Future Hospitality Summit to shine spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s growing tourism industry

Special Future Hospitality Summit to shine spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s growing tourism industry
More than 150 speakers from across the world are set to address the event. FHS
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Updated 22 April 2024
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Future Hospitality Summit to shine spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s growing tourism industry

Future Hospitality Summit to shine spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s growing tourism industry

RIYADH: More than 1,200 investors from across the world will descend on Riyadh at the end of April for what is expected to be the biggest Future Hospitality Summit ever seen in Saudi Arabia.

The event - set to be held at Al Faisaliah Hotel from April 29 to May 1 –  will focus on sustainable tourism and technology-driven hospitality under the theme, “Invest in Tomorrow: Today, Together.” 

Industry leaders will discuss sustainable development, investment prospects, entrepreneurship, and human capital, as well as gain insights into the continued expansion of Saudi Arabia’s hospitality and tourism sectors. 

The upcoming three-day conference, which will feature more than 150 speakers, marks the seventh industry event for the Saudi market hosted by The Bench, a British business events firm.

Jonathan Worsley, chairman of the company, said: “The objectives of FHS Saudi Arabia are strategically aligned with Vision 2030, and our carefully curated program will focus on the development and sustainable growth of the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia, the adoption of tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the sector, as well as investment and job creation opportunities.” 

It will emphasize strategies to foster the growth of Saudi Arabia’s hospitality sector, positioning it as a key driver of the Kingdom’s economic diversification efforts. 

Additionally, it will facilitate collaboration in the tourism industry by spotlighting its potential and opportunities for partnerships.

Day 1




Fine dining is one of the topics set to be discussed. Shutterstock

The first morning of the conference will be exclusively dedicated to the Global Restaurant Investment Forum, exploring Riyadh’s growing dining culture through main-stage presentations, case studies, and panel discussions.

Founded in 2015, GRIF has been a three-day conference held in Dubai and Amsterdam. This year it will be incorporated at FHS Saudi Arabia. It is mainly dedicated to investors who want to meet owners of restaurant concepts, operators and franchisors looking for growth, equity, or partners.

GRIF Culinary Tours of game-changing restaurant concepts in the culinary landscape in Saudi Arabia will take place again, as well as the Startup Den – where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of investor judges.

The most recent speakers who have confirmed their participation include Martin Raymond, who serves as the co-founder of the Future Laboratory and holds the position of editor-in-chief at LS:N Global. Christopher Sanderson, also a co-founder of the Future Laboratory, will be joining him.

Additionally, Mohammed Jawa, the founder and chairman of MJS Holding, Faisal Shaker, co-founder and CEO of Modern Food Company, and Nawal AlKhalawi, the founder and CEO of Asfar Experience, will address attendees.

The programme will kick off in the afternoon on April 29 with the FHS Intelligence Talks, moderated by Fritz Dickamp, managing director of Studio 49. 

Topics include “The Future of Wellness – New Data on Wellness Travel,” moderated by Aradhana Khowala, CEO and founder of Aptamind Partners, in conversation with Susie Ellis, chair and CEO at Global Wellness Institute and Global Wellness Summit, and “The Hotel of the Future” presented by Turab Saleem, partner and head of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Advisory at Knight Frank Middle East and North Africa.

“We are offering delegates opportunities to immerse themselves in the dynamic essence of Saudi Arabia’s market. Our enriched program encompasses an array of engaging presentations, short-but-powerful ‘10X Talks’, multifaceted panel discussions, fireside chats, case studies, and captivating site tours,” Worsley said. 

He added: “Furthermore, the event is peppered with ample networking opportunities over three days, all carefully curated to foster an environment of learning, dialogue, exploration, and meaningful connections.”

Day 2




Fahad bin Mushayt, CEO of ASFAR, will appear on a panel discussing investment blueprints. FHS

On the second day, the conference will kick off with welcome remarks by Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid, secretary general of the King Faisal Foundation, and chairman of the board of Al Khozama.

