Global tourism summit begins in Riyadh

Global tourism summit begins in Riyadh
The summit will feature a raft of company chiefs, politicians and other stakeholders from the global aviation, hospitality, travel and tourism business.  (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 May 2021

Global tourism summit begins in Riyadh

Global tourism summit begins in Riyadh
  • The summit will feature a raft of company chiefs, politicians and other stakeholders from the global aviation, hospitality, travel and tourism business.  
  • Saudi Arabia opened up to international tourism in September 2019 and has since announced a number of megaprojects to attract visitors

RIYADH: As the travel and tourism sector begins to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, experts from around the world will convene in Saudi Arabia to discuss how the industry can move forward.

The Tourism Recovery Summit will be hosted in Riyadh on Wednesday, May 26, led by Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, and Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of the UN’s World Tourism Organization.

The summit will feature a raft of company chiefs, politicians and other stakeholders from the global aviation, hospitality, travel and tourism business.  

“As the world continues to navigate its way through the impact of COVID-19, this summit will focus on the core themes that can help lead the way through recovery and beyond for the tourism sector,” the organizers said.

“After the shock of the near-total standstill caused by the impact of COVID-19, the travel and tourism sector has remained steadfast in the face of adversity. As the industry takes the first tentative steps towards recovery against a backdrop of still rising infection rates in some parts of the world and the rollout of the global vaccination program, industry leaders and other stakeholders are looking at the crisis as a moment of reflection to enable the further inclusive and sustainable growth of the sector,” the organisers said.

International travel restarted in the Kingdom on May 17. Last week at the annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), said the fourth quarter of this year could be a turning point for the Kingdom’s tourism industry as the countries that it is targeting reach a 70 percent vaccination rate.

Saudi Arabia opened up to international tourism in September 2019 and has since announced a number of megaprojects to attract visitors, including a $530 million fund to develop key destinations across the Kingdom. Riyadh aims to raise the contribution of its tourism sector to its GDP from 3 percent to 10 percent, in a bid to modernize its economy and veer away from oil dependence.

Market research firm Euromonitor International estimated in March that inbound tourism spending in Saudi Arabia would reach $25.3 billion by 2025, recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Saudi domestic tourism exceeded expectations during the pandemic, despite the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) describing 2020 as “the worst year on record in the history of tourism.”

Figures from the UNWTO in December revealed that destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October, compared with the same period in 2019 — a 72 percent year-on-year slump.

Saudi Arabia is aiming to raise the contribution of its tourism sector to its GDP from 3 percent to 10 percent, in a bid to modernize its economy and veer away from oil dependence.


Pakistani rupee drops to record low at 173.2 against US dollar

Pakistani rupee drops to record low at 173.2 against US dollar
Updated 6 sec ago

Pakistani rupee drops to record low at 173.2 against US dollar

Pakistani rupee drops to record low at 173.2 against US dollar

KARACHI: Pakistan’s rupee hit a record low on Monday of 173.20 in intraday trading against the US dollar before closing at 172.78, below the previous close of 171.18, after reports of a failure of talks with the International Monetary Fund, traders said.

The government's finance ministry on Monday dismissed reports by local media over the weekend that talks from October 4 to 15 for the release of a $1 billion loan tranche were inconclusive.

“Negotiations between Pakistan and IMF are moving forward positively. No timeframe was set at any stage for the conclusion of the talks,” a statement issued by Finance Ministry said.

In June, a similar round of talks between the two sides failed to bring agreement on conditions for the tranche.

“The uncertainty regarding the IMF program after news reports emerged that Pakistan and IMF have failed to agree on certain conditions has resulted in today’s depreciation of rupee,” Atif Zafar, chief economist and director at Topline Securities told Reuters.


