Bupa Munsha’at to enrich SME sector in Saudi Arabia

Bupa Munsha’at to enrich SME sector in Saudi Arabia
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SMEs represent around 95 percent of the total number of commercial and investment companies within the Kingdom’s private sector.
Bupa Munsha’at to enrich SME sector in Saudi Arabia
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SMEs represent around 95 percent of the total number of commercial and investment companies within the Kingdom’s private sector.
Updated 26 August 2019

Bupa Munsha’at to enrich SME sector in Saudi Arabia

Bupa Munsha’at to enrich SME sector in Saudi Arabia

Bupa Arabia has introduced a new health insurance product for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Saudi Arabia. 

The launch of “Bupa Munsha’at” is part of Bupa Arabia’s efforts to support the Kingdom’s SMEs in achieving the goals of Vision 2030, which are represented in the National Entrepreneurship Program.

“Bupa Arabia is proud to introduce a new health insurance program that will indirectly contribute to achieving one of the key pillars of Vision 2030 by increasing the contribution of SMEs to the GDP from the current 20-35 percent, based on the National Transformation Program (NTP) embarked upon by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” a company statement said.

According to the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), SMEs represent around 95 percent of the total number of commercial and investment companies within the Kingdom’s private sector. 

Tal Nazer, CEO of Bupa Arabia, said: “Saudi health insurance companies did not take into account the fundamental differences in the nature and requirements of small and medium enterprises and their actual capabilities.”

He underlined the importance of SMEs, describing them as “one of the most important driving engines of economic growth, given that they generate jobs, encourage creativity and innovation, and reinforce the growth of exportation.” 

“This is the most significant reason why Bupa Arabia has introduced the new health insurance product,” Nazer added.

According to the chief executive, Bupa Arabia conducted a comprehensive research on the SMEs operating in the Kingdom. Over 1,000 interviews were conducted with companies of different sizes based on the categorization of the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) — large (5 percent), medium (6 percent), small (52 percent), and micro (37 percent).

According to the research, a total of six segments were outlined in the Saudi market, each with its own needs and capabilities. Bupa Munsha’at consists of three different programs — Essential, Classic, and Premium.

The insurance program is specifically designed to suit the needs of all the different segments of SMEs, Nazer said.

“All three programs under Bupa Munsha’at contain a certain number of schemes and benefits with multiple coverage networks in accordance with the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance requirements,” he added.

Bupa Munsha’at offers a wide range of options under each program. The Essential program contains five schemes offered at a competitive price, while the Classic program contains eight different schemes with a variety of network options that suit all needs. The Premium program contains 11 different schemes.


Indian Embassy to host online festival celebrating Urdu literature and poetry

Indian Embassy to host online festival celebrating Urdu literature and poetry
Updated 03 March 2021

Indian Embassy to host online festival celebrating Urdu literature and poetry

Indian Embassy to host online festival celebrating Urdu literature and poetry

A two-day “Urdu Festival Saudi Arabia,” including both a literary session and an international poetry session (mushaira), has been organized by the Embassy of India in Riyadh and will be held online via Zoom on Friday and Saturday (March 5-6).

The first day of the online literary feast will offer a prose session while the international poetry session will be held on the second day.

The two-day program will be led by India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dr. Ausaf Sayeed. Prominent scholars, writers and poets from India, Saudi Arabia, and other countries will participate, according to a press release issued by Mohammed Saifuddin, a member of the organizing committee.

The two-day festival will open on Friday at 3 p.m. with a prose session. The ambassador will deliver the welcome address. The session will be chaired by Prof. Baig Ehsas, an eminent fiction writer from Hyderabad. The chief guest will be Aqeel Ahmed Sheikh, director of the New Delhi-based National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language.

Prominent writer Safdar Imam Qadri will present an essay titled “Storytelling Past and Present.” Famous storyteller Javed Danish from Canada will present his story. Riyadh-based journalist and calligrapher Ghouse Arsalan will present a paper on the art of sketch writing. Journalist and columnist K.N. Wasif will present a sketch on Dr. Ausaf Sayeed. Prominent Hyderabad-based journalist Fazil Hussain Pervez, will introduce a number of Indian writers based in Saudi Arabia. Well-known writer and prominent poet Mahtab Qadr will be the master of ceremonies. Asim Anwar, second secretary at the Embassy of India, will offer a vote of thanks.

