The 6 Saudi companies highlighted as the best places to work

Time: 21 December 2020

Companies can gain the ‘Best Places to Work’ certification after a rigorous survey of their human-resources operations, as well as an analysis of employee satisfaction. (Shutterstock)
  • Novo Nordisk Saudi, an affiliate of the international healthcare company, was ranked first place for the second year running due to its strides to empower its female employees

JEDDAH: An annual international certification program has chosen six companies considered to have the best work environments in the Kingdom during 2020.

Companies can gain the “Best Places to Work” certification after a rigorous survey of their human-resources operations, as well as an analysis of employee satisfaction, covering areas such as culture, people practices, leadership and growth opportunities.

Hamza Idrissi, the program manager in the Kingdom, said that the top six companies all had an 82-percent engagement level, in spite of the pandemic.

“This is something to be proud of — an elite group of employers making sure that their employees are happy, healthy, and enjoy coming to work,” he said.

Novo Nordisk Saudi, an affiliate of the international healthcare company, was ranked first place for the second year running due to its strides to empower its female employees.

Corporate Vice President at Novo Nordisk, Saudi Arabia, Melvin D’Souza said: “It is a real pleasure to see Novo Nordisk recognized as the No. 1 Best Place to Work in Saudi Arabia.

We are happy to see Novo Nordisk is seen as a female-enabling environment where emerging female talents build their future careers.”

Johnson & Johnson Saudi ranked second, which is “a clear testament to the work [changing] the trajectory of health for humanity,” said Head of Talent Acquisition Ehab Abdel Hafez.

In third place was Tamkeen Technologies. The company’s General Manager Mohammed Al-Shaibi said that the label “demonstrates that initiatives are heard and appreciated and we are committed toward creating the right employee experience.”

Coming in at fourth place was International Maritime Industries, while Al Safi Danone ranked fifth. Al Safi Danone CEO Tolga Sezer said the company was happy to create an environment where people can “develop, prosper and fulfill growth ambitions.”

MSD Animal Health completed the top six. The country lead of their Saudi Arabia operations Mohammed Osman said: “I am very delighted to see MSD AH in KSA among the top list of the best [places] to work in 2020 despite the challenges we all faced during this year.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Helicopter Company hauls largest airborne Saudi flag across the Kingdom’s skies

Time: 29 September 2020

  • Impressive spectacle marked the start of a first-of-its-kind airshow, as part of the Kingdom’s 90th National Day celebrations

RIYADH: The Helicopter Company (THC) helped Saudi Arabia’s 90th National Day Airshow get off to a flying start by displaying the largest airborne Saudi flag in the skies above the Kingdom.

The impressive spectacle marked the start of the first-of-its-kind event, which combined military and civil aviation displays in a single show. The week-long airshow, organized by the General Entertainment Authority, began in Jeddah on Sept. 21, before moving on to Riyadh and concluding in Al-Khobar.

It began with a THC AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter towing the 2,000-square-meter flag across the sky. At the end of each day’s airborne entertainment, THC took the skies again to display a banner decorated with the slogan of the 90th National Day, “mettle to the top.”

THC, which is wholly owned by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, recently launched its banner-towing service. It offers clients the chance to display messages and advertise products on huge customized banners towed across the sky by a helicopter. The company’s participation in the National Day Airshow was the first official use of the service. THC has also introduced aerial photography, in addition to other recently announced aerial business services.

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Boehringer Ingelheim hosts health care summit

Time: 25 August, 2020

The online summit, organized by Boehringer Ingelheim — a pharmaceutical company — utilized virtual technology to create a live environment for health care professionals to share their experiences.

Boehringer Ingelheim brought together 3,000 health care professionals in Saudi Arabia this week to a virtual deep dive into the latest evidence-based updates in the therapeutic areas of diabetes, cardio-metabolism, respiratory diseases, and stroke management.

The online summit, organized by Boehringer Ingelheim — a pharmaceutical company — utilized virtual technology to create a live environment for health care professionals to share their experiences. Cardiologists, endocrinologists, neurologists, and other experts registered at the virtual reception and walked through the hall before choosing their preferred conference room in a unique digital experience.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which accounts for almost 36 percent of all annual deaths in Saudi Arabia, was one of the primary topics discussed at the conference, with a special focus on the link between cardiovascular complications and the new classes of oral antidiabetic drugs.

The implementation of telemedicine in stroke care was discussed while with respect to respiratory diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was underscored, currently prevalent among 2.4 percent of the general population and 14.2 percent among smokers over 40 years of age, with cases expected to increase.

