Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being

Saudi firms enhance CSR initiatives to boost community well-being
As companies strive to balance profitability with societal impact, corporate social responsibility has become a fundamental principle for businesses of all sizes globally, and Saudi Arabia is no exception. (SPA)
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Updated 26 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.


Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 

Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 
Updated 21 July 2024
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Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 

Global AI Summit in Riyadh to host top-level discussions on AI impact 
  • The event, organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority, will focus on one of today’s most pressing global issues — AI technology

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will welcome economic policymakers, major technology and artificial intelligence companies, international thought leaders, and heads of international organizations to Riyadh this September as the Global AI Summit returns for its third edition.

The event, organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority, will focus on one of today’s most pressing global issues — AI technology — and will attempt to find solutions that “maximize the potential of these transformative technologies for the benefit of humanity,” a statement released Sunday said.

The third edition of the event will be held at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center from Sept. 10 to 12 under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his capacity as chairman of the board of directors at SDAIA, the statement added.

The GAIN Summit will take place amid increasing concerns about the impact of AI technologies and will reaffirm the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting international efforts aimed at enhancing human welfare in the face of the challenges associated with developing technology.

GAIN 2024 will focus more on AI than its previous editions in 2020 and 2022, with topics including innovation in the sector, key developments shaping a better future for AI, and fostering a supportive environment for human resources in the field.

Other topics include AI at local and global levels, the complementary relationship between humans and AI, business leaders in AI, the relationship between data and applications, GenAI, AI ethics, AI processors and infrastructure, and AI and smart cities.


Saudi industry minister to visit Brazil, Chile to explore lithium production

Saudi industry minister to visit Brazil, Chile to explore lithium production
Updated 21 July 2024
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Saudi industry minister to visit Brazil, Chile to explore lithium production

Saudi industry minister to visit Brazil, Chile to explore lithium production
  • Alkhorayaf will land in Brazil on Monday and leave for Chile, the world’s second-largest producer of lithium, next Sunday

RIYADH: Bandar Alkhorayaf, Saudi Arabia’s mining and industry minister, will visit Brazil and Chile this week, the ministry said on Sunday.

In Brazil, he will hold meetings with officials to discuss expanding the Kingdom’s mining capacity, food processing, and aviation, while in Chile he will explore lithium production, needed for electric vehicle batteries.

“This aligns with the Kingdom’s direction towards expanding the production of EVs,” a Saudi government statement said. 

Alkhorayaf will land in Brazil on Monday and leave for Chile, the world’s second-largest producer of lithium, next Sunday.

On the first leg of the tour in Brazil, Alkhorayaf will meet agricultural and industrial groups, including Minerva Foods, JBS, and BRF SA, as well as the Brazilian Mining Association and mining company Vale.

Brazil’s Energy Minister Alexandre Silveira said last month that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund plans to invest $15 billion in Brazil in areas such as green hydrogen, infrastructure, and renewable energy.

In Chile, the minister will meet his counterpart Aurora Williams, as well as mining companies Antofagasta, and Codelco, a state-run company tasked with bringing the Chilean government into the lithium industry.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the PIF, and the Kingdom’s mining company, known as Ma’aden, which is 67 percent owned by the PIF, formed a joint venture called Manara Minerals to invest in mining assets abroad.


Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,195  

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,195  
Updated 21 July 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,195  

Closing Bell: Saudi main index closes in green at 12,195  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index rose on Sunday, gaining 6.73 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at 12,195.05.   

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR6.12 billion ($1.63 billion), as 74 of the listed stocks advanced, while 154 retreated.   

The MSCI Tadawul Index also closed in green, gaining 2.46 points, or 0.16 percent, to close at 1,529.46.   

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu rose 67.8 points, or 0.26 percent, to close at 25,770.14. This comes as 27 of the listed stocks advanced while as many as 34 retreated.   

The best-performing stock of the day was Saudi Manpower Solutions Co., whose share price surged 9.88 percent to SR10.34. 

Other top performers include Maharah Human Resources Co. as well as Al-Baha Investment and Development Co., whose share prices soared by 8.35 percent and 8.33 percent, to stand at SR6.88 and SR0.13, respectively.   

The worst performer was Electrical Industries Co., whose share price dropped by 5.51 percent to SR6.00.    

Other notable declines included Alinma Hospitality REIT Fund and The Mediterranean and Gulf Insurance and Reinsurance Co., with share prices falling 3.38 percent to SR8.29 and 3.25 percent to SR29.80, respectively. 

On the announcement front, Saudi Tadawul Holding Co. reported a profit increase to SR146 million for the second quarter of 2024, reflecting a 55 percent rise from SR105.2 million in the same period last year.  

The company attributed this growth to a 50.3 percent increase in operating revenues, which reached SR741.1 million in the first half of 2024, up from SR493.0 million in the corresponding period of the previous year. 

