PIF-owned Savvy aims to transform KSA into gaming hub with $37.8bn investment, says CEO

The PIF-owned company has five independent subsidiaries, including esports arm EFG.
The PIF-owned company has five independent subsidiaries, including esports arm EFG.
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Updated 19 October 2022

PIF-owned Savvy aims to transform KSA into gaming hub with $37.8bn investment, says CEO

PIF-owned Savvy aims to transform KSA into gaming hub with $37.8bn investment, says CEO

RIYADH: With investments worth SR142 billion ($37.8 billion), Saudi Arabia’s PIF-owned Savvy Games Group seeks to transform the Kingdom into a global gaming hub with world-class gaming companies, said CEO Brian Ward.

Ward was addressing members of the media following the announcement of the company’s strategy by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday.

The investments will include SR70 billion to take several minority stakes in companies that support Savvy’s game development agenda and SR50 billion to acquire “a leading game publisher to become a strategic development partner.”

Another SR20 billion will be invested in industry partners and SR2 billion will target industry disruptors “to grow early-stage games and esports companies.”

“Savvy Games Group is one part of our ambitious strategy aiming to make Saudi Arabia the ultimate global hub for the games and esports sector by 2030,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as saying.




Savvy's CEO Brian Ward

In the press briefing, Ward said: “Our mission will be to lead global investments in the sector.”

He said gaming and esports is the largest entertainment sector with a potential to “exceed $300 billion by 2020 and $400 billion by 2028.”

Ward said Savvy aims to accelerate the growth of the sector in the Kingdom and take advantage of Saudi Arabia’s “unique geopolitical position in the world.”

The PIF-owned company has five independent subsidiaries, including esports arm EFG, as well as Nine66, which "is building an ecosystem for game developers and studios,” and VOV company, which is building gaming and competition venues.

“We intend to make new investments in startups and (established) tech companies,” the top official said.

He also told the media that more details about the company’s acquisition deals and agreements strategy would be announced in the next six months.

Ward said the strategy unveiled on Wednesday seeks to help local gaming companies grow into global players producing world-class games.


Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5
Updated 18 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector growth highest since September 2021 as PMI hits 58.5

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Purchasing Managers’ Index hit 58.5 in November — the strongest level since September 2021 — as the Kingdom’s non-oil private sector continues to expand amid rising inflationary pressure, according to a report.

The latest Riyad Bank Saudi Arabia PMI report noted that the Kingdom has maintained growth in the non-oil private sector for the 27th consecutive month.

In October, Saudi Arabia’s PMI was 57.2, while in September, it was 56.6.

According to the index, released by S&P Global, readings above the 50 mark show growth, while those below 50 signal contraction.

“The Saudi economy (continued) its expansion in the non-oil sector in November, business conditions have improved across the board in light of rising demand,” said Naif Al-Ghaith, chief economist at Riyad Bank.

Al-Ghaith added that output levels in the Kingdom’s non-oil sector have expanded at the fastest rate in seven years, driving cost pressures higher, and resulting in increased prices charged to customers.

He added: “Improved business expectations were also observed as a result of the ongoing execution of Vision 2030 initiatives, which provided confidence to the outlook of the future output of the non-oil activities.”

According to the report, the rate of sales growth of non-oil companies picked up by the sharpest level in over a year in November, as over 41 percent of surveyed businesses reported an increase from the prior month.

The report further noted that these companies saw the quickest rise in new export business since November 2015, due to strong domestic conditions.

The PMI report also hinted at the uptick in input cost inflation during November, with average input prices rising sharply and at the quickest pace since July.

“The faster pace of cost inflation led to a solid and quicker increase in output charges, as firms looked to pass through higher expenses to their customers,” the report added.

The report further pointed out that output prices rose in the manufacturing, wholesale & retail and services sectors, while it fell in the construction industry.

According to the report, job creation in the non-oil sector was very mild in November, as most of the firms kept staffing unchanged.


Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  

Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  
Updated 13 min 55 sec ago

Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  

Egyptian startup SIDEUP raises $1.2m as it relocates HQ to Saudi Arabia  

CAIRO: Cairo-based e-commerce services provider SIDEUP secured $1.2 million in a seed funding round to launch operations in Saudi Arabia.  

Established in 2019, the company provides e-commerce businesses with various technological solutions to enable integrations, partnerships and payments to scale revenue.  

