Saudi traffic drives Dubai Airports’ recovery post pandemic, says CEO   

Exclusive Saudi traffic drives Dubai Airports’ recovery post pandemic, says CEO   
Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths (AN Photo)
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Updated 04 December 2022

Saudi traffic drives Dubai Airports’ recovery post pandemic, says CEO   

Saudi traffic drives Dubai Airports’ recovery post pandemic, says CEO   

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia played an important role in the Dubai Airports' recovery post the pandemic as the Kingdom drove significant traffic growth between the two countries, according to the airport’s top official.  

Saudi Arabia accounts for 18 percent of Dubai Airports' total traffic, CEO of the airport Paul Griffiths revealed in an exclusive interview with Arab News, adding that most of the growth since the pandemic has been between the two countries.  

He added: “With more and more airports opening direct services between Dubai and Saudi Arabia, I think the prospects for further growth are still considerable.”   

Dubai Airports has gone through several transitional stages during the management of the pandemic, according to Griffiths.  

Highlighting some of the challenges that the airport faced, he pointed out that the key was to get people to recover and actually travel again while assuring them of their health and safety. Also, it was important to assure them that the rules for travel are going to be consistent. The CEO explained that this applies to complying with all their health regulations including being tested and vaccinated.    

But now, he said, they have a new challenge which is the “resource challenge.” “The challenge is to get everyone re-engaged to make the whole commerce of the world function professionally again. So that has been very difficult over the past few months in particular,” Griffiths added.  

Despite this, Dubai in particular has recorded a strong recovery in the post-pandemic period.   

He explained this comes as the emirate was able to swiftly get people back into jobs and train them in an attempt to function quickly while, at the same time, other parts of the world were still challenged in providing the appropriate level of resources needed for the operational requirements that they have.  

Dubai Airports, in specific, is 100 percent back to the number of people in the right jobs required, according to Griffiths. Moreover, he added that point-to-point traffic numbers to the city were 119 percent over and above pre-pandemic levels in December 2021, reflecting very strong traffic recovery.  

“We have virtually doubled the amount of traffic.  We are going to end the year with about 68.2 million. We have revised our forecast several times in the opposite direction and the prospects are actually now very good,” he revealed.  

As of today, an estimated 6 million travelers are currently coming through Dubai Airports on a monthly basis. The CEO said this figure is expected to further rise and potentially reach the 7.8 million recorded before COVID-19.  

Dubai’s added value is mainly attributed to the high investment in the emirate as well as its geographic location, according to Griffiths.  

As a result of high investment in the emirate, he said the number of people that now want to come and visit Dubai increases year on year, usually, in double digits.  

Highlighting the emirate’s unique geographic location, he pointed out that Dubai is within four hours flying time of a third of the world’s population and within eight hours flying time of two-thirds of the world’s population.  

Speaking on technology and its continuous development, the CEO stressed that airport experiences will be much quicker and more seamless in the future.  

“I think we’ll remove a lot of the processes we go through, like immigration and security. That’s not to say they won’t be there, but we just won’t see them because they’ll be done behind the scenes,” he explained.  

Dubai Airports has become a primary international airport in the world, with it being ranked the largest airport by international passenger traffic for the past six to seven years, he concluded.  

GCC project awards plunged during 2022, reaching second lowest since 2005: report

GCC project awards plunged during 2022, reaching second lowest since 2005: report
Updated 20 sec ago

GCC project awards plunged during 2022, reaching second lowest since 2005: report

GCC project awards plunged during 2022, reaching second lowest since 2005: report

RIYADH: Faced with mounting global economic challenges, Gulf Cooperation Council region project awards plunged during 2022, with the total value of contracts handed out dropping 18.7 percent to $93.6 billion from $115.2 billion the previous year, according to Kamco Invest. 

This was the lowest project awards amount since 2005, barring the pandemic-induced decline in 2020, the regional non-banking financial powerhouse based in Kuwait stated in its report. 

The decline of GCC contract awards was affected by high inflation and continuing supply chain problems, mainly due to China’s intermittent COVID-19 restrictions which are now lifted, it added. 

The drop in 2022 also reflected limited big-ticket projects outside the Saudi project market.

All GCC countries, barring Saudi Arabia, witnessed a year-on-year decline in their aggregate 2022 value of projects awarded. 

In addition, total value of project awards was above the $100-billion mark every year for the last decade with the exception of the pandemic year and 2022, it stated. 

Saudi Arabia remained the largest projects market in the GCC during 2022 recording a total of $54.2 billion worth of contracts awarded as compared to $53.9 billion in 2021. 

The UAE ranked second recording total contract awards of $19.2 billion versus $25.9 billion during 2021, Kamco Invest said in its report. 

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar accounted for a combined 93.6 percent of the total value of contracts awarded in the GCC during the year. 

According to the report, total projects awarded in Kuwait during 2022 reached $2.8 billion against $5.2 billion in 2021.

