Newly launched company set sights on Saudi coastal city as first tourism project

Abdulrahman Al-Bassam, executive chairman of AWN Enterprises and a member of Baheej’s board of directors.
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Updated 27 September 2023
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Newly launched company set sights on Saudi coastal city as first tourism project

ABU DHABI: A Saudi coastal city will be the site of Baheej’s first project in its strategy to develop exciting tourist destinations as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plans.

The development company was launched on Tuesday by a joint venture between AWN Enterprises and Tamimi Group.

Baheej will study each city in Saudi Arabia to identify gaps in a tourist’s itinerary, and speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi, one of the executives involved with the company gave more details of its future plans.

“We are extremely in the early stages. That will be the first asset that will be developed and up and running by, I would say, the beginning of 2027,” said Abdulrahman Al-Bassam, executive chairman of AWN Enterprises and a member of Baheej’s board of directors.

Without sharing further details about the project’s site, the executive confirmed that “it will be a coastal city.”

Al-Bassam said he hoped Baheej would help Saudi Arabia meet its economic diversification goals for tourism, which includes attracting 100 million local and international visitors annually by 2030.

Norah Al-Tamimi, who hails from one of the Kingdom’s most influential family businesses, has been appointed the acting chief executive.

Expanding on the remit of the new initiative, Al-Bassam said: “Each project starts with an assessment of the destination, if the gap is for example, in the hospitality offering, we provide accommodation solutions. If the gap is in, let’s say, lack of visitor facilities, beach retreat or you name it, that would be part of the project assets that we would like to develop in a certain city.

Baheej is also focused on destination management, and will work hand-in-hand with local governments and authorities, as well as empowering local entrepreneurs “let’s imagine a local tour operator who owns, say, a couple of horses, we can provide them with the tools and marketing support to to use them a touristic experience, thus touring it into an opportunity” said the executive.

Al-Bassam noted that Asfar comes in “with its power as an investor, as well as a catalyst with regional players, be them regulators or service providers or affiliates and companies within the PIF conglomerate.”

Asfar was created by the Public Investment Fund earlier this year to support the Kingdom’s tourism strategy, which is a key part of Vision 2030.

Al-Bassam went on to state: “Whereas our alliance — Tamimi Group and AWN Enterprises — that’s the private partner within this partnership, comes in with their experience in contracting and in professional services as well as the hospitality, restaurants, and catering business.”

The company’s head noted that he views gaps in Saudi Arabia’s tourism as opportunities rather than problems, as this denotes room for improved tourism experiences.

“Each town in Saudi Arabia has its own uniqueness and we would like to tap into this,” he said.


Saudi Arabia and Australia sign deal to boost trade ties

Updated 19 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia and Australia sign deal to boost trade ties

RIYADH: Trade ties between Saudi Arabia and Australia are set to strengthen after the two countries signed an agreement to improve cooperation across multiple sectors. 

According to a press statement, the memorandum of understanding was inked between the Australia Saudi Business Council & Forum and the Export Council of Australia. 

The agreement will focus on cooperation in industry, mining and food as well as agriculture, technology, and artificial intelligence. 

The deal will increase the opportunities for Australian exporters to collaborate with Saudi entities, enhancing bilateral cooperation. 

The agreement was signed by the President of the Australia Saudi Business Council & Forum, Sam Jamsheedi, and Arnold Jorge, CEO of the Export Council of Australia, during the latter’s visit to the Kingdom with a delegation. 

“Under this strategic partnership, we will seek to work together closely in identifying initiatives that facilitate connections between Australia and Saudi Arabia,” said Jamsheedi. 

According to the UN Comtrade database, Australia’s exports to Saudi Arabia stood at $789.65 million in 2023. 

On the other hand, the Kingdom’s exports to Australia amounted to $702.75 million over the same 12-month period.  

“We will combine our resources and networks to boost the success of collaborations and partnerships between relevant organizations and individuals of our two countries,” said Jorge. 

The Australia Saudi Business Council was formed in 2013 to facilitate the promotion of ongoing and bilateral trade between the two nations.

In November, Saudi-based Abdel Hadi Al-Qahtani and Sons Co. and Australia’s SSS Group signed a $27 million deal to collaborate in the production of scaffolding systems in Saudi Arabia using local resources.

After the deal was signed, Australian Ambassador Mark Donovan told Arab News at the time that the cooperation agreement builds on the existing investment ties between both countries in various sectors, including education, health care, aviation, and services.

“A new and transformed Saudi Arabia is looking for business relationships around the world, and that’s what we’re very pleased to be a part of,” said Donovan at that time. 

In March, Australia’s University of Wollongong procured licenses to open its branches in the Kingdom. 


Top Saudi officials hold discussions with global aviation giants

Updated 6 min 23 sec ago
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Top Saudi officials hold discussions with global aviation giants

RIYADH: Supply chain challenges, investment attraction, and modern technology were all discussed by Saudi Arabia’s industry minister and the heads of global aviation companies at the Future Aviation Forum 2024.

Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef held discussions with the president of the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, the president and CEO of Embraer Commercial, and the president of Boeing, at the Riyadh event, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Alkhorayef focused on bolstering cooperation across various segments of the aviation industry in the talks and the discussions highlighted the Kingdom’s opportunities, addressed global supply chain challenges, and explored avenues for investment attraction, technological advancement, and knowledge exchange. 

Meanwhile, the minister toured the pavilions of several global aviation companies, including Airbus, Boeing, and Riyadh Air, participating in the event organized by the General Authority of Civil Aviation at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center. 

Furthermore, he received updates on the latest technologies and recent advancements in the aviation industry and its related sectors. 

On May 20, Saudia Group signed a $19 billion order deal for 105 planes, marking the largest aircraft deal with Airbus in the Kingdom’s history. 

