Qatar’s private sector exports surge 6% to $685m

Qatar’s private sector exports surge 6% to $685m
Overall, 101 nations received Qatari private sector exports in the first quarter of 2024. Shutterstock
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Updated 10 June 2024

Qatar’s private sector exports surge 6% to $685m

Qatar’s private sector exports surge 6% to $685m

RIYADH: Qatar’s private sector saw a 6 percent increase in its exports in the first quarter of 2024, according to the country’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The nation’s news agency reported that foreign sales reached 2.53 billion Qatari riyals ($684.9 million), up from 2.39 billion riyals in the last three months of 2023.

The chamber highlighted that the value of exports beyond the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab region rose by 12 percent from 1.79 billion riyals to 2 billion riyals. 

Across the GCC, there was a 10 percent increase from to 438 million riyals, whereas the Arab region saw a fall of 54 percent to 92.9 million riyals.

When comparing export values by commodity type to the last quarter of 2023, fuel product exports rose 8.6 percent to around 528 million riyals.

Aluminum and its products saw a 10.5 percent decrease to 438 million riyals.

Exports of base and industrial oils dropped by 13.4 percent to 392 million riyals. Meanwhile, iron and its products surged by 89.4 percent to 275 million riyals.

Industrial gas exports increased by 25.2 percent to approximately 250 million riyals. Low-density polyethylene exports saw a record rise of 7811 percent, reaching 131 million riyals from just 1.66 million riyals in the previous quarter, according to the Qatar News Agency.

Chemical exports fell by 26.7 percent to about 93 million riyals, and petrochemical exports declined by 15.7 percent to 91 million riyals.

Paraffin exports rose 184.9 percent to 28.1 million riyals from 9.87 million riyals, while chemical fertilizer exports decreased by 82.2 percent to 10.5 million riyals. 

These top 10 commodities represented 88 percent of the total private sector exports, amounting to 2.24 billion riyals, a 7.6 percent increase compared to the last quarter of 2023.

Asian countries, excluding GCC and Arab nations, were the top destinations for Qatari private sector exports, receiving around 1.06 billion riyals or 41.9 percent of the total. 

The Member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council have made significant strides in trade cooperation, benefiting citizens and fostering advancements in investment and trade.

Member States have actively pursued enhancements in global market export conditions while advocating for the promotion and protection of GCC products.

The EU came second with 29.5 percent or 748.6 million riyals, followed by GCC countries with 22.5 percent or 571.5 million riyals.

Looking ahead, Qatar aims to strengthen its position in global energy markets, particularly in Europe and Asia. The nation is projecting a 13 percent increase in annual LNG capacity, according to Bloomberg.

Furthermore, collaborative efforts between GCC and EU officials are poised to enhance trade cooperation further, fostering mutual prosperity and sustainable development.

As outlined by PwC’s Qatar Economy Watch 2024 report, Qatar’s future energy strategy aims to reinforce its LNG export leadership, broaden energy production diversity, and enhance decarbonization efforts.

The country’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry explained that 101 nations received Qatari private sector exports in the first quarter of 2024, with African countries leading in number, with 24 nations, followed by Asia with 22 countries, and the EU with 20 states.

Delving into export destinations, the Netherlands emerged as Qatar’s top trading partner, receiving 408.6 million riyals in exports, equivalent to 16.1 percent of the total. 

This strategic relationship extends beyond conventional sectors like oil and gas, encompassing education, sports, and infrastructure, signaling a broader partnership between the two nations. 

The Port of Rotterdam and Ras Laffan port in Qatar are partnering to develop their LNG business with Shell, which is developing a massive gas-to-liquid project in Qatar. 

Germany, the UAE, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait were among the top 10 of countries to receive Qatari private sector exports, collectively accounting for 78.2 percent of the total 2.53 billion riyals.


Technology shapes future of hospitality with enhanced guest experiences

Technology shapes future of hospitality with enhanced guest experiences
Updated 12 sec ago

Technology shapes future of hospitality with enhanced guest experiences

Technology shapes future of hospitality with enhanced guest experiences

RIYADH: The global hospitality industry is increasingly investing in technology to improve the guest experience, with artificial intelligence playing a key role in automating tasks like booking, check-ins, and housekeeping management. 

