King Fahd International named top regional airport by Skytrax

King Fahd International named top regional airport by Skytrax
The Dammam-based King Fahd International (File/Supplied)
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Updated 17 March 2023

King Fahd International named top regional airport by Skytrax

King Fahd International named top regional airport by Skytrax

RIYADH: The King Fahd International Airport has been named the best regional airport in the Middle East for the second year running by international air transport organization Skytrax.

The company revealed the honor for the Dammam-based hub as it unveiled its ranking for the world’s top 100 airports for 2023.

The airport jumped six places from 2022 to be graded the world’s 44th best, while other airports in the Kingdom also saw there rankings increase.

Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport has risen from 29th to 27th place, while the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah has climbed three spots from last year to be ranked 41st globally.

Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah climbed six positions to secure 52nd place in the world's best airports.

More than 500 international airports participated in the World Skytrax Awards, in which the global rating agency assesses key performance indicators including check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security, immigration, and departure.

Singapore Changi Airport was named the World’s Best Airport 2023 by the firm, with Hamad International in Doha coming in second and Tokyo Haneda Airport ranked third.

Edward Plaisted of Skytrax said: “We congratulate Singapore Changi Airport on being named the World’s Best Airport for 2023. After being severely hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is pleasing to note that passenger numbers at Changi Airport are now at about 80 percent of pre-Covid-19 levels, and expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.”

The Skytrax rankings come after the Kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation ranked King Khalid International Airport first among Saudi Arabia’s international airports with more than 15 million passengers annually, for scoring high on various performance indicators including waiting times and security procedures. 

The Riyadh-based airport claimed the top spot for achieving a compliance rate of 82 percent, according to the latest performance report.  

The aviation authority evaluates airport performance on 14 crucial performance indicators, most notably waiting times for passengers during check-in and security procedures, the time spent by the traveler in front of the baggage track, passport and customs areas, criteria related to people with disabilities, and several other criteria based on best global practices.  

King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah ranked second with a compliance rate of 45 percent, the report revealed.  

Closing bell: Tasi slightly slips amid oil prices uncertainty  

Closing bell: Tasi slightly slips amid oil prices uncertainty  
Updated 22 March 2023

Closing bell: Tasi slightly slips amid oil prices uncertainty  

Closing bell: Tasi slightly slips amid oil prices uncertainty  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped slightly on Wednesday and lost 9.23 points – or 0.09 percent – to close at 10,350.51, as oil prices were down following fresh indications of weak demand and the market awaited a crucial interest rate decision by the US Federal Reserve.  

MCSI Tadawul 30 Index dropped by 0.12 percent to 1,408.99, while the parallel market Nomu gained 165.55 points or 0.87 percent to close at 19,094.44.  

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index on Wednesday was SR5.01 billion ($1.33 billion).  

The top performer of the day was Mouwasat Medical Services Co., as its share prices surged 10 percent to SR220.  

Other major gainers on Wednesday were Thimar Development Holding Co. and Alinma Tokio Marine Co., whose share prices surged 9.95 percent and 6.98 percent respectively.  

The worst performer of the day was Al-Etihad Cooperative Insurance Co. whose share prices dropped by 8.93 percent, after reporting a fall in total comprehensive income of 73.93 percent in 2022.  

Gulf Insurance Group is another company that saw its shares fall by 7.45 percent as it reported a decrease in net income of SR73.4 million, or 44 percent, in 2022, driven by a lower surplus from insurance operations.  

On the announcements front, Obeikan Glass Co. reported an annual profit of SR177.65 million in 2022, up 2.29 percent compared to 2021, driven by an increase in sales prices as a result of the rise in demand and the expansion of the company in new markets.  

Amid the marginal profit rise, Obeikan Glass Co.’s shares, which are listed in Nomu, dropped by 12.45 percent to SR76.20.  

Basic Chemical Industries Co. announced that its net profit hit SR70.4 million in 2022, up 21.97 percent from the previous year. Even as the profits soared, the share prices of Basic Chemical Industries fell 4.32 percent to SR33.20.   

Driven by the rise in profits, the board of directors of BCI recommended the payment of a cash dividend at 10 percent of capital, or SR1 a share, for 2022.  

Meanwhile, Saudi Printing and Packaging Co. also announced in its financial results that its losses narrowed to SR9.2 million in 2022, from SR59.3 million in the year-ago period. 