The agreement was made public in the presence of Minister of Transport and Logistic Services Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser and Benoît de Saint-Exupery, executive vice president of sales at Airbus. Saint-Exupery stated that the new aircraft will play a “vital role” in contributing to Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan. 

The forum, held under the patronage of King Salman from May 20 to 22, showcases investment opportunities exceeding $100 billion. It aims to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, transforming the Kingdom into a leading logistics hub in the Middle East and meeting the objectives of the national aviation strategy. 

The event features participation from over 30 ministers, 77 leaders of civil aviation authorities, global airline executives, and 5,000 industry experts and leaders from more than 120 countries. 


Riyadh Air and Saudia agree new joint training programs

Updated 57 min 11 sec ago
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Riyadh Air and Saudia agree new joint training programs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s two national airlines will work together to train pilots, aircraft crews and other aviation employees thanks to a new deal.

Riyadh Air, the airline announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March 2023, has reached an agreement with the Saudi Academy – affiliated with the Saudia group, the national carrier of the Kingdom.

The memorandum of cooperation, signed at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh, represents a turning point in specialized education in the field of aviation for Saudi Arabia’s national carriers, paving the way towards improving the training standards of pilots, aircraft crews and air operations, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The agreement will enable the two national carriers to integrate their expertise and resources to provide training programs covering a wide range of specializations, SPA’s report added.

These programs will include technical training, aviation basics, and ground operations, as well as management principles, linguistic proficiency, and compliance with regulatory provisions and standards.


Pakistan GDP grows 2.09% in Q3, supported by agriculture

Updated 21 May 2024
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Pakistan GDP grows 2.09% in Q3, supported by agriculture

  • Pakistan’s central bank in latest report projected real GDP growth of 2-3% for the fiscal year 2024 
  • Provisional 2024 financial year growth in agriculture estimated at 6.25%, 1.21% for industry and services

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s economy grew 2.09% in the third quarter of the financial year 2023-2024, supported by higher growth in agriculture, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics said in a press release on Tuesday.

The estimated provisional growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) for the financial year ending June 2024 is 2.38%, the bureau said in a statement. That compares with a revised 0.21% economic contraction in the 2023 year when political unrest, a combination of tax and gas tariff hikes, controlled imports, and a steep fall in the rupee currency rapidly pushed up inflation.

Last week in its half yearly report, Pakistan’s central bank projected real GDP growth of 2-3% for the fiscal year 2024.

There was no comparable year-ago third quarter GDP data as Pakistan only began releasing quarterly growth numbers from November. That was done in compliance with the structural benchmarks of the current $3 billion bailout program agreed with the International Monetary Fund and completed last month.

The bureau revised the first and second quarter GDP estimates for financial year 2023-2024 to 2.71% and 1.79% respectively, compared to earlier estimates of 2.5% and 1%.

The provisional 2024 financial year growth in agriculture was estimated at 6.25%, and 1.21% for both industry as well as services, it added.

“The healthy growth of agriculture is mainly due to double-digit growth in important crops,” the bureau said, adding that bumper crop of wheat, cotton, and rice contributed to the positive result.


IMF expects UAE’s economy to grow by 4% in 2024

Updated 21 May 2024
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IMF expects UAE’s economy to grow by 4% in 2024

RIYADH: The UAE’s gross domestic product is set to expand by 4 percent this year, driven by robust domestic activities and relatively high oil prices, an International Monetary Fund has forecast.

In its latest Article IV end of mission statement, the IMF noted that the Emirates is experiencing strong growth in domestic sectors, including tourism, construction, and financial services. 

The report further noted that UAE’s oil GDP will also expand this year if the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, decide to ease the previously proposed output cuts. 

“Economic growth in the UAE is broad-based, led by robust activity in the tourism, construction, manufacturing, and financial services sectors. Foreign demand for real estate, increased bilateral and multilateral ties, and the UAE’s safe haven status continue to drive rapid growth in housing prices and an increase in rents while adding to ample domestic liquidity,” said the IMF in the statement. 

In its previous projection in April, the organization predicted that the UAE’s economy would grow by 3.5 percent in 2024. 

The UN financial agency added that the impact of geopolitical tensions in the Emirates so far is still minimal, and the country’s response to the recent flooding was rapid and effective. 

IMF further pointed out that the inflation rate in the UAE is expected to be contained at 2 percent in 2024. 

According to the study, the UAE’s fiscal and external surpluses are expected to remain high this year due to relatively surging oil prices. 

“The general government surplus is projected to be around 5 percent of GDP in 2024 and public debt is on track to decline further toward 30 percent of GDP, benefitting from active debt management strategies,” said IMF. 

It added: “Capital spending is expected to meet ongoing infrastructure needs, and the introduction of the corporate income tax will support non-hydrocarbon revenue with its full implementation in the coming years. The current account surplus is projected at around 9 percent of GDP in 2024.” 

The international financial institution also noted that accelerated public and private investment and structural reforms in areas like renewable energy and technology could further accelerate economic growth in the Emirates. 

However, the IMF noted that the UAE’s economic outlook is subject to uncertainty and external risks, including those related to geopolitical tensions, global growth, and commodity price volatility. 

The study highlighted that banks in the Emirates have considerable capital and liquidity buffers, while credit growth is resilient despite higher domestic interest rates. 

“The efforts to digitalize the financial system and payment landscape are welcome and should continue to follow a risk-conscious approach. Initiatives to develop and regulate the virtual asset industry should be informed by a careful assessment of macroeconomic and financial stability risks,” said the IMF. 

The report concluded by saying that gradual fiscal consolidation and further structural reforms will ensure the UAE’s economic prudence and medium-term sustainability.