NEOM unveils world-class luxury lifestyle destination Magna

Magna is situated on the stunning Gulf of Aqaba coastline and comprises the recently announced premier destinations of Leyja, Epicon, Siranna, Utamo, Norlana, Aquellum, Zardun, Xaynor, Elanan, Gideri, Treyam and Jaumur. Supplied
Magna is situated on the stunning Gulf of Aqaba coastline and comprises the recently announced premier destinations of Leyja, Epicon, Siranna, Utamo, Norlana, Aquellum, Zardun, Xaynor, Elanan, Gideri, Treyam and Jaumur. Supplied
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Updated 06 June 2024
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NEOM unveils world-class luxury lifestyle destination Magna

NEOM unveils world-class luxury lifestyle destination Magna

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia giga-project NEOM on Wednesday revealed yet another luxury lifestyle destination Magna.

The development is part of NEOM’s regional sustainable portfolio and it will be developed with a core focus on cutting-edge technology, world-class architecture, and ultra-modern amenities that effortlessly merge with nature, said a press release.

Magna is situated on the stunning Gulf of Aqaba coastline and comprises the recently announced premier destinations of Leyja, Epicon, Siranna, Utamo, Norlana, Aquellum, Zardun, Xaynor, Elanan, Gideri, Treyam and Jaumur.

NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said: “NEOM’s premier coastal region of Magna is a treasure of tomorrow, steeped in natural beauty and advanced technology. Aligned with our three pillars of redefining business, conservation, and livability, Magna will play a key role in building a strong tourism ecosystem within NEOM. Importantly, Magna will contribute positively to the national economic diversification efforts and to the broader Saudi Vision 2030 goals, helping to position the Kingdom as a global leader in luxury tourism.”

According to the press release, the 12 destinations will span 120 km and are poised to set a new global standard in luxury sustainable tourism.

“Each destination is individually unique, with its own distinct offering for residents and guests, yet seamlessly blends to form a unified destination. They will be woven together by the conservation, preservation, and rejuvenation of native flora, fauna, and the breathtaking natural landscape,” it said.

The development will comprise 15 luxury hotels, 1,600 hotel rooms, suites and apartments, and over 2,500 premium residences across its destinations.

In line with the transformative Saudi Vision 2030, Magna and its destinations will stimulate the Kingdom’s economy by creating 15,000 jobs across the tourism, leisure, and hospitality sectors.

The development is projected to contribute SR2.6 billion ($690 million) to the Kingdom’s GDP by 2030, accommodate 14,500 residents, and welcome more than 300,000 overnight visitors annually.


Saudi minister targets food production localization during Brazil visit

Saudi minister targets food production localization during Brazil visit
Updated 24 July 2024
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Saudi minister targets food production localization during Brazil visit

Saudi minister targets food production localization during Brazil visit

RIYADH: Food production localization was a key focus as a senior Saudi minister met with leading Brazilian companies during an official visit to one of the world’s top meat producers. 

The Kingdom’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar AlKhorayef, held meetings with executives from major firms in the South American country, including Minerva Foods and JBS, which are prominent in the red meat and poultry sectors.  

The discussions aimed to explore opportunities for localizing food production within Saudi Arabia, transferring knowledge and innovations, and examining the latest advancements in modern manufacturing technologies. 

This visit highlights Saudi Arabia’s strategic effort to enhance production capabilities by fostering international partnerships and utilizing advanced manufacturing technologies.

It aligns with the Kingdom’s broader vision to diversify its economy and develop robust, sustainable industries in collaboration with global leaders. 

During the visit to Minerva Foods’ facilities, the minister reviewed advanced manufacturing technologies and discussed potential investment opportunities with company officials, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

Minerva Foods is a notable player in the Saudi market, where imports, particularly red meat, account for 25 percent of the industry. The Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co., also known as SALIC, is a major investor in Minerva, holding a 33.8 percent stake. 

SALIC acquired a 19.5 percent stake in 2016 for $210 million, increasing its investment through additional purchases in 2018 and 2020, totaling $204 million. 

The minister also met with Gilberto Tomazoni, CEO of JBS, one of the world’s largest meat and poultry producers known for developing cultivation and production technologies.

JBS is currently establishing a food factory in Jeddah under the Seara brand, with an investment of up to SR500 million ($133.29 million). The facility is expected to start operations by the end of this year, aiming to address the food needs of the Saudi market. 

The partnerships with Minerva Foods and JBS underscore the Kingdom's dedication to ensuring a stable food supply while attracting foreign investment and expertise to its growing food industry, the SPA report added. 

