Empower buys district cooling systems of Dubai International Airport for $299m

Empower buys district cooling systems of Dubai International Airport for $299m
The interior of Dubai International Airport (Getty)
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Updated 02 November 2021

Empower buys district cooling systems of Dubai International Airport for $299m

Empower buys district cooling systems of Dubai International Airport for $299m

RIYADH: Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower) has agreed to buy the district cooling systems of Dubai International Airport, for AED1.1 billion ($299.4 million), WAM reported.

The acquisition was carried out through a combination of cash from company reserves and debt financing from local and international banks.

Empower, the world’s largest district cooling services provider, will own and manage all the existing relevant infrastructure at Dubai International Airport, which has a cooling capacity of 110,000 refrigeration tonnes, 11 times the capacity of Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower.

"The deal is a part of the AED25 billion public-private partnership portfolio announced by Dubai's Department of Finance at the Dubai International PPP Conference, which was held last month at Expo 2020," said the chairman of Dubai Airports, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.


Saudi finance minister says no immediate plans to transfer more funds to PIF

Saudi finance minister says no immediate plans to transfer more funds to PIF
Updated 6 sec ago

Saudi finance minister says no immediate plans to transfer more funds to PIF

Saudi finance minister says no immediate plans to transfer more funds to PIF
  • The PIF manages over $600 billion in assets, a figure that has doubled in about two years

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s finance minister said on Monday there were no immediate plans to transfer more funds to the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund at the center of the kingdom’s plans to diversify its economy away from oil.

The PIF manages over $600 billion in assets, a figure that has doubled in about two years.

“I think there is no immediate plan to transfer any funds to PIF,” said Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In 2020, the PIF got a $40 billion injection from the central bank, which Jadaan said at the time was done on an “exceptional basis.”

In February this year, Saudi Arabia transferred 4 percent of oil giant Saudi Aramco’s shares, now worth $92 billion, to the PIF.

Jadaan said Saudi Arabia would, in the first quarter of next year, deploy its expected surplus from this year where it would have “the most positive impact on the economy,” including to the National Development Fund, which supports private sector investment.

“So we need to make sure we allocate enough amount of money to them,” he said. “We have opportunities to invest with the PIF because they are actually making very good deals in their investments and doing very well, both inside Saudi and outside,” he added.

“And then you need to look at, you know, your reserves. Is there potential medium-term external shocks (so) that you need to build more reserves, or what you have now is enough?“

Jadaan reiterated Saudi Arabia expects economic growth of 7.4 percent this year and said inflation was seen reaching between 2.1 percent and 2.3 percent by the end of 2022.

A cap on petrol prices when oil breaches $70 was helping contain inflation, he added.

“It was the end of last year we froze the price escalation of gasoline for the internal economy and households at $70. So anything above $70, the economy will not feel that heat.” 


Saudi hospitality giant Alhokair narrows losses by 48% on higher revenues

Saudi hospitality giant Alhokair narrows losses by 48% on higher revenues
Updated 17 min 23 sec ago

Saudi hospitality giant Alhokair narrows losses by 48% on higher revenues

Saudi hospitality giant Alhokair narrows losses by 48% on higher revenues

RIYADH: Alhokair Group, a leading hospitality and tourism player in Saudi Arabia, has narrowed down its losses by 48 percent in the first quarter on the back of strong revenue growth.

The company managed to bring down its losses to SR31 million ($8 million) in the first quarter from SR60 million reported in the same period last year, according to a bourse filing.

Its results improved due to a 22 percent revenue growth to SR172 million for the first quarter in comparison to the first quarter of 2021.

Alhokair Group has 92 entertainment centers and 35 hotels spread in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.


Oil Updates — Crude down on recession fears; Massive fuel price hike in Sri Lanka; New CEO for Petrobras

Oil Updates — Crude down on recession fears; Massive fuel price hike in Sri Lanka; New CEO for Petrobras
Updated 40 min 13 sec ago

Oil Updates — Crude down on recession fears; Massive fuel price hike in Sri Lanka; New CEO for Petrobras

Oil Updates — Crude down on recession fears; Massive fuel price hike in Sri Lanka; New CEO for Petrobras

RIYADH: Oil prices fell on Tuesday as concerns over a possible recession and China’s COVID-19 curbs outweighed an expectation of tight global supply and a pick-up in fuel demand with the US summer driving season.

