NEOM signs deal with Marriott International to open three hotels by 2024 

NEOM signs deal with Marriott International to open three hotels by 2024 
Marriot’s Luxury Collection will offer a beach resort with 70 luxury rooms and suites (Shutterstock)
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Updated 08 March 2023

NEOM signs deal with Marriott International to open three hotels by 2024 

NEOM signs deal with Marriott International to open three hotels by 2024 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion giga-project NEOM has signed an agreement with Marriott International Inc. to open three hotels in Sindalah, NEOM’s first luxury island. 

The deal includes the establishment of the Kingdoms’s first Autograph Collection Hotel property by Marriott as well as two Luxury Collection properties that are expected to open in 2024. 

The first Luxury Collection hotel will offer a beach resort with 70 luxury rooms and suites including villas with private pools that range from one to four-bedroom residences. 

The second property is set to be an all-suite hotel with 115 one to three-bedroom suites and will be located at the center of the retail and marina district in Sindalah. 

“NEOM is one of the most highly anticipated developments in the world and we look forward to working with its team to develop these three exciting properties,” said Jerome Briet, chief development officer, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Marriott International.   

Marriot’s Autograph Collection hotel in Sindalah plans to include 66 rooms and suites, one and two-bedroom villas, dining options, a kids club, and a spa. 

“We are thrilled by the prospect of working together and look forward to building a hospitality experience that captures the spirit of Sindalah’s year-long appeal while creating unforgettable memories for our guests,” added Chris Newman, executive director of hotel development at NEOM 

Sindalah is set to be the first to welcome guests of a group of islands being developed in NEOM and aims to be among the most appealing destinations on the Red Sea. 

The island extends across 840,000 sq. m and is a 17-hour sail from the Mediterranean including an 86-berth marina for yachts up to 75 m. The island will also include over 400 premium hotel rooms and 300 suites. 

“The Luxury Collection and Autograph Collection Hotels properties will express their unique personality inspired by the exceptional natural landscapes of NEOM. We continue to see growth opportunities for our brand portfolio within the destination and Saudi Arabia overall,” Briet added. 


74% of online shoppers prefer local e-commerce over cross-border platforms

Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa
Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa
Updated 03 June 2023

74% of online shoppers prefer local e-commerce over cross-border platforms

Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s retail sector is eyeing significant growth on the back of its e-commerce market, as 74 percent of online shoppers in the Kingdom are expected to shift from global to local platforms.
In its recent report, leading global management consulting firm Kearney and Saudi consulting company Mukatafa noted that local and hybrid players are making strong headway against their international counterparts from China, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Europe and the US.
Valued at SR19.3 billion ($5.14 billion), the Kingdom’s e-commerce market is 6 percent of the overall SR347.2 billion retail market. It is expected to further grow to SR34.7 billion to reach 7.5 percent of the overall retail market by 2026, according to the report.
An expanding e-commerce ecosystem will pave the way for innovation, job creation and private-sector growth in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objectives.

It is a strong sign that local e-commerce businesses are gaining more traction in the market. We must make sure that these businesses are supported to thrive as well as cross-border accounts.

Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa

“This flourishing e-commerce ecosystem empowers citizens to use innovative digital payment options, in line with government initiatives under Vision 2030 to guide private sector investments to provide critical pillars for the sector’s growth, such as increasing cashless transactions and expanding the geographical coverage of e-commerce delivery beyond the Kingdom’s major cities,” said Mohammed Dhedhi, partner at Kearney Middle East.
He added: “The growth of the local and hybrid e-commerce players will contribute to protecting consumer interest and promoting local investments with strong potential for job creation.” The report revealed that cross-border online shopping is expected to generate less income as local and hybrid companies gain traction.

FASTFACTS

• The report noted that local and hybrid players are making strong headway against their international counterparts from China, the GCC, Europe and the US.

• Valued at SR19.3 billion, the Kingdom’s e-commerce market is 6 percent of the overall SR347.2 billion retail market.

Cross-border online shopping is likely to decrease from 59 percent of all e-commerce revenue in 2021 to 49 percent by 2026.
The report noted that more assistance should be provided to create a level playing field for all e-commerce participants, safeguarding consumer interests and encouraging domestic investment.
“It is a strong sign that local e-commerce businesses are gaining more traction in the market. We must make sure that these businesses are supported to thrive as well as cross-border accounts,” Waleed Al-Saud, CEO of Mukatafa, said. He added: “Thresholds on import quantities could be introduced, and local quality standards could be mandated for cross-border players. It is these types of initiatives that will need to be addressed if we are to create a level playing field for all e-commerce players. As it stands, current regulations in the market favor cross-border players, and until that changes, cross-border sales will continue to hold a major share of the e-commerce market compared to local players.”

