Japan, EU agree to step up sanctions against Russia

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who held talks in Tokyo with Von der Leyen, also agreed to enhance their strategic partnership to diversify and strengthen supply chains.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who held talks in Tokyo with Von der Leyen, also agreed to enhance their strategic partnership to diversify and strengthen supply chains.
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Updated 12 May 2022

Japan, EU agree to step up sanctions against Russia

Japan, EU agree to step up sanctions against Russia

RIYADH: Japan and the EU have agreed to step up sanctions on Russia in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a statement released by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who held talks in Tokyo with Von der Leyen, also agreed to enhance their strategic partnership to diversify and strengthen supply chains.
Kishida said that Japan supports tough sanctions against Russia as the ongoing war is shaking the world order not only in Europe but in Asia as well.
The Japanese prime minister added that security in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific are inseparable.
Meanwhile, the leaders promised cooperation in a range of areas including digital transformation, renewable energy and climate.
Von der Leyen said the EU’s Global Gateway strategy will enable further joint projects in the region and promote connectivity partnership and green alliance. 


Dar Al Arkan acquires Compass Consulting to venture into project

‘Sustainability will remain a key factor of expansion into the Kingdom.’ (Reuters)
‘Sustainability will remain a key factor of expansion into the Kingdom.’ (Reuters)
Updated 14 sec ago

Dar Al Arkan acquires Compass Consulting to venture into project

‘Sustainability will remain a key factor of expansion into the Kingdom.’ (Reuters)
  • The company saw COVID-19 as an opportunity to start consolidating with their clients and get their assets out to the market quickly as soon as the market rebounded

RIYADH: Dar Al Arkan, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest real estate developers, has acquired a Dubai-based project consulting firm, Compass Project Consulting.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News at the Future Hospitality Summit, Spencer Wylie, CEO of Compass Project Consulting, confirmed the buyout.
According to Wylie, the rationale behind purchasing Compass Project Consulting is twofold.
One, it allows Dar Al Arkan to venture into the fast-growing project management space. Two, it equips the real estate giant to bid for the upcoming megaprojects as a project consultant.

Dar Al Arkan wants to approach the larger mega developers, the Public Investment Fund, and other giga programs as a project management company and not just a residential developer.

Spencer Wylie, CEO of Compass Project Consulting

“Dar Al Arkan wants to approach the larger mega developers, the Public Investment Fund, and other giga programs as a project management company and not just a residential developer,” Wylie told Arab News.
With regional coverage and multi-sector expertise, Compass offers clients fully tailored project development solutions that can take an initial concept through to construction completion and handover.
Widely known within the construction, fit-out, engineering and design industries, the company provides a turnkey project consulting service to clients of all sizes. The buyout assumes significance as both companies had entered into a strategic partnership late last year.
Wylie added that the growth of the tourism sector in the Kingdom has been phenomenal and well-grounded around Vision 2030.
The company saw COVID-19 as an opportunity to start consolidating with their clients and get their assets out to the market quickly as soon as the market rebounded.
“Sustainability will remain a key factor of expansion into the Kingdom and as the company aims to develop more assets in the Kingdom,” said Wylie.


Louvre Hotels advances its influence in KSA, signs up 12 properties

Paul Diab, vice president of operations, Middle East and North Africa region, Louvre Hotels Group. (AN photo)
Paul Diab, vice president of operations, Middle East and North Africa region, Louvre Hotels Group. (AN photo)
Updated 12 min 15 sec ago

Louvre Hotels advances its influence in KSA, signs up 12 properties

Paul Diab, vice president of operations, Middle East and North Africa region, Louvre Hotels Group. (AN photo)
  • We are currently looking at 14 properties and have 12 in the pipeline that are signed, top official says
  • We are concentrating not only on the big cities but also on other destinations. When the tourists come, they will also want to visit smaller cities

RIYADH: Paris-based Louvre Hotels Group has signed up 12 properties and identified 14 locations to fuel its expansion plans in Saudi Arabia, said a top executive.

“We are currently looking at 14 properties and have 12 in the pipeline that are signed. We also have another six to eight properties that are under negotiation across different destinations in the Kingdom,” Paul Diab, vice president of operations, Middle East and North Africa region, Louvre Hotels Group, told Arab News.
The locations under consideration include places such as Alkhobar, Jazan, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Riyadh.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The locations under consideration include places such as Alkhobar, Jazan, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Riyadh.

• According to the official, the Red Sea and Abha are important destinations as the Kingdom aims to attract 100 million visitors.

• Louvre Hotels Group already operates 16 hotels in some of the most sought-after locations in Saudi Arabia.

• The hospitality major ventured into the Kingdom in June last year with the launch of Golden Tulip Riyadh. The hotel has 94 rooms, including 15 suites.

