Speed of Saudi innovation ‘wowing’ UK, says British trade campaign executive

Special Speed of Saudi innovation ‘wowing’ UK, says British trade campaign executive
Kate Taylor Tett, director of the GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland Campaign. AN
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Updated 16 May 2024
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Speed of Saudi innovation ‘wowing’ UK, says British trade campaign executive

Speed of Saudi innovation ‘wowing’ UK, says British trade campaign executive

RIYADH: UK delegates at the GREAT Futures Initiative Conference have been “wowed” by Saudi Arabia's business landscape, according to a senior British trade executive. 

Speaking during an interview with Arab News, Kate Taylor Tett, director of the GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland Campaign, noted that the event served as a catalyst for change and progress by facilitating cross-sectoral collaboration and dialogue between counterparts from both nations.

She also stressed the fast pace of innovation observed in Saudi Arabia, which has left a strong impression.

“I think what this event has done is put Saudi right at the top of that list. So at the moment, you know, Saudi is the 24th biggest trading partner for the UK,” Tett said.

She added: “I think this top event will really accelerate that because people see it as an opportunity that they need to address right now, not at some point in the future, and hopefully that’s really exciting for businesses.”

Tett also stated that the event attendees were impressed by what they experienced in Saudi Arabia, which led to a shift in their opinions about the market.

“I haven’t spoken to a single person at this event who hasn’t been wowed by what they’ve seen when they’ve come here. I think their opinions have shifted, and that in itself is a huge opportunity,” she said.

Tett also explained that the event is not just a two-day gathering; it is a program that extends over a year and involves various collaborations between UK businesses and counterparts in Saudi Arabia. 

“I know there’ll be lots of sort of cross-fertilization in that way, so this, these two days are very much a catalyst for initially a year-long program. But I think what you’ll see is that then that becomes a leap pad for things beyond that,” she said.

Commenting on the UK-Saudi partnerships, Tett emphasized the significance of innovation in collaboration between countries that are actively engaged in progressive undertakings.

She also stressed the fast pace of innovation observed in Saudi Arabia, which has left a strong impression.

“Everybody I’ve spoken to here has just been wowed by the pace of innovation in Saudi. And clearly bringing that innovation together and companies working together just creates these huge opportunities which have an economic benefit on both sides of the partnership,” Tett underscored.

She added: “I think what really hit me has been the energy and the positivity of everybody that I’ve met. I spent some time working in the world of startups, and I think Saudi feels like a huge startup. Everything feels possible.”

She concluded by expressing her enthusiasm among the participants and describing their collective drive to make progress as “really infectious.”


Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in red at 11,498 

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in red at 11,498 
Updated 8 sec ago
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in red at 11,498 

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in red at 11,498 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index dipped on Thursday, losing 152.88 points, or 1.31 percent, to close at 11,498.93.   

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR10.97 billion ($2,92 billion) as 62 of the listed stocks advanced, while 165 retreated.    

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index decreased by 18.86 points, or 1.29 percent, to close at 1,437.54. 

However, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu increased by 104.55 points, or 0.39 percent, to close at 26,753.99. This comes as 30 of the listed stocks advanced, while as many as 27 retreated.  

The top-performing stock of the day was Rasan Information Technology Co., which saw its share price surge by 30 percent to SR48.10. 

Other top performers included Al Taiseer Group Talco Industrial Co. and Al Moammar Information Systems Co., whose share prices soared by 14.42 percent and 7.24 percent, to stand at SR49.20 and SR163, respectively. 

In addition to this, other top performers included Saudi Cable Co. and Chubb Arabia Cooperative Insurance Co. 

The worst performer of the day was Saudi Manpower Solutions Co., with its share price dropping by 8.51 percent to SR8.28. 

Other poor performers included ACWA Power Co. and Miahona Co., with their share prices declining by 5.31 percent and 5.19 percent to reach SR331.80 and SR21.56, respectively. 

Furthermore, other underperforming stocks included Sahara International Petrochemical Co. and Savola Group. 

On the announcements front, Rasan Information Technology Co. surged in its Riyadh debut, raising SR841 million with its shares peaking at SR48.1, a 30 percent increase from the offer price of SR37. 

Bloomberg reported that the IPO saw strong demand, with orders totaling $29 billion, making it oversubscribed 129 times, reflecting Saudi Arabia’s push to diversify its stock exchange beyond traditional sectors like banking and industry.  

“Rasan, which operates online insurance platforms such as Tameeni and Treza, will be among the first fintech firms to go public in the kingdom, which has only seen a few tech listings so far,” Bloomberg added. 

Besides Rasan, buy-now-pay-later firm Tabby and online cosmetics retailer Nice One are considering IPOs, according to Bloomberg News. 


Flyadeal receives first fully-owned aircraft in landmark moment 

Flyadeal receives first fully-owned aircraft in landmark moment 
Updated 12 min 43 sec ago
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Flyadeal receives first fully-owned aircraft in landmark moment 

Flyadeal receives first fully-owned aircraft in landmark moment 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s low-cost airline flyadeal has taken delivery of its first-ever wholly-owned aircraft in a “milestone” moment, according to the CEO.

