UAE’s Diamond Group considers fresh investment opportunities in Egypt

UAE’s Diamond Group considers fresh investment opportunities in Egypt
The Diamond Group is taking steps to pump EGP 15 billion ($960 million) worth of investments into Egypt over the next two years. (AFP)
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Updated 22 April 2021

UAE’s Diamond Group considers fresh investment opportunities in Egypt

UAE’s Diamond Group considers fresh investment opportunities in Egypt
  • The UAE company has already started its first project in the new administrative capital with investments of EGP 4 billion

CAIRO: Mohamed Abdel Wahab, CEO of the Egyptian General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), discussed increasing investments in Egypt with Saleh Mohammed bin Nasra, owner of the Diamond Group, and Abdel Rahman Agamy, CEO of the Diamond Group and Sky Abu Dhabi Real Estate Development.

An official statement said that they presented promising investment opportunities in several sectors, and covered the facilities and measures taken by the Egyptian government to encourage foreign investment.

The meeting comes during Abdel Wahab’s tour of the Gulf region, where he is engaging with a number of major Emirati companies to discuss investment opportunities.

Nasra said the Diamond Group aimed “to contribute to the implementation of the state’s directives to achieve comprehensive urban development that accommodates the increase in population and contributes to the continued growth of the Egyptian economy.”

Agamy said that the group began taking steps to pump EGP 15 billion ($960 million) worth of investments into Egypt over the next two years. 

Despite only announcing its entry into the Egyptian market two months ago, the UAE company has already started its first project in the new administrative capital with investments of EGP 4 billion.

Agamy said that the group is studying new opportunities and praised GAFI’s efforts in attracting foreign businesses to the country.


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 5 sec ago

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

Lubna Olayan becomes first woman to head a Saudi foreign 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 Saudi 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 CMA enhances Fintech regulatory framework

Saudi CMA enhances Fintech regulatory framework
Updated 11 min 12 sec ago

Saudi CMA enhances Fintech regulatory framework

Saudi CMA enhances Fintech regulatory framework
  • Amendments to Financial Technology Experimental Permit Instructions have been approved

RIYADH: The Capital Market Authority (CMA) announced on Thursday the approval of amendments to Financial Technology (Fintech) Experimental Permit Instructions, to enhance the fintech regulatory framework, according to bourse filing.

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 and 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.


South Africa, Saudi Arabia seek to boost trade following pandemic dip

South Africa, Saudi Arabia seek to boost trade following pandemic dip
Updated 17 September 2021

South Africa, Saudi Arabia seek to boost trade following pandemic dip

South Africa, Saudi Arabia seek to boost trade following pandemic dip
  • Saudi South African Business Council pledges to boost cooperation in infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and energy, tourism

JEDDAH: South Africa and Saudi Arabia are looking to boost trade between the two countries following a pandemic-hit year that saw imports from the Kingdom fall to a four-year low in 2020.

South African imports from Saudi Arabia slid to $2.69 billion in 2020 from $3.66 billion in 2019 and $5.41 billion in 2018, according to data from the UN Comtrade database. The vast majority of that was made up of oil and fuels ($2.27 billion or 84 percent in 2020), followed by fertilizers at $145.3 million and plastics at $124.5 million.

South Africa imports approximately 40 percent of its oil from Saudi Arabia, according to the EIA.

Far fewer goods went the other way, with Saudi Arabia importing $347.8 million from South Africa last year, down from $423.8 million in 2019 and $423.0 million in 2018.

The Saudi South African Business Council under the umbrella of the Federation of Saudi Chambers, held the Saudi South African business webinar on Thursday, co-organized with the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce.

The two countries have committed to strengthen their ties by working more closely in sectors such as infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and energy, tourism, and other areas.

“Despite the progress in our relations, we look forward to expanding the scope of our cooperation with South Africa in line with our respective capabilities,” said Chairman of the Saudi-South African Business Council Hisham Al-Amoudi. “The Saudi market has the capacity to host more South African investments, namely in mining, health care, small to medium enterprises (SMEs), agriculture and information technology, among others.”

Al-Amoudi said that a number of measures must be taken to achieve this, including activating the agreements and memorandum of understanding (MOUs) signed between the two countries, increasing activities of the Saudi South African Business Council, “developing programs that support our goals, and enhancing our overall dialogue on topics of mutual interest.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made a state visit to the Kingdom in 2018 to meet King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to assess relations, focusing primarily on strengthening economic linkages between South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and South Africa are both G20 countries, and the Crown Prince has met with the South African President on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Argentina.

“Saudi Arabia is also a large investor in South Africa, especially in the area of renewable energy,” said Al-Amoudi.

“We seek to work with our South African friends to facilitate the access of Saudi products to the South African market, and enhance the Saudi-South African balance of trade,” he said. “I hope that these initiatives will elevate a strong relation to a higher level,” he added.


World Economic Forum to return to Davos in January 2022 after two-year absence

World Economic Forum to return to Davos in January 2022 after two-year absence
Updated 17 September 2021

World Economic Forum to return to Davos in January 2022 after two-year absence

World Economic Forum to return to Davos in January 2022 after two-year absence
  • The meeting will focus on accelerating stakeholder capitalism

ZURICH, Sept 16 : The World Economic Forum (WEF) is to take place in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos next year on Jan. 17-21, reverting to an in-person meeting of world and business leaders, organizers said on Thursday.
The meeting will focus on accelerating stakeholder capitalism, harnessing the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and ensuring a more inclusive future of work, WEF organizers said in a statement.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers last year to shift the WEF annual meeting to Singapore and then cancel it altogether, raising questions over whether the high-profile event would return to Switzerland at all.


Saudi Arabia’s Unifonic focuses on profitability, IPO after Softbank, PIF deal — CEO

Saudi Arabia’s Unifonic focuses on profitability, IPO after Softbank, PIF deal — CEO
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Unifonic focuses on profitability, IPO after Softbank, PIF deal — CEO

Saudi Arabia’s Unifonic focuses on profitability, IPO after Softbank, PIF deal — CEO
  • Unifonic plans to enter new markets, including Pakistan and Nigeria
  • CEO expects company to double in size every two years

RIYADH: Unifonic, the first Saudi startup to receive investment from SoftBank, would like to become profitable before listing its shares on a stock market, CEO Ahmed Hamdan said on Thursday.

“Over the next six months, we will have a bigger vision regarding the offering,” he said in an interview with Al Arabiya. The main criterion is to maximize the company’s profitability and the appropriate market in terms of the quality of the products we offer, and the appetite of investors in the public markets, he said without specifying which market Unifonic might list on.

Unifonic, which currently has offices in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Pakistan, plans to expand its customer engagement offering into new markets in the Middle East and Africa, including Nigeria, over the coming five years, he said.

Japan’s SoftBank and Sanabil Investments, a unit of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, led a $125 million Series B funding round for Unifonic, it said in an announcement this week.

SoftBank’s $30 billion Vision Fund 2 made its first investment in a UAE-based company in July when it led a $415 million Series C round in cloud kitchen Kitopi, pushing its valuation above the $1 billion mark that makes it a unicorn.

The investment will help Unifonic grow, according to Hamdan, who said the company plans to hire more than 1,000 employees to develop its expertise in cloud, artificial intelligence and data.

Since 2018, the company’s shareholders have doubled the value of their investments, among the best returns in venture capital, he said. It has quadrupled sales in the past three years, and the company will continue to achieve high growth rates, which requires capital injections from time to time, he said.

“We expect this rate of growth to continue during the next three years, with the volume of business doubling every two years,” he said.

Growth will be through direct investment or acquisition, Hamdan said.