IRTI partners with Ateon, SettleMint to develop blockchain-based product

From left, Kashif Younus, technical sales manager at Ateon; Matthew Van Niekerk, founder andCEO of SettleMint; Abdulaziz Alhamrani, CEO of Alhamrani Group Holding; Syed Aqa, actingpresident and IDB vice president; Mohamed Jouini, IDB vice president; Husam Yaghi, presidentof Ateon; Sami Al-Suwailem, head of Financial Product Development Center, IDB and IRTI; andHilal Houssain, senior financial product development specialist — fintech, IRTI and IDB.
Updated 21 October 2017

IRTI partners with Ateon, SettleMint to develop blockchain-based product

The Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), the research arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, signed an agreement with Ateon to build a blockchain-based financial product that can potentially be used to support development and financial inclusion in IDB member countries.
Ateon, a member of Alhamrani Group of Companies in Saudi Arabia, is a specialized consultancy in financial technology (fintech) development. Ateon will be working on the project in partnership with SettleMint, a Belgium-based software company with experience in developing blockchain applications for financial institutions.
The three parties will be working on the first of its kind use case using blockchain’s smart contracts to create Shariah-compliant financial products to support development in IDB member countries.
From an Islamic perspective, money should be transparent, stable, and trustworthy. Blockchain technologies are able, in principle, to serve these objectives in a robust and cost-effective manner.
An additional attribute of blockchain-based transactional systems is the near-instantaneous clearing and settlement of transactions and asset changes. This naturally mitigates considerable risks arising from clearing settlement and, in many cases, entirely eliminates counterparty risk. This means that capital tied up on the balance sheet of financial services can be released and deployed to more productive ends. Smart contracts and blockchain-based clearing and settlement of transactions will, on one hand, greatly streamline the operation of Islamic financial institutions and, on the other, potentially automate the entire contractual process.
Blockchain smart contracts are essentially self-executing digital contracts. The terms of the contract between the parties in a transaction are electronically coded in smart contracts and will execute when pre-defined conditions are met. The use of smart contracts therefore enables the automation of the entire contractual process for Islamic institutions, alleviating the additional administrative and legal complexities and redundancies associated with Shariah-compliant financial products. Not only that, smart contracts are easy to verify, immutable and secure. The International Fiqh Academy has approved contracting through electronic means since 1990.

VFS Global opens visa application center in Riyadh

Updated 23 September 2018

VFS Global opens visa application center in Riyadh

VFS Global, the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions, has announced the opening of a UK visa application center in Riyadh, close to the diplomatic quarter.

VFS Global said the new center, which will serve travelers to the UK and Australia, is equipped to handle more visa applicants conveniently with increased seating capacity and ample parking space, while also offering ancillary travel services within the premises for a seamless customer experience.

Officially inaugurating the center, Ambassador of the UK to Saudi Arabia Simon Collis said: “‘Our customers in Saudi Arabia are extremely important to us, and we continually look for new and innovative ways to improve the visa service we offer, both to Saudi nationals and local residents. We offer an excellent visa service for those who choose to apply for a UK visa. 

For Saudi nationals, the average processing time for non-settlement visas is less than five days. Whether speed, convenience or comfort is the priority, we hope that this new VAC — and indeed the visa services available across the whole of Saudi Arabia — provide our customers with a Great British welcome from the very start of their journey to the UK.”

The new center is located at 2591, Al-Hada District, besides Courtyard Marriott Hotel and close to Ritz Carlton, Riyadh. Visa applicants to the UK and Australia can access details on visa application procedures at

Located on the Makkah Road, the center is also well-connected to the city center and other neighboring towns.

Vinay Malhotra, regional group COO for Middle East, South Asia and China, VFS Global, said: “The new standalone center has been designed with a view to provide a comprehensive experience to applicants in terms of visa processing and accessing necessary travel services under one canopy. The UK continues to remain a popular destination for tourism, business and student visitors from Saudi Arabia. The latest visa figures show that over 130,000 Saudi nationals were issued a UK visa in the last year.We are confident that the new center for the UK and Australia visa applicants will provide enhanced convenience and ensure customer delight.”

Managed by professionals, the center also offers the comfort of a Premium Lounge for more personalized service as optional service.