A journey of poverty and wealth

A journey of poverty and wealth
Updated 19 May 2012

A journey of poverty and wealth

A journey of poverty and wealth

Alsubeaei established a financial empire rooted in two incentives — utter devotion to God and his persistent resoluteness. The path before Alsubeaei and his generation of pioneers was neither streamed with rivers nor strewn with flowers. He achieved success before Saudi Arabia got the blessings of great wealth through the discovery of oil. A fervent patriot, he played a crucial role in helping shape the emerging Kingdom into a strong and modern state. The astonishing pace of change in Saudi Arabia during the 20th century forms a backdrop to the story of this extraordinary man.
Alsubeaei was born in Qassim in 1915, a year into World War 1. Through hard work, perseverance and strength of character, he rose to power and wealth, becoming an astute businessman respected by his peers, says Huda. Despite his position and power, Alsubeaei has been a modest man of great dignity, compassion and benevolence.
“A man who has walked with kings yet never lost touch with common people,” his daughter says with pride. In her book, which was published in 2010, Huda explains vividly the life and times of Sheikh Alsubeaei whose lineage traces back to the renowned Alsubeaei tribe of Qassim in Central Saudi Arabia.
The year of his birth witnessed the Battle of Jarrab, a confrontation between King Abdul Aziz and Ibn Rashid for supremacy over the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudi king ultimately won the conquest and this led to the formation of modern Saudi Arabia. For Abu Ibrahim, a nickname his friends and relatives fondly called Alsubeaei by, the death of his father was a defining moment.
He had not only to provide for himself but also to bear the heavy responsibility of caring for his younger brother Abdullah and his mother Nurah bint Nasser Al-Ammash. Her family traces its roots to the famed Qahtan tribe of Southern Arabia.
Sheikh Alsubeaei's career evolved concurrent with the Kingdom's economic development and was shaped by the business dynamics of the annual pilgrimage. “His faith drove his business practice with a fervent commitment to Islamic banking,” she points out. The 160-page book has two parts. In the first part, Huda explains about the country's economic setting, growth and prospects of Islamic banking and finance, the social setting for her father's success, his relations with Al-Saud royal family and his strong commitment to family values. Part two focuses more on her father’s business progress as a moneychanger, his charitable and social works and his poems.
The book gives an overview about the evolution of Islamic finance, which is as old as Islam itself. Under Islamic banking, money cannot be simply exchanged for money at varying rates. Instead, it is used to deal in asset-based commodities, which are then transacted for profit, predicated upon the Qur'anic verse: Allah makes trade lawful but prohibits riba (interest).
“The modern success of this ancient system is self-evident, as today, from Jeddah to Jakarta, nearly 300 Shariah-compliant Islamic banks operate within 50 countries with assets in excess of $300 billion,” the book says. Early on, Muslims demonstrated uncommon zest for commerce. The very first utterance of one of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Abdul Rahman bin Awf, upon his arrival in Madinah from Makkah was, “Show me the way to the marketplace.” That inspired Alsubeaei to become an inimitable businessman.
He began his working life as a laborer and then as a shopkeeper. From that modest beginning he became a trader, moneychanger, an investment banker and now is culminating his career as a revered and successful commercial banking pioneer. Huda sheds light on the economic situation of Arabia before World War II.
Until the discovery of oil, prior to the start of World War II, much of the economy of Western Arabia, the Hijaz and Najd, had resembled that of its early Islamic predecessors. Most of the revenues came from the annual pilgrimage to the Islamic holy places surrounding Makkah and Madinah.
During Alsubeaei’s youthful days, the region was characterized by deep religious conservatism accompanied by tremendous pride in tribalism and family values. Through the 18th and 19th centuries, portions of the Central Arabian Peninsula had been periodically ruled by sundry Saudi dynasties. But in 1980, Mohammed Ibn Rashid, a tribal sheikh from the Shammar tribe, ruled much of the North Central Arabia from the town of Hail in the High Najd, having driven Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al-Saud, father of King Abdul Aziz, into exile in Kuwait.
In 1901, when his son, Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Ibn Rashid, threatened Kuwait with a camel-mounted foray into the emirate, the emir of Kuwait called upon Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud to seek reprisal. That plan was fully consonant with the latter’s move to retake the House of Saud’s historic family homeland, Huda says in the book, giving an insight into the history of Saudi Arabia. “Commencing in 1902 with a daring and successful raid carried out by 63 troops on the heavily armed Masmak Fort in Riyadh, then under the control of Ibn Rashid, Abdul Aziz set upon a fateful but ultimately a successful course,” the book said.
