Construction work is expected to start in the first quarter of 2019 and will be completed in 2020
Homes in NEOM Bay, part of $500bn mega-city, to be marketed to international buyers
LONDON: Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday that it will start developing the first urban area of NEOM, the Kingdom’s planned $500 billion mega-city.
A submerged Boeing 747 will be the centrepiece of the 100,000 square-metre project
Bahrain plans to construct the world’s largest underwater theme park with a submerged Boeing 747 as its centrepiece, it was announced on Saturday.
According to the state-run Bahrain News Agency, the underwater theme park will eventually cover a total area of 100,000 square metres.
The eco-friendly project, which was announced by Bahrain’s President of the Supreme Council for Environment, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, is the result of a partnership between the council, the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (DTEA) and the private sector.
The diver site will feature the 70-metre long 747, the largest aircraft ever to be submerged.
According to the BNA, the site is being designed as a dive experience. Other features will include a submerged replica of a traditional Bahraini pearl merchant’s house, artificial coral reefs and other sculptures that have been placed underwater as a safe haven for coral growth and as a habitat for marine animals.
In a statement, Sheikh Abdullah said that Bahrain believes the project will attract diving enthusiasts from around the world, as well as help researchers obtain information and data on marine ecology and biology.
The site will be launched “in the coming” weeks and will open to divers and visitors before the summer, according to the BNA report.
- Construction work is expected to start in the first quarter of 2019 and will be completed in 2020
- Homes in NEOM Bay, part of $500bn mega-city, to be marketed to international buyers
Construction work is expected to start in the first quarter of 2019 and will be completed in 2020
The founding board, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, approved the masterplan concept for NEOM Bay, which will include homes, lifestyle and tourist facilities, and “innovation centers.”
The development is expected to focus on luxurious living, and will include high-end hotels and villas.
Homes in the development will be marketed to both regional and international buyers, Arab News has learned.
Construction work is expected to start in the first quarter of 2019 and will be completed in 2020. Arab News understands that contractors have not yet been appointed but that this is due before April. Discussions with investors are said to be ongoing.
The total value of the NEOM Bay development has not been disclosed.
It is expected that a number of facilities will be completed by the end of this year including the current airport at Sharma, which will offer regular flights to Riyadh, a statement said.
“We are now preparing for the development of NEOM Bay area, which will provide a new concept of urban living that will enable it to become a platform for attracting the world’s top minds for creating advanced economic sectors,” Nadhmi Al-Nasr, NEOM chief executive, said.
NEOM, which was announced in 2017 and is in a pristine position on the Red Sea coast, has financial support of over $500 billion from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
The launch of its first urban project is expected to provide an economic impetus, experts said.
“The start of NEOM Bay will offer unique opportunities for investors and tourists alike that will provide impetus for new sector growth going forward,” said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at the Gulf Research Center, based in Saudi Arabia.
Rashid Aboobacker, director at TRI Consulting in Dubai, said there was “significant potential” for tourism in Saudi Arabia.
“The area earmarked for the NEOM project offer excellent prospects for leisure tourism, combining the Red Sea, beautiful beaches and islands and unspoiled natural beauty. If planned and developed well, it can be a major tourism destination in the future.”
“The government is already channeling significant investments into developing the infrastructure as part of the Vision 2030, and have rolled out new visa policies etcetera.
Aboobacker said the Saudi market has opportunities for “all types of investors and operators within the tourism industry.” These include hotel, resort and tour operators, theme park developers, event companies and restaurant chains, he said.
John Podaras, a partner at hospitality consultancy Hotel Development Resources in Dubai, said visa regulations need to be relaxed before the Saudi tourism industry can thrive.
“The tourist visa has been introduced but the number issued is relatively small and quite restrictive,” Podaras said.
“We’ve already seen a lot of relaxation (of rules and customs), but if you want the big numbers then all the restrictions have to be removed and that requires a lot of changes.”
It was previously announced that NEOM will have its own authority, which might help in reducing many bureaucratic hurdles, including visa requirements.
Podaras pointed to the need to build infrastructure and bring in specialist companies to the development.
He expects hotel groups to show interest in the NEOM development.
“They’ll sign up to the project and it will be delivered or it won’t. But the point is they lose nothing by having their name associated with it,” Podaras said.
“PR wise, it’s great. I will bet my bottom dollar that all of them are on planes to Riyadh.”
Bahrain receives bids for 100MW solar power plant
Abu Dhabi Ports handled 1.74m containers in 2018
The number of standard container handling by Abu Dhabi Ports has increased last year by 24 per cent, to reach 1.74 million containers, compared to 1.4 million in 2017, according to the latest statistics.