“Digitization is fundamentally changing the pharmaceutical industry and we at Boehringer Ingelheim are embracing its role as an intrinsic part of our business development,” said Waleed Mashak, general manager and head of Human Pharma at Boehringer Ingelheim Saudi Arabia. “We are delighted to be organizing digital events of quality in the Kingdom, to deliver on our promise of providing health care professionals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with continuous and uninterrupted updates on the latest medical and scientific evidence in different medical fields, which will undoubtedly be of great benefit for the patients of Saudi Arabia.”

“Summits such as these are vital as they allow the exchange of knowledge and provide the opportunity for health care professionals to share best practices with one another and keep up-to-date on the latest information and findings,” said Dr. Hussein Elbadawi, consultant endocrinologist at My Clinic International Center Jeddah.

The summit was held in collaboration with the Saudi Heart Association, Saudi Scientific Diabetes Society, Saudi Stroke Society, and Saudi Society of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Saeed Alghamdi, consultant stroke and cerebrovascular diseases neurologist and president of the Saudi Stroke Society, said: “Through this multi-therapeutic event, health care professionals from across the Kingdom were able to gain valuable and reliable information, which will ultimately benefit Saudi Arabia’s health care offering. It was especially insightful with regards to the field of stroke and neurology given that the occurrence of strokes is considered a major challenge to the health care system in Saudi Arabia, with the incidence rate of first-time stroke standing at 57.64 per 100,000.”

The summit is one of a series of virtual events launched by Boehringer Ingelheim in the region as part of its commitment to providing a continuous source of reliable education for health care professionals specializing in various disease areas and focuses.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Modest fashion app launched for Saudi shoppers


The label, launched in 2018 in the Kingdom, will introduce its application to other GCC countries by the end of 2020. (Instagram)

DUBAI: Fashion label Leem has started a new mobile application for shoppers in Saudi Arabia this week.

The label, launched in 2018 in the Kingdom, will introduce its application to other GCC countries by the end of 2020.

Leem, which has stores across the Middle East, offers modern yet conservative designs that include wide-leg trousers, large sweaters, elegant dresses, oversized tops and more.

The brand promises that all the orders placed will be delivered within three to five business days, with free delivery offered on standard orders.

Leem will soon add premium services such as same-day and next-day delivery to their platform, which is currently available on Apple and Android devices via the App Store and Google Play Store.

A number of fashion brands have either gone digital or closed down during the pandemic.

In April, luxury modest wear e-tailor The Modist announced it will stop operating, and in June, UAE-based Al Tayer Group announced that e-tailer Nisnass will close down from July 16.

This article was first published in Arab News

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New law to cut red tape in the business world

Time: 15 July, 2020

A proposed new Saudi corporate law, a draft of which has gone out for public consultation, marks a paradigm shift to a new and innovative path that will encourage the rapid growth of the corporate sector and enable it to keep pace with the latest developments.

One of the aims of the new law is to cut out many of the bureaucratic procedures that currently dampen the enthusiasm of people who want to establish companies, and red tape that has no place in the modern business world — for example, eliminating restrictions on company names, allowing the use of innovative titles derived from the purpose of the company.

Among the most prominent and significant features of the proposed law is the introduction of a new kind of company — the simple joint-stock company, established by one or more founders without a minimum requirement for capital. The new law is also flexible about different scenarios for managing the company — by a general manager or one of the board of directors. The company’s management mechanism and the majority required to implement decisions are subject to the founding agreement, as are the types of shares and debt instruments that may be issued.

The new law also offers amended solutions that can help companies to overcome any financial difficulties they may face, especially during this particularly challenging time. For example, if a financial loss represents half the capital value of a limited liability company, it need not immediately cease trading, as is currently the case; although of course, concerned parties may still petition the competent judicial authority to dissolve the company.

A committee will be established at the Ministry of Trade, comprising a minimum of three members at least one of whom is a specialist in the law and related regulations, to consider possible offenses and related penalties.

The new law includes and replaces some provisions of previous law related to companies, which it supersedes. Any provisions in previous laws that contradict the new law will be canceled when the new law is approved. Consolidating the laws that govern such a vital sector as business and commerce will assist the public perception of companies, address the needs of businesses and their owners, and develop and improve the entire sector.

The completion and implementation of this new law in coordination with all the relevant parties is a challenge; successfully completed, it will make procedures and regulatory requirements easier, stimulate the attraction of capital investment, and help to revitalize the economy.

• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

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Lulu to go ahead with KSA expansion Previous

Time: 29 June, 2020

Riyadh: Region’s top retailer Lulu Group has revealed that it’s going ahead with its expansion plans despite the challenges faced due to Covid19 pandemic across the world.  The popular hypermarket chain will open 5 new hypermarkets this year in the Kingdom.

