NEOM invests in electric seaglider development

NEOM invests in electric seaglider development
The vehicles float on a hull at the dock, travel on wave-tolerant hydrofoils in harbors, and fly within one wingspan of the surface over open water at speeds up to 289 km per hour. (SPA)
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Updated 25 October 2023
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NEOM invests in electric seaglider development

NEOM invests in electric seaglider development
  • Deal with US-based electric seaglider manufacturer REGENT highlights the gigaproject’s efforts to build a sustainable mobility system

RIYADH: NEOM has signed an investment deal with US-based electric seaglider manufacturer REGENT to improve its transport offerings.

Seagliders combine the speed of an aircraft with the convenience of a boat, offering a sustainable and innovative transport option in the Kingdom.

The deal between NEOM and REGENT highlights the gigaproject’s efforts to build a sustainable, shared and seamlessly integrated mobility system.

Through its strategic arm, the NEOM Investment Fund, NEOM said in a press release that the agreement is part of a longstanding partnership with REGENT. It aims to strengthen NEOM’s capabilities in sustainable water mobility, providing passengers with state-of-the-art water transport services in the region.

REGENT has committed to establishing a Middle East research and development and training hub as part of the agreement. Young Saudi engineers and tech graduates employed by NEOM will handle cutting-edge technology through work placements starting in 2024.

NEOM Investment Fund CEO Majid Mufti said in the statement: “We have worked closely with NEOM’s mobility sector to identify exciting opportunities, such as this, which can further NEOM’s goals in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

“These innovative, electric seagliders will contribute to our progress toward zero-carbon operations.”

The executive director of land mobility at NEOM, Terry Wong, said: “Seagliders are an innovative component of NEOM Mobility’s aim to build the world’s first truly sustainable, shared, safe and seamless multi-modal transport system.”

He added that the seagliders will connect “key destinations along 468 km of coastline, and reflect our belief in zero-carbon technologies, and the growth of new industries and skills within the Kingdom.”

The co-founder and CEO of REGENT, Billy Thalheimer, said: “NEOM’s goal to build a carbon-free community through revolutionary design is strongly aligned with our mission to build sustainable connections using seagliders.”

The vehicles float on a hull at the dock, travel on wave-tolerant hydrofoils in harbors, and fly within one wingspan of the surface over open water at speeds up to 289 km per hour.

REGENT’s flagship seaglider is the 12-passenger Viceroy.


Saudi foreign deputy minister receives representatives of UN Syria envoy

Saudi foreign deputy minister receives representatives of UN Syria envoy
Updated 24 July 2024
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Saudi foreign deputy minister receives representatives of UN Syria envoy

Saudi foreign deputy minister receives representatives of UN Syria envoy

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Saud Al-Sati received in Riyadh on Wednesday representatives from the office of the UN special envoy for Syria.

Al-Sati discussed the latest developments in Syria in a meeting with Chief Political Affairs Officer Robert Dunn and Political Affairs Officer Marwa Fouad, the ministry said on its official account on X.


More than 12 million liters of water pumped into Yemen by KSrelief

More than 12 million liters of water pumped into Yemen by KSrelief
Updated 24 July 2024
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More than 12 million liters of water pumped into Yemen by KSrelief

More than 12 million liters of water pumped into Yemen by KSrelief

RIYADH: A water supply and environmental sanitation project in Yemen by Saudi aid agency KSrelief has continued to improve conditions for those living there.

From June 19-25, some 1,033,550 liters of drinking water and 10,849,000 liters of non-drinking water were provided in Hajjah. The project group worked in the Midi, Haradh, Hayran and Abs districts, as well as As-Ashour camp in the Razih area of Saada.

There were 38 trips to remove waste from displaced people’s camps, while in Saada 70,000 each of drinking and non-drinking water were pumped through, to the benefit of 30,100 people.

KSRelief pumps over 12 million liters of water into Yemen as part of water and sanitation project. (SPA)

KSrelief also launched a volunteer medical project for ear, nose, and throat surgeries and tumor removal in Mukalla, in the province of Hadhramaut.

The initiative, which started on July 20 for one week, involves 22 volunteers from various medical specialties. To date, the medical team has successfully performed 60 specialized surgeries.

Meanwhile, in Sudan, KSrelief concluded its project for urological surgeries in Port Sudan. The week-long scheme involved 11 volunteers with 119 successful specialized surgeries being carried out. 

KSrelief concluded the voluntary medical project for urological surgeries in Port Sudan. (SPA)

 


Saudi provides food aid to Sudan, Yemen

Saudi provides food aid to Sudan, Yemen
Updated 24 July 2024
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Saudi provides food aid to Sudan, Yemen

Saudi provides food aid to Sudan, Yemen

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s aid agency KSrelief has continued to provide food to vulnerable families in Sudan and Yemen, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

In the River Nile state of Sudan, 1,200 boxes of food were given to 6,900 individuals affected by the ongoing conflict in the country.

In the Al-Mansoura district of Yemen’s Aden governorate, KSrelief handed out 413 boxes of food for 2,891 individuals, as a part of its continuing aid project in the war-torn country.


July 21: World’s hottest day since records began

July 21: World’s hottest day since records began
Updated 24 July 2024
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July 21: World’s hottest day since records began

July 21: World’s hottest day since records began
  • Last Sunday was hottest day ever recorded
  • Saudi experts say Kingdom can cope

MAKKAH: Last Sunday was the hottest day measured globally since records began in 1940, climate scientists said on Tuesday.

