New partnership to boost luxury ocean travel for Saudis

Dr. Siddeek Ahmed, chairman and MD, ITL World, and Angelo Capurro, executive director, Explora Journeys.
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Updated 02 June 2024

New partnership to boost luxury ocean travel for Saudis

Explora Journeys, the luxury lifestyle brand of the MSC Group, has announced a strategic partnership in Saudi Arabia with ITL World, a leading travel management company in the Middle East. This collaboration aims to bring bespoke luxury travel experiences to discerning Saudi travelers, combining Explora Journeys’ sophisticated cruise offerings with ITL World’s regional expertise.

Travelers have the chance to immerse themselves in cosmopolitan, European luxury at sea. On every journey, guests can enjoy elegant suites with a private ocean-front terrace, nine inclusive culinary experiences, high-speed Wi-Fi via Starlink connectivity, vibrant entertainment and ocean-inspired wellness.

With this partnership, ITL World will leverage its extensive network and expertise in travel management to introduce Explora Journeys’ unique offerings to a broader audience in Saudi Arabia, enhancing the luxury ocean travel options available to discerning travelers.

Speaking on the backdrop of the Saudi Aramco Travel Show 2024, Angelo Capurro, executive director, Explora Journeys, said: “We are delighted to partner with ITL World, a company that shares our vision of providing truly transformative travel experiences. This collaboration will allow us to bring our unique journeys to a wider audience in the Middle East, offering them the chance to explore the world in unparalleled luxury.”

Dr. Siddeek Ahmed, chairman and managing director, ITL World, added: “Our partnership with Explora Journeys underscores our commitment to offering the best in luxury travel to our guests in Saudi Arabia. We are excited to combine our local expertise with Explora Journeys’ exceptional offerings to create unique and memorable travel experiences.”

Setting a new standard in luxury ocean travel, Explora Journeys offers discerning travelers the perfect blend of discovery and sophistication, combining celebrated destinations with off-the-beaten-path ports, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in the essence of exploration.

With overnights and longer stays at destinations, guests can delve deep into local cultures and experiences, creating memories that last a lifetime. Journeys start at seven nights and can extend to 14 or 21 nights, all departing from easily accessible ports.

Explora Journeys’ luxury vessel, EXPLORA I, has 461 ocean-front suites, penthouses, and residences boasting European elegance and unrivalled space, ranging from 35 square meters to 280 square meters. Suites feature spacious terraces, walk-in wardrobes, and heated bathroom floors, ensuring utmost comfort and privacy.

The outdoor areas on Explora Journeys’ ships are equally impressive, with expansive decks offering more than 6,200 square meters of breathtaking sea views. 

Guests can bask in the sun or relax in four pools and whirlpools, immersing themselves in the “Ocean State of Mind.”

Designed by leading European architect studios and built by Fincantieri, the ships embody relaxed modern luxury with a vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere. 

Yacht-inspired design elements and attention to detail elevate the onboard experience.

Ericsson-KAUST partnership to propel 5G and 6G in KSA

Updated 10 July 2024

Ericsson-KAUST partnership to propel 5G and 6G in KSA

Ericsson has announced the extension of its successful research and development partnership with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology for an additional two years, following the impactful outcomes achieved in their initial three-year collaboration. This extension emphasizes the commitment of both institutions to continue advancing cutting-edge technologies in telecommunications, including 5G and 6G with specific emphasis on on-chip reflective intelligent surfaces, and free-space optical communications, within the framework of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Since its inception, the partnership has fostered numerous valuable scientific publications and findings. The collaborative research focused on machine learning for frequency-selective wireless channels, Terahertz and free-space optical communications, and transparent and flexible intelligent surfaces. Building on these successes, the extended phase will delve deeper into the next generation of telecommunication technologies, with a particular focus on on-chip reflective intelligent surfaces and free-space optical communications.

The partnership has also facilitated the exchange of knowledge and collaboration among students and researchers of KAUST and Ericsson Research in Sweden, enriching the educational and professional experiences of the participants and building a robust pipeline of talent that supports the Kingdom’s technological aspirations.

Pierre Magistretti, vice president of research, KAUST, said: “The extension of our partnership with Ericsson reflects our shared vision for pioneering the telecommunications landscape of tomorrow. Through this collaboration, we have been able to combine KAUST’s research capabilities with Ericsson’s industry expertise to produce groundbreaking scientific research. Our efforts have not only enhanced our research capabilities but have also contributed significantly to the development of a skilled talent pool in alignment with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The next phase of our partnership promises even greater innovations, as we continue to explore the untapped potential of advanced telecommunication technologies.”

