India’s Disprz aims to upskill Saudi workforce

India’s Disprz aims to upskill Saudi workforce
Disprz is targeting the integration of generative AI across its entire product suite, with the first beta version slated for a September release. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 04 September 2023
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India’s Disprz aims to upskill Saudi workforce

India’s Disprz aims to upskill Saudi workforce
  • Firm sets sights on transforming KSA’s workforce with AI-driven strategy

CAIRO: As artificial intelligence continues to revolutionize industries globally, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a regional powerhouse in this domain with major global tech companies increasingly viewing the Kingdom’s market as a pivotal element for their worldwide operations.  

Disprz, a front-runner in skilling and talent development based in India, is setting its sights on transforming Saudi Arabia’s workforce. Leveraging its new AI-powered strategy, the company aims to make a significant impact on the Kingdom’s labor market.  

In an interview with Arab News, Subbu Viswanathan, co-founder and CEO of Disprz, shed light on the company’s ambitious future plans.    

He revealed that Disprz aims to establish itself as a global leader in workforce development, using Saudi Arabia as a pivotal launchpad.  

After successfully raising $30 million in a Series C funding round in August, Viswanathan said Disprz is well-positioned to pursue global expansion, with a particular focus on the Saudi Arabian market.    

The CEO of the corporate learning and skilling SaaS startup expressed his eagerness to build upon an already established customer base in the region.  

“One of the markets that we are particularly keen on expanding in is Saudi Arabia. We already have a good set of customers but now we want to amplify it,” Viswanathan said.  

He noted that the company is already collaborating with key enterprises in Saudi Arabia, including NEOM, SRMG, and Tawuniya Insurance, among others.  

The goal is to adapt Disprz’s global products to align with the specific cultural and business needs of Saudi Arabia, Viswanathan explained.    

This glocalization strategy aims to combine the company’s global expertise in workforce development with a deep understanding of local demands.  

Viswanathan also provided some metrics to underline the company’s regional ambitions. 

One of the markets that we are particularly keen on expanding in is Saudi Arabia. We already have a good set of customers but now we want to amplify it.

Subbu Viswanathan, Co-founder and CEO of Disprz

“We currently serve around 350 global customers, including a dozen from Saudi Arabia and 70 from the broader Middle East. Our goal is to expand our Middle East customer base to 500 within the next three years, with the majority originating from the Kingdom.”  

Additionally, Viswanathan stated that the company aims to have 1,500 clients globally by 2026.  

The company employs AI to pinpoint the specific skills required for each role within an organization.  

This goes hand-in-hand with a comprehensive assessment of frontline workers followed by tailored training programs.    

These AI-driven initiatives are designed to equip employees with the necessary skill sets for career advancement and to meet evolving industry demands.  

“We are in the business of providing platforms to companies to help them solve the problem of skilling their workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow. And our mission statement is very simple. It is to enable every person at work, to advance at work and life through the best science and technology,” Viswanathan explained.    

He outlined that the company’s primary target market compromises any enterprise that has over 300 employees.  

Moreover, Disprz is targeting the integration of generative AI across its entire product suite, with the first beta version slated for a September release.  

“We are on a strategic path to escalate our annual revenue from $10 million to $100 million. With a consistent annual growth rate of 100 percent, we project to achieve profitability by the second half of 2024,” the executive stated. 

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After successfully raising $30 million in a Series C funding round in August, Disprz is well-positioned to pursue global expansion, with a particular focus on the Saudi Arabian market.

He elaborated that the company’s path to profitability is predicated on substantial growth in Middle Eastern markets, particularly in Saudi Arabia.  

“The Saudi Arabian government is heavily investing in making the country a top destination in tourism, technology, and entrepreneurship,” Viswanathan stated.  

“We believe that we can be a key element in boosting the Kingdom’s transformation by getting the workforce ready for the challenges of the future. The world is changing very fast, we can help make the workforce ready for any disruptions,” he added.  

Viswanathan also revealed that Disprz is actively seeking partnerships with Saudi government institutions to bolster economic growth.    

“I do believe that Saudi Arabia is one of the growth engines of the world. If I were to name the top three economies that will attract significant investments in the future, Saudi Arabia will be on top of the list, followed by India and Indonesia,” he added.  

By aligning itself with public sector goals, the company aims to become the go-to upskilling platform for Saudi nationals. Such collaborations would not only enhance the skill levels among the local population but also contribute to achieving the milestones laid out in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.  

Viswanathan expressed optimism about Saudi Arabia’s growing AI landscape, stating that the Kingdom has the potential to “leapfrog” more established technologies like information systems, and go directly to adopting AI solutions at scale.  

The CEO disclosed that while the company’s regional headquarters is presently situated in Dubai, plans are underway to establish an office in Saudi Arabia.    

