‘Send my bags to the resort please’: Welcome to TRSDC’s new airport

Exclusive Unlike current standards, the entire operational plans for travel processes at RSI ensure top- notch customer services and create an environment that offers a seamless, unmatched and hassle-free experience.
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Unlike current standards, the entire operational plans for travel processes at RSI ensure top- notch customer services and create an environment that offers a seamless, unmatched and hassle-free experience.
Exclusive ‘Send my bags to the resort please’: Welcome to TRSDC’s new airport
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Updated 31 July 2022

‘Send my bags to the resort please’: Welcome to TRSDC’s new airport

‘Send my bags to the resort please’: Welcome to TRSDC’s new airport
  • The first phase of this Saudi Vision 2030 project will welcome the first guests early next year

Flight testing held on July 20-21 at the Red Sea International Airport, which is under construction at The Red Sea Project, marks the beginning of a new era of tourism and travel in the Kingdom.

With over five hours’ drive from the nearest existing major international airports of Jeddah or Madinah and over two hours from the nearest regional international airports of Yanbu or AlUla, RSI airport will bring domestic and international guests to the doorstep of this new global tourism destination.

Deliberately located some 20km from the sensitive coastal lagoons and islands, home to precious mangroves and reefs, the airport is tucked away on an open plain between the coastal dunes and the mountains.

The first phase of this Saudi Vision 2030 project will welcome the first guests early next year, and the airport’s developers are determined to make the travelers’ experience unique.

TRSP in itself is a unique regenerative development with the vast majority of land and marine area remaining untouched and the carefully selected development intervention set to achieve an environmental net-positive benefit by 2040. In addition, the supporting infrastructure, such as the new airport, has been sensitively approached to stay true to the vision and values of the project's developer The Red Sea Development Co.

TRSDC Airport Project Executive Director Joseph Stratford, a civil and environmental engineer who has spent most of his career in airport infrastructure delivery in the Middle East, is spearheading the project.

He left for his homeland for five years to apply his international airport delivery experience to the expansion of the London Heathrow Airport. He has since returned to the Kingdom to lead on next-generation aviation delivery.

“Red Sea International Airport is one of the smaller airports I have led, but without doubt the most iconic, progressive and special. The architectural concept, mode of operation and guest experience are truly unique,” Stratford told Arab News in an exclusive interview.

 

Red Sea International Airport is the most iconic, progressive and special. The architectural concept, mode of operation and guest experience are truly unique.

Joseph Stratford

Unmatched operating procedures

Unlike current standards, the entire operational plans for travel processes at RSI ensure top-notch customer services and create an environment that offers a seamless, unmatched and hassle-free experience. 

For instance, the aviation team is working toward implementing a unique concept of operations for baggage handling. Passengers at RSI will not have to worry about stopping by a baggage claim area to pick up their bags.

“Instead, the passengers will be escorted to the welcome center in the arrival area. The bags will be processed in a dedicated facility through a state-of-the-art baggage handling system that can track each piece until it is delivered to the owner at their selected destination,” said Abdulaziz Al-Abdan, aviation operations director, RSI airport. 

Additionally, the airport will apply discreet and non-intrusive security arrangements and procedures, enhancing the overall customer experience without infringing any regulatory requirements governing such operations. 

Furthermore, RSI will be the first and only airport in the Middle East and North Africa that serves amphibious seaplanes and is linked to water aerodromes. 

The airport features a dedicated runway for seaplanes and small general aviation aircraft operations, allowing direct air access to the Red Sea destinations. 

“Our aviation team worked closely with the General Authority of Civil Aviation to establish the regulatory framework for water aerodromes, seaplanes and water runways,” said Al-Abdan.

The regulatory framework resulted in the introduction and enforcement of a new set of safety regulations that govern the establishment and operations of water aerodromes GACA Regulations Part 137, as well as agreeing on the certifications for Red Sea Air Services Co. to operate seaplanes and water runways.

 

 




Ammar Ghaith, associate airport infrastructure director, RSI, said the airport will be the
first and last impression of all their distinguished guests.

Magnificent by design

What makes RSI different is it is a high-end tourist destination airport and not a regular civil airport. The scope of its operations includes mobility and hospitality services that begin when guests arrive at the airport until they finally check in to their hotels.

