Riyadh Airport leads annual audit awards as service quality improves across the Kingdom

Riyadh Airport leads annual audit awards as service quality improves across the Kingdom
Interior of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Shutterstock
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Updated 21 May 2024
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Riyadh Airport leads annual audit awards as service quality improves across the Kingdom

Riyadh Airport leads annual audit awards as service quality improves across the Kingdom

RIYADH: King Khalid International Airport secured first place at Saudi Arabia’s annual Aviation Security Audit Awards, with the Kingdom’s terminals achieving an 80 percent overall average in service quality assessments for 2023.

Announced during the Future Aviation Forum held in the Saudi capital, the Riyadh-located facility secured the top ranking based on factors such as operational performance standards, evaluation of airport facilities and services, passenger satisfaction questionnaire, and passenger complaints. 

King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Abha International Airport collected the second and third awards, respectively. 

The General Authority of Civil Aviation highlighted a 6 percent increase in Saudi airport performance in 2023 compared to the previous 12 months in its Comprehensive Airport Service Quality Assessment Program results. 

The program, one of GACA’s initiatives, aims to evaluate and enhance the quality of services provided to passengers at Saudi airports, improving the travel experience. 

The event was attended by Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailej, president of GACA, along with CEOs of airport companies and directors general of Saudi airports.  

In his speech, Al-Duailej emphasized that passenger services and satisfaction are fundamental principles guiding the Kingdom’s airports. He also highlighted the annual event’s role in showcasing its commitment to enhancing service quality, creating competitive airport environments, and promoting continual improvement and development. 

“As part of its regulatory and supervisory role, GACA has taken numerous steps to develop the Kingdom’s aviation system for effective performance,” he said.  

Al-Duailej added that improving the passenger experience and providing services that meet international standards are among GACA’s top priorities, aligning with the objectives of the National Aviation Strategy. 

The president also noted that GACA is continuously working to improve the passenger experience at airports by implementing strict monitoring and supervision standards and indicators. 

He further stated that over 1 million samples of operational performance data have been collected, and feedback from service users and stakeholders has been incorporated into the service development process. 

Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Dahmash, executive vice president for quality and passenger experience at GACA, noted that in 2023, the authority issued around 500 reports under the program.  

These included monthly and quarterly operational performance reports, passenger satisfaction surveys, semi-annual program results reports, and annual program review reports. 

During the event, Al-Duailej launched the ‘Bridges’ program, which aims to empower and connect the Saudi airport sector with local content, starting with 23 investment opportunities valued at SR7 billion ($1.87 billion) by 2030. The program is designed on several strategic pillars to develop national human capabilities. 


Kingdom signs deal to use Saudi technology in tree planting in Brazil

Kingdom signs deal to use Saudi technology in tree planting in Brazil
Updated 58 min 28 sec ago
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Kingdom signs deal to use Saudi technology in tree planting in Brazil

Kingdom signs deal to use Saudi technology in tree planting in Brazil
  • Agreement backed by Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Brazilian government

RIYADH: The Kingdom and Brazil have signed a partnership agreement to use smart Saudi digital technology in tree planting in the Brazilian city of Jatai, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The deal is sponsored by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and the Brazilian government.

It was agreed during MEWA’s participation in the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit in the Brazilian city of Goiania earlier this month, hosted by the National Federation of Young Entrepreneurs in Brazil.

The agreement is a turning point in international cooperation on preserving the environment, achieving sustainable development, and developing entrepreneurship, the SPA said.

It will contribute to stimulating the exchange of knowledge and technology and the transfer of expertise between the Kingdom and Brazil, enhancing their joint capability in reducing carbon emissions while strengthening strategic partnerships to develop and implement joint projects that promote sustainable development, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The ministry’s participation at the summit was represented by a number of entrepreneurship programs in the sector, and affiliated emerging companies.

Ali bin Mohammed Al-Sabhan, the director general of the General Department of Entrepreneurship at the ministry’s Research and Innovation Agency, said that such international participation was an example of MEWA’s efforts to support and empower entrepreneurs and emerging companies in its sectors.

It aims to continue working with member states to discuss ways of joint cooperation and exchange of expertise and knowledge, to enhance the development of the entrepreneurship system in the ministry’s sectors in particular, and the Kingdom in general, he added.


Saudi Fund for Development chief participates in OPEC forum, meets several officials

Saudi Fund for Development chief participates in OPEC forum, meets several officials
Updated 25 June 2024
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Saudi Fund for Development chief participates in OPEC forum, meets several officials

Saudi Fund for Development chief participates in OPEC forum, meets several officials
  • Parties discuss projects and programs funded by the SFD

RIYADH: Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Marshad, the CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development, participated on Tuesday in Vienna’s OPEC Fund Development Forum.

Al-Marshad was there to discuss with energy partners ways of supporting countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, and current global challenges.

Al-Marshad met the President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio on the sidelines of the forum. The parties looked at the SFD’s activities in financing development projects and programs in Sierra Leone, and discussed ways to enhance cooperation, the SFD said in a statement on X.

