Standard Chartered launches tech program for women-led startups in Saudi Arabia

Standard Chartered launches tech program for women-led startups in Saudi Arabia
Applications for the eight-week program began on Nov. 28. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 December 2022

Standard Chartered launches tech program for women-led startups in Saudi Arabia

Standard Chartered launches tech program for women-led startups in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Women-led tech startups working in Saudi Arabia stand a chance to receive $50,000 in funding support if they take part in a tech program launched by Standard Chartered and Falak Investment Hub. 

The Kingdom's first cohort of the ‘SC Women in Tech’ program will provide women entrepreneurs opportunities for economic and social development, as well as funding.   

Applications for the eight-week program, part of Standard Charter’s global ‘Women in Tech’ initiative, currently available in six other countries, began on Nov. 28 and is set to remain open for around six weeks.   

During the program each start-up will be provided with opportunities to meet one-on-one with Falak teams, mentors and industry experts during workshops, events, or private discussions. The startups are expected to benefit from the guidance of entrepreneurs, technologists, as well as investors, aimed at supporting their growth.  

At the end of the program, all start-ups will be provided with the chance to pitch to over 40 angel investors, Venture Capital, and family office representatives through Falak Angels (the second established angel network in the Kingdom). The winners of this year’s cohort will receive up to $50,000 in total funding. 

Earlier this year, the Kingdom announced over $$6.4 billion in future technologies and entrepreneurship investments. It is a key pillar of Vision 2030, which focuses on strengthening entrepreneurship by boosting private-sector investment, supporting innovation, and attracting and training talent.   

Speaking about the initiative, Mazen Bunyan CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Saudi Arabia, said: “We are proud to collaborate with Falak Investment Hub and bring our ‘Women in Tech’ program to the Kingdom. 

The spirit of diversity and entrepreneurship are important values that we celebrate at Standard Chartered, and we hope that by providing early-stage support and mentorship we can help women succeed and become leading job creators.”  

Vision 2030 promotes Saudi women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength. It aims to develop their talents, invest their energies, and provide them with the right opportunities to build their futures, contributing to the development of society.

Saudi women now comprise 33.6 percent of the Saudi workforce as of March 2022, according to the General Authority for Statistics. That figure is up from 17.4 percent just five years ago.  

The unemployment rate of women was the lowest in 20 years as of the first quarter of 2022, falling to 20.2 percent from 22.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2021.  


Saudi-based Diriyah signs telecom services deals with Salam and Tawal

Saudi-based Diriyah signs telecom services deals with Salam and Tawal
Updated 8 sec ago

Saudi-based Diriyah signs telecom services deals with Salam and Tawal

Saudi-based Diriyah signs telecom services deals with Salam and Tawal

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah project is set to benefit from a wireless telecom networking deal between the Diriyah Gate Development Authority and Integrated Telecom Co. and Telecommunications Towers Co..

The 15-year contract, which includes designing, building, and operating procedures, is projected to cover open-access services to all Diriyah stakeholders including visitors, tenants, and residents, according to a statement.

The agreement is also expected to provide fiber-optic connectivity for 2,000 plots in addition to key services in the Wadi Hanifah and Wadi Safar areas.

“Diriyah prioritizes telecommunications and network access across all of its projects, adhering to the highest global standards,” according to CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority Jerry Inzerillo.

The Diriyah project practices several sustainability measures, the most prominent of which is the shared use of each tower among all three primary mobile operators in the Kingdom: STC, Mobily, and Zain.

The shared use of the towers between the operators helps to minimize the number of towers required for coverage and their respective impact on the urban landscape of the country.

“This project will see us develop a state-of-the-art IT and telecom infrastructure that will be shared between service providers, enabling them to host the latest technologies in Diriyah," said Ahmed Al Anqari, CEO of the Integrated Telecom Co., also known as Salam.

Under the terms of the new deal, as many as 80 telecommunication towers are expected to be constructed over the next three years.

"The telecom towers will blend seamlessly into their surroundings. In addition, the project will offer users indoor connectivity solutions, further establishing Diriyah as a modern and sustainable destination," said Mohammed Alhakbani, CEO of Telecommunications Towers Co., also referred to as Tawal.

The new towers are meant to cut costs for service providers and guarantee connectivity by providing consistent telecom services across the Diriyah Development.


Saudi Arabia’s tourism spending surges 93% to hit $49bn in 2022, minister reveals 

Saudi Arabia’s tourism spending surges 93% to hit $49bn in 2022, minister reveals 
Updated 3 min 13 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s tourism spending surges 93% to hit $49bn in 2022, minister reveals 

Saudi Arabia’s tourism spending surges 93% to hit $49bn in 2022, minister reveals 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s tourism spending surged 93 percent in 2022 to hit SR185 billion ($49 billion), up from SR95.6 billion in 2021, as the Kingdom continues to diversify its economy as part of Vision 2030. 

The Minister of Tourism Ahmed bin Aqil Al-Khatib revealed these details during his monthly meeting with citizens, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Reviewing the achievements made by the sector during the year 2022, the minister said: "The direct contribution of the sector in the gross domestic product amounted to 3.2 percent of the total target of 10 percent by 2030.”  

Moreover, he noted that the number of jobs in 2022 reached 880,000, reflecting an increase of 15 percent when compared to the previous year. 

“The percentage of Saudi women in the tourism sector also increased to reach 44 percent of the total workers in the sector,” Al-Khatib added.  

He also urged investors in the sector to adhere to the new regulations set by the ministry in order to achieve a healthy competitive environment that is both fair and attractive to investment. 

The new regulations tackle developing the proper procedures and requirements for practicing tourism activities while taking into consideration the diversity of services provided and raising quality levels. 

