Beverly Hills firm explores opportunities to develop tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia

Special Beverly Hills firm explores opportunities to develop tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia
Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau has partnered with the region’s leading experts to curate a luxury travel forum in Riyadh (Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau)
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Updated 26 May 2023

Beverly Hills firm explores opportunities to develop tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia

Beverly Hills firm explores opportunities to develop tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: US-based destination marketing company Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau is exploring partnerships in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East to create and develop tourist-friendly locations. 

Speaking to Arab News in Riyadh, Julie Wagner, CEO of BHCVB, said: “We are here to see all the new developments in Riyadh, as Saudi Arabia has been making a lot of inroads in creating a tourism-friendly destination.” 

Wagner has found many new luxury developments in the capital modeled on opulent projects developed in Beverly Hills, prompting her to say: “We came here because people understand what’s going on in Beverly Hills, and the region certainly knows who we are.” 

A byword for elegance and glamor, Beverly Hills has long been the destination for discerning travelers from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. 

Wagner is also bullish on luxury travel in the Kingdom and its ongoing cultural and economic transformation. 

“The ability to customize luxury is very important because many cultures have different lifestyles. So, you must focus on each of their lifestyles every step of the way and create experiences that are relevant to them,” she added. 

But she stressed the most crucial part of destination marketing is respecting the host country’s culture.  

“There must be a fine line when travelers come to a destination. For instance, when I come to visit Riyadh, I have to honor the things here, and that’s part of why I like to come here because there are so many things that are very different from where I am, and I want to experience those things and be a part of that,” she said. 

Julie Wagner, CEO of BHCVB (Supplied)

The company has partnered with the region’s leading experts to curate a luxury travel forum in Riyadh to bring tourism thought leaders and facilitate networking opportunities. 

The capital city is also set to witness a surge in hotels due to an increase in big-ticket sporting and entertainment events to be hosted in the metropolis, including the flagship Riyadh Expo 2030. 

In a sign of the sector’s growth, Riyadh Season 2022, the state-sponsored annual entertainment and sports festival, hosted 10 million visitors in less than three months of its launch on Oct. 21 last year.  

The city has also been a sought-after destination for major events such as formula car racing and WWE wrestling matches, besides hosting the seven-side FIFA Club World Cup in December 2023 and the Asian Games in 2034.

Saudi Arabia in deal with Brazilian company to boost food security

Saudi Arabia in deal with Brazilian company to boost food security
Updated 14 sec ago

Saudi Arabia in deal with Brazilian company to boost food security

Saudi Arabia in deal with Brazilian company to boost food security

RIYADH: Public Investment Fund-owned Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co. and South American firm Marfrig Global Foods SA have committed to buying shares in a potential new offering worth $900 million by BRF SA, Brazil’s biggest poultry producer. 

BRF said in a bourse filing that SALIC offered to subscribe to 50 percent of the total offer or 500 million new shares. 

Marfrig Global Foods SA, which owns 33 percent of BRF, pledged to buy the remaining 250 million shares, reported Reuters. 

Under the terms of the proposed transaction, the offer must be priced at no more than 9 reais ($1.8) per share, which would represent a 23.8 percent premium over its closing price of 7.27 reais on Tuesday, BRF said in a securities filing. 

BRF’s board of directors has already approved engaging a financial adviser to analyze the move. 

The poultry producer’s shares surged as much as 15.7 percent, making it the top gainer on Brazil’s benchmark stock index Bovespa while Marfrig stock rose around 5 percent. 

The Kingdom has been keen to empower its food security while playing a significant role in global agricultural and livestock supply. 

Such investments hold strategic significance for the Kingdom, considering its substantial demand for Brazilian meat products. 

Moreover, BRF and SALIC signed a memorandum of understanding last year to establish a joint venture focused on chicken production in Saudi Arabia, further strengthening their collaboration in the poultry sector. 

Furthermore, SALIC holds a significant 33.83 percent ownership stake in Minerva Foods, a prominent Brazilian meat company, underscoring the significance of foreign investments in ensuring global food security. 

