Saudi Arabia to launch joint trade council with Iraq

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chairs a Cabinet meeting in Jeddah on Monday. (SPA)
Updated 15 August 2017
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Saudi Arabia to launch joint trade council with Iraq

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, decided on Monday to set up the General Authority for Military Industries, which enjoys legal status as well as financial and administrative independence.
The agency aims to regulate the military industry in the Kingdom, develop and monitor its performance, and do everything necessary to achieve its objectives.
The Cabinet decided that the authority shall have a board of directors chaired by the deputy prime minister and comprising the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources, the minister of finance, the minister of trade and investment, and the chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Military Industries Co.
Last Wednesday, the state-owned Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced the launch of a national state company for arms manufacturing to produce thousands of jobs in the Kingdom. The new company, Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the sovereign wealth fund PIF said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq will also launch a joint trade commission, the Saudi Cabinet announced on Monday. “The Cabinet has decided to approve the establishment of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordinating Commission and to delegate the Saudi minister of trade and investments to sign on behalf of the kingdom,” read a statement carried by the press agency SPA.
The two countries had no diplomatic relations for a quarter of a century. They were severed in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, after which Saudi Arabia was the launchpad for a US-led coalition to remove Iraqi forces.
The Cabinet praised the positive developments achieved by the state budget in the second quarter of the fiscal year 1438/1439 (2017), which were represented in progress in revenues, improvement in spending efficiency, a drop in the deficit, and maintaining the level of basic services provided to citizens.
The Cabinet also reviewed the quarterly financial report which reflected progress in the achievement of a balanced financial performance in the medium term, and the effectiveness of economic reforms under the National Transformation Program and Vision 2030, which contributed to the generation of more non-oil revenues.
The Cabinet was briefed on the preparations of ministries and sectors participating in serving pilgrims and providing comfort for pilgrims and visitors of the Two Holy Mosques and holy sites. In this context, the Cabinet vehemently rejected the politicization of Hajj.
The Cabinet expressed thanks and appreciation to the crown prince on his directives to support 14 charity organizations in the Riyadh region with SR23 million ($6.1 million) from his own account.
The Cabinet praised the graduation of the first batch of those participating in the operations Decisive Storm and Restore Hope. They represented non-regular students of Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University. The Cabinet appreciated their determination to pursue their studies and, at the same time, defend the country.
On the global front, the Cabinet expressed the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of terror acts in Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burkina Faso and France, and its sympathy with the governments and peoples of these countries against all forms of terrorism and extremism.


Ramadan fun activities reflect on Saudi Arabia’s potential

Cirque du Soleil has reportedly signed a deal to perform in the Kingdom. Cirque du Soleil
Updated 7 min 48 sec ago
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Ramadan fun activities reflect on Saudi Arabia’s potential

  • Investors is increasing, although the sector is still experimenting
  • Creating an aqua park and three funfairs and the creation of an art and culture island in Jeddah

RIYADH: The holy month of Ramadan is one of the platforms used to reinforce morals, ethics, and Islamic values through practicing rituals.

However, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) has been shouldering the responsibility to deliver and reinforce these values in its own way by supporting events across the Kingdom that introduce children and teenagers to the Kingdom’s culture, customs and traditions.
The huge number of events can surely play a role in helping more local and international investors to step into the market. Arab News met Abdulrahman Al-Khalifa, GEA media and communications manager, to discuss the potential this market has and the challenges it faces.
He explained that while the authority supports organization of events, not all receive financial backing.
“We can finance up to 30 percent  of events taking place in the Kingdom for the first time; the financial support is usually given to the most creative events. We are selective about the types of events we finance,” he said.
The GEA is building the industry to make it appealing to local and international investors.
Al-Khalifa added that the GEA’s main aim is to create competitiveness, raise standards and keep ticket prices at a suitable level for both investors and visitors.
“We do not directly control the pricing rate; however, we provide the investors and organizers with our consultations.”
It has set a target of running 5,500 events across the Kingdom’s 13 governorates during 2018.  
Currently, the number of investors is increasing, although the sector is still experimenting. The potential is extremely high, especially after the unveiling of the “Quality of Life 2020” program, aiming to enhance lifestyles for everyone in the Kingdom by 2020. This includes the establishment of one opera house and 16 theaters, opening 45 cinemas and 16 entertainment centers, creating an aqua park and three funfairs and the creation of an art and culture island in Jeddah.
Al-Khalifa added that the door is open for international investors. With the cooperation with General Investment Authority, high-profile meetings were held with entertainment investors and big companies’ CEOs in the US during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit.  And 350 international investors attended a summit in Los Angeles to hear more about opportunities in the Kingdom.
Five agreements were signed during the summit, including for a Cirque du Soleil performance, cooperation with Feld Entertainment Inc. to produce and conduct live shows, as well as Disney live shows. Cooperation with National Geographic will result in 10 virtual reality cities by 2019.

“Foreign investment will surely help with job creation for Saudi youth throughout the process of preparation, operation and execution, helping all parties to conduct win-win business,” he said.