Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being

Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being
As companies strive to balance profitability with societal impact, corporate social responsibility has become a fundamental principle for businesses of all sizes globally, and Saudi Arabia is no exception. (SPA)
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Updated 26 June 2024
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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. 

HIGHLIGHT

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.


SAMA chief lauds global efforts to contain inflation

SAMA chief lauds global efforts to contain inflation
Updated 25 July 2024
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SAMA chief lauds global efforts to contain inflation

SAMA chief lauds global efforts to contain inflation

RIYADH: Saudi Central Bank governor praised the “well-calibrated” monetary policies adopted by global financial institutions to tackle inflation and bolster the resilience of the world economy amid diverse challenges.

Ayman Al-Sayari spoke at a session titled “Global Economic Outlook and Ongoing Challenges” during the third meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of G20 held under the Brazilian presidency, according to statement issued on the apex bank’s X handle.

He presented a comprehensive perspective on global economic challenges and policies.

The top Saudi official stressed the importance of ensuring that the nominal growth rate exceeds the interest rate to mitigate risks to global growth in the near term. This principle advocates for sustaining economic expansion while managing debt dynamics effectively.

Al-Sayari highlighted significant medium-term risks confronting the global economy, including ongoing geopolitical conflicts and trade fragmentation. These factors contribute to uncertainty and potential volatility in the international economic landscape.

Regarding energy transition efforts, he acknowledged the global scale-up of renewable energy usage but expressed concern over increased fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions in 2023. Al-Sayari cautioned against rushed actions and underscored the need for a balanced approach toward achieving sustainability goals without compromising economic stability.

“We are all for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the SAMA chief said.

Al-Sayari identified rising income inequality as a critical issue. He underscored the importance of implementing targeted social benefits and well-designed labor market policies to bridge this gap.


Saudi airline flynas to buy 160 Airbus planes

Saudi airline flynas to buy 160 Airbus planes
Updated 25 July 2024
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Saudi airline flynas to buy 160 Airbus planes

Saudi airline flynas to buy 160 Airbus planes
  • Deal includes order of 30 wide-body A330neo aircraft and 130 narrow-body A320 family aircraft
  • Head of flynas, Bander Al-Mohanna, said agreement ‘reinforces our determination to establish flynas as a leading global low-cost carrier’

RIYADH: Saudi low-cost airline flynas has signed a deal to purchase 160 Airbus aircraft, doubling the volume of its orders to 280 planes. 

The “landmark agreement,” signed at the UK’s Farnborough International Airshow, includes an order of 30 wide-body A330neo aircraft and 130 narrow-body A320 family aircraft, the carrier said in a statement.

This falls in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 aimed at transforming the aviation sector and supporting flynas’ ambitious expansion under the slogan “We connect the world to the Kingdom.” It also cements the carrier’s status as one of the top four low-cost airlines worldwide.

The deal also aligns well with the Kingdom’s aviation goals, including tripling annual passengers to 330 million, expanding connectivity to over 250 destinations, and boosting air freight capacity to 4.5 million tons of cargo per annum by 2030.

“I congratulate flynas on this significant agreement, which reflects the rapid development and transformation of Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector under Vision 2030,” President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation Abdulaziz Al-Duailej said. 

“This deal is pivotal for achieving the National Civil Aviation Strategy’s goal to connect the Kingdom with over 250 international destinations and increase passenger traffic to 330 million annually by 2030,” he added, also describing the growth and expansion of flynas as “truly remarkable.”

Bander Al-Mohanna, CEO and managing director of flynas, said: “This agreement to purchase 160 Airbus aircraft reinforces our determination to establish flynas as a leading global low-cost carrier.”

He added that this is his firm’s first order for the wide-body A330neo with Airbus, with deliveries starting in 2027.

“By doubling our order volume to 280 Airbus aircraft, we ensure sustainable growth across our network of regional and international routes, spanning short, medium, and long-haul flights,” said the CEO, explaining that that this will enable the carrier to explore new long-haul markets and offer more seat capacity, with diverse and innovative products to their passengers.

