Saudi capital Riyadh to host World Expo 2030

Update The Saudi capital was picked by a majority of 119 out of 165 votes by the member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions. Supplied
The Saudi capital was picked by a majority of 119 out of 165 votes by the member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions. Supplied
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Updated 30 November 2023
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Saudi capital Riyadh to host World Expo 2030

Saudi capital Riyadh to host World Expo 2030
  • City was confirmed as the successor host to Osaka in 2025
  • Event expected to represent culmination of Vision 2030 and showcase Kingdom’s achievements

PARIS: Riyadh will host the World Expo 2030 after defeating challenges from South Korea and Italy for the prestigious event.
The Saudi capital was picked by a majority of 119 out of 165 votes by the member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions.
The secret ballot was carried out using electronic voting, and Riyadh was confirmed as the successor host to Osaka in 2025.

 

During the BIE event in the French capital, candidates presented their final Expo progress reports to member states and government-appointed delegates in an 11th-hour attempt to win votes.
The event is expected to represent the culmination of Vision 2030 and showcase the Kingdom’s achievements, with a particular focus on hospitality, tourism, and culture.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman used a visit to Paris in June to showcase the Kingdom’s bid for the Expo, attending an exhibition held by the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh that showcased Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and cultural depth.
The bid began to draw support from high-profile French backers, with influential French senator Natalie Goulet saying that holding the expo in the Saudi capital would be “the culmination of Vision 2030.”
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “I would like to thank the 130 countries that have already announced their support for the Kingdom’s bid. Distinguished dignitaries, you have all acted as indispensable partners providing insight, feedback, and support throughout the Kingdom’s campaign.”
He reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s “unwavering commitment to collaborate with all nations to deliver an Expo built by the world for the world and to find new pathways for collective action and collaboration.”
The foreign minister said the Kingdom will “provide facilities packages of $348 million to a pool of 100 eligible countries.”
Arab News backed the Expo bid through a #WhyRiyadh campaign launched on Sept. 23 – the Saudi National Day.

 

Public figures from across various industries backed the campaign, including Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubair, Riyadh Mayor Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf, and Frédéric Bedin, president of public relations agency Hopscotch.
Other high-profile supporters included the secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropy and UN Human Settlements Program’s Goodwill Ambassador, Princess Lamia bint Majed, the vice president of the Saudi Arabia Boxing Federation Rasha Al-Khamism, and Rob Sobhani, adjunct professor at Georgetown University.
Nonetheless, the campaign had started earlier, with the announcement of Paris’s support of Riyadh Expo 2030, reiterated during the crown prince’s visit to the French capital in June 2023, and his participation in the first Summit for Financial pact.
Commenting on the achievement, Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin, the Kingdom’s ambassador to UNESCO, said: “Riyadh Expo 2030 will be a global platform that accelerates progress, toward the most urgent challenges, health and education, climate and the environment, trade and investment, peace and prosperity for all.”
Why Riyadh? The city’s vibrant energy, with several megaprojects in progress, is placing sustainability and quality of life at the heart of every discussion.

The Expo 2030 location addresses these themes and is set to offer sustainable solutions for the cities of tomorrow, including clean mobility and renewable energy.
Creating green neighborhoods, with the key enablers being water and trees while reinstating the red sands desert that Riyadh is famous for, is an important example of how to build the “city of the future” while preserving heritage.
Saudi Arabia is raising the sustainability bar through its Green Riyadh Program, but it also aims to create connections, encourage people to use public transport, and increase the percentage of green space to improve air quality.

