MEED February 2023 Webinar: Saudi Arabia 2023 Outlook and 2022 Review

26 February 2023

The webinar focuses on discussing the economic outlook, investment opportunities, and business strategies in Saudi Arabia for the year 2023.

As a MEED subscriber, you will be invited to exclusive monthly webinars on the trending topics in the region’s top sectors.

Saudi Arabia 2023 Outlook and 2022 Review brings together industry experts, government officials, and business leaders to share their insights and perspectives on the current state and future of the Saudi Arabian economy.

The discussion covers a range of topics, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, the government’s plans for economic diversification, and investment opportunities in various sectors such as healthcare, infrastructure, and renewable energy.

The webinar provides an interactive platform for participants to engage with the speakers, ask questions, and exchange ideas. It also offers networking opportunities for participants to connect with other business professionals and potential partners in Saudi Arabia.

Related Articles
  • Contractors prepare Oxagon tunnelling bids

    30 May 2023


    Contractors are preparing to submit bids in June for a contract to build tunnels connecting the offshore elements of the Oxagon industrial city at Neom to the mainland.

    The design-and-build contract involves digging a 6.5-metre-diameter tunnel using a tunnel boring machine (TBM) under the sea that will link the Neom Connector with the offshore elements of Oxagon port. It will house utilities including water pipelines, fibre optic cables and electricity cables.

    Prospective bidders for the contract include:

    • Abuljadayel Company (local)
    • Bessac (France)
    • Binladin Contracting (local)
    • Daewoo (South Korea)
    • Dogus (Turkey)
    • Hassan Allam (Egypt)
    • Petrojet (Egypt)
    • Saudi Pan Kingdom Company (Sapac)
    • Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Company (China)
    • Soletanche Bachy (France)

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched Oxagon in late 2021. It will include onshore elements as well as floating structures offshore. Construction works on the 48 square-kilometre, eight-sided industrial city have already started.

    Port construction

    Work is also under way for the industrial city’s port, with Neom tendering a contract to complete the next phase of the Duba port expansion at Oxagon industrial city.

    The prospective bidders are Belgium’s Deme with Greece’s Archirodon; Van Oord of the Netherlands with South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction; a Belgian joint venture of Jan de Nul and Besix; Netherlands-based Boskalis with France’s Soletanche Bachy; and China Harbour Engineering Company.

    The tender for the project’s second phase follows the award of a contract to deliver the first phase of the port expansion. A team of Boskalis, Besix and the local Modern Building Leaders (MBL) was awarded that estimated SR3bn ($800m) contract in mid-January.

    The scope of the Duba port expansion package includes excavation and dredging, revetments for channel widening, demolition, container terminal quay expansion and earthworks, in addition to the development of a flexible quay, a roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) berth and quay walls to a marine services berth and a coast guard facility.

    Jacobs is the main design consultant with Moffatt & Nichol, IGO and Trent as the main subconsultants.

    Port operations

    Several crane and container equipment contracts have been awarded to Saudi Liebherr Company and Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company (ZPMC).

    Saudi Liebherr was awarded contracts for 10 mobile harbour cranes for SR200m.

    ZPMC has been awarded contracts for 10 ship-to-shore gantry cranes, 30 electric rubber-tiered gantry cranes and six automated rail-mounted gantry cranes for over SR1bn. ZPMC will work with Siemens Europe to deliver the automation components. 

    An expanded Duba port is a critical component of Oxagon and the broader Neom development, as it will allow greater volumes of materials to be imported for the project. With an expected investment value of $500bn, Neom is the largest programme of construction work in the world.

    Neom says the first container terminal will be operational by the beginning of 2025.

    The management of Duba port was transferred from national maritime regulator Mawani to Neom in 2022.
    Colin Foreman
  • Dewa commissions Lusaily reservoir

    30 May 2023

    Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) has announced that it has commissioned the third phase of its water reservoirs in the Lusaily area.

    The project has a storage capacity of 60 million imperial gallons (MIG) and investments totalling AED157.4m ($42.9m).

    Dewa says the project supports its efforts to enhance water security and keep pace with the increase in demand.

    “We continue to strengthen our robust state-of-the-art infrastructure and adopt innovation and the latest tools for anticipating the future,” says Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dewa.

    “This supports the Dubai Integrated Water Resource Management Strategy 2030 and the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036. Our sound scientific planning has helped us keep pace with the growing demand for water in Dubai, according to the highest international standards.

    “In 1992, Dewa’s production capacity of desalinated water was 65 million imperial gallons a day (MIGD). Today it has increased to 490MIGD,” he adds.

