Asfar, Ebda launch mountain tourism project in Al-Baha

Asfar, Ebda launch mountain tourism project in Al-Baha
Al-Baha’s distinct natural beauty, including its diverse flora, majestic mountains, and temperate climate, makes it an enticing destination for both domestic and international tourists.
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Updated 30 September 2023
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Asfar, Ebda launch mountain tourism project in Al-Baha

Asfar, Ebda launch mountain tourism project in Al-Baha

Asfar, a Saudi tourism investment company owned by the Public Investment Fund, has announced its partnership with Ebda to launch Gamra, a tourism project encompassing a mountain resort and an adventure park in Al-Baha. Gamra represents Asfar’s first foray into tourism infrastructure development in the emerging cities of Saudi Arabia. The upcoming project will offer visitors an integrated tourism experience.

Spanning nearly 70,000 square meters, the Gamra project will feature 100 units, including 70 upscale villas and 30 resort rooms, all designed to immerse guests in the beautiful mountain landscapes of Al-Baha. The resort will offer guests a comprehensive tourism experience, featuring a spa, two restaurants, two cafes, an expansive outdoor plaza, and an outdoor adventure park alongside an indoor adventure park.

Dr. Fahad bin Mushayt, CEO of Asfar, said: “We have a strategic focus to co-invest with the private sector to unlock tourism opportunities across the Kingdom, empowering private companies to amplify their contributions to the envisioned transformation of promising cities like Al-Baha. We strive to redefine and elevate mountain tourism and agritourism, setting unparalleled industry standards within Saudi Arabia. This comes in line with the broader national agenda to boost the tourism sector and increase its input to the GDP, consistent with Saudi Vision 2030.”

Mushayt added: “We are excited to collaborate with Ebda to leverage our unique expertise and the substantial benefits we offer investors. Together, we aim to enhance the tourism and hospitality sectors, aligning with the Kingdom’s objective of attracting 100 million visitors by 2030. We eagerly anticipate welcoming guests and delivering an unmatched hospitality experience.”

Construction of the project commenced earlier this month, setting the stage for Gamra’s inauguration in the first half of 2025.

Sinan Al-Saady, Ebda board member, said: “We are delighted to forge a strategic partnership with Asfar. Our shared vision underscores the importance of harnessing untapped potential to strengthen Saudi Arabia’s tourism ecosystem and transform Al-Baha into a premier entertainment destination. With its scenic beauty, vast tourism opportunities, and unique historical and archaeological sites, Al-Baha is poised to become a leading regional destination.”

This new alliance will pave the way for developing tourism ventures that meet global standards, encompassing retail, hospitality, dining, and adventure tourism. Al-Baha’s distinct natural beauty, including its diverse flora, majestic mountains, and temperate climate, makes it an enticing destination for both domestic and international tourists.

Following a recent cooperation agreement with the Al-Baha municipality during Cityscape Global in Riyadh, Asfar’s announcement reinforces its commitment to realizing world-class tourism initiatives.


Two Saudi startups join climate action accelerator

Two Saudi startups join climate action accelerator
Updated 19 May 2024
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Two Saudi startups join climate action accelerator

Two Saudi startups join climate action accelerator

Two Saudi startups are among the eight companies from the Middle East and North Africa region selected by PepsiCo, SABIC, AstroLabs and partners for their Mega Green Accelerator. The selected participants have all submitted an innovative solution focused on either advancing the circular economy, transitioning to clean energy, or mitigating climate change through technologies to improve water use and agricultural processes. Timed to coincide with this year’s GPCA Plastics Conference, themed “Innovating for Sustainable Growth,” the selected startups also presented to industry leaders who are accelerating the development of a circular economy in the region.

Eugene Willemsen, CEO, Africa, Middle East, and South Asia, PepsiCo and International Beverages

The Mega Green Accelerator will nurture the next generation of innovators as they develop solutions to address both regional and global sustainability challenges. For the next six months, the eight promising change-makers will receive funding, mentorship with industry experts, and market access to scale their innovative solutions. At the end of the program later this year, one winning company will be awarded $30,000 in funding to continue its expansion.

HIGHLIGHT

For the next six months, the eight promising change-makers will receive funding, mentorship with industry experts, and market access to scale their innovative solutions.

A total of 363 submissions were received from sustainable startups in the region during the applications phase. The eight shortlisted companies that will proceed in the program are:

•Mrüna, UAE: A consulting and distribution company dedicated to developing innovative urban solutions.
•The Surpluss, UAE: A climate technology startup that helps SMEs reduce their greenhouse gas emissions profitably through resource sharing via a digital sustainability exchange.

Startups can act as epicenters of innovation, and reshape, disrupt, and define our future.