The global average surface air temperature on July 21 was 17.09C, just above the previous record of 17.08C registered on July 6, 2023. “The Earth has just experienced its warmest day,” said the Copernicus Climate Change Service, the EU’s climate monitor.

Service director Carlo Buontempo said: “We are now in truly uncharted territory and as the climate keeps warming, we are bound to see new records being broken in future months and years.”

Despite the global heat spike, meteorologist Abdulaziz Al-Hussaini told Arab News that temperatures in Saudi Arabia were within their normal annual range. “Observers of Saudi weather patterns are not seeing anything out of the ordinary, even as other nations like Japan report record-breaking temperatures,” he said. “June was actually hotter than what we have experienced in July so far.”

Another weather expert, Walid Al-Haqeel, said that while both June and July had elevated temperatures worldwide, July was notably hotter with more high-temperature days.

Comparing with previous years, he said, “2022 and 2023 had similar heat patterns, but this year there were more hot days, especially in southern Europe, parts of America, the Middle East, Turkey, Bosnia, and Azerbaijan.”  

 


Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership

Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership
Updated 13 min 3 sec ago
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Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership

Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership
  • Ongoing construction boom to improve housing affordability, expert says
  • Harmon described Ejar platform as unresponsive and biased toward landlords, with tenants feeling that their interests are not being adequately protected

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s capital has experienced a significant surge in apartment rental prices in recent years, making it increasingly difficult for many residents to afford suitable accommodation.

This sharp rise in rental costs has led to a growing trend among Riyadh’s population to prioritize home ownership over renting, as they seek to gain more stability and control over their living situations.

According to recent real estate market data, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in central Riyadh has skyrocketed to over SR5,000 ($1,300) per month (numbers differ daily). For larger units, the costs can be even more staggering, with three-bedroom apartments often commanding monthly rents in excess of SR10,000, a CBRE.sa report states.

Exorbitant rent prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options. (AN photos by Hajar AlQusayer)

These exorbitant prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options.

“It’s become almost impossible for my family to continue renting,” said Shahad Al-Ghamdi, a young administrative manager living in Riyadh. “The rent for even a modest apartment eats up a large portion of my monthly salary, leaving little room for other expenses. I’ve been seriously considering taking out a mortgage and buying a home instead, as it would ultimately be more cost-effective in the long run.”

FASTFACTS

• According to recent real estate market data, the average rent for a one- bedroom apartment in central Riyadh has skyrocketed to over SR5,000 ($1,300) per month (numbers differ daily).

• The Saudi government has introduced mortgage financing programs and other incentives to make it easier for citizens to purchase their own properties.

• Economist and financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz cautioned that factors, such as interest rates and inflation, will play a crucial role in determining overall market dynamics.

Al-Ghamdi’s sentiment is echoed by countless other Riyadh residents, who are increasingly viewing home ownership as a more viable and sustainable option compared to the ever-rising rental market.

To address this pressing issue, the Saudi government has introduced mortgage financing programs and other incentives to make it easier for citizens to purchase their own properties. As a result, the demand for home loans has surged, with many banks reporting a significant increase in mortgage applications over the past few years.

However, as highlighted by the experiences of residents like Ramona Harmon, the government’s efforts to regulate the rental market through initiatives like Ejar platform have been perceived as largely ineffective.

Exorbitant rent prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options. (AN photos by Hajar AlQusayer)

Harmon described Ejar platform as unresponsive and biased toward landlords, with tenants feeling that their interests are not being adequately protected.

Ramona said: “I have had experience with them (Ejar), and they do not respond to people who alert them to overly expensive apartments. They should protect both the landlord and tenant, but they don’t. They seem to be on the side of the landlord and owner.”

Harmon’s concerns raises the question of how can the system more effectively serve the people it is designed to help. Harmon’s own rental experience has been a rollercoaster of broken promises and escalating costs, with the landlord apparently increasing her rent by an astonishing 58 percent despite the standard maximum of 5-10 percent.

Exorbitant rent prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options. (AN photos by Hajar AlQusayer)

Harmon said that she was able to contact Ejar but they told her that there are no laws that stop the landlord from increasing a new lease.

Harmon, who is an expat working temporarily in Saudi Arabia, is not considering buying a house and has to deal with rent that keeps getting higher.  

Economist and financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz acknowledged the ongoing construction boom in Saudi Arabia which has a “value of construction outputs reaching $141.5 billion, a 4.3 percent increase compared to the previous year.”

Hafiz believes that this expansion in housing and office buildings may help narrow the gap between supply and demand, potentially leading to more balanced rental prices and improved housing affordability.

However, Hafiz also cautioned that other factors, such as interest rates and inflation, will play a crucial role in determining overall market dynamics. He remains optimistic about the future, but emphasized the need for continued efforts to address the root causes of the rental crisis and ensure that housing remains accessible and affordable for all.  

“But we are still in good condition compared to countries who are members of G20 and I believe solutions are taking place … it is matter of time to increase the supply of houses,” Hafiz added.

To truly address the rental crisis in Riyadh, the Saudi government must take a more comprehensive and responsive approach. This may involve strengthening rent control regulations, empowering regulatory bodies like Ejar to effectively protect tenants’ interests, and exploring innovative solutions to increase the supply of affordable housing units.

By addressing the systemic issues underlying the rental market, the government can help alleviate the financial burden on Riyadh’s residents and foster a more inclusive and prosperous future for the city.