RIYADH: Saudi-based SaaS startup Glamera raised $1.3 million in a seed funding round led by venture capital firm Riyadh Angels Investors.
Established in Egypt in 2020, Glamera relocated to Saudi Arabia where it covers Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Taif, Qassim, Madinah, Tabuk as well as Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt.
The company is an all-in-one platform for beauty and lifestyle service providers where consumers can find and book sessions.
Since its establishment, the platform has managed to achieve huge growth in the region as it facilitated a gross merchandise value of $45 million in addition to continued growth in revenue and client acquisition.
“Now we can confidently work toward leading the market with our fully integrated solutions and play a part in the Saudi Digital Transformation Vision 2030. We aim to work with over 2,500 clients and achieve $500 million GMV by the end of 2023,” Mohamed Hassan, founder and CEO, said in a statement.
Omar Fathy, co-founder and chief technical officer of the startup, said that the company will use its funding to develop and launch new services as well as expand into Gulf markets.
Saudi Arabia will have an industrial base that will be compatible with all the requirements of the fourth industrial revolution as the Kingdom increases its efforts to move away from oil as a major source of income, according to the economy minister.
“I believe within two years, most of our industrial cities, if not all of them, will be 4IR (four industrial revolution) enabling,” Faisal Al-Ibrahim told Arab News on the sideline of the 6th edition of the FII in Riyadh.
“We established the center for the fourth industrial revolution because we acknowledge that this is a world or an area — industry 4.0 — that can help us leapfrog into that competitive export space.”
“Also, it can help us leverage the capacity of the youth and create high quality job opportunities for them,” he added.
Fourth industrial revolution, also referred to as 4IR or industry 4.0, is the new wave of industrialization worldwide where robotics, cloud computing, and sensors are used to enhance the productivity of manufacturing plants.
Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing economies in the G20 this year and Al-Ibrahim said that his ministry is focusing on enhancing the use of data to improve the position of the Kingdom within the group.
Saudi Arabia is racing with time to diversify its economy under the Vision 2030 plan.
“Our long-term economic challenge is to diversify our source of growth and Vision 2030 and everything you see here is for us to diversify our economy and to give it a stronger, more resilient structure.”
“We’re doing that through many initiatives, PIF’s activities, the policies that you’re seeing, the strategies that have been launched, the new sectors that have been launched, all drive at improving our diversification,” he added.
One good indication is non-oil activities in the last quarter of this year when non-oil activities grew at 8.2 percent, he said.
“And if you remove the net tax impact, it’s 6.1 percent. And that’s the fastest in 11 years, it’s still below our targets, and we still want to achieve more and do more,” he added.
“All the strategies you’re seeing, including the RDI priorities, research, development, innovation priorities, the industrial strategy, the recently announced Global Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, all of these aim to help us have a wider, more diversified and more complex non-oil export base that help us decouple from one single commodity price, which is oil,” Al-Ibrahim said.
Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing economies in the G20 this year and Al-Ibrahim said that his ministry is focusing on enhancing the use of data to improve the position of the Kingdom’s within the group.
“Everything we’re doing under Vision 2030 is already advancing us in the G20. We’re talking about making sure that the data is competitive, the data environment, the data governance, and the data quality and availability is top tier in terms of G20, but also our institutional capabilities, our analytical rigor, the solutions we provide, and how we deliver these solutions, and how we measure the … and evaluate the outcomes, we want to be topnotch in G20 for sure,” he added.
Saudi Arabia will maintain its position as the fastest growing economy among the Group of 20 countries despite the turmoil caused by rising inflation and soaring interest rates, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In its latest report this month, the US-based organization fixed its forecast for the Saudi economy’s growth during 2022 at 7.6 percent — the same figure as in its April forecast.
Among Arab countries, the IMF expected that Iraq will be the fastest growing economy in 2022, with a 9.3 percent growth rate.
RIYADH: Turkey is seeking more cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other countries as it plans to be an energy hub to Europe, its finance minister said.
“Turkey from its geographical position is an energy corridor from Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Any kind of natural gas or oil that is going to be transported or shipped, will cost less and will be more safely shipped,” Nureddin Nebati told Arab News in an interview.
Speaking on the sideline of the 6th edition of Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, the minister didn’t elaborate further on how the two countries might cooperate but said that peace in the region will bring energy costs down.
