Multibillion-dollar deals sealed at Saudi-US CEO Forum

Representatives of companies granted licenses at the Saudi-US CEO Forum. (AN photo by Lulwa Shalhoub)
Updated 21 May 2017
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Multibillion-dollar deals sealed at Saudi-US CEO Forum

RIYADH: The inaugural Saudi-US CEO Forum witnessed the signing of dozens of business agreements on Saturday as part of enhancing the bilateral trade relations between the two countries.
General Electric (GE) announced signing $15 billion in business deals with the Kingdom, which falls within Saudi Arabia’s drive toward economic diversification away from oil, Reuters reported.
The forum, which coincided with US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Kingdom, focused on exchanging ideas and exploring investment opportunities.
Saudi Aramco and Jacobs created a joint venture for social infrastructure program management throughout Saudi Arabia and the region.
“Our joint venture exemplifies the power of bringing together Saudi Aramco and Jacobs as an effective economic catalyst to support the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” said Steve Demetriou, chairman and CEO of Jacobs.
Honeywell and Saudi Aramco also announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that advances the In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) Program, which drives localization of content. As part of the agreement, Honeywell will undertake commercial efforts to assist Saudi Aramco in achieving the goals of the IKTVA Program by 2021.
Over 50 US companies, 40 Saudi businesses, nine companies from key international markets and nine senior government officials attended the Saudi-US CEO forum at the Four Seasons Hotel
The forum is a testament to the bilateral commercial relationship, Khush Choksy, senior vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Middle East and Turkey Affairs International Division, told Arab News.
“We have 50 of our CEOs representing the largest companies in the US at this Saudi-US summit,” he said.
Choksy added that the political and security relationship is stronger than it has been in recent times.
“I have never seen this much optimism demonstrated by the American business community... It is tremendous progress that the Kingdom has envisaged toward the goals of the Vision 2030 over the past two-to-three years.”
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih disclosed that the relationship in the fields of trade and investment between the Kingdom and the US is part of the close friendship between the two countries, during his speech in the “Ministerial Panel: 21st Century Partnership.”
He pointed out that there are many great opportunities to move the relationship between the two countries to higher levels. “Our slogan in this forum is partnerships for future generations, not only the historical relationship between the two countries but also a transitional phase and a major impact on generations in both countries, Al-Falih said.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that Vision 2030 came in response to a number of challenges facing the Kingdom. “The private sector is one of the important factors in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to contribute to the domestic product,” he said.
The ongoing US-Saudi summit and the parallel high-level activities constitute “a historical opportunity to strengthen and deepen the economic and financial relations and the partnership between the two parties,” Mohammed Al-Ardhi, executive chairman of Investcorp, told Arab News.
Investcorp started this work 35 years ago and “we became an established investment bridge that keeps growing and offering investments opportunities on both sides,” Al-Ardhi added.
In her speech on the forum’s ministerial panel, Lubna Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company, said that licenses being issued and joint ventures being signed on Saturday will add to the historic relations.
“We should not lose sight of the fact that defense, oil, investment and finance, education and medicine are all areas where there is a long history of cooperation,” she said.
Trade relations are evident in both established and new sectors. Choksy said that in addition to the Kingdom’s expansion in the petrochemical sector, the mining sector is also developing. “Digitization and new economy, information communication technologies (ICT), as well as health care, defense and security are among the strongest sectors in which Saudi Arabia and the US are cooperative.
The strong political relationship makes a solid basis to resilient bilateral trade relations, Choksy added: “Saudi (Arabia) has experienced economic progress at a tremendous pace in terms of accomplishments. So the political relationship is an enabler. The economic progress is a facilitator in terms of companies being able to engage and do business in the Kingdom. And I think it has come together beautifully.”

DEALS SIGNED DURING TRUMP VISIT

GE: Announced in partnership with the Kingdom a range of memorandums of understanding (MoU) and projects valued at $15 billion.

Jacobs: MoU to localize design, engineering, procurement, construction and project management services for the oil and gas industry. The value of the MoU is $250 million and will create 300 jobs, with a focus on increasing construction management and engineering services.

Weatherford: MoU to deliver a series of projects related to localizing oil field goods and services. The potential value of the MoU is $2 billion and will create over 900 jobs, as well as support suppliers with $16 million in funding.

McDermott: MoU to deliver projects localizing goods and services along Saudi Aramco’s supply chain. The potential value of the MoU is approximately $2.8 billion and will create up to 2,000 jobs.

