Visa appoints Dr. Saeeda Jaffar as senior vice president for GCC region 

Visa has announced the appointment of Dr. Saeeda Jaffar as group country manager and senior vice president for its operations across the GCC region. (Supplied)
Visa has announced the appointment of Dr. Saeeda Jaffar as group country manager and senior vice president for its operations across the GCC region. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 20 June 2021

Visa appoints Dr. Saeeda Jaffar as senior vice president for GCC region 

Visa has announced the appointment of Dr. Saeeda Jaffar as group country manager and senior vice president for its operations across the GCC region. (Supplied)
  • Jaffar joins Visa with deep financial services and payments expertise

RIYADH: Visa has announced the appointment of Dr. Saeeda Jaffar as group country manager and senior vice president for its operations across the GCC region. Jaffar will join the global digital payments company to oversee its presence in six countries and will be based in Dubai.

Jaffar joins Visa with deep financial services and payments expertise. She has spent the past five years serving as managing director for the Middle East at Alvarez and Marsal, while previously holding leadership positions in the region for both Bain and Company and McKinsey and Company, working with private and public sector clients. In her new role, Jaffar will report directly to Andrew Torre, regional president for the Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) and will be part of the CEMEA Leadership Team.

“The past year has brought tremendous change to commerce in the Middle East with consumers and merchants shifting to digital with greater speed and urgency,” said Jaffar. “As we continue the path toward recovery, Visa’s mission to help individuals, businesses and economies to thrive is more important than ever. With digitization high on the regional government agenda, I am looking forward to further helping establish Visa as a partner of choice, while unlocking growth opportunities for new and existing clients and partners across the GCC.”

“At Visa, our commitment to the GCC region remains as firm as ever, and as we further strengthen our presence, I am delighted we will be joined by a leader of Saeeda’s expertise and experience,” said Torre. “The GCC region is rooted in payments innovation, and with an expanding network of banks, fintechs and partners, Saeeda will play a critical role in further accelerating consumer payments, while advancing some of the new and exciting areas where there is demand for seamless, fast and secure money movement.” 

Jaffar holds a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Boston University, and a masters of science, in addition to a doctorate in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which she gained through the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum EDAAD scholarship.


Calling all entrepreneurs: MITEF Startup Competition launches

Calling all entrepreneurs: MITEF Startup Competition launches
Updated 27 September 2021

Calling all entrepreneurs: MITEF Startup Competition launches

Calling all entrepreneurs: MITEF Startup Competition launches

MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and MITEF Saudi Arabia have announced the launch of the MITEF Startup Competition 2021-2022. This year’s competition will provide the opportunity for the participants from Arab Startup Competition and Saudi Startup Competition to compete under a single competition, organized and supported by Bab Rizq Jameel and Community Jameel Saudi and under the patronage of the governorate of Madinah.

The MITEF Startup Competition 2021-2022 pits entrepreneurs in three different tracks: Ideas, Startups and Social Entrepreneurship. The competition aims to enable entrepreneurs and promote an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world, with a special focus this year on Madinah. This year’s edition launches with the slogan “Empowering Today. Transforming Tomorrow” and takes participants through a seven-month journey, filled with exciting activities like top-tier training, mentorship, media exposure, and networking opportunities. Moreover, the winning teams benefit from equity free-fund cash prizes.

The MITEF Startup Competition 2021-2022 will conclude with a final conference and awards ceremony that will take place during the Start Smart Conference in March 2022 in Madinah, during which this year’s Startup Investment Forum will also take place.

Applications are open for submissions until Dec. 6. Entrepreneurs and innovators from Saudi Arabia and the Arab world of all ages and industries can apply to one of the competition’s three tracks through the competition’s website: www.mitarabcompetition.com or www.mitefsaudi.org. The competition’s organizers will be conducting several roadshows and informative sessions throughout several Arab countries and Saudi Arabia, introducing the competition’s criteria and application process and helping candidates perfect their applications.

Mohammed Sanad Al-Yousif, CEO of the Economic Development Center in the Madinah governorate, said: “Community Jameel Saudi’s MITEF Startup Competition contributes to the enhancement of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the success of the region’s startups, and the support given to ideas and investment projects. This is the role that serves the expansion and support of innovation and entrepreneurship.”

He added: “We are pleased to host the forum in Madinah as a global destination for launching businesses and attracting qualitative investments to achieve sustainable development.”

Hala Fadel, founder and chair of MITEF Pan Arab, said: “After running the Arab Startup Competition for 15 successful editions in different Arab cities, we realize the importance of empowering our entrepreneurs by providing them with the proper training and mentorship and the effect that they have on transforming the entrepreneurship ecosystem. According to the 2020 Arab Entrepreneurship Maturity Index: Insights and Forecasts report that we published, ASC startups’ customer base grew by 43 percent over the previous two years and 45 percent of startups expanded into new geographic markets, notably the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa and East Asia.”

