Saudi Arabia will welcome a million cruise ship passengers by 2028, Cruise Saudi MD claims

Saudi Arabia will welcome a million cruise ship passengers by 2028, Cruise Saudi MD claims
Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director, Cruise Saudi
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Updated 28 October 2021

Saudi Arabia will welcome a million cruise ship passengers by 2028, Cruise Saudi MD claims

Saudi Arabia will welcome a million cruise ship passengers by 2028, Cruise Saudi MD claims

A million cruise ship passengers will visit Saudi Arabia by 2028 according to ambitious plans set out by the managing director of the country’s Cruise Saudi company.

Fawaz Farooqui set out the goal during a session at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, as he also claimed 50,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created by the industry by 2035.

He also pledged that five cruise ports will operate in Saudi Arabia by 2025.

Farooqui’s comments came just days after Cruise Saudi became a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council as the Kingdom continues its drive to diversify its economy away from oil as per the Vision 2030 agenda.


China’s largest crypto exchange chooses Singapore as Asian base

China’s largest crypto exchange chooses Singapore as Asian base
Updated 13 sec ago

China’s largest crypto exchange chooses Singapore as Asian base

China’s largest crypto exchange chooses Singapore as Asian base

RIYADH: Huobi Group, the operator of China’s largest crypto exchange, has chosen Singapore as its regional headquarters while deciding on another location in Europe.

Singapore has become the new base for the company after it recently shifted its focus outside its home city of Beijing, co-founder Du Jun told Bloomberg News.

The company plans to set up another regional headquarters in France or the UK in 2023, Jun added.

Huobi, which was founded in China in 2013, said it will offload all Chinese users by the end of this year.

Southeast Asia is an attractive market where the number of trading users quadrupled over the past month, Jun said.


Jordan to begin oil exploration in two areas in February, energy minister says

Jordan to begin oil exploration in two areas in February, energy minister says
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 47 min 51 sec ago

Jordan to begin oil exploration in two areas in February, energy minister says

Jordan to begin oil exploration in two areas in February, energy minister says

Jordan will begin oil exploration in two areas, Al-Jafr and Al-Sarhan, in February, the country's energy minister Saleh Al-Kharabsheh said on Tuesday, as reported by Jordan state television.


A detailed study is currently underway to consider drilling three medium-depth wells at the Al-Jafr site, the minister added, which will be conducted in cooperation with Jordan's National Petroleum Company.


Vingroup tapping global investors for car unit’s $1bn funding: sources

Vingroup tapping global investors for car unit’s $1bn funding: sources
VinFast a member company of Vingroup. Image: Shutterstock
Updated 30 November 2021

Vingroup tapping global investors for car unit’s $1bn funding: sources

Vingroup tapping global investors for car unit’s $1bn funding: sources
  • If successful, it is likely to end up as Vietnam’s largest private fundraising

Vietnam’s largest conglomerate Vingroup is in talks with investors, including Qatar’s sovereign fund and BlackRock, to raise about $1 billion in equity for its car unit, three sources aware of the matter said.


The fundraising exercise comes as VinFast, Vingroup’s automobile arm, is betting big on the US market, where it hopes that its electric SUVs and a battery leasing model will be enough to woo consumers away from the likes of Tesla and General Motors.


If successful, it is likely to end up as Vietnam’s largest private fundraising, underscoring heightened investor interest in Southeast Asia, a region where ride-hailing and delivery giants Grab and GoTo have raised billions of dollars.


The fundraising move also shows electric vehicle projects remain a major draw for investors.


“Electric vehicles are the topic of the year and there’s huge investor interest,” said one of the sources.


Vingroup is in discussions for the fundraising ahead of VinFast’s potential US listing that could take place as early as next year, said the sources, who declined to be identified as negotiations are still ongoing.


They said the company could finalize the private fundraising deal as early as next month. Vingroup is also in talks with global private equity firms.


The sources said Vingroup is in advanced talks with Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the country’s $300 billion sovereign wealth fund, which has been diversifying its investments from its core European and US markets toward Asia.


BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager.


Vingroup declined to comment while there was no response from QIA. BlackRock did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


VinFast plans a US listing within the next couple of years, its chief executive told Reuters earlier this month, aiming to join a growing list of electric vehicle startups that have taken advantage of investor enthusiasm and raised money.


Two sources told Reuters that VinFast was sticking to a previous plan of either listing via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) or making a standalone listing.


VinFast, established in 2017 as part of Vingroup, plans to start producing electric cars in the United States in the second half of 2024. It unveiled two electric sport utility vehicles, VF e35 and VF e36, at the Los Angeles Auto Show this month. 