Saudi merchandise imports drop 4.9% to $49bn in Q1: GASTAT    

Saudi merchandise imports drop 4.9% to $49bn in Q1: GASTAT    
Updated 13 min 12 sec ago

Saudi merchandise imports drop 4.9% to $49bn in Q1: GASTAT    

Saudi merchandise imports drop 4.9% to $49bn in Q1: GASTAT    

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s merchandise imports dropped 4.9 percent to SR186.4 billion ($49 billion) in the first quarter of 2023, compared to SR196 billion recorded in the previous quarter, the latest data from the Kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics showed.

However, when compared with the SR157.9 billion worth of imports recorded in the first quarter of 2022, the Kingdom’s merchandise imports surged 18.1 percent in the first three months of this year.

It was driven by machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical equipment, and parts which collectively accounted for 20.9 percent of the total merchandise imports. The imports of transport equipment and parts accounted for 16.1 percent of the total value. 

China remains Saudi Arabia’s top origin for imports with SR40 billion worth of merchandise, representing 21.5 percent of the Kingdom’s total imports during the period.  

Jeddah Islamic Port facilitated SR54.6 billion worth of imports in the first quarter of 2023, reflecting 29.3 percent of the total value during the period.  

Among the other major ports of entry were King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, which accounted for 19.3 percent and 12.2 percent of the total value of imports, respectively, in the first quarter of 2023. 

Meanwhile, King Abdulaziz International Airport accounted for 6.5 percent of the total value of imports while King Fahad International Airport in Dammam accounted for 6 percent.  

Together, those five ports accounted for 73.3 percent of the total merchandise imports of the Kingdom in the first quarter of this year.  

On the other hand, overall merchandise exports decreased by 14.6 percent in the first three months of 2023 when compared to the same period of last year.  

The value of exports amounted to SR313.5 billion in the same period, down from SR367.1 billion in the corresponding period a year ago.  

The drop in exports is mainly attributed to the decrease in oil exports which fell by 14.9 percent to SR245.4 billion in the first quarter of 2023, compared to SR288.5 billion recorded during the same period last year.  

The GASTAT report further disclosed that exports to China amounted to SR51.5 billion, reflecting 16.4 percent of total exports, as the East Asian country remains the Kingdom’s main destination for exports.  

However, Saudi Arabia’s exports are likely to grow at nearly 5 percent annually to hit $418 billion by 2030, a new report by Standard Chartered predicted. 

It attributed this to Saudi Arabia’s strategic location which the Kingdom is looking to leverage on to drive trade and export.  

“The Kingdom aspires to become the next global logistics hub and has pledged to make its economy more sustainable and innovative,” Mazen Al-Bunyan, CEO of Standard Chartered in Saudi Arabia, said.  

Leveraging its strategic location at the center of Asia, Africa and Europe, he said Saudi Arabia is enhancing its shipping networks to connect these regions and is continuously liberalizing international trade of goods and services. 

With various initiatives across the logistics, sustainability and innovation fronts, Al-Bunyan said, “Saudi Arabia is poised to lead the Gulf and wider Middle East into a new era of trade and economic prosperity.”

UAE In-Focus – Abu Dhabi launches initiatives to boost smart manufacturing in SME sector

UAE In-Focus – Abu Dhabi launches initiatives to boost smart manufacturing in SME sector
Updated 17 min 38 sec ago

UAE In-Focus – Abu Dhabi launches initiatives to boost smart manufacturing in SME sector

UAE In-Focus – Abu Dhabi launches initiatives to boost smart manufacturing in SME sector

RIYADH: The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development launched two initiatives that will prepare small and medium enterprises to meet the objectives of the emirate’s industrial strategy, reported the state-run news agency WAM.

The department launched the Smart Manufacturing Competence Center, which will act as a catalyst for local and global industry stakeholders to establish an innovative and sustainable ecosystem.

It also launched the Smart Manufacturing Incentive Program. It aims to assist SMEs in the industrial sector in their transformation toward smart manufacturing.

The program will implement the six transformational programs of Abu Dhabi Industrial Strategy: Industry 4.0, Circular Economy, Talent Development, Ecosystem Enablement, Homegrown Supply Chain, and Value Chain Development.

Abu Dhabi aims to invest 10 billion dirhams ($2.7 billion) across these initiatives to double the size of its manufacturing sector to 172 billion dirhams, create 13,600 jobs and increase the country’s non-oil exports to 178.8 billion dirhams by 2031.  

