PIF’s Alat to help Saudi Arabia develop tech ecosystem, official explains  

PIF’s Alat to help Saudi Arabia develop tech ecosystem, official explains  
Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha, and Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef discuss Alat. X/@alat_tech
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Updated 20 February 2024

PIF’s Alat to help Saudi Arabia develop tech ecosystem, official explains  

PIF’s Alat to help Saudi Arabia develop tech ecosystem, official explains  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will soon be ready for future global trends thanks to the Public Investment Fund company Alat, according to the minister of industry and mineral resources. 

Speaking during the firm’s press launch event, Bandar Alkhorayef explained how Alat will help create a complete ecosystem in the Kingdom, reduce imports, and increase localization. 

This falls in line with the aim of making Saudi Arabia a global hub for sustainable manufacturing that focuses on advanced technologies and electronics, the Kingdom's official press agency reported.  

“Saudi Arabia is no longer going to buy technology, it’s going to develop the technology, the ecosystem,” Alkhorayef said.

“In each industrial sector, you need certain pillars, large pillars, that can actually pull with them so many activities,” he added.

Also speaking at the event, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha shed light on how to drive leadership in the generative artificial intelligence era. 

Al-Swaha clarified that it requires three components, including AI leadership, the diffusion of these technologies across industries from a software and hardware perspective, and the ecosystem.

When discussing the ecosystem, the minister further explained: “How industries, minerals, innovation, technology can come together, led by the private sector, with Alat to make sure that tomorrow is made better.”

Al-Swaha stressed: “Whether we’re talking about healthcare and wellness, sustainability in the environment, industry and energy, or the future of economies across the board, Alat has a unique opportunity to disrupt those industries and make sure that the Kingdom and the region takes its fair share.” 

Earlier in February, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the launch of Alat.

The organization will focus on manufacturing products that serve local and international markets within seven key strategic business units, including advanced industries, semiconductors, and smart appliances, among others, the Saudi Press Agency reported at the time. 

The company, chaired by the crown prince, aims to enhance the capabilities of the Saudi technology sector, increase its contribution to local content, and boost the nation’s attractiveness and ability to create investment opportunities.   

Alat will also build partnerships to enable the transformation of the global industrial sector by providing sustainable industrial solutions based on clean energy sources.

Riyadh’s grade A office renting grew by 5% in Q1 2024: report 

Riyadh’s grade A office renting grew by 5% in Q1 2024: report 
Updated 8 sec ago

Riyadh’s grade A office renting grew by 5% in Q1 2024: report 

Riyadh’s grade A office renting grew by 5% in Q1 2024: report 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s prime office rental space saw a 5 percent growth in transactions in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous period, according to an industry report. 

As per the global real estate services provider Savills analysis, Riyadh achieved an occupancy rate of 98 percent in early 2024, with rents increasing by 20 percent year on year.  

“Despite healthy demand, a significant decrease in the number of office rent transactions was recorded in the first quarter, with Ejar data indicating a 27 percent drop in transactions quarter on quarter due to the limited availability of office spaces,” Amjad Saif, head of transactional services at Savills Saudi Arabia, said. 

“However, Grade A offices witnessed an increase in rents by 5 percent compared to the last quarter, owing to the buoyant demand for quality assets amid their limited supply,” Saif added. 

The report also highlighted that 74 percent of Savills’ inquiries originated from overseas, with an impressive 37 percent coming specifically from US corporations. 

“Riyadh is experiencing a remarkable surge in corporate interest, with over 180 foreign companies surpassing the initial target of 160 choosing to establish their regional headquarters in the city,” Ramzi Darwish, head of Saudi Arabia at Savills Middle East, said.   

“This growing confidence reflects the robust potential of the Saudi capital, fueled by the country’s strategic economic diversification plan. Prominent entities such as Franklin Templeton and Allen & Overy have recently set up their regional bases in the capital Riyadh,” he added. 

The report also indicated that the Business Parks and the King Abdullah Financial District are experiencing significant interest, with 75 percent of transactions involving relocations to these areas. 

To address demand concerns, over 420,000 sq. m of new Grade A office space is expected by year-end, providing tenants with greater flexibility and helping to stabilize rental prices, the analysis stated. 

Significant leasing activity was observed in the first quarter of 2024, with legal services leading the way, followed by engineering, manufacturing, and information technology sectors.  

Additionally, technology, media, telecommunications, banking, and financial services, as well as insurance companies, dominated occupier inquiries, reflecting diverse industry interests. 

Saudi Arabia on the verge of launching trials for outer space tourism

Saudi Arabia on the verge of launching trials for outer space tourism
Updated 22 min 41 sec ago

Saudi Arabia on the verge of launching trials for outer space tourism

Saudi Arabia on the verge of launching trials for outer space tourism

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is on the verge of launching an initiative in space tourism, according to a top official.

The CEO of the Saudi Space Agency, Mohammed Al-Tamimi, discussed the expanding role of spaceports and satellite deployment on the opening day of the 2024 Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh. 

