Riyadh to become Mideast advertising hub, says Martin Sorrell

Riyadh to become Mideast advertising hub, says Martin Sorrell
British businessman Martin Sorrell is seen in Downing Street in London. (AFP)
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Updated 01 June 2021

Riyadh to become Mideast advertising hub, says Martin Sorrell

Riyadh to become Mideast advertising hub, says Martin Sorrell
  • Veteran adman who created world’s largest agency now works with NEOM and Qiddiya

RIYADH: Riyadh is set to become the advertising capital of the Middle East, according to Sir Martin Sorrell, the veteran adman who created the largest agency in the world.

Speaking on the sidelines of last week’s Tourism Recovery Summit in the Saudi capital, Sorrell told Arab News: “Originally I think you’d probably say the heart of the advertising marketing service industry was Beirut and then it moved to Dubai, and now it’s moving to Riyadh.”

Since Sorrell left WPP, the company he founded in 1985 and which became the biggest advertising and communications group in the world, he has made S4 Capital the fastest-growing digital advertising business in the sector.

“We look at the Middle East as a whole obviously, in which Saudi Arabia is a key part, and I think things have shifted over the years that I’ve been in the industry,” he said.

Sorrell said that recent moves by the Kingdom to insist companies wanting to do business with government agencies had to have a regional headquarters in Riyadh would be effective.

“It may be contentious, but you know if it’s the rules you’re probably going to have to respond to it because, in the context of the Middle East, obviously Saudi is extremely important, and on a global basis as well,” he said.

S4 Capital could join the rush to set up in Riyadh, he hinted. “Well, it depends on how things develop, but we’re putting a lot of effort into our operation here and Saudi Arabia is important in the context of the overall operation,” he said.

Sorrell’s new business has picked up clients in Saudi Arabia, including work for two of the big megaprojects, NEOM and the Qiddiya entertainment city. He said that the scope of the Kingdom’s ambitions in the Vision 2030 transformation strategy matched his own in the advertising business.

“They are hugely ambitious targets with a lot of pressure for performance and reaching those targets, so I think a hugely ambitious program. Is it achievable? Well, you know, I believe we’re setting ‘big hairy goals’ at S4, so I would agree with setting big hairy goals.”

He saw big opportunities in tourism in Saudi Arabia. “I think the tourism thing is just beginning. Listening to the minister, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, you think about Saudi tourism, and you realize they are starting with almost a clean sheet of paper, like we did at S4 three years ago. So, you’re not held back by the albatross of analog or historic structures or approaches,” he said.

Sorrell said that the biggest challenge Saudi Arabia faced in its tourism plans were constraints on human capital, with the need to educate, train and develop a local workforce to manage the strategy.

“You really have to be highly disruptive in this business and Saudi in a tourist sense can be highly disruptive. With NEOM you have the benefits of the old culture, the crossing point of three religions, the proximity to east and west. It has the tradition and the culture and the sea and the mountains and skiing in Saudi Arabia, all that. As a result, big changes will take place, but the issue is human capital,” he said.

Most of S4 Capital’s current business is in America, but Sorrell has big expansion plans in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He estimated that digital advertising now accounted for half the global market, and that this would rise to 70 percent over the next five years.

Sorrell recently upgraded profit forecasts for S4 Capital after what he called “whopper” client wins, and now expects 30 percent profit growth this year, with markets expecting around $150 million profits on roughly $900 million of revenue.

The advertising veteran left WPP in acrimony after allegations of misconduct that he has repeatedly denied and which he said were driven by “personal animus.” He is still in legal dispute with the company he ran for 30 years over nonpayment of share awards.

WPP said that it was withholding the awards because of alleged media leaks by Sorrell. “That’s a bit rich coming from them,” he told Arab News.


South Korea seeks to boost clean energy efforts with UAE cooperation

South Korea seeks to boost clean energy efforts with UAE cooperation
Updated 17 January 2022

South Korea seeks to boost clean energy efforts with UAE cooperation

South Korea seeks to boost clean energy efforts with UAE cooperation
  • Seoul and Abu Dhabi reach landmark $3.5 billion defense agreement — largest in South Korea’s arms history
  • President Moon Jae-in scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday

SEOUL: South Korea is seeking to increase hydrogen cooperation with the UAE in a bid for a sustainable future and carbon neutrality, President Moon Jae-in said on Monday in Abu Dhabi during his Middle East tour to explore business opportunities in the region.

