NEOM announces new tourism escape Siranna 

Developing the tourism sector is a key agenda of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, as the Kingdom is steadily diversifying its economy away from oil. Supplied.
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Updated 30 November 2023
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NEOM announces new tourism escape Siranna 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s giga-project NEOM has unveiled its latest sustainable tourism destination, Siranna, featuring a 65-key hotel and 35 exclusive residences. 

Siranna will also feature a beach club, spa, wellness facilities, and horse riding offerings for visitors, according to a press statement.  

“Sophisticated dining and entertainment options will also satisfy a wide range of tastes and interests among guests,” said NEOM in the press statement.  

It added: “The guiding principle underpinning the development is to ensure minimal intervention in nature, where thoughtful and deliberate techniques will be used to preserve the surrounding landscape.” 

Developing the tourism sector is a key agenda of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, as the Kingdom is steadily diversifying its economy away from oil.  

Through its National Tourism Strategy, Saudi Arabia aims to attract 150 million tourists to the Kingdom by the end of this decade – a target revised up from 100 million.

“Aligned with NEOM’s commitment to conservation, Siranna will complement its coastal location and be delivered sustainably,” added NEOM in the press statement.  

Earlier this month, NEOM, which is being developed with a budget of $500 billion, unveiled another tourism destination named Epicon, a new premium spot set along the Gulf of Aqaba. 

Epicon is expected to offer a diverse range of experiences that include leisure activities at a beach club, wellness programs, exploring natural landscapes, and fine dining options. 

The project will also feature two towers, one reaching 225 meters and the other 275 meters in height, encompassing a luxury hotel with 41 high-end tourist apartments and exclusive residential suites. 

Epicon also includes a resort comprising 120 rooms and 45 beachfront villas. 

On Nov. 28, affirming its commitment toward sustainability, NEOM signed multiple memorandums of understanding with Bosch and Bain&Co. to accelerate clean industrial transformation in Oxagon, the industrial facility located within the city.  

In an X post, Oxagon said that these deals with Bosch and Bain&Co. will help Oxagon “harness the expertise of each organization to shape the future of manufacturing through investments in innovation, technology and talent development.”  


RSG partners with Amazon Payment Services to introduce online transactions

Updated 11 sec ago
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RSG partners with Amazon Payment Services to introduce online transactions

RIYADH: Saudi tourist destinations, The Red Sea and AMAALA, will soon offer online transaction options through a recent partnership with Amazon Payment Services. 

Initiated by its developer Red Sea Global, the deal aims to provide a comprehensive suite of payment solutions tailored to meet the needs of RSG’s customers, according to a statement. 

This aligns with RSG’s vision of providing exceptional experiences for its travelers, as stated by Ahmed Ali Al-Sohaily, group head of technology at RSG. 

He said: “By collaborating with Amazon Payment Services, its best-in-class technology ensures convenient, secure, and efficient payment processes for our guests.”  

RSG said it seeks to collaborate with partners who share similar values in making a positive impact on both people and the planet. Currently, more than 90 percent of Amazon Payment Services’ electricity comes from renewables, with a goal to reach 100 percent by 2025, the release added. 

“We are excited to support Red Sea Global and its customers through this new partnership that allows us to enhance the payment experience for luxury travelers through our innovative and tailor-made payment solutions,” said Peter George, managing director at Amazon Payments Services.


Australia’s University of Wollongong joins top global institutes in Riyadh expansion 

Updated 42 min 43 sec ago
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Australia’s University of Wollongong joins top global institutes in Riyadh expansion 

RIYADH: Saudi students will gain increased access to high-quality higher education as reputable institutes, including Australia’s University of Wollongong, secure licenses for branches within the Kingdom. 

The Saudi Ministry of Education and its investment counterpart announced the issuance of an approval to the Australian public research university during the recently concluded Human Capability Initiative Conference in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.  

This move is a part of the preparations to establish its branch in the Kingdom, in collaboration with the Digital Knowledge Co., to provide innovative, globally recognized education for international and local students across various higher schooling levels. 

The collaboration with Digital Knowledge Co., known for its high-quality expertise in schooling and training, aligns with Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to attract foreign university branches and increase private sector involvement in higher education by 2030. 

The University of Wollongong holds the 14th position among the best modern universities worldwide, ranking in the top 1 percent of institutes according to the 2024 QS World Index. 

The SPA report added that, during the same event, the two ministries also signed a memorandum of understanding with Arizona State University and Cintana Education to establish a new institute and an affiliated school in Riyadh. 


 


WTO’s Abu Dhabi Declaration to empower least developed nations  

Updated 20 min 42 sec ago
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WTO’s Abu Dhabi Declaration to empower least developed nations  

RIYADH: The least developed countries are set to benefit from the Abu Dhabi Declaration at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, improving global supply chain access. 

Trade deals, aimed at fostering new agreements, will extend international trading system benefits to more nations, following intensive negotiations, as reported by the UAE’s official news agency, WAM. 

