Saudi Makkah, Madinah to see 110,000 new hotel rooms by 2030: Colliers

Saudi Makkah, Madinah to see 110,000 new hotel rooms by 2030: Colliers
Muslim pilgrims visiting Mecca (Shutterstock)
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Updated 24 June 2022

Saudi Makkah, Madinah to see 110,000 new hotel rooms by 2030: Colliers

Saudi Makkah, Madinah to see 110,000 new hotel rooms by 2030: Colliers

RIYADH: Saudi Makkah and Madinah are expected to see the addition of 110,000 rooms by 2030 to cater for Hajj pilgrims, a report has claimed.

Over 100,000 rooms are expected to be supplied across the Gulf Cooperation Council area by 2026, with the total supply estimated to exceed 1 million rooms, Colliers International said.

The large majority will be in Saudi Arabia, followed by the UAE.

Some 700,000 individuals would be employed in the hotel sector in Saudi Arabia and UAE, the key regional markets, to facilitate this increase.

If planned mega projects in Makkah and Madinah are taken into account, these projects would require approximately 50,000 further skilled and trained hospitality professionals by 2030, the consultancy said.

As part of its localization drive, the Kingdom has mandated that at least 30 percent of the staff employed has to be Saudi.

While all front desk and managerial roles have to be assigned to Saudi nationals only, technical roles are still fulfilled by expatriates, the report said.

Key source markets for recruiting staff include Philippines, Egypt, and South Asian Subcontinents like India, Pakistan and Nepal.

The GCC will likely need to employ more than 90,000 professionals in the hospitality sector by 2026, with 82,000 of them working in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Colliers said.

There were 894,700 rooms supplied across the GCC in 2021, an increase of nearly 387,000 rooms over the past decade, with 70 percent concentrated in Saudi Arabia, it said.

Saudi Arabia has historically been the center for religious tourism and pilgrimage for Muslims, according to Colliers.


Uber’s diversification strategy should be blueprint for travel and tourism industry: Leading IBM official

Uber’s diversification strategy should be blueprint for travel and tourism industry: Leading IBM official
Updated 13 sec ago

Uber’s diversification strategy should be blueprint for travel and tourism industry: Leading IBM official

Uber’s diversification strategy should be blueprint for travel and tourism industry: Leading IBM official

RIYADH: The travel and tourism sector should look to Uber to learn how to diversify, according to the Global Managing Director of IBM’s Travel and Transportation Industry Dee Waddell.

Speaking at a panel during the second day of the World Travel & Tourism Council Global 2022 summit taking place in Riyadh, Waddell said the industry has an opportunity to take a platform approach, in the same manner as the US-based ride-hailing app.

“Uber has started to launch out beyond just the traditional taxi, they've gone to scooters, they've gone to electric scooters, and vertical takeoff device equipment, so you're seeing that they're taking a platform approach into expanding out like Amazon did,” Waddell said.

When it comes to the cities of tomorrow in Saudi Arabia and worldwide, the primary driver revolving around the use of technology will tackle how to leverage the infrastructure and use these technologies to be able to further develop experiences within the cities, he added.

What makes a city great is its cultural identity and shared humanity, according to President and CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority Jerry Inzerillo, who was also speaking during the same panel.

“All the great cities of the world have one thing in common and that is the celebration that we may not share the same ideology, but we share the same biology,” Inzerillo said.

Moreover, designing with purpose is key to a fruitful city as it is not only about building buildings vertically and making sure that the box fits, said Global CEO of JLL Hotels and Hospitality Gilda Perez-Alvarado during the panel discussion.

Integrating nature within those cities is vital, since this allows for interaction, connectivity, and collaboration and allows for simple activities for residents such as going for a walk in the fresh air, she revealed.

“Let’s design with purpose. It’s not just about efficiency, as efficiency can be very wasteful in the long run,” Perez-Alvarado said.

