Saudi ACWA Power to develop $677m desalination project 

Saudi ACWA Power to develop $677m desalination project 
The agreements were signed by Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture with Chairman of the SWPC, and Mohammad Abunayyan, Chairman of ACWA Power. (Supplied)
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Updated 13 April 2023
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Saudi ACWA Power to develop $677m desalination project 

Saudi ACWA Power to develop $677m desalination project 

RIYADH: Saudi energy firm ACWA Power has signed a water purchase agreement for the 600,000-cubic meter per day Rabigh 4 Independent Water Plant to be located on Kingdom’s Red Sea coast. 

The Saudi Water Partnership Co, a government off-taker, will be the sole buyer of services for the project, the company said in a press release. 

In a bourse filing on Wednesday, ACWA Power said the 25-year WPA was signed between its partly owned project company Rawabi Water Desalination Co. and SWPC for the development, construction, operation and ownership of the water desalination plant using reverse osmosis technology.  

The agreement also involves developing associated infrastructure and facilities of the plant including potable water tanks with a capacity of 1,200,000 cubic meters.

ACWA Power in the statement has put the contract value at SR2.54 billion ($677 million) while adding that the financial close for the project is expected during the third quarter of 2023.  

ACWA Power, a Public Investment Fund-backed firm, currently operates as many as 16 desalination plants across four countries; 10 of which are situated in the Kingdom. 

Mohammad Abunayyan, chairman of ACWA Power, said: “Our commitment to developing efficient and reliable projects that meet the practical water needs of the community has played a significant role in our contribution towards Saudi Arabia's clean water strategy, including supplying nearly a third of the nation's water needs.”   

“As we move forward, we remain dedicated to advancing our support with our upcoming facility, which will set a new standard in terms of capacity and sustainability,” the chairman stressed. 

The project is designed in such a way that allows it to use less electricity, lower operating costs, and back domestic content in terms of supply chain and employment, according to SWPC CEO Khalid bin Zuwaid Al-Quraishi. 

The plant – which is set to become operational in 2026 – will display the impact of reverse osmosis technology in action, according to Al-Quraishi.  

The plant is also projected to boost the capacity in the Rabigh area by 100 percent. 

“These agreements will achieve the goals for water production projects in partnership with the private sector that supplies industries, communities, and people across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli, in a statement. 

“We expect that Rabigh 4 will directly serve pilgrims from around the world in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and serve households in the wider region,” Al-Fadhli added. 

ACWA Power said its mission is to ensure the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the private sector and make available electricity and desalinated water in a reliable and responsible manner to support the social development and economic growth of nations. 


Saudi Arabia has 4,000 companies in entertainment industry thanks to Vision 2030 boom – top official

Saudi Arabia has 4,000 companies in entertainment industry thanks to Vision 2030 boom – top official
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Saudi Arabia has 4,000 companies in entertainment industry thanks to Vision 2030 boom – top official

Saudi Arabia has 4,000 companies in entertainment industry thanks to Vision 2030 boom – top official

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s entertainment sector has surged to 4,000 companies from fewer than 10 since the launch of Vision 2030, according to a top official.

Speaking at the Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh on Feb. 21, General Entertainment Authority CEO Faisal Bafarat said the industry has already created over 150,000 local jobs since the Kingdom’s economic diversification initiative was instigated in 2016.

Bafarat also underscored the importance of high competitiveness among business sectors in creating new forms of entertainment, which is now attracting more capital in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Aligned with the economic diversification goals of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia launched the General Entertainment Authority in 2016. 

The organization is currently working toward the development of entertainment options that fit the needs of people from all walks of life in the Kingdom.

The media sector’s contribution to Saudi gross domestic product reached SR14.5 billion ($3.86 billion) in 2023 and is targeting SR16 billion this year.

For his part, Ahmed Al-Mehmadi, the executive director of operations at the General Entertainment Authority, said that media has become a fundamental pillar in the entertainment industry. 

According to Al-Mehmadi, effective local and regional media partnerships will catalyze the growth of the entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia. 

He added that the authority is committed to diversifying and energizing its platforms to reach various local and global segments of society. 

The third edition of the Saudi Media Forum, hosted by the Kingdom’s Broadcasting Authority, was organized in Riyadh from Feb. 19 to 21. 

The gathering brought together some 2,000 industry specialists and experts from the region and beyond. The event also showcased the latest technologies and innovations from over 200 local and international companies. 

