Theeb Rent A Car launches second branch as part of Saudi expansion – Arab News

RIYADH: Saudi Stock Exchange-listed Theeb Rent A Car has opened its second branch in Hail city, north-western of Saudi Arabia, in line with its expansion plans to cover all the Kingdom cities, areas, and provinces.
In this way, the company intends to enhance the services it offers to individuals, businesses, and government agencies, it said in a statement.
“We seek to implement our strategy in expanding across the Kingdom, as well as achieving service excellence and high quality that satisfy our customers.” Manager, Marketing Department, Muhammad Othman Al-Kadi, said.
Founded in 1991 with over 23,000 vehicles, the company has cumulative experience in the car rental industry spanning over 30 years.
NEW YORK: Amazon on Friday announced it has agreed to acquire the vacuum cleaner maker iRobot for approximately $1.7 billion, scooping up another company to add to its collection of smart home appliances amid broader concerns from anti-monopoly and privacy advocates about Amazon’s market power and ability to gain deeper insights into consumers’ lives.
iRobot sells its products worldwide and is most famous for the circular-shaped Roomba vacuum, which would join voice assistant Alexa, the Astro robot and Ring security cameras and others in the list of smart home features offered by the Seattle-based e-commerce and tech giant.
The move is part of Amazon’s bid to own part of the home space through services and accelerate its growth beyond retail, said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. A slew of home-cleaning robots adds to the company’s tech arsenal, making it more involved in consumers’ lives beyond static things like voice control. The latest line of Roombas use sensors to map — and remember — a home’s floor plan, offering a trove of data that Amazon could potentially integrate with its other products.
Amazon’s Astro robot, which helps with tasks like setting an alarm, was unveiled last year at an introductory price of $1,000. But its rollout has been limited and has received a lackluster response.
Amazon hasn’t had much success with household robots, but the iRobot acquisition and the company’s strong market reputation provide a “massive foothold in the consumer robot market” that could help Amazon replicate the success of its Echo line of smart speakers, said Lian Jye Su, a robotics industry analyst for ABI Research.
Su said it also illustrates the shortcomings of consumer robotics vendors like iRobot, which struggled to expand beyond a niche product and was in a “race-to-the-bottom” competition with Korean and Chinese manufacturers offering cheaper versions of a robotic vacuum.
On Friday, iRobot reported its quarterly results. Revenue plunged 30 percent primarily on order reductions and delays, and the company announced it was laying off 10 percent of its workforce.
Amazon said it will acquire iRobot for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction that will include iRobot’s net debt. The company has total current debt of approximately $332.1 million as of July 2. The deal is subject to approval by shareholders and regulators. Upon completion, iRobot’s CEO, Colin Angle, will remain in his position.
Noting that iRobot has been running its robotics platform on Amazon’s cloud service unit AWS for many years, Su said the acquisition could lead to more integration of Amazon speech recognition and other capabilities into vacuums.
In afternoon trading, iRobot shares rose 19 percent. Amazon’s were down 1.7 percent.
The deal comes as anti-monopoly advocates continue to raise concerns about Amazon’s increasing dominance. The purchase of iRobot is Amazon’s fourth-largest acquisition, led by its $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods in 2017. Last month, the company said it would buy the primary care provider One Medical in a deal valued roughly at $3.9 billion, a move that expanded its reach further into health care.
On Friday, groups advocating for stricter antitrust regulations called on regulators to block the iRobot merger, arguing it gives Amazon more access into consumers’ lives and furthers its dominance in the smart home market.
“The last thing American and the world needs is Amazon vacuuming up even more of our personal information,” said Robert Weissman, president of the progressive consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen.
“This is not just about Amazon selling another device in its marketplace,” Weissman said. “It’s about the company gaining still more intimate details of our lives to gain unfair market advantage and sell us more stuff.”
Landmark antitrust legislation targeting Amazon and other Big Tech companies has languished for months in Congress as prospects for votes by the full Senate or House have dimmed.
Last month, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, who heads the Senate Judiciary antitrust panel, urged the the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the One Medical acquisition, in the mold of other critics who’ve called on regulators to block the purchase over concerns about Amazon’s past conduct and potential implications for consumers’ health data. Regulators also have discretion to challenge Amazon’s $8.5 billion buyout of Hollywood studio MGM, which was completed earlier this year.
Founded in 1990 by a trio of Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists, including Angle, iRobot’s early ventures led to rovers that could perform military and disaster-relief tasks in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The profits from defense contracts allowed iRobot to experiment with a variety of other robots, producing some duds and one huge commercial success: the first Roomba, introduced in 2002, which pioneered the market for automated vacuum cleaners.
