Alea Global Group will be holding their edition of Alea Sessions in Riyadh KSA. The one day gathering under the theme ‘The New Opportunities in Investment in the New Saudi Arabia’ will gather 100 of the GCC and MENA region’s top family offices. The event will include a session on Blockchain in Trade Finance.

Alea Global Group is a conglomerate single family business formed in 1998 in the State of Kuwait owned by a member of Al Duaij family. The one day event will discuss private debts and CLOs, trade finance, mezzanine debt, open banking, micro and macro banking environments, and Saudi Arabia’s unicorns.

The Alea Sessions is a series of irregular but responsive events held by Alea Group Group which are held when there is a need to address important topics that need to be addressed and which our followers would like to talk about. These events are usually shorter than their Family Office Summits, with a more focused programme. They may occur anywhere in the world, and also online.

Some of the highlighted speakers will include Essam Albakr Founder & CEO, Ejada Capital, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mark Mobius, Founding Partner, Mobius Capital Partners, Mirna Sleiman Founder & CEO, Fintech Galaxy, UAE, Omar AlShabaan Co-Founder & CEO, The Space, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Talal AlBakr Entrepreneur, CEO of SCCC, co-founded Embark Ventures, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz M. Alfakhri Board Director, CFO, CIO, Investments & Finance Executive, Angel Investor, Advisor, Mentor & Public Speaker, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ajay Sunkara President & Co-Founder, Nala Robotics, USA , Ashar Nazim CEO, Aion Digital, Kingdom of Bahrain as well as Rabih I. Khoury Managing Partner & Chief Exit Officer Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and many others.

One of the sessions at the event will discuss the topic of how blockchain will shape trade finance. It will discuss how to overcome obstacles and find a competitive advantage in trade finance. Panelists will include Zineb Tamtaoui, Senior Executive Officer, Head Of Middle East Region, Chez BMCE BANK International Plc, and UAE Kevin Ramsamy, CFO, Barak Fund Management, Mauritius.

This is an interesting topic to be discussed at a family office event but not surprising given the latest stance taken by Saudi Arabian Finance Minister, Mohamed Al Jadaan in a TV interview with Bloomberg during the WEF 2023.

As per the interview Saudi Arabia is open to discussions about trade in currencies other than the US dollar. He states, “There are no issues with discussing how we settle our trade arrangements, whether it is in the US dollar, whether it is the euro, whether it is the Saudi riyal.”

“I don’t think we are waving away or ruling out any discussion that will help improve the trade around the world,” Al-Jadaan said.

Blockchain could just be one of the ways KSA is looking to improve trade around the world.

In November 2022, Saudi Arabian, Saudi British Bank (SABB) utilized the Contour Blockchain platform to enhance trade finance by improving letter of credit and guarantee procedures for enterprises and international businesses. SABB worked with local fintech entity Bwatech.

In addition Saudi Arabian Taajeer Group, the exclusive agent for MG cars in the KSA utilized the Blockchain enabled Contour platform in its importing of cars from China. HSBC, Chinese SAIC Motor, and KSA Taajeer group executed a successful blockchain enabled trade finance transaction on the Contour platform.

Could this be the culmination of Saudi government strategy, and some blockchain success stories. Jut follow the money and all will be revealed.

At Davos, the UAE government signed an MOU with WEF (World Economic Forum) to support UAE’s new Blockchain and AI enabled Trade Tech initiative. The initiative is designed to accelerate the digitization of international supply chains, enhance customs procedures, and improve developing countries’ access to the global trading system and, as a result, spur a new era of trade growth.

From the UAE’s side, the MoU was jointly signed by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), and Prof. Klaus Schwab, WEF Founder and President.

The agreement will support the UAE’s efforts to deliver the initiative’s four key components: a global forum to gather trade, industry and technology leaders to share best-practice; an annual research report into the trade tech landscape, real-life applications and emerging trends; a regulatory sandbox to enable companies and startups to experiment with trade-tech innovations; and an incubator for promising startups in the trade tech space.

Dr. Al Zeyoudi said, “The Trade Tech Initiative is a crucial step in modernizing global trade, using the tools of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) to reduce the cumbersome and inefficient paper-based processes that continue to dominate supply chains. We believe it is essential to harness the benefits of advanced technology to catalyze global trade  using artificial intelligence to automate customs processes and warehouse management to deploying blockchain to revolutionize trade finance, cross-border payments, and know-your-customer procedures, the potential for enhancement is limitless.”

He added, “International buy-in and regulatory frameworks are essential for these ideas to take root and our partnership with the World Economic Forum is a vital first step in realizing the goals of the Trade Tech Initiative. In 2024, the UAE will host MC13, the leading decision-making body of the World Trade Organization, and we are determined to build consensus over the next 12 months to begin pioneering a new era of fully digitized, operationally efficient global trade.”

Al Shorafa stated, “The UAE has a strong track record in developing and deploying innovative technologies to enhance efficiencies in the trade process. A typical example is our Advanced Trade & Logistics Platform (ATLP), the one-stop-shop for all trade operations. The emirate utilizes advanced technology such as AI-powered systems to enable traders facilitate their import and export transactions. We believe The UAE’s new Trade Tech Initiative further strengthens our efforts to enable traders to export and import seamlessly by accelerating the digitization of supply chains, and enhancing customs procedures.”

Concurrently UAE’s Minister for Foreign trade H.E. Thani Al Zeyoudi stated in an interview with Bloomberg, “Crypto will play a major role in the United Arab Emirates’ global trade moving forward.

Minister Thani Al-Zeyoudi, commenting on the crypto sector, said, “Crypto will play a major role for UAE trade going forward. The most important thing is that we ensure global governance when it comes to cryptocurrencies and crypto companies.”

 Al-Zeyoudi went on to suggest that as the UAE works on its crypto regulatory regime, the focus will be on making the Gulf country a hub with crypto-friendly policies that also have sufficient protections in place. He explains, “We started attracting some of the companies to the country with the aim that we will build together the right governance and legal system needed.”