The statistics reflect the company’s commitment to achieving economic diversification in Abu Dhabi, through the development of non-oil sectors and the use of innovation in its operations.
The amount of general and bulk goods handled by Abu Dhabi Ports in 2018 also increased by 5.9 per cent, totalling 19.7 million metric tonnes (MT), compared to 18.6 million MT in 2017. The turnover of goods transported by vehicles increased by 4.2 per cent to reach 143,000 vehicles, compared to 137,000 vehicles in 2017.
Abu Dhabi Ports recorded an overall growth of 14.2 per cent in 2018, compared to 2017, in terms of its container operations and handling of general and bulk goods.
Abu Dhabi Ports and its subsidiaries accomplished significant achievements, including the launch of new ports, as well as the signing of agreements that will help it achieve the strategic priorities of the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 and promote the emirate’s leading position in commerce, industry and investment.
It also manages Khalifa Industrial City, which is a major integrated industrial city in the region.
Maqta Gateway, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports, launched the “Silsal Service,” which provides an easy and safe link for stakeholders in the marine commerce community using blockchain technology.
It also launched “Mamar E-portal” to facilitate commercial activity primarily through marine ports. The portal will subsequently be adopted by the emirate’s land and airports and postal authority, to facilitate trade and the payment of customs fees.
In December 2018, Abu Dhabi Ports opened the Cosco Abu Dhabi Container Terminal, which is part of the Cosco Naval Ports Company, at Khalifa Port.
The new container terminal will help promote Khalifa Port as a regional centre of Cosco’s global operations and will be linked to the “Belt and the Road” initiative.
Khalifa Port also includes the largest container terminal in the Middle East, which has a total area of 275,000-sq metres and is the first semi-automatic container sorting facility in the region with a dedicated container and full-load cargo facility, along with a full range of container packaging services.-TradeArabia News Service
UAE wood industry rides high on Expo 2020 projects
The wood industry in the UAE is expected to boom over the next two years as the country ramps up construction activities ahead of the Expo 2020 Dubai, said leading industry experts.
A large-scale event for the Mena and South Asia region, Expo 2020 will run from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021 at the 4.38-sq-m site in Dubai where massive construction projects are taking shape.
With only 22 months to go before the opening, the UAE is pushing to meet the anticipated demand for the six-month global event which anticipates the largest proportion of international visitors in the 167-year history of world expos, they stated.
The wood and woodworking machinery industry will be impacted from the massive construction projects being executed as part of the build-up for the Expo 2020 Dubai, they added.
The demand for wood, wood products and woodworking industry is expected to grow further due to the ongoing construction projects the value of which in September 2017 had ballooned to $252.7 billion, said the experts, citing a BNC report.
The massive construction activities in the GCC – especially in Dubai that is driven by Expo 2020-related infrastructure and projects – will continue to drive demand for wood products in the coming years, they added.
No doubt that the construction boom represents unrivalled opportunities for all industries, particularly the wood industry, which is likely to get a shot in the arm from the region’s $2.4 trillion worth of construction projects. The upsurge in construction activities will continue to drive demand for wood products, wood-based accessories, interior decor, woodworking machineries and wood flooring materials, all needed for the new structures and hotels, which are being built in the lead up to the mega expo event.
According to experts, the demand for wood products is expected to be driven also by the new hotel projects, as hotel developers are racing against time to deliver branded hotel keys as the deadline for the event draws near.
Manufacturers and suppliers of wood products can leverage from the region’s fast-growing market and reap the rewards of unparalleled opportunities generated from the expansion in the UAE’s construction market, in the run-up to the mega global event, they stated.
The wood and furniture market seem very promising, especially with 70 per cent of the timber and wood products are used in construction industry while the rest are used in real estate, interiors, furniture and other industrial applications, the experts added.-TradeArabia News Service
A new entertainment complex is being planned for the Saudi Arabian capital city Riyadh as part of state-backed efforts to boost the leisure sector in the kingdom, a report said.
The 100,000-sq-m project will be developed by the Saudi Entertainment Ventures Company (Seven), a unit of the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, said a report in Saudi Press Agency.
The project will feature a distinctive modern design and will be equipped for sports activities, entertainment and live shows. It will also include a variety of local and international restaurants and cinemas. No details about the value of the project or completion date were provided.
“The complex would be an ideal destination for families to enjoy sports, picnics and arts,” the report said, citing Seven chairman Abdullah bin Nasser Al Dawoud.