Additionally, the minister also stressed on the need to further raise the level of services provided in the sector through training and preparing the human cadre, which is the main factor in upgrading the sector. 

"The ministry is seeking to provide one million jobs in the tourism sector with its various activities, which requires the establishment of training institutes and the building and development of training programs and services in the field of hospitality and tourism,” Al-Khatib explained. 

Furthermore, the ministry launched a joint borrowing program with the banking sector to finance medium, small, and micro enterprises in an attempt to enhance investments in the sector. 

During 2022, the Ministry of Tourism also implemented as many as 11 advertising campaigns to introduce and market tourism in the Kingdom, reaching 35 countries. 


PIF signs deal to build indoor vertical farms in Saudi Arabia

PIF signs deal to build indoor vertical farms in Saudi Arabia
Updated 6 min 47 sec ago

PIF signs deal to build indoor vertical farms in Saudi Arabia

PIF signs deal to build indoor vertical farms in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has signed a joint venture agreement with US-based AeroFarms to establish a company in Riyadh to build and operate indoor vertical farms in the Kingdom and the wider Middle East and North Africa region.

The deal will allow the joint venture to use AeroFarms’ proprietary smart agriculture technology platform, AgTech, to produce high-quality crops all year round.

The agreement will optimize the utilization of natural resources, including water and agricultural lands, through the implementation of indoor vertical farming, with no need for arable land, resulting in significantly higher yields and using up to 95 percent less water versus traditional field farming, according to a PIF statement.

The joint venture plans to build and operate several farms across the region in the next few years. The first farm in Saudi Arabia, which is expected to be the largest indoor vertical farm of its kind in the MENA region, will have an annual production capacity of up to 1.1 million kilos of agricultural crops.

Majed Al-Assaf, head of consumer goods and retail, MENA Investments Division at PIF, said: “The agreement with AeroFarms will lead to the establishment of indoor vertical farms in Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region, increasing regional reliance on locally produced, high-quality crops grown in a sustainable way using the latest technologies. PIF is enabling the growth of the food and agriculture sector and localizing technology that can benefit private sector industry participants.”

The partnership aligns with PIF’s strategy, which focuses on developing and enabling the capabilities of key sectors, including food and agriculture, which will contribute to improving the trade balance, localizing technologies, developing industries, and the overall growth and diversification of the Saudi economy.

David Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of AeroFarms, said: “We are excited to partner with PIF to build our first large-scale commercial farm in Saudi Arabia, where the growing conditions are challenging with limited access to fresh water and arable land, and we envision building together smart indoor vertical farms throughout the broader MENA region.”

PIF is investing to localize new agricultural technologies that can benefit the local private sector, expanding its market reach and positioning Saudi Arabia as a leader in vertical farming.


SAMA annual conference discusses impact of inflation on economies 

SAMA annual conference discusses impact of inflation on economies 
Updated 22 min 14 sec ago

SAMA annual conference discusses impact of inflation on economies 

SAMA annual conference discusses impact of inflation on economies 

RIYADH: The impact of soaring inflation on the world’s economies, and the Middle East and North Africa region in particular, was among the most important topics that dominated this year’s annual conference of the Saudi Central Bank. 

This falls in line with the 2023 theme of the conference — Inflation Dynamics During Uncertain Times: The Path Toward Stable and Sustainable Recovery. 

The second annual Central Bank Conference on Development Economics in the Middle East and North Africa was held on Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, in Riyadh. 

During his opening speech, SAMA Deputy Governor for Research and International Affairs Fahad Alshathri encouraged academic research on behalf of the conference to enhance economic growth and stability.   

The governor added that the conference promoted the participation of the region’s economic entities to discuss the main issues facing policymakers.  

Alshathri also drew on the initiatives launched by SAMA to develop economic and financial research to boost the Kingdom’s economy further, which backs the Saudi Vision 2030 goals.   

Held under the patronage of SAMA Governor Fahad Almubarak, the event saw the participation of several central bank officials, senior economic researchers and top international speakers including the vice president of the World Bank Ferid Belhaj. 

The conference aligns with SAMA’s continuous efforts to develop research in different fields, as well as promote collaboration with local and international researchers and economists. 


UAE’s Pure Harvest inks food partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Nadec 

UAE’s Pure Harvest inks food partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Nadec 
Updated 32 min 27 sec ago

UAE’s Pure Harvest inks food partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Nadec 

UAE’s Pure Harvest inks food partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Nadec 

CAIRO: UAE-based agriculture technology startup Pure Harvest has signed a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia’s National Agricultural Development Co. to deliver a large-scale national food security project. 

Pure Harvest will increase production capacity over the next five years by farming a wide range of crops, while the Saudi company, also known as Nadec, will market these products to its consumer base, hotels, restaurants, and catering partners. 

The partnership will enable the production of locally and sustainably grown fresh produce on more than 27 hectares on Nadec's farms. 

“Nadec is a formidable incumbent food supplier with a sterling reputation and brand, sizeable landholdings and enabling infrastructure, and an experienced leadership team,” Sky Kurtz, Founder and CEO of Pure Harvest Smart Farms, said. 

Nadec is the first listed agricultural company in the Saudi exchange market and produces over 1.5 million liters of dairy and juice per day, serving over 40,000 stories in the region as well as employing over 7,000 people. 

Both Nadec and Pure Harvest completed and commissioned their first-ever project in December 2021, producing over fifteen varieties of high-quality, hydroponically-grown tomatoes in an approximately six-hectare high-tech, climate-controlled growing system in Nadec City, Haradh. 

Pure Harvest raised $64.5 million in funding last October, and has secured over $280 million in total funding since its inception.