Tech, digital brands lead top ten influence list in Saudi Arabia

Tech, digital brands lead top ten influence list in Saudi Arabia
Dairy products produced by Almarai at a grocery store in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 2, 2016. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 April 2021

Tech, digital brands lead top ten influence list in Saudi Arabia

Tech, digital brands lead top ten influence list in Saudi Arabia
  • The survey, compiled by Paris-based global market research and consultancy firm Ipsos, studied the influence of 120 national, regional and international brands in the Kingdom
  • Top ten most influential are Samsung, WhatsApp, Google, Youtube, Saudi Telecom Company, dairy company Almarai, Apple, Facebook, Al-Rajhi Bank and online shopping platform Noon

JEDDAH: Technology and digital brands topped the latest Most Influential Brands Survey in Saudi Arabia this year, with three local names making the top ten.

The survey, compiled by Paris-based global market research and consultancy firm Ipsos, studied the influence of 120 national, regional and international brands in the Kingdom.

The survey included a diverse range of brands across different industries, such as financial services, telecommunications, retail, food and beverage, automotive, technology and fashion.

The results showed that the top ten most influential brands in the Kingdom are Samsung, WhatsApp, Google, Youtube, Saudi Telecom Company, dairy company Almarai, Apple, Facebook, Al-Rajhi Bank and online shopping platform Noon.

Moreover, the top ten list of influential local brands included retail company Panda, fast-food restaurant Al-Baik, Jarir Bookstore, Nahdi pharmacies, drinking water company Nova, food company Goody and telecommunications services company Mobily.

The brands were studied in-depth based on four basic dimensions: trustworthiness, leadership in competition, presence and responsibility, and leading-edge.

Ipsos added a fifth dimension for evaluation this year, COVID-19, which focuses on brands’ response to the pandemic, their communication with consumers during the crisis and their sense of social responsibility.

Presence, trustworthiness and leadership were the most critical influence drivers in KSA. The overall results showed that 32 percent of participants voted for presence, 26 percent chose trustworthiness and 23 chose leadership as the top criteria for brand influence.

However, the report highlighted that each of these dimensions’ impact varies considerably by category and by brand.

Ipsos defines influence under several metrics, including how a brand changes consumers’ behavior, impacts their everyday life, and influences their decision-making and ways of interacting with others. Also measured is consumers’ emotional attachment to brands.

The Most Influential Brands Survey is a global Ipsos initiative, covering 14 markets and close to 800 brands worldwide this year. 

The survey was conducted for the third time in Saudi Arabia this year.


Halt in oil production threatens stability of Libya, UN warns

Halt in oil production threatens stability of Libya, UN warns
Updated 31 min 9 sec ago

Halt in oil production threatens stability of Libya, UN warns

Halt in oil production threatens stability of Libya, UN warns
  • Delay in distribution of state-provided funds blamed for production and export shutdown
  • UN urges all parties to ensure the country’s National Oil Company remains free of political interference

NEW YORK: The UN on Thursday raised concerns about the recent halt in production and exports of crude oil at Marsa Al-Hariga port, and further imminent shutdowns at other facilities, and the destabilizing effect it could have on the country.

“The uninterrupted production of oil, as well as maintaining the independence and impartiality of the NOC (The National Oil Corporation), remains a vital cornerstone to the economic, social and political stability of Libya,” said the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

NOC blames the interim government for the halt in production at the eastern facility, citing the Central Bank’s refusal for several months to pay out funds from the oil sector budget. The funding shortfall has caused many companies to fail to fulfill their obligations, and to the deterioration of storage tanks. It has also had negative effects on pipelines, wells and oil reservoirs.

Oil is by far Libya’s biggest source of revenue. After years of blockades that at times reduced the flow of oil almost to zero, production rebounded to more than 1 million barrels a day after the blockades were lifted in September.

The NOC has managed to remain independent despite bitter political disputes over the country’s oil. Recently, however, there have been complaints about interference by the new government. The interim authority includes a three-member Presidential Council and a cabinet, which was appointed under a UN-led process to lead the divided country toward general elections in December.

