Saudi Arabia and Oman commit to closer cooperation as first land crossing opens

Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq receives Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Muscat. (SPA)
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Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq receives Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Muscat. (SPA)
Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq receives Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Muscat. (SPA)
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Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq receives Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Muscat. (SPA)
Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq receives Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Muscat. (SPA)
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Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq receives Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Muscat. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman traveled to Oman on a two-day visit as part of an official Gulf tour. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman traveled to Oman on a two-day visit as part of an official Gulf tour. (SPA)
Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq receives Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Muscat. (SPA)
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Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq receives Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Muscat. (SPA)
The road runs from Al-Batha road intersection near the capital, Riyadh, to the Empty Quarter crossing on the Saudi-Omani border. (SPA)
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The road runs from Al-Batha road intersection near the capital, Riyadh, to the Empty Quarter crossing on the Saudi-Omani border. (SPA)
The road runs from Al-Batha road intersection near the capital, Riyadh, to the Empty Quarter crossing on the Saudi-Omani border. (SPA)
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The road runs from Al-Batha road intersection near the capital, Riyadh, to the Empty Quarter crossing on the Saudi-Omani border. (SPA)
The road runs from Al-Batha road intersection near the capital, Riyadh, to the Empty Quarter crossing on the Saudi-Omani border. (SPA)
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The road runs from Al-Batha road intersection near the capital, Riyadh, to the Empty Quarter crossing on the Saudi-Omani border. (SPA)
The road runs from Al-Batha road intersection near the capital, Riyadh, to the Empty Quarter crossing on the Saudi-Omani border. (SPA)
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The road runs from Al-Batha road intersection near the capital, Riyadh, to the Empty Quarter crossing on the Saudi-Omani border. (SPA)
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Updated 09 December 2021

Saudi Arabia and Oman commit to closer cooperation as first land crossing opens

Saudi Arabia and Oman commit to closer cooperation as first land crossing opens
  • The Kingdom and the sultanate agreed to cooperate in the field of energy and climate change
  • The two sides also agreed to work to coordinate their positions on regional and international issues

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Oman announced on Tuesday the opening of the first land crossing between the two Gulf neighbors.
“The 725 kilometer Saudi-Omani road...will contribute to the smooth movement of citizens of the two countries and the integration of supply chains,” a joint statement released following an official visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.
The road runs from Al-Batha road intersection near the capital, Riyadh, to the Empty Quarter crossing on the Saudi-Omani border, costing over SR1.9 billion ($506 million).
The project to link the two countries, implemented by the Ministry of Transport and Logistics, is considered an engineering marvel given the difficult terrain and harsh climate in the Empty Quarter. It is also considered one of the ministry’s most important projects due to the role it plays in promoting trade exchange between the two countries, and facilitating the movement of pilgrims and tourists.

The opening of the road also completes the Kingdom’s direct links with all the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and is expected to contribute to increasing the volume of trade exchange between the two countries, which exceeded SR10 billion last year.
Meanwhile, Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq and Prince Mohammed held talks in Muscat, where they reviewed prospects for joint cooperation and ways of developing them in various fields. They praised the cooperation and coordination achieved in the political, economic, military and security fields so far.
The two sides also praised the efforts of the OPEC+ countries, led by the Kingdom and with Oman’s participation, which led to the stability and balance of oil markets. They also stressed the importance of continuing this cooperation and called on member countries to adhere to the OPEC+ agreement.

Saudi Arabia and Oman agreed to cooperate in the field of energy and climate change and to work jointly within the framework of the Middle East Green Initiative regionally and globally.
“The two sides agreed to increase the facilities that contribute to the smooth flow of intra-regional trade and enhance cooperation in the field of food security,” the statement said.
During the visit, memoranda of understanding were signed in the fields of tourism, radio and television, news exchange, and audio-visual and print media. Several leading Saudi and Omani companies also signed a number of agreements.
On regional and international issues, the two sides agreed to work to coordinate their positions in a manner that serves their interests and enhances security and stability, and affirmed their support for all efforts aimed at achieving peace in the Middle East.

