Saudi Arabia 4IR strategy targets AI, Internet of things, heavy drones, WEF leader says

Saudi Arabia 4IR strategy targets AI, Internet of things, heavy drones, WEF leader says
The SKYF heavy lift drone from Russian company ARDN technology can carry a 400lb payload for eight hours. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 August 2021

Saudi Arabia 4IR strategy targets AI, Internet of things, heavy drones, WEF leader says

Saudi Arabia 4IR strategy targets AI, Internet of things, heavy drones, WEF leader says
  • Saudi Arabia could become a global center for new drone technology
  • Heavy lift drone technology had been prioritized by the Kingdom as one of its 4IR projects

RIYADH/DUBAI: A World Economic Forum (WEF) Committee leader announced the intention to finalize and launch projects across six different thematic areas in Saudi Arabia under the Kingdom’s fourth industrial revolution (4IR) strategy, including heavy lift drones, artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, and SMEs.

“The heavy lift drones is a collaboration with a dialogue with the ministry of transport and logistics services and then of course the general authority of civil aviation,” Sheila Warren, deputy head of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) committee of WEF, told Arab News.

Saudi Arabia could become a global center for new drone technology under plans being advanced by the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) recently inaugurated in Riyadh in partnership with the WEF.

Warren highlighted the experience of Rwanda, which has become a world leader in drone use, experimentation and regulation.

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Saudi Arabia is learning from Rwanda’s experiences in thinking through how to develop a regulatory framework, which informs the work of the center in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi Ministry of Transport and the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), she said.

Heavy lift drone technology had been prioritized by the Kingdom as one of its 4IR projects, Mansour Alsaleh, director of the center, told Arab News. “Saudi Arabia can be a leading country in developing the regulatory framework for heavy-lift drones. It can be ahead of the world.”

Heavy lift drone technology has advanced to a stage where it requires a more sophisticated regulatory framework, he said, not just in the Kingdom but globally, and these are being developed in partnership with the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Transport and Saudi Aramco. “The applications are endless,” Alsaleh said.

Everything started with Vision 2030.

Sheila Warren, deputy head of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Heavy lift drones could facilitate the opening up of parts of the Lingdom to housing and development in a way that “you couldn’t really do without that particular engagement,” Warren said.

In a sign of Saudi intention to improve its digital economy, the WEF leader told Arab News that few “fellows” from Aramco visited the C4IR San Francisco office on the blockchain team, on the AI team, and IOT.

The Aramco team is back in the Kingdom bringing all the learning achieved from C4IR teams, not only to Aramco but also to the Saudi center, she said.

Everything started with Vision 2030, Warren said.

“The vision itself talks about backlog with roads and the transport infrastructure, and the idea being that we want people to be able to live healthy, happy, productive lives across the entire Kingdom, which can be challenging with infrastructure,” she said.


US oil pares gains after weekly fuel stockpiles jump

US oil pares gains after weekly fuel stockpiles jump
Updated 55 min 39 sec ago

US oil pares gains after weekly fuel stockpiles jump

US oil pares gains after weekly fuel stockpiles jump
  • A new coronavirus variant triggered fresh travel restrictions that could dampen oil demand
  • White House was still studying proposals from Democratic lawmakers to ban crude oil exports to keep US prices down

