BIRTH OF A NATION

Saudi Arabia 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ayman Abdullah Alfallaj, CEO of Thiqah, on how the private sector can keep pace with the speed of public reforms, delivering a strong and lasting value proposition, and integrating the fruits of privatization into the public sector.

Ayman Abdullah Alfallaj
BIOGRAPHY
An enterprising and avid visionary with a strong entrepreneurial track record in various successful startups, Ayman Abdullah Alfallaj’s success has been underpinned by extensive investment banking experience across three continents. With Thiqah since its inception, he has been a key contributor to the successful enterprise it now is. He remains very active in the start-up scene and is a board member of various reputable institutions.

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 and lasting value proposition. Naturally, we reinforced this approach with an operating and business model geared towards generating commercial opportunities by enabling and delivering better public services. Government entities are our key customers, and our goal was to enable them to serve every citizen better.

How do you support and finance your operations? How do you generate revenue?

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 that the solution will have direct positive impact in which we generate revenue. We 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.

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

One recently launched product with the Ministry of Housing was “Wafi” or off-plan sales. Essentially, this is the licensing map-located sales for real estate units. This enables developers to engage in large-scale real estate projects, such as apartment complexes, and sell units as they progress in their build-out, organically funding later stages with earlier ones. Wafi provides full integration with the Ministry of Justice for the seamless electronic transfer of deeds, automates all requests for complete licensing, and electronically evaluates real-estate developers and their projects. Of greatest value is perfecting the virtual integration of all stakeholders along the same value chain. This embodies our business model because it is innovative and provides a great benefit to the country, much like our award-winning 180-second CR registration, which saved over 2 million workdays. The economy-wide impact of such an initiative is enormous. OPS "Wafi" will reduce the price of real estate units for end-users and developers and lower the cost of funding for banks and investors while generating improved returns. The overall process is also streamlined, automated, and instantaneous.

What about future areas of growth?

When the National Transfromation Program (NTP) was released, we examined our activities and realized that our business model truly embodies just what privatization is all about. We want to introduce this model to other entities and have expanded our portfolio with the Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MCI). Today, we are proud to have solidified partnerships with over 12 governmental entities who replicate 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 Capital Market Authority (CMA) and satisfy its requirements.

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

The country is on a very fast track to development. Going at the same pace requires Thiqah to be more dynamic than ever and means we must double our efforts to fulfill our purpose of leading change. With that in mind, we have major programs with many initiatives. We have to maintain strong relations with every governmental entity, innovate, and enable entrepreneurs to become key factors in what we do.