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

Special Saudi Vision 2030 transformation dubbed ‘one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now’
Panel discussion with unicorn speakers Phalgun Kompalli, Mudassir Shaikha, Chip Paucek and moderator Supreet Manchanda. (Supplied)
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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.
 


Saudi Arabia’s traditional souqs exude Ramadan vibes

Saudi Arabia’s traditional souqs exude Ramadan vibes
Updated 26 March 2023

Saudi Arabia’s traditional souqs exude Ramadan vibes

Saudi Arabia’s traditional souqs exude Ramadan vibes
  • Bustling with tourists and residents, souqs are the beating heart of Saudi cities

RIYADH: Souqs are the best place to buy Ramadan essentials — food, decoration or fashion — and to experience the hustle and bustle of the holy month.

Souq, meaning market in Arabic, is a modern shopping destination but with an old-world charm.

May AlSheikh, reservoir geoscientist at Aramco, spoke with Arab News to explain the importance of souqs in the Middle Eastern culture.

AlUla’s Old Town is a serene marketplace with a beautiful view of mountains. (Supplied)

“Souqs are historical shopping and trading scenes that have been around for thousands of years. I strongly believe they remain an essential component for preserving culture and identity in Saudi Arabia, on the local scale, and the Middle East region as a whole,” Alsheikh said.  

Alsheikh believes the souq is a place where tourists can indulge in culture and get a taste of tradition.  

“I work in a company that is a cultural melting pot with people coming from all walks of life, and I always recommend my expatriate colleagues to visit souqs — they love it! It’s a great tourist attraction and a pleasant activity, where they enjoy the traditional ambiance while purchasing traditional goods and foods,” she said.

AlKhobar’s Al-Swekit Souq

One of the oldest souqs in the Eastern Province, Al-Swekit Souq, is a hub for affordable gold jewelry and abayas.  

AlUla’s Old Town is a serene marketplace with a beautiful view of mountains. (Supplied)

AlSheikh visits the Al-Swekit Souq during the month of Ramadan to buy all sorts of things for herself and the family.   

Souqs are historical shopping and trading scenes that have been around for thousands of years ... they remain an essential component for preserving culture and identity in Saudi Arabia, on the local scale, and the Middle East region as a whole.

May AlSheikh, Reservoir geoscientist at Aramco

“Shopping in Swekit market is fun, especially around this time of the year with the holy month of Ramadhan fast-approaching. The shops in Swekit usually sell a variety of traditional merchandise and local produce. I personally love buying abayas, spices and customary festive attire for myself and the kids,” she said.  

Jeddah’s Al-Balad Souqs

Al-Balad is Jeddah’s oldest neighborhood, founded in 7th century AD, and is home to a plethora of some of the oldest traditional markets: Souq Al-Badu‎, Souq Qabil, Souq Alawi, Souq Nada, Souq Al-Khaskeya, Souq Bab Al-Makkah and Souq Bab Shareef.

The souqs have a variety of shops to explore, selling gold, textiles, honey, spices and much more. Some of these markets have been around for decades and hold a special place in the hearts of locals.  

AlUla’s Old Town is a serene marketplace with a beautiful view of mountains. (Supplied)

“It is a lively, enjoyable, and unpretentious social activity where you see people from different backgrounds and economic classes shop and interact together. And, quite frankly, that’s the beauty of it! It breaks social norms, shrinks the social and economic classes’ gap, and promotes a healthy, inclusive society. In addition to that, souqs give thrive to small-scale businesses which feed into the overall economic growth,” AlSheikh said.  

Just make sure to put your bargaining hats on to show off some negotiation skills.

AlUla’s Old Town Souq

Julian Ryall, Japan correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, visited The Old Town Souq in AlUla, where community locals set up clothing shops, fruit stands, pottery and crafts, and cafes amid a beautiful view of the mountains.

“Any foreign visitor who comes to Saudi Arabia is going to want to visit a souq. It has to be one of the most important elements of a trip, as important as drinking tea on a trip to England,” Ryall said.

He added: “I loved the hustle and bustle of market, of the stall-holders calling out to passers-by, of being encouraged to haggle on prices and just the items that were available,” Ryall said.

“The local gold shop was the perfect place. I was embarrassingly bad at haggling so the owner took pity on me and gave me a discount anyway. I think I’ll tell my wife I did haggle the price down when I give her the earrings.”  

Riyadh’s Almaigliah Souq

Established in 1986, Almaigliah Souq is the first wholesales traditional market in Riyadh located next to Al-Masmak Fort.  

The complex consists of four buildings, each specializing in a genre of shopping: gold, women’s clothing, men’s apparel, and perfume.  

Almaigliah is best known for their great deals on the best Arabian ouds perfume, spices and women’s abayas.

For almost three decades, this souq has attracted tourists from all over the world and continues to be a retail destination for locals.  

 


Who’s Who: Abdulrahman K Justaniah, first Saudi to become a partner at global strategy consulting firm Kearney

Abdulrahman K Justaniah
Abdulrahman K Justaniah
Updated 26 March 2023

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman K Justaniah, first Saudi to become a partner at global strategy consulting firm Kearney

Abdulrahman K Justaniah

Abdulrahman K Justaniah is the first Saudi to become a partner at the elite global strategy consulting firm Kearney.

Justaniah joined in January 2022 while being part of the strategic operations practice and supporting the firm’s growth in the region. He has been part of many of the transformational projects in the Kingdom supporting clients as a trusted adviser.