In a recent report, The Bench, a publication by the Future Hospitality Summit, noted that implementing advanced technologies also enables 24/7 traveler support through AI chatbots and virtual assistants. 

“The hospitality industry has continually been reputed to adapt slowly to technological advancements. Hospitality asset owners and investors are keen on ramping up technology investment,” said the report.

Citing a 2023 PwC analysis, the report noted that over 70 percent of hotel executives are prioritizing investments in technologies that streamline operations and elevate customer experiences.

“This growing focus is evident in the adoption of Customer Relationship Management systems and data-driven marketing strategies aimed at customer retention,” added The Bench.

According to the report, CRM systems are becoming a cornerstone in hotel operations, helping hoteliers manage and analyze guest interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle.

FHS added that leveraging CRM systems could also help hotels improve customer service relationships, assist in guest retention, and drive sales growth.

It cited a Salesforce study, noting that CRM technology could increase sales by up to 29 percent and improve forecast accuracy by 32 percent.

“Data-driven market strategies supported by robust CRM systems enable hotels to tailor their marketing efforts to individual guest preferences, thereby increasing the likelihood of repeat business,” said the report.

Property Management Systems

According to the analysis, Property Management Systems like innRoad, Oracle, and Hotelogix are essential for maximizing revenues, increasing efficiencies, and enhancing guest understanding.

“These systems serve as the backbone of hotel operations, offering comprehensive functionalities that streamline various processes. From managing reservations and check-ins to overseeing housekeeping and billing, PMS solutions integrate all these functions into a single cohesive platform, making operations smoother and more efficient,” the report added.

The FHS publication also noted that technologies like leverage AI to analyze past guest behavior and competitors’ pricing, thereby optimizing revenues without reliance on guesswork.

“This approach provides hoteliers with a strategic advantage in a competitive market. AI-driven revenue management systems can predict demand with higher accuracy, allowing hotels to adjust prices dynamically and maximize revenues,” said the report.

It added: “These systems also help in identifying and capitalizing on market trends, ensuring that hotels remain competitive.”

The release highlighted that the hospitality industry is witnessing a shift in guests’ behavior, as most travelers expect a seamless, modern experience blended with technology.

“Guests now expect digital control over room environments, such as lighting, shades, and temperature, even in mid-range hotels. Additional basic additions like bedside USB-C ports, mobile key entry, and digital check-in contribute to a seamless and modern guest experience,” added the analysis.

Moreover, mobile key entry will reduce the need for physical keys and front desk check-ins, thereby streamlining the arrival process.

Post-pandemic market dynamics

According to the report, rising wages and worker shortages have accelerated the move toward automation and technology utilization in the hospitality sector.

“Automated check-ins, robotic room service, and AI-powered concierge services are just a few examples of how technology can mitigate labor shortages. These innovations allow hotels to maintain high service levels, even with reduced staff, ensuring guest satisfaction,” said the FHS publication.

With travel restrictions easing post-pandemic, the report highlighted that hotels are prioritizing technology to enhance operational efficiency and attract guests.

“This focus is vital in a landscape marked by intense competition. Technologies that enhance cleanliness and safety, such as contactless check-in and check-out and mobile room keys, have become particularly important. Hotels are also investing in digital marketing strategies to reach potential guests who are eager to travel again but are cautious about safety,” said the analysis.

Moreover, the hospitality tech sector is experiencing a surge in acquisitions as companies aim to consolidate and offer more comprehensive solutions to meet the diverse needs of hotels.

“This consolidation trend is driven by the need to provide integrated solutions that address multiple aspects of hotel operations. By acquiring or merging with other tech companies, firms can offer a broad range of services, from property management and guest services to marketing and revenue management,” added the report.

Discussing the challenges faced by the sector in implementing technology, the study highlighted that several hotels face the problem of outdated and siloed systems that hinder their efficient operations.

