Diriyah Gate CEO: Megaprojects ‘grander’ than anywhere else in world

Diriyah Gate CEO: Megaprojects ‘grander’ than anywhere else in world
Diriyah Gate is a $40 billion development project and joins the likes of the futuristic NEOM, the historic AlUla, and the entertainment-focused Qiddiya. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 June 2021

Diriyah Gate CEO: Megaprojects ‘grander’ than anywhere else in world

Diriyah Gate CEO: Megaprojects ‘grander’ than anywhere else in world
  • Kingdom’s growing portfolio of investment opportunities highlighted at GCC-UK Trade Summit 2021

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s growing portfolio of megaprojects means the commercial opportunities on offer “are grander than any other place in the world,” according to the CEO of one of Kingdom’s flagship developments.

Speaking at the virtual GCC-UK Trade Summit 2021 on Tuesday, in a session moderated by senior Arab News business columnist Frank Kane, Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, pointed out that before tourists flocked to Petra in Jordan or Alexandra in Egypt, but they would soon be coming to Riyadh to see a global destination rich in history, culture, nature and art.

Diriyah Gate is a $40 billion development project and joins the likes of the futuristic NEOM, the historic AlUla, the entertainment-focused Qiddiya and the eco-friendly Red Sea Project among Saudi Arabia’s mega projects.

A new global landmark, Diriyah is the site of the first Saudi Kingdom in the 18th century. Construction began on Diriyah Gate in July 2020. Located 15 minutes’ drive northwest of Riyadh, it will feature a Formula E racetrack and a 15,000-seat arena.

“We are hyper-accelerating all of the tourism infrastructure so we give a very qualitative experience so people can get around and enjoy the region,” Inzerillo added.

Speaking at the same event, Aradhana Khowala, chair of the global advisory board at The Red Sea Development Co., said the uniqueness of the Red Sea Project is its coral reefs and its renewable energy plans.

“As we speak, the Red Sea Project and the company is developing perhaps the largest battery storage facility in the world, ahead of Tesla,” she said.

The Red Sea Project was announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in July 2017. Upon full completion in 2030, the project will comprise 50 hotels offering up to 8,000 rooms and 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. 




Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

Khowala also pointed out that, despite the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the project will be completed on schedule. By the end of 2022 we will be ready to receive our first guest,” she said.

Khowala added that advances such as the Red Sea Project were evidence of the Kingdom’s young population, for whom the Vision 2030 goals were reaping rewards. “What I find most fascinating is that 89 percent of young Saudis believe that the country is moving in the right direction,” she added.

Speaking at a session on growth prospects for GCC investors in Britain, experts said that Brexit and the UK’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis had not dampened GCC investor appetite, with opportunities available in the financial technology (fintech), decarbonization, life sciences and infrastructure sectors.

Panelists agreed that Britain’s exit from the EU has actually boosted investment opportunities, as the UK can make decisions faster because it is no longer subject to the red tape that comes with being a member of the economic bloc.

Matthew Hurn, executive director and chief financial officer for disruptive investments at Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala investment company said: “Brexit overhang is gone. Irrespective of whether you believe Brexit was a good idea or a bad idea, that uncertainty was not a good environment for potential investors. So, with that overhang now gone, it is very clear exactly the economic landscape in which you are playing.”

Hurn said the UK’s world-class academia, which have made some of the most innovative advances in life sciences, make it an attractive proposition. “When you start looking at drug discovery, drug development, medtech, digital health, they are very capital-intensive, IP-intensive businesses that actually need growth capital and I think there is a huge opportunity there,” he said.

Fintech is also key, he said, because London “is undoubtedly the fintech capital of the world.”

Prof. John Bryson of Birmingham University said that the UK is now able to work out its own strategy and offers a significant advantage to GCC investors looking for opportunities.

“Of course, now, within a post-Brexit environment, it has the ability to be rapid in its decision-making. So, irrespective of which government might be in power, you do not have the constraints of having to have things cleared by the European Commission,” Bryson said. Gavin Holland, a partner at global fintech-focused venture capital fund Anthemis Group, which has about 10 investors from GCC countries, said he has not received a single question about Brexit in the past 12 months and investor confidence has moved on from that.

He noted that the COVID-19 crisis has fueled digital transformation across several industries and created huge opportunities for businesses and investors to build new business models and accelerate things that otherwise might have taken decades.

As the GCC experiences a period of rapid growth and economic diversification, it is witnessing a corresponding upswing in its trade and economic relations with the UK. This is evidenced by the fact that the Gulf region accounts for as much as $50.8 billion out of the estimated $57.2 billion annual trade between the UK and the Middle East.


Bahrain to double VAT to 10%: Reports

Bahrain to double VAT to 10%: Reports
Updated 8 sec ago

Bahrain to double VAT to 10%: Reports

Bahrain to double VAT to 10%: Reports

RIYADH: Bahrain plans to increase value-added tax to 10 percent in a bid to curb budget deficits and boost state revenue, 

Bahraini media outlets reported on Sunday.

According to a report published in a section of the Bahraini press, the legislators also discussed the options of reducing wages or social welfare given to nationals to bolster the economy.

According to IMF estimates, Bahrain’s budget deficit will contract by half this year after lower oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic boosted it to a record 18 percent of economic output in 2020.