Hassan Jameel, vice chairman of Community Jameel, said: “We are proud to be a partner and to take part in this exceptional edition of the 2021-2022 MITEF Startup Competition welcoming entrepreneurs across the Arab world. The MITEF Pan Arab and MITEF Saudi Arabia startup competitions have succeeded in establishing more than 550 startups and providing more than 15,600 job opportunities.”


First community-centric boutique hotel opens in Jeddah

First community-centric boutique hotel opens in Jeddah
Updated 27 September 2021

First community-centric boutique hotel opens in Jeddah

First community-centric boutique hotel opens in Jeddah

The House Hotel Jeddah CityYard, part of new lifestyle destination City Yard — home to upscale gourmet venues, community events and entrepreneurial networking, opened in the city’s trendy commercial hub — Al-Rawdah.

The House Hotel is a Kerten Hospitality luxury boutique hotel brand known for its distinctive properties that tell a story. Marrying art and culture with a blend of classic and contemporary styles, this collection of hotels offers guests boutique luxury experiences tailored for each property.

Maria Bou Eid, general manager of The House Hotel Jeddah CityYard, said: “We are thrilled to be opening our doors for our first guests very soon. Our team is ready to share a taste of the real authentic hospitality and personalized experiences in our lifestyle hotel, which is also part of such a dynamic mixed-use destination curated by our visionary owners — that now offers experiences to stay, connect, dine and have a place to be inspired.”

The 114-room hotel will be the focal point of the City Yard complex — Saudi Arabia’s first mixed-use lifestyle hub in the city’s upmarket district, making its mark as a luxury design-led hotel connecting guests and residents. The hotel venue is part of the vision of Pure Houses, City Yard owners, to bring transformative brands together that build a destination and create an opportunity for entrepreneurial networking, local community and pop-up events. The purpose-built lobby staircase will be a place to socialize, meet others over coffee and Arabic dates, and practice people-watching.

CityYard is at the heart of this new, urban and entertainment center in Jeddah. The Plaza is where guests and residents come together to enjoy a hand-picked collection of regional, local and entrepreneurial restaurants and lounges.

Other property highlights include a Baker and Spice Restaurant — an award-winning food shop and restaurant focusing on artisan food that will provide innovative in-room dining, serving breakfast at any time throughout the day. An authentic all-day Saudi breakfast concept will be another culinary gem at the Plaza where diners will be spoilt with a variety of options, such as Akiba Dori — the place where Japanese street food meets Tokyo Neapolitan pizza, Kumar — the place to sample sumptuous Indian cuisine, and Alsayed — one of the oldest fish restaurants in the Kingdom, in addition to the well-known Burger Boutique and Leclair de Genie Café, offering gourmet French food.

A private pool area surrounded by real olive trees will show a glimpse of Jeddah’s view. Food markets, pop-up retail, weekend organic markets and entertainment activities, music and art festivals will add another layer of leisure for residents and visitors in Al-Rawdah.


UAE athleisure brand goes green for National Day

UAE athleisure brand goes green for National Day
Updated 26 September 2021

UAE athleisure brand goes green for National Day

UAE athleisure brand goes green for National Day

A UAE-based athleisure brand has curated an exclusive edit that shines a light on the Kingdom’s past and future on the occasion of the 91st Saudi National Day.

The UAE’s first sustainable homegrown brand, The Giving Movement, is celebrating this year’s theme of “It Is Our Home,” by honoring the Kingdom’s land and its locals with an original Arabic poem expressing the deeply rooted friendship between the two countries, the history of Saudi Arabia and its bright, vibrant future. Titled “From Our Heart to Yours,” the short yet emotive poem is dedicated to the people of the Kingdom in commemoration of their National Day.

The edit presents a collection for women, men and kids consisting of sweaters, joggers, T-shirts, jackets, caps, veils and more in the hues of the Kingdom. From soft-skin recycled nylon and recycled re-shell nylon to organic cotton and organic bamboo, the edit features the brand’s bestselling favorites and signature pieces.

The campaign also joins the UAE’s #Together_Forever campaign that is held every year to celebrate the Saudi National Day and the everlasting bond between the two friendly countries.

The Giving Movement is currently offering free shipping on all orders (Including cash on delivery) to Saudi Arabia. The athleisure brand is available for purchase on the website www.thegivingmovement.com, Ounass, Rubaiyat, and Milano in the Kingdom.

