Global pacts on green tourism vital for sustainability, hears London summit

Delegates at the RESET Sustainably Summit speak during one of the panel sessions at the Hyatt Regency Churchill Hotel in London. (AN Photo)
Delegates at the RESET Sustainably Summit speak during one of the panel sessions at the Hyatt Regency Churchill Hotel in London. (AN Photo)
Short Url
Updated 21 September 2022

Global pacts on green tourism vital for sustainability, hears London summit

Global pacts on green tourism vital for sustainability, hears London summit
  • Protecting land, sea life critical, Red Sea Development Company official tells Arab News
  • Key tool to measure economic harm of travel, hotel services launched

LONDON: Tourism and hospitality officials from around the world gathered for a summit in the British capital to explore ways to manage, operate, and develop a trusted and sustainable tourism and hospitality industry with a focus on alleviating harm to the environment.

Delegates at the RESET Sustainably: Tourism, Hospitality and Travel Summit, which was organized by UK-based hospitality and tourism development company TLC Harmony on Friday, discussed several critical sustainability issues including economic impact, biodiversity, blockchain payments, marketing, and the nature of women’s economic power in often determining the destination for holidays.

Dr. Omar Al-Attas, head of environmental sustainability at the Red Sea Development Company, said it was important to attend such summits for the purpose of sharing, inspiring, and learning at the same time.

“We are working on so many different levels, and we have achieved great levels that we would love to share with the rest of the world,” he told Arab News. “The protection of the environment of this world cannot be a mandate of one entity or one country, it is a collaborative work for all of us to be able to achieve that goal.”




Head of Environmental Sustainability at the Red Sea Development Company Dr. Omar Al-Atta said their projects ensure all the pillars of sustainability were embedded in each level. (AN Photo)

Al-Attas said he shared the efforts of the Red Sea project since its inception, which was to ensure all the pillars of sustainability were embedded in each level. The company had also commissioned several environmental studies to assess the different types of ecosystems to be able to monitor and protect them, he added.

“We have identified all the types of coral reefs, and the health and the varieties of them all around the lagoons, and very soon, we’re going to be also releasing our data related to the Amala destination,” he said, referring to the land and property megaproject that forms part of Saudi Vision 2030.

Al-Attas said they have identified more than 240 species of fish, as well as dolphins and dugongs, to ensure that the development projects do not affect “all the lovely parts of this ecosystem.” In addition to the focus on marine life, their studies have also identified more than 25,000 birds in the area.

“For the Red Sea Development Company, we made sure that we are aligned with the Saudi Vision definitely in all its pillars, when it comes to the regenerative tourism, and also touching on the environment, as well as the social implications,” he said.




Delegates at the RESET Sustainably Summit speak during one of the panel sessions at the Hyatt Regency Churchill Hotel in London. (AN Photo)

“If you talk about the Saudi green initiatives, we have now multiple initiatives within that program, from the protection of the terrestrial marine (life), where what we do as part of our monitoring system, how can we also work in (the) announcement of marine protected areas within our lagoons and beyond to help us to achieve all of these goals,” he said.

The Red Sea Development Company’s model is aligned with the Saudi government’s objectives and those of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

“We cannot work alone, we have to work together in a collaborative way and exchange information, knowledge, the efforts and achievements as well. That will help all of us reach the goals that we have put for ourselves, which is the protection of this globe and this world and also the environment as well,” Al-Attas said.

The inaugural RESET summit was held in May last year as the world was emerging from COVID-19. The tourism industry, which accounts for 10 percent of global GDP, was severely hit by the pandemic and about 200 million people lost their jobs, said Nicki Page, founder of TLC.




Founder of TLC Harmony Nicki Page spoke about the nature of women’s economic power in often determining the destination for holidays. (AN Photo)

“We felt that we needed to do something, and although we didn’t set up to make RESET a global annual event, that seems to be where it’s going,” she said, adding that this year they had speakers from around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Germany, Denmark and Guatemala.

TLC launched the Greenhouse Gas and Biodiversity Impact, or GABI, measuring tool and the Planet Tip during the summit, which support the measurement of hospitality and hotel operational delivery across the main climate impact indicators. This places a financial value of the impact per hotel room night, per diner, or per product or service.

“The tool puts an actual economic value on the harm that it has done to nature, and we simply ask that we put a little bit back, and that the ‘Planet Tip’ allows a consumer, with the business, to join together on a journey to make us good for nature, because we certainly love travel, and we certainly don’t want to stop enjoying beautiful places, and gorgeous hotels,” Page said.

She said that one of the sessions focused on women as they usually choose where the family goes on holiday and it was important to understand their role in the sustainable travel choice.

 

 

Marilu Sicoli, senior partner at London-based architectural firm Foster + Partners, spoke about the unique megaprojects that are inspired by nature they have been working on with the Red Sea Development Company since 2018.

