Saudi Arabia 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ayman Abdullah Alfallaj, CEO of Thiqah, on partnerships with public entities, sustainable growth, and plans for the coming year.

How you have grown to your current size from a small initial capital base?

We began our journey in 2012 with limited capital and means, which we supplanted with the boundless energy and innovation of young enterprising Saudis. Our success was underpinned by pioneering a true PPP model in Saudi Arabia that delivered a strong a lasting value proposition. Naturally, we reinforced this approach with an operating and business model geared towards generating commercial opportunities by enabling and delivering better services to the public. Government entities are our key customers, and our goal was to enable them to serve all citizens better, with something that costs them nothing but delivered results and made an impact.

How do you support and pay for your operations? How do you generate revenues?

Whenever we come up with a solution we think about it from a multidimensional perspective: stakeholders, sustainability, and financials. In this sense, we assure an added value to all stakeholders to have a direct and positive impact through which we can generate revenue.

What are some of your recent products, and how do they fit your business model?

One recently launched product with Ministry of Housing was “Wafi" or off-plan sales. Essentially, this is the licensing of sale on map for real estate units. This enables developers to engage in large-scale real-estate projects such as apartment complexes and sell its units as they progress in their build-out, organically funding later stages with the earlier stages. Wafi provides full integration with the Ministry of Justice for seamless electronic transfer of deeds, automates all requests for complete licensing, and can electronically evaluate real estate developers and their projects. Perhaps of greatest value is the virtual integration of all stakeholders along the value chain for such a large project. It embodies our business model because it is innovative and provides a great benefit to the country, much like our award-winning 180Sec CR registration, which saved over 2 million man days for the economy. The economy-wide impact of such an initiative is enormous. OPS "wafi" will reduce the price of real-estate units for end-users, reduce the price of development and lower the cost of funding by banks & investors while generating improved returns. The overall process is also streamlined, where before every step was manual and hence long, now it is automated and instantaneous.

How do these programs generate revenue?

We at Thiqah believe that if you create a truly innovative and smart solution, something of true value, then the revenues will follow. There is no one revenue generation method here at Thiqah, such as a supermarket. Rather, the stakeholders whom are benefiting from the overall ecosystem, solution, the data or anything related to the products and are willing to benefit from that service, is how we make money.

What about future areas of growth?

When the NTP was released, we examined our activities and realized that our business model truly embodies just what privatization is all about. We want to show and introduce this model to other entities, and we have expanded our portfolio from the Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MCI). Today, we are proud to have solidified partnerships with over 12 governmental entities replicating our proven partnership model.

Is there an opportunity to privatize this organization?

We are a 100% private entity. If the question is about going public, we are ready in terms of all policies and procedures to go to the CMA and satisfy its requirements. Our main focus is to keep growing in a healthy and sustainable manner, empowering our gifted employees to improve our beloved country and keep adding value.

What are your most immediate ambitions in the next 12 months?

The country is on a fast track to development. Going with the same pace requires Thiqah to be more dynamic than ever. This means we have to double our efforts in order to fulfil our purpose of leading change. Putting that in mind, we have major programs in which they embedded many initiatives. One, we have to maintain strong relations with all governmental entities. Two, Innovate. Three, enable entrepreneurs to become a key factor in what we are doing. For example, our goal in this year to launch "Miras" where we believe it is going to be a major player in enhancing business environment in Saudi.