As the country celebrated its 88th National day, Saudi Arabia announced 10 major projects and investments worth more than SR685 billion to boost the country’s economy.
These projects, which aims at diversifying the Kingdom’s income, tackling environmental issues and increasing investment and prosperity, indicate the Kingdom’s revolutionary vision under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman.
A report published by the Council of Saudi Chambers on the great economic achievements of Saudi Arabia in 2017 highlights lifting of ban on women driving, the establishment of the General Authority of Cyber Security, the issuance of numerous royal decrees providing financial assistance to Saudi nationals, the launch of private sector incentive program worth SR72 billion, the privatization of 10 government sectors and the establishment of the General Authority of Real Estate as the Kingdom’s key achievements in 2017.
The report, which summarizes all major events and economic developments in the Kingdom during the last year, noted that private sector is still actively playing a major role in the inclusive development process of the Kingdom and in the success of Kingdom’s dream project Vision 2030.
The private sector contributed SR1236.6 million to the GDP at constant prices, almost double compared to 2016. With the constant support of the Saudi government, the private sector continued its growth in 2017 and witnessed an increase in the number of workers, in its capital, in the number of shares in the Saudi Market, in the cumulative number of establishments operating in the Kingdom, and in non-oil exports.
Arab News – 23 September 2018
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced the launch of a new online visa process allowing fans from across the globe to attend their favourite sporting or musical events in the Kingdom.
The new visa programme, known as ‘Sharek’ was announced during the launch of Ad Diriyah E-Prix as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 which plans to boost tourism spending in the country by local citizens as well as foreigners to $46.6 billion in 2020 from $27.9 billion in 2015.
‘Sharek’ will be introduced at the inaugural Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix being staged at a stunning UNESCO heritage site on the outskirts of Riyadh on December 15, 2018.
With the new decision to open its borders to international tourists, the General Sports Authority (GSA) hope that a huge number of international fans will access the online visa process and travel to the country to witness the debut of Formula E in the Middle East and the debut of striking new-look Gen2 car for the start of season five.
Saudi Gazette – 26 September 2018
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that pilgrims can now visit any city in the Kingdom with their 30-day Umrah visa.
Abdul Fattah Mashat, Deputy Haj and Umrah Minister, said that the new rule, which will be subject to certain rules and regulations will come into effect this year.
Pilgrims interested in travelling across the Kingdom should request for permission before starting journey from their home country by submitting a tour plan to the authorities. They can also request for extending the validity of the visa prior to their journey. During their 30-day stay, pilgrims must spend at least 15 days visiting the two grand mosques of Makkah and Madinah, said Abdulaziz Wazzan, undersecretary of Hajj Ministry for Umrah Affairs.
Earlier, pilgrims arriving in the Kingdom with Umrah visas were only allowed to enter Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah. The decision comes as Saudi Arabia is taking major steps including promoting tourism to diversify its economy in line Vision 2030.
GulfNews – 18 September 2018
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) said in a statement that it secured its first international loan worth $11bn, marking the first step in its strategic, medium-term debt funding programme.
PIF, which is currently managing assets worth around $230 billion, said that it would use the loan for “general corporate purposes” as well as to boost the Kingdom’s diversification drive, which is the major highlight of Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030.
Yasir al-Rumayyan, Managing Director of PIF said, “We are pleased to have completed this international syndicated loan”. He added that PIF would soon develop into one of the most prominent users of banking services in the region.
Under the Future Investment Initiative launched in October 2017, PIF aims to strengthen its assets to $400 billion by 2020 and has already announced a handful of major investments, from Uber to the proposed $500 billion NEOM mega-city across the north-western regions of the Kingdom. It has also invested in space tourism company Virgin Galactic as well as entered into agreements with Softbank and Blackstone.
Saudi Gazette – 17 September 2018
The EY Barometer, an annual survey of growth strategies among entrepreneurs and middle-market leaders, found that Saudi-based businesses are more optimistic about revenue growth and business opportunities in the Kingdom in 2018 than last year.
The survey revealed that 33 percent of middle-market businesses in Saudi Arabia foresee a growth of more than 10 percent this year and sixty percent are targeting a growth of 6-10 percent, a 24-percentage hike compared to last year’s survey results.
Over one-third of the Saudi population considers regulations and reforms set by Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman as the key driver of innovation, a 28-percentage points increase since 2017. 73 percent respondents are looking forward to IPO, 29 percent waiting for overseas expansion and 18 percent for domestic growth – as another sign of gaining business confidence.