Members have agreed to implement Special and Preferential Treatment for Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade. This effort supports producers in the least developed countries, facilitating their global supply chain access, the WAM report stated. 

The report added that the current measures of SPS constitute a staggering 90 percent of non-tariff trade barriers, posing a significant obstacle for smaller nations and being viewed as discriminatory. 

In a significant development for developing countries, ministers approved a decision responding to a 23-year-old mandate. The aim is to revamp special and differential treatment provisions for improved precision, effectiveness, and operational functionality. 

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade and MC13 Chair, Thani Al-Zeyoudi, described the declaration as a significant milestone for the UAE and global trade. 

“It has been a momentous week for Abu Dhabi, for the UAE, and for global trade. I would like to thank the delegations from every member for their diligence and dedication to the negotiation and for their ceaseless efforts in making the global trading system more robust, more efficient and, most importantly, more accessible,” he said. 

The minister added that even in areas where final agreements have not been reached, issues that previously seemed unsolvable can now be unlocked — clearing the way for further progress in the coming months.  

Substantial progress has also been achieved in dispute resolution, as there is now an agreement to fulfill the MC12 mandate by establishing a comprehensive and efficient Dispute Settlement system by the end of 2024. This entails the adoption of various reform pathways by the participating members. 

Regarding e-commerce, members have agreed to extend the moratorium on customs duties for electronic transmissions for an additional two years. This decision implies that trade involving purely digital products and services will remain tariff-free until MC14 in Cameroon. 

Ministers also adopted a ministerial decision to extend the moratorium on non-violation and situation complaints related to the agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights until MC14. 

“Delivering the Abu Dhabi Declaration of outcomes is a true testament to the value that members continue to attach to the WTO and its pivotal role in ensuring an orderly global system of trade rules,” said Al-Zeyoudi. 

“With the adopted Abu Dhabi Declaration, we have demonstrated that we can deliver to ensure the global trading system remains a vital engine of growth and development for nations around the world. We must build on these significant achievements and remain united for global trade,” he added.  

The WAM report quoted Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, stating that the global body serves as a foundation of stability and resilience in an economic and geopolitical landscape filled with uncertainties and exogenous shocks. 

“Trade remains a vital force for improving people’s lives, and for helping businesses and countries cope with the impact of these shocks. Let us get some rest, then regroup and resume,” she said. 

MC13, hosted by the UAE’s Ministry of Economy and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, took place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center from Feb. 26 to March 2. 


Larger declines in oil prices or extended OPEC+ cuts could weigh on Iraq’s fiscal account, IMF says 

Updated 03 March 2024
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Larger declines in oil prices or extended OPEC+ cuts could weigh on Iraq’s fiscal account, IMF says 

CAIRO: The International Monetary Fund said on Sunday that larger declines in oil prices or extended OPEC+ cuts could weigh on Iraq’s fiscal and external accounts. 

“Iraq needs to increase non-oil exports and government revenue, and reduce the economy’s vulnerability to oil price shocks,” they said in a concluding statement. 


Saudi ‘Sah’ savings product second round opens, offering 5.63% return 

Updated 03 March 2024
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Saudi ‘Sah’ savings product second round opens, offering 5.63% return 

RIYADH: Saudi residents can once again boost their savings rates with the commencement of the second round of subscriptions for the savings product “Sah” on March 3. 

The Shariah-compliant, government-backed sukuk offers a return of 5.63 percent, and redemption amounts are scheduled to be paid within a year, as disclosed by the National Debt Management Center in a release on X. 

These sukuk are issued by the Ministry of Finance and organized by the NDMC. 

The second-round subscription started on March 3 at 10 a.m. and runs until March 5 at 3 a.m. 

Hani Al-Madini, CEO of the NDMC, explained that the sukuk serves as a catalyst for private sector cooperation and participation in developing and launching various savings products tailored to diverse demographics. These initiatives could involve partnerships with banks, fund managers, financial technology companies, and more. 

Sah, the first savings product designed for individuals, adheres to Islamic Shariah principles. It takes the form of bonds under the Kingdom’s local bonds program, denominated in Saudi riyals. 

It supports the Financial Sector Development Program, part of Saudi Vision 2030, aimed at raising the savings rate among residents from as low as 6 percent to the international standard of 10 percent by 2030. 

The minimum subscription amount is set at SR1,000 ($266), equivalent to the value of one bond, while the maximum is SR200,000 for total issuances per user during the program period. 

The product is allocated for individuals, with returns provided on a monthly basis in accordance with the issuance calendar. 

The saving period is one year with a fixed return, and accrued yields are disbursed at the end of the sukuk’s term. Future returns will be determined based on month-to-month market conditions. 

The product is open to Saudi nationals aged 18 and above. To participate, individuals must open an account with either SNB Capital, Aljazira Capital, Alinma Investment, SAB Invest, or Al Rajhi Capital.