Tech, energy transition in Saudi Arabia offer ‘monster’ opportunity: Nigel Vaz

Nigel Vaz, CEO at Publicis Sapient. (Supplied)
Nigel Vaz, CEO at Publicis Sapient. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 January 2024
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Tech, energy transition in Saudi Arabia offer ‘monster’ opportunity: Nigel Vaz

Tech, energy transition in Saudi Arabia offer ‘monster’ opportunity: Nigel Vaz
  • Publicis Sapient boss says Saudi Arabia is well insulated against current regional instability
  • Says Kingdom is an ideal haven for investors looking for safe-bet opportunities

DAVOS: Saudi Arabia’s commitment to technology, and the role it is going to play in transforming its society, was “a monster opportunity” for investors, the CEO of Publicis Sapient told Arab News.

Nigel Vaz said the Kingdom was going through a “phenomenal” transformation. “The opportunity to transform every facet of society by putting technology at the service of its citizens and businesses is a monster opportunity,” he said.

Publicis Sapient is a global digital transformation consulting company. Vaz, its CEO, says he is particularly impressed with how technology is transforming Saudi society and how it is being driven at a governmental level in the Kingdom.

He also said the Middle East and North Africa region and Asia as a whole have an advantage over other regions because they do not have as much of a “legacy” in their technological adoption, giving them the “ability to leapfrog” other parts of the world.

“Because you are, in many instances, starting from a place where you don’t need to do any heavy lifting, you’re just able to adopt and start afresh,” he said.

“When you think about things like Cloud native infrastructures for healthcare or about financial services, if you’re in other parts of the world there are huge investments (needed) to move to that part of the world. But if you’re going to the Middle East, you’re able to start on a Cloud native basis almost immediately,” he added.

This willingness to adopt new technologies, but also go through with their adoption via strong investments into their development, also makes Saudi Arabia an ideal haven for investors looking for safe-bet opportunities in green energy and energy transition.

“Saudi Arabia is leading that transition globally. The investments being made into alternative sources of energy, but more importantly the economic diversification strategy from a revenue perspective is very apparent,” he said.

“You start to recognize there is a very, very big opportunity for that transition to be way more than just about that, it’s also about how the country will transition from being heavily energy reliant, to one that has multiple facets in terms of how their economy is driven,” he added.

What sets the Kingdom and the rest of the Gulf region apart is how closely linked the public and private sectors are, and how well they work together in achieving economic and technological advancement to diversify its economies, according to Vaz.

“The power of public, private sector partnership in Saudi Arabia is accelerating development faster than we’ve seen almost anywhere in the Middle East, which itself is transforming faster than any other region from an economic growth perspective,” he said.

“That partnership is connecting economic and technological opportunities to create global platforms out of the Kingdom,” he added.

Vaz is not worried by the prospect of political unrest in the region affecting Saudi Arabia’s trajectory of development and attracting investment.

Fighting broke out in Gaza after Hamas’s attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people, while Israel’s response has killed some 25,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The conflict has already spread elsewhere in the region. The US and UK mounted retaliatory strikes against Yemen’s Houthis after the militia began attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Vaz said the region will “definitely ride out” this latest period of political unrest. 

“Saudi Arabia is reasonably well insulated in terms of its stability, both political stability and economic stability. When you have confidence in those two things, it makes for a confluence,” he said.

 


Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa

Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa
Updated 13 July 2024
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Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa

Saudi FM hosts French presidential advisor for Middle East, North Africa

RIYAD: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan hosted Anne-Claire Legendre, the advisor to the French president for the Middle East and North Africa, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

During the meeting at the ministry on Friday, the two sides reviewed Saudi-French relations, ways to strengthen ties in various fields and the latest regional developments, particularly concerning the Gaza Strip.

The meeting was attended by Prince Saad bin Mansour Al-Saud, director general of the General Department for European Affairs at the Foreign Ministry.


Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours

Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours
Updated 13 July 2024
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Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours

Saudi hospital performs 3 successful heart transplants in less than 24 hours

RIYADH: King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center performed three successful heart transplants in Riyadh on Thursday, state news agency SPA reported.

A nine-year-old girl was among the patients who received a successful transplant.

She was suffering from heart muscle weakness and needed a donation urgently.

A suitable donor was found for her in coordination with the UAE’s Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation and the National Program for Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissue.

The heart was transported from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh by a private aircraft that kept the organ in a stable condition and ensured it arrived safely to the patient.

A second team of medical professionals flew to Jeddah to obtain a donation for a 40-year-old man suffering from heart disease.

The final patient received his donation from Riyadh. The 41-year-old man was suffering from heart failure and was successfully operated on. 

KFSHRC affirmed its dedication to saving lives, overcoming challenges and bringing hope to patients and their families.


KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad

KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad
Updated 13 July 2024
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KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad

KSrelief distributes 1,200 food baskets in Chad

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief has distributed 1,200 food parcels in the Beheira region of Chad, benefiting 7,200 people most in need, as part of a project to support food security in Chad in 2024, the state news agency SPA reported late on Friday.

The assistance is part of a series of humanitarian projects Saudi Arabia implements through KSrelief to help countries and people worldwide.


KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund

KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund
Updated 13 July 2024
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KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund

KSrelief signs agreement to support Yemen humanitarian fund

RIYADH: Saudi aid agency KSrelief signed an agreement with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Thursday to support the Yemen Humanitarian Fund, state news agency SPA reported.

The aid agency committed $9 million to the cause, and the initiative is part of KSrelief’s humanitarian aid program in Yemen.

The agreement was signed via video conference by KSrelief Assistant Supervisor General of Operations and Programs Ahmed Al-Baiz and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Joyce Msuya.


Saudi authorities arrest 5 suspects in separate drug-trafficking cases

Saudi authorities arrest 5 suspects in separate drug-trafficking cases
Updated 13 July 2024
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Saudi authorities arrest 5 suspects in separate drug-trafficking cases

Saudi authorities arrest 5 suspects in separate drug-trafficking cases
  • The arrests were made in Riyadh, Al-Baha and Al-Jouf
  • Border Guards also seized 274 kg of narcotic qat plant in Jazan

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have arrested five people for drug trafficking offenses, seizing a large volume of the narcotic plant qat and hashish, plus amphetamine tablets and other restricted drugs in separate operations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

Agents of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested three Egyptian residents in Riyadh during one operation and seized 35 kilograms of hashish, 12,260 amphetamine tablets and 24,991 prescription tablets. 

In the southwestern province of Al-Baha, the narcotics directorate caught an Ethiopian national violating the Kingdom’s border security system and selling hashish. 

In the northern province of Al-Jouf, anti-narcotics control agents arrested a citizen for selling amphetamine tablets.

All five arrested suspects had been referred to the Public Prosecution, SPA said.  

In the southwestern province of Jazan, Border Guard land patrols thwarted separate attempts to smuggle qat from Yemen, including 160 kg in Al-Aridhah governorate and 114 kg in the governorate of Farasan, SPA said. No arrests were mentioned in both cases.

In one of the biggest drug hauls, anti-narcotics authorities in Riyadh region seized 4.7 million Captagon tablets with a street value of up to $117.5 million. The General Directorate of Narcotics Control said that the tablets were found hidden in a shipment of concrete blocks.

Amphetamines are largely used by young men and teenage boys across the Middle East, and the funds raised through the sale of narcotics is usually ploughed back into the drug trade while some of it find its way into organized crime and terrorism, authorities say.

Security authorities called on citizens and residents to report any information related to drug smuggling or selling to the General Directorate of Narcotics Control by calling 911 for Makkah, Riyadh, and the Eastern Regions, or 999 for the rest of the regions, or by emailing [email protected]