“We are actively seeking a joint venture partner to facilitate the opening of a local office,” he stated.    

Viswanathan also indicated that should plans proceed favorably, there is potential for relocating the company’s regional headquarters to the Kingdom.  

Founded in 2015, Disprz managed to secure around $50 million in funding across four rounds while attracting notable investors like Lumos Capital, 360 ONE Asset, Kae Capital, KOIS, and Dallas Venture Capital.    

Disprz currently has around 350 employees across its offices and aims to reach 400 headcounts.


Saudi Arabia’s real estate supply reservations more than double

Saudi Arabia’s real estate supply reservations more than double
Updated 06 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s real estate supply reservations more than double

Saudi Arabia’s real estate supply reservations more than double

RIYADH: Citizens in Saudi Arabia are gaining greater access to residential units as the real estate supply reservations surged 110 percent year on year in November to reach 12,503, according to new figures.    
The Kingdom’s National Housing Co. announced that residential units were sold at competitive prices starting from SR250,000 ($66,649) compared to the previous year’s rates, in which the lowest contract amounted to SR321,000 per residential unit, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
This falls in line with the Gulf country’s plans and strategies to launch several extensive residential projects in order to achieve a balance between population growth and rapid urban expansion.   
This also comes as the rise in population density has led to increased demand for housing, meaning the Kingdom is working to boost the real estate supply to meet this need, aligning with a sustainable urban approach.
This rapid increase in reservations is mainly attributed to the launch of a number of residential projects in various regions, the most prominent of which is the inauguration of the Al-Fursan Suburb in Riyadh which aims to provide the largest real estate supply with a high level of quality and luxury. Other projects include the Sadayem Suburb which was launched in Jeddah along with many housing schemes in distinctive locations within the main cities.
In fact, the number of residential projects reached 46 during 2023, thereby cementing Saudi Arabia’s innovative model for real estate development.
National Housing Co. is the leader and enabler of the real estate development sector and the largest major developer of suburbs and residential communities in the Kingdom characterized by quality of life.  The company pumps more than 300,000 housing units into eight suburbs and six residential communities on an area of more than 120 million sq. meters, accommodating more than 1 million citizens.
It seeks to find solutions to secure supply chains with high quality and more sustainable construction materials, as part of the company’s keenness to increase the real estate supply with residential options according to international standards.
All the firm’s efforts are directed to achieving the goals of the housing program by raising the percentage of residential ownership for Saudi families to 70 percent by 2030.


Council of Ministers to approve Saudi general budget on Wednesday

Council of Ministers to approve Saudi general budget on Wednesday
Updated 05 December 2023
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Council of Ministers to approve Saudi general budget on Wednesday

Council of Ministers to approve Saudi general budget on Wednesday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers will hold a session on Wednesday to approve the Kingdom’s general budget for the new fiscal year, Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

A preliminary budget statement issued in October showed predictions of real gross domestic product growing by 0.03 percent this year compared with a previous forecast for growth of 3.1 percent.

The document also projected the government would post a budget deficit of 1.9 percent of the gross domestic project in 2024, 1.6 percent of GDP in 2025, and 2.3 percent of GDP in 2026.

The statement said “limited budget deficits” would continue in the medium term.

Meanwhile, total expenditure was seen as rising to SR1.262 billion in 2023, from an earlier estimate of SR1.114 billion, before slowing down marginally to SR1.251 billion in 2024.

A government press conference will be held on Wednesday, with the participation of Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan, during which he will address the state’s general budget for the next fiscal year, and the numbers and indicators of the contents of the budget will be announced.
The finance minister will also answer questions during the conference, which will be broadcast live on Saudi channels.


Saudi Arabia offers tax incentives for companies moving regional HQs to Riyadh

Saudi Arabia offers tax incentives for companies moving regional HQs to Riyadh
Updated 05 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia offers tax incentives for companies moving regional HQs to Riyadh

Saudi Arabia offers tax incentives for companies moving regional HQs to Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it will offer tax incentives for foreign companies that locate their regional headquarters in the Kingdom, including a 30-year exemption for corporate income tax.

The tax incentives include zero income tax for foreign entities that move their regional headquarters in the Kingdom, and these benefits can be availed from the date of the regional headquarters issuance license, according to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment. 

Saudi Arabia’s program to attract foreign companies to open their regional headquarters in the Kingdom is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Investment and the Royal Commission for Riyadh City. 

The regional headquarters program aims to encourage international companies to open their regional headquarters in the Middle East and North Africa region in Saudi Arabia, and to materialize that the Kingdom is offering a wide range of benefits and incentives. 

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al Falih said that Saudi Arabia is offering more incentives to foreign companies which open their regional headquarters in the Kingdom which includes special benefits for firms complying with Saudization requirements. 

He added that the friendly business environment in Saudi Arabia has made over 200 companies relocate their headquarters to the Kingdom. 

