Saudi banks’ funding profile changing on rising mortgage demand: S&P Global 

Saudi banks’ funding profile changing on rising mortgage demand: S&P Global 
Saudi banks’ funding profile changing on rising mortgage demand: S&P Global 

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - PIF’s tourism investment arm Asfar to develop the city of Hail as next destination, CEO reveals 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s northwestern city of Hail will be the fifth destination development of Saudi Tourism Investment Co., the firm’s CEO has revealed.  

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit, Fahad bin Mushayt announced the plan, which comes after the activation of the company’s projects in Al-Baha, Yanbu, Al-Ahsa, and Taif.

The projects have all been launched within one year of the Public Investment Fund-owned firm – also known as Asfar – being unveiled.

The company is mandated to invest in new projects and develop attractive travel destinations, incorporating hospitality, tourist attractions, retail, and food and beverage offerings in cities across Saudi Arabia. 

Bin Mushayt said: “In almost one year, Asfar is already playing in four destinations, with Hail coming soon, so I can reveal that.”  

The entity is working to bridge the gap between the public and the private sector, as well as the local community, to create unique experiences that abide by the DNA of both the nation and the cities themselves, the executive noted. 

This notion came to life during the summit, where the company signed a number of agreements with hospitality developers to launch four asset classes in the city of Yanbu. 

Among them, Asfar announced the signing of investment agreements with Baheej, a joint venture between the company and the Tamimi-AWN alliance, as well as the Royal Commission for Yanbu. 

“This morning, we announced our partnership with Curtain Hospitality, and they are going to be the operator of our resort in Yanbu, under the brand called Cloud 7. So the structure usually involves us and the developer as an investor, and they bring the know-how to build real estate and hospitality,” he said during the second day of the event. 

The concept of Yanbu as Saudi Arabia’s most up-and-coming “second-tier city” was not limited to Asfar’s CEO alone.

Speaking on a panel at the summit alongside Mushayt, Abdulrahman Al-Bassam, a board member of Baheej, further emphasized these ideas, stating: “Yanbu is going to be the gateway of the new Red Sea Riviera, with four different asset classes expected to be operational by 2027.” 

Adhering to its mandate, Asfar selects a different private sector partner to develop each of their destinations, the CEO explained, saying: “We are here to empower the private sector, to encourage them, to encourage them to go and invest with us. And we give them a lot of incentives.” 

He acknowledged that those companies put their money into the subsidiary. However, Mushayt emphasized that they provide “a lot of incentives” as a semi-government entity empowered by PIF, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Ministry of Investment. 

The PIF subsidiary utilizes a mix of domestic and foreign investments to empower its initiatives, focusing on operators that are suitable for the needs of the project, Mushayt said. 

“The operator, if it’s a hotel operator, we bring a hotel operator; if it’s an adventure park operator, we bring a theme park. In fact, we have a theme park now, and we’re talking to international operators,” he said.  

The Asfar CEO further revealed that they have a resort in Yanbu that would require cruises, “so we’re talking to Cruise Saudi, and we’re talking to another international player.”  

He added: “It’s a mix of foreign and local operators, investors, and our hospitality management companies.”

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