Despite narrowing the losses, the share prices of Saudi Printing and Packaging Co. went down 0.24 percent to SR16.86.  

Allied Cooperative Insurance Group also trimmed its loss to SR13.7 million in 2022, from SR114.6 million in 2021. The company’s share prices rose 1.31 percent to SR10.80 at the end of Wednesday’s closing.  

AME Co. for Medical Supplies reported an annual net profit of SR26.6 million in 2022, up 25.73 percent compared to 2021, due to the increase in net revenues driven by a rise in sales of medical supplies.  

As profits surged, AME Co. for Medical Services’ board of directors recommended a 20 percent dividend payout, or SR2 per share, for 2022. The company’s share prices also went up 2.55 percent to SR40.25 on Wednesday’s closing bell.  

Oil prices edged lower on Wednesday. At 04.10 p.m. Saudi time, Brent crude futures, which have risen by almost 3 percent this week, were down 11 cents, or 0.15 percent, at $75.21 a barrel.  

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 9 cents, or 0.13 percent, at $69.58. 

World Bank approves $7bn financing program for Egypt

World Bank approves $7bn financing program for Egypt
Updated 22 March 2023

World Bank approves $7bn financing program for Egypt

World Bank approves $7bn financing program for Egypt

RIYADH: The World Bank has announced that it has approved a $7 billion financing program for Egypt that extends from 2023 until 2027, according to a statement.

The partnership framework is done in collaboration with the International Finance Corp. as well as the global insurance firm Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

The financing program is projected to support green and inclusive developments as well as growth activities in the African country.

This money comes as Egypt is struggling with negative factors such as low foreign currency reserves, high interest payments, and high inflation.

It is also feeling the economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as reduced tourism, and an increase in food insecurity.

In January, the International Monetary Fund stressed that despite Egypt seeing an “economic recovery” during 2021-2022, “imbalances also started building amidst a stabilized exchange rate.”

The source of World Bank approved funds will be split, with $1 billion annually coming from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, in addition to $2 billion over the entire Central Provident Fund period from the International Finance Corp.

In addition to this, the program will also provide Egypt with guarantees from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

This is not the first time that the lender has approved a green scheme for Egypt.

In October 2022, it signed off on a $400 million development-financing agreement to help boost the African country’s logistics and transportation sectors and facilitate the transition to low-carbon technology along the Alexandria the 6th of October–Greater Cairo Area railway corridor.

In June last year the World Bank also approved a $500 million loan to help Egypt ensure an uninterrupted supply of bread as the country faced food security concerns amid rising prices and supply disruption due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Saudi Arabia and China tourism officials discuss Kingdom’s ambitious tourism target

Saudi Arabia and China tourism officials discuss Kingdom’s ambitious tourism target
Updated 22 March 2023

Saudi Arabia and China tourism officials discuss Kingdom’s ambitious tourism target

Saudi Arabia and China tourism officials discuss Kingdom’s ambitious tourism target

RIYADH: Saudi Tourism Authority’s CEO has held a meeting with China’s Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism to discuss ways to elevate and enhance strategic collaborations in the tourism sector, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Fahd Hamidaddin held talks with Rao Quan amid the Kingdom’s efforts to attract more than 4 million Chinese tourists by the year 2030.

During the meeting, both sides agreed on the general terms of a Memorandum of Understanding to support this target. 

The two sides also settled to introduce and launch several joint tourism initiatives to develop human capacities working within the sector.

Saudi Ambassador to China Abdulrahman bin Ahmed Al-Harbi was also present during the meeting as officials discussed bilateral cooperation prospects in the sector.

In addition to this, the meeting also looked at ways to pave the way for a unified vision as well as efforts through relevant global organizations and associations.

Aside from tourism, the officials reflected on the outcomes of China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Kingdom back in December 2022.

The latest meeting came as part of a promotional tour held by the Saudi Tourism Authority in collaboration with its partners from the Saudi tourism sector in China in an attempt to showcase Saudi tourist destinations and build partnerships between the tourism sectors of both countries.

The tour kicked off in Beijing before moving to Shanghai, and finally Guangzhou.

Earlier this month, the authority completed a successful three days at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest trade fair for the industry. 

Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi minister of tourism and chairman of the authority’s board of directors, opened the Saudi pavilion at the fair, which received a number of presidents, ministers, leaders, and other key officials. 

