Saudi crown prince reveals urban plan and branding for Qiddiya City megaproject

Update Saudi crown prince reveals urban plan and branding for Qiddiya City megaproject
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Updated 10 December 2023
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Saudi crown prince reveals urban plan and branding for Qiddiya City megaproject

Saudi crown prince reveals urban plan and branding for Qiddiya City megaproject
  • He says the city aims to be the foremost global destination for entertainment, sports and culture, and to boost the Kingdom’s economic growth, international standing and strategic position
  • Qiddiya’s branding adopts ‘play’ as its main concept, based on research showing this to be vital for cognitive development, emotional expression, social skills, creativity and health

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday revealed the urban plan and global branding for Qiddiya City, a massive entertainment project under construction on the outskirts of Riyadh.

The crown prince, who chairs the board of directors of the Qiddiya Investment Company, said the city aims to quickly establish itself as the foremost global destination for entertainment, sports and culture, which will benefit the Kingdom by helping to boost its economic growth, international standing and strategic position, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It is also designed to improve quality of life, the prince added, and to position Riyadh as one of the top 10 economies in the world.

The investment in Qiddiya is a cornerstone of Saudi Vision 2030, he said, which aims to develop and diversify the Kingdom’s economy, reducing the country’s reliance on oil revenues and creating thousands of job opportunities for Saudi youth.

Qiddiya, which is one of the major projects overseen by the Public Investment Fund, is envisioned as an essential source of support for the Kingdom’s ambitious tourism and economic goals, in addition to improving the quality of life for residents and visitors. It is expected to help attract local, regional and international investors, which will in turn provide support to Riyadh.

Work on the Qiddiya project, in the form of about SR10 billion ($2.7 billion) invested in construction projects, began in 2019.

It was revealed that the branding for Qiddiya will adopt as its main motif the concept of “play,” based on decades of research showing this to be vital for cognitive development, emotional expression, social skills, creativity and physical health.

Studies have also shown the positive effects of recreational activities on society, including their ability to help overcome differences and bridge divisions between individuals, and enhance empathy and social cohesion.

Qiddiya City, described as a one-of-a-kind destination that promises to provide endless fun and excitement for residents and visitors through unrivaled entertainment, sports events and activities, culture and exceptional urban living, will eventually include 600,000 residents and 60,000 buildings in an area covering 360 square kilometers.

It is expected to create more than 325,000 jobs, generate a nominal gross domestic product of SR135 billion a year, and attract 48 million visits annually.

Located about 40 minutes from the center of Riyadh, overlooking the stunning scenery of the Tuwaiq mountains, Qiddiya City’s attractions will include a gaming and esports district, a motorsports racetrack, golf courses, a massive water park, and the Six Flags Qiddiya theme park. It will also be home to a sports stadium that includes the world’s largest Olympic museum. Its first facilities are expected to open within two years.


Oil Updates – crude extends losses after dollar rises on shifting interest rate outlook

Oil Updates – crude extends losses after dollar rises on shifting interest rate outlook
Updated 12 sec ago
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Oil Updates – crude extends losses after dollar rises on shifting interest rate outlook

Oil Updates – crude extends losses after dollar rises on shifting interest rate outlook

SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell on Monday, extending losses from the previous session after the dollar rose on market views that higher-than-expected inflation could delay cuts to high US interest rates that have been capping global fuel demand growth, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures fell 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $81.48 a barrel by 9:56 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures declined 22 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $76.27 a barrel as the US dollar strengthened. A stronger dollar makes oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

The dip built on losses last week, when Brent declined about 2 percent and WTI fell more than 3 percent as markets pushed out the start of US interest rate cuts by two months due to an uptick in inflation.

“The risk-on sentiment seems to be in a retreat after the Nvidia-led market rally last week as higher-for-longer rate expectations lifted the US dollar, pressuring commodity prices,” Auckland-based independent analyst Tina Teng said.

