Dubai airport targets 56 million passengers next year, CEO says

Dubai airport targets 56 million passengers next year, CEO says
10.6 million passengers passed through Dubai International in the first half of this year, down 40.9% on the same period last year. (AFP)
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Updated 11 August 2021

Dubai airport targets 56 million passengers next year, CEO says

Dubai airport targets 56 million passengers next year, CEO says
  • Airport handled 25.9 million passengers last year and 86.4 million in 2019
  • Airport expects to end 2021 close to its 28 million passenger target

DUBAI: Dubai’s state airport operator is forecasting 56 million passengers to pass through Dubai International next year, double its target for this year though still below pre-pandemic levels.
The airport, a major travel hub, has seen a rise in passenger traffic in recent weeks following the start of the peak summer travel season and an easing in travel restrictions for some core markets.
“This gives rise to a more optimistic forecast and we are looking at something like 56 million for the year to come,” Dubai Airports Chief Executive Paul Griffiths told Reuters.
The airport handled 25.9 million passengers last year and 86.4 million in 2019, the year before the pandemic struck.
The operator on Wednesday reported 10.6 million passengers passed through Dubai International in the first half of this year, down 40.9 percent on the same period last year.
Griffiths said passenger traffic in recent weeks had been “much more positive” and the airport was now expected to end the year close to its 28 million passenger target, at around 26-27 million.
He said the operator was being conservative with its forecast for this year given many countries still impose travel restrictions and that it was focused on managing costs, balancing its budget and remaining cash positive.
Dubai International is one of the world’s busiest airports and the hub for state-owned Gulf carrier Emirates. Its operations are reliant on international flights and it has no domestic market to cushion against international border closures or restrictions imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The United Arab Emirates this month eased restrictions on travel from several African and Asian countries, including key market India, while Britain, another important market, has moved the Gulf Arab state from its travel “red list” to “amber.”
“There has been an absolute surge of bookings and huge numbers of people booking to go both directions to London, for example, and I think the UAE easing restrictions to places like India are steps in the right direction,” Griffiths said.


Crude oil’s latest bull run puts spotlight on geopolitical events

Crude oil’s latest bull run puts spotlight on geopolitical events
Updated 25 sec ago

Crude oil’s latest bull run puts spotlight on geopolitical events

Crude oil’s latest bull run puts spotlight on geopolitical events
  • Having spent the last year fretting over supply, markets and investors appear suddenly more spooked by the what ifs of global politics and its impact on still tight supplies

LONDON: Crude oil’s latest bull run, which saw Brent climb to its highest level since 2014 on Tuesday, has put geopolitics front and center of market concerns.

Having spent the last year fretting over supply, markets and investors appear suddenly more spooked by the what ifs of global politics and its impact on still tight supplies.

This week’s drone attack by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on the UAE, along with fears that Russia’s aggression towards neighboring Ukraine will lead to war, are nudging crude prices higher. The spike comes despite a view in some circles that supply issues are abating when compared to last year. A consensus view from energy analysts suggests current geopolitical events, primarily increased Middle East tensions and Russia’s saber-rattling, have added almost 12 percent to the price of a barrel of crude oil.

Alan Gelder, vice president for refining, chemicals and oil markets with UK energy consultant Wood Mackenzie, said: “Broadly speaking, geopolitics currently accounts for around $10 of the oil price.” Following the UAE attack, Goldman Sachs upwardly revised its price forecast, warning on Tuesday that Brent could reach $90 per barrel in the next two months and hit $100 in the second half of this year. However, Gelder believes triple figure oil prices could prove wide of the mark.

He told Arab News: “We don’t believe the oil market will be as tight in 2022 as it was in 2021. We’re expecting US oil production to grow because the investment discipline of recent years will now enable companies to drill and increase investment supply while still achieving high returns for investors.”

