King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology allocates SR500m for startup tech companies

Updated 01 November 2017
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King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology allocates SR500m for startup tech companies

RIYADH: Technology companies throughout the Kingdom will get startup funds up to SR500 million ($133.3 million) from the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) during the first quarter of next year.
The initiative, launched by the Badir Program for Technology Incubators, one of KACST’s leading programs, aims to trigger the growth of Saudi startups for a positive impact on the national economy, increase productivity and create more job opportunities for Saudi youths.
According to a statement from Badir to Arab News, funding will be concentrated on the acceleration phase of these companies in exchange for a share in their capital.
The Badir accelerator also offers a wide range of advisory services such as training, follow-up and workshops, accompanied by continuous guidance, in order to develop the entrepreneurial innovations and translate them into existing projects within 90 working days.
According to a report in Magnet, specialized in linking startup entrepreneurs with strategic investors in the Gulf region and the Middle East, the volume of financing deals for startup technology companies announced in Saudi Arabia during the first nine months of this year increased by about 10 percent compared to the same period last year.
Among the startup Saudi companies incubated by the Badir program during the past three months, company graduates Foodics Company recorded $4 million in investments, Matic $3 million, and Smart Control $1.6 million, led by Saudi finance companies and supported by Gulf and regional investment groups.
In an earlier statement, Nawaf Al-Sahhaf, the CEO of the Badir program, said: “There is a need for active investments in the early stages of the life of startup companies; thus Badir accelerator is especially aiming at investing in startup technology companies, financing them in the early stages of incorporation, and supporting them with advisory services and required innovative thoughts, as well as close and direct cooperation with them through their incubation after the stage of acceleration to enhance the value of these companies.”


Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”