MEA unit of Virgin Mobile achieves net zero carbon emissions in 2021

MEA unit of Virgin Mobile achieves net zero carbon emissions in 2021
Companies in the region are showing increased consciousness about their carbon emissions. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 22 September 2021

MEA unit of Virgin Mobile achieves net zero carbon emissions in 2021

MEA unit of Virgin Mobile achieves net zero carbon emissions in 2021
  • The telecom company teamed up with Dubai Carbon Center of Excellence to gather data on its operations to calculate its total emissions

DUBAI: Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa said it has achieved net zero carbon emissions across all its operations in 2021, supported by its ban on single-use plastic in Saudi Arabia. 

The telecom company teamed up with Dubai Carbon Center of Excellence to gather data on its operations to calculate its total emissions. 

Companies in the region are showing increased consciousness about their carbon emissions, inspired by a global movement towards sustainability. Governments in the Gulf are trying to do the same. 

Virgin Mobile previously banned single-use plastic in Oman and Saudi Arabia, eliminating more than 50 tonnes of single-use plastic across the region. 

Other sustainable practices have been implemented in the company’s offices, including policies on business travel, energy use, and environmental awareness for its employees. 


Saudi market at the forefront of digital transformation

Saudi market at the forefront of digital transformation
Updated 7 sec ago

Saudi market at the forefront of digital transformation

Saudi market at the forefront of digital transformation
  • Kingdom leading consumer trends in the region, says Bain & Company Middle East partner

The coronavirus pandemic has taken the world to a whole other level of digitalization and the youth are the driving force behind the ongoing digital transformation, said Anne-Laure Malauzat, partner at Bain and Company Middle East.
Talking on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh on Tuesday, she said Saudi Arabia is one of the leading countries in terms of contactless payments and other innovative solutions.
“We’ve seen the Kingdom lead in a number of things, the first one, for example, is everything that has to do with social media penetration. The Kingdom is known to have some of the highest social media utilization in the world,” Malauzat told Arab News.
She said YouTube utilization in Saudi Arabia is also one of the highest in the world. “With over 85 percent of people who have access to YouTube and watch YouTube on a regular basis, which is quite high,” she said.
Malauzat also pointed out that the region is also leading the way in terms of millennial and younger customers that are dictating change in market behavior and consumption pattern. 
She said that people in the Kingdom no longer want to spend time in making payments. “They want seamlessness and convenience and if it’s not convenient they might actually drop the purchase that’s how demanding our consumers are here,” she said.
The entrepreneur said the coronavirus pandemic has changed several things in the world and has forced companies rethink their strategies to deal with the changed environment focussed on digitalization.
“The main question we kept asking ourselves is we’re seeing the world changed especially in the last two years with the COVID-19 pandemic and we were wondering whether the change in the region was going to be different than around the world. What we found is actually there are quite a lot of similarities between the global and regional trends,” she said.
“We thought we were digital before COVID-19 now it’s a whole other level of digitalization,” Malauzat said.
“For example, we’ve seen that in Saudi Arabia, there are over 90 percent of people who said that they started shopping online more frequently following the COVID-19 pandemic and over 50 percent of those people said they would stick to their behaviors even after the pandemic.”
She said what happened was a structural change in how people purchase and shop.
Another example that occurred mainly due to the pandemic, she added, is that more people have started giving preference to their local products. 
“People were traveling less due to the pandemic so they spend more and more money locally and as a result the local offerings have grown; there has been a growth in local brands in different sectors whether it’s food or fashion. We’ve seen a rise of the local supply to meet the growing demand,” she said.


Saudi development fund issues $3bn to Pakistan to help support economy

Saudi development fund issues $3bn to Pakistan to help support economy
Updated 36 min 33 sec ago

Saudi development fund issues $3bn to Pakistan to help support economy

Saudi development fund issues $3bn to Pakistan to help support economy
  • The funds will help the Pakistani government support its foreign currency reserves

RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) announced it will deposit $3 billion to the State Bank of Pakistan to help the Pakistani government support its foreign currency reserves and in combating the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.
SFD said that the directive was issued to finance the oil derivatives trade with $1.2 billion throughout the year.
The fund added that these directives confirm the Kingdom’s continued stance in supporting the Pakistani economy.


FII: Bank chiefs, CEOs pass mixed verdict on cryptocurrency investment

CNN's Richard Quest (L) moderates a session at the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 26, 2021. (AFP)
CNN's Richard Quest (L) moderates a session at the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 26, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2021

FII: Bank chiefs, CEOs pass mixed verdict on cryptocurrency investment

CNN's Richard Quest (L) moderates a session at the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 26, 2021. (AFP)
  • Saudi central bank chief does not foresee destruction of banking system by digital currencies
  • Leading investors still view gold and dollar as a safer haven for investments than bitcoin

RIYADH: The verdict on cryptocurrency products and funds was mixed as CEOs, central bank chiefs, investors and policymakers exchanged views on the topic on the first day of the Future Investment Forum in the Saudi capital.

The three-day forum, which is themed “Invest in Humanity,” includes talks on artificial intelligence, robotics, education, healthcare and sustainability.

Taking part in a session on Tuesday, Fahad Al-Mubarak, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s central bank, said SAMA should have no involvement with crypto-assets as many of those who deal in them are criminals.

He did not foresee the destruction of the banking system by digital currencies but rather an expansion of centralized systems for regulating tender.

Bitcoin is the leading digital currency trading internationally, followed by Ether and Solana.

The three-day forum, which is themed “Invest in Humanity,” includes talks on artificial intelligence, robotics, education, healthcare and sustainability. (AFP)

Regulators are still playing catch-up when it comes to how cryptocurrencies should be governed, Al-Mubarak said.

