Saudis, Emiratis stress Kingdom’s rise creates more opportunities for region  

Saudis, Emiratis stress Kingdom’s rise creates more opportunities for region  
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Saudi Minister of Economy Faisal Al Ibrahim with his UAE counterpart Abdullah bin Touq at the Saudi MiSK Foundation Pavilion in Davos World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. (Supplied)
Saudis, Emiratis stress Kingdom’s rise creates more opportunities for region  
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Saudi ministers participate in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum 2022. (WEF)
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Updated 28 May 2022

Saudis, Emiratis stress Kingdom’s rise creates more opportunities for region  

Saudis, Emiratis stress Kingdom’s rise creates more opportunities for region  
  • Participating in WEF panel on ‘Saudi outlook,’ Kingdom’s Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’
  • Chairman of Dubai-based Damac Hussain Sajwani says KSA, UAE ‘completing each other in terms of growth, not competing with each other’

DAVOS: Over the past decade, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have been steadily diversifying their economies away from oil, offering incentives to attract capital and talent, encouraging small businesses and start-ups, and trying to give their young citizens exciting new career paths in the private sector.

As the largest economy in the Middle East, with ties to both China and the US, Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to use its strategic relationships and hydrocarbon resources to stabilize volatile energy markets and advance economic recovery. Predictably, the Kingdom’s priorities and its response to today’s turbulent geopolitical context are in the limelight as it continues with its reform agenda.

The pace of economic diversification by the Kingdom has quickened greatly since the unveiling of Saudi Vision 2030 in 2016 by (then Deputy) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The accent is now on business growth, tourism, education, manufacturing, entertainment, health care and other sectors.

This has given rise to speculation among economic analysts as to whether the development can be a win-win for Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries, particularly the UAE. The question was put to the speakers in a panel discussion entitled “Saudi outlook” on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

 

 

Offering to answer the question first, Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said: “When a country like Saudi Arabia moves, others up their game. We are seeing that in action today. So, it is in the interest of the whole region and not only Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Jadaan’s view was echoed by the other speakers, starting with Khalid Al-Falih, the Saudi minister of investment, who said: “A rising tide lifts all boats. Regional integration is more important to the smaller but very important economies next to us than it is to Saudi Arabia.

“So, I believe the Kingdom’s rise in its economic and competitive performance actually helps their competitiveness. It allows companies and enterprises and the governments of those countries to integrate with the larger global economy in Saudi Arabia.”

Speaking from the perspective of the Saudi Ministry of Tourism, Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, assistant minister for strategy and executive affairs, said: “Competition is critical. We create competition within Saudi Arabia for different destinations because what it does is increase quality. And it’s very healthy because they start complementing each other.”




Saudi Arabia will continue to diversify its economy, ministers from the Kingdom told a WEF panel discussion on Wednesday. (AN photo)

More broadly, she said: “The region in its entirety is a hub, so once you arrive in the region, it becomes more appealing to visit different destinations. So, (competition is) absolutely to our benefit.”

Faisal Al-Ibrahim, Saudi minister of economy and planning, said: “For me, competition and competitiveness are essential for us to raise the bar higher. But collaboration is also necessary.

“There is a lot of coordination and collaboration that happens behind the scenes. There is a lot of camaraderie between policymakers within the region that gives us these assurances.”

Last year, Saudi Arabia set certain rules for companies seeking to take advantage of the $3 trillion investment opportunities identified for international investors under the Vision 2030 strategy. The government said it would no longer sign contracts with foreign companies without a regional headquarters inside the Kingdom starting from 2024.

The new arrangement is thought to have aroused a sense of competition between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Talk of unspoken economic rivalry has continued to make global headlines as both announce aggressive initiatives to attract or deploy investment.

However, Hussain Sajwani, chairman of Damac, the Dubai-based Emirati property development company, thinks Saudi Arabia and Dubai are completing each other in terms of growth, rather than competing with each other.

“I think they completing each other in two different economies, two different outlooks,” he told Arab News on the sidelines of the Davos summit on Tuesday.




Damac Chairman Hussain Sajwani. (Supplied)

“Dubai is a connecting point for businesses for travelers, tourism, Saudi Arabia is very different. So Dubai companies help and complete the growth of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by other Emirati businessmen and government ministers over the past year, with the general consensus being that the two GCC members are independently adjusting their social and economic policies as part of their economic diversification strategies.