Indeed between 1902 and 1906, Abdul Aziz captured much of central Najd, thereby reducing Rashidi sovereignty in their home area of Jabal Shammar, killing Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad Ibn Rashid in a decisive battle in Buraidah.
Alsubeaei arrived in Makkah at a time when King Abdul Aziz and his men were engaged in wresting control of the Hijaz from Sharif Hussein. In this military confrontation, while the Turkish-based Ottoman Empire supported Hussein, the British India Office supported Abdul Aziz and the claim of the Al-Saud to power.
Alsubeaei distinctly recalls the presence of future King Abdul Aziz within Makkah as well as his participation in the pilgrimage at that time. Sheikh Alsubeaei enjoyed great relations with all of Saudi rulers from King Saud to King Abdullah. “In the words of Prince Saad bin Khaled bin Muhammad, what cemented these strong relationships was simple: He respected them and they respected him,” the book said. At the beginning of his business career, Alsubeaei traveled by plane to India and Pakistan with King Saud. There he engaged in commerce transactions in gold, acquiring among other goods like oud. Trade with the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere represented a significant commercial outreach for many of the merchants of western Arabia.
Alsubeaei was unequivocal in his assertion that as a trade outlet India was then a one thousand percent better market than Pakistan, Huda says in her book.
The book also refers to the history of Bank Albilad. In 1977, while Alsubeaei was present at King Khaled’s court, the king proposed converting his money exchange into a full-fledged independent bank, since the Kingdom’s economy at that time was at the apogee of its buoyancy. Nobody knew that King Khaled’s shrewd suggestion would ultimately lead to the formation of Bank Albilad in November 2004, the book says. The initial business of Alsubeaei brothers included selling consumer goods to pilgrims and meeting the need for currency conversions to complete the transactions. Moneychanging was a common ancillary occupation for merchants from the Hijaz and Qassim in their trade with foreigners.
Over time, money changing frequently developed as a separate business in its own right. According to Huda, money changing was a business practiced in the Hijaz, dating back to the earliest Islamic times. It started with the need for a merchant to accept foreign currencies from incoming pilgrims to facilitate the ongoing trade in goods and services.
Her father asserts that many currencies including Syrian, Egyptian, Indian, Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese and Somali were prominent in this ongoing exchange.
“There were no banks within the Hijaz at that time, apart from Saudi Hollandi Bank, which was established in 1926 and operated as an independent bank,” Huda points out.
Currency exchange was a flourishing business in early 20th century in western Arabia. Operating primarily on a currency arbitrage basis, the moneychangers would buy incoming foreign moneys from the pilgrims and sell them to the bankers in Makkah, with the peak of money changing beginning six months before the onset of pilgrimage. “We would receive great amounts of 1,000 Indian rupee notes as well as Iraqi dinars and Iranian and Turkish currencies,” Alsubeaei said.
Through their unshakable honesty, the Alsubeaei brothers won the trust of their clients, a crucial factor in their success. Their trust was based on the principle of absolute fidelity and public oversight. Thus, personal integrity was a key to success. The varied business and financial enterprises of Sheikh Alsubeaei appear well positioned to meet the dynamic challenges of the modern global market place.
“Today the House of Saud and devout citizens like Alsubeaei are united in their economic vision and a common quest to build a 21st century economic superpower. Given the paramount importance of economic diversification, its quest for a balanced, scientifically-guided economic growth has centered upon a six-fold strategy of developing a highly profitable, economically diverse private sector base, contributing to national economic and financial diversification goals, creating jobs for citizens, capitalizing on its unique sources of competitive advantage and adding downstream value to the natural raw materials available in the country. The centerpiece of Alsubeaei’s religious zeal is his unflinching commitment to strong family values, the book underlines.
From his childhood, he was deeply devoted to his mother, sending to her all that he saved from work in Makkah to Unaizah, Qassim, where she was living. His powerful family commitment, together with his mother’s supplications that he and his brother Abdullah be reunited and her great pride in both of them were among the most important reasons for his success and his continuing care for his loved ones, the daughter says in the biography of her father.
The illustrated book contains a number of pictures showing Alsubeaei’s meetings with King Fahd and King Abdullah, his love toward his grandsons and daughters, his dealings with foreign business leaders, his close relations with friends and old market places of Makkah, where he began his business.
Huda Alsubeaei’s book is worth reading for all those who want to know more about Saudi Arabia’s history, culture and business environment.


