Riyadh Air, Saudi Arabia's new carrier, launched on March 12
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Saudi Arabia unveils Riyadh Air, the country’s new national carrier

Saudi Arabia unveils Riyadh Air, the country’s new national carrier

Riyadh will be the company’s operational hub, and will connect the Saudi capital to over 100 destinations globally

Neesha Salian
Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Prime Minister and chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) launched Riyadh Air, Saudi Arabia’s new national carrier, on March 12.

Operating from Riyadh as its hub, the PIF-owned Riyadh Air is expected to add $20bn to the kingdom’s non-oil GDP growth, creating more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The new national airline represents PIF’s latest investment in the sector, along with the recently announced King Salman International Airport masterplan.

Riyadh Air management

Riyadh Air will be chaired by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of PIF.

Tony Douglas, who has more than 40 years of experience in the aviation, transportation and logistics industries, has been appointed chief executive officer.

The airline’s senior management will also include Saudi and international experts.

Supporting tourism

The airline will provide tourists from around the world the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia’s cultural and natural attractions.

According to a statement released, “Riyadh Air will also serve as a catalyst for the Saudi National Transport and Logistics Strategy and the National Tourism Strategy by increasing air transport options, raising cargo capacity and, in turn, growing international passenger traffic”.

Part of PIF’s strategy for diversification

Riyadh Air launches in KSA PIF Media centre

The establishment of Riyadh Air is part of PIF’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors that can help drive the diversification of the local economy.

It will enable a more financially resilient aviation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, supporting the industry’s global competitiveness in line with Vision 2030.

PIF is building a diversified portfolio by entering into attractive and long-term investment opportunities in 13 strategic sectors in Saudi Arabia and globally.

PIF’s strategy, as set out in the PIF Program 2021-2025 – one of the Vision 2030 realisation programmes – aims to enable many promising sectors and contribute to increasing local content by creating partnerships with the private sector.

It also aims to inject at least SAR150bn annually into the local economy.

Since 2017, PIF has established 71 companies and created, directly and indirectly, more than 500,000 jobs as of 2021.

In other tourism-related developments, PIF announced the Diriyah Project as the fund’s fifth giga project.

Read: Saudi Arabia’s PIF announces Diriyah as its fifth giga project

The Diriyah Project, which has significant historic, cultural, and political value for the country, includes the Turaif District UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Diriyah offers visitors the opportunity to explore and get to know Saudi history and culture at the city’s museums and purpose-built pavilions.

In February, PIF announced an investment worth $1.3bn in four local construction companies.

Read: Saudi’s PIF invests $1.3bn in four local construction companies

The fund subscribed to new shares as part of the capital increases representing “significant minority stakes”, in four local contractors.

These include Nesma & Partners Contracting Company, ElSeif Engineering Contracting Company, AlBawani Holding Company, and Almabani General Contractors Company.

In February, the Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister also launched the new Murabba Development Company.

The company will develop the world’s largest downtown in Riyadh by 2030.

The new Murabba project spanning 19 square kilometres, will be located at the intersection of King Salman and King Khalid roads to the northwest of Riyadh, Saudi Press Agency reported.

It is expected to add SAR180bn to the country’s non-oil GDP and create 334,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030.

The launch of company is part of the country’s sovereign wealth fund’s strategy to enable the private sector and increase local content, as well as contribute to the development of real estate and local infrastructure projects.

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