Standard Chartered to boost capital in Saudi Arabia: CEO  

Special Sunil Kaushal, CEO of Standard Chartered for the Middle East and Africa. AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub
Sunil Kaushal, CEO of Standard Chartered for the Middle East and Africa. AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub
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Updated 24 October 2023
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Standard Chartered to boost capital in Saudi Arabia: CEO  

Sunil Kaushal, CEO of Standard Chartered for the Middle East and Africa. AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub

RIYADH: Standard Chartered, as a global financial institution, is committed to raising more capital in Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom is currently pursuing its economic diversification journey, said a top executive. 

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on Tuesday, Sunil Kaushal, CEO of Standard Chartered for the Middle East and Africa, said that events like FII are significant in attracting investments to the region. 

“We have been involved in FII from day one. This has become a very significant event in the Middle East. It is very aptly termed ‘Davos in the Desert.’ And this is an opportunity for us to meet our clients, to meet the government officials not only from Saudi Arabia but from across the region and across the world,” said Kaushal. 

He added: “We have been involved in all the major capital-raising exercises. Just last week, there was capital raised at the sovereign wealth fund level. There was capital raised at different project levels, and we were involved.” 

According to Kaushal, Standard Chartered is also involved in raising capital for Saudi Arabia’s green hydrogen project being developed in the $500-billion giga-project NEOM. 

In June, the NEOM Green Hydrogen Co. received the Kingdom’s first sustainable guarantee from the multinational bank, which agreed to extend funding support for its contractor Larsen & Toubro to build the necessary renewable energy infrastructure. 

“The amounts that we raise in (Saudi Arabia) run into billions of dollars. Just last week, we were talking about over $15 billion of capital raised in the Kingdom from international markets. And that’s going to be more and more. I’m not even counting the money that comes into projects, etc. It is just the debt capital markets and sukuk markets where we raise funding,” he added. 

Kaushal added that the capital requirements in Saudi Arabia are huge, as the Kingdom is steadily diversifying its economy. 

He also highlighted that it is necessary to diversify the sources of capital, as stock markets are vulnerable to external factors. 

“The requirement for capital is massive. We should be looking at how you diversify these sources of capital so that it becomes weatherproof because, at certain times, you’ll see that capital markets shutting down because of external factors,” said Kaushal. 

According to Kaushal, sustainability is the future, and countries in the Middle East region that are rich in fossil fuels should revamp investments in the renewable energy sector to achieve their net-zero targets. 

“If they (countries in the Middle East) have to meet their goals of achieving net zero by 2050 or 60, depending on which country you’re looking at, the amount of investment you have to make in transition finance and sustainable projects is even greater because you already have a big carbon footprint.” 

Kaushal, during his final remarks, without mentioning the figures, said that Standard Chartered, which started its operations in Saudi Arabia in 2021, is expected to double its growth in the Kingdom in the next three years. 


Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being

Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being
Updated 15 June 2024
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Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being

Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being
  • Concept of giving back to the host community rapidly gaining traction in the business sector

RIYADH: Gone are the days when the corporate world was solely associated with making money. The concept of giving back to the host community, known as corporate social responsibility, is rapidly gaining traction in the business sector. 

Today, companies strive to balance profitability with societal impact. CSR has become a fundamental principle for businesses of all sizes globally, and Saudi Arabia is no exception. 

Prominent examples like the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and ROSHN, a leading real estate developer backed by the Public Investment Fund, epitomize this ethos, guiding the way with their pioneering CSR endeavors. 

Speaking to Arab News about its CSR initiatives, SABIC affirmed its long-established reputation for doing what is good for its business, its people, and various stakeholders, while also investing in the communities where it operates, creating social, environmental, and economic value. 

“Wherever we operate, we look to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with all of our stakeholders, with a sustainable approach that delivers lasting value, and innovative programs to meet community needs,” the company said.

Global commitment 

SABIC added that this culture inspires its investments in CSR programs that create lasting, positive impacts throughout its global communities. 

“In 2015, we began our global CSR strategic tool, RAISE, to guide our approach to charitable donations, sponsorships, partnerships, and employee-volunteer programs. We use RAISE — Reputation, Audience, Innovation, Strategy, and Endurance — to select programs that elevate SABIC’s brand, address community needs, and promote our values,” it said. 