“We are concentrating not only on the big cities but also on other destinations. When the tourists come, they will also want to visit smaller cities such as Abha, which has unique things to offer,” said Diab.
According to Diab, the Red Sea and Abha are important destinations as the Kingdom aims to attract 100 million visitors as part of the Vision 2030 blueprint.
“Louvre is keen to make sure that at least one or two of our brands are available to be part of the giga-projects,” he said.
Louvre Hotels Group already operates 16 hotels in some of the most sought-after locations in Saudi Arabia.
He further added: “With our experience being in the region for the last 35 years, we have seen different cities also have big growth, which gives us an advantage to be part of the growth that’s happening in the Kingdom.”
The hospitality major ventured into the Kingdom in June last year with the launch of Golden Tulip Riyadh. The hotel has 94 rooms, including 15 suites.


Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah port tops CPPI list of 370 global ports

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah port tops CPPI list of 370 global ports
Updated 27 May 2022

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah port tops CPPI list of 370 global ports

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah port tops CPPI list of 370 global ports

RIYADH: Saudi ports are on top of global indicators with three of them leading the second edition of the Container Port Performance Index 2021.

The King Abdullah Port ranks 1st on the list of 370 global ports, while Jeddah Islamic Port ranks 8th, and King Abdulaziz Port placed at 14th, a statement showed.

Strategically located on the Red Sea coast in King Abdullah Economic City, King Abdullah Port is the region’s first port to be fully owned, developed and operated by the private sector.

It enjoys close proximity to the key Saudi cities of Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Yanbu.

Saudi ports' performance in April (Source: Mawani)

The CPPI 2021 is an indicator produced by the Transport Global Practice of the World Bank in collaboration with the Maritime, Trade and Supply Chain division of S&P Global Market Intelligence, to serve as a reference point for improvement for key stakeholders in the global economy.

President of the Kingdom's ports authority — Mawani — Omar Hariri said that the Saudi ports’ achievements on the CPPI 2021, which outdone the results of 2020, came as result of Mawani’s efforts of enabling operations, enhancing customers’ experience, and ensuring an effective, reliable commercial and regulatory environment.

The three Saudi ports recorded exceptional scores that indicate ports’ performance efficiency, despite challenges in 2021 that affected the world, according to the CPPI.

King Abdullah Ports rank increased from the 2nd position to the 1st , Jeddah Islamic Port from 55th position to the 8th, and King Abdulaziz Port which jumped to the 14th, surpassing 88 ranks from last year’s report.

Minister of Transport and Logistics Services and the Chairman of Mawani, Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser emphasized that the ports and maritime transport sectors are on a clear path towards achieving the objectives of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

 

 


Investment firm Amanat wants to revolutionize education in the Middle East

Investment firm Amanat wants to revolutionize education in the Middle East
Updated 27 May 2022

Investment firm Amanat wants to revolutionize education in the Middle East

Investment firm Amanat wants to revolutionize education in the Middle East
  • Investment firm Amanat aims to integrate video gaming with education to make learning more attractive
  • People are more likely to retain information acquired visually and experientially, says CEO Mohamad Ali Hamade

LONDON: The UAE-based healthcare and education investment company Amanat aims to revolutionize education in the Middle East by integrating experiential learning and virtual reality into the curriculum, its CEO told Arab News.

Speaking during the World Economic Forum, Dr. Mohamad Ali Hamade outlined how virtual reality would take “center stage” in how education was provided to children across the region.

“As a leading investor in the education space, Amanat is looking at what the future would look like in the education sector,” Dr. Hamade said. “We believe that experiential learning and virtual reality are going to take center stage in the future of how we provide education services to our kids.”

According to Dr. Hamade, Saudi Arabia is a promising market for this kind of investment as the Kingdom has recently opened up to foreign branch campuses across the country and is increasingly open to international curricula.

“I think if a product comes in and promises to have a more progressive curriculum, but also a technology aspect attached to it, I think we have a very good opportunity to prove a concept in Saudi Arabia,” Dr. Hamade said.

Targeting mainly stable markets in the region, Dr. Hamade explained that investment would focus in the interim on Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Gulf countries.

“Historically, we have been trying to solve a problem of access to education and quality of education while keeping the costs acceptable,” he said. “And I think this is what Web 3.0 would do, and what the technology aspect will allow us to achieve.”

Founded in 2014, Amanat Holdings is a listed investment firm in Dubai that seeks to make investments within the education and health care sectors in the MENA region.

In 2021, the company witnessed a twenty-eightfold increase in net profit to 280.8 million dirhams ($76.4 million). Additionally, the company saw a 2,680 percent increase in net profit on strong health unit performance.

Explaining how the new model of education would work, Dr. Hamade said that the company’s main idea was to integrate gaming with education, as gaming is usually very attractive to young people.

“Instead of channeling gamification to wasteful and non-productive time, we’re actually channeling it into a very productive thing, which is education and learning,” Dr. Hamade said.

He explained that people were more likely to retain and remember information that had been acquired visually and experientially. As such, integrating virtual reality in the curriculum would produce more positive outcomes than textbook-based learning.

