Geidea reinforces leadership in Saudi fintech with key appointments

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Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh, Independent Member of Geidea
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Ziyad Al-Eisa, CEO of Geidea
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Omar Yassine, Senior Adviser to the Executive Chairperson of the board of directors of Geidea
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Updated 25 February 2024

Geidea reinforces leadership in Saudi fintech with key appointments

Geidea, a frontrunner in the fintech sector, has announced the joining of three industry leaders to its team in Saudi Arabia. The announcement reflects Geidea’s commitment to spearheading fintech innovation with seasoned talent and reinforces Saudi Arabia as its core market. 

Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh has been appointed to the board of directors as an independent member. Al-Sheikh brings to Geidea more than 30 years of groundbreaking leadership experience in finance, technology, and innovation. He played an instrumental role in driving the development of the Saudi financial system, in particular the national payment ecosystem since its establishment by the Saudi Central Bank. Moreover, he took an active role throughout his career in various working groups linked to the G20, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

Ziyad Al-Eisa has been appointed to the Geidea board of directors and as the CEO of Geidea in Saudi Arabia, one of the three markets where the company operates and assumes a leading position in both market share and innovative product offerings. Al-Eisa is a results-driven business leader with a forward-thinking approach demonstrated through a long track record working in various entities, such as the Saudi Central Bank, Al-Rajhi Bank, and the Saudi Investment Bank. Prior to that, Al-Eisa served as the CEO of Neoleap and Bayan Credit Bureau, a Saudi Central Bank-regulated company offering integrated corporate credit reporting services in Saudi Arabia.

Omar Yassine has been appointed as a senior adviser to the executive chairperson of the board of directors at Geidea. He has a wealth of professional experience in leading financial institutions in the Kingdom. He has developed a strong track record in digital transformation, strategy development, profit maximization, and business transformation. Most recently, Yassine was the CEO of digital ventures and payments at the Saudi National Bank, where he worked for more than 14 years, assuming various leadership roles, including group chief digital officer, head of retail banking, and head of the remittance division.

Abdulla Al-Othman, founder and executive chairperson of Geidea, said: “Our roots in Saudi Arabia have always been a source of strength and inspiration, propelling us to lead innovation and disruption within the fintech sector. Welcoming Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh, Ziyad Al-Eisa, and Omar Yassine to Geidea marks a significant milestone in our journey. Their extensive experience and visionary leadership are perfectly aligned with our mission to revolutionize payment technology, making it more accessible, affordable, and intuitive for all clients. As we continue to expand our reach and impact, I am confident that their contributions will enable us to achieve unprecedented success, both in Saudi Arabia and internationally.” 

Zain KSA unveils 100% Saudi-made fleet management system

Updated 17 April 2024

Zain KSA unveils 100% Saudi-made fleet management system

Leading telecommunications and digital services provider Zain KSA has launched the first 100 percent Saudi-made fleet management system for the business sector. This comprehensive solution incorporates state-of-the-art tracking devices designed, manufactured, and assembled locally. Leveraging the advanced capabilities of Zain Cloud and hosting all data locally, Zain KSA has become the first telecom operator in the Kingdom to offer a fleet management solution for the “Made in Saudi” program.

The fleet management system is a comprehensive cloud-based platform that helps businesses of all sizes streamline their logistics operations, improve travel routes, and reduce fuel consumption, thereby lowering carbon emissions, safeguarding the environment, and promoting sustainability. By offering real-time GPS tracking, this innovative system enhances road safety and security across the transportation and logistics sectors, empowering decision-makers with crucial insights through comprehensive reports based on accurate data. This allows for informed decisions that boost operational efficiency and save costs.

Saad bin Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan, chief business and wholesale officer at Zain KSA, said: “We are proud to be the first telecommunications and digital services provider to offer an integrated solution designed and developed in the Kingdom, aligning with our sustainability strategy of supporting local content. This achievement demonstrates our commitment to the aspirations of our astute leadership and Saudi Vision 2030, promoting the digital economy and localizing technology. At Zain KSA, we are steadfast in our commitment to building a robust technology ecosystem that leverages digitization and automation to empower the Kingdom’s productive, service, and logistics sectors. The fleet management system is a direct result of this commitment, and we take immense pride in being at the forefront of companies providing 100 percent national digital solutions, joining hands to bolster our cherished homeland and uphold its prosperity.”