RAISE prioritizes four strategic focus areas: science and technology education, environmental protection, health and wellness, and water and sustainable agriculture, supporting SABIC’s 2025 strategy and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. 

“The focus areas also promote nine of the UN’s SDGs, which are designed to address society’s most pressing needs by 2030,” the company clarified. 

The RAISE strategy is designed to maximize SABIC’s impact by developing and implementing innovative CSR initiatives and encouraging employee participation and volunteerism. 

In 2023, the company continued its global Back-to-School Initiative, reaching students across 10 countries and offering various programs to help students succeed in their daily schoolwork and achieve their ambitions.

Education sector 

In 2019, SABIC launched its Global Initiative for Education and Innovation in partnership with Junior Achievement and INJAZ Saudi Arabia. Since then, the initiative has reached over 128,000 students globally. 

SABIC noted that its social initiatives aim to improve the quality of life in its communities, especially for the most disadvantaged members of society. 

HIGHLIGHT

Providing examples of how SABIC’s CSR initiatives have positively impacted the communities surrounding its facilities, the company reported that in 2023, it invested in 121 global CSR programs, reaching over 338,000 people in 27 countries with the help of over 3,600 SABIC volunteers worldwide.

Providing examples of how SABIC’s CSR initiatives have positively impacted the communities surrounding its facilities, the company reported that in 2023, it invested in 121 global CSR programs, reaching over 338,000 people in 27 countries with the help of over 3,600 SABIC volunteers worldwide. 

The company’s Global Environmental Protection Initiative continued this year across 10 countries with various programs aimed at sustaining Saudi marine life and addressing climate change and its global impact. 

“Managing water sources and sanitation goes hand in hand with ensuring better food and energy production. SABIC is working to end hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition by promoting sustainable agriculture,” the company said.

Quality of life 

Responding to Arab News’ queries, Mohammed Ashour, ROSHN’s associate director of corporate social responsibility, said that the company is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the Kingdom through its endeavors. 

He said this commitment reflects the giant property developer’s core values of responsibility, empowerment, and sustainability, guiding its actions to positively impact society and uphold environmental stewardship. 

“These values are comprehensively reflected in our development projects from inception to construction and handover. Our destinations feature a holistic array of essential facilities, including education, healthcare, lifestyle amenities, and attractive green spaces that invite residents and visitors alike to engage with their communities and live healthy, fulfilling lifestyles,” he said. 

Ashour noted that his company designed the YUHYEEK CSR program for maximum impact by leveraging its giga-project scale and resources to revitalize Saudi communities within their developments and beyond. The Arabic word “Yuhyeek” means “to rejuvenate” or “revive” in English. 

ROSHN partners with transformative green initiatives, public health campaigns, and cultural programs that bring tangible change to local communities. 

“An example of this is our partnership with Ehsan, the National Platform for Charitable Work, through which we have donated over SR55 million (over $14.6 million) during the past two years, benefiting more than 47,000 people throughout the Kingdom,” he said. 

He added that YUHYEEK’s partnerships with Ehsan and Hayat Charitable Association have sponsored mobile health clinics and early detection schemes that are improving public health in the Kingdom’s Madinah region.

Philanthropic pursuits 

Sharing insights into their philanthropic efforts and charitable activities, Ashour said that YUHYEEK’s efforts have five pillars: social development, environmental sustainability, education, public health, and arts and culture, achieved via strategic partnerships. 

Ashour emphasized another aspect of their work: the renovation of homes. To date, ROSHN has refurbished over 100 homes across the country, directly benefiting more than 700 citizens and significantly enhancing their quality of life. 

He added that their urban regeneration efforts include restoring and furnishing homes, raising the quality of life of hospitalized children and people with disabilities through visits and giveaways, and the provision of food baskets for those in need. 

“We are also deeply committed to the Saudi Green Initiative, and in partnership with Morooj, YUHYEEK has planted more than 25,000 mangrove trees in national reserves, and dozens of schools,” he said.

