Saudi Arabia’s Asir region partners with Almosafer to boost tourism potential

Saudi Arabia’s Asir region partners with Almosafer to boost tourism potential
Hashim Al-Dabbagh, acting CEO of Aseer Development Authority, and Muzzammil Ahussain, CEO of Almosafer. Almosafer
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Updated 13 May 2024

Saudi Arabia’s Asir region partners with Almosafer to boost tourism potential

Saudi Arabia’s Asir region partners with Almosafer to boost tourism potential

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Asir region is edging closer to becoming a premier global tourism destination, thanks to a new partnership with fellow Kingdom-based travel company Almosafer.    

Signed with the area’s development authority, the memorandum of understanding aims to leverage the firm’s expertise and diverse range of travel services across its business verticals to drive tourism in the region and curate inspired experiences for visitors, according to a statement. 

This move falls in line with both parties’ goal to establish Asir, situated along the Red Sea coast, as a year-round tourism destination for local and global visitors alike.  

“Our partnership with Almosafer comes at a significant moment as we are accelerating efforts to enhance the Asir region’s visibility and appeal to domestic and international travelers as a year-round-destination,” said Hashim Al-Dabbagh, acting CEO of Asir Development Authority.   

He added: “Through comprehensive training, collaborative marketing, and the integration of Asir’s activities and offerings onto Almosafer’s digital platforms, we aim to showcase the region’s exceptional offerings to the wider world.”   

Moreover, Almosafer’s geographical reach and experience in the Kingdom will be pivotal in introducing regional and global tourists to the region. 

On the other hand, Muzzammil Ahussain, CEO of Almosafer, said: “As the national champion of tourism in Saudi Arabia, Almosafer supports the tourism agenda of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and is well-positioned to showcase and unlock the potential of Asir’s tourism diversity by leveraging each of our business verticals. 

He added: “The collaboration with Asir Development Authority will contribute to the sustainable growth of the region’s tourism sector, help create memorable experiences for travelers, and foster positive economic impact within the local community.”

In February, during the Public Investment Fund’s second Private Sector Forum, Prince Turki bin Talal, chairman of Aseer Investment Co., unveiled the company’s ambitious plans as it embarked on its operational journey. 

“Today, with the commencement of our operations, we pledge to work tirelessly with our partners to make Asir the number one tourist destination in the Kingdom,” said Prince Turki, who is also the governor of the Asir region, at the time. 

With Saudi Arabia planning to invest $1 trillion in the tourism sector in line with its ambitious Vision 2030, the Asir region aims to raise its current tourism numbers and attract around 9.1 million tourists by the end of the decade. 

Oil Updates — crude falls on lingering demand concerns in China 

Oil Updates — crude falls on lingering demand concerns in China 
Updated 6 sec ago

Oil Updates — crude falls on lingering demand concerns in China 

Oil Updates — crude falls on lingering demand concerns in China 

RIYADH: Oil prices slipped on Tuesday on worries about a slowing Chinese economy crimping demand, though a growing consensus that the US Federal Reserve will begin cutting its key interest rate as soon as September limited declines, according to Reuters. 

Brent futures fell 57 cents, or 0.67 percent, to $84.28 a barrel by 09:30 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 59 cents, or 0.72 percent, to $81.32. 

IG market strategist Yeap Jun Rong, in an email, said the weaker run in Chinese economic data “cast some doubts on whether market participants are being overly optimistic around Chinese oil demand outlook.” 

The world’s second-largest economy grew 4.7 percent in April-June, official data showed, its slowest since the first quarter of 2023 and missing a 5.1 percent forecast in a Reuters poll. It also slowed from the previous quarter’s 5.3 percent expansion, hamstrung by a protracted property downturn and job insecurity. 

“Its 2Q GDP and retail sales figures had surprised on the downside by a significant margin, while anticipation for stronger stimulus measures at the Third Plenum may face the risks of disappointment,” Yeap added, referring to a key economic leadership meeting in Beijing this week. 