“The airport is an extension to the exclusive resorts at the Red Sea and will be the first and last impression of all our distinguished guests,” said Ammar Ghaith, associate airport infrastructure director, RSI.

It has a unique design with efficient space planning that allows for fewer steps to complete the arrival or departure process, besides minimum human intervention and shortest processing times.

The airport has partnered with key stakeholders to facilitate its flight procedures and airspace networks.

The stakeholders include GACA, Saudi Air Navigation Services, airport aviation consultant United ATS, FlyNas, FlyAdeal, TRSDC Operations, Red Sea Air Services Co., airside contractor Nesma Almabani Joint Venture, water runway consultant Jacobs and airport operator DAA International.

Mobility like never before

Ground and sea-based local mobility to resorts will be by more-sustainable electric vehicles chosen over petrol or diesel engine vehicles.

In the case of air taxis, although initially planned to be by conventional amphibious seaplanes, the airport has a dedicated secondary runway, which will be an early adopter of hydrogen-powered seaplane variants and eVTOL and eSTOL aircraft technology.

While eVTOL is the acronym for electric vertical takeoff and landing technology, eSTOL is electric short takeoff and landing type aircraft.

This approach will enable guests and their baggage to travel quickly, quietly and sustainably to and from resorts with style and pure spectacle.

The air taxi terminal is scheduled to open next year, initially to be used for a combination of air taxi, domestic and general aviation for guest access to the first tranche of hotels. The iconic main terminal building will provide international commercial aviation capability and capacity for successive hotel delivery and operation tranches.

The flight testing initiated recently is a necessary step for all new airports where a purpose-built aircraft laden with specialist equipment maneuvers new runways to test the visual and instrument aids and systems. In addition, it enables pilots to conduct safe and efficient takeoffs and landings in diverse weather and other operating conditions.

Shoring up responsibly

“There has been a quantum leap in recent years in sensitive delivery in this region, in terms of how we approach, plan, deliver and operate facilities like these,” Stratford explained.

“This is, across the board, from the culture of caring for the workforce, environmental protection, processes, quality of product, respect of time and cost. The wider team and I are passionate about ensuring that projects like this are delivered responsibly,” he added.

Stratford earlier lived in TRSP Construction Village Housing accommodation alongside many of the 1,800 contractors’ staff for the airport. He relocated this year to the Coastal Village Residences, where the TRDSC offices, management hotels, apartments, villas and townhouses have accepted staff, suppliers and visitors in the final construction stages of TRSP ahead of the phased opening of the resorts to tourists next year.

“Striving for high standards has been key to the timeliness and quality of delivery of the airport facilities so far,” Stratford said. “Indeed, the airport project has passed nine million safe man-hours worked without a lost time injury.”

TRSDC’s approach aligns with the national and industry leadership mandate that aviation development is a critical enabler of economic growth and should focus on environmental and sustainability implications and challenges.

Stratford added: “Besides providing iconic and progressive facilities in form and function, we have considered sustainability and the environment from the outset.

“For the airfield construction, the contractors have met the highest standards and expectations that I have seen in my career — impact assessments, permitting, monitoring and reporting are taken seriously. The team’s culture, pride, passion, professionalism and care play their part.”

Construction is underway on the passenger terminal facilities, with building structural and envelope packages awarded and commenced. TRSP will be entirely off-grid, including the airport, powered by a solar farm and the world’s largest battery storage facility.

Going high on ratings

Additionally, the airport passenger terminal facilities have followed industry-leading LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the rating system used by the US Green Building Council to measure a building’s sustainability and resource efficiency.

“We have aimed high for a Platinum Rating,” emphasized Stratford. “The detailed design-stage preliminary rating suggests we are on track for a Gold Rating or better, to be confirmed through construction and operation.”

He added: “We have been driven toward requirements, selection of materials, methods, equipment, energy and resources reduction and reuse.”

In theory, some 15 percent of the aviation industry’s carbon challenge is associated with the ground-based airport infrastructure, and the other 85 percent is associated with jet aircraft and flight.

“We’re mindful of our part of the aviation sustainability and carbon challenge, and what we can do with practices and technology of the day, but also looking to what we can do to facilitate emergent technologies and practices,” Stratford informed.

For example, RSI is planning infrastructure for sustainable aviation fuels, ground power and preconditioned air, use of resources and energy-efficient operational practices.