In comments to Arab News last November, Badr Al-Olama, an executive director at Abu Dhabi sovereign fund Mubadala, dismissed the idea that Saudi Arabia and UAE’s economic progress is a zero-sum game.

“What many people try to interpret as competition is completely wrong because the market is so large,” he said. “The fact that we are close neighbors means we are able to complement each other with certain capabilities to compete on a global scale.”

 

 

In an interview with Arab News in December, Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar, UAE minister of state, said that the two countries have adopted policies that benefit the entire Arab region and contribute to better outcomes for global peace and human welfare.

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia maintain a close and complementary relationship that benefits the two countries and the wider region, which includes economic and developmental integration,” he said.

“We believe that healthy economic competition in the region is important, and the UAE always views it as an opportunity to generate new prospects and adopt policies that benefit the region as a whole.

“Our two countries’ economic partnership is one based on open exchange and cooperation. The Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council, a high-level bilateral mechanism established to harmonize Saudi Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2021, continues to play an important role in inking additional economic agreements and streamlining trade between our two countries.” 

 


MENA Project Tracker: KSA launches Arts Valley project in AlUla; Honeywell, Anchorage to build $2bn petrochemical complex in Egypt 

MENA Project Tracker: KSA launches Arts Valley project in AlUla; Honeywell, Anchorage to build $2bn petrochemical complex in Egypt 
Updated 12 sec ago

MENA Project Tracker: KSA launches Arts Valley project in AlUla; Honeywell, Anchorage to build $2bn petrochemical complex in Egypt 

MENA Project Tracker: KSA launches Arts Valley project in AlUla; Honeywell, Anchorage to build $2bn petrochemical complex in Egypt 

RIYADH: The Royal Commission of AlUla, also known as RCU, has announced the launch of an Arts Valley as Saudi Arabia moves steadily to become a top global tourist destination, a goal outlined in Vision 2030. 

The Arts Valley, which spreads over 65 sq. km, is touted as a cultural asset of the “The Journey Through Time” masterplan launched in April, Trade Arabia reported. 

Noorah Al-Double, the CEO of the General Directorate for Arts and Innovative Industries said that these projects will transform AlUla into a pioneering international destination for arts, heritage, culture and nature by 2030. 

Honeywell and Anchorage to work on Egypt’s $2 billion Suez Canal project

US-based multinational conglomerate Honeywell and Anchorage Investments have signed a memorandum of understanding to construct the $2 billion Anchor Benitoite Petrochemicals Complex in Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone, according to a MEED report.

The agreement entails that Honeywell Process Solutions will be hired as the Integrated Main Automation Contractor. 

HPS also will supply sufficient technologies to ensure operational safety and security to Anchorage Investments. 

Dana Gas halts Iraq oil field project following rocket attack

UAE’s Dana Gas has just pressed pause on its KM 250 oilfield expansion project following 3 rocket attacks near its Khor Mor Block in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, MEED reported. 

Citing a company statement to Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, Meed reported that two rockets landed very close to the Khor Mor Block on June 24 and 25. 

The report further added that there were no injuries following the attack. 

The Khor Mor 250A project is an asset to Iraqi oil production, as it has shown immense yearly growth of 552 million cubic feet of gas a day in production in comparison to its average of 450 million cubic feet of gas a day. 

Upon talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Government, more forces have been deployed to protect the facilities. 

Damac awards $168m contract to Pivot

UAE-based property development company Damac has awarded the $168.2 million construction contract for the Costa Brava cluster within its Damac Lagoons development to Pivot Engineering and General Contracting Co., MEED reported.

According to the report, the scope of work under this contract includes the construction of 976 townhouses for the project.

The project includes villas, townhouses, artificial beaches, and community facilities. 


Sipchem’s shareholders to receive $388m in semi-annual dividends

Sipchem’s shareholders to receive $388m in semi-annual dividends
Updated 44 min 5 sec ago

Sipchem’s shareholders to receive $388m in semi-annual dividends

Sipchem’s shareholders to receive $388m in semi-annual dividends

RIYADH: Sahara International Petrochemical Co, or Sipchem, will distribute SR1.27 billion ($388 million) in dividends for the first half of 2022.

The payout per share stands at SR1.75, with nearly 726 million shares eligible for dividends, the petrochemicals maker said in a bourse filing.

The company had earlier reported a 162 percent increase in first-quarter profit to SR1.08 billion due to a higher share of profit from joint ventures.

Last year, Sipchem distributed a full-year dividend of SR1.64 billion, equivalent to SR2.25 per share, which is considered the highest in the company's history. 