The company spun off its defense robotics division in 2016 to become almost exclusively a seller of vacuums and some other home robots, such as the Braava robotic mop. It planned to launch a robotic lawn mower in 2020 but backed off, citing problems tied to the pandemic.
RIYADH: Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and anti-bribery firm Trace International have successfully provided compliance training to 4,500 third-party business partners since July last year to advance corporate governance in the organization.
According to SABIC vice president of legal affairs Naveena Shastri, each of the company’s third-party business partners, which included suppliers, distributors and contract workers, were trained in four to five compliance training sessions, totaling 20,000 sessions.
Of the 20,000 sessions, 18,090 sessions constituted temporary employees. The company also trained 44.3 percent of its temporary workers in the first half of 2022.
A total of 619 training sessions were conducted for SABIC’s suppliers in the second quarter of 2022.
“In any place we operate, we develop ecosystems where doing business with integrity is the norm,” said Shastri.
SABIC was awarded the Compliance Leader Verification for 2022 and 2023 from Ethisphere, a global leader in defining and advancing ethical business practices.
The program offers face-to-face or online training in Arabic, with training materials and formats updated regularly. 
By doing this, Shastri said that the company could ensure that its small and medium business partners understand the company’s compliance concepts.
All SABIC employees are required to attend comprehensive compliance training, refresher courses, and special training on specific topics, such as antitrust legislation, fair employment practices, and trade controls, to build the proper foundation for ethical compliance, she added.
In addition, Shastri pointed out that SABIC led the implementation of a global trade system that allows automated compliance screening of customers with applicable international trade sanctions.
Due to the company’s commitment to corporate governance and ethics, the chemical manufacturing major was awarded the 
Compliance Leader Verification for 2022 and 2023 from Ethisphere, a global leader in defining and advancing ethical business practices, Shastri said.
It was the company’s second consecutive year to receive the award following November 2021.
In previous sessions for its suppliers, the speakers elaborated on the importance of an ethical business model and why stakeholders — both global and regional — are increasingly seeking evidence of effective compliance practices.
The company has been collaborating on this front with compliance organizations such as the Pearl Initiative and Nazaha, the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority in Saudi Arabia.
Often facilitated by nongovernmental organizations, SABIC also plays a crucial role in cross-industry collaboration. 
It participates in several global, multilateral anti-corruption initiatives, including the annual Business 20, the official business dialogue forum of the Group of 20 nations and the World Economic Forum.
Due to the company’s size, it ensures that the e-learning courses reach the right people in its supply chain and that trainees have the tools to follow up if necessary. “The company builds capacity, awareness, and knowledge in countries where some of these are new compliance concepts, and sets standards that its suppliers must follow to participate in business activities with SABIC,” Shastri concluded.
RIYADH: When The Red Sea Project was announced on July 29, 2017, many were skeptical about executing a giga-project spanning 28,000 sq. km. The master plan was just half a page long. But, a few good people rose to the challenge. Today, they are pioneers leading the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project.
In 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund launched The Red Sea Development Co. to drive the development of TRSP with 50 employees based in shared offices of a small building. Four years later, it is powered by a team of 2,000 people, all set to launch the project’s first phase in 2023.
One of the first employees to join the project was Ehab Alkindi, senior business administration director of TRSDC. In 2016, Alkindi was roped in from Saudi Aramco to facilitate the initiation of PIF’s three giga-projects NEOM, Qiddiyah and TRSDC. He played a vital role in setting up the strategic objectives, execution methodologies and regulatory frameworks of TRSDC.
“I have been lucky enough to be the Saudi Aramco employee who the PIF assigned to establish three magnificent projects in the Kingdom. I was the second employee to join the project, playing various roles starting from shaping the project’s vision, strategy, and master plans,” he said.
Another of the earliest employees is Abdulrahman Aldaris, presently the senior HR excellence manager of TRSDC. He has been closely involved in hiring a dedicated team of professionals committed to the Vision 2030 blueprint.
I have been lucky enough to be assigned to establish three magnificent projects in the Kingdom. I was one of the very first employees to join the project, playing various roles starting from shaping the project’s vision, strategy, and master plans.
Ehab Alkindi
“When I started working on The Red Sea Project in 2017, there were only a handful of passionate people believing in the Vision and working hard to set the foundations of what is today one of the most awaited destinations for the tourism market in the world,” said Aldaris.
Ashwaq AlBabtain, senior project manager, destination development at TRSDC, joined the company in April 2018 as a part of 35 employees responsible for the initial phases and the master plan.
