Al Arabia signs media representation deal with Elevision media

Al Arabia signs media representation deal with Elevision media
The Saudi-listed outdoor marketing provider signed the agreement with Elevision Media. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 24 June 2022

Al Arabia signs media representation deal with Elevision media

Al Arabia signs media representation deal with Elevision media

RIYADH: Arabian Contracting Services Co., known as Al Arabia, has signed an exclusive Media Sales Representation agreement with UAE based Elevision Media, known as Elevision.

Al Arabia’s efforts will focus on selling advertising space on Elevision’s media portfolio, which is comprised of 1300 digital screens located in residential and business communities across the UAE including the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).  

Al Arabia said it expects the move to reflect on its financial statements starting from the fourth quarter of 2022.

It added that it’s exploring acquiring a majority stake in Elevision Media in a bid to expand its presence in the region and increase its advertising network.

Elevision, established in 2011, owns an operates over 1300 digital-of-home advertising screens in 330 locations in the UAE. 


Jeddah waterfront to be renamed ‘ROSHN Waterfront’

The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Jeddah Mayor Saleh bin Ali Al-Turki.
The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Jeddah Mayor Saleh bin Ali Al-Turki.
Updated 07 August 2022

Jeddah waterfront to be renamed ‘ROSHN Waterfront’

The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Jeddah Mayor Saleh bin Ali Al-Turki.
  • The waterfront is one of the most important landmarks in Jeddah, which was redeveloped and opened in 2017, with approximately 55 million visitors annually.

ROSHN, the national real estate developer wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund and Rotana Star Neon Company, signed an agreement to sponsor the Jeddah waterfront and rename it to “ROSHN Waterfront.” The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Jeddah Mayor Saleh bin Ali Al-Turki.

The waterfront is one of the most important landmarks in Jeddah, which was redeveloped and opened in 2017, with approximately 55 million visitors annually. It stretches on the Red Sea coast at a length of 4 kilometers and consists of seven diverse recreational areas targeting families and children.

The agreement is in line with ROSHN’s efforts to support the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to provide a higher quality of life for the Kingdom’s citizens and residents.

Commenting on the agreement, Sabah Barakat, group chief operating officer of ROSHN, said: “We were pleased by the attendance of His Excellency Saleh Al-Turki at the signing ceremony of the sponsorship agreement and the renaming of the Jeddah waterfront. We in ROSHN are keen to diversify our partnerships and efforts to ensure the provision of a higher quality of life in the Kingdom. The waterfront is part of our endeavor to activate the role of social responsibility and provide higher quality lifestyles.”

ROSHN is a national real estate developer powered by the Saudi Public Investment. Its mandate is to provide high-quality living standards for Saudis and to support government efforts to increase citizens’ home ownership rates. The announcement of the waterfront agreement comes after ROSHN launched the ALAROUS Project in Jeddah, which is the company’s second project in the Kingdom after SEDRA community in Riyadh.


etisalat by e& conducts first 6 GHz test in MENA region

etisalat by e& conducts first 6 GHz test in MENA region
Updated 07 August 2022

etisalat by e& conducts first 6 GHz test in MENA region

etisalat by e& conducts first 6 GHz test in MENA region

Etisalat UAE, branded as etisalat by e&, has announced the successful completion of its first trial of the 6 GHz spectrum, creating history by taking this monumental step for the future of 5G, opening up a world of possibilities for next-generation technologies and economies of the future.
This trial conducted with Huawei Technologies was integral in today’s technology evolution as full speed and capabilities of 5G depend on a mid-band spectrum that secures performance in the long term and adds more capacity if required. Here, 6 GHz plays a critical role, especially considering the use of mobile technologies has grown exponentially, devices have become more powerful, and services more diverse for both consumers and enterprises. With bandwidth-hungry applications, the number of connected devices per person has also increased, which means more bandwidth will be required to limit service degradation and deliver a good quality of experience.

FASTFACT

The 6 GHz range is a mid-band frequency and sits at a balancing point between coverage and capacity, providing the perfect environment for 5G connectivity.

