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.


Closing Bell: TASI ends green at 11,225 points with $1.62bn trading volume 

Closing Bell: TASI ends green at 11,225 points with $1.62bn trading volume 
Updated 07 December 2023
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Closing Bell: TASI ends green at 11,225 points with $1.62bn trading volume 

Closing Bell: TASI ends green at 11,225 points with $1.62bn trading volume 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index experienced a slight rise on Thursday, gaining 51.33 points, or 0.46 percent, to close at 11,225.35.   

The benchmark index saw a total trading turnover of SR6.1 billion ($1.62 billion), with 107 listed stocks advancing and 107 retreating.  

Moreover, the parallel market Nomu witnessed an increase of 399.17 points, or 1.70 percent, to end the day at 23,949. The market had 24 listed stocks advancing and 31 retreating.  

The MSCI Tadawul Index also saw an increase, inching up by 4.56 points, or 0.32 percent, to close at 1,439.56.  

TASI’s top performer was Development Works Food Co., which saw its share price surge by 9.92 percent to SR135.20.   

Other significant gainers included Al-Omran Industrial Trading Co. and National Agricultural Development Co., with their share prices rising by 7.99 percent and 5.66 percent to SR37.85 and SR28, respectively. Leejam Sports Co. and ACWA Power Co. also reported strong performances.  

Conversely, Al-Baha Investment and Development Co. experienced a decline, with its share price dropping by 6.67 percent to SR0.14.   

Taiba Investments Co. and Savola Group also faced downturns, with their share prices decreasing by 5.35 percent and 3.38 percent to SR25.65 and SR38.55, respectively. Arabian Pipes Co. and Saudi Reinsurance Co. were among the day’s worst performers.  

On the announcement front, Riyadh Cables Group Co. has completed the second phase of its share buyback program, designed to support its long-term employee stock incentive program.   

The buyback, which occurred between Oct. 31 and Nov. 30, 2023, saw the repurchase of 252,500 shares, amounting to SR18.89 million, at an average price of SR74.82 per share, as per the company’s announcement to Tadawul.  

This step is part of a 12-month plan that commenced following approval at the company’s extraordinary general meeting.

Following this phase, Riyadh Cables’ treasury now holds 282,500 shares, acquired at an average price of SR74.68 each.  

The company has indicated that this buyback process is not expected to have a significant impact on its financial results. This move aligns with Riyadh Cables’ strategy to invest in its workforce while ensuring the company’s continued financial stability and growth.  


Saudi-Vietnamese Joint Committee explores ways to boost trade

Saudi-Vietnamese Joint Committee explores ways to boost trade
Updated 07 December 2023
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Saudi-Vietnamese Joint Committee explores ways to boost trade

Saudi-Vietnamese Joint Committee explores ways to boost trade

RIYADH: Trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and Vietnam is on course to prosper following discussions in a ministerial meeting.  

The fifth Saudi-Vietnamese Joint Committee, taking place in the Asian country’s capital of Hanoi, saw the participation of the Kingdom’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Mining Enablement Abdulaziz Al-Ahmadi, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Phan Thi Thang, as well as joint representatives from several government agencies.  

During the meeting, the two nations reviewed the trade volume between them and expressed their intent to enhance it, broadening the range of exchanged products.  

This aligns with both countries’ efforts in recent years to bolster economic and trade relations.  

During the talk, the officials also discussed implementing support initiatives to facilitate trade exchange by encouraging the exchange of trade missions and participating in the economic activities held in the two countries.

The meeting also shed light on ways to enhance relations and common interests in accordance with the economic, scientific, and technical cooperation agreement concluded in Hanoi on May 25, 2006.

Additionally, both sides discussed increasing the volume of investments in priority sectors between them and elevating partnerships in trade, exports, and investments.

As the assembly concluded, both nations pledged to continue working to develop bilateral cooperation in key areas, including foreign relations, trade, energy, and industry.

Additional sectors included investment, finance, development support, health, as well as education, training, human resources development, media, and justice.

Other areas of interest entailed culture and tourism, security and defense, science, technology and innovation, among others.

The Kingdom is a significant market for Vietnam and a vital partner in the Middle East and Africa.

The region’s exports to the Asian country during 2022 included plastic products, mineral products, and organic chemicals. They also entailed animal food and fish meat preparations.  

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s imports from Vietnam included electrical appliances, equipment and their parts, and metal products. They also included copper and its products, shoes, machinery and tools.    

The Saudi-Vietnamese Joint Committee was established in 2006 to promote cooperation across various sectors for mutual development.


Central Bank of UAE’s assets rise 1.3% to $1.08tn

Central Bank of UAE’s assets rise 1.3% to $1.08tn
Updated 07 December 2023
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Central Bank of UAE’s assets rise 1.3% to $1.08tn

Central Bank of UAE’s assets rise 1.3% to $1.08tn

RIYADH: Total assets held by the Central Bank of UAE rose to $3.95 trillion dirhams ($1.08 trillion) by the end of September 2023, representing a 1.3 percent increase compared to the previous month.

According to CBUAE’s statistical monthly bulletin, this growth in assets was complemented by a 1.4 percent rise in the volume of bank credit, which went from 1.95 trillion dirhams at the end of August to 1.98 trillion dirhams at the end of September.

CBUAE revealed that the surge in bank credit in September was driven by a significant 7.3 percent surge in foreign credit and a modest 0.7 percent increase in domestic credit.

According to the central bank, the domestic credit increase was attributed to a 3.3 percent increase in the public sector, 3.8 percent in non-financial institutions, and a 0.2 percent increase in the private sector.

The report added that banking deposits hit 2.42 trillion by the end of September, representing a rise of 0.7 percent compared to August.