Cultural impact 

When it comes to culture, Ashour emphasized: “We firmly believe that this can have a major impact on the public’s quality of life.” 

He added: “Our strategic partnership with the Ministry of Culture has led to ROSHN promoting and supporting flagship events such as the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, book fairs in Riyadh and Jeddah, Al-Bisht Al-Hasawi Festival, and the Kingdom’s first grand opera, Zarqa Al-Yamama.” 

He pointed out that the multifaceted nature of YUHYEEK and the values embodied in their developments make surrounding communities more vibrant, greener, and healthier while bolstering local economies. 

“For instance, our flagship SEDRA community and the ROSHN Front retail and lifestyle hub recently hosted the Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium. Tuwaiq brings local and international artists to the Kingdom, reinforces Saudi heritage, and highlights Riyadh’s cultural scene,” he said. 

Ashour further added that they have cemented their partnership with the Zahra Breast Cancer Association by hosting the Zahra Awareness Walk at ROSHN Front to encourage awareness of the early detection program, affirming that their destinations and events are open to all. 

He noted that YUHYEEK educational partnerships provide scholarships, skills training, and special needs support services. On the public health front, they actively sponsor mobile health clinics and breast cancer awareness campaigns, and provide dialysis machines, with more than 11,000 beneficiaries to date. 

The CSR associate director said that ROSHN now operates six community sites where comprehensive access services are available for people with disabilities. 

“Across the Kingdom, more than 22,000 people have benefited from our sponsorship of mobile health clinics. YUHYEEK has also facilitated skills training for more than 300 students, equipping them for the labor market. In total, we estimate more than 341,000 people have accessed our health, education, social, and cultural services, and this number is expected to increase exponentially as ROSHN continues to diversify into building world-class public and private healthcare facilities locally and regionally,” he added.

Promoting sports 

Ashour underscored his company’s sponsorship efforts in the Kingdom’s sports sector, citing examples such as backing the ROSHN Saudi League in football, supporting the Formula One Grand Prix, and collaborating with LIV Golf to draw elite golfers to the Kingdom. 

Looking ahead, Ashour concluded that the company is expanding its CSR reach and will continue to bring world-class events and services to the Kingdom. 

“Our inclusive CSR approach, embracing all aspects of well-being, ensures that everyone is lifted by our efforts to achieve the vibrant society envisaged by Saudi Vision 2030,” he said.


IoT revolutionizes Saudi agriculture toward sustainability and prosperity

IoT revolutionizes Saudi agriculture toward sustainability and prosperity
Updated 15 June 2024
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IoT revolutionizes Saudi agriculture toward sustainability and prosperity

IoT revolutionizes Saudi agriculture toward sustainability and prosperity
  • Transformative approach promises to revolutionize traditional agricultural practices

RIYADH: In Saudi Arabia’s vast agricultural terrain, a transformative shift is occurring, driven by the adoption of advanced technologies.

Despite challenges such as water scarcity, inefficient practices, and climatic hardships, integrating Internet of Things technologies in farming is bringing a sense of optimism.

This transformative approach promises to revolutionize traditional agricultural practices and offer a path toward a more resilient and prosperous future for Saudi farmers. 

In an interview with Arab News, economist and policy adviser Mahmoud Khairy said that improving productivity, resource efficiency, and sustainability in the farming sector are key factors driving the adoption of IoT applications in the Kingdom.

“These technologies enable farmers to monitor and manage their crops and livestock more effectively, leading to better yields and reduced costs,” he said.

Phil Webster, partner at the management consulting firm Arthur D. Little, told Arab News: “There has been significant uptake of these relatively nascent technologies compared to, say, five years ago.”

As the nation embraces IoT solutions, it embarks on a journey toward sustainable agriculture, where productivity, efficiency, and environmental stewardship converge to create a brighter future.

Transforming agricultural practices

The application of IoT in smart farming is revolutionizing traditional agricultural practices. Farmers can gather real-time data on various parameters crucial for crop growth by utilizing sensors, actuators, and connected devices. 

Soil moisture, temperature, humidity, livestock health, and crop growth data are collected and analyzed to make informed decisions. This data-driven approach enables farmers to optimize resource usage, improve crop yields, and minimize environmental impact.

