has about 600 people who have paid deposits and are waiting to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth at a cost of $250,000 each.
The craft will take off from a dedicated spaceport in the New Mexico desert in the US.
Branson is expected to take one of the flights this summer.


PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance

PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance
Updated 25 June 2021

PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance

PIF appoints former Samba CEO as head of compliance
  • Rania Nashar was a senior advisor to the governor since January

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) said it appointed Rania Nashar, former CEO of Samba Financial Group, as its head of compliance and governance, Al Arabiya reported.

Nashar joined the fund as a senior adviser to its governor, Yasir Al Rumayyan, in January of this year. She brings with her more than two decades of experience in the banking sector.

PIF recently announced the appointment of Eyas Al-Dossari and Omar Al-Madhi as senior directors to its MENA investments division, and Abdullah Shaker as senior director to its Global Capital Finance Division.

The fund said this month that it had created the position of deputy governor to support the fund’s continued growth and expansion.

Saudi Arabia’s $430 billion PIF is one of the largest and most influential sovereign wealth funds in the world, and the main driver that supports the economic transformation of the Kingdom in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.

PIF has increased its employees from 40 in 2016 to more than 1,100 employees today.


Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA

Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA
Updated 25 June 2021

Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA

Digital banks in Saudi Arabia to reduce costs and stimulate competition — SAMA
  • The new lenders will rank 12th and 13th in the Kingdom in terms of capital

RIYADH: Digital banks licensed in Saudi Arabia will help improve the quality and user experience for customers in the Kingdom, supporting innovation and reducing costs, said Yazeed Alsheikh, director for general of banking control at Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).

This will directly contribute to stimulating competition with local banks and financial technology companies, he told Al Eqtisadiah paper.

The Saudi Cabinet gave its nod to the Kingdom’s finance minister to issue licenses for the country’s first digital banks, STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

STC Pay will be converted into a local digital bank, STC Bank, with capital of SR2.5 billion. A second lender, Saudi Digital Bank, will be formed by investors led by Abdul Rahman bin Saad Al-Rashed and Sons Company with capital of SR1.5 billion.

There is a difference between financial technology companies and digital banks, Alsheikh said.

“The financial technology companies are based mainly on innovation in the use of technology for a specific activity, and providing a specific financial product or service to the target segment of beneficiaries, through digital platforms or smart applications,” Al Sheikh said.

“Digital banks’ concept is broader and more comprehensive in providing Integrated banking products and services, such as accepting deposits, financing and other banking services through digital channels exclusively, and have different regulatory and supervisory requirements,” he said.

The two new digital banks in Saudi Arabia will rank 12th and 13th among the national banks operating in the Kingdom in terms of capital, once they obtain the final license to operate.


Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021
Updated 25 June 2021

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021

Suspected cases of corporate collusion in Saudi Arabia surge in 2021
  • Cases investigated rises to 86 in 2021 from 55 in 2020
  • Value of cases more than SR1 billion

RIYADH: Cases of suspected collusion in tenders being investigated by the Saudi General Authority for Competition (GAC) rose to 86 in 2021, up from 55 last year and 15 in 2019, Al Arabiya reported.

The value of projects being investigated in the Kingdom amounted to more than SR1 billion ($267 million), Abdulaziz Alzoom, governor of GAC, said in a statement.

In a previous statement, GAC said it had started investigations, research and gathering of evidence with a number of establishments, based on communications it had received from other authorities, and complaints from individuals and companies.