16 more fintech firms enter Saudi market in Q3 of 2021

16 more fintech firms enter Saudi market in Q3 of 2021
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Updated 29 November 2021

16 more fintech firms enter Saudi market in Q3 of 2021

16 more fintech firms enter Saudi market in Q3 of 2021

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia issued licenses to 16 fintech companies in the third quarter of 2021, Sabq quoted Saudi Central Bank governor as saying at an event on Monday.

Fahad Almubarak said 13 of those companies work in the field of payments and electronic wallets, and three firms are engaged in insurance and finance sector.

Saudi Arabia witnessed a 37 percent rise in the number of fintech firms entering the market and also recorded an increase in venture capital investments that exceeded SR680 million ($181 million).

Capital Market Authority chairman Mohammed Elkuwaiz said fintech companies develop technical ideas that challenge the current situation, which has an added value because it offers a product that did not exist before, Sabq paper reported.

Fintech in Saudi Arabia has competitive advantages over other countries, and 90 percent of transactions in the Saudi financial market are automated and have been conducted electronically for more than 10 years, Argaam reported.


French construction design firm Clestra Hauserman opens regional HQ in Riyadh

French construction design firm Clestra Hauserman opens regional HQ in Riyadh
Updated 44 min 47 sec ago

French construction design firm Clestra Hauserman opens regional HQ in Riyadh

French construction design firm Clestra Hauserman opens regional HQ in Riyadh
  • Today, the Clestra Hauserman Group has offices in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman

RIYADH: A French construction and design firm opened its regional headquarters in Riyadh on Tuesday, in a 50-50 partnership deal with Saudi holding company, Zuhair Al-Habib Group.

Known internationally for their eco-friendly partitions, Clestra Hauserman’s decision to open a regional office in the capital city comes one year after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the Riyadh Strategy 2030 plan. 

“Saudi Arabia is our biggest market and as of this year I can say that 80 percent of our business comes from here,” said Farid Habbas, Middle East Director of Clestra Hauserman.

“It was a natural move for the firm that we were happy and ready for. Our firm will now have direct access to the local economy, which will help us gain financial and geographic opportunities,” he told Arab News.

Clestra Hauserman, which had been based in Dubai, joins more than 40 multinational companies that are moving to Riyadh.

The plan includes a policy stating that government and state-backed institutions will no longer sign any contracts with foreign entities from 2024 unless their regional headquarters are based in the Kingdom.

The policy, which paved way for a regional headquarters attraction program, aims to help make “Riyadh one of the ten largest city economies” in the world.

Founded in 1913, the French firm has had a regional presence for more than 40 years, specializing in the manufacture and installation of prefabricated demountable partitions. Its first project in Saudi Arabia was with Aramco in the 1970s and the firm extended its regional presence via the undertaking of airport projects and numerous educational buildings and corporate offices all over the Gulf area.

Today, the Clestra Hauserman Group has offices in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.

“At Clestra, we develop and design our products from scratch, then completely fit out empty buildings from zero to completion,” Habbas told Arab News. “Our work extends to maintenance and after-sales services for all our clients, where we can be on-site for any adjustments needed within 24 hours.”

Habbas said what makes their products special is their move-and-removability, and likened it to the moveable block system made by Lego — the size of partitions can easily be adjusted by adding or removing panels.

“We’re not just selling a product, we’re selling a solution. We believe that Saudi Arabia is in need of the type of flexibility we can bring with our products and expertise, and not to mention the sustainable aspect of reusing our partitions again and again.”

One of their notable projects is at King Saud University, which has more than 200 kilometers of partitions made by the French firm that have been in use for more than 40 years — which speaks to the durability of the product, the secret of which lies in steel and aluminum.

Habbas added that the firm has plans to open a small factory in the first stage, followed a by a larger one in the second, in addition to carrying out workshops that aims to provide knowledge, expertise and training to employees, a move that should provide many jobs.

