Tag Archives: Haql

Why the objection?

We all have it, we all object at times. I am not stating that an objection is irrelevant, wrong or short sighted, because as we might not know all the fact, no conclusion can be due to a lack of data. Yet, the objection of Jordan seems wrong to me, especially when we consider the quote ‘Jordan’s state-run media said the new Israeli airport near its border violates the kingdom’s sovereignty‘. The article (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/israeli-airport-open-jordanian-border-190121102753669.html) gives us the goods on the newly opened airport, soon also to be an international airport is from my point of view a really good idea in more than one way. You see, Ramon Airport gives people a direct option to Eilat, a wonderful place to behold (I was there in 1982). It has the views, the water, some entertainment, a nice aquarium and a few other parts that make it to be a very nice holiday destination.

In addition, it opens up tourism dollars to Aqaba (Jordan), as well as dollars to Taba (Egypt). Las but not least, the new city of Neom, which end just to the south of there will be easily reachable. It will further growth to Neom and Eilat, as well as commerce in that region going all the way to Sharm-El-Sheikh. There is close to no valid reason to oppose it. There might be unknown reasons to me, I just cannot tell at present.

Ben Gurion airport needed an alternative for the longest of times, and now there is one. In light of the activities by Hamas, Ramon airport is a good thing to have. To be quite honest, whilst I am typing this, i am thinking back to the lovely days I had there as well as the great shoarma’s I had at a gas station near the aquarium. It has been 36.5 years and I still remember those shoarma’s.

There is another matter that will rear its head soon enough. As the completion of construction continues, the need for a new digital marker in visibility is of equal importance to Eilat, Neom, Aqaba, Taba and Sharm-El-Sheikh. You see, they will only get visibility if they raise awareness and that is seemingly not happening.

To get the two at the top when we seek “Eilat Tourism” is nice, but nowhere near good enough, your business is only as good as the awareness you create and or the most, and there is not a lot of awareness. the fact that there is an Irish place there (at http://www.paddys.co.il/), and they are not above the fold and not bidding on the keywords is quite honestly a mistake, in addition, the website looks good on desktop, but well over 50% is searched via mobile and at that point there website requires an overhaul on a few levels. The switching to the English site was amazingly slow and that is just for starters. As tourism grows it will be about who knows you and how easy people can find you, awareness is everything. It is not too late, it is merely January so they have time to repair what is there, but it needs to be done and this is the one that was visible. There are many that are not even visible and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why.

There is a lot more, but that is not important right now.

The message for Aqaba is not much better, we can argue that Aqaba was never intended as a touristic place, which makes perfect sense, but why not profit on the back of all this? This proclaimed jewel of the red sea is there to be an asset for Jordan, and as such people need to know that this is an important place to consider, especially as they are a short bus ride from Eilat. I found their Tourism site more appealing, yet also slower. The webmaster was trying to be clever about it and basically shot himself in the foot in the process. If it is slow on the desktop, it will be a nightmare on the mobile (and it was) and as such they lose a lot more visibility. As stated before well over 50% is sought via mobile and these places are mobile unfriendly. I get that they might not have been ready in 2015, yet in 2018 it is an essential path to consider, especially in tourism, the digital footprint is close to everything there.