Mashhour Al-Sudairy, head of local content at Ericsson, Saudi Arabia, said: “Our ongoing partnership with KAUST is a testament to Ericsson’s commitment to fostering innovation through collaborative research. The initial phase of our partnership yielded significant advancements in telecommunication technologies, which have been crucial in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the 5G and emerging 6G space. As we move into the next phase of our partnership, our focus will remain on harnessing the full potential of next-generation technologies to further revolutionize connectivity and telecommunication technologies.”

As Ericsson and KAUST embark on this extended journey, both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to driving innovation and further enhancing the development of local content and the growth of the Kingdom’s ICT sector.

LG rolls out latest wireless OLED TV

Updated 10 July 2024

LG rolls out latest wireless OLED TV

LG Electronics has begun the global rollout of its new OLED evo M4 series TV with the accompanying Zero Connect Box that provides wireless connectivity between the TV and the receiver. The company is presenting the new model in 65 inches, in addition to the 77, 83, and 97 inches, the M series offers to accommodate the personal preferences and living spaces of as many customers as possible. Powered by the cutting-edge LG Alpha 11 AI Processor, the OLED M4 delivers superior home entertainment experiences while its proprietary wireless-transmission technology unlocks new possibilities in living-space curation.

LG’s OLED evo M4 is the first-ever TV with the ability to display wirelessly transmitted video and audio at 4K 144 Hz. The Zero Connect Box sends signals to the TV’s self-lit OLED screen without any direct wire connections, as there are no cables between the two devices to disconnect and reconnect.

Thanks to its wireless transfer capability, the Zero Connect Box can be placed almost anywhere in the room, letting users enjoy the flexibility to arrange their living space however they want to. Bringing numerous new possibilities to the art of “interior curation,” the Zero Connect Box also enables users to effortlessly move the screen, or the Zero Connect Box itself, whenever necessary.

An additional benefit with the Zero Connect Box is that it becomes a simple solution to achieving a clean, clutter-free living space. Users no longer have to think up creative ways to hide or tolerate the usual tangle of cables around the TV.

Meanwhile, in addition to wireless connectivity, the LG OLED M4 boasts spectacular picture quality with its stunning self-lit screen and the new Alpha 11 AI Processor. Designed exclusively for use in LG’s award-winning OLED TVs, this processor leverages three decades of AI innovations, providing personalized experiences tailored to user preferences and habits.

The M4’s faster AI processing speeds, along with its neural processing unit, elevate it to the status of the ultimate gaming TV. Supporting 4K content at a blazing 144 Hz, it delivers fluid gameplay and lifelike visuals. 

LG’s powerful processor, combined with the state-of-the-art OLED display, takes gaming enjoyment to the next level.

Thakher CEO lauds Makkah’s hospitality sector

Updated 09 July 2024

Thakher CEO lauds Makkah’s hospitality sector

Thakher Development Company’s CEO Abdulaziz bin Saleh Al-Aboudi said that Makkah’s hospitality sector sustained its strong performance during this year’s Hajj season, with occupancy rates in the hotels of the Thakher Makkah project reaching 100 percent for the second consecutive year.

The CEO attributed this strong performance to several factors, including the provision of exceptional service to pilgrims and early preparations to ensure the utmost comfort and satisfaction for them.

“We at Thakher Development Company are continuing to work on our project in line with this strong performance to meet the aspirations of investors and visitors. So far, we have developed and constructed eight 4-star hotels and hotel apartments operated by international operators, with the most recent being the delivery of units in the Novotel Residences Makkah project to buyers,” Al-Aboudi said.

“Upon completion of the Thakher Makkah project, it will offer more than 39,000 rooms and 3,000 hotel apartments, with a total capacity of 144,000 beds. The project will also provide up to 36,000 permanent and seasonal job opportunities, thereby supporting and strengthening the local economy,” he added.

The project, spanning over an area of 320,000 square meters, will include 100 land plots for hospitality, residential and commercial uses. Residential and hotel apartment units will be available in various categories, and the units will also be available for ownership.

Thaker Makkah will be home to some of the biggest names in global hospitality including The Radisson Hotel, Park Inn by Radisson, and Novotel, which will be the largest in the world in terms of the number of rooms.

The company is also involved in developing the old neighborhoods of Makkah in coordination with the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, in order to provide distinguished services to pilgrims.

Lulu opens 61st Saudi hypermarket in Riyadh

Hassan Muejab Al-Huwaizi and Mohammed Abdulrahman Aba Hussain inaugurated LuLu’s 61st hypermarket in presence of Yusuff Ali M.A.
Updated 08 July 2024

Lulu opens 61st Saudi hypermarket in Riyadh

Lulu’s highly anticipated loyalty program, “Happiness,” was launched on the occasion. This program rewards LuLu’s customers by allowing them to earn points on all purchases made at the hypermarket.

