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

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. 
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Updated 01 June 2023
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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 Noon.com, 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.


Riyadh Air to unveil its crew uniform at Paris Fashion Week, says CEO

Riyadh Air to unveil its crew uniform at Paris Fashion Week, says CEO
Updated 6 sec ago
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Riyadh Air to unveil its crew uniform at Paris Fashion Week, says CEO

Riyadh Air to unveil its crew uniform at Paris Fashion Week, says CEO
  • New attire will ‘become instantly recognizable as the Riyadh color’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new airline, Riyadh Air, is set to unveil its cabin crew special uniform at the upcoming Paris Fashion Week, according to its CEO.

On the sidelines of this year’s Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh, Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air, shared in an interview with Arab News a series of strategic developments that are set to propel the new airline into the global spotlight. 

With Riyadh Air scheduled to launch in the summer of next year, Douglas highlighted the airline’s upcoming milestone at Paris Fashion Week, which will take place from June 18-23.

“Our next milestone will be (in) June in Paris,” he said. “This is going to be about Paris Fashion Week. Now, what would we possibly do in Paris Fashion Week? For the first time ever as an airline, we will reveal our haute couture fashion collection. So our cabin crew won’t wear cabin crew uniforms. It’ll be cabin crew fashion,” he added. 

Drawing inspiration from the fashion depicted in the film “Catch Me If You Can,” Douglas emphasized the airline’s commitment to style and sophistication. 

“If you can ever remember the movie ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ where DiCaprio goes through the terminal building, and everybody stops to photograph them because they look glamorous. They look fashionable. They look refined. And we want to bring that back with a modernist twist. And that’s what we’ll be revealing at Paris Fashion Week at the end of June,” he explained.

The new uniforms will feature a unique color that Douglas believed would become “instantly recognizable as the Riyadh color.”

He added: “We want to get that kind of glamor into aviation to make sure that this brand, because of course, the brand is Riyadh wherever it’s identified around the world, that immediately speaks to quality, grace, refinement, and fashion.”

In addition to fashion, Riyadh Air is rapidly building its operational capabilities, according to the top official.

“We now have our first group of pilots who’ve joined us. So we’ve got over 30 instructor pilots, they’re the highest qualified pilots you can get from lots of different international airlines. They’re, of course, engaged with us at this stage to assist with our certification flying. And we’ll start our certification flying in September of this year. So literally months away now,” Douglas revealed.

He added: “Yesterday, our third batch of cabin crew started with us, so this feels like a real airline now.”

The interest in joining Riyadh Air has been extraordinary, according to Douglas. 

He noted the overwhelming response to their careers page, saying: “The statistic that I still almost struggle to comprehend in a very positive way is if you go onto RiyadhAir.com, our website, there’s a careers page, and it allows you to put in your personal details. In just over a year, we’ve had 1.1 million people send the details, their qualifications and their contacts to be considered to become part of the Riyadh Air family, 146 different nationalities, and we think that that’s just completely staggering.”

He added: “We ask ourselves why I would never have imagined so much interest and my only explanation is it’s because it’s under the leadership and the decree of His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

Looking ahead, Douglas confirmed that Riyadh Air’s headquarters will soon be visible near Riyadh International Airport. 

“Our brand new headquarters building will be available for us to start occupying in the summer of this year. And just out by Riyadh International Airport, people will see their biggest brand logo lit up in the skyline, probably in the next two months. And that’s when you will know where the home of the Riyadh Air family is,” Douglas announced.

The CEO acknowledged the challenges and opportunities ahead by reflecting on the industry’s current dynamics: “What a difference two or three years makes pre-pandemic. It was actually difficult to make any money in aviation. Ticket prices for a decade were almost at an all-time low.” 

Douglas added: “Here we are today, where demand is significantly ahead of supply in many markets and, in particular, our market. But also we all know ticket prices are actually expensive at the moment. I don’t think that will last because it is a cyclical industry and it’s one again where classic Keynesian economics supply and demand at the moment.” 

The Riyadh Air head confidently predicted ongoing market growth and outlined the carrier’s mission, saying: “Is the market going to continually grow? The answer is very simply, yes it is. Back to the proposition of Riyadh Air. We’ll bring a full-service carrier, the sort of carrier that the Kingdom needs and quite frankly, demands such that we’ll have global connectivity.” 

Douglas invited guests to witness Riyadh Air’s debut at Paris Fashion Week and teased future technological innovations. 

“Come and see us in Paris. Come and see the incredible fashion, which will stand out, but also later on in the year will start to reveal what our digital proposition is, and that will be another standout case for our industry,” he concluded.


Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in red across all indexes   

Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in red across all indexes   
Updated 18 min 17 sec ago
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Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in red across all indexes   

Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in red across all indexes   

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Monday, losing 73.02 points, or 0.60 percent, to close at 12,125.36.     

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR6 billion ($1.6 billion) as 68 of the listed stocks advanced, while 155 retreated.   

On the other hand, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu also slipped 25.51 points, or 0.09 percent, to close at 27,036.50. This came as 24 of the listed stocks advanced, while as many as 40 retreated.  

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index also dropped 13.53 points, or 0.89 percent, to close at 1,515.07.  

The best-performing stock of the day was Al-Baha Investment and Development Co. which saw its share price surge 7.69 percent to SR0.14.  

Other top performers include Almasane Alkobra Mining Co. as well as the Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co., whose share prices soared by 7.05 percent and 6.72 percent, respectively, to stand at SR63.80 and SR25.40.     

In addition to this, other top performers included Almunajem Foods Co. and Methanol Chemicals Co.  

The worst performer was Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co., whose share price dropped by 8.04 percent to SR10.06.   

Al-Babtain Power and Telecommunication Co. as well as Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co., also saw their share prices dropping by 7.39 percent and 4.45 percent respectively, to stand at SR41.35 and SR20.20.

Moreover, other worst performers also include Arabian Contracting Services Co. and East Pipes Integrated Co. for Industry.  

On Nomu, Future Care Trading Co. was the top gainer with its share price rising by 11.05 percent to SR15.28.   

Other best performers on Nomu were Professional Medical Expertise Co. as well as Osool and Bakheet Investment Co., whose share prices soared by 8.42 percent and 4.53 percent to stand at SR103 and SR 41.50, respectively.  

Other top gainers also include Sure Global Tech Co. and Ghida Alsultan for Fast Food Co.  

Leen Alkhair Trading Co. experienced a significant drop in its share price on Nomu, with the company’s shares falling by 7.72 percent to SR26.90.    

The share prices of Almuneef Co. for Trade, Industry, Agriculture and Contracting as well as Riyadh Steel Co. also fell by 7.68 percent and 6.25 percent to stand at SR51.70 and SR30, respectively.  

Other major losers include Molan Steel Co. and Mayar Holding Co.  


Saudi aviation industry likely to create 35,000 new jobs by 2030

Saudi aviation industry likely to create 35,000 new jobs by 2030
Updated 25 min 44 sec ago
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Saudi aviation industry likely to create 35,000 new jobs by 2030

Saudi aviation industry likely to create 35,000 new jobs by 2030

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia unveiled its first “State of Aviation” report, highlighting the sector’s contributions to the Kingdom’s economic growth, as industry leaders gathered for the Future Aviation Forum. 

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the three-day event in Riyadh, Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistic Services Saleh Al-Jasser emphasized the unprecedented importance of aviation. 

Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector contributed $21 billion to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product in 2023 while generating an additional $32.2 billion in tourism receipts, positively impacting other key areas of the economy. 

“This transformation is one that we invite the world to share. We seek private sector partners with expertise to help us achieve our ambition,” said Al-Jasser. 

The minister also reflected on the progress made in the aviation industry over the past two years and how industry leaders collaborated to overcome a major crisis by addressing global challenges and unlocking new opportunities. 

This collaboration led to the introduction of new global policies, the announcement of nearly $3 billion in aviation deals, the signing of the Riyadh Aviation Declaration, and the commencement of a new golden age for aviation. 

The State of Aviation report by GACA revealed that the Kingdom’s aviation sector contributed $53 billion to the economy and supported approximately 958,000 jobs nationwide.

Furthermore, the regulator introduced its General Aviation Roadmap during the forum, aiming to foster the development of Saudi Arabia’s business jet and private industry.

With targeted investments in six specialized general aviation airports and other initiatives, the roadmap projects the sector’s contribution to GDP to reach around $2 billion and the creation of 35,000 new jobs by 2030.

Al-Jasser shared three brief points, emphasizing the importance of aviation in driving global growth and well-being, highlighting the enormous opportunities being created in Saudi Arabia for everyone, and noting how this week reflects Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the global aviation industry. 

“Globally, aviation traffic numbers have passed pre-pandemic levels, with air cargo fueling 80 percent of the world’s commerce needs,” he continued.   

Outlining the achievements and developments in Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation sector since 2022, Al-Jasser noted that the Kingdom recorded 111 million passengers last year and announced a comprehensive economic policy for the civil aviation sector. 

He stated that the Kingdom confirmed the order of hundreds of aircraft through the existing Saudi carrier and launched the Riyadh King Salman International Airport master plan to support more than 100 million passengers by 2030. 

