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Andrew Hammond

Senior editor

Andrew Hammond began as a trainee journalist at BBC World Service Arabic radio before working with Reuters in Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia. He was also a political analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations and HSBC Middle East, and has published books including Popular Culture in North Africa and the Middle East

Andrew Hammond
Rothschild Saudi

Edmond de Rothschild to run funding vehicle for Saudi projects

The Edmond de Rothschild Group is establishing a funding vehicle for infrastructure projects in Saudi Arabia along with the local firm SNB Capital, as part of a deal in which the Swiss investment bank will set up offices in the country.  Saudi Arabia’s massive economic diversification programme has run into financial obstacles as it faces […]

A pilgrim prays on Mount Arafat, Mecca. Saudi Arabia has been enforcing a strict crackdown on performing Hajj without a permit

Hajj pilgrims feel the pinch as costs rise

The costs of Hajj are getting ever higher for pilgrims coming from around the world to perform the annual rites, which are a duty for every able-bodied Muslim to perform once in a lifetime.  Even pilgrims coming from within Saudi Arabia, for whom the costs are cheaper, are paying around SAR23,500 ($6,266) for up to […]

Saudi foreign debt flags

Tax on foreigners may be axed to boost Saudi bond market

The tax on foreign investment in Saudi corporate bonds may be scrapped in an effort to boost the market. Saudi Arabia’s Capital Markets Authority has issued a report describing the 5 percent withholding tax on interest payments to corporate bondholders as “unattractive and discouraging for foreign institutional investors”. It called for “easing tax requirements for […]

French transport company Systra has been contracted by the Royal Commission to conduct a study on expanding Mecca's train system

Mecca expands public transport as Eid al-Adha nears

Authorities in Mecca are expanding the public transport system to accommodate more pilgrims from abroad as the Hajj season reaches its climax next week with Eid al-Adha.  The Royal Commission for Mecca City and the Holy Sites said this week it was providing 400 buses operating from four main stations around the city to manage […]

An artist's impression of Saudi giga-project The Rig, a floating entertainment centre off the kingdom's east coast

Adventure giga-project The Rig ‘definitely happening’

One of Saudi Arabia’s most headline-grabbing giga-projects is moving ahead with plans for two floating entertainment centres on offshore platforms off the kingdom’s east coast.  Many thought the exotic adventure tourism project known as The Rig would be canned as the Public Investment Fund (PIF) reviews its $1.25 trillion portfolio of giga-projects.  Insiders remain confident […]

Acwa Hofa wind Jordan

Acwa Power to raise $2bn in rights issue

Saudi Arabia’s green energy developer, Acwa Power, plans to raise SAR7 billion ($1.9 billion) in new capital through a rights issue to help treble its assets under management by 2030.  The company, which is owned by the government’s Public Investment Fund, said the new shares issued to current shareholders would allow Acwa to “anchor its […]

Saudi Arabia's minister of economy and planning Faisal Alibrahim

Saudi Arabia GDP contracts but non-oil growth rises

Saudi Arabia’s economy contracted by 1.7 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2024 due to ongoing oil production cuts, but non-oil growth was up 3.4 percent in the same period, according to adjusted figures released this week.   Last week Opec+ agreed to extend its existing crude output cuts into 2025 in a […]

Aquarabia, the first water park in Saudi Arabia and the largest in the Middle East, is scheduled to open in 2025

Saudi startup signed up to develop aquapark projects

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment has signed an agreement with startup Nowaar Entertainment to develop a series of aquaparks.  The first aquapark will be operational in Riyadh in 2025, the ministry said on X, formerly Twitter.  Nowaar will “develop a number of entertainment and water cities in the kingdom”, in cooperation with the General Entertainment […]

Plaza Premium offers airport hospitality in Singapore's Changi Airport and plans to use its expertise in the Gulf transit hotels

Airports consider ‘transit hotels’ for 6-hour stays

Saudi Arabia’s aviation expansion could stretch to transit hotels inside airport terminals where customers can pay for stays of less than the standard 24 hours.   A Hong Kong-based company is developing the concept in the Gulf, with hotels offering six and 12-hour stays already established in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi, and a Muscat hotel that […]

Mecca suburb Makkah Gate

‘Affordable’ new suburb to be built in Mecca

A fifth residential suburb in the holy city of Mecca, aimed at affordability for ordinary citizens, is to be built by Saudi Arabia’s National Housing Company.  Mecca has seen a plethora of real estate developments aimed at affluent Saudis and Muslims from around the world, but the government is trying to balance this as part […]

Nature, Outdoors, Water Neom says its coastal resorts will set a 'new global standard in luxury sustainable tourism' A diver enjoys the underwater beauty of Neom, which says its coastal resorts will set a 'new global standard in luxury sustainable tourism'

Neom brands its 12 Red Sea resorts as ‘Magna’

