Saudi Arabia is set to witness major developments in nuclear sector: IAEA chief

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed his delight and admiration for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear capabilities and high professionalism within the sector. 
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed his delight and admiration for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear capabilities and high professionalism within the sector. 
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Updated 13 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia is set to witness major developments in nuclear sector: IAEA chief

Saudi Arabia is set to witness major developments in nuclear sector: IAEA chief

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is poised to witness significant developments in its nuclear sector, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In his first visit to the Kingdom, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed his delight and admiration for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear capabilities and high professionalism within the sector. 

Grossi also acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s imminent entry into nuclear operations, starting with a research reactor and paving the way for more extensive facilities in the future, expressing confidence in the preparedness of the Saudi workforce to embrace this new chapter in the Kingdom’s development.

“Saudi Arabia is on the doorsteps of nuclear operation starting with this research reactor, and later with bigger facilities. So I think the workforce here, the professionals, the women and men that work in the Saudi nuclear sector, are perfectly prepared to look into this new chapter in the life of the Kingdom,” Grossi told Al Ekhbariya.

The IAEA chief commended the collaborative efforts of various institutions, including the Ministry of Energy, and emphasized the positive impact of the IAEA’s presence in advising and accompanying the Kingdom in its nuclear endeavors.

He said: “I am really delighted. I’m very impressed by the degree of professionalism I see in the Saudi nuclear sector, the nuclear regulator here, the Ministry of Energy.”

Grossi emphasized the importance of planning, scientific skill development, and the upcoming commissioning of a low-power research reactor as significant milestones for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear operations.

The top official said: “When we talk about the nuclear regulator, it is the institution that must make sure that all these activities will not have any negative impact on the country, that will be a perfect protection of the population.”

According to Al Ekhbariya, Grossi toured the regulatory laboratories during his visit, accompanied by Khalid Al-Issa, CEO of the Saudi Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Commission. 

Grossi was briefed on the advanced technologies and procedures employed in the nuclear and radiation energy sector, underscoring the Kingdom’s commitment to utilizing the latest innovations and ensuring the highest safety standards.

He familiarized himself with the national capabilities in nuclear emergency operations, environmental radiation monitoring, and early warning systems.

The director general’s visit reaffirms the IAEA’s commitment to supporting Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions and signifies a positive collaboration between international and national institutions.


Saudi Arabia to propel global sustainable development through AI, says finance minister

Saudi Arabia to propel global sustainable development through AI, says finance minister
Updated 26 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia to propel global sustainable development through AI, says finance minister

Saudi Arabia to propel global sustainable development through AI, says finance minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is on track to help propel sustainable development globally through its pivotal role in artificial intelligence, according to the Kingdom’s finance minister. 

In a session titled “AI and Development: Challenges and Opportunities” at the third meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors under the Italian presidency, held last week in Stresa, Italy, Mohammed Al-Jadaan explained that the Kingdom is committed to advancing technology, particularly AI, to foster inclusive growth, according to a statement.  

This aligns with Saudi Arabia’s National Strategy for Data and AI, which aims to establish the Kingdom as a global tech leader by 2030. 

Additionally, the minister participated in a session titled “Addressing Financing Needs of Vulnerable Countries,” where he stressed the potential of a proposed multidimensional approach to dealing with debt vulnerabilities.  

He underscored that this strategy aims to create fiscal space, improve resilience, and progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.  


Fitch upgrades Saudi Electricity Co. to ‘A+’ citing strong govt support

Fitch upgrades Saudi Electricity Co. to ‘A+’ citing strong govt support
Updated 54 min 42 sec ago
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Fitch upgrades Saudi Electricity Co. to ‘A+’ citing strong govt support

Fitch upgrades Saudi Electricity Co. to ‘A+’ citing strong govt support

RIYADH: Saudi Electricity Co. received an upgrade from Fitch Ratings, raising its long-term foreign and local currency issuer default rating to “A+” from “A,” citing government support. 

In its latest report, the agency also upgraded the company’s national long-term rating to “AAA” from “AA,” with a stable outlook. 

According to Fitch, SEC’s standalone credit profile remains at “bbb” due to its dominant position in Saudi Arabia’s electricity market. 

“The upgrade follows our reassessment of SEC’s links with the Saudi Arabian government under Fitch’s recently updated Government-Related Entities Rating Criteria. SEC’s ratings are now equalized with those of Saudi Arabia (A+/Stable),” stated Fitch in the report. 

According to the US-based agency, an “A+” rating denotes expectations of low default risk and a strong capacity to meet financial commitments. 

On the other hand, a “bbb” rating indicates that while default risk expectations are currently low and the capacity to meet financial commitments is adequate, adverse business or economic conditions could impair this capacity. 

Commenting on the upgrade, Khaled bin Hamad Al-Gnoon, CEO of SEC, said the rating action is a testament to the company’s efforts and investments to bolster the reliability and efficiency of Saudi Arabia’s electrical grid. 