The Public Investment Fund established Seven last year with initial funding of SR10 billion ($2.67 billion) and hired former Disney executive Bill Ernest to run it.
Seven aims to build about 20 entertainment centres around the country as Saudi Arabia seeks to add more jobs in the services sector while also relaxing social norms and diversifying the economy away from reliance on oil.
The company has already opened the kingdom’s first cinema in nearly four decades, in partnership with US-based AMC Group, the largest cinema operator in the world.
The UAE’s newest developer Arada has awarded three main construction contracts at its two record-breaking projects, Aljada and Nasma Residences, in the northern emirate of Sharjah.
Together these contracts will involve the construction of almost 800 new homes, all of which are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.
At Aljada, the 24 million-sq-ft megaproject that is set to transform Sharjah, the contract to build three Areej Apartments blocks was won by Modern Building Contracting Company (MBCC), a major contractor with extensive experience in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Based within Phase One, these buildings will together include 366 units, said the developer.
Mobilisation is currently taking place onsite, and construction work will begin by the end of the year. The firm is already working on the first four Areej Apartment blocks, where construction began at the end of July, it added.
The contract to build the first three Rehan Apartments blocks, also in Phase One of Aljada, was won by Intermass Engineering & Contracting Company (Intermass). Construction on these three buildings, which will include 234 units, is expected to begin this month.
Besides this, the Sharjah-based Intermass has won the main construction contract for Phase Three of Nasma Residences, which consists of 192 villas and townhouses, and is due to start work onsite by the end of 2019.
The company, which has 40 years of experience in the Middle East market, also clinched the package for Phase One and split the award for Phase Two with Klampfer Middle East.
Arada is currently preparing to hand over its first ever homes, as construction nears completion on Phase One of Nasma Residences. The developer is on track to deliver keys to the first set of homeowners by the end of this year.
Arada chairman Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi said: “We are pleased to be confirming the construction of 800 well-designed and expertly built homes for Sharjah, a market where demand for the types of communities Arada is building remains exceptional. These three new contract awards show the rapid pace of progress at both of our projects.”
“In line with our promises to buyers, we are now preparing for the handover of our first homes to buyers at the end of this year,” he added.
The contracts announcement follows the recent award of the first Aljada infrastructure contract, to BICC Contracting, in September, as well as the unveiling of the final masterplan design of the Central Hub, a new leisure and entertainment destination for the UAE, which has been designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.-TradeArabia News Service
Lulu Group, a retail giant in the Middle East, has further expanded its presence in Bahrain by opening its latest hypermarket in the newly opened Atrium Mall in Saar.
The new hypermarket which is also 7th in the country was officially inaugurated by HH Shaikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Deputy PM of Bahrain in the presence of HH Shaikh Sultan bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al- Nahyan, UAE Ambassador to Bahrain, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Daij, President of Crown Prince Court, HE Zayed Al Zayani, Commerce & Industry Minister, H. Jamil Humaidan, Labour Minister, HE Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation & Telecommunications, Ambassadors of India, UK and a number of other dignitaries.
Located in Saar, close to the Saudi-Bahrain Causeway, the sprawling 100,000 sq ft new hypermarket has been designed using the latest retail space concepts and most modern technology for ease of shopping and display.
It will serve residents of Budaiya, Hamala, Saar and Janabiya and is also well-positioned to cater to visitors from Saudi Arabia across the border. As always Lulu hypermarket provides the widest range of quality and value-for-money products all under one roof. The outlet has also introduced inaugural offers and deals for a range of products at attractive prices.
“The opening of the 156th Lulu hypermarket in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the 7th in the country is a moment of great pride for us,” said Yusuff Ali M.A., chairman and managing director of Lulu Group after the inauguration. “It is a sign of our steady confidence in the bright future of Bahrain and our commitment to be a part of the progress of the Kingdom”.
“Our total investment in the Kingdom of Bahrain has already crossed BD125 million with seven hypermarkets and one mall. Apart from this, our state-of-the-art logistics center spread around 400000 sq ft, and trading & distribution through the center not only supports our retail expansion but also help in ensuring food security. Our expansion plans are firm and we will open our new project in the Muharaq Central Market by second quarter of next year,” added Yusuff Ali.
“Our growth in Bahrain is powered by the vision of the leadership, the business-friendly economic environment and the ability of our Bahraini employees to absorb and fit into the Lulu service model which puts customers above all. We thank His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister and HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and First Deputy Premier and the people of this great country for encouraging us in all our expansion strategies and efforts in Bahrain,” he noted.
“Our strong Bahraini work force forms the nucleus of our operations here in the Kingdom and is a key to our success,” he said.