Unvaccinated people rush to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia

Unvaccinated people rush to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia
Updated 01 August 2021

Unvaccinated people rush to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia

Unvaccinated people rush to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Saudi Arabia
  • One dose or virus recovered must to attend events and enter establishments

JEDDAH: The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Saudi Arabia has increased in the past 10 days with the arrival of the Aug. 1 deadline that means unvaccinated residents are prohibited from entering establishments.

The acceleration comes as residents of the Kingdom are required to receive at least one jab or have recovered from COVID-19 to attend social, cultural, sports and entertainment gatherings, and enter private, government or commercial establishments. Health authorities have called on residents to register for the vaccine, and centers across the Kingdom have been urged to provide more time-slots to accommodate the growing numbers.
So far, 27 million vaccine doses have been delivered at a rate of 77 doses per hundred. More than 8.1 million so far have received two doses and more than 77.5 percent of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million have been vaccinated so far.
More than 1.46 million of the Kingdom’s elderly have been vaccinated to date.
Health officials continue to urge residents to receive the vaccine, adhere to social distancing measures and take precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, a Saudi research team has successfully developed the first Saudi vaccine against COVID-19 and is ready to carry out clinical trials after receiving the required approvals.

INNUMBERS

525,730 Total cases

506,089 Recoveries

8,237 Deaths

Led by Dr. Iman Almansour, the research team from the Institute for Research and Medical Consultations (IRMC) at the Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam published the findings, “Immunogenicity of Multiple Doses of pDNA Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2,” in the  Pharmaceuticals Journal on MDPI, an open-access publishing website for academics.
On Saturday, 1,146 new cases were reported by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health, raising the total number to 525,730.
Three regions reported numbers above the 100 case mark, Riyadh leading with 243 cases, the Eastern Province with 209 and Makkah with 196 cases. Jouf continues to be the region with the lowest count with only eight cases on Saturday.
There are currently 11,404 active cases, 1,377 of which are in critical care, a decline of 18 in the past 24 hours.
A total of 1,086 new recoveries were reported, raising the total number of recoveries to 506,089. The Kingdom’s recovery rate is currently holding steady at 96.2 percent.
Riyadh led the cities with the highest recovery count as 232 recoveries were reported, Taif with 99 and Jeddah with 64 recoveries.
A total of 11 new fatalities due to complications from COVID-19 have been reported, raising the death tally to 8,237.
A total of 113,300 PCR tests have been conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number to more than 25 million tests so far.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development’s control teams in Makkah region carried out 20,137 inspection tours in July on private sector enterprises, to ensure abidance by the precautionary and preventive measures against the coronavirus disease and compliance with nationalization and labor regulations.
During the inspections, 3,755 violations of labor regulations and precautionary measures were found, and 813 warnings issued.
The ministry urged owners of enterprises to abide by all precautionary measures at workplaces to curb the spread of the virus, and to abide by the ministry’s regulations to avoid incurring penalties.
Inspection tours will continue across businesses in all regions of the Kingdom, the ministry addedd, calling on everyone in the region to report breaches and violations through its call center (19911) or its Ma3an lil Rasd app.


British-Nigerian photographer gaining popularity in the Saudi art scene for her black and white photographs of KSA

Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in. (Supplied)
Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in. (Supplied)
Updated 01 August 2021

British-Nigerian photographer gaining popularity in the Saudi art scene for her black and white photographs of KSA

Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in. (Supplied)
  • British-Nigerian photographer gaining popularity in the Saudi art scene for her black and white photographs of the Kingdom’s varied architecture, cultural scene, street life and more
  • Saudi Arabia through Folake’s eyes

JEDDAH: With the thousands of pictures coming out of Saudi Arabia in full color these days, it is refreshing to find calm in monochromatic photographs, especially when they have been snapped by expats who see beauty through a lens.
Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in.
British-Nigerian photographer Folake Abbas, a lecturer teaching academic writing and research methods to engineering students at Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz University since 2013, has been taking photographs for as long as she can remember, and is gaining popularity in the Saudi art scene for her black and white photographs of the Kingdom’s varied architecture, cultural scene, street life and more.
She started taking photographs in the Kingdom “almost immediately after I arrived in Jeddah. A friend took me to Al-Balad and I fell in love with the place immediately, and I’ve had a very strong connection to Al-Balad ever since,” she told Arab News.