Oil prices have been trading between $70 and $90 a barrel since November, as rising supply in the US and concerns of weak demand in China offset supply cuts by OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, despite two wars raging.

“Crude oil prices declined for want of fresh drivers,” ANZ analysts wrote in a note. “Oil has been caught between bullish factors such as lower OPEC output and elevated geopolitical risks and bearish concerns about weak demand in China.”

As the Israel-Hamas conflict continues in the Middle East, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that negotiators for the US, Egypt, Qatar and Israel had agreed on the basic contours of a hostage deal during talks in Paris but are still in negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was not clear yet whether a deal would materialize.

The geopolitical risk premium from Yemeni Houthis’ attacks on ships in the Red Sea remained modest at only a $2 a barrel boost to Brent, Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note.

However, the bank has raised its summer peak price to $87 a barrel, up from $85, as Red Sea disruptions have driven larger-than-expected draws in stocks held by countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Goldman Sachs still expects oil demand to grow by 1.5 million barrels per day in 2024 but has cut China’s forecast while raising that for the US and India.

Separately, investors are keeing an eye on the impact on Russian oil supply after the US sanctioned Moscow’s leading tanker group Sovcomflot on Friday.

Adding to global energy supplies, Qatar will further raise liquefied natural gas production despite a recent steep drop in global prices.

In the US, the ANZ analysts anticipated oil stockpiles could start to fall in the coming weeks as refineries return from maintenance, which could offer some support to prices.

US energy firms this week added the most oil rigs since November, and the most in a month since October 2022, energy services firm Baker Hughes said. 


Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605
Updated 25 February 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605

Closing Bell: Saudi main index slips to close at 12,605

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Sunday, shedding 29.74 points, or 0.24 percent, to close at 12,604.59.

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR6.63 billion ($1.77 billion) as 148 of the stocks advanced while 74 retreated.  

On the other hand, the Kingdom’s parallel market, Nomu, rose 194.49 points, or 0.76 percent, to close at 25,702.15. This comes as 44 of the stocks advanced while as many as 22 retreated.

Meanwhile, the MSCI Tadawul Index slipped 7.60 points, or 0.47 percent, to close at 1,620.57.

The best-performing stock of the day was Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. The company’s share price surged 9.96 percent to SR29.25. 

Other top performers include Arabian Pipes Co. as well as Saudi Steel Pipe Co.

The worst performer was Al-Baha Investment and Development Co., whose share price dropped by 6.67 percent to SR0.14.

On the announcements front, Hail Cement Co. announced its annual financial results for the period ending Dec. 31. 

According to a Tadawul statement, the firm’s net profit reached SR24.61 million in 2023, reflecting a 49.95 percent rise compared to 2022.  

The increase in net profit was mainly attributed to a decrease in general and administrative costs as well as a drop in zakat expenses. 

It was also primarily linked to achieving profits from financial investments at fair value as well as high returns on Murabaha deposits during the aforementioned period.

Additionally, Saudi Steel Pipe Co. has also revealed its annual consolidated financial results for 2023. 

A bourse filing disclosed that the company’s net profit hit SR217 million in the year ending on Dec. 31, up 301.85 percent in comparison to the corresponding period a year earlier. 

The rise in net profit is mainly driven by a surge in gross profit, recognition of a bargain purchase gain, a rise in other income, and a drop in Zakat and tax expense.

Saudi Lime Industries Co. announced the signing of a conditional binding agreement with Astra Industrial Group and Tharawat Mining Co. to acquire a 100 percent stake in the share capital of Astra Mining Ltd. Co.

According to a Tadawul statement, the transaction value is up to a maximum of SR35 million for acquiring the company shares and settlement of company debt to local banks amounting to SR129.6 million. Accordingly, the maximum amount is SR164.6 million.

Moreover, the Capital Market Authority approved the public offering of King Khalid University Endowment Fund units.

Meanwhile, Al-Modawat Specialized Medical Co. will list on Nomu today.


Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded
Updated 25 February 2024
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Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

Saudi approach toward capital allocation, economic diversification lauded

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s general disposition around capital allocation is diversified, as financial institutions in the Kingdom are “savvy and strong” with long-term strategies, according to a senior executive.

In an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Middle East Investment Conference held in Riyadh, President and CEO of CFA Institute Marg Franklin noted that Saudi Arabia aims to move away from its heavy reliance on oil by diversifying its investment portfolio.

This diversification plan involves investing in small and medium-sized enterprises within the Kingdom to broaden the economy’s scope.

She said: “If you look at Saudi Arabia’s general disposition around capital allocation, it really centers on diversification, and that is really where we’ve seen the savviest and strongest financial institutions who have a very long-term view and very long-term objectives really achieve those ambitions for the capital.”

Franklin highlighted the importance of asset owners in the Middle East, who prioritize serving their citizens over short-term gains, emphasizing long-term objectives and sustainability in capital allocation.

Additionally, amid Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 program, Franklin noted that the CFA Institute emerges as a key player in shaping the nation’s economic landscape.

With a three-pronged approach focused on education, advocacy, and policy, the institute is instrumental in fostering a robust and well-functioning capital market.

“When we look here in Saudi Arabia, it’s an ambitious program for 2030 and what’s exciting about it is how much it’s related to the population of Saudi, so it really lines up with those last six words of our mission for the ultimate benefit of society,” Franklin said.

She added: “The key things where CFA Institute, I think has a distinct role to play is first of all in developing and enhancing the capital markets, making sure they’re efficient and fair.”

Franklin continued: “Because at the end of the day, when you’re bringing in global capital or exporting global capital, there is a common language that goes with it. But there will be unique features here in the region, specifically Islamic finance.”

The second aspect Franklin highlighted is capacity building and talent development. This includes the renowned CFA program, known for its comprehensive curriculum and ethical foundation, providing a common platform for investment professionals globally.

“Then finally, just building those baseline skills, because we know one of Saudi Arabia’s key objectives is to build financial literacy, and that’s crucial if you’re going to increase the savings of citizens,” Franklin said.


Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   

Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   
Updated 25 February 2024
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Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   

Oman’s insurance sector expected have recorded 10% growth in 2023   

RIYADH: Oman’s insurance sector is expected to have achieved a 10 percent growth in 2023, paving the way for attracting additional regional investors, according to a top official. 

This comes as Oman recorded a growth rate of about 13 percent in insurance premiums in 2022, according to Mustafa Ahmed Salman, member of the board of directors of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  

Salman, also serving as the chairman of the chamber’s Finance and Insurance Committee, emphasized that raising the capital of insurance companies will greatly enhance their ability to attract investors and facilitate business growth, as reported by the Oman News Agency. 

“The contribution of the insurance sector to the gross domestic product of the Sultanate of Oman currently amounts to 1.3 percent, which is a good percentage compared to Arab countries,” he said.  

This positive trend follows the insurance division emerging as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Middle Eastern country. 

The chairman went on to explain that the volume of Arab insurance reached about $45 billion, constituting 1 percent of the volume of global insurance. 

Furthermore, Salman highlighted that the Finance and Insurance Committee of the chamber is actively engaged in studying and developing laws, decisions, and regulations related to the sector.  

He also emphasized that the board is actively addressing challenges, presenting proposals, and offering visions to overcome obstacles. 

All these endeavors demonstrate that increasing the contribution of insurance to the GDP is achieved by establishing large projects and capital for insurance companies, as well as strengthening their reserves, highlighted the chairman. 

Regarding the performance of insurance firms on the Muscat Securities Market, he emphasized that their prices have been traded at appropriate costs and delivered good dividends over the past years. 

Salman further disclosed that efforts are underway to enhance trading in the shares of these companies, aiming to attract more investors for buying and exchanging their assets.  

Oman’s insurance industry is projected to grow at an annualized rate of 4.5 percent, reaching $1.8 billion in 2028, up from around $1.4 billion in 2022, according to the UAE-based investment banking advisory firm Alpen Capital. 

