Magrabi joins with top universities to train students; eyes more initiatives

The partnership is not just about growing the business and expanding the company’s footprint, but also about taking social impact programs to foster local talent that will firmly establish Magrabi as a business group that the region looks up to. (Supplied)
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Updated 07 May 2023
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Magrabi joins with top universities to train students; eyes more initiatives

  • Eyewear retailer is working on an internal Retail Academy across the Kingdom covering all its teams

RIYADH: After joining hands with two leading universities in Saudi Arabia — Umm Al-Qura and King Saud — to provide training facilities to students who are studying to become opticians, Magrabi Retail Group, the Middle East’s leading eyewear retailer, is eyeing more such initiatives, its CEO said.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Arab News, Yasser Taher said Magrabi is working on the implementation of an internal Retail Academy across the Kingdom covering all its teams: optometrists, opticians, client advisors and managers.

“The Retail Academy covers all aspects of training and development around vision correction, technical know-how, client experience, product expertise, fashion and lifestyle, operational management and leadership.

“The Retail Academy will be in-house at Magrabi and it will be deployed across all the countries we are operating in,” Taher said.

The big picture

Commenting on the big picture behind the training programs Magrabi is participating in with Umm Al-Qura and King Saud universities, Taher said the company has taken on the responsibility as an industry leader to support the Saudi government to develop local talent. 

“We are doing what we can to equip students with the most advanced program to become professional opticians,” he explained. “We will continue to elevate the industry standards in Saudi with the most advanced technologies.” 

Talking of the key highlights of these training programs, Abdelazem ElGarawany, Saudi market vice president, Magrabi Retail Group, told Arab News: “These programs are focusing on technical information and knowledge which is the core of the optical field in addition to soft skills and marketing customized to fit the specialized medical field.”

With regard to the thought process behind partnering with the two universities ElGarawany said: “Umm Al-Qura and King Saud universities are two of the top universities in the region, and the objective was to have solid and long-term partnerships with entities that can provide a huge value to the industry alongside our expertise in the optical field.

“We depend on scientific research about the market need and what is the required know-how for this specialized industry which led us to partnering with King Saud and Umm Al-Qura universities.”

He further explained that this partnership “will provide the perfect start to establish the right foundation to the programs.”

While Magrabi’s long-term partnership with Umm Al-Qura University seeks to provide training facilities including venues, a laboratory, tools and machines for the execution of the program in Riyadh, the tie up with King Saud University aims to provide missing tools and machines for the laboratory.

The program in Umm Al-Qura University started on March 4, and it was recommended that Magrabi has instructors for some subjects from its side to educate the students about its world-class standards and procedures.

The first batch of the program was dedicated only for Magrabi, and the Magrabi team was involved in the selection of students also.

We want to play a major partnership role with governmental agencies to promote the industry and get the best talent to be well trained and equipped.

Yasser Taher, Magrabi Retail Group CEO

For the western region, the priority was for Magrabi to select the first batch from the Makkah branch. 

Some programs will also be executed in the Eastern Province and Magrabi will be considered as a first partner there as well.

Moving forward, Magrabi will be signing a new agreement with the Umm Al-Qura University to also include the major cities like Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah in the western region and the Eastern Province and the capital city Riyadh

For its part, the university will support the direction of unifying the programs running currently to be the same duration, subjects and certifications.

With regard to the partnership with King Saud University, Magrabi will present the company’s values and culture and explain the benefits for endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation on Career Day.

The university, on the other hand, will provide Magrabi all data for the graduated students to be part of the Career Day and offer training for the last year in Magrabi stores and facilities as part of an internship program.

Starting from the next graduated batch, Magrabi will also have priority when it comes to being involved in the selection of students. 

HIGHLIGHT

While Magrabi’s long-term partnership with Umm Al-Qura University seeks to provide training facilities including venues, laboratory, tools and machines for the execution of the program in Riyadh, the tie up with King Saud University Provide aims to provide missing tools and machines for the laboratory.

What’s more, after getting necessary approvals from the university’s legal department, it was also agreed to name the laboratory after Magrabi.

“Magrabi provided the experience (to the universities) from the daily situations and offered the practical know-how and our experience in customer service and optical knowledge,” according to ElGarawany.

Nurturing local talent

Asked what Magrabi hopes to achieve from these training programs in the long term, Taher replied: “We want to play a major partnership role with governmental agencies to promote the industry and get the best talent to be well trained and equipped."

“We also want to provide a continuous pipeline of Saudi opticians to support the growth of the industry,” he continued. 

ElGarawany added: “Once the Saudization decision was issued by the Ministry of Human Resources, we felt it was our responsibility to be part of this vision and to lead the development of this program as an industry leader.”

Taher is clear with regard to the vision Magrabi has for students who have enrolled into these training programs. “We provide an amazing learning experience combining curriculum education with practical experience in our stores — both the Magrabi and Doctor M banners — during the entire program,” he said.

“In addition, we offer employment opportunities after the completion of the program and create a career journey for the students.

“Our plan promises career opportunities to all graduated students with a clear career path inside the Magrabi organization in addition to empowering all certified opticians to take a leadership role in all sections and departments inside the organization,” added ElGarawany.

