Saudi hotelier Elaf Group expands its presence with newly launched brand Joudyan 

Exclusive Saudi hotelier Elaf Group expands its presence with newly launched brand Joudyan 
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Updated 30 November 2022

Saudi hotelier Elaf Group expands its presence with newly launched brand Joudyan 

Saudi hotelier Elaf Group expands its presence with newly launched brand Joudyan 

RIYADH: Elaf Group, one of the leading hospitality players in the region, is now set to focus on expanding its presence with the opening of its first property under the newly launched hotel brand Joudyan in Riyadh later this week. 

This will be Elaf Group’s first hotel in Riyadh and the opening of Joudyan in the capital will be followed up with other cities outside of Riyadh.  

In an exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in Riyadh, Ahmed Al-Azzouni, director of marketing and public relations, Elaf Group, said they intend to expand in the Eastern Province and the north and south as well.  

“Joudyan will be the focus of Elaf Group’s expansion plan in the Kingdom,” he said. 

Elaf Group which offers a mix of five- and four-star hotels, promises to offer a “unique experience” of the local feel of the Kingdom to the visitors. 

Al-Azzouni added: “The hotel in Jeddah will be in the Red Sea Mall. We’re currently renovating the property and it will be reopened as Joudyan brand.” 

He said they are confident that Joudyan will soon carve a niche for itself in the hospitality industry. 

"The new brand would have multiple locations across the Kingdom,” informed Al-Azzouni. “The official opening of the first Joudyan brand would be in Riyadh this week. It will soon be followed by the opening of the second hotel in Jeddah during the second half of 2023.” 

Talking about the new brand name, Al-Azzouni explained that when you dissect the word Joudyan, joud is from the Arabic word which means alkaram or generosity. “We made sure that we created a new name that reflects that (generosity),” Al-Azzouni explained. 

“Generosity is part of the Saudi culture. And that’s what we intend to make sure our guests feel about us when they come visit us. We will also make sure that that is our core brand essence and how we do business,” he continued. 

As for Elaf hotels, Al-Azzouni informed they will be concentrated in Makkah and Madinah due to the Elaf name having its roots in the holy cities. 

The company is also planning to expand across the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Middle East regions while setting its eyes on the European market. 

“We are open to any kind of ventures and investment opportunities that is mutually beneficial to all parties,” Al-Azzouni said talking about the company’s future plans.  

Going on to discuss the overall outlook of the hospitality industry, Al-Azzouni said things were catching up with 2019. “We have seen positive numbers and things are going back to where we were in 2019,” he informed. “We’re almost there and we can feel it in different sectors including hospitality and travel and tourism. We see a positive outlook for 2023 and beyond.”   

Not surprisingly then that the group is currently working on the completion of extensive renovation and upgrading efforts in all its hotels in order to keep pace with the rapid growth in the tourism and hospitality sectors.   


Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025: IEA report

Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025: IEA report
Updated 08 February 2023

Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025: IEA report

Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025: IEA report

BERLIN: Asia will for the first time use half of the world’s electricity by 2025, even as Africa continues to consume far less than its share of the global population, according to a new forecast released on Wednesday by the International Energy Agency.
Much of Asia’s electricity use will be in China, a nation of 1.4 billion people whose share of global consumption will rise from a quarter in 2015 to a third by the middle of this decade, the Paris-based body said.
“China will be consuming more electricity than the European Union, United States and India combined,” said Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA’s director of energy markets and security.
By contrast, Africa — home to almost a fifth of world’s nearly 8 billion inhabitants — will account for just 3 percent of global electricity consumption in 2025.
“This and the rapidly growing population mean there is still a massive need for increased electrification in Africa,” said Sadamori.
The IEA’s annual report predicts that nuclear power and renewables such as wind and solar will account for much of the growth in global electricity supply over the coming three years. This will prevent a significant rise in greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, it said.
Scientists say sharp cuts in all sources of emissions are needed as soon as possible to keep average global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That target, laid down in the 2015 Paris climate accord, appears increasingly doubtful as temperatures have already increased by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the reference period.
One hope for meeting the goal is a wholesale shift away from fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil toward low-carbon sources of energy. But while some regions are reducing their use of coal and gas for electricity production, in others consumption is increasing, the IEA said.
The 134-page also report warned that electricity demand and supply are becoming increasingly weather dependent, a problem it urged policymakers to address.
“In addition to drought in Europe, there were heat waves in India (last year),” said Sadamori. “Similarly, central and eastern China were hit by heat waves and drought. The US also saw severe winter storms in December, and all those events put massive strain on the power systems of these regions.”
“As the clean energy transition gathers pace, the impact of weather events on electricity demand will intensify due to the increased electrification of heating, while the share of weather-dependent renewables will continue to grow in the generation mix,” the IEA said. “In such a world, increasing the flexibility of power systems while ensuring security of supply and resilience of networks will be crucial."