The 6 GHz range is a mid-band frequency and sits at a balancing point between coverage and capacity, providing the perfect environment for 5G connectivity. Extending the bandwidth of 5G through the harmonization of 6 GHz spectrum will provide more bandwidth and improve network performance. On top of this, the broad, contiguous channels offered by the 6 GHz range will reduce the need for network densification and make next-generation connectivity more affordable for all.
Khalid Murshed, chief technology and information officer, Etisalat UAE, said: “5G allows the industry to support national digital transformation goals by providing reliable, high-capacity, low-latency, and wide-area connectivity to consumers and industries. The metaverse is opening untapped opportunities with hyper-personalized experiences powered by AI. Telcos will be the entry point to the metaverse not only because of connectivity but also because the customer wants access to a digital world. The future is powered by AI and analytics, with the metaverse playing a role yet to be defined. This kind of technology disruption will create challenges but simultaneously bring massive prospects to this dynamic industry.
“The trial for 6 GHz was influenced by these future market requirements as we foresee a significant growth accelerated by these applications. As a digital telco, we focus on our core while curating digital experiences that maximize engagement by building new capabilities across AI and digital to thrive in an increasingly competitive and ever-changing market environment.”
The focus on 6 GHz is also in line with etisalat by e&’s future roadmap as part of the e& group transformation drive to become a global technology conglomerate. Its partnerships with global tech companies like Meta are a testimony to the continuous drive for innovation by working together on metaverse technologies, use cases that integrate with the latest Meta products and solutions, consumer channel digitization, enhancing augmented reality and virtual reality experiences and conversational commerce throughout its digital communication plans.
The metaverse will require seamless mobility enabled by macro-cellular networks relying on a mid-band spectrum such as the 6 GHz band. In this scenario, as an example, extended reality headsets will require sufficient bandwidth on 5G smartphones to connect to these networks. At etisalat by e&, there has been remarkable progress in 5G implementation and connections across the country.
5G is the enabler of the future digital society and the foundation for the digital economy. According to GSMA’s latest report, 5G will bring an economic contribution of $700 billion to society in 2030. At the end of March 2022, 5G services have been launched in more than 70 countries, with more than 220 5G networks being deployed, and more than 700 million 5G users.


Vistara launches nonstop Jeddah-Mumbai service

The airline now flies thrice a week between Jeddah and Mumbai on its Airbus A320neo aircraft.
The airline now flies thrice a week between Jeddah and Mumbai on its Airbus A320neo aircraft.
Updated 07 August 2022

Vistara launches nonstop Jeddah-Mumbai service

The airline now flies thrice a week between Jeddah and Mumbai on its Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Vistara, India’s full-service carrier and a joint venture of Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, has launched nonstop flights between Jeddah and Mumbai, India. The inaugural flight departed from Mumbai on Aug. 2 at 6:05 p.m. (Indian Standard Time) and landed in Jeddah at 8:50 p.m. (Arabia Standard Time). The airline now flies thrice a week between the two cities on its Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Given the multitude of upcoming futuristic projects in Saudi Arabia, strong trade ties with India and presence of a large Indian diaspora, there is growing traffic between the two countries. Vinod Kannan, CEO of Vistara

Commenting on the launch of the new international route, Vinod Kannan, chief executive officer, Vistara, said: “We are delighted to launch services to Jeddah, and to add Saudi Arabia to our growing international network. Given the multitude of upcoming futuristic projects in Saudi Arabia, strong trade ties with India and presence of a large Indian diaspora, there is growing traffic between the two countries. We are confident that travelers will appreciate having the choice of flying India’s best airline on this route.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The inaugural flights departed from Mumbai to Jeddah on Aug. 2 and from Jeddah to Mumbai on Aug. 3.

• Flights between Mumbai and Jeddah will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The inaugural flight from Jeddah to Mumbai was operated on Aug. 3. Flights between Mumbai and Jeddah will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Vistara is India’s highest-rated airline on Skytrax and TripAdvisor, and it has been the winner of several “Best Airline” awards, besides being lauded for world-class cabin cleanliness and upholding high safety standards. In a short span of seven years since its establishment, Vistara has raised the bar for operations and service standards in the Indian aviation industry to become one of the most loved airlines in the country and has recently crossed the milestone of flying 35 million passengers.
The airline has a fleet of 53 aircraft, including 41 Airbus A320, five Airbus A321neo, five Boeing 737-800NG and two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.


