Saudi crown prince launches ‘Soudah Peaks’ masterplan

Saudi crown prince launches ‘Soudah Peaks’ masterplan
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Updated 26 September 2023

Saudi crown prince launches ‘Soudah Peaks’ masterplan

Saudi crown prince launches ‘Soudah Peaks’ masterplan
  • Luxury mountain tourism destination set 3,015 meters to be created above sea level on Saudi Arabia's highest peak
  • Aims to offer high-end luxurious hospitality services to over 2 million visitors throughout the year by 2033

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman  has launched the masterplan to develop a new project in the mountainous region of Soudah to present a new face of luxury mountain tourism.

The project called “Soudah Peaks” will see a luxury mountain tourism destination set 3,015 meters being created above sea level on Saudi Arabia's highest peak. It will extend from the region of Souda and parts of Rijal Almaa.

Situated within an extraordinary natural and cultural environment in the Asir region, southwest Saudi Arabia, the project is a key part of the Public Investment Fund’s efforts to diversify the economy by expanding vital industries such as tourism, hospitality, and entertainment, and supporting Asir development strategy.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Chairman of Soudah Development’s Board of Directors, stated that Soudah Peaks represents a new era of luxury mountain tourism by providing an unprecedented living experience while preserving the natural environment, cultural, and heritage richness. 

It is strategically aligned with Vision 2030 goals of expanding tourism and entertainment, supporting economic growth, attracting investments, contributing more than SAR29 billion to the Kingdom’s cumulative GDP, and creating thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities.

The Crown Prince said: “Soudah Peaks will be a significant addition to the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia and place the Kingdom on the global tourism map, whilst highlighting and celebrating the country’s rich culture and heritage. Visitors will have the opportunity to discover the beauty of Soudah Peaks, explore its rich culture and heritage, and experience the authentic hospitality of the local community. Soudah Peaks will offer unforgettable experiences amidst lush greenery, above the clouds.”

Soudah Peaks aims to offer high-end luxurious hospitality services to over 2 million visitors throughout the year by 2033. The masterplan is being designed to reflect the local traditional, and architectural styles, and will promote both the cultural and landscape heritage of the region.

The destination will be home to six unique development zones: Tahlal, Sahab, Sabrah, Jareen, Rijal, and Red Rock. Each will offer a range of world-class facilities including hotels, luxury mountain resorts, residential chalets, villas, premium mansion sites, entertainment and commercial attractions, as well as outdoor attractions dedicated to sports, adventure, wellness and culture.

Soudah Development will deliver 2,700 hospitality keys, 1,336 residential units, and 80,000 sq. meters of commercial space for Soudah Peaks by 2033.

UAE's banking entities commit over $270bn in sustainable finance  

UAE's banking entities commit over $270bn in sustainable finance  
Updated 21 sec ago

UAE's banking entities commit over $270bn in sustainable finance  

UAE's banking entities commit over $270bn in sustainable finance  

RIYADH: The UAE’s green economy is poised to receive significant support as the country’s banking federation and its affiliated national financial institutions have pledged to mobilize over 1 trillion dirhams ($270 billion) for sustainable finance by 2030. 

Major contributors to the commitment include First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Emirates NBD, along with Mashreq Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank, according to a recent update from the UAE Banks Federation. 

Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair, chairman of the UBF, emphasized that this commitment reflects the federation’s role in bringing together its member banks and inspiring their collective actions. 

During an event at COP28 hosted by the UAE's central bank for Global Climate Action through Fostering Sustainable Finance, Mashreq Bank was recognized as a key supporter of UBF’s commitment. 

Mashreq Bank’s commitment to facilitating 110 billion dirhams in sustainable finance by 2030 is reinforced by its strong track record in implementing sustainable finance and ongoing initiatives.  

The bank has played a key role in financing projects related to adaptation, particularly in water initiatives, spanning across Egypt, the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, as reported by the Emirates News Agency, WAM. 

Qatar’s industrial sector achieves 1.13% growth in October 

Qatar’s industrial sector achieves 1.13% growth in October 
Updated 35 min 29 sec ago

Qatar’s industrial sector achieves 1.13% growth in October 

Qatar’s industrial sector achieves 1.13% growth in October 

RIYADH: Qatar’s producer price index for its industrial sector registered an increase of 1.13 percent in October 2023 compared to the previous month. 

However, according to data released by the country’s Planning and Statistics Authority, Qatar’s PPI saw a dip of 18.27 percent compared to the same month last year. 

The data suggested that the mining sector, with a dominant weightage of 82.46 percent in the index, played a pivotal role in the monthly growth. 

Specifically, the PPI for mining and quarrying surged by 1.19 percent compared to September 2023, driven by a 1.19 percent increase in the production of crude petroleum and natural gas.  

However, on a yearly basis, the PPI for mining witnessed a significant 20.09 percent decrease, primarily due to a 20.11 percent decline in the prices of crude petroleum and natural gas. 