Moon arrived in the UAE on Saturday for a three-day visit as part of his week-long Middle East trip. From Abu Dhabi he will fly for talks in Riyadh.

“Through hydrogen cooperation between the UAE and Korea, I hope that we can move forward in a sustainable future and carbon neutrality,” he said while addressing the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

As South Korea wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, Moon said Seoul wants to bolster cooperation with the UAE in the development of carbon-capture technologies to create what is known as blue hydrogen — a form of the fuel obtained from natural gas in a process that stops carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere.

The UAE is one of the world’s foremost pioneers in the field.

Prof. Jung Sang-ryul of the Institute of Middle Eastern Affairs at Myungji University in Seoul told Arab News that with UAE-Korean hydrogen cooperation, the industry “can make a greater leap forward.

“The hydrogen industry is a field for future cooperation,” he said. “The UAE has strengths in the production of green and blue hydrogen, whereas South Korea (has) in utilization, storage and distribution, including hydrogen-powered vehicles, charging stations, fuel cells and liquid transportation.”

During Moon’s visit, Seoul and Abu Dhabi also reached a landmark $3.5 billion defense agreement on Sunday, under which the UAE will purchase KM-SAM surface-to-air-missiles, known as Cheongung II. It is the largest deal in the history of South Korea’s arm exports.

“The UAE is the first foreign nation to operate the Cheongung II,” Kang Eun-ho, commissioner of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, Seoul’s arms procurement agency, said in a statement. “The deal is the result of the bilateral defense cooperation based on mutual trust and will serve as a watershed moment for the two nation’s strategic defense partnership.”

The KM-SAM was developed with technical support from Russia to replace the older Hawk surface-to-air missiles that had been in service in 1964. Equipped with a multi-function phased array 3D radar, the interceptor can “hit-to-kill” hostile missiles coming in at altitudes below 40 km.

On the sidelines of the missile acquisition contract, the two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on collaboration in defense technologies, including the potential development of weapons systems.

The UAE is South Korea’s top export market and biggest partner in human resource exchanges in the Middle East.

South Korean firms have participated in the development of Emirati oil fields and the Barakah nuclear power plant — the first nuclear power station in the Arabian Peninsula, which started operations last year.

On Tuesday, the South Korean president will continue his trip to Saudi Arabia.

His office said in a statement that Moon is scheduled to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The leaders of the two nations are expected to discuss energy and infrastructure, as well as health care, science and technology, hydrogen, intellectual property and education,”the office said.

On Wednesday, Moon is scheduled to meet Gulf Cooperation Council secretary-general Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf to discuss the resumption of negotiations for a free trade agreement between Seoul and GCC.

South Korea and the GCC started talks on a free trade deal in 2007, but negotiations had stalled and were suspended in 2010.


Europe energy savings practices is inefficient, auditors say

Europe energy savings practices is inefficient, auditors say
Updated 17 January 2022

Europe energy savings practices is inefficient, auditors say

Europe energy savings practices is inefficient, auditors say

BRUSSELS: More than 2 billion euros of European Union funding to help businesses save energy contributed little to climate change targets and in some cases funded investments that would have happened anyway, according to an auditor report released on Monday.

The EU regards curbing energy use as essential to meeting goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and record high gas and power prices in recent months have increased the focus on measures to save energy.
But so far, EU funding to support energy savings for businesses has not been effective, the European Court of Auditors said in a report.

The EU spent 2.4 billion euros ($2.74 billion) from its budget over 2014-2020 to support energy efficiency in enterprises, including energy audits and measures to cut energy consumption or energy intensity in industry, services or the public sector.

The auditors estimated that projects backed by that funding achieved 0.3 percent of the annual savings needed to reach the EU’s target to cut final energy consumption by 32.5 percent by 2030, compared to projected levels.

