Fourth FII to open amid elaborate arrangements, precautions due to COVID-19

Fourth FII to open amid elaborate arrangements, precautions due to COVID-19
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The fourth edition of the Future Investment Initiative, Saudi Arabia’s flagship financial forum, is all set to launch on Wednesday at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Fourth FII to open amid elaborate arrangements, precautions due to COVID-19
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The fourth edition of the Future Investment Initiative, Saudi Arabia’s flagship financial forum, is all set to launch on Wednesday at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Fourth FII to open amid elaborate arrangements, precautions due to COVID-19
3 / 4
The fourth edition of the Future Investment Initiative, Saudi Arabia’s flagship financial forum, is all set to launch on Wednesday at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Fourth FII to open amid elaborate arrangements, precautions due to COVID-19
4 / 4
The fourth edition of the Future Investment Initiative, Saudi Arabia’s flagship financial forum, is all set to launch on Wednesday at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 January 2021

Fourth FII to open amid elaborate arrangements, precautions due to COVID-19

Fourth FII to open amid elaborate arrangements, precautions due to COVID-19
  • Elaborate civil and security arrangements, including health precautions and guidelines, have been put in place

RIYADH: The fourth edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII), Saudi Arabia’s flagship financial forum, is all set to launch on Wednesday at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center (KAICC) in Riyadh.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of the FII Institute and governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, will deliver opening remarks to conference delegates.

Elaborate civil and security arrangements, including health precautions and guidelines, have been put in place at the KAICC and the adjoining luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel, which is housing FII guests.

Guests and media participants attending the two-day event will have limited access as the annual forum this year is being staged during exceptional circumstances due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, delegates are being taken to the FII venue and the Plenary Hall in shuttle buses departing from the meeting point at the Ritz-Carlton.

The FII will address the theme of “The Neo-Renaissance” and will use XR Studio, a pioneering, immersive technology, to link speakers at the multi-hub conference with audiences around the world.

The XR Studio has been installed at the KAICC to synchronize and render the conference in real time. By using a system of cameras and virtual sets, it will provide an immersive and inter-connected experience for more than 150 speakers attending in-person in Riyadh and from hubs in New York, Paris, Beijing, and Mumbai.

The virtual sets, created specifically for the occasion, offer futuristic 3-D environments dedicated to different themes.

The in-person and virtual style of the multi-hub conference is part of an effort by the FII Institute to introduce a new way for convening impact-oriented meeting events.

The forum will allow policy makers, tech pioneers, investors, and executives – 60 in-person in Riyadh and 90 virtually – to discuss how to shape a rebirth of the global economy amid the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute, said: “We are narrowing the gap between the physical conferences of the past and the virtual events that have become the new normal during the pandemic.

“This format will mean that even though we can’t meet in person, we can still mobilize, interact, exchange ideas, and challenge current thinking. This is the future of events and conferences – and we are proud that the FII Institute is pioneering this new approach.”

The FII Institute was founded in Riyadh to bring together global leaders, tech pioneers, experts, and policy makers to enable concrete ideas that can solve today’s most pressing societal issues, while creating long-term platforms to reshape the future sustainably and create a positive impact on humanity.

The FII, which has become a fixture in the global investment calendar in the short time since its launch in 2017, has evolved from just an annual gathering to become a hub for building relationships.

In 2017, the participants were mainly from the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Today they come from Japan, China, India, and Russia and are all united in a spirit of collaboration.

The FII in its third session in 2019 brought together more than 250 ministers, CEOs, and industry experts to address issues ranging from sustainable development to the challenges in building an inclusive workplace.

The third forum hosted in excess of 4,000 attendees from more than 30 countries with a program focused on the key topics of investment models to support “people, profit, and planet,” policy frameworks to boost the tech industry’s growth, and cultural systems to inspire humanity in the modern age.

Dubbed “Davos in the desert” but held in the luxury of the Ritz-Carlton hotel and conference center for the past four years, the FII attracts thousands of participants from the biggest corporations and investment institutions in the world.