They called for the need to reach a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that guarantees the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
On Yemen, the two sides agreed to continue their efforts to find a comprehensive political solution to the crisis and end the human suffering of the Yemeni people.
The Kingdom and the sultanate also welcomed the success of the recent elections in Iraq, and hoped the new Iraqi government will continue to work for the security, stability and development of the country.
The two sides also welcomed the agreements reached by the parties to the transitional phase in Sudan, and affirmed their continued support for security and stability in the north African country, and prosperity for its people, the statement added.
They also called for the need to implement comprehensive reforms in Lebanon to ensure it overcomes its crises and does not become a launching pad for any terrorist or criminal acts that destabilize regional security and stability.

Saudi Arabia and Oman also called for the need to reach political solutions to the Syrian and Libyan crises, and to support relief efforts and security and stability in Afghanistan so it does not become a safe haven for terrorists and extremists.
Oman praised the Kingdom for calling an extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, which will be held in Pakistan on Dec. 19.
They also stressed the need to “cooperate and seriously and effectively deal with Iran’s nuclear and missile program with all its components and repercussions, in a way that contributes to achieving regional and international security and stability.” They emphasized the principles of good neighborliness, respect for UN resolutions, and sparing the region from all destabilizing activities.


Sultan Haitham awarded the crown prince the Oman Civil Order of the first degree – one of the highest Omani honors – during their official talks at Al-Alam Palace in Muscat. The distinction is awarded to kings, heads of state, crown princes and heads of government whose countries have distinguished relations with Oman.
The crown prince sent a cable to Sultan Haitham following the visit, thanking him for the warm reception and hospitality he and his accompanying delegation received, Saudi Press Agency reported.
“The discussions we had with Your Majesty confirmed the strength of the brotherly relations between our two countries, and the common desire to deepen cooperation between them in all fields,” he said, “which aims to achieve the interests of the two countries and enhance regional security and stability.”
The crown prince’s two-day visit to Oman came following directives from King Salman to strengthen the close relations between the two countries, as part of a Gulf tour that also includes visits to the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.


King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies

King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies
Updated 17 January 2022

King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies

King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies
  • The project aims to train more than 1,000 employees in 20 ministries and government agencies, through 40 training courses

RIYADH: The King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language has implemented a draft language policy guide for Saudi government institutions.
The move aims to activate decisions related to the language within government bodies, and to develop awareness among workers of the importance of linguistics and its connection to decisions and regulations at various levels.
It also aims to provide procedural steps and an executive working guide that preserves the Arabic language’s position in government institutions, the academy said in a statement.
The project aligns with the academy’s strategic goals, preserving the integrity of Arabic and supporting it verbally and in writing, and developing policies, strategies, plans and programs.
It includes a review of the Saudi language policy, based on various regulations and legislation, and also includes an executive guide for language editing in government institutions.
The project is one of the initiatives of the Human Capacity Development Program, one of the programs of Vision 2030, and aims to train more than a thousand employees in 20 ministries and government agencies, through 40 training courses, focused on two main topics: Writing skills for administrators and the basic rules of Arabic writing.
The two topics were chosen based on a study of specific needs in functional language situations.
The first training courses for the project have already begun, and several were held in coordination with the ministries of culture, education, and Islamic affairs. Courses last for two days, with an average of eight training hours.


Investor interest in Saudi hotel sector is growing, so why are there so few rooms outside cities?

 According to Thamer Alrajeeb, the cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector. (Supplied)
According to Thamer Alrajeeb, the cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector. (Supplied)
Updated 16 January 2022

Investor interest in Saudi hotel sector is growing, so why are there so few rooms outside cities?

 According to Thamer Alrajeeb, the cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector. (Supplied)
  • Hotel industry experts shed light on planning strategies, expansion portfolios and other challenges in the sector

RIYADH: In recent years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of businesses whose owners are interested in investing in the hotel sector in Saudi Arabia. Yet at the same time, many observers continue to wonder why there are still so few hotels outside of the Kingdom’s major cities.

Amir Lababedi, Hilton’s managing director of development in the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Saudi Arabia represents our largest development pipeline in the Middle East, with plans to expand our presence to more than 75 hotels in the coming years.
“We plan to expand in locations across major primary and secondary cities across Saudi Arabia. We see potential for our mid-market Hampton by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn brands, as well as for DoubleTree by Hilton and our lifestyle brand, Canopy by Hilton.”
Meanwhile, Radisson Hotel Group announced this week that it plans to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia and increase its investment portfolio in the Middle East to approximately half of its total investments by 2026.

