Saudi entrepreneur invests in digital transformation firm

Saudi entrepreneur Bader Othman Alabduljabbar
Saudi entrepreneur Bader Othman Alabduljabbar
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Updated 07 November 2021

Saudi entrepreneur invests in digital transformation firm

Saudi entrepreneur Bader Othman Alabduljabbar

The Finland-headquartered IT and cybersecurity consultancy Oivan has announced the completion of a SR9 million ($2.4 million) growth funding round led by Saudi entrepreneur Bader Othman Alabduljabbar and Finnish tech investor TCG, in addition to the participation of several Oivan employees, joining as new shareholders of the company.
Oivan expects its team to grow from 160 experts in 2021 to more than 250 experts in 2022. The company’s service catalog ranges from design, web, and mobile development to cybersecurity consultation and mission-critical operations teams. Since 1998, Oivan’s operations team has managed critical components of the internet infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
Oivan has strong Nordic roots and regional offices in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Thailand and Vietnam. The company operates with its proprietary enhanced distributed teams, in short, the EDT model.
Oivan’s CEO Rami Korhonen said: “We started Oivan with the idea that by bringing together technology and design talent from around the world, we can solve some of our clients’ biggest challenges and become a digital force for good.”
He added: “Today, our clients, such as the National Housing Company in Saudi Arabia, use Oivan to develop national e-services with the EDT model. Ten to 15 percent of our senior experts work onsite at the client location, while 85-90 percent of our production experts work at our international offices. The Sakani platform we developed in cooperation with the NHC has helped over 400,000 families find and buy government-subsidized homes in the past four years. Furthermore, the Ejar rental agreements platform we developed in partnership with the NHC has digitally processed millions of rental agreements.”
Rasmus Roiha, chairman of Oivan, said: “Being able to grow profitably throughout 2020-2021 is a testament to the tremendous talent and drive we have at Oivan. Getting the investment from our trusted business partner Bader allows us to take on even larger opportunities for our clientele’s benefit.”
The company expects its revenue to grow by more than 30 percent annually in 2022 and is actively hiring new talent to join its international team of over 20 nationalities.
“I have cooperated with Oivan since 2020 and been amazed by the skill and commitment the company has shown in serving its clients — the National Housing Company, Communications and Information Technology Commission, and Digital Governance Authority. The opportunity to bring Nordic quality digital transformation and cybersecurity expertise to Saudi Arabia is enormous, and I am delighted to be a shareholder and a close partner in the company’s future growth,” said Alabduljabbar.
CEO Korhonen added: “We are proud of having continuously played a part in Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation journey since the launch of public Internet in the Kingdom in 1998. This year we opened our Riyadh office and hired many highly skilled Saudi men and women to expand our local capabilities. We look forward to being the trusted digital transformation and cybersecurity partner for both public sector and private sector organizations in Saudi Arabia on their journey to reach the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.”


Majid Al-Futtaim Lifestyle opens first CB2 store in KSA

Majid Al-Futtaim Lifestyle opens first CB2 store in KSA
Updated 01 October 2022

Majid Al-Futtaim Lifestyle opens first CB2 store in KSA

Majid Al-Futtaim Lifestyle opens first CB2 store in KSA

Majid Al-Futtaim, a leading shopping mall, communities, retail, and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, has opened doors to its first CB2 store in Riyadh. Promising a highly curated collection of contemporary furniture and decor, the brand has made its much-anticipated arrival following the recent store launch of its sister brand Crate and Barrel earlier this year. The opening of the store on Sept. 15 marks an important milestone for Majid Al-Futtaim Lifestyle as it continues to enhance its retail offering in the Kingdom.

Located on the ground floor of Sahara Mall, the large showroom hosts a range of design-forward pieces that will inspire customers to elevate their own spaces at home. From velvet sofas to ivory embossed nightstands, CB2 offers a curated selection of unique furniture and decor that can be mixed and matched to suit any aesthetic. Customers can experience CB2 both in the Riyadh store or online at www.cb2.sa, where they can browse the full collection.

“We are proud to be introducing CB2 to the Kingdom for the very first time, expanding the brand’s physical and digital footprint to cater to customer demand,” said Fahed Ghanim, chief executive of Majid Al-Futtaim Lifestyle. “Our focus is on customer experience as we collaborate with leading designers and brands to create world-class brand encounters. The omni experience we serve to our customers will help them enjoy CB2 and establish deeper connections with the brand.”

“We are thrilled to be working with our partners, Majid Al-Futtaim Lifestyle, to expand the CB2 brand in the Middle East,” said Janet Hayes, CEO of Crate and Barrel Holdings. “We believe that the design-forward product collection will resonate with both the international and local
Saudi clientele who are inspired individuals searching for ways to creatively transform their homes.”

“Through our partner Majid Al-Futtaim Lifestyle, we’re excited to see our brand’s second international home in the Middle East,” said Ryan Turf, president, CB2. “Our collections are an evolving exploration of modern design. As with our recent opening in Dubai, we hope the store allows even more people to explore, dream, and bring their heart’s desire home.”

