Mastercard's Vision for a Digital and Green Economy in the UAE | Kanebridge News
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Mastercard’s Vision for a Digital and Green Economy in the UAE

The surge in digital payment adoption has been remarkable, with Mastercard data highlighting a swift rise in new payment methodologies.

Wed, Mar 13, 2024 8:25pmGrey Clock 2 min

The total expenditure through international cards in the UAE saw an increase exceeding 25% over the course of 2023. J.K. Khalil, the General Manager for MENA East at Mastercard, observed that digital payments have been witnessing substantial growth within the UAE, with a growing number of users and businesses preferring them over traditional cash transactions due to their enhanced convenience and security levels. Additionally, Khalil pointed out the essential role of international card expenditures in both the UAE and GCC regions in facilitating the recovery of the travel industry.

J.K. Khalil, the General Manager for MENA East at Mastercard

The Expanding Scene of Digital Payments

The volume and value of transactions via card and digital payment methods across the Middle East and North Africa have experienced a significant uptick, with a 20% increase in value and a surge of over 50% in transaction volume. This marks a notable shift towards digital payments for daily expenditures.

Khalil attributes this growth to the consumer demand for speed, convenience, and security, which are the primary motivators behind the expansion of digital payment systems. He reinforced Mastercard’s dedication to refining transaction processes and boosting payment efficiency across the region through strategic partnerships and comprehensive digital payment solutions.

Insights from Mastercard’s payment index reveal an impressive adoption rate of innovative payment methods, with 85% of people in the region and 88% in the UAE adopting new payment technologies such as mobile contactless payments, “buy now, pay later” options, cryptocurrencies, and wearable devices.

Furthermore, Khalil highlighted the growth in cross-border payments, especially significant in connecting expatriates with their home countries, a crucial factor in regions with large expatriate communities like the GCC.

According to Mastercard’s 2023 cross-border payments report, 48% of UAE residents expect an increase in cross-border transactions in the next 12 months, with 36% anticipating receiving more international payments within the same timeframe. Khalil reiterated Mastercard’s commitment to supporting communities with safe, convenient, and efficient international money transfer methods at reasonable costs, with services reaching over 180 countries and covering more than 90% of the world’s banked population.

Khalil also emphasized Mastercard’s focus on financial inclusion, aiming to integrate one billion individuals and 50 million micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) into the digital economy by 2025.

Mastercard is set on providing the necessary digital support for small businesses to flourish in the digital economy, offering customized payment solutions to help startups and SMEs execute secure, quick transactions and expand their customer reach.

He also mentioned Mastercard’s “Sustainable Cards Pledge” introduced at COP28 in the UAE, aiming for a transition to sustainable card materials by 2025. This initiative saw immediate support from over ten financial institutions, positioning the UAE as a leader in sustainable card adoption, ahead of Mastercard’s global 2028 target.

A study by Mastercard indicated a growing emphasis on sustainability among Middle Eastern consumers, with a vast majority ready to act on environmental concerns, signaling a shift towards supporting brands with strong commitments to environmental sustainability.



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Saudi Arabia’s 2024 Summer TOURISM Plans Unveils New Incentives and Global Attractions

“Saudi Summer is Next Door” plans to boost tourism in the Kingdom over four months across seven destinations.

Wed, May 22, 2024 4 min

Saudi Arabia has unveiled its plan to attract international tourists this summer. The strategy includes appealing visa options, complimentary airline tickets for families, a lineup of major events, and opportunities for tax-free shopping.

The initiative, organized under the guidance of Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism and Chairman of the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), is named “Saudi Summer is Next Door.”

Jeddah

Extensive Summer 2024 Tourism Activities

The initiative will span four months, ending in September, and will be hosted across seven key destinations: Aseer, Al Baha, Taif, the Red Sea, Jeddah, Riyadh, and AlUla.

It features over 550 tourism products and more than 150 specially tailored offers and packages for families and various interest groups including adventure enthusiasts, luxury seekers, and cultural and heritage buffs.

