‘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
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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."


Celebrity shoutout platform Minly acquires Dubai’s Oulo to consolidate reach 

Celebrity shoutout platform Minly acquires Dubai’s Oulo to consolidate reach 
Updated 9 sec ago

Celebrity shoutout platform Minly acquires Dubai’s Oulo to consolidate reach 

Celebrity shoutout platform Minly acquires Dubai’s Oulo to consolidate reach 

DUBAI: Egyptian startup Minly is acquiring Dubai-based celebrity shoutout platform Oulo to combine services and reach for an undisclosed value. 

The platforms allow fans to connect with athletes, musicians, and other celebrities, and the merged business will combine the pair’s roster of celebrities across the Arab region. 

“Historically, the majority of pan-Arab celebrities were either Egyptian or Lebanese. Therefore, combining forces unlocks immense synergies as, together, we dominate the two most important sources of cultural content,” Kamal Nazha, Oula’s founder, said.

The acquisition follows Minly’s recent seed round where it raised $3.6 million off the back of a year of growth for the platform. It acquired 130,000 users and 1,000 celebrities in just over a year.

“Our mission is to become the number one creator economy platform in the region, and speed to market is critical to achieving this,” Minly chief Mohamed El-Shinnawy told Tech Crunch in an interview. 


Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes

Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes
Close-up of Gazprom Neft truck. Translation of a sign in Russian means Gazprom Oil. Shutterstock
Updated 24 min 36 sec ago

Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes

Gazprom Neft expects record hydrocarbon output this year, topping 100m tonnes
  • The company has been actively developing northern regions of Russia, mainly the Yamal region

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom, expects its hydrocarbon production to exceed 100 million tons of oil equivalent this year, reaching a record high, it said on Thursday.


Gazprom Neft had aimed to reach the 100 million tons target by 2020 but had to delay that due to production restrictions agreed by the OPEC+ group of leading oil producing countries.


The company has been actively developing northern regions of Russia, mainly the Yamal region, as its key oilfields in Western Siberia are beсoming increasingly depleted.


Gazprom Neft said on Thursday that higher production volumes in 2021 have been supported by the commissioning of the Tazovskoye field in the Yamal-Nenets region, as well as the launch of a new integrated gas treatment plant at the Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field.


The company also said it would increase investment next year.


“In 2022, Gazprom Neft’s total investment is expected to increase by more than 10 percent, with funding for the investment program expected to exceed 500 billion roubles ($6.8 billion),” it said.


Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine

Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 50 min 28 sec ago

Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine

Italy hits Amazon with $1.3bn antitrust fine
  • As Europe powers ahead with antitrust litigation, US regulators are closely watching its approach to big tech firms

Italian regulators hit Amazon with a 1.1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) antitrust fine Thursday for allegedly abusing its dominance in the market, the latest action against US Big Tech in the EU.


US technology giants have been in the firing line in the European Union over their business practices.


In the latest salvo, Italy’s competition watchdog said Amazon abused its dominant position by promoting its own logistics service on its Italian platform to the detriment of third-party sellers who did not use it.


“The abusive strategy adopted by Amazon is particularly serious, since it is likely to discourage, if not eliminate competition in the relevant markets,” read the 250-page decision.


The move comes two weeks after the same authority imposed a 68.7 million euro fine on Amazon for infringing EU laws through restrictions that penalized sellers of Apple and Beats products.


In the same action, Apple was ordered to pay 134.5 million euros.


As Europe powers ahead with antitrust litigation, US regulators are closely watching its approach to big tech firms, after Washington pledged to intensify scrutiny of the technology industry.


Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Italian watchdog said Thursday that third-party sellers who do not use Amazon’s logistics service are excluded from “a set of advantages essential for obtaining visibility and better sales prospects.”


Those included better access to Amazon’s “most loyal and high-end customers” who use Amazon Prime, the e-commerce giant’s loyalty program.


Moreover, a tough performance measurement system is reserved for sellers who do not use Amazon’s logistics system, which can lead, if failed, to suspension of the seller’s account.


“In doing so, Amazon has harmed competing e-commerce logistics providers by preventing them from presenting themselves to online sellers as service providers of comparable quality to Amazon’s logistics,” said the watchdog, adding that such conduct had “increased the gap between Amazon’s power and that of its competitors.”


In its decision, the authority said it had imposed measures on Amazon subject to review by a monitor.


The company must grant sales privileges and visibility to all third-party sellers who meet fair and non-discriminatory standards for fulfilment, and must decide and publish such standards, it said.


Last month, EU legislation to impose unprecedented restrictions on how US tech giants do business passed a first, significant hurdle, with a European Parliament committee approving their version of the Digital Markets Act.


That would slap far-reaching rules on companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft.


Such tech companies have been variously accused of stifling competition, not paying enough taxes, stealing media content and threatening democracy by spreading fake news.


Vegetable price cuts helps slow Egypt’s inflation in November

Vegetable price cuts helps slow Egypt’s inflation in November
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 58 min 38 sec ago

Vegetable price cuts helps slow Egypt’s inflation in November

Vegetable price cuts helps slow Egypt’s inflation in November
  • Transportation also cost 4.3 percent more in November compared to the same period last year

A drop in vegetable prices helped slow Egypt's inflation in November, with the rate dropping from 7.3 percent to 6.2 percent, data by the country’s official statistics agency, Capmas, showed.

The cost of the foodstuff declined by 12.6 percent compared to the 22.8 percent surge it experienced in the previous month.

Alongside this, the prices of food and beverages in general saw a slowdown, rising by a yearly rate of 9.3 percent in November compared to a higher 13.7 percent a month earlier.

Prices of clothing and footwear edged up by an annual rate of 2.2 percent in November, up from 1.9 percent in October. 

Transportation also cost 4.3 percent more in November compared to the same period last year. 

In October, the yearly rise in prices for this component was a slightly lower 4 percent.

Prices of housing, water, electricity, gas and fuels rose by 4.3 percent on higher costs of the latter three components.

Education costs went up by a notable 13.9 percent while the group of culture and entertainment surged by 11.6 percent.

Meanwhile, consumer prices in the North African country remained unchanged in November compared to the previous month.

Prices of food and beverages were down by 0.8 percent from a month ago while transportation was 0.3 percent higher.

Clothing and footwear experienced the highest monthly increase, as prices rose by 2.2 percent.

 


Saudi Arabia signs four agreements to localize production of medical products

Saudi Arabia signs four agreements to localize production of medical products
Updated 09 December 2021

Saudi Arabia signs four agreements to localize production of medical products

Saudi Arabia signs four agreements to localize production of medical products
  • The deals are expected to cover about 70 percent of the government health authorities’ need for these products

RIYADH: Four agreements were signed to localize the manufacture of medical personal protection products, SPA reported citing the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority.

The 3-5-year agreements were signed between the National Unified Procurement Company for Medical Supplies and a group of private investors, to localize medical masks, eyeglasses, and medical isolation uniforms.

The deals are expected to cover about 70 percent of the government health authorities’ need for these products, in addition to contributing to the gross domestic product with approximately SR180 million ($47,98 million), LCGPA CEO, Abdulrahman Al Samari said.

The agreements aim to cover the government demand for the health sector in light of the ongoing developments of the pandemic, maximize the development benefit of the national purchasing power, and increase local content in the private sector. 

They also aim to encourage local factories to go to export markets, and transfer new technologies to the Kingdom, SPA said.