More training, sharing needed to address Saudi Arabia's big data dilemma: Report

More training, sharing needed to address Saudi Arabia's big data dilemma: Report
Most senior Saudi public sector executives have failed to take the necessary steps to share data effectively with their partners or train staff on how best to use it. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 January 2021

More training, sharing needed to address Saudi Arabia's big data dilemma: Report

More training, sharing needed to address Saudi Arabia's big data dilemma: Report
  • Saudi firms believe in data potential but must invest in training to help staff use it
  • SAMA said in a statement that the policy would enable bank customers to securely manage their bank accounts and share their data with third parties

JEDDAH: Most senior Saudi public sector executives have failed to take the necessary steps to share data effectively with their partners or train staff on how best to use it despite acknowledging its importance as a major catalyst for innovation, a study has revealed.
In a recent report, German business software company SAP looked at the top technology trends for 2021 and conducted a survey of 3,000 global executives.
The study found that more than four-fifths (89 percent) of Saudi senior public sector executives agreed that data sharing helped them to improve on how they connected with citizens.
“The Saudi and Middle East governments have advanced digital transformation amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to better serve citizens,” said Mohammed Al-Khotani, managing director of SAP Saudi Arabia.
“With 89 percent of public-sector executives agreeing on the importance of data sharing, the top three goals for Saudi and Middle East public sector organizations in 2021 will be to share data to improve citizen experiences, gain real-time data insights, and enhance their employees’ digital skills to drive innovation.”
The survey also found that 83 percent of respondents said data sharing improved their innovation in current goods or services, while 82 percent said data sharing helped them to exceed performance objectives.
Despite the positive approach to data and its possibilities, the report found that among respondents from the public sector, 81 percent shared employee data internally, but only 22 percent did with partners.
While many Saudi and Middle East organizations have embraced collaboration and flexible work policies to enhance employee experiences, more needs to be done on the training side in order to get the best out of the data available to employees.
Among public sector respondents, only about one-third (33 percent) said they had invested in new technologies to analyze data, and 33 percent had retrained employees to work with data. This skills shortage was cited by 61 percent of respondents as being a barrier to meeting strategic change initiatives.
The Kingdom is making progress in seeing the benefits of data sharing. This month, experts told Arab News the open banking policy approved by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) would benefit the country’s financial technology companies due to its advanced and varied services.
SAMA said in a statement that the policy would enable bank customers to securely manage their bank accounts and share their data with third parties. Customers would also have access to bespoke financial products and services from the same platform and enjoy smoother daily banking activities.
Fadhel Al-Buainain, a former Saudi banker and a member of the Saudi Financial Association, said: “Competition between financial institutions will become fiercer once the policy has been implemented. Institutions will compete over offering innovative financial products to attract more customers. Besides, customers can combine all bank accounts onto a single platform.”
Abdulla Almoayed, CEO and founder of Tarabut Gateway, the Middle East’s first and largest regulated open banking platform, said the move would also “improve customer experiences and services” and the Kingdom’s financial sector could look forward to “a bright future of collaboration” as a result of the transparent sharing of data.
Real-time data insights would help many companies increase operational performance and build strong policies, the SAP report concluded.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, health care has been the standout sector, with providers using data analytics to target virus hotspots, optimize hospital and staff capacity, and vaccine rollouts.


Camera maker Canon reveals 30% Saudi women employees target by 2023

Camera maker Canon reveals 30% Saudi women employees target by 2023
Updated 23 September 2021

Camera maker Canon reveals 30% Saudi women employees target by 2023

Camera maker Canon reveals 30% Saudi women employees target by 2023
  • It has launched a “Women in Sales” internship program to further support the 2023 target

DUBAI: The Saudi Arabia unit of global camera maker Canon wants 30 percent of its employees to be Saudi women by the end of 2023. 

The move is in line with national efforts to integrate more women into the Kingdom’s workforce.

Canon said it has been working towards this target since 2018, when it first opened offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al-Khobar, but has now made the goal public.

It has previously teamed up with King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah to develop technology-enabled training, which the camera maker said was proof of its “commitment to support young talent” in the Kingdom. 

The company partnered with Mohammed Al-Mana College for Medical Sciences to fund one female student’s school expenses, including tuition and housing.

It has also launched a “Women in Sales” internship program to further support the 2023 target. 


China preparing for Evergrande's downfall: WSJ

China preparing for Evergrande's downfall: WSJ
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 23 September 2021

China preparing for Evergrande's downfall: WSJ

China preparing for Evergrande's downfall: WSJ
  • Local governments have been ordered to assemble groups of accountants and legal experts to examine the finances around Evergrande's operations in their respective regions
  • Both bonds would default if Evergrande fails to settle the interest within 30 days of the scheduled payment dates

Chinese authorities are asking local governments to prepare for the potential downfall of debt-ridden China Evergrande Group, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing officials familiar with the discussion.

