Saudi Arabia to invest $100m to boost its aviation sector 

Abdulaziz Al-Duailej made this revelation at the 15th International Conference on Air Services Negotiations, organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization in Riyadh on Sunday.
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Updated 03 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia to invest $100m to boost its aviation sector 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia plans to invest $100 million to serve 356 million passengers to further boost its tourism efforts and aviation strategy in line with Vision 2030, according to the president of the Kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation.

Abdulaziz Al-Duailej made this revelation at the 15th International Conference on Air Services Negotiations, organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization in Riyadh on Sunday. The event, hosted by GACA, will continue till Dec. 7.

Emphasizing the comprehensive nature of the strategy, Al-Duailej provided insight into the multifaceted approach. 

He said: “We aim at developing and upgrading all aviation sectors, including Saudi airlines, logistics services, cargo services, and other support services.”

This financial injection underscores Saudi Arabia’s dedication to becoming a prominent player in the global aviation arena. 

Al-Duailej articulated the strategic objectives: “We are building an integrated airline network with Riyadh and Jeddah as strategic and central hubs.”

He outlined plans to establish international connections with 250 destinations by 2030.

This forward-looking approach aims to position Saudi Arabia as a leader in the aviation industry, fostering global connectivity and economic growth.

The significance of this commitment was further underscored by the President of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Salvatore Sciacchitano, who commended Saudi Arabia’s dedication. 

Sciacchitano said: “I am proud to say that the strategic direction of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in this sector will help countries achieve development and success.”

Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistic Services Saleh Al-Jasser also emphasized the impact of the civil aviation strategy, designed not only to enhance transportation but to foster relationships, facilitate trade, and open doors to Arab tourism. 

Al-Jasser spoke of the conference as evidence of a collective commitment to global integration through aviation.

The $100 million investment announcement serves as a cornerstone in Saudi Arabia’s journey to become a global aviation leader, as outlined by leaders at the ICAN conference. 

The financial commitment and strategic initiatives reflect the Kingdom’s determination to shape the future of air travel and contribute to the international aviation landscape.


Oil Updates – prices slip further on US demand, interest rate fears

Updated 2 min 43 sec ago
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Oil Updates – prices slip further on US demand, interest rate fears

SINGAPORE: Oil prices on Thursday extended declines from the previous session after a larger-than-expected build in US crude stockpiles stoked worries about slow demand, while signs that US interest rates could remain elevated added to pressure, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures fell 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $83.54 a barrel by 7:20 a.m. Saudi time. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 4 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $78.50 a barrel.

US crude oil stockpiles rose while gasoline and distillate inventories fell last week as refiners ran at below seasonal lows due to planned and unplanned outages, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose for the fifth consecutive week, increasing by 4.2 million barrels to 447.2 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 23, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.7 million-barrel rise.

“Large stockpiles heightened investors’ worries over a slow economy and reduced oil demand in the US,” said Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst with Rakuten Securities.

“The anticipation of delayed US rate cuts also weighed on the market sentiment as it could undermine oil demand,” he said.

High borrowing costs typically reduce economic growth and oil demand.

Traders have already dialled back expectations for US interest rate cuts after a slew of strong data, including hot consumer price index and producer price index readings. They expect an easing cycle to kick off in June, compared with the start of 2024 when bets were on March.

Market participants are now waiting for the US personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, for more trading cues.

The index, to be released on Thursday, is expected to show prices ticked up 0.3 percent on a monthly basis in January.

The market also eyed the possible extension of voluntary oil output cuts from OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, which has limited price declines for now.

“With the demand outlook remaining uncertain, we think OPEC will extend the current supply agreement to the end of the second quarter,” ANZ analysts Daniel Hynes and Soni Kumari said in a client note.

The price outlook remains unchanged, the analysts added, projecting 2024 annual average prices at $86 a barrel for Brent and $81 a barrel for WTI.

The conflict in the Middle East is also expected to keep a floor under oil prices, Rakuten’s Yoshida said.

Hamas urged Palestinians on Wednesday to march to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque at the start of Ramadan next month, raising the stakes in negotiations for a truce in Gaza, which US President Joe Biden hopes will be in place by then.

But both Israel and Hamas have played down the prospects for a truce and Qatari mediators have said the most contentious issues are still unresolved.


Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects

Updated 29 February 2024
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Tourism Development Fund signs MoU with Dan Company for Saudi Arabia agritourism projects

  • Dan Company specializes in agri, eco, and adventure tourism that offers a mix of daytime hospitality experiences and overnight stays

RIYADH: The Tourism Development Fund has signed a memorandum of understanding with Dan Company, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund, to support investments in the Kingdom’s agritourism sector.

Dan Company specializes in agri, eco, and adventure tourism that offers a mix of daytime hospitality experiences and overnight stays.

The agreement was signed by Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri, CEO of the Tourism Development Fund, and Abdulrahman Abaalkhail, CEO of Dan Company.

