Middle East Paper Company taps SAP for digital transformation

Seated from left, Feras Nagadi, head of customer experience, Middle East North, SAP, and Sami Alsafran, group president, MEPCO, with executives from both companies. (Supplied)
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Updated 23 June 2022

Middle East Paper Company taps SAP for digital transformation

The Middle East Paper Company, the largest paper manufacturer in the Middle East and Africa, is deploying solutions from global software company SAP SE in an effort to streamline its business processes and increase efficiencies as part of a regional and global expansion strategy.

MEPCO’s comprehensive digital transformation journey is aligned closely with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which has technology adoption and sustainability among its key pillars. In partnership with SAP, the paper production and waste management organization has automated, aligned and enhanced its most core internal business processes, and is now focusing on its B2B customer experience offering. In its next phase, MEPCO will deploy e-commerce solutions to deliver rich omnichannel experiences to its customers, from content management and customization to order processing, as it delivers more than 15 different products to the packaging, construction and furniture sectors across five continents.

On the sidelines of a signing event for the new deployment, Sami Alsafran, group president at MEPCO, said: “Manufacturing is a critical growth sector in Saudi Arabia and MEPCO is determined to institute global best practice to not only compete regionally and internationally, but to lead our industry in alignment with the country’s Vision 2030. Digital transformation with SAP has enhanced our business practices as well as our focus on health and safety, and now we are bringing that same focus and commitment to new channels in MEPCO’s customer experience offering.”

In the initial phase of its technology strategy, MEPCO deployed the SAP S/4HANA platform to deliver real-time data insights across its enterprise, as well as a single view of its entire operation for more informed decision-making. Given SAP’s expertise in the manufacturing sector, its solutions also enabled MEPCO to reduce manufacturing cycle time, enhancing the efficiency of the company’s manufacturing-related functions and ultimately streamlining processes and inventory levels.

Abdelmohsen Abo Hashem, group IT head at MEPCO, added: “The forthcoming digital transformation scope for MEPCO includes an elevated e-commerce customer ordering and engagement process through SAP’s CX commerce solution, with future stages incorporating greater automation and robotics in the manufacturing and waste management functions. MEPCO will rely on SAP solutions to support customer-facing functions including logistics, regional and international trade, and planning, as the company expands beyond its current footprint of more than 50 markets.”

Ahmed Alfaifi, senior vice president, Middle East North, SAP, added: “MEPCO’s commitment to increasing productivity and efficiencies both within its supply chain and in its overall enterprise underscores the organization’s leadership, not only in Saudi Arabia but regionally. With global expansion as a priority, the focus on elevating the customer experience through SAP’s solutions will continue to advance MEPCO’s business goals and set a dynamic example for other companies’ digital transformation aspirations.”


Sheraton Jeddah opens, unveiling brand’s new vision

Updated 23 June 2022

Sheraton Jeddah opens, unveiling brand’s new vision

Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, part of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio of 30 brands, has unveiled the Sheraton Jeddah Hotel. The newly renovated hotel exemplifies the brand’s worldwide elevation of the guest experience, showcasing signature key elements from the new concept that seek to create an environment where guests are truly at ease, whether working, meeting, or relaxing. Drawing on its roots as a community hub for locals and guests at flagship locations, the new approach for Sheraton creates an intuitive and holistic experience with places to connect and be productive.

“We are delighted to introduce Sheraton’s new design vision in Saudi Arabia and look forward to welcoming guests to discover the modernized look,” said Ahmed Hozaien, area vice president — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, Marriott International. “Sheraton Hotels and Resorts has a long-standing history in this market, and we are proud to build on this legacy showcasing the brand’s contemporary updates as part of its global transformation. The reimagining of Sheraton Jeddah Hotel reinforces our commitment to offering premium accommodation for leisure and business travelers who are seeking an elevated experience, while enjoying all the familiar comforts of the Sheraton brand.”

Following extensive renovations, Sheraton Jeddah offers 172 redesigned guestrooms and suites. Guests are welcomed into a natural light-filled space with warm, residential appeal, along with new tools for productivity including a height-adjustable work table with integrated power and charging stations, while still retaining some of the classic Sheraton signature amenities such as the iconic “Sheraton Sleep Experience” bed. Enhanced technology in the guestrooms include upgraded internet connectivity and 55-inch TVs with built-in Chromecast and live streaming. Flooded with natural light and featuring soft finishes and light wood tones, the guestrooms offer expansive views of the Red Sea.

HIGHLIGHT

Surrounded by local attractions, the hotel is located in a popular leisure destination for residents and travelers alike with direct access to explore the Red Sea’s coral reefs through either snorkeling or diving.

