Startup of the Week: Wafeer — helping Saudis spend wisely and save money

Startup of the Week: Wafeer — helping Saudis spend wisely and save money
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Updated 28 November 2021

Startup of the Week: Wafeer — helping Saudis spend wisely and save money

Startup of the Week: Wafeer — helping Saudis spend wisely and save money

JEDDAH: Personal finance app Wafeer is the only service in Saudi Arabia that automatically tracks user’s spending patterns in a bid to help them stick to budgets.
The fintech company was founded by Salah Al-Bassam, Ahmad Ramadan and Abdulaziz Al-Jasser in 2019.
Each founder brings their own skills to the firm — Al-Bassam is an investment professional, Ramadan specialized in tech, while Al-Jasser is an engineer.
“We believe this was the formula that made Wafeer what it is right now, the broad and diverse experience that each founder brings to the table and of course our value add investors,” Al-Bassam told Arab News.
In March, Wafeer raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-seed funding round led by Nama Ventures, with participation from RAI group, WomenSpark, and several angel investors.
At the time, Nama Venture’s general partner Mohammed Alzubi said: “We first met the Wafeer team in August of 2020. The first thing that stood out for us was how complementary was the skillsets of the team, with real role clarity from the get go.”
Al-Bassam explains that its software automatically updates expenses that are paid through the app, rather than needing manual entry.
“Beyond tracking user’s expenses, Wafeer offers personalized advice using artificial intelligence helping users get notified before overspending and gives them recommendations that help cut spending or create wiggle room,” Al-Bassam said.
He added the Saudi Vision 2030 growth initiative highlights the importance of creating more awareness of spending, savings and investment through its Financial Sector Development Program.
Al-Bassam said: “It is one of the Vision's realization programs. This program has several goals, the most important of which are achieving financial diversity, stability, and promoting the culture of saving.
“Our goal at Wafeer is to play a role in achieving these objectives with the aim of answering this ongoing question that arises at the end of each month: What did I spend my salary on?”
Wafeer has 82,000 active users in its platform, who have notched up almost 1 million transactions.
The startup has partnered up with big companies in the region, such as online marketplace Noon and Saudi fast food app Hungerstation to provide special offers to customers.
Al-Bassam said: “We are proud of our partnerships, we have signed a number of strategic partnerships, most recently with Noon and Hungerstation to provide Wafeer users with exclusive discounts and offers that match their spending behavior.”
Wafeer currently only operates in the Kingdom, but has plans to extend its services to other Middle Eastern and North African countries.


Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 

Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 
Updated 19 sec ago

Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 

Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 

RIYADH: Dubai-based Emirates airline is investing over $2 billion to boost its inflight customer experience, according to a statement. 

The investment includes a program to retrofit over 120 aircraft with the latest interiors, in addition to an array of other service improvements across all cabins starting in 2022.

“While others respond to industry pressures with cost cuts, Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever better experiences to our customers,” President Tim Clark said.

“Through the pandemic we’ve continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with the assurance and ease, including digital initiatives to improve customer experiences on the ground,” he added. 

The airline’s latest initiatives include upgraded meal choices, new vegan menu, a “cinema in the sky” experience, cabin interior upgrades and sustainable choices. 


EU ban on Russian coal enters into force

EU ban on Russian coal enters into force
Updated 27 min 38 sec ago

EU ban on Russian coal enters into force

EU ban on Russian coal enters into force

BRUSSELS: The EU’s total ban on coal imports from Russia comes into force from midnight Wednesday, at a time the bloc is grappling with soaring energy costs following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Leaders of the EU’s 27 countries agreed the embargo in April in their first move targeting Russia’s key energy exports over its war on its pro-Western neighbor.

The measure was subject to a 120-day grace period before full implementation, to allow pre-existing contracts to be fulfilled.

The EU up to last year imported some 45 percent of its coal — worth an estimated €4 billion ($4.1 billion) — from Russia.

Overall, the bloc slashed its consumption of the polluting fossil fuel from 1.2 billion tons to 427 million tonnes between 1990 and 2020 as it pushed to hit climate goals.

But the closure of many mines across the continent led to an increase in Europe’s dependence on imports.

Some countries including Germany and Poland that used it to produce electricity were particularly reliant on Moscow.

In the face of cuts to Russian gas deliveries in recent months, EU members such as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Italy have stepped up their use of coal-fired power plants.

Adding to the energy crunch, an EU plan to cut natural gas use by 15 percent in the face of rocketing prices came into force earlier this week.

During the first five months of 2022, the amount of electricity Germany produces from coal rose by 20 percent, according to energy analyst Rystad.

The embargo on Russia has pushed the EU to step up imports from other sources, including the US, Australia, South Africa and Indonesia.

But ending imports of Russian coal has already proved complicated for traditional mining nation Poland, which imported roughly 10 million tons from Moscow each year.

Its government imposed a total ban on Russian coal imports in mid-April, causing severe shortages and a surge in prices.

The cost of a ton of coal in Poland rose around fourfold from a year ago, leading to protests from the three million Poles still using it to heat their homes.


US consumer prices unchanged in July as cost of gasoline plunges

US consumer prices unchanged in July as cost of gasoline plunges
Updated 38 min 7 sec ago

US consumer prices unchanged in July as cost of gasoline plunges

US consumer prices unchanged in July as cost of gasoline plunges

WASHINGTON: US consumer prices were unchanged in July due to a sharp drop in the cost of gasoline, delivering the first notable sign of relief for weary Americans who have watched inflation climb over the past two years.

