Saudi Arabia, World Bank pledge $100m to global tourism fund

Hot Air Balloons fly over Mada'in Saleh (Hegra) ancient archeological site near AlUla, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Hot Air Balloons fly over Mada'in Saleh (Hegra) ancient archeological site near AlUla, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 31 May 2021

Saudi Arabia, World Bank pledge $100m to global tourism fund

Saudi Arabia, World Bank pledge $100m to global tourism fund
  • International Fund for Comprehensive Tourism will be the first global fund dedicated specifically to supporting global tourism growth
  • Other steps are now being taken by industry leaders to help the tourism sector recover as it navigates its way through the COVID-19 crisis

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, in partnership with the World Bank, pledged $100 million to establish the International Fund for Comprehensive Tourism, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the Kingdom’s Minister of Tourism said during the opening speech of the Tourism Recovery Summit 2021 held in Riyadh.

“This will be the first and the only global fund dedicated solely to sustainable international tourism growth,” he said.

The ongoing global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought the tourism sector to its knees. Steps are now being taken by industry leaders to help the sector recover as it navigates its way through the impact of the health crisis.

“Sustainability, inclusivity, and collaboration,” are the three vital principles the Saudi minister believes will be responsible for the global tourism recovery effort. 

“I am proud to say the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is already acting on these principles,” he said. 

“As a new destination, our priority is to protect our rich nature and cultural heritage and to set new standards in sustainability. Our giga projects will combine nature-adventure and cultural attractions in a way that adheres to the highest environmental standards.”

NEOM, a city located in the north of the Kingdom, will be the first city to rely solely on natural modes of transportation and eliminate carbon emissions of any kind. The Red Sea Project aims to be the largest global destination powered by “clean energy” with no connection to the national grid, the minister explained.

Furthermore, the minister also highlighted the recently announced Saudi Green initiatives which he said: “will protect more than 30 percent of the Kingdom’s land and enhance our precious, natural heritage by planting 10 billion trees.”

International arrivals in Saudi Arabia plunged by 74 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic while tourism contribution to global GDP nearly halved, according to the Saudi minister, with more than 60 million jobs lost worldwide.

During Saudi’s G20 presidency, the Kingdom hosted the first-ever private sector tourism event in collaboration with policymakers to forge strategies for the future of tourism and coordinate immediate-response action to the pandemic.

“We are talking about $5.5 trillion in losses in 2020 globally for this industry,” Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, the assistant tourism minister for executive affairs and strategy, said during the panel talk.

“We have changed the language in Saudi Arabia. We no longer call it jobs in tourism, we call it careers in tourism,” she said.

During the pandemic, 35,000 jobs were created in the Kingdom at a time when the world was losing jobs in tourism, Princess Haifa explained. Saudi Arabia additionally witnessed a 33 percent increase in spending due to a shift in focus towards domestic tourism.

A total of SR13.9 billion ($3.71 billion) was spent during the summer of 2020 alone, Princess Haifa said: “We have promoted it locally and engaged the local community.”

International travel restarted in the Kingdom on May 17. Last week at the annual Arabian Travel Market, the CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority, Fahd Hamidaddin, said the fourth quarter of this year could be a turning point for the Saudi 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 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, which was a 72 percent year-on-year slump.


Wa’ed roadshow continues with $1.8m grant to Riyadh startups

Wa’ed roadshow continues with $1.8m grant to Riyadh startups
Updated 16 sec ago

Wa’ed roadshow continues with $1.8m grant to Riyadh startups

Wa’ed roadshow continues with $1.8m grant to Riyadh startups

Wa’ed,  the entrepreneurship arm of Aramco, poured a total of $1.8 million (SR6.9 million) in grants to three Saudi startups, during its fourth roadshow stop in Riyadh.


Outdoor advertising market will be worth $360m by 2025: Arabian Contracting Services 

Outdoor advertising market will be worth $360m by 2025: Arabian Contracting Services 
Updated 26 min 23 sec ago

Outdoor advertising market will be worth $360m by 2025: Arabian Contracting Services 

Outdoor advertising market will be worth $360m by 2025: Arabian Contracting Services 

Jeddah: Arabian Contracting Services expects spending on outdoor advertising in the Kingdom to reach approximately SR1.3 billion ($360 million) by 2025, according to Argaam.

The company, which recently issued the prospectus for its planned IPO, announced an increase in its net profit of 68.6 percent — SR91.7 million — between the fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Its revenues increased by 23.3 percent from SR639.2 million in 2018 to SR787.5 million in 2019.

The company attributed this growth to growing revenues from digital transformation in addition to the increase in the rate of advertising spend from some key customers, as well as the impact of Riyadh and Jeddah seasons.

Arabian Contracting Services clarified the decrease in revenues in 2020, down SR289.9 from 2019 was due to the impact of the pandemic and the ensuing imposition of a curfew. 

As the Kingdom resumed its activities, revenues returned to a gradual improvement starting from the end of June 2020.

“The company is keen to use the latest technologies in the outdoor advertising sector, where the company has imported the latest billboards from specialized international companies,” said the head of the company, Muhammad Al-khureigy.