DUBAI: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures slipped on Wednesday, reversing course from early gains after a US official said the country was still considering tools to lower energy prices, and as government data pointed to weaker gasoline demand.
Also pressuring oil prices, a new coronavirus variant triggered fresh travel restrictions that could dampen oil demand. Also, an OPEC+ document showed the group lifting its forecast for an oil surplus in the new year.
WTI US crude futures were down 51 cents, or 0.76 percent, at $65.77 a barrel at 1:49 p.m. ET (1849 GMT). During the session, they were up as much as 4 percent.
Global benchmark Brent crude was down 24 cents, or 0.36 percent, at $68.99 a barrel.
US Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk said the Biden administration could adjust the timing of its planned release of strategic crude oil stockpiles if global energy prices drop substantially.
He added that the White House was still studying proposals from Democratic lawmakers to ban crude oil exports to keep US prices down.
US gasoline stocks rose 4 million barrels last week to 215.4 million barrels, government data showed, far surpassing analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for 29,000-barrel rise. Distillate stockpiles increased 2.2 million barrels to 123.9 million barrels, versus expectations for a 462,000-barrel build.
Crude inventories fell 910,000 barrels in the week, data showed, compared with forecasts for a 1.2 million-barrel drop.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries concluded its meeting without a decision on whether to release more oil into the market.
The OPEC+ alliance, which includes Russia and other producers, will likely take a policy decision on Thursday. Reports and analysts suggested that expectations were growing that the group will take a pause due to the threat from a new virus variant.
“There is much to suggest that OPEC+ will not initially step up its oil production any further in an effort to maintain current prices at around $70/bbl,” PVM analyst Stephen Brennock said.
OPEC+ sees the oil surplus growing to 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, 3.4 million bpd in February and 3.8 million bpd in March next year, an internal report seen by Reuters showed.
Several OPEC+ ministers, though, have said there is no need to change course. But even if OPEC+ agrees to go ahead with its planned supply increase in January, producers may struggle to add that much.
Both Brent and WTI front-month contracts in November posted their steepest monthly falls in percentage terms since March 2020, down 16 percent and 21 percent respectively.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs called the decline in oil prices “excessive,” saying “the market has far overshot the likely impact of the latest variant on oil demand with the structural repricing higher due to the dramatic change in the oil supply reaction function still ahead of us.”


China closes loophole used by tech firms for offshore IPOs

China closes loophole used by tech firms for offshore IPOs
Updated 01 December 2021

China closes loophole used by tech firms for offshore IPOs

China closes loophole used by tech firms for offshore IPOs

RIYADH: China plans to ban companies from going public on foreign stock markets through entities with different interests.

It will close a loophole that the country’s technology industry has long used to raise capital from foreign investors, according to Bloomberg.

People familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified while discussing private information, said the ban, aimed in part at addressing concerns about data security, is among the changes included in a new draft of China’s overseas listing rules that may be finalized as soon as this month. 

Companies using what is called the VIE (variable interest entity) structure would still be allowed to pursue initial public offerings in Hong Kong, subject to regulatory approval, the sources said.

VIE refers to a business structure in which an investor has a controlling interest despite not having a majority of voting rights. A business that is the primary beneficiary of a VIE must disclose the holdings of that entity as part of its consolidated balance sheet.

China Securities Regulatory Commission said on its website on Wednesday that a media report about banning offshore listings of companies using the VIE structure was incorrect, without giving further details.

Companies currently listed in the US and Hong Kong that use VIEs will need to make adjustments so that their ownership structures are more transparent in regulatory reviews, especially in sectors where foreign investment is prohibited, the sources added.

The reform would mark one of Beijing’s biggest moves to crack down on offshore listings. 

Authorities have since moved quickly to halt the flow of companies seeking to go public in the US, shutting down a path that has generated billions of dollars for tech companies and their Wall Street backers.

While a global ban on the VIE structure is not being contemplated, a halt to foreign listings and a further review of Hong Kong's initial public offerings will mean the model will not be a viable way for many startups to tap into the capital markets. 

A person familiar with the matter said that some investment banks had already been advised by regulators to stop working on new deals involving VIEs.

The demise of VIE would also threaten the lucrative business streak of Wall Street banks, which has helped nearly 300 Chinese companies raise around $82 billion through first-time share sales in the US over the past ten years.

VIEs have been a constant source of concern for global investors due to their unstable legal position. Sina Corp. and its investment bankers led the way during an initial public offering in 2000, and the VIE framework has not been formally adopted by Beijing.


Rayyan Nagadi replaces Hasan Aljabri as CEO of SEDCO

Rayyan Nagadi replaces Hasan Aljabri as CEO of SEDCO
Updated 01 December 2021

Rayyan Nagadi replaces Hasan Aljabri as CEO of SEDCO

Rayyan Nagadi replaces Hasan Aljabri as CEO of SEDCO

RIYADH: Saudi’s investment group SEDCO Holding has appointed Rayyan Mohammed Nagadi as its new chief executive officer, replacing Hasan Aljabri.

