The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) has announced that it is developing an integrated payment environment to link traders, customers and service providers to complete payments through the same platform regardless of service provider.

Ahmed Alkholifey, the Governor of SAMA, said that SAMA is focusing on reducing the dependence on cash circulation through continuous development and modification of the Kingdom’s payment infrastructure to facilitate the country’s transition to an electronic payment environment, which in turn contributes towards a cashless economy, in line with the objectives of the Financial Sector Development Program.

The Saudi Payments Company has been working to standardize the payments of smart devices through the QR code technology, which helps to improve the level of service, and facilitate, and make available through a unified window serving all customers e-portfolios depending on their brands.

The consumers in Saudi Arabia are embracing online payments at a tremendous speed and has shown a 40% month-on-month growth, in line with the global growth rate of adoption.

Saudi Gazette – 24 February 2019   

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/559885/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-Arabia-developing-integrated-payment-environment

Saudi Arabia is undertaking several measures to push reforms to boost its private sector. An investment workshop titled “The key reforms that serve investors” hosted in Dammam by the Eastern Province Chamber highlighted the improvements to existing procedures and the new initiatives that are helping to cut bureaucracy and make it easier to do business in the Kingdom. The event focused on stakeholders who promote the national economy and bring in global investments to the country.

 

The chamber’s initiative ‘Tayseer’, which is in charge of improving the performance of businesses in the private sector, has partnered with 40 government bodies and launched 300 initiatives, of which 136 have been completed and 167 are still in progress. These programs have been designed with the aim to improve the Kingdom’s ranking in international indicators, attract national and foreign investments and improve the private sector’s contribution to the GDP, said Fahd Al-Shaalan, a member of Tayseer committee.

 

Thanian Al-Thanian, a member of the General Customs Authority noted the role played by the authority in decreasing the number of import documents from twelve to only two and export documents from nine to two. The integrated electronic environment created by the authorities helped in promoting transparency of imports, exports and electronic connectivity between government authorities and the private sector.

 

Arab News – 26 February 2019

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1457096/saudi-arabia

The UAE and Saudi Arabia’s relations have always known to be brotherly where both countries look forward to forming stable and profitable links for improved financial and security conditions. Both the countries do not hesitate in stepping forward towards forming more beneficial relations via meetings and gatherings. After the Saudi-UAE council’s meeting held last year in the presence of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the officials from both the sides gathered this year in Riyadh for discussing and developing powerful strategies for improved relations.

The council meetings held for an open discussion between the officials of both the countries are meant to empower financial sectors affiliated with a joint approach. The Saudi-UAE council discussed integral fractions including finance, security, and economic plus knowledgeable development.

This was the first version of the council’s meeting ever since its foundation last year. The council was led by Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri from Saudi Arabia and Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Gergawi from the UAE side. Along with the other officials, both the country representatives made sure to discuss every aspect to strengthen the bond.

An executive committee of the council was also formed and signed by the officials to ensure the same stability in the future. Apart from this, some of the key points of the Saudi-UAE council meeting include:

  1. Joint events were encouraged and ensured for small traders of both the countries. This is to enhance the economic state of the brotherly countries together via increasingly powerful steps taken.
  2. A joint security cooperation program was signed by both the countries that stated an agreement on the security and supply chain. According to Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, the meeting will prove to be greatly beneficial in terms of affiliated security measures taken in collaboration with the UAE and its productive approach.
  3. The travel sector of both the countries is looked into by planning practical access for the locals and expatriates. This is a noteworthy step to actually make the infrastructure and facilities more favorable.
  4. A virtual e-currency project was also launched during the meeting in Riyadh that encourages improved ways of trading between the banks of both the countries. It is an experimental project that will reflect the idea of making it permanent once technology approves of it.

The council was established with the intention of achieving improved economic targets in the coming years. As officials from both the sides were extremely hopeful after the formation of the executive council, it will definitely be very exciting to witness both the countries involving in activities and measures together as a joint venture.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia’s trade market is also set to experience a great redemption of the local and foreign businesses as the initiatives taken in the last meeting claim to be quite fulfilling. The promising attitude of the country’s officials was very much evident in the conference held after the meeting to brief the media about the latest development and signed contracts.

