ENOWA to develop world’s first high-voltage smart grid

 To achieve 100 percent renewable electricity in NEOM, ENOWA CEO Peter Terium emphasized the crucial role of an efficient grid.
To achieve 100 percent renewable electricity in NEOM, ENOWA CEO Peter Terium emphasized the crucial role of an efficient grid.
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Updated 02 February 2024
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ENOWA to develop world’s first high-voltage smart grid

ENOWA to develop world’s first high-voltage smart grid

DUBAI: NEOM’s water and electricity subsidiary ENOWA has developed a blueprint for the world’s first renewable, high-voltage smart grid, Peter Terium, the company’s CEO, told Arab News.

In an interview on the sidelines of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, Terium said that the “grid of microgrids” will allow ENOWA to supply the NEOM region with sizable, 100 percent renewable electricity that simultaneously provides a 50 percent reduction of the corridor footprint.

According to the CEO, the principle of smart grids is simple, as they are traditionally used on a small scale in buildings. However, the sheer size of the development and the scope of coverage needed for the nine to 10 million individuals who will be residing in NEOM adds to the difficulty of the undertaking.

“That’s a huge achievement given it’s the size that makes it complex. You know, one windmill, a refrigerator, and a television are all 100 percent renewable. But a NEOM within the Kingdom that eventually is going to have nine to 10 million inhabitants. That’s very sizable,” Terium said.

In order to ensure minimum disturbance to the natural terrain and minimize visual disruption, the CEO noted that this would require limiting the number of corridors and implementing part of the grid to operate underground.

To achieve 100 percent renewable electricity in NEOM, Terium emphasized the crucial role of an efficient grid, highlighting that individuals often underestimate that all solar and wind farms require connectivity to “bring the electrons to the customer.”

Another key element, the CEO underscored, is storage. In order to ensure the stabilization, backup, and security of its renewable supply, the giga-project is implementing a portfolio of storage solutions.

The development is investing “billions and billions of Saudi riyals” to ensure that its first customers have access to green electricity, sustainable water, and reliable quality electricity through its grid and storage.

“One example is already for sure and we are expanding into the market with that, which is the world’s largest closed-loop pump, hydro storage, and it combines the traditional form of water-based hydro storage, so a small upper lake and a lower lake,” Terium said.

“That has two effects. First of all, it reduces the evaporation of the water. So that’s an economic effect. But the second effect is that it is a great attractor for birds. Birds and wildlife. So we have a major positive solution for storage that is pretty sizable, the largest in the world,” he added.

Considering the challenges ahead, the CEO highlighted that the development isn’t exclusively centered on creating new technologies. Instead, their key focus is to ensure that the electricity supplied to the NEOM region is renewable, dependable, and affordable.

While not entirely cheap, mature large-scale solar and wind technologies remain affordable, underscored Terium, and will thus be primarily implemented into the framework of connectivity used by the futuristic city.

“The NEOM region has a combination of very intensive solar irradiation and very abundant wind profiling — the solar during the day and the wind mainly in the evening. That makes it a perfect combination to take these two cheapest renewable technologies and get as much as possible out of them,” he outlined.

While the existing infrastructure for electricity amounted to half a gigawatt to 1 GW, the company has “ramped that up” to 3 GW with the aim of 5-6 GW in the near future.

According to Terium, the first tenders of solar and wind power plants have already been established, and the large green hydrogen plant being built will amount to 5-6 GW of installed capacity for power generation by the year 2026.

Due to the size of the NEOM development, the executive underscored that ENOWA is currently at about 5 percent completion of its infrastructure, with the goal of accelerating to 10 percent in the coming 12 to 18 months.

He said: “NEOM is going to be a large undertaking. And what we do is build the infrastructure in line with the growth of NEOM. So that’s why the percentage of 5 or 10 percent sounds low, but it is connected to the size, eventually, of NEOM. And then again, five or 10 eventually of a massive undertaking is already a huge project.”

The company is working with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy and collaborating with entities like the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in its energy-centric ventures. Alongside KAUST, ENOWA will be installing the first carbon capture capacity into a gas-fired plant in the Kingdom. The executive said: “That is one example, but there are many other ones and all the institutions that are there in the Kingdom we work with, but also outside of the Kingdom.”

Through collaboration, it hopes to bring some of its ideas on how to scale renewable energy to the region through its renewable energy approaches and Saudi Arabia’s green hydrogen strategy, a part of which is the NEOM green hydrogen plant.

