SPARK, King Faisal University partner for sustainability studies

SPARK, King Faisal University partner for sustainability studies
SPARK is committed to supporting research and development programs that will contribute to the realization of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
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Updated 07 July 2021

SPARK, King Faisal University partner for sustainability studies

SPARK, King Faisal University partner for sustainability studies

King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with King Faisal University in Al-Ahsa for collaboration on environmental preservation and renewable energy studies. The agreement was signed on June 30, in the presence of King Faisal University Rector Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali and President and CEO of SPARK Saif Al-Qahtani.

The partnership with King Faisal University builds on SPARK’s core values of encouraging social and environmental responsibility, the promotion of operational efficiency and strengthening connections with neighboring communities. In line with SPARK’s mission to become the world’s leading energy-centric ecosystem, the agreement will aid in the development of innovative solutions for renewable energy and their application to the Kingdom’s distribution grids, sustainable landscaping, minimizing environmental impact and dedicated studies on sand movement and irrigation. 

Regarded as one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the Kingdom, King Faisal University, established in 1975, strives for excellence in international cooperation and knowledge exchange in education and scientific research. Agreements with the university aim to reinforce academic research activities through dedicated programs and MoUs that support the exchange of expertise, innovation and scientific cooperation. Through its scientific chairs program, the university aims to build partnership bridges with local institutions to contribute to achieving excellence in research and higher education, with a focus on current and innovative trends that will support the Kingdom’s growth. 

Al-Ohali said: “As part of King Faisal University’s framework, we encourage industry cooperation, working with the most important partners to achieve the relevant national goals, especially in fields related to the energy system. The university, through its relationship with King Salman Energy Park, is keen to work on major participatory projects, harnessing educational, research and advisory resources to serve SPARK’s mission, in a manner that enhances opportunities for the university to be positioned at the heart of SPARK’s business system and its projects.”

Al-Qahtani added: “This agreement with King Faisal University is one of many important partnerships built to encourage continued innovation and development both at SPARK and for the Kingdom as a whole. Reinforcing our commitment to innovation and sustainability, leveraging the academic excellence of institutions like King Faisal University is a key step in ensuring we have the knowledge and expertise to support our long-term development.” 

The MoU with King Faisal University is one of many agreements that SPARK has signed with national institutions to support innovation and collaboration, aimed at catalyzing the Kingdom’s development. Serving as a platform upon which the world’s energy sector can build an integrated future, SPARK is committed to supporting research and development programs that will contribute to the realization of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.


MIHAS: A key platform for halal businesses 

MIHAS: A key platform for halal businesses 
Updated 30 November 2021

MIHAS: A key platform for halal businesses 

MIHAS: A key platform for halal businesses 

The 17th edition of the Malaysia International Halal Showcase 2021, is going virtual till Dec. 31, proving yet again that it remains a key platform for global halal players to converge and trade.

This is reflected in the sales recorded in the first four days of the event by 549 exhibitors participating in the event. The premier halal showcase received over 8,500 virtual visitors comprising local and international companies, generating total sales of RM985.3 million in the first four days.

MIHAS 2021 which is hosted by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and organised by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation started on Sept. 9.

The products and sectors that were much in demand from the buyers clearly reflected the 12 sectors that MIHAS 2021 is promoting this year, namely halal food, education, pharmaceuticals, services and enablers, franchises, modest fashion, Islamic finance, halal cosmetics, media and recreation, Muslim-friendly tourism, e-commerce and food technology.

According to MATRADE’s Chief Executive Officer, Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz, Malaysian exhibitors too did very well during the first 4 days of the virtual showcase. “The creation of market opportunities for domestic halal players is part of MATRADE’s effort in supporting the nation’s economic recovery,” he said.

For the first four days of MIHAS 2021, sectors that recorded the highest total sales were Islamic financial services, beverages, pharmaceutical, toiletries and cosmetics, prepared food, and palm oil products. 