Eugene Willemsen, CEO, Africa, Middle East, and South Asia, PepsiCo and International Beverages

•Mirai Solar, Saudi Arabia: A solar technology startup that specializes in expanding solar energy use beyond conventional applications, improving the energy use efficiency of food production and smart buildings for a sustainable future.
•Ahya Technologies, Saudi Arabia: A climate software and AI startup building a unified platform for scaling climate action across the Middle East North Africa and Pakistan.
•YY ReGen, Lebanon: The startup provides innovative solutions through the promotion of renewable energy, sustainable water management, and regenerative farming.
•Viridia Tech, Egypt: The startup offers a platform for crop analytics at scale for industrial agricultural companies, leading to significant improvements in yield, unit economics and sustainability metrics.
•P-VITA, Egypt: A biotechnology hub that specializes in producing natural raw materials for cosmetics, and food and beverage industries using AI and IoT technologies to reduce carbon footprint through automated processes.
•Kumulus, Tunisia: A water tech startup that turns air into fresh drinking water through innovative AWG machines — aiming to make drinking water more accessible, sustainable, and economical for hotels and businesses across MENA and Southern European regions.
“With solutions spanning agriculture, water, and the energy sectors, this is an opportunity for us to accelerate the development of practical climate technologies crucial to address the MENA region’s challenges and strengthen our position as a testbed for climate innovation globally. Startups can act as epicenters of innovation, and reshape, disrupt, and define our future. The Mega Green Accelerator provides the incentive to bolster this through cross-sector collaboration and nurture the region’s next generation of entrepreneurs by providing the needed mentorship, funding, and market access,” said Eugene Willemsen, CEO, Africa, Middle East, and South Asia, PepsiCo and CEO of International Beverages.
“Over 300 fast-growing sustainability companies from all over the MENA region have applied to the program, showcasing a healthy influx of sustainable solutions and rapid growth in the sector. The selection of these eight companies underscores their readiness for scale, marking a pivotal time in the sector’s development. The Mega Green Accelerator is setting the stage for a robust sustainability infrastructure, bridging the gap between these companies, and the resources necessary for them to thrive, scale, and translate their innovative solutions into regional impact,” said Roland Daher, CEO of AstroLabs.
Strategic investment partners like Dubai Future District Fund, Venture Souq and Shurooq Partners will provide platforms for investment opportunities, mentorship in raising capital, and networking opportunities throughout the term of the Mega Green Accelerator. Schneider Electric will support the Mega Green Accelerator as a prize partner alongside participating in the final selection of the winner.

 


SEREDO 2024 showcases housing projects

Deputy Minister of Municipal Rural Affairs and Housing Talal bin Mohammed Al-Khunain inaugurated the exhibition in Jeddah.
Deputy Minister of Municipal Rural Affairs and Housing Talal bin Mohammed Al-Khunain inaugurated the exhibition in Jeddah.
Updated 19 May 2024
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SEREDO 2024 showcases housing projects

Deputy Minister of Municipal Rural Affairs and Housing Talal bin Mohammed Al-Khunain inaugurated the exhibition in Jeddah.

Deputy Minister of Municipal Rural Affairs and Housing Talal bin Mohammed Al-Khunaini on May 14 inaugurated the second edition of the Saudi Real Estate Development and Ownership exhibition in Jeddah.
Held at the Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Center, the four-day event explored promising opportunities in the real estate development sector, while offering a platform for exchanging expertise, transferring best practices and experiences among professionals in the field, and strengthening local and international partnerships. The exhibition brought together leading real estate developers, providing an opportunity for companies to showcase their real estate products to specialists and interested individuals in the sector, and to foster new partnerships.
The exhibition covered a variety of topics related to the sector through its diverse sessions, notably including discussions on real estate sector developments and analysis of modern market trends, the utilization of geospatial data and its impact on shaping new horizons in real estate, methods and strategies to professionalize real estate auctions, entrepreneurship and innovation in the real estate market, real estate funds, and negotiation techniques for real estate brokers.

 These sessions featured the participation of officials, speakers, and specialists in the sector.
SEREDO 2024 witnessed the participation of several major real estate development companies, banks, and financial institutions. The event showcased the latest housing projects and financing offers for citizens, contributing to the development and sustainability of the real estate sector and enhancing housing diversity and financing solutions to support the goals of the housing program — one of the key initiatives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, aiming to achieve a 70 percent homeownership target.