“Made in Saudi” is a national program that supports homegrown goods and services, building a trusted brand for consumers. By positioning national products and services as a preferred choice and enhancing consumer loyalty, the program aims to activate the role of Saudi-made goods in bolstering non-oil GDP. This serves the economic goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to increase revenue diversification and enhance national products in accordance with the highest standards of reliability and excellence.

Zain KSA has recently secured the HRSD Labor Award for Talent Localization in the ICT sector in recognition of its efforts and achievements in empowering innovation and development in the sector through a dynamic and youthful national workforce. Demonstrating its commitment to local talent and innovation, Zain KSA has also signed a strategic partnership agreement with Pioneers Systems, the renowned Saudi company specializing in the design, development, manufacture, and assembly of electronic circuits, to develop Internet of Things solutions and localize specialized products and expertise in this field to achieve sustainability of innovation in the Kingdom’s communications and digital services sector, ultimately contributing to increasing the sector’s local content percentage.

SAB partners with Saudi EXIM and Kafalah to boost SME exports

Updated 17 April 2024

SAB partners with Saudi EXIM and Kafalah to boost SME exports

In a significant move to bolster the Kingdom’s small and medium-sized enterprises sector in exporting and streamline their access to global markets, Saudi Awwal Bank has collaborated with the Saudi EXIM Bank and the Kafalah Program. Through the “Guarantee Financing for Export Sector Enterprises” initiative, the collaboration will enhance financing options for enterprises working in the export sector and enable them to ensure sustained growth.

This collaboration will expand financing opportunities for small and medium-scale enterprises across various sectors, fostering an environment that will enable their international product exportation. The initiative marks a significant advancement in the collective efforts to propel SMEs onto the global stage, and is in line with the goals of the Financial Sector Development Program supporting the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The Saudi EXIM Bank introduced the “Export Sector Enterprises Financing Guarantees” product, specifically crafted to boost financing for small and medium enterprises engaged in international commerce, facilitating their export activities. This initiative reflects the Saudi EXIM Bank’s commitment to enhancing the operational capabilities of businesses and empowering them to play a significant role in the diversification of the national economy, the increase in non-oil GDP, and the expansion and spread of Saudi non-oil exports in global markets.

Yasser Al-Barrak, chief corporate and institutional banking officer at SAB, said: “This collaboration underscores our dedication to fostering the development of small and medium enterprises, particularly in international trade. Through the ‘Export Sector Enterprise Financing Guarantees’ product, we aim to provide specialized financing to empower these enterprises to reach new milestones on the global stage.”

He added: “Our collaboration with the Saudi EXIM Bank and the Kafalah Program aligns with our strategic goals of supporting the growth of small and medium enterprises. This enables these enterprises to navigate challenges and seize opportunities in the global market, underscoring the sector’s significance in enhancing economic expansion.”

The collaboration is specifically designed to offer tailored support for the Kafala Program beneficiaries through a unique credit track. This track assists local exporters within the program by offering reduced fees compared to the standard track and expanding the coverage volume. The overarching goal is to broaden the range of support, ensuring that a more comprehensive array of local exporters in the Kingdom can leverage these benefits to extend their businesses internationally.

Central Park Towers, DIFC, takes office spaces to next level

Updated 16 April 2024

Central Park Towers, DIFC, takes office spaces to next level

Central Park Towers, the office and event destination in Dubai International Financial Centre, has announced the launch of Fitted Offices — Level 2, a significant addition to its portfolio of premium office spaces. Scheduled for unveiling this month, this new offering continues Central Park Towers’ commitment to delivering unrivaled quality and convenience to businesses in the heart of DIFC.