The first day of the event showcased significant developments in tourism, aviation, and space exploration. Key figures from various sectors emphasized the rapid growth and strategic initiatives driving the industry forward.

“Within a window of 60 days from now, there will be an announcement to do some trials here in Saudi Arabia about space tourism,” Al-Tamimi revealed.

He also projected a significant increase in satellite launches, with expectations to send “36,000 satellites over the coming six years,” tripling the current number.

“Right now, we have more than 10,000 active commercial civil aviation airports. When it comes to spaceports, more than 20-22 are active in 12 different countries,” Al-Tamimi said.

Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said “over 330 million people are employed in the tourism sector worldwide, or one out of every 10 workers.” 

He also celebrated the Middle East’s post-pandemic tourism surge, led by Saudi Arabia, which saw a “remarkable 22 percent growth compared to 2019.” 

Al-Khateeb attributed this success to value-driven travel options, shorter trips, and closer destinations. 

He praised the new e-visa system that enables travelers from 66 countries, representing over 80 percent of the global travel market, to visit Saudi Arabia easily.

In November 2023, the Gulf Cooperation Council approved the unified tourist visa, which will launch by 2025. Secretary-General Jassim Mohammed Al-Budaiwi announced it during the 40th meeting of the GCC interior ministers in Muscat, Oman. 

Similar to the Schengen scheme, this visa will allow tourists to travel across all six GCC member states.

The senior vice president of Boeing Co. and president of Boeing Global, Brendan Nelson AO, addressed the importance of transparency and integrity in the aviation industry. 

“It’s important that you are authentic, that you’re transparent, that you are open and honest with your customers, your investors, certainly with the flying public,” Nelson stated. 

In January this year, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 experienced a fuselage rupture shortly after takeoff at an altitude of 4.8 km above Oregon. 

Nelson also discussed Boeing’s strategic decision to slow down production to stabilize supply chains despite the high commercial cost.

“We expect that we’ll have supply chain issues well through to the end of this year, possibly into early next year,” he said. 

Nelson emphasized Boeing’s commitment to sustainable aviation fuel, noting that currently, only “0.2 percent of global aviation fuel demand is being met by SAF.” 

He highlighted the aerospace manufacturer’s partnership with Saudi Arabia in various projects, including a joint venture with Saudi Arabia Military Industries and collaborations on aerospace-grade materials and advanced resins.

Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air, outlined the ambitious goals of the new airline, which is to become a major international carrier. 

“We’re going to connect to way over 100 different destinations by 2030,” Douglas announced, aiming to achieve in five years what took Qatar Airways over 20. 

He highlighted Riyadh Air’s advantage of starting without legacy systems, enabling a modern and technologically advanced approach. 

Douglas also shared updates on the airline’s progress, including the hiring of top-rated pilots and employees. A cabin crew fashion reveal is scheduled for the Paris Fashion Show next month, and a digital proposition unveiling is in October.

The 2024 Future Aviation Forum continues to highlight the dynamic advancements and strategic collaborations shaping the future of aviation and space exploration in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone secures $3.2bn in project contracts: chairman 

Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone secures $3.2bn in project contracts: chairman 
Updated 30 min 17 sec ago

Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone secures $3.2bn in project contracts: chairman 

Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone secures $3.2bn in project contracts: chairman 

RIYADH: Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone secured 144 projects worth $3.2 billion between July 2023 and April 2024, down from $4.9 billion recorded during July 2022 to May 2023. 

This comes amidst ongoing attacks in the Red Sea since October, leading to significant global economic disruption, particularly affecting container shipping traffic and global trade.  

This is evident in a 50 percent drop in Suez Canal trade in the first two months of 2024 compared to the previous year, and a 32 percent decrease in trade through the Panama Canal, as reported by the International Monetary Fund in a March blog post. 

In a statement issued by the Egyptian Cabinet, Walid Gamal El-Din, chairman of the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone, revealed that out of the 144 projects in its industrial zones and ports, 67 have obtained final approvals, while 77 have received initial approvals. 

He added that more than 25,000 direct and indirect job opportunities will be created upon the completion and operation of these projects. 

This reflects the authority’s ongoing efforts and activities despite the negative impact of regional developments on port revenues. 

It also aligns with the entity’s mission to attract businesses from around the region by offering easy access to local markets and talent. 

Furthermore, the chairman disclosed that the implementation rates of investment projects within the industrial zones reached 77 percent, while those in ports reached 71 percent. 

Regarding Chinese investments in the special economic zone TEDA, El-Din explained that there are 42 existing projects, with an additional 12 projects under construction awaiting operating licenses. Additionally, 40 projects are currently in the process of completing procedures to obtain building licenses. 

On green hydrogen projects, the chairman highlighted that between January and April, 12 framework agreements and six memorandums of understanding were signed, with an additional MoU set to be signed soon. 

Furthermore, El-Din provided insights into the development work progress in the authority’s ports, noting a 94 percent implementation rate in Ain Sokhna Port, 86 percent in East Port Said Port, and 93.8 percent in West Port Said Port. 

