Saudi Arabia and Egypt signed a $10 billion joint investment fund to develop NEOM, the mega-city planned in the north-western region of the Kingdom, as part of Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s Egypt visit this week.
NEOM, a mega investment and business special zone unveiled by Prince Muhammed last October as part of plans to diversify the Kingdom’s oil dependent economy, will be the world’s first private zone to extend across three countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan.
NEOM targets nine investment sectors including energy and water, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, food, media, and entertainment. The focus on these industries is expected to reduce GDP leakage by providing fresh investment opportunities within the country.
The current deal is focussed on developing the Egyptian side of NEOM, which stretches over 1,000 square kilometers of land in the Southern Sinai. “Saudi Arabia and Egypt have set up a joint fund of equal shares valued at more than $10 billion. The Egyptians share comprises a leased land for (the) long term”, quoted government sources.
As part of the deal, Saudi Arabia will build seven cities and tourism projects, while Egypt will contribute by developing the existing resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.
Moreover, officials have clarified that Saudi Arabia is currently involved in negotiation talks with more than seven tourism-related operators and the Kingdom is currently working in collaboration with Egypt and Jordan to attract more European cruise and tourism companies to operate in the Red Sea.
Another agreement, focussing on protecting the marine environment as well as maintaining coral reefs and beaches in the Red Sea was also signed between Egypt and Saudi Arabia during the Crown Prince’s visit.
Separately, Saudi Arabia will start construction of the proposed luxury resorts on islands and other sites on the Red Sea in 2019 and the project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
The Director General of Passports (Jawazat) reminded expatriates who haven’t documented their fingerprints to complete their registration process soon. Further, it called on expatriates to abide by residency-related regulations in the Kingdom.
Expatriates and their dependents who are six years of age or above must document their fingerprints at any of the fingerprinting centers set up across the Kingdom. The Jawazat also warned expatriates that if they did not hurry up and register their fingerprints, then they will be denied of various electronic services like issuance of exit/re-entry visas and their computer records will be blocked.
The General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) clarified on Twitter that dependent fee would not be refunded to expatriate family members if they leave the Kingdom before the expiry of their iqamas.
The General Directorate of Passports clarified through its official Twitter account that dependent fee will not be refunded to expat family members who have opted to leave the Kingdom on final exit before the expiry of their iqamas.
The dependent fee, introduced by Saudi Arabia in 2017, is linked with a renewal of iqama or issuance of exit and re-entry visa or final exit visa, whichever comes first. It is mandatory for expatriate families to settle the dependent fee amount for all its dependent members during iqama renewal. However, exit re-entry process can be done against single individual dependent by paying the fee till the date of the validity of iqama.
The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) extended the license period for foreign investments from one year to a renewable period of up to five years.
The new efforts were designed to aid the Kingdom’s recent economic changes and promote foreign investment in the Kingdom in line with Vision 2030, stated Ibrahim S Al-Suwayel, Deputy Governor for Investors’ Services and Consultancy.
Under the new rule, investors would be provided the option to reduce minimum license period to just one year as well.
Al-Suwayel said that the Ministry’s recent decision to reduce the time taken to issue business licenses from two days to just four hours by restructuring the processes, reducing the number of documents required from eight to two and training and certifying staff, has already shown a positive effect in attracting new investments to the Kingdom. The new decision to extend license period will also accelerate SAGIA’s efforts to attract foreign investments to the Kingdom, he added.
The higher committee on public transport announced the commencement of new public transport service in Riyadh and Jeddah from Tuesday onwards. The committee urged citizens and expatriates to make the best use of the new public transport service which would cost SR3 per trip and asked them to provide their remarks and reviews about the new service.
The modern public transport system, which replaces the Khat Al-Balad (downtown route) services were announced by the Council of Ministers earlier this year.
The committee has asked drivers of halflas (mini-buses) on the Khat Al-Balad to either work with the Saudi Public Transport Company (Saptco) for monthly salaries or obtain loans from the Social Development Bank to start their own business. As for those who fail to do both, they will be asked to join the Government’s program on social security to receive regular financial assistance.
In Riyadh, the public transportation system will be managed by a national company under the guidance of the High Commission for the Development of Riyadh while in Jeddah it will be under the control of Metro Jeddah Company.
The Directorate General of Traffic (Muroor) banned the use of mobile phones while driving in Saudi Arabia from Monday onwards. During the first phase, special cameras will be installed in Riyadh, Dammam, and Jeddah to electronically monitor motorists using or touching mobile phones while driving.
A recent study by King Abdullah Medical Research Center in Riyadh revealed that 13.8 percent of motorists use mobile phones while driving. Moreover, the use of mobile phones while driving has been found to be the key reason behind accidents and this has led to the use of modern technology to detect traffic violations in the Kingdom.
In addition to banning mobile phone usage, seat-belts are now mandatory for drivers and passengers in the front seat and those who fail to wear them will be detected by cameras and fined.
The traffic authority said that for the first offense, motorists will be fined SR 150 which may increase to SR 300 if the violator repeats the offense, and the violator may be detained for 24 hours as well.