Saudia records 52% jump in international flyers as Kingdom aims to become global transit hub

Saudia records 52% jump in international flyers as Kingdom aims to become global transit hub
The airline operated 37,600 flights during the first six months of the year, marking a 30 percent growth over the same period last year, as the Kingdom’s flag carrier expanded its reach to four continents. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 July 2023
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Saudia records 52% jump in international flyers as Kingdom aims to become global transit hub

Saudia records 52% jump in international flyers as Kingdom aims to become global transit hub

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s push to become a global transit hub has seen Saudia clocking 52 percent growth in international passengers, with 7.4 million guests transported during the first half of 2023.  

The airline operated 37,600 flights during the first six months of the year, marking a 30 percent growth over the same period last year, as the Kingdom’s flag carrier expanded its reach to four continents. 

This accumulated to 180,700 flight hours, recording a 40 percent increase compared to previous periods, the airline said in its latest report for the first half of 2023.  

As part of the Saudi aviation strategy, the Kingdom aims to triple its annual passenger traffic to 330 million by 2030, connecting more than 250 destinations across 29 airports. 

Saudia, in its report, also revealed that it transported 6.3 million passengers on domestic routes, with 47,700 flights, accumulating 80,800 flight hours. 

The national airline transported 13.7 million passengers on domestic and international routes in the first half of 2023, representing a 24 percent increase compared to the same period last year.  

During the same period, Saudia added three new international destinations: Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Gatwick International Airport in London and Nice in France.  

Additionally, the airline welcomed its first Airbus A321neo, marking the beginning of its fleet expansion plan that will add 20 new aircraft of the same model by 2026.  

Saudia’s fleet currently stands at 140 including 33 Boeing 777-300ER, 13 Boeing 787-9, 41 Airbus 320, and 32 Airbus 330, in addition to other planes. 

The report also highlighted that Saudia passed its 10th operational safety audit by the International Air Transport Association as well as reached the 23rd position in the Skytrax ranking, advancing by 11 spots.  

Saudia’s records complement the overall performance of the Kingdom’s aviation sector which witnessed an 11 percent growth in the second quarter of the year, according to a report by Cluster 2, a Riyadh-based firm that manages and operates 22 airports around the Kingdom.  

Cluster 2’s report indicated that flights in the second quarter of the year increased from 30,898 to 34,326 on an annual basis with passengers rising from 3.16 million to 3.7 million, a 17 percent year-on-year growth.    

The report stated that the average daily flights for the second quarter were 377, with an average daily passenger count of 40,759.    

This also marks an increase from the figures of 2022 which recorded 340 daily flights with 34,789 passengers, a 7 and 13 percent growth, respectively.    

Additionally, new routes have been established in the second quarter of the year, with operations beginning on Jazan-Cairo, Al Jowf-Tbilisi, Jazan-Dubai and Al Qassim-Istanbul routes as well as Al Qassim-Trabzon and Al Qassim-Tbilisi sectors. 


Egypt signs 7 green hydrogen deals worth a potential $40bn 

Egypt signs 7 green hydrogen deals worth a potential $40bn 
Updated 7 sec ago
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Egypt signs 7 green hydrogen deals worth a potential $40bn 

Egypt signs 7 green hydrogen deals worth a potential $40bn 

RIYADH: Over $40 billion of green hydrogen and renewable energy investments could be on the way to Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone after a host of new agreements. 

The North African country’s government signed seven memorandums of understanding with international developers which could see the money arrive over a 10-year period. 

Investment of about $12 billion is expected for a pilot program, followed by a further $29 billion for the first phase. 

Ayman Suleiman, CEO of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, was one of those present for the signing of the agreements.  

He said: “The Fund receives constant and increasing interest from investors in green hydrogen projects, and today’s signature reflects the increasing interest of companies to join the Egyptian Green Hydrogen Program, which reflects the state’s going in the right direction by creating a landmark, fully funded program.” 

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly also witnessed the signing of the deals, which included agreements with the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and the New and Renewable Energy Authority. 

Representatives from the private sector included Kofi Osu Bembah, CEO of Bash Global; Jawo Kunha, CEO of operations at Smart Energy; and Ihab Damian, from Gamma Construction & Meridiam.

