MYNM’s Defender partners with Hero Balloon Flights in AlUla

MYNM’s Defender partners with Hero Balloon Flights in AlUla
Rhett Maxwell, managing director, MYNM Co. (Jaguar Land Rover), and Adam McEwan, co-founder and chief executive of Hero Experiences Group.
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Updated 29 May 2024
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MYNM’s Defender partners with Hero Balloon Flights in AlUla

MYNM’s Defender partners with Hero Balloon Flights in AlUla

Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Co., the official distributor of Jaguar Land Rover products in Saudi Arabia, has signed a landmark partnership with Hero Balloon Flights, a subsidiary of Hero Experiences Group, the Kingdom’s first commercial hot air balloon operator, and the exclusive hot air balloon experience provider in AlUla. This collaboration is designed to enhance the guest experience in AlUla, one of the most enchanting and historic regions in Saudi Arabia.

AlUla, known for its rich history and stunning landscapes, now hosts an innovative experience that fuses tradition with modernity. This partnership will see the iconic Defender, renowned for its adventurous spirit and heritage, integrated into Hero Balloon Flights’ offerings. Guests will be transported in luxurious Defenders to enjoy breathtaking hot air balloon journeys over AlUla’s majestic canyons and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Hegra archaeological site.

Rhett Maxwell, managing director, MYNM Co. (Jaguar Land Rover), said: “The Defender, much like AlUla, is steeped in heritage, designed for adventure and embodies a legacy of endurance and exploration. Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Co. is pleased to showcase the Defender’s capabilities in a setting that resonates with Jaguar Land Rover, with a shared heritage and a commitment to exceptional experiences. We are thrilled to offer guests of AlUla an unparalleled experience that combines the thrill of exploration with the utmost luxury and comfort of the Defender.”

Adam McEwan, co-founder and chief executive of Hero Experiences Group, highlighted the significance of the partnership: “The addition of the Defender to our fleet in AlUla rounds off the experience with that touch of luxury we are known for. The three key elements in this venture — AlUla, Defender, and Hero Experiences Group — are all passionate about adventure, culture, and heritage. That makes this the ideal partnership in an ideal location, giving us the opportunity to truly showcase what makes AlUla so special, enhanced by unique experiences in beautiful vehicles. We are extremely excited to partner with Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors Co. in this venture. We see this to be a long-term and fruitful relationship that will take the opportunities to discover AlUla to new heights, quite literally.”

The collaboration is more than a partnership; it is a celebration of the shared values of adventure and heritage. The Defender complements AlUla’s awe-inspiring beauty, offering a harmonious blend of the past and the present. 

Together, MYNM Co. and Hero Balloon Flights are committed to providing visitors with a truly memorable and unique experience that honors the spirit of exploration as well as the rich cultural tapestry of AlUla.


Saudi space graduate Sarah Alhabbas lauded in Germany

Sarah Alhabbas and Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan Al-Saud were joined at this special event by Serco’s senior officials
Sarah Alhabbas and Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan Al-Saud were joined at this special event by Serco’s senior officials
Updated 15 July 2024
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Saudi space graduate Sarah Alhabbas lauded in Germany

Sarah Alhabbas and Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan Al-Saud were joined at this special event by Serco’s senior officials

Sarah Alhabbas, the first graduate of Serco’s Space Graduate Program, was invited on Thursday to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Germany to meet with Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan Al-Saud, the Saudi ambassador to Germany. The invitation was in recognition of her remarkable progress within a sector pitted to be instrumental in the achievement of Vision 2030. During the meeting, Alhabbas discussed how her experience with Serco can be an inspiration to the next generation of Saudi talent.

Alhabbas, currently working in Serco’s Copernicus Operations Support Services or COP-2, with the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany as part of her intensive training program, was joined at this special event by Serco Middle East’s Head of Space Amar Vora, Serco’s KSA Country Director Mona Althagafi and Serco’s Head of COP-2 Islam Alizada. This prestigious invitation underscores Saudi Arabia’s keenness to develop its human resources and the pivotal role Serco is playing in advancing the Kingdom’s capabilities in the space industry, highlighting how the private sector company is supporting the Kingdom’s commitment to nurturing local talent capabilities to support Vision 2030 as a government impact partner.

