Red Sea International Airport on course to become operational before year-end 

Red Sea International Airport on course to become operational before year-end 
An impression of the airport (File)
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Updated 02 August 2023
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Red Sea International Airport on course to become operational before year-end 

Red Sea International Airport on course to become operational before year-end 

JEDDAH: The solar-powered Red Sea International Airport is set to become operational in a few months, according to a press release by Red Sea Global, the multi-project developer behind the regenerative tourism destination.  

RSG, wholly owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has released an update on the progress of the first phase of the Red Sea destination, marking six years since the company was first announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  

The latest construction update reveals the progress achieved across the destination, including 13 hotels and the supporting infrastructure.  

John Pagano, RSG group CEO, said that his company stands at the brink of an extraordinary moment as it prepares to introduce the Red Sea destination to the world. 

“In six years, we have made exceptional progress, creating exquisite resorts and best-in-class, sustainable infrastructure in a remote location, demonstrating innovation in line with our regenerative approach and commitment to responsible development,” he said. 

Pagano went on to say that while the anticipation builds for the opening of their first hotels and the initial phase of the company’s solar-powered airport, they are busy working on the rest of phase one. 

He added: “We are ready to deliver countless more extraordinary moments on our journey to positioning Saudi Arabia proudly on the world stage as a must-visit destination.” 

Emphasizing his company’s commitment to preserving the surrounding environment, Pagano said in a tweet: “We hold the utmost respect for the environment in which we operate and recognize it as our most valuable asset. It’s our shared obligation to not only safeguard it but also proactively enhance it wherever possible.” 

Highlighting the progress on its mountain resort Desert Rock, which is being built into the rockface, the press release pointed out that more than 50 percent of the work has been completed. RSG has fully excavated and formed the 10 rooms integrated into the mountainside as well as all 195 meters of tunneling. 





Highlighting the progress on its mountain resort Desert Rock, which is being built into the rockface, the press release pointed out that more than 50 percent of the work has been completed.

RSG said major structural and infrastructure works are well advanced, including the construction of the wadi villas, guest hubs and other structures. 

The developer added that work is underway on all 11 resorts and infrastructure across Shura Island. 

“Over 100 construction contracts are in place, with a similar number out in the market for tender. RSG continues to maximize the use of off-site manufacturing with precast structures progressing rapidly, bathroom pod deliveries underway, and the prefabricated timber structure on the Golf Clubhouse nearing completion,” the press release noted.

It went on to say that the developer is moving onto beach formation and beautification works which includes the creation of new mangrove habitats in the coming months. 

As for Sheybarah Island, RSG said that it has installed all 38 stainless steel overwater villas adding that the first beach villas have arrived at the island, one of which has successfully been installed. 

Last week, RSG announced it has completed installing over 760,000 photovoltaic panels needed to power phase one of the tourist destination. 

The company further stated that there are now more than 25,000 personnel working at the destination. 

It concluded that upon completion in 2030, the destination will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses and entertainment as well as food and beverage and leisure facilities. 


Closing Bell – TASI grows 40 points; ADES Holding begins retail subscription 

Closing Bell – TASI grows 40 points; ADES Holding begins retail subscription 
Updated 9 sec ago
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Closing Bell – TASI grows 40 points; ADES Holding begins retail subscription 

Closing Bell – TASI grows 40 points; ADES Holding begins retail subscription 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index concluded its trading on Tuesday at 10,918.24 points, rising 0.37 percent. 

Parallel market Nomu closed at 22,406.83, gaining 169.84 points, or 0.76 percent.   

MSCI Tadawul 30 Index edged up 2.83 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,402.31.   

The primary index’s total turnover touched SR6.2 billion ($1.6 billion), as 93 stocks rose and 126 retreated. Conversely, Nomu recorded a trading turnover of SR86 million. 

Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co. was the topmost performer in TASI, soaring 7.86 percent to SR23.60.  

Additionally, Saudi Automotive Services Co. soared 7.77 percent to SR62.40. 

Another notable performer, Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co., jumped 6.27 percent to SR51.70.  

Abdulmohsen Alhokair Group for Tourism and Development and Aldrees Petroleum and Transport Services Co. climbed 5.56 percent and 5.27 percent to SR2.28 and SR139.80, respectively. 

On the flip side, Al-Baha Investment and Development Co. experienced the most significant drop, plunging 6.25 percent to SR0.15.  

Shares of Thimar Development Holding Co. and Saudi Real Estate Co. dipped 5.14 percent and 3.13 percent to SR26.75 and SR13.62, respectively. 

Sumou Real Estate Co. and First Milling Co. both slumped about 2.7 percent to finish at SR1.30 and SR2, respectively. 

On the announcement front, ADES Holding opened its doors for public subscription of 33.87 million shares, priced at SR13.50 each.   

This valuation pegged at a nominal value of SR1 per share was ascertained through a structured order book-building process. 

The subscription window, initiated by the company, will span three days, concluding on Sept. 28.   

This move follows the green light from the Financial Market Authority on June 21, granting the drilling services company permission to register and make available 338.72 million shares from its total capital pool. 