“We work closely with the Ministry of Labour to offer Bahrainis the requisite training to nurture their talent and are proud to say that Bahrainis have proved successful in managerial and specialized positions not only in the Kingdom but across the Lulu network in other GCC countries as well. There are more than 1,200 Bahrainis who work in the Group and we will continue to support Government’s Bahranization plan by giving employment to more Bahrainis in our upcoming projects,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service
The Department of Economic Development (DED) and Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), have jointly announced the 2019 Retail Calendar showcasing 18 events over 247 days, versus 12 events over 178 days in 2018.
Featuring even more city-wide events, activations and experiences throughout 2019, the calendar is strategically catered to provide active stimulus to resident and tourist consumer spend on shopping throughout the forthcoming year.
Additionally, aimed at prioritising wider and inclusive sector participation thereby extending the economic benefits of the initiative to a wider base, the 2019 Retail Calendar offers a reduction in fees for all small and medium enterprises to enable dynamic adaptation to the ongoing disruptions impacting retail, whilst retaining competitiveness in the global environment.
The Retail Calendar is reflective of strong and successful collaboration between both government departments (DED and DFRE), and the private sector, developed with significant input from 18 major retail and mall groups in Dubai, to create relevant activations that highlight the diversity and competitiveness of Dubai’s retail value proposition through a series of festivals and events suitably synchronised with the global and domestic retail and fashion cycles.
The year-long Retail Calendar will assure Dubai’s continued international standing as a must-visit shopping destination, enabling growth of the Dh128.45 billion ($35 billion) sector that is projected to grow a further 5.6 per cent from 2018, to reach Dh160.7 billion ($43.7 billion) by 2021.
The 2019 initiative, now in its third year of operations, will play a particularly crucial role in (i) ensuring acceleration across Dubai’s retail economy; (ii) supporting greater SME contribution; and (iii) enabling boost profitability with an increase in spend from both residents and tourists, propelled by a tactical schedule of sales and promotional shopping campaigns.
As a key pillar in Dubai’s destination offering, the health and sustained development of Dubai’s retail sector has a consequential impact on tourist experience and attraction, in addition to the direct economic contribution of the sector itself. Considerable progress has been made since the inception of the Retail Calendar in 2016-2017 to deliver critically enabling regulations, core infrastructure projects, and city-wide service enhancements, fine-tuned to meet market and segment priorities across tourist points of interaction with destination retail.
Through 2018, the number of international brands available in Dubai has continued to rise as has the portfolio of retail outlets and experience options, addressing a wider and more globally connected consumer, ultimately increasing the attractiveness of the emirate as a shopping destination.
Sami Al Qamzi, director general, Department of Economic Development (DED) commented: “The retail sector is a key contributor to Dubai’s thriving economy and makes up a considerable volume of the emirate’s GDP. We are committed to consolidating efforts across Dubai to offer exceptional and high quality experiences in terms of infrastructure, initiatives and incentives in collaboration with the public and private sector, to continue to boost the retail industry. The DED, in collaboration with Dubai Tourism, will continue to build on Dubai’s already successful position as a favourable shopping destination, and provide fledgling SMEs with the opportunity to grow their companies here within the emirate.”
“It is our key priority to enhance greater competitiveness of the retail industry in Dubai, while ensuring a healthy bottom line for all participants to sustain growth. Combining retail with events and promotions has allowed us to streamline various activations across the year, to accelerate the success of Dubai’s retail model, whilst allowing us to collectively focus on increasing the GDP contribution of the sector to Dubai.”
Helal Almarri, director general of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) said: “Dubai has been continually growing as a leader in global travel, with the highest average spend per tourist and ranked fourth most visited city in the world, according to the latest MasterCard surveys.
“As one of the core pillars of our destination offering, the retail sector is a high priority for Dubai Tourism – in addition to increasing the number of international visitors to the emirate, we are also focused on significantly enhancing the economic value created (across all travel related industries) to our GDP. The strategic revisions made to the 2019 Retail Calendar mark a significant investment from Dubai Tourism to further enhance the wider domestic economy, and represent our continued commitment to making Dubai a leading retail destination and increasing overall spend per visitor.
“We’ve already seen great success with events such as Chinese New Year and Diwali, aimed at two of our top source markets and building on this, we’ve added ‘Russian Holiday’ during Dubai Shopping Festival in January 2019 timed with their peak travel to leverage growing Russian traffic to Dubai and their affinity for shopping.