He added: “One can never say never, but we think forecasts of $100 oil are slightly overrated. The rig count is increasing in the US, albeit modestly, so supply will increase this year. Geopolitical events are of course hard to predict and are capable of causing further price shocks, though it would take an extreme production outrage at a major supplier for the current fundamentals of supply and demand to be impacted.” That said, it is worth remembering geopolitical events were behind the first big jump in oil prices last year.

In March 2021, just after OPEC and its OPEC+ allies announced they would stick to their production cuts, the Houthi militia launched a failed attack on Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tanura oil-export terminals and refinery. 

FASTFACT

A consensus view from energy analysts suggests current geopolitical events, primarily increased Middle East tensions and Russia’s saber-rattling, have added almost 12 percent to the price of a barrel of crude oil.

There was no damage to Ras Tanura, but the attack sent Brent crude briefly above $70 a barrel.

The six-year war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of countries fighting the Iran-backed Houthis, has seen a number of attacks on the Kingdom’s energy infrastructure and oil tankers in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

Indeed, a report last month by a respected Washington-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia more than doubled during the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier. The report said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Lebanese militia Hezbollah played a critical role in providing Houthis with weapons, technology and training.

Concerns about potential disruptions to Saudi output on prices should also be coupled with the unlikelihood of any easing of sanctions against Iran — a huge crude producer, but one whose meager exports are now reliant on smuggling.

Fast forward to today, and the bloody unrest in Kazakhstan — an OPEC+ member and second largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union with almost 2 million barrels a day — had already pushed Brent almost 5 percent higher in the early days of this month, to $83. Ironically, the initial protests against the government were sparked by an increase in the price of liquid petroleum gas, which many Kazakhs use to run their cars.

The UAE attack, which has nudged Brent a little closer towards Goldman Sachs’ $90, is the most significant strike by Houthis against the Emirates since its military withdrawal from the Yemen conflict in 2019, though it still supports forces fighting the Houthis.

Meanwhile, the buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border and fears that Vladimir Putin will invade, unleashing a NATO response of economic sanctions, or in a worse case scenario, a wider conflict, are sending prices higher still.

Tensions linked to Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project have already played a large role in rocketing gas prices across Europe. Gas prices have fallen sharply so far this year, but Ukraine is a vital supply route for Russian oil and gas supplies to Europe, which is heavily dependent on Russia for its energy needs.

Giovanni Staunovo, energy strategist with UBS, said: “There is probably also a geopolitical risk premium related to tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, which is however difficult to quantify. Historically, such risk premia only remained in the price if those tensions triggered some supply disruptions. That said, currently there are no disruptions.”

A more pertinent risk for oil prices perhaps lies in the fundamentals of the market, primarily concerns about OPEC’s ability to pump more crude if required by higher demand. Several OPEC members have struggled to raise output to required quota levels, and speaking this week, Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the Kingdom had no plans to make up for their production shortfalls.

Staunovo said: “Some oil demand concerns related to the omicron variant have not materialized, with oil demand holding up better than some feared back in December. But the oil market is tight, with petroleum inventories, and crude and oil products, standing at a multi-year low, and if oil demand keeps recovering back to 2019 levels, available spare capacity should also fall to low levels, which makes the oil market and prices very sensitive to any supply disruptions.”


Emirates, ANA cancel some US flights over 5G rollout

Emirates, ANA cancel some US flights over 5G rollout
Updated 29 min 32 sec ago

Emirates, ANA cancel some US flights over 5G rollout

Emirates, ANA cancel some US flights over 5G rollout
  • It said the destinations include Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, and Seattle
  • The decision comes into force on Wednesday and will continue until further notice, the airline says