“European Union funding is insufficiently linked to business needs — there was no proper analysis of what is really needed by the enterprises,” ECA member Samo Jereb told Reuters.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Poland, accounted for the bulk of the support.
Brussels plans to increase its 2030 energy saving target, and last year unveiled plans to renovate millions of buildings to achieve the huge energy efficiency improvements needed to meet its climate goals. Residential energy savings were not covered by the auditors’ report.

 

 

 


Singapore’s central bank issues guidelines to discourage crypto public trading: Crypto moves

Singapore’s central bank issues guidelines to discourage crypto public trading: Crypto moves
Updated 17 January 2022

Singapore’s central bank issues guidelines to discourage crypto public trading: Crypto moves

Singapore’s central bank issues guidelines to discourage crypto public trading: Crypto moves

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Monday, falling by 1.48 percent to $42,558 at 6:51 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $3,241 down by 3.14 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Other news

The Monetary Authority of Singapore issued on Monday guidelines restricting cryptocurrency trading service providers from promoting their services to the general public, as part of an effort to protect retail investors from potential risks.

In the new guidelines, MAS asserts that companies should not engage in marketing or advertising of DPT services in public areas in Singapore or through third parties, such as social media influencers, to promote DPT services to the general public. They can only market or advertise on their own corporate websites, mobile applications or official social media accounts.

Singapore is a popular location for cryptocurrency companies due to its relatively clear regulatory and operational environment and is among the forerunners globally in developing a formal licensing framework.

The city state authorities have also repeatedly warned that trading in digital payment tokens or cryptocurrency, is highly risky and unsuitable for the general public, as they are subject to sharp speculative swings.

“MAS strongly encourages the development of blockchain technology and innovative application of crypto tokens in value-adding use cases” Loo Siew Yee, MAS assistant managing director of policy, payments and financial crime, said in a statement.

“But the trading of cryptocurrencies is highly risky and not suitable for the general public. DPT service providers should therefore not portray the trading of DPTs in a manner that trivializes the high risks of trading in DPTs, nor engage in marketing activities that target the general public.”

Mining 

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Block, said in a tweet that the fintech company is building an open bitcoin-mining system, as the newly rebranded company looks to expand beyond its payment business and into new technologies like blockchain.

In October, Dorsey said that Block, formerly Square, was considering building a bitcoin-mining system based on custom silicon and open source for individuals and businesses worldwide.

In a tweet thread on Thursday, Block’s general manager for hardware, Thomas Templeton, laid out the company’s plans to build the mining system.

“We want to make mining more distributed and efficient in every way, from buying, to set up, to maintenance, to mining. We’re interested because mining goes far beyond creating new bitcoin. We see it as a long-term need for a future that is fully decentralized and permissionless,” Templeton tweeted. 


Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months

Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months
Updated 17 January 2022

Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months

Kuwait’s budget deficit 682 million dinars in 9 months

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s oil revenue reached 11.5 billion dinars ($38.10 billion) in the nine months to the end of December, the Ministry of Finance said in a report on Monday.
The Gulf OPEC member recorded a budget deficit of 682.4 million dinars in the first nine months of its financial year, which ends in March 2022, the ministry’s preliminary report said.
($1 = 0.3019 Kuwaiti dinars)


Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM

Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM
Updated 17 January 2022

Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM

Military-affiliated companies to be listed on the Egyptian bourse next year: PM

RIYADH: Some military affiliated companies operating in the economy and civil sectors are being restructured to be listed on Cairo's Stock Exchange next year, Egypt's Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, said.

The companies will be available to all Egyptians, not just the private sector,  he added during his interview on a BBC program, citing President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s statement. 

Soliman did not disclose the names of other companies affiliated with the Egyptian army that are planned to be listed, until the validity of their legal structures is verified. 

“We have offered more than 25 percent of the wholly state-owned e-finance company on the EGX, and many companies, including companies affiliated with the armed forces, are scheduled to be offered on the stock exchange next year,” Madbouly said.  

He added that the size of the armed forces' institutions represents less than 1 percent of the Egyptian economy.

Ayman Soliman, the CEO of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt had previously revealed the organisation was in the process of completing the legal restructuring of two affiliated companies, namely the Safi food company and the Watania petroleum distribution company, with both set to be listed on the stock exchange.