By Innovation-sa on May 30, 2018 in News

The Ministry of Commerce and Investment registered Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project as a standalone closed joint-stock company, The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), solely owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF). The PIF, headed by Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, will inject initial investments into the project and later start partnerships with international companies.

The ministry appointed John Pagano, the former managing director of development for the UK’s Canary Wharf Group as the company’s chief executive. The pioneering project which is part of the Crown Prince’s blueprint to prepare the biggest Arab economy for the post-oil era will cover 50 islands and over 34,000 square kilometers of the area to attract travelers looking for luxury, tranquillity, adventure and beautiful landscapes.

The TRSDC will now create a Special Economic Zone, with its own regulatory framework that is independent of the base economy, with a special emphasis on environmental sustainability, offering visas on entry, relaxed social norms, and improved business regulations. Plans are underway to simplify entry procedures and offer visas on arrival for overseas visitors to attract huge volumes of tourists from around the globe.

The project located along the western coast of Saudi Arabia, between the cities of Al-Wajh and Umluj, some 500km north of Jeddah, will serve as a unique tourist destination throughout the year. The first phase of the venture will focus on hotels and residential units, along with a new coastal town, an airport, and a marina, and is due for completion by the end of 2022.

The project is expected to generate more than 35,000 jobs and contribute as much as SR15 billion to the local economy by attracting large volumes of global and domestic investments. TRSDC listing comes soon after the ministry has officially incorporated Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC), the entertainment, sport and cultural destination being built on the outskirts of Riyadh.

By Innovation-sa on May 27, 2018 in News

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) announced that it will start withdrawing one-riyal notes from the market from Thursday and new riyal coins will replace the notes. However, SAMA confirmed that paper currencies will still be traded alongside the new coins until all one-riyal notes are gradually withdrawn from the markets.

Earlier in December 2016, SAMA had unveiled the sixth issue of Saudi currency in different denominations, which included the new one-riyal and two-riyal coins as well as 50-halala, 25-halala, 10-halala and one-halala coins.

The one-riyal coin has a portrait of King Salman in silver in the center, on the right is the name and title of the King (Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) engraved in a golden frame and on the left is the plant motif encircling the Kingdom’s national emblem.

Like most of the developed countries, which despite the development of extensive monetary and financial systems, still depend on currencies widely, Saudi Arabia is also moving towards accepting a piece of metal as its main currency which can, later on, be used in a number of services and machines.

SAMA noted the benefits of the new decision that the average life expectancy of a coin is estimated at twenty to twenty-five years, whereas the life expectancy of a paper currency is estimated at anywhere between twelve to eighteen months, depending on the usage. Coins are efficient for recycling and their transfer and preservation remain easier than paper currency.

SAMA informed that all six categories of the currency issued are currently available at all SAMA branches and banks operating across the Kingdom. In case of any difficulty in obtaining the currency from banks, citizens are advised to register a complaint with the Customer Protection Department through or by calling the toll-free number 8001256666.


By Innovation-sa on May 27, 2018 in News

The Saudi domestic banks, which are working to capitalize on economic reforms, have cumulatively reported a 7.5 percent year-on-year growth and an 18 percent quarter-on-quarter increase in net profit for the first quarter of 2018, despite slight recessionary trends, said a report published by Moody’s Investors Service on Wednesday.

According to Moody’s, interest expenses in Saudi banks declined by 12.5 percent year-on-year and 2 percent quarter-on-quarter, suggesting a significant improvement in funding conditions in Saudi Arabia after the substantial tightening in 2016.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s improving liquidity and funding conditions since 2017 have narrowed the Saudi Arabian Interbank Offered Rate’s (SAIBOR) spread against the US dollar-denominated London Interbank Offered Rate, even reaching negative spreads in March 2018, despite several rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve, said the report.

The report also observed that Saudi banks have an average net-loans-to-deposits ratio of 83 percent and above 60 percent of their liabilities were in non-interest-bearing deposits as of March 2018.