“This improved rating is reflective of our best-in-class governance, our close alignment with the Ministry of Energy and Saudi Arabia’s decarbonization strategy, and our solid financial profile,” said Al-Gnoon.  

He added: “We are committed to maintaining our service excellence and fulfilling our pivotal role in powering Saudi Arabia’s future.”  

In a statement, the company said the upgrade was driven by several key factors, including recognition of SEC’s robust decision-making and strong government support. 

Additionally, the upgrade acknowledges SEC’s stable financial profile, bolstered by the conversion of SR168 billion ($44.80 billion) of liabilities into equity-like instruments, the company’s leverage headroom, and strong cash flow visibility. 

Earlier this month, SEC reported a net profit of SR897 million for the first quarter of 2024, marking an 87 percent increase compared to the same period the previous year. 

 


Saudi’s ACWA Power signs several MoUs with Japanese companies

Saudi’s ACWA Power signs several MoUs with Japanese companies
Updated 26 May 2024
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Saudi’s ACWA Power signs several MoUs with Japanese companies

Saudi’s ACWA Power signs several MoUs with Japanese companies

Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power signed memorandums of understanding with several Japanese companies on the sidelines of the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum that took place on May 21. 

ACWA Power signed agreements with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mizuho Bank, SBI Holdings and Toray Membrane Middle East to encourage collaboration on sustainable energy and water solutions. 

According to ACWA Power, the objectives of the MoUs are to promote sustainable energy transition and attracting foreign investment. 

The MoUs are important to the Kingdom in terms of water desalination supplies, reducing carbon emissions and economic development. 


Saudi plans to decarbonize are ‘important’ for future, says Marubeni CEO

Saudi plans to decarbonize are ‘important’ for future, says Marubeni CEO
Updated 26 May 2024
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Saudi plans to decarbonize are ‘important’ for future, says Marubeni CEO

Saudi plans to decarbonize are ‘important’ for future, says Marubeni CEO

TOKYO: Atsushi Suzuki, president and CEO of Marubeni Middle-East & Africa Power Limited, says Saudi Arabia’s plans for a decarbonized outlook is an important step for the Kingdom.

“I think this is one of the most important steps for Saudi Arabia because, as you know, Saudi Arabia has a Vision 2030 to decarbonize and for the use of sustainable energy in the Kingdom,” Suzuki said in relation to a wind farm project his company is undertaking.

“As a Japanese company we have provided good capabilities to support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 project of becoming an eco-friendly country,” Suzuki told Arab News Japan. “We believe this is a good step to a partnership between Japan and Saudi Arabia and will also result in Saudi Arabia becoming a big ‘new’ energy exporter not only of oil and gas, but also of new energy, green hydrogen for example.”

Marubeni has partnered with several Saudi companies to expand its presence in the country. “We have already participated in five projects in the power sector in Saudi Arabia, so we will continue to deploy our capacity to make sure that the Saudi government, our client, will be satisfied.”

The Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum wrapped up on May 21 with more than 300 industry officials and business leaders from Saudi Arabia and Japan in attendance to promote business and cultural exchanges and to accelerate growth and investment between the two countries.

Saudi participants at the forum spoke of “getting the pulse of what the Japanese markets want from Saudi Arabia,” covering investment, business, sustainability, and the circular economy, as well as soft power fields such as entertainment and gaming.

This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan


Private aviation soars in Saudi Arabia as more businesses take to the skies

Private aviation soars in Saudi Arabia as more businesses take to the skies
Updated 25 May 2024
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Private aviation soars in Saudi Arabia as more businesses take to the skies

Private aviation soars in Saudi Arabia as more businesses take to the skies
  • Sector set to grow at compounded annual growth rate of 8.88 percent between 2025 and 2029

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s business aviation sector is experiencing a surge fueled by the Kingdom’s expanding economy, significant government investment on infrastructure, and a growing influx of high-net-worth individuals.

Valued at $1.2 billion in 2023 according to TechSCI research, this segment is projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 8.88 percent between 2025 and 2029.

It was also highlighted in the General Authority of Civil Aviation’s roadmap unveiled at Riyadh’s Future Aviation Forum in May.

The roadmap aims to support the Kingdom’s development as a global high-value business and tourist destination.

Additionally, it targets a tenfold increase in the contribution to gross domestic product by the general aviation sector to $2 billion by 2030, covering the business jet segment, including charter, private, and corporate planes.

Farid Gharzeddine, captain and CEO of Dubai based private jet company SkyMark Executive, told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia’s private aviation and charter business have always been thriving, serving individuals, business executives, government officials, and special missions.”

Farid Gharzeddine, Captain and CEO of SkyMark Executive. (Supplied)

He added: “In 2023, this sector experienced significant growth driven by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and its efforts to diversify away from oil, particularly through the promotion of sectors such as tourism and entertainment. These initiatives had a substantial impact on the private charter industry, influencing both destinations and clientele.”

