By Innovation-sa on September 2, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion mega-city projects, NEOM, has appointed Aradhana Khowala as its Managing Director of Tourism.

Khowala, CEO and founder of hospitality and tourism consulting firm Aptamind and a Global Advisory Board Member of the World Tourism Forum, Lucerne is a global authority on the travel, tourism and hospitality industry and was awarded the 21st Century Icon Awards in association with CNBC and London School of Economics as an inspirational game changer.

Khowala’s appointment was confirmed by NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr on NEOM’s official Twitter account. He tweeted, “We will be working alongside Aradhana to make NEOM an exceptional global tourism destination looking ahead to the future”.

NEOM, a mega investment and business special zone unveiled by Prince Muhammed last October at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference as part of plans to diversify the Kingdom’s oil-dependent economy, will be the world’s first private zone to extend across three countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

The 26,500-square km mega city will offer an open platform for investing and financing. The zone will be designed to function independently of the Kingdom’s rules and regulations.

Backed by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), NEOM will also strive to become the most efficient destination in the world by ensuring cent percent automation of all services and operations. In the future, robots will take over repetitive and laborious tasks.

Earlier in July, King Salman enjoyed his vacation at NEOM, according to state media.


By Innovation-sa on August 29, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is involved in negotiation talks with Tesla challenger Lucid Motors over a $1 billion investment, revealing the Kingdom’s interest to invest in electric car makers.

PIF and Lucid Motors, an electric car start-up run by battery company Ateiva, have drawn up a term sheet under which PIF could invest more than $1 billion in Lucid Motors and obtain majority ownership.

Sources also reported that PIF’s initial investment in Lucid Motors would be $500 million, followed by subsequent cash injections of an undisclosed amount in two phases depending on Lucid Motors hitting certain production milestones.

The investment would be a boon for Lucid Motors, which has been scrounging for new funding since last summer.


By Innovation-sa on August 29, 2018 in News

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) applauded the Saudi government for the progress made till date in pursuing its reform agenda and emphasised that stronger oil price should not slow momentum.

A senior official at the Washington based company said that the Saudi Arabian economy is moving ahead with economic reforms and growth in its non-oil sector is expected to gain momentum despite any delay in the proposed sale of shares in Saudi Aramco.

According to the IMF report based on annual consultations, Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to increase 1.9 percent this year, in contrast to a GDP fall of 0.9 percent last year. Non-oil GDP growth is also expected to rise to 2.3 percent this year from 1.1 percent last year.

The report anticipated the strengthening of the Kingdom’s finances because of higher oil prices and non-oil revenues. However, it urged the government the need to maintain spending at a sustainable level in different oil price environments so that the Saudi budget will not be exposed, should there be an unexpected drop in oil prices.


By Innovation-sa on August 13, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit fell by 84 percent to 7.4 billion riyals in the second quarter of 2018, according to figures from the Ministry of Finance.

During the second quarter, revenues increased by more than two thirds to reach SR273.588 billion, indicating an improvement in economic activity.

In contrast to the previous year, oil revenues surged by 82 percent to reach SR184.165 billion, which also contributed to narrowing the budget deficit.

Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister said that the announced second quarter 2018 financial figures reflect improvement in the public finances performance, which will lead the Kingdom to continue its reform plans aimed at achieving economic diversification and financial sustainability.


By Innovation-sa on August 13, 2018 in News

The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) announced plans to launch the Tayseer program to residential subscribers whose monthly bills range from SR300 to SR3,000, in a move to provide customers with easier payment options.

This year, the program will cover the period from July to December and provide subscribers with the option to pay average monthly consumption charges before settling their final bill at the end of the year.

From the start of this month, over 3 million eligible subscribers will automatically be registered with Tayseer.

SEC also announced plans to permit debts accrued by residential subscribers prior to July to be paid off in six monthly instalments, starting from October.


By Innovation-sa on August 6, 2018 in News

The Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP) named Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, as the ambassador of “Saudi Tech Hub”.

Saud Bin Abdulla Al-Qahtani, the head of the federation and an advisor to the Royal Court, said that the appointment of Wozniak reflects the federation’s desire to work with the best minds in the sector to help the Kingdom become the region’s technology hub.

