Saudi Arabia leads region with surge in sporting investment

Saudi Arabia leads region with surge in sporting investment
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Updated 23 August 2021

Saudi Arabia leads region with surge in sporting investment

Saudi Arabia leads region with surge in sporting investment
  • Sector’s value will soar to SR18 billion by 2030, ministry figures reveal

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has staked its position as the leading force behind the growth of the Middle East’s sports industry, according to a report by the US-Saudi Business Council.
The contribution of sports to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product grew from SR2.4 billion ($640 million) in 2016 to SR6.5 billion in 2019, driven by the Kingdom’s status as the largest and most populous country in the GCC, with more than two-thirds of the population under 35, along with its Vision 2030 commitment to develop sports as a key non-oil industry.
That figure is expected to grow to SR18 billion by 2030, according to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Sports.
The latest figures released in 2020 before the pandemic showed participation of Saudi citizens in sports rose from 13 percent to 20 percent following the launch of the Quality of Life program, according to the General Authority for Statistics (GAStat).
The government aims to raise this to 40 percent by 2030 through investment in sporting facilities, expansion of women’s and children’s sports education and training, and raising the national profile of Saudi Arabia as a sporting destination.
Saudi Vision 2030 has opened new opportunities in the sports industry for local and international firms as part of efforts to boost Saudi youth participation in sports, utilize the private sector to address infrastructure and knowledge gaps, and pursue a national reputation for leadership in sports.
The Kingdom currently has SR11 billion of major sports projects planned or under construction. These include mega-projects such as NEOM, Qiddiya, AMAALA, AlUla, and the Riyadh City project as well as municipal projects that include a new motor park at King Abdullah Economic City and construction of new recreational and university fitness facilities.
These projects employ a range of companies, including local construction firms, international design and consulting firms, international EPC firms, and leading sports bodies with specific domain knowledge.
“Most of the economic benefits will flow to Saudi companies, which do the majority of business associated with sports in the Kingdom. This includes construction, facilities management and project logistics. However, foreign companies and associations are actively partnering with Saudi firms to elevate specific sports domains,” said Albara’a Alwazir, director of economic research at the US-Saudi Business Council.
“Saudi Arabia’s mega-project pipeline will continue to provide numerous projects and job opportunities for sports infrastructure. As talent identification and development programs become more established, demand for sporting goods, facilities and international investment will increase. Large developments such as Qiddiya and the Riyadh Sports Boulevard are expected to produce tens of thousands of jobs during construction, and also provide permanent job opportunities in sports and tourism for Saudi nationals.”
Women’s sports, in particular, represent a significant economic opportunity for local and international firms to address a growing and underdeveloped market segment. The sports ministry estimates that female participation in sports has increased by nearly 150 percent in the past five years. According to a 2019 GAStat survey, 10 percent of men who did not take part in sports cited lack of facilities as a reason compared with 25 percent of women, highlighting a market opportunity for sports and fitness companies.
Saudi Arabia also launched a SR15 billion Tourism Development Fund in June 2020 to develop the sector in collaboration with private and investment banks. With tourism envisioned as a new pillar of the Kingdom’s non-oil economy, sports tourism will be a key element of this strategy from smaller scale amenity development to multibillion-dollar mega-projects.
Since 2016, the Kingdom has actively bid to host major international sporting events and sought to attract international investment by developing venues for sports that are popular with Saudi audiences. Soccer, boxing and wrestling are particularly popular with Saudi audiences and have been among the top international events held in Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom is expected to continue pursuing opportunities to host sporting events as well as sports that cater to the natural advantages of the Saudi landscape such as desert sports in AlUla and water sports at NEOM and the Red Sea project.
While Saudi Arabia holds high ambitions for its competitiveness in professional sports under Vision 2030, recreational and tourism-related sports represent a broader array of activities and a sustainable market opportunity to build a new pillar of the country’s non-oil economy.


TAQA and RG to explore opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia

TAQA and RG to explore opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia
Updated 10 sec ago

TAQA and RG to explore opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia

TAQA and RG to explore opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Industrialization and Energy Services Company, also known as TAQA, has formed a strategic alliance with Iceland’s Reykjavik Geothermal to explore and identify opportunities for geothermal projects in Saudi Arabia. 

The alliance will also see both companies working together on geothermal projects such as designing, drilling, constructing, monitoring, and managing geothermal wells. 

The strategic alliance was announced during PetroEnvironmnet Conference and exhibition 2022 on May 17. 

“Partnering with RG, the best in class and internationally recognized company in the geothermal, baseload and clean/renewable energy fields is an important step to realizing TAQA2021 strategy,” said Khalid Nouh, CEO of TAQA. 

RG CEO Magnús Ásbjörnsson said: “We first came to the Kingdom over a decade ago with a vision of bringing clean, reliable baseload energy to the Kingdom, and in TAQA we have found a partner that aligns with our vision.”

Founded in 2008, Reykjavik Geothermal currently has seven projects — two in construction and five in development, with offices in the US and Ethiopia. 

According to the company website, its mission is to generate clean and dependable geothermal energy around the world.


Oil rises on EU’s Russian oil ban effort, demand hopes

Oil rises on EU’s Russian oil ban effort, demand hopes
Updated 6 min 37 sec ago

Oil rises on EU’s Russian oil ban effort, demand hopes

Oil rises on EU’s Russian oil ban effort, demand hopes

LONDON: Oil hit its highest in seven weeks on Tuesday, supported by the European Union’s ongoing push for a ban on Russian oil imports that would tighten supply and as investors focused on higher demand from an easing of China’s COVID lockdowns.