She highlighted their work on Shourayrah Island, one of 22 out of more than 90 that is being rehabilitated as part of their master plan. She also spoke of the work done in the Southern Dunes, one of two inland hotels in the desert and close to the Red Sea, as well as progress on Ummahat Al-Shaykh, which is another resort with hyper luxury villas.

“We’ve been quite busy in that sense, and really tried to keep the vision and the light touch in all these beautiful sights,” Sicoli said.

She added that architecture as part sustainable development was “absolutely key to everything and a good design is definitely the key to succeed in this incredible, ambitious operation that the Red Sea is putting forward, so I think we’ve been very fortunate to be part of this, and our designs are definitely responding to this ambition.”


Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform

Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform
Updated 12 sec ago

Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform

Dubai International Financial Centre launches metaverse platform
  • Strategy aims to grow the region’s GDP, attract companies

DUBAI: Dubai International Financial Centre announced the launch of the DIFC Metaverse Platform on Monday in a bid to attract technology innovators from across the globe, Emirates News Agency reported.

The platform is part of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which aims to add $4 billion to the emirate’s GDP by 2030, support 40,000 virtual jobs, and attract 1,000 blockchain and metaverse companies. 

The platform also supports the Dubai Economic Agenda’s goal of generating economic value worth $27 billion per year from digital transformation. 

Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications Omar bin Sultan Al Olama said that the metaverse platform is the first in a series of initiatives aimed at bolstering Dubai’s position as a global hub for the latest digital trends, and accelerating the pace of achieving the strategy’s objectives.

DIFC Authority CEO Arif Amiri said: “The Dubai government has shown great foresight in introducing a metaverse strategy that has the objective of making the emirate a global hub for technology and innovation.

“The development of the integrated DIFC Metaverse Platform will accelerate the achievements of Dubai’s aspirations in this sector.

“The initiative is a natural extension of our Innovation Hub proposition that has shaped the technology and innovation landscape in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.”

The DIFC Metaverse Platform includes an accelerator program with a physical studio for metaverse technology, which will foster the growth of a creator community and venture creation.

It will also work on metaverse policy development and legislation on open data, digital identity, and metaverse company law frameworks.


Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows

Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows
Updated 30 January 2023

Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows

Saudi banks’ profits up 21% in December, central bank data shows

RIYADH: Deposits in Saudi banks grew by 9 percent year-on-year to SR2.29 trillion ($609.97 billion) with the major chunk deposited by government agencies, the monthly bulletin issued by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, showed.

Data showed that deposits by government entities rose by 27 percent, the highest in 16 years, reaching SR651.2 billion.

Saudi-listed banks reported a 21 percent rise in aggregate net profit before zakat and tax to SR6.16 billion in December 2022, compared to SR5.11 billion a year earlier.

The data covered the results of Tadawul-listed banks and some foreign banks operating in Saudi Arabia.

Banks’ aggregate assets increased nearly 10 percent year-on-year to SR3.62 trillion in December.

Loans issued to individuals in the Kingdom saw a 14 percent surge during 2022 reaching SR1.17 trillion by the end of 2022 as compared to SR1.02 trillion by the end of 2021.

The volume of residential real estate financing for individuals declined by 21 percent in 2022 for the first time since 2016. The total volume remained at SR123.4 billion.

The SAMA report showed that remittances from Saudi Arabia fell by 7 percent during 2022 to SR143.2 billion while remittances to the Kingdom from citizens living abroad recorded a growth of 11 percent to reach SR7.25 billion.

Assets held by the central bank shrank by SR63.8 billion month-on-month to SR1.93 trillion in December 2022. However, as compared to December 2021, SAMA’s assets rose by SR85.1 billion.

The central bank’s investments in foreign securities, which make up 58 percent of its total assets, edged down 0.2 percent year-on-year to around SR1.13 trillion last month.


 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool

 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool
Updated 30 January 2023

 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool

 LEAP tech conference launches two competitions with a $1.5m prize pool

RIYADH: The world’s largest technical conference “LEAP” has launched two competitions with a SR6 million ($1.5 million) prize pool aimed at rewarding Saudi-based startups and boosting cloud technologies.

Supported by the National Information Technology Development Program and the Misk Foundation, the Rocket Fuel competition aims to support new businesses, highlight entrepreneurial projects, and build innovative solutions that address technical challenges.

As many as 90 local startups will compete for a chance to be one of 15 to be awarded a share of SR4 million, with a top prize of almost SR940,000.

As for the Alibaba Cloud hackathon, it aims to enhance cloud technologies in the Kingdom through a number of various challenges that will be set up prior to the start of the conference. The competition offers cash prizes amounting to SR2 million.

LEAP, which is set to kick off its second edition in Riyadh from Feb. 6 to Feb. 9, is anticipating the participation of major government and private agencies as well as technology and communications companies.

