Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of Aramco, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu to support the creation of new start-ups and SMEs in Saudi Arabia’s two largest industrial cities.

The agreement with the Royal Commission, which oversees the industrial cities of Jubail and Ras Al-Khair on the Gulf, and Yanbu and Jazan City on the Red Sea, is part of Wa’ed’s ongoing campaign to support all SMEs, including those in the energy and petrochemicals sectors, that fill needed gaps in the Saudi economy.

The Royal Commission was set up in 1975 by King Khalid Abdulaziz Al Saud to diversify the Saudi economy by harnessing natural gas from oil extraction to create Saudi’s petrochemicals industry. Jubail, spread over 1,016 square kilometers about 100 kilometers north of Dammam, is one of the world’s largest industrial cities.

The new collaboration calls for Wa’ed to support entrepreneurship ventures opening within Royal Commission industrial cities for potential non-collateralized, low-cost loans from Wa’ed. The Commission could also use the services of Wa’ed’s new Venture Builder Program, a demand-driven creator of custom-made start-ups that fill critical industry gaps.

The announcement by Wa’ed, the Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center, is the latest in a wave of collaborations intended to raise the pace and quality of SME creation in the Kingdom and speed the nation’s economic diversification.

In November, Wa’ed formed a partnership with Oqal, the leading angel investors network in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. That was followed in December by an alliance with the economic development agency of Madinah, Namaa Almunawarah. Last week, Wa’ed signed an MOU with Taibah Valley Company, a start-up hub in Madinah that specializes in blockchain, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence technologies.

The MOU with the Royal Commission was signed in a virtual ceremony by Wassim Basrawi, the Wa’ed Managing Director, and Dr. Ahmed Zaid Alhussain, the General Manager of the Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu. The MOU is part of Wa’ed’s ongoing efforts to accelerate modernization and digitalization of the Kingdom’s industrial sector, as well as support the supply chain partners of Aramco.

“We are thrilled to establish this new working relationship with the Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu,” Mr. Basrawi said. “This new collaboration aims to boost the pace and quality of Saudi’s newest industrial players and it potentially gives Wa’ed an exciting new role as a key enabler of mission-critical industrial start-ups.”

Said Dr. Alhussain: “We are grateful for this new collaboration with Wa’ed, which will support our drive to expand Royal Commission industrial cities to include the latest innovative SMEs that are helping modernize and localize the nation’s industrial sector value chain. In the end, the Kingdom will be the ultimate beneficiary.”

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