Bank Albilad launches $53m wholly owned payments arm Enjaz

Bank Albilad launches $53m wholly owned payments arm Enjaz
Enjaz Payment Services Co. is licensed by the Saudi Central Bank as a Major Electronic Money Institution. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 August 2022

Bank Albilad launches $53m wholly owned payments arm Enjaz

Bank Albilad launches $53m wholly owned payments arm Enjaz

RIYADH: Saudi-based Bank Albilad has established a wholly owned payments arm in Riyadh with SR200 million ($53 million) capital, according to a bourse filing.

Enjaz Payment Services Co., licensed by the Saudi Central Bank as a Major Electronic Money Institution, will handle all payments and remittances activities currently operated as a business division in the bank.

The incorporation of Enjaz is in line with Bank Albilad’s strategy and any major developments in this regard will be announced in due course, it said.

 


Saudi Arabia signs more than SR40 billion deal to develop local infrastructure in 11 cities

Saudi Arabia signs more than SR40 billion deal to develop local infrastructure in 11 cities
Updated 54 min 38 sec ago

Saudi Arabia signs more than SR40 billion deal to develop local infrastructure in 11 cities

Saudi Arabia signs more than SR40 billion deal to develop local infrastructure in 11 cities
  • This agreement provides more than 150,000 housing units of varying sizes and designs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing signed an agreement with the National Housing Company worth more than SR40 billion ($10.6 billion) to develop the infrastructure of 11 cities around the Kingdom.
The agreement, which deals with financing and developing a portfolio of projects between the ministry and the National Housing Company, was signed during a ceremony held under the patronage of the Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing, Majid Al-Hogail, and in the presence of Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli, and Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser.
This agreement provides more than 150,000 housing units of varying sizes and designs, covering 11 cities in the Kingdom. It also covers an area of ​​more than 90 million square meters, while around 54 million square meters will be allocated for green and open spaces, public facilities, road networks and public transport.
The population capacity resulting from this agreement will reach 750,000 people.
The National Housing Company, in partnership with developers, will invest more than SR40 billion in the portfolio of these projects to develop comprehensive infrastructure, service delivery, and develop a range of quality of life facilities.
The company is the leading enabler of the real estate development sector and the largest major developer of suburbs and residential communities, and aims to increase the real estate supply in the Kingdom with various housing options, as part of the company’s endeavor to achieve objectives of the housing program as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, by raising the proportion of housing ownership for Saudi families to 70 percent.
The signing of the agreement came on the sidelines of the Exhibition of Projects of Distinguished Cities under the patronage of King Salman, which is being organized by MOMRAH from Sept. 24 to 28 in Riyadh, in which the National Housing Company is participating as a strategic sponsor.


First metaverse project 2117 launches in the UAE inspired by Dubai ruler’s vision

First metaverse project 2117 launches in the UAE inspired by Dubai ruler’s vision
Updated 24 September 2022

First metaverse project 2117 launches in the UAE inspired by Dubai ruler’s vision

First metaverse project 2117 launches in the UAE inspired by Dubai ruler’s vision
  • The metaverse is aligned with Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center’s layout for Mars

DUBAI: The UAE-based Web3 pioneer BEDU launched the country’s first metaverse project under the name 2117, inspired by the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum’s vision to build the first colony on Mars.

BEDU’s CEO Amin Alzarouni told Arab News that the metaverse’s name, 2117, comes from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum’s announcement in 2017 that the first colony on Mars would be built a hundred years from then.

“So that’s why we call the metaverse 2117, inspired by that vision,” he said.

The newly launched metaverse is aligned with Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center’s space layout for Mars, and BEDU plans to build a full world on it that includes residential buildings, hotels, entertainment centers, schools, universities, and healthcare facilities, Alzarouni informed.

According to him, millions of dollars have been invested in the metaverse project without providing a specific figure.

Besides claiming that the firm’s name is derived from the Bedouin term, Alzarouni added that the firm’s mission is to follow the nomads’ footsteps and discover the next planet.

“They [nomads] basically discovered the land here, discovered Earth, and now we are going to continue discovering different areas, and the next destination is Mars,” he said.

SPEEDREAD

According to the CEO, millions of dollars have been invested in the metaverse project. He says the firm’s mission is to discover the next planet.

He explained that 2117 is an immersive digital world that exists in parallel to reality. It will take 95 years for the Mars vision to become a reality in the real world.

The main focus of metaverse 2117, according to Alzarouni, is the value of humanity, regardless of its apparent space orientation.

“We are focusing a lot on humanity and the values of humanity, which is how people can live together with tolerance, with no differentiation between religion, culture and race,” he said.