    Dewa also confirmed its plans to commission other reservoirs in Dubai this year.

    “In addition to the water reservoir in Lusaily, we are working on three other reservoir projects in Nakhali, Hassyan and Hatta. These are expected to be completed this year and next year. With the completion of these projects, the storage capacity will increase from 881MIG currently to 1,151MIG of desalinated water,” says Al-Tayer.

    The local Ghantoot Gulf Contracting was awarded the contract to build the third phase of the Lusaily reservoir in 2018.

    Ghantoot was also working on another major Dewa project. However, in October 2022 Dewa said it had terminated its contract with the consortium Ghantoot Transport & General Contracting and Ghantoot Gulf Contracting on its Al-Sheraa headquarters building project in Dubai.
    Colin Foreman
  • Saudi Arabia’s Modon plans $2.7bn of infrastructure

    30 May 2023

    The Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities & Technology Zones (Modon) is expanding the infrastructure at its industrial cities and facilities across the kingdom as it seeks to attract increased private sector investment.

    The estimated SR10bn ($2.7bn) five-year plan comprises several main elements.

    The largest, worth SR5.8bn, covers the construction of multiple roads, bridges, water and electricity networks and other associated facilities to provide base infrastructure services.

    Examples include the construction of a bridge linking the main highway system with Jeddah’s second industrial city, and a new rainwater collection network at the Waad al-Shamal industrial complex in the far north.   

    The second component is worth about SR2.1bn and involves building works such as new fire stations, ready-to-lease warehouses, office buildings and storage areas.

    The final element involves the construction of transmission and distribution systems, including a high-voltage substation in Sudair and new overhead lines to serve Al-Kharj industrial city, in a programme worth about SR1.8bn.

    Modon operates 31 industrial cities across the kingdom, including three each in Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah. It also has four ‘oases’ under its remit where only women can work, and provides basic infrastructure services to more than a dozen private industrial cities.

    Its mandate additionally covers Riyadh Technology Valley, Al-Raidah Digital City and the Wadi Makkah Technological Complex.

    MEED's latest special report on Saudi Arabia includes:

    > GIGAPROJECTS: Saudi Arabia under project pressure
    > ECONOMY: Riyadh steps up the Vision 2030 tempo
    > CONSTRUCTION: Saudi construction project ramp-up accelerates
    > UPSTREAM: Aramco slated to escalate upstream spending
    > DOWNSTREAM: Petchems ambitions define Saudi downstream
    > POWER: Saudi Arabia reinvigorates power sector
    > WATER: Saudi water begins next growth phase
    > BANKING: Saudi banks bid to keep ahead of the pack
    > DATABANK: Riyadh holds its buoyant economic heading
    Edward James
  • Saudi and Chinese firms plan $500m PV wafer factory

    29 May 2023


    Saudi Arabia's Vision Industries and China's TCL Central New Energy Technology Company have signed the term sheet agreement to establish a joint venture to implement the kingdom's first photovoltaic (PV) crystalline chip factory.

    The first phase of the planned ingot and wafer manufacturing plant will have the capacity to produce 150 millimetres (mm) to 200mm of micron wafers. 

    A solar wafer is a thin slice of a crystalline silicon or semiconductor, which is vital for fabricating integrated circuits in PVs to manufacture solar cells. Polysilicon grains or pebbles comprise the main input product for production.

    MEED understands the project's first phase will require an investment of around $500m. It is envisaged to produce wafers for domestic solar PV production, which can then be consumed domestically or exported.

    The plant's potential location has not yet been disclosed. MEED understands the project's initial phase could support solar PV production of up to 10GW a year.

    Another Saudi-Chinese joint venture plans to build a wind turbine manufacturing facility at Oxagon in Saudi Arabia's Neom gigaproject development.

    The planned facility will have the capacity to manufacture wind turbines that can produce an equivalent of 3GW of electricity. MEED reported that it will require an investment of approximately $1.5bn.

    Saudi Arabia's Vision Industries and China's Envision are investing in the wind turbine manufacturing plant project, which aims to cater to the growing demand for wind turbines in the broader Middle East and Africa region in light of widespread decarbonisation initiatives.

    The first wind turbines are expected to roll out of production by the first quarter of 2025.

    Vision Industries is a joint venture of Saudi Arabia's Abunayyan Holding and Al-Muhaidib Group.

    Over $120bn-worth of wind and solar PV power generation plants are in the study, design and procurement phases across 16 countries in the Middle East and North Africa  (Mena) region, according to MEED Projects data.

    Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have the largest potential markets.
    Jennifer Aguinaldo
  • Soaring data demand drives boom

    29 May 2023


    > This package also includes: Region plans vital big grid connections
    Power links carry economic, climate and political significance

    The world’s longest submarine communications cable system reached its first two landing sites in Jeddah and Yanbu in Saudi Arabia in early May.

    The 45,000-kilometre 2Africa cable system will arrive at its third landing site in Duba, Saudi Arabia, later this year and its fourth site in Al-Khobar in 2024. 2Africa will take the number of submarine cable system landing sites in Saudi Arabia to 27, with 13 located in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

    An expansion in submarine cable landing sites supports the kingdom’s ambition – and that of the broader Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region – to become a global digital hub.

    The submarine cables enable high-speed, low-latency connectivity between regions and facilitate the transfer of vast amounts of data across national borders. They can help to unlock significant economic potential arising from products and services enabled by information technology (IT) and data connectivity, including e-commerce, machine learning, Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI).

    Source: Telegeography

    This will be supported by the strategic geographical advantage of Middle East countries to connect the digital traffic and services between Asia, Africa and Europe – a development that is being mirrored by the planned long-distance power interconnectors across the region.

    “Subsea cables provide faster and more dependable internet access than older methods such as satellite or microwave communications,” says Ziad Samaha, an executive with UAE-based Khazna Data Centres.

    Driving investment

    Kamel al-Tawil, managing director for Mena at US-headquartered firm Equinix, also notes that the increased connectivity provided by subsea cables “can help attract more international businesses to the region, driving economic growth and creating new opportunities for the data centre and wider IT industry”.

    The largest telecommunications companies and their data subsidiaries have been building data centres to support their operations and clients’ requirements in recent years.

    The explosive growth in data and the advent of cloud services – or renting software applications as opposed to buying licences to use them – in addition to general uncertainty about regulations governing data sovereignty in most jurisdictions, have propelled the region into a data centre-building boom.  

    This began when US-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) established its first availability zone or data centre cluster in Bahrain in 2019. AWS has since built availability zones in the UAE, with further plans to invest $5bn over 15 years to enhance its data infrastructure in the country.

    The scale of Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become a digital hub has been met with commitments to build data infrastructure within the kingdom. Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is investing $400m to build a cloud services infrastructure, while Silicon Valley giants Microsoft and Oracle have committed to investing $2.1bn and $1.5bn, respectively, in the kingdom.

    “The demand for data centre services in the region is growing rapidly, and continued investment in digital infrastructure will be critical to supporting the region’s long-term growth and development,” says Al-Tawil.

    Regionally headquartered firms are determined to corner a significant piece of the data centre market, which is forecast to grow by a compounded average of 7.59 per cent annually between 2022 and 2028, thanks to strong demand from industries such as finance, healthcare and telecommunications.

    Emboldened by its merger with Injazat Data Systems and the backing of both Abu Dhabi-headquartered G42 and its shareholder Mubadala Investment Company, Khazna Data Centre Services is expanding its UAE data centre capacity.

    It has also announced a plan to enter the Egyptian market with a planned $250m investment in a 25MW data centre facility at the Maadi Technology Park in Cairo. A further phase could see Khazna doubling the facility’s capacity to 50MW, enabling it to achieve hyperscale status, comparable to the largest data centre facilities in the region and around the globe.

    The explosive growth in data has propelled the region into a data centre building boom

    Digital transformation

    With a young and tech-savvy population, rising internet penetration and greater adoption of cloud-based technologies, Middle East governments have also been actively promoting digital transformation.

    This has led to the development of large data centres that provide connectivity and data exchange services for businesses and organisations worldwide.

    “Given this growth trajectory, the region is projected to require ongoing investment in data centre capacity,” says Samaha.

    The specific amount of necessary investment will be contingent on various factors, including the rate of technological innovation, the level of demand from businesses and consumers, and the regulatory environment.

    AI-powered data

    “The rapid growth of data generation fuelled by AI has transformed how data is stored, processed, managed and transferred while increasing the demand for computing power across cloud and edge data centres,” says Samaha.

    Equinix’s Al-Tawil agrees, noting that AI technologies, particularly machine learning, rely on large volumes of data for training models. His company is investing in data centres as well as in a dedicated fibre optic gateway connecting two facilities in Muscat and Dubai.

    “As the adoption of AI continues to accelerate, there will be a surge in demand for data storage and processing. This growth in data generation … will require enterprises to invest in scalable and high-performance infrastructure to meet these demands effectively,” the executive concludes.

    Region plans vital big grid connections
    Jennifer Aguinaldo