In Singapore, a very different Davos takes shape

In Singapore, a very different Davos takes shape
Questions remain as to how Singapore — with its borders effectively shut and strict anti-virus rules — will put on a show that usually attracts thousands just five months from now. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 09 December 2020

In Singapore, a very different Davos takes shape

In Singapore, a very different Davos takes shape
  • In Davos, it is an opportunity to rub shoulders with somebody taking the lift or in the hotel lobby

SINGAPORE: It’s not only the weather that might come as a shock when the World Economic Forum moves from Davos, the Swiss ski resort after which it takes its informal name, to the tropical Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore in May.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual gathering of world leaders, billionaires, celebrities and media is expected to be a trimmed-down, tightly controlled affair, Singapore-based business groups and consultants said on Tuesday.

Although seen as another coup for the country that hosted the 2018 Trump-Kim summit, questions remain as to how Singapore — with its borders effectively shut and strict anti-virus rules and limits on public gatherings — will put on a show that usually attracts thousands just five months from now.

“Singapore does not take risks,” said Christopher Khoo of Singapore tourism consultancy MasterConsult Services, adding that he expected fewer attendees and that virus curbs would make it hard to recreate Davos’ networking environment.

“In Davos, it is an opportunity to rub shoulders with somebody taking the lift or in the hotel lobby, and exchanging thoughts that way,” Khoo said. “How do you create those networking opportunities? ... That is a challenge.”

Others said the success of global vaccine deployment over coming months would most likely dictate the scale of the event, planned for May 13-16.

Announcing the change late Monday, WEF’s chief Klaus Schwab said the decision was made to safely ensure the first “in-person” meeting of business executives, government leaders and civil society since the start of the pandemic to discuss recovery.

In its statement, Singapore — which restricts conferences to 250 people, split into groups of 50 who cannot mingle — talked up the virtual component of the conference, which it also said would be a first.

Neither the WEF or Singapore have yet given specifics on the number of attendees expected at the event, the first in Asia and only the second to be held outside of Switzerland since its inception in 1971.

WEF usually plays host to about 3,000 official participants, but much of the action happens outside the conference at side meetings and networking events. The population of the hard-to-reach Alpine town of Davos swells from 10,000 to about 30,000 during the summit.

By contrast, Singapore averaged around 400 arrivals daily in October, the latest official figures available, less than 1 percent of those arriving during the same period in 2019.

The city-state remains largely closed to visitors and has agreements for limited official and business travel with seven countries, all in Asia. A plan to open a quarantine-free air travel bubble with Hong Kong last month was postponed at the eleventh hour.

Other factors may keep attendance down too, said Hsien Hsien Lei, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

“It is not necessarily whether Singapore is ready to welcome them but whether people are ready to start traveling,” said Lei, adding that many companies still restrict travel, especially for their top executives.

Lei said international praise for Singapore’s handling of the coronavirus, including from the World Health Organization, as well as vaccine rollouts early next year, should lend firms more confidence.

The success of smaller-scale events like the 250-strong energy week in October also shows that Singapore’s strict regime of pre-event testing, safe distancing measures and contact tracing works, said David Kelly, head of the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore.


What We Are Wearing Today: Zey and Zain

Photo/SPA
Photo/SPA
Updated 18 September 2021

What We Are Wearing Today: Zey and Zain

Photo/SPA
  • The brand has three collections so far, designed by Zahra, a Saudi fashion designer with a skill for fashion illustrations

Nothing complements your style better than a beautiful silk scarf, whether around the neck or as an accessory for your purse.
Zey and Zain is a Saudi brand creating fashion accessories that express different topics such as beauty, happiness, peace, love and dreams.
Most of its products are inspired by the romance of the Arabic language and of Arabic poems by famous poets such as Ahmad Shawqi and Sawsan Al-Dais, and by a poem by Fadwa Tuqan that expresses the feeling of patriotism beautifully.
The scarves are made of silk, cotton, and polyester and — if you want to give your gift that special touch — you can use them to wrap gifts by applying the Japanese “Furoshiki” technique.
The brand has three collections so far, designed by Zahra, a Saudi fashion designer with a skill for fashion illustrations. Celebrating Saudi National Day, it has launched special edition designs reflecting the beauty of the Kingdom’s urban and architectural heritage.
Zey and Zain offers pins and scarves in different sizes. For more information visit its Instagram account @zeyandzain.

 


Saudi military industry delegation meets investors in London defense show

Saudi military industry delegation meets investors in London defense show
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi military industry delegation meets investors in London defense show

Saudi military industry delegation meets investors in London defense show
  • Officials from Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) and Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) met with a number of major international investors in the fields of defense and military security

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s military industry delegation concluded on Friday its participation in the four-day Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) trade fair held at the ExCel Center in London with meetings with investors.

Officials from Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) and Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) met with a number of major international investors in the fields of defense and military security from the United Kingdom and European countries, as well as a number of people from other countries interested in the defense and security military industries sector, GAMI said in a statement.