The new store’s assortments include indoor and outdoor furniture, kitchenware, bedding, lighting, rugs, accessories and more. Customers can also explore exciting collaborations with leading designers such as Kara Mann, Ross Cassidy, Jennifer Fisher, Paul McCobb, Lawson-Fenning, Mathew Williamson, and Azeeza — all known for their individual creative aesthetic.

To provide a seamless omnichannel shopping experience, CB2 offers its products online with free delivery across Saudi Arabia, cash on delivery, and other convenient payment methods via Tabby, which allow shoppers to pay later — at zero interest.


Walaa Insurance taps Software AG for digital integration

Walaa Insurance taps Software AG for digital integration
Updated 01 October 2022

Walaa Insurance taps Software AG for digital integration

Walaa Insurance taps Software AG for digital integration

Saudi insurance company Walaa Insurance has entered into a strategic technology partnership with Software AG (Frankfurt MDAX: SOW) to transform its technology landscape. Software AG’s hybrid digital integration platform will allow Walaa to launch new products, services and channels in the Saudi market with an enhanced customer focus. The technology partnership will allow Walaa’s existing and new customers to experience innovative products and digital services across multiple channels.

This cooperation announcement was made last week in Riyadh during a handshake ceremony between Abdullah Albar, head of IT, Walaa Insurance, and Philippe La Fornara, president EMEA, Software AG. The event was attended by key executives of both companies.

Albar said: “Technology is a critical enabler in fueling our business priorities. Embracing innovation driven by Software AG technologies will act as Walaa’s central nervous system and will enable us to connect both external and internal APIs through a unified integration platform, powering our ecosystem and elevating our business competitiveness through enhanced delivery capabilities and customer experiences. In line with the leadership’s Vision 2030, this is our contribution toward a growing digital economy for our customers in Saudi Arabia and the broader region.”

Mamdouh Alolayan, country manager, Saudi Arabia, Software AG, said: “The fast-paced technological change in Saudi Arabia is advancing and reshaping all sectors including the insurance sector. We are pleased to support Walaa’s aspirations to upgrade its digital framework with an emphasis on interconnectedness and interoperability of services aimed to grow and revolutionize end-user experiences. Our API management platform and webMethods will open doors for a modern and global platform with newer business opportunities for this insurance giant in the years to come.”

Software AG’s transformative technologies will enable Walaa Insurance to fully harness the power of data in an age of fast-changing customer expectations and the evolution of the insurance sector. The insurance company will drive increased value for the segment continuing to stand out in today’s innovative and new business model dynamics.

Headquartered in Alkhobar, Walaa Insurance serves clients all over the Kingdom through three regional offices and more than 70 retail offices.


Gravita: A co-working space like never seen before

Gravita has hosted numerous international companies like AstraZeneca, PwC, Microsoft, P&G, Dior and more.
Gravita has hosted numerous international companies like AstraZeneca, PwC, Microsoft, P&G, Dior and more.
Updated 01 October 2022

Gravita: A co-working space like never seen before

Gravita has hosted numerous international companies like AstraZeneca, PwC, Microsoft, P&G, Dior and more.

Jeddah recently witnessed the opening of Gravita, an ultra-modern co-working space located in the heart of the city’s commercial district on Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Street.

Gravita gathers like-minded professionals from different disciplines ranging from freelancers to entrepreneurs in startups, SMEs and large enterprises in a revolutionary co-working space.

Spread across 3,200 square meters, Gravita is the largest co-working space in Jeddah by far, covering the entire 9th floor of the prestigious Jameel Square, which is one of the most distinguished commercial squares in the city, hosting numerous international companies in its offices including AstraZeneca, PwC, Microsoft, P&G, Dior and more.

The concept behind Gravita was conceived by its mother company Hadia Abdul Latif Jameel Group, which ranks amongst the top Real Estate Investment and Development Companies in the western region of the Kingdom for the past two decades.

HALJ Group is well renowned for its excellence and commitment to developing cutting edge hospitality, commercial and residential buildings with projects spanning across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

An international designing company worked cooperatively alongside an in-house team of designers.  They helped bring Gravita’s vision to life by giving each section a generous amount of space with the utmost privacy, allowing natural flow of light in a modernist style with a panoramic view of the beautiful coastal city.

Exquisite materials were carefully curated to furnish the premises to  make it contemporary and ergonomic. 

Gravita is tech-oriented and connected by a smart portal that is a key utility for the tenants right  from the moment they approach the parking area till late working hours.

The great efforts put in by Gravita ensure that a premium service is offered, characterized by personalization and context-based support with professionalism being at the core of every interaction.

It revolves around knowing the members individually and catering for their needs in a quick and smooth manner in order to innovate their experience and elevate the sense of community and partnership.

The vision behind Gravita goes beyond merely being a co-working space provider and embraces the idea that a stunningly designed place offering amenities and services like no other, combined with a well curated experienced team paves the way for professionals to perform better at their jobs and enables them to thrive and their ideas to flourish.