The second session will be held on Saturday. In addition to participants from India and Saudi Arabia, prominent poets from other countries will also present their works. Well-known poet Irfan Jafari will preside over the mushaira. Aslam Afghani, president of Urdu Toastmasters Club, will conduct the proceedings. Poets participating in the session include Tariq Ghazi (Canada), Mahtab Qadr (Jeddah), Altaf Shehryar (Jeddah), Dr. Rauf Khair (Hyderabad), Qaiser Khalid (Mumbai), Shiraz Mehdi Zia (Jubail), Baqar Naqvi (Dammam), Abu Tahir Bilal (Riyadh), Nasir Burney (Yanbu), Afsar Barabankvi (Jeddah), Rafia Nausheen (Hyderabad), Sadiqa Nawab (Maharashtra), Sharafat Chandpuri (Taif), Rizwan Mahzabi (Taif), Masood Hassas (Kuwait), Khurshidul Hassan Nayyar (Riyadh), Ahmed Ashfaq (Qatar), Tasneem Johar (Hyderabad), Agha Sarosh (Hyderabad) and Munir Uzzaman Munir (Chicago).


ENGIE, SIDF training program to develop local talent

ENGIE, SIDF training  program to develop local talent
Updated 03 March 2021

ENGIE, SIDF training program to develop local talent

ENGIE, SIDF training  program to develop local talent

ENGIE, the France-headquartered energy and services conglomerate, and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) have welcomed the first batch of trainees for the 2021 ENGIE Saudi Knowledge Sharing Training Program. 

The program will focus on the cultivation of skills within the areas of business development, commercial activity and project delivery for a period of six months. The program will enable SIDF employees to work alongside ENGIE professionals, followed by nomination toward an internship program where trainees will have the opportunity to work at ENGIE headquarters in Paris, or any of the 70 countries where ENGIE operates.

In November 2019, ENGIE and SIDF entered a memorandum of understanding to develop local talent and enhance the career development of Saudi employees. A key area of ENGIE’s expansion in the Kingdom lies in creating highly skilled employment opportunities for local talent through dedicated and continuous training programs, which pave the way forward for value-added services to be deployed locally by international companies. 

ENGIE’s partnership with SIDF provides practical and vocational training to enable knowledge transfer from international professionals to local staff, ensuring that Saudi Arabia’s workforce can meet the long-term demand of the labor market.

Turki Al-Shehri, chief executive of ENGIE in Saudi Arabia, said: “Human capacity building is a major stepping stone to enabling the Kingdom’s future development. ENGIE aims to put its full support behind the development of local talent to ensure we can meet the huge demand of this growing economy. In partnership with SIDF, we are able to develop the skill base of trainees and guarantee they have the necessary capabilities to advance their careers and collaborations with international professions from across the world. I am confident that the selected trainees will take full advantage of the opportunity and make the best use of ENGIE’s resources to catalyze their career development.”

ENGIE is steadfast in its ambition to develop local projects, bring foreign direct investment to the Kingdom, and enhance the efficiency of human capital while transferring knowledge to the local workforce in line with the group’s strategy for growth and the objectives of Vision 2030. The SIDF training program marks one of many opportunities ENGIE will pursue to give back to the Kingdom and ensure continuous knowledge transfer opportunities are available to the local workforce.

ENGIE, which has been present in the region for close to 30 years, operates in the Kingdom in partnership with Saudi actors in energy production, seawater desalination, district cooling, energy efficiency services and high value-added facilities management. The group has 2,000 employees and more than $7.9 billion of capital investment in Saudi Arabia. ENGIE generates 7,600 MW of power, equivalent to 10 percent of the installed capacity of the Kingdom and produces 176 MIGD of desalinated water per day, equivalent to 11 percent of market production.


LuLu launches weeklong ‘Safe Shopping Hours’ campaign

LuLu launches weeklong ‘Safe Shopping Hours’ campaign
Updated 03 March 2021

LuLu launches weeklong ‘Safe Shopping Hours’ campaign

LuLu launches weeklong ‘Safe Shopping Hours’ campaign

In an effort to support the Kingdom in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, regional retailer LuLu has rolled out a new campaign that prioritizes customer safety over everything else.

The “Safe Shopping Hours” initiative will kick off on March 3 and run until March 9. Every day during the weeklong campaign, specific health and safety protocols will kick in from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

“The campaign is focused on providing a safe shopping experience for customers during the pandemic. There will be some exclusive offers, mostly on home essentials and groceries during these hours to save shoppers from the post-work rush hours during the evenings. LuLu has always been a key promoter of customer experience and this has been a part of our brand ethos,” a statement said. 

LuLu’s management has requested all visitors to register on the Tawakkalna app for the safety of all those at the hypermarket. Further, the management has assured that strict COVID-19 measures are being followed while conducting offers and promotions, and that enhanced sanitization programs and physical distancing norms are being adhered to as per industry protocols.