Abdul Aziz highlighted that the total sales generated by MIHAS 2021 thus far amounts to RM1.6 billion after incorporating sales from the ongoing virtual exhibition and the International Sourcing Program sales. The INSP, one of the flagship components of MIHAS, is a demand-driven B2B business-matching program for Malaysian exporters that was organised by MATRADE HQ and its 46 offices worldwide since April this year as a run-up to MIHAS 2021.

MIHAS has clearly made a strong comeback despite two years of absence and being presented for the first time through a virtual format. “Although, there were initial concerns if the industry will react positively to the virtual format, to our pleasant surprise, the response has been overwhelming. For example, apart from the sales that MIHAS 2021 has generated, it also secured 549 virtual booths compared to the target of 500 booths,” he said.

MIHAS 2021 also witnessed an increase in the number of participation from international companies, highlighting the trust among global business community towards the trade fair. Through the virtual platform, the exhibitors from 43 different countries, including first-time participants from Mexico, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, and Colombia were able to engage with buyers from various different countries throughout different time zones at all hours.

“MIHAS 2021 managed to attract global halal players to visit and transact on the platform as it was developed in a holistic manner incorporating various different components such as the 12 different industry zones and knowledge hub sharing sessions as well as the support from MATRADE’s 46 global offices. We are confident that the 18th edition of MIHAS event next year will be on a bigger scale with commitment for continued synergy between physical and virtual format to reach out more Halal industry players,” he said.

There was also strong interest in the topics promoted under the knowledge hub component of MIHAS 2021 as over 1,000 viewers from around the world congregated virtually in these thought-provoking dialogues.

Sessions that were promoted by the knowledge hub program included those covering Islamic financing, innovation and business sustainability, digital technologies and the role of women entrepreneurs and perspectives from the youth in the halal economy. Prominent speakers featured in the knowledge hub session included Dato' Abdul Latif Haji Abu Seman, Director General of Malaysia Productivity Corporation  and Datuk Dr. Mohd Daud Bakar, Founder and Executive Chairman of Amanie Group and Chairman of Shariah Advisory Council Bank Negara Malaysia.


Aramco: A step ahead in digital transformation 

Aramco: A step ahead in digital transformation 
Updated 30 November 2021

Aramco: A step ahead in digital transformation 

Aramco: A step ahead in digital transformation 

Aramco migrated its largest SAP Enterprise Resource Planning system to SAP’s latest generation technology, S/4HANA. Over 1,200 employees worldwide, from the Kingdom, the US, Europe and Asia participated in this major event. This is a major step that will enable the Company to meet the demand for the latest digital technologies and support its digitalization ambitions. To facilitate this, it is imperative that the ERP systems supporting the Company’s core business are upgraded to the latest technologies.

Saudi Aramco’s strategy to migrate the ERP systems comprises a hybrid of the 3 approaches: System Migration of the main ERP systems to an SAP S/4HANA on-premise digital core; System Consolidation to consolidate specific ERP systems into the Digital Core resulting in a reduction in the number of systems and applications; and System Migration to Cloud for specific applications. The new platform provides technologies in the areas of mobility, machine learning, advanced analytics and Internet-of-Things (IoT) that will facilitate a significant number of digitalization use cases. The first set of business applications transferred to the new ERP system was finance and logistics, which are used by more than 64,000 employees and contractors.

This is the first of 13 ERP systems to be migrated to the new technology under Aramco’s ERP Transformation Project and is due to be completed by December 2023.

Yousef Al-Ulyan, Vice President of Information Technology at Aramco, said: “This is an important milestone in our digital journey. As of today, Aramco is the largest S/4HANA installation in the region and in the Oil & Gas Industry globally. This adoption of a cloud-based ERP platform, demonstrates another instance of how Aramco pursues cutting edge technologies to reinforce Aramco’s excellence in efficient operation. By embracing new yet added value technologies, the company will realize entirely new ways of doing business that will ultimately help strengthen our ability to serve our customers and substantially increase our competitive edge.”

