CMI drives development of digital economy in MEA

The 45,000-km 2Africa submarine cable is an ambitious project to interconnect Africa, Europe (eastward via Egypt) and Asia (via Saudi Arabia).
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Updated 30 May 2023

CMI drives development of digital economy in MEA

Fifth-generation networks will account for nearly a fifth of mobile connections in the Middle East and Africa by 2025, and almost half of connections in the GCC states, according to the GSMA. With the backing of China Mobile, China Mobile International remains committed to the region, providing global network resources and integrated solutions to help carriers and businesses tap into the opportunities that 5G will bring. 

As one of the industry leaders, CMI is connecting the world and driving global adoption of 5G. Its extensive global infrastructure supports customers in MEA with reliable, scalable and resilient network resources. 

The 45,000-km 2Africa submarine cable is an ambitious project to interconnect Africa, Europe (eastward via Egypt) and Asia (via Saudi Arabia). It was announced by CMI and other partners in May 2020, with 26 out of a total of 46 landings completed by February this year. When 2Africa goes live in 2024, it will deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables currently serving Africa, with a design capacity of up to 180 Terabits per second.

The only Chinese company investing in the project, CMI is committed to the further growth of 4G in MEA and the continued roll-out of 5G and fixed broadband services. Its mission is to help bring connectivity to underserved and rural areas across the region while enhancing network resilience and global connectivity to benefit businesses and individuals throughout MEA. 

As a gateway to international connectivity, the 2Africa cable will also help to drive the upgrade and expansion of telecommunications networks in the region. It will offer customers seamless links between Africa and Europe, further interconnecting with CMI’s SEA-ME-WE 5 and Asia-Africa-Europe 1 subsea cable resources to extend connectivity to Asia. This will support the development of a thriving internet ecosystem, especially for underserved communities across Africa. 2Africa is an important milestone in CMI’s global development strategy. Offering ample capacity and faster transmission will allow CMI to help the nations of MEA to further develop their digital economy today and in the future. 

CMI continues to enhance regional telecom infrastructure in MEA by investing in network resources and expanding its footprint to better serve local customers and support business development. CMI currently has 80 submarine and terrestrial cables that provide total network capacity of over 123 T. These include 15 submarine cables and 23 terrestrial cables in which CMI has directly invested, such as the 20,000-km undersea SMW-5 cable between Egypt and Singapore. In addition, more than 30 of CMI’s 232 points of presence are located in the Middle East and major African countries, including UAE, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Together with CMI’s 80+ cloud connect PoPs, this creates a strong global network that provides direct internet access and internet transit services for MEA at lower cost.

On March 7, CMI announced the successful launch of its Oman Muscat MC1 PoP. CMI’s second PoP in Oman is located within the carrier-neutral Equinix MC1 data center in Barka. This data center is also a landing station for multiple submarine cable systems, reinforcing the country’s importance as a network hub bridging Asia, Africa and Europe. 

In coming years, the Middle East will benefit hugely from the introduction of developments like smart city technologies, digital financial services and the Internet of Vehicles. CMI continues to work with partners like Zain KSA, Etisalat Egypt and Master Power Technologies etc. in driving the development and adoption of 5G, IoT and IDC solutions to boost digital transformation and advance the region.

For 12th year in row, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors wins ‘Gold’ from Toyota

Updated 27 September 2023

For 12th year in row, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors wins ‘Gold’ from Toyota

Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, an authorized distributor of Toyota vehicles in Saudi Arabia since 1955, has been awarded the prestigious Gold Award for the 12th time in a row in the 2022 Distributor Award Program by Toyota Motor Corporation. The achievement recognizes the company’s commitment to delivering an exceptional guest experience across the Kingdom.

“This award underlines Abdul Latif Jameel Motors’ continued efforts in listening to its guests and understanding their needs,” a statement said.

With Kaizen at the heart of Abdul Latif Jameel Motors’ operations, guests are placed at the center of developing services resulting in a unified, seamless guest experience, enabling them to voice their opinions and offer suggestions and allowing us to address their queries while meeting and exceeding guest expectations.

Akitoshi Takemura, regional CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, said: “We extend our warmest congratulations to Abdul Latif Jameel Motors on winning this prestigious award. This achievement is yet another tribute to the relentless efforts of Hassan Jameel and the Abdul Latif Jameel Motors team and their strong commitment to achieving exceptional results. Abdul Latif Jameel Motors has consistently demonstrated their dedication and passion to provide outstanding service and support to deliver happiness for all their guests in Saudi Arabia. We are proud to have them as an authorized distributor of Toyota vehicles in Saudi Arabia and look forward to many more years of success together.” 

Hassan Jameel, chairman of Abdul Latif Jameel Motors

Hassan Jameel, chairman of the board of managers of Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, said: “Receiving the Gold Award for the 12th year in a row is a remarkable achievement and a testament to our team’s unwavering commitment to delivering excellence in every aspect of our business. The Gold Award reinforces our dedication to providing the best possible services to our guests with our ‘guest first’ philosophy. We are grateful to Toyota for recognizing our efforts and thankful to our guests and employees who have played an important role in our success. We will continue to build on our successes and strive for even greater achievements in the future.”