In the midst of the pandemic, LuLu has played a crucial role in ensuring an uninterrupted supply of food and nonfood products, while maintaining the highest standards of hygiene, health and safety of both its customers and employees.

Garnering more than 1,600,000 shopping patrons every day, LuLu is the fastest-growing retail chain across 10 countries that include the GCC, India, Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia. Founded in the early 1990s, it has successfully expanded to different parts of the world and currently operates 199 stores with a workforce of more than 55,000.


KAUST & SABB to host virtual Taqadam showcase

KAUST & SABB to host virtual Taqadam showcase
Updated 02 March 2021

KAUST & SABB to host virtual Taqadam showcase

KAUST & SABB to host virtual Taqadam showcase

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will host the Taqadam startup accelerator showcase, where graduates from the program’s 2020 cohort will demonstrate their ventures at a virtual event on March 10. Through three-minute pitches, the graduates will be presenting virtually to a network of top-tier local and international investors and judges. 

The six-month-long startup accelerator program, which is based at KAUST and sponsored by Saudi British Bank (SABB), aims to develop early-stage entrepreneurs and their concepts into new, high-potential startups. The theme of this year’s showcase, “Creativity Crystallized,” reflects the intense pressure entrepreneurs are facing amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic made this a very challenging year for our 2020 Taqadam cohort,” said Dr. Kevin Cullen, vice president of innovation and economic development at KAUST. “However, these entrepreneurs rose to that challenge and did an amazing job and thrived under pressure. Their resilience and perseverance reflect the amazing talent we have in our Saudi entrepreneurship ecosystem and we are extremely proud to be a part of and contributing to it as KAUST establishes itself as the deep tech heart of the Saudi economy.” 

The 2020 Taqadam startup accelerator cohort includes 76 founders, representing 37 startup finalists, from diverse industries, including e-commerce, medtech, edtech and fintech. The accepted teams received SR150,000 ($40,000) in zero-equity grant-funding. The competition was fierce for this cohort as more than 561 startups applied with only 59 shortlisted. Of those, 37 top startups graduated from the program.  

Teams usually have access to co-working and lab facilities but had to go virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19. Empowered by mentorship and online collaborative tools, the aspiring entrepreneurs worked to bring their ideas to market through training in topics, such as growth hacking, fundraising, sales, pricing, marketing and more. Taqadam utilizes KAUST and SABB’s powerful networks to connect founders with expert mentors and industry leaders in the startup ecosystem, helping guide them throughout their startup journey. 

Majed Najm, SABB’s deputy managing director of corporate and institutional banking, said: “We’re excited to work with KAUST to offer such a unique opportunity for young entrepreneurs to secure zero-equity funding. Taqadam is all about equipping young entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into successful businesses. Not only are they getting the chance to get feedback on their pitching skills — they could also secure a transformational investment. We wish everyone involved the best of luck.”

At the annual showcase event, startup graduates will be competing for a prize pool of over SR4 million in zero-equity funding. Judges will select 10 winners to receive a prize valued at SR375,000 each. In addition, the audience will vote on a People’s Choice Award for one startup to receive a prize of SR375,000. These awards will support the startups to accelerate operations, grow their business and expand their teams.


Kanoo Travel named Kingdom’s leading business travel agency

Kanoo Travel named Kingdom’s leading business travel agency
Updated 02 March 2021

Kanoo Travel named Kingdom’s leading business travel agency

Kanoo Travel named Kingdom’s leading business travel agency

Kanoo Travel, a fully owned business division of Yusuf bin Ahmed Kanoo Group, has been named Saudi Arabia’s “Leading Business Travel Agency” in 2020 by the 27th World Travel Awards. The company’s management was informed about the decision earlier this year and received the award in February.

“For almost a decade our strategy has been focused on corporate clients, which allowed us to develop the capabilities and know-how to serve them in the best way possible,” said Nabeel Kanoo, president of Kanoo Travel. “We’ve been operating in Saudi Arabia since the 1950s and we have successfully managed to build strong and stable relationships with many clients in all cities, which makes this award a true reflection of our efforts and hard work, especially during the challenging times of a global pandemic.” 

World Travel Awards were established in 1993 to acknowledge and reward excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry. Each year, the awards host a series of regional gala ceremonies across the world, to celebrate successful businesses in the industry. In 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gala ceremony was replaced with an online event.

Kanoo Travel is the largest travel management company in the MENA region, specializing in corporate, marine, leisure travel, airline representation and meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE). It offers a wide range of compliance-driven, cost-effective travel management services and solutions. Kanoo Travel operates a network of more than 70 IATA locations and has offices in the Arabian Gulf region, Egypt and London. The company has a longstanding partnership with American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) that gives it access to one of the world’s largest travel agency networks.