“Turkey and Saudi Arabia are also assisting each other, which will bring peace in the region. That peace will bring more affordable gas prices, the energy prices, and will allow both countries to look ahead,” he added.
Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of oil in the world. Its gas reserves amounts to nearly 300 trillion cubic feet, making it the largest fifth gas reserve in the world. However, the Kingdom doesn’t export gas and it intends to expand production to meet local demand and eliminate the use of oil and other liquids in power generation.
Nebati’s comments come a week after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he had agreed with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to form a natural gas hub in Turkey.
Speaking to members of his AK Party in parliament on October 19, Erdogan said Putin had said Europe can obtain its gas supply from the hub in Turkey.
“When we look at Europe, they are dependent on Russian gas, and they will be passing winter with huge stress. This is obvious, and new steps and new structuring need to be taken,” Nebati added.
“And this is why our President Erdogan said that Turkey, which will become a hub, should take the needed measures for the distribution of Iran gas or Russian gas to Europe. And that will contribute to the establishment of peace in the region and create an environment that is safe for this shipment,” he added.
Nebati, who held several meetings with Saudi officials during his visit including the finance and commerce ministers, said that the moves taken by Turkey will help reduce the cost of energy by lowering the cost of transportation.
“That will lead to the solution of the high prices, which is putting the world in front of recession. And in that sense, it is good to interpret that as Turkey being ready to take all the responsibilities as our president said to take a step in comforting the entire world especially Europe in this gas challenge,” he said.
Nebati, who held several meetings with Saudi officials during his visit including the finance and commerce ministers, said that the moves taken by Turkey will help reduce the cost of energy by lowering the cost of transportation.
Saudi Arabia is also increasing its oil exports to Europe, said the country’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, during the same event in Riyadh.  He said shipments in September almost doubled from a month ago, reaching 950,000 barrels a day.
The Turkish finance minister said that his country has a production strategy for natural gas.
“As you know, in the Black Sea, we have found natural gas and we have an important reserve. In the incoming months, we will start using that natural gas,” he said.
Saudi-Turkish cooperation
Nebati said that his country is trying to expand economic cooperation with Saudi Arabia which will benefit the region.
“In the incoming period, the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Turkey will trigger, of course, new cooperation areas and with the vision of Saudi Arabia and  Turkey’s 2023 vision, we will step out to a new century and will contribute to bringing peace and prosperity in the region,” he added.
He added that Turkey is supporting the Kingdom’s bid to host 2030 Expo and the two countries are standing together against terrorism.
Speaking to TRT channel last week, Saudi Minister of Commerce Majed Al-Qasabi said that he estimated Saudi investments in Turkey to total $18 billion, and he expects to see around $3-5 billion in new investments over the coming period.
Nebati said that the recent exchange of visits by the Turkish President and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “will be beneficial for both parties” and as a result investments, business relations, and trade volume in both directions will increase.
Turkish economic growth
The Turkish economy grew by 7.6 percent on an annual basis in the second quarter of 2022, resulting in 7.5 percent GDP growth in the first half of the year. Last year the economy grew by 11.8 percent, according to official numbers.
“When you look at this growth, it happened thanks to domestic trade, foreign trade and balanced growth. It shows the internal potential of a younger population’s appetite and being a hub of production and manufacturing,”
Nebati explained. The Turkish economy model is based on investment, productivity, and employment, and in the incoming period with the decrease of the commodity prices, and energy prices, “that will contribute to establishing the balance in the current deficit, and that will allow Turkey to solve all the challenges that we lived through since last year,” he added.
Turkish economic growth was supported by huge investments in infrastructure in the last two decades, he said.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are also assisting each other, which will bring peace in the region.
That peace will bring more affordable gas prices,the energy prices, and will allow both countries to look ahead.
“We have completed huge infrastructures such as railways, highways, airports, and maritime ports. We have completed all of our infrastructures, including investments in hospitals, and education — starting from the primary schools to the universities.”
Localization level in the Turkish economy is high, reaching 80 percent in the defense industry, where it was in the past around 20 percent, he added.
Turkish inflation
Nebati expects this growth to continue but admits that rising inflation and foreign exchange fluctuations remain a challenge.
He said that inflation in Turkey rose because the commodity prices starting from last year increased along with the shipping costs, transport costs, and energy prices.
“But in combating the inflation, we focused on human beings. We wanted to grow. We don’t want people to lose their jobs as we are continuing our manufacturing and productivity.”