Enterprise software firm Informatica eyes nearly $9bn valuation in U.S. IPO

Enterprise software firm Informatica eyes nearly $9bn valuation in U.S. IPO
Getty Images
Updated 31 min ago

Enterprise software firm Informatica eyes nearly $9bn valuation in U.S. IPO

Enterprise software firm Informatica eyes nearly $9bn valuation in U.S. IPO
  • The company said it will be selling 29 million shares priced between $29 and $32 per share

Enterprise software developer Informatica Inc said on Monday it was seeking a valuation of up to $9 billion at the top end of its price range in its U.S. initial public offering.


The company said it will be selling 29 million shares priced between $29 and $32 per share. At the top end of that range, the IPO will rake in $928 million in proceeds.


Redwood City, California-based Informatica, which follows a subscription-based model, was taken private by a consortium that included private equity firm Permira Advisers Ltd and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.


Goldman Sachs & Co and J.P. Morgan are the lead underwriters for the IPO. 


Qatar signs comprehensive air transport agreement with EU 

Qatar signs comprehensive air transport agreement with EU 
Updated 31 min 1 sec ago

Qatar signs comprehensive air transport agreement with EU 

Qatar signs comprehensive air transport agreement with EU 

CAIRO: Qatar signed an air transport agreement with the EU on Monday, the Gulf country’s Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim Said Ahmed Al-Sulaiti said. 

The agreement, which was finalized in Luxembourg, will provide airlines with easy access to markets, with fewer restrictions, and has replaced existing bilateral agreements.

“The agreement is a testimony to Qatar's notable profile in air transportation and that the national carrier has such an active role around the world,” Al-Sulaiti said.


ECZA, SIDF, Emaar EC signs deal to develop KAEC’s ‘Land and Loan’ program

ECZA, SIDF, Emaar EC signs deal to develop KAEC’s ‘Land and Loan’ program
Updated 43 min 37 sec ago

ECZA, SIDF, Emaar EC signs deal to develop KAEC’s ‘Land and Loan’ program

ECZA, SIDF, Emaar EC signs deal to develop KAEC’s ‘Land and Loan’ program

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority (ECZA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) and Emaar Economic City (EEC) to enhance the investment environment in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

"The tripartite cooperation agreement aims to promote the industrial and logistics integration initiative at KAEC to further build on ‘Land and Loan’ program to attract valuable investments to KAEC’s logistics sector," according to a statement.


Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build 'metaverse'

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build 'metaverse'
Getty Images
Updated 46 min 54 sec ago

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build 'metaverse'

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 in EU to build 'metaverse'
  • Using technologies such as virtual and augmented reality Facebook plans to create a greater sense of "virtual presence"

Facebook Inc plans to create 10,000 jobs in the European Union over the next five years, the social media giant said on Monday, to help build the so-called metaverse - an online world where people can use different devices to move and communicate in a virtual environment.


Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has been talking up metaverse since July and the buzzy word, first coined in a dystopian novel three decades earlier, has been referenced by other tech firms such as Microsoft.


"No one company will own and operate the metaverse," Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post.

"Bringing this to life will take collaboration and cooperation across companies, developers, creators and policymakers."


Using technologies such as virtual and augmented reality Facebook plans to create a greater sense of "virtual presence", which will mimic the experience of interacting in person.


The coronavirus pandemic has shifted much of the office meetings online, leading to the rise of conferencing apps such as Zoom, and big tech companies are looking to capitalize on this shift.


Facebook, which has invested heavily in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), including buying companies like Oculus, intends to connect its nearly three billion users through several devices and apps.


Zuckerberg believes the metaverse would be accessible across VR, AR, PC, mobile devices and game consoles.


It has already committed $50 million for building the metaverse, and testing a new remote work app where users of Oculus Quest 2 headsets could hold meetings as avatar versions of themselves.


While Facebook did not say what roles it would hire for and where they would be based, the company has been facing antitrust probes in the region, and is often criticised over online safety and hate speech on its platform.


"We look forward to working with governments across the EU to find the right people and the right markets to take this forward, as part of an upcoming recruitment drive across the region," Clegg wrote.