Alzarouni explained that 2117 is an immersive digital world that exists in parallel to reality. It will take 95 years for the Mars vision to become a reality in the real world, but BEDU is already achieving it in the metaverse right now.

Aside from providing BEDU with the space layout, MBRSC also provides the data required to create a metaverse that is as real as possible, Alzarouni said.

Job creation

Alzarouni said that in the metaverse, companies can scale up much faster and easier, which could result in more jobs being created.

There will be new jobs to fill in the metaverse five to 10 years from now, he said.

“One of the jobs that I foresee being created in the future is a combination of an architect with the programming skills that exist in the metaverse,” he said.

As a result, he added, a new skill set could be created by introducing a curriculum in universities where students would graduate with an architect mindset and software programming skills to be able to fulfill a role in the metaverse.

Societal integration

As a concept, the metaverse already exists in different verticals, and games like Roblox and Fortnite have already briefly incorporated it into society, the CEO said.

“The concept of digital twin exists in the manufacturing business, automobile business, and the real estate business, which is one aspect of how the metaverse could help,” he said.

However, he added that the world is in its early stages of integrating the metaverse into reality. “It will take a bit of time, depending on the adoption rates,” Alzarouni said. The implementation of the metaverse into society could take five to ten years, he continued.

BEDU’s main objective and strategy is to become the next unicorn in the Web3 sector, Alzarouni said.

“At the moment, we are all equal. Nobody can claim that they are ahead of the game, not Meta, not Microsoft, not any other metaverse project, and not even us,” he said.

In metaverse 2117’s vision, people will be able to work in the metaverse, go to school, and enjoy concerts, he said.
2117 timeline

The journey will begin in “2117” with a take-off from Earth, taking users through space for seven months until they land on Mars. It is estimated that the journey will begin this December, Alzarouni said.

The public will be able to participate in the metaverse starting in October and it will close at the beginning of December 2022.

Alzarouni said the sale would be open for two periods. The first sale, which will be private, will amount to 0.2117 ETH. In the second sale, which is for the public, the price will be 0.25 ETH, he added.

Web3 users with digital wallets will be able to connect their wallets and gain access to 2117 using their crypto, he said. “So, it’s as simple as any e-commerce experience that people have nowadays,” he added.

Upon BEDU’s release by the end of October, people will be able to access the 2117 metaverse via a link shared by the firm, he concluded.


Saudi coaching entity Eunoia uses AI to support employee well-being

Saudi coaching entity Eunoia uses AI to support employee well-being
Updated 24 September 2022

Saudi coaching entity Eunoia uses AI to support employee well-being

Saudi coaching entity Eunoia uses AI to support employee well-being
  • We’re looking at whether a company provides motivating environment for employees: Founder

RIYADH: Eunoia, a Riyadh-based coaching entity, has taken the lead in using artificial intelligence to support employee well-being in the marketplace.

“When we say well-being, we’re not necessarily just talking about their health, but we’re also talking about their mental health, we’re looking at whether a company provides a motivating environment for employees to become better versions of themselves,” Maha Taibah, founder of Eunoia, told Arab News on the sidelines of the second Global AI Summit in Riyadh.

The event was organized by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority under the theme, “Artificial Intelligence for the Good of Humanity.”

Eunoia was established in 2018 to offer growth-centric coaching that transcends standard coaching methods on an individual and group basis.

Taibah believes that humans are always able to reinvent themselves in relation to emerging innovations.

“As humans, we always reinvent ourselves. Before the Internet, we thought that people were going to go out of jobs because the Internet was coming. I think we have the capacity to evolve as human beings and whatever will be consumed by AI, we will definitely top it with something else that we are capable of. The human brain is magical,” she said.

Taibah is committed to youth development, bringing together public and private sector organizations to help shape their future by preparing them for their roles in society through innovative methods and carefully designed programs and products.

According to Taibah, Saudi Arabia is very well positioned to become a global player in technology with a large percentage of the population below 30 and keen to engage in innovation and technology.

“We are a very young nation, Saudi Arabia is 70 percent under 30, and we adopt technology very quickly,” she remarked.

Taibah believes that AI can be incorporated in multiple business sectors and startups can maximize its benefits.

“The trick here is really to understand how AI can serve the sector that you are interested in, it is the future and the future is already here,” Taibah added.


