Aramco’s Wa'ed Ventures leads $14m bridge funding round for Japan’s Terra Drone   

Aramco’s Wa'ed Ventures leads $14m bridge funding round for Japan’s Terra Drone   
Terra Drone plans to utilize its acquired investment to start a new subsidiary in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 January 2023

Aramco’s Wa'ed Ventures leads $14m bridge funding round for Japan’s Terra Drone   

Aramco’s Wa'ed Ventures leads $14m bridge funding round for Japan’s Terra Drone   

CAIRO: Saudi Aramco’s venture capital arm Wa'ed Ventures is leading a $14 million bridge funding round for Japan-based Terra Drone to boost its expansion into the Kingdom.  

One of Japan’s leading drone and urban air mobility technology companies, Terra Drone plans to utilize its acquired investment to start a new subsidiary in Saudi Arabia. 

The Tokyo-based firm, which serves the oil, gas, chemical, and construction industries, wants to localize drone services in the Kingdom as it continues to serve the global autonomous vehicles market which is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2040, according to Morgan Stanley. 

“Saudi Aramco's investment in Terra Drone through its VC arm Wa’ed Ventures is another example of the global recognition for our achievements, which raises the expectations for our team as we continue to push forward and lead Terra Drone to the forefront of the global innovation track,” said Toru Tokushige, founder and CEO of Terra Drone.  

Terra Drone is the first Asian company to receive funding from Wa’ed Ventures after the venture capital firm expanded its mandate to target global companies back in the third quarter of 2022.  

“Supported by the global track record of Terra Drone, our investment represents Wa’ed’s commitment towards building the urban air mobility ecosystem in the Kingdom, one that circles around a sustainable economy,” said Fahad Alidi, managing director at Wa’ed Ventures.  

He added that Terra Drone is well-positioned to localize its proprietary technology across the Middle East region and cater to an expected rapid adoption of drone services, starting with the Kingdom.  

Established in 2016, Terra Drone has a presence in over 10 countries worldwide providing its drone hardware and software solutions in over 1,000 projects. The company managed to raise over $80 million in its previous funding rounds from leading investors like Mitsui & Co and SBI Investments Co. 

Founded in 2013, Wa’ed Ventures is a $200 million institutional venture capital firm wholly owned by Saudi Aramco and currently manages a portfolio of over 50 startups.  

Wa’ed Ventures participated in a $108 million series B funding round for France-based quantum computing company PASQAL on Jan. 24.  


UAE’s Burjeel Holdings and Saudi Arabia’s Leejam Sports Company plan joint venture in Kingdom

UAE’s Burjeel Holdings and Saudi Arabia’s Leejam Sports Company plan joint venture in Kingdom
Updated 28 min 44 sec ago

UAE’s Burjeel Holdings and Saudi Arabia’s Leejam Sports Company plan joint venture in Kingdom

UAE’s Burjeel Holdings and Saudi Arabia’s Leejam Sports Company plan joint venture in Kingdom
  • They intend to develop a network of more than 60 physiotherapy, rehabilitation and wellness centers across the country

ABU DHABI: Burjeel Holdings, an Emirati healthcare company, and Saudi Arabia’s Leejam Sports Company, owner of the Fitness Time chain of gyms, has signed a memorandum of understanding for a joint venture, Emirates News Agency reported.

Under the terms of the agreement, signed on Monday at the headquarters of the Ministry of Investment in Riyadh, the companies will develop a network of more than 60 physiotherapy, rehabilitation and wellness centers in Leejam facilities across the Kingdom. Initially, six centers will open in Riyadh and expand across the Leejam network over the next year.

“Our collaboration with Leejam to provide high-quality services in rehabilitation and sports medicine is significant as we commence operations in (Saudi Arabia, which is) renowned for its love of sports, and especially football,” said Shamsheer Vayalil, the founder of Burjeel Holdings.

“Professional and recreational athletes of all levels, and passionate youngsters, stand to benefit from comprehensive care, ranging from prevention to rehabilitation, which will be tailored to their specific needs.

“These offerings will create a world-class support system enabling sportspersons to elevate their performance. We are also committed to supporting the transformative (Saudi) Vision 2030, which acknowledges the importance of partnerships with the private sector to promote sports for well-being.”

Ali Al-Sagri, the chairman of Leejam Sports, said: “The MoU confirms the company's commitment to harnessing the full extent of its capabilities to raise the level of healthcare and physical fitness, and to achieve a healthier life for body and mind.

