Saudi Vision 2030 offers ‘tons of opportunities’ for IT firms — Pakistani tech magnate 

Special Saudi Vision 2030 offers ‘tons of opportunities’ for IT firms — Pakistani tech magnate 
Saudi men attend the Gitex 2018 exhibition at the Dubai World Trade Center in Dubai on October 16, 2018 Gitex ("Gulf Information Technology Exhibition") is a consumer computer and electronics trade show. (AFP/File)
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Updated 26 July 2023
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Saudi Vision 2030 offers ‘tons of opportunities’ for IT firms — Pakistani tech magnate 

Saudi Vision 2030 offers ‘tons of opportunities’ for IT firms — Pakistani tech magnate 
  • Systems Limited chief Asif Peer says his firm is focused on markets in Gulf countries and is in the process of acquiring more companies 
  • Peer’s IT firm generates over 80 percent of its revenue from the export of services to various geographies and below 20 percent from domestic market 

KARACHI: Saudi Arabia’s diversification of its economy under the Vision 2030 offers “tons of opportunities” for information technology-based companies, CEO of a Pakistani tech giant said on Tuesday, stressing on “diversification and specialization” as the key to benefit from these opportunities. 

Saudi Arabia is consolidating its economy on modern lines under the Vision 2030, which is a strategic development framework intended to cut the Kingdom’s reliance on oil. It is aimed at developing public service sectors in the Kingdom such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. 

In an interview with Arab News, Pakistani IT magnate, Asif Peer, was a “big market” for players across all sectors, particularly the IT sector. Peer’s Systems Limited boast of being Pakistan’s first IT company, established in 1977, with a market capitalization of Rs128 billion ($444 million) and revenue generation of Rs20.64 billion ($69 million) in fiscal year 2022. 

“I would say the money that is being spend by the Saudi conglomerates, the corporate enterprises and most importantly the public sector, the government that is taking lot of initiatives, all is mostly toward technology,” Peer said. 

“If everybody is aware of what’s happening... there will be tons of opportunities for everyone,” he said, adding, “diversification and specialization is the key.” 




Asif Peer, CEO of Systems Limited speaks to Arab News during an interview on July 25, 2023 in Karachi, Pakistan. (AN Photo) 

Peer’s firm generates over 80 percent of its revenue from the export of services to various countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and less than 20 percent from the domestic market. It already has a sizeable presence in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Singapore, South Africa, Australia and the Netherlands. 

Peer, however, said that Pakistani companies must be aware of the opportunities coming as part of the Vision 2030 to benefit from them. Vision 2030 has many facets, including infrastructure development but technology, business and digital transformation, and gender diversity, he said. 

“They all will need technology at the backbone or at the back. We just need to know about these projects and just need to be registered with all these companies, with all these big consulting partners,” he said. “So we know that which projects are coming and we try to position ourselves.” 

Last year, Systems Limited incorporated a company, Systems Arabia, in the Kingdom, which has secured sizeable contracts in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, according to the CEO. 

The healthy pipeline will help with the momentum in the Kingdom as the company is currently targeting customer acquisition in both public and private sectors. 

“They are all in expansion, they all are focused on technology and digitization, AI. So we have ample opportunities to double down, triple down our investment in these markets,” Peer said. 

“Our Egypt center is not only a market for us, but it is also a supply center for us,” he said, adding the company employed hundreds of people at the center that supported GCC clients, mostly because of the language and much-needed cultural mix. 

Using Egypt as a spring board, Peer’s firm is also focused on other regional markets for acquisitions. 

“We are really focused right now on those markets, acquiring more companies, either in those markets or those domains which are relevant and pertinent, because I believe in organic and inorganic growth both will yield better results,” he told Arab News. 

To a question about the challenges faced by his firm in the Gulf region, Peer said there were no major challenges in the Middle East. 

About his growth plans at home and abroad, the Systems Limited CEO said his company was in hypergrowth mode to beat its own expectations. 

“When you are scaling and growing there are two sides of it, one is demand and one is supply, so in supply side we are scaling robustly not just by hiring people, but we have lots of training programs that we run in every competency in every area,” he said. 

Peer informed his firm recently won ‘Microsoft Partner of the Year’ award in recognition of development and delivery of outstanding Microsoft-based applications, services and devices during the past year. 
 


