Saudi Arabia’s KAUST launches third phase of startup accelerator

Young entrepreneurs play a key role under ongoing reforms. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s KAUST launches third phase of startup accelerator

  • The university said the program raised awareness about branding and also increased the attention on startup accelerators
  • Saudi Arabia has been investing heavily in startups to achieve its Vision 2030 reform plan objective of moving away from dependency on oil

JEDDAH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) launched the third phase of its flagship startup accelerator at its headquarters in Thuwal.
TAQADAM gives Saudi students, staff and recent graduates the tools and support to start a successful tech-based company through mentoring and training.
Successful applicants receive SR75,000 ($20,000) in grant funding and access to a co-working space.
The program’s first phase was launched in 2016 and has helped 39 startups and granted more than SR4.5 million in seed funding based on grants.
The university said Friday it had received 518 applications for the third phase and that 42 had been accepted.
The number of businessmen and businesswomen had reached 133, and 35 percent of these were women.
A number of universities in the Kingdom participated: Prince Mohammed bin Salman College, Umm Al-Qura University, Princess Nourah bin Abdulrahman University, Taif University, King Saud University, Prince Muqrin University, Prince Sultan University, Jazan University, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and King Abdul Aziz University.
TAQADAM covers many sectors such as agricultural technology, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, energy, fashion and health care.
The university said the program raised awareness about branding and also increased the attention on startup accelerators.
It also aims to enhance KAUST’s role in contributing to a knowledge-based economy and encourages participation on social media platforms.
“We’ve seen really good outcomes in terms of specific technologies, such as in energy or artificial intelligence in the last two cohorts,” Hattan Ahmed, entrepreneurship collaboration manager in Innovation and Economic Development at KAUST, told Arab News last October.
“They are resolving some key challenges, not just for Saudi Arabia but the world.” Another startup developed laser lights to help crops grow indoors, he added.
The Kingdom has been investing heavily in startups to achieve its Vision 2030 reform plan objective of moving away from dependency on oil.
Young entrepreneurs are expected to play a key role as the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority tries to boost foreign direct investment.


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 19 July 2019
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Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

  • The president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Shagaf Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey
  • Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back”

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.