Saudi Arabia’s 5G experience among the best in GCC, says report

Update Saudi Arabia’s 5G experience among the best in GCC, says report
Saudi Arabia’s push to develop 5G infrastructure is helping it score higher in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 04 September 2022

Saudi Arabia’s 5G experience among the best in GCC, says report

Saudi Arabia’s 5G experience among the best in GCC, says report

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s push to develop 5G infrastructure is helping it score higher in the Gulf Cooperation Council region in terms of achieving strong growth in both speed, video experience and availability of the network, the latest industry report revealed. 

According to a report published by independent analytics company OpenSignal, the Kingdom recorded a 5G availability of 28.2 percent, just a few percentage points behind Bahrain and Kuwait where availability is 34.9 and 33.6 percent respectively. 

This is despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has a large geographical area compared to other countries in the region. 

The report titled, “Benchmarking the GCC 5G Experience,” describes the availability of the 5G network — the time that users spend in an active connection with 5G — in Saudi Arabia as “outstanding.” 

This reflects Saudi Arabia’s rapid growth in the 5G sector as it continues to expand its digital infrastructure with private companies. The Kingdom is also embracing advanced technologies to improve the 5G experience.

Earlier in August, the Saudi Telecommunication Co. increased its 5G infrastructure using an additional 5G spectrum to become the first operator in the Middle East and North Africa region to enable 5G carrier aggregation technology. 

The network upgrade is expected to boost the 5G network capacity up to 60 percent and improve download speeds for subscribers. 

The upgrade uses a 2.3GHz band spectrum for 5G across more than 1,000 sites in its initial deployment phase, and it will be carried out through the reuse of the spectrum initially used for 4G.

In March, Saudi Arabia conducted the world’s first trial of 5G transmitters 14 km above the land at the Kingdom’s Red Sea Project site. 

The trial, touted to be the world’s demonstration of the High-Altitude Platform System using aircraft to extend a 5G service covering an area of 450 sq. km. aims to ensure continuity of services, extended coverage to remote areas, and increase environment-friendly technologies. 

The OpenSignal report further revealed that the UAE ranked top among the GCC countries in 5G download speeds, as users achieved average speeds of 316.8 megabits per second, followed by Qatar with 278.5 Mbit/s, Kuwait with 263.4 Mbit/s, and Saudi Arabia with 234.4 Mbit/s. 

The same four markets topped the list for 5G peak download speed as well, with a score of 743.3 Mbps in the UAE, 713.4 Mbps in Qatar, 663.7 Mbps in Kuwait and 635.9 Mbps in Saudi Arabia.

In August last year, a report published by Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission revealed that the 5G download speed in the Kingdom was 370.12 Mbps on average, and the recent OpenSignal report indicates that the Kingdom has leapfrogged in terms of 5G download speeds.

In February, Saudi Arabia’s operator Zain announced the rollout of the Kingdom’s first 5G standalone network as it aims to develop projects in vertical technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics.

As expected, 5G upload speeds were approximately one-tenth the speed of users’ average 5G download speeds, as designers of 5G technology concentrated more on downloads than uploads, the report added. 

Kuwait topped in the ranking of 5G video experience where users had an excellent experience with 75 on a 100-point scale. The video experience scale in the UAE is 72.4 points, followed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia with 71.5 and 68.8 points respectively. 

Saudi Arabia, however, was placed in the sixth spot in the 5G gaming experience ranking with a score of 59.7 on a 100-point scale. The UAE ranked the top in this section with a score of 74 points, with a clear lead over Qatar and Bahrain which both scored 69.6 points.

“In all six markets, users experience much improved speeds and video experience using 5G. While smaller markets top the rankings for 5G download speed, the position of Saudi Arabia is notable: its users saw a strong uplift in both speed and video experience as well as good 5G availability despite its size,” wrote OpenSignal in its report. 

The GCC region is expected to have 62 million 5G mobile subscribers by 2026 and they will account for nearly 73 percent of all mobile subscriptions in the region, according to a report released last year by the Swedish company Ericsson.

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia
Updated 10 sec ago

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia

CAIRO: Cigna Worldwide Insurance Co. has become the first foreign health insurance company to start operations in the Kingdom following the issuance of a license by the Saudi Central Bank.

The permit aims to fulfill the objectives of the bank’s “Rules for Licensing and Supervision of Branches of Foreign Insurance and Reinsurance Companies in Saudi Arabia” initiative. 

It also comes as part of its role in supporting financial stability and contributing to economic growth aligned with Vision 2030’s objectives. 

The licensing falls under the strategy of the central bank, also known as SAMA, to encourage foreign direct investments to increase the sector’s competitiveness and utilize the Kingdom’s economic potential. 

“SAMA reaffirms its ongoing efforts to support the financial sector as a whole, raise the level of effectiveness and flexibility of financial transactions and encourage innovation in financial services,” stated SAMA’s website. 

Moreover, enabling new international entrants will enhance the quality of provided services, increase the diversification of investors and introduce unique business models to the market, according to the site.


Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 

Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 
Updated 7 min 34 sec ago

Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 

Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 

RIYADH: In line with the Kingdom’s aim to accelerate digital transformation, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, announced a strategic partnership with Zoom and an increase in funding for Wa’ed Ventures on Feb. 6.  

The announcements were made at the second edition of LEAP, a major international technology conference held annually in Saudi Arabia. 

With more than 700 speakers from 50 counties and 900 local and international companies in attendance at the Riyadh Front Center for Exhibitions and Conventions, this year’s edition of LEAP represents a huge economic advance in the Kingdom through many partnerships, deals and investment tours.

The strategic partnership with Aramco aims to build Zoom’s first global data center in the Kingdom to support the digital transformation ecosystem.

It is expected to connect to the Zoom global data center network and will serve Saudi Arabia and the region.

The two companies will also explore the joint development of innovative technology solutions for the energy sector. 

The partnership aims to contribute to the digital transformation of various market sectors, such as energy, industry, education and healthcare. 

Aramco also announced that additional funds had been allocated by the company to Wa’ed Ventures, increasing the size of its Kingdom-focused venture capital arm from $200 million to $500 million.

The increase aims to enable the company to deliver an accelerated investment performance regionally and globally.

Wa’ed Ventures intends to localize global frontier technologies to advance the Kingdom’s innovation ecosystem; expand investments in mid and growth-stage startups; and fund underserved domains such as environmental, social and governance, the metaverse and quantum computing. 

Amin Nasser, Aramco’s president and CEO, said: “Our establishment of a diversified network of partners has helped us maintain a track record of reliability, and our new strategic partnership with Zoom is expected to further enable innovative solutions focusing on the digital transformation ecosystem.”

“Furthermore, with an expanded fund size, Wa’ed Ventures aims to facilitate the cross-pollination of innovation between the global and local markets,” he added. 

Closing bell: TASI continues to decline, closes flat at 10,589 

Closing bell: TASI continues to decline, closes flat at 10,589 
Updated 24 min 32 sec ago

Closing bell: TASI continues to decline, closes flat at 10,589 

Closing bell: TASI continues to decline, closes flat at 10,589 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index on Monday lost 2.87 points — or 0.03 percent — to close at 10,588.58. 

While MSCI Tadawul 30 Index dropped 0.10 percent to 1,452.66, the parallel market Nomu slipped 0.76 percent to 18,761.95. 

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index on Monday was SR4.46 billion ($1.19 billion), with 101 stocks of the listed 224 advancing and 109 retreating. 

On Feb. 6, Saudi Reinsurance Co. was the topmost gainer, rising 5.73 percent to SR16.98.  

The other top gainers were Basic Chemical Industries Co., Riyadh Cables Group Co., Saudi Industrial Investment Group and Elm Co. 

The worst-performing stock of the day was Salama Cooperative Insurance Co., which dropped 3.81 percent to SR16.16. 

Other stocks that poorly performed were Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co., Riyad Bank, Alinma Bank and The Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co. 

Among sectoral indices, 11 of the 21 listed on the stock exchange declined, while the rest advanced. 

The Software and Services Index was a clear winner, with the industry catapulting 2.98 percent to 38,040.86 and driving all five constituents in the green. 

On the other hand, the Food and Beverages Index fell 1.23 percent to 4,772.11. Five of the 10 constituents in the sector advanced and the rest declined. 

On the announcements front, Tihama Advertising and Public Relations Co. on Monday informed the stock exchange issued its prospectus for capital increase through an SR350 million rights issue. 

The company plans to offer 35 million shares, at SR10 per share, to raise the capital by 700 percent. 

Tihama aims to finance expansion plans and future investments, support working capital and pay off financial liabilities. The company’s share price rose 2.38 percent to SR94.8. 

Abdullah Saad Mohammed Abo Moati for Bookstores Co. announced that financial statements for the third quarter ended Dec. 31, 2022, might miss the disclosure deadline due to a cyberattack on its servers on Dec. 8, 2022. 

Abo Moati said the cyberattack resulted in the loss of financial data from Nov. 4 to Dec. 7, 2022. However, it restored data through hardcopy backups. 

The company also assigned an accredited cybersecurity company to examine the systems and network to ensure operations ran smoothly and normally. Its share price fell 2.46 percent to SR27.75. 

Meanwhile, Leejam Sports Co. signed on Feb. 5 a memorandum of understanding with UAE-based healthcare provider Burjeel Holding Co. to start a partnership in physiotherapy and sports healthcare services in Saudi Arabia. 

Both companies plan to establish a new company in a 50-50 partnership, the sports company said in a statement to Tadawul. 

The partnership aims to establish and operate a network of physiotherapy, rehabilitation and sports healthcare clinics within and outside Leejam centers in the Kingdom. 

The statement said it would also include the provision of physiotherapy and related wellness services, with a particular focus on sports medicine and advanced rehabilitation therapies. Leejam Sports’ share price closed flat at SR86.4. 

