Saudi Arabia witnessed the launch of the National Industrial and Logistics Program (NIDLP), the most ambitious initiative under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan on Monday in the presence of Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman. During the launch event at Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton hotel, 37 agreements worth SR235 billion were signed across four key economic sectors – mining, industry, logistics and energy.
NIDLP aims to transform Saudi Arabia into an “industrial powerhouse”, reduce its dependence on imports, and eventually boost the economy. By 2030, it will contribute about SR1.2 trillion to the Saudi economy. Domestic production will rise by more than SR700 billion, raising the value of Saudi Arabia’s exports to over SR1 trillion and creating at least 1.6 million jobs.
With more than 300 initiatives underway, and 34 government agencies involved, the program highlights local and international private sector as its key driver to fuel up 12 diverse sectors in the Saudi economy.
Agreements signed at the event includes large-scale deals with Thales of France and CMI of Belgium in the military industries sector, and one between the Saudi Export Development Authority and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to launch an initiative to boost export financing, as well as major deals between Aramco and SABIC.
Arab News – 29 January 2019
The central banks of Saudi Arabia and the UAE has announced more details about the launch of a common digital currency ,named ‘Aber’, between the two countries.
The new currency will be used for financial settlements between Saudi Arabia and UAE through Blockchains and Distributed Ledger technologies and is expected to lower remittance costs between the two countries.
It will also establish an additional means for the central financial transfer systems of the two neighboring countries and allow banks to directly deal with each other in conducting financial remittances.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and the UAE Central Bank (UAECB) said in a joint statement that the pilot project plans to concentrate on the technical aspects of Aber, with the use of currency restricted to limited number of banks in each state. If there are no technical obstacles encountered, economic and legal requirements for future uses will be considered, the banks stated.
Khaleej Times – 29 January 2019
The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has announced new guidelines to ensure comfortable work atmosphere for women with the aim of boosting employment among Saudi women. The directives issued by the labor ministry stipulates that employers must create a suitable environment for women to carry out their responsibilities and ensure that women are paid equally with men.
Work spaces must include private toilets and separate work areas for female employees in addition to suitable place for prayer and resting.
The initiative also specifies that there should be at least two women on shifts where men are also working, and working hours for women should not exceed beyond 11 pm except for those in the medical profession.
Khaleej Times – 21 January 2019
A report published by the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council (USSABC) that highlights new economic trends and opportunities in Saudi Arabia noted that the Saudi defense sector will experience strong growth in the next decade.
The report, titled “Defense, Security and Aerospace”, anticipates a contribution of SR231.27 billion by the defense sector to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 and generation of over 2.52 million private sector jobs in public administration and defense by 2028. The report also noted cyber-security as one of the Kingdom’s fastest growing segments in the sector.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia announced a military budget of SR191 billion, with defense and military accounting for 17.3 percent of the Kingdom’s total SR1.11 trillion spending plans.
Arab News – 21 January 2019
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has launched a program to issue compensatory visas to deal with the dearth of qualified Saudi workforce in certain rare professions and specializations. According to reports from officials, private companies falling in the platinum and high green domains can take advantage of this new initiative to maintain their stability and improve performance.
Under this initiative, if a firm is entitled to a compensatory visa in place of one who left the firm on final exit visa, it will be able to obtain it directly through availing the ministry’s electronic services.
Earlier, the ministry had identified eight trades in the private sector, namely, engineering, medicine, nursing, IT, pharmacy, medical technology, accounting and finance, where there is a shortage of qualified Saudis to take up jobs.
Saudi Arabia will start building the first urban area of the proposed $500 billion mega-city NEOM along the north-western coast of the Kingdom soon, officials announced on Wednesday. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the chairman of the NEOM founding board, approved the master-plan concept for NEOM Bay which includes luxurious homes,high-end hotels, lifestyle and tourist facilities, and innovation centers.
NEOM Bay is expected to offer next-generation technologies in mobility and create an intelligent urban ecosystem with advanced infrastructure. It will offer unique opportunities for investors as well as tourists that will provide impetus for the growth of the new sector. Construction works on NEOM Bay is expected to start in the first quarter of 2019 and will be completed by 2020, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
A number of facilities at NEOM will be opened by the end of this year, including the current airport at Sharma, which will offer regular flights to Riyadh, SPA reported.
Arab News– 16 January 2019
A report published by Saudi Arabian General Investments Authority (SAGIA) on its accomplishments in 2018 noted a 99 percent increase in the number of licensed investments and a 100 percent increase in the number of investment expansion requests in the Kingdom last year. The report also highlighted that the time required for issuance of a new license has been minimized to 2.5 hours and that for an amendment service has been reduced to 3 hours leading to a 94 percent increase in investors’ general satisfaction rate.
The networking and information technology sector saw the largest number of investments in 2018, marking a 200 percent increase in the number of investment projects, pointed out SAGIA Deputy Governor Ibrahim Bin Saleh Al-Suwayyil. He added that the professional, scientific and technical service sector has ranked second, with an increase of 155 percent, followed by the wholesale and retail trade sector, with an increase of 103 percent, and the manufacturing sector, with an increase of 74 percent.
Al-Suwayyil attributed this advancement in the investment sector to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to numerous countries and capitals, which played a prominent role in highlighting the potential and investment opportunities of the Kingdom to achieve Vision 2030 through signing several agreements with countries that have economic experience in diverse sectors.
Arab News– 13 January 2019
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) announced on Tuesday a new initiative to extend validity of work visas for expatriates to two years instead of one without any additional fees. The extension of time will be applicable to new as well as old visas.
The Ministry said in a statement that the new initiative is taking into consideration the practical operational aspects facing private sector enterprises, overcoming obstacles, facilitating private sector enterprises, and aims to stimulate the private sector to settle. The statement added that private sector companies can cancel old visas and issue new visas for two years under the applicable visa requirements if needed.
Earlier in 2017, the Ministry had reduced the validity of work visas from two to one year for private sector employees, exempting domestic workers and expatriates working at government agencies.
Saudi Gazette– 08 January 2019
Dammam’s King Fahad International Airport has been awarded 2nd rank in the list of world’s best medium airports. According to reports from Official Airports Guide (OAG), an airport and airline assessment specialist, the award has been awarded to the world’s best medium airports that met departure and arrival schedules accurately in 2018.
Over 58 million flights have been analysed from all airports across the world and evaluated based on the accuracy of flight schedules to take off and arrive within 15 minutes of scheduled dates to prepare the OAG report.
King Fahad International Airport acts as the Kingdom’s eastern gateway and is considered as the world’s largest by area with a passenger handling capacity of 247,500.
The Saudi Arabian economy recorded it’s fastest growth since early 2016 during the third quarter of 2018. The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 2.5 percent from a year earlier to SR 653.7 billion, accelerating from the second quarter’s GDP growth of 1.6 percent.
The rise in GDP is attributed to a strong performance by the oil sector which expanded by 3.7 percent from a year ago in Q3, after 1.3 percent in Q2.
However, the Kingdom’s non-oil sector, the key to its job creation and diversification dreams showed sluggish growth with a drop to 2.1 percent from 2.4 percent.
Government officials have predicted a gradual boost of the non-oil sector in the coming year and bank lending to private sector has risen by 2.3 percent in comparison to last year, the fastest since 2016.
The data published by the statistics agency suggests a recovery of the Saudi economy after it has been hardly hit in recent years by low oil prices and state austerity measures to curb a huge budget deficit.