The Business Year

Tech investment is the way of the future in Saudi Arabia, and local companies are taking the lead in pouring cash into ambitious digital projects.

Mohammed Al-Saigh

Deputy CEO, Wadi Jeddah

Wadi Jeddah is the investing arm for King Abdulaziz University, so the priority is to serve this historic institution by linking the qualifications and capabilities of the university with Saudi market demand. Therefore, our strategy is in maximizing KAU’s capabilities and qualification while getting the best utilization in the market. As a result of Vision 2030, the job market is changing quickly, but the education sector cannot transform as fast as the job market. As such, our strategy is to fill this gap to leverage the readiness of the students to fulfill the requirements of the job market in addition to their education. IT is everywhere now, playing a major role in every sector of the economy. It has become the main tool for any development. Realizing this fact, Wadi Jeddah has established MACTECH, which is a company specialized in IT. With MACTECH, Wadi Jeddah will start to be part of the information revolution. The impact of IT on the economy will be dual. IT will enhance the current processes and create new markets. For example, at present, in the banking sector, you cannot imagine a bank without IT. Moreover, e-commerce, e-health, and e-learning are entirely new fields produced by IT. At the same time, business opportunities in Saudi Arabia are everywhere. Our short-term goal is to build 100% trust with the decision-makers at KAU. We will achieve that by taking well-thought-out actions.

Faisal Ahmad Allaf

CEO, Wadi Makkah

In the past two years, we have started restructuring the Wadi Makkah Company and renewing its strategy. We are also rebranding all subsidiaries and programs to align with the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision. The Tilal Al Namaa subsidiary, as it used to be called, has now become Wadi Makkah Real Estate Company. The company oversees development projects and manages assets and leases. Our target is to lease 50% of the allocated techno-valley lands for major investment by the end of 2020. The master plan includes a commercial aspect that is rich in retail, recreational offerings, and IT infrastructure, including a data center. In addition to the techno-valley, we managed to lease an 8,000sqm central canteen and a 20,0000sqm women driving school. Hajj and Umrah services can benefit enormously from digitalization, and so can education, logistics and hospitality sectors. We are looking to maximize our investment in IoT, Big Data analytics, crowd management, environmental technology, travel services, health tech, fintech, navigation, and transportation services. We believe that implementing these technologies should turn Mecca into a smart city. It will positively enrich and improve the Hajj journey. Our focus will remain on startups and companies around the world that can serve Hajj and Umrah, because the market is sustainable and the growth potential is high, especially given the government’s plan to welcome 30 million pilgrims by 2030.

Khalid Al Saleh

CEO, Khalid Al Saleh

We make investments. Recently, we invested in fast-charging electric vehicles. We invested in Fastned, a Dutch company working with stations on highways close to major European cities. At present, it is concentrated in the Netherlands, but it has plans to expand into Belgium, Germany, and other countries. We invested a large amount of money into that company using a certain amount of equity. We are aiming to be prepared to be in line with the government’s green plans, of which electric vehicles are a vital aspect. Most of the projects are related to recreation, innovation, and providing interaction between venues. In line with our 2030 Vision, we want to be innovative and creative. As a result, the three areas in which we invest are all relevant to Saudi Arabia. We want to be enablers in the health and life sciences fields, bringing tech-based solutions to help society combat problems such as obesity and diabetes. To this end, we have made an investment in partnership with our partners, not for hardware but for a process, like a hub. We put money into a company called Global Silicon Valley Labs. By doing so, we own shares in many accelerators and incubators worldwide. We also get access to their expertise and teams. In collaboration with our partners, we plan to replicate the hubs in the US here in Saudi Arabia.



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