“We are not pushing hard on the brake and we want to solve this issue slowly, and we’re lucky because the pressure on energy prices is decreasing,” he added.
“We do not perceive inflation like worldwide. We see it in a human-based approach. We don’t want people to lose their jobs. And we will deploy our efforts so that they don’t lose their jobs.”
Nebati expects inflation to slow down starting from December, and for next year, “we’ll be having the targeted level of 25 percent of inflation. And as I’ve said, we are acting decisively in order to solve that.”
Agricultural products prices went down, and the effect of inflation “due to the foreign exchange attacks of last year also slowed down,” he added.
RIYADH: An official Saudi delegation headed by the Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar Al-Khorayef, is set to visit Australia next week to introduce investment opportunities in the Kingdom’s mining sector, under the umbrella of “Invest in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.
The delegation includes a number of ministry leaders, led by Deputy Minister for Mining Khalid Al-Mudaifer, and representatives of the Ministry of Investment, the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program, the Saudi Geological Survey, the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, and the Industrial Center.
The delegation will visit four cities, including Canberra, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, and will also participate in the International Mining and Resources Conference in Sydney from Nov. 2 to 4.
Al-Khorayef is expected to speak during the opening ceremony of the conference, which is a platform for mining leaders from around the world to discuss the future of mining and issues related to technology and finance.
He is also scheduled to open the Saudi pavilion at the conference, which will highlight the Kingdom’s continuous efforts to advance the mining sector by facilitating access to geological data, and updates made to regulations and legislation to create an attractive climate for investments, build foundations for sustainability, and develop a mining sector based on integrated value chains, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The Saudi delegation will also hold a number of meetings with mining and exploration companies, universities, research institutions, industrial bodies, geological societies and business councils in Australia, and will hold sessions to review investment opportunities in the Kingdom to establish a strategic relationship with stakeholders in Australia’s mining sector, across four main areas related to the development of the mining sector, including politics and governance, innovation and geology, investment, and education.
“The Kingdom affirms its keenness, through its participation in IMARC, to cooperate with mining and exploration companies to support growth across the various value chain processes from exploration to manufacturing, and hopes to achieve an integrated value chain capable of supporting the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the transformation of the energy sector,” SPA said.
The Kingdom’s participation is of importance as “it occupies a strategic location linking the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe, in addition to its advanced infrastructure and high domestic demand,” it added. “The Kingdom also possesses all the ingredients necessary to be a regional center for mining, in order to achieve the Kingdom’s 2030 goals and attract qualitative investments to the mining sector.”
Australia is home to a global investment environment in the mining sector and shares Saudi Arabia’s strategic vision for a resilient global mining value chain capable of meeting the demands of a clean energy-based future, and the Kingdom is keen to establish and strengthen strategic relationships with Australian counterparts to push research, innovation and growth to make mining the third pillar of the national industry.
The ministry said that non-oil exports between the two countries last year reached over SR6.22 billion ($1.6 billion).
CAIRO: Wasta, the Middle Eastern tech startup leading the path to purposeful connections, is getting ready to roll out its official launch in Saudi Arabia and the UAE within the next month.
“Wasta” in Arabic means influential or powerful social and professional connections to gain a career boost or proficiency.
Sometimes perceived as nepotism, the word is ubiquitous within Arab societies, and Shyam Visavadia, the co-founder of, believes everyone should have the chance to utilize and build meaningful connections.
“Wasta wants to truly build a network designed to reflect the multifaceted nature of what people need to move forward in their entrepreneurial journey,” Visavadia told Arab News exclusively.
He further explained that the company is redefining its name to make it accessible and impactful for everyone.
Currently an invite-only platform, the company is planning to roll out its official mobile app to pre-registered users within the next month, where they will have access to a vast community of professionals.
Users can simply download the app, identify their interests and objectives and availability, and Wasta will curate a weekly 30-minute video call with professionals who share the same interests.
Stimulating conversations
The app uses client interests and objectives to automatically match users together, creating an easy way for professionals to connect with each other and expand their network.
“We aspire to build social capital by stimulating conversation, creating cross-border communities and promoting collaboration and problem-solving in high-growth markets. By breaking down the fear of networking, we facilitate casual conversations that lead to not-so-casual professional impact,” Visavadia explained. 