The appointment, announced on Wednesday, comes as the group is expanding its investment and economic growth contribution in the Kingdom. 

Before joining SEDCO Holding, Nagadi was the CEO of the National Center for Privatization & PPP, with over 20 years of experience in management and structured financing in both the public and private sectors. 

“With his expertise and extensive network, he is well positioned to accelerate our ambitions as a partner of choice supporting the government in achieving the goals of Vision 2030,” chairman of SEDCO, Saleh Salem Bin Mahfouz, said.

Through its subsidiaries, SEDCO Holding provides investment and construction services.


Soudah Development joins United Nations World Tourism Organization

Soudah Development joins United Nations World Tourism Organization
Updated 01 December 2021

Soudah Development joins United Nations World Tourism Organization

Soudah Development joins United Nations World Tourism Organization

RIYADH: Soudah Development, a closed joint-stock real estate development company owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, became an affiliate member of the World Tourism Organization – the United Nations agency responsible for promoting tourism as a key driver of economic growth and environmental sustainability, it said in a statement.

As an affiliate member of the UNWTO, Soudah Development will be able to work with more than 500 global companies, educational and research institutions, destinations, and NGOs. It will provide a platform to establish dialogue, share information and take further action to promote tourism and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It becomes only the 25th company in the Middle East to join an alliance of more than 500 global members and joins some of Saudi Arabia’s leading tourism destination developers including NEOM, Qiddiya, the Red Sea Development Company, and the Royal Commission for Alula.

Husameddin Almadani, CEO of Soudah Development (Right)

Soudah Development is developing a luxury mountain destination in a unique and authentic setting among the clouds at 3015 meters above sea level.  Its sensitive sustainable quality development strategy is fully aligned with its goals of protecting natural environments and wildlife, empowering local communities and showcasing the extraordinary centuries old culture and heritage in Soudah and parts of Rijal Almaa.

Husameddin Almadani, CEO of Soudah Development, said: “Building powerful and effective partnerships with like-minded organizations is an important part of our ongoing efforts to create a luxury mountain tourism destination high above the clouds.”

“We are delighted and enormously proud to have already achieved this exciting and prestigious affiliate membership of the UNWTO.  It is the latest in a series of strategic ties we have established with local, regional and global stakeholders to further our goals. It demonstrates our commitment to operate according to the highest global standards and working with the best in the business in Saudi Arabia and internationally and position Soudah and Rijal Almaa as a year-round destination that will attract more than two million visitors throughout the year by 2030.”

 


Renewables will provide 95% of power capacity growth in next five years: IEA

Renewables will provide 95% of power capacity growth in next five years: IEA
Updated 01 December 2021

Renewables will provide 95% of power capacity growth in next five years: IEA

Renewables will provide 95% of power capacity growth in next five years: IEA

Jeddah: Renewable energy will make up 95 percent of total global power capacity growth in the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency.

The IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol said when it comes to renewables, solar power plays the most significant role.

“Solar is the new king of the global power markets,” he said.

About 55 percent of all power plants installed in the world will be solar, and while all countries will increase their renewable facilities, the lion’s share will be in China and India, he highlighted.

“These two giants account for about half of the entire renewable capacity installations,” he said, adding: “China, especially driven by solar power, alone provides about 40 percent of the global growth.”

One of IEA’s concerns is the high commodity prices, which will also result in an increase in renewable energy prices.

Birol added that India is well in line with the 500 gigawatt target, as mentioned at the COP26. 

He also said the southern Asian country is witnessing a huge growth in biofuels, and in the next five years the IEA expects India to become the third largest market in the world after the US and Brazil.

“Even though we are breaking a record in renewables transition, we still need to double that pace in order to be in line with our renewable targets as well as our net zero targets,” he said.

Electric cars are estimated today to amount to 10 percent of all the cars sold this year, compared to 2 percent in 2019.

Pointing to the two-year jump regarding renewable energy and electric cars, the executive director said: “We can clearly say that a new global energy system is emerging.”