Designed ethically, the brand is dedicated to inspiring a global movement by encouraging and fueling conscious consumerism. Manufactured in the UAE, the brand was founded by Dominic Nowell-Barnes during the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on creating a positive impact and lasting global change. The Giving Movement recognizes the fashion industry’s impact on the environment, namely in activewear and athleisure, where the materials used are not sustainable or biodegradable. The brand donates $4 of every purchased item to charity. Since launching in April 2020, it has donated more than $100,000 to its partnered charities — Dubai Cares and Harmony House India.


Boeing keen to increase investments in KSA

Boeing keen to increase investments in KSA
Updated 26 September 2021

Boeing keen to increase investments in KSA

Boeing keen to increase investments in KSA

On behalf of Boeing and its employees in the Kingdom, I offer my sincere congratulations to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the 91st Saudi National Day.

It is notable that the leaders in Saudi Arabia have remained strong and steadfast in the face of adversity with visionary governing, which affirmed their commitment to supporting the recovery and growth of the aviation and tourism sector. The recently launched national strategy for transport and logistics, which features 92 initiatives and 378 projects, is set to support growth in the sector and position Saudi Arabia as a global aviation hub in line with Vision 2030.

This year’s National Day is an opportunity to reflect on the remarkable efforts of the company’s employees and the Saudi people and thank them for their incredible work during the pandemic and in preparation for the period to follow.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created great uncertainty in the aviation sector around the world. I believe that with the ongoing recovery of aviation and the potential for enhanced infrastructure, processes and reforms, the Kingdom’s air transport market presents a strong opportunity for economic gains. The arrival of new international services, low-cost carriers, and the establishment of travel corridors will allow the aviation landscape to flourish further in the future.

We are a proud and integral part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are dedicated to constructive cooperation and a shared vision for the future. With the company’s history in the country dating back more than 76 years, Boeing today is an active part of the Kingdom’s aviation, defense and space sectors, and a strong supporter of the governments’ ongoing visionary initiatives.

Boeing is keen to increase its investments in Saudi Arabia, and be a part of the ongoing sustainable development, diversification of economic activities, and increased adoption of advanced technology as a means to create new economic opportunities for the Kingdom.

At Boeing we are committed to cultivating local Saudi youth talent within the aerospace sector that will allow us to leverage our ability in creating solutions that lead to efficient processes with a sense of social, economic and environmental value.

I wish success to the leadership of the Kingdom, and the continued blessings of security, safety and prosperity for the country.

• Ahmed Jazzar is president of Boeing Saudi Arabia.


The Leela voted world’s best hotel brand, again

The Leela voted world’s best hotel brand, again
Updated 25 September 2021

The Leela voted world’s best hotel brand, again

The Leela voted world’s best hotel brand, again

The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, owned and managed by a Brookfield Asset Management-sponsored private real estate fund, has been voted the “World’s Best Hotel Brand” for the second consecutive year by Travel + Leisure USA World’s Best Awards 2021.

The Leela is considered to be the epitome of true Indian luxury infused with a distinct aesthetic that celebrates India’s rich art, cuisine and culture, which is engrained in its offering of India’s heritage to the world.

“This honor is a recognition of the brand’s consistency in pursuing excellence and its commitment toward curating authentic luxury experiences with the graciousness of Indian hospitality,” a statement said.

Travel + Leisure USA’s World’s Best Awards are a renowned benchmark of excellence for travel and hospitality companies globally. They honor the finest travel experiences in the world selected by Travel + Leisure’s global readership of discerning travelers. Readers rate their experiences and evaluate hotels across the world on characteristics such as rooms, location, service, cuisine and value.

“We are truly humbled and excited to be voted the ‘World’s Best Hotel Brand’ by the readers of Travel + Leisure USA for the second consecutive year. This is a testament to recognition The Leela brand enjoys and an appreciation of the hard work and dedication of our teams who go above and beyond every day, to deliver an impeccable luxury experience and make every guest’s stay a memorable one,” said Anuraag Bhatnagar, chief operating officer, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts.

“Being recognized as the ‘World’s Best Hotel Brand’ for the second year in a row is a tremendous achievement for The Leela hospitality business. Congratulations to the entire Leela team that has ensured highest delivery of services despite the challenging time the world has witnessed this past year,” said Ankur Gupta, managing partner Brookfield Asset Management. “These awards are also a recognition of the appreciation that Indian hospitality enjoys globally, and the limitless potential of the travel and tourism industry in India. Brookfield is committed to growing The Leela hospitality business both domestically and internationally, while retaining its authentic Indian luxury offering,” he added.

Headquartered in Mumbai, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts operates 10 award-winning properties in major cities and leisure destinations across India. These include hotels in the capital city of New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Udaipur, Jaipur, Gurugram, East Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and now Gandhinagar. The brand’s upcoming projects include business hotels in Bhartiya City Bengaluru and Hyderabad.