Saudi Arabia jumps up global talent league

Saudi Arabia leapfrogged the UAE in 30th place for the first time and closed the gap on Qatar in 26th position. (SPA)
Updated 19 November 2019

Saudi Arabia jumps up global talent league

  • The Kingdom rose five places in the annual survey

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has jumped up the global league tables for the quality of its business executives, as measured by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), the prestigious Swiss business school, in its 2019 World Talent Ranking.

The Kingdom rose five places in the annual survey, leapfrogging the UAE in 30th place for the first time and closing the gap on Qatar in 26th position.

The IMD’s improved rating for Saudi Arabia comes after the Kingdom jumped up the World Bank’s “doing business” ratings and an improved performance in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness rankings.

IMD said that Saudi Arabia showed improvements in the investment and development categories it judges, as well as readiness for economic and managerial change.

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Switzerland was first placed in the IMD rankings, followed by Denmark and Sweden.

It also scored high on the availability of apprenticeships, the prioritization of employee training, access to specialist skills and the availability of senior managers with international experience and finance skills.

In terms of its appeal to executive talent, however, Saudi Arabia was further down the placings.

Jose Caballero, senior economist at the IMD competitiveness center, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia could improve its appeal by “encouraging its private sector to prioritize talent attraction and retention, as well as focusing on increasing the levels of worker motivation, and the quality of life it offers.”

He added: “The talent potential of Saudi Arabia is captured in one of the Vision 2030’s key themes: A vibrant society, with strong foundations, especially in relation to education.”

But despite spending a big proportion of its GDP on
education, expenditure per student is relatively low, as is the quality of secondary schools and teacher-pupil ratios. The Kingdom ranks comparatively low down the ratings for adult literacy, Caballero added.

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A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.

 

• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.