I will always remember Saudi Arabia with a lot of fondness, for it was here that I discovered myself as a photographer.

Folake Abbas

“A lot of people there know me because I take their photographs most of the time — it’s a place that I’m drawn to and that I feel very comfortable photographing. I’ve been there many times and have taken thousands and thousands of photographs to attest to that,” she added.
Abbas has developed her style through the years, experimenting with different tones of gray and shadows ever since she, alongside a group of fellow Nigerian photographers while visiting home, challenged each other to switch from colored to monochrome as an experiment for the whole of 2019, participating in the hashtag #2019ayearinblackandwhite on Instagram, and she’s never looked back.
She told Arab News that she’s been inspired by some of the greatest black and white photographers of all time such as Ansel Adams, Vivian Maier, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mary Ellen Mark and Dorothea Lange.

HIGHLIGHT

Abbas has developed her style through the years, experimenting with different tones of gray and shadows ever since she, alongside a group of fellow Nigerian photographers while visiting home, challenged each other to switch from colored to monochrome as an experiment for the whole of 2019, participating in the hashtag #2019ayearinblackandwhite on Instagram, and she’s never looked back.

With time, she began wondering about what more the Kingdom has to offer and what hidden gems can be discovered. She’s frequented nearby Taif, Dammam and a few other cities throughout the years but it was only after the coronavirus disease pandemic hit did she realize she needed to see more.
“I hadn’t really moved around that much, it wasn’t until last year after the lockdown was lifted, knowing I couldn’t leave the country I thought, you know what? this is my time to start to explore Saudi Arabia, there’s something more for it and I’ve got to get around,” she said. “The idea of having to stay cooped up in my apartment for the whole summer was just something I wasn’t ready to entertain.”
She then started traveling around the Kingdom as a conscious decision, booking trips, connecting with people, and taking different tours.
“When you live in a concrete jungle, there isn’t much greenery around here, and it’s very rugged, you just have no idea of what a country looks like. It’s not until you hit the road and go deep into a valley or around a bendy road such as in Taif that you really get to appreciate the country that you live in,” said Abbas.
She said it was in Saudi Arabia that she identified as a photographer the most. “I will always remember Saudi Arabia with a lot of fondness, for it was here that I discovered myself as a photographer. As I mentioned, I’ve always taken photographs but being in Saudi Arabia really solidified that for me. All I want to do is take photographs here, that’s all I want to do.”

Monochromatic photographs add a timeless quality to an image. With the help of social media, Saudi Arabia is in the spotlight as outsiders finally look in. (Supplied)

Folake participated in two group exhibitions, the first in November 2017 in Jeddah, and January 2021 in Riyadh and has had three solo exhibitions — October 2018, December 2019, both in Jeddah and the third in Riyadh in February 2020.
She visited AlUla in March and said the artwork she composed there is the closest to her heart, highlighting that it is a majestic and timeless place.
“What I love about the photos that I took there is the fact that the whole place itself sort of makes you feel like you are in a time that is long forgotten and so to be in this place that is absolutely dripping with so much history going back thousands and thousands of years, to be in that space in itself was nothing short of spectacular. The photos that I took and loved the most (were of) the tomb in Hegra; it’s just a majestic building.”
She said she experienced Saudi hospitality firsthand throughout her adventures in the Kingdom and highlighted their polite traits.
“I’m very impressed as to how open the people I meet when I travel are. They will give you directions, they will get people to come and help you, they will even take you to where you want to go,” she said. “That is really endearing to me.” She added: “I’ve traveled a lot around the world and I’ve had wonderful experiences, but nothing quite like this.”


Over 12k held for residency, labor, border violations across KSA

More than 12k held for residency, labor, border violations in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
More than 12k held for residency, labor, border violations in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 01 August 2021

Over 12k held for residency, labor, border violations across KSA

More than 12k held for residency, labor, border violations in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
  • The authorities transferred 48,453 offenders to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents

RIYADH: More than 12,000 violators of residency, work and border security systems have been arrested in the Kingdom in one week, according to an official report.

In the campaigns that took place in all regions of the Kingdom from July 22-28, there have been 12,642 offenders, including 4,180 for violating residency regulations, 991 for labor violations and 7,471 for border violations.

The report said that 266 people were arrested while trying to cross the border into the Kingdom: 52 percent were Yemeni citizens, 44 percent were Ethiopians, and 4 percent were of other nationalities.