“Our strong continued collaboration with DED and the industry, has been a critical enabler to the creation of this strategically aligned programme for 2019, that will strengthen the foundations for even greater acceleration towards 2022 and beyond, particularly in attracting more shopping enthusiasts to spend more within our economy,” he added.
The 2019 edition is set to launch on December 26, 2018, the opening day of the Dubai Shopping Festival which this year has been extended for a further full week based on feedback from retailers. The 2019 Retail Calendar will showcase the annual schedule of anchor retail activities being conducted and promoted at a city-level including shopping-related festivals, promotions and seasonal offer periods, mega-sales and clearance events and exclusive retail experiences and activations.
Included in the 2019 Retail Calendar will be the following festivals and events: Dubai Shopping Festival, Russian Holidays, Dubai Shopping Festival Final Sale, Chinese New Year, Dubai Food Festival, Spring/Summer ‘19 Collection Launch, Home Festival, Ramadan in Dubai, Eid in Dubai (x2), Dubai Summer Surprises, Dubai Summer Surprises Final Sale, Back to School Season, Fall/Winter ‘19 Collection Launch, Diwali, Dubai Fitness Challenge, 3-Day Super Sale (x2) and Gifting Weekend.
The 2019 Retail Calendar has been developed in close partnership with 18 major retail partners who continue to contribute to the growth of the sector and the GDP of Dubai.
Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of Dubai Tourism, said: “We are constantly looking for ways in which to support and promote the retail sector within Dubai; from large retailers and mega global brands, to the smaller high-potential SME segment. Following detailed analyses and close coordination with our strategic retail partners, we have introduced noteworthy changes to the new Retail Calendar, and are confident in its ability to impact continued positive and sustained sector growth across Dubai.”
“We have worked with DED to design special incentive specifically for enabling startups and SMEs within retail to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Retail Calendar, through significant reduction in participation costs.
“Additionally, we have collaborated with all of our partners and key stakeholders to address industry needs in the design of the new detailed programme, to include even more retail events and promotions, ensuring Dubai stays at the forefront of global retail destinations, as well as being able to offer our partners increased opportunities to amplify their offerings.
“Some examples include new ‘Home Festival’, as well as promotions across all homeware, home appliances and furniture, the event will draw inspiration from the popularity of home makeovers, and will encourage architects, interior designers and self-made decorators to enhance client and own homes and working environments with eye-catching and state-of-the-art, yet affordable styles.
“Some of the city’s most popular existing non-retail events will also be enhanced to involve the retail sector, such as Dubai Food Festival, the annual celebration of Dubai’s gastronomy scene, which in 2019 will feature additional layers of promotions and offers on related product categories thereby creating natural synergies across both industries and driving spend collectively,” Al Khaja concluded. – TradeArabia News Service
Over 22,000 to attend event at Zayed Sports City Stadium featuring 1,500 performers!
Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s 47th National Day will be celebrated in spectacular fashion on December 2, with stunning visual displays, live musical shows, and at least 1,500 performers set to entertain a crowd of over 22,000 people at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi — the venue for this year’s official celebration.
“In this Year of Zayed, we commemorate a hundred years since his birth, alongside recognising his legacy as a visionary leader. Throughout these celebrations, we aim to instill his memory and his vision within the hearts of all,” said Abdullah Al Qubaisi, member of the Official UAE 47th National Day Celebration Organising Committee during a press briefing on Monday.
“Over 22,000 people will witness a celebration which takes them through a journey of the UAE’s history. They will visit the life of Shaikh Zayed as a young man, who was a leader with a brilliant vision, a love of life, and a strong will to change the nation around him,” he added, explaining how the live show will be a story of the late Shaikh Zayed and the progress of the UAE over the last 47 years.
Highlighting some of the main themes of the show, Al Qubaisi said they would highlight Shaikh Zayed’s role towards conservation and his work in upgrading the country’s health and education services.
“The celebrations will also highlight Shaikh Zayed’s love for nature and how he sought to protect such beauty for future generations.
“The celebrations will show how Shaikh Zayed looked to provide the people of the UAE with world class health care and education. These are milestones which Shaikh Zayed looked to achieve for the benefit of all the nation,” he added.
“The celebration will also pay tribute to the foundation of the union at Saih As Sidirah, when Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan forged a new path for the future of the seven emirates of the UAE with Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. This historic meeting laid the foundation for the nation that we love today,” Al Qubaisi said.
Commenting on the 1,500 performers, Al Qubaisi said that 70 per cent of them are made up of Emiratis.
“Including 1,500 male and female performers — 70 per cent of which are Emirati — the celebration will use a stage built of 20,900 pixels which required over 4,200 scaffolds to develop.