EU foreign ministers failed on Monday in their effort to pressure Hungary to lift its veto on the proposed oil embargo. But some diplomats now point to a May 30-31 summit as the moment for agreement on a phased ban on Russian oil.

Brent crude rose as high as $115.50, its highest since March 28, and by 1024 GMT was up $1.16, or 1 percent, to $115.40. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained 78 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $114.98.

“Oil prices have remained near multi-week highs this week, supported by surging gasoline and distillate prices in the US, and fears around an EU ban on Russian oil imports remaining in play,” said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at brokerage OANDA.

Crude has surged in 2022, with Brent hitting $139, its highest since 2008, in early March as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbated supply concerns.

Oil also gained support from hopes of demand recovery in China as it looks to ease COVID restrictions, analysts said, and from rising geopolitical tension between the EU and Russia following Sweden and Finland’s moves to join NATO.

Shanghai on Tuesday achieved the long-awaited milestone of three consecutive days with no new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine zones and set out on Monday its clearest timetable yet for exiting a lockdown now in its seventh week.

Also in focus are potential further declines in US fuel inventories. Weekly inventory reports are expected to show a rise in crude stocks and declines in inventories of distillates and gasoline.

The first report, from the American Petroleum Institute is due at 2030 GMT. (Additional reporting by Isabel Kua in Singapore and Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)

 


China In-Focus — Stocks rise; COVID-19 affects Beijing’s retail industry

China In-Focus — Stocks rise; COVID-19 affects Beijing’s retail industry
Updated 12 min 38 sec ago

China In-Focus — Stocks rise; COVID-19 affects Beijing’s retail industry

China In-Focus — Stocks rise; COVID-19 affects Beijing’s retail industry

BEIJING: Emerging market stocks jumped on Tuesday, helped by a rise in Chinese shares on hopes Beijing will ease its tech sector crackdown, while currencies inched up on weakness in the dollar and strong data from Central European economies.

MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks rose 2 percent, while its currencies counterpart added 0.5 percent.

Mainland China’s CSI300 Index gained 1.3 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 3.1 percent. 

Beijing’s retail, industry upended by COVID-19 restrictions

The economy of China’s capital Beijing took a hit in April as authorities wrestled with a new COVID-19 outbreak, telling residents to avoid going out or work from home and halting many businesses.

Retail sales in the city of nearly 22 million people, a key gauge of consumption, shrank 16.05 percent in April from a year earlier, according to Reuters calculations based on January-April data released by the city’s statistics bureau on Tuesday, outpacing the nation’s 11.1 percent contraction.

Industrial output fell 3.3 percent in the first four months, compared with a 7.2 percent growth in the first quarter, the biggest cumulative drop since July 2020. The city’s statistics bureau did not publish data for April or offer comparative figures.

Property sales in Beijing nosedived by 25.83 percent last month, further pummeling an already struggling sector, despite more policy easing steps aimed at reviving what has traditionally been a key pillar of China’s economy.

Fixed-asset investment grew 8.9 percent in the first four months, slower than the 10.3 percent gain in January-March.

China’s revenue from government land sales down

China’s government land sales revenue fell 29.8 percent in January-April from a year earlier to 1.5012 trillion yuan ($222.04 billion), finance ministry data showed on Tuesday, down from a 27.4 percent slump in the first quarter.

For April, revenue from government land sales fell 37.88 percent from a year earlier, the fastest pace since January-February 2020, according to Reuters calculations based on the ministry’s data.

That was sharply wider than a 22.84 percent fall in March.


Russian crude production plunges by nearly 9 percent in April, OPEC+ data shows

Russian crude production plunges by nearly 9 percent in April, OPEC+ data shows
Updated 23 min 50 sec ago

Russian crude production plunges by nearly 9 percent in April, OPEC+ data shows

Russian crude production plunges by nearly 9 percent in April, OPEC+ data shows

LONDON: Russian crude output fell by nearly 9 percent to 9.16 million barrels per day (bpd) compared with March levels, according to assessments by OPEC+ secondary sources, an internal report seen by Reuters on Tuesday showed.

This meant that Russia last month produced 1.28 million bpd below the levels required in an oil production cut agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+.

Overall, OPEC+ produced 2.6 million bpd below its targets in April, the data showed.


Dubai’s GII acquires 51% of Saudi Arabia’s Almeswak for $530m

Dubai’s GII acquires 51% of Saudi Arabia’s Almeswak for $530m
Updated 39 min 31 sec ago

Dubai’s GII acquires 51% of Saudi Arabia’s Almeswak for $530m

Dubai’s GII acquires 51% of Saudi Arabia’s Almeswak for $530m

RIYADH: Dubai-based Gulf Islamic Investments completed a $530 million deal to acquire 51 percent stake in Saudi care provider Almeswak Dental Clinics. 

GII said it will seek to list Almeswak on the Saudi stock exchange within the next three years, Gold Business reported. 

“This is a landmark transaction that reflects our capability and reach in the healthcare sector and the Saudi market,” said Mohammed Al-Hassan, GII co-founder.

GII, as the company is known, has acquired a majority stake in Almeswak Dental Clinics from Saudi private equity firm Jadwa Investment Co.

Almeswak, which Jadwa acquired in 2017, operates more than 80 centers across 20 cities in Saudi Arabia.