The Kingdom’s recent economic reforms focussing on investments in non-oil related sectors and its privatization plan has opened several business opportunities and banks across the world like Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup Inc. are establishing their presence in the Kingdom.


By Innovation-sa on May 22, 2018 in News

The high-speed Haramain Express train connecting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah will roll out this September with four trains per week, in the beginning, followed by daily services by September 2019, the Spanish consortium building the project announced on Thursday.

The 300kph high-speed intercity rail transport system linking Madinah and Makkah via King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) and King Abdul Aziz International Airport (KAIA) at Jeddah, initially scheduled to start operating by the end of 2016, had a budget overrun of 210 million euros, which Saudi Arabia agreed to pay.

Earlier in 2011, Saudi Arabia awarded the 6.7 billion euros contract to the consortium of 12 Spanish companies and two Saudi companies for laying 444 kilometers of track between Makkah and Madinah, providing 35 trains and maintaining the line for 12 years.

However, the project faced many obstacles as disagreements surfaced among members of the consortium over who is responsible for resolving and paying for the cost of overruns. Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s recent visit to Spain played a vital role in resolving the disputes over the delays in completing the project.


By Innovation-sa on May 22, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia’s Directorate General of Traffic has called on women with foreign licenses to have them replaced with a Saudi license. The official Twitter account of the Directorate tweeted: “We invite all citizens and residents of the Kingdom who wish to replace their valid driving licenses which they have obtained from other countries with a Saudi driving license through registering their information via the website of Saudi Driving License Portal ( for completing the replacement procedures of the license on Monday, May 21.”

To further clarify the procedure, the tweet included a video with guidance to apply for a Saudi license by visiting, registering with the required information and finally booking an appointment at a traffic center.

To obtain a Saudi license, women drivers will have to undergo a driving test and an evaluation to measure their knowledge on the Kingdom’s road rules, and successful candidates will be granted their Saudi driving license on the same day. However, female drivers with foreign or internationally recognized licenses will be exempted from the driving test for beginners.

With only a few weeks remaining before women will be able to take to the road themselves, the Kingdom has opened driving schools for women across the country, car advertisements and safety advice are being directed at both men and women, and new traffic signs addressing women drivers along with men are being set up on highways.

By Innovation-sa on May 15, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia’s General Culture Authority (GCA) announced various programs and initiatives to aid Saudi filmmakers, film industry and film production in the Kingdom as well as to support non-Saudi filmmakers interested in filming in Saudi Arabia.

Faisal Baltuyoor, CEO of Saudi Films Council, said that the Council would focus mainly on developing skills and technical capabilities as this is the prerequisite for developing a sustainable film sector in the Kingdom. Empowerment of Saudi talents and abilities will contribute to shedding light on Saudi talents and capabilities in developing more local content, he added.

With the announcement of a national grants program and global partnerships program to improve skills and technical proficiencies of talented Saudis, the Kingdom expects to witness a positive impact on the local film industry, talent development among the Saudi youth as well as the growth of production in the local market.

The international partnerships program includes collaborations with prestigious institutions across the world, like the University of Southern California (USC), which is deemed the best university teaching film-making in the world, Studio School, and Film Independent in the US.

In addition to adopting special programs to train trainers so as to develop local capabilities in a sustainable manner, the council has also partnered with French institutes “La Femis” and “Les Gobelins”, two of the best animation institutes in the world to train young and ambitious Saudi men and women.

Meanwhile, training workshops for 2018 are scheduled to be held in the Kingdom, Los Angeles, and Paris. The workshops will provide short and intensive specialist training as well as summer training weeks and camps, and include classes on directing, editing, screenwriting, music and sound design, 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional action and VR/AR.


By Innovation-sa on May 15, 2018 in News

The Governor of Qassim, Prince Faisal bin Mishaal, launched transportation projects worth more than SR800 million in Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region in the presence of Transport Minister Nabeel Al-Amudi.