Terium said: “The Kingdom has now embarked upon a hydrogen strategy and a renewable energy strategy, but it may take advantage of some of the lessons learned that we had in the early stage. And we can bring in some of our ideas of how you can do that bigger and at a larger scale.”

What is important, according to the CEO, is that hydrogen needs to reach its customers, and there are more cost-effective solutions than shipping it in the form of ammonia.

Thus the decision to build a pipeline corridor infrastructure to Europe is something “that only a country like Saudi Arabia can do because that’s a job and a size which is even way too big for even NEOM.”


Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects

Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects
Updated 29 February 2024
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Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects

Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects
  • Dan Company specializes in agri, eco, and adventure tourism that offers a mix of daytime hospitality experiences and overnight stays

RIYADH: The Tourism Development Fund has signed a memorandum of understanding with Dan Company, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund, to support investments in the Kingdom’s agritourism sector.

Dan Company specializes in agri, eco, and adventure tourism that offers a mix of daytime hospitality experiences and overnight stays.

The agreement was signed by Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri, CEO of the Tourism Development Fund, and Abdulrahman Abaalkhail, CEO of Dan Company.

“This memorandum reflects our firm commitment to developing and enabling all investments in the tourism sector and creating qualitative investment opportunities for the private sector to support the future of the tourism industry in the Kingdom and enhance its competitiveness, providing unique experiences for our visitors,” Al-Fakhri said in a statement.

“Integrating rural agricultural elements into tourism programs will enrich visitors’ experiences and provide them with a unique opportunity to discover the beauty of nature and its competitive potential and to connect with the local agricultural culture.”

Abaalkhail meanwhile said: “The agreement… aims to contribute to the development of a sustainable local tourism system by providing financing solutions to our partners, farm owners, to enable them to diversify their activities, build prosperous businesses, and enhance the economic and social situation of local communities.”

“It will also provide opportunities for visitors to learn more about traditional and modern agricultural practices, discover amazing outdoor activities, and enhance their connection to the nature of the Kingdom.”


Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund

Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund
Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund

Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund

RIYADH: Investments in the education sector of lower-income countries will receive a boost as Saudi Arabia officially joins the Global Partnership for Education with a $38 million contribution.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh, Laura Frigenti, the fund’s CEO, outlined that the contribution will be utilized for the body’s mission of transforming the education sector in underdeveloped countries and preparing young generations for the modern job market. 

The Global Partnership for Education is the largest fund exclusively dedicated to improving the education sector’s performance in low-income and middle-income countries.

It was created “about 22 years ago,” the CEO outlined, adding that “between our own funds and the funds that we have leveraged,” the body has invested about $11 billion in education globally. 

She said: “We are operating in about 90 countries, all the low-income and most of the middle-income countries, including countries that are in a very fragile condition. And we provide both technical assistance as well as financing, to help the government really bring back on track the performance of the education sector.”

She added: “I can tell you, that GPE is very, very active in countries that are of strategic interest to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I’m thinking about Yemen and thinking about the countries in the Middle East, Jordan, Lebanon, I’m thinking about Egypt, Sudan, etc.”

Fringeti commended the Saudi government’s emphasis on the sector and its understanding of the integral role that education plays in diversifying the economy. 

She highlighted that the Kingdom is paving the way for its “very young” population that will require the right skills in order to adapt to a fast-changing labor market.

Around the world, including in the Middle East and North Africa region, countries are confronting a mismatch between youth skills and labor market needs that risks leaving millions of youths—particularly young women—underprepared for tomorrow’s jobs, a release by the body said. 

Youth unemployment across Arab states is around 25 percent, while unemployment for young women has reached 40 percent.

With this new partnership, GPE and Saudi Arabia have committed to working hand in hand to increase investment in education as a powerful force to spur growth in the region and beyond, giving children the skills they need to grow and flourish, a release by the body noted.

The CEO further outlined enthusiasm toward the Kingdom “finally” joining the partnership due to the fact that Saudi Arabia serves as an example that can be utilized as a model for nations globally, saying: “This is one of the reasons why I am so excited about Saudi finally, officially joining the partnership, because there is a lot of the experiences that have been made here that can actually be relevant for other countries, and I’m very excited about the fact that the Saudi being part of the partnership will actually be able to tell their story to the world.”