Fahad Al-Rasheed, CEO of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City said that by 2030 the regional headquarters program will contribute $18 billion to the local economy and create around 30,000 new jobs.

Since the announcement of the Saudi Vision 2030, as well as plans such as the Riyadh Strategy 2030 and the National Investment Strategy, the metropolis has flourished into a regional hub for businesses, trade and plentiful investment opportunities.


Commerce Minister bets on Saudi to be among 10 top competitive countries globally by 2030

Commerce Minister bets on Saudi to be among 10 top competitive countries globally by 2030
Updated 11 sec ago

Commerce Minister bets on Saudi to be among 10 top competitive countries globally by 2030

Commerce Minister bets on Saudi to be among 10 top competitive countries globally by 2030

RIYADH: An ambitious plan of reforms for the Saudi economy aims to make it among the ten most competitive countries globally by 2030, Saudi Press Agency reported citing Commerce Minister Majid Al-Qasabi.

This came during the 200th meeting of the Executive Committee for Improving the Performance of Private Sector Business, also known as Tayseer, headed by Al-Qasabi as part of the National Competitiveness Center.

The minister also launched the new work plan for the center during the same meeting in an attempt to make the Kingdom a global competitive economy.

Al-Qasabi noted that the new scheme will push Saudi private and public businesses a step closer to global peers, adding that the center has established committees to lead the movement in the industry, agriculture, services, and technology sectors.

He added that there will be a focus on the transformation to a green economy and the application of ESG measures on Saudi businesses as this will be a driver to attract investments to them.

The vision for the center stems from plans announced earlier by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said the economy is expected to get SR27 trillion ($7.2 trillion) in government spending and investments by 2030 as the Kingdom plans to be among the top 15 global economies.

Established in 2016, Tayseer committee comprises 70 leaders in the Kingdom’s public and private sectors. It is linked to the National Competitiveness Center, which was launched to achieve Vision 2030 in line with the National Transformation Program.

The centers will work towards adopting research-based innovation, bringing sustainability to practice, and ensuring operational efficiency to enhance the Kingdom’s global competitiveness in line with Vision 2030.

Through adopting the three pillars of competitiveness – productivity, sustainability, and inclusiveness, the plan comes in line with Environmental, Social, and Governance practices.

 


Emirates Islamic profits soar by 271% in 2021

Emirates Islamic profits soar by 271% in 2021
Updated 28 min 6 sec ago

Emirates Islamic profits soar by 271% in 2021

Emirates Islamic profits soar by 271% in 2021
  • The bank’s total income rose in 2021 by 15 percent to reach 2,398 million dirhams, buoyed by strong operating performance

RIYADH: UAE’s Emirates Islamic reported a jump of 271 percent in net profits to reach 823 million dirhams ($224 million) in 2021, after incurring a loss of 482 million dirhams in 2020, according to a report released by the bank on Wednesday.

The bank’s total income rose in 2021 by 15 percent to reach 2,398 million dirhams, buoyed by strong operating performance. The bank attributed this solid growth to higher non-funded income and major reduction in the cost of risk, driven by strong economic recovery, according to the statement.

Operating profit improved 20 percent year-on-year, expenses rose by 10 percent to reach AED 1.191 billion, non-performing financing ratio improved to 8.2 percent with a significant coverage ratio at 115 percent while total assets remained sturdy at 65 billion dirhams, the report showed.

“Emirates Islamic maintained healthy liquidity and strong capital ratios, enabling the bank to grow customer financing by 4 percent in line with improved economic activity,” said Hesham Abdulla Al-Qassim, chairman of Emirates Islamic and vice chairman and managing director of Emirates NBD.

Customer financing which grew 4 percent, reached 42.6 billion dirhams, while customer deposits increased by 1 percent reaching 47.3 billion dirhams.

The successful issuance of their $500 million 5-year Sukuk was well received by the global investment community, validating strong investor confidence in their financials and growth outlook, and the favorable outlook for the UAE economy, he added.