Airbus CEO of Commercial Aircraft Christian Scherer described thee deal as “a significant milestone” for both A320neo and A330-900 aircraft.

“The A330neo will allow flynas to further grow into widebody markets by building on the A320, benefiting from Airbus’ unique commonality,” Scherer said. 

“Both aircraft types offer flynas the perfect versatility and economics to expand into new markets while offering their passengers the latest cabin experience and comfort,” he added. “We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with flynas as they embark on this exciting new chapter.”

Earlier this month, flynas received its 53rd A320neo aircraft out of an order of 120 from Airbus as part of its strategic expansion plan. 

The next-generation model airplane touched down at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh at the time, further consolidating the company’s position as the leading low-cost airline in the Middle East and one of the top four low-cost airlines globally, according to UK-based consultancy firm Skytrax.


New contractors database announced to help deliver Saudi Vision 2030 projects

New contractors database announced to help deliver Saudi Vision 2030 projects
Updated 25 July 2024
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New contractors database announced to help deliver Saudi Vision 2030 projects

New contractors database announced to help deliver Saudi Vision 2030 projects
  • Initiative seeks to provide opportunities for contractors to implement projects in their specializations to raise their quality
  • Kingdom’s construction market has become a leader in the Middle East and North Africa

RIYADH: A database rating contractors in the Saudi construction industry is part of a new national strategy designed to help the Kingdom deliver its SR1.2 trillion ($319 billion) Vision 2030 projects.

The new initiative, launched by the Saudi Contractors Authority, seeks to provide opportunities for contractors to implement projects in their specializations to raise their quality. 

This falls in line with the authority’s mission to organize the industry by setting and executing high-quality organizational standards, encouraging innovation, developing skills, improving communication in the industry and achieving economic sustainability.

During a speech at a ceremony reviewing the achievements of the SCA over the past three years, the authority’s chairman said he wanted to prepare and equip a strong contracting sector that will be an executive arm for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 projects.

Al-Abdulqader explained that the authority raised the number of contractors during the past three years by 400 percent, bringing the registered number to more than 18,000, including 1,200 international contractors.

The SCA has also signed over 10 agreements and memorandums of understanding with major global contracting sectors, in addition to participating in more than 50 government committees. 

In 2023, the National Housing Co. and SCA signed an MoU during the Future Projects Forum in Riyadh to develop a platform aimed at enhancing cooperation, ensuring the development of both entities, and improving the sector’s efficiency. 

The SCA, a semi-governmental organization, addresses the challenges of the contracting sector and fosters a more attractive and efficient environment. 

It also led the contracting sector in 57 countries by winning the presidency of the Islamic Contractors Union and establishing the Kingdom as its headquarters. 

The Saudi contractor industry is thriving, driven by significant investments in diverse sectors and ambitious projects under the Vision 2030 initiative, creating numerous opportunities for local and international contractors. 

This comes as the Kingdom’s construction market has become a leader in the Middle East and North Africa, with an estimated value of $70.33 billion in 2024, projected to reach $91.36 billion by 2029, according to the US International Trade Administration.  

The sector is categorized into residential, commercial, and industrial, as well as infrastructure, transportation, and energy and utility construction, presenting a sizable market for contractors seeking opportunities. 


Closing Bell: Saudi main index ends the week in red

Closing Bell: Saudi main index ends the week in red
Updated 25 July 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index ends the week in red

Closing Bell: Saudi main index ends the week in red
  • Total trading turnover of the benchmark index was $1.69 billion
  • Best-performing stock of the day was Retal Urban Development Co.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index dipped on Thursday, losing 75 points, or 0.62 percent, to close at 12,026.21. 

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR6.35 billion ($1.69 billion) as 54 stocks advanced, while 170 retreated.   

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index decreased by 10.76 points, or 0.71 percent, to close at 1,502.13.

However, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu increased by 82.88 points or 0.31 percent, to close at 26,420.01. This comes as 28 stocks advanced while as many as 27 retreated.

The best-performing stock of the day was Retal Urban Development Co. The company’s share price surged by 7.10 percent to SR12.98.

Other top performers included Saudi Real Estate Co. and Electrical Industries Co., whose share prices soared by 4.94 percent and 4.53 percent, to stand at SR23.38 and SR6.92 respectively.