Full Emirates LitFest sessions now available online for free

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 07 August 2022

Full Emirates LitFest sessions now available online for free

Photo/Supplied

Emirates Literature Foundation, home of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, one of the top literary festivals in the world and the biggest celebration of stories in the Middle East, is bringing some of the most compelling sessions from their 2022 edition to viewers’ fingertips via YouTube for free.
Panel sessions include “Global Leadership: Work, Family, and our Future,” with UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General Expo 2020 Dubai Reem Al-Hashimy and former CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi.
There is also an out-of-this-world dialogue about the best scientific discovery of all times with YouTube content creator, Ahmed El-Ghandour, known as Da7ee7, head of the UAE astronaut program Salem Al-Marri, and professor and author Serhii Plokhy.

It is our mission to bring the joy of literature and literary conversations to everyone, and allow global audiences to enjoy the LitFest experience.

Ahlam Bolooki, director of Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

Viewers can catch Sunday Times bestselling author Dr. Rupy Aujla and cookbook author, presenter, entrepreneur, and social media influencer Zahra Abdalla, as they discuss modern ways of “Cooking the Classics.” East meets West where Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, prolific author and direct descendant of Charles Dickens; Daniel L. Newman, author and chair of Arabic studies at the University of Durham; and Karim Hauser, head of international relations at Spain’s Casa Árabe; reflect on the long history of globalization in context of art, literature, and food.
Viewers can watch four masters of the crime thriller genre — Felicia Yap, Lucy Foley, Mark Billingham and Polly Phillips — as they talk “Originality in Crime Fiction,” and enjoy “Between the Covers,” a riveting discussion with poet and novelist Noor Naga and editor Selma Dabbagh on erotic writing in Arabic literature.
Ahlam Bolooki, festival director, said: “We strive to make the literary landscape more inclusive and accessible to all by making some of the diverse and interesting conversations from the festival available online. It is our mission to bring the joy of literature and literary conversations to everyone, and allow global audiences to enjoy the LitFest experience.”
The foundation also shares in-depth conversations with writer and blogger Jenny Lawson, and Emirati movers and shakers Omar Saif Ghobash, the assistant minister for culture and public diplomacy at the UAE’s Foreign Ministry, and Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor, founder and chairman of Al-Habtoor Group of Companies.
Poetry lovers can enjoy the world premiere of the multi-lingual, multi-genre collaboration of Emirati spoken word poet Dr. Afra Atiq with Colombian-American award-winning poet Carlos Andrés Gómez, and singer, songwriter and music producer Brent Shuttleworth.


Geidea Founder Abdullah Othman talks growth journey, expansion, and more

Abdullah Othman, founder and chairman of Saudi fintech company Geidea
Abdullah Othman, founder and chairman of Saudi fintech company Geidea
Updated 05 August 2022

Geidea Founder Abdullah Othman talks growth journey, expansion, and more

Abdullah Othman, founder and chairman of Saudi fintech company Geidea

Abdullah Othman, founder and chairman of Saudi fintech company Geidea, believes the distinction between “online” and “offline” will soon disappear when all transactions are conducted digitally in some capacity.

The founder of the leading payment service provider aims to create opportunities for all merchants around the world to connect with global consumers by leveraging all possible digital assets and technologies. 

Geidea offers digital banking technology, point-of-sale terminals and business management solutions for both financial institutions and small businesses in retail and digital commerce. 

Othman said the MENA region is growing rapidly and the demand for convenient payment solutions is increasing all the time, which is why Geidea will continue to expand its services across more markets — as it has done recently in Egypt and the UAE.

Othman talks about actively supporting the digital transformation drive across countries, achieving financial inclusion and much more.