Brent crude futures for July slid 61 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $112.81 a barrel by 0402 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures for July delivery dropped 55 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $109.74 a barrel. Both benchmarks fell by more than $1 earlier in the session.

Sri Lanka increases fuel prices

Sri Lanka increased fuel and transport prices on Tuesday, a long-flagged move to combat its debilitating economic crisis, but the hikes are bound to exacerbate galloping inflation, at least in the short term.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said in a message on Twitter that petrol prices would increase by 20 percent to 24 percent while diesel prices would rise by 35 percent to 38 percent with immediate effect.

“Cabinet also approved the revision of transportation and other service charges accordingly,” he said.

Wijesekera said also that people would be encouraged to work from home “to minimize the use of fuel and to manage the energy crisis” and that public sector officials would work from office only when instructed by the head of the institution.

Brazil picks second new Petrobras CEO in 2 months

Senior Brazilian economy ministry official Caio Mario Paes de Andrade will be the next CEO of state-run oil company Petrobras, the government said on Monday, replacing a predecessor who served less than two months in the job.

Paes de Andrade will take over from outgoing CEO Jose Mauro Coelho, picked to lead Brazil’s leading oil company in early April, becoming its fourth chief executive in the past two years.

The shakeup is President Jair Bolsonaro’s latest bid to influence Petrobras’ fuel pricing policy as he seeks to boost his re-election prospects amid galloping energy-driven inflation, according to analysts.

The mines and energy ministry said in a statement announcing the leadership shakeup that Brazil is facing extreme volatility in the oil and gas market. It did not specify the reason for Coelho’s ouster, nor say when the new chief will formally take over.

(With input from Reuters) 


 


WEF: Economists warn of deepening human misery amid global economic fragmentation 

WEF: Economists warn of deepening human misery amid global economic fragmentation 
Updated 24 May 2022

WEF: Economists warn of deepening human misery amid global economic fragmentation 

WEF: Economists warn of deepening human misery amid global economic fragmentation 
  • Experts warn the pandemic and war in Ukraine have exacerbated the trend towards “deglobalization” 
  • Chief Economists Outlook forecast warns inflation and supply chain disruption will deepen food insecurity 

DUBAI: The World Economic Forum’s Chief Economists Outlook report has sounded a warning of potentially dire human consequences that could result from the fragmentation of the global economy, exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

In their latest quarterly report, published on Monday, day two of the WEF annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, experts forecast higher rates of inflation in the US, Europe and Latin America, with a resultant decline in real wages in both high-income and low-income countries.

The regions that appear particularly vulnerable to a lower rate of economic activity include the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which have already experienced worsening levels of food insecurity in recent years.

As supply chains enter a third year of disruption, governments and businesses are rethinking their approach to exposure, self-sufficiency and security. As a result, experts warn that firms are realigning their supply chains along geopolitical fault lines, creating a new “economic iron curtain.”

Economists fear these trends could set global development back decades.

“We are at the cusp of a vicious cycle that could impact societies for years,” Saadia Zahidi, the WEF’s managing director, said in a statement issued on Monday. 

“The pandemic and war in Ukraine have fragmented the global economy and created far-reaching consequences that risk wiping out the gains of the last 30 years. 

Saadia Zahidi, WEF managing director, speaking during the panel discussion on Monday. (Supplied)

“Leaders face difficult choices and trade-offs domestically when it comes to debt, inflation and investment. Yet business and government leaders must also recognize the absolute necessity of global cooperation to prevent economic misery and hunger for millions around the world.”

The most visible effect of this disruption has been the rising price of food. The war in Ukraine is expected to increase wheat prices by 40 percent this year, while the price of vegetable oils, cereals and meats continue to skyrocket.

The process of “deglobalization,” a term coined by the Chief Economists Outlook report in 2021 to describe the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been expedited by the economic and geopolitical fallout from the invasion of Ukraine.

The country is one of the world’s biggest exporters of grain and vegetable oils and the blockade of its Black Sea ports has disrupted the global supply of these commodities. In addition, Ukrainian farmers displaced by the conflict have been unable to tend this year’s crops, foreshadowing further shortages.

During a panel discussion at the Davos meeting, David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, said that about “49 million people are knocking on famine’s door in 43 countries,” including Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Mali, Burkina Faso, Congo, Guatemala and El Salvador. 

“This is going to be hell on earth,” Beasley said on the opening day of the WEF event. “Because of this crisis, we are taking food from the hungry to give to the starving.” 