“This memorandum reflects our firm commitment to developing and enabling all investments in the tourism sector and creating qualitative investment opportunities for the private sector to support the future of the tourism industry in the Kingdom and enhance its competitiveness, providing unique experiences for our visitors,” Al-Fakhri said in a statement.

“Integrating rural agricultural elements into tourism programs will enrich visitors’ experiences and provide them with a unique opportunity to discover the beauty of nature and its competitive potential and to connect with the local agricultural culture.”

Abaalkhail meanwhile said: “The agreement… aims to contribute to the development of a sustainable local tourism system by providing financing solutions to our partners, farm owners, to enable them to diversify their activities, build prosperous businesses, and enhance the economic and social situation of local communities.”

“It will also provide opportunities for visitors to learn more about traditional and modern agricultural practices, discover amazing outdoor activities, and enhance their connection to the nature of the Kingdom.”


Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund

Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia makes $38m contribution to global education fund

RIYADH: Investments in the education sector of lower-income countries will receive a boost as Saudi Arabia officially joins the Global Partnership for Education with a $38 million contribution.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh, Laura Frigenti, the fund’s CEO, outlined that the contribution will be utilized for the body’s mission of transforming the education sector in underdeveloped countries and preparing young generations for the modern job market. 

The Global Partnership for Education is the largest fund exclusively dedicated to improving the education sector’s performance in low-income and middle-income countries.

It was created “about 22 years ago,” the CEO outlined, adding that “between our own funds and the funds that we have leveraged,” the body has invested about $11 billion in education globally. 

She said: “We are operating in about 90 countries, all the low-income and most of the middle-income countries, including countries that are in a very fragile condition. And we provide both technical assistance as well as financing, to help the government really bring back on track the performance of the education sector.”

She added: “I can tell you, that GPE is very, very active in countries that are of strategic interest to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I’m thinking about Yemen and thinking about the countries in the Middle East, Jordan, Lebanon, I’m thinking about Egypt, Sudan, etc.”

Fringeti commended the Saudi government’s emphasis on the sector and its understanding of the integral role that education plays in diversifying the economy. 

She highlighted that the Kingdom is paving the way for its “very young” population that will require the right skills in order to adapt to a fast-changing labor market.

Around the world, including in the Middle East and North Africa region, countries are confronting a mismatch between youth skills and labor market needs that risks leaving millions of youths—particularly young women—underprepared for tomorrow’s jobs, a release by the body said. 

Youth unemployment across Arab states is around 25 percent, while unemployment for young women has reached 40 percent.

With this new partnership, GPE and Saudi Arabia have committed to working hand in hand to increase investment in education as a powerful force to spur growth in the region and beyond, giving children the skills they need to grow and flourish, a release by the body noted.

The CEO further outlined enthusiasm toward the Kingdom “finally” joining the partnership due to the fact that Saudi Arabia serves as an example that can be utilized as a model for nations globally, saying: “This is one of the reasons why I am so excited about Saudi finally, officially joining the partnership, because there is a lot of the experiences that have been made here that can actually be relevant for other countries, and I’m very excited about the fact that the Saudi being part of the partnership will actually be able to tell their story to the world.”

She concluded: “Saudi is a little bit of a unique case in a sense that it is a country that doesn’t lack resources. So this massive investment may not be replicated at the same scale in other parts of the world. But I think the focus, the understanding of the connection and the trajectory that the government has put in place here is definitely something that will be very relevant to many.” 


Saudi defense minister appointed new SAMI chairman after board reshuffle

Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi defense minister appointed new SAMI chairman after board reshuffle

RIYADH: Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman is the new chairman of Saudi Arabian Military Industries after a reshuffle of its board of directors, according to a statement.

The minister has replaced Ahmed Al-Khateeb in the key position in the defense and security company, which is entirely owned by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund.

SAMI focuses on advancing and reinforcing Saudi Arabia's defense sector, and plays a crucial role in driving the localization of 50 percent of the Kingdom’s expenditures in this economic sphere – a pivotal objective of Saudi Vision 2030. ‎

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef is also on the board, as is Chairman of the General Authority for Civil Aviation Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailej, and Assistant Minister of Defense Talal bin Abdullah Al-Otaibi.

Membership also includes Khaled bin Hussain Al-Biyari, Yasser bin Abdullah Al-Salman, and Omar bin Hamad Al-Madi, as well as Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Suqair.

Representing SAMI, CEO Walid bin Abdulmajeed Abu Khalid extended gratitude to the prior board of directors for their tenure, which played a pivotal role in positioning the company among the elite ranks of the top 100 specialized defense firms worldwide.

Established in 2017, the company operates across aviation, aerospace, land systems, maritime, and defense systems, in addition to advanced electronics. 

The company is ranked 79th among the top 100 specialized defense firms globally, and is aiming to reach the top 25 by 2030.