Mishkat, a company specializing in sustainable and high-production farming, has highlighted its initiatives, such as vertical farming and impressive greenhouse facilities, which showcase the immense potential of IoT technologies in overcoming challenges.

The company aims to produce nutritious, authentic, and trusted food with minimal environmental impact, prioritizing sustainability, safety, and health.

“We want to be the leading experts in KSA on sustainable and high production farming techniques, delivering high- quality produce with maximum resource efficiency,” Mishkat says.

The firm’s unique fusion of vertical farming with greenhouse cultivation offers a sustainable solution to local pesticide-free and water-efficient production.

Nestled on the outskirts of Jeddah, Mishkat’s agricultural facility combines vertical farming with advanced greenhouse technology to offer a sustainable solution to local pesticide-free and water-efficient production.

This unique fusion of techniques presents a compelling vision for the future of agriculture in arid regions. Their facility includes a vertical farm where crops are grown in stacked layers.

This design, reminiscent of a multi-tiered tower, is more than just visually striking – it’s a smart solution to land scarcity. 

These technologies enable farmers to monitor and manage their crops and livestock more effectively, leading to better yields and reduced costs.

Mahmoud Khairy, economist and policy adviser

Complementing the vertical farm, Mishkat boasts two state-of-the-art greenhouses. These structures, armed with advanced climate control systems, provide an optimal environment for plant growth.

By modulating factors like temperature, humidity, and light, greenhouses ensure that the crops inside are shielded from the harsh climatic conditions typical of the Jeddah outskirts.

Mishkat’s headquarters is unique for several reasons: it is among the first commercial vertical farms in the Kingdom, offers rare greenhouse and vertical hybrid agricultural facilities, and is one of the few certified organically controlled environment farms globally.

In Riyadh, Bather Farm is also redefining urban farming with its cutting-edge vertical farming system.

By leveraging Agritecture Designer farm planning software and iFarm technology, Bather Farm optimizes crop production in an otherwise arid environment.

“At Bather Farm, we envision a greener and healthier Saudi Arabia, where agriculture gives to the people and planet more than it takes,” the firm says on its website.

This project underlines CEA’s potential to reinvent regional agriculture, paving the way toward food security and sustainability.

This melding of technology and agriculture underscores the potential for harmonizing urban living with sustainable farming practices.

E-farming boosting the economy

Economist and policy adviser Mahmoud Khairy emphasized the significance of adopting advanced agricultural solutions in Saudi Arabia.

Khairy highlighted that embracing IoT-enabled farming technologies and precision agriculture practices aligns with the nation’s broader economic and agricultural development objectives.

He added: “By embracing these technologies, the country aims to modernize its agricultural sector, create job opportunities, and reduce its dependency on food imports,” stressing that such advancements would bolster food security, diversify the economy, and minimize water usage in agriculture.

Moreover, Khairy pointed out that implementing data-driven approaches to optimize crop yields and resource efficiency could lead to several economic benefits.

By leveraging data analytics, farmers can make more informed decisions, resulting in increased productivity, higher revenues, and improved profitability. 

Partnerships and collaborations play a critical role in promoting the adoption and maintenance of digital technologies in agriculture.

Phil Webster, partner at Arthur D. Little

Khairy emphasized that compared to traditional methods, data-driven approaches offer a more precise and scientific way of managing agricultural operations. Therefore, they enhance productivity and resource efficiency while ensuring long-term economic viability and sustainability.

IoT-enabled farming technologies in Saudi Arabia’s agricultural sector play a crucial role in improving productivity and sustainability through precision monitoring and management, resource efficiency, and remote management, according to Khairy.

“These technologies, such as sensors and drones, provide real-time data on soil quality, crop health, and pest infestations, allowing farmers to make informed decisions on irrigation, fertilization, and pest control,” he explained.

Government support and collaboration

For IoT technologies to reach their full potential in Saudi agriculture, government support and collaboration are paramount.

Initiatives like the National Agricultural Development Co.’s AI solutions demonstrate the importance of leveraging technology for agricultural advancement.

By fostering collaboration among stakeholders and providing financial support, policymakers can facilitate the widespread adoption of IoT technologies.