The award also acknowledges the excellent after-sales service of Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, which aims to serve every guest in the best way possible.

Since 1955, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors has worked together with Toyota Motor Corporation to deliver a premium experience of automotive ownership and after-sales services in Saudi Arabia. Leveraging decades of considerable expertise across the mobility value chain, the company continues to improve products and services, meeting the evolving needs of its guests.

KSA professionals embrace AI as their ‘invisible teammate’: LinkedIn

Updated 27 September 2023

KSA professionals embrace AI as their ‘invisible teammate’: LinkedIn

According to new research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, employees are gearing up for a new way of working thanks to new advances in artificial intelligence such as generative AI. 

Amid AI’s growing prominence in the workplace, the new data has revealed that a vast majority of professionals in Saudi Arabia (79 percent) believe that AI will bring significant change to their work within the next year, while 85 percent believe AI will bring significant change to their work within the next five years. Even more employees (86 percent) think AI will be an invisible teammate to help them with their work. 

AI has been an area of focus in the Kingdom for some time, especially since the announcement of its Artificial Intelligence Strategy in 2020. This was further cemented by the establishment of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority as the central authority responsible for regulating and overseeing all AI-related matters.

Data shows that 70 percent of professionals want to learn about the different ways they can use AI in their work and 79 percent expressed confidence in their ability to leverage AI tools in carrying out their jobs. 

It is clear that professionals in the Kingdom are looking forward to the potential AI can bring to their careers, with an overwhelming majority (97 percent) saying they believe it will help their career progression in some way. 

In terms of specific benefits the use of AI will bring to their work, 72 percent of employees said it would enable them to spend more time to focus on the aspects of work they enjoy the most.

Meanwhile, 61 percent of Gen-Z employees surveyed are concerned about their level of knowledge about AI and worried that they should know more about it. 

Ali Matar, EMEA growth markets leader and head of LinkedIn MENA, said: “In Saudi Arabia, we’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response to the adoption of AI, with a vast majority of professionals taking steps to embrace AI at work.

“Getting up to speed can feel overwhelming and there is more to be done to educate and train professionals to ensure they feel knowledgeable and ready to fully embrace AI. This is particularly true for the younger age group, who are showing more signs of hesitation in adopting AI, albeit eager to learn as they also recognize the many benefits AI can bring to their working lives, including supporting them with career progression and enabling a better work-life balance. 

“With this in mind it is even more important for us at LinkedIn to ensure we facilitate learning by offering the workforce the resources they need to feel equipped.” 

LinkedIn’s career expert Najat Abdelhadi said having the language to talk about and understand AI will put professionals ahead of the curve. She said: “Study up on popular AI skills with resources like LinkedIn Learning, where you can find the most popular AI courses unlocked for free until the end of the year. A good place to start is with ‘How to Research and Write Using Generative AI,’ and ‘What is Generative AI.”

Saudi Awwal Bank named ‘Best Bank for Small and Medium Enterprises in the Kingdom’

Updated 27 September 2023

Saudi Awwal Bank named ‘Best Bank for Small and Medium Enterprises in the Kingdom’

Saudi Awwal Bank has received the “Best Bank for Small and Medium Enterprises in the Kingdom” award, issued by the international magazine Euromoney. The award comes as a recognition of the bank’s steadfast commitment to empowering and supporting SMEs in Saudi Arabia.

The commitment of SAB to the SME sector is evident through its support for the Financial Sector Program of Saudi Vision 2030, specifically tailored to SMEs.

SAB has taken significant steps in digital transformation and the adoption of innovative digital banking services for SMEs. This includes launching various digital services with multiple features, such as user management without the need for direct communication with the bank and advanced security features. It has also introduced a digital banking account opening service for SMEs, which received the “Outstanding Initiative for Opening and Managing SME Accounts” award at the 2023 SME Banking Innovation Awards. The bank also provides innovative financing programs tailored to SME requirements.

Yasser Al-Barrak, chief corporate and institutional banking officer, said: “This award reflects our continuous efforts to provide the best services to SMEs in the Kingdom. Our investment in people, technology, and innovation not only demonstrates our commitment to growth and development but also our determination to meet the evolving needs of SMEs during this crucial period of their development. With each achievement, we always look forward to providing innovative banking solutions that meet the aspirations of small and medium-sized enterprises. As we continue to evolve to support them in expanding their business, our goal is not only to be the preferred partner but also to be the driving force behind their success.”

SAB supports many SMEs by collaborating with relevant entities such as Monsha’at, Small and Medium Enterprises Bank, Kafalah Program, the Real Estate Development Fund, the National Information Technology Development Program, the Tourism Development Fund, the Industrial Development Fund, and others.

The bank also collaborates with the London Stock Exchange to provide a range of training and awareness sessions as part of the SAB Academy program for SMEs, which are offered through virtual seminars, regardless of whether the SMEs are clients of the bank. The academy aims to empower these enterprises with financial planning and education as the key elements of success.


