Saudi Arabia planning expansions of 12 industrial sectors

Mohannad Al Sheikh, CEO of Johnson Controls Arabia speaks during “Innovation for a sustainable tomorrow” conference in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Mohannad Al Sheikh, CEO of Johnson Controls Arabia speaks during “Innovation for a sustainable tomorrow” conference in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 08 November 2022

Saudi Arabia planning expansions of 12 industrial sectors

Mohannad Al Sheikh, CEO of Johnson Controls Arabia speaks during “Innovation for a sustainable tomorrow” conference in Riyadh.
  • Deputy industry minister talked about the plans during a conference on the role of innovation and smart, carbon-neutral buildings in sustainability efforts
  • ‘We discovered (the Kingdom) has enormous untapped technical potential as well as a predominantly young population with a passion for … the technological revolution,’ he said

RIYADH: As part of Saudi Arabia’s National Industrial Strategy, authorities are planning expansions of 12 strategic industrial sectors in which opportunities have been identified for growth and increased competition at the regional and international levels, Osama Al-Zamil, the deputy minister of industry and mineral resources, said on Tuesday.

He was speaking on the opening day of “A Renewed World,” a two-day conference organized by Johnson Controls Arabia, the joint regional arm of Johnson Control International, which specializes in smart heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, fire safety and security systems, along with building management and control systems, in the Middle East and North Africa.




A group shot of elite speakers at the Renewed World Conference organized by Johnson Controls Arabia at the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh. (Supplied)

Organizers said the aim of the event is to promote national dialogue on the vital role of innovation and the development of smart and carbon-neutral buildings in sustainability efforts. Local and international experts in the energy and industry sectors stressed the important role of partnerships between the private and public sectors in Saudi Arabia, especially in terms of innovation, in achieving the Kingdom’s sustainability goals.

Al-Zamil said the 12 sectors targeted for expansion are aerospace, automotive, maritime, renewables, chemicals, machinery and equipment, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, food processing, building materials, mining industries, and military industries.

“Modern technology, innovation and digitization is creating disruptive transformation in the future of doing business and investments,” he told delegates.




George Oliver, chairman of Johnson Controls, speaks during “Innovation for a sustainable tomorrow” conference in Riyadh. (AN photo/Hebshi Alshammari)

“Hence, when we looked at the Kingdom’s potential we discovered that it has enormous untapped technical potential as well as a predominantly young population with a passion for, and understanding of, the technological revolution and how to keep up with the latest technologies.”

The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources has therefore launched a “Factories of the Future” program, “which will result in a dramatic shift in the manufacturing sector,” Al-Zamil added.

“The goal of today’s industry and mineral resources ecosystem is to develop a technological and innovative manufacturing sector,” he said. “This will significantly improve our national industry and create locally competitive products, as well as increase industrial enterprises’ contribution to the national economy.

“It will also take advantage of the Kingdom’s unique geographical location, which allows it to connect regional and international markets. Furthermore, the Kingdom boasts cutting-edge industrial infrastructure in over 36 industrial cities across the country. The Kingdom’s emphasis on industry is an inevitable choice, as evidenced by the leadership’s support for this strategic sector.”

Al-Zamil highlighted the launch of Ceer, a Saudi electric vehicle company, by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a few days earlier.

“Ceer will be an important addition that will significantly contribute to driving and enhancing the manufacturing sector in the region, being the first Saudi brand for electric vehicles in the Kingdom,” he said.

George Oliver, the chairman of Johnson Controls, told Arab News: “As a global leader in smart and sustainable buildings, we are part of this world and we have the responsibility to help address some of the pressing issues the world is facing, such as climate change.

“Advancing the national conversation of energy sustainability by having subject-matter experts, business leaders and policymakers talking about sustainable living and the need for more innovation in energy consumption is an important outcome of this event.

“At Johnson Controls International we believe sustainable innovation is all about meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations. It requires all actors to actively incorporate climate change and carbon neutrality into their innovation processes.”

Oliver said that buildings are currently responsible for nearly 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“So, as a global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, Johnson Controls is committed to lead the fight against carbon emissions and climate change,” he said.

“Johnson Controls is no stranger to the region generally or Saudi Arabia specifically. As part of its Vision 2030, the Saudi government has put plans in place to increase the country’s manufacturing and local content footprint. This is where the objectives of the Saudi government and Johnson Controls converge.