Additionally, investment in research and development, infrastructure, and training programs is essential to equip farmers with the necessary skills and knowledge to embrace IoT solutions effectively.

Moreover, partnerships between government agencies, agricultural extension services, technology providers, and academic institutions can promote knowledge-sharing and innovation in the agricultural sector.

“Partnerships and collaborations play a critical role in promoting the adoption and maintenance of digital technologies in agriculture,” Arthur D. Little’s Webster emphasized.

He added: “The most important role of such collaborations is to ensure that there is good governance over the data that is collected at all parts of the food chain from farm to fork.” 

Webster explained that data governance is “clarity over how data – and any associated meta-data – is collected, in what form, and for use by whom (e.g., different parts of the agri-food supply chain, regulators, Government) and under what circumstances.”

He stressed the cruciality of such aspects in ensuring that business models involving the use and monetization of data work effectively.

Webster also called on farmers to take advantage of the Saudi government’s wide range of initiatives and programs to integrate digital technologies.

The General Authority for Statistics has recently launched the inventory survey of agricultural holdings in the Kingdom in order to provide essential data on plant and animal production, including cultivated areas and production quantities, as well as sales volumes, crop values, and livestock numbers at the regional level.

Commenting on the survey, Khairy said: “With this data, policymakers, researchers, and agricultural stakeholders can identify areas for improvement, pinpoint specific challenges faced by farmers, and tailor agriculture solutions to address the unique needs of different regions.”

As Saudi Arabia faces the challenges of water scarcity, climate change, and food security, embracing IoT technologies becomes imperative.

The integration of IoT in agriculture offers a pathway to overcome these challenges, enhance productivity, and promote sustainable farming practices.

Through collaboration, innovation, and government support, Saudi farmers can embark on a journey toward a more resilient and prosperous agricultural future.

“Owing to both demand and investment – as well as the increasing availability of IoT-enabled farming technologies – this future trajectory will no doubt continue,” Webster said.

He suggested that the nation could soon achieve self-sufficiency or become a net exporter, particularly in products like eggs.

Webster envisioned a revolution in agricultural supply chains, emphasizing a transition to alternative proteins with great potential in semi or fully-automated indoor farming, which promises heightened productivity and reduced production costs.

Khairy said that Saudi Arabia’s adoption of advanced farming technologies is “poised to make significant contributions to global food security and environmental conservation efforts.”

He added that through the incorporation of sustainable agricultural practices, farmers in the Kingdom can increase productivity while minimizing environmental impact.

“This not only ensures food security domestically but also allows Saudi Arabia to potentially become a key player in international food supply chains,” Khairy explained.


UAE’s Epik Foods nears its Saudi growth phase

UAE’s Epik Foods nears its Saudi growth phase
Updated 15 June 2024
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UAE’s Epik Foods nears its Saudi growth phase

UAE’s Epik Foods nears its Saudi growth phase
  • UAE firm has an ambitious vision for its influence in the Saudi market

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s food and beverage sector is attracting interest from new businesses at home and abroad, and startup Epik Foods is one of those eying significant expansion in the burgeoning market.

Founded in 2017, the company now operates over 100 brands and 50 locations across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. 

The UAE-based firm has emerged as a dynamic and multifaceted F&B group, operating virtual brands, dine-in restaurant concepts, meal plan services, and catering services. 

In an interview with Arab News, Epik Foods CEO and co-founder Khaled Fadly shared the company’s strategy for acquiring a 20 percent share of the Kingdom’s market.

A strategic Kingdom 

Epik Foods has outlined clear objectives for its operations in Saudi Arabia, with Fadly saying the company’s immediate goal is to lay the groundwork for sustained growth and success in the Kingdom.

“Through strategic initiatives, strong partnerships, and a relentless focus on quality and innovation, we aim to carve out a significant presence and become a household name synonymous with exceptional dining experiences,” he said. 

“We are committed to establishing a solid foundation that will support our long-term objectives and ensure our continued success in the region,” he added. 

Looking ahead, Epik Foods has an ambitious vision for its influence in the Saudi market.   

