Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm boosts investment in drone operator

Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm boosts investment in drone operator
The firm, based at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), north of Jeddah, offers a range of drone services. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 June 2021

Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm boosts investment in drone operator

Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm boosts investment in drone operator
  • Wa’ed’s first investment in FalconViz came in 2016, and the new funding will help the company grow in Europe, the US, and Africa

RIYADH: The entrepreneurship arm of Saudi Aramco has invested a further $500,000 in a Saudi drone operator to help scale its operations to expand overseas, it was announced on Wednesday.

Wa’ed’s first investment in FalconViz came in 2016, and the new funding will help the company grow in Europe, the US, and Africa.

The firm, based at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), north of Jeddah, offers a range of drone services, including 3-D surveying and mapping, inspections, construction monitoring, and data visualization.

Its drones have multiple uses including for land surveying, mining, urban development, and cultural heritage assessments. FalconViz’s clients include BCG, HSBC, Neom, and the Saudi Ministry of Culture. Its drones were also used by the city of Jeddah to survey 250,000 square meters of the historic Al-Balad Old Town neighborhood to support the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site application.

Mohamed Shalaby, FalconViz’s co-founder and vice president of business development, said the Wa’ed investment was “a welcome injection of funds and confidence in our offerings and business strategy. This will enable us to keep investing in our people, growing our services, and expanding our global presence across different sectors.”

Salman T. Jaffrey, the chief investment officer of Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wa’ed, said: “It’s great to see FalconViz flying high. To me, it’s gratifying to see one of our earliest venture capital investments commercialize its research technologies and grow globally.”

Wassim Basrawi, managing director at Wa’ed, said: “FalconViz is a perfect example of a Saudi startup identifying and filling a market gap by delivering innovative services.”

Founded in 2014, FalconViz currently has 24 employees and is licensed by the General Authority of Civil Aviation. Wa’ed was established by Saudi Aramco in 2011 to offer loan financing activities to entrepreneurs, while its Wa’ed Ventures VC arm oversees a $200 million investment fund and a portfolio of more than 30 Saudi-based companies.

In April, Wa’ed signed a collaboration agreement with the Falak Investment Hub to help drive venture capital investment in the Kingdom. Falak is a hybrid firm between a startup accelerator, co-working space, angel network, and an investment company targeting regional tech startups focusing on Saudi Arabia.

Founded in 2018 by female entrepreneur Adwa Al-Dakheel, Falak’s portfolio of startups has generated combined revenues of more than SR550 million ($146.67 million). Both organizations aim to exploit synergies to improve early stage and growth stage startups’ chances of success through support with training programs, market access, and mentorship.

Wa’ed also signed a memorandum of understanding in March with the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu to support the creation of new startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Saudi Arabia’s two largest industrial cities.

Dhahran-based Wa’ed announced in January that it had tripled the amount of money loaned to startups in the Kingdom last year. It gave out 12 loans to SMEs, up from four in 2019, with the total value surging to SR31 million, compared to SR10 million in 2019.

“In a very challenging year, I am proud of the Wa’ed family, which includes my team and our resilient entrepreneurs, for rising to the challenges and keeping us on track to deliver an even greater impact in 2021,” Basrawi added.


Winning technical advice bidder for Saudi nuclear power program to be named soon: CNBC Arabia

Winning technical advice bidder for Saudi nuclear power program to be named soon: CNBC Arabia
Nuclear power plant Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. Getty Images
Updated 17 sec ago

Winning technical advice bidder for Saudi nuclear power program to be named soon: CNBC Arabia

Winning technical advice bidder for Saudi nuclear power program to be named soon: CNBC Arabia
  • EY may be the closest to winning the deal after offering the lowest price among advanced companies

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is about to determine the winner of the presentation of the technical advice bid for its first nuclear power program, Banking sources told CNBC Arabia.

King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, the government agency responsible for implementing the Saudi nuclear program, has been studying the offers from four bidders, Deloitte, EY, HSBC, and PwC.

EY may be the closest to winning the deal after offering the lowest price among advanced companies, sources added.

Saudi Arabia intends to become a leader in renewable energy by building 16 nuclear reactors by 2030, estimated to cost more than $100 billion with a combined capacity of 22GW.


FII: MISA says investment in jobs and supply chains secure pandemic growth

FII: MISA says investment in jobs and supply chains secure pandemic growth
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Updated 13 min 36 sec ago

FII: MISA says investment in jobs and supply chains secure pandemic growth

FII: MISA says investment in jobs and supply chains secure pandemic growth
  • Last month, the Kingdom forecast economic growth of 2.6% this year and 7.5% in 2022


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih said the Kingdom put maintaining jobs and securing supply chains as one of its top priorities during the height of the pandemic, reported Argaam.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh he added that the Kingdom’s economy was able to remain flexible and grow as the health crisis eased.