“The solution lies in adopting open API-based (Application Programming Interface) systems that facilitate the integration of various functionalities, thereby overcoming the limitations of legacy systems,” said the analysis.

The report also highlighted that using open API-based systems will enable seamless communication between different software applications, allowing hotels to integrate new technologies without overhauling their entire IT infrastructure.

Areas of untapped potential

The analysis highlighted that some untapped areas in the hospitality industry can be strengthened further using technology.

It added that many processes in the sector are still handled manually and should be automated using advanced technologies.

“For example, night audits, which involve substantial administrative work, can be automated to improve efficiency and reduce labor costs,” added the document.

Moreover, integrating a proper payment technology setup can enable hotels to offer more personalized and flexible experiences without relying on manual administrative tasks.

Saudi Arabia leads Middle Eastern banking growth amid favorable conditions: Fitch

Saudi Arabia leads Middle Eastern banking growth amid favorable conditions: Fitch
Updated 16 June 2024

Saudi Arabia leads Middle Eastern banking growth amid favorable conditions: Fitch

Saudi Arabia leads Middle Eastern banking growth amid favorable conditions: Fitch

RIYADH: High oil prices and interest rates are creating favorable operating conditions for banks across the Middle East, despite regional tensions, according to Fitch Ratings.

During a recent webinar on the region’s banking sector, Fitch Ratings highlighted that in Saudi Arabia, lending growth is expected to be around double the regional average of 5-6 percent for the fiscal year 2024, driven by significant non-oil gross domestic product growth.

This expansion presents new business opportunities for the Kingdom’s financial institutions and heightens competition for liquidity.

The agency noted the Gulf Cooperation Council as a standout in the global banking landscape, adding that the region is benefiting from robust oil prices, elevated interest rates, substantial government expenditure, strong non-oil sector growth, and high investor and consumer confidence.

These factors contribute to solid business conditions and healthy financial metrics for banks in most markets.

Fitch Ratings highlighted that GCC financial institutions experienced record US dollar issuance in the first quarter of 2024, fueled by favorable pricing conditions, lending increases, refinancing needs, and strong investor demand.

However, the credit rating agency noted that regional banks are currently at the peak of their cycle. Lower hydrocarbon prices pose a risk to financial operating environments across the Middle East, and each country faces unique challenges.

In contrast to Saudi Arabia, the UAE has enjoyed stronger liquidity conditions, enhancing banks’ profitability metrics in 2023 and the first quarter of 2024, with the sector’s average net interest margin improving by 100 basis points over 2022–2023.

Qatar’s banking sector notably relies on non-domestic funding, which constituted 42 percent of total holdings at the end of the first quarter of 2024. This dependence makes Qatari banks vulnerable to external political and economic shocks, as well as shifts in investor sentiment.

In October last year, Fitch Ratings affirmed that banks in the GCC are thriving due to high oil prices, contained inflation, and rising interest rates.

It also highlighted that financial institutions in the UAE are improving, and banks in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE are well-positioned to benefit from rising interest rates due to quick loan book repricing and substantial low-cost funding.

Saudi Arabia’s inflation holds steady at 1.6% in May: GASTAT  

Saudi Arabia’s inflation holds steady at 1.6% in May: GASTAT  
Updated 16 June 2024

Saudi Arabia’s inflation holds steady at 1.6% in May: GASTAT  

Saudi Arabia’s inflation holds steady at 1.6% in May: GASTAT  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s inflation rate rose marginally by 0.2 percent in May compared to the previous month, driven by changes in housing prices, official data showed.  

According to the report by the General Authority for Statistics, expenses for housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels increased by 0.4 percent month-on-month in May. 

The monthly inflation index was also impacted by expenses for food and beverages, which went up by 0.7 percent in May compared to April. 

Additionally, expenses for restaurants and hotels edged up by 0.2 percent, while costs for personal goods and services increased by 0.1 percent month-on-month in May. 

On the other hand, prices for clothing and footwear dipped by 0.6 percent in May compared to the previous month, while costs for transportation edged down by 0.4 percent. 

The report further pointed out that prices of education, furnishing and home equipment, and tobacco products did not show any significant change in May compared to April. 