Building on the success of Fitted Offices — Level 1, Fitted Offices — Level 2 comprises 15 meticulously designed units, ranging from 1,000 to 2,755 square feet, catering to a diverse range of business requirements. At the core of this new offering is a spacious tenant lounge, covering 1,863 square feet, mirroring the modern design and collaborative features of the Level 2 tenant lounge.

Nemo Stojanovic, director of leasing and marketing at Central Park Towers, DIFC, said: “Central Park Towers, DIFC continues to be the preferred destination for businesses due to our unwavering commitment to excellence in office spaces. Fitted Offices — Level 2 represents the next step in our journey, providing tenants with a superior workspace designed to meet their evolving needs.”

Fitted Offices — Level 2 offers a host of features and amenities that enhance the tenant’s experience. The thoughtfully designed floor-to-ceiling windows provide ample natural light, while direct elevator access to the offices ensures convenience for tenants. Access to the tenant lounge creates a collaborative environment, and the offices offer breathtaking views, providing an inspiring backdrop for success.

Similar to the Level 1 option, Fitted Offices — Level 2 eliminates the need for extensive construction or interior fit-outs. The spaces come complete with suspended ceilings, ambient lighting, air conditioning, premium flooring, and MEP installation. This turnkey solution empowers tenants to focus on their business priorities without the hassles of managing construction processes.

Tenants at Central Park Towers, DIFC, will also have access to the common lounge area, fostering networking and collaboration opportunities. Additionally, the convenience of free visitor parking for up to two hours enhances the accessibility and desirability of the location.

Central Park Towers, DIFC, is home to more than 190 companies, including the Ministry of Economy, Federal Tax Authority, Al-Tamimi and Co., Bank of Singapore, and Tabby. The building offers a vibrant lifestyle destination, with a wide array of dining options, lifestyle amenities, and cafes. Central Park Towers, DIFC, is more than just a residential and commercial office building. It also has plenty of event spaces that cater to numerous high-end ceremonies such as the Gov Games, Spartan Race, Gulf Business Awards, Kenzo, Pepsi, Chivas, Cavalli, Loewe, PlayStation, Sephora, and Audemars Piguet to name a few. The movie, Star Trek Beyond was also filmed there in 2015. It has been intentionally designed as a hub where smart office layouts, preferred residential apartments, and stylish leisure, dining, and retail ecosystems blend seamlessly to provide a highly desirable live-work environment. It has three floors of retail outlets with more than 30 brands in over 100,000 square feet of space. 

It is home to restaurants offering diverse world cuisines, a range of fitness centers, convenience stores, a nursery, and many more facilities all within the development.

e& life joins Dubai Fintech Summit as sponsor

Updated 16 April 2024

e& life joins Dubai Fintech Summit as sponsor

e& life, the business pillar of e& that brings the next-generation digital world to the consumer’s fingertips, has joined the Dubai Fintech Summit, organized by Dubai International Financial Centre, the leading global financial center in the MEASA region.

The summit, scheduled for May 6-7, at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, will see an unprecedented gathering of more than 8,000 decision-makers, over 300 thought leaders and 200 exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge technologies.

As a “Powered By” sponsor, e& life is dedicated to supporting innovative and future-thinking businesses on a global scale.

e& life leverages cutting-edge technologies to offer fintech, entertainment, retail, and mobility services through its smart platforms and apps. Their fintech arm, e& money, has become a regional powerhouse, known for its user-friendly mobile financial services and its position as the UAE’s fastest-growing issuer of Mastercard debit cards.

Mohammad Alblooshi, chief executive at DIFC Innovation Hub, said: “The path to true innovation lies in collaboration and the Dubai Fintech Summit strives to bring together global leaders, innovators and disruptive startups to shape the future of finance. The alliance between the summit and e& life demonstrates our mutual commitment to fostering a dynamic fintech ecosystem to strengthen Dubai’s existing reputation as a leading business destination. Transforming challenges into opportunities, our goal is to create the most advanced, inclusive and technologically empowered financial community.”

Khalifa Al-Shamsi, chief executive at e& life, said: “The Middle East is at the forefront of a major transformation in financial services delivery, driven by technology shifting from traditional to innovative solutions. As a pioneer in the region’s flourishing fintech sector, e& is driven by a bold vision to lead this change.