Both Aqaba and Eilat know that the digital life is important, yet why they failed to the degree that they have remains a mystery for now. In all this, it is my view that Taba scores to low to have an actual digital footprint, I reckon they could have done better and have a better tourism return, yet with Taba being in the Sinai, there might be additional problems for them. Almost the same could be said for Sharm-El-Sheikh, but they started to grow visibility in the early 80’s, it also had other hardships to deal with, yet as they are opening themselves for business, having a proper digital footprint is essential and they do not have one. So even as ABC news gives us: ‘Egypt welcomes back tourists after seven years of political instability despite security concerns‘, it seems to me that they are nowhere near ready at present and there is no direct consideration whether this is due to ‘security concerns’ or if there is another cycle of changes required. No matter what they are waiting for, the digital footprint will be essential to gain growing levels of awareness in that region. I know from others and from the past that diving and water activities used to be decently high, so regaining that footprint should be an essential first step. In addition, even as we agree with the ABC headline ‘Any help on tourism front is a positive for Egyptians‘ without a growing awareness element, it will not matter too much down the road. They can hope for a large infusion as Neom grows, but that would be disastrous too as we see a much more eager growth in both Aqaba and Eilat, if people need to make a choice, the size of Sharm-El-Sheikh dwarves to the visibility in offers that the other two have at present. Even as we saw Reuters treat us in mid-2018 to: “an 80 per cent increase in revenues from the previous year“, the direct reality is that 80% more of little is still not a lot. It is more visible when we consider: “However, for many working in the industry, including in South Sinai, the official increases are not quite paying off yet, as direct flights from places like Russia to Sharm El-Sheikh are yet to resume“, I see the lack of a digital footprint as a direct result of the lack of growth for the moment (I am not ignoring the security issue).

What is lacking in one will benefit the other and that is where larger options for growth in both Aqaba and Eilat become apparent and both could profit. Also, as the entire region is linked more and more to Neom, we see additional options for growth for all concerned, yet none of it matters when awareness is kept to a minimum. No matter how we slice it, the tourism will be on the rise in Eilat soon enough, it will rise enough for Jordan to find cooperation there and grow tourism to both Aqaba and Wadi Rum, both are within 35 Km and as such taking an additional day to see both places will be well worth the effort for all tourists visiting the Gulf of Aqaba. When that starts happening, Haql, who will be on the northern border of Neom City, which is only 30 Km from there would benefit greatly in that regard. Consider any tourist and the option for them to go home stating that they went sightseeing in Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia within a week, remaining close to the beaches and enjoying the sunshine almost every moment in this, who would not be envious hearing those words?

From my point of view, growing the business will take time and it all starts by having a clear digital footprint, without it these places will remain lost and unfound, it is a solution that could be done by most web designers and proper SEO consultants overnight. I merely wonder why no one looked at this before; because there is no way that I was the only one noticing this.

I wonder which of the three will catch on the quickest in 2019. I am not dismissing Sharm-El-Sheikh, I merely remain aware that they have a lot more elements to overcome at present.

 

 

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It started already

Even as we had seen all the plans regarding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and their ultra-modern city of Neom, it was only last week when the geological studies were reported to have started for all the construction sites (at https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1390921/neom-begins-environmental-geological-surveys-construction-sites). Yet the placement of Neom goes a lot further than most realise. It will also be the gateway to the planned King Salman bin Abdulaziz Bridge, which will take 3 years, span a total distance of 10 miles and it will connect Saudi Arabia directly to the Sinai, to be more precise the bridge will connect to the Sinai a little north of Sharm-El-Sheik, opening up all kind of economic benefits for Egypt. Tourism and connectivity via Sharm-El-Sheik international airport will be boosted to well over 200%, it would also allow Saudi Arabia to delay its airport and use the bridge more effectively. It opens up a lot more when we consider that the setting now opens up directly to Kiev, Istanbul, Bratislava, Budapest, Brussels Talinn, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw, Kuwait, Bagdad, Cairo, Algiers, Sofia, Minsk, and not to forget all the places that Air Cairo lines to, which is a much larger list. When you consider that the construction is about to start on a city well over 500 billion, how much unschooled labour will there be a need for? Did anyone that math in the equation? That is before projects are delayed and hit snags. Yes, Sharm-El-Sheik will prosper and gain a massive amount of value, because in a tourist place like that these people can get the entertainment they are unlikely to see in Saudi Arabia.