 

It is not only rising food prices that concern economists. The World Bank expects energy prices to increase by 50 percent in 2022, before easing in 2023-24. Many fear that government efforts to mitigate the threat of energy insecurity will prioritize carbon-intensive sources rather than green renewables, setting back climate action.

In many advanced economies, the rising cost of living is already having a detrimental effect on quality of life.

Speaking during a visit to Tokyo on Monday, US President Joe Biden acknowledged the squeeze many Americans are feeling as a result of high inflation and supply-chain shortages but said a recession is not inevitable.

“Our GDP is going to grow faster than China’s for the first time in 40 years,” he said. “Now, does that mean we don’t have problems? We do. We have problems that the rest of the world has, but less consequential than the rest of the world has because of our internal growth and strength.”

Biden’s rejection of an imminent economic slump in the wake of financial market jitters about “stagflation,” which means persistent high inflation combined with high unemployment and stagnant demand in an economy, found backing from another of the speakers at the Davos gathering, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, participating in a panel discussion of the WEF on Monday. (Screengrab from WEF video)

However, she admitted that the IMF expects weak growth in comparison with last year, when the world was emerging from the worst of the pandemic, and added that there is now a risk of further declines because of the war in Ukraine and the resulting fragmentation.

“The costs of further disintegration would be enormous across countries,” Georgieva said in a blog post ahead of the WEF meeting, highlighting the potential for new waves of cross-border migration.

“And people at every income level would be hurt — from highly paid professionals and middle-income factory workers who export, to low-paid workers who depend on food imports to survive.

“More people will embark on perilous journeys to seek opportunity elsewhere.”

 

 


TRSDC preparing a new breed of Saudi hospitality professionals to place Kingdom firmly on global tourism map

TRSDC preparing a new breed of Saudi hospitality professionals to place Kingdom firmly on global tourism map
Updated 24 May 2022

TRSDC preparing a new breed of Saudi hospitality professionals to place Kingdom firmly on global tourism map

TRSDC preparing a new breed of Saudi hospitality professionals to place Kingdom firmly on global tourism map
  • The company is committed to becoming an employer of choice, says top official

RIYADH: A few years ago, it was a bit inconceivable to see tourists in large numbers swimming in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea or marveling at the breath-taking natural habitats in the nearby islands.

Frankly, the Kingdom was never on the radar screen of potential European, American and Asian tourists as most of these visitors preferred to spend their vacations in more popular tourist destinations.

However, this is about to change.

The Saudi government, which is keen to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil as the primary source of revenue, has embarked on an ambitious multi-billion-dollar plan to turn the Red Sea into a significant tourist attraction.

To achieve this goal, the Kingdom set up The Red Sea Development Co., which was incorporated as a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The company’s main task is to develop and promote a new international luxury tourism destination that will set high standards for sustainable development and bring about the next generation of luxury travel.

According to the company, the development will offer unprecedented investment options and allow visitors to explore the five untouched treasures of the west coast of the Kingdom: the archipelago of over 90 islands with stunning coral reefs, dormant volcanoes and pristine nature reserves.

The new destination, which covers an area of 28,000 sq. km, is located between Umluj and Al Wajh, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Oasis of relief

The company’s executives are upbeat about the future and feel confident that the first wave of tourists will come to the Red Sea at the end of 2022.

“We are gearing up to welcome the world’s most discerning travelers to The Red Sea Project by the end of this year when our first hotels will open. We have marked significant progress to ensure we remain on track,” Anton Bawab, head of operations at TRSDC, told Arab News. 

Anton Bawab, head of operations, TRSDC

Bawab said the company has identified the hotel brands and partners and announced nine of them last October.

These include leading world brands such as Jumeirah, Six Senses, EDITION, St Regis, Fairmont, Raffles, SLS, Grand Hyatt and InterContinental.

“These offerings will form part of the 16 hotels that we planned for the first phase of development by 2023. Upon full completion, we will host 50 resorts offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include an international airport, luxury marinas, golf courses, and entertainment and leisure facilities,” Bawab explained.

Bawab hoped by 2030 the number of visitors to the Red Sea would reach one million.

“By 2030, annual visitors will be capped at one million to ensure we provide an exclusive experience while mitigating environmental impacts and protecting the local heritage, nature, and culture for future generations.