Plenary sessions will cover a wide range of topics including “Hospitality Investment Opportunities in Saudi Arabia in Alignment with Vision 2030” presented by Mahmoud Abdulhadi, deputy minister of Destination Enablement at the Ministry of Tourism.

A panel discussion on “A Blueprint for Successful Market Entry and Investment,” will be moderated by Edie Rodriquez, a Saudi Tourism Authority board member, with panelists Qusai Al-Fakhri, CEO of Tourism Development Fund, Fahad bin Mushayt, CEO of ASFAR, and Guy Hutchinson, president of Hilton MEA.

Also appearing will be Haitham Mattar, a special advisor to UN Tourism and managing director MEA and South West Asia at IHG Hotels & Resorts. 

In addition, there will be a case study on “Public and Private Sector Collaboration to Accelerate Lifestyle Developments and Promote New Destinations,” moderated by Mohammed Islam, host and founder of the Mo Show Podcast Saudi Arabia, as well as a panel on “Maximising Financial Resilience Through Multi-asset Allocation” chaired by Matthew Martin, Saudi Arabia bureau chief at Bloomberg.

Moreover, sustainable hospitality investment and development will take center stage in the FHS program, alongside a significant emphasis on technology. 

Industry leaders will delve into discussions on the future of artificial intelligence and the metaverse in hospitality, explore the convergence of AI, IT, and human interaction for enhancing guest experiences, and offer valuable insights on tech stack investment strategies for both owners and operators.

A fresh addition to FHS Saudi Arabia this year is the “Destination Tomorrow: Unveiling of Investment Opportunities” platform, designed to highlight innovative and emerging locations and attractions within the Kingdom’s hospitality and tourism sector.

Its primary goal is to facilitate connections between project developers, entrepreneurs, visionaries, investors, and other essential stakeholders.

Another inaugural event at this year’s FHS is the Speakers Corner, offering a distinctive chance for attendees to share personal narratives of overcoming challenges and achieving success in the industry.

Startup Den




Erika Blazeviciute Doyle, founder of Drink Dry, the GCC’s first and only premium non-alcoholic drinks marketplace, emerged as the winner of Startup Den 2023. FHS

The highly anticipated Startup Den returns this year, following its success at FHS Saudi Arabia 2023.

The panel of judges for this year include Prince Saud Al-Saud, executive director of TDF Grow, Salma Arafa, an innovation expert at UN Tourism, and Maya Ayoub, the founder and CEO of District Twelve and also country director of Saudi Arabia Women in Tech. 

“The Bench is passionate about supporting start-ups and providing an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch their business to an expert panel of judges and investors,” Worsely said, adding: “This year, 10 finalists will take to the stage to present their business concept in what is set to be another thrilling competition.”

FHS Saudi Arabia is placing a greater emphasis on female representation than ever before, as a testament to The Bench’s dedication to empowering women in the hospitality industry and acknowledging their role within the sector. 

“Women’s contribution to the workforce has been at the helm of the historic growth and development we witness today in the region. Our unique campaign seeks to inspire Saudi executive women, champion gender diversity in hospitality, and highlight the pivotal role females play in this ever-growing sector,” Tanja Millner, production director at The Bench, said.

She added: “We are delighted to introduce FHS Women Power, an initiative focused on facilitating and empowering Saudi national women working in the hospitality sector with complimentary tickets to FHS Saudi Arabia.

Last year, FHS Saudi Arabia welcomed over 1,100 delegates and featured 150 speakers from over 35 countries with 71 sponsors and partners.


Saudi-Jordanian mining, pharma ties to advance thanks to ministerial visit

Saudi-Jordanian mining, pharma ties to advance thanks to ministerial visit
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Saudi-Jordanian mining, pharma ties to advance thanks to ministerial visit

Saudi-Jordanian mining, pharma ties to advance thanks to ministerial visit

RIYADH: Mining and pharmaceutical cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Jordan is poised to advance after a top official’s visit to the Hashemite Kingdom.

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef met with the chairman of the Arab Mining Co., Mohammed Ahmed Al-Shehhi, during his trip, which commenced on May 21.

