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Saudi fintech sector flourishing with over 200 firms now driving … – Arab News

October 2, 2023
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a fintech boom with the number of companies operating in the sector more than doubling already this year compared to the end of 2022, according to the Kingdom’s central bank chief.    
Ayman Al-Sayari, governor of the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, revealed that as of August 2023, over 200 of these firms are now present in the economy – up from 89 in 2022.  
The bank’s annual fintech report showed that in 2021 the number of fintech companies operating in Saudi Arabia was just 51 – meaning there has been an increase of around 300 percent in less than two years.  
The growth comes as SAMA has taken strategic initiatives to support the fintech ecosystem in the Kingdom, and speaking during the Arab Banking Conference being held in Riyadh, Al-Sayari highlighted a collaboration between the bank and the Capital Market Authority to launch a program aimed at bolstering startups in the sector.  
This initiative will provide comprehensive packages designed to accelerate the growth of these companies, he added.  
SAMA’s annual fintech report for 2022 further underscored the sector’s growth, noting that the Kingdom ended the year with 30 licensed firms specializing in finance, insurance, and payments.  
The report also highlighted a total revenue of SR2.8 billion ($746.4 million) generated by fintechs in 2022, an increase from SR2 billion in 2021. Total assets held by fintechs also grew to SR6.8 billion in 2022 from SR6.5 billion the year before. 
Saudi Arabia’s fintech expansion aligns with its strategy to position itself as a regional financial hub by 2030.  
The Kingdom also aims to increase the share of non-cash transactions among individuals to 70 percent by 2025 as well as raise the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product to SR4.5 billion.
Highlighting Saudi Arabia’s robust economic performance, Al-Sayari revealed that the Kingdom achieved an impressive 8.7 percent growth in its GDP in 2022. He stressed this growth rate surpasses that of all G20 countries and even exceeds the expectations of international organizations.  
RIYADH: Public Investment Fund-owned Cruise Saudi has announced its investment into various tech organizations for its AROYA Cruises. 
In a press release, the company announced that the project has entered its inaugural phase of technology stack development, solidifying partnerships with globally renowned tech companies. 
These strategic collaborations, featuring Monitor Deloitte, Alibaba Cloud SA and theICEway as well as SourceToad, Otalio and Versonix Seaware, underscore Cruise Saudi’s commitment to providing passengers with a seamless journey from booking to boarding and beyond. 
Cruise Saudi’s IT and digitization team is leading the technology stack development, signaling their dedication to delivering a cutting-edge passenger experience. 
Leading the charge in project management and digital strategy is Monitor Deloitte, a global leader in strategy and consultancy. They will meticulously craft a data-driven digital strategy to ensure every technological decision is forward-looking and strategically aligned. 
Alibaba Cloud Saudi Arabia, a homegrown Saudi enterprise, will lay the digital foundation for AROYA Cruises, ensuring top-tier security, reliability, and swift digital interactions. 
Simultaneously, theICEway has been entrusted with the task of seamlessly integrating AROYA’s diverse technological domains into a cohesive digital ecosystem, guaranteeing a harmonious experience for both guests and crew members. 
Guests on AROYA Cruises will benefit from an array of features designed to enhance their experience. This digital hub will provide services such as an interactive ship map, daily itineraries, and reservations for shore excursions, dining, and spa treatments. 
Otalio’s Ship Property Management System is set to elevate the experience from cabin to deck, delivering curated experiences. 
On the other hand, Versonix Seaware, renowned for its expertise in cruise-focused Reservation and Revenue Management, will offer an intuitive booking experience. 
Cruise Saudi CEO Lars Clasen said: “We are proud to be working in collaboration with world-leading technology companies to integrate cutting-edge technology into the AROYA Cruises experience. Creating a seamless, modern and comfortable journey for our passengers really is at the heart of our offering, and investing in technology to enhance the cruising experience truly aligns with our future-forward ambitions for this cruise line.” 
Cruise Saudi welcomes cruise lines from around the globe to include Saudi as a port of call on their itineraries and add new destinations across the Kingdom that boast rich cultural heritage, history, and natural wonders. 
Cruise Saudi was officially launched in 2021 to develop the infrastructure and services required to scale a full-suite cruise market in Saudi.  
The company is responsible for the development and operation of cruise berths and terminals as cruise gateways to key Saudi destinations, as well as scaling cruise services, from marketing to Shorex design and coordination and ship operations. 
RIYADH: As part of its commitment to minimize financing gaps for startups, Saudi Venture Capital Co. has invested SR112.5 million ($29.9 million) in IMPACT46 Fund III.