Alhabbas was chosen by Serco as their first space graduate from more than 400 applications. An aerospace engineering graduate with a minor in applied mathematics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the US, she joined Serco as a graduate spacecraft operations engineer. In the past 12 months, Alhabbas underwent comprehensive training in the Kingdom and is now coming to the end of an intensive six-month training program at Serco’s COP-2 facilities in Germany, aimed at deepening her theoretical knowledge. Upon completion, Alhabbas will be certified as a proficient spacecraft operations engineer in a graduation taking place later this summer. After supporting a launch campaign, she will return to Saudi Arabia where she will transfer the knowledge gained to the wider Serco space team and its clients.

This accomplishment highlights the broader impact of Serco’s initiatives in the Kingdom. Serco has more than 60 years of space experience globally, supporting civil and military space programs, including those of the European Space Agency, the UK Ministry of Defense and NASA. In 2023, it launched a dedicated space division in the Middle East to support local talent and develop regional capabilities, ensuring the transfer of its wide-ranging operational knowledge and capabilities to the region. Its graduate, space-specific program is the first of its kind not only within the Kingdom, but also across Serco globally. By leveraging decades of global experience in the space industry, Serco is playing a crucial role in transferring knowledge and skills to Saudi nationals, impacting a better future.

Prince Abdullah said: “Sarah Alhabbas’ accomplishments epitomize the potential and the great expectation of Saudi Arabia’s youth in pioneering new frontiers. Her journey marks a significant personal achievement and symbolizes the leadership’s confidence and ambition in our nation’s youth. We are happy to celebrate Sarah’s accomplishment and look forward to her contribution to the Kingdom’s aerospace sector.”

Alhabbas said: “This opportunity to train with the European Space Agency and seasoned, international experts has been transformative. I am deeply honored by this recognition from Prince Abdullah. It reaffirms my commitment to contributing to the Saudi space sector and to inspiring other young Saudis to pursue their passions in this exciting field.”

Vora, Serco’s Middle East head of space, said: “At Serco, we are committed to bringing our global expertise to Saudi Arabia, fostering local talent and driving the Kingdom’s space ambitions. Sarah’s success is a shining example of what can be achieved through dedication and the right support. We are thrilled to see her represent the future of Saudi space exploration.”


Dell, Aramco, and NITA to empower future IT leaders of KSA

Dell, Aramco, and NITA to empower future IT leaders of KSA
Updated 14 July 2024
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Dell, Aramco, and NITA to empower future IT leaders of KSA

Dell, Aramco, and NITA to empower future IT leaders of KSA

Dell Technologies, Aramco, and the National IT Academy have signed a collaboration agreement to empower Saudi Arabia’s local talent with advanced science and technology skills.

The partnership will provide Saudi students with advanced training programs and certifications that will help develop a skilled and readily employable technology talent pool in the Kingdom.

The agreement was signed by Nabil Al-Nuaim, senior vice president, digital and information technology, Aramco; Majed S. Al-Ghassab, executive director, NITA; and Mohammed Amin, senior vice president, Central Eastern Europe, Middle East, Turkiye, Africa, Dell Technologies.

As per the agreement, a four-month-long program “ITXcelerate” will equip recent Saudi graduates in computer engineering, computer science, and IT with Dell Proven Professional Certification across areas such as storage management, data science, and AI. It also includes hands-on experience with on-site job shadowing and mentoring opportunities. This immersive program will go beyond theoretical concepts and arm local talent with the skills and knowledge required to excel and thrive in today’s data-driven world.

It aligns with Saudi Arabia’s vision to foster a vibrant tech ecosystem and equip its workforce with the skills necessary to contribute to the nation’s technological advancement and economic prosperity. By combining their expertise and resources, the collaboration signifies a shared commitment to fostering a competent and future-ready IT workforce in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Nuaim said: “Aramco is pleased to be part of this agreement with Dell and NITA, as we collectively seek to elevate the Kingdom’s technological offerings through talent advancement. By investing in the training and certification of local IT talent, we aim to meet the needs of the industry and position Saudi Arabia as a hub of IT innovation and excellence. This agreement underscores our plan to nurture a skilled workforce that will not only contribute to Saudi Vision 2030 but also showcase the nation’s prowess on the international tech landscape.”