Lulu Group ‘on track’ with $2.9bn investment into expansion

Lulu Group ‘on track’ with $2.9bn investment into expansion
Updated 49 min 5 sec ago

Lulu Group ‘on track’ with $2.9bn investment into expansion

Lulu Group ‘on track’ with $2.9bn investment into expansion
  • Lulu Group International is one of the few retailers that expanded during the COVID-19

DUBAI: Lulu Group International, the Middle East's largest organized retail chain, has announced that it is on track with its Dhs10.6 billion ($2.9 billion) investment into expansion. 

The group said it had 91 hypermarkets and smaller stores planned for opening between 2020 and 2023, making it one of the few retail groups to expand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This brings the total number of hypermarkets, shopping malls, and fulfillment centers in the GCC, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Egypt to 235.

“Despite continued headwinds including COVID-19 and other challenges, we have continued to expand our operations across the world; we never stopped growing,” Nandakumar Vijayan, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Lulu Group International, said at the RetailME Tech & Marcoms Summit held in Dubai.Lulu Group opened nine hypermarkets and two stores in 2020 and 24 hypermarkets and three stores at the height of the pandemic in 2021, according to Vijayan. So far in 2022, they have opened 14 hypermarkets and one store, with 11 more set to open by the end of the year.

“We are going to open 11 more hypermarkets this year and a further 27 hypermarkets and stores next year,” he continued.

The company typically invests around Dh125 million ($34 billion) in each hypermarket.

Lulu Group also has sourcing and regional offices in the US, UK, China, Turkey, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Africa and Uganda and employs 57,000 people worldwide.

It has also partnered with the UAE government to support the UAE's food security program by supplying foodstuffs and consumer goods at low prices in order to protect UAE consumers from inflationary pressures.


Advances in desalination to boost hydrogen production: SWCC governor

Advances in desalination to boost hydrogen production: SWCC governor
Updated 50 min 44 sec ago

Advances in desalination to boost hydrogen production: SWCC governor

Advances in desalination to boost hydrogen production: SWCC governor

LAS PALMAS: Richer enhancement and innovation in the desalination sector could help produce green hydrogen in the future as Saudi Arabia heads toward a sustainable future, according to Abdullah Al Abdulkarim, governor of Saline Water Conversion Corp.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of Desalination for the Environment: Clean Water and Energy held in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Al Abdulkarim said that zero liquid discharge in the water industry could make a paradigm shift that could catalyze the journey toward a sustainable future. 

ZLD is a water treatment approach where all water is recovered, and the residue is reduced to solid waste.

ZLD to improve sustainability

“We are talking about zero liquid discharge from our industry. Hydrogen is a part of our focus. We have a chance to produce hydrogen with a richer enhancement in our process. We can go for green hydrogen if we utilize renewable energy for water production,” said Al Abdulkarim.

Talking about going sustainable in the water industry, he said, “We have to bring the business to our nation, we have to reduce the cost of water production, we have to save the environment and we have to inspire them for a new arena of water production.”

Al Abdulkarim revealed that SWCC’s operation is aligned with the goals outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and several targets were set on that mission, of which he said many had been achieved.

Miriam Balaban honored

During the event, Al Abdulkarim also honored Miriam Balaban, a publisher, editor and scientist recognized for her work in science communication and desalination.

Balaban, 97, who has been in the desalination field for 56 years told Arab News, “I was in Jubail, where there’s a big facility and research base now. There’s a wonderful teaching unit and everything in that very big plant. Saudis were the first to build a very big plant; they made this technology possible.

“I appreciate Saudi for the scientific research they have in the Kingdom, which has developed. They are also building the research which is looking ahead in development,” she added.


Retail operator Almrakez sees 11% drop in profits to $116m

Retail operator Almrakez sees 11% drop in profits to $116m
Updated 52 min 35 sec ago

Retail operator Almrakez sees 11% drop in profits to $116m

Retail operator Almrakez sees 11% drop in profits to $116m

RIYADH: Arabian Centres Co. saw its net profits decline by 11 percent for its fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.

Also known as Almrakez, the company reported a net profit of SR433.8 million ($116 million), down from SR486.7 million last year, according to a bourse filing.

Almrakez said the decline in profits was mainly caused by a rise in expenses, and a fall in other income.

Despite the fall in profitability, Almrakez saw an increase in revenues by 10 percent year-on-year driven by a recovery in mall activity.