The interim leadership is also tasked with preparing for the reunification of economic and financial institutions, tackling the dire living conditions many Libyans have been forced to endure, and enacting economic reforms needed to ensure a more equitable distribution of oil revenues in the country, which is a member of OPEC.

UNSMIL urged all parties to ensure that NOC remains “an independent, technocratic and well-sourced institution, and to ensure the transparent and equitable management of resources, as set out in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum Roadmap, to combat corruption. This is of critical importance for the government that is requested to improve the delivery of basic services to the Libyan people.”

Libya descended into civil war after the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Fighting in recent years pitted the Government of National Accord against the forces of eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar. Each side had support from competing regional powers.

“Libya is only now emerging from a very costly conflict, and there are multiple urgent needs that need to be addressed to improve the quality of life of Libyans throughout the country,” UNSMIL said.


First Abu Dhabi Bank completes Bank Audi Egypt takeover

First Abu Dhabi Bank has gained legal and regulatory approval to complete the acquisition of a 100 percent stake in Bank Audi Egypt. (Reuters/File Photo)
First Abu Dhabi Bank has gained legal and regulatory approval to complete the acquisition of a 100 percent stake in Bank Audi Egypt. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 22 April 2021

First Abu Dhabi Bank completes Bank Audi Egypt takeover

First Abu Dhabi Bank has gained legal and regulatory approval to complete the acquisition of a 100 percent stake in Bank Audi Egypt. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Following the transfer of shares, the acquisition will make First Abu Dhabi Bank one of the largest international banks operating in Egypt

CAIRO: First Abu Dhabi Bank has gained legal and regulatory approval to complete the acquisition of a 100 percent stake in Bank Audi Egypt, a subsidiary of the Lebanese Bank Audi Group, the bank announced on Thursday.

In a statement, the bank said that after the completion of the share transfer process, First Abu Dhabi Bank will begin merging the assets and operations of Bank Audi Egypt and First Abu Dhabi Bank — Egypt, with the merger process expected to be completed in 2022.

Following the transfer of shares, the acquisition will make First Abu Dhabi Bank one of the largest international banks operating in Egypt, with assets exceeding EGP 130 billion ($8.5 billion) after consolidating on Dec. 31, 2020.

“This step represents a strategic achievement that supports First Abu Dhabi Bank’s development aspirations at the international level and will accelerate the expansion of its business in one of the most important markets with high growth potential. This acquisition will play an essential role to enhance the volume and momentum of First Abu Dhabi Bank’s business in Egypt,” Hana Al-Rostamani, CEO of First Abu Dhabi Bank Group, said in a statement.

The banking services Bank Audi Egypt provides to individuals and companies through its wide network of branches will support the operations of First Abu Dhabi Bank in Egypt, which has operated in Egypt since 1975.

Mohamed Abbas Fayed has been appointed CEO of the combined entity. He joined First Abu Dhabi Bank in 2019 and was previously CEO and managing director of Bank Audi Egypt, which helped him gain extensive experience over three decades in the sector and in the Egyptian market.


Saudi Arabia sees 110% rise in flight searches in March

Saudi Arabia sees 110% rise in flight searches in March
Updated 22 April 2021

Saudi Arabia sees 110% rise in flight searches in March

Saudi Arabia sees 110% rise in flight searches in March
  • The Skyscanner data showed that domestic flights within Saudi Arabia were the most searched for last month

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded a 110 percent month-on-month surge in people searching for flights in March, according to global online travel platform Skyscanner, as the Kingdom’s travelers get ready for international flights to reopen from May 17.
The Skyscanner data showed that domestic flights within Saudi Arabia were the most searched for last month, followed by international destinations in India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Egypt.
Flights were grounded in the Kingdom in March 2020. Domestic traffic resumed at the end of May 2020 and the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) recently announced that international flights will resume by May 17, 2021.
In a bid to capitalize on this, Skyscanner has launched an Arabic language version of its platform on desktop and mobile web.
“We’re pleased to be able to offer travelers in the Middle East a far more relevant experience on desktop, allowing them to plan and book travel in their local language and currency,” Gavin Harris, director of strategic partnerships, Skyscanner, said in a press statement.
“Arabic is one of the 5th most spoken languages in the world and outbound travel from Saudi Arabia and the UAE accounts for a significant proportion of the total travel market,” he added.
In December, the “Global Holiday Intent” survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Reed Travel Exhibitions — organizer of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) exhibition in Dubai — found that 46 percent of those surveyed in Saudi Arabia said that they intended to travel internationally once restrictions were lifted.
Additional research released this week by global travel services company Collinson found that more than four fifths of business travelers in Saudi Arabia had seen their job affected in some way by a lack of cross-border business travel, and about one third of survey respondents said that they felt unable to do their job effectively.