In a recently released study titled “GCC Insurance Industry Report,” the advisory firm stated that several macroeconomic trends, particularly GDP and population growth between 2023 and 2028, are expected to drive this transition. 


Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow

Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow
Updated 26 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow

Saudi Arabia further empowers tourism authority to help sector grow
  • New regulations approved for establishment of marketing offices to promote KSA globally

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet recently approved regulations for the country’s tourism authority that will give a fresh impetus to the sector and contribute to its overall growth.

The Cabinet, chaired by King Salman, approved 24 regulations concerning the Saudi Tourism Authority with a focus on global promotion, international and regional collaboration and tourists targets.

The regulations will help the authority achieve tourism targets in line with Vision 2030 and empower the body to play a pivotal role in promoting the Kingdom as a tourist destination locally, regionally, and globally.

One of the approved regulations enables the tourism authority to establish marketing offices both domestically and internationally. The objective is to boost visitor arrivals and realize the vision of positioning the Kingdom as a top-tier tourist destination, according to Umm Al-Qura, the country’s official gazette.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, who is also chairman of the STA, highlighted that the Cabinet’s approval of the authority’s regulations underscores the government’s commitment to supporting the tourism sector in achieving its objectives aligned with Vision 2030.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The regulations will help the authority achieve tourism target in line with Vision 2030 and empower the body to play a pivotal role in promoting the Kingdom as a tourist destination locally, regionally, and globally.

• One of the approved regulations enables the tourism authority to establish marketing offices both domestically and internationally.

• The objective is to boost visitor arrivals and realize the vision of positioning the Kingdom as a top-tier tourist destination.

Among the key objectives is the collaboration with government bodies in the tourism sector to establish marketing offices for traveler destinations and oversee the strategies of these offices. Additionally, the regulations include setting visitation targets and allocating funds in a manner that enhances the involvement of the private sector in this endeavor.

As per the new regulation, the tourism authority is now mandated to undertake all measures essential for realizing its objectives, including formulating comprehensive plans and policies for tourism marketing within the Kingdom, domestically and internationally. 

Additionally, the regulation emphasizes the promotion and enhancement of destinations in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, as well as the support and marketing of activities and events organized by governmental bodies and the private sector.

Moreover, the authority is required to establish and maintain an up-to-date database encompassing all sites, tourist destinations, resorts, and services in collaboration with pertinent authorities. 

Moreover, it is tasked with conducting activities associated with promoting Umrah packages, which includes overseeing the development and management of any designated platform in coordination with relevant agencies. 

Additionally, the authority is mandated to assess visitor experiences, devise essential standards, tools, and mechanisms, identify tourist priorities and challenges, and subsequently share the findings and performance reports with the ministry.

The Umm Al-Qura statement added that the body should propose the necessary designs, policies, and procedures to prepare the development of tourist sites and destinations that need rehabilitation or modernization and submit them to the Ministry of Tourism, in addition to working with distinguished local and international companies and institutions, to provide products and tools with professional content, and to benefit from its expertise in tourism marketing in the Kingdom.

The source further stated that the STA is required to conduct marketing campaigns domestically and internationally to promote travel sites and products. This includes developing trademarks, registering them, and securing any intellectual property rights associated with tourism marketing under the authority’s name. The source emphasized that the body should also undertake any necessary actions related to these tasks and leverage them in accordance with pertinent rules.

The new regulation assigns the authority to develop and execute media plans to promote tourism domestically and globally. This includes organizing forums, conferences, and local and global exhibitions. 

Additionally, the body will offer administrative and technical support to tourism product owners, facilitate small and medium enterprises, and implement training programs to enhance marketing efficiency.

Furthermore, with an independent annual budget, the STA is responsible for overseeing promotional campaigns, proposing investment opportunities, and coordinating with relevant entities to enhance the travel experience. It will also collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism, government bodies, and the private sector to formulate marketing policies and ensure alignment with the national tourism strategy.