Having made his point, he noted that there has been a sharp jump in online banking during the coronavirus disease pandemic. “Before the pandemic, only 35 percent of bank transactions were electronic,” he said. “Now it’s around 55 percent.”

Hussain Abdulla, co-CEO of Qatar-based investment bank QInvest, said cryptocurrency products were not yet Shariah-compliant, and more understanding was needed.

Nevertheless, he warned that the Middle East is lagging way behind the US and Europe when it comes to digitization of the banking industry.

“Winners in the banking industry will be those who take steps today toward digitization rather than later,” Abdulla said.

Several prominent business people who took part in FII sessions on Tuesday said leading investors still view gold and the dollar as a safer haven for investments than bitcoin.

Both Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and David Solomon, chairman and CEO of the Goldman Sachs Group, said they preferred investments in US dollar over bitcoin.

Ray Dalio, founder and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates, opted for gold over bitcoin.

Khaldoon Khalifa Al-Mubarak, CEO and managing director of the UAE’s Mubadala Investment Co., said he would take bitcoin “hedged in gold.”

In the past week, the crypto industry has seen inflows to the tune of $1.5 billion, amid soaring optimism with the trading of bitcoin exchange traded funds.

Inflows so far this year hit $8 billion, far exceeding the record set for the whole of 2020 of $6.7 billion, according to data from a report released by digital asset manager CoinShares on Monday.

The bulk of inflows for the sixth straight week went to bitcoin, with $1.45 billion, data showed. Inflows year-to-date amounted to $6.1 billion.

With more than 250 expert speakers from the economic, business, education and corporate worlds, discussions at the FII, dubbed the “Davos in the Desert,” have centered on investments that aim to create the greatest benefits for humanity.

Solomon said there must be clarity regarding indicators of economic recovery and action plans, and this contributes to attracting investments and facilitating the movement of funds.

Guests attending the opening ceremony of the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP)

More broadly, he underscored the importance of supporting and investing in small businesses to ultimately bring growth and innovation to economies.

“One of the key solutions to drive economic participation and growth is support for small businesses and finding ways that we all can contribution to growth and innovation,” Solomon said.

BlackRock’s Fink said: “It is important to improve human and environmental conditions and to think about long-term solutions, and governments have a great burden.”

In his remarks, Al-Mubarak highlighted the importance of coming together to combat the challenge of climate change.

“The climate challenge will require everybody to contribute in their own way. Nobody is going to solve it on their own. We have to solve it together, working together globally as institutions, as governments, as civil society.”


NEOM's tech arm, OneWeb sign a $200m joint venture for high-speed satellite

NEOM's tech arm, OneWeb sign a $200m joint venture for high-speed satellite
Updated 55 min 13 sec ago

NEOM's tech arm, OneWeb sign a $200m joint venture for high-speed satellite

NEOM's tech arm, OneWeb sign a $200m joint venture for high-speed satellite

Riyadh: NEOM Tech & Digital Holding Co. – the first holding company to be established as a subsidiary of NEOM – and OneWeb, the global communications network powered from space, have signed a $200 million (SR750 million) joint venture agreement to bring high-speed satellite connectivity to NEOM, Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East and neighboring East African countries.

NEOM Tech & Digital Holding Co. and the new JV entity will have exclusive rights to distribute OneWeb services in its target regions for seven years from the initiation of the LEO satellite network, which is expected to commence in 2023.

The partnership will see the deployment of OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, which will not only provide the rapid and reliable connectivity to enable NEOM’s ecosystem of cognitive technologies, but also transform businesses and rural communities in the region where access to fiber-like internet was previously unimaginable, according to a statement.

The agreement also includes a long-term strategic partnership regarding research and development of future connectivity systems.

NEOM Tech & Digital Holding Co. and OneWeb, the second largest LEO operator with 358 satellites and the only licensed operator in Saudi Arabia, expect to complete ground infrastructure in 2022.

 


Saudi Aramco signs new initial deals during the FII

Saudi Aramco signs new initial deals during the FII
Updated 26 October 2021

Saudi Aramco signs new initial deals during the FII

Saudi Aramco signs new initial deals during the FII

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco signed five initial deals as it plans to expand its focus on emerging sectors to drive private sector innovation and investment, it said in a statement during the Future Investment Initiative.

"The Company is pursuing investment opportunities in projects that could potentially reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, following the recent announcement of its ambition to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions across its wholly-owned operated assets by 2050," it said.

The deals are expected to complement Aramco’s continued investments in oil and gas, with further announcements on its Jafurah gas program expected in the near future, it added.  

Amin Nasser, Aramco President and CEO, said: “Our plans illustrate our focus on developing innovative projects and investments, which support our long-term business strategy and aim to have a positive impact. Collaboration will be crucial in promoting economic development and creating new opportunities, as we expand our portfolio, diversify our business, advance low-carbon energy technologies and develop sustainable solutions.”

To move its program forward, Aramco has signed five Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the following companies:

  • Modern Industrial Investment Holding Group and Intercontinental Energy – an MoU to develop a green hydrogen and ammonia project in Saudi Arabia;
  • South Pole Carbon Asset Management Ltd. and Yousef Abdulrahman AlDhabyan Agricultural Est.
  • (YADGREEN) – two separate MoUs to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a National Green Services Company to develop and innovate nature-based solutions (NBS) that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • BFG – an MoU focused on localizing the manufacturing of advanced nonmetallic building materials, as well as collaboration in research and development;
  • ABB – an MoU to explore localization of digital technologies for oil and gas applications, including domestic capacity building in the Process Automation System (PAS) and instrumentation fields.