There is a big demand for hotels classified as three or four stars. The local population, as well as visitors — pilgrims, tourists, and businessmen — prefers three- or four-star hotels as these are available all around and are very affordable for the general public. Commercially, their operating cost is lower and thus they generate more revenue than a five-star hotel.

Saleh Al-Habib, Executive director, Jiwar Real Estate Development

According to Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb: “Radisson Hotel Group’s commitment to developing new hotels in the Kingdom and opening a regional office in Riyadh is an effective contribution to strengthening the Kingdom’s steps to achieve its goal of receiving 100 million visitors by 2030.”
Mahmoud Al-Saeed, the general manager of Pereira Resorts in the Eastern Province, which is managed by Boudl Hotels and Resorts, said the company aims to cater to all sections of society.
“Given that a large segment of society prefers three-star hotels for their quality and reasonable prices, the company has created a chain of Aber hotels,” he said. “It launched the brand in 2018 to meet the needs of many with a group of modern hotels, in terms of design and concept, at affordable prices while ensuring high quality and professionalism in providing services.”

Dr. Saleh Al-Habib, executive director of Jiwar Real Estate Development

The three-star Aber hotels are “situated between hotel apartments and four-star hotels,” according to Al-Saeed. “The economic concept that Boudl is keen to present with this group of hotels has become an important matter for many travelers and those looking for a change in the usual lifestyle,” he added.
Boudl also owns the four-star Pereira hotels and the five-star Narcissus. Al-Saeed said the company has plans for expansion in major cities, and to increase the number of three-star hotels in a number of Saudi cities. These hotels are experiencing an influx of tourists from inside and outside the country, he added.
Al-Saeed, who has worked in the industry for nearly two decades, said that hotels currently face a number of challenges, particularly “in light of the precautions against COVID-19. These include the postponement of many events which usually take place in hotels and the cancellation of reservations for halls used for celebrations or official meetings, due to the coronavirus and its accompanying problems.”
He added that the authorities in Saudi Arabia are aware of the issues and are working to develop the hotel sector.

 Fadil Munakeal, manager of Jabal Omar Jumeirah in Makkah

Thamer Alrajeeb, a former member of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Tourism Accommodation Committee, said investment in the tourism sector in major cities is encouraging, particularly in Riyadh in support of the Saudi Entertainment Authority initiatives. It is not profitable in other cities, however, where operations are seasonal during a period of a few months each year, usually coinciding with school holidays or good weather.
“For the rest of the year, operation is a loss for the investor,” he said.

FASTFACT

Radisson Hotel Group announced this week that it plans to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia and increase its investment portfolio in the Middle East to approximately half of its total investments by 2026.

Alrajeeb described investing in hotels other than five-star establishments as “feasible.” He said the lower operational costs and prices are affordable to a wider range of guests but added that “many of the Ministry of Tourism’s requirements burden investors.”
He said it is possible to meet the needs of visitors with average levels of financial solvency, particularly outside the three cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam. This can be done by investing in hotel suites in particular, which are characterized by low startup costs, “allowing for their rental prices to be more commensurate with the solvency of a wide range of travelers.”
The cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector while fulfilling the Ministry of Tourism’s requirements, Alrajeeb said, adding that the focus should be on efforts that contribute to raising quality in the sector and meeting the needs of customers.
Fadil Munakeal, manager of the Jabal Omar Jumeirah hotel in Makkah, stressed the importance of providing products and services that correspond to a hotel’s star rating, which he said reflects positively on investment in the sector. He urged the Ministry of Tourism to continue its supervision and follow up efforts to achieve reliability in the sector and improve the image and perception of all types of hotels.
Munakeal, who is also a member of the Hotels Committee of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urged the owners of less expensive establishments, particularly in the three-star and lower categories, to invest in modern marketing techniques and direct them at particular target groups. They must also develop products and services that meet the needs of these target audiences, he added.
He said many domestic tourists, particularly families, prefer to stay in hotel apartments because they have a negative perception of some hotels with fewer than four stars.
Saleh Al-Habib, executive director of Jiwar Real Estate Development, said: “There is a big demand for hotels classified as three or four stars. The local population, as well as visitors — pilgrims, tourists, and businessmen — prefers three- or four-star hotels as these are available all around and are very affordable for the general public.
“Commercially, their operating cost is lower and thus they generate more revenue than a five-star hotel.
“This is a popular choice for almost all classes of society, especially the middle and lower-middle classes. The availability of such hotels and semi-luxurious apartments is numerous. With affordable tariffs, they meet the needs of families, business travelers, as well as those seeking leisure.”
Al-Habib, who is also a member of the Saudi Association for Tourist Accommodation Facilities, said that both locals and expatriates are interested in establishing hotels and furnished apartments in areas such as Abha, Al-Baha, Tabuk, Hafar Al-Batin, Al-Majma’ah and Al-Kharj.
“These interested entrepreneurs are working closely with the National Tourism Fund,” he added.


