Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Jouf, founder and CEO of payment processing company PayTabs

Across the Middle East, the pandemic provided a boost to e-commerce across the region, with a year-on-year growth of 54 percent, amounting to $12.1 billion in 2020. (AFP/File)
Across the Middle East, the pandemic provided a boost to e-commerce across the region, with a year-on-year growth of 54 percent, amounting to $12.1 billion in 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 28 March 2022

Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Jouf, founder and CEO of payment processing company PayTabs

Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Jouf, founder and CEO of payment processing company PayTabs
  • PayTabs is a key player in the region’s e-commerce sector with global ambitions

RIYADH: Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Jouf is the founder and CEO of PayTabs, a payment processing company founded in Saudi Arabia in January 2014 and now it has offices is the Kingdom, UAE, and Egypt.

He graduated from Riyadh’s Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Islamic business and subsequently obtained a bachelor’s degree in information technology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a master’s degree in e-business from the New York Institute of Technology.

PayTabs was founded in 2013 after Al-Jouf “faced problems finding a suitable payments gateway for one of his business startups ... and figured there would be many others with the same issues.” The company, in its own words, “processes payments securely and efficiently ... catering to small, medium and large enterprises and prides itself on offering simple invoicing services for merchants and professionals.”

PayTabs was, according to Al-Jouf, “taken under the wing” of Saudi Aramco’s entrepreneurship scheme “Wa’ed” and made headlines in August 2017 when it raised $20 million investment from unnamed sources. These funds supported the expansion of PayTabs across the Middle East and into other countries in Asia.

BIO

Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Jouf graduated from Riyadh’s Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Islamic business.

He also obtained a bachelor’s degree in information technology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Al-Jouf did his master’s in e-business from the New York Institute of Technology.

In 2018 PayTabs was recognized by Forbes Middle East as No. 1 among “the top 20 Fintech startups to watch.”




Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Jouf

In the same year, Al-Jouf was featured on the cover of Arabian Business magazine, and PayTabs was named “Fintech Company of the Year” at the Arabian Business Achievement Awards.

Both PayTabs and Al-Jouf are regularly covered by global media outlets, including Bloomberg, Reuters and CNBC.

Across the Middle East, the pandemic provided a boost to e-commerce across the region, with a year-on-year growth of 54 percent, amounting to $12.1 billion in 2020, Sitecore, a corporate global digital platform provider revealed in new research. Electronics and retail accounted for over 42 percent of this.

The research, conducted by YouGov MENA of IT decision-makers, across 12 countries in the GCC, found 90 percent would choose an alternative site if the experience was poor and another 89 percent revealed that their customers had less patience with slow or poorly performing sites.

The unprecedented growth in both e-commerce and digital payments are also reflective of a developing regulatory regime, with many countries including Saudi Arabia showing keenness in adapting to trends in banking and finance.


Oil Updates — Crude up; China’s crude oil imports hit 10-month high

Oil Updates — Crude up; China’s crude oil imports hit 10-month high
Updated 13 sec ago

Oil Updates — Crude up; China’s crude oil imports hit 10-month high

Oil Updates — Crude up; China’s crude oil imports hit 10-month high

RIYADH: Oil futures edged slightly higher on Wednesday on hopes for improved Chinese demand while uncertainty about how a Western cap on Russian oil prices would play out kept markets on edge after a sharp fall the previous session. 

Brent crude futures gained 13 cents, or 0.16 percent, at 0416 GMT to $79.48 a barrel after they fell below $80 for the second time in 2022 during the previous trading session. 

US crude futures clawed back earlier losses and were steady from the previous close at $74.25 a barrel. 

China November crude oil imports hit 10-mth high 

China’s crude oil imports in November rose 12 percent from a year earlier to their highest in 10 months, data showed on Wednesday, as companies replenished stocks with cheaper oil and new plants started up. 

The world’s largest crude importer brought in 46.74 million tons of crude oil last month, equivalent to 11.37 million barrels per day, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. 

That was up from 10.16 million bpd in October and 10.17 million bpd in November 2021. 

Chinese state refiners stepped up purchases of US crude oil, taking advantage of arbitrage opportunities, while maintaining high imports of Russian oil ahead of the Dec. 5 European embargo and imposition of an oil price cap. 

Independent traders last month also moved a record amount of deeply discounted Iranian crude passed off as oil sourced from Malaysia, Oman or elsewhere in the refining hub of Shandong province, according to tanker tracker Vortexa Analytics. 

The higher imports resulted in a crude oil stock build of 41 million barrels over the month, Vortexa estimated. 

Imports for the first 11 months of the year totaled 460.26 million tons, or about 10.06 bpd, down 1.4 percent from last year’s corresponding period. 

Wednesday’s data also showed fuel exports reached 6.144 million tons, the highest since June 2021 and up from 4.456 million tons in October, reflecting Beijing’s additional release of quotas. 

Year-to-date exports, at 46 million tons, remained 19 percent below year-ago levels due to a broad curb on fuel exports earlier in the year. 

