Saudi tech startups raise over $12.79m in 2017

Nawaf Al-Sahhaf
Updated 23 January 2018
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Saudi tech startups raise over $12.79m in 2017

Technology startups incubated by the Badir Program, one of the main initiatives of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), have successfully raised more than SR48 million ($12.79 million) during the year 2017.
This was through 15 funding deals led by supporting venture capital firms, individual investors’ networks and governmental institutions, recording a 64 percent increase in comparison with the previous year.
Funding by venture capital firms amounted to SR34.5 million approximately, which was divided into five startups. Individual investors funded eight companies with SR11.89 million, while funding by the Social Development Bank reached SR1.9 million approximately in the form of loans presented for the benefit of two startups.
As a result of the “Demo Day” event organized by the Badir Program three times a year for the purpose of joining startups with investors, the concluded deals amounted to half of the number of investment funding deals after announcing eight deals amounting to SR12.4 million approximately. Seven deals were concluded outside the competitive enterprises showcase with an overall value of SR35.8 million approximately.
It is likely that the overall size of investment funding of startups will increase after disclosing the results of the third edition of the “Demo Day” event, which was held last month.
“Demo Day” aims at presenting, studying and facilitating the funding of promising investment opportunities among the technology startups incubated by Badir.
Nawaf Al-Sahhaf, CEO of the Badir Program for Technology Incubators, said that several factors have contributed in increasing the size of funding this year, namely the rise in the number of funding and risk investment companies, lending platforms and individual investor networks, which have become increasingly active recently.
“Disclosing the deals of funding startups will result in raising awareness and transparency in relation to the funding environment within the local market, especially with the persistence of the funding gap affecting and hindering the companies in turning from an emerging company to complete commercial businesses capable of attracting investment capitals,” he said.
“We look forward to supporting startups which have the basic factors that enable them to make quantitative changes in the main technology sectors,” Al-Sahhaf added.


Marriott fetes first students trained under Tahseen

The first batch of Tahseen leadership graduates at a function in Riyadh on Wednesday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 25 September 2018
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Marriott fetes first students trained under Tahseen

Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel chain, celebrated the graduation of its first intake of students for Tahseen, a hospitality leadership training program to develop local Saudi talent within the industry. Created in partnership with Cornell University, Tahseen is focused on fast-tracking the next generation of hospitality leaders from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by providing them with operational experience and a springboard to accelerate in leadership roles within the industry.

The company on Wednesday graduated its inaugural batch at a ceremony hosted by Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director of Marriott International Middle East and Africa in the presence of Dr. Bruce Tracey, Professor at Cornell University, and the graduating class.

Speaking at the ceremony, Kyriakidis said: “Marriott International is a company that believes in putting people first and we are committed to giving our associates world-class training and the opportunity to grow and reach their potential personally and professionally. Our vision is to develop future Saudi leaders, empowered with the knowledge, skills and opportunities to be successful, and provide them with a fast track to management roles such as general managers.

"Building a sustainable and robust hospitality education program like Tahseen for our Saudi nationals, which nurtures and builds talent among the youth, is indeed key to our success.”

David Leman, the chief human resources officer, Middle East and Africa for Marriott International, said: “Over the past four decades we have worked hard to consciously develop local talent and prepare them to become future leaders in hospitality. Today we employ more than 5,000 associates across our hotels in the Kingdom, with almost 35 percent of them being Saudi nationals.

"We see an opportunity to strategically develop this further and are delighted to have partnered with Cornell, the university with the best track record globally for hospitality education.”

Tahseen was launched by Marriott International in Saudi Arabia in 2017 and the graduates have received encouraging results, paving the way for a wider rollout of the program in 2019. A total of 11 hotels participated in the inaugural program with tremendous support from all of the owners of the participating hotels, developing dedicated Saudi nationals into department heads.

Saudi Arabia is a strategic growth market for Marriott International and the company is committed to supporting and enhancing the tourism industry in the Kingdom with Tahseen. The highly individualized program created in partnership with Cornell University focuses on practical application across all departments as well as an in-depth understanding of leadership skills led by teams across Marriott’s participating hotels over a course of 12 to 18 months.

In addition, participants obtained first-hand experience through the Cornell e-learning platforms and a university-led development program tailored specifically for the Saudi nationals.

During the graduation ceremony, all participants received their Tahseen diplomas as well as a certificate in hospitality management from Cornell University, along with their new employment contracts from their respective hotels.

While there are many success stories, some remarkable results include candidates such as:

· Dareen Al-Zaabi, who will take on the role of assistant conference and catering sales manager at the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh

· Omar Ibrahim Trmesani, who will continue his career as a director of loss prevention and human resources manager at the Sheraton, Jeddah

· Malak Abdulqadir Farhat, who will continue as a junior sous chef in the culinary team at the Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah

· Meshal Mahdali, who will continue his career as sales manager at the Marriott Riyadh

Tahseen is a program that falls under Marriott International’s new sustainability and social impact platform, Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction, which guides how the company makes a positive and sustainable impact wherever it does business. From empowerment opportunities to sustainable hotel development, the platform is designed to foster business growth while balancing the needs of associates, customers, owners, the environment and communities.

One of the priority areas, or “coordinates,” of Serve 360 is Empower Through Opportunity. Tahseen is a program that directly supports and brings this vision to life.

Marriott International is the largest international hotel operator in Saudi Arabia with a strong footprint of 25 operating hotels and more than 8,000 rooms across nine brands including the Ritz-Carlton, Le Meridien, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Hotels, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Aloft, Courtyard by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton and Residence Inn by Marriott. With another 28 hotels in the pipeline, the company will add nearly 5,000 rooms, debuting new brands including Autograph Collection, Delta Hotels, Element and Westin.

Marriott International is currently recruiting candidates internally and externally for the second intake of Tahseen, which begins in January 2019.