In addition, eight people were arrested for trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 12 were arrested for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The total number of violators who were subjected to procedures was 64,539, including 53,777 men and 10,762 women.

The authorities transferred 48,453 offenders to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents, while 3,352 were transferred to complete their travel reservations and 5,308 were deported.

The Ministry of Interior said that whoever facilitates the entry of violators to the Kingdom, transports them or provides shelter or any other form of support will face imprisonment for up to 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), confiscation of the means of transport or residence employed in the violation, and defamation.

 


Saudi Arabia’s ‘ThinkTech Talk’ initiative brings worldwide e-gaming expertise to the table

Saudi Arabia is home to 21.2 million gamers. (Photo/Twitter)
Saudi Arabia is home to 21.2 million gamers. (Photo/Twitter)
Updated 01 August 2021

Saudi Arabia’s ‘ThinkTech Talk’ initiative brings worldwide e-gaming expertise to the table

Saudi Arabia is home to 21.2 million gamers. (Photo/Twitter)
  • The fourth initiative, “ThinkTech Talk,” targets experts in game development, investors, and business entrepreneurs in the sector

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has launched its “ThinkTech” initiative to support the e-gaming sector by sharing expertise from around the world.
In partnership with the Saudi Esports Federation and Zain, the ministry held a virtual forum on Saturday where five new initiatives were launched as part of the “Gamers Without Borders” tournament announcement.
Last year, over 15,000 coders, engineers and designers from 80 countries joined The Global Hack as part of the Gamers Without Borders initiative. It trained more than 3,400 people in game development through the “Make and Play” competition.
The fourth initiative, “ThinkTech Talk,” targets experts in game development, investors, and business entrepreneurs in the sector. It revealed the ideas and expertise of developers, who spoke about their experiences in creating e-games while contributing to spreading awareness about the industry and development of e-games.

BACKGROUND

Last year, over 15,000 coders, engineers and designers from 80 countries joined The Global Hack as part of the Gamers Without Borders initiative. It trained more than 3,400 people in game development through the ‘Make and Play’ competition.

The virtual forum comes amid a sudden rise in the e-game industry in the Kingdom, which has jumped 4.1 percent in the last year, making it 19th among the largest gaming markets in the world. Saudi Arabia is home to 21.2 million gamers.
The event was also attended by the Deputy Minister for Future Jobs and Digital Entrepreneurship Dr. Ahmed Al-Thunayan and the CEO of the Saudi Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports Turki Al-Fawzan.
Dr. Al-Thunayan said the e-gaming industry was one of the emerging creative industries that is pumping more investments into economies, adding that it has the potential to add substantial growth with the Kingdom possessing many creative young talents.
He said that these meetings will provide opportunities for creative talents and enable them to launch their businesses with a supportive digital environment.


Who’s Who:  Dr. Saad Al-Shahrani, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Investment

Who’s Who:  Dr. Saad Al-Shahrani, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Investment
Updated 01 August 2021

Who’s Who:  Dr. Saad Al-Shahrani, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Investment

Who’s Who:  Dr. Saad Al-Shahrani, deputy minister at Saudi Ministry of Investment

Dr. Saad Al-Shahrani has been the deputy minister for economic affairs and investment studies at the Ministry of Investment since January 2021.

He is also a fellow professor of economics at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, the vice chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Economic Association, and board member of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.

Prior to that, Al-Shahrani was the deputy minister of macroeconomic and fiscal policies at the Ministry of Finance from November 2019 to December 2020 and a member of the steering committee at the Ministry of Finance from January 2017 to December 2020.

He was a member of the Economic Policies Committee OECD from January 2018 to December 2020 and a member of the National Financial Stabilities Committee from January 2017 to December 2020.

He served as a senior economic specialist at the Saudi Central Bank from July 2015 to June 2016, and was an economist at the International Monetary Fund from January 2011 to December 2015. Al-Shahrani was a member of the establishment team of the Gulf Monetary Council from January 2010 to June 2011.

He was an instructor of econometrics and macroeconomics at the Washington State University from 2007 to 2009, and the director of Arabic language and cultural programs at the same university for two years. In addition, he served at the Saudi Central Bank as an economic researcher and economic specialist from 2002.

Al-Shahrani received his Ph.D. in economics from Washington State University and has two master’s degrees, one in statistics and the second in applied economics from the same university.

He has an associate diploma in macroeconomics from the Institute of Banking. He earned his bachelor’s degree in science and mathematics in Saudi Arabia.