“Our partnership with Burjeel Holdings, a leader in the field of healthcare services, ensures integrated sports medicine services of the best international standards.”


Hong Kong says it would support Aramco to list in the city

Hong Kong says it would support Aramco to list in the city
Updated 06 February 2023

Hong Kong says it would support Aramco to list in the city

Hong Kong says it would support Aramco to list in the city
  • Hong Kong leader John Lee posted on Facebook said the city would be able to assist the Saudi oil firm

HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader John Lee said on Monday the financial hub would support Saudi oil giant Aramco if it chose to list in the city.

Hong Kong will be able to handle any of Aramco's future funding arrangements and investment opportunities, John Lee said in a post on his official Facebook account after meeting the group's chief executive.

On Monday, Aramco also announced a strategic partnership with Zoom and an increase in funding for Wa’ed Ventures during the second edition of LEAP, being held in Saudi Arabia.


PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company signs MoU with MCIT to build digital infrastructure

PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company signs MoU with MCIT to build digital infrastructure
Updated 06 February 2023

PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company signs MoU with MCIT to build digital infrastructure

PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company signs MoU with MCIT to build digital infrastructure

RIYADH: The PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to develop digital infrastructure and communication technologies.

The MoU was signed at the second edition of LEAP, a major international technology conference held annually in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Downtown Company aims to build and develop downtown areas and mixed-use destinations in 12 Saudi cities.

The 12 cities include Madinah, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa, Buraidah, Najran, Jazan, Hail, Al-Baha, Arar, Taif, Dumat Al-Jandal, and Tabuk. The company will develop over 10 million sq. m of land across all projects, creating modern destinations drawn from Saudi Arabia’s diverse local culture and traditional architectural motifs, while using cutting-edge technology in every project.

The agreement was signed between Nayef bin Saleh Al-Hamdan, a member of the board of directors and acting CEO of Saudi Downtown Company, and Bassam bin Abdullah Al-Bassam, undersecretary of the Ministry of Communications and IT for communications and infrastructure.

Al-Hamdan said the deal aims to encourage investment in the digital infrastructure of the company’s projects.

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.

 


Arab region making headway on climate change, says UN official

Arab region making headway on climate change, says UN official
Updated 06 February 2023

Arab region making headway on climate change, says UN official

Arab region making headway on climate change, says UN official

RIYADH: Events such as the IAEE Conference currently underway in the Saudi capital and COP27 held in Egypt and the upcoming COP28 in the UAE are important milestones for the region toward a successful transition to green energy transition.
This was underlined by Rola Dashti, executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia while speaking at a session titled “Energy, Development and Climate Change” at the 44th IAEE International Conference in Riyadh on Monday.
“The Arab region is making significant headway toward climate change with two back-to-back COP conferences, the last one held in Egypt and next to be held in the UAE, and this IAEE conference will add more value to it,” she said.
Dashti praised Saudi Arabia for its green initiatives, measures for green energy transition, commitment to circular carbon economy, and scaling up the hydrogen energy program.
Echoing similar sentiments, Noura Alissa, a senior international policy analyst at the Saudi Energy Ministry, highlighted the importance of energy transition.
“Having a diverse energy mix is an important part of energy security,” she said.
Green hydrogen has a crucial role in the energy transition and the decarbonization of the economic sectors in the Arab region, said Sausan Al-Riyami, director of the Oman Hydrogen Center, German University of Technology in Oman.
“We should be ready in Oman and the Arab countries, and this could be done if we boost cooperation between all the stakeholders in the region,” she said.
Sarah Najm, assistant professor at King Saud University’s Department of Economics, noted that energy transition requires greater international cooperation.
Manjeet Kripalani, executive director at Gateway House, pointed out that India is a densely populated country with massive energy consumption. The situation is different from other countries facing energy transition challenges.
“The only country we can compare with is China,” she said.
She, however, added that China is taking a cautious approach to balancing its carbon-neutral commitment against the need for energy security, and India can follow the idea.
India is an energy-consuming country, and a large part of the energy produced locally is by coal, which is cheaper, she said.
Kripalani said there is a need to improve the efficiency of coal used to make the value chain more sustainable.
The session was moderated by Steven Griffiths, senior vice president for research and development, at Khalifa University.
 


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 06 February 2023

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.