Saudi Arabia’s non-conventional approach towards its businesses, human, and all other sectors have been the talk of the town ever since the launch of vision 2030. The vision does not only support a particular idea of an improved economy but also empowers the concept of improving young leaders by supporting them in leading a profitable educational plus professional career. Back in the previous year, big technology enterprises like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amadeus, and Udacity partnered together for the Jadarah program. Things were in absolute favor for the country, its young Arab leaders, and the overall approach leading towards a prosperous and progressive Saudi Arabia. The program was a big hit among the masses and majorly encouraged by big and popular industrialists.

In addition to this or in continuation to the Jadarah program 2018 to be precise, local KSA candidates or the ones who belong to a GCC country are welcomed again to the platform of a similar sort in 2019. The Saudi Jadarah program has now been affiliated with some more big names of the industry namely Amazon Web Services, the University of Manchester Middle East Centre, Step Group, and Microsoft.

All of the partners of Jadarah program have partnered together with the aim of sponsoring 20 fresh graduates for developing their business skills and helping them become proficient leaders of the future. This is a great step by Saudi Arabia and its business community for encouraging young talent to come forward and gain some expert knowledge about advanced business leading skills.

The program is also going to open new gates for the job opportunities in the country where it will focus on the improved condition of the job market. The Jadarah program is also based on the fact that more than 50% of the local population comprises of people aged less than 30. This means that an increasing number of job offers need to be brought in the market in order to stabilize the current economic condition. This is also a part of the vision 2030 in which al Jadarah program is going to be its one of the biggest support system.

There are full-day sessions held for the selected candidates, in which the sponsors like Microsoft first brief about the program and then move forward with teaching basic and advanced business techniques.

Some of the key points of the day-to-day sessions are:

  • To involve influential personalities from the local and international business community for creating a strong impact on the minds of the young leaders.
  • To enlighten the candidates about startups and entrepreneurship for them to explore their talent and fields of interest.
  • To not only focus on hard work and determination but also include stress management and emotional intelligence in the program.
  • To provide technical support to the worthy candidates for them to own a startup and also run with effective business techniques.
  • To select graduates only for encouraging the youth in focusing on their education first to adopt a better and guaranteed way of achieving success.

SAGIA, also known as Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, recently hit the news of increasing licensed investment projects by 99% last year. This is something phenomenal to have witnessed especially after the formation of vision 2030 when everything from an unstable economy to dependency on oil revenues seems to get sorted via higher investment rate. SAGIA, led by Ibrahim Saleh Al-Suwail is proving itself to be aligned with the vision 2030 with a crazy increase in the investment projects in the year 2018-19.

The credits for this long due consecutive success stories of a gradually improving financial condition of the country goes to King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. The long-awaited visits to the foreign countries, exploring their business and investment market, and inviting them to invest in the country have started to pay off.

According to Ibrahim Saleh Al-Suwail, this 99% increase in the licensed investment projects will prove to be greatly beneficial for the country’s flourishing time ahead. There is no denying the fact that a big part of the Saudi Arabian economy is dependent on oil revenues. For this purpose, the vision 2030 was launched with the aim of turning tables upside down. However, the techniques and official activities with which all of this has made it possible for the country officials to initiate steps like welcoming foreign investments and depending less on the oil revenues.

Here is presenting to you a statistical record of the previous year’s SAGIA licensed investments to have a better understanding of what it holds for the country’s prospering future.

  1. Networking and IT:

Networking and IT is one of the sectors that are being greatly focused on by the official authorities. From initiating Al Jadarah program to pursuing vision 2030, the rate of investment in network and information technology has witnessed a rise of whopping 200%, according to official SAGIA news.

  1. Scientific:

The scientific sector has been given the second position by SAGIA for largest licensed investment projects. An increase of 155% has been claimed to be witnessed in the previous with more foreign investors trusting local sectors.

  1. Retail and trade:

The retail and trade sectors have also given a ray of hope to the local trade community by also making it accessible for international investors. An increase of 103% has ranked the retail and trade sector on number three.

  1. Manufacturing:

The manufacturing sector has also been affiliated with the foreign partnerships in the previous year after the launch of vision 2030. A rise of 74% is confirmed by Ibrahim Saleh Al-Suwail by last year.