PIF’s Noon signs partnerships with Abu Dhabi’s Man City FC

PIF’s Noon signs partnerships with Abu Dhabi’s Man City FC
Updated 30 min 27 sec ago

PIF’s Noon signs partnerships with Abu Dhabi’s Man City FC

PIF’s Noon signs partnerships with Abu Dhabi’s Man City FC
  • It will see Noon become the official online sales partner for Manchester City in the Middle East

DUBAI: Noon, an online platform backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar, said it had signed a partnership with Manchester City, the English football club owned by Abu Dhabi.
It will see Noon become the official online sales partner for Manchester City in the Middle East.
Stephan Cieplik, a senior vice president at the club said: “The team has impressed us with their ambition, innovation, and passion for the local communities and businesses they serve in the Middle East."
Noon was launched in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in December 2017 and in Egypt in February 2019. With an initial investment of $1 billion and working from headquarters in Riyadh, Noon said in 2016 that it aims to expand online sales in the region from 2 percent of the total retail market ($3 billion), to 15 percent ($70 billion) within a decade.
Manchester City is an English Premier League club initially founded in 1880. The club was bought by Abu Dhabi United Group (ABUG) in 2008 for a reported £210 million ($287 million) and is now owned by the City Football Group, which is majority owned by ABUG.


Masdar-led consortium starts construction of solar project in Jeddah

Masdar-led consortium starts construction of solar project in Jeddah
Updated 33 min 2 sec ago

Masdar-led consortium starts construction of solar project in Jeddah

Masdar-led consortium starts construction of solar project in Jeddah
  • The plant is locared in Third Jeddah Industrial City, 50 kilometers southeast of Jeddah

DUBAI: A consortium led by Abu Dhabi’s Masdar has started construction of a solar power plant in Jeddah, after reaching financial close on the project.

The consortium, which includes France’s EDF Renewables and Saudi Arabia-based Nesma Company, announced it will start construction of the 300-megawatt utility-scale plant that will begin operation next year.

The plant is locared in Third Jeddah Industrial City, 50 kilometers southeast of Jeddah.

“Saudi Arabia is fast developing into a global renewable energy player, and Masdar will continue to work closely with the Saudi government and our partners here to help the Kingdom achieve its clean energy transition,” Masdar chief Mohamed Jameel Al-Ramahi said in a statement.

The Kingdom’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office awarded the consortium the project after it had submitted the most competitive bid of SR60.9 ($16.2) per megawatt hour, the companies said.

The new plant forms part of Saudi Arabia’s clean energy strategy, where it wants to diversify its power mix and aims to generate 50 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier signed seven power purchase agreements for new solar plants in Saudi Arabia following the inauguration of the Sakaka plant.


WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: April 9, 2021

The WTI crude oil price dropped to $59.32 per barrel but has still been trading in the narrow range between $58 and $61 for three weeks. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
The WTI crude oil price dropped to $59.32 per barrel but has still been trading in the narrow range between $58 and $61 for three weeks. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 10 April 2021

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: April 9, 2021

The WTI crude oil price dropped to $59.32 per barrel but has still been trading in the narrow range between $58 and $61 for three weeks. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • Oil prices are still moving in a narrow range, despite the OPEC+ plan to increase output

RIYADH: On the week’s closing, oil prices deteriorated and made the first weekly drop in three weeks. The Brent crude oil price dropped to $62.95 per barrel, while still trading in the narrow range between $61 and $65 for more than three weeks.

The WTI crude oil price dropped to $59.32 per barrel but has still been trading in the narrow range between $58 and $61 for three weeks, as most of Europe and the US were partially on holidays and some investors may have positioned themselves ahead of the holidays and therefore affected the market one way or the other.

Now that it looks like the US is adding 916,000 jobs for March, it may give traders the idea that more demand is coming into the picture, despite the fact the EU is still in lockdown. That might keep the upward momentum dampened a bit but, on the other hand, it still looks bullish as global oil inventories continue to fall and Brent’s futures price curve remains backwardated.

Oil prices are still moving in a narrow range, despite the OPEC+ plan to increase output, returning 2 million barrels per day (bpd) over the coming three months, despite the increasing lockdown measures.

Though the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has acknowledged the heightened uncertainty of oil demand recovery, EIA April’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) report again forecast rising prices for both Brent and WTI. EIA forecasts Brent crude price to average $62.28 per barrel in 2021 and $60.49 per barrel in 2022. EIA forecasts WTI to average $58.89 per barrel in 2021 and $56.74 per barrel in 2022.