The airline received the Airbus A320neo, named Al Sama after an Arabic constellation star in Toulouse, Airbus’ main assembly site.

This acquisition is also the company’s first new aircraft in 2024 and marks the beginning of a delivery plan that includes adding four vessels this year and eight A320neos in 2025.

The newly acquired aircraft will join the airline’s expanding domestic and international route network, serving nearly 30 destinations across Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa.

Flyadeal CEO Steven Greenway, along with colleagues Ahmed Bakadam, director of maintenance and engineering, and Ali Al-Zahrani, senior manager technical fleet, gathered in France for the official exchange. 

“The addition of aircraft number 33 represents a symbolic double milestone for flyadeal, bringing in our first fully owned aircraft and inducting the first new aircraft into the fleet this year. Until now all flyadeal aircraft are leased,” Greenway said.

He added: “With a plan targeting around 50 aircraft by the end of 2025 that will double to 100 by 2030, we are on course for a dynamic delivery schedule over the next few years. An incredible growth path that is being accelerated by the shear demand for inbound and outbound travel catering to a diverse profile of travellers.”

Greenway expressed satisfaction with their partnership with Airbus and highlighted the aircraft’s comfort and eco-friendliness, emphasizing their commitment to providing passengers with a positive flying experience. 

As part of future fleet requirements, flyadeal placed its largest ever order last month for a further 51 Airbus A320 family aircraft comprising 12 A320neos and 39 larger A321neos. 

Sporting a spacious cabin of 186 seats in a three–three configuration that features seating of the highest standards and specifications for a low-cost airline and larger than normal overhead bins, the A320neo is the backbone of flyadeal’s fleet, which is among the youngest in the industry averaging just over two years old. 


Saudi Aramco partners with NextDecade for 20-year LNG supply deal

Saudi Aramco partners with NextDecade for 20-year LNG supply deal
Updated 13 June 2024
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Saudi Aramco partners with NextDecade for 20-year LNG supply deal

Saudi Aramco partners with NextDecade for 20-year LNG supply deal

RIYADH: Energy giant Saudi Aramco has signed a non-binding agreement with US-based NextDecade to supply 1.2 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas for 20 years.

According to a press statement, LNG will be supplied from the fourth liquefaction train at NextDecade’s Rio Grande Facility at the Port of Brownsville in Texas. 

“Aramco and NextDecade are currently in the process of negotiating a binding agreement, and once executed, the effectiveness of which will be subject to a positive final investment decision on Train 4,” said Aramco in the press statement. 

Aramco’s Upstream President Nasir K. Al-Naimi said the company is exploring opportunities to expand its presence in the global energy market. 

“We look forward to finalizing the terms of a long-term LNG offtake agreement with NextDecade as we explore opportunities to expand our presence in international energy markets,” said Al-Naimi in the release.  

“We expect LNG to play an important role in meeting the rising demand for secure and efficient energy,” he added. 

Matt Schatzman, chairman and CEO of NextDecade, said he is “pleased to have reached a heads of agreement with Aramco for LNG from Train 4, as Aramco seeks to expand its LNG portfolio.” 

Saudi Aramco, one of the biggest energy firms in the world, has been taking crucial steps in recent months to expand its global presence. 

In May, Aramco completed the acquisition of a 40 percent stake in Gas & Oil Pakistan, officially marking the Saudi company’s entry into Pakistan’s fuel retail market.

In April, Saudi Aramco disclosed that it is in talks to acquire a 10 percent stake in China’s Hengli Petrochemical, aiming to strengthen Aramco’s growing downstream presence in the Asian country. 

In February, speaking at the India Energy Week in Goa, Faisal Faqeer, Saudi Aramco’s senior vice president of liquids to chemicals development downstream, revealed that the energy giant is engaged in investment discussions with several Indian companies. 

Earlier this month, Saudi Aramco also retained the leading spot in Forbes Middle East’s Top 100 listed companies for 2024, with $660.8 billion in assets and $1.9 trillion in market value.

Moreover, Saudi Aramco continued its strong fiscal performance in the first quarter of this year amid global economic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions. 

On May 12, Saudi Aramco revealed that its net profit for the first quarter of this year reached $27.27 billion, representing a rise of 2.04 percent compared to the last three months of 2023. 

According to a statement, the oil firm’s total revenue for the three months to the end of March stood at $107.21 billion, with total operating income for the period reaching $58.88 billion.  


NEOM welcomes Capella’s wellness-focused resort in Magna region

NEOM welcomes Capella’s wellness-focused resort in Magna region
Updated 13 June 2024
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NEOM welcomes Capella’s wellness-focused resort in Magna region

NEOM welcomes Capella’s wellness-focused resort in Magna region

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s future city, NEOM, is poised to welcome an 80-room wellness-focused resort after Capella Hotels and Resorts announced its first coastal destination at Elanan in the Magna region. 