“As a global leader in building technologies, we would like to be part of the incredible economic transformation that is happening in Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia is going through a massive economic transformation, where it intends to spend $7 trillion in 10 years, much of that relates to renewable energy and sustainable living.”

Mohannad Al-Sheikh, the CEO of Johnson Controls Arabia, emphasized the importance of innovative solutions that “enhance standards of efficiency and sustainability in buildings, with ambitious plans to reach net-zero carbon emissions in the Kingdom.”

He added: “The Kingdom plays a leading role in facing climate change and we, at Johnson Controls Arabia, are keen to support the visionary goals of the local environment by promoting sustainable living standards in the region.”

 


100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah

100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah
Updated 9 sec ago

100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah

100 Saudi chefs, baristas attend hospitality event in Jeddah
  • Local and international food and beverages and hospitality-related companies from 30 countries attend the three-day event

Jeddah: More than 100 young Saudi chefs and baristas are competing at this year’s hotels, restaurants, and catering event at the Jeddah Dome.

HORECA is the biggest annual hospitality exhibition in the region, having previously taken place in Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, and Riyadh.

Local and international food and beverages and hospitality-related companies from 30 countries are attending the three-day event that opened on Tuesday.

President of the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association, chef Yasser Jad, told Arab News that this year’s competition, organized by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies and the Saudi association, would not only be focusing on international dishes but also Saudi traditional cuisine.

Jad said: “Through this competition, we seek to identify and promote the popular dishes that are part of the Kingdom’s culinary culture.”

HORECA is hosting the Hospitality Salon Culinaire, in which more than 150 chefs compete in various categories, and the Saudi Barista Competition with around 50 entrants aiming to win the best barista award.

At the opening ceremony, Saud Al-Rajhi, chairman of the Saudi Event Management and Marketing Co., told Arab News: “After the huge success of HORECA for 11 consecutive years in Riyadh, we are proud and honored to introduce HORECA Jeddah for the first time. In addition, we are also bringing to Jeddah the Salon du Chocolat.”

He pointed out that HORECA provided a platform for key buyers to network with investors, retailers, distributors, and stakeholders.

“The three-day event marks an important step forward for Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning hospitality sector and evolving restaurant and cafe scene. We have around 6,000 brands and we are expecting around 30,000 visitors,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Attas, founder and managing partner of Gaiat Hub, a procurement platform for business supplies, credited the Saudi government for helping put the hospitality industry back on its feet.

“The Saudi market is becoming a very encouraging market for all international companies due to the mega projects, the great business environment for foreign investors, the change of Saudi lifestyle, and more,” he said.


Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP
Updated 08 February 2023

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP

Saudi Hajj and Umrah Ministry showcases latest services at LEAP
  • Digital measures to ease travel for visitors, pilgrims Visas allow touring of Kingdom’s cultural, spiritual sites

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is showcasing its latest services for pilgrims at the LEAP 2023 conference in Riyadh.

This is the second time the ministry is participating in the tech conference, which has been organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in collaboration with the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programing, and Drones at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Center.

The four-day conference will conclude on Thursday.

According to the Hajj and Umrah Ministry, several initiatives have been introduced to ensure pilgrims can have a safe, secure and spiritually fulfilling journey to Makkah and Madinah.

The ministry’s pavilion at LEAP is displaying a number of digital solutions, which visitors can access via an interactive screen.

The ministry recently announced new measures that would allow visitors, with any type of visa, to perform Umrah, with no age restrictions, or the need for female worshippers to have a male guardian.

About 10 days ago, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry launched an electronic service that would allow passengers stopping over in the Kingdom to obtain entry visas. This would allow people to perform Umrah, visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and tour the country.

The Hajj and Umrah Ministry said the Umrah visa’s validity has been extended from 30 days to 90 days, allowing holders to visit the Kingdom’s spiritual and cultural sites.

Speaking at the Hajj Expo 2023 held in Jeddah, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah had said the number of people participating in this year’s Hajj would return to pre-pandemic levels.
 


Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23

Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23
Updated 08 February 2023

Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23

Meta announces metaverse academy in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy at LEAP23

RIYADH: Meta has announced the launch of the first metaverse academy in the Middle East and North Africa region, in partnership with Tuwaiq Academy and Simplon, a French digital skills provider, at the second edition of LEAP in Riyadh.

Kojo Boakye, vice president of public policy for Meta in Africa, the Middle East, and Turkiye, told Arab News: “We have announced the launch of the first metaverse academy in this region.