Turkish straits tanker delays not due to Russia oil price cap: official 

Disruptions in tanker traffic from Russia’s Black Sea ports to the Mediterranean result from a new Turkish insurance rule, not the price cap on Russian oil agreed by a coalition of Group of Seven countries and Australia, an official with the group said on Tuesday. 

Of the 20 loaded crude oil tankers facing delays in the region, all but one appear to be carrying Kazakh — not Russian — origin oil and would not be subject to the price cap “under any scenario,” the official said. 

“There should be no change in the status of their insurance from Kazakh shipments in previous weeks or months,” the official added. 

Markets are closely watching the impact of a G7-led price cap on Russian seaborne oil that took effect on Monday, but G7 officials say the measure did not cause the backup in Turkiye’s Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits into the Mediterranean. 

 “The price cap policy does not require ships to seek unique insurance guarantees for each individual voyage, as required under Turkiye’s rule,” the official said. “These disruptions are the result of Turkiye’s rule, not the price cap policy.” 

(With input from Reuters)  


Closing Bell: TASI recovers from surging volatility to close at 10,444 points 

Closing Bell: TASI recovers from surging volatility to close at 10,444 points 
Updated 06 December 2022

Closing Bell: TASI recovers from surging volatility to close at 10,444 points 

Closing Bell: TASI recovers from surging volatility to close at 10,444 points 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index recovered on Tuesday after registering a massive fall on Monday, signaling the surging volatility in the market. 

The Tadawul All Share Index on Tuesday gained 25 points to close at 10,444.27 points after touching a low of 10,282.81 at 10:31 a.m. Saudi time. The recovery came close on the heels of the 304 points crash the bourse witnessed on Monday. 

The parallel market Nomu, however, could not match the pace with the TASI momentum and fell nearly 291 points to close at 18,506.03. 

The advance-decline ratio was pegged positively, with 109 stocks of the listed 219 heading north and 91 turning south. The total trading turnover was SR4.96 billion ($1.32 billion). 

According to market sources, investors were pessimistic about the Saudi market as they expected the earnings might not meet the historical growth it booked. 

The Saudi market is trading at a price-earnings ratio of 13.2x, which is relatively lower than its three-year average PE of 25.8x. 

On Tuesday, financial market tracker Argaam reported that shares of 39 Saudi-listed firms, including Saudi Telecom Co., Al Rajhi Bank and units of two real estate investment trust funds, hit their lowest levels in 52 weeks on Tuesday. 

The stocks that fell the most during this period included United Cooperative Assurance Co., which declined by 78 percent to SR7.6 and CHUBB Arabia Cooperative Insurance Co. by 58 percent to SR15.32. 

Other stocks included Malath Cooperative Insurance Co., which fell by 57 percent to SR10.88, Tabuk Agricultural Development Co. declined by 51 percent to SR51.3, while Red Sea International Co. dropped by 48 percent to SR23.18. 

On a positive note, however, information and communications technology firm Perfect Presentation for Commercial Services Co. on Tuesday announced a cash dividend of SR0.7 for the third quarter of the fiscal year, distributing a total of SR10.5 million. The company’s share closed 1.42 percent higher at SR156.70. 

The National Agricultural Development Co. also disclosed the launch of its strategic plan to the exchange, including expanding its leadership in dairy, juice, food, and agricultural products across new markets. The share price of the company tipped lower to touch SR22.76. 

The Saudi Exchange also celebrated the listing of AlRajhi Bank Tier 1 Sukuk. AlRajhi Bank is one of the world’s largest Islamic banks by market cap, with a strong presence in the Kingdom. 

“The addition of AlRajhi Bank Sukuk to the Saudi Exchange is another step toward diversifying the products available to local, regional and international investors, in line with our commitment to Vision 2030 and its Financial Sector Development Program,” said Mohammed Al-Rumaih, CEO of Saudi Exchange. 


SMEs in KSA jump 9.3% in Q3 driven by healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem 

SMEs in KSA jump 9.3% in Q3 driven by healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem 
Updated 06 December 2022

SMEs in KSA jump 9.3% in Q3 driven by healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem 

SMEs in KSA jump 9.3% in Q3 driven by healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem 

RIYADH:  The number of small and medium-sized enterprises in Saudi Arabia jumped 9.3 percent in the third quarter of 2022, driven by strong economic growth and a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Kingdom, according to latest government figures.  

A report released by the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, known as Monsha’at, showed the number of firms reached 978,445 in the three months to the end of September, up from 892,063 in the second quarter.  

The Monsha’at report pointed out that venture capital funding in Saudi Arabia in the first nine months of 2022 witnessed a 93 percent year-on-year increase totaling at SR3.1 billion ($820 million).  

According to Monsha’at, policy changes which have been implemented in the Kingdom since 2016 are one of the reasons behind the surge in the number of SMEs.  

“By increasing access to capital and offering and increased upskilling and specialized training to help people grow their businesses, entrepreneurial culture has taken root in the Kingdom,” said Monsha’at in the report.  

The report further noted that dedicated policies to invest in emerging technologies have also triggered innovation and job creation in the SME sector.  

Investments in the fintech sector were strong in the third quarter, with 22 deals signaling a 266 percent year-on-year rise, the report said.  