This new offering from the Singapore-based hospitality group provides a fresh option for travelers to the area, supporting the Kingdom’s ambitions to establish itself as a tourism hub in the region. 

The resort is part of the sustainable development unfolding in northwest Saudi Arabia, the company said in a press release. 

Cristiano Rinaldi, president of Capella Hotel Group, said: “Combining Saudi Arabia’s breathtaking natural landscapes with NEOM’s innovative technology, we are poised to provide guests with an unparalleled wellness experience that promises delight and discovery.”  

He added: “This sanctuary will elevate Capella Hotels and Resorts’ esteemed wellness offering, featuring a curated series of exciting programs.” 

In February, NEOM announced Elanan, a new guest retreat focused on luxury and well-being experiences, nestled in a natural setting. 

This announcement adds to NEOM's recent sustainable tourism destinations in the Gulf of Aqaba, including Leyja, Epicon, and Siranna. It also includes Utamo and Norlana, along with Aquellum, Zardun, and Xaynor. 

Jeremy Lester, NEOM's executive director for Magna, expressed delight in collaborating with Capella Hotels and Resorts at Elenan. He described it as a “stunning haven that blends luxury with the spectacular landscape,” offering an exclusive sustainable retreat dedicated to holistic wellness. 

“It’s a fusion of aligned values and aspirations. Together, we’ll craft an environment to set a new standard in luxury guest experiences.” Lester said. 

The release emphasized that guests experience tranquility in a modern environment that blends contemporary design with natural beauty. 

It also noted that Capella enhances hospitality with a focus on wellness and innovative design through Capella Wellness, providing a relaxing sanctuary infused with modern aesthetics. 

On June 5, NEOM revealed its luxury lifestyle destination Magna. The development is part of NEOM’s sustainable portfolio in the region, focusing on integrating cutting-edge technology, world-class architecture, and modern amenities with the natural environment, according to a press release. 


GCC banks hold interest rates steady for 7th consecutive period following US Fed’s move

GCC banks hold interest rates steady for 7th consecutive period following US Fed’s move
Updated 36 min 46 sec ago
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GCC banks hold interest rates steady for 7th consecutive period following US Fed’s move

GCC banks hold interest rates steady for 7th consecutive period following US Fed’s move

RIYADH: Gulf Cooperation Council central banks have held interest rates steady for the seventh consecutive period, aligning with the US Federal Reserve’s benchmark rate of 5.25 to 5.50 percent.

Since most regional currencies are pegged to the US dollar, monetary policies in the Gulf follow decisions made in Washington, leading policymakers to keep the rate unchanged since July.  

The freeze comes as the US rate-setting panel outlined its view of an economy that is expected to remain virtually unchanged across its major dimensions for years.

This decision implies that the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, will maintain its repo rates at the current level of 6 percent. Moreover, the UAE central bank, along with Qatar, also mirrored the Fed’s move with their repo rates standing at 5.40 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The central banks of Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain also followed the move accordingly.

Repo rates, which represent a form of short-term borrowing primarily involving government securities, underscore the close economic ties and financial dynamics between the GCC countries and the global economic landscape, particularly the US.  

“With rates staying at high levels, Saudi Arabia mortgage rates and corporate loan borrowers are unlikely to see any relief soon. However, the strong KSA economy means bank’s asset quality will remain strong,” Chief Information Officer at Century Financial Vijay Valecha told Arab News.

“High interest rates are unlikely to hamper the economic growth due to strong performance of its non-oil economy and the funding for the mega projects by sovereign authority. Additionally, from the KSA’s perspective, the USD is likely to stay strong and this should keep the imports cheap since the Riyal is pegged to the greenback,” Valecha further added.

The CIO went on to note that with the current oil price of $80 a barrel and the anticipated interest rate cuts, Saudi Arabia, stands to benefit.

“This translates to increased government revenue for Saudi Arabia, bolsters overall economic activity, and ultimately that’s the biggest macro-economic variable from the government’s perspective,” he said.

US decision-makers noted that rates will remain unchanged until the economy signals a need for adjustment, either through a significant decline in price pressures or a rise in the unemployment rate.  

“These dynamics can continue as long as they continue. We’ve got a good strong labor market. We think we’ve been making progress toward the price stability goal. We’re asking ... is our policy stance about, right? And we think yes, it’s about right,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, according to Reuters.   

The result is that the Fed has accepted a gradual decline in inflation toward its 2 percent target. The central bank’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures price index, is expected to remain largely unchanged from its current level by the end of this year, with rate cuts limited to a single quarter-percentage-point reduction.  

“We don’t make decisions about future meetings until we get there. Really, it’s going to be not just the inflation readings. It’s going to be the totality of the data, what’s happening in the labor market, what’s happening with the balance of risks, what’s happening with the forecasts, what’s happening with growth. You’re looking at all of that,” Powell stressed. 

The latest Fed projections indicate that the economy is expected to grow at a slightly above-trend rate of 2.1 percent this year, despite a slow start in the first quarter. The unemployment rate is also projected to remain steady at its current 4 percent level throughout the year.