Saudi Arabia has launched multiple initiatives to grow the communications industry, which includes the Media Zone project that provides a dedicated space to gain knowledge of art practices within the industry.

Last week, the Kingdom also launched the Hajj and Umrah Mediathon to improve the quality of coverage of the holy practices.

The Hajj Media Hub was also announced, allowing media professionals to enhance their coverage and showcase their work in an immersive exhibition.


Oil Updates – crude rises for second day on improving signs of US refinery demand

Oil Updates – crude rises for second day on improving signs of US refinery demand
Updated 41 min 29 sec ago
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Oil Updates – crude rises for second day on improving signs of US refinery demand

Oil Updates – crude rises for second day on improving signs of US refinery demand

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose for a second day on Thursday on expectations that demand in the US, the world’s biggest oil consumer, will improve as refineries try to return to service after outages and as the dollar weakened, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures rose 34 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $83.37 a barrel at 10:40 a.m. Saudi time. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 37 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $78.28 a barrel.

“Oil prices have been resilient thus far, with market participants seemingly eyeing a retest of its year-to-date high following its rally in February,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG, adding that geopolitical tensions provided support.

“That said, gains could be somewhat contained for now, given the higher-than-expected inventories build in US crude stocks from the API (American Petroleum Institute) figure overnight drove some wait-and-see for the EIA (Energy Information Administration) numbers to be released ahead,” Yeap added.

Crude stocks rose 7.17 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 16, market sources citing API figures said on Wednesday. Gasoline stockpiles also rose while distillate fuel inventories declined.

US crude inventories have climbed amid outages at large refineries that have left utilization rates at the lowest level in two years, though the plants are resuming output.

BP’s 435,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Indiana, the largest in the US Midwest, will return to full production in March, according to people familiar with plant operations, after a power outage from Feb. 1.

TotalEnergies’ 238,000-bpd refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, is also working to complete a restart, though it is still operating minimally following a weather-related power outage.

Analysts expect US refinery run rates to have risen to 81.5 percent last week from 80.6 percent of total capacity in the previous week, according to a Reuters poll.

Investors will keep an eye on the official inventory data from the US EIA that is due at 7:00 p.m. Saudi time on Thursday, delayed one day by a US holiday.

Crude was also supported by a weaker US dollar, which makes oil less expensive for traders holding other currencies.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, fell to 103.905 at 8:10 a.m. Saudi time. 

“The retreat in the US dollar for the fourth straight session may also boost the short-term appeal for oil,” said Yeap. 


NEOM to launch new guest retreat Elanan

NEOM to launch new guest retreat Elanan
Updated 21 February 2024
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NEOM to launch new guest retreat Elanan

NEOM to launch new guest retreat Elanan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Gulf of Aqaba coastline is poised for enhancement with the introduction of a new guest retreat, Elanan. 

The latest addition to NEOM features 80 bespoke rooms and suites and is designed with a well-being theme, offering a nature resort.

Elanan adopts a contemporary approach to wellness, incorporating new technologies that promote relaxation.

Moreover, Elanan’s innovative architecture seamlessly integrates with the surrounding environment. By incorporating these unique design methods, Elanan also showcases detailed sculptures that merge with the outdoor areas. 

Although the overall design is modern, the development is committed to preserving the natural landscape.

Elanan follows the recent announcements of Leyja, Epicon, Siranna, and Utamo, all of which are sustainable tourism destinations in the Gulf of Aqaba.

On Feb. 18, the Kingdom’s $500 billion giga-project introduced a luxury resort in Trojena. It is set to unveil a 105-key hotel with Raffles Hotels and Resorts in northwestern Saudi Arabia.

Scheduled to open in 2027, Raffles Trojena aims to provide guests with opportunities to engage with the region’s natural beauty through its ring-shaped architecture.

Omer Acar, CEO of Raffles Hotels & Resorts, said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with NEOM on the creation of Raffles Trojena, an architecturally significant resort that will showcase the very best in modern luxury hospitality and underscores Raffles’ commitment to growing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” 

He added: “Trojena is set to be a destination unlike any other, and this mountainside retreat continues the Raffles legacy of growing in the world’s most compelling locales, providing our guests with an opportunity to ignite their passions through highly personalized service and experiences.”  

The company said the property will embody the brand’s distinctive characteristics, encompassing its renowned butler service, diverse dining experiences, and a dedicated focus on local arts and culture.

It joins as the latest hospitality collaborator within NEOM’s Hotel Division, located in the Discover cluster — a segment of Trojena dedicated to natural exploration.