According to a release on the bourse, Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. reported a net profit of SR5.11 million for the second quarter of 2024, reversing a net loss of SR10.08 million from the same quarter last year, marking a 150.7 percent improvement.  

This positive shift was attributed to a 17.4 percent increase in revenue due to expanded sales and a higher volume of new orders. 

Kingdom Holding Co., Sumou Holding Co., and Jeddah Economic Co. have signed an agreement to establish a new SR6.8 billion fund to acquire the Alinma Jeddah Economic Fund, currently fully owned by Jeddah Economic Co. Kingdom Holding Co. will hold a 40 percent stake in the new fund. 


Saudi Arabia’s US treasury bond possession increases 22.46% year-on-year to $136.3bn

Saudi Arabia’s US treasury bond possession increases 22.46% year-on-year to $136.3bn
Updated 21 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s US treasury bond possession increases 22.46% year-on-year to $136.3bn

Saudi Arabia’s US treasury bond possession increases 22.46% year-on-year to $136.3bn

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s possession of US treasury bonds increased to $136.3 billion in May, compared to $111.3 billion for the same month in 2023.

The figures mark a 22.46 percent year-on-year increase.

Data released by the US Treasury Department placed Saudi Arabia in 17th spot among the largest investors in such financial instruments in May.

The report revealed that the Kingdom held bonds valued at $135.4 billion in April, compared to $135.9 billion and $131.1 billion in March and February, respectively.

The figures illustrate Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in international financial markets, highlighting a keen understanding of leveraging sovereign wealth to secure and strengthen the Kingdom’s global economic position.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia is the only Arab and Middle Eastern country among the top 20 major holders of US Treasury securities.

A report published in January by the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed that its investments in foreign securities stood at $1 trillion at the end of December 2023.

SAMA also has $361.75 billion as deposits with banks abroad, the report added.

The data analysis also revealed that Japan emerged as the largest investor in US bonds in May, with holdings totaling $1.128 trillion. China and the UK followed, with portfolios valued at $768.3 billion and $723.4 billion, respectively. 

Luxembourg claimed the fourth spot with assets valued at $385.4 billion, while Canada and the Cayman Islands secured the fifth and sixth positions with treasury portfolios worth $354.5 billion and $336.5 billion, respectively. 

Ireland attained seventh spot with treasury reserves worth $317.7 billion, followed by Belgium and Switzerland, with assets amounting to $313 billion and $290.4 billion, respectively.

France held the 10th position with treasury assets amounting to $283 billion, while Taiwan and India occupied 11th and 12th places with portfolios worth $263.3 billion and $237.8 billion, respectively.

The data collected is primarily from US-based custodians and broker-dealers. Since American securities held in overseas accounts may not be attributed to the actual owners, the department said, the data may not provide a precise accounting of individual country ownership of treasury securities.


Saudi capital market systems prove resilient during global tech outage

Saudi capital market systems prove resilient during global tech outage
Updated 21 July 2024
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Saudi capital market systems prove resilient during global tech outage

Saudi capital market systems prove resilient during global tech outage

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s capital market systems proved resilient during the global technical outage on July 19, which disrupted flights, broadcasting services, and essential services worldwide. 

The Saudi Capital Market Authority stated that it promptly coordinated with market stakeholders to mitigate the effects of the interruption, ensuring that operations remained unaffected.  

According to the CMA, its systems were fully operational and prepared to support investors during the trading sessions on July 21.

The outage, triggered by a software update from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, caused widespread disruptions across various sectors. 

In response, the CMA directed listed companies on the Saudi capital market to disclose any significant developments related to the incident. The market regulator emphasized that its technical teams are monitoring systems around the clock to ensure ongoing stability and business continuity. 

The Saudi Exchange also reassured investors of its system’s reliability and readiness to provide continuous service. 

On July 20, Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Authority stated that the impact of the outage on the Kingdom was limited. The authority also noted that it has implemented exceptional measures to monitor threats and cyber risks and to respond to any incidents. 

The Saudi Central Bank confirmed that its payment and banking infrastructure remained unaffected by the outage, emphasizing its adherence to international cybersecurity and operational standards.  

The apex bank also highlighted its commitment to regularly updating precautionary measures to ensure effective business continuity and the resilience of its banking and payment systems. 

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority also stated that its systems and those it hosts in the Kingdom were not impacted by the global technical failure. 

“SDAIA confirms that its systems and the national systems hosted by it in the Kingdom are not affected by the technical failure that struck most countries of the world today,” it stated in a statement posted on X. 

The incident has sparked renewed discussions about the importance of cybersecurity and resilience in critical infrastructure, with many organizations reassessing their strategies and safeguards to prevent future disruptions.

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 underscores a robust commitment to advancing cybersecurity, with strategic investments aimed at enhancing digital infrastructure and safeguarding national assets against emerging cyber threats.