CAIRO/WASHINGTON: Dubai’s Emirates on Tuesday suspended flights to several destinations in the US and carriers including Japan’s All Nippon Airways said they were canceling or changing the aircraft on some US-bound flights, citing uncertainty over the rollout of 5G services.
The move, which comes into effect on Wednesday and will remain until further notice, is “due to operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the US,” the company said. It said the destinations include Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Emirates flights to New York’s JFK, Los Angeles International Airport and Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport will continue to operate as usual, the company added.
“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our US services as soon as possible,” the carrier said.
ANA said on its website it was acting in response to a notice to airlines from Boeing over restrictions on the use of its 777 long-haul airliner amid industry concerns about radio interference. Boeing had no immediate comment. 
The White House said earlier on Tuesday that it wants to reach a solution on 5G deployment that protects air safety while minimizing disruption to air travel. 
AT&T and Verizon will delay launching new wireless service near key airports after the nation’s largest airlines said the service would interfere with aircraft technology and cause massive flight disruptions.
The decision from the telecommunication companies arrived Tuesday as the Biden administration tried to broker a settlement between the telecom companies and the airlines over a rollout of new 5G service, scheduled for Wednesday.
Airlines want the new service to be banned within two miles of airport runways.
AT&T said it would delay turning on new cell towers around runways at some airports — it did not say how many or for how long — and work with federal regulators to settle the dispute.
A short time later, Verizon said it will launch its 5G network but added, “we have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports.” It blamed airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration, saying they “have not been able to fully resolve navigating 5G around airports” although it is working in more than 40 countries.
The announcements came after the airline industry issued a dire warning about the impact a new type of 5G service would have on flights. CEOs of the nation’s largest airlines said interference with aircraft systems would be worse than they originally thought, making many flights impossible.
“To be blunt, the nation’s commerce will grind to a halt” unless the service is blocked near major airports, the CEOs said in a letter Monday to federal officials including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has previously taken the airlines’ side in the matter.
President Joe Biden said the agreements by AT&T and Verizon “will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled.” He said the administration will keep working with both sides to reach a permanent solution around key airports.
President Joe Biden said the agreements by AT&T and Verizon “will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled.” He said the administration will keep working with both sides to reach a permanent solution around key airports.
AT&T and Verizon say their equipment will not interfere with aircraft electronics, and that the technology is being safely used in many other countries.
However, the CEOs of 10 passenger and cargo airlines including American, Delta, United and Southwest say that 5G will be more disruptive than earlier thought because dozens of large airports that were to have buffer zones to prevent 5G interference with aircraft will still be subject to of flight restrictions announced last week by the FAA. They add that those restrictions won’t be limited to times when visibility is poor.
(With Reuters and AP)


Aramco signs 10 agreements during Saudi-Korean Investment Forum

Aramco signs 10 agreements during Saudi-Korean Investment Forum
Updated 18 January 2022

Aramco signs 10 agreements during Saudi-Korean Investment Forum

Aramco signs 10 agreements during Saudi-Korean Investment Forum
  • Agreements aim to accelerate downstream strategy and development of low-carbon energy solutions
  • Initial plans include a 60,000 ton-per-year casting and forging facility in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Oil Company signed one agreement and nine MoUs with leading Korean entities, which aim to advance its downstream strategy and support development of low-carbon energy solutions, while creating new financing options for the company.

The signings took place at the Saudi-Korean Investment Forum in Riyadh, which was also attended by the President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in, Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser, and senior corporate executives from both countries.

The agreements seek to unlock new opportunities in the fields of advanced technology, manufacturing and finance, illustrating Aramco’s commitment to driving development through global partnerships, according to a statement.

Nasser said in the statement: “Our partnership with Korean companies spans decades and today we are pleased to broaden these ties in technology, manufacturing and finance. In addition to focusing on cutting-edge development in a range of areas, they also support our shared goal of finding climate solutions and lowering greenhouse gas emissions through the development of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia production, as well as carbon capture and storage. Together, these initiatives with Korea’s industry leaders will further enhance our downstream expansion and integration strategy.”

Local manufacturing of industrial equipment

Aramco signed an agreement with Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. and the Saudi Arabian Industrial Investments Company, Dussur. This partnership aims to establish a casting and forging facility that could supply the Kingdom’s manufacturers with industrial and process equipment such as valves, pumps, compressors, wellheads, flanges, heat exchangers, and gas and wind turbines, with the objective to enhance local content.

