Saudi Arabia investigates 13 entities for violation of competition law

Saudi Arabia investigates 13 entities for violation of competition law
Companies under investigation are in the contracting, retail and electronic platforms sectors. (File)
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Updated 07 July 2021

Saudi Arabia investigates 13 entities for violation of competition law

Saudi Arabia investigates 13 entities for violation of competition law
  • GAC dismissed 19 cases and considered two requests to settle

RIYADH: The Saudi General Authority for Competition (GAC) is investigating 13 entities for potential breach of the Kingdom’s competition law.

The companies under investigation operate in the contracting, retail and electronic platforms sectors, GAC said in a statement on its Twitter account on Tuesday without elaborating further.

GAC also decided at its latest meeting to consider two requests to settle cases and dismissed 19 complaints due to a lack of evidence.

Cases of suspected collusion in tenders being investigated by GAC rose to 86 in 2021, up from 55 last year and 15 in 2019, Al Arabiya reported last month.

In January, GAC announced sanctions against National Gas Co. and fined it SR3 million ($800,000). In February, GAC fined four pharmaceutical companies SR20 million for engaging in behavior that obstructed the entry of a competitor into the market.


Innovation zone aims to transform Cairo’s Bab al-Azab 

Innovation zone aims to transform Cairo’s Bab al-Azab 
Updated 17 sec ago

Innovation zone aims to transform Cairo’s Bab al-Azab 

Innovation zone aims to transform Cairo’s Bab al-Azab 

RIYADH: Egypt's Sovereign Fund plans to transform the historic Bab al-Azab area in Cairo’s Salah Al-Din Al-Ayoubi Citadel into the first integrated innovation zone in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The fund signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bidayat Investment company, under which the company will explore opportunities for cooperation in developing Bab Al-Azab and turning it into an innovation center to embrace Egyptian youth creators, founding partner Rachid Mohamed Rachid told Asharq Business.

The center also aims at embracing startup owners in fields such as engineering design, furniture manufacturing, jewelery, fashion, as well as films, he said.

Bidayat Investment Group has already established innovation centers in several international markets, such as Italy, France and Turkey.


Pakistan's Maqsad raises $2.1m pre-seed funds

Pakistan's Maqsad raises $2.1m pre-seed funds
Updated 12 min 7 sec ago

Pakistan's Maqsad raises $2.1m pre-seed funds

Pakistan's Maqsad raises $2.1m pre-seed funds

Pakistani e-learning platform Maqsad has raised USD$2.1 million in its latest funding round, just months after being created.

The edtech company offers after-school academic support to youngsters in English and Urdu, and the company aims to reach 100 million students in Pakistan.

The company will use the cash to fund a production studio, academics and animators in order to develop in-house content.

Maqsad co-founder Rooshan Aziz said: “Struggles of students during the early days of the pandemic motivated us to run a pilot program. With promising initial traction and user feedback, the potential to digitize the education sector became very clear.”


American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders

American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders
Updated 20 September 2021

American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders

American Express joins Amazon network to benefit KSA cardholders
  • Amex cardholders in the Kingdom will now be able to use their cards to pay online merchants who are part of the Amazon Payment Services network

DUBAI: Credit card giant American Express has signed a deal with Amazon Payment Services, expanding cardholders’ use for their online payments in Saudi Arabia.

Under the deal, Amex cardholders in the Kingdom will now be able to use their cards to pay online merchants who are part of the Amazon Payment Services network.

“By partnering with Amazon Payment Services, American Express will be able to enhance and expand the online network of merchants in Saudi Arabia where American Express cards can be used,” Peter George, managing director of the payment service, said.

This comes as e-commerce and digital payments continue to grow in the Kingdom and the wider Middle East.


Kuwait to implement largest government restructuring in its history as of 2022

Kuwait to implement largest government restructuring in its history as of 2022
Updated 20 September 2021

Kuwait to implement largest government restructuring in its history as of 2022

Kuwait to implement largest government restructuring in its history as of 2022

Kuwait plans to merge ministries, abolish others and create new strategies as part of the largest restructuring roadmap in its history over the next four years, Al Qabs reported.

Beginning in 2022, the ministries of electricity, water and oil will come together under one umbrella called the 'Ministry of Energy', while a 'Ministry of Economy and Trade' will also be created.

This department will be responsible for managing economic development, take responsibility for the national strategy for privatization, and manage the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Authority.

The plan also includes transferring the affiliation of Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) to the Ministry of Economy and Trade at the beginning of 2023, and developing strategies for a free economic zone and export promotion.

Kuwait's roadmap consists of reviewing investment laws, foreign ownership, bankruptcy and public-private partnership, evaluation, reform, simplification and digitization of the commercial registration process, and facilitation of procedures for obtaining credit.

The roadmap also includes expanding the competencies of the Competition Protection Office, including more experts in it, and expanding the scope of the National Fund for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to include innovation.

Kuwait plans to shift the executive management of the country from operator to regulator, through a government center to be established in early 2022.

The plan also includes dissolving the Ministry of Services and creating a new Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in order to develop the ICT strategy, as well as building a smart national strategy 'Towards a Smart Kuwait' in line with Vision 2023.

The Ministry of Information will be dismantled as of the last quarter of 2024, and the Media Authority will be established to implement media regulations in early 2023, the country decided.

Kuwait plans to establish six new local municipalities covering all its governorates, abolish of the Ministry of State for Housing Affairs and transfer its powers and responsibilities to the Ministry of Social Affairs.

It will also establish a new independent authority under the name 'The Public Authority for Social and Housing Support; at the beginning of the first half of 2022.

 


UAE small businesses lead the world in trading optimism: Visa

UAE small businesses lead the world in trading optimism: Visa
Updated 20 September 2021

UAE small businesses lead the world in trading optimism: Visa

UAE small businesses lead the world in trading optimism: Visa

Small businesses in the UAE are more confident about future trading than those in the US, Hong Kong, and Germany, according to a survey by Visa.

The financial services company’s 'Back to Business Study' states 64 percent of small and medium firms in the country are very optimistic about their long-term success — the highest proportion of all markets surveyed.

This figure rises to 88 percent when it includes firms who are generally optimistic about trading.

The survey also claimed that in the UAE the shift to contactless payments is becoming more permanent.

Nearly all consumers in the UAE — 92 percent  — say COVID-19 has permanently changed their payment habits, compared to 68 percent globally. 

About 73 percent  of UAE consumers would not shop at a store that does not accept contactless payments, compared to 44 percent across the globe. 

A third of UAE consumers have not used cash in the past week, the second highest among all markets.

Digital commerce has also particularly supported small business amid the pandemic, Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s general manager for the UAE, said.

He added: “Seemingly small pivots toward digital commerce can continue to make the difference between a small business surviving and thriving."