The minister added: “We also opened Riyadh Integrated Special Logistics Zone, securing a leading global investor and AviLease, a global aircraft leasing company, and established Riyadh Air to connect Riyadh.” 

During the keynote address, Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, underscored the importance of this forum and its role in enhancing connectivity. 

“We’ve gone from almost zero flights to almost 37 million flights last year. this is unprecedented and also proves the resilience and strength of the global aviation industry,” Al-Duailej said. 

He also underscored examples of challenges, including what he pressed on the most, manufacturing and supply chain disruption. 

“The aviation industry globally is facing a serious shortage of manufacturing capabilities and challenges in the whole value chain of the process. This is an area where we need to focus on,” said the GACA president.   

He added: “Also, environmental sustainability is a very important element and objective, as we all agreed to protect our mother nature, we all agreed on specific targets on net zero carbon emission. Nonetheless, we agree on what and on why, but we have issues around how.”  

Commenting on the significant growth in Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector, he also mentioned that in 2023 the number of passengers reached a record 112 million, up from 88 million in 2022, marking a 27 percent year-on-year increase. 

The first quarter of the current year has already seen an additional 20 percent increase in passenger numbers.  

In terms of connectivity, the number of direct international destinations from the Kingdom rose to 148, marking a 47 percent increase from 2019 when there were 99 direct destinations.  

“In cargo, we’ve not done as well as we anticipated, but we still have about 6 percent growth in air cargo, reaching about a million, and hopefully on the way to reaching 4.5 million,” Al-Duailej said. 

The GACA chief said: “Aviation is a major economic enabler. I don’t think other national strategies will achieve their expected targets if we do not succeed in aviation.” 

He further discussed Saudi Arabia’s expansion and development plans for airports, revealing that the current capacity of Saudi airports, set at 120 million passengers, is poised to exceed 300 million. 

“We are already working on the current terminals and expanding King Salman’s and King Khaled airports from the current 30+ million, and by the end of 2025, we will reach 54 million and on the way to reaching 100+ million by 2030,” Al-Duailej said. 

He added: “King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah, the largest airport in the Kingdom, handled 43 million passengers last year and is expected to reach about 50 million passengers.” 

Moreover, Al-Duailej stressed privatization as a key strategy to enhance connectivity. 

“We are also working on privatization. Privatization is another important element in achieving this connectivity. The Kingdom has the first successful PPP model in the Middle East region,” he explained.   

In 2012, the GACA president added, the Kingdom signed the first concession agreement with the private sector to build the Medinah airport in the West, and by 2015, the airport started with 8 million passengers fully financed and funded and operated by the private sector. 

He also stated that three weeks ago, an agreement was signed to expand an existing concession with the same company that originally held it. 

This expansion will greatly increase the capacity from 8 million to about 17 million by 2028, more than doubling the current capacity. 

During the third panel session, Al-Jasser further explained the collaborative effort with partners and the private sector in Saudi Arabia.  

“The marine sector is highly privatized, where we signed concession agreements in our two main ports with the private sector to invest more than SR17 billion, to build new infrastructure to cater for growth,” the minister said. 

Al-Jasser noted that the expansion plans for King Salman Airport are progressing well, and the airport is expected to handle 100 million passengers by 2030. 

Additionally, the ministry is managing the transition period leading up to this goal by building more terminals and expanding existing ones to accommodate the increased passenger capacity before 2030. 


Riyadh’s grade A office renting grew by 5% in Q1 2024: report 

Riyadh’s grade A office renting grew by 5% in Q1 2024: report 
Updated 20 May 2024
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Riyadh’s grade A office renting grew by 5% in Q1 2024: report 

Riyadh’s grade A office renting grew by 5% in Q1 2024: report 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s prime office rental space saw a 5 percent growth in transactions in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous period, according to an industry report. 

As per the global real estate services provider Savills analysis, Riyadh achieved an occupancy rate of 98 percent in early 2024, with rents increasing by 20 percent year on year.  

“Despite healthy demand, a significant decrease in the number of office rent transactions was recorded in the first quarter, with Ejar data indicating a 27 percent drop in transactions quarter on quarter due to the limited availability of office spaces,” Amjad Saif, head of transactional services at Savills Saudi Arabia, said. 

“However, Grade A offices witnessed an increase in rents by 5 percent compared to the last quarter, owing to the buoyant demand for quality assets amid their limited supply,” Saif added. 

The report also highlighted that 74 percent of Savills’ inquiries originated from overseas, with an impressive 37 percent coming specifically from US corporations. 