The Minister said: “The pandemic came as a shock to the business enterprise sector; it taught us different lessons in various fields.”

Last month, the Kingdom forecast economic growth of 2.6% this year and 7.5% in 2022, in a pre-Budget statement, after a 4.1% contraction in 2020.


UPS Q3 earnings beat estimates as revenue grows 9%

UPS Q3 earnings beat estimates as revenue grows 9%
Getty Images
Updated 26 October 2021

UPS Q3 earnings beat estimates as revenue grows 9%

UPS Q3 earnings beat estimates as revenue grows 9%
  • The results exceeded Wall Street expectations

United Parcel Service Inc. on Tuesday reported third-quarter profit of $2.33 billion.


On a per-share basis, the Atlanta-based company said it had profit of $2.65. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were $2.71 per share.


The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.52 per share.


The package delivery service posted revenue of $23.18 billion in the period, which also beat Street forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $22.61 billion.


‘Let the unicorns come!’ PIF advisor says Saudi's economic ‘pie’ is growing

‘Let the unicorns come!’ PIF advisor says Saudi's economic ‘pie’ is growing
Updated 26 October 2021

‘Let the unicorns come!’ PIF advisor says Saudi's economic ‘pie’ is growing

‘Let the unicorns come!’ PIF advisor says Saudi's economic ‘pie’ is growing

Entrepreneurship is the new growth economy, according to a leading figure in Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) as he called for business “unicorns” to come to the country.

Andrew Liveris, special advisor to the governor of the PIF, made the remarks as he discussed how economies need to diversify to embrace the digital age.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Liveris insisted the economic “pie will get bigger”, but workers will need to be retrained to carry out the new, less traditional, jobs of the future.

Referring to start-ups that go on to achieve market valuations of over a billion dollars, Liveris said: “Let the unicorns come.”

His comments chime with those made by billionaire businessman Larry Fink at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit on Monday.

The chairman of US asset management giant BlackRock told delegates at the forum in Riyadh it will be firms producing environmentally-friendly goods and systems that will become the next billion dollar companies.

Fink said: "It’s my belief that the next 1,000 unicorns - companies that have a market valuation over a billion dollars - won’t be a search engine or media company. They will be businesses developing green hydrogen, and green agriculture, and green steel and green cement."


A slowdown in Korean economic activity; interest rates remain unchanged in Japan: Economic wrap

A slowdown in Korean economic activity; interest rates remain unchanged in Japan: Economic wrap
Getty Images
Updated 26 October 2021

A slowdown in Korean economic activity; interest rates remain unchanged in Japan: Economic wrap

A slowdown in Korean economic activity; interest rates remain unchanged in Japan: Economic wrap
  • Producer prices in Spain leaped by an annual rate of 23.6 percent in September

South Korea’s economy jumped by 4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, slowing from the 6 percent increase it experienced in the prior period, a preliminary estimate by The Bank of Korea showed. 

Jumps in Covid-19 cases across the country have caused both private consumption and fixed investment to slow in this year’s third quarter. Meanwhile, government expenditure increased by 6.3 percent, up from last quarter's 5.3 percent growth rate.

In addition, the country’s GDP recorded a quarterly growth of 0.3 percent, dropping from 0.8 percent in the previous period, according to preliminary estimates.   

Rates to remain steady in Japan

Unlike other central banks that hiked their interest rates, the Bank of Japan is set to keep its rates on hold.

Japan has been experiencing high producer prices in the last period, yet consumer inflation remained at zero due to weak domestic demand.

The bank is expected to maintain its targets for short-term interest rate and 10-year bond yields at -0.1 percent and 0 percent respectively.

Producer prices in Europe 

Producer prices in Spain leaped by an annual rate of 23.6 percent in September, up from 17.6 percent in the previous month, official data showed. This is the highest rate since December 1977.

The hike in prices was driven by supply chain disruptions, energy shortages and last year’s low base effects.

Similarly, Sweden's producer prices soared to a record high of 17.2 percent on a yearly basis in September, expanding from 15.8 percent in August, Statistics Sweden said. 

Producer inflation has now risen for the eighth month in a row as costs of natural gas and crude oil helped fuel the increase in prices.

Singapore’s manufacturing

Singapore’s manufacturing output fell by 3.4 percent year-on-year in September, declining sharply from last month’s growth of 11 percent. Singapore Economic Development Board also said that a rise in the Delta variant cases contributed to the slip in production.

Biomedical manufacturing slumped by 35.9 percent while general manufacturing output declined by 2.7 percent in September, down from a growth rate of 6.4 percent in August. 

Manufacturing output also declined on a monthly basis in September, decreasing by 2.8 percent.