Peter Maier, President Industries and Customer Advisory at SAP, said: “We are very proud that Aramco trusts SAP S/4HANA to run their core business. This new platform will optimize key business processes with intelligent technologies and support the company’s strategy to provide clean and reliable energy and innovative products. I am looking forward to seeing Aramco successfully complete this transformation journey and redefine the next business practices in the industry.”


New indoor entertainment city ‘Sala Hub’ opens in Riyadh

New indoor entertainment city ‘Sala Hub’ opens in Riyadh
Updated 29 November 2021

New indoor entertainment city ‘Sala Hub’ opens in Riyadh

New indoor entertainment city ‘Sala Hub’ opens in Riyadh

Sala Entertainment, a Vida Holding company, has announced the opening of “Sala Hub,” the largest indoor entertainment city at Riyadh Boulevard, as part of Riyadh Season events. The opening ceremony was attended by Fahad Al-Hokair, Abdul Rahman Al-Hokair and Mohammed Attia, CEO of Sala Entertainment.

Entertainment constitutes a significant part of the services and tourism sectors, which are among the pillars of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The opening of Sala Hub comes as part of the great transformation witnessed by the entertainment sector in the Kingdom, which has provided unprecedented opportunities for businesses that are active in the entertainment industry, including both local and international companies.

“The opening of Sala Hub aligns itself with the motto of ‘Imagine More’ that has been coined for this year’s Riyadh Season, as Sala Hub provides an opportunity to soar high into the world of imagination and enjoy fun experiences in an unusual and unforgettable manner,” a statement said.

Visitors to Riyadh Season can enjoy many exciting games and activities that are available for the first time in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, such as Zero Gravity, Air Race, Nebulaz, Drift Race, VR Bumper Car, Sky Race, Wave Up, Double Deck Carousel, Sky Tower, Blenderz, Super Jumper, Skyline Coaster and Roller Glider.

Sala Hub’s indoor entertainment area occupies around 4,500 square meters divided into many sections covering the needs of all family members. There are sections designated for major rides, redemption games, video games, VR games, skills games, sports games, kiddie rides, a party room, as well as a food and beverage area, an Immersive Tunnel and the stage.

Sala CEO Attia said: “Today we are strengthening our presence here in this Riyadh Season, a presence of which we are very proud. Our vision is to raise Sala Hub to the level of a global leader in branding, while we aspire to provide unique and high-quality entertainment replete with diverse experiences in order to meet the needs of our guests in Saudi Arabia, the GCC and around the world in the future.”

“As part of our values, which we consider the principles that guide us in our endeavors to provide everything that enhances the experiences of all family members, we affirm our commitment to providing global standards in terms of health, safety and security, as well as unique experiences for every member of the family,” he added.

The new Sala Hub is part of the plans developed over the past years by the company to expand its business at the national level. The destination aspires to be part of the efforts aimed to improve the quality of life in the Kingdom, support employment, strengthen the economy and contribute to the achievement of the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Bob’s Famous, KidZania Jeddah, Billy Bees, Sala City, Sala Laser Tag, Sala Karting, and eBlue are some of the brands operating under Sala Entertainment, through more than 26 branches across the Kingdom.


IHG partners with TRSDC to open InterContinental Resort Red Sea

IHG partners with TRSDC to open InterContinental Resort Red Sea
Updated 29 November 2021

IHG partners with TRSDC to open InterContinental Resort Red Sea

IHG partners with TRSDC to open InterContinental Resort Red Sea

Global hospitality company IHG Hotels and Resorts has announced the signing of a management agreement with The Red Sea Development Company, an affiliate of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, to open the InterContinental Resort Red Sea in the Kingdom. Situated within the premium Red Sea Development destination, the new InterContinental Resort is scheduled to open during Phase 1 of The Red Sea Project’s development. Activity for the first phase of development is well underway and is on track to be completed by the end of 2023.