Scheduled to begin operations in the first quarter of 2024, the SMCC will facilitate stakeholder collaboration, consolidate innovative manufacturing services and promote knowledge sharing.

MoIAT offers career opportunities in the industrial sector  

The UAE’s Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology has launched a new initiative to offer 500 training and job opportunities to local talent.

In collaboration with the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization, the program aims to equip Emiratis with skills to join the industrial sector.

The program will be specially designed and structured by leading institutes, including the Center of Excellence for Applied Research and Training and Abu Dhabi Vocational Education and Training Institute, WAM reported.

More than 70 industrial companies from the UAE will participate in offering these training and employment opportunities through the Nafis platform.

Tabby raises debt facility to $350m  

UAE-based fintech company Tabby upsized its debt facility to $350 million after closing a financing round by US-based Partners for Growth along with Atalaya Capital Management and CoVenture.

Last August, Tabby secured $150 million in debt funding to facilitate its “Buy Now Pay Later” offering further.

The company will use the additional financing to serve more customers and retailers. Tabby claims to have 4 million customers and 15,000 retailers.

PIF to buy 30% shares in Kingdom’s leading grocery chain

PIF to buy 30% shares in Kingdom’s leading grocery chain
Updated 55 min 3 sec ago

PIF to buy 30% shares in Kingdom’s leading grocery chain

PIF to buy 30% shares in Kingdom’s leading grocery chain


RIYADH: In a bid to expand its existing portfolio and strengthen the private sector, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has inked a deal to invest in Tamimi Markets Co., one of the leading grocery chains in the Kingdom. 

According to the agreement, the Public Investment Fund will become a shareholder with 30 percent ownership of Tamimi Markets by way of a capital increase and subscription of new shares. 

In a press statement, the fund said that this new investment aims to enable Tamimi Markets to transform from a national grocery chain to a major regional player. 

PIF currently has several strategic investments in the consumer goods and retail sector, which includes, a shopping platform, Halal Products Development Co., and Americana Restaurants International. 

“PIF is investing in the grocery and food supply chain to ensure a strong Saudi presence in the market, enabling the private sector to capitalize on positive market demand,” said Majed Al-Assaf, head of consumer goods and retail, Middle East and North Africa Investments Division at PIF. 

He added: “This partnership is expected to contribute to the expansion of Tamimi Markets’ operations and product offering, accelerating its regional growth plans and benefiting consumers through greater choice. Our investment aligns with PIF’s strategy to create Saudi national champions in key sectors that contribute to the diversification of the economy.” 

Tariq Al-Tamimi, chairman of Tamimi Holding said that PIF’s new investment could help the firm to expand further across the region in the next few years.

Earlier in January, data released by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute revealed that the PIF has maintained the sixth spot in the list of top sovereign wealth funds worldwide, with assets worth $607.42 billion. 

Currently, the sovereign fund owns 71 companies in 10 different sectors, and until now, it has created more than 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Gulf nations invest in Latin America energy projects

Gulf nations invest in Latin America energy projects
Updated 01 June 2023

Gulf nations invest in Latin America energy projects

Gulf nations invest in Latin America energy projects
  • Saudi Arabia, UAE among most promising partners as region strives to meet needs brought by economic development

SAO PAULO: As Latin American countries have been moving to enhance their energy infrastructure and meet the needs brought by economic development, investors worldwide have been demonstrating their desire to explore the region’s new opportunities.

Gulf nations, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have been among the most promising partners in the region’s upcoming energy endeavors.

The most recent announcement regarding Latin American-Middle Eastern energy partnerships was made last week, when Paraguayan authorities met with their Emirati counterparts and discussed the terms of a memorandum on economic cooperation. Partnerships in renewable energy projects were part of the deal.

With three hydroelectric power plants, Paraguay produces much more electricity than it needs, and exports the excess — more than 60 percent — to Brazil and Argentina.

“But in eight or 10 years, our situation will be much less comfortable. We’ll need to invest in electricity production, something that we’ve never thought about over the past 40 years,” Victorio Oxilia, an energy expert and professor at the National University of Asuncion, told Arab News.

Not only will demand from the population grow, but new industries will implement projects in Paraguay and require more energy, he added.