Currently there are 34 Lulu hypermarkets & supermarkets including 17 Commissaries in Aramco, Petroleum Research Center, 5 outlets inside National Guard and 4 shopping malls in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Al Khobar regions serving more than 250,000 customers daily.

Commenting on the new projects Yusuffali MA, Chairman of Lulu Group said “KSA is a very important market for us and we have full confidence in the economic scenario and future prospects in the Kingdom, thanks to the wise leadership of the rulers and their proactive initiatives.

“Our main focus will be to take the world-class shopping experience nearer to residents not only in big cities but also in Tier-2 cities such as Hail, Al Hassa, Al Kharj, Jubail, Tabuk which have witnessed exponential growth. With the completion of these 5 new projects, our aim is to provide employment to 1,000 more Saudi nationals, in addition to 2,800 already employed by us including more than 1,000 ladies”.

“As per our plans 3 hypermarkets were supposed to be already opened, but we had to postpone the inauguration due to the global pandemic situation. Now that the restrictions have been lifted and with resumption of normal activities, we have decided to go ahead and launch new hypermarkets on a priority basis” added Yusuffali.

New initiatives

As part of it’s commitment to support and promote Kingdom’s non-oil based trade, Lulu group has signed special agreement with Ministry of Agriculture and Saudi Export House to promote Saudi mark dates and local products outside KSA in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Egypt & GCC countries.

Another focus area would be the expansion of Lulu online shopping to cover larger area with bigger range of grocery and fresh produce.

Covid Challenges

Yusuff Ali further said that the “thanks to the visionary leadership of the Kingdom, the pandemic situation has been controlled very well and various sectors including the retail, tourism and other trade activities are returning to normal and this will further accelerate the national economy. We are proud to be part of the KSA’s overall development and will continue to support sustainable development strategies”.

During the outbreak of pandemic situation, the role played by leading hypermarkets and supermarket chains such as LULU Group is highly commendable, as they have ensured un-interrupted food supply from around the world at most affordable prices, which resulted in ZERO-PANIC situation in the Kingdom.

This article was first published in Arab News

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How coronavirus crisis has changed business in the Middle East


Passengers watch a movie from their car at a drive-in cinema outside the Mall of Emirates in Dubai on May 17, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP/File Photo)
  • COVID-19 containment efforts, economic slowdown and low oil prices amounted to a perfect storm
  • Some Middle East and North Africa enterprises have reacted quickly and creatively to the challenges

CAIRO: While countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have responded unevenly to the coronavirus pandemic, a majority imposed aggressive temporary lockdowns on businesses and people’s movement.

Containment efforts, paired with a global economic slowdown, supply chain disruptions and a drop in crude oil prices, have had grave implications for regional enterprises.

In anticipation of prolonged pain, some MENA businesses have reacted quickly and creatively to this economic turmoil. Here is a look at some of the innovations that swiftly took hold.

* Fine dining delivered to your home

Luxury dining is perhaps the hardest-hit segment of the food and beverage industry. Operators were quick to switch to delivery and takeout.

“High-end fine dining restaurants such as Coya (and) Zuma, amongst others, have pivoted in this way, and it’s inspiring to see restaurants quickly move to a completely new business model,” said Ryan Andrews, marketing director of Eat App, a Bahraini startup providing an electronic system for restaurant reservations.

Chatfood, a platform offering a commission-free direct-to-consumer delivery option for restaurants, witnessed a surge in new clients from the region, said co-founder Ben Mouflard.

(Image: EAT App)

* The rise of e-commerce

E-commerce in the region has been growing at a cumulative rate of 25 percent since 2014, and online-only retailers have long captured more than 90 percent of this market.

To mitigate the deleterious effects of the lockdown on luxury retailers relying on in-store sales, Dubai Mall launched, enabling them to sell and deliver products through the virtual store.

Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA) is accelerating its efforts to launch Dubai Commercity, a 2.1 million sq. feet haven for e-commerce businesses with spaces for offices and logistics.

“Given the traction witnessed by clients (going) online due to the pandemic, we are on track for the scheduled opening by the end of 2020,” said Mohammed Al-Zarooni, DAFZA director-general.

* Mobile banking and e-wallets

A surge in the use of mobile banking and e-wallets has been observed across the region. Starting in March, Egyptian banks — including National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr and BLOM Bank — have increased their electronic service capabilities.

National Bank of Oman encouraged users to make contactless payments. Fintech startups have been capitalizing on this trend with the launch of new services, among them PayBy’s mobile payment app in the UAE.

“The future of banking is not digital. The future of banking is customer experience, and digital is a tool enabling customer experience,” said Ali Khan, financial services director of PwC Middle East.

(Photo: AFP)

* Virtual music concerts

No-crowd live-streamed music concerts have become hugely popular, with a tipping point reached over the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.

The Egyptian Culture Ministry’s YouTube channel started live-streaming music concerts in March. By the end of May, it had added more than 1 million new subscribers.

Supported by major production companies, several popstars from the region, including Egyptian Tamer Hosny and Saudi Mohamed Abdo, performed to an online audience.

(Photo: AFP)

* The shift toward gift cards

Entertainment businesses had to innovate to keep the cash flowing as many countries enforced curfews.

With the entertainment market shut down, companies have been promoting gift cards to stay afloat.

Vouchers and gift cards for cinemas and restaurants offer customers future discounts once restrictions are lifted.

“We’ve helped restaurants market their vouchers” via a dedicated marketplace, said Andrews of Eat App.

* Telemedicine gets a real-life test

Based on a recent report by Research and Markets, the digital health care market in Saudi Arabia will grow by 8.8 percent in 2020 to $16.1 billion.

This growth is fueled by hospitals’ rapid adoption of telehealth services to cater to non-urgent medical needs while people’s movement is restricted.

As part of its response to COVID-19, Saudi Arabia has required that health insurance companies cover the costs of telehealth consultations.

* Virtual guided tours

Tourism was the first sector impacted by the pandemic, and is expected to be the last to recover.

Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities Ministry launched online virtual 3D tours of ancient tombs and monasteries.

The Contemporary Art Platform in Kuwait and the Akkasah Center for Photography in Abu Dhabi are among the region’s art galleries currently offering online tours of their collection.

* Drive-in cinemas are back

Drive-in cinemas are coming back to help film lovers in the region get their entertainment fix without breaking social distancing rules.

Dubai welcomed its latest drive-in cinema in May on the rooftop of Mall of the Emirates, with a capacity of 75 cars.

It was followed by one at Dubai Mall, and Cairo’s Mall of Arabia has also launched its own version.

(Photo: Courtesy of VOX Cinemas)
This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.

is article was first published in Arab News

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#Halawani_Al-Khair campaign spreads goodness in Saudi Arabia

Time: 08 June, 2020

Over 500,000 meals for iftar are being distributed all over the Kingdom

Halawani Brothers, a leading food manufacturing company in the Kingdom, has launched the second edition of the #Halawani_Al-Khair campaign. The initiative is part of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) and aims to promote volunteering and extend philanthropy, reflecting the company’s commitment toward Saudi citizens and residents.

This year, the #Halawani_Al-Khair initiative has added more development and philanthropy activities. Over 500,000 meals for iftar are being distributed all over the Kingdom. The campaign includes the “Employees Volunteering Program” in cooperation with the “Khadoom” program.

“Iftar Al-Khair” at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport included the distribution of more than 800 Ramadan baskets, in addition to supporting about 10,000 families in cooperation with the Nama Charity and Development Association.

Saleh Ahmed Hefni, CEO and managing director of Halawani Bros, said the #Halawani_Al-Khair campaign has achieved many successes in its second year through initiatives targeting diverse segments of society.

He said the campaign has also achieved its objective of promoting the community and empowering individuals to be effective and productive members of society.

“Successes energize Halawani Bros. to develop the initiative and include several new activities and sectors, which has encouraged many associations and charities to become partners in these activities,” Hefni added.

The #Halawani_Al-Khair initiative in its first year achieved remarkable successes in volunteering and charitable work. This Ramadan, it is expected to reach wider segments of society with the gold sponsorship of the “Ramadan Aman 7” campaign in the Kingdom, which aims to reduce traffic accidents and excess speed.

Around 14,000 volunteers from different segments of society are involved in the distribution of light iftar meals to drivers before the Maghreb prayer at vital traffic junctions and crowded sites in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan and Bosnia. Over 360,000 meals will be distributed in 17 cities in the Kingdom.

The company’s executives, employees and their families are participating in the initiative with the objective of interacting with the community in spreading goodness and serving the people of the Kingdom.

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The benefits of entrepreneurship


Who is entrepreneurship for? Who does it benefit? Is it just about the entrepreneur’s personal success?
There are certainly many entrepreneurs who have become incredibly successful in their own right: Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, or Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Aziz Al-Jouf, CEO and founder of the payment processing company PayTabs. These individuals are testament to the personal success that an entrepreneur can achieve.
But the true impact of entrepreneurship goes beyond one person. While success may come from that entrepreneurial spark in a single person or small team, the benefits reach much wider into communities and countries.
Within a community the benefits of entrepreneurship and the startups they create emanate outward in ripples to provide local services, create local jobs, support local products and produce, and strengthen communities.
At a national level a thriving startup ecosystem will drive innovation, improve overall economic performance, and also encourage entrepreneurs, creating a virtuous circle of positive benefits. In short, entrepreneurialism can benefit us all and it’s to all our advantage to see that entrepreneurialism is supported.
This thought struck me particularly hard while watching startups in the Misk 500 Accelerator Program as they delivered virtual pitches.
There were 16 startups from across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, that presented their business startups to potential investors. These young innovators and future business leaders had ideas for a range of sectors – banking, tourism, fashion, maintenance services, mobility, health and fitness – and it revealed the breadth of talent and creativity that exists among young entrepreneurs in our country and across our region.
One thing in particular jumped out at me across all these companies and ideas. They were talking to an international audience to attract investment into Saudi Arabia and their own countries – Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE. Not only that, many of their services and products were targeted at their home countries and communities. I encourage anyone who hasn’t watched the pitches to take the opportunity to watch and hear just how many of the entrepreneurs talked about the lack of a particular service or the existence of a specific opportunity within their country or community and how their idea met that need.
Why is that exciting? Because it shows that innovation and opportunities are everywhere.
That’s something we’ve been arguing for a while at Misk. We’re doing it through the Misk 500 Accelerator Program and we’re doing it through the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC), which is now in its second year. We’re giving young entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia and around the world the opportunities, tools, skills, networks, and encouragement they need to become successful and to share that success around.
It speaks to our philosophy at Misk: Not to offer handouts but hand-ups, not to lecture but to listen, to empower young people not because they are a problem to be solved, but because they are the greatest problem-solvers in the world.
Speaking personally and doing this as a Saudi entity, albeit one with a global focus (it’s in our name, after all), gives me enormous pride because it means we can play a real part in contributing to the Vision 2030 reform plan and the wider transformation of our Kingdom.
Fundamentally, that vision is about realizing our nation as an internationally looking economy, and one that has empowered us – its own citizens – to make the most of the skills, opportunities, and ambitions within us. Entrepreneurship is a clear road to achieving those Vision 2030 goals.
Saudi Arabia is already making strides. Last year Saudi startups saw a record $67 million in investment. The World Economic Forum listed 10 Saudi startups in its list of the 100 most promising startups in the world. Indeed one of these – Ajeer – pitched in the Misk 500 demo day I mentioned; and Red Sea Farms, another Saudi startup, placed second in the EWC global finals.
This growth in startups and innovation is already helping us, Saudi Arabia, prepare for the fourth industrial revolution with new skills and get more young people and women working with new opportunities.
Ultimately, we’re about building bridges and opening doors to success. Not for ourselves and not just for the entrepreneurs. But for the wider society we’re all a part of – whether it’s a town, a province, this whole Kingdom or beyond.

Shaima Hamidaddin is executive manager of the Misk Global Forum.

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Canon supports Saudi health care sector with medical scholarship

Time: 07 June, 2020

Canon Saudi Arabia has partnered with Mohammed Al-Mana College for Medical Sciences for a scholarship grant, demonstrating its commitment to promoting medical education among Saudi nationals as well as advancing women in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

As part of the partnership, Canon will grant a full-term scholarship to one female student of Mohammed-Al-Mana College of Medical Sciences. The initiative aims to build the talent pipeline of medical professionals, particularly in the nursing field, to further support the health care sector.

Mohammed Al-Mana College of Medical Sciences specializes in health care education and applied vocational training for a mainly female student-base, located in Dammam.

Canon’s support also salutes the dedication of the college’s founder Dr. Aisha Al-Mana to female empowerment through education.

Mai Youssef, corporate communications and marketing services director, Canon Middle East, said: “We are committed to creating employment and development opportunities for young people in Saudi Arabia that support economic diversification, and contributing to socio-economic progress in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030. There is no better time than now to support the education of Saudi nationals in medical fields, especially nursing, so they can continue to contribute to the delivery and advancement of a robust health care sector. Our initiative reflects our commitment to the communities in which we operate and our corporate culture of kyosei.”

Dr. Aisha Al-Mana, founder and general supervisor of Mohammed Al-Mana College for Medical Sciences, said: “Education is key to empowerment. The commitment from private sector organizations such as Canon is critical to driving forward the education of young people, in particular females. Our college was established with women’s empowerment as a top priority, and we are delighted to partner with Canon in support of this important cause. We aim to educate and support the next generation of female medical professionals in the Kingdom to support the wider goals of our leadership to provide opportunities for all.”

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