In addition to designing with purpose, it’s important to keep an eye on transportation since it is a basic infrastructure that can make or break a city, she added, saying that some European cities provide free transportation making them more efficient and more environmentally-conscious.

When developing cities of tomorrow, it is vital for cities around the world to share a clear and concise narrative of why somebody should come to your city and that unlocks in terms of experiences and opportunities, the Managing Director of Tourism for Western Australia Carolyn Turnbull said during the panel discussion.

“The vision that exists here in Riyadh has been extraordinary. I came to this event with a clear vision for Western Australia but I’m going home to ensure that we are thinking as big as Riyadh is,” Turnbull added.


Capital markets need to step in to secure Vision 2030 goals: S&P Global

Capital markets need to step in to secure Vision 2030 goals: S&P Global
Updated 12 min 51 sec ago

Capital markets need to step in to secure Vision 2030 goals: S&P Global

Capital markets need to step in to secure Vision 2030 goals: S&P Global

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s banking sector will not be able to fund all of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 projects, according to a report which said more private investment is needed.

The analysis by S&P Global says Saudi Arabia’s investment needs are “significant”, and capital markets will play a “key role” in funding not just private sector investments but also giga-projects such as NEOM, the IPO for which is expected in 2024.

Quantifying the exact funding amount needed for Saudi Arabia’s ambitious growth plans is “not easy” according to the report, with the Kingdom aiming to raise the private sector’s contribution to gross domestic product from 40 percent to 65 percent, and increase non-oil exports share of GDP from 16 percent to 50 percent.

Taken alongside the boom in oil prices, S&P Global says Saudi Arabia is set to become one of the world's fastest-growing large economies in 2022, real GDP growth in excess of 7.0 percent this year, and a return to fiscal surpluses at 6.3 percent of GDP in 2022 and 3.5 percent in 2023.

The report said: “Saudi banks have contributed significantly to a key Vision 2030 objective — increasing home ownership to 70 percent by 2030 (60 percent in 2020). 

“Mortgage lending has been the main engine of growth for Saudi banks over the last few years, with total mortgages hitting SR503.2 billion ($133.85 billion) as of June 30, 2022, compared with SR140.3 billion at Dec. 31, 2018.

“ As the market matures and interest rates continue to rise, origination will likely lose momentum in the next 12-24 months. 

“However, as contracts for Vision 2030 projects are awarded, corporate credit lending should start to contribute more meaningfully to banks' lending growth.”

S&P Ratings said that even as Saudi firms set out ambitious capital spending goals in the next five years, the firm would not necessarily reassess its ratings of these businesses “given their healthy balance sheets and strong liquidity.”

“Over time, however, we will reassess our ratings as projects are executed because any rating upside would hinge on business trends improving, sustainable EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) growth, or stronger leverage metrics,” said the report.

The report went on to state that Saudi Arabia had fared better against the wave of inflation sweeping the globe than other countries, with the riyal being pegged to the dollar helping to play down unpredictability.

“We forecast inflation at 2.5 percent in 2022, before rising to 2.7 percent in 2023 and averaging 1.9 percent in 2024-2025,” said the report, adding: “We expect interest rate hikes to affect the private and general household sectors more than government-related activities given expected high but tapering oil prices.”


Standard Chartered launches tech program for women-led startups in Saudi Arabia  

Standard Chartered launches tech program for women-led startups in Saudi Arabia  
Updated 19 min 14 sec ago

Standard Chartered launches tech program for women-led startups in Saudi Arabia  

Standard Chartered launches tech program for women-led startups in Saudi Arabia  

RIYADH: Women-led tech startups working in Saudi Arabia stand a chance to receive $50,000 in funding support if they take part in a tech program launched by Standard Chartered and Falak Investment Hub. 

The Kingdom's first cohort of the ‘SC Women in Tech’ program will provide women entrepreneurs opportunities for economic and social development, as well as funding.   

Applications for the eight-week program, part of Standard Charter’s global ‘Women in Tech’ initiative, currently available in six other countries, began on Nov. 28 and is set to remain open for around six weeks.   