Pakistan PM wishes US President Biden swift recovery after COVID-19 diagnosis

Pakistan PM wishes US President Biden swift recovery after COVID-19 diagnosis
Updated 6 sec ago
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Pakistan PM wishes US President Biden swift recovery after COVID-19 diagnosis

Pakistan PM wishes US President Biden swift recovery after COVID-19 diagnosis
  • Biden said earlier he would consider ending his reelection campaign if diagnosed with serious medical condition
  • There have been concerns about the 81-year-old president’s health, with many Democrats asking him to step aside

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday wished United States President Joe Biden a swift recovery after the latter tested positive for COVID-19 and began experiencing mild symptoms of the disease.

Biden, who is campaigning for reelection, had to cut short a trip to Las Vegas and flew to his beach home in Delaware to isolate.

The 81-year-old Democrat was reported to have contracted the disease shortly after saying he would consider ending his reelection campaign if diagnosed with a serious medical condition.

However, before entering self-isolation, he assured reporters he was feeling good.

“Wishing President Biden @POTUS swift and complete recovery from Covid,” Sharif wrote in a social media post in response to the development. “Good wishes.”

The infection comes at a critical moment for Biden’s campaign, with the president seeking to show he is up to the job after a disastrous debate performance against rival Donald Trump sparked concerns about his health and calls from some Democrats for him to step aside.

It is also the latest development in a tumultuous few days in an already frenetic White House race that saw Trump survive an assassination attempt at a campaign rally.

Biden was forced to cancel a speech to a union representing Latino workers who will be crucial for his election bid, having attended a campaign event earlier in the day and given a radio interview.

His spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden was vaccinated and boosted, was now taking the Covid medication Paxlovid and “continues to carry out the full duties of the office while in isolation.”

With input from AFP


Pakistan advises its nationals to take precautions amid violent student protests in Bangladesh

Pakistan advises its nationals to take precautions amid violent student protests in Bangladesh
Updated 17 July 2024
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Pakistan advises its nationals to take precautions amid violent student protests in Bangladesh

Pakistan advises its nationals to take precautions amid violent student protests in Bangladesh
  • Tens of thousands of students have been holding nationwide protests since early July against public sector job quotas
  • PM Hasina has labeled protesters “razakar,” term for those who allegedly collaborated with Pakistani army during 1971 war

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka on Wednesday advised Pakistani students in Bangladesh to take necessary precautions and stay away from student protests in which at least six people have been killed and scores injured in the last 24 hours. 
Tens of thousands of students have been holding nationwide protests since early July against public sector job quotas, including a 30 percent quota for family members of freedom fighters from the 1971 War of Independence, amid high youth unemployment. 
Demonstrations intensified after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan, refused to meet the protesters’ demands and labeled those opposing the quota as “razakar,” a term used for those who allegedly collaborated with the Pakistani army during the 1971 war.
“Pakistan High Commission advises students to take all possible precautions for their safety and stay away from protests,” the High Commission said in a statement. “Campus residents have been advised to stay in their hostel rooms.”
On Wednesday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar also spoke to the Pakistani High Commissioner in Bangladesh, Ambassador Syed Maruf, to inquire about the welfare of Pakistanis in Bangladesh.
“Maruf informed the Deputy Prime Minister about the security situation and the steps taken by the High Commission to ensure the welfare of Pakistanis in Bangladesh,” the statement said. “The embassy has opened a helpline for the convenience of people in distress.”
The protests turned violent this week when thousands of anti-quota protesters clashed with members of the student wing of the ruling Awami League party across the country. Six people, including at least three students, were killed during clashes on Tuesday, police said.
The protests are the first significant challenge to Hasina’s government since she secured a fourth consecutive term in January in an election boycotted by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).


Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers

Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers
Updated 17 July 2024
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Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers

Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers
  • Eight soldiers killed while blocking militants from entering military cantonment in Bannu on Monday
  • Two soldiers, five civilians killed in militant attack on Rural Health Center in Dera Ismail Khan on Tuesday

ISLAMABAD: The deputy head of mission at the embassy of Afghanistan in Islamabad was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, Wednesday, to deliver Pakistan’s “strong demarche” over a militant attack at an army cantonment this week in which eight soldiers were killed, the foreign office said.

Ten soldiers and five civilians were killed this week in two separate attacks in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In the first attack on Monday, militants tried to enter a cantonment in the city of Bannu and a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into a perimeter wall. Eight soldiers and ten militants were killed, the army said. 