“We think [it] will feed exactly into what this region is doing, sparking the development of the metaverse ecosystem, working with creators and developers, the builders of the metaverse, to ensure it comes to fruition.”

The academy will be based in Riyadh and will aim to support the region’s metaverse ecosystem through training programs.

Boakye added: “We have great hopes for the future, and we believe the academy, in partnership with Tuwaiq and Simplon, will help that.”

Faisal Al-Khamisi, chairman of Tuwaiq Academy, said: “We are thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative with Meta to establish the first metaverse academy in the MENA region.

“This partnership with Meta allows us to continue this mission and support the growth of the metaverse ecosystem by training and empowering the next generation of metaverse builders and leaders.”

The academy will launch a series of programs from May 1 that will equip students with the necessary skills to pursue a career in the growing metaverse.

Boakye said: “There’s a broad range of training, everything from a short course where you can just learn a little bit more about the metaverse, to a mid-level course that takes four to six weeks, to something in-depth where you can be training for eight to nine months to get the qualifications you need to add impacts to the work that’s being done.

“It’s the vision that we’re seeing in the region here in Saudi Arabia. The plan is to have one programmer for every 100 citizens.

“We are utterly convinced [by the project] when you look at the innovation and the ideas that are coming out from this region.

“We believe that this region and the builders here will affect the global spread and broad adoption of the metaverse, and that’s what we are aiming for.”

Boakye said that Meta had already encouraged developers, aspiring developers, and others interested in the metaverse to sign up for the program online.

He added: “If adoption of the metaverse were to grow in a similar way to the use of mobile technology, after 10 years it would contribute $360 billion, or 6.2 percent, to the GDP in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkiye.”


Saudi Vision 2030 transformation dubbed ‘one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now’

Saudi Vision 2030 transformation dubbed ‘one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now’
Updated 08 February 2023

Saudi Vision 2030 transformation dubbed ‘one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now’

Saudi Vision 2030 transformation dubbed ‘one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now’
  • Careem CEO Mudassir Sheikha tells LEAP bringing “the right talent into the market” can solve existing service and other problems
  • Global CEO of Tech Mahindra Chander Prakash Gurnani says “India’s 1.4 billion population will benefit” if Saudi Arabia becomes a tech role model

 RIYADH: While the digitalization of an economy is key to its technological advancement, it is also a way to ease daily life and provide jobs and opportunities for the young population.

As explored in several sessions at this year’s LEAP conference, this holds particularly true for Saudi Arabia as part of its Vision 2030 reform agenda.

According to the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, 36.7 percent of the Kingdom’s population is aged between 15 and 34. Due to an acceleration of the digital economy’s growth in the Kingdom, more than 1 million jobs are expected to be created by 2025, with a focus on technology and innovation.

“The transformation that is happening on the back of Vision 2030 is probably one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now,” said Mudassir Sheikha, CEO of Careem, during a panel themed Deep Dive: Unicorns of the World.

“I have been coming here for 15 years now and over the last five years you can see the change each month on the ground. The pace of change is incredible, and we know that when such change is generated at the macro level, it creates opportunity.”

In the second quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate for Saudi Arabia fell to 9.7 percent, fueled by government reforms directed at the labor market, according to data provided by GASTAT.

It is reflected by the participation rate of Saudis in the labor market, which grew by 1.7 percentage points to reach 51.8 percent. The employment-to-population ratio of Saudis also grew by the same amount, reaching 46.8 percent compared to the previous year, according to the GASTAT report.

Environmental and digital security are among the fastest growing fields in Saudi Arabia, according to data released on LinkedIn in January 2023.

Still, as Sheikha underlined, there are still many issues related to services and relevant providers that need to be solved. “This provides additional opportunities for the Saudi workforce,” he added. “There are many problems that still need to be solved. How do you solve those problems? You need to bring the right talent into the market.”

There is no shortage of human capital and talent in the Saudi market, he added. “With hard work and the right tools great things can happen. From my perspective, there’s probably no better place to be right now than in Saudi today,” he said.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia ranked 2nd in G20 digital competitiveness in the 2021 Digital Riser Report by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness.

• The Kingdom has attracted more than $9 billion in investment in future technologies.

• OECD estimates that 1.1 billion jobs will be radically transformed by technology.

The phrase “digital economy” reflects how the technological revolution is transforming value chains in exponential, revolutionary ways — endowing new opportunities for markets worldwide to generate social and economic change.