The move has been characterised as "getting ready for the possible storm" by the officials, according to the report.


The officials said local-level government agencies and state-owned enterprises have been instructed to step in only at the last minute should Evergrande fail to manage its affairs in an orderly fashion, the WSJ reported.


Local governments have been tasked with preventing unrest and mitigating the ripple effect on home buyers and the broader economy, the officials said, according to the report.


Evergrande, China's second-biggest property developer, has $83.5 million in dollar-bond interest payments due on Thursday on a $2 billion offshore bond and a $47.5 million dollar-bond interest payment due next week.


Both bonds would default if Evergrande fails to settle the interest within 30 days of the scheduled payment dates.


The company, which epitomised the borrow-to-build business model, ran into trouble over the past few months as Beijing tightened rules in its property sector to rein back debt levels and speculation.


Investors are worried that a downfall could spread to creditors including banks in China and abroad.

 


Luxury operator Chalhoub opens new retail hub in Riyadh

Luxury operator Chalhoub opens new retail hub in Riyadh
Updated 23 September 2021

Luxury operator Chalhoub opens new retail hub in Riyadh

Luxury operator Chalhoub opens new retail hub in Riyadh
  • The new retail development, called “Concept by MUSE”, will bring in local, regional, and international brands, particularly catering to the Saudi youth

DUBAI: Luxury retail operator Chalhoub Group has launched a new shopping destination at the Riyadh Park in the Saudi capital, in a new sign of recovery in the Kingdom’s retail sector post-pandemic. 

The new retail development, called “Concept by MUSE”, will bring in local, regional, and international brands, particularly catering to the Saudi youth, the group said in a statement.

“The retail landscape in Saudi Arabia has evolved significantly over the last few years, especially as young customers become increasingly discerning and attentive to global shopping trends while staying true to their roots and culture,” David Vercruysse, president of managed companies at Chalhoub, said.

Over 1,200 products will be featured at the mall, including the work of five Saudi designers Noms Life, Proud Angeles, Dania Shinkar, Cones and Rods, and Kaf By Kaf.

It follows an earlier initiative of the group to support local Saudi designers by giving them financial grants to build their own fashion brands.

The Kingdom has announced several efforts to modernize its economy, including boosting its local retail market. 

“This world’s first demonstrates our commitment to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and support to the country’s ambitions to make Saudi a world-class retail destination,” Bachar Sabbagh, the Saudi director of Chalhoub, said. 


Apicorp launches first green bond framework

Apicorp launches first green bond framework
Updated 23 September 2021

Apicorp launches first green bond framework

Apicorp launches first green bond framework
  • The framework will be used to raise green bonds/sukuk for projects aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals

DUBAI: The Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp) has launched its first green bond framework.

It follows the recent approval of the OPEC-created financial institution’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policy framework, as it aims to develop the sustainable financial market. 

The framework will be used to raise green bonds/sukuk for projects aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals - addressing issues in climate mitigation, circular economy, and biodiversity preservation among others. 

It was created in line with the International Capital Market Association’s Green Bond Principles 2021.

“By launching the Green Bond Framework, Apicorp is providing new avenues for investment in projects and ventures that further the development of safe, affordable, and renewable energy sources,” Ahmed Ali Attiga, chief executive officer of Apicorp. 

He said the framework “reflects our deep understanding of the ESG impact of our investments across the energy spectrum and our commitment to setting out new engagement strategies with our stakeholders to spread awareness of their ESG exposure.”

Apircorp earlier said it will allocate $1 billion towards green energy projects and sustainable energy companies over the next two years. 


Dubai's DAMAC Properties receives approval to take firm private

Dubai's DAMAC Properties receives approval to take firm private
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 23 September 2021

Dubai's DAMAC Properties receives approval to take firm private

Dubai's DAMAC Properties receives approval to take firm private
  • The Dubai real-estate company still plans to offer $595 million for outstanding shares of the company
  • The firm has a market capitalization of over $2 billion

DAMAC Properties, known for its deals with former President Donald Trump said Thursday it had received regulator approval for an effort to take the firm private.


The Dubai real-estate company still plans to offer $595 million for outstanding shares of the company, the firm said in a filing on Dubai Financial Market stock exchange.


It said it would offer an update on the plan in the coming weeks. It earlier announced plans in June for the offer to take the company private, then withdrew them as regulators examined the plan.


The buyout would be through Maple Invest Co. Ltd., a holding company of DAMAC's billionaire founder Hussain Sajwani. Sajwani owns nearly four-fifths of the company through various investment firms.


DAMAC stock traded up Thursday over 3 percent on the news. The firm has a market capitalization of over $2 billion.


DAMAC is known in Dubai for a development that features a Trump-branded golf club surrounded by villas and apartments, making it the only one of its kind in the Middle East that bears the Trump logo.


The company’s partnership with the Trump Organization to manage and run the golf course was struck before Trump’s election as U.S. president.