Mon. May 29th, 2023

https://arab.news/beswr
RIYADH: With Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector buzzing with activities offering immense investment opportunities, a top official of the Radisson Hotel Group has revealed that the company is planning to expand its presence in the Kingdom with a total of 100 properties in the next five years.
Talking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh on Monday, Elie Younes, executive vice president, and global chief development officer at Radisson Hotel Group, said the planned expansion will help create more job opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
“Currently we have around 50 hotels almost actually in Saudi Arabia; 25 hotels open and 25 hotels under construction as we speak. Our plan for the next five years is to double that. And that means to have almost 100 hotels across Saudi Arabia,” Younes said.
The top executive said if every hotel has 200 rooms, each property “will employ 150 people, more or less. And if you are opening another 50 hotels, you can imagine the multiplying effect this will have on the economy and on job creation.”
Younes said the hotel group wishes to become part of the Kingdom’s hospitality sector’s expansion story.
“We have big plans in Saudi (Arabia), and the reason being Saudi (Arabia) has big plans for itself. Saudi (Arabia) is going through a transformation, for its economy, for its people, and for the whole country. And given the transformation that Saudi Arabia will go through, we will transform ourselves with and in Saudi (Arabia),” he said.
The official said the group would not only focus on key cities in Saudi Arabia to open its hotels but will also concentrate on the upcoming “secondary and economic cities” in the Kingdom.
Talking about the group’s global plans, Younes said it currently has 1,500 hotels globally, and the plan is to expand the number of properties to 3,000 within the next five to seven years.
“If you look at the region (Middle East), we currently have around 75 (hotels). And the plan is to double that in the next five years to become hopefully 150 hotels. So, today, we have about 1,500 hotels globally, and the idea is to double that in the next five years and make it around 3,000 hotels,” said Younes.
Lauding the Saudi government’s regulatory reforms in the private sector, Younes said these reforms should evolve daily.
“This is an evolving evolution. Let us put it that way, where both the private and public sectors continue putting efforts in order to achieve the goals. So, policy and investment in infrastructure, and providing subsidies to investors and enabling operations are all integral elements for the future of Saudi Arabia,” added Younes.
According to the official, Radisson Hotel Group is not planning to open an additional 50 exclusively luxury hotels in Saudi Arabia over the next five years. Instead, the company will explore investment opportunities in 50 midscale lifestyle hotels in the Kingdom.
“Will we do 50 luxury hotels in Saudi Arabia over the next five years? I don’t think we will do that. But will there be investment opportunities for midscale lifestyle (hotels) across the Kingdom in the next five years for 50 hotels? I certainly would bet on that,” he said.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s total merchandise exports rise by 4.4 percent in March to SR106.1 billion ($28.29 billion), compared to SR101.1 billion in the previous month, according to the latest report released by the General Authority for Statistics. 
The report, however, noted that the Kingdom’s overall merchandise exports fell 25.3 percent year-on-year in March, as the value of exports amounted to SR142 million in the same month of 2022. 
GASTAT, in its report, pointed out that this year-on-year fall in exports was primarily driven by a decrease in oil exports which fell by 26.5 percent in March to SR83.1 billion. 
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman met his Azerbaijani counterpart Parviz Shahbazov on Wednesday to discuss bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, including renewables, Saudi Press Agency reported.
During the meeting, the pair signed an energy cooperation agreement covering oil, petrochemicals, gas, electricity and energy efficiency. The deal also outlines cooperation in the field of circular carbon economy and related technologies that seek to mitigate the impact of climate change.
The countries also agreed to work together to develop innovative uses of hydrocarbons, conduct joint academic research, organize panel discussions, seminars and multilateral conferences, and share experiences and knowledge in the field of energy.
RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council region will soon emerge as a data center development hub, with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund investing in a new partnership with global asset manager DigitalBridge. 
According to a company press release, the partnership will prioritize investments in the data center sector and other segments of digital infrastructure in line with PIF’s strategy. 
The note added that the fund’s strategy aims to enable sectors and increase local content by establishing partnerships with the private sector.   
The fund will leverage DigitalBridge’s expertise in investing, building and operating digital infrastructure to support the continued advancement of the Kingdom’s digital economy. 
“We see significant opportunity for continued growth in the sectors in which we specialize and look forward to leveraging our capabilities and expertise to capitalize on the long-term opportunities across this important region,” said Marc Ganzi, CEO at DigitalBridge, in a press statement. 
The investment will aim to localize technologies and support knowledge transfer to develop and operate hyper-scale data centers and database servers in the Kingdom and GCC region.
“As a global leader in digital infrastructure, we are pleased to partner with PIF to further enable the digital infrastructure buildout in Saudi Arabia and across the GCC countries,” Ganzi added. 
Earlier this year, PIF subsidiary Saudi Downtown Co. joined hands with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to develop digitalization projects. 
Saudi Downtown Co. aims to build and develop digital infrastructure and communication technologies in 12 cities in the Kingdom. 
These initiatives are part of the fund’s five-year strategy launched in 2021 to inject $40 billion worth of investment into the domestic economy.  
DigitalBridge is a US-based digital infrastructure firm specializing in investing and operating cell towers, data centers, fiber, small cells and edge infrastructure. 
 
