Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan
Updated 20 April 2021
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is weeks away from clinching the first significant funding package for a key part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s program to diversify the Kingdom’s economy, Bloomberg reported.
The Red Sea Development Co.’s SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) loan is set to close with a small group of local banks including Saudi National Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Riyad Bank and Saudi British Bank, the newswire reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The deal to help fund the first phase of the development will be a so-called green loan. The proceeds will be used to finance environmentally sustainable investment, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. It will have a tenor of 15 years and an interest rate of about 1 percent above the Saudi interbank offered rate, they said.
The company first started approaching banks for the loan in mid-2019, Bloomberg said.
Opening to tourism is one of the ways Saudi Arabia intends to diversify the economy away from oil. Its other ambitious projects include an entertainment hub near the capital Riyadh, and the new NEOM city in the north-west, which is expected to cost $500 billion to build.
The Red Sea Development, owned by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, will oversee a luxury tourism zone equivalent in size to Belgium. When the entire project is completed in 2030, it will target 1 million visitors a year, split evenly between domestic and international tourists.
Construction of a new international airport for the area has begun, and the first phase of the project is due to be completed with the opening of four hotels at the end of 2022.
12 more hotels will be open the following year, Chief Executive Officer John Pagano said in an interview in November.
AlUla, the ancient valley in Saudi Arabia’s Madinah region, home to 200,000 years of still largely unexplored human history, continues to play a central role in the Kingdom’s tourism strategy.
In a bid to pave the way for the area’s future growth, the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) has announced that it will embark on its future projects by adhering to sustainable practices.
“At the RCU, we are constantly looking for new ways to engage and work with our expert partners, stakeholders, and the AlUla community,” Amr Almadani, CEO of RCU, told Arab News. “Our success is driven by these ever- deepening collaborations. These local and global perspectives continually push us as we work to deliver on our objectives towards the goal of sustainable development in AlUla, and more broadly, contributing to the diversification efforts outlined in Vision 2030.”
RCU is pursuing a carbon-neutral strategy, supported by the basic principles of a circular economy. It also announced that it will build infrastructure that will help create tens of thousands of jobs, and will empower the local community by providing training and opportunities for new career paths.
AlUla’s new sustainable approach to its future will be discussed during a panel, the first in a series titled “At the crossroads: people and planet: can AlUla unlock a sustainable future?” on April 2 with panelists dialing in from AlUla and virtually. It will focus on integrated, 360-degree approaches to sustainability, where experts will discuss the complex layers, synergies, and conflicts of social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
Panelists include businessman and entrepreneur Alejandro Agag, former prime minister of Italy Matteo Renzi; architect and leader in sustainable design, William McDonough; James Hardcastle, the director of IUCN’s Green List ; Carlos Duarte, a leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography; Gérard Mestrallet, the Executive Chairman of Afalula, the French agency for Alula Development. Both Renzi and Mestrallet are members of the RCU advisory board.
“When we think of sustainability, we look to the civilizations of the past for inspiration,” added Almadani. “We seek to apply innovative approaches to ancient wisdom to come up with new ways to protect AlUla’s natural landscape and its people and secure its legacy in the years to come. This is the core inspiration of Crossroads, using the past to chart the best path into the future.”
Through Crossroads, RCU aims to bring together global experts across all sectors to challenge and fine tune its ideas regarding sustainability, pertaining to the ancient region’s future growth.
Proposed by RCU as “solution-driven” discussions, the panels will touch on key elements of its “Journey Through Time” masterplan, outlining the first and most important phase of AlUla’s development.
“The topic of integrated sustainability is being discussed at the forefront of all development projects currently underway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Dr Maliha Hashimi, executive director of health, wellbeing and biotech at NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s planned cross-border city in the Tabuk province, as well as the first Crossroads panel’s moderator, told Arab News.
“As we work towards a better, more sustainable future for our people, our environment, and our economic systems, we must embrace new technologies and solutions, but also understand the lessons and traditions of the past.”
Arab News bags six indigo design awards, launches web gallery of most celebrated works
The newspaper has won 47 international design awards since its relaunch in 2018
Updated 20 April 2021
RIYADH: Arab News, which today celebrates its 46th anniversary, has added six Indigo Design awards to the 41 honors it has accumulated since the relaunch of the region’s leading English language daily in 2018.
The recent awards — two of each gold, silver and bronze — went to Arab News’ special coverage across its international editions - Arab News en Francais and Arab News Japan.
One gold award went to the promotional launch video of the Arab News French edition which went live on July 14, 2020.
“Selection of the quintessential French song “la foule,” interpreted with Arabic instruments, lent the video a unique element, bringing East and West in beautiful harmony,” Ali Itani, Region Head Japan & France, said of the first place-winning Arab News En Francais promotional video.
Commenting on the Japanese edition, he said: “Japanese and Arabic calligraphy are world renowned for their unique styles.
“Incorporating the two with the rising sun of Arab News Japan was not only appreciated but also presented to the former Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, during his trip to Saudi Arabia.”
Ever since Arab News announced its new digital transformation strategy in 2016, importance has moved towards design and innovation, with the appointment of the publication’s very first creative director as well as a focus on commissioning award-winning designers around the world to make this happen.
“For Arab News to be recognized with six Indigo Design Awards is a brilliant achievement,” said Creative Director Simon Khalil. “ Winning 47 design awards to date is remarkable and it reinforces the creative vision we have at Arab News.
“Our mission is to inform and delight our readers around the world and these awards will push the whole team to be even more innovative.”
Indigo also took pride, saying in a statement: “We are very proud to have such a big media company as Arab News among our awardees. We are impressed with what they do as a publisher, especially their value-added content that contributes immensely in social change.”
As part of its 46th anniversary announcements, Arab News also today launches a new section on its website which houses all its award-winning special editions, covers and videos in one place to serve as a resource for students, news designers and editors alike. This can be accessed by visiting www.arabnews.com/greatesthits.
King Salman directs SR 1.9 billion to be paid to social security beneficiaries
Updated 20 April 2021
RIYADH: King Salman has authorized SR 1.9 billion to be paid to Saudis who receive social security benefits, Al Ekhbariya reported early Tuesday.
Ahmed Suleiman Al-Rajhi, the minister of human resources and social development, welcomed the king’s generous support to citizens during the holy month of Ramadan.
The announcement came as Saudis prepare to fast for the eight day.
Saudi deputy defense minister receives British PM's envoy
Updated 20 April 2021
Saudi Arabia's deputy defense minister Prince Khalid bin Salman recieved special envoy to UK’s PM for the Arabian Gulf, Edward Lister.
They reviewed the “strong cooperation between our two friendly countries, especially in the defense,” Prince Khalid tweeted early on Tuesday.
“We reemphasized the importance of our partnership in preserving regional stability&security,” he added.