In the US, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Monday the three US inflation readings over the second quarter of this year “add somewhat to confidence” that the pace of price increases is returning to the central bank’s target in a sustainable fashion, remarks market participants interpreted as indicating that a turn to interest rate cuts may not be far off. 

Lower interest rates decrease the cost of borrowing, which can boost economic activity and oil demand. 

Some analysts cautioned about being overly bullish as expected weakness in some macroeconomic data from the US could still indirectly hurt oil demand in the near-term. 

“Macro factors are not in favour of higher oil prices in the near term (capped below $85/barrel for WTI crude) due to the prospect of weaker US retail sales for June that are due later today,” said OANDA senior market analyst Kelvin Wong in an email. 

Saudi Arabia’s annual inflation rate rises to 1.5% in June 2024: GASTAT

Saudi Arabia’s annual inflation rate rises to 1.5% in June 2024: GASTAT
Updated 47 min 44 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s annual inflation rate rises to 1.5% in June 2024: GASTAT

Saudi Arabia’s annual inflation rate rises to 1.5% in June 2024: GASTAT

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s annual inflation rate reached 1.5 percent in June 2024 compared to the same month last year, driven primarily by rising housing costs, according to the latest data. 

The report from the General Authority for Statistics highlighted that the 8.4 percent increase in the prices of housing, water, and electricity, as well as gas, and other fuels significantly contributed to the inflation rate. 

Actual housing rents saw an increase of 10.1 percent, with villa rentals rising by 7.9 percent. This category’s substantial weight in the overall index had a considerable impact on the inflation rate. 

Saudi Arabia’s inflation rate, while influenced by domestic factors such as housing and fuel costs, remains relatively moderate compared to other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which have faced varying inflationary pressures due to different economic policies and market conditions. 

According to the GASTAT report, food and beverage prices also saw an increase of 1.1 percent, influenced by a 6.5 percent rise in vegetable prices. The prices of restaurants and hotels rose by 2.4 percent, driven by a 9.8 percent increase in accommodation services.  

The education sector witnessed a 1.1 percent increase, mainly due to a 4.1 percent rise in fees for intermediate and secondary education. 

Conversely, the prices of furnishing and home equipment decreased by 3.7 percent, influenced by a 6.0 percent decline in furniture, carpets, and flooring prices.  

Clothing and footwear prices dropped by 3.6 percent, with ready-made clothing prices falling by 6.3 percent.  

Transportation costs also decreased by 2.7 percent, primarily due to a 4.6 percent reduction in vehicle purchase prices. Communication services saw a slight drop of 0.1 percent. 

Monthly inflation 

On a monthly basis, the consumer price index recorded a slight increase of 0.1 percent in June compared to the previous month.  

This monthly increase was mainly influenced by the rise in housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels by 0.5 percent, driven by a 0.7 percent increase in actual housing rents and prices. 

The report also noted minor increases in food and beverages with 0.1 percent, restaurants and hotels, and personal goods and services with 0.3 percent each, compared to the previous month.  

Meanwhile, the prices of clothing and footwear decreased by 0.2 percent. Furnishings, household equipment, and maintenance saw a decline of 0.5 percent. Recreation and culture prices dropped by 0.3 percent, while communications also fell by 0.3 percent. Health expenses decreased by 0.1 percent, and tobacco prices went down by 0.2 percent. 

The prices of education and transportation products remained stable. 

Wholesale price index 

In another report, GASTAT revealed that the wholesale price index increased by 3.2 percent in June compared to the same month of the previous year.  

This increase was mainly driven by a 13.4 percent rise in prices of basic chemicals and an 11.9 percent increase in prices of refined petroleum products.  

The category of other transportable goods saw an 8.0 percent increase, significantly impacted by these price rises.  

Prices of food products, beverages, tobacco, and textiles rose by 1.3 percent, with leather, leather products, and footwear prices increasing by 6.6 percent, and grain mills, starch, and other food products rising by 4.6 percent. 

However, on a monthly basis, the WPI decreased by 0.1 percent in June compared to May, attributed to a 0.3 percent decrease in the prices of ores and minerals, food products, beverages, tobacco, and textiles.  