“There is a worldwide need for reskilling and upskilling. The OECD estimates that over the next decade 1.1 billion jobs will be radically transformed by technology,” said Chip Paucek, co-founder and CEO of 2U, Inc., a leading US provider of software for universities.

“What is happening right now with AI is a good example of this and we are excited about what is happening here in the Kingdom.”

A panel on the main stage of LEAP, titled “Roadmap to Building a ‘DigitALL’ Economy in the Kingdom & Solving the Talent Conundrum,” included a conversation with Chander Prakash Gurnani, global CEO of Tech Mahindra, and British journalist Adam Boulton, with the talks examining how Saudi Arabia is building an inclusive economy through rapid advancements and investment in technology.

“India’s 1.4 billion population will benefit from the Kingdom becoming a role model in technology,” said Gurnani. “The Kingdom is one of our major focus countries. It’s a beautiful opportunity for us to participate and be part of the growth. When you work backwards, you need people, processes, technology and more importantly, an ecosystem of both products and technology.”

The Kingdom has attracted more than $9 billion in investment in future technologies, including by US giants Microsoft and Oracle, which are building cloud regions in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha told Reuters during LEAP on Monday.

Al-Swaha added that China’s Huawei will also invest $400 million in cloud infrastructure for its services in the Kingdom, as well as create another cloud region in partnership with Saudi Aramco.

The Kingdom has also encouraged the use of AI to achieve Vision 2030 and Smart Government Strategy objectives. The plan is expected to result in the Kingdom’s AI market growing to $135.2 billion by 2030, which is estimated to contribute 12.4 percent to gross domestic product.

As most panelists stressed during the sessions at LEAP, while investment in tech is paramount to advancement in technology and economic growth, what is key is training the younger, eager Saudi labor force and readying them with education and opportunities for the fourth industrial revolution, with the Kingdom increasingly looking to be a center of the new technological age.
 


KAUST develops innovative wastewater treatment in Saudi Arabia

KAUST develops innovative wastewater treatment in Saudi Arabia
Updated 07 February 2023

KAUST develops innovative wastewater treatment in Saudi Arabia

KAUST develops innovative wastewater treatment in Saudi Arabia
  • Universities, industrial partners can work together to solve problems, says VP

JEDDAH: The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology has completed its innovative mobile plant project for wastewater treatment, after five years of research at the university’s water desalination and reuse research center.

The project is a result of the efforts and partnerships between KAUST and the National Water Company.

The technology is the first of its kind in the Kingdom, as it treats wastewater and converts it efficiently into reusable water for areas that are not connected to the central sewage network.

In September last year, KAUST and the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, or MODON, teamed up to tackle wastewater treatment. (Supplied)

It can reduce energy demand by 50 percent, and produce treated water of similar or even better quality than that produced by conventional biological treatment processes.

It is expected that this technology will have a significant impact on underserved areas of the Kingdom by creating new job opportunities that support Saudi youth and offer them the chance to make use of their talents.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The mobile plant treats wastewater and converts it efficiently into reusable water for areas that are not connected to the central sewage network.

• It can reduce energy demand by 50 percent, and produce treated water of similar or even better quality than that produced by conventional biological treatment processes.

Kevin Cullen, vice president of innovation at KAUST said: “Developing a reliable wastewater treatment service is one of the biggest challenges we face today.”

Cullen also pointed out that the ecosystem of deep tech startups at KAUST has become so developed that it has enabled the university to build strong partnerships with the government and established companies, which work together to bring these startups closer to the market.

In September last year, KAUST and the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, or MODON, teamed up to tackle wastewater treatment.

Cullen said: “The relationship between KAUST and MODON is an excellent example of how universities and industrial partners can work together to solve real challenges in our society and in a city like Jeddah where we need to increase wastewater treatment capacity.”

MODON has been piloting a new wastewater bioreactor technology at scale at their industrial city in Jeddah.

During this partnership, Peiying Hong, an associate professor at KAUST, developed a new, zero-energy technology that may hold the key to transforming wastewater sustainability and recycling.

MODON, which operates significant infrastructure throughout the Kingdom for environmental services including wastewater treatment plants, has selected Hong’s technology to pilot on-site at its first industrial city in Jeddah.

Cullen explained: “This technology not only processes wastewater more efficiently using a decentralized treatment model, it can be done in an energy-neutral way providing sustainability for the future.”