Additionally, he mentioned a 73.7 percent implementation rate in Al-Arish Port and 75 percent in the West Qantara West zone.   

Moreover, the chairman reviewed the ship bunkering operations and marine services at the authority’s ports. He noted that the body implemented the first ship bunkering operation with green fuel in East Port Said Port in August 2023. 

He also highlighted that the development work of the East Ismaili Zone has reached 100 percent implementation of some works. 

About 15 percent of world shipping traffic transits via the Suez Canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia. The Suez Canal is also an important source of foreign currency for Egypt. 

Boeing focuses on quality management enhancement amidst safety concerns, says top official

Boeing focuses on quality management enhancement amidst safety concerns, says top official
Updated 20 May 2024

Boeing focuses on quality management enhancement amidst safety concerns, says top official

Boeing focuses on quality management enhancement amidst safety concerns, says top official

RIYADH: Aerospace giant Boeing is enhancing its quality management system to meet regulatory standards, ensuring passenger safety, a top official told Arab News.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh, Omar Arakat, vice president of commercial sales and marketing of Boeing in the Middle East and Africa, said that the company is putting “a lot of emphasis” to meet the safety standards proposed by regulators. 

The US plane maker is revamping its management in response to increasing pressure from airlines, regulators, and investors as it faces a deepening crisis following a mid-air panel blowout on a 737 MAX plane in January. 

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 MAX experienced a mid-cabin exit door panel blowout shortly after takeoff, triggering multiple investigations, including one by the Federal Aviation Administration in the US. 

When asked about safety developments, Arakat said: “I’m assuming you are referring to the quality issues that have made headlines, and I assure you that Boeing’s number one priority is safety and quality. We are doing a lot of plans to strengthen our quality management system.”  

He added: “We’re also sharing with our customers all the steps that were taken to make sure that they feel the comfort that Boeing is doing the right thing.”  

Detailing Boeing’s initiatives to enhance safety standards, Arakat added that the company is directly engaging with its suppliers and increasing involvement by inspecting various stages in the aircraft production cycle. 

He expressed his enthusiasm about the progress in Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector during the discussion. 

“We are very optimistic, and we are very excited about what is going on in Saudi Arabia in general, and specifically within the aviation sector. There is a lot of commitment by the leadership of Saudi Arabia to support aviation, and they recognize it as one of the most important pillars of developing infrastructure and moving forward,” said Arakat.  

He added: “If you look at the mandates of Vision 2030, it really indicates that aviation has a very bright future because it sets some very real targets that the Kingdom is very serious about achieving. We are very proud to be part of that.”  

The executive further noted that Boeing’s relationship with Saudi Arabia spans over seven decades, during which the company has delivered over 240 aircraft to airlines operating in the Kingdom. 

Last year, Riyadh Air, owned by the Public Investment Fund, announced ordering up to 72 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner airplanes in a significant deal. This included 39 confirmed aircraft and an option for an additional 33 wide-body 787-9 Dreamliners, reflecting Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to establish itself as a prominent player in global aviation. 

National carriers collectively announced plans to purchase up to 121 787 Dreamliners, marking one of Boeing’s largest commercial orders by value.

Energy security is vital for prosperity among Arab citizens, says top official 

Energy security is vital for prosperity among Arab citizens, says top official 
Updated 20 May 2024

Energy security is vital for prosperity among Arab citizens, says top official 

Energy security is vital for prosperity among Arab citizens, says top official 

RIYADH: A comprehensive and integrated approach is needed to ensure energy security amongst citizens, according to the Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Economic Affairs Sector at the Arab League, Ali Al-Maliki.

During the 12th celebration of Arab Energy Efficiency Day, Al-Maliki urged the adoption of new measures to address this critical issue.  

“Energy security is a fundamental issue due to its direct impact on economic growth, national security, and the well-being of all Arab citizens,” he stated in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Director of the Energy Department at the General Secretariat of the Arab League, Jamila Mattar.

“We are all aware of the challenges we face in terms of energy security and the transition to more sustainable sources,” the speech said.  

“To confront these challenges, the world needs to adopt a comprehensive and integrated approach to energy security that takes into account the need to increase energy efficiency, develop renewable energy, protect vital energy infrastructure, and work to reduce harmful carbon emissions,” the text added. 

Al-Maliki emphasized that efficiency is one of the basic pillars of energy security, according to a report by Bahrain News Agency. 

He noted that achieving energy security involves providing services at the lowest cost without compromising quality and managing demand by introducing various concepts related to efficiency.

This approach aims to reduce consumption without conflicting with the developmental plans of each country.  

Al-Maliki highlighted the council’s efforts to monitor the stages of efficiency in the Arab region. This includes developing, implementing, and monitoring national efficiency plans.  

The council has also prepared the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Guide in Arab Countries, which provides statistical information on policies and programs adopted in nations to enhance the efficiency of production and consumption and the use of renewables.  

Additionally, the guide details the institutional and legal frameworks and the necessary financial incentives implemented or planned in these fields.