During the program each start-up will be provided with opportunities to meet one-on-one with Falak teams, mentors and industry experts during workshops, events, or private discussions. The startups are expected to benefit from the guidance of entrepreneurs, technologists, as well as investors, aimed at supporting their growth.  

At the end of the program, all start-ups will be provided with the chance to pitch to over 40 angel investors, Venture Capital, and family office representatives through Falak Angels (the second established angel network in the Kingdom). The winners of this year’s cohort will receive up to $50,000 in total funding. 

Earlier this year, the Kingdom announced over $$6.4 billion in future technologies and entrepreneurship investments. It is a key pillar of Vision 2030, which focuses on strengthening entrepreneurship by boosting private-sector investment, supporting innovation, and attracting and training talent.   

Speaking about the initiative, Mazen Bunyan CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Saudi Arabia, said: “We are proud to collaborate with Falak Investment Hub and bring our ‘Women in Tech’ program to the Kingdom. 

The spirit of diversity and entrepreneurship are important values that we celebrate at Standard Chartered, and we hope that by providing early-stage support and mentorship we can help women succeed and become leading job creators.”  

Vision 2030 promotes Saudi women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength. It aims to develop their talents, invest their energies, and provide them with the right opportunities to build their futures, contributing to the development of society.

Saudi women now comprise 33.6 percent of the Saudi workforce as of March 2022, according to the General Authority for Statistics. That figure is up from 17.4 percent just five years ago.  

The unemployment rate of women was the lowest in 20 years as of the first quarter of 2022, falling to 20.2 percent from 22.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2021.  


RSG partners with The Ocean Race to promote next generation of sailors   

RSG partners with The Ocean Race to promote next generation of sailors   
Updated 21 min 35 sec ago

RSG partners with The Ocean Race to promote next generation of sailors   

RSG partners with The Ocean Race to promote next generation of sailors   

RIYADH: In line with its commitment to conserving marine ecosystems and desire to promote the next generation of sailors, Red Sea Global has announced a partnership with The Ocean Race for the next two editions of the race. RSG has also partnered with Warner Bros. Discovery which will amplify their stories around the world.  

The developer behind two of the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism projects — The Red Sea and AMAALA — RSG was recently rebranded from The Red Sea Development Co.  

Known as ‘sailing’s greatest round-the-world challenge’, TOR has been providing the ultimate test for sailing teams since 1973. 

Beyond the race itself, TOR acts as a global platform to raise awareness of the environmental challenges facing the world’s marine environment and drive positive change. 

“We are proud to become the Regenerative Project Partner of TOR. Sustainability sits at the very heart of our work at RSG, so TOR – and its impressive ambitions when it comes to ocean health – makes them a natural fit as a partner,” said John Pagano, group CEO of RSG.  

He added: “The sea has always been an important part of Saudi Arabia’s history and heritage. Through this partnership, we hope to support the efforts of TOR to raise awareness of the challenges facing our oceans globally today, and protect the outstanding beauty of the marine ecosystems in areas such as the Red Sea.”  

As partners, RSG will help promote the race and drive awareness of the importance of ocean health to an international audience. The partnership will see RSG hold events and educational initiatives, supported by content developed in collaboration with WBD.   

RSG intends to use its partnership with TOR to help inspire the next generation of Saudi sailors, promoting a new sport to a Kingdom that has enjoyed a crucial and historic relationship with the sea for over 4,000 years.  

“We have lots of wonderful partnerships but the one that I’m most excited about is the partnership and sponsorship of TOR,” Tracy Lanza, group head, global brand development and marketing, RSG, told Arab News in an exclusive interview. 

“What is really interesting about TOR is that they have committed themselves to the health of the ocean, which was so important for us because that’s also part of our commitment to making sure that people are aware of the importance of coral health, of mangroves and of the ocean itself,” she continued. 

