Positive social impact of COVID-19 in KSA: Survey

The survey has revealed that most thought leaders and decision-makers in the Kingdom anticipate that COVID-19 will be a positive accelerant of the transformation already underway in the Kingdom.
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Updated 12 August 2020

Positive social impact of COVID-19 in KSA: Survey

A survey commissioned by Al-Aghar Group, an independent Saudi think tank, in partnership with global management consultancy Kearney, has revealed that most thought leaders and decision-makers in the Kingdom anticipate that COVID-19 will be a positive accelerant of the transformation already underway in the Kingdom. The survey focused specifically on the social impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Kingdom through 2025.

Respondents believed that COVID-19 is accelerating the advent of the “future of work” in the Kingdom and more than 65 percent see this as fundamentally positive. About 69 percent see the growing need for the retraining of employees as positive, spurring national adaptation to the new normal. However, the survey also revealed some concerns regarding the security of formal employment and self-employment, with 37 percent seeing the effect of the crisis as negative.

Most survey respondents (70 percent) expect education in the Kingdom to undergo a positive transformation with the adoption of new, innovative, and inclusive modes of learning.

Seventy-eight percent of the respondents believe that the impact of the pandemic on the health care in the Kingdom through 2025 will be highly beneficial.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents believe there will be a wide adoption of telemedicine services in the Kingdom in the near future, as patients gain greater comfort and confidence in this method of consultation with their health providers.

Most respondents believe the health crisis has accelerated the process of digital transformation in the country, particularly in the finance and retail sectors. Seventy-five percent of respondents see the anticipated wider prevalence of e-commerce as positive, and 89 percent see as positive increasing use of cashless payments for face-to-face transactions by 2025.

By 2025, 78 percent of respondents expect that COVID-19 will lead to a significant and welcome (83 percent) step change in government preparedness for future crises. Meanwhile, 68 percent of respondents anticipate a significant impact on government information-sharing and 65 percent anticipate a moderate, but positive change in the willingness of citizens to contribute toward government efforts.

Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Saud, chairman, Al-Aghar Group, said: “Saudi Arabia has a proud history of resilience and has thrived even in the most challenging situations. While this pandemic has severely affected us all, the survey results confirm the depth of our intention to use this current situation to accelerate our national progress.”

Rudolph Lohmeyer, partner and head of National Transformations Institute at Kearney Middle East, said: “The survey results clearly reveal the deep, optimistic resilience of the Saudi people and their implicit commitment to the Kingdom’s national transformation. Despite the near-term hardships caused by the crisis, respondents anticipate that the most significant medium-term impacts will be positive.”


KAUST’s conscious investor program region’s first

Updated 24 September 2020

KAUST’s conscious investor program region’s first

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has partnered with the investment platform VentureSouq, startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator anchored at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), and its partner Tamkeen, to launch the first Conscious Investor Fellowship in the GCC. The pan-regional fellowship is a six-week virtual program dedicated to enabling regional investors in the GCC to create sustainable change through impact investments. The program, which will take place from Oct. 7 to Nov. 25, comes as part of the upcoming annual Angel Rising Symposium, to be held virtually between Nov. 24-25, which provides education and conversations on the future of the angel investment sector and how it can fuel national and regional innovation.

The fellowship aims to empower the next generation of regional mission-driven investors who will fuel emerging ventures using technology for meaningful change, resulting in a measurable positive impact. Twenty-five investors from family offices, corporate and government entities will be welcomed as fellows of this inaugural cohort, where they will learn how to identify and invest into tech-enabled impact-driven startups.

The program will cover conscious investment strategies, startup diligence and valuations, impact measurement, portfolio management, and global sector trends in the impact space. Elective thematic masterclasses will also be offered, with a specific focus on health tech, educational tech, environmental tech, and agricultural tech. Participants will be able to apply their knowledge and invest in live deals through VentureSouq’s Conscious Collective Fund. The inaugural edition is held in collaboration with the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center and Hub71.

Hattan Ahmed, head of the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center, said: “KAUST is driven by a mission to advance research and create new technologies that address our greatest global challenge in food, water, energy, and the environment. We are starting to see more deep tech startups emerging from the ecosystem, disrupting existing industries and creating new solutions to these challenges. The Conscious Investor Fellowship is a key step to advancing this ecosystem and educating regional investors about the potential of emerging technologies and their long-term value. For Saudi Arabia in particular, there is a unique opportunity to nurture this deep tech ecosystem for real economic transformation.”

Ramesh Jagannathan, research professor of engineering, vice provost for entrepreneurship at NYUAD, and managing director of startAD, said: “Conscious investment is a growing global force, accelerated by the ongoing impacts of the global pandemic. In the UAE, and specifically Abu Dhabi, we have a unique opportunity to engage with this global trend, given that the emirate has the highest net potential wealth globally.”