Emirates airline could float on Dubai stock market: Company president

Emirates airline could float on Dubai stock market: Company president
Updated 51 min 14 sec ago

Emirates airline could float on Dubai stock market: Company president

Emirates airline could float on Dubai stock market: Company president
  • The airline posted a loss of 5.8 billion dirham from April to September, down from a 12.6 billion dirham loss for the same period last year.

DUBAI: The Dubai government is considering an initial public offering of Emirates airline, the flagship carrier’s President Tim Clark said on Monday, as authorities work to boost activity on the local stock market.

The emirate’s government is planning to list 10 state-backed companies on its stock exchange and set up a 2 billion dirham ($545 million) market maker fund to encourage trading activity.

“Yes, there has been talk about it. Yes, there has been, perhaps a little bit more flesh on the whole subject than there has been in the past,” Clark said in an interview for the upcoming Reuters Next conference when asked if a listing was a possibility.

“I’m waiting instructions as to how this is going to affect the Emirates Group. What the government of Dubai decides to do...is up to them, I would basically do as I am bid.”

Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said earlier this month that it was possible to list the carrier or its subsidiaries.

Governments have pumped billions of dollars into airlines during the coronavirus pandemic and state-owned Emirates has received around $3.8 billion in equity injections from Dubai, including $2 billion disclosed last year.

The airline posted a loss of 5.8 billion dirham from April to September, down from a 12.6 billion dirham loss for the same period last year.

However, Clark said he does not expect further government support over the next year so long as the new variant of the coronavirus does not cause too much disruption.

“We are restoring our cash position at pace. So it is unlikely, notwithstanding the omicron variant and its effects... if it’s not as bad as people think it may be, then we see no further recourse to the owner putting equity into the business.

Clark said that although Emirates would still suffer a loss this year, it would be considerably smaller than in the preceding 12 months. For 2022, he expected the airline to break even or make a profit.

“I am very pleased to say we have returned to profitability already, over the last six, seven weeks, we’ve been profitable,” he said.


Emirates warns omicron could cause ‘significant traumas’ for aviation industry

Emirates warns omicron could cause ‘significant traumas’ for aviation industry
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 30 November 2021

Emirates warns omicron could cause ‘significant traumas’ for aviation industry

Emirates warns omicron could cause ‘significant traumas’ for aviation industry
  • However, he said bookings generally remained strong despite the reintroduction of measures in some European markets

DUBAI: A major hit to the peak December travel season because of the omicron variant of the coronavirus would cause “significant traumas” in the global aviation business, Emirates airline President Tim Clark said on Tuesday.

Clark said Emirates was working on the basis the newly discovered variant could be dealt with effectively by vaccines, but acknowledged the next few weeks would prove critical for the industry as scientists assess the risks.

“I would say probably by the end of December, we’ll have a much clearer position,” Clark said in an interview for the Reuters Next.

“But in that time, December is a very important month for the air travel business,” he added. “If that is lost, or the winter is lost to a lot of carriers, there will be significant traumas in the business, certainly the aviation business and the periphery.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that the heavily mutated omicron coronavirus variant is likely to spread internationally and poses a very high risk of infection surges that could have “severe consequences” in some places.

omicron was first reported on Nov. 24 in southern Africa, where infections have risen steeply. It has since spread to more than a dozen countries, many of which have imposed travel restrictions to try to seal themselves off.

Japan on Monday joined Israel in saying it would close its borders completely to foreigners.

“It’s likely to arrest, inhibit, but not stall the uptick in demand that we’ve all had the benefit of in the last month or two,” Clark said.

He noted, however, that it could also “go the other way,” with more draconian measures in response to a greater threat from the variant.

Clark said the airline’s decision to close down flights out of South Africa and a handful of surrounding countries was difficult, given strong demand for the December period.

However, he said bookings generally remained strong despite the reintroduction of measures in some European markets such as track and trace, quarantine and PCR testing.

“People haven’t made that decision to cancel or pull off, so we’re hoping that it doesn’t worsen, that the border procedures for re-entry are not so draconian that it prevents them from traveling at all,” he said.

Emirates Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said just two weeks ago at the Dubai Airshow that the airline planned to deploy a further 60 A380s in response to improving demand, adding to the 47 currently in operation.

“That will be tempered by whatever form this variant takes,” Clark said on Monday. “If it’s mild and its accepted as being mild in its effect and the efficacy of the vaccine shield is able to deal with it, then we hope to have all our aircraft flying, including all the 380s by the summer of next year.”

Clark said re-embedding cabin crews, pilots and engineers and re-training them for safety and other procedures was currently the “greatest inhibiter” for the airline.

“We are continuing to move as if this variant will be dealt with,” he said. “If it isn’t ... we will retard our plans accordingly.”