Annual inflation rises 

On a yearly basis, Saudi Arabia’s Consumer Price Index increased by 1.6 percent in May compared to the same period last year. 

GASTAT attributed this rise to a 10.5 percent increase in actual housing rents, influenced by a 14.3 percent increase in apartment rents. 

“This increase had a significant impact on maintaining the annual inflation rate for May 2024, due to the substantial weight of this category at 21 percent,” said the authority in the report. 

Similarly, costs of food and beverages increased by 1.4 percent, driven by a 6.9 percent rise in vegetable prices. 

On the other hand, prices of furnishing and home equipment decreased by 3.8 percent. 

Similarly, expenses for clothing and footwear decreased by 4 percent year-on-year in May, while transport costs also decreased by 2.4 percent during the same period. 

In May, a report released by Riyad Capital revealed that Saudi Arabia’s inflation rate is expected to average around 2 percent in 2024, with a moderate acceleration to 2.4 percent in 2025.

The Riyad Capital analysis also added that the Kingdom’s non-oil sector is projected to grow at a rate of 4.8 percent in 2024, driven by growth-oriented fiscal policy.

The report further noted that non-oil activities in Saudi Arabia will accelerate further in 2025, with a projected expansion rate of 5.2 percent.

Last year, the International Monetary Fund noted that the likelihood of a rise in headline and core inflation in oil-exporting countries like Saudi Arabia is low.

“Headline and core inflation in many oil-exporting countries like Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia remain relatively lower than elsewhere,” said the IMF.

Wholesale price index increases 

In another report, GASTAT revealed that Saudi Arabia’s Wholesale Price Index increased by 3.2 percent in May compared to the same month of the previous year. 

This increase is mainly driven by a 14.5 percent rise in prices of basic chemicals and a 12 percent increase in the costs of refined petroleum products, the authority added. 

Similarly, prices of food products, beverages, tobacco, and textiles rose by 1.8 percent year-on-year in May, due to a 7.4 percent increase in the prices of leather, leather products, and footwear. 

On the other hand, the costs of ores and minerals decreased by 2.8 percent, mainly due to a 2.8 percent decrease in stone and sand prices.

Additionally, agricultural and fishery product expenses experienced a 1.3 percent year-on-year decrease in May, driven by a 2.8 percent decrease in fish and other fishing product prices and a 2.7 percent decline in live animals and animal product prices.

Furthermore, the prices of metal products, machinery, and equipment decreased by 0.4 percent in May compared to the same month of the previous year, attributed to a 6.6 percent decline in the prices of radio, television, and communication equipment and apparatus.

Compared to April, the Kingdom’s WPI decreased by 0.1 percent in May, driven by a 0.3 percent drop in the prices of food products, beverages, tobacco, and textiles. 

This decline resulted from a 1.7 percent decrease in the prices of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, oils, and fats, and a 0.4 percent decline in the prices of leather, leather products, and footwear.

Similarly, the costs of agriculture and fishery products also decreased by 0.2 percent month-on-month, driven by a 1.6 percent fall in the prices of live animals and animal products.

Compared to April, the prices of other transportable goods declined by 0.1 percent in May, driven by a 0.7 percent decrease in the costs of basic chemicals.

In contrast, the costs of metal products, machinery, and equipment rose by 0.1 percent, as a result of a 1.1 percent increase in the prices of electrical machinery and apparatus.

Average prices rising

Meanwhile, in another report, GASTAT revealed that the prices of Abu Sorra Egyptian oranges increased by 22.70 percent in May compared to the previous month.

Similarly, the prices of local tomatoes and Turkish plums rose by 12.80 percent and 10.33 percent, respectively, in May from April.

Additionally, Indian pomegranates and Pakistani mandarins also experienced notable increases, rising by 10.15 percent and 9.71 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, hotel accommodation prices in Saudi Arabia witnessed a 13.94 percent month-on-month decline.

Similarly, the costs of local melons, Lebanese peaches, and imported onions dipped by 13.30 percent, 11.37 percent, and 9.34 percent, respectively.

Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being

Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being
Updated 15 June 2024

Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being

Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being
  • Concept of giving back to the host community rapidly gaining traction in the business sector

RIYADH: Gone are the days when the corporate world was solely associated with making money. The concept of giving back to the host community, known as corporate social responsibility, is rapidly gaining traction in the business sector. 

Today, companies strive to balance profitability with societal impact. CSR has become a fundamental principle for businesses of all sizes globally, and Saudi Arabia is no exception. 

Prominent examples like the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and ROSHN, a leading real estate developer backed by the Public Investment Fund, epitomize this ethos, guiding the way with their pioneering CSR endeavors. 

Speaking to Arab News about its CSR initiatives, SABIC affirmed its long-established reputation for doing what is good for its business, its people, and various stakeholders, while also investing in the communities where it operates, creating social, environmental, and economic value. 

“Wherever we operate, we look to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with all of our stakeholders, with a sustainable approach that delivers lasting value, and innovative programs to meet community needs,” the company said.

Global commitment 

SABIC added that this culture inspires its investments in CSR programs that create lasting, positive impacts throughout its global communities. 

“In 2015, we began our global CSR strategic tool, RAISE, to guide our approach to charitable donations, sponsorships, partnerships, and employee-volunteer programs. We use RAISE — Reputation, Audience, Innovation, Strategy, and Endurance — to select programs that elevate SABIC’s brand, address community needs, and promote our values,” it said. 

RAISE prioritizes four strategic focus areas: science and technology education, environmental protection, health and wellness, and water and sustainable agriculture, supporting SABIC’s 2025 strategy and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. 

“The focus areas also promote nine of the UN’s SDGs, which are designed to address society’s most pressing needs by 2030,” the company clarified. 

The RAISE strategy is designed to maximize SABIC’s impact by developing and implementing innovative CSR initiatives and encouraging employee participation and volunteerism. 

In 2023, the company continued its global Back-to-School Initiative, reaching students across 10 countries and offering various programs to help students succeed in their daily schoolwork and achieve their ambitions.

Education sector 

In 2019, SABIC launched its Global Initiative for Education and Innovation in partnership with Junior Achievement and INJAZ Saudi Arabia. Since then, the initiative has reached over 128,000 students globally. 

SABIC noted that its social initiatives aim to improve the quality of life in its communities, especially for the most disadvantaged members of society. 


Providing examples of how SABIC’s CSR initiatives have positively impacted the communities surrounding its facilities, the company reported that in 2023, it invested in 121 global CSR programs, reaching over 338,000 people in 27 countries with the help of over 3,600 SABIC volunteers worldwide.

Providing examples of how SABIC’s CSR initiatives have positively impacted the communities surrounding its facilities, the company reported that in 2023, it invested in 121 global CSR programs, reaching over 338,000 people in 27 countries with the help of over 3,600 SABIC volunteers worldwide. 

The company’s Global Environmental Protection Initiative continued this year across 10 countries with various programs aimed at sustaining Saudi marine life and addressing climate change and its global impact. 

“Managing water sources and sanitation goes hand in hand with ensuring better food and energy production. SABIC is working to end hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition by promoting sustainable agriculture,” the company said.

Quality of life 

Responding to Arab News’ queries, Mohammed Ashour, ROSHN’s associate director of corporate social responsibility, said that the company is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the Kingdom through its endeavors. 

He said this commitment reflects the giant property developer’s core values of responsibility, empowerment, and sustainability, guiding its actions to positively impact society and uphold environmental stewardship. 

“These values are comprehensively reflected in our development projects from inception to construction and handover. Our destinations feature a holistic array of essential facilities, including education, healthcare, lifestyle amenities, and attractive green spaces that invite residents and visitors alike to engage with their communities and live healthy, fulfilling lifestyles,” he said. 

Ashour noted that his company designed the YUHYEEK CSR program for maximum impact by leveraging its giga-project scale and resources to revitalize Saudi communities within their developments and beyond. The Arabic word “Yuhyeek” means “to rejuvenate” or “revive” in English. 

ROSHN partners with transformative green initiatives, public health campaigns, and cultural programs that bring tangible change to local communities. 