Global IT services company Crayon to invest in Saudi Arabia’s AI sector

Global IT services company Crayon to  invest in Saudi Arabia’s AI sector
Updated 24 September 2022

Global IT services company Crayon to invest in Saudi Arabia’s AI sector

Global IT services company Crayon to  invest in Saudi Arabia’s AI sector

RIYADH: Norway-based Global IT services company Crayon is fully invested in the future of Saudi Arabia’s artificial intelligence sector as its CEO forecasts the industry will contribute to 12.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2030.

During the second Global AI Summit held in Riyadh, Ziad Rizk, the CEO of Crayon Middle East and Africa, told Arab News that the Kingdom is an ideal location for the company to incubate its operations to meet the demand of the entire MEA region.

“Around $360 billion will be spent on AI across the Middle East and Africa. But specifically, when you look at the Kingdom, we believe that AI will represent around 12.4 percent of the total GDP by 2030,” Rizk told Arab News.

“Accordingly, this is where we are investing ahead of the curve, trying to lead and to support the Kingdom’s journey in that direction,” he added.

HIGHLIGHTS

• CEO of the company forecasts the industry will contribute to 12.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2030.

• The Kingdom is an ideal location for the company to incubate its operations to meet the demand of the entire MEA region, he says.

• Crayon also announced the opening of its Regional Digital Transformation office in Riyadh during the event.

• The company, which helps customers understand software assets and utilize and reduce software costs, already has over 4,500 customers across the MEA region.

Rizk explained that the company will support the sector through multiple areas by leveraging its global expertise in the Kingdom, as well as establishing a local talent pool in collaboration with the government and universities.

“The third pillar is to work with the startup community and the scale-up companies that are really on the cusp of growing exponentially, and helping them branch out beyond the Kingdom, across the Middle East and Africa region,” he added. Crayon also announced the opening of its Regional Digital Transformation office in Riyadh during the event.

Founded in 2002, the company, which helps customers understand software assets and utilize and reduce software costs, already has over 4,500 customers across the MEA region.

Rizk said that Crayon’s existing customer base in Saudi Arabia consists of large businesses and entities ranging across sectors like oil, electricity and aviation.

Ziad Rizk, the CEO of Crayon Middle East and Africa. (AN Photo)

Lauding the Saudi market, Rizk stated that their customers in the Kingdom were high in expertise as well as agile in pursuing their ambitions. Rizk believes that startup companies will play a huge role in boosting the Kingdom’s AI sector and the company is planning to support them.

“The startup community is really good at identifying a key technical problem, and then putting a lot of focus on solving it, but these companies face challenges on the business side, and this is where we engage with them,” he said.

Crayon was awarded the global partner of Data & AI in 2019 by Microsoft as well as Partner of the Year for Saudi Arabia in 2021.

The company has also seen 180 percent growth year over year and Rizk is expecting this to continue for at least three years.


stc develops use cases to enhance digital health and road safety

stc develops use cases to enhance digital health and road safety
Updated 24 September 2022

stc develops use cases to enhance digital health and road safety

stc develops use cases to enhance digital health and road safety

RIYADH: The Saudi Telecom Co. has developed use cases to enhance digital health and road safety, a senior representative said.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Global AI Summit in Riyadh, Saud Alsheraihi, stc’s product and solutions vice president, said that the use cases will help the company establish a foothold in the artificial intelligence industry.

One of the use cases was to train machines and algorithms to provide diagnoses and predictions on health. “We want to be an example and show examples of the potential that we can do on top of our infrastructure,” he said.

Another use case was road safety predictions, such as predicting what would happen if the speed of a road in Riyadh increased by a certain amount.

“That will help decision makers big time because before they increase the speed limits on that road, they can predict and know exactly what we should do and how we can do that,” Alsheraihi added.

stc, Alsheraihi explained, is embarking on more digital and AI-related projects as a part of its DARE strategy. DARE stands for: Digitize stc, accelerate core asset performance, reinvent customer experience at world-class standards, and expand aggressively scale and scope. stc established it in 2018 with the aim of becoming a digital leader in the world by providing innovative services. “We are here as an extension of our DARE strategy where we are expanding in scope and scale, and one of the areas where we see ourselves in is actually AI,” Alsheraihi said.

As artificial intelligence becomes a part of multiple technologies, stc sees the complementarity of 5G edge computing, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and other services it provides, Alsheraihi said.

stc’s financial and logistics sectors are benefiting from digitization by improving efficiency, increasing revenues, and improving safety and security in their operations, he added.

stc has also created a cybersecurity subsidiary called sirar by stc which offers a comprehensive range of cybersecurity products and services that help businesses manage digital risks effectively, achieve compliance with relevant laws and regulations, and enable a robust and secure digital transformation journey.

Alsheraihi said that sirar focuses mainly on the enterprise sector.