Al-Qahtani presented Wozniak with a special certificate marking the end of the three-day Hajj Hackathon in Jeddah, which attracted nearly 3,000 young developers to create apps for Hajj.

Wozniak said that the success of Hajj Hackathon reflects the great interest among Saudis in programming and emerging technologies. He added that there is every chance that Saudi Arabia will play an important role in the evolving and changing global technology community, and that the country could soon be the main tech hub in the region.


By Innovation-sa on August 6, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Finance signed financing agreements to fund 17 health, education and hospitality projects in the Kingdom with loans amounting to SR755.8 million.

Through these agreements, the government plans to attract the private sector to participate in the comprehensive development of the country and invest more in service projects, in accordance with the objectives of Vision 2030, said Dr.Hamad bin Sulaiman Al-Bazai, Deputy Minister of Finance.

In the health sector, the project plans to establish eight health projects, including hospitals and medical complexes worth SR407.78 million in Riyadh, Dammam, Abu Arish, Jeddah, Abha and Buraidah.

Moreover, the agreement pledges SR340.74 million to the education sector to establish schools, universities and colleges in Riyadh, Madinah, Jeddah and Dammam. A hospitality project for a 3-star hotel in Jazan is also part of the agreement.


By Innovation-sa on July 31, 2018 in News

The Council of Minister’s instructed the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) and the Ministry of Housing not to issue or renew work permits of expatriates without a lease contract registered in the Ejar system from September onwards.


The ministries will organize awareness campaigns across the Kingdom to ensure that expatriates authenticate their residential rent contracts and register in the Ejar network before renewal or issuance of work permit.


The decision, which comes as the implementation of the Cabinet’s resolution dated February 13, 2017, aims to enhance the services of the real-estate sector as well as ensure expatriates’ documentation of lease contracts in the network, promote enrichment of advanced services and contribute to the development of electronic transformation.


The Ejar program was launched earlier in February 2018 to establish an electronic network for rental services which would simplify renting procedures and for registering the mutual commitments between tenants, landlords and real estate middlemen. The initiative also enabled electronic payment of rents through SADAD either monthly or quarterly or half-yearly or annually.


The Ministry of Housing is undertaking several new schemes to ensure sustainable development of the Kingdom’s rental sector by protecting the rights of the tenant, the landlord and the realtor.


Arab News – 30 July 2018

By Innovation-sa on July 31, 2018 in News

The Finance Ministry’s Debt Management Office (DMO) has begun selling local currency government bonds through a new “primary dealer” programme which is designed to increase demand for the debt and widen the range of investors holding it.


The Ministry announced that the first edition of the Primary Dealers Program for Susuk distribution has taken place under the program, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.


Alinma Bank, Bank Aljazira, Samba Financial Group, The National Commercial Bank, and The Saudi British Bank were appointed as primary dealers and are involved in buying the susuk directly from the government and then immediately making a market in them by quoting two-way prices to other investors.


The primary dealers represent a Public-Private Partnership based on experience, professionalism and advanced capabilities, to develop the Debt Capital Markets of Saudi Arabia. They also contribute to the expansion of investor base in their capacity in the primary market.


“Market-making will play an active role in stimulating the financial markets as a whole and significantly increasing the liquidity in the secondary market”, said the ministry.


The Primary Dealers Program comes in line with the strategies of the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP) which aims to enable financial institutions to increase the growth of the private sector through the development of financial markets.


Saudi Gazette – 27 July 2018

By Innovation-sa on July 29, 2018 in News

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) revoked the decision to restrict profession change in iqamas of expatriate employees. From Muharram 1, employers can change job titles of employees’ subject to certain guidelines.


The Ministry’s official spokesman Khalid Aba Al-Khail informed that applications for profession change should be submitted online at the ministry’s web portal and requests will be accepted if they are in line with the occupation matrix system and labor laws.


He said that the new system will work in collaboration with the Saudi Council of Engineers, the Saudi Commission for Health Specialities and the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants to complete the profession change process.


Employees applying for engineering, medical and accounting job titles will be verified to check if they have a professional certification and necessary practical skills in their respective fields. Professional license applicants must pass the practitioners’ classification test which evaluates a candidate’s qualifications to determine the professional level and ensure competence.


Saudi Gazette – 27 July 2018