Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020

Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar) is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year. (Social media)
Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Ahmed Al Lawendy, Chief Operating officer at Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar). (Supplied)
Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar) is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year. (Supplied)
Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar) is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year. (Supplied)
Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar) is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 May 2021

Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020

Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
  • The vehicle rental market in KSA is forecast to grow by 7.5% per annum between 2020 and 2026

DUBAI: “It wasn’t a great year” is how Ahmed Al-Lawendy, chief operating officer of Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar), sums up 2020.

However, despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and some of its vehicles being grounded due to travel restrictions during the lockdown, the company still registered double-digit growth, with 2020 being its first year of profitability.

“So it is a little bit contradictory,” Al-Lawendy told Arab News. Ajar is a subsidiary of Aljomaih Holding and is the master franchisee of the Enterprise, National, and Alamo car rental brands in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the Levant, and Austria.

Missouri-based Enterprise Holdings, Inc. is the largest car rental company in the world, and Ajar was established in 2015 and began trading in May 2018.

According to a report by the Research And Markets company, the vehicle rental market in Saudi Arabia is forecast to grow by 7.5 percent per annum between 2020 and 2026.

Despite Al-Lawendy describing 2020 as “not a great year,” Ajar grew by 40 percent year-on-year and is forecast to grow by about the same figure in 2021. “January 2021 was much better than 2019 or 2020, so it is getting better,” he said.

The reason the company was able to maintain double-digit growth was its unique approach to the lockdown in early 2020 when it allowed clients to keep cars in their driveways free of charge and use them if they needed to, whether to go to the supermarkets or health clinics.

The decision came down to logistics, as the company had 4,500 vehicles and could not store them all in their facilities. On top of that, when the lockdown ended in June, clients already had rental cars in their possession and could easily return to normal.

FASTFACTS

• Missouri-based Enterprise Holdings, Inc. is the largest car rental company in the world.

• Ajar was established in 2015 and began trading in May 2018.

• The company’s fleet in the Kingdom rose by 27% year-on-year to 5,700 units by 2020.

• It plans to launch a website and an application in 2021.

“It was a nice message from our marketing and our admin team,” Al-Lawendy said, adding that after lockdown, the business quickly recovered to pre-pandemic levels and the company began buying more vehicles, with its fleet in Saudi Arabia rising by 27 percent year-on-year to 5,700 units by the end of 2020. “It kept the customer loyal to the brand and loyal to us,” he added.

Looking to the future, now that the company has reached profitability in 2020, it plans to continue to open in new locations, launch an app, expand its fleet, and an initial public offering (IPO) is also on the cards in a few years.

At present, it is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year.

Uber announced in April that it had chosen Saudi Arabia as one of its key international markets to launch into the car rental space in the coming months.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing app announced a partnership with Avis Budget Group Inc., Hertz, and other vehicle rental agencies, to allow users in the US to book a rental car and have the vehicle delivered directly to them.

While it did not say when it will be launching this service in the Kingdom, Ajar is already taking action and ramping up its digital offering. “We are preparing ourselves for a website and an application, and will launch them during 2021,” Al-Lawendy said.

Theeb Rent a Car Co. launched a successful IPO in March. Its retail offering was 3,385.37 percent oversubscribed and its share price has remained steady overall, despite announcing a net loss after zakat and tax of SR131 million ($34.93 million) for the first quarter of 2021, compared with a net profit of SR1.1 billion during the same period in 2020.

While an IPO is in Ajar’s ambitions, Al-Lawendy said that it was too soon for the company to consider going public.

“Yes, we have some expectations and plans to do so. We are still growing this year. This year we are going to grow another 42 percent. I believe that even until 2023 we would be going on double-digit numbers and then you would reach a stage where you will start growing on a single-digit number, and I think at that time you would be very smart to move to an IPO or some sort of investment,” he said.


SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors

SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors
Updated 17 min 33 sec ago

SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors

SGI offers immense opportunities in recycling, waste management sectors

RIYADH: The Saudi Green Initiative is a great opportunity to create new ways of managing our industries, said Mohammed Alibrahim, Saudi Arabia’s assistant minister for oil and gas.

Speaking at a panel discussed titled “Carbon-intensive industries: Transitioning fast, at scale” held in Riyadh on Saturday, he said the circular carbon economy is at the heart of the initiative.

He said before the launch of the green initiative, the Kingdom already embarked on an ambitious drive to improve energy efficiency in its industrial sector and achieved encouraging results. He said the chemicals, steel, and cement industries in the Kingdom have reduced emissions by about 4 million tonnes per annum.

The assistant minister said the new initiative offers several investment opportunities in recycling and waste management.

For example, he added, SABIC has already built a plant to capture 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide per annum, the gas is then purified and used to produce more chemicals and for many other purposes in different sectors, Alibrahim said.

