RIYADH: Bahrain-based restaurant reservation platform, Eat App, raised $11 million in a series B funding round.
The funding round included venture capital firms MEVP, 500 Startups, Derayah VC, Dalah Albaraka, Ali Zaid Al-Quraishi and Brothers, and Rasameel Investment Company.
The firm seeks expand globally and invest in product development to support restaurants and guest experience.
“Looking back, the pandemic impacted Eat App greatly. While it caused a drop in revenue, it was also one of the largest accelerators of the business, as restaurants were forced to implement digital tools,” Nezar Kadhem, co-founder and CEO of Eat App, said in a statement.
Founded in 2015, Eat App currently operates in Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, with more than 800 restaurants on its platform.
Riyadh and Jeddah among most improved cities on global urban mobility readiness index
Updated 17 sec ago
RIYADH: Riyadh and Jeddah are among the world’s most improved cities in terms of urban mobility readiness, according to the newest edition of an annual study of 60 cities.
Riyadh moved up five places, from 54 in 2021 to 49 in 2022, and Jeddah rose from 58 to 51, in the ranking compiled by the Oliver Wyman Forum and the University of California, Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies.
The report concludes that current large-scale investments in mass transit and innovation mean the cities will likely continue to improve their positions.
André Martins, partner and India, Middle East and Africa head of transport services and operations at the Oliver Whyman Forum, said: “Because of the consequential growth in both population and tourist numbers, mobility solutions and urban transport infrastructure are a key part of Vision 2030.
“Mobility is a complex and fast-moving field – and in cities like Riyadh and Jeddah, the solutions need to be multi-fold: from smart use of micro-mobility solutions to accelerated deployment of public transport systems.”
He added: “Meanwhile, Saud Arabia’s giga projects have a unique level of flexibility from an infrastructure and design perspective, meaning they can act as both entry points for innovation into the Kingdom, as well as global pioneers of urban mobility solutions.”
The index highlights that Riyadh’s near-complete mass transit system, which will combine a bus network with six lines of automated metro, will play a key role in the city’s mobility future.
The findings showed that the city’s current car-centric approach is mitigated by good road infrastructure, strong adoption of ride sharing, and the government’s new investments in connected autonomous vehicle technologies.
Saudi Arabia has also recently announced its first EV manufacturing plant – which will help in achieving their stated goal of 30 percent of all cars within Riyadh being EVs by 2030.
Meanwhile, Jeddah’s strengths include its high-quality road infrastructure and strong regional linkages. Another strength is borne from the seaside city’s proximity to Makkah and Madinah, while its international airport’s connection to the Holy Cities by high-speed rail makes it an important and connected global hub.
The city also plans to develop a comprehensive public transit system, including a metro that is due to open in 2030.
The report noted that preference for cars across the Middle East contributes to the region’s low utilization of non-motorized transit, however a generally high penetration of shared mobility services, such as car-sharing, helps to lower congestion levels.
The index ranks 57 quantitative and qualitative key performance indicators that measure social impact, infrastructure, market attractiveness, system efficiency and innovation.
Other measures in the overall Index include electric vehicle charging station network investment and incentives, the number of car-free zones, autonomous vehicle adoption, and public transport ridership and affordability.
Saudi Arabia v Mexico leads World Cup spending: VISA
Updated 17 min 9 sec ago
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s match against Mexico at the FIFA World Cup saw the highest volume of in-stadium payment transactions of the group stage games, according to data released by Visa.
The payment company has published research showing that consumer spending at the tournament is on course to surpass the total outlay in the previous World Cup.
According to the data, spending by value at Qatar 2022 during the group stages is already at 89 percent of the total seen in Russia 2018.
Compared to the tournament in Brazil in 2014, almost double had been spent by the time the World Cup reached the knock-out rounds in Qatar.
Between kick-off on Nov. 20 to the final group stage match on December 2, 70% of all consumer spend by value at World Cup venues was on internationally issued Visa cards with the US leading on 18 percent, followed by Mexico on nine percent Saudi Arabia on eight percent.
