New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser

New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser
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Business Finland senior advisers Nabil Mohamed and Mudar Al-Ani highlighted their mission to expand Finish businesses in Saudi Arabia. (AN photo by Abulaziz Alaraf)
New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser
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Business Finland senior advisers Nabil Mohamed and Mudar Al-Ani highlighted their mission to expand Finish businesses in Saudi Arabia. (AN photo by Abulaziz Alaraf)
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Updated 09 August 2023
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New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser

New areas for Saudi-Finnish business collaboration unlocked, says Business Finland adviser

RIYADH: Business Finland says Saudi Vision 2030 has unlocked new areas for potential collaboration between Finland and the Kingdom, with the government agency aiming to expand Saudi-Finish business cooperations further. 

“With Vision 2030 now and this massive transformation which is happening in the country we believe this unlocked new areas of potential collaboration between the two countries and Finland can be an excellent partner to the Kingdom to achieve the Vision 2030 goals and objectives,” Nabil Mohamed, Business Finland senior adviser, said during an interview with Arab News. 

Mohamed and fellow senior adviser of Business Finland Mudar Al-Ani highlighted their mission to expand Finish businesses in Saudi Arabia across sectors such as digital transformation.  

“We are looking to see more Finish companies present here (Saudi Arabia) in the market and also more Saudi companies present in Finland as well,” Mohamed said. 

“We have strong ties from a long time ago with Saudi Arabia, we started maybe late (in the) 1960s. Our large companies have been present in the market from a long time ago, an obvious example is Nokia,” he added.

In the last two years, despite COVID-19 limitations, business collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Finland has witnessed new growth. 

“I think 2022 and 2023 were a very special time in strengthening the special ties that we have between the two countries, and the effort has been paved hand-in-hand with our embassy, of course, and with our counterparts from the Saudi side as well,” Mohamed explained. 

In November 2022, Saudi Arabia and Finland agreed to form a bilateral organization to boost the SR1.9 billion ($510 million) trading relationship between the two countries. 

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Federation of Saudi Chambers and the Finnish Chamber of Commerce in Helsinki to establish a joint Saudi-Finnish Business Council. 

At the same time, the Federation of Saudi Chambers signed an MoU with Business Finland around financing and promoting trade and investment between the two countries.

The MoU mainly focused on technology, digitalization, energy, circular economy, mining, transport and logistics services, healthcare, and water. 

“If we look to Business Finland’s main goals I would say is to help Finish companies grow globally that means really facilitating the right environment, giving them the right advice to enter the Saudi market also to connect them to the right market opportunities,’ Al-Ani said, adding that Business Finland works with companies to help them “find solutions for the future, working with them on R&D (research and development) phases and with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Ani added that they aim to thrive in the “Public-Private Sector Partnership between Saudi Arabia and Finland.”

He explained that there are currently many large companies that have been strongly present in the Kingdom for years as well as smaller firms active in the market.

“Finland has also been the global leader in some other sectors like (the) mining industry, logistics — circular economy, of course, is a very important area to collaborate (in) and capacity building, which includes education, training,” Mohamed said. 

“In the Kingdom, there are many new areas of potential collaboration between the two countries of course digital transformation is the main pillar across all different sectors,” he added. 

Looking forward into the future, Al-Ani expressed that in the next five years, Business Finland hopes to see more knowledge transfer and capacity building between the two countries. 


Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
Updated 23 May 2024
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Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
  • The procedure is meant to keep the cover, known as kiswa, free from getting soiled and tampered with as pilgrims performing Hajj circumabulate the Kaaba

RIYADH: In keeping with the annual tradition, officials raised the lower part of the kiswa — the elaborately designed black cloth covering the Kaaba — in Makkah on Wednesday ahead of this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

As approved by the General Authority for the Care of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the exposed part was covered with a white cotton fabric, two-and-a-half meters wide and 54 meters long on all four sides, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Carrying out the procedure were 36 specialized technical personnel with the aid of 10 cranes.

As described in the SPA report, the kiswa is lifted in several stages: It starts with unscrewing the bottom of the cover from all sides, separating the corners, then untying the bottom rope and removing it from the fixing rings, after which the cloth is rolled upward. The lanterns are then dismantled and the white cloth are put in place, after which the lanterns are reinstalled over the white cloth until the final stage.

The procedure is repeated every year to protect the kiswa from getting soiled and damaged as pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba.

The annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia is considered the world's largest human gathering, with year 2012 marking the biggest number of participants at 3.16 million.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi authorities allowed only a symbolic observance of Hajj with just a thousand pilgrims. The numbers were gradually raised as the health crisis was placed under control worldwide. Last year, almost 1.84 million pilgrims performed the "once in a lifetime" journey and the figure is expected to go higher this year.

Every year, on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dul Hijjah, the black silk cloth is removed and a new kiswa is draped in its place.


Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

Saudi authorities limit entry to Makkah to Hajj visa holders

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior announced that visit visa holders are not allowed to enter or stay in Makkah during May 23-June 21 as access to the city will be limited to Hajj visa holders.

The ministry stressed that all types of visit visa are not a permit to perform Hajj, adding that violators will be subject to penalties according to Saudi laws and regulations.


Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

Saudi FM in Tehran conveys king, crown prince condolences for Iran president death

RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, conveyed the condolences of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to top Iranian officials in Tehran on Wednesday on the death of President Ebrahim Raisi and his companions.

Prince Mansour bin Muteb bin Abdulaziz, Adviser to King Salman and Minister of State, and Prince Faisal were received by Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs to Iran President Mohammad Jamshidi and Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani.

Saudi ambassador to Iran Abdullah Al-Enazi attended the reception.


Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’

Saudi nature reserve becomes Kingdom’s ‘first major biodiversity site’
  • Accreditation follows evaluation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve by the international organization Key Biodiversity Areas

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve has been granted accreditation as “the first major biodiversity site in the Kingdom.”

The organization Key Biodiversity Areas confirmed the accreditation, after an evaluation based on international standards, on its website on Wednesday. It said the reserve meets three global standards, including the presence of endangered species, and so qualifies for inclusion. The announcement coincided with International Day for Biological Diversity, which takes place on May 22 each year.

KBA works to monitor and preserve approved sites of great importance as part of its efforts to sustain biological diversity on a global level, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi reserve is managed by the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Natural Reserve Development Authority with the aim of protecting endangered species, developing natural habitats, raising environmental awareness among the public, and reducing natural and human threats to the area. It is considered the largest nature reserve in the Middle East, covering a total area of 130,700 square kilometers.


Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting
Updated 22 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Arabia participates in UN tourism body meeting

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the UN World Tourism Organization’s 50th meeting of the regional committee for the Middle East, on Wednesday in Muscat.

During his speech, the Saudi minister stressed the Kingdom’s openness to cooperate with member states to adopt joint regional tourism projects to attract international visitors to the region. 

Al-Khateeb thanked the Omani Minister of Heritage and Tourism Salem Al-Mahrouqi for the hospitality and extended his appreciation to the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and other officials for their efforts to advance the tourism sector globally.