The minister’s visit to meat production facilities came after he met with leading Brazilian pharma companies to discuss enhancing the localization of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, leveraging the country’s expertise.  

During his discussions, AlKhorayef emphasized the potential for collaboration, highlighting the sector’s importance to Saudi Arabia’s National Industrial Strategy. 


Turkiye, Saudi Arabia end $5bn deposit agreement

Turkiye, Saudi Arabia end $5bn deposit agreement
Updated 24 July 2024
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Turkiye, Saudi Arabia end $5bn deposit agreement

Turkiye, Saudi Arabia end $5bn deposit agreement

RIYADH: Turkiye has terminated a $5 billion deposit agreement made with the Saudi Fund for Development as part of a review of its reserve management strategy.

The decision to end the arrangement, finalized with Saudi authorities, is expected to improve Turkiye’s external liabilities by approximately $7 billion through the reduction of deposit balances, according to the country’s central bank.

The original deal was signed off in March 2023, and was intended to provide crucial financial support to the Turkish economy as it grappled with the aftermath of devastating earthquakes and high inflation rates. 

The country’s central bank announced the agreement had been ended as part of a reassessment of Turkiye’s international deposit transactions in a bid to lower its external liabilities.

International reserves are readily available assets controlled by countries’ monetary authorities that can be used for international payments and converted into other currencies, the bank said.

When the deal was initially reached, the Saudi Fund for Development described it as not only underscoring the strong historical ties and cooperation between the two nations, but also showcasing the Kingdom’s commitment to bolstering Turkiye’s economic stability.

Turkiye has been working to strengthen its economic and business relationships with Gulf nations, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as part of its strategy to attract foreign currency inflows. 

On March 3 2023, Turkiye and the UAE signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement to cut 93 percent of tariffs on non-oil trade and increase bilateral trade from $19 billion to $40 billion in the next five years.

Turkiye has struggled with a shortage of international reserves and high inflation rates, impacting living costs. 

In 2022, the Turkish lira depreciated by 30 percent against the dollar, exacerbated by soaring energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Turkiye is the 17th largest economy in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund, with a GDP of $1.024 trillion as of 2023.

In February 2023, the country contended with the aftermath of severe earthquakes which caused significant casualties, damage, and displacement, with recovery needs estimated at $81.5 billion.

Following the May 2023 elections, Ankara’s new economic team has aimed to address inflation and macroeconomic imbalances. 

The economy grew 4.5 percent in 2023 but is expected to slow to 3 percent this year.

Addressing long-term issues like high inflation, low productivity, and weak foreign investment “would require robust fiscal measures and ambitious structural reforms to help accelerate sustainable economic growth,” the World Bank said earlier in April.


Dubai’s economy grows 3.2%, driven by financial, trade and transport sectors

Dubai’s economy grows 3.2%, driven by financial, trade and transport sectors
Updated 24 July 2024
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Dubai’s economy grows 3.2%, driven by financial, trade and transport sectors

Dubai’s economy grows 3.2%, driven by financial, trade and transport sectors
  • Transportation, storage, financial and insurance activities sectors each posted a growth rate of 5.6%
  • Trade sector recorded a 3% increase

RIYADH: Dubai’s economy saw 3.2 percent year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2024, with its gross domestic product reaching 115 billion dirhams ($31.3 billion). 

The transportation and storage sector, as well as the financial and insurance activities sector, each posted a growth rate of 5.6 percent, while the trade sector recorded a 3 percent increase. 

This comes as Dubai’s economy continues its upward trajectory, with significant growth across key sectors, reflecting the government’s strategic agenda to enhance the emirate’s global economic standing and attract foreign investment. 

Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum said the latest GDP figures cement that the emirate showcases robust economic indicators, the Emirates News Agency, also known as WAM, reported. 

“Dubai is progressing in accordance with a clear vision whose foundations were laid down and whose goals were defined by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. What we witness today is a practical reflection of this vision, which has placed Dubai among the leading economic and commercial centers of the world,” said Sheikh Hamdan. 

He added that the accomplishments of the emirate underscore the collaborative endeavors and teamwork of diverse stakeholders in achieving the goals set out in the emirate’s comprehensive development plans for 2033. 

The government’s plans include the Dubai Economic Agenda and Dubai Social Agenda 2033, both aimed at elevating overall well-being and quality of life, while strengthening the emirate’s position as a leading global economic hub and enhancing its appeal as a destination for foreign investments. 

“Dubai’s ambition is limitless, and its success story will remain a role model for cities wishing to create a promising future for their coming generations. Our goal is to sustain success and establish a culture of excellence and leadership across all sectors in the emirate to preserve these gains and move toward new horizons of excellence,” he added. 