Renewable energy, tourism, and agricultural sectors are driving SME growth in the Al-Jouf province, with the province’s close proximity to the Jordanian market also spurring new business creation across multiple sectors.  

The report noted that initiatives and increased investments in the information and communication technology sector have also led to new SME growth in the Kingdom.  

“Monsha’at’s Thakaa Center is investing SR335 million to help over 90 tech startups and 250 SMEs integrate advanced technologies into their business,” the report added.  

The Monsha’at report for the third quarter came after Saudi Arabia’s National Development Fund announced the start of operations at the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank, aimed at bridging the finance gap in the SME sector.  

The launch of the new bank is expected to help the SME sector contribute as much as 35 percent to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product in line with the Saudi Vision 2030. 

Some other goals Monsha’at is trying to materialize by 2030 include lowering the unemployment rate from 11.6 percent to 7 percent and increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent.  


Global renewable capacity to double over next 5 years as energy crisis deepens: IEA

Global renewable capacity to double over next 5 years as energy crisis deepens: IEA
Updated 06 December 2022

Global renewable capacity to double over next 5 years as energy crisis deepens: IEA

Global renewable capacity to double over next 5 years as energy crisis deepens: IEA

RIYADH: Global renewable power capacity is expected to double over the next five years primarily driven by energy security concerns caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the International Energy Agency. 

In its annual report on the outlook of renewables, the organization noted that the capacity of renewables globally is expected to grow by 2,400 gigawatts over the 2022-2027 period, an amount equal to the entire power capacity of China today. 

“Renewables were already expanding quickly, but the global energy crisis has kicked them into an extraordinary new phase of even faster growth as countries seek to capitalize on their energy security benefits. The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the previous 20 years,” said the IEA's executive director Fatih Birol. 

According to IEA, this massive rise in the renewables sector is 30 percent higher than the amount of growth that was forecast just a year ago, which indicates the fact that governments all across the world are quickly embracing sustainable energy measures for a better future. 

The report further pointed out that renewables are set to account for over 90 percent of global electricity expansion over the next five years, overtaking coal to become the largest source of global power by early 2025.

Birol added: “This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system. Renewables’ continued acceleration is critical to help keep the door open to limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius.”

The report added that global solar photovoltaic capacity is expected to almost triple by 2027, becoming the largest source of power capacity in the world, while wind capacity is set to double in the same period. 

The IEA also noted that global biofuel demand is set to expand by 22 percent over the 2022-2027 period. 

“Together, wind and solar will account for over 90 percent of the renewable power capacity that is added over the next five years,” the IEA added. 

According to the report, Europe is leading the energy transition from the front as EU nations are looking to rapidly replace Russian gas with alternatives post the conflict in Ukraine. 

The report added that countries like China, US and India are implementing policies and introducing regulatory and market reforms to combat a possible energy crisis.


Veolia and Emirates Waste to Energy form JV to operate region’s first waste-to-energy plant

Veolia and Emirates Waste to Energy form JV to operate region’s first waste-to-energy plant
Updated 06 December 2022

Veolia and Emirates Waste to Energy form JV to operate region’s first waste-to-energy plant

Veolia and Emirates Waste to Energy form JV to operate region’s first waste-to-energy plant

RIYADH: Environmental management firm Veolia Near & Middle East has joined forces with Emirates Waste to Energy to operate and maintain the Sharjah waste-to-energy plant, touted to be the first in the region.

A joint venture between Sharjah environmental management company Beeah and Abu Dhabi renewable energy company Masdar, Emirates Waste to Energy can process 300,000 tons of municipal waste every year along with producing 30 megawatts of low carbon energy — sufficient enough to power up to 28,000 homes and offset up to 450,000 tons of CO2 emissions per annum, according to a press release.

Sharjah currently has a 76 percent landfill waste diversion rate and upon completion of this project it will enable that to be increased to 100 percent, thus making Sharjah the first zero waste-to-landfill cities in the Middle East.

“As part of our efforts to promote ecological transformation, Veolia is dedicated to diverting domestic waste away from landfill and to supporting the UAE’s push for green energy. This project helps achieve both goals, while being aligned with the UAE’s ambitious environmental vision,” said Pascal Grante, CEO of Veolia Near & Middle East.

Khaled Al-Huraimel, Group CEO of BEEAH Group, said the new venture with Veolia and Masdar is “another exciting development in our mission to shape a zero waste to landfill, net-zero emissions future in Sharjah and the UAE.”

He added: “Over the next 25 years, we will continue to build on our integrated waste management and zero waste-to-landfill ecosystem through the Sharjah Waste to Energy Plant.”

The waste management complex in the plant will recover a majority of the recyclable material from the waste it processes. Later, the remaining waste will be thermally treated, and the heat produced from the process will be applied to a boiler, which will produce steam and drive a turbine to produce electricity, the press release noted.

Mohamed Jameel Al-Ramahi, CEO of Masdar said: “We will work together to ensure the smooth operation and maintenance of the region’s first commercial-scale waste-to-energy facility, supporting Sharjah and the UAE in achieving their zero-waste and net-zero ambitions.”