This unique space gives an opportunity to be surrounded by motivated and self-disciplined individuals that seek creativity and innovation in their efforts towards successful commerce, communication across all levels, networking, and design thinking.

Gravita opens a new perspective on the way workspace is defined and its direct effect reflecting on the high level of productivity, self improvement, and passion that goes into a profession.

 

 


voco first Riyadh hotel to offer EV charging station

voco first Riyadh hotel to offer EV charging station
Updated 28 September 2022

voco first Riyadh hotel to offer EV charging station

voco first Riyadh hotel to offer EV charging station

voco Riyadh, owned and operated by the InterContinental Hotels Group, has launched an electric vehicle charging station, as part of a series of new initiatives to protect and preserve the environment. In doing so, voco Riyadh has become the first hotel in the Saudi capital to offer an EV charging point.

Green initiatives such as these have made voco hotels around the world popular among tourists and guests looking for environmentally-friendly accommodation options.

M. Allaf, regional general manager of IHG and general manager of voco Riyadh, said sustainability is one of the most important priorities of voco hotels in the Kingdom. “voco aims to be the leading destination for sustainable tourism in the Kingdom, in line with Vision 2030 goals, which have placed sustainability among its most important pillars, as the Kingdom aims to reach zero-carbon neutrality by 2060.”

He added: “voco is a brand built on sustainability, and it continues to take sustainable measures with regard to carbon, energy, waste and water. voco cares about our planet as much as it takes care of its guests. voco’s care for the environment is seen in practices such as serving guests drinks in biodegradable glasses and cups or providing them with the opportunity to refresh and bathe under energy-efficient ventilated shower heads.”

The new EV charging station is also in line with the Saudi government’s direction toward supporting and developing the electric car industry. In May, the Saudi Ministry of Investment announced an investment of more than SR12.3 billion ($3.27 billion) to build a Lucid Motors EV factory in Saudi Arabia, with an annual production capacity of 155,000 cars. The move reflects the Kingdom’s global commitment to promoting a green economy and reducing carbon emissions.

Allaf said that voco has taken several other proactive measures to reduce carbon emissions, save energy and water, and reduce waste. “voco is a unique example of a green hotel model in the Kingdom, and it will continue to promote long-term sustainability and care for the planet in the communities where it operates,” he added.

Among its green initiatives is the use of large packages containing shampoo, soap and other toiletries for guests, which help reduce plastic waste. Moreover, voco uses recycled materials for various purposes and glass water bottles instead of plastic ones. Personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, razors and others are made with biodegradable materials.

Recycled plastic bottles are used in guest rooms, transforming plastic waste into high-quality bedding. By November 2019, this initiative had recycled more than half a million bottles.

In order to reduce the use of paper and benefit from digital transformation, the IHG Hotels and Resorts application provides visitors with the ability to book more than 5,900 hotels and resorts within the IHG Group around the world, including voco Riyadh and Alkhobar. The hotels also plan to eliminate plastic cards and digitize reservations to reduce plastic consumption.

The IHG Green Engage program features 200 eco-friendly solutions to improve sustainability practices at a global level.


NMC-KIA sponsors Taif racing season activities

NMC-KIA sponsors Taif racing season activities
Updated 28 September 2022

NMC-KIA sponsors Taif racing season activities

NMC-KIA sponsors Taif racing season activities

National Marketing Company, the official dealer of Kia cars in the western region of Saudi Arabia, is a strategic sponsor of the Taif Equestrian Club, which is currently hosting the 39th Taif racing season at King Khalid bin Abdulaziz Square in Hawiyah, located 15 km from Taif.

With a large number of spectators in attendance, the season, running from June 16 to Oct. 8., comprises a total of 384 races, and several valuable new contests have been added to the calendar. One of the contests, titled “Race Kia,” saw “Roga 3” winning first prize, outperforming all the other competitors.

NMC presented a KIA K5 car to the winner. Hassan Al-Shamrani, chief executive of NMC, handed over the car in the presence of Adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Khalid Al-Faisal and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Supreme Equestrian Authority Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal.

The officials ensured that all the arrangements for the competitions were in place, in line with the directives of the leadership and the goals of Vision 2030 to advance all sports activities, including horseback riding.

A display stand showcased the latest Kia cars at the event, allowing attendees to discover the newest offerings and even submit a purchase order after conducting a test drive.

By participating in the event, NMC-Kia aimed to strengthen its presence in the city of Taif, which is one of the most important cities in the Kingdom and a destination for those looking for pleasant weather, fresh air and scenic views.

Al-Shamrani said that supporting sports activities of all kinds is part of the company’s main goals, “where we seek to support and empower those who aspire to grow and develop in line with the Kia slogan ‘The Inspiring Movement.’”

“We are also keen to provide integrated services to Kia customers and provide points of sale in all governorates and cities of the western region in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Al-Shamrani said that earlier this year, NMC-Kia opened an integrated “3S” (showroom, service and spare parts) branch in Taif.