“For Qatar 2022, Visa enabled more payment terminals in official venues than ever before and are trialing some innovative new ways to pay around Qatar, so paying for things can be less cumbersome and fans can stay in the moment and focus on the beautiful game,” said Saeeda Jaffar, senior vice president and group country manager, Gulf Cooperation Council at Visa.
The average in-stadium transaction amount for all matches during the group stage of the tournament play was $23. During all matches the top three spend categories were merchandise on 47 percent, food and beverages on 36 percent, and ticketing on 11 percent.
The increased spend comes despite lower than anticipated numbers of fans traveling to the event.
According to a report obtained by Reuters, Qatar received just over 765,000 visitors during the first two weeks of the World Cup, falling short of the country’s expectations for an influx of 1.2 million during the month-long event.
The Dec. 7 report was prepared by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy , which organizes the tournament, and said that the first 17 days of the World Cup saw 765,859 international visitors, more than half of whom have now departed.
The report registered 1.33 million match ticket holders and 3.09 million tickets sold across the eight stadiums in Qatar for the tournament that ends on Dec. 18.
Oil set for 10 percent weekly drop as demand worries dominate
Updated 53 min 59 sec ago
RIYADH : Oil prices were stable on Friday but both benchmarks were headed for a weekly loss on worries over weak economic outlooks in China, Europe and the US weighing on oil demand, according to Reuters.
Brent crude futures were at $76.16 a barrel, up 1 cent, at 0919 GMT. Brent hit a 2022 low this week.
US West Texas Intermediate crude inched up 7 cents to $71.53 a barrel.
The contracts are set for weekly losses of around 10 percent each, their worst weekly drops in percentage terms since August and April, respectively.
The market structure for Brent contracts has switched to contango, meaning contracts for near-term delivery are cheaper than for delivery in six months, indicating that traders see weaker demand .
News of a leak closing Canadian firm TC Energy’s Keystone pipeline in the US prompted a brief rally on Thursday. However, prices finally eased as the market took a view that the closure would be brief.
The market similarly shrugged off a queue of oil tankers being held up by Turkish authorities on their way to the Mediterranean from the Black Sea.
“Evidently, nothing can improve the mood in the oil market,” said PVM analyst Tamas Varga.
In China, surging infections will likely depress economic growth in the next few months despite some restrictions being eased, bringing a rebound only later in 2023, economists said.
Also on the downside, the US economy is heading into a short and shallow recession over the coming year, according to economists polled by Reuters who unanimously expected the US Federal Reserve to go for a smaller 50 basis point interest rate hike on Dec. 14.
The European Central Bank will also likely lift its deposit rate by 50 bps next week to 2.00 percent, another Reuters poll found, despite the euro zone economy almost certainly being in recession, as it battles inflation running at five times its target.
Aramco and Shandong Energy to collaborate on downstream projects in China
Updated 09 December 2022
RIYADH: Crude oil from Saudi Arabia could be supplied to the Chinese province of Shandong under a new agreement struck between Aramco and an energy firm in the region.
The Saudi oil giant has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Shandong Energy Group, which includes a potential crude oil supply agreement and chemicals products offtake deal, supporting Aramco’s role in building a thriving downstream sector in Shandong Province.
The MoU also signals the firms are exploring collaboration on integrated refining and petrochemical opportunities in China.
The signing ceremony, which was conducted with the participation of Shandong Provincial People’s Government, underlined the importance of Aramco’s collaboration with Chinese companies.
The scope of the MoU extends to cooperation across technologies related to hydrogen, renewables and carbon capture and storage.
Mohammed Al Qahtani, Aramco senior vice president of downstream, said: “Through collaborations such as this in China’s energy heartland, we are creating new pathways for growth in a country that is driving the increased integration of refining and petrochemical processes.
“I am delighted that this spirit of cooperation is being extended across hydrogen, renewables and carbon capture and excited by the potential for further cooperation in these key areas which will shape our collective future.”
Li Wei, chairman of Shandong Energy Group, said: “Both Shandong Energy and Aramco are important players in the international energy arena. We share a lot of common interests, complementary strategies with expansive scope for cooperation, especially in oil and gas resources development and integrated refining and petrochemicals development along the whole industrial chain.”
