Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister

Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister
There are three or four factories in Saudi Arabia ready to manufacture vaccines with Pfizer and AstraZeneca. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister

Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister
  • The Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is working to transfer technology and localize vaccine industries and production platforms

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia plans to follow up its agreements with Pfizer and AstraZeneca to produce vaccines in the Kingdom with further initiatives to localize the pharmaceutical industries and to become a regional center for these companies, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Osama Al-Zamil.

The Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, the King Abdullah International Center for Medical Research (KIMAR), and the Pfizer Scientific Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday, to build the foundations for the manufacture of viral and genetic vaccines in the Kingdom.

The MoU, signed during the activities of the Riyadh Summit for Medical Technology 2021, held in Riyadh, also includes providing technical support for the establishment of a human stem cell platform.

The ministry is working to transfer technology and localize vaccine industries and production platforms to manufacture, accelerate and provide vaccines in what is known as CDMO, as a basis for building suitable industrial clusters in this promising sector, and this is indeed the core of the agreement signed at the summit with Pfizer, Alzamil told Al Arabiya.

The agreements need a follow up as they aim in the long run to establish the infrastructure, not just direct manufacturing or commercial production, he said.

The first aim is to establish a research center through which different types of vaccines will be produced and clinical trials will be conducted, after which work will be done on manufacturing and commercial production.

There are 40 Saudi factories working in the drug manufacturing sector, and there are three or four factories that are ready to manufacture directly with these companies, he said.

The Ministry of Industry was entrusted with the task of achieving pharmaceutical security in the Kingdom, especially after it became a priority amid the effects of the pandemic on supply chains, Al-Zamil said.

Saudi Arabia wants to be the first choice for international companies working in the field of pharmaceuticals, and its platform for access to the countries of the Middle East.

“We are working to secure our needs in cooperation with government agencies and our international partners,” he said.


Oil gains after Saudi price hike indicating confidence in the demand outlook

Oil gains after Saudi price hike indicating confidence in the demand outlook
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 16 sec ago

Oil gains after Saudi price hike indicating confidence in the demand outlook

Oil gains after Saudi price hike indicating confidence in the demand outlook
  • The price hikes were implemented just days after OPEC+ had agreed to boost output in January

RIYADH: Oil prices rose after top exporter Saudi Arabia raised prices for its crude sold to Asia and the US, shrugging off worries around the omicron variant and suggesting confidence in the demand outlook. 

Bloomberg reported that oil giant, Saudi Aramco, raised its key Arab Light grade for customers in Asia by 60 cents from December to $3.30 a barrel above a benchmark, according to a statement.

The price hikes were implemented just days after OPEC+ had agreed to boost output in January.

"The Saudi move to increase pricing is driving the market,” said Warren Patterson, Singapore-based head of commodities strategy at ING Groep NV.

“A bit of an odd move, given the supply hike in January, the omicron uncertainty and the expectation of a better supplied market in the first quarter of 2022.”


US’s Lockheed Martin to design NASA space station

US’s Lockheed Martin to design NASA space station
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 14 min 59 sec ago

US’s Lockheed Martin to design NASA space station

US’s Lockheed Martin to design NASA space station
  • The company will be working on the Starlab project along with Nanoracks and Voyager Space

RIYADH: Lockheed Martin, the US-based aerospace company has confirmed it is one of three partners awarded a $160 million contract by NASA. 

As per the contract, the company is to design NASA’s Starlab commercial space station as part of the US agency’s Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Development program, Cobb County Courier reported. 

The company will be working on the Starlab project along with Nanoracks and Voyager Space. 

“Starlab is the confluence of Lockheed Martin’s rich space expertise and history, Nanoracks’ innovation, and Voyager’s financial savvy,” said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin.

“This team is equipped to aid NASA on its mission to expand access to LEO and to enable a transformative commercial space economy,” she added. 

Last month, the company appointed Robert Lightfoot as the new executive vice president of the Space business area as of Jan.1 2022. 


China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank

China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank
The main shopping street in Shanghai. Shutterstock.
Updated 06 December 2021

China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank

China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank
  • The world’s second-largest economy is expected to have expanded by about 8 percent this year

China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank

China’s economy is expected to grow around 5.3 percent in 2022, bringing the average annual growth rate forecast for 2020-2022 to 5.2 percent, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a top government think tank, said on Monday.


Advisers to the government will recommend that authorities set a 2022 economic growth target lower than the target set for 2021 of “above 6 percent,” Reuters reported, amid growing headwinds from a property downturn, weakening exports and strict COVID-19 curbs that have impeded consumption.