In the manufacturing sector, October recorded a 0.67 percent increase compared to September.  

Notable price hikes were observed in basic metals with 5.83 percent, chemicals and chemical products with 1.38 percent, and rubber and plastics products with 0.67 percent.  

However, the overall manufacturing PPI exhibited a substantial 8.87 percent decrease compared to October 2022, with major contributors to this decline being chemicals and chemical products with 13.51 percent and basic metals with 9.83 percent. 

The data for electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply displayed a commendable 7.63 percent increase compared to September 2023. On a year-on-year basis, the sector experienced a 4.97 percent growth. 

Contrastingly, water supply witnessed a 5.92 percent decrease compared to September 2023. However, on a year-on-year basis, the sector exhibited a positive 10.50 percent increase. 

These figures underscore Qatar’s dynamic industrial sector, with the mining and electricity segments driving growth, albeit tempered by challenges in manufacturing and water supply. 

PSA oversees Qatar’s vision, collaborates on development strategies and ensures their implementation. It also prepares population policies, and supports government planning aligning development priorities with the state budget. 

Additionally, PSA establishes a comprehensive statistical system, conducts censuses and surveys, and disseminates statistical data. 

Saudi PMI reveals strong non-oil sector performance, despite price pressures 

Saudi PMI reveals strong non-oil sector performance, despite price pressures 
Updated 05 December 2023

Saudi PMI reveals strong non-oil sector performance, despite price pressures 

Saudi PMI reveals strong non-oil sector performance, despite price pressures 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s economy showed robust expansion in the non-oil private sector in November, driven by strong demand and the sharpest increase in new business inflows, despite cost pressures, an economic tracker showed. 

However, the Kingdom’s Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to 57.5 in November from October’s 58.4.

This dip is attributed to slower staff and inventory growth rates, coupled with a notable reduction in delivery times, according to the Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia PMI report, compiled by S&P Global. 

Despite this decline, Saudi PMI remained well above the neutral threshold of 50.0, signifying a significant improvement in business conditions within the Kingdom’s non-oil private sector economy, the report added. 

The new orders index, one of the two largest contributors to Saudi Arabia’s PMI, recorded the highest reading in five months, indicating improvements in market conditions, customer numbers, and investment spending. 

Naif Al-Ghaith, chief economist at Riyad Bank, commented in the report: “Despite the expansion in new orders and output, the new export figures have remained relatively low to be in line with the non-oil exports figures posted by GASTAT (General Authority for Statistics).”  

He added: “This weak performance in exports can be primarily attributed to the petrochemical sectors as this sector represents more than 29 percent of non-oil exports.”   

Moreover, the latest survey data showed a notable surge in cost inflation in the non-oil economy, led by the fastest rise in overall input costs since June 2022, especially in construction. Although wage inflation moderated, it remained above average due to efforts to retain staff amid rising living costs. 

Despite a slightly slower growth rate than the previous month’s record, the non-oil sector still experienced significant employment growth. 

“Another factor affecting the PMI is the response of prices to input costs. Over the past few months, input prices have been increasing, and this trend has started to impact the price of final goods and services,” Al-Ghaith said.  

He added that, due to competitive pressures, the impact on overall prices had been somewhat subdued. “This month, output prices recorded an increase, yet one that was slower than the increase in input prices.” 

In conclusion, the report highlighted a substantial improvement in business expectations for the next 12 months in November, reaching the highest level since June. The heightened optimism is attributed to the widespread belief that strong new business inflows will spur increased activity, the report added. 

Turkish inflation rises to its highest level this year

Turkish inflation rises to its highest level this year
Updated 04 December 2023

Turkish inflation rises to its highest level this year

Turkish inflation rises to its highest level this year
  • Aggressive rate-hiking cycle may be beginning to cool demand

ISTANBUL: Turkiye’s annual inflation rate edged up to 61.98 percent in November, data showed on Monday, its highest level this year but just shy of expectations, signaling that an aggressive rate-hiking cycle may be beginning to cool demand.

Month-on-month, consumer price inflation was 3.28 percent, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute, less than a forecast of 3.9 percent in a Reuters poll.

Annual inflation was expected to have risen to 63 percent in November before ending the year at 67 percent, the poll showed. Price rises are seen peaking in May between 70-75 percent before dipping due to the monetary tightening cycle that is winding down.

The data “adds to evidence that inflation pressures in the economy continue to cool,” said Liam Peach, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics.

The “monetary tightening cycle is likely to come to an end with one final interest rate hike later this month,” he wrote.

In October, annual inflation dipped for the first time in three months to 61.36 percent.

Inflation soared after a currency crisis at the end of 2021 and touched a 24-year peak of 85.51 percent in October last year. This year, the lira has so far lost some 35 percent of its value, compounding the cost-of-living crisis for Turks.