Kenya’s integrated tax system helped raise number of active taxpayers by 5.8m, says revenue authority executive

Kenya’s integrated tax system helped raise number of active taxpayers by 5.8m, says revenue authority executive
Updated 08 February 2023

Kenya’s integrated tax system helped raise number of active taxpayers by 5.8m, says revenue authority executive

Kenya’s integrated tax system helped raise number of active taxpayers by 5.8m, says revenue authority executive

RIYADH: Kenya’s integrated tax system, also referred to as the “itax”, has helped raise the number of active taxpayers in the country by 5.8 million to hit 7.4 million in 2022, according to Mohamed Omar, the commissioner for strategy, innovation and risk management at the Kenya Revenue Authority.

 Speaking during a panel discussion on the first day of the Zakat, Customs, and Tax conference in Riyadh, Omar highlighted the significant impact of digitizing the tax system.

“The itax had an impact and we saw shifts in numbers. So, around 2014 there were 1.6 million active taxpayers, these were people who do regular returns and regular payments, the number in 2022 was 7.4 million, so that’s about more than four times,” he revealed.

He went on to explain that, as a result of digitizing the tax system, the growth in revenue was more than the nominal growth in the gross domestic product.

In addition to this, the filing system has also seen significant improvement.

“By 2017, 100 percent filing and payment was being done online; that was not happening before,” he stressed.

George Betselis, governor of the Independent Authority of Public Revenues in Greece, also spoke about the digitization of the tax system with a special focus on the COVID-19 pandemic era.

“During the pandemic, we needed to find digital solutions for at least being able to receive front end and provide front-end digital services. Our tax offices were closed, so we had to accommodate requests,” he said.

 The Zakat, Tax, and Customs conference aims to tackle global experiences in the fields and discuss the future of digitizing those sectors as well as propelling trade and protecting national security.


SNB Capital announces completion of $267m AT-1 sukuk

SNB Capital announces completion of $267m AT-1 sukuk
Updated 08 February 2023

SNB Capital announces completion of $267m AT-1 sukuk

SNB Capital announces completion of $267m AT-1 sukuk

RIYADH: SNB Capital on Wednesday announced the completion of a private placement Additional Tier 1 perpetual sukuk worth SR1 billion ($267 million).

According to an official statement, the transaction was received with overwhelming demand from a diverse investor base having a bid cover ratio of 2.1 times. Investors included financial institutions, public sector, qualified individual investors, corporates, family offices, asset managers and insurance companies.

Commenting on the development, Ammar Alkhudairy, the chairman of SNBC, said: “This issuance by SNBC is a pioneering endeavor that compliments and supports SNB’s group vision of being the premier financial services group in the region that provides seamless banking and capital markets support to the Kingdom’s ambitious growth plans”

The issuance, which is non-call for five years, was priced a fixed annual coupon rate of 5.8 percent with quarterly payment until the first call date. 

Rashid Sharif, CEO of SNBC, said: “The issuance further strengthens our capital base to continue our journey supporting the development of the Saudi Capital Market guided by Vision 2030 strategic goals and objectives.”


Closing Bell: TASI arrests downward slide; closes up 38 points to 10,508 

Closing Bell: TASI arrests downward slide; closes up 38 points to 10,508 
Updated 08 February 2023

Closing Bell: TASI arrests downward slide; closes up 38 points to 10,508 

Closing Bell: TASI arrests downward slide; closes up 38 points to 10,508 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index gained 38.22 points — or 0.37 percent — on Wednesday to close at 10,507.72. 

While MSCI Tadawul 30 Index edged up 0.21 percent to 1,439.54, the parallel market Nomu closed 0.76 percent higher to 19,212.09. 