Petrofac to plead guilty to 7 counts of bribery in Mideast oil projects

Petrofac to plead guilty to 7 counts of bribery in Mideast oil projects
Updated 12 min 53 sec ago

Petrofac to plead guilty to 7 counts of bribery in Mideast oil projects

Petrofac to plead guilty to 7 counts of bribery in Mideast oil projects

LONDON: British oil services group Petrofac said on Friday it would plead guilty to seven counts of failing to prevent bribery to secure projects in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the UAE between 2012 and 2015, calling it a “deeply regrettable period.”

The company indicated its plans at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court after being formally charged by the UK Serious Fraud Office, drawing a line under a four-year criminal investigation. Its shares surged 25 percent in relief.

Petrofac, which has struggled to secure key contracts in the Middle East and has seen its shares battered during the SFO investigation, will formally enter its pleas and await sentencing at London’s Southwark Crown Court on Monday.

Petrofac said offers or payments to agents to help secure projects were made between 2011 and 2017 but that all employees involved had left.

“This was a deeply regrettable period of Petrofac’s history,” said Chairman Rene Medori in a statement, adding that the company’s “comprehensive program of corporate renewal” had been acknowledged by the SFO.

“Petrofac has been living under the shadow of the past, but today it is a profoundly different business, in which stakeholders can be assured of our commitment to the highest standards of business ethics, wherever we operate,” he said.

Former executive David Lufkin, who has separately pleaded guilty to 14 charges of bribery to secure billions of dollars worth of contracts for Petrofac in the Middle East, is also expected to be sentenced on Monday.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In March, the UAE’s state-backed oil firm, ADNOC, barred Petrofac from competing for new contracts in the country.

It is the second corporate guilty plea secured by the SFO in five months.

Former Airbus subsidiary GPT Special Project Management pleaded guilty to corruption over military contracts for Saudi Arabia in April.


CFO of Russia's Novatek arrested in U.S. on tax charges of over $93m

CFO of Russia's Novatek arrested in U.S. on tax charges of over $93m
Updated 26 September 2021

CFO of Russia's Novatek arrested in U.S. on tax charges of over $93m

CFO of Russia's Novatek arrested in U.S. on tax charges of over $93m
  • Novatek has grown into a major competitor of Gazprom, produced last year, 18.8 million tons of liquefied natural gas, 5 percent of global output
  • The situation has absolutely no effect on Novatek’s operational and financial activities

RIYADH: The U.S. government has arrested Mark Gyetvay, the deputy chairman of the management board of Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer, on federal tax charges for more than $93 million hidden in offshore accounts, according to the IRS statement.


The situation has absolutely no effect on Novatek’s operational and financial activities, adding that it isn’t involved in related litigation, the company said in WSJ about Mr. Gyetvay’s case.


Novatek has grown into a major competitor of Gazprom, produced last year, 18.8 million tons of liquefied natural gas, 5 percent of global output, WSJ said.


The arrest of Gyetvay, comes as Russia wrestles with European regulatory challenges to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline running along the bed of the Baltic Sea, seen by opponents as a geopolitical tool, Nord Stream 2 will deliver Russian natural gas to Germany, WSJ added.


Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia

Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 26 September 2021

Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia

Japan's SMBC advising on Aramco's gas pipeline deal: CNBC Arabia
  • A consortium of Asian investors are leading candidates to win the deal
  • The financing structure of the deal will be similar to the $12.4 billion oil pipeline deal

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco has selected Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) to provide financial advice to the company in a $17-20 billion gas asset sale, CNBC Arabia reported, citing sources.

A consortium of Asian investors are leading candidates to win the deal, after Asian sovereign funds, primarily sovereign wealth funds from China, South Korea, and Singapore, entered negotiations the CNBC source said.

The American Brookfield Fund, which won the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) gas pipeline deal last year, is among potential investors.

The financing structure of the deal will be similar to the $12.4 billion oil pipeline deal, which was won by a coalition of investors led by EIG Global Energy, the source added.

The sources explained that the deal will be financed using $4 billion of issued shares, while the rest of the deal will be financed through loans from a group of banks.


PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi

PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi
A common residential area built above on the desert near the corniche park in the Dammam, Saudi Arabia (Shutterstock)
Updated 26 September 2021

PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi

PIF lender SRC acquires new housing portfolio from Banque Saudi Fransi
  • It follows other partnerships with banks and real estate finance companies in the Kingdom
  • The company expects the acquisition to provide “long-term liquidity to the housing market”

DUBAI: The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company has signed its second housing finance portfolio purchase with Banque Saudi Fransi.

The company, which is wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, expects the acquisition to provide “long-term liquidity to the housing market.”

“We have illustrated to primary originators in the Kingdom the crucial role we play in developing the housing market and supporting their businesses through liquidity and risk management solutions,” SRC chief Fabrice Susini said.

It follows other partnerships with banks and real estate finance companies in the Kingdom, as SRC seeks to promote stability in the real estate finance market. 

“SRC has played a vital role in ensuring that the Vision 2030 housing program objectives are being met and we expect ourselves to play a significant role in this by supporting them,” Rayan Fayez, managing director and chief executive officer of BSF, said.