“An example of this is our partnership with Ehsan, the National Platform for Charitable Work, through which we have donated over SR55 million (over $14.6 million) during the past two years, benefiting more than 47,000 people throughout the Kingdom,” he said. 

He added that YUHYEEK’s partnerships with Ehsan and Hayat Charitable Association have sponsored mobile health clinics and early detection schemes that are improving public health in the Kingdom’s Madinah region.

Philanthropic pursuits 

Sharing insights into their philanthropic efforts and charitable activities, Ashour said that YUHYEEK’s efforts have five pillars: social development, environmental sustainability, education, public health, and arts and culture, achieved via strategic partnerships. 

Ashour emphasized another aspect of their work: the renovation of homes. To date, ROSHN has refurbished over 100 homes across the country, directly benefiting more than 700 citizens and significantly enhancing their quality of life. 

He added that their urban regeneration efforts include restoring and furnishing homes, raising the quality of life of hospitalized children and people with disabilities through visits and giveaways, and the provision of food baskets for those in need. 

“We are also deeply committed to the Saudi Green Initiative, and in partnership with Morooj, YUHYEEK has planted more than 25,000 mangrove trees in national reserves, and dozens of schools,” he said.

Cultural impact 

When it comes to culture, Ashour emphasized: “We firmly believe that this can have a major impact on the public’s quality of life.” 

He added: “Our strategic partnership with the Ministry of Culture has led to ROSHN promoting and supporting flagship events such as the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, book fairs in Riyadh and Jeddah, Al-Bisht Al-Hasawi Festival, and the Kingdom’s first grand opera, Zarqa Al-Yamama.” 

He pointed out that the multifaceted nature of YUHYEEK and the values embodied in their developments make surrounding communities more vibrant, greener, and healthier while bolstering local economies. 

“For instance, our flagship SEDRA community and the ROSHN Front retail and lifestyle hub recently hosted the Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium. Tuwaiq brings local and international artists to the Kingdom, reinforces Saudi heritage, and highlights Riyadh’s cultural scene,” he said. 

Ashour further added that they have cemented their partnership with the Zahra Breast Cancer Association by hosting the Zahra Awareness Walk at ROSHN Front to encourage awareness of the early detection program, affirming that their destinations and events are open to all. 

He noted that YUHYEEK educational partnerships provide scholarships, skills training, and special needs support services. On the public health front, they actively sponsor mobile health clinics and breast cancer awareness campaigns, and provide dialysis machines, with more than 11,000 beneficiaries to date. 

The CSR associate director said that ROSHN now operates six community sites where comprehensive access services are available for people with disabilities. 

“Across the Kingdom, more than 22,000 people have benefited from our sponsorship of mobile health clinics. YUHYEEK has also facilitated skills training for more than 300 students, equipping them for the labor market. In total, we estimate more than 341,000 people have accessed our health, education, social, and cultural services, and this number is expected to increase exponentially as ROSHN continues to diversify into building world-class public and private healthcare facilities locally and regionally,” he added.

Promoting sports 

Ashour underscored his company’s sponsorship efforts in the Kingdom’s sports sector, citing examples such as backing the ROSHN Saudi League in football, supporting the Formula One Grand Prix, and collaborating with LIV Golf to draw elite golfers to the Kingdom. 

Looking ahead, Ashour concluded that the company is expanding its CSR reach and will continue to bring world-class events and services to the Kingdom. 

“Our inclusive CSR approach, embracing all aspects of well-being, ensures that everyone is lifted by our efforts to achieve the vibrant society envisaged by Saudi Vision 2030,” he said.

IoT revolutionizes Saudi agriculture toward sustainability and prosperity

IoT revolutionizes Saudi agriculture toward sustainability and prosperity
Updated 15 June 2024

IoT revolutionizes Saudi agriculture toward sustainability and prosperity

IoT revolutionizes Saudi agriculture toward sustainability and prosperity
  • Transformative approach promises to revolutionize traditional agricultural practices

RIYADH: In Saudi Arabia’s vast agricultural terrain, a transformative shift is occurring, driven by the adoption of advanced technologies.