The monthly CPI was driven by an 11 percent jump in housing-related costs in November, while clothing and transportation costs were nearly flat, the data showed.

Concern autos will become less affordable due to rising prices and the ongoing lira depreciation has driven sales to an annual record, up 60.8 percent in the January-November period, trade association data showed on Monday.

The domestic producer price index was up 2.81 percent month-on-month in November for an annual rise of 42.25 percent.

The latest run-up in inflation began in July on the back of tax hikes and a sharp decline in the lira following May elections.

Since June, the central bank has reversed a yearslong policy of low rates that had long been favored by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It has hiked rates by 3,150 basis points to stem inflation and also adjusted a raft of credit rules.

As part of Erdogan’s pre-election pledges, household monthly natural gas consumption up to 25 cubic meters was provided free until May next year.

The lira weakened 44 percent against the dollar in 2021 and another 30 percent in 2022. Inflation fell to as low as 38.2 percent earlier this year, partly due to base effects and a relatively stable lira.

The central bank raised its benchmark rate to 40 percent last month and said tightening will be completed in a short period of time.

The bank said domestic demand appears to be moderating however its existing high level, along with stickiness in services prices, and geopolitical risks keep inflation pressures alive.

Women complain of unfulfilled promises to tackle gender disparity

Women complain of unfulfilled promises to tackle gender disparity
Updated 04 December 2023

Women complain of unfulfilled promises to tackle gender disparity

Women complain of unfulfilled promises to tackle gender disparity

DUBAI: As Gender Day was observed on Dec. 4 at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, female participants advocated for increased awareness regarding climate change’s acute impact on women, especially in the developing world.

Despite the extensive ongoing discussions surrounding the topic, numerous female participants expressed dissatisfaction, asserting that akin to various other facets of climate change, the gender gap has largely remained mere discourse. They highlighted that changes are unlikely to occur, even as the repercussions of climate change, particularly affecting women, continue to heighten.

Vinita Apte, founder of TERRE Policy Centre, a Pune-based NGO working with women living in rural areas, outlined the challenges climate change presents for women, particularly in India.

Apte spoke with Arab News on the sidelines of the forum, saying: “In terms of climate change, women are facing a lot of problems, especially with water scarcity, which is a major issue in their life because they have to walk for long (distances) just to get even a pot of clean water. Besides water, they have a lot of problems typical of climate change in terms of heavy rains or hot summers.”

She added that in the absence of training or outside aid, women, many of whom are illiterate, remain unaware of how to adapt to the current climate crisis.

“They don’t know what needs to be done, like changing farming patterns or how to conserve rainwater and also how to prepare for heat waves,” Apte said.

Naliba Mamman, from Nigeria, added that women, especially in rural areas, face several problems due to a lack of resources.

“For cooking, they need to arrange for fuel, which is mainly by cutting down trees in their villages. They need energy to run homes. They are also impacted in terms of farming, getting their produce to the local markets or getting their kids to school,” Mamman said.

The pain of women in developing countries is also being felt in other parts of the world where there is less gender disparity in terms of climate change.

“While in the UK, we may not feel any difference gender-wise, but it is recognized just around the world. And there are a lot of places, especially developing countries, where there is a massive difference between how climate change affects men and women. And so I think there are issues with the different kind of traditional roles that some women have in the community, like collection of kind of resources, water, food, that kind of thing, which can be more difficult in droughts and floods, that kind of situation. Also, the child care and family caring responsibilities fall mainly on the women, which again is, you know, in times of drought, climate crisis, food shortages, water shortages, illness, climate catastrophes, you know, that that’s an added pressure on kind of women as well,” said Rachel Mulholland, a British woman currently working in Saudi Arabia.

In certain nations, government entities, more so than multilateral bodies, have taken note of the issues surrounding women and have initiated action.

Habon Aden Awaleh of Djibouti highlighted that its government has already created a plan to help women adapt to the issues raised by climate change.

However, Awaleh revealed that for women from urban and rural backgrounds, there are implements in place to help lessen the impact of climate change. For the nomadic population, however, which is widespread throughout Djibouti, like many other African nations, the challenge is much greater as these populations are in transit, and therefore, delivering assistance becomes more difficult.

Celina Ewbuomwan of Nigeria highlighted that, like in various facets of the climate change debate, including the gender gap, the era of mere discussions has ended. She asserts it is now imperative to transition from talk to tangible action.

“This year, the whole thing is beyond ambition. We’re talking about action. So we hope that at the end of this, every country will take something back home and be able to implement that next year when everybody’s coming back again. There’s something we have probably a milestone that we say this is what we have done and this is where we are today,” said Ewbuomwan.

“Yes, the issue is there are so many beautiful plans, the issue is implementation, which is the challenge. We must have a timeline to achieve our goals. This year, the theme is ‘Unite. Act. Deliver.’ So, I would like to see some delivery on this issue,” said Mamman.