Talking about RSG’s commitment to the environment, Amjaad Alangari, senior marketing manager, RSG, told Arab News: “We have a new mandate. We have an ambition that grew with us from the past and is still growing, which is to build for the people and the planet.  

We are visionaries, we are innovators… And we have more projects to come with an ambition to protect and to enhance the environment around us.”  

The 14th edition of TOR will start from Alicante, Spain, on Jan. 15, 2023, and will finish in Genova, Italy, early in the summer of 2023. The race will visit nine iconic cities around the globe over a six-month period and will feature a leg with the longest racing distance in the 50-year history of the event; a 12,750 nautical mile, one-month marathon from Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí, Brazil.   

“The Red Sea is a new type of development, and has a vision to prioritize both people and planet based around commitments in support of regenerative tourism. Similarly, this is an innovative new type of partnership for us, where our collaboration with RSG and WBD results in a stronger outcome in pursuit of this goal,” said Johan Salén, the co-owner of TOR.  

Mike Rich, head of sports marketing solutions, WBD, added: “We are proud to be the worldwide broadcaster for TOR and welcome the opportunity to build on the stories we will tell about sailing’s toughest round-the-world race with those around the RSG project, particularly this combined effort to promote ocean health and its wider conservation.”  


PIF-owned Badeel, ACWA to develop MENA’s largest solar plant in KSA 

PIF-owned Badeel, ACWA to develop MENA’s largest solar plant in KSA 
Updated 30 November 2022

PIF-owned Badeel, ACWA to develop MENA’s largest solar plant in KSA 

PIF-owned Badeel, ACWA to develop MENA’s largest solar plant in KSA 

RIYADH: Saudi utility firm ACWA Power has signed power purchase agreements with the Water and Electricity Holding Co. to develop the biggest solar plant of its kind in the Middle East, with capacity to power 350,000 homes.

The 2,060 MW solar photovoltaic plant will be built in Al Shuaibah, Makkah province and is expected to begin commercial operations by the fourth quarter of 2025. 

Known as Badeel, the Water and Electricity Holding Co., wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, will jointly own the project with ACWA Power, with both companies holding a 50 percent equity stake each.  

The project will be executed through a newly formed joint company called Shuaibah Two Electrical Energy Co..

Yazeed A. Al-Humied, deputy governor and head of MENA Investments at PIF, said: "This marks a key achievement toward PIF’s commitment to develop 70 percent of Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy by 2030. 

“Utilities and renewables is one of PIF’s priority sectors as part of its domestic strategy, which focuses on unlocking the capabilities of promising sectors to enhance Saudi Arabia’s efforts in diversifying revenue sources.”  

In this regard, the Shuaibah Two Electrical Energy Co. signed a power purchase agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Co..

 The $1.75-billion contract spread over 35 years will include the development, financing, building, own, and operation of 2060 MW of the Shuaibah Two PV solar energy plant.  

The project is part of Saudi Arabia’s energy transition strategy, highlighting how a giga-scale development in sustainable energy will play a key role in translating Vision 2030 goals.  

“Under the guidance of our visionary leadership and the Ministry of Energy, Saudi Arabia continues to accelerate its ambitious plans for diversifying its energy mix to include renewable energy. It is a great honor to partner with Badeel and SPPC in developing this milestone project which will set a benchmark for sustainable energy development in the region,” said Mohammad Abunayyan, chairman, ACWA Power.  

He said solar power is a key component in unlocking positive economic, environmental and social outcomes for the betterment of communities across our great nation, adding: “We remain committed to developing local capabilities in technology, supply chain, and talent and ensure they are realized to their fullest potential.”  

Badeel and ACWA Power will build, own, and operate Al Shuaibah 2 facility and the electricity produced will be sold to SPPC.  

Shuaibah 2 is ACWA Power’s sixth solar energy facility in Saudi Arabia, with its portfolio comprising 13 power, water desalination and green hydrogen plants. 

Badeel and ACWA Power are also developing the Sudair Solar PV 1500 MW project; which was the first cornerstone renewable energy project in PIF’s program.