 

The program also seeks to increase green coverage from 1.5 percent to 9.1 percent, enhancing quality of life by creating open areas to improve public health, reduce energy consumption, and ultimately make Riyadh one of the 100 best livable cities in the world.
Seventy percent of the Saudi population is under the age of 30, and with a qualified labor force across industries fueling the race to 2030, there is excitement, energy, and enthusiasm in the first Arab capital to host the world event.
“Diriyah will be very famous by 2030, the city of Riyadh will be unrecognizable,” Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Group, told Arab News during an event leading up to the Expo 2030 announcement.
“What Singapore did in 60 years, what the Emiratis did just in tourism in 30 years, the crown prince wants to accomplish that in 15 years,” he added.
In a symposium held in Paris earlier in November, the Royal Commission’s directors of landscape architecture, Lamia Al-Muhanna, and Nouf Al-Moneef, unveiled a color-coded map with planned pavilions, performance venues, support facilities, and an exhibition village.
Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of tourism, used the event to say: “Choosing Saudi, choosing Riyadh, is choosing the world.”

Delivering Expo 2030 will mean massive infrastructure developments in the Saudi capital, including an increase in hotel capacity by 70,000 new rooms.
The venue will be accessible via a newly developed metro linking Expo City to a reconstructed King Salman Airport, set to be one of the largest aviation hubs in the world at 57 million sq. meters.
The Kingdom’s new airline, Riyadh Air, will further increase the capital’s accessibility, with flights to 100 countries by 2025.
“As host, we will create a world-class site expo to enable you to build pavilions and experiences in a way that matches your national priorities and aspirations,” said Ghida Al-Shibl, a member of the Riyadh Expo 2030 team.
She said: “By Feb 2028, participant parcel and expo village will be open. We will fast-track all necessary requirements including imports, visas, and regulations.”
Al-Shibl said the Kingdom will launch a participant lab in 2025 that will run through 2030 as a 24/7 concierge service to support “your move, and a variety of housing options for teams and families, in addition to access to excellent healthcare and education and banking services.”


Egypt begins process for privatization of airports

Egypt begins process for privatization of airports
Updated 04 March 2024
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Egypt begins process for privatization of airports

Egypt begins process for privatization of airports
  • Egypt is due to set an international tender for operating Egyptian airports, which include Cairo International Airport

RIYADH: Egypt began the executive process for offering the management and operation of Egyptian airports to the private sector, a Cabinet statement said on Monday.

Egypt is due to set an international tender for operating Egyptian airports, which include Cairo International Airport, the country’s Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Abbas Helmy has said.

Egypt is set to transition the management and operations of critical logistics and transportation entities to the private sector, starting with the aviation industry. 

In November 2023, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly declared that seaports, dry ports and airports would be offered to private sector management in the near future. 

Madbouly highlighted a strong commitment to fostering partnerships with private entities in the stewardship and operational aspects of mass transit systems.

An integrated strategy has been formulated by the Egyptian Transport Ministry, in collaboration with global corporations, to begin localization of the industry. 

In July 2023, Egypt’s efforts to bolster its private sector and empower small and medium enterprises received $533.7 million in support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as it undertakes massive privatization and restructuring measures for the public sector.  

Under the umbrella of Egypt 2022-2027 strategy, launched by the Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat in March 2022, the EBRD approved development financing worth $400 million for the National Bank of Egypt to support SMEs, focusing on regional companies led or owned by young entrepreneurs.  

The bank also approved funding worth $100 million for Banque Misr to improve financing for SMEs in a way that promotes inclusive and sustainable growth. In addition, it aims to increase funding to SMEs in areas with limited access to financial services.

The EBRD also approved another funding for the Mediterrania Capital IV Fund at a value of €30.2 million ($33.7 million).


NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies

NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies
Updated 04 March 2024
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NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies

NHC signs deals to revolutionize Saudi real estate sector with innovative technologies

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Housing Co. signed two agreements at LEAP 2024, aiming to support real estate activities in the Kingdom by crafting unique business intelligence solutions.

The deal were signed with data science company Quant and Paseetah Tech Solutions to empower technologies in the real estate market to enhance services provided to customers interested in making investments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The chief of solutions sector, Rayan Al-Aql, represented the National Housing Co. in signing the agreement, while Quant CEO Ahmed Bukhamseen and Omar Al-Omar, CEO of Paseetah Tech Solutions, represented their respective companies.