Despite challenges such as water scarcity, inefficient practices, and climatic hardships, integrating Internet of Things technologies in farming is bringing a sense of optimism.

This transformative approach promises to revolutionize traditional agricultural practices and offer a path toward a more resilient and prosperous future for Saudi farmers. 

In an interview with Arab News, economist and policy adviser Mahmoud Khairy said that improving productivity, resource efficiency, and sustainability in the farming sector are key factors driving the adoption of IoT applications in the Kingdom.

“These technologies enable farmers to monitor and manage their crops and livestock more effectively, leading to better yields and reduced costs,” he said.

Phil Webster, partner at the management consulting firm Arthur D. Little, told Arab News: “There has been significant uptake of these relatively nascent technologies compared to, say, five years ago.”

As the nation embraces IoT solutions, it embarks on a journey toward sustainable agriculture, where productivity, efficiency, and environmental stewardship converge to create a brighter future.

Transforming agricultural practices

The application of IoT in smart farming is revolutionizing traditional agricultural practices. Farmers can gather real-time data on various parameters crucial for crop growth by utilizing sensors, actuators, and connected devices. 

Soil moisture, temperature, humidity, livestock health, and crop growth data are collected and analyzed to make informed decisions. This data-driven approach enables farmers to optimize resource usage, improve crop yields, and minimize environmental impact.

Mishkat, a company specializing in sustainable and high-production farming, has highlighted its initiatives, such as vertical farming and impressive greenhouse facilities, which showcase the immense potential of IoT technologies in overcoming challenges.

The company aims to produce nutritious, authentic, and trusted food with minimal environmental impact, prioritizing sustainability, safety, and health.

“We want to be the leading experts in KSA on sustainable and high production farming techniques, delivering high- quality produce with maximum resource efficiency,” Mishkat says.

The firm’s unique fusion of vertical farming with greenhouse cultivation offers a sustainable solution to local pesticide-free and water-efficient production.

Nestled on the outskirts of Jeddah, Mishkat’s agricultural facility combines vertical farming with advanced greenhouse technology to offer a sustainable solution to local pesticide-free and water-efficient production.

This unique fusion of techniques presents a compelling vision for the future of agriculture in arid regions. Their facility includes a vertical farm where crops are grown in stacked layers.

This design, reminiscent of a multi-tiered tower, is more than just visually striking – it’s a smart solution to land scarcity. 

These technologies enable farmers to monitor and manage their crops and livestock more effectively, leading to better yields and reduced costs.

Mahmoud Khairy, economist and policy adviser

Complementing the vertical farm, Mishkat boasts two state-of-the-art greenhouses. These structures, armed with advanced climate control systems, provide an optimal environment for plant growth.

By modulating factors like temperature, humidity, and light, greenhouses ensure that the crops inside are shielded from the harsh climatic conditions typical of the Jeddah outskirts.

Mishkat’s headquarters is unique for several reasons: it is among the first commercial vertical farms in the Kingdom, offers rare greenhouse and vertical hybrid agricultural facilities, and is one of the few certified organically controlled environment farms globally.

In Riyadh, Bather Farm is also redefining urban farming with its cutting-edge vertical farming system.

By leveraging Agritecture Designer farm planning software and iFarm technology, Bather Farm optimizes crop production in an otherwise arid environment.

“At Bather Farm, we envision a greener and healthier Saudi Arabia, where agriculture gives to the people and planet more than it takes,” the firm says on its website.

This project underlines CEA’s potential to reinvent regional agriculture, paving the way toward food security and sustainability.

This melding of technology and agriculture underscores the potential for harmonizing urban living with sustainable farming practices.

E-farming boosting the economy

Economist and policy adviser Mahmoud Khairy emphasized the significance of adopting advanced agricultural solutions in Saudi Arabia.

Khairy highlighted that embracing IoT-enabled farming technologies and precision agriculture practices aligns with the nation’s broader economic and agricultural development objectives.