Early this month, SAMI signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean automobile manufacturer Kia Corp. at the World Defense Show 2024 in Riyadh with the aim to boost cooperation in the local production of military vehicles, thereby strengthening Saudi Arabia’s defense and security sector.


Riyadh in race with top global cities to hire new talent, says mayor

Updated 28 February 2024
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Riyadh in race with top global cities to hire new talent, says mayor

RIYADH: The Saudi capital finds itself in global competition with cities like New York and Tokyo for a skilled workforce, according to its mayor.

With a population exceeding 7 million, the city is experiencing an ongoing transformation as it becomes a hub for attracting talent and boosting entrepreneurship.

In an interview with Arab News at the Human Capability Initiative taking place from Feb. 28 -29, Riyadh Mayor Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf said: “Competition for talent is no longer regional or local. It’s global. We’re competing with New York, with Tokyo, with Paris, with Chicago. So it’s a global competition.”

He added: “Riyadh is going through massive changes. It’s historic in its scale, in its scope, and its impact. We realize in Riyadh that the trigger behind all of this is having the right workforce, having the right talent, having the right engine behind what we are doing.”

The mayor delved into the city’s strategic framework, saying: “We have designated a lot of efforts in the city to attract and to retain and to develop the right workforce, which is aligned with the theme of what happens today.”

Speaking of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, he said it is not an endpoint but a milestone in the longer trajectory.

Prince Faisal revealed that designated programs look at attracting, retaining, and developing the workforce with specific projects and key performance indicators.

“For us, this is the key enabler that will unleash everything else that’s happening in the city,” he commented.

Reflecting on the global landscape, Prince Faisal highlighted the importance of job opportunities as a catalyst for attracting a skilled workforce.

“If you look at attracting the right workforce and attracting talent, there are multiple layers to that. The main trigger is job opportunities. Usually, talent moves for job opportunities and for this the current changes and the transformation, the current vision is taking care of it. We have an abundance of the right jobs for the right caliber,” he remarked.

Furthermore, the mayor outlined the fundamental factors that individuals consider when deciding on a location for relocation or settling down, saying: “You think about safety, housing, education, and health. And in all four aspects, there are concrete efforts to build on the good foundation that we have in the city today and to take it to the next level.”

He added: “The second layer is the quality of life where people would like to go for the necessities, but they will stay because of the quality of life.”

Discussing doubling the capital’s inhabitants number, Prince Faisal said: “It’s not a goal in itself. It’s an assumption that’s based on our sort of plans and details,” adding: “I think reaching 15 million (inhabitants) is not a goal in itself, but it’s an assumption based on historical trends.”

He explained that in the past 40 to 50 years, the number of inhabitants in Riyadh has been doubling almost every 10 years, which occurred without anticipation.

“What we’ve done this time is saying, OK, we’ve doubled for the past decades, let’s assume we’re going to double again in the next decade and work for that to provide infrastructure, provide and boost the economy, work on projects to accommodate for that,” he said.

In a panel titled “Shaping places, shaping our future to attract talent and foster innovation” at the forum, the mayor shared perspectives on the city’s trajectory and strategies for nurturing talent and innovation.

Prince Faisal also provided insights into the recruitment process, emphasizing the significance of competency as a baseline requirement, saying: “Every candidate and person and CV that you look at passes the filter of competency, or else you wouldn’t even see the CV.”

He added: “Once you see and you meet that person, they’re competent, there is no question about that, so you look for added layers.”

The top official explained further: “What I personally look for are two things. One, I look very clearly at culture. I think culture is very important in organizations. I think it is what makes or breaks successful organizations.”

He added: “Number two, that I really look for are soft skills. We agreed that every person that you meet is competent, but what distinguishes an executive from a leader are soft skills.”

The mayor underscored the importance of passion and purpose in one’s career trajectory, highlighting that it is “very important to love what you do,” because it’s “very critical to operate in a space where you enjoy.”

Discussing global tendencies affecting the workforce, Prince Faisal highlighted that “there are multiple trends that are impacting the workforce in general, one of them is AI, but others, such as transportation, such as globalization, those and many more. Those are all trends that are changing the narratives and trends of workforces. What’s happening is that talent has a much wider pool to choose from.”

Prince Faisal highlighted Riyadh’s unique blend of tradition and modernity, offering a compelling proposition for prospective talents.

He said: “We are a global city, but with roots, with cultural heritage, with traditions. And I think that combination and that juxtaposition together is what creates a competitive advantage for Riyadh.”

The Human Capability Initiative seeks to enhance and elevate capabilities universally while delving into opportunities across diverse domains such as skill development and the future of work, as well as education, talent, and technology.

The event will also bring together policymakers, thought leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs to catalyze international collaboration and maximize resilience while exploring opportunities and promoting innovative policy design and solutions.

The forum is hosting 7,000 participants from more than 70 countries, according to the mayor.