Meanwhile, Al-Ghassab said: “As an establishment invested in nurturing Saudi Arabia’s human capital, NITA is committed to raising Saudi graduates’ skill levels through comprehensive training programs, hands-on experiential learning, and strategic industry collaborations. Working with Aramco and Dell on this exciting agreement allows us to leverage their expertise in program management and training delivery to create a valuable learning experience for students. We believe this agreement will help play a crucial role in preparing Saudi Arabia’s emerging talent for success in the dynamic job market and contribute to the nation’s ambitious technology goals.”

Amin added: “We are enthusiastic about collaborating with Aramco and NITA to empower Saudi Arabia’s future IT leaders. Dell has a distinguished track record of actively engaging with local communities and empowering them to build a sustainable cornerstone for tomorrow. By sharing our IT industry expertise and providing practical mentorship and industry certification, we aim to equip young Saudi people with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the ever-evolving tech landscape. This agreement directly aligns with our mission to support the development of a robust and future-proof technology ecosystem in the Kingdom.”


Mastercard, Global Hotel Alliance launch co-branded card

Mastercard, Global Hotel Alliance launch co-branded card
Updated 14 July 2024
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Mastercard, Global Hotel Alliance launch co-branded card

Mastercard, Global Hotel Alliance launch co-branded card

Mastercard and Global Hotel Alliance, one of the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands, have signed a multimarket agreement to introduce a co-branded card, designed to boost the travel and hospitality experience for discerning travelers. The collaboration will be tailored to the unique needs of affluent cardholders — offering a vast choice of accommodation arrangements and rewards.

According to Mastercard’s Affluent Travel Report, 34 percent of affluent travelers in the MENA region are users of loyalty schemes and membership cards, and more than half of the affluent travelers say they are looking for more meaningful experiences rather than shopping and souvenirs. With this partnership, Mastercard and GHA will curate more personalized and enriching travel experiences for UAE cardholders.

“Mastercard is committed to connecting people to their passions while also enhancing consumer experiences and driving positive change. As we witness a rise in luxury travel in the region, we continue to enrich customer experiences through comprehensive travel benefits, rewards, and convenience. We look forward to our partnership with GHA as we continue to chart a path in redefining luxury travel,” said Amnah Ajmal, executive vice president, market development, EEMEA, Mastercard.

“Our partnership with Mastercard marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to reward our loyal customers. The co-branded credit card will not only offer unparalleled rewards and benefits, but also reinforce our position as a leader in the luxury hospitality sector,” said Chris Hartley, CEO, Global Hotel Alliance.

We love partnerships that bring added value to our member base, and so we choose to collaborate with select partners, who can create unique benefits and exclusive opportunities for our customers,” said Chris Hartley, CEO, Global Hotel Alliance.

The two companies have a long-standing relationship that started in 2015, when they introduced exclusive fast-track to elite status of GHA’s award-winning loyalty program — GHA Discovery — for Mastercard World and World Elite cardholders in the Middle East and Africa as well as in Asia-Pacific.

GHA marks its 20th anniversary this year and represents a collection of 40 brands with more than 800 hotels in 100 countries.


Emirates brings signature lounge experience to Jeddah

Emirates brings signature lounge experience to Jeddah
Updated 13 July 2024
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Emirates brings signature lounge experience to Jeddah

Emirates brings signature lounge experience to Jeddah

Emirates has officially opened the doors to its first ever lounge in the region at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. The airline’s newest dedicated lounge will accommodate customers flying on its triple daily A380 services.

The 900-square-meter lounge, worth 20 million dirhams ($5.4 million), located in the airport’s new Terminal 1 will cater to the airline’s first and business class passengers, as well as Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold members, with the capacity to accommodate more than 190 guests at any one time, in a variety of seating options.

The investment reflects the airline’s commitment to progressively growing its presence in the Kingdom, supporting aviation goals of Saudi Vision 2030, and its ongoing dedication to ensuring a thoughtful and welcoming Emirates experience on the ground for customers flying from one of Emirates’ most important markets globally. This year, Emirates is also celebrating a milestone in its operations to Saudi Arabia, marking 35 years of service to Jeddah.

The official opening of the lounge was attended by Nasser Huwaiden Al-Ketbi, consul general of the UAE in Jeddah; Raed bin Ibrahim Al-Mudaiheem, chairman of the board of directors of Jeddah Airports Company; Mohammed Mattar, divisional senior vice president — airport services at Emirates; Mazen Johar, CEO of JEDCO; Sami Aqil Abdulla, senior vice president — airport services for outstations and business support; Jabr Al-Azeeby, vice president — commercial operations for Emirates in Saudi Arabia; and Amer Al-Arai, airport services manager for Emirates at King Abdulaziz International Airport. 