She concluded: “Saudi is a little bit of a unique case in a sense that it is a country that doesn’t lack resources. So this massive investment may not be replicated at the same scale in other parts of the world. But I think the focus, the understanding of the connection and the trajectory that the government has put in place here is definitely something that will be very relevant to many.” 


Saudi defense minister appointed new SAMI chairman after board reshuffle

Saudi defense minister appointed new SAMI chairman after board reshuffle
Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi defense minister appointed new SAMI chairman after board reshuffle

Saudi defense minister appointed new SAMI chairman after board reshuffle

RIYADH: Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman is the new chairman of Saudi Arabian Military Industries after a reshuffle of its board of directors, according to a statement.

The minister has replaced Ahmed Al-Khateeb in the key position in the defense and security company, which is entirely owned by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund.

SAMI focuses on advancing and reinforcing Saudi Arabia's defense sector, and plays a crucial role in driving the localization of 50 percent of the Kingdom’s expenditures in this economic sphere – a pivotal objective of Saudi Vision 2030. ‎

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef is also on the board, as is Chairman of the General Authority for Civil Aviation Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailej, and Assistant Minister of Defense Talal bin Abdullah Al-Otaibi.

Membership also includes Khaled bin Hussain Al-Biyari, Yasser bin Abdullah Al-Salman, and Omar bin Hamad Al-Madi, as well as Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Suqair.

Representing SAMI, CEO Walid bin Abdulmajeed Abu Khalid extended gratitude to the prior board of directors for their tenure, which played a pivotal role in positioning the company among the elite ranks of the top 100 specialized defense firms worldwide.

Established in 2017, the company operates across aviation, aerospace, land systems, maritime, and defense systems, in addition to advanced electronics. 

The company is ranked 79th among the top 100 specialized defense firms globally, and is aiming to reach the top 25 by 2030.

Early this month, SAMI signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean automobile manufacturer Kia Corp. at the World Defense Show 2024 in Riyadh with the aim to boost cooperation in the local production of military vehicles, thereby strengthening Saudi Arabia’s defense and security sector.


Riyadh in race with top global cities to hire new talent, says mayor

Riyadh in race with top global cities to hire new talent, says mayor
Updated 28 February 2024
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Riyadh in race with top global cities to hire new talent, says mayor

Riyadh in race with top global cities to hire new talent, says mayor

RIYADH: The Saudi capital finds itself in global competition with cities like New York and Tokyo for a skilled workforce, according to its mayor.

With a population exceeding 7 million, the city is experiencing an ongoing transformation as it becomes a hub for attracting talent and boosting entrepreneurship.

In an interview with Arab News at the Human Capability Initiative taking place from Feb. 28 -29, Riyadh Mayor Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf said: “Competition for talent is no longer regional or local. It’s global. We’re competing with New York, with Tokyo, with Paris, with Chicago. So it’s a global competition.”

He added: “Riyadh is going through massive changes. It’s historic in its scale, in its scope, and its impact. We realize in Riyadh that the trigger behind all of this is having the right workforce, having the right talent, having the right engine behind what we are doing.”

The mayor delved into the city’s strategic framework, saying: “We have designated a lot of efforts in the city to attract and to retain and to develop the right workforce, which is aligned with the theme of what happens today.”

Speaking of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, he said it is not an endpoint but a milestone in the longer trajectory.

Prince Faisal revealed that designated programs look at attracting, retaining, and developing the workforce with specific projects and key performance indicators.

“For us, this is the key enabler that will unleash everything else that’s happening in the city,” he commented.

Reflecting on the global landscape, Prince Faisal highlighted the importance of job opportunities as a catalyst for attracting a skilled workforce.

“If you look at attracting the right workforce and attracting talent, there are multiple layers to that. The main trigger is job opportunities. Usually, talent moves for job opportunities and for this the current changes and the transformation, the current vision is taking care of it. We have an abundance of the right jobs for the right caliber,” he remarked.

Furthermore, the mayor outlined the fundamental factors that individuals consider when deciding on a location for relocation or settling down, saying: “You think about safety, housing, education, and health. And in all four aspects, there are concrete efforts to build on the good foundation that we have in the city today and to take it to the next level.”

He added: “The second layer is the quality of life where people would like to go for the necessities, but they will stay because of the quality of life.”

