Work on Saudi rail project to start by 2008-end

March 25th, 2008 - 7:16 pm ICT by admin  

(Gulf business capsule)

Dubai, March 25 (IANS) Work on the 20 billion Saudi riyals railway project connecting the holy city of Makkah with Jeddah and Madinah is set to start by the end of this year, Saudi Arabia’s Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry has said. “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is greatly interested in the project, which aims at easing the heavy traffic between the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, particularly during the Haj and Ramadan seasons,” Al-Seraisry told Arab News on the sidelines of a maritime transport forum in Jeddah.

The Makkah-Madinah Rail Link Project, which would cover a distance of 500 km, would be executed next year and will open for service soon thereafter, he added.

King Abdullah approved the high-speed electrified railway network in February this year.


Saudi domestic tourism revenue to touch SR101.3 bn by 2020

Domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia is set for rapid growth in the future as the total income from this sphere is expected to reach 101.3 billion Saudi riyals (SR) by the year 2010, according to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).

Ahmed Al-Khilaifi, deputy managing director in the department of statistics at SAMA, said that tourism in Saudi Arabia represented three percent of the government’s GDP in 2006, the Arab News reported.

Speaking at a workshop in Riyadh, he said SAMA prepared an annual report on the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia based on information on the number of trips, hotel occupancies and total income in the sector.

According to the official, more than 342,000 people are employed in the Saudi tourism sector in areas like hotels, resorts, furnished apartments, restaurants, coffee shops, amusement parks, and travel agencies.

In 2005, the kingdom’s total revenue from tourism stood SR57.8 billion. Of this, SR35.5 billion was from domestic tourism and SR22.2 billion from foreign tourism.


Gulf set for big growth in syndicated loans

Syndicated borrowings in the Gulf are poised for big growth as companies in the region seek to expand regionally and globally through organic expansion and acquisitions.

“Prior to the past year, most of the loans from the region were led by project finance. But the composition has changed dramatically with explosive growth in acquisition financing through the corporate loan syndication market,” Declan McGrath, managing director and head of European Corporate Loan Markets, told the Gulf News daily.

“There is going to be significant growth in corporate fundraising as more and more family-owned businesses from the region begin to raise funds from the loan market.”

McGrath said widening credit spreads since July last year saw some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) firms postponing their fund raising through bond market.

“The sub prime related issues have not been a key driver of the increase in syndicated loans from the region. On the contrary, even prior to the sub prime issues, there has been big growth in companies raising funds through syndication,” he said.


Dubai jewellery group to foray into real estate, luxury fashion

Leading Dubai-based jewellery group Pure Gold has announced plans to foray into real estate and luxury fashion as part of its diversification plans.

The company will have two property development projects in Dubai’s Meydan and one in Ajman, a report in the Gulf News says.

“Altogether we have plans to launch 1 billion dirhams worth of projects this year,” Pure Gold chairman Feroz Merchant was quoted as saying.

“I can see Dubai’s property sector growing for another 10 to 15 years. Without this confidence, I would not be starting the real estate business,” he said.

He said the company is also adding a chain of luxury sunglasses stores to its jewellery business.

The stores will sell 10 to 15 top brands, including Bvlgari, Chanel, Versace and Dior.

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