Bahrain’s GDP grows at 6.9% in Q2 2022

Bahrain’s GDP grows at 6.9% in Q2 2022
Updated 25 September 2022

Bahrain’s GDP grows at 6.9% in Q2 2022

Bahrain’s GDP grows at 6.9% in Q2 2022
  • The Gulf country will see modest hike in oil production in 2022 to 0.19 mbpd

RIYADH: Bahrain’s gross domestic product grew 6.9 percent year on year in the second quarter of 2022, posting the biggest annual increase since 2011, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa said on Twitter on Sunday.

In the first quarter, the Gulf country’s GDP grew 5.5 percent year on year at constant prices. The country’s non-oil economy recorded growth of 7.8 percent in the same period.

According to the latest Economic Insight report for the Middle East, commissioned by ICAEW and compiled by Oxford Economics, Bahrain’s oil sector growth will be driven by higher oil production, despite a decline in the first quarter. Since 2015, the annual real growth of Bahrain’s oil sector has only expanded once relative to the previous year, in 2019. Based on the current OPEC+ agreement, Bahrain will see a modest increase in oil production in 2022 to 0.19 million barrels per day from 0.17 million bpd.

This small increase, combined with elevated prices, will return the oil sector to growth in 2022 before stagnating again as the government continues its diversification efforts. The forecast is for oil production to expand by 5.8 percent in 2022, compared to 2.4 percent in 2021.

Scott Livermore, ICAEW economic adviser, and chief economist and managing director, Oxford Economics Middle East, said: “The surge in oil prices and introduction of a 10 percent VAT is supporting Bahrain’s revenues and will help authorities come close to balancing the budget in 2022, two years earlier than the 2024 target set in the Fiscal Balance Program.”

The rise of inflationary pressures and rate hikes by the US Fed will force the Central Bank of Bahrain into more rate increases, beyond the 225 basis points cumulative increase in the key policy rate already this year.

Inflation averaged 3.4 percent in the first half this year, a level not seen since 2016, before rising to 3.9 percent in July.

ICAEW expects inflation to average 3.9 percent this year after prices fell annually in both 2020 and 2021.

Consumer spending is likely to be increasingly constrained going into 2023, leading to a GDP growth slowdown to below 2 percent by 2024.

As of now, the central bank has sufficient reserves to maintain the currency peg with the US dollar and is likely to follow policy moves by the Fed closely so it’s not expected to have significant pressure to devalue the dinar.

The current account returned to surplus in 2021 at 6.7 percent of GDP, the largest surplus since 2013. ICAEW expects the higher price of oil exports and a continued resurgence of international travel to push this surplus above 10 percent in 2022.


Saudi ministry begins localization of amusement parks, leisure centers

Saudi ministry begins localization of amusement parks, leisure centers
Updated 25 September 2022

Saudi ministry begins localization of amusement parks, leisure centers

Saudi ministry begins localization of amusement parks, leisure centers

RIYADH: In a bid to create more jobs for Saudi nationals, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has started the implementation of its localization program at amusement parks  and entertainment centers.

The ministry aims to localize 70 percent of the jobs in that area. It also seeks to localize entertainment centers within closed commercial complexes by 100 percent. The ministry has published on its website a step-by-step guide for the implementation of its decision. Failure to comply with the decision after the grace period, which is 180 days from April 4, 2022, will result in penalties.

The ministry also said the localization decision is applicable to all leisure centers across the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is working to localize 18 professions over the next year, as the Kingdom steadily progresses in its efforts to create more jobs in line with Vision 2030, according to Saudi Transport Minister Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser.

In June, the ministry issued six decisions to localize a number of professions and activities, in cooperation with the regulatory authorities.

In a statement, the ministry said the localized professions include licensed aviation, optics, customer service, regular inspection activities, outlets of postal and parcel delivery services, and outlets of seven business activities across the Kingdom.

The move aims to provide Saudi nationals with more than 33,000 job opportunities.

The decision to localize the licensed aviation professions will be implemented in two phases: The first starts on March 15, 2023 and includes the 100 percent localization of copilots, air controllers, and dispatchers. Meanwhile, the aviation transport pilot and air host professions will be 60 percent and 50 percent localized, respectively.

The second phase will start on March 4, 2024, and includes the localization of airline transport pilot and air host professions by 70 percent and 60 percent, respectively. The decision applies to all private establishments, which have five or more employees in the specified professions.