 

 


‘Women in Tech’ competition brings Saudi female entrepreneurs to the fore

Doaa Aref, CEO of Chefaa
Doaa Aref, CEO of Chefaa
Updated 03 June 2023

‘Women in Tech’ competition brings Saudi female entrepreneurs to the fore

Doaa Aref, CEO of Chefaa
  • Sahm app claims first place and received $25k, Nqoodlet bags second position with a prize of $15k

CAIRO: Going by the success of the “Women in Tech” competition, it is evident that female-led startups are set to revolutionize Saudi Arabia’s technology sector.  

The competition that was recently held in Riyadh saw entrepreneurs undergo an eight-week incubator program, showcasing innovative ideas in various sectors, including fintech, health tech, property tech and edutainment.
In collaboration between global banking group Standard Chartered and Saudi-based investment firm Falak Investment Hub, the program hosted eight startups with the top three being awarded a total of $50,000 in equity-free grants.   

The most significant shift in our landscape in KSA will be the change in sentiment, investment appetite and innovation, says Adwa Al-Dakheel
CEO of Falak Investment Hub

Sahm, a stock trading app, claimed first place and received $25,000. Nqoodlet, a fintech company, bagged second position with a prize of $15,000, and Chefaa, a health-tech platform, secured third place and received $10,000.  
Speaking with Arab News, Jawaher Al-Yahya, the CEO of Sahm, said that the company will continue to optimize and refine its product to achieve the right market fit.  

HIGHLIGHTS

• The competition that was recently held in Riyadh saw entrepreneurs undergo an eight-week incubator program, showcasing innovative ideas in various sectors, including fintech, health tech, property tech and edutainment.

• In collaboration between global banking group Standard Chartered and Saudi-based investment firm Falak Investment Hub, the program hosted eight startups with the top three being awarded a total of $50,000 in equity-free grants.

She further added that women faced difficulty in gaining experience in leadership positions in addition to a lack of funding and resources.  
Sahm will utilize its funding to invest in marketing initiatives to increase brand awareness as well as enhance product capabilities, Al-Yahya reiterated.  
Replying to a question regarding hurdles women in the technology sector are faced with, CEO of Falak Investment Hub Adwa Al-Dakheel attributed the pursuit of perfection as the major barrier for women entering the tech scene.
“Seeking perfection in innovation and startups means not launching in the right market timing and waiting for extreme validation instead of building upon continuous yet smaller validations,” Al-Dakheel told Arab News.  
Doaa Aref, CEO of Chefaa, and Mai Abdulwahab, founder of Nqoodlet, both said that lack of funding is the main barrier for women in tech globally.
Awards were distributed during a special event, under the patronage of the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, known as Monsha’at, in the presence of its Deputy Gov. Saud Al-Sabhan.  
Al-Sabhan delivered a speech during the event about the importance of women entrepreneurs stating that Monsha’at contributed to increasing the number of female-led enterprises to more than 467,000.  
“The most significant shift in our landscape in the Kingdom will be the change in sentiment, investment appetite and innovation. Top founders will move to Saudi Arabia to grow and start their businesses here, and the world’s biggest investors will follow,” Al-Dakheel said. 

 


Respite for oil market amid rate hike worries

Respite for oil market amid rate hike worries
Updated 01 June 2023

Respite for oil market amid rate hike worries

Respite for oil market amid rate hike worries
  • Oil markets may have been oversold in the last two trading days, says analyst

RIYADH: Oil steadied on Thursday as a potential pause in US interest rate hikes and the passing of a crucial vote on the US debt ceiling bill were offset by a report of rising inventories in the world’s biggest oil consumer.

US Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday suggested interest rates could be kept on hold this month and the US House of Representatives passed a bill suspending the government’s debt ceiling, improving the chance of averting a disastrous default.

Brent crude futures fell 10 cents, or 0.14 percent, to $72.50 a barrel by 1339 GMT while US West Texas Intermediate crude rose 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $68.16. Both benchmarks fell on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Oil markets may have been oversold in the last two trading days,” said CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng. “Sentiment rebounded amid the debt bill’s passage in the House and (the) Fed’s rate hike pause signal.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Wednesday said that US crude inventories rose by about 5.2 million barrels last week.

• Brent crude futures fell 10 cents, or 0.14 percent, to $72.50 a barrel by 1339 GMT while US West Texas Intermediate crude rose 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $68.16.

