Foreign investors free to sit on Saudi business chamber boards

The pandemic has quickened momentum for Saudi business reforms. (AFP)
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Updated 04 December 2020

Foreign investors free to sit on Saudi business chamber boards

Foreign investors free to sit on Saudi business chamber boards
  • Council of Chambers to become the Chambers Association

LONDON: Foreign investors are to be allowed to sit as directors on the boards of Saudi chambers of commerce for the first time.

The move is aimed at boosting  competitiveness and business activity in the Kingdom, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

The new system will also mean that more than one chamber of commerce can be established in the same region.

Reforms to the country’s business chambers come as part of a broader push to modernize the economy, slash bureaucracy, and create jobs for Saudis.

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New companies will be exempted from the chamber’s subscription fees for a period of three years starting from the date of commercial registration.

In addition to revoking the Saudi citizenship rule, companies joining business chambers will be exempt from paying subscription fees for three years. The reforms also scrap the requirement to take out a new subscription for additional company branches.

“This is an encouraging development for overseas investors looking to expand in the Kingdom,” said Ed O’Reilly, executive director of Dubai-based 4Front Consultants, a technology company with operations in Saudi Arabia.

Under the new plans, the old Council of Chambers will become the Chambers Association and the changes will also see the creation of a supervisory body to monitor performance, while allowing the holding of meetings and voting through electronic means.

Saudi Arabia carried out a record number of business reforms last year, according to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 report, helping to put the country into the top 10 of global business climate improvers.

The Kingdom made the greatest improvement in the area of starting a business — costing 5.4 percent of income per capita for an entrepreneur to set up, compared with the wider regional average of 16.7 percent.


DIFC Courts sees 41% rise in cases during 2020

DIFC Courts sees 41% rise in cases during 2020
Updated 01 March 2021

DIFC Courts sees 41% rise in cases during 2020

DIFC Courts sees 41% rise in cases during 2020
  • The DIFC Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) saw cases increase 47 percent to 466 cases in 2020

DUBAI: The Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) Courts saw a 41 percent rise in the number of cases it handled last year, with its technology and construction sector recording a 233 percent surge in disputes, it was announced on Monday.

Established in 2004 and based on the English-language common law system, the courts’ jurisdiction was expanded in 2011 to include all businesses from all GCC countries and beyond.

The number of cases at the main Court of First Instance rose last year by 41 percent, while the total value of claims increased 72 percent to AED9.95 billion ($2.71 billion), with the average claim across cases amounting to AED86.3 million. The cases covered a wide range of sectors, including banking and finance, construction, and real estate.

The courts also reported a 50 percent increase in the number of opt-in cases last year, meaning claims where the contracts do not specify the DIFC Courts as the location for disputes but both parties have elected to use it in order to find a resolution.

Zaki Azmi, chief justice of the DIFC Courts, said: “Undoubtedly, 2020 was a year that tested the resilience of every government service, private-sector business, and individual. It was a year that forced everyone to re-shift focus; to reprioritize, and, to adapt to rapid changes.

“Given the extraordinary circumstances that have emerged, all core services of the DIFC Courts have been fully maintained, whilst remaining true to our core values and dedication of public service.”

The DIFC Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) saw cases increase 47 percent to 466 cases in 2020. The majority (51 percent) of cases were related to breach of contract, followed by employment (25 percent), property and tenancy (16 percent), and banking and finance (8 percent). The total value of claims related to SCT cases amounted to AED55 million.

Earlier this year, the DIFC Courts launched a new court which will rule on commercial space-related disputes, it was revealed on Monday.

The Courts of Space initiative, in partnership with the Dubai Future Foundation, will see an international working group of public and private-sector experts tasked with exploring space-related legal issues linked to such disputes, and brainstorming possible outcomes.


Start-up of the Week: Dokkan Joze W Loze

Start-up of the Week: Dokkan Joze W Loze
Updated 01 March 2021

Start-up of the Week: Dokkan Joze W Loze

Start-up of the Week: Dokkan Joze W Loze
  • Joze W Loze offers two kinds of talbeenah; the regular, traditional recipe, or the “golden” talbeenah, flavored with turmeric

RIYADH: A new Jeddah-based start-up has customers going nutty for its candied goods.

Dokkan Joze W Loze, which translates as “The Walnut and Almond Shop,” has the perfect products for those looking for a sweet treat to snack on without the guilt of overindulgence.

Owner Wid Sami Fayez began selling her candied nut creations to friends and family about two years ago. As her products gained popularity, she decided to set up shop officially and begin selling to the public.

“Since most of my products are made with walnuts and almonds, I decided to name my shop after the two ingredients I use the most,” she told Arab News. “To imbue the name with the spirit of traditionalism, I added the word Dokkan.”