During this timeframe, he explained that SkyMark Executive, functioning as a private aircraft provider, observed a significant uptick in requests for flights transporting tourists, entertainers, and artists from abroad to emerging destinations such as AlUla, the Red Sea airport, and others.

The Red Sea International Airport, located within three hours’ flying time of 250 million people, launched its first international flights earlier this year.

With a capacity to serve 1 million guests annually, according to the group’s CEO John Pagano, this milestone marks a significant step towards establishing Saudi Arabia as a premier global tourism destination.

According to a research by Mortor intelligence, the GCC region is highly promising for business aviation, and is also a lucrative market for the private aviation sector, due to the presence of a large number of high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals in the region.

The influx of multinational companies establishing regional headquarters in Riyadh, driven by the Kingdom's efforts to increase foreign direct investment, may have boosted demand for private aviation. This stems from the need for efficient, flexible travel options for corporate executives and high-net-worth individuals, fueling growth in private jet and charter services.

Players are investing in technological advancements to enhance aircraft manufacturing, navigation, and maintenance, anticipating growth in demand for new business jet models offering increased cabin space and long-range capabilities.

Manufacturers such as Gulfstream, Bombardier, and Embraer are focusing on luxury, technology, and performance enhancements to appeal to GCC customers, positioning themselves for growth in the forecast period.

Manufacturers are focusing on luxury, technology, and performance enhancements to appeal to GCC customers, positioning themselves for growth in the forecast period. (Supplied)

Evidence of this is Qatar Executive’s position as the largest operator in the world for two new models from Gulfstream, G500 and G650ER.

Gharzeddine commented that his company’s clients from Saudi Arabia are often one of the most discerning clientele and prioritize state-of-the-art technological advancements when selecting aircraft for their travel needs.

“These clients prioritize excellence in service delivery, emphasizing both technological sophistication and exceptional service standards. They are committed to enhancing their travel experiences to achieve the utmost levels of comfort, safety, and luxury,” he added.

Furthermore, this segment can benefit from Saudi Arabia’s aviation strategy, which aims to expand connectivity to over 250 destinations by 2030. A key component of this plan is privatization, exemplified by the Kingdom's implementation of the first successful public-private partnership model in the Middle East.

GACA also announced during the Future Aviation Forum its targeted investments in six new specialized general aviation airports in the Kingdom, alongside other initiatives.

"These investments are anticipated to enhance infrastructure and service quality within the private aviation sector, making it more appealing to high-net-worth individuals and corporate clients," Gharzeddine commented.

"Improved facilities and services will likely drive increased demand for private jet charters and ownership, boosting the overall efficiency and capacity of the aviation sector. Additionally, these developments will help position Saudi Arabia as a key hub for private aviation in the Gulf region," he added.

Charter business and sustainability

Leading the change in sustainable aviation growth, Saudi Arabia announced its finalization of a comprehensive plan in November to address environmental sustainability within its civil aviation sector, in line with international commitments such as the 2015 Paris  Agreement.

Spearheaded by GACA, the Civil Aviation Environmental Sustainability Plan targets the reduction of greenhouse gas releases, with a zero-emissions goal by 2060.

Saudi Arabia’s initiatives extend to hydrogen fuel infrastructure and green projects like the Circular Carbon Economy, while major developments such as AMAALA and the Red Sea project reflect a commitment to net-zero emissions.

Global business and government leaders consider sustainable aviation fuel a key opportunity for significant reductions in air travel emissions, with numerous initiatives underway to make this energy product a reality.

SAF is derived from renewable hydrocarbon sources and can reduce carbon emissions by 75 percent compared to traditional fossil-based jet fuel.

However, the primary challenge is supply and demand, as production needs to increase significantly to meet the set targets by 2030.

According to Gharzeddine, in addition to the limited supply, achieving economies of scale to reduce production costs is also an ongoing issue, as is the high charge of specialized processing required for biofuels.

Maryam Al-Balooshi, the UAE’s lead negotiator for aviation climate change, also emphasized the urgent need for Gulf countries to produce SAF to compete in the Western-dominated market and support greener flights, as reported by the National News in February.

An important aspect to consider is how technology and artificial intelligence can play pivotal roles in driving sustainable aviation. Advanced flight planning systems use AI to optimize flight paths, reducing fuel consumption and minimizing carbon emissions.

“By analyzing weather patterns, air traffic, and aircraft performance in real-time, AI can suggest more efficient routes and altitudes, ensuring flights operate at maximum efficiency,” Gharzeddine explained.

Predictive maintenance powered by AI also enhances sustainability by identifying potential issues before they become significant problems, thereby reducing downtime and extending the lifespan of aircraft components.

Additionally, AI-driven data analytics can help monitor and manage the carbon footprint of each flight, enabling operators to make informed decisions about fuel usage, weight management, and other factors that influence emissions.

By leveraging advanced technology, AI, and SAF, the private aviation sector in Saudi Arabia can meet growing demand while setting a benchmark for sustainability in the global aviation industry.