TASI, Nomu edges down; Hail Cement leads gainers: Closing bell

TASI, Nomu edges down; Hail Cement leads gainers: Closing bell
Updated 25 September 2022

TASI, Nomu edges down; Hail Cement leads gainers: Closing bell

TASI, Nomu edges down; Hail Cement leads gainers: Closing bell

RIYADH: The Saudi main index, also known as TASI, and the parallel market, Nomu, edged down on Sunday. 

At the closing bell on Sunday, TASI was down 2.61 percent at 11,161. Nomu was down 1.91 percent at 19,875. 

Hail Cement Co. rose 8.02 percent to lead the gainers. Among the other gainers, Dallah Healthcare Co. was up 3.26 percent.

Alinma Tokio Marine Co. led the fallers, as it was down 8.92 percent at the end of today's trading session. 

Aramco, the largest player in the Saudi oil market, was down 2.64 percent at the end of Sunday's session.

In the banking sector, Alinma Bank and Al Rajhi Bank went down 3.27 percent, and 3.31 percent respectively. 

In the food and beverage sector, Almarai Co. went down 2.78 percent.

Oil prices had plunged about 5 percent on Friday. Brent crude is currently priced at $86.15 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate is at $78.74 a barrel.


Analysts divided about TASI direction after it starts the week down 2.61%

Analysts divided about TASI direction after it starts the week down 2.61%
Updated 25 September 2022

Analysts divided about TASI direction after it starts the week down 2.61%

Analysts divided about TASI direction after it starts the week down 2.61%

RIYADH: Saudi stocks started and ended sharply lower on Sunday, in response to the Saudi Central Bank raising interest rates in line with the Fed's steep rate hike and forecast for further hikes to curb inflation, but analysts believe the impact on the market will be short-lived.

Hesham AbouJamee anticipated that the market will remain stable for the remainder of this week, and will turn positive next week.

“What’s happening today is a reflection of what is happening in the global markets and currencies. I think the shock will be only today,” the founder and CEO of Mekyal Financial Technologies, told Arab News.

However, Fawaz Al-Fawaz, a Saudi-based independent economist and columnist, argues that the market will continue to shift. 

“The markets are likely to continue to be volatile and in jittery mode until inflation is under control.”

At the end of Sunday’s session, the Tadawul All Share Index declined 2.61 percent to end at 11,161, while the parallel market Nomu declined 1.92 percent to finish at 19,875.

Speaking to Arab News, Saudi economist Ali Alhazmi said that the rate hike is not the only factor for this decline.

“The decline is also from the uncertainty about the global economics, or also the decline of growth and the existence of recession in major economies, especially the US and the EU.”

“We cannot avoid the continued closure in China, which affects supply chains. We also have the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.”

Ultimately, he concluded that the market direction is unpredictable, but he anticipated the decline to continue this week.


UAE In Focus — UAE, US sign MoU to lower trade barriers and promote economic growth

UAE In Focus — UAE, US sign MoU to lower trade barriers and promote economic growth
Updated 25 September 2022

UAE In Focus — UAE, US sign MoU to lower trade barriers and promote economic growth

UAE In Focus — UAE, US sign MoU to lower trade barriers and promote economic growth

RIYADH: The UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology has signed an initial agreement with the American National Standards Institute to lower trade barriers and promote economic growth.

The memorandum of understanding was signed during the ISO Annual Meeting 2022, which is taking place in Abu Dhabi this week, according to a statement. 

This comes in line with the ministry’s efforts to collaborate with global partners in the field of standardization as part of its work to align with international standards and best practices.

In the first half of 2022, the US was one of UAE’s largest trading partners, with non-oil trade between the two countries reaching almost $14.5 billion. 

Energy agreement 

UAE’s president Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has signed an agreement with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that covers accelerating energy security and industrial growth, according to Emirates News Agency.

As part of the agreement, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. has entered into an Liquid Natural Gas supply agreement with RWE AG.

ADNOC will be providing LNG cargo for delivery in late 2022, to be used in the commissioning of Germany’s floating LNG import terminal at Brunsbüttel. 

Air defense

Israel has agreed to sell an advanced air defense system to the UAE, Reuters reported citing two sources familiar with the matter.

This constitutes the first such known deal between both countries since they forged ties in 2020.