The agreements aim to enable modern technologies in the real estate sector by leveraging information owned by the NHC to contribute to creating unique solutions serving the market.

This includes generating more accurate real estate analytics, supporting innovation in data analysis, and creating real estate indicators that enhance the market’s reliance on data in property decisions. This facilitates informed decision-making for investors and buyers, the SPA reported.

NHC is showcasing its services and technological achievements at the LEAP conference currently underway in Riyadh. 

These achievements have benefited over 10 million people across eight government digital platforms. 

The company has also documented more than 9 million residential and commercial lease contracts, achieved over 6.5 million downloads for the “Sakani” application, operated and developed the “Balady” platform under the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, among other technological accomplishments associated with the digital platforms operated and developed by the NHC.

Earlier in February, the National Housing Co. announced that it would build a total of 3,800 homes after forging six partnership agreements worth SR2 billion ($533 million). 

These deals, which were signed with several real estate developers, aim to build residential units in the Riyadh southwestern community of Al-Asalah, with prices starting from SR475,000, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

SPA added that this initiative is part of a comprehensive program of urban development spearheaded by the NHC aiming to revolutionize the housing landscape by introducing innovative concepts and integrated services, ultimately enhancing the quality of life across all sectors of society.


Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index

Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index

Saudi Arabia named ‘most improved country overall’ in US Chamber of Commerce IP Index

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has received recognition as “the most improved country overall” in the 12th edition of the US Chamber of Commerce International Intellectual Property Index. 

Released on March 2, the report emphasizes the several achievements of the Kingdom, with Vice President of Middle East Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce Steve Lutes telling Arab News that Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in the technology sector over the past year.

“Specifically, I think this year the Kingdom did sign on to some important international treaties and they’ve made some other progress on both the enforcement side and some other of the indicators,” Lutes said on the sidelines of the LEAP 2024 conference.

“The Kingdom moving up in ranking gives more confidence to investors,” he added. 

Lutes went on to say that the body aims to encourage partnerships with the business community, government, and academia in Saudi Arabia to drive the establishment of a diversified, knowledge-based economy aligned with Vision 2030.

The US Chamber of Commerce considers over 50 indices when ranking countries, Lutes added. 

“Some of this looks very marginal. But really, when you think about it from an economic perspective, these are very important drivers because these are the sorts of things that companies look at. Is my IP going to be safe? Is it going to be protected? Are rules going to be enforced? And that’s where you get the investment in value and innovation,” said the vice-president.

The Kingdom allocates a total of $2 million across all funding rounds dedicated to artificial intelligence companies and over $3 billion proportional to gross domestic product with a ranking position of 31 in the Global AI index.

“We’ve been looking at this as governments around the globe start to grapple with the regulatory frameworks for artificial intelligence. The Chamber commissioned a report that was largely targeted toward a domestic audience and had some policy recommendations in that,” said Lutes.

A report by the European Centre for International Political Economy and the US Chamber of Commerce, titled “The Opportunity of Artificial Intelligence: Boosting Productivity and Growth in Saudi Arabia,” will be released in March.

The study will include a breakdown covering the benefits of AI for the Kingdom, endowments and digital industry structures, and AI policies going forward. 

“It has some sector-by-sector analysis where we think it can be the most impactful. In my mind, though, the biggest message is for policymakers,” Lutes said, adding: “One of those is investing, for example, in human capital. You have to have the workforce that’s ready to take on these technologies and bring it to government processes, to business processes and see it diffuse. So, when it comes to the sectors, I think, you know, healthcare and education are two that are highlighted in particular as having the most upside.”

Lutes added this is his first time attending LEAP, which is now in its third edition, and the Chamber has been collaborating with the Ministry of Communications and the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence. 