In a second, separate, attack early Tuesday, five civilians, including two female health workers and two children, were killed in an attack on a health facility in the Dera Ismail Khan district. Two soldiers and all three militants were killed in subsequent clashes, the military said.

Pakistan has seen a surge in militancy in recent months that it blames on militants operating out of Afghanistan. Kabul denies that it allows its territory to be used by insurgents and says Pakistan’s security woes are a domestic issue.

“The terrorist attack [in Bannu] was carried out by the Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group based in Afghanistan. Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group, along with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and law enforcement officials in multiple terrorist attacks inside Pakistan,” the foreign office said in a statement.

“The Interim Afghan Government was urged to fully investigate and take immediate, robust and effective action against the perpetrators of the Bannu attack and to prevent the recurrence of such attacks against Pakistan using the territory of Afghanistan.”

The foreign office said it had “serious concerns” about the presence of militant outfits inside Afghanistan that continued to threaten Pakistan’s security. 

“Such incidents also go against the spirit of bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries,” the foreign office added. “The Bannu Cantonment attack is yet another reminder of the serious threat posed by terrorism to regional peace and security. Pakistan reiterates the call for decisive action against terrorism and remains steadfast in its commitment to combat this menace and to uphold its security against all threats.”


Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions

Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions
Updated 17 July 2024
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Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions

Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions
  • Floods in 2022, brought by record monsoon rains and glacial melt, killed over 1,700 people and impacted 33 million people
  • NDMA recently launched Pak NDMA Disaster Alert application to provide timely alerts, adviseries and guidelines

ISLAMABAD: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Wednesday issued a glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF) alert for Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the mountainous northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Floods in 2022, brought by record monsoon rains and glacial melt in northern mountains, killed over 1,700 people and impacted 33 million people out of a population of 220 million, sweeping away homes, vehicles, crops and livestock in damage estimated at $30 billion. 

“National Emergencies Operation Center (NEOC) has warned of possible glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) in the mountainous regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan due to rising temperatures and expected heavy rainfall from July 17 to 23, 2024,” the NDMA said in a statement. “This may lead to increased water levels in local rivers and streams, landslides, and flash flooding.”

The disaster management authority said it had directed the Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority to coordinate with relevant departments to ensure necessary preparations and emergency response measures. 

“Departments have been instructed to alert local communities, tourists, and travelers in the areas at risk and to avoid unnecessary travel. Mock drills should also be conducted in vulnerable areas to ensure timely evacuation and safety of people,” NDMA said. 

The authority recently launched the Pak NDMA Disaster Alert application, available on Google Play Store and iOS App Store, to provide timely alerts, adviseries and guidelines to the public.


Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security

Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security
Updated 17 July 2024
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Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security

Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security
  • Ashura is tenth day of Muharram when Shiite Muslims commemorate death of Imam Hussein
  • Interior ministry had approved army deployment across Pakistan to ensure peace during Muharram

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of thousands of mourners took out processions across Pakistan on Wednesday amid heightened security measures to observe Yaum-e-Ashura, the holiest day on the Shiite Muslim calendar.

Yaum-e-Ashura is the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram when Shiite Muslims commemorate the seventh-century battlefield death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), in Karbala, Iraq. 

“The martyrdom of Imam Hussain teaches us to stand firm against oppression,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a message to the public. “In today’s world, we witness the people of Palestine enduring immense hardships and making immense sacrifices for a great cause. Similarly people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are also suffering the atrocities of the oppressive forces.”

Shiite Muslims take part in a religious procession to mark Ashura on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, in Lahore on July 17, 2024. (AFP)

President Asif Ali Zardari said the martyrs of Karbala had given a lesson to the Muslim Ummah “to remain steadfast in the face of all kinds of brutalities and raise their voice against all evils,” state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

The interior ministry had approved army deployment across the country to ensure peace and security during the holy month of Muharram and had banned the use of drones during processions and gatherings.

The main procession in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore set out from Nisar Haveli in the Mohalla Chillah Bibian on Wednesday morning and will culminate at the Karbala Ghamay Shah Imambargah.

In Karachi, the main procession departed from Nishtar Park and will conclude at the Hussainiya Iraniyan Imam Bargah.

Shiite Muslims shout anti-Israel slogans during a religious procession on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, in Karachi on July 16, 2024. (AFP)

In Peshawar, the main procession began from GT Road and passed through Mukri Bazaar service road and is expected to conclude at 4pm, according to the City Traffic Police.