Pagano sees contribution of TRSDC-AMAALA tourism projects to Saudi GDP at $9bn

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Updated 11 May 2022

Pagano sees contribution of TRSDC-AMAALA tourism projects to Saudi GDP at $9bn

Pagano sees contribution of TRSDC-AMAALA tourism projects to Saudi GDP at $9bn
  • TRSDC is on track to open three new hotels this year and receive its first guests in early 2023.
  • There will be 13 more hotels inaugurated by the end of next year.

DUBAI: The Red Sea Development Co. is on a bigger mission now after it added AMAALA to its portfolio with the two projects expected to contribute around SR33 billion ($8.8 billion) to the Saudi economy in five years.

TRSDC is on track to open three new hotels this year and receive its first guests in early 2023. There will be 13 more hotels inaugurated by the end of next year.

What’s more? The archipelago of 90 islands in the Red Sea, which houses the fourth largest barrier reef globally, will focus on sustainable tourism with a twist of luxury. The giga-project has already signed up nine global brands, and more will follow suit.

What’s interesting about what we’re doing is that it’s not a built-up urban area; it’s a part of Saudi that is untouched.

John Pagano

“What’s interesting about what we’re doing is that it’s not a built-up urban area; it’s a part of Saudi that is untouched,” said John Pagano, CEO of TSDRC and AMAALA, in an interview with Arab News at sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market, the international travel trade show in Dubai.

“Our first guests can choose between two luxurious island resorts or a desert resort next year,” he added.

The two island hotels are in the hyper-luxury segment, both boutique hotels with 80 rooms in one and 90 in the other.

Positioned like high-end Maldives offerings, they will be highly serviced and attract discerning luxury travelers.

Pagano revealed that the St. Regis brand would operate one of the hotels, while the other island resort will be announced soon. The desert resort will be managed by the Six Senses group, which shares a commitment to green practices.

High sustainability standards

Sustainability is a crucial offering for TSRDC, both in terms of catering to consumer demand and as a differentiator in a crowded regional tourism market.

The Red Sea covers an area the size of a country like Belgium; however, Pagano confirmed that the company would only develop less than one percent of that to respond to an ecological ceiling based on what the environment can handle without incurring damage.

“Rather than overdevelop simply because we can, we actively monitor the environment using artificial intelligence and data to watch out for warning signs if something we are doing is not going according to plan,” he said. “We do not want to cause any lasting damage.”

Sustainable travel is in demand now, with 81 percent of 30,000 travelers in a Booking.com survey released this year saying that sustainable travel is essential to them. Fifty-nine percent of travelers wanted to leave the places they visited better than when they arrived.

“Luxury doesn’t mean what it used to. We have moved away from luxury being ostentatious: It’s about experiences and the traveler today wants more sustainable experiences,” said Pagano. “So we give people a choice to go to a destination that puts nature first. We aim to be the biggest tourist destination in the world powered 100 percent by renewable energy.”

Even the company’s financing efforts were green; last year, The Red Sea Development Company secured an SR14.120 billion green loan, marking the first-ever Riyal-denominated Green Finance credit facility.

“We are fully capitalized at the moment for phase one of the development and have a good track record in the market if we need to raise more for other projects, including AMAALA,” said Pagano.

Sea change in development

Merged under the TRSDC brand, AMAALA is a megaproject along the Red Sea coastline that is now managed under the Red Sea Development umbrella. The project plans to award $319.9 million in contracts in the second quarter of this year to create a new wellness-focused tourism destination. There are currently eight hotels under construction for AMAALA, aiming for completion by the end of 2024.

A new international airport is being built to cater to expected rising demand in the Red Sea area. Designed by award-winning, sustainability-focused architecture firm Forest + Partners, the airport will have a 3.7-kilometer runway and can handle up to one million passengers per year.

“The air site is virtually complete now,” said Pagano. “We will have a temporary terminal at the beginning of next year. We will also have operational seaplanes for our first guests on the island resorts.”

Working closely with the Ministry of Tourism, Pagano said TRSDC is part of a dozen similar projects planned along the Red Sea coastline. This will have a positive trickle-down effect on the economy; The two current projects, TRSDC and AMAALA alone, will generate 120,000 new jobs and contribute SR33 billion to GDP within the next five years, according to Pagano.

Though tied together by a commitment to sustainability, each development is distinct. For example, Sheybarah Island, the furthest from the mainland in the south of the Red Sea, is currently under construction with futuristic, shiny stainless-steel pod-like villas manufactured in the United Arab Emirates. The island resort will open at the end of 2023.

“We are privileged to build sensitively around nature,” said Pagano. “Sustainability will set us apart.”

 


Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target

Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target

Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is now establishing a new hydrogen company and it will be like a mediator in many of the PIF’s initiatives.

Speaking in a regional forum on ESG organized by the Future Investment Initiative in London, the governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said the sovereign wealth fund  plans to develop 70 percent of renewable energy targets under vision 2030.

The fund owns companies that are already developing hydrogen such as NEOM and Aramco. 