The company will charge its users a monthly subscription fee of $10 to get access to one new match every week as it plans to launch other premium packages with more features in the future.
Founded in 2021, Wasta managed to tackle a large market with an innovative way to support the rise of entrepreneurship in the region.
With 1,500 vetted members, the company has users ranging from students to senior executives from international companies like LinkedIn, SWVL, Careem, MEVP and Venture Souq, as well as thousands of other members currently on their waitlist.
“We help users meet professionals in the same industry, plant seeds for future clients and referrals, and simply make new connections,” Visavadia added as he shared multiple success stories through their platform.
Enabling businesses
Wasta managed to support a recruiter to make over $90,000 by utilizing connections through the platform; in addition, a founder was able to raise an initial seed investment for his company by meeting an angel investor on the app.
Other users have also used the platform with business owners and entrepreneurs, initiating conversations to support their expansion plans.
According to Visavadia, 75 percent of users have made meaningful connections with Wasta, as 40 percent state that they network online more than in person.
“Networking alone is responsible for filling as many as 85 percent of all jobs. Furthermore, 80 percent of professionals believe they can elevate their career success through professional networking,” he added.
Seeing huge momentum since its inception, Wasta has been operating without raising any funding as the founders managed to bootstrap their way into building a user-focused product.
Wasta was built on a no-code solution that supports the company’s movement to respond quickly to user feedback. Visavadia also stated that the company plans to build a diverse remote team.
He added that the company’s mantra for success is to listen to the customer and solve everyday problems affecting people’s lifestyles.
“Our goal is to make meeting people more fun, relevant, and meaningful. It’s not about aggregating connections but building a strong personal and professional network,” Visavadia added.
Wasta is aiming to fortify its presence in Saudi Arabia, gaining as much as 50 percent of its user base from the Kingdom. “Our plans are to go to high-growth markets like Saudi Arabia and address the issues of the growing need for entrepreneurial talent and startup companies,” Visavadia added.
The company currently has a user presence in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, with expansion plans to reach other markets in the Middle East and North African region.
“Wasta aspires to be the leading networking site in the Middle East, India and Africa for curating meaningful conversation, building professional connections, and forming new communities,” Visavadia stated.
Visavadia was a former senior manager at Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and has worked across the UK, UAE, and USA.
Lalita Chopra is the co-founder of Wasta and a former software engineer at Cognizant, an American multinational information technology services and consulting company.
CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi witnessed the inauguration of 64 projects on Saturday.
The projects are part of Ebdaa — the national initiative for the development of industry in Egypt.
The launch came on the sidelines of El-Sisi’s inauguration of the first international forum and exhibition for industry at Al-Manara Conference Center in New Cairo.
The Federation of Egyptian Industries organized the event to mark the 100th anniversary of its founding.
El-Sisi inaugurated the expansion of a pump and electric motor factory with the participation of young people from the Ebdaa initiative.
Hossam Farid, chairman of the board of directors of Allweiler-Farid Hassanein Pumps, said that the company was set up in 1982 as a joint venture between German Allweiler GmbH and Egyptian Farid Pumps Co.
El-Sisi affirmed the Egyptian state’s readiness to partner with investors in Ebdaa projects.
He stressed that the state’s goal is to encourage and support industrialists.
“We are ready to enter into partnership with the Ebdaa initiative with rates ranging between 30 percent or 50 percent or more, with the aim of encouraging industrialists in Egypt and for the state to bear part of the risk and reassure them,” El-Sisi said.
“The Ebdaa initiative is about projects for production requirements or products that the Egyptian market needs,” he added.
El-Sisi said that there is a large list of products and equipment that Egypt has imported for several years, adding that the figures and data for those products is available from the Ministries of Industry and Finance and the Central Bank.
He added that as part of the initiative, the state will provide investors with energy — gas or electricity — at reduced prices.
The Egyptian leader said that challenges and crises “generate opportunities,” adding that the state will intervene to solve any obstacles facing industrialists and investors.
He highlighted the need to grow Egyptian export revenues to $100 billion in five years’ time to achieve development and prosperity for Egypt and its people.
The state aims not only to increase exports, but also to achieve self-sufficiency and cover demands in the Egyptian market, he said, adding that such support will lead to stability and high economic growth rates in Egypt.
The president said that he was considering establishing an office to manage new industrial projects and provide facilities for investors in the commerce and industrial sectors.