“We are at the LEAP Conference and IP is so fundamental to that. So, kudos to the Kingdom this year. And I guess our message is let’s not rest on our laurels. Let’s continue to work together to see if we can continue to see the Kingdom climb in that index as well,” he concluded. 

LEAP, held in Riyadh from March 4-7, is an annual premier tech event founded in 2022 by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. It convenes leading professionals from the sector to deliberate on the industry’s future and the innovative opportunities ahead.


Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties

Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties
Updated 04 March 2024
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Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties

Riyadh forum explores Saudi-Brazil business, trade ties
  • South American country ‘an important trading partner’ for the Kingdom, says envoy
  • Joint council launched after Brazilian president’s visit late last year

LONDON: The Saudi-Brazilian Business Forum in Riyadh was attended by more than 150 investors from both countries on Monday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The event, hosted by the Federation of Saudi Chambers and Brazil’s Lide Group, aimed to improve business and trade ties.

Dr. Faisal Ghulam, Saudi ambassador to Brazil, delivered a speech at the forum in which he praised the strong economic relations between the two countries built over 55 years.

He described Brazil as “an important trading partner” for the Kingdom. Annual trade between the two countries stands at $8 billion.

Ghulam lauded the establishment of a Saudi-Brazilian coordination council following President Lula da Silva’s visit to the Kingdom late last year.

Saudi Vision 2030 is providing Brazilian investors with significant opportunities, paving the way for improved trade ties, said Luiz Fernando Furlan, chairman of Lide’s board.

The newly established council will “work to advance the partnership, overcome challenges, and facilitate visas for the business communities from the two countries,” said its Chairman Mishal bin Hithlain.

Lide chief Joao Doria called on the Brazilian business community to explore the “great investment opportunities” available in the Kingdom through Vision 2030.

The forum covered key sectors at the heart of trade between the two countries, including aviation, energy, logistics, mining, agriculture, real estate and healthcare. It was the first event hosted by Lide after the firm opened offices in Riyadh.

The company’s Saudi representative, Malik Al-Qahtani, pledged to serve the business sectors of both countries and improve the ease of operations for Saudi and Brazilian investors.


Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase

Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase

Saudi aviation professions localization plan enters 2nd phase

RIYADH: The number of Saudi flight attendants and fixed-wing pilots is set to increase as the localization plan for the Kingdom’s aviation sector enters its second phase.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services, has announced the implementation of the second phase of localizing licensed aviation professions in private sector establishments employing five or more individuals in targeted aviation professions.

In the second phase, the HRSD has specified the professions targeted, setting a 60 percent target for flight attendants and a 70 percent ratio for fixed-wing pilots, contingent on employees in the aviation professions obtaining the professional accreditation certificate from the General Authority of Civil Aviation.

The Ministry of Transport has reiterated its commitment to overseeing the implementation of the program’s second phase. It aims to enable private sector establishments to leverage all support and employment programs offered by the Human Resources and Social Development System to aid in the recruitment and retention of national talent.

The HRSD has issued procedural guidelines explaining the details of the decision, its implementation, and the support and employment programs provided to private sector establishments.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Saudi Airport Exhibition, held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center in December 2023, Mervat Sultan, president of the Women in Aviation Middle East Chapter, noted a significant boom, with an increase in airports, establishment of new airlines, and a rising number of tourists. 

She added that the aviation industry in Saudi Arabia is “becoming bigger and bigger and would be leading the industry in the next 20 years.”

In 2022, Ahmed Al-Rajhi, minister of HRSD, issued a notification nationalizing a number of professions and economic activities — including licensed aviation professions, opticians, and periodic inspection activity, as well as postal service outlets and more. 

The decision to localize licensed aviation professions was announced to be implemented in two phases. The first one became effective on March 15, 2023.

In line with its Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is undertaking an ambitious initiative to empower its citizens and boost their global competitiveness.