“Riyadh is experiencing a remarkable surge in corporate interest, with over 180 foreign companies surpassing the initial target of 160 choosing to establish their regional headquarters in the city,” Ramzi Darwish, head of Saudi Arabia at Savills Middle East, said.   

“This growing confidence reflects the robust potential of the Saudi capital, fueled by the country’s strategic economic diversification plan. Prominent entities such as Franklin Templeton and Allen & Overy have recently set up their regional bases in the capital Riyadh,” he added. 

The report also indicated that the Business Parks and the King Abdullah Financial District are experiencing significant interest, with 75 percent of transactions involving relocations to these areas. 

To address demand concerns, over 420,000 sq. m of new Grade A office space is expected by year-end, providing tenants with greater flexibility and helping to stabilize rental prices, the analysis stated. 

Significant leasing activity was observed in the first quarter of 2024, with legal services leading the way, followed by engineering, manufacturing, and information technology sectors.  

Additionally, technology, media, telecommunications, banking, and financial services, as well as insurance companies, dominated occupier inquiries, reflecting diverse industry interests. 


Saudi Arabia on the verge of launching trials for outer space tourism

Saudi Arabia on the verge of launching trials for outer space tourism
Updated 20 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia on the verge of launching trials for outer space tourism

Saudi Arabia on the verge of launching trials for outer space tourism

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is on the verge of launching an initiative in space tourism, according to a top official.

The CEO of the Saudi Space Agency, Mohammed Al-Tamimi, discussed the expanding role of spaceports and satellite deployment on the opening day of the 2024 Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh. 

The first day of the event showcased significant developments in tourism, aviation, and space exploration. Key figures from various sectors emphasized the rapid growth and strategic initiatives driving the industry forward.

“Within a window of 60 days from now, there will be an announcement to do some trials here in Saudi Arabia about space tourism,” Al-Tamimi revealed.

He also projected a significant increase in satellite launches, with expectations to send “36,000 satellites over the coming six years,” tripling the current number.

“Right now, we have more than 10,000 active commercial civil aviation airports. When it comes to spaceports, more than 20-22 are active in 12 different countries,” Al-Tamimi said.

Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said “over 330 million people are employed in the tourism sector worldwide, or one out of every 10 workers.” 

He also celebrated the Middle East’s post-pandemic tourism surge, led by Saudi Arabia, which saw a “remarkable 22 percent growth compared to 2019.” 

Al-Khateeb attributed this success to value-driven travel options, shorter trips, and closer destinations. 

He praised the new e-visa system that enables travelers from 66 countries, representing over 80 percent of the global travel market, to visit Saudi Arabia easily.

In November 2023, the Gulf Cooperation Council approved the unified tourist visa, which will launch by 2025. Secretary-General Jassim Mohammed Al-Budaiwi announced it during the 40th meeting of the GCC interior ministers in Muscat, Oman. 

Similar to the Schengen scheme, this visa will allow tourists to travel across all six GCC member states.

The senior vice president of Boeing Co. and president of Boeing Global, Brendan Nelson AO, addressed the importance of transparency and integrity in the aviation industry. 

“It’s important that you are authentic, that you’re transparent, that you are open and honest with your customers, your investors, certainly with the flying public,” Nelson stated. 

In January this year, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 experienced a fuselage rupture shortly after takeoff at an altitude of 4.8 km above Oregon. 

Nelson also discussed Boeing’s strategic decision to slow down production to stabilize supply chains despite the high commercial cost.

“We expect that we’ll have supply chain issues well through to the end of this year, possibly into early next year,” he said. 

Nelson emphasized Boeing’s commitment to sustainable aviation fuel, noting that currently, only “0.2 percent of global aviation fuel demand is being met by SAF.” 

He highlighted the aerospace manufacturer’s partnership with Saudi Arabia in various projects, including a joint venture with Saudi Arabia Military Industries and collaborations on aerospace-grade materials and advanced resins.

Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air, outlined the ambitious goals of the new airline, which is to become a major international carrier. 

“We’re going to connect to way over 100 different destinations by 2030,” Douglas announced, aiming to achieve in five years what took Qatar Airways over 20. 

He highlighted Riyadh Air’s advantage of starting without legacy systems, enabling a modern and technologically advanced approach. 

Douglas also shared updates on the airline’s progress, including the hiring of top-rated pilots and employees. A cabin crew fashion reveal is scheduled for the Paris Fashion Show next month, and a digital proposition unveiling is in October.

The 2024 Future Aviation Forum continues to highlight the dynamic advancements and strategic collaborations shaping the future of aviation and space exploration in Saudi Arabia and beyond.