Saudi businessman highlights KAEC’s meteoric rise

Amr M. Khashoggi
Updated 12 December 2017
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Saudi businessman highlights KAEC’s meteoric rise

JEDDAH: A leading Saudi businessman has highlighted the meteoric growth of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). In an interview with Arab News, Amr M. Khashoggi, vice president of human resources and group affairs at the Jeddah-based Zahid Group, said: “We (the Zahid Group) were the first tenants in KAEC.
“We signed a contract to build a lubricant plant as a joint venture between the Zahid Group and Total. We signed the agreement in Dubai when there was absolutely nothing in KAEC. When the cornerstone was laid by the late King Abdullah, there were Saudi, Emaar, Total and Zahid flags. There was nothing else.”
In the years since, KAEC has expanded beyond recognition — according to the BBC, it will eventually be “a metropolis slightly larger than Washington DC.” The Zahid Group, major investors in heavy machinery, transport, energy and a few other industries, has grown alongside it.
“Once the (King Abdullah) port at KAEC was operational, that was the kick-off and the engine behind greater investment by the Zahid Group in the City,” said Khashoggi, 65.
“That’s why we invested in building a truck assembly plant with Volvo in addition to our collaboration with Total. We also created a logistics hub called Wared Logistics, and we’ll soon be opening our Casper and Gambini’s fine dining restaurant at the new Views Hotel, where we’ll handle all the catering for the hotel expected to open soon at KAEC.”
Khashoggi described the Zahid Group as “firm believers” in KAEC and its mission. He cited the strategic location of the city — with road, sea, land and air connections nearby — and the vision behind it as reasons for that belief.
“There’s also a very good environment for living,” he added. “A lot of young people are going to come here.”
As someone who has lived under the reign of every Saudi king, Khashoggi said there has never been a better time to live and work in the country.
He is bullish about the way the country is developing for the next generation under “a young, vibrant, visionary leader,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“We’ve entered a new era in Saudi Arabia. Vision 2030 is becoming more and more of a reality,” Khashoggi said.
“Saudi Arabia has opened its doors to serious investment from abroad, which will come in hundreds and billions of dollars,” he added.
“The country is moving ahead. We have a very young population. What we need is to provide our young men and women with skills that would map with the job requirement,” he said.
“At Zahid, we have women engineers with high technical skills; they can even operate the enormous Caterpillar equipment, which is very impressive, and starting next June will be able to drive cars on Saudi roads,” Khashoggi added.
“We want to make sure the young people of Saudi Arabia have the necessary skills to match the job requirements. Without that, it will be very challenging for us to create jobs and employ people in sustainable ways.”
Khashoggi was impressed by the youthful dynamism of several speakers he saw at a recent forum at KAEC — including the city’s CEO Fahad Al-Rasheed; Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA); and Mohanud Helal, secretary-general of the Economic Cities Authority. This has left him convinced “the City is in good hands.”
“We’re a very young country. We’re learning and moving very rapidly. I feel very optimistic about the future,” Khashoggi said.
His message to Saudi youth is simple: “Come and board the bullet train. It’s moving very fast; if you’re not on it, you’ll be left behind.”


King Abdullah Port sponsors logistics forum

Updated 18 September 2018
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King Abdullah Port sponsors logistics forum

King Abdullah Port has signed an agreement to sponsor the Supply Chain and Logistics Conference organized by the Transport Ministry. The conference, which will take place on Oct. 15-16 in Riyadh, will be held under the patronage of Transport Minister Dr. Nabil M. Al-Amoudi. Decision-makers, experts and officials from major local and international companies involved in the supply chain and logistics sector are expected to attend.

Highlighting the importance of participating in the event, Rayan Qutub, CEO of King Abdullah Port, said: “Our sponsorship of the conference comes within our commitment to cooperate and exchange expertise with the active players of the logistics sector, which recently has been witnessing major developments in terms of business volume, innovation and solutions that complement Vision 2030 and transform Saudi Arabia into a global logistics hub by promoting its position on the Logistics Performance Index issued by the World Bank.”

“Saudi Arabia has a number of components and facilities that enable it to play a key role in this sector at the regional and global levels, and we will play our part in showcasing the best King Abdullah Port has to offer in the logistics sector, such as solutions and facilitation for investors based on the port’s strategic location on the Red Sea. The port is on the main shipping line between the East and West, which significantly enhances the Kingdom’s competitiveness and positions it among the key countries in global trade,” he added.

Qutub will participate in a session for CEOs, where participants will discuss strategic decisions to reshape and keep pace with the global system of supply chains and logistics.

King Abdullah Port previously announced an increase in container handling reaching 1,236,075 TEU during the first half of 2018, marking a new record of 50.5 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Earlier, the port announced a 21 percent increase in its annual throughput by the end of 2017, making it the second largest port in the Kingdom in terms of container handling. 

Run by the Ports Development Company, King Abdullah Port is the region’s first port to be fully owned, developed and operated by the private sector. It has been listed as the fastest growing container port in the world and one of the world’s top 100 ports after less than four years of operation. Eight of the largest shipping lines work at the port, which offers integrated services to exporters and importers.