Similarly, Oman witnessed new project awards drop by 27.1 percent year-on-year to hit $2.2 billion, while the aggregate value of contracts awarded in Bahrain reached $96 million in 2022 as compared to $2.7 billion during 2021. 

In terms of sector, the major share of new contract awards went to the construction industry with the value registering a $3.2 billion year-on-year increase to reach a total of $34.3 billion during 2022. 

The growth in the GCC construction sector was mainly driven by the jump in total value of contract awards in Saudi Arabia’s construction sector

Of the total value of projects awarded in the GCC, nearly 59.2 percent was awarded by the Kingdom, stated the report. 

The outlook for 2023 remains bright for the GCC projects market with more than $110 billion worth of projects already in the tender stage, according to MEED Projects, that would mostly translate into awards.

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons
Updated 31 January 2023

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons

King Abdulaziz Port flags off MSC service to widen trade horizons

RIYADH: The Saudi Ports Authority, also known as Mawani, has announced the launch of a new freight service at King Abdulaziz Port operated by the Swiss-based container group MSC.  

The latest connection will bolster the Dammam-based port as a focal point for regional and global trade while strengthening the Kingdom’s hub credentials in fulfillment of the ambitions of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy.

Dammam will also enjoy weekly sailings to eight maritime destinations spanning the Arabian Gulf, South Asia and Southern Africa.  

These include the ports of Khalifa bin Salman in Bahrain, Khalifa in UAE, Qasim in Pakistan, Mundra and Hazira in India, Port Louis in Mauritius, and Durban and Coega in South Africa.  

The service started on Jan. 21 and will feature five vessels with an average carrying capacity exceeding 6,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.

As a world-class logistics center boasting top-tier infrastructure and capabilities, King Abdulaziz Port was an obvious choice for shipping liners looking to expand their routes in 2022.  

Some notable liners include SeaLead Shipping’s Far East to Middle East service, Emirates Shipping Line’s Jebel Ali Bahrain Shuwaikh service, Gulf-India Express 2 service by Aladin Express and Maersk’s Shaheen Express service. 

As Saudi Arabia’s eastern maritime gateway and the Kingdom’s main port on the Arabian Gulf, King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam is the primary entryway for cargo headed to the country’s eastern and central regions from all over the world.  

It has a direct railway connection with the dry port in Riyadh. Saudi Arabian Oil Co. built the dock to meet the rapidly increasing demands of the national oil industry under the orders of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman.  

After further expansions, the port was officially renamed from Dammam Port to King Abdulaziz Port in 1961.

The port has 43 fully equipped berths with mega-ship capabilities, modern cargo handling equipment and general cargo support terminals. Other support terminals include a refrigerated cargo terminal, two cement terminals, a bulk grain terminal, an iron ore terminal, a vessel building berth, and oil and gas terminals.

The announcement comes just over a week after another trade link was added to the Kingdom’s Jubail Commercial Port.

The new shipping service line, India Gulf Service 1, has been added by Hapag-Lloyd, a German international shipping firm.

It will connect the Saudi port to Jebel Ali in the UAE, Karachi in Pakistan, Mundra in India, Sohar in Oman, Shuaiba in Kuwait, and Um Qasr in Iraq.

The new service will be launched weekly starting from Feb. 12 through voyages that include three ships with a total capacity of 2,400 twenty-foot equivalent units each.

China foreign minister seeks stronger economic ties with Saudi Arabia 

China foreign minister seeks stronger economic ties with Saudi Arabia 
Updated 31 January 2023

China foreign minister seeks stronger economic ties with Saudi Arabia 

China foreign minister seeks stronger economic ties with Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: China's new foreign minister Qin Gang wants to build stronger ties with Saudi Arabia and set up a China-Gulf free trade zone "as soon as possible", according to a ministry statement published late on Monday. 

Qin, who was just recently named to the position, made the suggestion in a telephone conversation with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, adding that China highly appreciates Saudi Arabia's consistent firm support on issues involving China's core interests. 

He said the sides should further expand cooperation on economy, trade, energy, infrastructure, investment, finance, and high technology. 

In addition, Qin pressed for continuously strengthening the China-Gulf strategic partnership and building "the China-Gulf Free Trade Zone as soon as possible." 

During the phone call, Prince Faisal congratulated Qin Gang on his new post as foreign minister and the two officials reviewed Saudi-Chinese relations. 

Prince Faisal said that Saudi Arabia regards relations with China as an important cornerstone of foreign relations, and that Saudi Arabia fully adheres to the one-China principle, according to the statement from the Chinese foreign ministry. 

They also discussed bilateral cooperation, developments in regional and international events, efforts exerted with regard to these events in order to enhance security and stability, and the most important issues of common concern. 

Qin, who just wrapped up a tour to several African countries, also had telephone conversations with Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra and Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafierro, according to state media. 

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call from Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. 

During the call, the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and ways of developing them in various fields. 