Mixed demand indications from China, the world’s biggest oil importer, have nonetheless weighed on the market, as has industry data showing a rise in US crude inventories.

Market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Wednesday said that US crude inventories rose by about 5.2 million barrels last week.

“The current mood is one of pessimism,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM. “Investors have been pragmatic and risk averse of late.”

Also in focus is the June 4 meeting of the OPEC+ producer group, in which the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia will discuss whether or not to cut oil production further.

Barclays forecast

British multinational bank Barclays has slashed the average price of its Brent crude forecast for this year from $92 to $87 a barrel. The bank also slashed its price forecast of Brent for 2024 as it cut the average projected price to $87 a barrel from $97. 

Chinese company in Brazil 

China’s CNOOC Ltd. has begun production at the Buzios5 well off the coast of Brazil, the company said in a statement on Thursday. 

The well is the fifth phase of the Buzios oil field off Brazil’s southeast coast. At an average water depth of 1,900 meters to 2,200 meters, the field is the world’s largest deep-water pre-salt oil field, with daily production of 600,000 barrels, the company said. 

CNOOC’s Brazilian subsidiary owns 7.34 percent of the Buzios shared reservoir, which is 88.99 percent owned by Brazilian state-owned oil and gas company Petrobras.  CNOOC paid $1.9 billion to Petrobras last year to secure a 5 percent stake in a production sharing agreement at the field. 


UAE’s in-country value projects driving billions to local firms

UAE’s in-country value projects driving billions to local firms
Updated 02 June 2023

UAE’s in-country value projects driving billions to local firms

UAE’s in-country value projects driving billions to local firms

ABU DHABI: More than $27.23 billion has been redirected to the local economy since the UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) and ADNOC launched major in-country value programs to support domestic industries.

Speaking at the Make in the Emirates Forum, Abdulla Al-Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary of MoIAT, said more than $14.43 billion of investment was redirected to the local economy last year alone, an increase of 25 percent year-on-year.

“The National In-Country Value Program is a nationwide program that speaks one language across many different sectors,” Al-Shamsi said. “It’s one methodology and this is something we’re very proud of because it benefits the private sector and when the private sector sees this it helps them prepare, invest, and spend.”

The forum heard how the National ICV Program is “functionating well and accelerating.”

The forum also heard how industrial zones are playing a critical role in the in the country’s sustainable industrial development and broader economic prospects. Local industrial leaders described how they are utilizing alternative energy resources such as solar and hydrogen to reduce their carbon footprint.

The second edition of the Make it in the Emirates Forum concluded on Thursday with the UAE showcasing its unique value proposition to international investors.

Investors were invited to explore opportunities and competitive advantages, with panel discussions focusing on the National In-Country Value (ICV) Program, the role of industrial zones, competitive financing as a key enabler and local talent in the private sector.

The UAE’s industrial exports reached $47.6 billion in 2022, growing 49 on 2021. The industrial sector's contribution to GDP rose to $49.5 billion in 2022, a 38 percent increase on 2020.

The Make it in the Emirates Forum is organized by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology in partnership the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and ADNOC.

On the first day of the forum, the UAE government announced $2.7 billion in industrial offtake agreements, building on the $29.9 billion of offtake agreements announced at the 2022 edition of the forum.


Saudi fintech firm secures $3.2m in seed funding

Saudi fintech firm secures $3.2m in seed funding
Updated 01 June 2023

Saudi fintech firm secures $3.2m in seed funding

Saudi fintech firm secures $3.2m in seed funding

RIYADH: EdfaPay, a Saudi-based fintech startup that helps companies use their smartphones for payment, has raised $3.2 million in a seed funding round.

The funding round was led by Sanabil 500 MENA, Nufud Wealth International, Atmiid Investment, Basmah Commercial Investment, and a group of local and international angel investors.

EdfaPay aims to utilize the capital to strengthen its operations in the Kingdom and expand to Pakistan and South American countries.

Founded in 2022 by Ghormallah Alghamdi and Nedal Sabbah, it uses NFC technology to allow companies to collect payments through smartphones.

In February 2022, the firm secured $1.6 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Nuwa Capital, InspireUs VC, and Wallan Investment Group.

The fintech channeled its acquired funds into launching its financial services across the Kingdom and supported its market-entry efforts.

The Kingdom’s fintech investments reached $400 million in 2022, recording a 79 percent increase compared to 2021.

The Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, is one of the country’s key players in enabling fintech across all subsectors.

Earlier this week, SAMA granted licenses to Spotii and Madfu, two fintech companies that aim to offer consumer financing options.