“We aspire to influence the sector by continually innovating, adapting, and setting industry standards,” Fadly said. 

The company’s goal is to exceed its customer expectations through culinary experiences, sustainable practices, and community engagement initiatives.  

“Over the next five years, we aim to capture at least 20 percent of the healthy fast-casual dining market share in major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, while also expanding our virtual brand presence to cater to the growing online delivery segment. Through these efforts, we envision reshaping the landscape of the Saudi F&B market,” he said. 

Fadly elaborated on the company’s expansion strategy, stating that the expansion strategy in Saudi Arabia is multifaceted, focusing on establishing a strong presence, both physical and virtual.  

“Over the next two years, we plan to open 20 dine-in restaurants in key locations such as Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dhahran for our flagship brands,” he stated.  

“Additionally, we’re launching multiple virtual brands covering diverse cuisines, including Arabic, Indian, Asian, burgers, fried chicken, and desserts which will be available exclusively for delivery through platforms like Jayez and HungerStation,” he added. 

Furthermore, Epik Foods is establishing partnerships with prominent gym institutions to operate Healthy & Co. kiosks within their facilities.  

These kiosks will provide convenient and nutritious post-workout meals, catering to health-conscious individuals and expanding the company’s reach into new customer segments, Fadly explained. 

Fadly confirmed that his company is “actively seeking opportunities” to collaborate with Saudi governmental bodies, adding: “We aim to work closely with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority to ensure compliance with local regulations and standards. Additionally, we are eager to participate in initiatives like the Saudi Vision 2030’s Quality of Life Program, which aims to promote healthier lifestyles and dining options.” 

Through strategic initiatives, strong partnerships, and a relentless focus on quality and innovation, we aim to carve out a significant presence and become a household name synonymous with exceptional dining experiences.

Khaled Fadly, Epik Foods CEO and co-founder

Epik Foods has set ambitious growth objectives for the next year, aiming to open five new dine-in restaurants, achieve a 30 percent increase in online delivery sales, and secure partnerships with at least three major gym chains for its Healthy & Co. and Prep & Co. brands.  

“In the Saudi market, we aim to achieve significant milestones including a projected 60 percent increase in revenue, doubling our dine-in restaurant footprint, and establishing ourselves as a recognized leader in healthy dining options,” stated Fadly. 

Fadly also shared news about new products tailored for the Saudi market. “We’re excited to launch our Daily Meal Kits featuring pre-packaged meals inspired by both traditional Saudi cuisine and international favorites,” he said.  

“The Saudi market plays a pivotal role in Epik Foods’ expansion strategy for several reasons. With its large and growing population, strong economy, and increasing demand for diverse culinary experiences, Saudi Arabia presents a significant opportunity for growth,” Fadly stated. 

“By establishing a strong foothold in Saudi Arabia, we can leverage our success to further penetrate neighboring markets and enhance our international brand recognition and reputation. Thus, the Saudi market serves as a cornerstone in our strategic roadmap for sustainable expansion and long-term success,” he added.

“We prioritize maintaining open communication channels with relevant authorities, regularly updating our policies and procedures to align with new regulations, and investing in employee training and development to ensure awareness and compliance at all levels of our organization,” Fadly explained.  

Additionally, the company leverages technology to streamline regulatory processes and minimize compliance risks.  

“We actively participate in industry associations and forums to stay informed and contribute to shaping future regulations, demonstrating our commitment to responsible business practices and regulatory compliance in Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Business fundamentals  

“Throughout our journey within the Saudi Arabian market so far, we’ve encountered various challenges that demanded our attention and strategic maneuvering,” stated Fadly.  

These challenges include navigating the intricate regulatory framework, tailoring offerings to resonate with the distinct Saudi culinary palate, efficiently tackling logistical complexities in supply chain and workforce management, and carving a distinctive identity amidst a bustling landscape of local and global competitors.  

“To tackle these obstacles, we’ve embraced a holistic approach rooted in cultural insights, agile adaptability, and a commitment to delivering quality and innovation,” he added. 

“At Epik Foods, our business model is a fusion of various services tailored to meet the evolving needs of today’s consumers,” Fadly explained.  