Rewilding Arabia
Return of the leopard is at the heart of plans to conserve and regenerate Saudi Arabia’s landscapes and wildlife
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PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit
Updated 20 May 2022

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

RIYADH: The Future Investment Initiative Foundation will host its first ever regional summit on Friday, in Rosewood London, England, entitled Inclusive Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance in Emerging Markets.

The most prominent participants in the event include the FII Chairman and Governor of the Public Investment Fund, Yasser Al-Rumayyan, Egypt’s Minister of Environment, Yasmine Fouad and Blackrock CEO Larry Fink.

The summit will bring together international investors, world leaders, thought leaders, policy makers, global CEOs, and chiefs of sustainability to discuss and shape the future of ESG, particularly in emerging markets.

“The planet has major problems with climate, with destruction of nature, peace and security. But we also have tremendous resources, including our common humanity,” Executive Director of the FII Institute, Richard Attias said.

“We believe that ESG is an important tool to bring us together and channel capital to meet these challenges,” he said.

Using ESG standards to make investment decisions is a global boom, with assets expected to reach $53 trillion, about a third of global assets under management, by 2025, a statement showed.

Still, the lack of a framework for the effective implementation of ESG in emerging economies represent a stumbling block for investors. 

The FII says it will finally have the tool needed to develop sustainable investment strategies in these markets, through its proprietary measurement framework, developed in collaboration with investors, global companies, and FII’s strategic partners.

The Foundation works to impact humanity across four focus areas: artificial intelligence, robotics, education, health care, and sustainability.

The event is part of a series of events hosted by the Foundation, which will culminate in the sixth edition of the annual FII Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in October.

 

The PIF view

The PIF understands that being engaged in ESG is the right thing to do, Rania Nashar, head of compliance and governance at the fund, told the conference.

PIF companies are announcing emission reductions but it's not only about the destination, it is about the journey, she added.

“We approach the ESG through multiple aspects. Through creating platforms, sponsoring events and launching initiatives,” she said.


China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent
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Updated 20 May 2022

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s crude oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia soared 38 percent in April from a year earlier, hitting the highest monthly volume since May 2020, according to Reuters’ calculations based on official Chinese customs data.

Saudi shipments amounted to 8.93 million tons last month, equivalent to 2.17 million barrels per day, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs.

The hefty purchases, with trades completed mostly in February, compare with 1.61 million bpd in March and 1.57 million bpd a year earlier.

Imports from second-largest supplier Russia rose a more modest 4 percent last month from a year earlier, with cargoes booked before western governments toughened sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Russian oil arrivals in April totalled 6.55 million tons, or 1.59 million bpd, data showed, up slightly from 1.5 million bpd in March and 1.53 million bpd a year earlier.

China’s overall crude oil imports last month rose nearly 7 percent on the year, its first rise in three months, although widespread COVID-19 lockdowns crimped fuel demand and dampened refinery output.

Friday’s data showed zero imports in April from Iran. However, customs next month is likely to report for May the import of nearly 2 million barrels of Iranian oil that was being discharged this week into a reserve base in south China.

Despite US sanctions on Iran, China has kept taking Iranian oil passed off as supplies from other countries. The import levels are roughly equivalent to 7 percent of China’s total crude oil imports.

Iranian oil, often priced lower than competing grades, have squeezed out rival supplies such as from Brazil and West Africa.

Customs reported zero imports from Venezuela, as state oil firms shunned purchases since late 2019 for fear of falling afoul of secondary US sanctions.

Imports from Malaysia, often used as a transfer point in the last two years for oil originating from Iran and Venezuela, jumped 84 percent on year to 2.165 million tons, the second highest on record.


Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism has signed two agreements to enhance joint cooperation and support training and localization programs to qualify those wishing to work in the hospitality sector.
The move, which aims to support workers in the food, beverage and accommodation sectors, in support of achieving the Kingdom’s’ tourism human capacity development strategy.
Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Safir, director general of training and localization at the ministry, stressed that these two agreements aim to develop human resources in the tourism sector through quality training programs that will contribute to developing localized skills in the tourism sector.
Under the two agreements, which were signed with Kempinski Al-Othman Hotel and Carlton Al-Moaibed Hotel, the ministry will support dualifying Saudi nationals in the tourism sector within the “Your Future has Arrived” initiative.


Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO
Updated 20 May 2022

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

DUBAI: Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, said that startup businesses are an excellent opportunity for investment in venture capital funds and microfinance banks.

During an interview with Arab News at the Top CEO event in Dubai, Khammas Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, highlighted that startups are a good investment idea because the “ticket size is smaller, and the product ranges are higher.”

Khammas pointed out the risks that arise for startups are not in their early stages but rather when they become successful.

“The challenge is not when they’re trying to have a major impact on the economy; the problems occur when they become successful. All of those are calculated risks,” he said.

Khammas continued to add that regardless of these risks, investing in new, innovative startups is “absolutely the best opportunity.”

Also, during his talk at the event, Khammas  urged banks to fund new and innovative products and ideas in the area after he shed light on how banks are hesitant to invest in creative ideas.