Saudi Arabian giga-project Neom said this week that 12 Red Sea coastal resorts for the ultra-rich that it has rolled out over the past year would be branded collectively under the name Magna.  Last month Neom announced its twelfth project, Jaumur, the latest in a series of separate announcements of futuristic resorts inside Neom, an […]

The Port of Djibouti's position on the Red Sea makes the country important for Saudi exports to Africa

Saudi Arabia to set up logistics centre in Djibouti

A delegation of 100 Saudi investors visited Djibouti this week to sign a contract for a logistics centre in the country’s free zone, the latest development in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to extend trade ties with Africa. Saudi Logistics City will cover 120,000 sq m in the first phase on a 92-year lease, and will include […]

Indian Hajj pilgrims say goodbye to relatives in Kashmir before leaving for Saudi Arabia

India’s Akasa Air to start Jeddah and Riyadh flights

Saudi Arabia has licensed Indian low-cost airline Akasa Air to begin flights this week as the Hajj pilgrimage begins, giving a further boost to the kingdom’s tourism plans.  The flights into Jeddah include two from Ahmedabad and 12 from Mumbai per week starting from 8 June, and seven into Riyadh from Mumbai per week starting […]

Downtown Riyadh. 'A lack of prime space is forcing businesses to secure what is perhaps less than ideal space,' claims a real estate report

Saudi HQ drive forces up Riyadh office rents

A shortage of prime office space in Riyadh has pushed up B-grade office rents by 26 percent over the last year, a real estate report said this week, as companies rush to set up premises in the kingdom.  Saudi Arabia says companies must base their regional headquarters in the kingdom if they want access to […]

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Saudi Aramco

Early demand is strong for Aramco’s $13bn share sale

The Saudi oil giant Aramco’s secondary share offering opens to retail investors today in a sale that could bring huge dividend payouts if they set aside concerns over flagging oil prices and regional political tensions. Institutional investors covered the offer within a few hours on Sunday, but reports say Aramco is planning events in Britain […]

Foreign investment still lags behind government targets but Saudi Arabia has eased regulations

Ministry issues record Saudi business licences in Q1

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment issued a record number of business licences in the first quarter of 2024, as the country tries to drum up foreign investor interest for its economic expansion plans.   The ministry issued 3,157 licences, a 9 percent rise from 2,884 issued in the last quarter of 2023, which was the previous […]

The American electric car maker Lucid, backed by Saudi Arabia, has teamed up with EVIQ

Saudi deal with Lucid powers up EV charging network

US electric vehicle manufacturer Lucid has partnered with a Saudi government entity to create a much-needed network of charging hubs around the Gulf state. There were less than 1,000 electric cars on the roads in Saudi Arabia in 2023.  Saudi-backed Lucid signed an agreement on May 29 with the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Company (EVIQ), which […]

Saudi giga-project Neom recently hosted representatives from 52 financial institutions to showcase investment opportunities and 'explore potential strategic partnerships'

Saudi review says 87% of Vision 2030 projects ‘on right track’

Saudi Arabia’s top economic body discussed the progress of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan this week, citing a recent government report that 87 percent of its projects are “on the right track”. The Council of Economic and Development Affairs, which is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, convened on May 28 in a meeting […]

Visitors enjoy a Jeddah beach; Cruise Saudi already manages international cruise ship stops in Jeddah, Yanbu and Dammam

Saudi Arabia grants first maritime tourism licence

Saudi Arabia has granted its first maritime tourism licence to a Public Investment Fund company ahead of the launch of its own cruise ships off the Red Sea coast this year.  The government’s Saudi Red Sea Authority granted the licence on May 28 to Jeddah-based Cruise Saudi, which this month opened bookings for its ship […]

A UBS report shows wealthy Latin American families are more likely to invest in the Middle East than US or European counterparts

Wealthy Latin Americans more likely to invest in Middle East

Wealthy Latin American families were more present as investors in the Middle East than those from other parts of the world in 2023, a global banking report says, but overall numbers are low and down from 2022.  UBS bank’s Global Family Office Report for 2024 showed that Latin American families had placed 2 percent of […]

PIF space unit

PIF launches space unit, despite Saudi funding constraints

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has launched a space unit to develop off-planet commercial activities, despite challenges the sovereign wealth fund faces funding Saudi Arabia’s giga-projects.  The PIF-owned Neo Space Group will invest in satellite navigation and communications, Earth observation and remote sensing. It will also include a venture capital fund to help Saudi startups […]

Riyadh Air Comac C919

Riyadh Air not buying from China’s Comac ‘for now’

Riyadh Air, Saudi Arabia’s new national carrier, will not consider China’s Comac for its narrowbody order to be announced later this year. However, the airline said it saw a future in Saudi Arabia for Comac, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, as the Chinese alternative to Boeing and Airbus.  “The narrowbody order is in its […]