EIA forecasted global oil demand to average 97.7 million bpd in 2021, which is higher by 5.5 million barrels per day from the 2020 global oil demand average.

EIA has lowered its forecast for the US oil production to average 11.04 million bpd this year, while last month EIA’s STEO forecast was 11.15 million bpd. EIA reported US crude inventories fell by 3.5 million barrels to 501.8 million barrels and expects that gasoline prices could hit their highest in three years this summer.

The latest figures from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on April 6, 2021 showed that long positions on crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange numbered 655,327 contracts, down by 20,166 contracts from the previous week (1,000 barrels for each contract). It is the fourth consecutive weekly drop in positions.


500 Startups venture capitalist is positive about growth in Saudi market

Amal Dokhan was one of the Kingdom’s first female venture capitalists (VCs) and recently joined Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups as a partner. (Supplied)
Amal Dokhan was one of the Kingdom’s first female venture capitalists (VCs) and recently joined Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups as a partner. (Supplied)
Updated 10 April 2021

500 Startups venture capitalist is positive about growth in Saudi market

Amal Dokhan was one of the Kingdom’s first female venture capitalists (VCs) and recently joined Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups as a partner. (Supplied)
  • About $152 million was invested in Saudi-based companies in 2020

RIYADH: Amal Dokhan, who was one of the Kingdom’s first female venture capitalists (VCs) and recently joined Californian venture capital firm 500 Startups as a partner, is confident that the Saudi market will continue to grow in 2021.

A seasoned professional with experience in startup investments, corporate innovation and consulting in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Dokhan was in upbeat mood when she spoke to Arab News.

“What we are seeing now in 2021, the numbers will definitely increase when it comes to Saudi Arabia and the region as well. The reason is that last year, when it was not expected for things to increase, they actually turned out to be a positive year for many companies and startups, especially in fintech (financial technology),” she said.

“The year has started with a positive sign for startups and VCs. Lots of international investors are looking into the Saudi market, so lots of prosperity I think is coming on this year and we are going to witness a good number of the deals as well,” she said.

The Saudi VC market has matured and now it a good time for startups as the investment appetite is high. The VC environment in the Kingdom has changed, Dokhan believes. At the moment, there are 47 VCs, and the number is growing. The increased demand is due to the coronavirus, as companies across the Kingdom have been forced to embrace online work and e-commerce has surged, creating more opportunities for startups and VCs.

About $152 million was invested in Saudi-based companies in 2020, she said. 500 Startups itself had also invested in many companies during this time, she said. The Californian firm has run more than 50 accelerator programs in Silicon Valley and around the world, and invested in more than 2,500 companies worldwide, including more than 180 companies in the MENA region.

New startups will be be selected from Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region, and 500 Startup’s global network of mentors will help the businesses to scale-up and build regional and global connections, she said.

Sanabil Investments, a Riyadh-based investment firm wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has entered into partnership with 500 Startups to launch an early-stage accelerator program for Saudi startups.

The Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Program will consist of six programs run by 500 Startups over three years for a group of pre-seed and seed stage startups from across the MENA region.

Dokhan is involved in the program, which will invest up to $100,000 in new startups. There are about 15 mentors who support the program from around the world, who have vast experience in nurturing startups. The program has already begun and is currently in its second week.

“Our program Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator Program is actually present here with a fund of $15 million . . . and Saudi Arabia will be very well represented in the program. When we launched this program, we were very happy with the number of startups that applied from Saudi Arabia and the region and applications exceeded 500 applications in a very short time,” she said.


Dubai targets families in summer holiday campaign

Dubai targets families in summer holiday campaign
Updated 10 April 2021

Dubai targets families in summer holiday campaign

Dubai targets families in summer holiday campaign
  • The global campaign will showcase Dubai as a “multi-faceted must-visit family destination”

DUBAI: Dubai’s tourism body is launching a summer holiday campaign in May, with a particular focus on attracting family vacationers, it said on Saturday.
The global campaign will showcase Dubai as a “multi-faceted must-visit family destination,” with a variety of offerings for all ages.
It was announced at a virtual Town Hall meeting hosted by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), attended by over 600 industry professionals.
There will be promotions and other activities to encourage travelers to choose the emirate for their summer getaway, including discounted rates on hotel stays and airline tickets.