The conference is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones, and UAE-based IT services and consulting firm Tahaluf.


ACWA Power adds record desalination capacity to serve 5.5m more people daily 

ACWA Power adds record desalination capacity to serve 5.5m more people daily 
Updated 30 January 2023

ACWA Power adds record desalination capacity to serve 5.5m more people daily 

ACWA Power adds record desalination capacity to serve 5.5m more people daily 

RIYADH: Saudi-based ACWA Power created the largest water desalination capacity in the company’s history in 2022, enabling it to serve 5.5 million more people in the Gulf Cooperation Council region every day.

The power generation firm added a record-breaking 2.4 million cm3/day of water desalination capacity, according to a press release, through four reverse osmosis megaprojects in the Middle East pushing ACWA power’s aggregate water capacity up to 6.4 million cubic meters. 

Saudi Arabia’s water giant currently manages 16 projects in four different nations, and fulfills almost 30 percent of the Kingdom’s overall water needs.  

Desalinated water produced by the company reaches 40 million people daily, according to the international consumption per household.  

“ACWA Power has been at the forefront in mitigating water resources challenges over the past decade and a half through innovative, resilient solutions that are benefitting millions of people across the world,” said Kashif Rana, chief portfolio management officer of ACWA Power. 

“Enhancing capacity is a significant milestone not only for us, but for our industry. I am confident that through our expertise we will continue to build water security reliably and responsibly for Saudi Arabia and the world,” he added. 

The release further noted that reverse osmosis technology has been incorporated in all of the company’s projects, which saves up to 80 percent more energy than the conventional processes.

ACWA Power is anticipated to boost its capacity by around 15 percent through developing three new desalination projects in 2023.  

“As the leading water desalination operator in the world today, managing 6.4 million m3/day of desalinated water at lowest possible cost, ACWA Power is continuing to bring an innovative, and practical change to the industry, as we have been doing since 2006,” said Dr. Tariq Nada, the vice president of Water and Technical Service at the company.


Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 29 points to close at 10,811 

Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 29 points to close at 10,811 
Updated 30 January 2023

Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 29 points to close at 10,811 

Closing bell: Saudi bourse slips 29 points to close at 10,811 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index fell 28.81 points — or 0.27 percent — on Monday to close at 10,810.68. 

While MSCI Tadawul 30 Index ended flat at 1,492.97, the parallel market Nomu fell 27.67 points to 19,151.14. 

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index on Monday was SR5 billion ($1.33 billion), with 69 stocks of the listed 223 advancing and 135 retreating. 

Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co., also known as Cenomi Retail, was the topmost gainer of the day, rising 7.03 percent to SR18.88. 

The company was also the topmost gainer on Sunday as it rose 9.98 percent, following the announcement of its plans to divest 26 non-strategic brands to rationalize its brand portfolio. 

The franchisee retailer wants to focus on “champion brands” occupying the No. 1 or No. 2 positions in their sectors.  

The other top gainers were East Pipes Integrated Co. for Industry, healthcare player Al Hammadi Holding, Al Kathiri Holding Co., and Allianz Saudi Fransi Cooperative Insurance Co. 

The worst performer on Monday was Alinma Hospitality REIT Fund, which fell 4.80 percent to SR9.52 on its debut after opening at SR9.25. 

The SR1.2 billion fund was listed on Monday at SR10 per unit, taking the total number of real estate investment trusts in the primary market to 18. 

Subscriptions to the fund’s units took place during the period from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7, 2022. A minimum of 50 units were allocated to each subscriber, while the remaining shares were allocated pro-rata.    

The other stocks that performed poorly included Halwani Bros. Co., Yanbu Cement Co., Allied Cooperative Insurance Group, and Mulkia Gulf Real Estate REIT. 

Among sectoral indices, 12 of the 21 listed on the stock exchange declined, while one stayed flat and the rest advanced. 

The Media and Entertainment Index was the worst-performing sector as it fell 2.01 percent to 22,423.88, weighed down by its vital constituent, Saudi Research, and Media Group, which stumbled 2.48 percent to SR189. 

The Software & Services Index was the best-performing index thanks to Elm Co., which jumped 3.08 percent to SR354.60. On the other hand, Al Moammar Information Systems Co. moved up 2.34 percent to SR96.20. The other gainers were Arabian Internet and Communications Services Co. and Arab Sea Information System Co. 

On the announcements front, Saudi Paper Manufacturing Co. informed the stock exchange that its shareholders approved on Jan. 29 the board of directors’ recommendation to repurchase up to 1 million treasury shares, not exceeding 5 percent of the issued capital. 

The decision came as the board and executive management saw that the share market price was less than its fair value. 

The repurchase will be financed from the company’s resources using its cash balances or credit facilities, the company said in the statement to Tadawul.