Bechtel opens new regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia

Updated 27 September 2023

Bechtel opens new regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia

Bechtel, a leading engineering, procurement, construction, and project management company, has announced the opening of a new regional headquarters in the heart of Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh.

Bechtel held a ribbon-cutting ceremony where Craig Albert, president and chief operating officer at Bechtel, said: “This new regional headquarters reflects our strong and long-standing commitment to our customers and partners in the region. For 80 years, Bechtel has provided training and development opportunities for the local workforce and strengthened local businesses. We are proud to build on this progress as we advance these transformational projects together.”

Bechtel has delivered some of the world’s most ambitious projects in Saudi Arabia. Current projects where Bechtel is applying its 125 years of expertise include NEOM, Trojena, the Riyadh Metro Project, and most recently, New Murabba. The new office will accommodate Bechtel’s growing team, which will help deliver these iconic projects.

At the launch event, Albert was joined by Hassan Al-Duhaim, senior adviser to the Minister of Investment, and Abdul-Rahman Al-Ghabban, vice president at Bechtel Infrastructure.

Al-Ghabban said: “Just last week, we celebrated Saudi National Day, which recognizes the unification of the Kingdom, and today we mark this important expansion of Bechtel’s presence that will play a role in the Kingdom’s continued success.”

Bechtel’s history in the Kingdom began in 1945 when it completed its first project, the Ras Tanura Refinery 1. Since then, Bechtel has completed or is currently working on over 300 projects in the Kingdom, including the Riyadh Metro Project that will provide an efficient and sustainable means of commuting for residents and visitors.

Bechtel, which celebrates its 80th anniversary working in the Kingdom this year, has nearly 3,000 professional staff working on projects, and continues to employ growing numbers of women and locals working at projects like NEOM, where more than 50 percent of women on the project are Saudi nationals. 

Realty sector must adopt people-centric approach to planning

Ghada Othman AlRumayan, Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Roshn
Updated 27 September 2023

Realty sector must adopt people-centric approach to planning

In a world dominated by blueprints and budgets, the real estate development industry has often lost sight of its most crucial element — people.

For years, the industry molded urban landscapes to meet the market demands in residential, retail and commercial segments without a holistic approach to the community needs of promoting fulfilling lifestyles and focusing on the people who use them.

Developers have, unfortunately, been seen as faceless entities, prioritizing numbers over the impact on people’s lives.

However, the winds of change are blowing, and a shift toward a people-centric approach is gaining momentum. It is not just about meeting the needs of a new generation but also making good business sense and, most importantly, doing the right thing.

ROSHN recognizes the importance of this shift and empowers individuals at the heart of its approach to development. Responsibility is paramount, and we take ownership of our role in shaping the urban landscape.

As we look to the future, the UN predicts that nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will reside in urban areas by 2050. This global trend is also mirrored in Saudi Arabia, where urbanization rates have increased significantly.

Comprehending this shift is vital for our future and is at the core of ROSHN’s most ambitious project to date, MARAFY.

A groundbreaking initiative, MARAFY embarks on the journey of transforming northern Jeddah into a hub of integrated living.

The project unfolds a seamless convergence of residential and commercial spaces with culture, cuisine, entertainment, hospitality and wellness.

This transformative urban development aspires to offer residents and visitors a blend of modernity and tradition.

Through the fusion of diverse elements, MARAFY aims to create an environment that redefines urban living and nurtures pleasant experiences, connections, and possibilities for anyone who calls it home.

MARAFY will redefine urban living by reimagining space and blurring the lines between work, leisure and community interaction.

Its contemporary design philosophy reflects our commitment to promoting fulfilling lifestyles and fostering vibrant communities. This development will triple the amount of publicly accessible waterfront, creating a new era of riverside urbanism.

By integrating MARAFY with ALAROUS, ROSHN’s first significant development in Jeddah, we create a synergy that enriches the lives of both communities.

ALAROUS is designed to provide high-quality housing with integrated amenities and public spaces that effortlessly connect with the MARAFY vision.

As MARAFY reshapes the urban landscape, ALAROUS residents will enjoy enhanced access to MARAFY’s cultural, recreational and social offerings, further enriching their quality of life.

Like other ROSHN communities, ALAROUS and MARAFY will embrace modern living while preserving the Kingdom’s rich heritage and local urban designs. This integrated neighborhood concept is what ROSHN has successfully introduced in Riyadh’s SEDRA, where early offerings were met with an encouraging response. It demonstrates the market demand for ROSHN’s concept of integrated neighborhoods packed with amenities that support a well-balanced, fulfilling lifestyle.

As a giga-project backed by the Public Investment Fund, ROSHN is determined to lead the way in the regional market, demonstrating through its groundbreaking developments how a people-centric approach improves the quality of life for residents, builds a stronger sense of community and ensures long-term business success.

As developers, we must recognize that our work profoundly impacts the lives of those who live in and around our developments.

The decisions we make today will shape our nation’s urban landscape for generations to come, and it is a privilege and a responsibility to be involved in this exciting process.

  • The writer is the Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Roshn Group