Evergrow signs $400m loan to restructure debts

Evergrow signs $400m loan to restructure debts
Updated 22 April 2021

Evergrow signs $400m loan to restructure debts

Evergrow signs $400m loan to restructure debts
  • $74 million of loan will finance construction of fertilizer plant in Sadat City
  • Mashreq Bank and National Bank of Egypt led 12-bank syndicate

RIYADH: Egyptian fertilizer company Evergrow has signed a $400 million loan agreement with a syndicate of 12 banks led by Mashreq Bank and the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), who acted as the facility arrangers, Asharq reported citing a joint statement on Wednesday.

The plan consists of $326 million that will be used to restructure previous debts Evergrow owes to the same banks, while the remaining $74 million will finance the construction of the third phase of the company’s fertilizer plant in Sadat City, slated for completion within nine months.

The financing is one of the largest dollar loans granted by banks to private sector companies in the Egyptian market in the field of potassium fertilizers during the past 10 years.

The deal is part of Evergrow’s financial reform program sponsored by the Central Bank of Egypt.

The new funds will help raise the annual production capacity of all the company’s products from 817,000 tons currently to 1.15 million tons annually, said Evergrow Chairman Mohamed El Kheshen.

Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Neveen Gamea in March said that Egypt aims to increase its exports — especially to EU, African and Arab markets — to $100 billion, through the implementation of a strategic plan.


Turkish crypto founder flees with reported $2bn

Turkish crypto founder flees with reported $2bn
Updated 22 April 2021

Turkish crypto founder flees with reported $2bn

Turkish crypto founder flees with reported $2bn
  • Launched aggressive campaigns to lure investors
  • Founder reported to have flown to either Albania or Thailand
ISTANBUL: Turkish prosecutors on Thursday opened an investigation after the Istanbul-based founder of a cryptocurrency exchange shut down his site and fled the country with a reported $2 billion in investors’ assets.
The Thodex website went dark after posting a mysterious message saying it was suspending trading for five days on Wednesday because of an unspecified outside investment.
Turkish security officials then released a photo of Thodex founder Faruk Fatih Ozer going through passport control at Istanbul airport on his way to an unspecified location.
Local media reports said Ozer — reported to be either 27 or 28 years old — had flown either to Albania or Thailand.
HaberTurk and other media said Thodex shut down after running a promotional campaign that sold Dogecoins at a big rebate — but did not allow investors to sell.
Reports said the website and the entire exchange had shut down while holding at least $2 billion from 391,000 investors.
“The victims are panicked,” investors’ lawyer Oguz Evren Kilic was quoted as saying by HaberTurk.
“They are lodging complaints at prosecutors’ offices in the cities they reside.”
Prosecutors launched an investigation into the businessman on charges of “aggravated fraud and founding a criminal organization,” the private DHA news agency said.
Thodex has launched aggressive campaigns to lure investors.
It had first pledged to distribute luxury cars through a flashy advertising campaign featuring famous Turkish models.
The platform then launched its Dogecoin drive.
The cryptocurrency is getting particularly popular among Turks who are looking to preserve their saving in the middle of a sharp decline in the value of the local lira.
The Turkish crypto market remains unregulated despite growing skepticism from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government about the safety and use of digital currencies.
The Turkish central bank has decided to ban the use of crypto currencies in payments for goods and services starting from April 30.
It warned that cryptos “entail significant risks” because the market is volatile and lacks oversight.
“Wallets can be stolen or used unlawfully without the authorization of their holders,” the central banks warned last week.