After taking over as the CEO earlier this year, Taher told Arab News he was very excited about transforming this family business to become a world-class business group. 

“It’s a very progressive business that wants a place for itself on a global platform and is not just about finances and numbers,” he had said.

For Taher and his team, it is not just about growing the business and expanding the company’s footprint, but also about taking social impact programs to develop local talent that will establish Magrabi as a business group that the region — and the world — looks up to.


Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

Updated 29 February 2024
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Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

  • Secretary-general attends World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi
  • ‘The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade’

SAO PAULO: Inter-Arab trade stands at $700 billion, constituting 10-11 percent of global trade, the secretary-general of the Union of Arab Chambers said on Thursday during the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi.

In an interview with Emirates News Agency on the sidelines of the event, Khaled Hanafy highlighted the potential for increased trade, expanded business opportunities, job creation and economic growth across the Arab world through standardization, improved logistics and private sector engagement.

The UAE’s strategic positioning and robust infrastructure make it a preferred hub for international businesses seeking access to international markets, Hanafy said.

Its hosting of prestigious events such as COP28 and the WTO Ministerial Conference underscores its global leadership, communication prowess and influence in international forums, he added.

“The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade,” Hanafy said, adding that the conference strengthens the UAC’s position as a representative of the Arab private sector within the WTO, potentially leading to observer status in key technical committees.

This, he said, would empower the UAC to exert greater influence on decisions shaping international trade flows.

The Arab world’s private sector contributes over 75 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, roughly equivalent to $3 trillion. This sector also plays a vital role in employment generation.

Hanafy emphasized the need for even greater private sector involvement in trade to foster business growth and achieve sustainable development across Arab nations.

He championed the UAC’s role in fostering trade cooperation within the Arab world, encompassing both commercial and investment activities.

Hanafy also advocated for the establishment of the Arab Common Market, outlining essential principles for achieving economic unity across the region.

This was the official debut of the Arab private sector at a WTO Ministerial Conference.

With unprecedented access granted to businesses at the event, representatives from regional chambers of commerce seized the opportunity to voice their concerns and aspirations.

Hanafy emphasized the significance of this inclusion at a roundtable event on the sidelines, saying: “This is the first time the Arab private sector is welcomed. The Arab private sector must be here.

“This is a great opportunity. There’s an objective: We want to see the Arab private sector have a larger role.”

Promoting economic cooperation and integration across the Arab world, the UAC unites chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture from the 22 Arab League member states.

It supports governmental and civil society initiatives to strengthen regional economic ties in commerce, industry, agriculture, finance, investment and services.


Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector focussing on small investors, minister says

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef. (@BAlkhorayef)
Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector focussing on small investors, minister says

  • AlKhorayef said that the ministry has a financing program with simple conditions for small investors and entrepreneurs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector has recently focused on small investors, the Kingdom’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef has said.

Speaking to Al-Ekhbariya TV, the minister said that the ministry has a financing program with simple conditions for small investors and entrepreneurs.

The minister indicated that the business model of industrial cities, like the MODON oasis in Al-Ahsa, created a new opportunity for a certain type of investor and industry.

He added that most of the spaces in the industrial cities will be made up of ready-built factories, as this will largely reduce the financial burden on the investor, shorten the construction period, and facilitate obtaining the necessary licenses.


Ministry of Economy and Planning signs MoU with Saudi National Institute of Health

Representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning and the Saudi National Institute of Health sign a MoU.
Updated 29 February 2024
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Ministry of Economy and Planning signs MoU with Saudi National Institute of Health

  • MoU aims to develop and align the strategic direction of national development priorities and economic policies in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Saudi National Institute of Health, the ministry announced on Thursday.

The MoU aims to develop and align the strategic direction of national development priorities and economic policies in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

It also aims to enable the decision-making process through the preparation of methodologies and studies, the ministry said.

As part of the MoU, scientific and hands-on experiences will be exchanged and both parties will prepare studies and research related to their work in order to improve quality.

They will also organize joint workshops and training courses to enhance capabilities and skills, and benefit from the infrastructure and public facilities of both parties.


Diriyah Co. CEO lauds Saudi efforts to empower youth

Updated 29 February 2024
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Diriyah Co. CEO lauds Saudi efforts to empower youth

RIYADH: Leadership and empowerment insights took center stage during a workshop at the Human Capability Initiative, with industry leaders delving into the future of Saudi Arabia’s workforce. 

In a “What If?” talk at the Riyadh event, Jerry Inzerillo, group CEO of Diriyah Co., addressed young Saudis, urging them to dream big and sharing insights from his own journey. 

He said: “Please dream big. There was nothing in between you and your dreams that you cannot accomplish.”  

Inzerillo emphasized the importance of self-esteem and dignity in leadership, signaling a departure from traditional hierarchical models toward more inclusive and empowering approaches. 

Praising the visionary leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Inzerillo expressed gratitude for the unprecedented support provided to initiatives like the Human Capability Initiative.  

Inzerillo commended the substantial investment in training and development facilitated by the crown prince, highlighting its significance in equipping the next generation with the skills necessary to navigate the challenges of an ever-evolving technological landscape.  