Saudi Arabia’s KAUST launches Science Festival at Thuwal Beach

Al-Khawarizmi Building in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology campus, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Al-Khawarizmi Building in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology campus, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 17 January 2022

Saudi Arabia’s KAUST launches Science Festival at Thuwal Beach

Al-Khawarizmi Building in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology campus, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
  • The festival includes an exhibition on the Red Sea coast to preview the area’s project to change the rules of sustainable tourism

JEDDAH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology has launched its annual Science Festival for 2022, which will be held Jan. 20-21.

The festival, which will be held at Thuwal Beach in Jeddah, aims to inspire young talents in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa region.

KAUST President Tony Chan said that the world is moving towards innovation as a basis for discovery and invention, and that there is an urgent need for young people to confront the most essential problems in global societies and participate in solving them.

He pointed out that KAUST has become prominent in science and technology in Saudi Arabia, quickly becoming an international platform to inspire and nurture young scientific minds to unleash the power of science and achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals.

“This is a very important occasion in the history of our events, as we are moving the site for the first time outside the walls of KAUST and expanding the program of events to allow the potential of our nation’s youth to move towards great scientific horizons and put Saudi Arabia on the map of innovation, technology and youth-led initiatives,” he said.

Chan stated that this year’s festival will feature a schedule including a variety of science fairs, daily evening science shows, science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics challenges for children, and science projects presented by KAUST students.

The festival also includes an exhibition on the Red Sea coast to preview the area’s project to change the rules of sustainable tourism.

The exhibition will feature whale sharks, shura trees, coral reefs, and marine simulation ponds. Other events will showcase some of the components currently available at KAUST, including the Core Lab, the Start-Up fair, the Museum of Failed Scientific Attempts, and interactive robots that will roam throughout the site.

Food and entertainment kiosks will be available throughout the festival period.

 


Saudi finance minister meets top EU official in Riyadh

Mohammed Al-Jadaan meets with Johannes Hahn in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Mohammed Al-Jadaan meets with Johannes Hahn in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 17 January 2022

Saudi finance minister meets top EU official in Riyadh

Mohammed Al-Jadaan meets with Johannes Hahn in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • They discussed enhancing financial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the EU

RIYADH: Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan met European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh on Sunday.
During the meeting, they discussed enhancing financial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the European Commission and the EU’s economic recovery plans and available investment opportunities.
The meeting was attended by a number of senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the European Commission.

 


Saudi Arabia rolls out aid in Yemen, Afghanistan

The center distributed on Saturday 17 tons of aid. (SPA)
The center distributed on Saturday 17 tons of aid. (SPA)
Updated 17 January 2022

Saudi Arabia rolls out aid in Yemen, Afghanistan

The center distributed on Saturday 17 tons of aid. (SPA)
  • The project aims to distribute about 192,000 food baskets weighing more than 20,000 tons to impoverished families across 15 Yemeni governorates

HAJJAH: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center mobile medical clinics have continued providing treatment services at the Waalan camp for displaced people in Yemen’s Hajjah Governorate.

In one week, clinics received 136 people with various health conditions. They were provided with medical services.

KSrelief also distributed more than 63 tons of food baskets in the Al-Mudhaffar district of Taiz Governorate, helping 4,039 people.

The project aims to distribute about 192,000 food baskets weighing more than 20,000 tons to impoverished families across 15 Yemeni governorates.

KSRelief is also distributing food and provide shelter to needy families in Afghanistan as part of the Saudi relief airlift dispatched by the center to support the Afghan people.

The center distributed on Saturday 17 tons of aid. It included 250 food baskets, 500 flour bags, 250 winter bags and 250 blankets in the Qala-e-Fathullah district of Kabul, helping 250 families.