According to a press release, the move is designed to empower late-stage companies in the region by investing in growth and pre-initial public offering phases.
A late-stage company is a business that has been in operation for a few years and has demonstrated viability.
The release added that the trust will aim to allocate a specific amount for early-stage startups, focusing primarily on seed rounds in the broader Middle East.
Aiming to foster a conducive work environment for global leaders, National Vision Business Co. Ltd. launched the first international club exclusively designed for chief executives, chairpersons, board members and diplomatic heads.
Fayez Al-Hamrani, managing director and CEO of NVB, stated that they are delighted to have launched the CEO Club in the Kingdom and will work to invite over 18,000 members worldwide to Saudi Arabia in the coming period.
He further noted that his company aims to promote qualitative local and international relations and create a unique work environment for industry leaders.
Underscoring the region’s solid political and economic position, he emphasized that the Kingdom’s presence in the G20 will enhance the role of the club by highlighting projects launched by Saudi Arabia, including NEOM, The Red Sea, Qiddiya and others.
“The Invest Saudi initiative is one of the key programs our company will work on in coordination with the Ministry of Investment,” he stated.
He said his company is coordinating with the relevant government and semi-government agencies to present the best international CEO award in 2024.
RIYADH: Amid efforts to enhance communication and collaboration between countries, Saudi Arabia is set to host the 12th session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation statistical committee. 
According to a statement by the General Authority for Statistics, the two-day meeting will take place from Oct. 3-4 in Jeddah. 
The engagement cements the Kingdom’s standing globally and in the Arab world, given that this is the first time the gatherings have been held outside its headquarters in Turkey.
The primary objective of the meeting is to provide statistical data in support of development plans and facilitate the exchange of experiences among member states.
It also aims to enhance the technical and scientific capabilities of statistical professionals working in official statistical agencies of member countries.
Participants will share expertise and knowledge to improve the production and dissemination of accurate statistical data and indicators, aligning with internationally recognized methodologies and standards. 
The agenda includes discussions on developing a strategic vision to elevate statistical systems through short-, medium-, and long-term plans, enhancing the technical capabilities of national statistical agencies in Islamic countries.
The event is expected to see the participation of heads of official statistical centers from OIC member countries.
In September, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan attended a coordination meeting of foreign ministers from OIC member states during the 78th UN General Assembly session in New York. 
During the session at the time, the Saudi foreign minister emphasized the importance of a safe and stable regional and international environment for collective action to address common challenges.
RIYADH: In an effort to further diversify its oil-dependent economy, Saudi Arabia is increasing its coffee production to achieve a relative balance with crops that yield high economic returns. The country aims to plant 1.2 million coffee trees by 2026, reported the Saudi Press Agency. 
As the Kingdom ascends to the ranks of the world’s top 10 coffee-consuming nations, the government is prioritizing this commodity through various initiatives, aiming to stimulate sector growth and increase production.  
This shift underscores coffee’s burgeoning cultural and economic significance in a country where nearly 400,000 Arabica coffee trees yield over 800 tons of coffee annually, primarily in the Jazan, Asir and Al-Baha regions. 
In commemoration of World Coffee Day, observed annually on Oct. 1, the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture has released substantial statistics about coffee farming in the southern region. 
Currently, there are over 2,535 coffee farms in this area, including more than 500 model coffee farms.  
The emphasis on expanding Arabica coffee production in 15 additional governorates in the southwestern region aligns with the objectives of Vision 2030, demonstrating the government’s commitment to supporting the national economy through the coffee industry. 
This development underscores the dual role of coffee as a cultural tradition and an economic force in the country. 
The ministry has launched several initiatives to incentivize coffee cultivation, including support from the Agricultural Rural Development Program, to foster Arabica coffee production’s development, processing and marketing. 
Furthermore, the ministry has inked a 15-year investment contract for the Kingdom’s first “coffee city” with the Al-Baha-based Agricultural Cooperative Society in Baljurashi.
In August, this society formalized a SR72 million ($19.2 million) agreement with the Agricultural Development Fund, paving the way for agricultural advancements through cutting-edge technologies. 
Coffee is one of the most traded commodities in international agricultural markets and is a significant income source in many countries.
It is cultivated on over 10 million hectares in more than 50 nations, supporting the livelihoods of approximately 125 million people in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Arabica and Robusta coffee types are the most widely grown worldwide, representing around 65 percent and 35 percent, respectively, of total commercial production.
The SPA report concluded by citing statistics confirming that people worldwide consume more than 500 billion cups of coffee yearly.


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