Relief center to streamline Saudi aid

Updated 14 May 2015
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Relief center to streamline Saudi aid

The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works launched in Riyadh on Wednesday will streamline the Kingdom’s donations to distressed people across the world.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, who laid the foundation stone of the center here, said the organization would be based on Islamic principles.
Former health minister and current adviser to the royal court, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, who will be the general supervisor of the center, said Wednesday that all the Kingdom’s humanitarian efforts would be channeled through this new body.
Earlier, Al-Rabeeah said the aid provided by the Kingdom in the past has gone unnoticed because the country lacked such a centralized body. The organization was just starting out and needs the support and blessings of the people to fulfill the vision of King Salman, he said.
It would be a unique center dedicated to humanitarian projects as envisaged by the monarch, he said, with priority given at this stage to the needs of the Yemeni people.
Al-Rabeeah said it would now concentrate on assisting the Yemeni people following Operation Decisive Storm. One of its first tasks would be to help Yemenis in Egypt, Jordan and India. He said the second program is to disburse the donation of $274 million through the United Nations. The final program is to assist stranded Yemenis in Ethiopia.
Apart from the SR2 billion pledged by King Salman recently, the Kingdom has already given the country more than $3 billion over the last five years. According to the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), the Kingdom regularly finances projects in Yemen.
The SFD is the most prominent backer of development initiatives in Yemen, through loans and grants in several sectors, notably health, education, roads and water. These development projects have benefited all Yemeni governments in the past, directly and indirectly.
Saudi Arabia has always provided aid to the Yemeni people because of the historical links between the two nations, which have primarily been aimed at ensuring stability and peace in the country.
The SFD has also provided Yemen with a number of loans worth SR2.1 billion to fund some 24 development projects including infrastructure initiatives and vocational and technical training. Many of these development projects have already been implemented except for eight projects.
According to a statement released on Monday, the SFD has financed national exports at a total cost of SR1.2 billion, of which about SR1 billion was for Yemen’s public sector institutions, notably water and electricity.
About SR261 million was allocated to Yemen’s private sector institutions including banks, and SR30 million in credit to help national exports.
The Kingdom has provided two grants to Yemen for poverty alleviation and raising living standards. In 2006, Saudi Arabia provided Yemen with a grant of SR3.75 billion at a donors’ conference in London, for the implementation of 27 projects.
In 2012, the Kingdom announced assistance of SR12.9 billion, at a donors’ conference held in Riyadh, of which SR3.75 billion was deposited in the Central Bank of Yemen, and other funds allocated to finance 25 projects in various development sectors in all Yemeni governorates.
Moreover, an amount of SR1.63 billion was approved for the Social Welfare Fund, aimed at social protection for the poor.


Top five trends shaping KSA retail industry

Saudis visit the International Coffee and Chocolate Exhibition held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center in the capital Riyadh on December 4, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 5 min 5 sec ago
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Top five trends shaping KSA retail industry

  • Artificial intelligence can identify consumer preferences with great accuracy

RIYADH: The Kingdom has a vast, young, tech-savvy population that is shifting behavior in Saudi Arabia, according to Ahmed Reda, MENA consumer industry leader for Ernst and Young (EY).
EY worked with more than 200 business leaders, futurists and industry experts through its FutureConsumer.Now program (FCN) to map the buying habits of consumers. “We asked questions such as how will consumers shop, eat, stay healthy, live, use technology, play, work and move in the future?” Reda said.
Here are some of the key trends powering the shift in consumer behavior and the retail industry in the GCC’s largest consumer base.
Data analytics and AI transforming traditional retail models: The new breed of GCC consumer expects a highly personalized experience. This will be even more critical as brand loyalty declines among GCC consumers. As analytics tools become increasingly sophisticated, the value of personalized data will grow. Artificial intelligence can identify consumer preferences with great accuracy.
Brands need to implement omnichannel strategies: In markets such as Saudi Arabia, which has some of the most affluent consumers, omnichannel strategies (any time, any place) are vital for companies to craft a user experience that cuts across online shopping, social media, mobile apps and conventional stores.
Physical stores still have a place: Online shopping has reduced the need for people to visit shops. Physical stores will still be a powerful asset if they are used for more than shopping. Retailers have a portfolio of well-located spaces that can be repurposed.
Rise of e-commerce: Physical stores won’t disappear, but the high penetration of smartphones and digital services has transformed the behavior of GCC consumers.
Value-seeking behavior after VAT: In a market that has been tax-free, the introduction of VAT, even at a relatively low rate of 5 percent, has caused a shift in consumer behavior. The average Saudi consumer is more cost-conscious than ever. Companies that can tap into additional value through economies of scale, or provide greater convenience, will reap the rewards.