“The growth in total bank deposits was due to an increase in resident deposits by 1.8 percent, overshadowing the reduction in non-resident by 10.1 percent,” said CBUAE in the report.  

Additionally, CBUAE said the monetary base expanded by 0.4 percent from 595.1 billion dirhams in August to 597.3 billion dirhams by the end of September. The expansion included a 0.5 percent increase in issued currency and a significant 13.1 percent rise in the reserve account.

CBUAE added that the overall money supply indicators also witnessed growth in September. M1, which signifies the most liquid form of money, observed a rise of 2.2 percent to 795.5 billion dirhams in September compared to August, while M2, which includes M1 and also less liquid short-term time deposits, grew by 2.6 percent to 1.90 trillion dirhams during the same period.

M3, which comprises M2 and includes less liquid assets and large time deposits, grew by 1.6 percent month-on-month to 2.35 trillion in September.

Earlier this month, CBUAE and Bank Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at expanding cooperation across various sectors.

The MoU entails the extension of the already established framework of cooperation between both central banks, which seeks to strengthen their relationship, enhance information exchange, and collaborate across various areas.


Turkish banks secure $40m Murabaha deal with ITFC to boost private sector financing  

Turkish banks secure $40m Murabaha deal with ITFC to boost private sector financing  
Updated 07 December 2023
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Turkish banks secure $40m Murabaha deal with ITFC to boost private sector financing  

Turkish banks secure $40m Murabaha deal with ITFC to boost private sector financing  

RIYADH: Turkiye’s private sector is poised to benefit from Murabaha financing, with two of the country’s banks signing a total funding deal of $40 million with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corp.      

ITFC, a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group, has announced the completion of two Murabaha financing deals valued at $20 million each with Vakif Katilim Bank and Ziraat Katilim Bank, the Saudi Press Agency reported.    

Signed during the 39th session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, the agreement specifies that the funds will be directed toward supporting private sector clients and small and medium enterprises served by the two banks to meet their trade financing requirements.   

Murabaha, an Islamic financing structure, operates as a sales contract wherein the price of goods or items is determined based on customer requirements, including a pre-agreed profit margin.    

This initiative aligns with ITFC’s mission to promote sustainable economic development in member countries, and the corporation’s CEO Hani Salem Sonbol explained that these new deals represent a crucial step in enhancing commercial and economic activities, fostering further growth in the country’s private sector. 

Additionally, they will play a pivotal role in promoting sustainable development and prosperity for the private sector and SMEs in the country, Sonbol stressed.   

Solar project in Senegal 

In another development, Senegal is set to install up to 50,000 solar streetlights in rural areas, thanks to a new agreement signed by the Islamic Corp. for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit. 

The IsDB member announced a project financing worth €103 million ($111 million) in cooperation with Standard Chartered Bank for Senegal’s Ministry of Finance to purchase and install solar streetlights.  

This initiative aligns with the country’s pursuit of green renewable energy goals, coinciding with the climate conference held in Dubai.  

“Our cooperation for a solar street lighting project in Senegal is a testament to our commitment to sustainable development in our member states and stimulating economic growth in rural areas in line with the sustainable development goals,” said Oussama Kaissi, CEO of the ICIEC. 

The project aims to utilize solar energy for street lighting in rural areas of Senegal, enhancing the quality of life dependent on continuous access to energy and promoting economic growth. 

“This loan is the first green loan to adopt environmentally friendly energy practices provided by the bank to Senegal, which in turn will improve the lives of local communities while supporting the climate goals of the Senegalese government,” said Sunil Kaushal, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Africa and the Middle East. 

From an environmental standpoint, the project relies on adopting environmentally friendly energy practices to reduce carbon emissions. 


Africa needs $87bn annually to adapt to climate change: UN official

Africa needs $87bn annually to adapt to climate change: UN official
Updated 07 December 2023
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Africa needs $87bn annually to adapt to climate change: UN official

Africa needs $87bn annually to adapt to climate change: UN official

RIYADH: Africa needs $87 billion annually to implement programs enhancing the continent’s adaptation to climate change, according to a UN official.

Senior Environmental Affairs Officer of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Linus Mofor, highlighted during the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference that the implementation of African Nationally Determined Contributions requires nearly $3 trillion, with about $87 billion annually for adaptation programs alone. 

In a statement to the Emirates News Agency, he revealed that the continent currently receives only about $30 billion annually, emphasizing the urgency of bridging this gap to address the pressing issues related to climate change.

Despite African nations contributing less than 4 percent to global carbon emissions, Mofor underscored that they suffer the most from the severe impacts of climate change. 

He explained that Africa experiences an average annual loss of 5 percent of its gross domestic product due to these effects, reaching as high as 15 percent in specific cases.

Mofor praised the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28, considering it a significant step forward in fulfilling pledges on environmental action. 

He highlighted the importance of global cooperation and financial commitment to support vulnerable nations in coping with the adverse effects of climate change.

When discussing the energy access crisis in Africa, Mofor revealed that the continent constitutes 80 percent of the 733 million people worldwide without access to electricity. Additionally, 40 percent of the population lacks access to clean cooking facilities. 

Commending the agreement of 118 countries, including African nations, to triple renewable energy capabilities and double improvements in energy efficiency, he urged governments to give the private sector a leading role in achieving these targets.

To address the energy deficit in Africa, Mofor stressed the need for at least $500 billion for renewable energy capabilities by 2030 and $2 trillion by 2050. He also called on governments to empower the private sector to play a pivotal role in achieving these targets.

The UN official highlighted numerous initiatives and projects on the African continent related to green hydrogen production and emissions reduction. 

He concluded by expressing optimism about the successes achieved at COP28, emphasizing the importance of continued collaboration and commitment to address the unique challenges faced by African nations in the realm of climate change and sustainable energy development.