1. As an entrepreneur involved in numerous ventures, what made you launch Geidea several years ago? 

As far back as 2008, it was clear to me that merchants needed access to affordable and intuitive payment solutions to grow their business. I could sense that the digital revolution would be all-encompassing and understood that fintech innovations held the capacity to transform the way we think about doing business and bring incredible opportunities for SMEs and aspiring entrepreneurs. 
And, of course, there are huge benefits for the consumer through the shift to a cashless society. For me, solving problems required innovative ideas — and that’s where the name Geidea came from. We see ourselves as an enabler for the business environment — one that reduces time and costs to set up businesses for the small merchant — one that can make their customer experience significantly better, and leverage the digital, high-tech ecosystem through the emergence of the Internet, open-source software, cloud computing, and other trends.

2. Geidea has come a long way since its beginnings — could you tell us about that growth journey?

The Geidea journey is unique in Saudi Arabia. After launching our point-of-sale product in 2013, it took us just four years to become the country’s largest fintech provider by market share. This was a significant responsibility, as digital innovators, to ensure we develop and provide the right solutions to support the Kingdom’s vision toward becoming a cashless society. 

Additionally, Geidea was not only one of the first companies to obtain a fintech license from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority in 2021, but also the only non-bank institution in the Kingdom to be granted an acquiring license from SAMA.

Throughout that journey — from startup to the country’s largest fintech company — we have worked incredibly hard to serve our society by bringing new digital payment solutions to the market. Geidea was the first fintech in the region to develop an app-based contactless “phone-POS” solution, empowering SMEs with a simple and intuitive way to process customer payments. This technology is vital because it allows merchants to accept payments quickly and securely on their Android mobile phones without the need for a separate payment terminal or connection. 

This solution includes the traditional POS terminal features, including acceptance of payments from contactless cards, mobile wallets, and wearable devices. We wanted to create a holistic ecosystem within one application, so all transactions are settled directly, and funds are automatically transferred into their existing bank account. 

Currently, we support more than 700,000 payment terminals and ATM networks with 150,000 merchants, including regional and international brands, SMEs and e-commerce players. That vast contribution has earned Geidea widespread recognition

3. Can you tell us about some of the notable partnerships and products that Geidea has rolled out over the last few years?

Collaboration and co-creation is important to our success. From Day 1, I recognized that Geidea had an opportunity to look at things differently and reshape the way customers, banks and merchants interact. The technologies we have invested in are game-changing, and that is why Geidea has always had very close alignment with not just the investor community but with regulators and the business ecosystem as a whole. 

Strategic partnerships have played — and will continue to play — a crucial role in our growth. A great example is our recent partnership deal with Magnati, formerly part of First Abu Dhabi Bank, which has provided us with an in-road to the UAE market, where we intend to roll out a full suite of value-added services and payment solutions to UAE-based companies. We have also partnered with institutions in Egypt, such as Banque Misr, which is provided with our SoftPoS payment solutions. Looking ahead, we hope to extend our partnerships even further to provide more services where Geidea is based — across the Kingdom, the UAE and Egypt. 

Some of our recent and exciting new partnerships include “channels by STC,” which is the exclusive sales and distribution arm of the stc Group and the National Computer Systems Company, a leading IT infrastructures and software businesses solution provider in the Kingdom. The stc partnership allows us to provide an integrated suite of solutions to the company and their network of retailers, which will enable them to seamlessly manage their stores, accept payments and resell top-ups and vouchers. Additionally, the partnership with Natcom expands the reach of our SoftPos solution, empowering the company to provide its customers with a payments experience that is transformational and innovative in the Kingdom.

Last year, following the launch of phone POS, we entered into strategic partnerships with global payment institutions including Mastercard and Visa, and major Saudi player SABB — these are important partnerships as we scale-up our technologies across the region.

4. Where do you hope to take the company in the next 5-10 years?

The digital economy is an incredible enabler of financial inclusion and economic activity and a way for governments to manage their economies. As a leader passionate about digital technologies, I understand that we have a unique role in accelerating the digital economy, particularly in widening access to business fintech tools critical to economic growth and social mobility. 