The new lobby serves as the heart of the guest experience featuring a refreshed and contemporary aesthetic. Reimagined as a holistic, open space, the elevated lobby features Sheraton’s signature design elements aimed to foster a sense of community and ignite productivity, including the brand’s signature “Community Tables,” tech-enabled Studios, and purpose-built workspaces. Thrive Café is the anchor of the public space, serving international and local flavors from morning to evening.

Ahmed Hozaien Area, Marriott International's vice president for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain  and Egypt. (Supplied)

The Sheraton Club offers breathtaking views across the Red Sea. The exclusive space available to Marriott Bonvoy Elite members and guests who upgrade their stay, is welcoming, stylish, and purposefully designed for an engaging experience. Here guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast, evening appetizers, and a selection of refreshments.

Three elevated dining venues offer international and local cuisine, all-day dining and outdoor BBQ grills overlooking the Red Sea. Surrounded by local attractions, the hotel is located in a popular leisure destination for residents and travelers alike with direct access to explore the Red Sea’s coral reefs through either snorkeling or diving. For guests seeking adventure, there is a vast range of entertainment facilities and cultural attractions nearby, including the Fakieh Aquarium, Red Sea Mall, the historic Al-Balad section of the city, and The Royal Greens Golf and Country Club — with an 18-hole championship golf course.

Additional facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, Sheraton Fitness Center for men and women, tennis and squash courts, five meeting rooms, and a ballroom with private access.


Google Cloud appoints Bader Almadi as country manager for Saudi Arabia

Updated 05 June 2022

Google Cloud appoints Bader Almadi as country manager for Saudi Arabia

Google Cloud has announced the appointment of Bader Almadi as country manager for Saudi Arabia.

Based in Riyadh, Almadi is responsible for leading Google Cloud’s strategy across the Kingdom. His professional remit covers growing Google Cloud’s team in the country, and supporting the growth and scaling of customers across a variety of industries spanning retail, healthcare, financial services, entertainment and several others. Almadi will also focus on scaling Google Cloud’s partnership ecosystem in the Kingdom.

Almadi brings 16 years of information technology and tech sales leadership and expertise to this role. He joins Google Cloud from Dell Technologies, where he was country enterprise director for telecom, cloud and financial services industries, leading the relationship with Saudi conglomerates such as stc, Zain and Mobily, and customers in banking and cloud services providers.

Prior to his extensive eight years with Dell in the Kingdom, Almadi began his career in 2006 with Cisco as the service account manager. He moved to Oracle in 2009, where over the next four years he focused on client management in the financial services industry. In 2012, he moved to EMC, where he took up the role of education sector manager, leading sales efforts with educational institutions in the Kingdom.

In 2017, Almadi worked with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of Saudi Arabia as an adviser to the minister on international partnerships. He led several partnership initiatives that strengthened the Kingdom’s presence in the international arena with technology corporations, nongovernment organizations, and not-for-profit organizations. Almadi led significant initiatives throughout this role such as the Kingdom’s participation at the World Economic Forum. He also served as the Saudi representative of the Digital Economy Taskforce at the G20 Summit.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Bader to the team as we continue to expand Google Cloud’s presence in the Middle East,” said Abdul Rahman Al-Thehaiban, managing director, Middle East, Turkey and Africa, at Google Cloud.

Saudi Arabia is one of our key markets in the Middle East and we are committed to supporting our Saudi customers on their digital transformation journey with Google Cloud’s innovative solutions. Bader, who brings a wealth of expertise to the team, will be spearheading the next phase of growth and expansion into the Saudi market,” said Abdul Rahman Al-Thehaiban, managing director, Middle East, Turkey and Africa, at Google Cloud.


Thailand showcases halal food offerings at LuLu festival

Updated 20 May 2022

Thailand showcases halal food offerings at LuLu festival

LuLu Hypermarkets across Saudi Arabia are hosting this week the “Thailand Halal Food Festival 2022,” featuring in-store promotions and online offers for more than 500 products from Thailand.

The event coincided with the visit of Don Pramudwinai, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Thailand, to the Kingdom from May 15-18.

The festival was inaugurated at LuLu’s outlet in Riyadh’s Atyaf Mall by the visiting minister, in the presence of Shehim Mohammed, director of LuLu Hypermarkets Saudi Arabia. In Jeddah, it was launched by Soradjak Puranasamriddhi, the consul general of Thailand, at the Amir Fawaz branch.

LuLu’s in-store promotion was co-organized by the Royal Thai Embassy and Team Thailand in Saudi Arabia. The event, which is running across all the hypermarket branches in Saudi Arabia from May 15-21, aims to introduce Thai products and cuisine to Saudi citizens and expatriates residing in the Kingdom.

Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, especially among those who appreciate historic architecture, pristine nature, and an abundance of flavorful food choices. As a beacon of cultural diversity, Thailand welcomes all nationalities, races, and religions from around the world. The country has a strong presence in the global halal supply chain as all Thai halal products consumed domestically and internationally are certified by the relevant national Islamic authorities.

Thailand leverages science, technology and innovation to ensure the quality and safety of its food products, reaffirming its capacity as the “Kitchen of the World” in the global food supply chain.

“Thailand is one of the food storehouses of the world and is known for its abundant agricultural produce,” said Mohammed. “Thai food is one of the trending and popular cuisines of the world and at LuLu, we work with suppliers to offer shoppers a wide variety of top-quality Thai goods. All this is being showcased at our Thai festival, which is part of a series of year-round national spotlights that add variety, dimension and excitement to the unique LuLu retail experience.”

Currently, Thailand practices the bio-circular-green economy model, which aims to utilize natural assets more efficiently with the least possible adverse impact on the environment. The key strategic areas are based on Thailand’s economic foundation and strengths namely, food and agriculture; medical and wellness; energy, material, and biochemicals; and tourism and creative economy.

Thailand plans to support innovative agricultural products and methods to enhance productivity and hopes to achieve comprehensive security in the key areas of food, health, energy, employment, and sustainable natural resources and environment. Important best practices and lessons learnt could also be exchanged with Saudi Arabia, as Thailand’s BCG model and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 are implemented respectively in the years ahead. 


NMC-KIA celebrates 8 winning models at safety awards

Updated 20 April 2022

NMC-KIA celebrates 8 winning models at safety awards

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recognized eight Kia vehicles on its prestigious 2022 Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards lists. In the TSP category, the winning models included the Kia Telluride, Sorento, Seltos, Carnival built after March 2021 (with specific headlights), Sportage, and Soul (with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights). The TSP+ category featured the Kia K5 and Stinger sedans. Kia tied for the second-most combined TSP and TSP+ vehicles in the industry for 2022.

Commenting on the IIHS awards, Hassan Alshamrani, group chief executive of the National Marketing Company — the distributor of Kia in seven Saudi provinces, said: “As long-standing representatives and custodians of Kia, we are proud to celebrate this achievement and strongly echo Kia’s dedication to upholding passenger safety above all else. At NMC, we work relentlessly to offer our customers the best technology and the safest cars.”

NMC-Kia strives to establish an automotive brand known for harnessing the power of technology and digital transformation, providing a seamless engaging experience with customers in Saudi Arabia. The dealership is constantly developing and refining its services, teams, and processes to be the leader in operational excellence and customer-driven innovation.

NMC is Kia’s exclusive dealer in seven administrative regions of the Kingdom — Tabuk, Madinah, Makkah, Al-Baha, Asir, Jazan and Najran.


Trukkin clinches UAE logistics award for innovative solutions

Updated 27 March 2022

Trukkin clinches UAE logistics award for innovative solutions

Trukkin, a techno-logistics company headquartered in Dubai, won the Transport and Logistics Middle East’s “Most Innovative Truck Aggregation Solutions Provider Award.” The TLME awards used a public voting system that garnered thousands of votes from across the region, with Trukkin coming out as a clear winner.

Rajesh Nair, head of sales and operations at Trukkin in the region, received the award on behalf of the company’s founder and CEO Janardan Dalmia.

Dalmia said: “When we started Trukkin back in 2017, little did we know that the startup would cover so much ground in just a few short years. Trukkin’s strong year-on-year growth, its ability to enter and capture new markets and bring all transportation stakeholders in one place, are the result of the team’s relentless efforts to change the logistics ecosystem. We are thankful to Transport and Logistics Middle East and the people who voted for Trukkin for leading to this momentous win.”

The award recognizes companies that kept cargo moving and turned supply chain related challenges during the pandemic into an opportunity by focusing on innovative, technology-driven solutions to meet the demands of a changing world. Additionally, a simple yet powerful user interface and depth of functionality and data reliability were some of the defining characteristics of the winning innovation.

This is not the first time that Trukkin has won an award. In its short existence, the company has bagged numerous accolades, including the Best Brands 2021 UAE Edition and Road Transporter of the Year 2019, among several others.

Since its founding in 2017, Trukkin has used technology to reinvent and rebuild the logistics ecosystem. The company connects shippers with truckers (individuals and companies) in 12 countries across the region, with offices in UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. According to its website, the startup has more than 2,000 transporters and 10,000 drivers in its network — who have moved over 50,000 shipments to date. It claims to have grown threefold  since the start of the pandemic.

Trukkin’s seamless, powerful products enable faster delivery, a consistent and reliable system, and a transparent platform for both truckers and shippers. The company’s non-asset-based road network simplifies the entire process by extending flexibility, maximizing shippers’ ability to find a transporter, accelerating delivery, and reducing direct and indirect costs.