He said the Saudi Green Initiative and the circle of carbon economy allow us to utilize carbon as a resource rather than looking at it as a problem.

“We have targets to product green hydrogen and blue hydrogen to convert it into blue ammonia, we already shipped ammonia to Japan last year and and we have a plan to expand on that.”

“We don’t want to focus on a certain type of technology.”

Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of ACWA Power, said: “The pathway is ultimately green hydrogen, the real need is energy and even that will be needing electricity, basic ingredient is already available.” 

He called on all stakeholders to create a supporting ecosystem.

“We can really transform industrial consumption when we bring hydrogen costs down to below $2 per kilo and it is achievable.”

Jasper Graf von Hardenberg, co-founder and group CEO of Daystar, US, said: “Saudi Arabia has bigger responsibility, it can become the world No.1 producer of green hydrogen.”

Morten Dyrholm, GSVP for MarCom, Sustainability and Public Affairs, Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Denmark, said: “With this plan Saudi Arabia is placing itself at the center and we want to be part of this journey.”

“As companies we need to take responsibilities with targets of net zero emissions through production.”

“Now with all policies coming up in Saudi Arabia there are signals that the Kingdom is heading to become more sustainable.”


NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO

NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO
Updated 23 October 2021

NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO

NEOM will be ready to welcome tourists and investors by 2024: CEO

The city of NEOM will be ready by 2024 to receive tourists and investors, the CEO of the project has announced.

“We spent two years transforming the vision into a strategy, as this strategy concerns all sectors of NEOM,” Nadhmi Al-nasr said in an interview with Asharq.

"We finished last year with strategies, then moved on to planning and implementation and now we have entered the implementation phase,” Al-nasr added.

NEOM is set to is located on the Red Sea coast in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, and is set to be totally powered by renewable energy sources.


Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough

Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough
Updated 23 October 2021

Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough

Azerbaijan sees oil market stable, OPEC+ current output increase enough

Riyadh: Azerbaijan believes OPEC+ is helping to stabilize the world’s oil market with its cautious decision to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day from November. 

Speaking to Arab News, the country’s energy minister warned that it is gas prices that are more volatile thanks to shortages of the energy source in Europe. 

Parviz Shahbazov said the members of OPEC+ — which includes Azerbaijan — are all in agreement about the restrained oil production rise, despite calls from the US to ramp up output.

He said that the reason “nobody talks about oil issues” is because “there is a balance in the market and this balance has been provided by OPEC+”.

He added: “It can be a little bit higher or lower, it is not so important for producing countries as well as for consuming countries because the most important thing is the stability in the oil market.”

The minister said the issues related to the increasing price of gas might continue past winter. 

“Most probably we will still have this crisis in winter time, I don’t know how severe will it be but as winter is coming and the weather is getting colder — the winter is going to be quite severe in Europe — there can be shortages of gas because gas storages are not filled before the winter season,” said Shahbazov.


Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’


Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’

Updated 23 October 2021

Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’


Pakistan’s PM leaves for Saudi Arabia to attend ‘Middle East Green Initiative Summit’


CAIRO: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan left for a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to attend the launch of the “Middle East Green Initiative Summit” in Riyadh, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement.

Khan left with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, and Malik Amin Aslam, PM’s adviser on climate change. 

“An initiative of the (Saudi) crown prince, the summit is the first of its kind in the Middle East region,” the statement said.

The Prime Minister Office said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had extended the invitation to the premier to attend the event on Oct. 25.

Khan, who made Pakistan a “Champions for Nature”, will share his perspective on the challenges faced by developing countries due to climate change, the statement said. 

He will also highlight Pakistan’s experience of launching “nature-based solutions” to address environmental challenges.


Saudi youth are 'empowered' to drive sustainable change, says energy minister

Saudi youth are 'empowered' to drive sustainable change, says energy minister
Updated 23 October 2021

Saudi youth are 'empowered' to drive sustainable change, says energy minister

Saudi youth are 'empowered' to drive sustainable change, says energy minister

RIYADH: Youngsters in Saudi Arabia are working "day and night" to deliver environmental changes in the Kingdom, the country's minister of energy has said as he praised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's leadership.

Speaking at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum on Saturday, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman reserved special praise for the country's youth.

Addressing the event in Riyadh, he said: “Whatever you see today in Saudi Arabia, whatever you see tomorrow in Saudi Arabia, is not the work of myself or my generation or the generations that just preceded me or the generation that just came after me, I am empowered by a young leader who has the vision and he is the owner of that vision, Vision 2030."

The minister highlighted the influence of the Kingdom’s vision on its youth, saying: “The empowerment has spread in Saudi Arabia to the many youngsters that you saw in the gallery and the many youngsters that are working day and night delivering, not for my future, but for their own future and I’m proud to say that in Saudi Arabia, it’s not the men in Saudi Arabia, it’s actually the women and men of Saudi Arabia that will deliver the future that we are all aspiring for.”