The Consumer Price Index was flat last month after advancing 1.3 percent in June, the Labor Department said on Wednesday in a closely watched report that nevertheless showed underlying inflation pressures remain elevated as the Federal Reserve mulls whether to embrace another super-sized interest rate hike in September.

The reading was the largest month-on-month deceleration of price increases since 1973 and followed on the heels of a roughly 20 percent drop in the cost of gasoline. Prices at the pump spiked in the first half of this year due to the war in Ukraine, hitting a record-high average of more than $5 per gallon in mid-June, according to motorist advocacy group AAA.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 0.2 percent rise in the monthly CPI in July. The Fed has indicated that several monthly declines in CPI growth would be needed before it lets up on the aggressive monetary policy tightening it has delivered to tame inflation currently running at a four-decade high.

HIGHLIGHTS

The Consumer Price Index was flat last month after advancing 1.3 percent in June.

Food is one component of the CPI that remained elevated in July.

Real average weekly earnings rose 0.5 percent in July.

But the lower-than-expected CPI data ignited a strong rally in equity markets, with the S&P 500 index up 1.5 percent in mid-morning trading. Investors immediately pared bets the Fed would deliver a third straight 75-basis-point rate hike at its Sept. 20-21 meeting, instead seeing the US central bank likely to opt for a half-percentage-point hike.

“This is not yet the meaningful decline in inflation the Fed is looking for. But its a start and we expect to see broader signs of easing price pressures over the next few months,” said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics.

US consumer prices have been surging due to a number of factors, including snarled global supply chains, massive government stimulus early in the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Food is one component of the CPI that remained elevated in July, rising 1.1 percent last month after climbing 1 percent in June.

In the 12 months through July, the CPI increased by a weaker-than-expected 8.5 percent following a 9.1 percent rise in June. Underlying inflation pressures, which exclude volatile food and energy components, also showed some green shoots despite remaining strong.

The so-called core CPI rose 0.3 percent in July, a 10-month low, after climbing 0.7 percent in June, helped by an almost 8 percent fall in the cost of airline fares, but still increased 5.9 percent in the 12 months through July, matching the pace in June.

Inflation in the cost of rent and owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence, which is what a homeowner would receive from renting a home, rose at almost the same pace as in June. Shelter costs comprise about 40 percent of the core CPI measure.

Tight labor market 

A separate Labor Department report on Wednesday showed real average weekly earnings rose 0.5 percent in July, the first monthly increase since last September and largest gain since January 2021.

Inflation pressures until recently had been concentrated in goods, but consumers have refocused spending on services as the pandemic eased. Fed policymakers are fearful that accelerating service-sector inflation will be more difficult to unravel.

There was little relief on that front, with prices for services excluding energy-related items rising at a 5.5 percent annual rate in July, the same pace as in the prior month, although there was a decline in the monthly reading.

Wednesday’s inflation reading followed the release last Friday of the Labor Department’s monthly employment report, which showed stronger-than-expected job growth and wage gains in July. The economy created 528,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell back to its pre-pandemic low. That employment data will make it harder for the Fed to bring the economy into balance soon.

Labor market tightness is also underscored by the fact that, although US job openings fell to a nine-month low in June, there were still almost two jobs for every unemployed person.


Boeing makes first 787 Dreamliner delivery since May 2021

Boeing makes first 787 Dreamliner delivery since May 2021
Updated 57 min 4 sec ago

Boeing makes first 787 Dreamliner delivery since May 2021

Boeing makes first 787 Dreamliner delivery since May 2021

NEW YORK: American Airlines on Wednesday said it had taken delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner since April 2021, a milestone for the planemaker.

American Airlines Chief Executive Robert Isom confirmed the delivery in an Instagram post, saying: “This is the first of nine 787s we expect to receive this year.”

Reuters first reported on Monday that the Federal Aviation Administration had cleared the way for the delivery of the first plane after Boeing halted deliveries in May 2021 after the FAA raised concerns about its proposed inspection method. In September 2020, the FAA said it was investigating manufacturing flaws in some 787 jetliners.


SAMI ranked among top 100 defense firms after 2,898% hike in revenue

SAMI ranked among top 100 defense firms after 2,898% hike in revenue
Updated 10 August 2022

SAMI ranked among top 100 defense firms after 2,898% hike in revenue

SAMI ranked among top 100 defense firms after 2,898% hike in revenue

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Military Industries has made it to the list of the 100 largest defense companies for the year 2022, according to Defense News rating.

SAMI, ranked 98, has seen a massive 2,898 percent jump in revenue in 2021, compared to a year earlier. 

The state-owned firm’s revenue jumped from roughly $20 million in 2020 to $605 million in 2021.

The increase in revenue and the company’s global ranking follow its acquisition of the Advanced Electronics Co. in December 2020. 

In line with Vision 2030, the Saudi government has been consolidating companies within SAMI to achieve a 50 percent technology transfer target. 

SAMI has also attributed its growth to its weapons and missiles business, its emerging technologies division, in addition to its joint ventures including Saudi Aircraft Accessories and Components Co., Navantia and Thales.

Data for the Top 100 list comes from information solicited from companies, their annual reports, analysts and from research by Defense News.