There is an addition part in all this. The bridge will go via Tiran Island, I feel certain that a ramp to that place will be booming tourism as well. No matter how that fares, the first steps are now underway and when building starts, we will quickly see the overexcited steps from all kinds of companies trying to get in, because that 500 billion has to go somewhere, does it not? That is before some realise that having concrete facilities near Sharm-El-Sheik might be equally worthy of consideration, because when Neom is there, the shortages in Sharm-El-Sheik will become abundantly clear soon thereafter. When you see the issues in Sharm-El-Sheik, going back to 2015 and before, we get confronted with stories like ‘British passengers reveal Sharm airport staff are STILL taking cash to help them skip busy security queues despite bomb threat‘ (Daily Mail, November 5th 2015), as well as a few other sources, so as the economic footprint increases, the Egyptian government has to either increase their diligence, hire outside expertise or risk losing a lot of money in that entire process. Mainly because adding a few hotels to Neom will be much easier to consider than most realise and Saudi Arabia will be interested in setting a much larger tourism stage. Having a high tech city is one thing, having a truckload of consumers wanting to take some off it back home to show off is another matter on that very same coin.

In this we must also realise the size of Neom, the Neom site is large, large then anything ever seen before, it will stretch the western coastline to the proximity of Jordan, around 50 Km south of it, keeping it 75Km away from Eilat, giving Israel optional opportunities as well, I remember a Dutch guy who opened an ice factory in Eilat 40 years ago, the cubes for drinks, not the gelato. So there are options all over the place, all infrastructure needs that will not initially be available. Opportunities that some have no yet realised, all open for the investors who see the need for thousands of builders needing a watering hole, needing food and needing entertainment. This will enable places like the small city of Haql to experience a Gold Rush growth momentum.

From Haql to Hamid (where the bridge is likely to start) the distance is a mere 125Km, not the greatest road as it adds 10% to the trip, but the 392 will directly link to Saudi highway 5 getting you to Haql and that setting is merely a starter for plenty of other options. You see, when we consider that part, the bridge itself, when the final point gets a 4G tower, it would effectively cover Sharm-El-Sheik as well, I cannot say what the 5G coverage is as I do not have any reliable data on the range of such a tower. The same could be achieved from Tiran Island, covering the tourist spot and the southern part of Neom (based on 4G numbers).

No matter how it is all pushed, it has started, well, it started some time ago, but with the geological surveys a new chapter is starting, I reckon that when the first studies have been completed and accepted, the setting of concrete will not be far off. It is in this stage where we saw just a month ago (at https://neomsaudicity.net/), “Italian construction company Salini has announced plans to join NEOM project and expand into the Middle East, which includes project contracts in the Gulf, especially Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates“, and Salini is doing just fine. When we are given: “The company has also prequalified for the first phase of the $ 1 billion Avenues project, which is to be made up of two hotels, a shopping center, and an administrative building. It is part of 2,410 active projects in the Saudi Arabia since April, worth $ 190 billion“, we see that growth will be on the front bench of the board of directors of Salini Impregilo for years to come, which I expect will also come with additional growth projects in Sharm-El-Sheik. I reckon that this headway is the best news that Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was seen in close to a decade, yet they are one of many, and all of them will be needing people, so as the billion dollar contracts are handed out, and when we consider the Business Insider headline: ‘a $500 billion mega-city that’s 33 times the size of New York City‘, how long will it take until these companies realise that there are deadlines and that they are understaffed? That’s not merely construction and engineering. How about all these Arkey systems, Autodesk and Autocad placements? What do you think will happen when the IT division shuts down for whatever reason and local IT support will be required? That is merely beyond the commonplace Office software, that part you can evade with cloud services and in a pinch rely on your Google account. CAD software and design software is another puppy and when the heat strikes the power falters and systems need ghosting and restoring, it will be all about local manpower and things will always go wrong at the wrong moment. So, when you score your billion dollar contract and the infrastructure takes a dive, how prepared are you? How strong are the infrastructure settings for replacing it all? So even as the Neom News site gave us in April “NEOM Announces first 6 Jobs“, we need to realise that they will need another 15,000 trained professionals in that location soon enough. I wonder where these people will go shopping for the shortage. There is every chance that some of them will rely on poaching soon thereafter, which optionally raise staff costing by 200%-500% (depending on expertise needed), at that point consider the other parts that every building, every mall and every infrastructure needs. Neom city will soon become one of the largest employer hotspots for the next decade.

 

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