The announcement strengthens Aramco’s efforts to support demand for energy, petrochemicals and non-metallics in China as the company seeks to expand its liquids to chemicals capacity to up to 4 million barrels per day by 2030.
The MoU comes amid a strengthening of ties between Saudi Arabia and China, spurred by the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Kingdom.
His attendance led to the signing of 35 investment agreements involving organizations from the two countries.
They cover a range of sectors, including green energy, technology and cloud services.
Transportation, logistics, medical industries, construction and manufacturing are also covered by the deals, as is a petrochemicals project, housing developments and the teaching of the Chinese language.
The agreements are worth about $30 billion, and come as China seeks to shore up its COVID-19-hit economy and the Kingdom continues to diversify its economic and political alliances in line with Vision 2030.
How Saudi Arabia can capitalize on Chinese expertise to achieve its diversification goals
In the first half of 2022, the Kingdom was largest recipient of Chinese investments under the Belt and Road Initiative
Beyond energy, they are also exploring cooperation on the circular carbon economy and digital infrastructure
Updated 09 December 2022
RIYADH: While strengthening trade ties and regional security will be priorities when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Saudi Arabia, Beijing could use this opportunity to further its Belt and Road Initiative as the Middle East, more specifically so the Kingdom, remains at the center of its ambitious project.
Saudi Arabia was the single largest recipient of Chinese investments under BRI, with about $5.5 billion in investments made in the Kingdom during the first half of 2022, according to a report by the Shanghai-based Green Finance and Development Center.
This comes as BRI countries in the Middle East received about 57 percent of BRI investments as the regional countries increased their share of overall BRI engagement from 8 percent in the first half of 2020 to 32 percent in the first half of 2022.
Among the sectors, energy was the main avenue for investment as Saudi Arabia received the most energy engagement in the first half of 2022, elevating the Kingdom to fourth place in the BRI for energy engagement between 2013 and 2022.
In the gas sector too, Saudi Arabia was the main recipient of investments from China at $4.6 billion in the first half. The Kingdom also saw its cooperation with China on solar projects improving with a $210-million project with Jinko Solar.
In October, Saudi Arabia and China in a virtual meeting agreed to jointly coordinate investments in the countries of BRI to ensure oil supply and demand security to BRI countries, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Co-chaired by Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the meeting discussed areas where both countries can strengthen their relationships such as oil and petrochemicals, decarbonization technologies, electricity and renewables, and hydrogen.
This was the fourth gathering of the Belt and Road Major Investment Projects and Energy Subcommittee of which Prince Abdulaziz is the Saudi chairman, SPA reported.
However, both countries look to go beyond the energy sector and are exploring new frontiers of common interest — such as the circular carbon economy and digital infrastructure — that are set to drive the future economy.
Saudi Arabia’s massive push toward sustainability and green economy received further boost when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last month announced that the Kingdom would contribute $2.5 billion to a green initiative in the Middle East over the next 10 years.
China, being an early adopter of clean technology with thousands of patents under its name, can play an important role in helping Saudi Arabia achieve its sustainability goals. Over the last 20 years, China has established its global position as an energy innovator, with significant success in the areas of solar power and, more recently, electric mobility, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.
In the space of digital infrastructure, China’s growing technological expertise in areas like cloud computing, 5G, surveillance technology and virtual currency is expected to set benchmarks for the rest of the world.
This sector offers huge opportunities for both countries to engage as the world embraces the fourth industrial revolution.
Earlier this year, the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology approved a new Communications and Information Technology Law to overhaul the Kingdom’s digital infrastructure as it intends to bolster growth in the communications and information sectors.
As part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia aims to grow its ICT sector by 50 percent, while increasing the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product by $13.3 billion. These initiatives will include 50 percent localization but, at the same time, attract more foreign investment.
Saudi Arabia can capitalize on China’s technological expertise to foster its ambition of becoming a regional leader in the information and communication technology sector.
While the Chinese president’s visit to Saudi Arabia is set to strengthen trade ties, both countries have the opportunity to expand their cooperation beyond energy, technology or green economy as they prepare for a new dawn.