Discussing doubling the capital’s inhabitants number, Prince Faisal said: “It’s not a goal in itself. It’s an assumption that’s based on our sort of plans and details,” adding: “I think reaching 15 million (inhabitants) is not a goal in itself, but it’s an assumption based on historical trends.”

He explained that in the past 40 to 50 years, the number of inhabitants in Riyadh has been doubling almost every 10 years, which occurred without anticipation.

“What we’ve done this time is saying, OK, we’ve doubled for the past decades, let’s assume we’re going to double again in the next decade and work for that to provide infrastructure, provide and boost the economy, work on projects to accommodate for that,” he said.

In a panel titled “Shaping places, shaping our future to attract talent and foster innovation” at the forum, the mayor shared perspectives on the city’s trajectory and strategies for nurturing talent and innovation.

Prince Faisal also provided insights into the recruitment process, emphasizing the significance of competency as a baseline requirement, saying: “Every candidate and person and CV that you look at passes the filter of competency, or else you wouldn’t even see the CV.”

He added: “Once you see and you meet that person, they’re competent, there is no question about that, so you look for added layers.”

The top official explained further: “What I personally look for are two things. One, I look very clearly at culture. I think culture is very important in organizations. I think it is what makes or breaks successful organizations.”

He added: “Number two, that I really look for are soft skills. We agreed that every person that you meet is competent, but what distinguishes an executive from a leader are soft skills.”

The mayor underscored the importance of passion and purpose in one’s career trajectory, highlighting that it is “very important to love what you do,” because it’s “very critical to operate in a space where you enjoy.”

Discussing global tendencies affecting the workforce, Prince Faisal highlighted that “there are multiple trends that are impacting the workforce in general, one of them is AI, but others, such as transportation, such as globalization, those and many more. Those are all trends that are changing the narratives and trends of workforces. What’s happening is that talent has a much wider pool to choose from.”

Prince Faisal highlighted Riyadh’s unique blend of tradition and modernity, offering a compelling proposition for prospective talents.

He said: “We are a global city, but with roots, with cultural heritage, with traditions. And I think that combination and that juxtaposition together is what creates a competitive advantage for Riyadh.”

The Human Capability Initiative seeks to enhance and elevate capabilities universally while delving into opportunities across diverse domains such as skill development and the future of work, as well as education, talent, and technology.

The event will also bring together policymakers, thought leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs to catalyze international collaboration and maximize resilience while exploring opportunities and promoting innovative policy design and solutions.

The forum is hosting 7,000 participants from more than 70 countries, according to the mayor.


Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 9.87 points with trading volume at $2.23bn

Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 9.87 points with trading volume at $2.23bn
Updated 28 February 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 9.87 points with trading volume at $2.23bn

Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 9.87 points with trading volume at $2.23bn

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index continued its upward trend for the second consecutive day, gaining 9.87 points to close at 12,611.42.  

The benchmark index posted a trading value of SR8.38 billion ($2.23 billion), with 163 stocks advancing and 54 declining. 

Nomu, Saudi Arabia’s parallel market, gained 37.75 points, closing at 26,292.03, while the MSCI Tadawul Index shed 4.96 points, closing at 1,622.75. 

The top-performing stock of the day was Middle East Pharmaceutical Industries Co., or Avalon Pharma, which made its main market debut on Tuesday. The company’s share price surged by 29.83 percent to SR138.40. 

Other notable performers included Saudi Fisheries Co. and Halwani Bros. Co., whose share prices surged by 9.86 percent and 8.26 percent, respectively.  

Conversely, Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. experienced a decline, with its share price falling by 3.18 percent to SR28.90. 

On the announcements front, Saudi Aramco Base Oil Co., also known as Luberef, reported a net profit decline of 23.68 percent to SR1.50 billion in 2023 compared to the previous year.  

In a Tadawul statement, the company attributed this decrease to lower prices for base oils and secondary products.  

Astra Industrial Group also released its financial performance report for 2023, revealing a marginal 0.21 percent increase in net profit compared to 2022. The growth was attributed to higher sales and gross profit in the pharmaceutical and steel industries segments. 

Retal Urban Development Co. reported an 18 percent year-on-year decline in net profit to SR202.4 million in 2023.  

Meanwhile, Alinma Bank initiated the offer of dollar-denominated Additional Tier 1 capital certificates, each with a nominal value of $200,000, to be listed on the London Stock Exchange’s International Securities Market.