Saudi Arabia’s transformation turns it into a must-visit tourism destination

Saudi Arabia’s transformation turns it into a must-visit tourism destination
Updated 25 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s transformation turns it into a must-visit tourism destination

Saudi Arabia’s transformation turns it into a must-visit tourism destination

ABU DHABI: Tourists are expected to add Saudi Arabia to their “bucket list” due to the government’s transformation of the sector, according to industry veteran William Heinecke, founder and chairman of Minor Hotels. 

Speaking during a panel discussion on the second day of the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi, Heinecke noted that Saudi Arabia is on the verge of significant change, predicting that the Kingdom will achieve in 10 years what it took Dubai 30 years to accomplish. 

The Kingdom is currently undergoing a remarkable tourism boom, with the sector expanding by 121 percent in 2022, positioning it as the fastest-growing destination in the G20 and surpassing the global average prior to COVID-19, as detailed in an annual report tracking the progress of Vision 2030.   

Data from the real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank revealed that, under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s hotel industry is poised for further expansion, targeting a total of 310,000 hotel rooms by 2030, with an estimated investment of $110 billion. 

Heinecke expressed his admiration for Saudi Arabia’s visionary leader, who is young enough to see through ambitious initiatives. 

“You need someone not only who has the money, but you need someone who has the vision and the passion to stay with it,” he said.  

“When you look at what’s happening in Saudi Arabia, it’s incredible. It’s going to make so many new bucket lists for everybody in the world. And even what’s happened in the Middle East, Dubai, Doha, it's incredible,” Heinecke added.  

In another panel discussion, various factors and trends that are shaping the travel and tourism industry were deliberated. 

Gilda Perez-Alvarado, incoming group chief strategy officer at Accor, a leading hospitality company, highlighted subjects such as innovation, the impact of technology, and broader long-term trends that are affecting the entire ecosystem of travel and hospitality, including hotels.   

“The amount of change we’re witnessing now, which, by the way, was accelerated during the pandemic, is extremely exciting. So, if you ask me what one of the catalysts for change was, it was that,” Perez-Alvarado said during her panel. 

However, she added: “Our industry is still highly fragmented, so there’s plenty of room for growth." 

Perez-Alvarado emphasized that significant changes and developments are taking place in Saudi Arabia that were previously unimaginable. 

“One where you’re seeing things done that no one would have imagined could be done. In 2015, who would have thought that we would have witnessed the changes we’re seeing in Saudi Arabia?” she said. 

Perez-Alvarado concluded by emphasizing that the Middle East is the fastest-growing region, with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 now becoming a reality, demonstrating that ambitious goals can be accomplished, showcasing the region’s ability to turn imaginative ideas into tangible achievements. 


UAE’s Yas, Saadiyat islands ‘great and safe’ investment destinations 

UAE’s Yas, Saadiyat islands ‘great and safe’ investment destinations 
Updated 20 min 41 sec ago
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UAE’s Yas, Saadiyat islands ‘great and safe’ investment destinations 

UAE’s Yas, Saadiyat islands ‘great and safe’ investment destinations 

ABU DHABI: The UAE’s Yas and Saadiyat islands have emerged as safe havens for investment thanks to the endeavors of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism in grooming them as luxury destinations, said the CEO of a real estate development firm.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Miral Group CEO Mohamed Abdalla Al-Zaabi said both destinations continue to attract investments and tourists in line with the UAE’s vision of economic diversification.

“Abu Dhabi has been listed five times in a row as the safest city in the world. Investment here is very lucrative. Saadiyat and Yas islands are growing very fast,” Al-Zaabi said.

The top executive said: “In 2021, we added three hotels with 1,000 rooms, and now see 90 percent occupancy in summer.”

He said more rooms will be added to help boost the fast-growing tourism sector and ultimately aid the country’s economic diversification plans.   

Al-Zaabi said tourism will play a key role in economic diversification. He said the country wants to increase the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product from 15 percent to 17 percent, which “is not easy to achieve.”

“Hotels will always be a key factor here in that pillar, and we at Miral are proud of what we have done so far. Only in 2021, we opened three hotels on Yas Island. We opened Hilton, DoubleTree and, of course, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Discovery, we opened the WB hotel in Abu Dhabi, which is the first Warner Bros. hotel in the world,” Al-Zaabi said.

He said the Warner Bros. achieved 90 percent occupancy last summer. I think summer now is no longer a low season here in Yas Island.   

“Since 2007, we have been developing Yas Island, introducing new facilities and attractions, and today we see that all coming together under one umbrella, one vision, integrated, and interconnected to provide a very unique and unforgettable experience for our customers,” he said.

Commenting on whether Yas Island can accommodate more, he said they have long been adding attractions, facilities, hotels, and rooms, and they now, with the other partners, are adding more properties, and homes on the islands.

Al-Zaabi also pointed out that they recently announced their environmental, social, and governance strategy focusing on eight areas.