Other sectors also contributed to the overall economic expansion, with the information and communications sector rising by 3.9 percent, the accommodation and food services sector increasing by 3.8 percent, and the real estate sector seeing growth of 3.7 percent. 


Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry

Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry
Updated 17 min 34 sec ago
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Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry

Riyad Bank introduces first AI center in Saudi banking industry

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s digital banking has achieved a significant advancement after a leading bank introduced artificial intelligence technology, significantly enhancing its operational efficiency and customer experience.

Riyad Bank announced on July 23 the launch of the first-of-its-kind specialized center for artificial intelligence technologies and services in the Saudi banking sector, known as the Center of Intelligence.

It will allow the bank and its business sectors to harness the latest AI innovations and derive significant value from advanced, proactive analytical insights, while advancing the bank’s vision with the highest standards of quality and innovation, according to a statement from the financial institution.

The move aligns with the broader national goals outlined in Saudi Vision 2030, particularly the Financial Sector Development Program, which works together with the Saudi Central Bank to provide banking services that are more accessible.

The program is committed to contributing to the stability and growth of the banking system to make it even more convenient by investing in technology and offering a wide range of financial products and services.

The center will offer a cutting-edge environment for AI-driven research, innovation, and analysis. It will also utilize machine learning techniques and solutions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the bank’s investments and operations. 

Nadir Al-Koraya, CEO of Riyad Bank, expressed his pride in this qualitative addition achieved by launching the center to localize AI solutions in the Saudi business sectors in alignment with the country’s plans and strategic objectives.

“The center is the result of our continuous efforts to optimize the investment of capabilities in order to maximize the value achieved for our customers, shareholders and the bank’s employees,” he said, adding that it will accelerate the bank’s digital transformation and innovation, driving greater productivity across its operations.

In April, the bank – one of Saudi Arabia’s largest financial institutions – approved the assessment and preparation of an initial public offering of its investment banking unit, Riyad Capital. 

According to a Tadawul statement issued at the time, the board of directors were considering listing the subsidiary on the main market of the Saudi Exchange.

It said the two bodies would coordinate to finalize the assessment and the relevant measures, including determining the offering size as well as other related details. 


Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 

Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 
Updated 24 July 2024
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Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 

Education spending up in Saudi Arabia as POS transactions hit $2.9bn 
  • Education sector saw 10.4% increase, with total value of transactions hitting SR94.1 million
  • POS spending in the Kingdom continued its reverse trajectory, declining by 8.8%

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale spending reached SR10.9 billion ($2.9 billion) in the week ending July 20, with the education sector recording the largest surge, according to official data.

Figures released by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed that this section of the economy saw a 10.4 percent increase over the seven-day period, with the total value of transactions hitting SR94.1 million.

The data also showed that spending in hotels increased by 0.2 percent compared to the previous seven days to reach SR270.2 million. 

This small rise came after larger increases in the sector in the previous two weeks, with a 17.9 percent surge from June 30 to July 6 and a 3.8 percent jump from July 7 to 13.

Despite growth in these sectors, POS spending in the Kingdom continued its reverse trajectory, declining by 8.8 percent after decreasing the week before by 9.8 percent. 

Spending on construction and building materials dipped by 5.2 percent over the most recent seven-day period, representing the smallest decrease of any sector compared to the previous week, to reach SR312.6 million.

The health sector witnessed the second-smallest dip, recording a 10.2 percent drop to come in at SR696.3 million.

Spending on clothing and footwear ranked joint-third in decline, along with electric devices, with both categories recording an 11.3 percent drop.

The highest value decrease was seen in the telecommunication sector, which posted a transaction total of SR89.5 million following a 13 percent drop.

Restaurant and cafe outlays dominated POS spending with SR1.67 billion, followed by SR1.64 billion on food and beverages, and SR1.41 billion on miscellaneous goods and services. Combined, these three categories account for 43.27 percent of the total POS spending value.

According to data from SAMA, 33.2 percent of POS spending occurred in Riyadh, with the total transaction value reaching SR3.63 billion, representing a 7.1 percent decline from the previous week.

Spending in Jeddah followed, accounting for 14.4 percent of the total and reaching SR1.58 billion, marking a 7.7 percent weekly negative change.

Expenditures in Hail, Tabuk, and Buraidah decreased by 14 percent, 12.4 percent, and 9.7 percent, respectively, with the figures reaching SR168.2 million, SR189.3 million, and SR249.6 million.

The smallest decrease was recorded in Makkah, which saw a 3.9 percent weekly change to come in at SR441.4 million.