From 5 - 10 November, my colleague Alan Thornton and I, Daniela Gröbel-Becker, travelled to Saudi Arabia for COREDINATE! In Riyadh, the country's vibrant capital, we got to know an up-and-coming country with an impressive history and culture. We met potential new business partners, travelled with an extremely pleasant delegation and were delighted to be accompanied by our long-standing client, Secoserv, on this enchanting trip to the land of 1001 nights.
For more visual impressions, you can watch our video directly, but if you're more interested in the details, read on.
The trip was organised by trAIDe in conjunction with the German government. trAIDe GmbH is a specialist for international business development and market entry strategies, focussing on supporting German companies in entering new global markets and establishing successful cooperations. With more than 15 years of experience, trAIDe offers comprehensive services, including market analyses, individual market entry strategies and the search for suitable business partners, thus actively contributing to the success of companies in international business.
Our trip started at Frankfurt Airport, from where we travelled to Riyadh as part of a German delegation of medium-sized companies from the cyber security and civil security sector. Ahead of us lay a week full of exciting presentations and discussions, and the discovery of a foreign culture. The arrival on Sunday evening with the flight over the lights of the Arab metropolis already made our eyes light up. Here, modernity meets tradition, skyscrapers meet warm hospitality. Once we arrived at our hotel, we couldn't stop marvelling. From the roof terrace on the 13th floor of the Warwick Cantonal Hotel in the heart of the city, we had an impressive view of Riyadh at night, with the unmistakable Kingdom Centre and its Sky Bridge. Here we ended the evening in a small group with interesting conversations.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we met for the first briefing for the days ahead. After a short welcome by Dietrich Schartner, the project manager of trAIDe, and an introduction by Rania Kimrakji, Managing Director at Royalty Consultants, all participants were given the opportunity to briefly introduce themselves and their companies. This was followed by presentations on the market development programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, as well as an overview of the Saudi Arabian economy by Robert Gehrke, Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI). Furthermore, Mukhlid Alqahtani, Managing Director of Motaded Consultancy, provided information on the processes involved in setting up a company in KSA and Muhammed Alharbi, Business Development Analyst at the Ministry of Investment, presented potential opportunities arising from the growth of the ICT sector. Finally, we were given an insight into corporate and commercial law in KSA, explained by Dr Ahmad Alkhamees, a Saudi lawyer. Now we felt well prepared and were looking forward to the upcoming talks.
But before we got down to business, another highlight awaited us: the reception at the German Embassy in Riyadh by Michael Kindsgrab, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in KSA. Christian Krewinkel, Head of the Economic Department at the German Embassy in Riyadh, was also present at the meeting. Both gentlemen presented Saudi Arabia's economic situation and its future development and also discussed the 2030 Agenda and the political situation in the Middle East. We were then able to ask questions before heading back outside for a joint photo shoot.
We rounded off the day with a wonderful dinner in Najd Village, a traditional Arabic restaurant, and reflected on our impressions of the day in lively conversation. We were served Arabic coffee, various creams and sauces, vegetables and different types of meat, including camel meat.
The Saudi-German Civil Security Congress took place on Tuesday. Here, as members of the delegation, we had the opportunity to present our company to potential customers and address their wishes and challenges in one-on-one discussions. It quickly became clear that our guard control system can optimally meet the needs of the Saudi Arabian interested parties and also includes functions that they were not even aware of.
We were also delighted to meet up again with Sören Lange and Sylvia Auerbach from our long-standing customer Secoserv. After an exciting presentation, in which we learnt more about the company's ideas in the field of drone technology, we were able to discuss our customer's wishes in more detail. Once again, COREDINATE's strength in customising to the respective conditions of use and finding optimal solutions for every area of application was demonstrated.
Wednesday had another highlight in store for us: a visit to the headquarters of the National Security Services Company SAFE. Even from the outside, SAFE looks impressive. The futuristic architecture is certainly one of the most striking buildings in the city. And as impressive as it looks from the outside, the interior is just as extraordinary. The heart of the company is the large dome-shaped command centre: a completely circular room, the ceiling of which forms the inside of a dome, the entire country is monitored live on large screens and incidents are reported immediately.
Unfortunately, pictures of the inside of the dome are not allowed to be published and the description of it will have to suffice for our readers. We felt like we were in a mixture of action film and Star Trek. Almost like on the bridge of the USS Enterprise in the TV series, data appeared on the screens, messages were analysed and instructions were sent out. A fascinating glimpse into the possibilities and future of our industry. We should also mention the warm hospitality and the promising discussions with SAFE executives.
