Saudi minister unveils instant visa service for small businesses

Al-Rajhi added that the ministry carried out a number of extensive studies to determine the requirements of small businesses for migrant workers. (SPA)
Updated 20 November 2019

Saudi minister unveils instant visa service for small businesses

  • Al-Rajhi said the ministry will provide a comprehensive set of integrated tools for small-business owners

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to launch an instant work-visa service next month, through its Qiwa platform, that is specially designed to help new small businesses. Ahmed Al-Rajhi, the minister of labor and social development, said that it will enable young Saudis to launch start-up projects, open small businesses, boost economic growth and accelerate business expansion plans, which will have a positive impact on national development.

During a meeting with entrepreneurs from Hail Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Al-Rajhi said the ministry will provide a comprehensive set of integrated tools for small-business owners, along with a framework for nationalizing the workforce of such enterprises, after an initial grace period, under the Saudi nationalization scheme, Nitaqat. This will help to maintain the stability and continuity of the business during its early days.

He added that the ministry carried out a number of extensive studies to determine the requirements of small businesses for migrant workers, so that the new visa service meets their needs. The ministry places special importance on emerging projects, he said, as part of its role in developing the country's economy, creating job opportunities for young Saudis, and empowering them in the job market.

Earlier, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development launched a visa service for established businesses that are in the process of expanding, as part of its efforts to increase the annual growth of recently established enterprises.


Startup of the Week: Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially. (Supplied)
Updated 3 min 17 sec ago

Startup of the Week: Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

  • Aldrees: “Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills”
  • Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids

Carbon CPU is a biotechnology startup specializing in turning food waste into fatty acids for use as livestock nutrients.

Launched through the post-graduate startup accelerator program (TAQADAM) of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the venture was co-founded by Bin Bian, Jiajie Xu, Yara Aldrees, Sara Al-Eid and Prof. Pascal Saikaly.

The idea behind the enterprise began to take shape in 2018. Al-Eid said: “Our aim was to recycle food waste into value-added products in a manner that matched the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy.”

Similar to most countries, Saudi Arabia has a food waste problem, but Carbon CPU thought of utilizing it in a way that caused less harm to the environment and also benefitted the animal feed industry.

“Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills,” said Aldrees. “This produces a lot of gas, including methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and cycloaromatics, and contributes to global warming and air pollution.”

Water and soil were also being contaminated through leachate production, she added. “We’re trying to solve those issues, too.”

The team found that animal farms often struggled to provide enough feed nutrients for livestock such as cows and sheep. Al-Eid said there was a huge shortage of fatty acids, which are used as livestock nutrients and were in high demand from farmers.

“We’re trying to help animals live longer and be more nutritious,” she added.

Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids.

“We produce fatty acids from the food waste, extracting them through a liquid-liquid extraction system. The fatty acid oils are then used to help animal feed, as well as the feed and chemical industries,” said Xu.

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially, added Bian. “KAUST, especially the Environmental Biotechnology Lab led by Prof Pascal Saikaly, provided us with the facilities to set up our reactors. The KAUST Innovation and Economic Development department and the Entrepreneurship Center also gave us a lot of guidance on how to push our technology into the market.”

The startup initially faced many challenges that KAUST helped to resolve. As individuals coming from backgrounds mainly in engineering and science, the team lacked the know-how in business that its project needed.

“KAUST made up for our lack of business thinking through training on how to solve business issues and create business modules and find the right customers for our product,” said Bian.