The prices of basic metals decreased by 0.6 percent, while prices of agriculture and fishery products increased by 0.4 percent, driven by a 1.8 percent rise in the prices of live animals and animal products. 

Average prices  

In a separate bulletin from the GASTAT, notable shifts in the average prices of goods and services across Saudi Arabia for June 2024 were revealed.  

The data, which tracks price movements on a monthly basis, highlighted both increases and decreases in various categories, reflecting dynamic market conditions. 

Several goods and services recorded substantial price increases in June compared to May 2024.  

Furnished apartments saw the highest increase at 22.47 percent, followed by hotel accommodation at 20.38 percent, Indian pomegranates at 8 percent, local cucumbers at 7.24 percent, and local fig at 7.23 percent. 

The prices of 99mm, 300mm, and 120mm national electric cables increased by 3.39 percent, 3.37 percent, and 3.10 percent, respectively. 

Conversely, several items experienced significant price drops during the same period. Local melons saw the highest decrease at 16.39 percent, followed by imported onions at 14.15 percent, local onions at 11.52 percent, Lebanese peach at 9.51 percent, and Pakistani mango at 8.79 percent.  

Aluminum slightly decreased by 0.92 percent, 6mm national reinforcing iron by 0.80 percent, coal by 0.10 percent, and 15cm black block by 0.02 percent. 

These reports provide a comprehensive overview of the price movements in Saudi Arabia, reflecting the diverse factors influencing inflation and the cost of living in the Kingdom. The data highlighted the complexity of the economic landscape, with significant variations across different sectors and categories. 

SNB Capital among banks set to lead IPO of Nupco

SNB Capital among banks set to lead IPO of Nupco
Updated 15 July 2024

SNB Capital among banks set to lead IPO of Nupco

SNB Capital among banks set to lead IPO of Nupco

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has appointed SNB Capital as one of the banks leading on a planned initial public offering of the Kingdom's largest medical procurement firm, Arab News can confirm.

A spokesperson for SNB Capital verified its involvement in the listing process of the National Unified Procurement Co., which could raise up to $1 billion from the sale of a 30 percent stake in the company.

The bank was one of three mentioned in a report by Bloomberg, which also claimed JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley would be involved in the IPO, although neither of those institutions could be reached by Arab News for a comment.

The deal could come as soon as this year, Bloomberg said.

The IPO reflects investor confidence in Saudi Arabia’s economic reforms and the healthcare sector’s growth potential.

It also underscores the Kingdom’s commitment to attracting foreign investment and promoting private sector participation in its economy.

Founded in 2009, Nupco plays a crucial role in Saudi Arabia's healthcare sector by centralizing procurement and logistics services for medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.

This initiative aligns with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil revenues.

The IPO of Nupco is part of a broader strategy by the PIF to monetize its assets and invest in various sectors to drive economic growth and development.

The PIF, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been at the forefront of transforming Saudi Arabia’s economic landscape through substantial investments in sectors such as technology, entertainment, and tourism.

Healthcare development is one of the key pillars of Vision 2030 including boosting the pharmaceutical sector.

In June, Saudi healthcare group Dr. Soliman Abdel Kader Fakeeh Hospital Co. raised $763 million in a Riyadh IPO in June, closed at 10 percent above its offering price of SR57.5 ($15.3) in Riyadh.

Oman sees hotel revenue rise 10.2% thanks to European-led tourist surge 

Oman sees hotel revenue rise 10.2% thanks to European-led tourist surge 
Updated 15 July 2024

Oman sees hotel revenue rise 10.2% thanks to European-led tourist surge 

Oman sees hotel revenue rise 10.2% thanks to European-led tourist surge 

RIYADH: European travelers to Oman helped fuel a 10.2 percent rise in hotel revenue in the first five months of 2024, official data has revealed.

Figures from the National Centre for Statistics and Information show that three to five-star facilities in the country pulled in over 108.3 million Omani rials ($281.5 million) over the period, compared to 98.3 million rials in 2023.

Revenue growth was fueled by a 13.7 percent surge in the total number of hotel guests, with 286,980 European visitors — a 19.6 percent increase over the first five months of 2023.