Of course, we also had the opportunity to get to know the country and its culture better. We visited the Al Bujairi Heritage Park in Wadi Hanifa, in the Al Bujairi district of Diriyah in Riyadh. In an idyllic setting among plants and terraces, the park offered a perfect balance to the hustle and bustle of Riyadh. Directly opposite the park is the historic district of At-Turaif, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once again, modernity and history come together in a unique way. The open-air museum, which not only impresses with its striking buildings in the Najdi style, is considered the birthplace of Saudi Arabia. In this magical setting, we were able to marvel at historical artefacts from the late 18th and early 19th centuries and gain an insight into the history of the first Saudi state.
During our penultimate dinner together at the Beirut Khanum Restaurant, we marvelled at the spectacular light installations overlooking Riyadh City Boulevard. As so often on this trip, the boundaries between modern technology and tradition blur almost effortlessly.
On our last day in Riyadh, we had the opportunity to hold feedback meetings with trAIDe and make arrangements with potential customers. Afterwards, we went sightseeing one last time. We took the lift to the 99th floor of the Kingdom Centre and were able to enjoy a wonderful view of the city from the Sky Bridge at a height of almost 300 metres. We bid a silent farewell to this fascinating city with all its potential and are delighted with the impressions and memories of innovations and people that we will take home with us from this fantastic trip.
What is the 2030 agenda?
Saudi Vision 2030, initiated on 25 January 2016 under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, aims to fundamentally transform Saudi Arabia. It positions the nation as a global investment power and a critical hub connecting Asia, Europe and Africa. This strategic framework is not only about diversifying the economy and reducing dependence on oil, but also about developing public service sectors, which offers significant opportunities for foreign companies, including us Germans.
For a German company in the security sector that offers a guard control system, Saudi Vision 2030 opens up far-reaching business opportunities. The vision emphasises the development of non-oil industries, including technology and infrastructure, which are crucial for a modern security sector. The focus on diversifying the economy means a growing demand for advanced technological solutions in guard control systems to improve efficiency and safety in various sectors, from oil and gas to hospitality and other emerging industries.
The plan's commitment to social and economic reform, including job creation and improving the quality of life, harmonises with the need for sophisticated guard control systems. These systems can play a critical role in optimising operations, ensuring compliance with labour laws and improving overall efficiency in the workplace.
The King of Saudi Arabia: Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (born 31 December 1935 in Riyadh)
has been the absolutist King of Saudi Arabia since 23 January 2015. As such, he is also commander-in-chief of the Saudi military.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia's vision to become a global investment power implies significant investments in infrastructure and industry, leading to an increasing need for security management in new projects. As the country aims to strengthen its domestic military industry and improve public service sectors, the demand for state-of-the-art security solutions, including guard control systems, will increase.
Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (born 31 August 1985 in Jeddah) has been Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia since 2017 and also Prime Minister since 2022. He is also Chairman of the Council for Economy and Development and the Council for Political and Security Affairs. He was Minister of Defence and has been Prime Minister since 2022. He is considered the de facto ruler of the country.
Saudi Arabia's strategic location, serving as a hub for three continents, also means that a successful market entry could serve as a gateway for further expansion into neighbouring regions. Therefore, the potential for a German company specialising in security and guard control systems is significant, offering not only the opportunity to participate in the transformational journey of one of the world's most dynamic economies, but also to establish a strong presence in the wider Middle East market.
Last but not least, we would like to thank Dietrich Schartner and Fabian Kienzler from trAIDe for the organisation from Germany and Rania Kimrakji and Thomas Pohl from Royalty Consultants for the organisation on site.
The experience with Prof Dr Roman Brylka from The Green Bridge was particularly exciting. He needed to explain his topic of area seals to us. Open AreaSeals are, based on an innovative and open standard, activated unique, geo-referenced data equivalents through which geo-data, i.e. information linked to addresses, points, lines and areas, can be easily and directly processed by computer programmes and databases, such as BI, Ml and AI integrations. Open AreaSeals thus represent the missing link between geo-information and data processing and are therefore an important building block for GREEN DATA - efficient and sustainable data processing for a secure future.
We have already mentioned Secoserv GmbH, represented by Sören Lange and Sylvia Auerbach, above. But thank you once again for allowing us to use the live system for our demonstrations.
Prof Dr Jörg Kessler fascinated us with his chain curtains, which are used to protect entire buildings from attack.
The company Scharfe Sicht GmbH was represented by Sara Semsipasa and Ahmed Zaid Abdulrab AlMatari.
Ahmad Lindenberg represented the company RFS Global.
And we also had a nice chat with our market companion Gerd Allmendinger and Mathias Henning.
Many thanks for the great encounters!