“We have already implemented two great initiatives that I am personally very proud of. We signed an agreement with Emerge, a Masdar subsidiary, to install solar panels, that provide more than 7 megawatts of power to our theme park. And now recently we also did the same at SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, where we installed solar panels to supply almost 5 MW,” he said.

The CEO said they are busy with their Phenomena Abdu Dhabi project, in collaboration with the Japanese TeamLab.   

“We are also building the Natural History Museum. Both projects are the result of our collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism. We are also expanding Warner Bros theme park by adding a Harry Potter area, which would be a good expansion to enrich our customer experience on the island,” he said.


Saudi hospitality sector emerging as new global benchmark

Saudi hospitality sector emerging as new global benchmark
Updated 51 min 52 sec ago
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Saudi hospitality sector emerging as new global benchmark

Saudi hospitality sector emerging as new global benchmark

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia’s tourism and hospitality sector is in high gear to achieve industry targets set under Vision 2030, industry leaders said during a panel on Tuesday.

“No sector matches tourism in creating jobs, especially in rural areas and communities that are currently suffering from unemployment. One in every five jobs globally today is supported by tourism, so that’s tourism is such an important sector,” Badr Alherbish, chief strategy officer of Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Development Fund, said in one of the sessions of the three-day Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi.

One example of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious development push is the Rua Al Madinah project — a mega mixed-used real estate development to the east of the Prophet’s Mosque — which, according to Ahmed Al-Juhani, CEO of Rua Al Madinah Holding, required laser focus to work around logistical issues to deliver this massive project.

“(Since) the launch, the master plan and infrastructure work… there has been a lot of work done on the ground. We actually took over the land and we made all the detours around the urban development. We completed the design of 5,000 rooms, we signed a hotel management agreement with three companies for these rooms.”

The value of contracts and execution is now more than SR5.3 billion ($1.4 billion), Al-Juhani added, and the company will next month go to the market for the tender of the 5,000 rooms.

“We also have another 7,000 rooms under design right now and in the concept stage and also another 8,000 rooms when start design in November,” he said.

“We are talking about 20,000 rooms before the year ends at different stages: under design, under construction, or in the middle of the design.”

Meanwhile, the Boutique Group headed by Mark DeCocinis is renovating three historic palaces: Al-Hamra Palace which will offer 77 keys including 33 luxury palace suites and 44 luxury villas in Jeddah; Tuwaiq Palace which will provide 96 keys including 40 luxury palace suites and 56 luxury villas; and the Red Palace will offer 71 keys including 46 luxury suites, and 25 luxury guest rooms. Both Tuwaiq and Red Palace are located in Riyadh.

“We’re renovating and restoring these balances, which takes time and it takes a lot of love and attention to detail. Our guest profile, we target the very top of regional and international travelers… we want to provide that exceptional service and personalized service,” DeCocini told the panel.

“I believe Saudi hospitality will be the new benchmark in the world globally.”


Saudi Arabia holds Radisson’s best regional portfolio: top executive 

Saudi Arabia holds Radisson’s best regional portfolio: top executive 
Updated 26 September 2023
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Saudi Arabia holds Radisson’s best regional portfolio: top executive 

Saudi Arabia holds Radisson’s best regional portfolio: top executive 

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia has become an investment magnet with its travel and tourism sector growing at an exponential rate attracting key industry players from all around the world.

Due to the attractive investment environment in the Kingdom, Radisson Hotels is placing the best of its regional portfolio in the Kingdom, a top executive told Arab News during an interview on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi.

“Reflecting on our journey in Saudi Arabia, we began in 2010 with five properties nationwide. Now, we not only have 10 establishments in Riyadh but 45 throughout Saudi Arabia. This growth is a testament to our dedication and passion in the region,” said Elie Milky, Radisson Hotel’s vice president of development.

Radisson aims to operate 100 hotels in the Kingdom by 2030, which will account for over half of the company’s regional presence, he told Arab News. 

“We now have the best of our regional portfolio in Saudi Arabia,” Milky said. 

Milky highlighted the strategic importance of the newly opened Radisson Blu hotel in Riyadh, owned by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce. 

The collaboration with the chamber made Radisson Blu’s launch pivotal. This property boasts over 200 rooms and is directly linked with the Riyadh International Conference and Exhibition Center, Milky noted. 

“Today, we are set to announce the signing of more than 10 hotels across the Middle East. This encompasses the unveiling of over 1,000 rooms in the past year and plans to introduce 2,000 more in the coming 12 months, primarily in Saudi Arabia,” Milky revealed. 

Highlighting Saudi Arabia’s potential, Milky credited the country’s robust governmental reforms and its stature as the region’s dominant economy for propelling the hospitality sector forward. 

Aiming to fortify its presence, the company plans to enhance its workforce in the Kingdom, targeting 20,000 employees by 2030, a significant leap from the current 7,000. 

On expanding to Saudi Arabia’s secondary cities, Milky emphasized the company’s goal to recruit local talent, capitalizing on the vast skill set these communities offer. 

On the issue of sustainability, Milky remarked on the industry’s evolution, pointing out that while development costs remain high, operational costs will become more economical.