RIYADH: Saudi Basic Industries Corp., also known as SABIC, has grabbed the top rank in environmental, social and governance reporting among listed firms in the Kingdom, according to a new report. 
The analysis by Islamabad-based Bridge ESG compared various sustainability attributes among the 13 out of 217 companies listed on Tadawul which are submitting reports in this area. 
According to the findings, SABIC scored 76 percent in the ESG ratings to grab the top spot, followed by Saudi Arabian Oil Co. with 69 percent and Petro Rabigh with 54 percent.
SABIC’s rankings come after it established a partnership in 2022 with chemical and industrial gas giants BASF and Linde to develop electrically powered steam cracker technology with the aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent. 
Bridge ESG compiled its ESG report based on various criteria which include annual reports published by the companies on Tadawul and disclosure assessment by these firms against the requirements of the exchange’s ESG guidelines. 
It was in 2021 that Tadawul issued guidelines on ESG reporting, which set various attributes against which entities are required to report. 
The Bridge ESG report further noted that only five out of 13 firms are giving complete disclosures around toxic emissions and wastes, while just nine companies provided full details around greenhouse gas emissions. 
“Companies in the energy sector are doing more effective reporting as compared to others in environmental attributes,” said Bridge ESG in the report. 
The report added that nine companies are giving complete disclosures involving human capital development, while four firms provided full details involving the access to healthcare attribute. 
In March, a PwC survey revealed that asset managers and investors in Saudi Arabia want a more nuanced approach that balances ESG demand with today’s challenging economic reality. 
“Despite the difference in approach and emphasis about the future of ESG investments, Saudi Arabia is committed to bringing people together to find solutions to the challenges we must confront,” the report said.
RIYADH: Entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium enterprises in Saudi Arabia are set to have enhanced access to financing solutions thanks to a new agreement.
The Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, also known as MODON, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Riyadh-based investment firm Sukuk Capital to boost funding opportunities in the sector.
The new financing solutions are expected to elevate the capabilities of industrial plants to achieve targeted growth.
The new MoU will also help create an attractive environment for investments in line with the Kingdom’s National Industrial Strategy, in addition to the Vision 2030 initiative, which seeks to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy away from oil.
According to the CEO of MODON, Majid bin Rafid Al-Arqoubi, the partnership comes within the framework of the authority’s initiatives to enhance the financial sustainability and stability of the private sector.
It also comes within MODON’s objective to provide technical assistance programs for entrepreneurs and owners of SMEs in order to support the national economy, Al-Arqoubi highlighted.
Furthermore, the new solutions aim to stimulate the productivity of factories while creating economic opportunities and directing the energies of young people to innovative projects with high growth, the CEO explained.
Under the terms of the agreements, partners are projected to benefit from a variety of financial solutions with short-, medium- and long-term effects.
They are also set to gain from flexible payment schedules which contribute to increasing collection efficiency.
The SME sector is perceived as a vital economic engine, a key generator of new employment and the foundation of the global economy, Senior Vice President of technical services at Aramco Ahmad Al-Sa’adi said in an exclusive interview with Arab News in 2022.
Under the Vision 2030 goals, the SME sector is earmarked to contribute 35 percent to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by 2030.
In addition to this, SMEs are set to play a significant role in achieving Saudi Arabia’s objectives of lowering the unemployment rate from 11.6 percent to 7 percent, and increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent.

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