Retail major LuLu Group further expanded its presence in the Kingdom by unveiling its latest destination at Laban Square, Dhahrat Laban, Riyadh.

Hassan Muejab Al-Huwaizi, chairman of the Federation of Saudi Chambers, and Mohammed Abdulrahman Aba Hussain, deputy of integrated investors services — Ministry of Investment, officially inaugurated LuLu’s 61st Saudi hypermarket in the presence of Yusuff Ali M.A., chairman and managing director of LuLu Group, and other dignitaries. These included Ashraf Ali M.A., executive director, LuLu Group; Shehim Mohammed, director of LuLu Group Saudi Arabia; Hatim Mustansir, contractor, regional director — central province; and other officials.

The hypermarket, spread over 69,000 square feet in the popular Laban Square, features all the favorite shopping amenities that have made LuLu the fastest-growing retail chain across the Kingdom. It is a well-stocked supermarket with the choicest selection of ingredients from across the world, fresh food in the Hot Foods section, bakery items, electronics, household goods, and much more.

Ali said: “LuLu Group is delighted to add yet another landmark to the landscape of the beautiful city of Riyadh and this opening aligns with the group’s commitment to continuing expansion and reaffirms our confidence in the progress of Saudi Arabia.”
“As part of the expansion plan, our aim is to have 100 hypermarkets in the next two to three years and we are on track to open around 10 new hypermarkets by this year, including in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. We are proud to be part of Saudi Arabia’s overall development and will continue to support sustainable development strategies, thanks to the Kingdom’s wise leadership,” added Ali.

“We have also focused on promoting and providing local employment opportunities, which have been critical to our success, through a structured recruitment process that aims to provide necessary training and skill enhancement opportunities to the local workforce.

“At present, we employ over 4,000 Saudi nationals in all the hypermarkets across the country in various positions, out of which 1,500 are women. Our aim is to encourage more youth to join our workforce, thereby ensuring greater economic participation.” 
Al-Huwaizi and Ali also launched Lulu’s highly anticipated loyalty program, “Happiness.” This program rewards LuLu’s customers by allowing them to earn points on all purchases made at the hypermarket. Participants in the “Happiness” program will enjoy exclusive offers and the opportunity to earn cash back points in specific categories.

The program also provides additional benefits such as the doubling of points, enabling customers to accumulate rewards more quickly. The loyalty program is now open for registration.

Najm offers vehicle repair for third-party clients

Updated 08 July 2024

Najm offers vehicle repair for third-party clients

Najm for Insurance Services Company has launched a new service to repair third-party insurance clients’ vehicles affected by traffic accidents. The Najm Repair Network Service is a first initiative of its kind in the Saudi insurance sector, which will enhance road safety by ensuring the safety of vehicles and reducing the burden on those affected by traffic accidents. It targets third-party insurance clients by repairing their vehicles at centers accredited by the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization. The aim is to provide a fast and high-quality repair service in accordance with the highest standards.

The NRN service supports vehicle owners affected by traffic accidents, by repairing their vehicles instead of offering compensation in cash. It will facilitate the customer’s journey after an accident by sparing them the effort to submit and follow up on insurance claim procedures, estimate vehicle damage and track the repair process.

In the event of an accident involving a third-party insurance client vehicle, Najm will communicate with the client through several channels to explain the procedure for vehicle repair, following which the vehicle will be towed from the customer’s location to the damage assessment center “Taqdeer” for estimating the damage. After that, the vehicle will be transferred to the repair center, a claim will be submitted to the insurance company and the vehicle will be repaired and returned to the customer’s location with a repair guarantee provided. Najm provides all these services free of charge without burdening vehicle owners with any additional costs.

Najm CEO Mohammed Y. Al-Shehri said: “The NRN service from Najm will contribute to providing alternative solutions that ensure achieving the best possible benefits of insurance compensation, by providing a high-quality repair service for third-party insurance clients’ vehicles affected by traffic accidents. It also supports safety on the roads, protects our society, helps increase investments in the vehicle repair sector and reduces fraud.”

He added: “Najm aims to provide the best service standards to its customers as well as activate innovative solutions to improve the customer experience and meet their expectations in the best possible way. Najm also seeks to raise insurance awareness, achieve traffic safety and protect the people’s lives.”

Al-Shehri said that several service providers have positively responded to the NRN service by signing partnership agreements with Najm.