“At the same time, we need to diversify our sources. All our hydroelectric plants depend on the River Parana. Severe droughts can easily impact power generation,” he said.

Investing in solar energy plants is the natural response to those challenges. A government strategic plan for 2040 established it as a priority, Oxilia said, adding: “It’s a resource that abounds in the whole territory, so it’s a great candidate to be developed not only by Paraguay’s public energy company, but also by private agents.”

The projects currently being discussed will probably be followed by many more in the coming years, and will encompass wind power, hydrogen and synthetic biofuels.

A recent law, promulgated in January, determined a series of incentives for renewable energy production.

“There’s great potential when it comes to substituting the fossil fuels we now use in transportation and which we have to import,” Oxilia said.

Paraguay’s economy has been growing over the past few years thanks to agriculture — the nation is a major grain producer and exporter.

That is opening new opportunities in different areas, and may also include green energy in the future, Oxilia said.

“The Chaco region is near the big lithium reserves in Chile and Argentina. It’s a region that … can concentrate a cluster of lithium battery manufacturers,” he added.

In January, during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Paraguayan officials met with directors of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, who promised to fund — or at least lend money for — renewable energy projects in the South American country.

On the same occasion, Costa Rican authorities discussed with Emirati officials potential partnerships in electricity production.

In an interview with local news website La Republica, Environment and Energy Minister Franz Tattenbach said the Central American nation needs to transform its transportation sector and adopt electric buses, for instance.

Mario Alvarado Mora, who directs the Costa Rican Association of Energy Producers, told Arab News that 99 percent of the electricity produced in the country is environmentally clean, “but two-thirds of the nation’s energy come from nonrenewable sources and are used mostly in transportation.”

He added: “Costa Rica has a great challenge, and also a great opportunity, to decarbonize its energy mix and use renewable resources.”

The energy sector is pushing the government for legislative changes in order to increase legal safety and attract more foreign investors, he said. A bill containing some of these changes is being analyzed in Congress.

In Argentina, where both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are planning to invest in energy endeavors, the most pressing needs concern not so much energy production but its distribution infrastructure, said Juan Jose Carbajales, a professor at Jose Clemente Paz National University in Buenos Aires.

“We lack pipelines to take crude and natural gas from Vaca Muerta deposits to regional markets. We also need to expand our high-voltage grid,” he told Arab News, referring to the giant geological formation in Neuquen, Rio Negro, La Pampa and Mendoza provinces that contains major reserves of oil and gas.

Carbajales lamented that there are many projects for wind and hydroelectric power plants currently suspended due to the lack of distribution infrastructure.

“That situation also limits the expansion of hydrogen fuel because electricity is needed in its production,” he added.

In April, Argentina signed a $500 million deal with the Saudi Fund for Development for food and energy projects, including the gas pipeline Nestor Kirchner.

Scheduled to be completed in June, the pipeline will connect Vaca Muerta to Buenos Aires province. The SFD loan will also fund transmission lines.

In 2022, the sovereign funds of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait announced that they would invest $1 billion in Argentina until the end of 2023. Some of the partnerships include energy generation and infrastructure.

Such investments are fundamental for Argentina given that it is facing serious macroeconomic challenges, including high inflation.

“Those problems make it harder for the country to have access to the international capital markets,” Carbajales said.

Another Latin American country with great plans involving energy — especially renewable energy — is Mexico, which in February disclosed its project for that sector and invited nations worldwide to invest in it during the inauguration of a solar plant in the state of Sonora.

Also in February, Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim told Mexican magazine Expansion that investments in energy were part of the potential partnerships between the two countries.

Lawyer and energy expert Marcial Diaz told Arab News: “Mexico doesn’t have the means to make the necessary investments in projects connected to wind power, solar power and the market of fuels.”

He added that Mexico imports almost 70 percent of its fuel, so a transformation in that area is fundamental, with private investors directly collaborating in new endeavors.

Skeptical about the current administration’s ability to draw foreign investments for energy projects, Diaz said such plans usually take a long time, “so endeavors being conceived now will only be carried out during the next administration.”

He added: “No Latin American country is self-sufficient in energy terms, so it’s important for all of us to count on long-term investments.”