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Waleed Rashed, CEO and founder at SIDEUP, said that the company is relocating its headquarters to Saudi Arabia with plans to hire and expand its team. 

Waleed Rashed, CEO and founder at SIDEUP (Supplied)

“We have already opened up roles in the Kingdom, by next month we will have added 10 people to our on-ground team in Riyadh which will amount to almost 30 percent of our total employee base,” he told Arab News.  

Rashed added that the company will continue hiring in Saudi Arabia throughout 2023 as the new headquarters will be their biggest office.  

“The e-commerce sector in Saudi Arabia is going to grow exponentially. The Kingdom is also going to be our gateway to the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council as we plan our entry into new markets,” he stated.  

The company plans to support small businesses in the Kingdom by providing services like warehousing, payments, customer service and more.  

SIDEUP has also partnered with e-commerce platforms Zid, Zammit, and Wuilt as well as payment service providers Paytab, Cowpay, and Paymob in addition to logistics companies Aramec, J&T and iMile.  

Rashed explained that the company’s presence in Saudi Arabia will boost its growth exponentially, thanks to the Kingdom’s young population as well as the digital infrastructure in place.  

“There’s no place more exciting to build a Middle East business than in Saudi Arabia. We have made great strides in setting up the right partnerships. The government has also created an environment for founders to thrive, being here has a number of benefits,” he added.  

The founder stated that the Kingdom will be a stepping stone for the company to expand and explore other markets in the Middle East and Africa as it plans to enter two new countries within the next 12 months.  

“We have the backing of renowned investors such as Launch Africa VC, 500 Global, Riyadh Angels, Alex Angels, Al Tuwaijri Fund and also Saudi angel investor Faisal AlAbdulsalam. This allows us to plan ahead while benefiting from the expertise of these investors,” he said.  

The company has been seeing positive growth since its launch as it hit profitability with over $500,000 gross merchandise value per month and growing at 30 percent monthly.  


Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising of brand in KSA 

Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising of brand in KSA 
Updated 31 min 21 sec ago

Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising of brand in KSA 

Wyndham takes future of Ramada in its own hands with reintroduction of direct franchising of brand in KSA 

RIYADH: In alignment with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ strategy to expand its midscale offering in the Middle East, the company has reintroduced direct franchising and management rights for the Ramada brand in Saudi Arabia.

This announcement by the world’s largest hotel franchising company, with approximately 9,100 hotels across more than 95 countries, replaces exclusive master license agreements for the brand in the Kingdom.

With more than 900 hotels globally, Ramada is Wyndham’s largest brand in Europe, Middle East, Eurasia and Africa, with over 200 hotels in approximately 40 countries in the region, of which over 30 are in the Middle East and Africa alone.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the recently held World Travel and Tourism Global Summit in Riyadh, Dimitris Manikis, president EMEA at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said: “With this announcement we, as Wyndham, are 100 percent responsible for the development of the Ramada brand in Saudi Arabia. It was the right time for us to step in and take the destiny or the future of Ramada in our own hands.  It’s a major step for us.”

He added: “This signifies our belief in the future of the Kingdom and that we want to have a direct relationship with our partners here.”

Going on to explain that Wyndham was in the franchise business where they worked with local partners, Manikis said, as a company, they are “asset light.”

“Just to give you an idea, out of the 9,000-plus hotels, we don’t own any hotels,” he said, adding: “We give our local partners the brand, we give them the technology, the distribution, and we support them through a franchise agreement.”

As part of the company’s expansion plan in Saudi Arabia, Wyndham has recently opened Ramada by Wyndham Riyadh King Fahd Road, its thirteenth hotel in the country.

According to Manikis, the real strength of Wyndham was in economy and midscale offerings, and that is where he believes the future is for Saudi Arabia.

“We are committed to contributing to the development of the Kingdom’s tourism through the expansion of our mid-market and economy presence, to help bring even more accommodation options to suit all visitors to the Kingdom,” Manikis said.

He added: “Five percent of the world travels luxury, 95 percent is ordinary people like me that want to travel and have a great and affordable experience.”

“Hospitality is not just about stay at the hotel. It’s about the restaurants. It’s about the theme parks. It’s about a holistic experience,” Manikis continued.  

Not surprisingly he said that, from an investment perspective, Wyndham is working with the Saudi government to look at the midscale and economy sector.

