Saudi Arabia recalls its envoy to Sweden
The Saudi Ambassador to Sweden Ibrahim bin Saad Al-Ibrahim has been recalled to Riyadh following further deterioration of relations between the two nations.
The news was given in a brief statement by the Saudi state news agency SPA saying that: “The move to recall Ambassador Ibrahim S. Al-Ibrahim was prompted by remarks made by the Swedish foreign minister that amounted to interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom, in violation of international covenants and diplomatic conventions.”
This is taken to refer to Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s having criticised Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and describing Riyadh's sentencing of the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to what she called a "mediaeval" 1,000 lashes.
Earlier this week Wallstrom was prevented from giving a speech to the Arab League in Cairo after protests from Saudi delegates. Following that meeting meeting, Arab foreign ministers expressed their "condemnation and astonishment" at Wallstrom’s remarks, which were “incompatible with the fact that the constitution of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on sharia," according to a statement published by Gulf News.
The ambassador’s recall quickly followed an announcement by Sweden that it will not extend a long-standing defence cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Margot Wallstrom confirmed on Wednesday that the decision had been taken because of Saudi Arabia's lack of respect for human rights.
The agreement stems from a memorandum of understanding signed with Saudi Arabia in 2005. It set out details of cooperation on intelligence, surveillance and weapons manufacture, and paved the way for the sale of Saab's Erieye radar system to the Saudis in 2010. This deal has to be ratified every five years: the next renewal date would have been in May. While Sweden’s powerful armaments lobby is upset by the cancellation, it is something that has been called for by the many within the country’s left-leaning coalition.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.