With a current focus on the advancements between nations, a Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources statement highlighted that Saudi Arabia’s exports to Jordan in 2023 reached SR7.6 billion ($2 billion), while its imports from Jordan amounted to SR7.5 billion.

The release noted that the Kingdom’s exports to Jordan included food products, petrochemicals and polymers as well as construction materials. 

Meanwhile, its imports from Jordan included commodities and medical drugs.

Saudi Arabia has previously introduced several investment opportunities in vaccines and biologics totaling $3.4 billion. This initiative aligns with the Kingdom’s efforts to ensure the consistent availability of pharmaceutical products, aiming to meet its healthcare demands while establishing itself as a significant drug supply hub.     

Forging mining ties

During the minister’s visit, Alkhorayef and Al-Shehhi discussed ways of enhancing cooperation in the mining sector in the presence of Khalid bin Saleh Al-Mudaifer, the vice minister of mining affairs. They also explored opportunities to leverage the mining resources available in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

In a post on his X account, the minister said that he discussed with several officials in Jordanian mining companies the prospects for joint cooperation to develop the mining sector in the region and to benefit from the large mineral resources in both countries, especially in a number of strategic and rare minerals.

He also spoke of attracting qualitative investments in this vital sector and held meetings with officials from Jordanian companies operating in the mining sector.

In his discussions with representatives from Jordan Phosphate Mines Co., a publicly traded company established in 1949, both parties explored potential collaboration opportunities in extracting and producing phosphorus compounds, considering Saudi Arabia’s significant reserves.

Additionally, the minister touched on cooperation with officials from the Arab Potash Co., the eighth-largest potash producer worldwide by volume of production and the sole producer of this product in the Arab World.

The two sides reviewed the progress made in implementing the memorandum of understanding signed between the company and the Saudi Arabian Mining Co., also known as Ma’aden, aiming to enhance collaboration in specialized fertilizers and products in both nations.

Injecting pharmaceutical cooperation

Alkhorayef also met the chairman of the Jordanian Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Tareq Darwazeh, while in Amman.

The two explored avenues to enhance cooperation in pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing, aiming to leverage the advanced expertise and capabilities of both countries.         

Moreover, Alkhorayef visited several Jordanian pharmaceutical factories and companies, where he held meetings with their senior officials.

“I gained insight into their operational plans and engaged in discussions with their senior officials regarding opportunities to strengthen cooperation. We also explored avenues for exchanging experiences in localizing the vital and specialized pharmaceutical industry, as well as attracting investments in this crucial sector,” he said in a post on X.

The minister visited MS Pharma’s sterile injectables factory in the Sahab area and toured Hikma Pharmaceuticals, including its factory in Al-Bayader. 

During the visit, he attended a virtual presentation highlighting the company’s facilities in Portugal and the US, which specialize in the production of oncology drugs and injections.

He also visited the Saudi embassy in Amman, where he met with various Jordanian investors and businesspeople. 

During these meetings, they discussed opportunities for cooperation in trade and investments, focusing on the mining and industry sectors.

The visits underscore the Kingdom’s commitment to attracting qualitative investments in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors while facilitating exports to international markets.

During his visit, Alkhorayef is scheduled to meet with Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh, as well as the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Supply, Yousef Mahmoud Al-Shamali, and the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Saleh Al-Kharabsheh. 

According to SPA, the Saudi minister will also meet with the Minister of Investment, Khuloud Al-Saqqaf, along with several investors and heads of private sector companies.


Saudi Arabia’s proptech investments surge 35% to $9m: MAGNiTT report

Saudi Arabia’s proptech investments surge 35% to $9m: MAGNiTT report
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s proptech investments surge 35% to $9m: MAGNiTT report

Saudi Arabia’s proptech investments surge 35% to $9m: MAGNiTT report

CAIRO: Property technology venture capital investments in Saudi Arabia saw an annual increase of 35 percent in 2023 to reach $9 million, according to MAGNiTT’s latest report.  

The venture data platform emphasized that the Kingdom outpaced Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, Turkiye, and Southeast Asia regions with six proptech deals last year. 