Fahad Aloaimi, the Managing Partner of EY in Saudi Arabia said that the ambitious growth expectations of Saudi middle-market quoted in the survey far outstrips the International Monetary Fund’s 2018 GDP growth forecast of 1.7 percent and that this is very encouraging for Saudi businesses. “This is very encouraging for Saudi businesses- one of the key goals of Vision 2030 was to increase participation from middle-market businesses in the economy, and this has clearly boosted confidence”, he added.
The Ministry of Finance on Monday dismissed rumours regarding imposition of fees on expatriate remittance, according to reports from the Saudi Press Agency. The statement was issued in response to several “baseless and unfounded” reports circulating through the media.
The ministry emphasised that free movement of capital through official channels in accordance with international standards and practices comes in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which plans to diversify the economy and attract foreign investors.
The ministry added that this will also enhance foreign investors confidence in the Kingdom’s economy and financial systems. The Kingdom is home to more than 10 million foreign workers who in 2017 sent almost $38 billion to their homes.
Saudi Gazette – 04 September 2018
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman was presented with the 54th annual report of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) on Wednesday in the presence of Minister of Finance Al-Jadaan, SAMA Governer Dr.Ahmed Al-Khulaifi and the governor’s deputies during a reception at Al-Salam Palace.
The report, which examines the economic and financial developments of the country in 2017 indicated that despite a GDP drop of 0.86 percent, the Saudi economy still saw several positive indicators during the last year.
Even though the GDP of the oil sector contracted by 3.09 percent, the non-oil sector registered a positive GDP growth of 1.05 percent. The average consumer index decreased by 0.9 percent in 2017 compared to a growth of 2.0 percent in 2016.
Al-Khulaifi said that one major positive indicator witnessed by the country is the Kingdom’s current account of the balance of payments, which recorded a surplus of SR57.1 billion in 2017 against a deficit of SR89.4 billion in 2016.
He added that the addition of Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in a number of global market indexes such as Morgan Stanley, Standard & Poor’s(S&P) and FTSE Index for emerging markets will contribute to enhancing the efficiency of the financial market and increasing market attractiveness for Saudi and foreign investors.
Al-Khulaifi said that accelerating the growth of the financial sector was one of SAMA’s key tasks and expressed hope that the local economy would continue to adjust to reforms adopted during the last two years by attaining good growth rates and contributing to the goals of the Kingdom.
King Salman praised SAMA’s efforts in serving the national economy and achieving desired objectives as part of Vision 2030.
Arab News – 05 September 2018
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has named an advisory board consisting of 11 business minds and experts from across the globe that will provide strategic guidance to the development of Kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII).
Advisory board members include Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Japan’s SoftBank Group, Joe Kaesar, the president and chief executive of German industrial giant Siemens, Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of private equity Blackstone, which manages about $450 billion of assets, Mohammed Ali Alabbar, the founder of Emaar Properties, Lubna Olayan, the CEO of Olayan Financing Company, Arianna Huffington and Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments, Ajay Banga, the chief of Mastercard, Victor Chu, the chairman of First Eastern Investment Group, Tidjane Thiam, the CEO of Credit Suisse Group and Peter Theil, the co-founder of the Founders Fund, according to a statement from PIF.
The event that debuted in the Kingdom last year will explore how investment can be used to drive growth opportunities, fuel innovation and shape future economies in this year’s summit.
The second edition of FII is taking place in Riyadh on October 23-25, 2018 and will include three summits looking at new health care frontiers, immersive technologies and the urban future. It will also review emerging business and investment trends, and early-stage growth opportunities.
Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion mega-city projects, NEOM, has appointed Aradhana Khowala as its Managing Director of Tourism.
Khowala, CEO and founder of hospitality and tourism consulting firm Aptamind and a Global Advisory Board Member of the World Tourism Forum, Lucerne is a global authority on the travel, tourism and hospitality industry and was awarded the 21st Century Icon Awards in association with CNBC and London School of Economics as an inspirational game changer.
Khowala’s appointment was confirmed by NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr on NEOM’s official Twitter account. He tweeted, “We will be working alongside Aradhana to make NEOM an exceptional global tourism destination looking ahead to the future”.
NEOM, a mega investment and business special zone unveiled by Prince Muhammed last October at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference 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.
The 26,500-square km mega city will offer an open platform for investing and financing. The zone will be designed to function independently of the Kingdom’s rules and regulations.
Backed by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), NEOM will also strive to become the most efficient destination in the world by ensuring cent percent automation of all services and operations. In the future, robots will take over repetitive and laborious tasks.
Earlier in July, King Salman enjoyed his vacation at NEOM, according to state media.