“Through strategic partnerships, we aim to fast-track progress and take the region’s fintech potential to new heights. This partnership represents a valuable opportunity for both e& and its fintech portfolio under the business pillar e& life to collectively imagine new possibilities, inspire breakthrough ideas, and catalyze impactful innovations. By bringing together the talent and resources within our ecosystems, we can accelerate the journey toward a future where financial services truly empower people across societies. We look forward to contributing our expertise to shaping discussions that will steer the direction of the industry and play a role in realizing the UAE’s aspiration to become a global hub for financial innovation.”

In line with the Dubai Economic Agenda to position Dubai as the top four global financial hub by 2033, the second edition of the Dubai Fintech Summit is designed to encourage cross-border collaboration and innovation, pivotal to transforming the global fintech sector. It presents a unique opportunity to explore emerging fintech trends and their potential to drive financial progress in the MEASA region.

UAE’s Global Hotel Alliance marks 20 years with stellar Q1 results

Updated 15 April 2024

UAE’s Global Hotel Alliance marks 20 years with stellar Q1 results

Global Hotel Alliance, the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands, has started its 20th anniversary year on a high note, reporting robust Q1 results across all key performance indicators.

Exceeding expectations, total hotel revenues for Q1 2024 jumped to $649 million, up 17 percent compared to Q1 2023, while total room nights picked up 20 percent and the average daily rate across its portfolio of 800 hotels nudged up 2 percent.

The GHA DISCOVERY loyalty program continued to grow in popularity, with new enrollments increasing 28 percent in the first three months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. At the same time, redemptions of the program’s rewards currency, DISCOVERY Dollars, rocketed 109 percent year-on-year, led by members based in Spain, Singapore and China respectively.

Further underlining the success, the total cross-brand revenue, driven by members staying in a different brand to where they enrolled, increased 32 percent to $86.2 million in Q1, with hotel brands such as Anantara, Kempinski, Pan Pacific and PARKROYAL benefiting the most.

Since launching just over two years ago, D$206 million have been issued to GHA DISCOVERY members, with D$1 equal to $1. This has created a stimulus for travel within the alliance, and has helped drive more direct bookings for hotels, which are up 40 percent on GHA channels in 2023. Nearly two thirds of those direct bookings are now made on the GHA DISCOVERY app.

Key market and member trends in Q1 2024

• International stays made by the 26 million GHA DISCOVERY loyalty program members dominate: 68 percent of hotel room revenues were generated by international stays, led by properties in the Maldives (99 percent of revenue from international stays), Thailand (94 percent) and Hong Kong (86 percent).

• US and UK members were highly influential: 72 percent of the room revenue from US GHA DISCOVERY members and 89 percent of the room revenue from UK members came from their international stays. The US is the most important feeder market for GHA hotel brands, generating $52 million in international room revenue in Q1 2024, followed by the UK with $37 million. This collective $89 million represents 26 percent of total international stays room revenue. 

• 2024 destination hotspots revealed: The most preferred international destinations for each major feeder market were — Saint Lucia for US members; the UAE for members in the UK and Germany; Thailand for members in Russia; Hong Kong for members in mainland China; and Singapore for members based in Australia.

“As we enter our 20th anniversary year, GHA is not only delivering impressive numbers, but tangible business growth to our hotel brands. Our Q1 results also underscore our commitment to providing our GHA DISCOVERY members with unparalleled choice and flexibility; the surge in new enrollments and record-breaking redemptions of D$ reflect their level of engagement with the program,” said GHA CEO Chris Hartley.

Since GHA was launched in 2004, the alliance has grown exponentially to represent a collection of 40 brands with more than 800 hotels, resorts and palaces in 100 countries, and the 26 million members of its GHA DISCOVERY loyalty program, first launched in 2010, now drive $2.3 billion in revenue and 10 million room nights (as of 2023).

“Looking ahead, building on two decades of success, we remain dedicated to delivering exceptional value and experiences, ensuring that GHA continues to be the preferred choice for independent hotel brands and their customers,” added Hartley.