Fayez started out with her most popular product, candied pecans made with cinnamon. To this day it remains the shop’s best-seller, with candied almonds coming in a close second.

“We also started adding new products recently. For example, for those who don’t have a sweet tooth we offer savory almonds with rosemary, an ideal snack for those on a diet or trying to eat keto,” she said.

Fayez also offers seasonal treats and gift boxes during Ramadan, perfect as gifts for the holiday or to pass around to guests visiting during the holy month. Some of the shop’s seasonal products include dates, stuffed with her signature candied nuts, a pecan cake, and one of the most popular products, a traditional drink called “talbeenah.”

“A year ago, we started offering talbeenah in our shop to celebrate the Prophet’s sunnah. It is a porridge made from barley flour, formed by adding milk and honey to dried barley powder. We then add cinnamon and cardamom to it for extra flavor,” Fayez said.

“The Mother of the Believers, the Prophet’s wife Aisha, narrated that the Prophet recommended talbeenah as “a companion to the heart of the sick,” and noted that it has a variety of health benefits,” she said.

Joze W Loze offers two kinds of talbeenah; the regular, traditional recipe, or the “golden” talbeenah, flavored with turmeric and a delicate blend of other spices such as ginger, cloves, nutmeg and fennel.

“The health benefits of talbeenah are almost endless,” Fayez says of the drink. “In line with the words of the Prophet, it relieves depression and grief, is very good for the heart and the liver, is a natural diuretic, helps with high blood pressure, helps with a cough, contains anti-oxidants, and so much more.”

For customers outside of Jeddah, Fayez also sells talbeenah as a dry mix, to which customers can add their own milk and combine at home.

The shop’s products can be purchased from Instagram by messaging them directly at @dokkanjozewloze, as well as from Jeddah’s community retail space Amkana, @amkanaksa on Instagram.


China’s Tencent Cloud to open data center in Bahrain

China’s Tencent Cloud to open data center in Bahrain
Updated 01 March 2021

China’s Tencent Cloud to open data center in Bahrain

China’s Tencent Cloud to open data center in Bahrain
  • The Middle East’s cloud market was expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2024

DUBAI: Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent announced on Monday its cloud division is to open a data center in Bahrain.

Tencent Cloud signed an agreement with the Bahrain Economic Development Board to launch the center later this year, marking the Chinese firm’s first milestone in the Middle East.

The Middle East’s cloud market was expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2024, growing at an annual rate of 17.5 percent, according to research by MarketsandMarkets.

In 2017, Bahrain introduced the region’s first nationwide cloud-first policy to enhance government information and communication technologies, driving the adoption of cloud across state entities and reducing IT costs by up to 90 percent.


Battery prices need to fall before Mideast motorists embrace electric vehicles says Nissan official

Battery prices need to fall before Mideast motorists embrace electric vehicles says Nissan official
Updated 01 March 2021

Battery prices need to fall before Mideast motorists embrace electric vehicles says Nissan official

Battery prices need to fall before Mideast motorists embrace electric vehicles says Nissan official
  • Middle East gearing up for transition to electric vehicles: Senior Nissan official
  • Drop in battery prices, improved infrastructure key drivers in move toward EVs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is leading the regional push towards electric vehicle (EV) adoption but battery prices remain a worry for motorists, according to a top Nissan official.

Guillaume Cartier, senior vice president of marketing and sales at the Japanese motor manufacturer said that the speed of introduction would depend on a fall in battery prices to a level that made the cost of an EV equivalent to that of a regular car.

Speaking to Asharq Business, Cartier said that a comprehensive infrastructure for charging EVs was needed before a successful transition could happen.

He noted that there was an intention to switch to EVs and that the region was moving from a mentality of pioneering the adoption of EV technology to a real desire to provide it.

Saudi Arabia has already put itself on the path to adopting EVs and the Saudi Standards, Metrology, and Quality Organization has approved imported EVs and allowed local agents to start bringing the vehicles into the Kingdom.

Other initiatives taken by the government may contribute to the promotion of EVs.  These include Saudi Electricity Co.’s 2018 agreement with Nissan for the first EV pilot project in the country that included the development of fast-charger EV stations.
 


Oman orders partial commercial shutdown from March 4-20, state TV

Oman orders partial commercial shutdown from March 4-20, state TV
Updated 01 March 2021

Oman orders partial commercial shutdown from March 4-20, state TV

Oman orders partial commercial shutdown from March 4-20, state TV

DUBAI: All commercial activities in Oman will close from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time in the period from March 4 to March 20, as part of measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Oman State TV reported on Monday.