“I remember the day the project was announced, and I felt mixed emotions, including happiness, joy and excitement as something new was happening in the Kingdom,” said AlBabtain.
AlBabtain started her journey in the project delivery team, setting up environmental guidelines and delivery strategies.
“We worked at a fast pace that I never saw in any organization. For example, if a task took you a day in another project, it would take you an hour in TRSP,” she added.
Developing the master plan
“Design is an evolving process. As long as the vision is there, the design will evolve, and the vision will be achieved,” said Faisal Butt, executive director for project delivery, TRSDC.
An employee of the project since the summer of 2017, Butt describes his first days as vibrant. He quickly absorbed the undertaking’s processes and needs, which helped him sail through the headwinds afterward.
“When I first joined, there were maybe around two people in the Red Sea project and a few consultants. I still remember the day when the first master plan was only a half page,” said Butt, adding that it took the team a year and a half to develop the master plan.
The master plan was developed in partnership with the US-based architectural firm WATG and UK-based engineering consultant Buro Happold. It features unique design concepts from some of the world’s most prominent architecture firms.
“From then to now, we are delivering the first three hotels. I have seen the master plan evolve and come to life, and I can’t be more grateful,” he added.
The master plan was developed in partnership with the US-based architectural firm WATG and UK-based engineering consultant Buro Happold. It features unique design concepts from some of the world’s most prominent architecture firms.
The project will develop 22 islands; three of them will be completed by 2024. The three islands will contain 16 hotels, including three that will be ready next year.
“Each of these islands has its unique value and vision. There is the uniqueness of the hospitality brands’ architecture and positioning, with each having a different target market,” said AlBabtain.
The first phase is now halfway through. Several vital assets are fully operational, including a four-star hotel called the Turtle Bay, on-site offices, and a large landscape nursery.
“We want to target every market segment,” said AlBabtain.
To get a sense of what TRSDC has achieved in the past five years, one needs to look at the strategic partnerships it forged recently. According to media reports, the company has procured over 800 contracts worth about $5.2 billion under the supervision of the group chief projects delivery officer of TRSDC, Ian Williamson.
Joined in 2017, Williamson has been responsible for leading the development and delivery of the project’s planning, design and construction.
When I started working on TRSP in 2017, there were only a handful of passionate people believing in the vision and working hard to set the foundations of what is today one of the most-awaited destinations for the tourism market in the world.
Abdulrahman Aldaris
“As one of the first employees of The Red Sea Project, it gives me immense pride to have been there at the beginning with a tiny group of colleagues figuring out the first steps to take on this amazing journey,” said Williamson.
Sustainable mobility  
Another pioneer who joined in the early stages was Andreas Flourou, the operations executive director in the mobility department.
He joined in 2017 as the tenth employee and played a role in the recruitment of the administration team.
Three years later, he joined the mobility department, which manages transportation inside the resort, including land, sea and air mobility.
“The challenge is around providing sustainable transportation and introducing hydrogen and other environmentally friendly mobility,” he said.
The company signed several deals with electric vehicle manufacturers to supply them with cars, buses, buggies and vessels.
He added that the project would have hundreds of EVs in the first phase, 40 vessels and several aircraft to move people across the islands, all to be set for operational from the first day of the launch.
Flourou has further stated that no visitors will be allowed to drive their cars inside the resorts, as the developers will provide all on-site transportation.
The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with ZeroAvia, a British-American hydrogen-electric aviation firm, to test and develop zero-emission travel across its new luxury tourism destination focusing on environmental sustainability and regeneration.
“The delivery will start immediately; we are in the advanced stages of discussion,” said Flourou.
Personal and environmental security
TRSDC has also adopted an innovative model of medical care by creating a facility to treat its employees rather than leaving the responsibility to individual contractors, ensuring that all workers have equal access to senior medical personnel and high standards of care.
According to Ahmad Darwish, group chief administrative officer of TRSDC, the crucial security targets included maintaining safe construction practices and ensuring zero lost time incidents while constructing marine jetties, coastal villages and base camps.
The company is also determined to develop its tourist resorts without harming the environment.
According to Butt, there will be some environmental disturbance whenever there is human intervention, but that does not hold for TRSP.
Today, not only am I helping to develop a brand new tourism industry for the Kingdom, but I am learning and developing as the project develops.
Amjaad Alangari, Senior marketing manager at TRSDC
“What we have done is showing that development can happen in a way that is not only protecting the environment but regenerating it as well,” Butt said.
The company is leading by example in its destination’s marine project. The challenge was preserving flora and fauna on the ground, with hundreds of people working in the vicinity. So, it maximized the off-site construction and minimized the on-site work as much as possible.
