Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Saudi will top Gulf business travel chart, says Wego boss

Wego co-founder and WegoPro CEO Prashant Kirtane and Wego co-founder and CEO Ross Veitch Wego
Wego co-founder and WegoPro CEO Prashant Kirtane and Wego co-founder and CEO Ross Veitch
  • Foreign HQ rule behind surge
  • Sector recovers after Covid
  • Company launches WegoPro

Business travel to and from Saudi Arabia is expected to surpass neighbouring UAE, according to the CEO and co-founder of online travel marketplace Wego.

As of the start of this month, foreign companies hoping to gain access to billions of dollars worth of government contracts must have their regional headquarters in Riyadh.

The regional HQ programme has seen more than 180 international entities move to the Saudi capital, increasing demand for business travel in and out of the kingdom.

Speaking at the official launch of WegoPro, a business travel and expense management platform, Ross Veitch told AGBI: “Wego has always been big in Saudi so we expect our business travel division to also take off there and to give the UAE a run for its money quite quickly.

“If I had to bet, say 12 months from now, I think it would probably be Saudi one, UAE two.”

As well as its regional HQ programme, Saudi Arabia is also investing billions in a variety of giga-projects through its Vision 2030 initiative, to wean the kingdom off a dependence on hydrocarbons.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has previously said he expects the country’s population to reach 50 to 60 million by 2030, with half being foreigners – Riyadh alone will have a population of 25 million.

“Clearly business demand in Saudi Arabia is booming with the Vision 2030 projects, and particularly the consultancy sector seems over-subscribed,” said John Grant, a partner at UK consultancy Midas Aviation.

Growth forecast

Wego’s venture into business travel coincides with the sector approaching a full recovery from the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Business travel is forecast to grow to almost $1.8 trillion globally by 2027, according to the 2023 Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Business Travel Index Outlook – Annual Global Report and Forecast.

Across the Middle East, the sector currently makes up 30 percent of Wego’s business.

WegoPro, which will be available in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait and Bahrain, was borne out of the purchase of Singapore-based Travelstop in September last year for an undisclosed fee.

It follows the acquisition of Cleartrip’s Middle East unit and from Indian e-commerce business Flipkart in February 2022.

Veitch said there were no “immediate plans” to add further to their portfolio.

“I wouldn’t say they [acquisitions] are planned but we’ve always got our eyes open for anything that might be added to in terms of talent, technology or a geographic expansion,” he said.

Listing on horizon

Founded in 2005 and dual headquartered in Dubai and Singapore, Wego experienced 40 percent growth last year and Veitch was confident of increasing that further to 60 percent in 2024.

He said it was part of a journey towards a public listing, which he revealed would be completed by 2030.

“You take capital from venture funds and growth funds, you want liquidity at some point and typically an IPO is how you achieve that,” Veitch said.

“We need to hit a critical mass for that to make sense. I think you’ll see it happen in the not-too-distant future. Certainly this decade.”

Latest articles

Musicians perform at the Sharjah Ramadan Festival. Retailers offered discounts of up to 75% on local and international brands

Sharjah’s Ramadan retail sales peak at nearly $110m

Ramadan retail sales in Sharjah hit a new record high of AED400 million ($109 million) in 2024, reinforcing the positive outlook UAE companies had ahead of this year’s holy month. Sales jumped 25 percent year on year during the Sharjah Ramadan Festival 2024, which concluded last Saturday, the UAE state-run Wam news agency reported, quoting […]

The UAE wants dialogue to address the ripple effects of geopolitical challenges on global trade

UAE to advance talks on debt sustainability at global event

The UAE’s finance ministry intends to advance discussions on global macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability at the 2024 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG). The spring meetings will be held in Washington, D.C., from April 15 to 20. The UAE will also promote a dialogue to address […]

A woman buys cooking oil at a market in downtown Cairo, Egypt

EU to provide ‘urgent’ $1bn short-term aid to Egypt

The European Union (EU) will provide €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in urgent short-term financial aid to support Egypt’s economy. The funding is part of the larger €5 billion macro-financial assistance package.  The remaining €4 billion will be released as longer-term assistance over 2024-2027 but is yet to be cleared by the 27-member bloc. The aid […]

Adnoc sought advice from investment banks on buying a significant stake in BP, a media report said

UAE’s Adnoc explored acquiring BP

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) explored the possibility of acquiring British oil major BP but abandoned the plan as it did not fit into its strategic growth objectives, a media report said.  The talks did not advance beyond the initial stages, Reuters reported, citing informed sources.  The UAE state oil company also sought advice […]