Haitham Mattar, managing director, India, Middle East and Africa, IHG, said: “With a strong legacy in the country, we remain committed to leveraging the growth opportunities that are aligned with Saudi’s Vision 2030 and the priority destinations highlighted within the Saudi tourism strategy. We are excited to partner with The Red Sea Development Company, one of the world’s most ambitious regenerative projects, to strengthen our offering in Saudi Arabia and collaborate on sustainability related initiatives to protect the natural, historical and cultural environments that make this destination unique. These initiatives are in line with IHG’s Journey to Tomorrow, a 10-year action plan focused on commitments to drive change for people, communities and the planet.  We also look forward to building scale in the Kingdom to deliver a landmark development that will cater to the needs of diverse guest profiles expected to visit the country in the coming years.”

The announcement comes during InterContinental Hotels and Resorts’ diamond anniversary celebrations, marking 75 years of luxury travel with a celebration of rich heritage, iconic hotels and exclusive experiences.

Set within one of the world’s most ambitious luxury tourism developments amidst an archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands, InterContinental Resort Red Sea will offer guests sweeping views of the desert and dramatic mountain landscapes.

Each of the resort’s 210 sea-facing rooms will provide immediate beach access, allowing guests to step out onto the sands of the Red Sea from the terrace. Moreover, the resort will feature seven different gastronomic experiences, sprawling pools and recreational facilities, a spa, a health club, and meeting and events spaces for leisure and business travelers and groups.

John Pagano, CEO, TRSDC and Amaala, said: “Given IHG’s global expertise and strong legacy in the Kingdom, we are delighted to partner with them to bring world-class hospitality to our guests at The Red Sea Project. IHG is the ideal partner to build our hospitality offerings, shaping guest experience and taking it to the next level. With their understanding of the local landscape, high standards of quality, their impeccable service and clear focus on sustainability and responsible travel, we are confident that this partnership will see best-in-class results and we look forward to welcoming guests to this luxury leisure destination.”

In addition to The Red Sea Development, PIF is developing several gigaprojects across Saudi Arabia including Qiddiya, Amaala, Riyadh Central, Diriyah Gate, Jeddah Downtown, Rua Al-Haram, Rua Al-Madinah, AlUla, NEOM, and King Abdullah Financial District.

IHG currently operates 37 hotels in Saudi Arabia across five brands including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites and Voco. A further 23 hotels are in the development pipeline, due to open within the next three to five years.


SABB goes live with instant USD payments for corporates using Ripple technology

SABB goes live with instant USD payments for corporates using Ripple technology
Updated 29 November 2021

SABB goes live with instant USD payments for corporates using Ripple technology

SABB goes live with instant USD payments for corporates using Ripple technology

The Saudi British Bank has launched an instant cross-border transfer service for the US corridor through blockchain payment technology powered by Ripple. The launch of this service was announced during the fifth edition of the Future Investment Initiative, led by the Public Investment Fund, held on Oct. 26-28 in Riyadh. Ripple-powered solutions continue to be part of SABB’s strategic plan aimed toward digital transformation and enriching customer experience and aligned with Vision 2030 and the Financial Sector Development Program.

SABB is not only the first Saudi bank to join Ripple’s network for blockchain technology, but is also the first bank in the region to offer near real-time USD settlement for its corporate clients. This expansion of the solution to cover the US corridor is the third one through Ripple, post the successful activation of this technology for the Indian rupee and Lankan rupee in early 2019. With the Kingdom’s enhanced focus on digitally enabled solutions, SABB aims to continue to bring innovative solutions to its customers in the country.

Majed Najm, deputy managing director corporate and institutional banking at SABB, said: “SABB has always been at the forefront of adopting cutting-edge technology solutions, providing the best banking services and tailoring solutions that save time and effort for our customers. Such initiatives also help in maintaining our leading position in achieving the ambitions of the bank’s customers and in supporting SABB’s vision to be the leading global bank in the Kingdom.”

Brooks Entwistle, managing director of RippleNet in APAC and MENA, added: “Over the past few years, Ripple has built the first in-market solutions leveraging blockchain technology to revolutionize cross-border payments. We’re excited to bring this to market in partnership with SABB and to continue our longstanding partnership to the benefit of corporates and consumers alike in the region.”