Other businesspeople present were Mohammed Tawakkul, board member of Al-Tawakkul Gila; Yahya Abu Al-Hassan, business development manager of IMM Power, and Kamel Abdulhamid Al-Sawi, president of Egypt branch of United Energy Group.

Planning Minister Hala El-Said added that Egypt’s sovereign fund is seeking to promote the country as a regional hub for green energy. 

The minister also set out how the fund has already succeeded in launching Africa’s first integrated green ammonia production plant, and the latest deals mark the beginning of new investment partnerships and projects that all contribute to achieving the goals of the National Green Hydrogen Strategy. 

That plan, agreed in November, is part of a drive to see Egypt contribute 5-8 percent to the global hydrogen market. 

The strategy also targets reducing carbon emissions by 40 million tonnes per year by 2040. 

Also in November, the first shipment of renewable ammonia was sent from Fertiglobe’s factory in Egypt, in what was described as a “breakthrough in producing and supplying renewable ammonia to the world” by the company’s CEO Ahmed El-Hoshy.  

In what was a landmark month for Egypt’s green energy plans, November 2023 also saw the Suez Canal Economic Zone sign a $15.6 billion agreement with prominent Chinese companies to boost renewable fuel manufacturing initiatives.   

The agreements are set to produce around 9,000 job opportunities and encompass the establishment of 11 projects. 


BP plans to invest $1.5bn in Egypt gas projects 

BP plans to invest $1.5bn in Egypt gas projects 
Updated 59 min 13 sec ago
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BP plans to invest $1.5bn in Egypt gas projects 

BP plans to invest $1.5bn in Egypt gas projects 

LONDON: BP is preparing to invest about $1.5 billion to develop gas projects and drilling in Egypt over the next three to four years, the company said on Wednesday. 

The plans were earlier reported by Bloomberg News, citing a company spokesperson. 

Earlier this month, BP and state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. announced plans to form a joint venture in Egypt that will initially focus on natural gas. 

The joint venture, expected to be established in the second half of this year, will be 51 percent owned by BP and 49 percent by ADNOC, the companies said. 

BP will contribute its interests in three development concessions and exploration agreements in Egypt while ADNOC will make a proportionate cash contribution that can be used for future growth opportunities. 


Oil Updates – prices slip further on US demand, interest rate fears

Oil Updates – prices slip further on US demand, interest rate fears
Updated 29 February 2024
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Oil Updates – prices slip further on US demand, interest rate fears

Oil Updates – prices slip further on US demand, interest rate fears

SINGAPORE: Oil prices on Thursday extended declines from the previous session after a larger-than-expected build in US crude stockpiles stoked worries about slow demand, while signs that US interest rates could remain elevated added to pressure, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures fell 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $83.54 a barrel by 7:20 a.m. Saudi time. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 4 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $78.50 a barrel.

US crude oil stockpiles rose while gasoline and distillate inventories fell last week as refiners ran at below seasonal lows due to planned and unplanned outages, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose for the fifth consecutive week, increasing by 4.2 million barrels to 447.2 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 23, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.7 million-barrel rise.

“Large stockpiles heightened investors’ worries over a slow economy and reduced oil demand in the US,” said Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst with Rakuten Securities.

“The anticipation of delayed US rate cuts also weighed on the market sentiment as it could undermine oil demand,” he said.

High borrowing costs typically reduce economic growth and oil demand.

Traders have already dialled back expectations for US interest rate cuts after a slew of strong data, including hot consumer price index and producer price index readings. They expect an easing cycle to kick off in June, compared with the start of 2024 when bets were on March.

Market participants are now waiting for the US personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, for more trading cues.

The index, to be released on Thursday, is expected to show prices ticked up 0.3 percent on a monthly basis in January.

The market also eyed the possible extension of voluntary oil output cuts from OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, which has limited price declines for now.

“With the demand outlook remaining uncertain, we think OPEC will extend the current supply agreement to the end of the second quarter,” ANZ analysts Daniel Hynes and Soni Kumari said in a client note.

The price outlook remains unchanged, the analysts added, projecting 2024 annual average prices at $86 a barrel for Brent and $81 a barrel for WTI.

The conflict in the Middle East is also expected to keep a floor under oil prices, Rakuten’s Yoshida said.