“A lot of the structure of the villas were fabricated somewhere else then brought and placed on site; in some cases, we reduced physical construction by 40 percent,” he added.
The aftermath of the pandemic
“The pandemic represented an unprecedented challenge for all of us in TRSDC. However, we worked together as a team throughout 2020 to surpass the challenges encountered and continue to do so today,” said Darwish.
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group was keen to manage its tasks in one way or another.
Working from home became the new normal, but the harmony and passion the pandemic left on the team were remarkable, pointed out Amjaad Alangari, senior marketing manager, TRSDC.
In some cases, the project saw months of delays. For instance, the first phase was scheduled for completion in 2022 before pushing the date back to the middle of 2023.
“We tried to lower the delays by accelerating some of the projects and increasing some shift times,” said Butt.
To Butt, the challenge was not limited to the 12-18 months of lockdown; it also had substantial cost implications.
“The pandemic directly impacted the global supply chain, which in turn affected a large giga-project like us that depends on supplies from around the world,” said Butt adding the prices of a forty-foot container soared by 500 percent.
Building the brand identity
For Alangari, one of the first five employees of TRSDC, the journey at the company has been as eventful as her role as the company’s marketing whiz.
She was instrumental in conceiving the brand identity, including developing its logo that symbolically represents the destination’s islands, natural attributes, flora and fauna.
Alangari and her team are also devising a slogan that best describes the unforgettable experience the destination has to offer for its visitors.
The slogan will be unveiled during the launch of the project’s first phase.
“Working in TRSDC has opened many opportunities for me as a young Saudi woman. Today, not only am I helping to develop a brand new tourism industry for the Kingdom, but I am learning and developing as the project develops,” said Alangari.
RIYADH: Saudi education and health sectors made up 39 percent of the budget expenditures in the first half of 2022.
The education and health sectors together accounted for SR197.9 billion ($52.6 billion) out of a total of SR512.92 billion, according to newly released figures by the government.
The education sector expenditures amounted to about SR98.3 billion, equivalent to 53.1 percent of its approved budget, while spending in the health and social development sector amounted to about SR99.5 billion, equivalent to 72 percent of the total money allocated for 2022.
In the second quarter of 2022, Saudi Arabia’s oil revenues soared 89 percent year-on-year, helping the Kingdom post a SR77.9 billion ($20.8 billion) budget surplus.
Oil revenues reached SR250.4 billion in the three months to June, compared to SR132.1 billion in the same period in 2021.
In the second quarter of 2022, Saudi Arabia’s oil revenues soared 89 percent year-on- year, helping the Kingdom post a SR77.9 billion ($20.8 billion) budget surplus.
The takings accounted for 68 percent of all Saudi Arabia’s revenues over 2022’s second quarter.
Oil exports reached $30 billion in March, the highest in at least six years, according to Bloomberg.
The rally in prices and rising production increased the value of crude exports by 123 percent, to almost $1 billion a day, official statistics showed. 
Saudi Arabia’s crude exports soared in July to the highest level since April amid international pressure to tame elevated oil prices, Bloomberg reported.
Observed seaborne shipments from the Kingdom hit 7.5 million barrels a day last month,
according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with a revised 6.6 million barrels a day in June.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, also known as OPEC+ , has been gradually boosting crude production for about a year, with benchmark oil prices trading around $100 a barrel.
This has been contributing to global inflation.
The OPEC alliance is gradually easing away from output curbs imposed early in the pandemic.
The group agreed on Wednesday to a further 100,000 barrels per day oil production hike from September as it warned of a lack of spare capacity for any greater increases.
DUBAI: The Abu Dhabi National Oil company (ADNOC) said on Friday it is completing a rigorous inspection of its Fujairah Main Oil Terminal facility as it works to bring operations back online after unprecedented rainfall and flooding in July.
The company is implementing all options in order to ensure uninterrupted export of Murban crude oil including the gradual reinstatement of Fujairah terminal operations and the utilization of alternative loading options within Fujairah, and through the use of Jebel Dhanna Terminal, ADNOC said in a statement. 

“As we work to safely bring our operations at Fujairah back online, we continue to provide alternative loading options including using our Jebel Dhanna Terminal,” it said.
The statement came following a visit earlier on Friday by ADNOC Managing Director and CEO Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber to the Fujairah terminal to thank staff for their resilience and efforts following last week’s exceptional rainfall.
“He praised their commitment, assuring them that their safety and wellbeing is his priority,” the statement added.
(With Reuters)
Our MD and GCEO, H.E. Dr Sultan Al Jaber today visited the Fujairah terminal to thank staff for their resilience and efforts following last week’s exceptional rainfall.


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