He added: “By embracing these technologies, the country aims to modernize its agricultural sector, create job opportunities, and reduce its dependency on food imports,” stressing that such advancements would bolster food security, diversify the economy, and minimize water usage in agriculture.

Moreover, Khairy pointed out that implementing data-driven approaches to optimize crop yields and resource efficiency could lead to several economic benefits.

By leveraging data analytics, farmers can make more informed decisions, resulting in increased productivity, higher revenues, and improved profitability. 

Partnerships and collaborations play a critical role in promoting the adoption and maintenance of digital technologies in agriculture.

Phil Webster, partner at Arthur D. Little

Khairy emphasized that compared to traditional methods, data-driven approaches offer a more precise and scientific way of managing agricultural operations. Therefore, they enhance productivity and resource efficiency while ensuring long-term economic viability and sustainability.

IoT-enabled farming technologies in Saudi Arabia’s agricultural sector play a crucial role in improving productivity and sustainability through precision monitoring and management, resource efficiency, and remote management, according to Khairy.

“These technologies, such as sensors and drones, provide real-time data on soil quality, crop health, and pest infestations, allowing farmers to make informed decisions on irrigation, fertilization, and pest control,” he explained.

Government support and collaboration

For IoT technologies to reach their full potential in Saudi agriculture, government support and collaboration are paramount.

Initiatives like the National Agricultural Development Co.’s AI solutions demonstrate the importance of leveraging technology for agricultural advancement.

By fostering collaboration among stakeholders and providing financial support, policymakers can facilitate the widespread adoption of IoT technologies.

Additionally, investment in research and development, infrastructure, and training programs is essential to equip farmers with the necessary skills and knowledge to embrace IoT solutions effectively.

Moreover, partnerships between government agencies, agricultural extension services, technology providers, and academic institutions can promote knowledge-sharing and innovation in the agricultural sector.

“Partnerships and collaborations play a critical role in promoting the adoption and maintenance of digital technologies in agriculture,” Arthur D. Little’s Webster emphasized.

He added: “The most important role of such collaborations is to ensure that there is good governance over the data that is collected at all parts of the food chain from farm to fork.” 

Webster explained that data governance is “clarity over how data – and any associated meta-data – is collected, in what form, and for use by whom (e.g., different parts of the agri-food supply chain, regulators, Government) and under what circumstances.”

He stressed the cruciality of such aspects in ensuring that business models involving the use and monetization of data work effectively.

Webster also called on farmers to take advantage of the Saudi government’s wide range of initiatives and programs to integrate digital technologies.

The General Authority for Statistics has recently launched the inventory survey of agricultural holdings in the Kingdom in order to provide essential data on plant and animal production, including cultivated areas and production quantities, as well as sales volumes, crop values, and livestock numbers at the regional level.

Commenting on the survey, Khairy said: “With this data, policymakers, researchers, and agricultural stakeholders can identify areas for improvement, pinpoint specific challenges faced by farmers, and tailor agriculture solutions to address the unique needs of different regions.”

As Saudi Arabia faces the challenges of water scarcity, climate change, and food security, embracing IoT technologies becomes imperative.

The integration of IoT in agriculture offers a pathway to overcome these challenges, enhance productivity, and promote sustainable farming practices.

Through collaboration, innovation, and government support, Saudi farmers can embark on a journey toward a more resilient and prosperous agricultural future.

“Owing to both demand and investment – as well as the increasing availability of IoT-enabled farming technologies – this future trajectory will no doubt continue,” Webster said.

He suggested that the nation could soon achieve self-sufficiency or become a net exporter, particularly in products like eggs.

Webster envisioned a revolution in agricultural supply chains, emphasizing a transition to alternative proteins with great potential in semi or fully-automated indoor farming, which promises heightened productivity and reduced production costs.

Khairy said that Saudi Arabia’s adoption of advanced farming technologies is “poised to make significant contributions to global food security and environmental conservation efforts.”

He added that through the incorporation of sustainable agricultural practices, farmers in the Kingdom can increase productivity while minimizing environmental impact.

“This not only ensures food security domestically but also allows Saudi Arabia to potentially become a key player in international food supply chains,” Khairy explained.