Saudi Arabia ranks 3rd in Global Retail Development Index: Kearney 

Saudi Arabia ranks 3rd in Global Retail Development Index: Kearney 
Updated 21 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia ranks 3rd in Global Retail Development Index: Kearney 

Saudi Arabia ranks 3rd in Global Retail Development Index: Kearney 

RIYADH: An increase in non-cash transactions has helped Saudi Arabia rise nine places to third in the Global Retail Development Index.  

The GRDI leverages a comprehensive set of criteria, including economic health, consumer wealth, and regulatory framework, to gauge the retail potential of 35 to 40 emerging economies, according to a statement. 

The 2023 edition of the bi-yearly survey findings, launched by the US consulting firm, mirrors the upward trajectory of global retail development in the Middle East and North Africa region.

They also cement the country’s strategic pivot away from oil dependency, which currently accounts for approximately 40 percent of its gross domestic product, and the establishment of a favorable business climate.

“The MENA region, and notably the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, are at the forefront of retail’s next wave of growth,” said Debashish Mukherjee, partner at Kearney Middle East and Africa and Consumer and Retail Practice Lead.

“The 2023 GRDI illustrates how these markets are redefining the retail ecosystem with strategic digital adoption and consumer-centric approaches,” Mukherjee added. 

Mukherjee also stressed that the rise in this year’s GRDI is a clear indicator of its dynamic retail environment as well as its strategic initiatives to foster a competitive and diverse economic landscape. 

Moreover, the report attributed the Kingdom’s climb in the index to non-cash retail transactions surging from 16 percent in 2016 to 62 percent in 2022, aiming for 70 percent by 2030.

An additional reason for the jump was the country’s growth in the employment of Saudi nationals in high-skilled jobs and doubling female workforce participation, exceeding Vision 2030 targets.

On top of that, the growing popularity and adoption of buy now pay later services and the significant increases in investment deals and licenses in 2022 aided the Kingdom’s jump in the index. 

Other reasons entailed digital and artificial intelligence integration within the Saudi consumer market, the entry of international brands, and the expansion of entertainment and lifestyle sectors. 

The GRDI acts as a guide for retailers looking to navigate the complexities and capitalize on the prospects within these emerging markets.


Closing Bell: TASI closes in green with trading volume at $2.2bn

Closing Bell: TASI closes in green with trading volume at $2.2bn
Updated 21 February 2024
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Closing Bell: TASI closes in green with trading volume at $2.2bn

Closing Bell: TASI closes in green with trading volume at $2.2bn

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index concluded Wednesday’s trading session at 12,634.33, marking an increase of 27.83 points or 0.22 percent. 

MSCI Tadawul 30 Index also increased slightly by 1.84 to close at 1,628.17 points. On the other hand, the parallel market, Nomu, closed the day at 25,507.66 points, reflecting a decrease of 80.45 or 0.31 percent.

TASI reported a trading volume of SR8.60 billion ($2.294 billion), with 90 stocks gaining and 130 losing steam. 

The best-performing stock was Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co., whose share price surged 9.83 percent to SR26.6.  

Today’s second top performer was Al-Baha Investment and Development Co., whose share price soared 7.14 percent to SR0.15.   

Other gainers included Salama Cooperative Insurance Co. and Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co., as their share prices increased by 4.89 and 4.41 percent to SR26.80 and SR101.8.

The worst performer was Al Gassim Investment Holding Co., whose share price dropped by 3.96 percent to SR19.40. It was followed by Maharah Human Resources Co., whose share price decreased by 3.26 percent to reach SR6.83.

On the parallel market, Nomu, WSM for Information Technology Co., emerged as the top gainer, with its initial share price surging by 26.53 percent to SR62, as it was the company’s first day of listing and commencement of trading.

International Human Resources Co. was the major loser on Nomu, as its share price slipped by 3.76 percent to SR4.10.  

On the announcement front, the Saudi National Bank announced the completion of its US dollar-denominated sukuk offer under its international sukuk program.

The bank raised $850 million from the sale of five-year dollar bonds. 

The financial institution received applications amounting to $3.6 billion, bringing the issuance coverage to more than four times or 4,250 total bonds.

According to a statement on Tadawul, these bonds’ final yield came in at 5.129 percent per annum with five years of maturity.

“The sukuk may be redeemed prior to the scheduled maturity date in certain cases and the sukuk will be listed on the London Stock Exchange’s International Securities Market,” the bank stated.