The company operates a diverse portfolio comprising dine-in restaurants, innovative virtual brands, corporate catering services, personalized meal plans, and convenient meal kits.  

“While each avenue contributes to our revenue, the primary sources stem from our dynamic virtual brands and bustling dine-in restaurants,” he added. 

“We are proud to share that our company has achieved profitability at the country level,” Fadly revealed.  

“We are excited about this achievement and remain focused on further growth and success in the future,” he added. 

An Epik inception 

“The motivation behind founding our company stemmed from a desire to bring something new and innovative to the F&B market in Dubai,” Fadly recalled.  

In 2017, Fadly and his current co-founder Ranya Basyuni, both transitioning from corporate roles, identified a significant gap in the market, the absence of poke restaurants.  

This realization led to the opening of their first poke restaurant, marking the beginning of their journey in the F&B sector. 

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 presented unprecedented challenges, compelling Epik Foods to adapt its business model.  

“This period of adversity prompted us to pivot towards virtual brands, a strategy that not only allowed us to sustain our operations but also to explore new culinary avenues,” Fadly explained. 

The formation of Epik Foods was a strategic move to consolidate their ventures, merging the operations of Happy Platters Kitchen and Sweetheart Kitchen with KR&CO.  

“As we continue to evolve, we are looking forward to announcing the launch of Epik Catering, our catering service, to further expand our culinary footprint and cater to the diverse needs of our clientele,” he added. 

“At Epik Foods, we measure success through a multifaceted approach, relying on key performance indicators such as customer satisfaction scores, revenue growth, and the expansion of market share,” Fadly noted.  

The company is also committed to customer retention and operational excellence, which relies on prioritizing adaptability to local nuances and swiftly responding to evolving consumer preferences.  

“Our top metrics include an analysis of customer feedback and local market penetration,” he added. 

“We have raised a significant amount of funding, which we are strategically utilizing to expand our presence in Saudi Arabia,” Fadly shared.  

Specifically, these resources are being channeled towards opening more than 20 physical dine-in restaurants within the next two years.  

“This investment underscores our commitment to growth and delivering exceptional dining experiences to our valued customers,” he added. 

“Yes, we are actively exploring opportunities to secure additional funding to support our expansion plans,” Fadly confirmed.  

The focus is on enhancing infrastructure, scaling up operations, and entering new markets within Saudi Arabia.  

“Securing additional funds will enable us to accelerate our growth trajectory and better serve our customers in the region,” he said.  

He further shared the company’s current objectives that extend beyond financial metrics. 

“With Saudi Arabia’s vast population and diverse culture, we anticipate becoming integral to their lives and attracting even more customers,” he said. 

“The expansion potential in Saudi Arabia is immense, surpassing that of the UAE, and our success will serve as a regional springboard, enabling us to leverage synergies across neighboring countries,” Fadly elaborated.


Saudi PIF, French private equity group to acquire 38 percent of Heathrow airport

Saudi PIF, French private equity group to acquire 38 percent of Heathrow airport
Updated 15 June 2024
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Saudi PIF, French private equity group to acquire 38 percent of Heathrow airport

Saudi PIF, French private equity group to acquire 38 percent of Heathrow airport
  • Ferrovial to remain as shareholder under revised deal for UK’s busiest hub

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and a French private equity group will acquire a 38 percent stake in Britain’s busiest airport, Heathrow, officials announced on Friday.

Dutch-based transport company Ferrovial SE said the Public Investment Fund and Ardian had made a revised offer to acquire shares representing 37.62 percent of the share capital of FGP Topco, the parent company of Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd, for more than £3.2 million ($4.1 million).

Under the new agreement, Ferrovial, which operates in more than 15 countries, will remain as a shareholder with shares representing 5.25 percent of the issued share capital of FGP Topco.

Following the sale, the Topco shareholders and Ferrovial will together hold shares “representing 10 percent of the issued share capital,” while PIF and Ardian will buy 22.6 percent and 15 percent respectively of FGP Topco through separate vehicles, Ferrovial said.

“The parties have been working toward satisfaction of the condition for the sale of the Tagged Shares to be sold alongside Ferrovial’s shares by exploring different options to satisfy the same,” the statement added.