Commerce has continued to evolve at great pace since Geidea first began. Today, e-commerce is growing at such a proliferating rate that consumers are shopping through mobiles, laptops and more. Our aim is therefore to level the playing field and create opportunities for all merchants around the world to connect with consumers all around the world. It’s a bold vision that requires us to leverage all possible digital assets and technologies and become part of the merchant’s retailing strategy. This is vital, as I believe the distinction between “online” and “offline” will disappear as soon as all transactions will be conducted digitally in some capacity.

Additionally, I believe we will continue to expand our services across more markets — as we have done recently in Egypt and the UAE. The MENA region is growing rapidly and the demand for convenient payment solutions is increasing all the time. As an example, in 2021 we received a payments facilitator license from the Central Bank of Egypt. By partnering with Egypt’s leading entities — including the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr — we are actively supporting the country’s drive toward digital transformation and achieving financial inclusion.

5. Saudi Arabia is widely considered to be a flourishing fintech hub in the Middle East. What progress do you think the country has made toward becoming a leading digital economy?

I strongly believe that Saudi Arabia has made incredible progress — especially in the last few years — from both growth and regulatory perspectives. Saudi Arabia has continued to maintain its position as an attractive place for investment in financial technologies, and is actively supporting new ideas. New ground is being broken — empowering budding entrepreneurs. 

An example includes the Saudi Fintech Initiative, which supports fintechs as they enter the market and enhances the country’s digital payments infrastructure. Investors will also be interested in the sector’s sustainability, so issues like data security and analytics should also form part of the regulatory landscape to ensure that the business community and its customers are sufficiently protected.
The safety of the fintech space in Saudi Arabia is also buoyed by a regulatory framework that recognizes the power of unity and standardization across the sector. As far back as 2019, Saudi Payments set out to enable collaboration between 12 fintech companies and banks by signing a strategic MoU. It set out to provide consumers with new cashless payment opportunities and enabled the introduction of a QR-based national payment system that benefits retailers, payment service providers and individual customers. 
The regulatory framework for a new QR code payment system acted as an essential precursor to a whole new digital ecosystem of collaborative development. Outcomes include an open-loop payment environment that means retailers, payment service providers and digital wallet users will be able to make payment transactions regardless of the relations among the involved parties. 

This approach brings together the perspectives and ideas of many so that the entire ecosystem can evolve — and it is fantastic to see SAMA launch the Open Banking Exchange in Saudi Arabia in January 2022. The move means that Saudi Arabia can leverage the past achievements and knowhow of Open Banking Europe and the OBE communities in Southeast Asia and Latin America to accelerate the implementation of open banking in the country. Open banking exchanges have a proven track record of building collaborative environments — they are invaluable in helping their members develop effective open solutions based on jurisdiction-neutral technology frameworks. The hope is that this new framework will drive greater competition and collaboration — and those are the keys to innovation, financial inclusion and sustainable economic development.

6. The Kingdom has attracted a lot of fintech-related investment in recent years. How does Geidea see its role in this ecosystem? 

Our role is critical. Saudi Arabia has a cashless transaction target of 70 percent by 2030, and we look forward to building on our progress so far. We have worked to actively diversify across the transaction value chain through PoS license expansion, aiming for an electronic money institution license and a host of value-added SaaS- and LaaS-based solutions.

Through new partnerships, we are also working to transform how businesses access financing. In November 2021, we partnered with the financing company Alamthal to make accessing loans and processing repayments in a way that is easier, with less hassle and less stress. This partnership allows us to expand our role within the fintech ecosystem by providing a secure, trusted solution that empowers businesses with access, safety and flexibility. This is really important in helping growing companies to expand and scale. 

In January 2022, we developed our strategy for simplifying access to capital and loan financing for businesses by collaborating with the debt crowdfunding platform, Forus. The partnership enables SMEs to pay back their loan amounts directly through point-of-sale terminals by automatically setting aside a percentage or amount of monthly revenue toward their loan obligations. It is actually a really creative and exciting way for us to replace the need to make cash or physical payments by automating the entire process — and that is all part of our drive to democratizing access to capital — because financing has often been a barrier to growth for a lot of entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia.