Halalah secures SAMA’s fintech license

Time: 24 March, 2020

Esam Al-Nahdi Founder and CEO of Halalah

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) announced last week that Halalah has successfully attained the full e-money institution license (EMI) in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-based fintech company has been operating in the local market previously under a sandbox trial period license. Halalah managed to “graduate” from the trial period ahead of schedule after complying with all regulatory requirements that focused on the maturity of product, the structure of the company, the agility of its processes and the security of its infrastructure.
“Halalah is not your typical startup, as it has gone through a long journey in a short period of time to reach where it is today,” said Founder and CEO Esam Al-Nahdi. Starting in Saudi Arabia with clear ambitions for the regional fintech market, the company got licensed in UAE in 2017 by the FSRA’s Fintech RegLab in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), before coming back to Saudi Arabia to get SAMA’s sandbox approval in the first quarter of 2018, to kick-start its operations in November 2018.
“Throughout 2019, Halalah managed to institutionalize its operating model, and build a robust infrastructure and product engine, as well as striking a few strategic partnerships that will cater to the needs of the new generation of customers and putting the company in the right position to achieve its local, regional and global plans,” added Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Maher Loubieh.
With the full license now obtained, “the next milestone in Saudi Arabia is to relaunch Halalah KSA with a new set of financial services and products that will enable customers to manage their finances and do transactions through Halalah,” said Al-Nahdi.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Kaspersky partners with SAFCSP to train youth

Time: 17 March, 2020

Kaspersky has updated their memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones.

Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity solutions provider, has updated their memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP). Both entities have once again joined forces to achieve their mutual goal of preparing and enhancing the skills of the youth of Saudi Arabia to prepare for careers in cybersecurity.
Kaspersky will pave the way toward accomplishing this goal by supporting the SAFCSP in its CyberHub initiative. The CyberHub will reach out to students from 28 different universities from across the Kingdom and establish specialized cybersecurity clubs. Kaspersky will provide SAFCSP with training materials and a comprehensive curriculum on cybersecurity and programming.
Amir Kanaan, managing director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, at Kaspersky, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with the SAFCSP. By joining forces with Saudi Arabia’s government, Kaspersky is helping to build the next-generation of well-equipped cybersecurity leaders. This partnership also highlights the importance of private and government entities coming together to equip the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the means to enhance their technological advancements.”

FASTFACT

The CyberHub will reach out to students from 28 different universities from across the Kingdom and establish specialized Cybersecurity Clubs.

Mohammed Alghamdi, cybersecurity track manager at the SAFCSP, said: “As we work toward increasing the Kingdom’s cyber readiness we see that there is a greater need for cybersecurity experts. The best way to address this gap in cybersecurity is to empower the youth with the skills needed to enter this field. It is through partnerships like this one that we are able to address this gap. It is only when governments and companies band together in order to share and exchange knowledge that we are able to create an initiative like the CyberHub.”
In addition to providing a curriculum to follow, Kaspersky will contribute to CyberHub by conducting various conferences, workshops and competitions to make learning more interesting. The company will also invite speakers and guests to provide students with a first-hand overview of the requirements, opportunities, and challenges in the cybersecurity space.

This article was first published in Arab News

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IT firm Noha Alwosta expansion in line with Vision 2030

Time: 16 March, 2020

Saajan Lathif, managing director of Noha Alwosta.

IT company Noha Alwosta is seeking to expand its business across the member states of the GCC, with a primary focus on Saudi Arabia. The ambitious expansion plan of Noha Alwosta is in line with Saudi Vision 2030, which calls for setting up a sophisticated digital infrastructure in the country, said Saajan Lathif, managing director of Noha Alwosta.
“Alwosta today ranks as a leading global information technology company offering solutions in the Middle East region, including Saudi Arabia. We are a leader in the global consulting delivering business, technology and outsourcing services,” said Lathif.
Referring to the services being offered by Alwosta, he said: “We offer a full suite of IT services and solutions including ERP (enterprise resource planning) implementation, project management, system consulting, EAI (enterprise application integration), application development, migration and re-engineering, business process management, data warehousing, data management, and business intelligence. We also provide networking and support.”
The company, which has opened offices in the Kingdom, also offers a range of IT solutions for small and medium enterprises. “These affordable solutions are designed to fit your needs — both now and in the future,” said the Alwosta chief, adding that they have the potential to develop innovative products and services for new and existing markets.
Lathif said the company can also help clients to cut procurement costs, build collaborative supplier relationships, and streamline purchasing and sourcing processes. “Alwosta offers solutions to manage procure-to-pay processes in one, unified solution besides enabling self-service procurement and automated workflows,” he said.
The young Indian entrepreneur, from the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, also known as the “Silicon Valley of India,” overcame his humble beginnings to become the owner of the IT consulting company.
Lathif said the company is also planning to open 12 world-class cafes in Saudi Arabia this year. Commenting on the unusual combination of an IT business and a food and beverage business, he said: “Entrepreneurship to me is a way of life. I am the kind of person that is always looking for new adventures, new challenges, and new people.”
He added: “I have created some projects in the real estate sector as well and this is what entrepreneurship is all about, a lot of trial and error. But it also comes with a huge learning curve with business lessons.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Mamo Michelangelo opening soon in Riyadh

Time: 12 March, 2020

Mamo has designed a menu of fine Italian cuisine, which includes dishes that cannot be found elsewhere.

Al-Khozama Management Company, Mamo and Arjun Waney, the creators and co-owners of popular international restaurants, have announced that Italian restaurant Mamo Michelangelo is set to open doors in Riyadh by the end of March, at Al-Faisaliah Hotel Suites Wing.

“With authentic Italian and Provençal recipes and passionate chefs to serve fresh and delicious dishes, Mamo Michelangelo’s menu is already creating a stir and will quench the appetite of local gastronomes with its specialties, using ingredients sourced from their origins, to truly experience the authentic flavors of Italy and South of France,” a statement said.

Food enthusiasts in Saudi Arabia are well acquainted with Mamo Michelangelo after its successful pop-up during Jeddah Season last year. Mamo Michelangelo’s culinary arts embodies the essence of the French Riviera.

It offers a charming ambiance for lovers of gastronomy, where guests can enjoy a five-star dining experience in an authentic setting decorated with old materials from Provence and Italy.

The restaurant’s world-famous culinary experience embraces French and Italian influences from the region, incorporating a mix of classic family recipes and seasonal Mamo specialties. Mamo has designed a menu of fine Italian cuisine, which includes dishes that cannot be found elsewhere, such as a creamy burrata from Napoli, a lamb shoulder perfectly cooked in the wood-fired oven, a delicious chicken and some signature dishes like truffle focaccia and truffle raviolinis as well as countless other culinary delights. Guests can end their meal with a traditional tiramisu or a lemon tart.

The celebrity-filled five-star restaurant on the French Riviera, Mamo Michelangelo opened in 1992 and has since then welcomed guests from the worlds of Hollywood, fashion, television, football, racing and others, and has clients from around the globe, including Saudi Arabia.

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Cisco renews commitment to digitization in KSA

Time: 11 March, 2020

Salman Faqeeh, managing director, Cisco Saudi Arabia.

Cisco has revealed its latest solutions and strategic partnerships to aid the Kingdom’s digital transformation journey at Cisco Connect Riyadh.
During the two-day flagship event including keynotes and panel discussions, Cisco showcased how it continues to align efforts with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 agenda and Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency theme — “Realizing the opportunities of the 21st century for all.”
“Cisco has long recognized the benefits of embracing technological innovations to drive growth — evolving how industries operate and enhancing experiences for wider society, through health care, education, energy and more. For over 20 years, Cisco has been working closely with the government and key stakeholders across public and private sectors to create new, improved opportunities for people in Saudi Arabia through a range of initiatives,” said Salman Faqeeh, managing director, Cisco Saudi Arabia.
Cisco has been collaborating with the Ministry of Economic Planning and the National Digitization Unit via its Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program. Since 2016, Cisco’s CDA program has focused on four national priority sectors including: Energy, health care, smart cities and education. The CDA program aims to foster innovation, create a vibrant digital economy, drive GDP growth and help increase the nation’s global competitiveness.

FASTFACT

Cisco has been working closely with the government and key stakeholders across public and private sectors to create new, improved opportunities for people in Saudi Arabia through a range of initiatives.

Cisco has also partnered with local academic, public and private institutions to deliver its Networking Academy (NetAcad) in Saudi Arabia. Focused on facilitating regional demand for skilled IT professionals, Cisco’s NetAcad was established in the Kingdom in 2000 and currently has more than 100 active networking academies in the country.
Cisco’s DevNet initiative has also had a presence in Saudi Arabia since 2017 aiming to build a community in which developers and IT professionals are upskilled and empowered to write applications and develop integrations with Cisco products, platforms and application program interfaces (APIs). Cisco has now announced the expansion of its DevNet platform, with a first-of-its-kind training and certification program, supporting the Kingdom’s focus on accelerating co-development and co-creation.
Faqeeh added: “We are uniquely positioned to identify the trends and requirements of the local technology industry, which is why we will continue to strengthen initiatives such as our CDA, NetAcad and DevNet programs in the Kingdom.”

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Walaa, Metlife AIG ANB create history with merger

Time: 10 March, 2020

Walaa Cooperative Insurance Company and Metlife AIG ANB Cooperative Insurance have created history in the Saudi insurance market by legally combining their businesses.

Walaa Cooperative Insurance Company and Metlife AIG ANB Cooperative Insurance have created history in the Saudi insurance market by legally combining their businesses. Following regulatory and shareholder approvals, Walaa Insurance has now successfully completed the merger with Metlife AIG ANB, a first in the Saudi insurance industry.
Sulaiman Al-Kadi, chair of Walaa, said: “I must appreciate and congratulate boards and management of both companies to successfully complete this merger transaction. I would also convey my special thanks to our regulators Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and Capital Markets Authority (CMA) for all their support and understanding; they literally have gone out of the way to help us in making this a success. Our financial advisers Jazira Capital have worked really hard throughout the process, I appreciate their efforts too. In short, each and every member who contributed and worked for this merger transaction deserves a round of applause.”
Johnson Varughese, CEO of Walaa, said: “We would like to place on record our appreciation to the shareholders of both Walaa and Metlife AIG ANB for approving the merger transaction with an overwhelming majority.
“We will be the best place to insure as today marks an unrivaled opportunity to accelerate our strategy, for the new era of development under Vision 2030, with new strength and dimension. The merger will increase our client base, enhance geographical locations, diversify Walaa’s portfolio of insurance products, decrease costs and expenses, and enhance negotiation capabilities with reinsurers.”

FASTFACT

The transaction was executed through a share swap, with Metlife AIG ANB shareholders receiving 1.52 Walaa shares for each Metlife AIG ANB share.

With the combination of the two insurance companies under the statutory merger, Walaa will absorb Metlife AIG ANB’s assets and liabilities. The transaction was executed through a share swap, with Metlife AIG ANB shareholders receiving 1.52 Walaa shares for each Metlife AIG ANB share.
“This is a great achievement and we have all earned it. Walaa’s reputation played a vital role in this success. Our focus now is on our customers while at the same time completing the integration process and executing our vision of being the leading insurance company in the Kingdom,” said Salah Aljaber, COO at Walaa.
This merger will also provide Walaa an opportunity to enter into the protection and savings (P&S) business. Walaa has been looking to enter into this segment for some time but was waiting to find the right strategic partner. Walaa sees Metlife AIG ANB’s previous experience within the P&S market as an advantage.
In a statement, Walaa thanked all its stakeholders and assured the policyholders of Metlife AIG ANB of uninterrupted services and that all their rights will remain protected.

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Saudi British Bank reports profit of SR2.812 billion for 2019

Time: 05 March, 2020

Lubna Olayan, chair of SABB

The Saudi British Bank (SABB) recorded a net profit of SR2.812 million ($749 million) after zakat and income tax for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019.

This is an increase of SR114 million or 4.2 percent compared to SR2.698 billion for the year 2018.

SABB recorded a net profit of SR899 million after zakat and income tax for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2019, compared to the net loss of SR168 million after zakat and income tax for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2018.

The operating income for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019, was recorded at SR9.398 billion, an increase of SR2.075 billion, or 28.3 percent, compared to SR7.323 billion for the year 2018.

The loans and advances for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019 were estimated at SR154.7 billion, an increase of SR44.4 billion, or 40.3 percent, from SR110.3 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018.

The customers’ deposits for 2019 amounted to SR192.2 billion, an increase of SR61.7 billion, or 47.3 percent, compared with SR130.5 billion in 2018.

The investments for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019, amounted to SR60.5 billion, an increase of SR25.9 billion, or 74.9 percent, from SR34.6 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018.

The SABB and Alawwal Bank legally merged on June 16, 2019. SABB’s financial results for 2019 include the financial results of Alawwal Bank from the merger date onwards. Reported periods prior to the merger do not include the financial results of Alawwal Bank.

Lubna Olayan, chair of SABB, said: “2019 witnessed the historic merger of SABB and Alawwal Bank, uniting the legacies and resources of two of the oldest banks in the Kingdom. The greater scale, enhanced market leadership and efficient operating platform will reinforce our unique positioning as a leading financial institution in the Kingdom, enabling us to support Vision 2030 and to benefit from the many opportunities arising from this ambitious national economic growth agenda.

“The fourth quarter of 2019 represents the second full quarter of results since the legal merger and our financial performance was more reflective of the combined bank’s returns, albeit within the context of a challenging environment. Our net income before zakat and income tax of SR990 million was resilient, our balance sheet is robust and the bank is positioned to grow. We are pleased to announce a final dividend of SR0.60 per share demonstrating the strength of our position.”

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AEC Activa

Time: 05 March, 2020

Image iktva (1).jpeg 29 Feb 2020, 17:58:35 AST CONTENT Title : Image iktva (1).jpeg summary : The Advanced Electronics Company (AEC) won an award in the category of “Best in Saudization — Manufacturing Sector” at the In-Kingdom Total Value Add Program for the Supply Sector (IKTVA) forum and exhibition.

The Advanced Electronics Company (AEC) won an award in the category of “Best in Saudization — Manufacturing Sector” at the In-Kingdom Total Value Add Program for the Supply Sector (IKTVA) forum and exhibition. The event was organized by Saudi Aramco at the Dhahran International Exhibition Center in Alkhobar on Feb. 24 and 25.

The IKTVA Excellence Awards recognize the efforts of the partners of Saudi Aramco who have displayed continued outstanding performance in achieving local added value. Award winners are considered role models for other companies through their support to Aramco in achieving its objectives, at the forefront of which is the localization of the supply chain by 70 percent and the increase of exports by 30 percent by the year 2021.

Saudis represent more than 80 percent of AEC’s 2,100 employees, including 300 trained, qualified, and certified Saudi engineers working across the company’s different departments.

AEC CEO Abdul Aziz Al-Duailej said the accomplishment represents the AEC’s mission to attract Saudi talents and develop their skills to build a professional national working team that supports and drives the company to the ranks of major global companies in order to fulfill the aspirations of the Kingdom’s leadership and realize the objectives of Vision 2030.

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Saudi brand Nadine Jewellery shines on Oscars red carpet

Time: 23 February, 2020

Kristin Cavallari wearing the ‘Eternal Love’ set at the 92nd Academy Awards.