Saudi Arabia’s main market, Tadawul, traded 0.5 percent higher on Monday morning, at 11,759 points

Saudi Arabia’s main market, Tadawul, traded 0.5 percent higher on Monday morning, at 11,759 points
Getty Images
Updated 36 min 37 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s main market, Tadawul, traded 0.5 percent higher on Monday morning, at 11,759 points

Saudi Arabia’s main market, Tadawul, traded 0.5 percent higher on Monday morning, at 11,759 points

RIYADH: Here’s a wrap of market movements as of 10:30 a.m. Riyadh time:

Saudi Ceramic Co. reported a net profit after Zakat and tax of SR186.7 million for the nine-month period ending on 30-9-2021.

Yanbu National Petrochemical Co.’s net profit rose three-fold to SR1.19 billion for the first nine months of 2021.

SADAFCO board recommends 2.75 million share buyback.

Wafrah signs MoU with Schaap Holland to develop and distribute seed potatoes in the Kingdom.

Al Abdullatif Industrial Investment Co. Announces Calling Candidature for Board Members Elections.

Tihama names Sultan Abdul Azim as Chairman, Ibrahim Al-Shabib as Vice Chairman.


‘We got this wrong!’ Morgan Stanley admits underestimating Saudi stocks performance 

‘We got this wrong!’ Morgan Stanley admits underestimating Saudi stocks performance 
Updated 38 min 19 sec ago

‘We got this wrong!’ Morgan Stanley admits underestimating Saudi stocks performance 

‘We got this wrong!’ Morgan Stanley admits underestimating Saudi stocks performance 

RIYADH: Leading financial analysts from Morgan Stanley have admitted they got it “wrong” after Saudi stocks outperformed expectations over the past 18 months.

“MSCI Saudi Arabia has been the best performing major country -- in the world -- this year and was also one of the best performing last year,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note on Monday, double upgrading their recommendation on the country to overweight.

“Having been underweight since May 2020, we’ve clearly gotten this one wrong,” they said, according to Bloomberg.

The benchmark Tadawul All Share Index has surged to its highest since 2006 on the back of soaring oil prices and amid increased retail trading activity, and Morgan Stanley now thinks high Saudi valuations are here to stay as the market is more driven by earnings, which are forecast to grow. 

While foreign positioning in the country remains low, it has started to pick up, the analysts also noted. They think that banks are the best play in the country. 

Saudi Arabia has “one of the strongest transmission mechanisms of higher oil prices into economic activity of any country in the Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa (EEMEA) region,” according to the analysts.

Its growth outlook seems structural and likely to last for several years, the analysts wrote in a broader note about the region, saying it’s poised to be a beneficiary of higher commodity prices.


Apple supplier Foxconn unveils electric vehicles

Apple supplier Foxconn unveils electric vehicles
Picture by Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) on October 18, 2021 shows Foxconn founder Terry Gou getting out of an electric car unveiling at the Nangang exhibition centre in Taipei
Updated 46 min 58 sec ago

Apple supplier Foxconn unveils electric vehicles

Apple supplier Foxconn unveils electric vehicles
  • The models unveiled on Monday - a sedan, an SUV and a bus - are concept vehicles

Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn unveiled three electric vehicles on Monday, boosting its bid to be a major player in the rapidly expanding EV market as it seeks companies to partner with.

The world's largest contract electronics maker, Foxconn already plays a lynchpin role in assembling Apple's iPhones as well as gadgets for a myriad of top international brands. 

But it has been moving fast to diversify beyond electronics assembly and has ploughed money into electric vehicles, including a joint venture with local automaker Yulon Motor and purchasing a struggling auto plant in Ohio.


The models unveiled on Monday - a sedan, an SUV and a bus - are concept vehicles that Foxconn hopes it could build with other manufacturers.


"Foxconn is no longer a new kid in town," chairman Young Liu declared at the unveiling ceremony in Taipei.


Foxconn's founder Terry Gou drove their "Model E" sedan to the presentation and said the company's EVs "demonstrate Taiwan's overall industrial strength".


A white sports utility vehicle -- "Model C" -- is expected to hit the market in Taiwan in 2023 with a price tag of under Tw$1 million ($357,000), the firm said. 


Its "Model T" electric bus could start operating in southern Kaohsiung city as early as next year if it passes the transport ministry's review, vice premier Shen Jong-chin said.


Foxconn has funnelled about Tw$10 billion ($355 million) into electric car development in 2020 and the company says its investment will rise over the next two years. 


Liu said the company "has gradually built an electric vehicle supply chain and distribution network", with one new partnership announced almost every month this year.


Among its recent partners is Fisker, one of a host of US-based electronic car startups hoping to one day challenge Tesla's supremacy. 


The two companies announced plans to jointly develop electric cars sold under the Fisker brand with a goal to start producing vehicles in late 2023.


It has been widely reported for years that Apple has a secret electronic car project, something Foxconn could be in an ideal place to partner on given its existing relationship with the Californian giant. 


The unveiling of Foxconn's models comes as car makers suffer from a global shortage of semiconductors after the coronavirus pandemic caused purchases of electronics and computer parts to sky-rocket.


Taiwanese high-tech chip foundries are some of the world's biggest and most advanced and have been ramping up production to meet the demand.