The launch event of the Saudi Summer Program 2024 was attended by notable figures such as Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, in addition to more than 250 key partners from both public and private sectors, prominent media personalities, and influential opinion leaders.

Showcasing Global Events and Cultural Richness

This year’s program will also welcome back the Jeddah Season and introduce the Aseer Season, each filled with various activities and events for families. The Kingdom will host several significant events as part of the summer program, including the first Esports World Cup in Riyadh, an eight-week competition featuring top esports athletes, and various boxing tournaments in Riyadh and Jeddah.

During the event, Al Khateeb highlighted the latest global tourism trends, the Kingdom’s growth in the tourism sector, and the record-high tourist numbers that have propelled Saudi Arabia to the top of the UN World Tourism list and the G20 nations list.

Al Baha

Al Khateeb emphasized, “Saudi Arabia is witnessing a transformative period in tourism, driven by our vision to position the Kingdom as a premier global destination. The Saudi Summer Program 2024 is our commitment to showcasing the rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and unparalleled hospitality that Saudi Arabia offers. “We invite local and international tourists to experience the diversity of our seven unique destinations and take advantage of the exceptional offers and packages designed to create unforgettable memories. “This initiative, supported by our strategic partnerships and groundbreaking efforts like the eVisa and increased flight connectivity, demonstrates our dedication to making Saudi Arabia more accessible and appealing to tourists worldwide. “We look forward to welcoming visitors from all corners of the globe to explore and enjoy the vibrant experiences that await them this summer.”

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, also remarked, “Saudi tourism is witnessing unparalleled development at all levels, achieving great leaps in recent years, which I witnessed during my multiple visits to this hospitable country.”

Riyadh

“Saudi Arabia has global indicators related to the number of tourists, which has qualified it to top the UN World Tourism list of significant tourist destinations.”

“All of these great achievements for Saudi tourism would not have been possible without proper planning by those in charge of the sector in the Kingdom and the great potential it possesses in terms of diverse climates, stunning natural landmarks, and the generosity of Saudi people who are distinguished by their hospitality, raising the ceiling of ambitions for new achievements.”

STA CEO Fahd Hamidaddin said: “While temperatures in the region rise to high levels during summer, temperatures in the highlands of Saudi Arabia in the southern region decrease to the extent that we even witnessed snowfall in Al Soudah yesterday.” “Through the promotional campaign for the Saudi Summer Program 2024, we seek to highlight the uniqueness of our destinations and their climatic, natural, and cultural diversity, along with the exceptional events and activities happening during summer. “This year’s summer program includes more than 550 tourism products and 150 special offers designed in collaboration with STA’s partners, which include attractive offers from hotels, airlines offering free tickets for children in partnership with major travel, tourism, and aviation companies, and exceptional products in the Aseer Season and Jeddah Season like tax-free shopping offers and many new and exciting experiences such as private beaches for tourists and ladies’ beaches.”

“The campaign slogan “Saudi Summer is Next Door” embodies an open invitation to explore the magic of Saudi destinations and their diversity. This diversity is expressed with simple words that reflect the uniqueness of each destination, such as “Closer,” “Cooler,” “More Beautiful,” and “More Affordable.”

The private sector is a very important component of the success of tourism programs and initiatives, and the Saudi Tourism Authority is committed to empowering it by fostering demand for products and offers that align with the aspirations of tourists globally.

The launch of the Saudi Summer Program 2024 marks a period when visiting the Kingdom has become easier, smoother, and safer through measures such as the availability of the eVisa to citizens of 66 countries, a 20 percent reduction in eVisa prices, and a significant increase in the number of weekly flights from

Gulf cities to Saudi summer destinations, now totaling 1,100.

Residents of the GCC can also benefit from the GCC residents visa, which allows them multiple entries and a stay of up to 90 days in the Kingdom over a year. Moreover, the number of hotel rooms available to travelers is set to increase, with an additional 25,000 rooms expected to be added this year.

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