High-end jewelry brand Nadine Jewellery, designed by Saudi designer Nadine Attar, is fast becoming a favorite of Hollywood stars on the red carpet.

Most recently, reality TV star Kristin Cavallari was spotted wearing a piece from the brand’s “Eternal Love” collection at the 92nd Academy Awards, held on Feb. 10. Her look was designed by celebrity stylist Dani Michelle.

The “Eternal Love” set is also featured on Robb Report Arabia’s cover for the February issue. The design of the set resembles a wreath, containing certified cushion diamonds, centered around round and marquise diamonds, creating a magnificent piece of 54.7 carats.

The set is a personal favorite of the Saudi designer, who said she was delighted to see the piece on Cavallari.

“The fine jewelry market had a void when it came to designs rooted in a traditional aesthetic crafted at international luxury standards; I aspired to fill that void with my brand,” said Attar.

Nadine Jewellery has also been spotted on other celebrities, including Zendaya at the 2019 People’s Choice Awards in the Lily collection, Marisa Tomei at the Independent Spirit Awards in the Rouh collection, Pia Mia at the Grammy Awards in the Neda collection, and Alessandra Ambrosio at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. The brand has also been seen in high-fashion publications, such as Vogue, Elle, Instyle, and Hollywood Reporter.

The brand is represented by Create Twenty Two in the US.

“Nadine Jewellery is focused on crafting memories for generations to come, encouraging self-expression for individuals by crafting timeless, unique and personal pieces of jewelry. Create Twenty Two is thrilled to be able to work and represent the designs in the US and hopes to work on more collaborations with the statement designs and other various US talents,” the company said.

Attar, a third-generation luxury business entrepreneur, left a long career in banking to become a gemologist, a certified diamond graduate, a certified gemstone grader, and an accredited jewelry professional.

She is mostly inspired by colors of nature and diversity of character. She believes jewelry should be a personal statement.

Attar’s passion is inherited from her father who has been in the luxury field for more than 40 years.

The high-end jewelry brand offers pieces for women, men, and children with designs inspired by nature, spirituality, and culture, hand crafted in Italy.

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Saudi Aramco announces regulatory approval of Al-Jafurah gas field

Time: 22 February, 2020

Saudi Aramco on Saturday announced the regulatory approval of the development of the Al-Jafurah unconventional gas field in the Eastern Province. (Saudi Aramco)
  • Aramco expects field’s production to commence early 2024
  • Also expect field to produce 550,000 barrels per day

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco on Saturday announced the regulatory approval of the development of the Al-Jafurah unconventional gas field in the Eastern Province, the largest non-associated gas field in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to date.

A statement from the company said the field development plan was subject to usual governance process.

On the occasion, the chairman of Saudi Aramco’s board of directors, Yasser bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, expressed his thanks to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Al-Rumayyan said the development of Al-Jafurah is expected to enhance the company’s position in the global energy sector, and help achieve its goal of being the world’s pre-eminent integrated energy and chemicals company.

Saudi Aramco president and CEO, Amin H. Nasser, also expressed his gratitude and thanks to the crown prince and to Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Energy for their support.

Al-Jafurah has a length of 170km and a width of 100km, and the volume of gas resources in the field is estimated at 200 trillion cubic feet of rich raw gas, which will provide the petrochemical and metallic industries.

Aramco expects the field’s production, which will commence early 2024, to reach approximately 2.2 billion standard cubic feet per day of sales gas by 2036, with an associated approximately 425 million standard cubic feet per day of ethane, representing about 40 percent of current production. Aramco also expects the field to produce approximately 550 thousand barrels per day of gas, both liquid and condensate.

The company also plans to develop Al-Jafurah in accordance with the highest environmental standards and expects it will have a positive financial impact in the long term, which will start to show on the company’s financial results in phases concurrent to the field’s development.

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