“Access will drive visitors, and visitors will drive access. To that effect, we are working hand in hand with regional airlines to ensure that our international airport is accessible with frequent flights at guest-friendly timings,” he noted.

According to the estimates of TRSDC, by 2030, TRSP will contribute SR22 billion ($5.9 billion) per year to the local gross domestic product, while construction and 10 years of steady-state operations will generate cumulative revenues of SR464 billion by 2044.

Nurturing local talent 

The work of TRSDC does not stop here. The company has also created a talent team to groom young Saudi nationals to work on the project to create more jobs in the market.

One of the key people behind this team is Zehar Filemban, senior talent development director of TRSDC.

“Our commitment to injecting the local market with 70,000 jobs while engaging with the public, private, and start-up sectors, will reenergize a thriving economy. Our mission is to redefine the relationship between luxury and sustainability while inviting the world to witness previously undiscovered local treasures. This will spotlight the country’s credentials as an ambitious nation on the global tourism stage,” Filemban said. 

Zehar Filemban, senior talent development director

To achieve these strategic imperatives, the company is taking great care and caution to produce economic, environmental, and social co-benefits for the entirety of the tourism value chain.

“The overarching nature of the tourism industry means we are inspiring growth in supporting economic sectors like renewable energy, clean transportation, low-impact building and construction, sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, and wildlife management,” Filemban said.

He emphasized that TRSDC is committed to becoming an employer of choice by recruiting, developing and retaining exceptional talent, promoting Saudization and supporting diversity and inclusion.

“In this pursuit, we will continue to facilitate knowledge transfer within the local, regional, and international industry; enhance professional development opportunities and develop young Saudi talent,” Filemban said.

Preparing for the future

Filemban added that the company is creating the changemakers of tomorrow through robust learning and development courses such as the annual Elite Graduate Program, preparation programs in local towns, community workshops, and advanced training and mentorships opportunities.

“We do this in close partnership with industry leaders like National eLearning Center, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Human Resources Development Fund, Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation, Saudi Entertainment Academy, the University of Tabuk and the University of Prince Mugrin.”

Filemban also supervised different departments to harness the abilities of the young Saudi nationals and prepare them to assume new responsibilities in the future.

“Over 600 students are currently enrolled in educational programs that support the provision of high-quality education and improve the learning experience to meet the needs of all employees and students. Programs that vary between vocational training and scholarships, under a wide range of tracks including hospitality management, airport services and technical services,” he added.

Filemban insisted that people are the company’s greatest assets and are the center of its organizational development, supported by its education and learning systems.
On May 19, TRSDC achieved another key milestone geared towards upskilling young Saudi talent through signing the second agreement with the Human Resources Development Fund to deliver high-quality training programs. General Manager of HRDF Turki Aljawini visited the site to sign the new agreement and get introduced to the project site.

This partnership will create a substantial pipeline to support and equip 1,000 young Saudis with the knowledge and expertise needed to start successful careers at TRSDC spanning across various areas such as hospitality, tourism security and information technology.

Eager to learn

Students also shared their company experience and closely followed the progress of work.

Lojain Labban, a student at the University of Prince Mugrin under a TRSDC scholarship program, learned about the program through a Twitter personality that had advertised the hospitality scholarship, and it triggered her interest. 

Lojain Labban, scholarship student

“I honestly had no idea what I was going into, I didn’t know much about the major, but it seemed like a fantastic opportunity with one of the biggest companies in the Kingdom,” Labban said.

She expressed her admiration for the project and was even more impressed by the determination of officials to attract tourists to the Red Sea.

“I love that they are developing areas of Saudi soon to be one of the top places for tourism; they are creating a tourist hotspot right here. One does not need to look far to see luxury places to holiday in. It is helping the whole and the Saudi citizens themselves to truly explore and appreciate the beauty of the Kingdom,” Labban said.

Abdulrahman Hamid Alshithiwani, a high school student at Umluj, was also among the young Saudis who saw work progress at the Red Sea.

“First of all, I am proud of this most wonderful achievement because they set a very ambitious goal, and it is in my region that I was born and grew in. And to know that I am part of a giga-project that will draw the world’s attention by 2030,” Alshithiwani said.

He believes that these projects will offer massive numbers of job opportunities in many fields such as hospitality, renewable energy, aviation, the environment and much more.

“This project will take us to another level that will enable us to compete and excel in these markets,” Alshithiwani concluded.