Simultaneously, the hotel occupancy rate rose by 6 percent to reach 51.5 percent, compared to 2023.

Oman’s substantial increase in European visitors and strong local and regional turnout mirrors the broader strategy of diversifying tourist demographics and bolstering the hospitality sector seen across the GCC.

Similar to Oman, Saudi Arabia has topped the UN Tourism’s ranking for the growth of international tourist arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019 among large destinations, achieving an increase of 56 percent over that tiem, according to the World Tourism Barometer report released in January.

The NCSI report provides a detailed breakdown of the nationalities among the hotel guests in Oman during the first five months of 2024.. 

Among them, 306,255 were Omani citizens, reflecting a substantial local turnout with an 11 percent surge.

The number of Gulf Cooperation Council citizens visiting the Sultanate also increased, reaching 58,572 guests, up 6.8 percent comparted to the same period in 2023.

Additional Arab tourists contributed to the growth, with 40,548 travelers, marking a modest but positive 13.2 percent increase.  

Citizens from African countries demonstrated strong interest, with a rise of 1.6 percent, resulting in 4,677 visitors. 

Guests from the US also significantly contributed to the tourism growth, with the number of travelers reaching 28,695.

Additionally, guests from Oceania countries totaled 13,446 visitors.  

In addition, Oman’s airports handled more than 4.9 million passengers and 31,708 flights by the end of April.

Muscat International Airport saw 4.4 million passengers, a 16.8 percent increase, with 4.09 million international and 332,391 domestic passengers.

Indians topped the number of passengers through Muscat International Airport by the end of April, with 89,206 arrivals and 83,855 departures. 

They were followed by Bangladeshi nationals with 12,829 incoming and 20,597 outgoing passengers, and Pakistani nationals with 21,191 arrivals and 19,532 departures.

Sohar Airport served 22,390 passengers on 192 flights, while Duqm Airport carried 20,106 passengers on 208 flights.

Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 66 points to 11,948 

Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 66 points to 11,948 
Updated 15 July 2024

Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 66 points to 11,948 

Closing Bell: Saudi main index gains 66 points to 11,948 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index continued its upward movement on Monday, as it gained 66.15 points to close at 11,947.70.  

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR7.18 billion ($1.91 billion), with 105 of the listed stocks advancing and 116 declining.  

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s parallel market Nomu edged up by 0.60 percent to close Monday’s trading at 25,849.92.  

The MSCI Tadawul Index also gained 9.83 points to 1,497.85.  

The best-performing stock on the main market was Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co. The firm’s share price surged by 10 percent to SR20.68.  

Other top performers were National Gas and Industrialization Co. and Aljazira Takaful Taawuni Co., whose share prices soared by 6.01 percent and 5.32 percent, respectively.  

Similarly, the share prices of Makkah Construction and Development Co. and United Cooperative Assurance Co. also increased by 4.77 percent and 3.72 percent, respectively.  

The worst performer of the day was Al Taiseer Group Talco Industrial Co., as its share price dropped by 7.72 percent to SR65.70.  

On the other hand, the positive performance of Nomu on Monday was driven by Future Care Trading Co. and National Building and Marketing Co., whose share prices surged by 10.34 percent and 10 percent, respectively.  

The worst performer on the parallel market was Ladun Investment Co. The firm’s share price slipped by 7.42 percent to SR2.87.  

On the announcements front, Sure Global Tech Co. said it signed a contract worth SR51.99 million to develop a digital platform for the Entrustment and Liquidation Center, also known as Infath.  

In a Tadawul statement, the company said that the three-year contract will have a positive impact on its financials from 2024 through 2026.  

Meanwhile, Naseej for Technology Co. announced that it signed a contract worth SR11.3 million with the National eLearning Center.  

According to a Tadawul statement, the scope of the contract includes managing and operating NELC’s learning management system to enhance confidence in e-learning and lead sustainable innovation in Saudi Arabia.  

The statement added that the contract which is valid for 36 months is expected to positively impact Naseej Tech’s financial performance in 2024, 2025, and 2026.