He also held talks with Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe; Maldives’ Minister of State for Finance Hussain Sham Adam; and Somalia’s Minister of Finance Bihi Egeh.

The parties discussed development projects and programs funded by the SFD and currently being implemented, as well as examining ways to enhance cooperation to finance development sectors, while reviewing relations between the fund and the respective countries.

The one-day forum brought together government leaders, heads of institutions and practitioners from the international development community to explore current challenges and opportunities “for delivering transformative and sustainable development” under the theme “Driving Resilience and Equity.”

The SFD has contributed within the framework of its development activity in financing projects and programs over 50 years in various vital sectors in Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, supporting social growth and economic prosperity in the beneficiary communities as they work toward achieving sustainable development, the Saudi Press Agency reported.


Saudi Arabia raises $1.17bn from June sukuk issuance

Saudi Arabia raises $1.17bn from June sukuk issuance
Updated 25 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia raises $1.17bn from June sukuk issuance

Saudi Arabia raises $1.17bn from June sukuk issuance

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has completed its riyal-denominated sukuk issuance for June at SR4.4 billion ($1.17 billion), according to the National Debt Management Center.

The Kingdom issued sukuk amounting to SR3.23 billion in May, while it was SR7.39 billion and SR4.4 billion in April and March respectively.

NDMC said that the Shariah-compliant debt product for June was divided into three tranches. The first amounted to SR1.6 billion and the second to SR53 million for sukuk maturing in 2027. The third tranche amounted to SR2.76 billion for sukuk maturing in 2034.

A report released by S&P Global in April said that sukuk issuance globally was expected to hover between the $160 billion to $170 billion mark in 2024, compared to $168.4 billion in 2023 and $179.4 billion in 2022. 

According to the US-based firm, the issuance of the debt product began on a strong footing in 2024, with Saudi Arabia becoming a key contributor to the performance.

The credit-rating agency also noted that the sukuk market will continue to grow in the near term, driven by financing needs in core Islamic finance countries and the ongoing economic transformation programs in nations like the Kingdom.

S&P Global said: “The market has started 2024 on a strong footing, with total issuance reaching $46.8 billion at March 31, 2024, compared with $38.2 billion at March 31, 2023. Saudi Arabia was a key contributor to this performance.

“The drop in issuance volumes in 2023, which mainly resulted from tighter liquidity conditions in Saudi Arabia’s banking system and Indonesia’s lower fiscal deficit, was somewhat compensated (for) by an increase in foreign currency-denominated sukuk issuance.”

An additional report released by Fitch Ratings in April echoed similar views and noted that global sukuk issuance was expected to grow in the coming months of this year.

The organization noted that economic diversification efforts and the rapid development of the debt capital market in the Gulf Cooperation Council region would propel the growth of the sukuk market as 2024 progresses.


Saudi Arabia welcomes global players in AI to ‘set up shop’ in Kingdom: minister

Saudi Arabia welcomes global players in AI to ‘set up shop’ in Kingdom: minister
Updated 25 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia welcomes global players in AI to ‘set up shop’ in Kingdom: minister

Saudi Arabia welcomes global players in AI to ‘set up shop’ in Kingdom: minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has “a lot to offer” global players in the artificial intelligence sector looking to set up shop in the Kingdom, a top minister has insisted. 

Speaking during the World Economic Forum’s 15th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the Summer Davos, which opened in northeast China’s coastal city of Dalian on June 25, Faisal Al-Ibrahim, Saudi Arabia’s minister of economy and planning, affirmed that Saudi Arabia is focused on ensuring that the global transition toward these emerging technologies occurs equitably.

The Kingdom is making significant strides in the world of artificial intelligence in pursuit of its ambitious initiatives to position Saudi Arabia as a global leader in the field.

The National Strategy for Data and Artificial Intelligence, launched in 2020, is a cornerstone of these efforts, seeking to attract $20 billion in investments by 2030 and cultivate a workforce of 20,000 AI and data specialists.

“One thing we’re really keen on and we’ve been working with the forum recently on is global governance. The Kingdom recently joined the artificial intelligence governance alliance, we specifically launched an inclusivity initiative,” he said.

Highlighting the role that AI can play in either easing or alleviating global disparities, he added: “If AI isn’t going to be accessible by developing cultures or the whole world all together, the gap we have is from an economic point of view, from a capability point of view.

“Institutional capabilities are the reasons why economies become more complex, the reason why countries perform better, one of the main reasons, and if AI comes in and isn’t really accessible by everyone, then that is really a big challenge and can even exacerbate the challenges we live in.”

Featuring the theme “Next Frontiers for Growth,” the event, held from June 25 to 27, is gathering some 1,600 leading figures from the public and private sectors across nearly 80 countries and regions to jointly explore new drivers and pathways for global economic growth.

This year’s forum covers multiple key pillars, including “A New Global Economy, China and the World,” “Entrepreneurship in the Age of AI,” and “New Frontiers for Industries,” as well as “Investing in People,” and “Connecting Climate, Nature and Energy.”