“In a 50-year career, I’ve never had the training and development budget that the crown prince has given us,” he remarked. 

“We are marching forward to 2030; we are marching positively. We believe in ourselves and those who will help us on our mission.”  

Inzerillo said that as of yesterday, they had 2,419 employees, with 85 percent of the staff being Saudi. 

“Now, 39 percent of our Saudi staff are women superstars. And those 39 percent of my Saudi women superstars boss me around on a daily basis more than the 61 percent of the boys.”  

The CEO shared his impressions of the young Saudi talent present at the event and said: “In New York, we have a saying, when you’re very excited, you have goosebumps. That’s the way I feel right now. Because just being backstage for a moment, and seeing all of the young talented Saudis, to me it’s like a thunderbolt of energy.” 

Inzerillo concluded with a resounding call to action, reminding every individual of their potential to contribute to the realization of Vision 2030. “Every single individual is capable of contributing to Vision 2030 and should.”  


Siemens inaugurates electrical equipment facility in Jeddah

Updated 29 February 2024
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Siemens inaugurates electrical equipment facility in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Multinational technology company Siemens unveiled its new electrical equipment factory in Jeddah in the presence of the Kingdom’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef.

In partnership with its Saudi partner, Arabia Electric Ltd Equipment Co, the firm inaugurated the facility on Feb. 29 at the Modon Oasis in Jeddah.

The 6,000 sq. m factory produces electrical equipment such as substation automation systems, communication and protection panels, and other products for the utility, oil and gas, infrastructure, and petrochemical industries.

The facility will operate with a 120-person workforce.

In an interview with Arab News, the minister of industry highlighted that establishing factories by major international companies in the Kingdom indicates the country’s capability to accommodate diverse industries. Moreover, he underscored that “Saudi Made” branding will soon adorn Lucid automobiles.

“Saudi Arabia remains committed to its strategy as we have created a favorable environment for industrial investment, allowing industry investors to strengthen their capabilities within the Kingdom. This endeavor goes beyond serving the local market, aiming to expand exports to both the region and worldwide,” Alkhorayef said.

He added that the country industry clusters in Saudi Arabia can be divided into two types: “One is the industrial zones and the Modon Oases, like this one here in Jeddah. We are also working closely with several industries that need to exist in clusters to create a sort of integration between them, such as the car manufacturing cluster. We have previous experience in such clusters, like the ones of petrochemicals in Jubail and Yanbu.” 

He revealed that they are planning to establish a food manufacturing cluster in Jazan as well as a mineral industry cluster in Ras Al-Khair in the country’s Eastern Province.

Commenting on the inauguration of the Siemens factory in Jeddah, Alkhorayef congratulated the German company for establishing the facility.

“This move by Siemens serves as proof that the opportunities in Saudi Arabia position it as a significant hub for manufacturing companies,” he remarked, emphasizing that the electricity sector stands out as one of the largest divisions experiencing substantial growth.

The minister elaborated, stating: “We will persist in attracting numerous investments, leveraging capabilities previously imported from outside the Kingdom, and even exporting products developed within the country.”

Alkhorayef concluded his interview with Arab News by asserting that Saudi Arabia is earnestly prioritizing nationalization.

He highlighted that the country’s industrial strategy capitalizes on its inherent strengths, including robust domestic demand and abundant raw materials such as oil, gas, petrochemicals, and minerals.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s strategic geographical location further enhances its appeal to both local and international companies.

Ahmad Hawsawi, CEO of Siemens in Saudi Arabia, said that the company is proud to contribute to the Kingdom’s journey toward an innovative and sustainable future.

“Our new factory in Jeddah is not just a manufacturing facility; it’s a hub of innovation designed to meet the Kingdom’s growing demands for energy solutions. By deploying Siemens’ cutting-edge technologies, Saudi Arabia is set to witness unparalleled improvements in the efficiency and resilience of its energy systems.” Hawsawi said.

Eltje Aderhold, consul general of Germany, said that she is “very proud” of this cooperation between Saudi Arabia and her country.

“This project represents the good development of cooperation between Germany and Saudi Arabia, and it is a sign that we are building our future together,” she said, adding that German companies and their Saudi partners are increasingly coming together.

Aderhold further said that Germany is “very much interested in working with its Saudi partners toward Vision 2030, investing, transforming new, clean energy, protecting climate and developing new technologies.” 

The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Industrial Affairs Khalil Salamah, along with executives from the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority and the National Industrial Development Center.

Additional firms in attendance included the Saudi Electricity Co., Aramco, and SABIC, as well as Ma’aden, EA Juffali & Brothers, and other prominent government and private sector companies.

Khaled Juffali, chairman of Ebrahim A. Juffali and Brothers Group, and also a member of the Arabia Electric Equipment Co. board and Siemens in Saudi Arabia, said: “We are thrilled to open our new facility in Jeddah, which represents our strong belief in the potential of Saudi Arabia’s economic development plan.

"Our commitment goes beyond investment in infrastructure; we are here to build partnerships, support talent development, and contribute to the Kingdom’s sustainability goals according to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.”