In funding amount, Saudi Arabia ranked fifth across all markets, with Indonesia leading with $54 million, followed by the UAE with $35 million, and South Africa and Singapore with $13 million and $11 million, respectively. 

In terms of deal count, the UAE followed the Kingdom with five deals, while Indonesia, South Africa, and Turkiye each had three. 

Total funding across all markets in 2023 amounted to $157 million, marking an 81 percent decrease compared to the previous year. 

Deal count also experienced a significant annual decline, reaching 34 transactions, reflecting a 40 percent fall compared to 2022. 

MAGNiTT’s Emerging Venture Markets Real Estate report focused on analyzing the property marketplace, co-working, tenancy management, and facility management subsectors. 

The property marketplace was the leading sub-industry, attracting $120 million in funding, though this represented an 83 percent decline compared to the previous year. 

Africa was the best-performing region, with a 10 percent annual increase in funding, reaching $22 million. 

Property management was the most funded subsector on the continent, receiving $18 million in 2023, reflecting a 6 percent annual growth. 

In terms of deal count, Africa experienced a 53 percent drop, totaling seven transactions for the year. 

In the MEPT region, $59 million in funding was deployed in 2023, marking a 78 percent year-on-year decrease.  

This was spread across 19 deals, with the property marketplace being the most funded subsector at $38 million and the most transacted with 11 investments. 

Notably, seven out of the 10 most active investors by capital deployed in the region are headquartered in the US. 

Founded in 2014, MAGNiTT is the largest venture capital data platform in the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, Turkiye, and Southeast Asia, with a database of over 32,000 startups and 11,000 investment firms. 


Italy’s Fincantieri launches Saudi shipbuilding unit to strengthen collaboration 

Italy’s Fincantieri launches Saudi shipbuilding unit to strengthen collaboration 
Updated 23 May 2024
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Italy’s Fincantieri launches Saudi shipbuilding unit to strengthen collaboration 

Italy’s Fincantieri launches Saudi shipbuilding unit to strengthen collaboration 

RIYADH: Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri plans to enhance collaboration with Saudi Arabia through a newly established unit, the company said. 

Fincantieri Arabia will bolster the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development agenda in the cruise, defense, and offshore sectors, the group disclosed in a press release, issued on the sidelines of an industrial conference in Riyadh. 

Fincantieri is the only shipbuilding group active in all high-tech marine industry sectors, the release added. 

The new unit aims to highlight the group’s wide-ranging capabilities in shipbuilding, maritime equipment and systems, and naval logistic support services, including training and simulation.  

It will also manage stakeholder relationships in the Kingdom and seek out local partners.  

Moreover, Fincantieri said it plans to share its technological expertise in shipbuilding across cruise, defense, and offshore sectors, thus opening up opportunities for Saudi nationals. 

The firm’s CEO Pierroberto Folgiero: “Our commitment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is steadfast. Fincantieri stands out in the shipbuilding industry for its vertically integrated model and our leadership across naval, cruise, and oil and gas sectors. We are proud to offer these world-class capabilities built on decades of naval heritage and excellence to help the Kingdom achieve its Vision 2030 objectives.”  

He added: “Given the maritime industry’s pivotal role under Vision 2030, we eagerly anticipate establishing strategic partnerships. Through these collaborations, we aim to enhance local technological capabilities, create opportunities for Saudi talent, and foster knowledge exchange.” 

The state-controlled Fincantieri has expanded its presence in the Middle East in recent years. In March 2023, Folgiero stated that the group would venture into the Saudi market and was strategically positioned for growth in the region. 

The Italian group is also aiming to enhance its focus on defense, a sector that presently contributes to around a quarter of its revenues. 

On May 20, Fincantieri concluded a shipbuilding joint venture, named Maestral, with Abu Dhabi-based EDGE Group. The two entities announced the signing of a €400 million ($433 million) contract with the UAE’s Coast Guard Forces for the supply of 10 advanced 51-meter offshore patrol vessels. 