Rowan Companies: MoU to deliver projects localizing goods and services along Saudi Aramco’s supply chain. The initial value of the investment is $1.2 billion.

Nabors: MoU to deliver projects localizing goods and services along Saudi Aramco’s supply chain. The value of the MoU is $1.6 billion and will create 1,000 jobs, as well as support suppliers with $6 million in funding.

• Honeywell: MoU to deliver projects localizing goods and services along Saudi Aramco’s supply chain. The value of the MoU is $3.6 billion and will create over 400 jobs, as well as support the development of SMEs, suppliers and partners with $10 million in funding.


How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

Dr. Fatima Alakeel, cybersecurity expert. (AN photo)
Updated 20 March 2019
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How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

  • ‘Securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,’ says Dr. Fatema Alakeel of King Saud University in Riyadh
  • ‘Saudi women are ambitious,’ says one graduate. ‘We are acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers’

DUBAI: More and more girls in Saudi Arabia are opting for an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and now the challenge is finding them employment, said Dr. Fatima Alakeel, a cybersecurity expert and faculty member at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh.
“In the Kingdom, STEM-related jobs are limited at the moment, as the economy is primarily oil-based and there are few technical jobs available,” said Alakeel, who is also the founder and CEO of the non-profit Confidentiality, Integrity & Availability Group (CIAG), which focuses on information security training and research in Riyadh.
According to a government report on the labor market situation in the third quarter of 2018, more than 30 percent of Saudi women aged between 15 and 65 are unemployed.
Among them, the highest rate of unemployment is among 20-24-year-olds (more than 70 percent) and among 25-29-year-olds (55 percent).
According to the report, there are 923,504 Saudi jobseekers, of whom 765,378 are women (82.2 percent).
“We have more girls in STEM education compared to Western countries,” said Alakeel, who completed her doctoral degree in computer science in the UK at the University of Southampton in 2017.
According to a report prepared by the Saudi Education Ministry, girls accounted for 57 percent of undergraduates for the year 2015-2016 in the Kingdom.
That same year, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology (IT), mathematics and statistics, and physics.
According to a survey Alakeel recently conducted on social media, “almost 80 percent of (Saudi) girls were keen to study STEM, but securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,” she said.
Maha Al-Taleb, 22, graduated earlier this year with a degree in technology from KSU, specializing in IT networks and security.
“It’s common for girls in the Kingdom to opt for STEM education,” said Al-Taleb, who now works in a public sector company in Riyadh as a junior information security analyst.
“Saudi women are ambitious. We’re acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers. I don’t know why the world assumes that Saudi women are a backward tribal species who have no say in these matters. This entire perception is flawed.”
Al-Taleb got a job offer immediately after university, but realizes that not all her peers are as fortunate. Women “are facing problems in securing jobs, not because companies don’t want to hire us, but because employment for Saudi youths is a major challenge,” she said.
“In today’s Saudi Arabia, parents are encouraging their daughters to get a degree not just in the Kingdom; they also want them to go to Western universities. It has become a common phenomenon. Things have changed. Women are a crucial part of the nation’s development process.”
Not all women graduating in the Kingdom are as lucky, among them Razan Al-Qahtani. “It has been several months since I graduated, yet I haven’t been able to find a job. It has been a struggle so far,” said the 25-year-old IT graduate. “We have more talented and qualified girls, especially in the field of technology, but there are few jobs available. It’s a difficult situation, but we’re hopeful things will change very soon.”
Al-Qahtani expressed confidence that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan will bring opportunities for qualified Saudis.
As part of Vision 2030, the government has committed to raise employment among Saudi women.
Alakeel said the government is working hard to find a solution, and it is only a matter of time until more such jobs are on offer.
“As per Vision 2030, there will be more jobs, including technical jobs, available in the country. Once we have more jobs, women will eventually get their due share,” she added. According to Alakeel, female empowerment and promotion to leading roles have made huge progress in Saudi Arabia, and this may affect existing STEM job opportunities.
“We’re glad to see Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud becoming the first female ambassador of the country. It only suggests change is on the way,” Alakeel said.
Al-Taleb expressed pride in the way her parents have supported her, saying: “My father isn’t educated and my mother has basic literacy, but both provided me with the education I desired. They want their daughters to be as successful as their sons.”
Like women in any country, the transition from university to the workplace is not always easy, even for young Saudi women with technology degrees. Yet they are not losing hope.
“We realize these are difficult times in terms of employment, especially in technology-related fields, but things will change,” Al-Taleb said. “Saudi women will soon be ruling the fields of STEM all over the country.”