Microsoft, Huawei and Oracle among $9bn of tech deals announced during LEAP23 in Riyadh 

Microsoft, Huawei and Oracle among $9bn of tech deals announced during LEAP23 in Riyadh 
Updated 54 min 54 sec ago

Microsoft, Huawei and Oracle among $9bn of tech deals announced during LEAP23 in Riyadh 

Microsoft, Huawei and Oracle among $9bn of tech deals announced during LEAP23 in Riyadh 

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia witnessed the signing of $9 billion worth of investment contracts on the first day of the global tech event LEAP23 that began on Feb. 6 in Riyadh. 

Aimed at supporting future technology, digital entrepreneurship and tech startups, the deals were announced by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Al-Sawaha, during his opening speech at the event that will run till Feb. 9. 

These deals include Microsoft’s $2.1 billion investment that the tech giant is putting in to develop a super-wide cloud in the Kingdom, while Oracle’s agreed to invest $1.5 billion to establish a new cloud region in the country.  

Chinese tech firm Huawei also pumped in $400 million to offer cloud services in the Kingdom, while state oil firm Aramco formed a partnership with Zoom worth $434 million to establish a cloud area. In addition, the event saw the signing of $4.5 billion worth of other deals with a wide range of global and local firms for various sectors.  

These investments aim to strengthen the Kingdom’s position as the largest digital economy in the Middle East and North Africa region aligned with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s goal to empower the technology sector.  

Al-Sawaha stated that hosting the LEAP23 conference is a global affirmation of the great support directed by the Kingdom to transform the economy into a digital landscape that promises rapid developments in line with Vision 2030.  

The conference also witnessed some major announcements including Meta launching the opening of the first Metaverse Academy in MENA, headquartered in Saudi Arabia; WEO Technology and Camel Lab launching Hektar, a multi-content social media app. In addition, MENA Communication and STC announced the launching of Beem – a new application for instant messaging, high-quality voice and video calls, and business features.  

Al-Sawaha stressed that the technology sector holds unprecedented opportunities supported by the Crown Prince in sub-sectors including digital economics, Internet of Things, health tech, quantitative sciences, space and satellites, fintech and open sources.  

In his opening speech, the minister stated that the event is set to host more than 250,000 attendees, as opposed to 100,000 last year, and will continue to see more investments as the Kingdom holds a $42 billion opportunity platform and stands as the largest technology market in the region.  

He added that Saudi Arabia continues to lead the human technical workforce with more than 340,000 workers in the market and female participation in the technical sector reaching 32.5 percent, higher than the average of the EU and Silicon Valley.  

Taking place at the Riyadh Front Center for Exhibitions and Conventions, the conference was launched under the title “Towards New Horizons” with more than 400 global and local technology companies. 

Oil market to reach balance in 2023: KAPSARC expert

Oil market to reach balance in 2023: KAPSARC expert
Updated 06 February 2023

Oil market to reach balance in 2023: KAPSARC expert

Oil market to reach balance in 2023: KAPSARC expert

RIYADH: The oil market is on track to reach balanced levels between supply and demand in 2023, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center expert Colin Ward said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

During 2023, oil supply is projected to surge 2.7 million barrels per day while demand is expected to increase by 1.8 million bpd, the research expert disclosed.

“We're going to see a market that pretty much hit some form of balance,” Ward told Arab News on the sidelines of the International Association for Energy Economics conference in Riyadh. 

Despite this, the KAPSARC expert noted that many unprecedented events could consequently alter demand figures such as whether or not there is a recession coming.

In addition to this, China’s reopening also poses a factor that could impact the demand for oil, Ward revealed.

“We're already seeing indications that their demand for jet fuel is going up significantly because people are traveling a lot more,” he explained.

Speaking on the supply side, Ward reveals that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as well as the behavior of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other key market players could potentially influence supply figures.

“If we are worried that the price cap is going to somehow have pushed back to where Russia may not wish to provide as much oil to the market, the 2 million barrels that OPEC pulled off is acting as a supply buffer, which means that it could come back online,” he exposed. 

In response to the price cap, people have been stocking up in order to assure that supplies are going to last, the KAPSARC expert pointed out.

“Going forward, there's going to be a period of probably a month or two where the logistics of delivering oil from sources to the consumers are going to take some time to get sorted out,” the researcher highlighted.

“We expect that there's probably going to be an increase in fuels being produced by some nations like China, India, perhaps Turkey or some others who would be able to supply the global market with these fuels,” he added.

The 44th IAEE International Conference is being held in the Saudi capital from Feb. 4 to 9, in what is a first for the Middle East and North African Region.

The event’s theme is “Pathways to a clean, stable, and sustainable energy future”, and is being hosted by KAPSARC and Saudi Association for Energy Economics.

More than 500 delegates from 40 countries are anticipated to attend the conference, with topics set to be discussed including energy, economic development, and climate change, the Circular Carbon Economy, and the role of hydrogen in the energy transition.

The IAEE is a global non-profit organization formed in the US in 1977 and works to promote dialogue and the exchange of ideas around the economic analysis of energy resources.