Who’s coming to Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference

Who’s coming to Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference
Updated 27 January 2022

Who’s coming to Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference

Who’s coming to Saudi Arabia’s LEAP conference
  • The event will host workshops and sessions based around the future of IT including, education, financial technology, electric cars and smart cities

RIYADH: Organizers of the LEAP conference in Saudi Arabia will host more than 400 speakers across six conferences during the three-day event.

Speakers will attend from a range of international and local organizations — such as Visa, Ericsson, JP Morgan, Cisco, and Huawei, as well as stc, NEOM, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

The event will host workshops and sessions based around the future of IT including, education, financial technology, electric cars and smart cities. Other specialized sessions, called Orbital Talks, will host speakers on these specific industries and topics:

• FinTech

• Future energy

• Creative economy

• Health technology

• EduTech

• Smart cities

• Retail

• The fourth industrial revolution

There will also be a startup pitch stage that will see entrepreneurs bid to attract seasoned investors. The winner of the pitch contest will receive a cash prize for their new business.

Some of the conference star speakers include:

Börje Ekholm

• President and CEO of Ericsson

• Appointed on Jan. 16, 2017

• Board member of Alibaba, Nasdaq, Trimble, and Royal Institute of Technology

Olayan Al-Wetaid

• Group CEO of Saudi Arabia’s stc

• Has over 22 years of experience in telecom

• Has held multiple board positions across several stc subsidiaries

Roberto Carlos

• FIFA World Cup-winning football player

• Former Real Madrid player

• Launched Ginga Scout, a software system connecting players with coaches across the globe

Joseph Bradley

• CEO of NEOM Tech & Digital Co.

• Served in senior roles at Cisco Systems for over 15 years

• Also worked for C3 Communications, AT&T, and Pacific Bell

Stephen Carter

• Group CEO of Informa

• Former UK minister of communications

• His career has spanned the private and public sectors

Ahmad Al-Khowaiter

• Chief technology officer of Saudi Aramco

• Joined Aramco in 1983 and has since held various technical roles in oil and gas production

Eugene Kaspersky

• CEO and co-founder of Kapersky

• Renowned cybersecurity expert

Tony Chan

• President of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST

• Has a PhD in computer science from Stanford University

Siim Sikkut

• Government chief information officer of Estonia

• In charge of the country’s digital government and innovation work


Iconic London store Fortnum & Mason looking to expand into Qatar in time for World Cup

Fortnum & Mason, an upmarket shop in Piccadilly that counts Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles among its customers, wants to expand into Qatar. (Shutterstock)
Fortnum & Mason, an upmarket shop in Piccadilly that counts Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles among its customers, wants to expand into Qatar. (Shutterstock)
Updated 26 January 2022

Iconic London store Fortnum & Mason looking to expand into Qatar in time for World Cup

Fortnum & Mason, an upmarket shop in Piccadilly that counts Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles among its customers, wants to expand into Qatar. (Shutterstock)
  • 315-year-old store counts Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles among its customers

LONDON: One of London’s most popular department stores is in talks to open a branch in Qatar ahead of this winter’s FIFA World Cup, according to a Sky News report.

Fortnum & Mason, an upmarket shop in Piccadilly that counts Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles among its customers, is believed to be discussing a franchise opportunity with partners in the country.

The company’s chief executive, Tom Athron, wants to continue the brand expansion which took place under his predecessor, Ewan Venters, which included a first outlet in the Gulf, in Dubai, which closed in 2017.

The 315-year-old store, which is owned by a branch of the Weston family, already has a store in Hong Kong, and partnerships in Australia and Japan.

“As part of our strategy, we are exploring opportunities to expand both online and internationally, the Gulf being a region we’d like to look at again,” a spokesman for Fortnum & Mason said.

Fortnum’s business was hit badly during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, but has seen strong growth in its online business, and the firm hopes expanding into Qatar ahead of the World Cup in November could raise the brand’s global profile.