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PIF to use oil platforms to attract tourists through ‘THE RIG.’ project

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Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund on Saturday launched “THE RIG.”, first-of-its-kind tourism destination inspired by offshore oil platforms.

Located in the Arabian Gulf, the project will span a combined area of more than 150,000 square meters, said a statement issued by the sovereign wealth fund.

“THE RIG.” will feature a number of touristic attractions, including three hotels, world-class restaurants, helipads, and a range of adventurous activities, including extreme sports, the PIF said.

The PIF said to ensure sustainable preservation of the environment, the project will follow global standards and best practices in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to ensure preservation of environment.

The project is in line with PIF’s strategy 2021-2025 to modernize Saudi Arabia’s tourism and entertainment sectors and introduce innovative ideas to boost the number of local, regional and international tourists in the Kingdom.

Entertainment is expected to be a key driver for Saudi economic growth over the next four years.

In addition to the new entertainment centers announced by the PIF, a number of other high-profile projects are underway, including the Qiddiya Entertainment City, The Red Sea Project, AMAALA, AlUla, King Salman Park and Riyadh Sport Boulevard.

The retail and hospitality sectors are expected to benefit from the entertainment boom with total retail space in the capital expected to reach 3.5 million square meters of gross leasable area by 2024. By 2024, Jeddah’s retail market is expected to witness considerable supply growth, reaching over 2 million square meters.

As of 2019, the Kingdom received about 59 million tourist trips and these figures are expected to continue to increase to 100 million tourist trips by 2024.

The Saudi entertainment and amusement sector is forecast to be worth $1.17 billion by 2030 and grow by a massive 47.65 percent per year, according to recent industry report.

The US-based Research and Markets study said that the growth compares with just $23.77 million in 2020.

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France’s Natixis to finance $2bn ACWA Power projects in 2 years

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France-based Natixis Corporate and Investment Banking has signed an agreement to finance ACWA Power projects over the next two years – with funding of up to $2 billion.

The MoU will allow both parties to “explore opportunities to develop new projects in the region,” the Saudi clean energy provider said in a bourse filing.

Natixis has previously underwritten some of ACWA Power’s high-profile projects, including the Sakaka solar project.

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Saudi, French firms sign 27 MoUs as Macron visits the Kingdom

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A group of leading Saudi and French companies signed 27 memorandum of understanding at an investment forum in Jeddah as French President Emmanuel Macron met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman today during his official trip to the Gulf region, where he is visiting Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar between Dec. 3 and 4.

Around 101 Saudi companies and 84 French companies attended six workshops at the forum, which was opened by Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment, Saudi Arabia and Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness.

“The memorandums of understanding signed today were a cause for optimism and satisfaction,” Al Falih said in a tweet after the event.

Represenatives of French companies and banks including EDF Renewables, Engie, Sanofi, and BNP Paribas are meeting with chairmen and CEOs of leading Saudi firms including ACWA Power, Banque Saudi Fransi, Riyad Bank, and Saudi Military Industries Co. Officials from the Public Investment Fund and Royal Commission of AlUla among others are also participating in the forum.

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UAE, France sign $18 billion deal for 80 Rafale jets as Macron starts Gulf tour

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French President Emmanuel Macron, left, is greeted by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the Dubai Expo on the first day of his Gulf tour on December 3, 2021.

French President Emmanuel Macron met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Friday at the start of a two-day Gulf tour that saw France sell the UAE 80 French-made Rafale warplanes for $18.08 billion (€16 billion).

France’s Defense Minister said the deal was France’s largest-ever weapons contract for export while the Minister for the Armed Forces hailed the deal as “historic.”

There was no immediate confirmation of the deal from Emirati officials. Macron was greeted at the leadership pavilion at Dubai’s Expo site for talks with Sheikh Mohammed.

“I don’t want to reveal the Christmas present” before the meeting, UAE presidential adviser Anwar Gargash told journalists in the build-up to the talks in Dubai.

Macron arrived in the early hours of Friday for a brief Gulf tour where he will also visit Qatar, host of next year’s World Cup, before traveling to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

The UAE, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Thursday, is expected to order dozens of Rafale jets to replace its Mirage 2000 aircraft acquired in the late 1990s.

The Emirates is the fifth biggest customer for the French defense industry with $5.31 billion (€4.7 billion) from 2011-2020, according to a parliamentary report.

Macron is accompanied by a large delegation in Dubai including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Defense Minister Florence Parly.

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