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Investors see new opportunities in Saudi education projects

Education Minister Ahmad Al-Isa, Commerce and Investment Minister Majid Al-Qassabi and Tatweer CEO Fahad Al-Hammad at the inauguration of the Investment and Finance in Educational Buildings Conference in Riyadh. (AN photo)
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is stepping up private sector participation in education projects, officials said on Tuesday.
The government has allocated SR200 billion for education in its new budget, said Education Minister Ahmed Al-Isa.
He made these remarks as he opened the Investment and Finance in Educational Buildings Conference in Riyadh.
In addition to Commerce and Investment Minister Majid Al-Qassabi and Deputy Finance Minister Hamad bin Suleiman Al-Bazee, around 35 speakers representing different government agencies, and employees of the banking sector were present at the inauguration.
The Ministry of Education and the Tatweer Building Company are organizing the conference at the ministry’s headquarters with the aim of boosting partnership between the public and private sectors to develop infrastructure services and facilities.
He said the conference aims at seeking the private sector’s cooperation by launching an executive program to construct new facilities and buildings to promote education.
The program, which will be carried out in line with Vision 2030, opens new opportunities for investors.
Tatweer signed nine agreements with various private sector organizations for the construction of new complexes.
In his speech, Al-Qassabi said the government has allocated 22.4 percent of its national budget to education, which is a larger proportion compared to countries such as Germany and South Korea that spend less than 5 percent of their budgets for education.
Tatweer CEO Fahad Al-Hammad outlined the gigantic development made in Saudi Arabia in the field of education.
He recalled that some 5,000 buildings have been constructed during the past 10 years to promote education.
Al-Isa also opened an exhibition, which was attended by more than 20 local companies.
The conference comes to complement efforts made in promoting partnerships with the private sector to provide educational buildings.
Discussions will take place over on opportunities for investment and financing educational buildings, and the attractive environment for investors in the educational field, in accordance with Vision 2030, and the role of education development companies in fostering an investment environment.
The conference aims to increase the amount of rapid financing by the private sector, reduce the operating expenses of the Kingdom, and reduce public debt.
It will also strive to provide a quality experience in the practices and experiences of local, regional and international initiatives of public-private partnerships.
Ahmad Al-Enzi, head of the organizing committee for the conference, said the conference will open new investment channels to provide educational buildings. The aim is to utilize the resources of the Education Ministry by targeting several categories of investors and developers in the education and property sectors in addition to companies and financial institutions. They are expected to provide long-term solutions and programs with appropriate returns, he added.
Al-Enzi said the most important investment opportunities presented by the conference include school construction financing mechanisms through existing rented educational buildings in exchange for advanced sums and then re-leasing these buildings in exchange for annual installments.
The conference will discuss programs for renting and leasing and mechanisms for partnerships with the private sector.

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