Prince Faisal took his time to thank Al-Amudi and praise the people of Qassim and the Transport Ministry for their remarkable efforts. The noteworthy project will include Buraidah city, its connecting roads and eight bridges.

Al-Amudi thanked King Salman’s government and Crown Prince for providing support to all regions of the Kingdom as well as Prince Faisal for his constant follow-up on the region’s project developments.

He added: “The Ministry has undertaken 41 projects in Qassim at a cost of more than SR4 billion and asks all governmental bodies in all regions of the Kingdom to cooperate in order to complete them.”


By Innovation-sa on May 8, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia has finalized the transfer of ownership of the Kingdom’s $10 billion King Abdullah Financial District in the capital city to the finance ministry and the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

“It is a transfer (of ownership), not a transaction. The Ministry of Finance will take legal ownership and PIF will have the operating rights,” sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) project, owned by the Kingdom’s Public Pension Agency (PPA), is envisioned as a business hub that will lure financial and law firms, banks, and the Kingdom’s stock exchange and capital-market authority, but has been badly affected by construction delays, cost overruns and uncertainty about its future ownership.

Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, mentioned earlier this year in an interview that KAFD will host the G20 Summit in 2020 and the government’s new decision gives hope to the completion of the project.

The government’s decision to transfer ownership paves way for restarting work on the ambitious project, which has been at a stand-still for years. Cranes at the site haven’t been operated for at least three years.

Meanwhile, other sources have said that the government is planning to provide a fund of $613.3 million to complete the project and clear pending payments.


By Innovation-sa on May 8, 2018 in News

The Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), unveiled the $34.6 billion Quality of Life Program 2020, an initiative to promote entertainment, health, sports, education and other activities that contribute to the quality of life, job creation, as well as to encourage investment opportunities and diversification of economic activities, while raising the status of Saudi cities among the best cities in the world.

The Quality of Life Program 2020, is one of the Vision Realization Programs 2030 approved by the Council of Ministers as part of the modernizing drive led by Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman.

The program aims at raising at least three Saudi cities to the list of top 100 cities in the world to live in by 2030 by developing strong infrastructure in the major cities, providing comprehensive services to the population to meet their living needs, providing a social framework that enables citizens and residents to interact, offering high-quality and diverse lifestyle options, encouraging people to interact and ensuring their participation in activities and events.

The government will spend more than SR50 billion to support the program until 2020, while investments available to the private sector are around SR23.7 billion for the same period through 220 initiatives adopted by the program till 2020.

Moreover, the program aims to achieve non-oil GDP growth in related sectors by 20 percent per year till 2020, while the contribution of local content in the relevant sectors will hit 67 percent by 2020. The initiative aims to create more than 300,000 new jobs by 2020 and generate a non-oil revenue of SR1.9 billion.


By Innovation-sa on May 8, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia’s Public Transport Authority (PTA) published regulations for licensed female cab operators while providing transportation services to families, according to reports from Al-Madina newspaper.

Female chauffeurs providing family transportation services must be a Saudi national with a legal driving license and free from criminal records and any contagious disease.

The female cab drivers of family transportation service should only operate in the city where the license was issued, and violators will be fined SR 500.

A penalty of SR 5,000 will be issued if a Saudi female chauffeur carries male passengers in the absence of an adult female passenger or if the driver is a non-Saudi woman.

Moreover, if a male passenger or a child is allowed to sit in the front seat of the vehicle providing family transportation service, a penalty of SR 2,000 will be imposed.

Meanwhile, vehicles used for family transportation service should satisfy the 11 specifications mentioned in the by-laws. The vehicle should not be more than 5 years old, its color and appearance should adhere to the specifications published by the authorities, it should be at least a 7-seater, it should have efficient air-conditioning, a tracking device is mandatory for each vehicle, there should be an identification screen, and each vehicle should have electronic point-of-sale machine for accepting electronic payment.