Lebanon’s reforms insufficient for recovery, IMF says 

Lebanon’s reforms insufficient for recovery, IMF says 
Updated 23 May 2024
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Lebanon’s reforms insufficient for recovery, IMF says 

Lebanon’s reforms insufficient for recovery, IMF says 

Lebanon’s economic reforms are insufficient to help lift the country out of its economic crisis, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday. 

Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, the head of the IMF mission visiting Lebanon, said in a statement that Lebanon’s ongoing refugee crisis, fighting with Israel at its Southern border and the spillover from the war in Gaza are exacerbating an already dire economic situation. 

Israeli forces and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have traded fire across Lebanon’s southern border since the war in Gaza broke out in October last year. 

Israel launched its assault on Gaza following a Hamas-led attack on southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7 in which fighters killed 1,200 people and captured more than 250 hostages. 

Since then, Israel’s assault has killed more than 35,000 people, with thousands more feared buried under the rubble, according to Gaza health authorities. 

The conflict “has internally displaced a significant number of people and caused damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and trade in southern Lebanon. Together with a decline in tourism, the high risks associated with the conflict create significant uncertainty to the economic outlook,” Rigo said. 

Fiscal and monetary reforms carried out by Lebanon’s finance ministry and the central bank, including steps to unify multiple exchange rates for the Lebanese pound and contain a currency slump, have helped reduce inflationary pressure, according to Rigo. 

However, he said more needs to be done if Lebanon is to alleviate its financial crisis. 

“These policy measures fall short of what is needed to enable a recovery from the crisis. Bank deposits remain frozen, and the banking sector is unable to provide credit to the economy, as the government and parliament have been unable to find a solution to the banking crisis,” he added. 

“Addressing the banks’ losses while protecting depositors to the maximum extent possible and limiting recourse to scarce public resources in a credible and financially viable manner is indispensable to lay the foundation for economic recovery.” 

Since Lebanon’s economy began to unravel in 2019, its currency has lost around 95 percent of its value, banks have locked most depositors out of their savings and more than 80 percent of the population has sunk below the poverty line. 

The crisis erupted after decades of profligate spending and corruption among the ruling elite, some of whom led banks that lent heavily to the state. 

The government estimates losses in the financial system total more than $70 billion, the majority of which were accrued at the central bank. 


 


Oil Updates – prices fall for fourth straight day as US rate hike prospects emerge

Oil Updates – prices fall for fourth straight day as US rate hike prospects emerge
Updated 23 May 2024
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Oil Updates – prices fall for fourth straight day as US rate hike prospects emerge

Oil Updates – prices fall for fourth straight day as US rate hike prospects emerge

LONDON: Oil prices eased for a fourth straight session on Thursday after the minutes of a US Federal Reserve meeting revealed discussions of a further tightening of interest rates if inflation remained sticky, a move that could hurt oil demand, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures fell 20 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $81.70 a barrel at 9:51 a.m. Saudi time. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 29 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $77.28. Both benchmarks fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday.

Minutes released on Wednesday from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting showed the US central bank’s response to sticky inflation would “involve maintaining” its policy rate for now but also reflected discussion of possible further hikes.

“Various participants mentioned a willingness to tighten policy further should risks to inflation materialize in a way that such an action became appropriate,” minutes of the Fed’s meeting said.

Higher interest rates boost borrowing costs, crunching funds that could boost economic growth and oil demand in the world’s largest oil consuming nation.

Also weighing on the market, US crude stocks rose by 1.8 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration, compared with an estimate for a 2.5 million-barrel draw.

Globally, physical crude markets have more recently been pressured by soft refinery demand and ample supply.

“Recent market softness has come on the back of weaker data, including rising oil inventories, tepid demand, and refinery margin weakness and the increasing risk of run cuts,” Citi analysts said in a note on Thursday.

Russia said it exceeded its OPEC+ production quota in April for “technical reasons” and will soon present to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Secretariat its plan to compensate for the error, the Russian Energy Ministry said late on Wednesday.

Citi said it still expects that OPEC+, which groups together OPEC and allies led by Russia, will hold its production cuts through the third quarter of this year when it meets on June 1.

Citi also said it continues to see Brent averaging $86 a barrel in the second quarter of 2024.