The world’s second-largest economy is expected to have expanded by about 8 percent this year, according to the annual blue book on the economy from CASS.

The think tank warned that the property downturn was likely to persist and weigh on the expenditures of local governments next year.


It urged the central government to proactively engineer a soft landing for the property sector, to avoid failed land auctions in big cities and to fend off risks of quickly falling property prices in smaller cities, the report said.


Alibaba appoints new CFO, reshuffles e-commerce businesses

Alibaba appoints new CFO, reshuffles e-commerce businesses
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 06 December 2021

Alibaba appoints new CFO, reshuffles e-commerce businesses

Alibaba appoints new CFO, reshuffles e-commerce businesses
  • Alibaba said that it would be creating an International Digital Commerce team to handle its e-commerce businesses in international markets

China’s largest e-commerce group Alibaba said Monday it is appointing a new chief financial officer and reorganizing its e-commerce businesses amid a regulatory crackdown in the technology industry.


The company said in a statement Monday that Toby Xu will succeed Maggie Wu as its new CFO from April 1, 2022. Xu joined Alibaba from PricewaterhouseCoopers three years ago and was appointed deputy group CFO in July 2019.


Wu, who has been Alibaba’s CFO since 2013 and has helped lead three Alibaba-related company listings, will continue to serve as an executive director on Alibaba’s board.


She will also remain as a partner in the Alibaba Partnership – a group of senior executives who have the right to nominate a simple majority of Alibaba’s board of directors.


“We are focused on the long-term, and succession within our management team on every occasion is always in the service of ensuring Alibaba will be stronger and better positioned for the future,” said Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group.


Separately, Alibaba said that it would be creating an International Digital Commerce team to handle its e-commerce businesses in international markets. A China Digital Commerce team will be in charge of e-commerce operations inside China, according to a post on the company’s Alizila news hub.


The international and domestic digital commerce teams will be led by executives Jiang Fan and Trudy Dai respectively.


Jiang has been in charge of Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba’s core e-commerce sites in China. Dai was the firm’s chief customer officer.


The Hangzhou-based firm was fined a record $2.8 billion for antitrust violations and is under scrutiny as regulators step up oversight of the technology industry at a time when the economy is slowing.


Last month, Alibaba cut its sales outlook for the year amid mounting competition from rivals such as Pinduoduo. It expects growth for its current year to be the slowest since it listed in New York in 2014.


Alibaba’s flagship Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza also posted its slowest-ever growth this year, amid muted marketing campaigns and a shift to sustainability and philanthropy amid Chinese President Xi Jinping’s calls for “common prosperity.”


Alibaba’s New York stock price has plunged more than 50 percent over the last 12 months. The company’s Hong Kong-traded shares were down 4.9 percent Monday.


American, Lebanese restaurants lag behind home-grown eateries in Riyadh’s lifestyle boom

American, Lebanese restaurants lag behind home-grown eateries in Riyadh’s lifestyle boom
Updated 06 December 2021

American, Lebanese restaurants lag behind home-grown eateries in Riyadh’s lifestyle boom

American, Lebanese restaurants lag behind home-grown eateries in Riyadh’s lifestyle boom
  • The US and UAE are the second and third largest sources of restaurant chains in Riyadh

RIYADH: More than two-thirds of Riyadh’s new restaurants are Saudi, dwarfing American and Lebanese influenced eateries, according to a report from real estate firm Knights Frank.

The Saudi capital has seen the birth of 288,000 square meters of new developments since 2016, when the National Transformation Plan was announced, the research says. 

“The Kingdom’s capital is beginning to morph into a foodie’s treasure trove and we’re not done yet,” Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at Knight Frank said. 

This growth is led by home-grown restaurants and cafes, he added, with 68 percent of Riyadh’s new outlets being Saudi - 21 percent of which specialize in international cuisine. 

“American food outlets account for 16 percent of food and beverage outlets, while Lebanese restaurants are the third most prevalent at 13 percent,” Durrani said. 

The US and UAE are the second and third largest sources of restaurant chains in Riyadh, respectively, he added.

“International brands must adapt their proposition across the full spectrum to suit demand, both in terms of operational aspects, as well as the actual menu offering itself,” said Pedro Riberio, head of retail advisory KSA at Knight Frank.

The Kingdom’s capital will further benefit from upcoming tourism developments, including the Bujairi Terrace and Diriyah Gate, which the Knight Frank report said will add “15,000 sqm of lifestyle retail space to the capital when it's 17 restaurants open their doors in 2022.”

This rapid growth and competition are putting pressure on older developments, the report indicated, with some operators struggling to keep vacancy rates and footfall up.