“I believe there’s a huge future for that sector in Saudi Arabia,” he reiterated.

Manikis was also very optimistic about the future of the hospitality sector in the Kingdom. “Saudi Arabia is on the map,” he said.

“You would be crazy not to have Saudi Arabia as one of your top three destinations for the next five years in terms of arrivals, in terms of adding your brands, investments and bringing people in. You cannot close your eyes to what is happening in Saudi Arabia at this point, you just cannot ignore it.”

Moving on to talk about the hospitality industry in general, Manikis said it was one of the most resilient industries in the world. “We survived COVID-19 but we lost valuable people, we lost enormous talent,” he said. “Our number one priority now is to bring the talent back,” he concluded. 


Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  
Updated 05 December 2022

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  

Oil Updates — Crude climbs after OPEC+ meeting; Japan sets price cap on Russian crude  

RIYADH: Oil prices rose as much as 2 percent on Monday after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, held their output targets steady ahead of an EU ban and a price cap kicking in on Russian crude. 

At the same time, in a positive sign for fuel demand, more Chinese cities eased COVID-19 curbs over the weekend, though a patchwork easing in policies sowed confusion across the country on Monday. 

Brent crude futures were last up 72 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $86.29 a barrel at 0430 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 70 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $80.68 a barrel. 

OPEC+ agreed on Sunday to stick to their October plan to cut output by 2 million barrels per day from November through 2023. 

Japan sets price cap on Russian crude oil, excluding Sakhalin-2 

Japan implemented a price cap on Russian crude oil from Monday, but crude oil imported from the Sakhalin-2 plant will be excluded, the government said in a statement. 

The decision follows an agreement by the Group of Seven nations and Australia on Friday to limit the price of Russian crude oil at $60 per barrel in the latest move to slap sanctions on Moscow over its war in Ukraine. 

The exclusion of crude oil from the far eastern Russian Sakhalin-2 project, which Japanese energy operators hold stakes in after the exit of Shell, was decided “in light of Japan’s energy security,” the government said in the statement. 

Further measures on Russian petroleum products, set to begin on Feb. 5, 2023, will be announced at a later date, the statement added. 

Algeria says OPEC+ decision to keep output unchanged appropriate 

Algeria’s energy minister said on Sunday that the OPEC+ decision to keep output unchanged was appropriate to market fluctuations, the country’s state news agency reported. 

The OPEC+ group will closely monitor crude markets for any developments, minister Mohamed Arkab said in remarks after its Sunday meeting, adding that the decision kept Algerian output unchanged at 1.007 million bpd. 

(With input from Reuters) 

 

 


Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority approves regulations of market-marking and procedures

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority approves regulations of market-marking and procedures
Updated 05 December 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority approves regulations of market-marking and procedures

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority approves regulations of market-marking and procedures
  • The CMA’s approval aims to regulate the activities of listed securities market-making, and impacts resulted from approving the market making registration application

RIYADH: Regulations proposed by the Saudi excange around market-making procedures have been approved by the Capital Market Authority (CMA), it was announced on Sunday.

The CMA’s approval aims to regulate the activities of listed securities market-making, and impacts resulted from approving the market making registration application, and description of mechanism of practicing market making activities on securities, a statement said.

The statement continued that regulations include the market-maker’s activities through providing continuous listed securities buy/sell orders during the market open session to provide liquidity to the relevant listed securities.

Also, among the conditions of the market-maker, it shall have a membership of the market or derivatives market and shall have the written policies and procedures to separate between the market making activities and any other activities practiced by the maker.

This maker shall also have the security and technical requirements necessary for practicing the activity, or any other condition proposed by the market and approved by the CMA.

The regulations set out the Market Maker’s liabilities; among them, to assign an account at the Securities Depository Center (Edaa) (where applicable) and Securities Clearing Center Company (Muqassa) that are limited to practicing activities of market making only on specific security (securities) in accordance with the Market Making Agreement.

Also, all activities of market making practiced by the market-maker shall be in compliance with the Capital Market law, its implementing regulations and the market rules, and any other relevant laws.

The CMA’s approval on the market-making regulations and procedures comes as part of the CMA’s continuous efforts to create potentials facilitating trading process, including increasing efficiency and volume of liquidity in the capital market through providing continuous listed securities buy/sell orders.