CEO of Amanat since 2020, Dr. Hamade joined the company in 2017 as chief investment officer. He holds an MD and a BSc in biology from the American University of Beirut and an MBA from Cornell University in the US.

While it is a highly innovative idea, Dr. Hamade anticipates that there will not be much resistance from the region given how far countries in the Middle East have come in terms of modernization.

“I think we’ve come a long way in our region where policymakers are willing to listen, to accept, to ask the right questions, to push us, and together to put a solution that allows us to improve the quality of education in the region,” he said.

 


Inspired by Vision 2030, Taj Holding focuses on retail expansion

Inspired by Vision 2030, Taj Holding focuses on retail expansion
Updated 27 May 2022

Inspired by Vision 2030, Taj Holding focuses on retail expansion

Inspired by Vision 2030, Taj Holding focuses on retail expansion
  • CEO wants company to be a hub utilized by talented entrepreneurs and and international investors

RIYADH: Independent thinker Omar Henaidy — an engineer by qualification but an entrepreneur at heart — was able to create and grow Taj Holding into a vast business across the Middle East.

Today, the group encompasses brand names such as fashion retailer Beside, medical center Amaly, specialized transportation solutions M, and Mac Aerospace, to name a few.

After studying engineering and obtaining a master’s degree in supply chain management from the University of Missouri in the US, Henaidy spent several years working with international companies and managing a local business in Saudi Arabia.

However, he realized that his passion and aspirations were building something for himself with the assistance of individuals who shared his ideals and the DNA for success.

That is how Taj Holding was born.

“I have always aspired for Taj Holding to be a hub utilized by talented entrepreneurs and international investors to fulfill their dreams and be used as a platform to develop and build for their next step forward,” Henaidy told Arab News.

Expansion plan

Taj Holding currently operates across five main verticals — retail, healthcare, manufacturing, IT and defense.

“Over the past decade, we have put a lot of effort into growing our portfolio in a robust manner, which resulted in an ecosystem of companies that can work together as one unit,” he said.

Given the recent developments in Saudi Arabia, along with Vision 2030, the company is now focused primarily on retail expansion within the fashion and hospitality sectors.

Taj Holding continues to grow its large portfolio by focusing on the sustainability of the firm’s ongoing businesses in addition to starting new joint ventures.

“In Q1 2022, we signed a nine-digit-contract in the defense sector. We are signing a similar contract in Q2. In the healthcare business, we recently partnered with Priory; together, we will be opening our first clinic in Q2 of 2022,” Henaidy revealed.

The holding also has an industrial complex under construction, including three factories. In addition, it has a maintenance, repair and operations hub, known as MRO, for helicopters, which will open in 2023.

With its fashion arm Beside, the company looks to meet the desire for iconic brands and tap into the Kingdom’s massive youth demographics, with a 35-million-plus population and a median age of 32 years, observed Henaidy.

“The youth are leading the most extensive social transformation the country has ever witnessed. Beside and through its exciting brand portfolio will be able to cater to a large part of this segment’s massive potential,” he added.

The company is expanding swiftly across the Middle East. It is focused on strengthening its presence throughout the region through existing operations across Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. It also plans to enter Oman for the first time in 2022, but it will continue to strengthen its presence in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

These efforts have seen Taj triple in size over the past three years. The company has achieved this rapid growth organically through new investment opportunities. “There is immense potential for investments across several industries to the point where it is becoming a challenge to identify a specific industry, considering the strong growth our nation is experiencing,” Henaidy pointed out.

He underscored that the company’s emphasis is on the long-term potential of its investments and the contribution they provide in support of vision 2030. “Beside is a perfect example of such a model; investing in the retail sector has sustainable growth potential and thus compliments our vision.” Another testament to this strategy, Henaidy said, is the fact that “we have not made a single exit from any of our acquisitions over the past decade.”

Accelerated growth

Initiatives undertaken for Vision 2030 accelerated the growth in sectors such as tourism, culture, logistics, retail and entertainment — all of which greatly benefited from the recent social and economic evolution, he remarked.

Henaidy said the Kingdom, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been on a path of exponential growth over the past few years, and “we are proud that Taj Holding was able to contribute significantly to that growth.”

The entrepreneur believes that his family and the Kingdom were also significant contributors to his success.

“I attribute my career and successful journey to my father being a role model and greatest supporter; also, I cannot leave out the vast opportunities our nation has offered me as a young Saudi entrepreneur,” said the CEO.

Henaidy’s father was an Air Force Lt. Gen. and a fighter pilot. As a leader to many young Saudi patriots, he provided his son with a significant support system and mentored him to pursue his dreams.

“I would also like to point out that success to any businessman doesn’t come without having a person who supports you and encourages you during challenging times; my beloved wife Reem is this person. We have four children, three boys and a beautiful daughter,” added Henaidy.

The CEO explained that what motivates him every day is working alongside a fantastic and energetic team.

His business slogan is tantamount to his extraordinary career: “Trusting your gut is the best business tool you’ve got,” he concluded.