Tanmiah Food Co. and Al-Rajhi Co. for Cooperative Insurance also performed well.

The worst performer was Miahona Co., whose share price dropped by 9.60 percent to SR36.25.

Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co. as well as Saudi Manpower Solutions Co., did not perform well as their share prices dropped by 5.92 percent and 5.47 percent to stand at SR20.34 and SR10.02, respectively.

Profits of Zain Saudi Arabia fell to SR105 million, an 8 percent decrease during the second quarter of 2024, compared to profits of SR114 million during the same period last year, according to Al Ekhbariya.

The company attributed the decline to an increase in operating expenses by SR38 million, a rise in expected credit loss expenses by SR33 million, and an increase in financing costs by SR20 million.

The National Company for Glass Industries announced its interim financial results for the first six months of 2024, with revenues dipping by 13.1 percent to reach SR34.2 million. The company’s net profit, however, surged by 6.5 percent, reaching SR26.7 million.

It attributed the decrease to a lower production quantity, which resulted from line maintenance activities and installation of new machines to improve manufacturing quality.

Balady Poultry Co. also announced its preliminary financial results for the same period, with revenues amounting to SR449.6 million, marking a 30.4 percent surge compared to the previous year due to an increase in average daily production.

The company recorded an increase of SR71.9 million in net profit during the current half compared to SR40.3 million during the same half of the previous year, with an increase of 78.6 percent due to a rise in the average daily production.


NEOM hits milestone with completion of underground parking, light rail systems

NEOM hits milestone with completion of underground parking, light rail systems
Updated 25 July 2024
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NEOM hits milestone with completion of underground parking, light rail systems

NEOM hits milestone with completion of underground parking, light rail systems
  • The underground parking and light rail are key elements of NEOM’s advanced sustainable transportation plan
  • NEOM said this accomplishment supports its goal of building a city with zero carbon emissions

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion megacity NEOM has completed the construction phases of its underground parking and light rail systems, marking a milestone in its ambitious zero-carbon initiative.

Assisted by 10 high-capacity rotary drilling rigs from Chinese construction manufacturing company XCMG Machinery, the world’s largest integrated development project completed three piles per day per drilling rig, according to a press release.

The underground parking and light rail are key elements of NEOM’s advanced sustainable transportation plan. This phase was accelerated by the efficiency of XCMG’s rotary drilling rigs, which handled deep foundation work despite challenging sandy geologies.

Led by the Public Investment Fund, the project will be a futuristic region in northwest Saudi Arabia powered entirely by renewable energy.

NEOM is home to The Line, Oxagon, Trojena, and Sindalah. It prioritizes people and nature, establishing a new model for sustainable living, working, and prospering.

The statement added that this phase was expedited due to the efficiency of XCMG’s rotary drilling rigs, which successfully managed deep foundation work even in difficult desert terrains.

The release noted that the XR600E is the largest-tonnage drilling rig deployed in the construction of NEOM city and the largest model exported from China.

Despite arriving a month later than other machinery, these rigs completed their tasks two weeks ahead of schedule, demonstrating reliability and superior performance in speed and efficiency.

In its statement, NEOM commented that this accomplishment supports its goal of building a city with zero carbon emissions and sustainable energy use.

Over 140,000 construction workers have been engaged on-site since its launch in 2017, and earlier in July it was announced the various projects underconstruction are set to receive cement worth SR104 million ($27.7 million) thanks to a partnership between Saudi Arabia’s Al Jouf Cement Co. and Italy’s Webuild SpA.

Other recent announcements from NEOM include a new marina and community on the Gulf of Aqaba called Jaumur.

The destination will be an exclusive residential community planned around a marina promenade for more than 6,000 residents, and will include 500 marina apartments and around 700 luxury villas.

Earlier this month, NEOM and American hospitality firm Equinox Hotels revealed plans to open a resort in the recently unveiled Magna development, on the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba.

The luxury destination will feature 12 locations along 120 kilometers of coastline, and will include 15 hotels, 1,600 rooms, and over 2,500 residences.