Hamas urged Palestinians on Wednesday to march to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque at the start of Ramadan next month, raising the stakes in negotiations for a truce in Gaza, which US President Joe Biden hopes will be in place by then.

But both Israel and Hamas have played down the prospects for a truce and Qatari mediators have said the most contentious issues are still unresolved.


Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects

Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects
Updated 29 February 2024
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Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects

Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects
  • Dan Company specializes in agri, eco, and adventure tourism that offers a mix of daytime hospitality experiences and overnight stays

RIYADH: The Tourism Development Fund has signed a memorandum of understanding with Dan Company, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund, to support investments in the Kingdom’s agritourism sector.

Dan Company specializes in agri, eco, and adventure tourism that offers a mix of daytime hospitality experiences and overnight stays.

The agreement was signed by Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri, CEO of the Tourism Development Fund, and Abdulrahman Abaalkhail, CEO of Dan Company.

“This memorandum reflects our firm commitment to developing and enabling all investments in the tourism sector and creating qualitative investment opportunities for the private sector to support the future of the tourism industry in the Kingdom and enhance its competitiveness, providing unique experiences for our visitors,” Al-Fakhri said in a statement.

“Integrating rural agricultural elements into tourism programs will enrich visitors’ experiences and provide them with a unique opportunity to discover the beauty of nature and its competitive potential and to connect with the local agricultural culture.”

Abaalkhail meanwhile said: “The agreement… aims to contribute to the development of a sustainable local tourism system by providing financing solutions to our partners, farm owners, to enable them to diversify their activities, build prosperous businesses, and enhance the economic and social situation of local communities.”

“It will also provide opportunities for visitors to learn more about traditional and modern agricultural practices, discover amazing outdoor activities, and enhance their connection to the nature of the Kingdom.”


Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund

Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund
Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund

Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund

RIYADH: Investments in the education sector of lower-income countries will receive a boost as Saudi Arabia officially joins the Global Partnership for Education with a $38 million contribution.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh, Laura Frigenti, the fund’s CEO, outlined that the contribution will be utilized for the body’s mission of transforming the education sector in underdeveloped countries and preparing young generations for the modern job market. 

The Global Partnership for Education is the largest fund exclusively dedicated to improving the education sector’s performance in low-income and middle-income countries.

It was created “about 22 years ago,” the CEO outlined, adding that “between our own funds and the funds that we have leveraged,” the body has invested about $11 billion in education globally. 

She said: “We are operating in about 90 countries, all the low-income and most of the middle-income countries, including countries that are in a very fragile condition. And we provide both technical assistance as well as financing, to help the government really bring back on track the performance of the education sector.”

She added: “I can tell you, that GPE is very, very active in countries that are of strategic interest to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I’m thinking about Yemen and thinking about the countries in the Middle East, Jordan, Lebanon, I’m thinking about Egypt, Sudan, etc.”

Fringeti commended the Saudi government’s emphasis on the sector and its understanding of the integral role that education plays in diversifying the economy. 

She highlighted that the Kingdom is paving the way for its “very young” population that will require the right skills in order to adapt to a fast-changing labor market.

Around the world, including in the Middle East and North Africa region, countries are confronting a mismatch between youth skills and labor market needs that risks leaving millions of youths—particularly young women—underprepared for tomorrow’s jobs, a release by the body said. 

Youth unemployment across Arab states is around 25 percent, while unemployment for young women has reached 40 percent.

With this new partnership, GPE and Saudi Arabia have committed to working hand in hand to increase investment in education as a powerful force to spur growth in the region and beyond, giving children the skills they need to grow and flourish, a release by the body noted.

The CEO further outlined enthusiasm toward the Kingdom “finally” joining the partnership due to the fact that Saudi Arabia serves as an example that can be utilized as a model for nations globally, saying: “This is one of the reasons why I am so excited about Saudi finally, officially joining the partnership, because there is a lot of the experiences that have been made here that can actually be relevant for other countries, and I’m very excited about the fact that the Saudi being part of the partnership will actually be able to tell their story to the world.”

She concluded: “Saudi is a little bit of a unique case in a sense that it is a country that doesn’t lack resources. So this massive investment may not be replicated at the same scale in other parts of the world. But I think the focus, the understanding of the connection and the trajectory that the government has put in place here is definitely something that will be very relevant to many.”