In a dialogue session entitled “What do we expect from future growth?” Al-Ibrahim discussed the rapid growth of non-oil activities in Saudi Arabia since the launch of Vision 2030.

He said: “The Kingdom achieved the fastest economic growth rate for the year 2022 at 8.7 percent, and non-oil activities achieved 5.6 percent, and even today, the growth of non-oil activities remains strong, as non-oil activity constitutes 51 percent of the real gross domestic product. The Kingdom’s non-oil economy is larger than its oil economy.”

At the conclusion of his participation, the minister stressed the necessity of developing a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing worldwide economic challenges, noting that by adopting international cooperation, innovation, and comprehensive solutions, the global community can effectively address some of these obstacles and mitigate their severity.


Saudi financial sector to grow bond offerings, investment minister reveals at London forum

Saudi financial sector to grow bond offerings, investment minister reveals at London forum
Updated 25 June 2024
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Saudi financial sector to grow bond offerings, investment minister reveals at London forum

Saudi financial sector to grow bond offerings, investment minister reveals at London forum

RIYADH: Bond offerings in Saudi Arabia are set to expand with increased activity, highlighting significant growth opportunities in the Kingdom’s financial sector, according to the investment minister.

On the sidelines of the UK-Saudi Sustainable Infrastructure Summit in London on June 24, Khalid Al-Falih noted that despite the substantial and rapid growth in business opportunities in the Kingdom, certain aspects of the financial sector have not progressed fully, reported the Independent Arabia.

“Considering the size of the growth acceleration and its scope in business opportunities in Saudi Arabia, some aspects related to the financial sector have not fully evolved yet, especially in terms of penetration levels and trading of issued bonds. Bond offerings in Saudi Arabia should witness growth through increased activity. There are significant growth opportunities available in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Falih stated.

The minister emphasized that sustainable energy sources are a pivotal sector set for significant growth in the Kingdom, positioning the nation as a worldwide leader in competitive solutions, contributing to global economic growth.

Saudi Ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar said the relationship between Riyadh and London has “grown stronger over time and will continue to strengthen,” reported the Independent Arabia.

He added: “Our mission is to ensure that people living in Saudi Arabia, regardless of what is happening there today, continue to receive those opportunities.”

The ambassador further highlighted the expansive growth potential across all industries in the Kingdom, highlighting upcoming presentations about promising opportunities in the country.

“For example, if you look at the country's capacity for renewable energy, before launching the 2030 plan, it was very limited, and today we are doubling what we can offer year after year. By 2030, our goal is for 50 percent of our energy sources to be renewable, produced by clean energy,” Bandar said.

He continued: “This is just the beginning, and we will continue to do so in every area you can imagine, whether it's this topic or another. I think it makes our mission easy to know that there is always room for growth.”

According to the Independent Arabia, the ambassador further explained his perspective on investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia, saying that he learned from his days in the private sector the danger of being the one to “miss the boat.”

He continued: “I say that the promising investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia are making the boats flow, and they are getting bigger every day, and more ports are opening their arms. Yes, there are promising opportunities in Saudi Arabia. Some people might say ‘I can miss this boat and get on the next one,’ and I say ‘Why should you miss this boat?’ There are great opportunities in Saudi Arabia.”

He discussed the bright future ahead for the nation’s many industries, pointing out that they are now expanding, particularly in the financial sector.

“You can talk about these opportunities or go explore them in Saudi Arabia,” he said to the group of investors, reported the Independent Arabia.

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s $500-billion giga-project NEOM, said that the Kingdom is eager to strengthen its infrastructure-focused alliances with Britain.

Al-Nasr stated that NEOM is currently the largest sustainable region in the world and highlighted bold plans and objectives to become carbon neutral by 2030. He mentioned that NEOM will encompass 26,500 sq. km, which is the same area as Belgium.

“The United Kingdom has some of the most innovative green technology companies that embrace the circular economy and green, sustainable solutions. We look forward to integrating new and existing partnerships with our British funding, and we see that there are several great opportunities for both countries on the rise,” Al-Nasr said, as reported by the Independent Arabia.

Furthermore, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli, said that “Vision 2030” represents a foundational strategy for economic and social transformation in Saudi Arabia.

“I have heard about 14 major projects, which are amazing, futuristic, and inspiring projects, along with a plan for important infrastructure initiatives worth $800 billion to double the size of Riyadh city over the next decade,” Mainelli said.

He underscored that “these giant projects will support major events that we will hear about, such as Saudi Arabia hosting Expo 2030 and the 23rd and 24th World Basketball Championships, and Miami Valley skiing holidays.”

Mainelli continued: “These diverse events will play a prominent role in the future, all of which are related to the ambition of building modern, reasonable, and sustainable cities, as evident from Saudi Arabia's embrace of new technologies such as hydrogen and artificial intelligence.”

The Lord Mayor of the City of London added that artificial intelligence and other technologies will propel Saudi Arabia toward net zero and broader climate goals.