 


DCAA spotlights air transport enablement at Airport Show 2024

Photo (@DcaaDubai)
Photo (@DcaaDubai)
Updated 19 May 2024
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DCAA spotlights air transport enablement at Airport Show 2024

Photo (@DcaaDubai)

The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority highlighted its pivotal role in advancing the aviation industry in the emirate during the 23rd Airport Show. Under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman of DCAA, chairman of Dubai Airports, and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, the event saw participation from over 150 exhibitors from more than 20 countries worldwide.
One of the key achievements showcased was the significant growth in commercial activities in the aviation sector during the first quarter of 2024, totaling 11,990 activities, a 21 percent increase compared to the same period in 2023. This growth has led to a surge in permit requests by 72 percent and permit renewals have grown by more than threefold.
Meanwhile, requests for landing permits for aircraft (private, passenger, and cargo) at Dubai International Airport and Al-Maktoum International Airport to operate all types of non-scheduled and designated flights (commercial and non-commercial) have also increased, reaching more than 4,000 permits in the first quarter of 2024. Building and elevation permits in air easement zones have increased significantly as the emirate’s construction industry has grown, reaching two and a half times the previous level.
Mohammed Abdulla Lengawi, director general of DCAA, said: “The aviation industry of Dubai continues its sustainable growth thanks to the directives of our wise leadership represented by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE, ruler of Dubai.”
He added: “Our participation in the Airport Show underscores our significant achievements in industry development, illustrating our mission and role within this framework.”
The authority’s pavilion at the Airport Show attracted considerable attention from visitors and partners keen to understand its role in advancing Dubai’s aviation industry and its shift to fully digital, paperless services. This digital transformation simplifies customer access, enabling them to complete transactions anytime and anywhere via the authority’s website.
DCAA is dedicated to close collaboration with federal authorities, international, and regional bodies to enhance air transport relations and attract investment in Dubai’s aviation industry. It aims to maintain security and safety, and enhance infrastructure to solidify Dubai’s position as a global aviation hub.

 


SAB named ‘best bank’ in Saudi Arabia by Global Finance

Tony Cripps, managing director and CEO at SAB
Tony Cripps, managing director and CEO at SAB
Updated 19 May 2024
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SAB named ‘best bank’ in Saudi Arabia by Global Finance

Tony Cripps, managing director and CEO at SAB

Saudi Awwal Bank has been awarded the “Best Bank Award 2024 in Saudi Arabia” by Global Finance for the fifth time in a row. The award is a recognition of SAB’s innovative banking services and its efforts in serving its customers and enhancing their banking experiences.

The recognition came following a referendum in which a select panel of financial experts participated, considering a range of criteria that included asset growth, profitability, quality of customer service, strategic relationships, product innovation, and other relevant factors.

Tony Cripps, managing director and CEO at SAB, said: “Being honored with this prestigious award serves as a testament to our bank’s strategic vision and excellence across various departments and reinforces our commitment to supporting the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in the Financial Sector Development Program. It highlights our position as a leading financial institution in contributing to economic development.”

He added: “Through our deep understanding of market needs, we develop products and services to exceed our customers’ expectations, enabling us to provide distinctive and innovative banking solutions, contributing to achieving their desires and helping them reach their ambitious goals.”

This year, SAB continues to strengthen its leading position in the banking sector through several achievements, including the “Accreditation in Innovation” award from the Global Innovation Institute, which makes it the first bank in the Kingdom to receive such recognition. SAB was also honored with the “Best Bank for Private Banking in the Kingdom” award by Euromoney magazine. These awards serve as a testament to the bank’s exceptional services, highlighting its strength and diversity in catering to the needs of its customers with efficiency and innovative solutions. 


Saudi fintech barq and TerraPay forge strategic partnership

Saudi fintech barq and TerraPay forge strategic partnership
Updated 19 May 2024
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Saudi fintech barq and TerraPay forge strategic partnership

Saudi fintech barq and TerraPay forge strategic partnership

Saudi fintech application barq and TerraPay, a global money movement company, have signed a strategic partnership agreement. The collaboration, formalized during Seamless 2024 in Dubai, will provide fast and secure international money transfer services.

Ahmed Alenazi, CEO of barq, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with TerraPay to enhance our international money transfer services. This alliance reflects our commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction.”

Ani Sane, co-founder and chief business officer — TerraPay, said: “This partnership is not just another agreement; it is a testament to our commitment to supporting promising projects in Saudi Arabia like barq. Through this collaboration, we aim to deliver fast, efficient, and secure international money transfer services that adhere to global standards.”

Supported by TerraPay’s extensive global payments network, this agreement aligns with barq’s efforts to expand its service offerings, catering to customer needs and keeping pace with the growth of the fintech sector, both within and beyond the Kingdom. 

barq received a license from the Saudi Central Bank in January this year. Developed in Riyadh by Saudi talents, barq aims to revolutionize the Kingdom’s fintech sector with its unique services, secure payment methods, and the expertise of its team.