The deal remains subject to regulators’ approval, Ferrovial said.

In November, Ferrovial had said it was planning to offload its stake, with PIF taking 10 percent and Ardian taking 15 percent, but the deal has been amended to allow FGP Topco shareholders to sell their shares on the same terms under so-called “tag-along rights.”

“Ardian is pleased to have worked closely with the parties to find this revised agreement and reiterates its strong commitment to investing in the UK,” the French company said in a separate statement.

The private investment house, which manages or advises $166 billion of assets on behalf of more than 1,600 clients globally, added that it “actively supports its assets to accelerate their transformation by leveraging data and new technologies to reduce emissions, creating new, more sustainable revenue sources, becoming more independent and resilient to external shocks, and improving their impact on both local and global environments.”


IMF heralds Saudi Arabia’s ‘unprecedented economic transformation’ in glowing report

IMF heralds Saudi Arabia’s ‘unprecedented economic transformation’ in glowing report
Updated 14 June 2024
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IMF heralds Saudi Arabia’s ‘unprecedented economic transformation’ in glowing report

IMF heralds Saudi Arabia’s ‘unprecedented economic transformation’ in glowing report

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s “unprecedented economic transformation” is progressing well thanks to prudent government policies and successful diversification efforts, according to the International Monetary Fund.

In a report focusing on the changing economic landscape of the Kingdom, the organization highlighted growing domestic demand, ongoing financial reforms, and environmental policies as areas of strength.

The findings comes just days after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released figures showing that Saudi Arabia’s economy witnessed growth above the G20 average in the first three months of the year.

In a release to mark the the end of an official visit to the Kingdom by the IMF, the organization projected Saudi Arabia’s overall GDP growth will accelerate to around 4.5 percent in 2025 before stabilizing at 3.5 percent per year over the medium term.

It forecast non-oil growth to reach 3.5 percent in 2024 “before picking up in 2025 onwards.”

It added: “Oil output is projected to contract by 4.6 percent in 2024 but increase by 5.1 percent in 2025, reflecting an extension of oil production cuts in 2024 and a gradual recovery to 10 mbpd in 2025.”

Reflecting on the transformation policies undertaken by the Saudi government, the IMF noted that “Efforts to diversify the economy have started to bear fruit.”

The report added: “Building on these successes, it will be important to sustain the non-oil growth momentum, maintain financial sector stability, continue mitigating risks of overheating, reverse declining total factor productivity and ensure inter-generational equity.”

The IMF welcomed the “recent recalibration” of funding requirements associated with the Vision 2030 objectives, and also praised the Kingdom’s drive to become a haven for private sector development.

“Reforms to enhance Saudi Arabia’s business environment and attractiveness for foreign investment are progressing well,” said the IMF, noting that Saudi Arabia climbed 15 notches in the IMD’s World Competitiveness ranking in two years, obtaining the 17th position globally in 2023. 

“Ongoing work to boost human capital through the Human Capability Development program, further increases in female labor force participation, significant strides in digital transformation and AI preparedness, streamlining of fees and levies, promotion of access to land and finance, and stronger governance would further enhance private sector growth, help attract more FDI, and contribute to total factor productivity growth,” the report added.

The IMF described Saudi Arabia’s financial sector as being on a “strong footing,” noting that bank credit growth – mainly to the corporate sector – continues to surpass deposit growth and is expected to remain at around 10 percent in 2024. 

“The continued efforts by SAMA to modernize the regulatory and supervisory frameworks are key to safeguarding financial stability,” said the report, adding: “SAMA should continue using macroprudential tools to forestall possible risks stemming from a lending boom.”

The report also noted Saudi Arabia’s environmental initiatives, saying that the Kingdom “remains committed” to achieving net zero emissions by 2060. 

“The authorities continue to invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean hydrogen, and carbon capture technologies,” said the IMF, adding: “Eliminating energy subsidies would incentivize energy conservation and improve returns on investment in renewable energies. Augmenting the active green finance portfolio—including through the implementation of the Green Finance framework announced in March 2024 and by an inaugural sovereign green bond issuance planned for this year—would be critical for mobilizing private capital.”