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said: “The new tax exemptions, granted on the activities of regional headquarters of international companies in the Kingdom will give these firms more clarity of vision and stability, which will enhance their capabilities for future planning and expanding their business in the region, starting from the Kingdom,” Al-Ekhbariya reported. 

Earlier in November, Al-Falih said that Saudi Arabia has already surpassed the targets of the regional headquarters program which aimed to attract 160 international firms by the end of this year. 

In an interview with Bloomberg, Al-Falih noted that the regional headquarters program is a long journey and added that the Kingdom is working with international entities to create the right ecosystem to open their offices in Saudi Arabia. 

Some of the noted companies that opened their regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia in recent months are PwC Middle East and GE Healthcare. 

He also added that Saudi Arabia is a stable destination for international investors, at a time of geopolitical tensions and economic headwinds. 


Riyadh, Doha sign multiple deals across various sectors

Riyadh, Doha sign multiple deals across various sectors
Updated 05 December 2023
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Riyadh, Doha sign multiple deals across various sectors

Riyadh, Doha sign multiple deals across various sectors

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Qatar have signed multiple agreements and memorandums of understanding as both nations continue to strengthen their relationship. 

These deals, which are expected to enhance trade and economic relationships between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were signed during the 44th Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Doha on Tuesday. 

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and the Qatar Investment Authority signed an MoU to accelerate investments in the energy and infrastructure sector, according to a report by the Qatar News Agency.

Another MoU was signed between Saudi Arabia’s Digital Government Authority and Qatar’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to promote cooperation between the two nations in the field of digital governance. 

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Saud Al-Faisal Institute for Diplomatic Studies signed an additional MoU with Qatar’s Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cooperate in the field of diplomatic training. 

The Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, signed an MoU with its counterpart in Qatar for cooperation between financial institutions. 

Another agreement was signed between the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property and Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry to further collaborate in the field of intellectual property. 

An additional cooperation agreement was signed between the Saudi Broadcasting Authority and Qatar Media Corporation to develop relations in the radio and television industries. 

The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the fields of sports. 

On Dec.4, foreign ministers of Qatar and Saudi Arabia held a meeting in Doha to develop bilateral relations. 

“Today we held the first meeting of the executive committee of the Qatari-Saudi Coordination Council in Doha, where we discussed ways to develop bilateral relations within the framework of the executive committee,” said Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who is also the country’s prime minister. 

During the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Al-Thani discussed ways to deepen cooperation in areas of mutual interest. 


COP28 president hails global leaders’ practical initiatives at final dialogue

COP28 president hails global leaders’ practical initiatives at final dialogue
Updated 05 December 2023
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COP28 president hails global leaders’ practical initiatives at final dialogue

COP28 president hails global leaders’ practical initiatives at final dialogue

RIYADH: COP28 President Sultan Al-Jaber has applauded world leaders for their practical initiatives during the final dialogue, expressing optimism for the continued “open mindset” throughout the remainder of COP.  

This comes as high-level dialogues between the COP28 Presidency and the International Energy Agency received a strong endorsement of practical actions. 

The conclusion of the dialogues, co-chaired by Al-Jaber and the executive director of the IEA, Fatih Birol, marked a significant achievement, bringing together over 40 high-level leaders, including four heads of state and 18 heads of delegation and ministers from diverse regions.  

Al-Jaber said: “I am encouraged by the practical actions brought forward by world leaders today at the final dialogue, and I hope that you take this open mindset and optimism throughout this COP.” 

Addressing the significance of the dialogues, Al-Jaber emphasized the need for collaboration, stating: “This series of dialogues has allowed us to converge on the critical elements of the just energy transition. The transition will not be straightforward, but it will be harder if we cannot agree on its central components.”  

Birol echoed this sentiment, expressing satisfaction at the alignment and support for the IEA’s five goals for COP28.  

These goals include tripling renewable capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030, a structured decline in fossil fuel use, commitment from the oil and gas industry to align with 1.5 degrees, and financing mechanisms for clean energy in developing countries. 

The leaders showed strong support for the COP28 presidency’s Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, with over 110 countries signing up to the initiative.   

Urgency on the coal front emerged as a key consensus, with a focus not only on preventing new unabated coal plants but also on accelerating the retirement of existing facilities. 

As the final dialogue unfolded during the World Climate Action Summit as part of COP28 in Dubai, heads of state, government leaders, and international organizations convened to solidify their commitment to an orderly energy transition.  

Al-Jaber urged participants to carry the open mind and optimism demonstrated during the final dialogue throughout COP28, reinforcing the importance of collective action in addressing the pressing challenges of our time.  

This positive momentum sets the stage for further deliberations and collaborative efforts at COP28 UAE, hosted at Expo City Dubai till Dec. 12.