ICT infrastructure in Makkah, Madinah fully operational for Hajj with 41% rise in 5G towers 

The CITC has ensured the functioning of over 5,900 communication towers and more than 11,000 Wifi access points in the two holy cities, according to a statement. 
The CITC has ensured the functioning of over 5,900 communication towers and more than 11,000 Wifi access points in the two holy cities, according to a statement. 
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Updated 29 June 2022

ICT infrastructure in Makkah, Madinah fully operational for Hajj with 41% rise in 5G towers 

ICT infrastructure in Makkah, Madinah fully operational for Hajj with 41% rise in 5G towers 

RIYADH:  The Communications and Information Technology Commission, Saudi Arabia’s digital regulator, on Wednesday announced that communication infrastructure is fully operational in Makkah and Madinah and ready for this year’s Hajj.

The CITC has ensured the functioning of over 5,900 communication towers and more than 11,000 Wifi access points in the two holy cities, according to a statement. 

The number of 5G towers rose 41 percent to reach more than 2,600.

 “The Kingdom’s infrastructure readiness will not only help smooth the passage of fulfilling a lifelong dream,” said CITC Gov. Mohammed bin Saud Al-Tamimi, “it will significantly enhance their (pilgrims) digital experience.” 

 


Saudi Dallah Health’s profit climbs 52% on higher hospital occupancy rates

Saudi Dallah Health’s profit climbs 52% on higher hospital occupancy rates
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi Dallah Health’s profit climbs 52% on higher hospital occupancy rates

Saudi Dallah Health’s profit climbs 52% on higher hospital occupancy rates

RIYADH: Dallah Healthcare has posted profit growth of 52 percent for the first half of 2022, mainly supported by an increase in patient occupancy rates.

Its net profit surged to SR152 million ($40 million) and sales hit SR1.2 billion, up 21 percent from the same period a year ago, the company said in a filing to Tadawul.

The growth in revenues came on the back of continued growth in operations and higher hospital admissions during the six-month period.

The healthcare group also cited an improvement in operational efficiency when compared to last year, in addition to a lower share in the losses of associates by SR1.6 million.


Saudi Qassim Cement posts 73% profit decline in H1 on lower demand

Saudi Qassim Cement posts 73% profit decline in H1 on lower demand
Updated 14 min 36 sec ago

Saudi Qassim Cement posts 73% profit decline in H1 on lower demand

Saudi Qassim Cement posts 73% profit decline in H1 on lower demand

RIYADH: Qassim Cement Co.. has reported a 73 percent drop in profit during the first half of 2022, hit by lower cement demand.

The cement producer’s profit came down to SR54 million ($14 million), compared to SR201 million in the prior-year period, its bourse filing showed.

The company’s performance felt the impact of lower sales value and volume, higher costs of goods sold, as well as lower returns on financial investments.

The firm revenue also declined by 30 percent during the first half to stand at SR295 million.


Saudi banks shut down 42 branches in 12 months, increase digital presence

Saudi banks shut down 42 branches in 12 months, increase digital presence
Updated 15 August 2022

Saudi banks shut down 42 branches in 12 months, increase digital presence

Saudi banks shut down 42 branches in 12 months, increase digital presence
  • More banks are switching to increased virtual interactions and digitalization, and new banks are opening entirely on that premise

CAIRO: Saudi banks shut down 42 branches over the year ending in June, revealed the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA.

The number of bank branches in Saudi Arabia also inched lower to 1,927 in the second quarter this year from 1,932 in the same quarter last year.

So, what are the reasons behind this decreased number of bank branches, and when did this trend begin?

The most common assumption would be the COVID-19 pandemic and its prolonged effect on the entire economy, including the financial and banking sectors.

Between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2021, which includes the peak of the pandemic, 68 branches were closed. 

Also, bank branches continued to decrease quarterly long after lifting COVID-19 restrictions, albeit there was no clear trend.

Between May 2020 and June this year, 137 bank branches in the Kingdom shut shop.

It is worth mentioning that branches that have closed are not second-tier or underperforming banks but some of the largest and well-performing ones. For instance, Al Rajhi Bank, which had 543 branches in the fourth quarter of 2020, reduced it to 515 by June this year.

While COVID-19 sparked the digital revolution, advanced and innovative technologies did the job.

The past three years of the pandemic slowly began the transformation toward digital banking, which can be seen closely in the Saudi banking sector.