Mattar said: “Jeddah was our first gateway into the Kingdom 35 years ago, so it’s fitting that the King Abdulaziz International Airport, a world-class facility, is the first airport in the region outside of Dubai to feature an Emirates dedicated lounge. The lounge, comfortably situated at the center of Terminal 1, is beautifully designed to deliver an industry-leading experience and Emirates’ signature hospitality for our customers from the moment they step inside. We thank the airport authorities for their support in helping us open our doors to officially welcome customers and provide them with a memorable travel experience on the ground.”

Meanwhile, Johar said: “The launch of Emirates lounge at King Abdulaziz International Airport reflects the 35-year-long strategic relationship of providing multiple travel options to passengers through the airline’s three daily flights. The lounge is a significant addition to the airport’s services and supports the comprehensive development efforts at the airport, aimed at providing an enjoyable and seamless travel experience for passengers from all over the world.”

The new lounge features a refreshed and sophisticated design, anchored in contemporary elements with regional design influences. The welcoming space offers a variety of seating configurations, including dining, lounging, and quiet spaces for relaxation. Inside the lounge, customers can look forward to a wide range of dining options, luxurious shower facilities, a prayer room, and other amenities.

The buffet offers a wide variety of Middle Eastern, local, and international delicacies to choose from, including lamb kabsa, spinach and ricotta tortellini, Moroccan lemon chicken, prawn machbous, Saint Sebastian cheesecake, and Tiramisu cake, among many others.

The lounge is located on the third floor of King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Terminal 1 Departure area and is just a 10-minute walk from the terminal’s entrance and a 3 to 5-minute walk to the boarding gates, A28B and A38B, where Emirates’ three daily flights are situated during the day.

In addition to the new lounge, the airline currently operates seven lounges across the three concourses at DXB and 32 others around the Emirates network.

Emirates has been facilitating tourism and trade in the Kingdom since 1989 and currently serves four gateways — Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah, and Dammam — with more than 70 weekly flights, including triple daily flights to Jeddah with its flagship Airbus A380s. Since it began operations, Emirates has transported close to 30.7 million passengers to and from the Kingdom on more than 112,000 flights, connecting travelers to destinations across the airline’s extensive global network, including popular cities and regions like Dubai, London, Istanbul, Paris, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, the US, and Indian Ocean islands like the Maldives, Mauritius, and Seychelles.


New Balance expands in KSA with new Jeddah store

New Balance expands in KSA with new Jeddah store
Updated 13 July 2024
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New Balance expands in KSA with new Jeddah store

New Balance expands in KSA with new Jeddah store

New Balance has announced the opening of its fifth store in the Kingdom and its second store in the vibrant city of Jeddah. Strategically located within the popular U Walk Jeddah, the new store offers a memorable shopping experience for residents and visitors alike.

As New Balance continues its expansion within the MENA region, its glocalization strategy has brought the brand closer to the communities within several countries. As a key market within the region, Saudi Arabia presents significant opportunities for New Balance to deepen its connection and strengthen its presence in the country.

Jeddah, a dynamic city with a growing passion for sports and fitness, is an ideal location for New Balance’s fifth store in the Kingdom. With U Walk Jeddah being a popular destination for retail, the addition of the New Balance store will enhance the shopping experience, providing consumers access to high-quality footwear, apparel and accessories.

The store features New Balance’s innovative Metro Flex concept, allowing consumers to shop the full brand collection in an immersive environment.

Customers can discover a comprehensive selection of performance running shoes, walking shoes, training footwear, and stylish lifestyle sneakers, alongside a curated collection of performance and athleisure apparel.

Stuart Henwood, regional general manager of New Balance in the Middle East, Africa and India, said: “We are thrilled to expand our presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the opening of our store in U Walk Jeddah. “

The latest store opening in the city marks yet another significant milestone that solidifies our aspiration for New Balance’s retail expansion. New Balance remains dedicated to driving innovation in performance technology, delivering premium comfort to athletes worldwide. The brand looks to continue its growth whilst bringing together communities and fans alike through a shared passion for running, comfort, and fashion.”

The brand launched four new stores this year alone and has more planned in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco by the end of 2024.