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR3.41 billion ($910 million), with 99 stocks of the listed 224 advancing and 100 receding. 

Saudi Public Transport Co. was the topmost gainer, soaring 6.56 percent to SR17.54.  

Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance Co. was the second-highest grosser, rising 3.82 percent to SR157.80. The company on Tuesday received Saudi Central Bank’s approval to renew its insurance activities license. The license is valid for three years, starting from March 26, 2023, the insurer informed Tadawul. 

The other top gainers were Alkhaleej Training and Education Co., Savola Group and Sahara International Petrochemical Co. All three stocks advanced within the 3-4 percent range. 

The worst-performing stock of the day was Banque Saudi Fransi, which dropped 4.63 percent to SR37.05. 

Other poor performers were Saudi British Bank, Al Alamiya for Cooperative Insurance Co., Riyad Bank and Amana Cooperative Insurance Co. 

Among sectoral indices, 13 of the 21 listed on the stock exchange declined; one remained flat while the rest advanced. 

On the announcements front, Elm Co.’s wholly owned subsidiary, Saudi Company for Electronic Information Exchange, inked a revenue-sharing agreement with Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority. 

The agreement’s value exceeds 5 percent of total revenue as per audited financial statements for 2021. The contract has no fixed value. Instead, it depends on the number of executed transactions, and the company receives a percentage of the fees of such transactions. 

The five-year agreement will provide customs electronic and operational services, starting from the issuance of the effective date certificate. Its share price fell 0.37 percent to SR375.60. 

Al Moammar Information Systems Co. and Mobile Telecommunication Co. Saudi Arabia, also known as Zain KSA, signed, on Feb. 7 a non-binding memorandum of understanding. 

The 12-month MoU will be renewed based on the two parties’ agreement, MIS said in a statement on Tadawul. 

As per the MoU, MIS and Zain KSA will explore potential opportunities for cooperation through the design, launch, and offering of certain products and services.  

MIS also signed another MoU with the Ministry of National Guard to support the digital transformation journey of the ministry by developing a data center strategy, information security, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies in the enterprise space. MIS’s share price rose 1.94 percent to SR94.50. 


Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 

Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 
Updated 08 February 2023

Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 

Integration of zakat, tax bodies with customs to be completed in Q1: ZATCA governor 

RIYADH: The complete merger of the General Authority of Zakat and Tax with the General Authority of Customs will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2023, revealed ZATCA Gov. Suhail Mohammed Abanmi.  

While speaking at a panel discussion at the Zakat, Tax and Customs Conference in Riyadh on Wednesday, Abanmi said that ZATCA faced so many challenges to integrate these bodies, but it is successfully completing the process as the authority carried out several studies to understand the possible hurdles that may come up in the journey.  

The integration between Zakat, Tax and Customs bodies was happening in phases, and the merging process is now in its final stages.  

It was in 2021 that the Saudi cabinet approved the decision to merge the General Authority of Zakat and Tax with the General Authority of Customs, to form an umbrella authority named Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to restructure government agencies to speed the implementation of the goals outlined in Vision 2030.  

“The decision to integrate tax and customs bodies was taken in 2021, and it will be completed by the first quarter of this year,” said Abanmi.  

He added: “The integration of tax and customs bodies is a huge remarkable achievement. We faced so many challenges. But we successfully overcome those hurdles by conducting a study. The study was well detailed, and we found solutions for these challenges.”  

During the panel discussion, Abanmi also outlined the benefits of integration and noted that these efforts will mutually benefit both the customers and the government.  

“As customers use the same channel after the integration of tax and customs, it will increase the efficiency of the operations and enhance the satisfaction levels of the users. By integrating the two bodies; tax and customs, we reduced the cost of operational expenses and capital costs, and this will help the government,” he said.  

Abanmi further noted that integrating zakat, tax and customs bodies will also enhance cybersecurity, and added that it will also help reduce risks and tax evasion.  

Talking about the feasibility study conducted before taking the merging decision, Abanmi noted: “The decision to integrate tax and customs bodies under a single umbrella was decided after a study. This study looked into several international studies and analyzed previous experiences of integration that happened in UK, Estonia, Portuguese, and South Africa.”