The effective use of strategies planned in the previous year for an enhanced economic condition of the country has been greatly advantageous. This means that each and every business sector in Saudi Arabia is being very well looked after by the finance departments as a result of which, the number of SAGIA licensed investments is rapidly increasing. Hopefully, Saudi Arabia will be able to revive its industrial sectors by the time vision 2030 completes so that the dependency on the oil revenues is reduced.

On the sidelines of the first official state visit of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman to Pakistan, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Islamabad announced that Saudi Arabia has reduced visit visa fees for Pakistanis substantially with effect from February 15, 2019.

 

Under the revised plan, visit visa fee for single entry has been reduced from SR2,000 to SR338 while the fee for multiple entry visa has been cut down to SR675 from SR3,000, thereby facilitating thousands of Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia to bring their families to the Kingdom on visit visas.

 

Earlier in December, Pakistan had also reduced visa fees for Saudis who wish to visit the country for tourism and studies to $60 while fee for business and work visa has been reduced to $90.

 

Saudi Gazette – 16 February 2019

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/559314/World/Asia/Saudi-Arabia-reduces-visit-visa-fees-for-Pakistanis

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman launched 1,281 ambitious projects worth SR82 billion in Riyadh city and its surrounding governorates at a ceremony held at Qasr Al-Hakam in Riyadh on Wednesday. Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense Prince Sultan Bin Salman, chairman of the board of the Saudi Space Authority, and Prince Rakan Bin Salman also attended the launch ceremony of the projects which aims to improve basic infrastructure and amenities of the capital city, such as transportation, housing, environment and education.

 

In line with the objectives of Vision 2030 to increase house ownership among Saudi citizens, the program includes 15 housing projects in Riyadh and its governorates. In addition, the establishment of seven medical cities, sports cities, 16 educational projects, quality recreational facilities, the largest Islamic museum in the capital, a huge environmental project for the lakes situated south of Riyadh spanning over 315,000 square meters,the expansion of airports and developing the road network are some of the programs initiated in the ceremony.

 

The projects inaugurated by the King are part of a wider program consisting of 2,830 projects announced earlier by Prince Faisal bin Bandar for the capital city at a total cost of SR 33 billion, which are expected to generate thousands of new job opportunities for the Saudi youth.

 

Arab News – 14 February 2019

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1451706/saudi-arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman launched a number of mega tourism projects in Al-Ula which will attract over two million visitors, contribute SR10 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP growth,and create at least 38,000 jobs by 2035. Crown Prince and the governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU), Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, patronized the ceremony of launching the Vision of Al-Ula at a groundbreaking event at the Maraya theater.

 

The tourism projects in the region includes the Sharaan Nature Reserve, Sharaan Resort and the establishment of the Global Fund for the  Arabian Leopard, each with the aim of conserving the region’s spectacular natural and cultural heritage, in collaboration with the local community.

 

The RCU maintains strong partnerships with global experts in its mission to protect and responsibly develop the Kingdom’s world heritage site, one of which is its partnership with France, the French Agency for Al-Ula Development (AFALULA).

 

Saudi Gazette – February 2019

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/558945/SAUDI-ARABIA/Al-Ula-projects-SR120bn-GDP-boost-38000-jobs-by-2035

The Saudi government has allocated 11.5 billion riyals to reimburse a number of companies who struggled to pay steadily increasing expatriate fees in 2017 and 2018 and waive fee hikes for few companies who were not able to pay. The labor minister Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi noted that private companies that maintained a higher or equal number of Saudi employees in comparison to expatriate employees will be eligible for the reimbursement or fee waiver.

 

He expressed hope that the initiative will support private sector companies, help them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals and encourage them to expand employment of Saudi citizens. Companies  with a lower number of Saudis versus expat employees will benefit from the initiative only after they hire more locals.

 

“The decision will have a huge positive impact on the Saudi economy and especially the manpower intensive construction sector, which was the worst hit by the collective invoice”, said Osama Al-Afaliq, head of the Saudi Contractors Association.

 

Arab News – 10 February 2019

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1449521/business-economy