A number of issues of common concern were also discussed. 

This comes as Saudi Arabia remained the top supplier of crude oil to China in 2022, according to Reuters. 

The Kingdom shipped a total of 87.49 million tons of crude to China in 2022, equivalent to 1.75 million bpd, customs data showed, on par with the level in 2021. 

China’s state-backed oil refiners largely fulfilled their term contracts with Saudi Arabia in 2022 despite the sluggish domestic demand. 

Saudi Arabia is expected to remain a key, if not the dominant, crude exporter to China after President Xi Jinping’s visit to Riyadh in December, where he told Gulf leaders that China would work to buy oil in Chinese yuan, rather than US dollars. 

(With inputs from Reuters)

Saudi Millennials show higher drive toward career advancement than Gen Z, LinkedIn data reveals 

Saudi Millennials show higher drive toward career advancement than Gen Z, LinkedIn data reveals 
Updated 31 January 2023

Saudi Millennials show higher drive toward career advancement than Gen Z, LinkedIn data reveals 

Saudi Millennials show higher drive toward career advancement than Gen Z, LinkedIn data reveals 

CAIRO: Almost two-thirds of Saudi workers are considering changing jobs in 2023 as they seek higher pay,  a better work-life balance, and feel confident in their ability to land better positions, according to a survey by networking firm LinkedIn. 

Despite hiring levels slowing down in the Middle East in 2022 compared to 2021, LinkedIn’s research has shown that 68 percent of the Saudi workforce are optimistic about securing a new job. 

The growing appetite for switching employers is highest among millennials, who show almost 15 percent more confidence in job searching, interviewing and in their abilities to secure new and better jobs in 2023 than their younger colleagues. 

This is attributed to the fact that around 80 percent of the millennial age group – typically those born between 1980 and 1995 – feel a lack of investment from their employer, in addition to feeling undervalued, unmotivated, and underpaid. 

Gen Z employees – those under 25 years old – have reported great worry about job security as they are concerned that their employers have not dealt with the current economic uncertainty very well. 

“Despite economic uncertainty and the slump in global hiring that’s trickled its way into the region, we’re still seeing a significant number of professionals looking to either grow within their organizations or switch jobs in 2023, many driven by the desire for bigger salaries as the global cost of living goes up,” Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn in the Middle East and North Africa growth hub, said. 

Additionally, Saudi professionals are also confident in pushing for promotions and new opportunities with their current employers as seven out of ten employees feel assured of a pay raise. 

“Workforces clearly know their value within the job market and are taking charge of their career by investing in new skills. It’s clear that since the pandemic, professionals have become much more resilient and we’re seeing this in their confidence to tackle the year ahead,” Matar added. 

The survey reveals that while many workers feel more confident in their career prospects, concerns about job security and a preference for remote work options remain prevalent.

 Six out of every ten workers surveyed said that they would decline new in-office job offers in favor of hybrid or remote work. 

Saudi Arabia’s real GDP grows by 5.4% in Q4 2022: GASTAT

Saudi Arabia’s real GDP grows by 5.4% in Q4 2022: GASTAT
Updated 19 min 49 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s real GDP grows by 5.4% in Q4 2022: GASTAT

Saudi Arabia’s real GDP grows by 5.4% in Q4 2022: GASTAT

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s real gross domestic product grew by 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, driven by a high increase in non-oil activities, according to the latest report released by the General Authority for Statistics.

The GASTAT report noted that non-oil activities in the Kingdom rose 6.2 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2022, while oil activities rose by 6.1 percent during the same period.

The report further added that government services activities increased by 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, compared to the same quarter in 2021.

Compared to the third quarter of 2022, the real GDP of Saudi Arabia grew by 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter.

The GASTAT report noted that this quarter-on-quarter rise in GDP was due to the growth in non-oil activities by 1.7 percent and government services activities by 0.5 percent.

The growth of oil activities, however, decreased by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the previous quarter.

According to the GASTAT report, Saudi Arabia’s economy grew by 8.7 percent in 2022, compared to 3.2 percent recorded in 2021, driven by a growth in oil activities by 15.4 percent.

In 2022, non-oil activities and government services activities rose by 5.4 percent and 2.2 percent respectively.

Earlier in January, during the World Economic Forum at Davos, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund noted that Saudi Arabia is an economic bright spot at a difficult time for the world’s economies.

“We look at the high growth rates of Saudi Arabia with gratitude … also because we need that for the regional and the world economy,” said Georgieva.

The IMF managing director further pointed out that she is pretty much impressed with the way Saudi Arabia is progressing in line with the goals outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

“They (Saudis) are using the increase in revenue very effectively to create the investment environment for future growth for diversifying the economy,” added Georgieva.

Meanwhile, the IMF, in its World Economic Outlook report, lowered Saudi Arabia’s economic growth forecast to 2.6 percent for 2023, 1.1 percentage points lower than its October estimate of 3.7 percent.