Al-Khateeb also met officials of major commercial bodies such as TUI Group and FTI Consulting, in addition to leaders of the UN World Tourism Organization and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The Saudi Tourism Authority is working to develop, promote, and distribute packages and products in partnership with the private sector.

The authority also participates in tourism events, exhibitions, trade shows, and roadshows both locally and globally to measure the tourist experience and suggest ways to enhance it to the relevant stakeholders.

Matarat Holding inks deal with Egis to serve 26 airports in Saudi Arabia 

Matarat Holding inks deal with Egis to serve 26 airports in Saudi Arabia 
Updated 22 March 2023

Matarat Holding inks deal with Egis to serve 26 airports in Saudi Arabia 

Matarat Holding inks deal with Egis to serve 26 airports in Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: Saudi state-owned aviation management firm Matarat Holding Co. has inked a three-year contract with consulting company Egis to serve 26 airports in Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom pushes to develop a global aviation hub in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030.  

The contract was signed by Matarat’s CEO Mohammed Almaghlouth and Egis’ CEO in the Middle East and South Asia, Alaa AbuSiam, according to a press release.  

The three-year contract aims to establish phased project management portals, update airport project management policies and procedures, and provide technical support for planning and designing. The deal involved following up on the implementation of capital projects with Matarat subsidiaries including Riyadh Airports Co., Jeddah Airports, Dammam Airports, and Cluster2.  

“This contract focuses on providing support in several major areas and activities, which include strategic planning for projects, building an asset management guide, preparing a unified guide for engineering specifications for designing and implementing projects, and following up on continuous improvement of their performance,” said Turki Almubadal, executive vice president of Projects and Technical Affairs at Matarat.

He added that the signing of this contract will help the Kingdom achieve its National Aviation Strategy which aims to increase international destinations to 250 and passenger capacity to 330 million by 2030.  

“We are extremely delighted to be partnering with Matarat to be part of one of the most transformative projects in the Middle East region. The Kingdom’s strong commitment to the aviation sector as part of its 2030 Vision, will surely transform the country into a global hub connecting Asia, Europe and Africa,” said AbuSiam.   

Formerly known as Saudi Civil Aviation Holding Co., Matarat Holding Co. was established in 2013 by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation.  

The company aims to develop the Kingdom’s airports and improve their performance, along with contributing to Saudi Arabia’s sustainable development process in the aviation sector.  

OPEC+ likely to stick to its guns despite price slump, delegates say

OPEC+ likely to stick to its guns despite price slump, delegates say
Updated 22 March 2023

OPEC+ likely to stick to its guns despite price slump, delegates say

OPEC+ likely to stick to its guns despite price slump, delegates say

LONDON: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, known as OPEC+, is likely to stick to its deal on output cuts of 2 million barrels per day until the end of the year, even after a banking crisis sent crude prices plunging, three delegates from the producer group told Reuters.

Oil prices hit 15-month lows on Monday in response to the banking crisis that followed the collapse of two US lenders and resulted in Credit Suisse being rescued by Switzerland's biggest bank UBS.

Brent crude was trading around $75 a barrel on Wednesday morning.

Last October OPEC+, which includes Russia, agreed steep output cuts of 2 million bpd from November until the end of 2023 despite major consumers calling for increases in production.

That decision helped to push Brent close to $100 a barrel, but prices have come under pressure since then as rising interest rates to combat high inflation threaten to stymie oil demand growth.

Falling oil prices are a problem for most of the group's members because their economies rely heavily on oil revenue.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak on Tuesday said that Moscow will continue with a 500,000-bpd production cut it announced last month, lasting until the end of June.

"This is only a unilateral cut of Russia," one of the delegates said.

"No changes for the group until the end of year," he added.

Another delegate added that no further cuts were planned by the group.

A third delegate said the recent slump in oil prices was related to speculation in the financial market, not market fundamentals.

The heads of top oil traders and hedge funds that spoke at an industry event this week said that they expected oil prices to strengthen by the end of the year as continued easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China drive up demand in the world's biggest oil importer.

Pierre Andurand, founder of hedge fund Andurand Capital, was the most bullish and forecast a potential Brent oil price of $140 a barrel by the end of the year.

In its most recent monthly report, OPEC upgraded its forecast for Chinese oil demand growth this year but maintained its projection for global demand growth at 2.32 million bpd.

OPEC+ is due to hold a virtual meeting of its ministerial committee, which includes Russia and Saudi Arabia, on April 3 before a full ministerial meeting in Vienna on June 4.