The planned joint venture has a production target of 60,000 tons per year, primarily from sand-casting and open-die forging processes, complemented by machining capabilities. It also has potential to supply original equipment manufacturers in the rig, drilling, maritime and engine fields, with the possibility of expanding to the wider GCC market.

Low-carbon energy solutions

The agreements also include MoUs with Korean energy companies KEPCO, S-Oil, POSCO, Hyundai Oilbank, H2Korea and Lotte Chemical to explore potential collaboration in the supply, transportation, utilization and certification of hydrogen and ammonia. The companies also plan to study the feasibility of converting exported ammonia into hydrogen – a process known as ammonia back-cracking.

This represents a first step towards a potential large-scale production facility for hydrogen and ammonia in Saudi Arabia, which would also include a carbon capture and storage facility.

Finance solutions

Aramco also signed an agreement with the Export-Import Bank of Korea, known as K-EXIM, to explore strategic financing solutions in support of the Company’s business and investment activities involving Korean companies.


The following agreement in the field of construction was signed:

  • Doosan and Dussur – agreement for a casting and forging facility in the Kingdom.
  • The following MoUs in the field of technology were signed:
  • Korea Electric Power Corporation, or KEPCO – an intention to study the ammonia supply chain.
  • S-Oil – an agreement to explore potential collaboration in the field of ammonia offtake and logistics.
  • S-Oil – an agreement to explore opportunities in R&D collaboration on low-carbon energy solutions.
  • Two separate agreements with POSCO and Hyundai Oilbank to exchange information and explore potential collaboration in the field of blue ammonia and blue hydrogen.
  • H2KOREA – an agreement to exchange information on hydrogen certification and regulatory requirements.
  • S-Oil – an agreement to exchange information related to Aramco’s Thermal Crude to Chemicals technology and explore potential collaboration.
  • The following MoUs in the field of finance and investments were signed:
  • Export-Import Bank of Korea, KEXIM – Heads of Terms for strategic financing solutions.
  • S-Oil – an agreement to collaborate on venture capital investment and start-up financing.

Egypt raises minimum wage to $172 for public sector employees

Egypt raises minimum wage to $172 for public sector employees
Updated 18 January 2022

Egypt raises minimum wage to $172 for public sector employees

Egypt raises minimum wage to $172 for public sector employees
  • The directive issuance came during El Sisi’s meeting with prime minister Mostafa Madbouly and a number of ministers to review the draft state budget for the fiscal year 2022/23.

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued a directive to raise the minimum wage to 2,700 Egyptian pounds ($172), up from 2,400 Egyptian pounds, the presidency announced. 

The directive issuance came during El Sisi’s meeting with prime minister Mostafa Madbouly and a number of ministers to review the draft state budget for the fiscal year 2022/23.

New fiscal year’s budget seeks to reduce the total deficit to around 6.3 percent of the GDP and to achieve an initial surplus of 1.5 percent of the GDP, the finance minister stated.


Saudi SABIC plans petrochemicals plant in Jubail after launch of similar plant in South Korea

SABIC CEO Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan said the company views the Korean market as an opportunity to expand in Asia. (SABIC)
SABIC CEO Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan said the company views the Korean market as an opportunity to expand in Asia. (SABIC)
Updated 18 January 2022

Saudi SABIC plans petrochemicals plant in Jubail after launch of similar plant in South Korea

SABIC CEO Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan said the company views the Korean market as an opportunity to expand in Asia. (SABIC)

RIYADH: Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) plans to build a petrochemicals plant in the city of Jubail on the gulf coast in the Eastern Province, after a similar plant in South Korea starts production by year-end, CEO Yousef Abdullah Al-Benyan told Asharq TV on Tuesday.

Al-Benyan added that the company views the Korean market as an opportunity to expand in Asia.

The announcment came as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince held talks with the President of South Korea at the Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday.

During their meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Moon Jae-in reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to support and enhance them in all fields.

Also on Tuesday, Saudi Aramco said it had signed 10 agreements during a Saudi-Korean investment forum held in conjunction with the president's visit.

* With Reuters