More banks are switching to increased virtual interactions and digitalization, and new banks are opening entirely on that premise.

Last February, SAMA licensed and welcomed the Kingdom’s third digital bank D360 Bank, following the launch of STC and Saudi Digital Bank in June last year.

Similarly, according to SAMA, 19 Saudi fintech companies have been authorized to provide payment services, consumer microfinance and electronic insurance brokerage over the past few months.

So, what does the future of digital banking in the Kingdom hold and will the population accept this digital revolution?

In a survey conducted by Ipsos in the Kingdom in October 2021, the research major pointed out that 61 percent still trust traditional banks, while 47 percent counted on mobile service providers and 40 percent depended on popular digital brands to carry out financial transactions.

The report added: “63 percent said that they will be making all their financial transactions through digital banking in the future, and 58 percent believe that people would no longer use cash as a payment method.”


Emirates sets date for flagship Airbus A380’s return to Perth route

Emirates sets date for flagship Airbus A380’s return to Perth route
Updated 15 August 2022

Emirates sets date for flagship Airbus A380’s return to Perth route

Emirates sets date for flagship Airbus A380’s return to Perth route
  • The daily A380 flights will replace a Boeing 777-300ER service, increasing seating capacity by nearly 500 seats per flight
  • The announcement comes as the airline celebrates 20 years of flying to the city in Western Australia

LONDON: Emirates announced that it will reintroduce its flagship Airbus A380 on daily flights between Dubai and Perth from Dec. 1, as it ramps up its services to Australia in response to growing demand.

The A380 service to the city in Western Australia will replace the airline’s current daily Boeing 777-300ER service, increasing seating capacity by nearly 500 seats on each flight.

Flight EK420 from Dubai will depart at 2:45 a.m. and arrive in Perth at 5.20 p.m. the same day, while flight EK421 will take off from Perth at 10:20 p.m. and land in Dubai at 5:25 a.m. the following day.

Nearly 6 million passengers have flown with Emirates between Perth and Dubai since its inaugural flight between the cities in August 2002, according to the airline, on more more than 24,000 flights traveling more than 220 million kilometers.

The airline said there has been a significant increase in passenger bookings to and from Australia of late, with significant demand across all cabins, in particular since the introduction on Aug. 1 of a Premium Economy service on one of its daily Sydney services.

It comes as Emirates celebrates 20 years of flying to Perth. During this time, Emirates said it has also been a long-standing supporter of arts, culture and sporting institutions in Western Australia, investing in a variety of initiatives.

The airline added that Emirates SkyCargo, its cargo division, has also been a significant contributor to the local economy, carrying exports of Australian fruit and vegetables, meat and mining equipment to destinations throughout the airline’s global route network, including the Middle East, Europe and beyond.


Heathrow extends passenger cap into October

Heathrow extends passenger cap into October
Updated 15 August 2022

Heathrow extends passenger cap into October

Heathrow extends passenger cap into October

LONDON: Heathrow airport said on Monday it was extending its capacity limit through most of October to reduce the chaos caused by a post-pandemic surge in passengers amid a lack of staff.

Europe’s largest airport introduced a cap of 100,000 departing passengers per day in July, which was originally slated to have expired at the end of September.

“Since the cap was introduced, passenger journeys have improved with fewer last-minute cancelations, better punctuality and shorter wait times for bags,” said Heathrow.

It said the extension through Oct. 29 “will provide passengers with confidence ahead of their half-term getaways.”

Airlines scheduled thousands of flights in Europe this summer season to capture a boom in travel demand following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.

But having cut back staff drastically during the pandemic, both airlines and airports found it difficult to hire enough employees.

This led to long waits to check-in, clear security and collect bags in many airports across Europe, as well as to cancelations of flights due to lack of crew.

The Heathrow cap was set at roughly 4,000 passengers per day fewer than scheduled flight capacity.

Airlines have canceled flights in response to the cap, as well as in recognition of their staffing levels.

Heathrow said it was regularly reviewing the situation and would remove the cap early if it sees an improvement.

“We want to remove the cap as soon as possible, but we can only do so when we are confident that everyone operating at the airport has the resources to deliver the service our passengers deserve,” Heathrow Chief Commercial Officer Ross Baker said.

Amsterdam and Frankfurt airports have also instituted caps.