These meetings were attended GAMI Governor Eng. Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, GAMI’s partners in the sector, as well as Saudi and British officials and stakeholders from the industry and investment sectors.

The UK Minister of defense Ben Wallace and a number of official delegations at the regional and international levels also inspected the Saudi pavilion, learning about the key targets of the military industry sector in the Kingdom, its promising investment opportunities and the pursuit of GAMI to reflect the ambitious vision of the wise leadership aiming at the Saudization of more than 50 percent of spending on military equipment and services by 2030.


Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister

Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister

Saudi Arabia in negotiations to localize vaccine industry: deputy minister
  • The Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is working to transfer technology and localize vaccine industries and production platforms

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia plans to follow up its agreements with Pfizer and AstraZeneca to produce vaccines in the Kingdom with further initiatives to localize the pharmaceutical industries and to become a regional center for these companies, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Osama Al-Zamil.

The Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, the King Abdullah International Center for Medical Research (KIMAR), and the Pfizer Scientific Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday, to build the foundations for the manufacture of viral and genetic vaccines in the Kingdom.

The MoU, signed during the activities of the Riyadh Summit for Medical Technology 2021, held in Riyadh, also includes providing technical support for the establishment of a human stem cell platform.

The ministry is working to transfer technology and localize vaccine industries and production platforms to manufacture, accelerate and provide vaccines in what is known as CDMO, as a basis for building suitable industrial clusters in this promising sector, and this is indeed the core of the agreement signed at the summit with Pfizer, Alzamil told Al Arabiya.


The agreements need a follow up as they aim in the long run to establish the infrastructure, not just direct manufacturing or commercial production, he said.

The first aim is to establish a research center through which different types of vaccines will be produced and clinical trials will be conducted, after which work will be done on manufacturing and commercial production.

There are 40 Saudi factories working in the drug manufacturing sector, and there are three or four factories that are ready to manufacture directly with these companies, he said.

The Ministry of Industry was entrusted with the task of achieving pharmaceutical security in the Kingdom, especially after it became a priority amid the effects of the pandemic on supply chains, Al-Zamil said.

Saudi Arabia wants to be the first choice for international companies working in the field of pharmaceuticals, and its platform for access to the countries of the Middle East.

“We are working to secure our needs in cooperation with government agencies and our international partners,” he said.


Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council

Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council
Updated 17 September 2021

Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council

Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council
  • Olayan appointed president of the the Saudi-Swedish Business Council

JEDDAH: Prominent Saudi businesswoman Lubna Olayan has become the first woman to head up a foreign business council in the Kingdom following her approval as president of the Saudi-Swedish Business Council by the General Authority for Foreign Trade.

Mohammed Batterjee and Saud Al-Suleiman were named as her deputies.

Olayan has been a major figure in Saudi business for decades and was named as one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2005 and has featured in the Forbes list of most powerful women many times over the years, most recently at no. 58 in 2018.

She became chairwoman of the Saudi British Bank in 2019 and was reappointed to a three-year term in January 2020 following its merger with Alawwal Bank to create the Kingdom’s third-largest lender.

Olayan was CEO of the Olayan Financing Company, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest conglomerates, until she stepped down in April 2019, but remains on the board. The company, founded by her father in 1947, is a private multinational engaged in distribution, manufacturing, services and investments.

She thanked the members of the council for their trust in her and her two deputies as they assumed their responsibilities, stating that she will continue to work to improve the council’s work and activate its role in developing inter-economic relations between the two countries.

The 36 Saudi foreign business councils operate under the supervision of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, as well as the umbrella of the Federation of Saudi Chambers of Commerce, with the goal of strengthening economic ties between the Kingdom and friendly states, increasing access to foreign markets for Saudi products, and encouraging foreign investment.


Saudi regulator supports Fintech industry with new regulatory measures 

Saudi regulator supports Fintech industry with new regulatory measures 
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi regulator supports Fintech industry with new regulatory measures 

Saudi regulator supports Fintech industry with new regulatory measures 
  • Amendments to Financial Technology Experimental Permit Instructions have been approved

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's financial markets regulator is adding new measures aiming at enhancing the fintech regulatory framework. 

The Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced on Thursday the approval of amendments to Financial Technology (Fintech) Experimental Permit Instructions.

The amendments include adding definitions to clarify the nature of the Fintech Lab and adding instructions for business practice in the Fintech Lab.

The amendments also include updating the application form for the Fintech ExPermit.

"The continuous progress in the technical infrastructure development in Saudi Arabia such as wider implementation of digital identity, data privacy laws, and data classification framework will accelerate the wider adoption of digital services extended by banks and Fintechs," Nejoud Al Mulaik, Head of Saudi Fintech, told Arab News.

Amendments will become effective from the date of their publication, the statement on Saudi Stock Market (Tadawul) said.