Previously he had several public and private sector leadership roles. The most recent was vice-president of strategy and excellence at the Expenditure and Project Efficiency Authority in 2021.

The authority was established in 2017 to support Saudi Arabia’s efficiency, project execution, operations and maintenance for all spending through the public budget.

He joined the authority as the fifth employee during the startup and served in multiple leadership roles.

Before his vice-presidency role, he held the same position for strategy and shared services from 2020 to 2021, and was executive director of strategy and organizational excellence from 2019 to 2020.

He also worked as executive director of the strategic procurement unit from 2017-2019 and led the establishment of the strategic procurement unit to increase government efficiency, and led the organizational design, developed processes, and set up governance with more than 450 government entities across the Kingdom.

Before that Justaniah worked with Procter & Gamble as manufacturing director in Dammam from 2015 to 2017 and led part of Dammam’s manufacturing operations.

He has also worked with P&G as regional supply chain director/IMEA demand planning leader in Cairo, transition and startup director, market planning senior manager, project manager and supply planning manager.

Justaniah obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran. He also completed leadership courses, pathways to leadership process, GROW Coaching, situational leadership and emerging leaders.

 


Installation of 120 areas for prayer, 12,000 Zamzam water containers at Grand Mosque

Installation of 120 areas for prayer, 12,000 Zamzam water containers at Grand Mosque
Updated 26 March 2023

Installation of 120 areas for prayer, 12,000 Zamzam water containers at Grand Mosque

Installation of 120 areas for prayer, 12,000 Zamzam water containers at Grand Mosque
  • Visitors to the Grand Mosque will be given the opportunity to learn more about the Prophet Muhammad following an initiative by the presidency to enrich the experience of those attending the site during Ramadan

RIYADH: The Grand Mosque in Makkah boasts 120 areas for prayer and 12,000 containers of Zamzam water to help ensure a comfortable visit for pilgrims during Ramadan.

People at the location have worked round the clock on the third Northern expansion to make the mosque as safe and as hospitable as possible for visitors during the holy month.

The General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has prepared some 120 areas for prayer at the site. New additions to help visitors include several allocated doors for entry and exit.

Walid Al-Masoudi, the director of the General Administration of the Third Saudi Expansion at the Grand Mosque, said that the specially allocated doors would facilitate the arrival of worshippers and aid them on their way to prayer rooms on the ground and first floors, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

He added that the roof level will be used for the first time, and in the event that the internal areas of the Grand Mosque are filled, the northern and western courtyards and parts of the service buildings will be utilized as they have the capacity to accommodate more visitors.

Al-Masoudi said that in coordination with the specialized agencies and authorities, some 26 elevators had been installed.

He added: “All the praying areas of the mosque have been provided with 22,000 carpets and over 12,000 containers of Zamzam water.”

Visitors to the Grand Mosque will be given the opportunity to learn more about the Prophet Muhammad following an initiative by the presidency to enrich the experience of those attending the site during Ramadan.

 


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visits Madinah

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received by Madinah governor Prince Faisal bin Salman and other key officials. (Supplied)
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received by Madinah governor Prince Faisal bin Salman and other key officials. (Supplied)
Updated 26 March 2023

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visits Madinah

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received by Madinah governor Prince Faisal bin Salman and other key officials. (Supplied)
  • Crown Prince visited Quba Mosque and performed the Tahiyat Al-Masjid prayer

MADINAH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Madinah and performed prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The crown prince was greeted on arrival by Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, and other imams and officials of the mosque.

He also visited Quba Mosque and performed the Tahiyat Al-Masjid prayer (a way of greeting the mosque). He was accompanied by Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman and other key officials.

 

 


Bisat Al-Reeh festival returns to Jeddah for 22nd year

Bisat Al-Reeh festival returns to Jeddah for 22nd year
Updated 26 March 2023

Bisat Al-Reeh festival returns to Jeddah for 22nd year

Bisat Al-Reeh festival returns to Jeddah for 22nd year
  • More than 170 exhibitors from 15 countries including Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Turkiye, Egypt, London, India and Jordan are taking part

JEDDAH: One of the biggest festivals in the Islamic world dedicated to women is holding its 22nd event in Jeddah as part of the Kingdom’s Ramadan Season.

The National Charity Foundation for Home Health Care, also known as We Care, is holding its ‘Bisat Al-Reeh’ event for six days starting on Monday at the Jeddah Superdome under the slogan “Everlasting Goodness.” 

The annual exhibition this year has two days for families and four dedicated exclusively for women to promote their creativity in fashion, jewelry and furniture and nurture young talent.

Bisat Al-Reeh is held under the patronage of Princess Adelah bint Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and in the presence of Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan.

More than 170 exhibitors from 15 countries including Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Turkiye, Egypt, London, India and Jordan are taking part. Uzbekistan will also be represented for the first time. 

We Care said Bisat Al-Reeh encourages entrepreneurs to exchange knowledge and experience with elite society members and promotes the display of various related industrial sectors.

Proceeds have supported We Care charitable programs and activities in home healthcare and hospitals.

Princess Adelah, the chairwoman of the foundation’s board of trustees, told Arab News at last year’s event: “The foundation works for noble goals, as today it serves ten different regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Its goals fall within providing home health care in addition to providing patients’ psychological and social needs and supporting them with medical equipment and supplies, as well as enhancing the functional capabilities of the patients and supporting them until they regain their independence.”

Ramadan Season also offers a series of cultural experiences and events in Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah organized by the Saudi Ministry of Culture.

The season aims to celebrate areas of the Kingdom’s historical and cultural heritage that relate to the holy month.