Foreign investment in KSA doubles in vote of confidence for reforms

Economy and planning minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri at a forum in Riyadh a day after the 2019 budget was announced. (SPA)
Updated 20 December 2018
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Foreign investment in KSA doubles in vote of confidence for reforms

  • Five sectors of the economy are prepared for privatisation in the first quarter of 2019
  • Ministers attend forum a day after the 2019 budget was announced

RIYADH: Foreign investment in Saudi Arabia more than doubled in 2018 to reach $3.5 billion, the economy and planning minister said on Wednesday.

Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri said the value of investments rose 110 percent from the previous year. 

The minister was speaking a day after the 2019 budget was announced, in which the government said it would boost spending by 7 percent to spur economic growth.

Attracting foreign investment is a key part of the Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy away from oil revenues. Sending a message of reassurance to private-sector firms looking for business in the Kingdom, Al-Tuwaijri said that historical overdue payments owed by the government to contractors would be settled “within months.”

The crash in oil prices from mid-2014 forced the government to slash some projects and delay payments, while disputes have held up some other settlements.

The vast majority of claims have now been addressed, and Al-Tuwaijri said the rest of the settlements would be made imminently.

“The commitment is there, funding is there, the policymakers are saying ‘please do, please pay, get this out of the way.’ And I think it’s a matter of months before we achieve all of that,” Al-Tuwaijri told Arab News.

Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said at the same conference that the government issued more than 700 licenses for foreign investments this year, double the number in 2017.

Al-Jadaan said that Saudi Arabia has no intention of changing its policy on expatriate worker fees — which could prove a stumbling block to attracting foreign companies.

The levies are due to rise next year as part of a policy to encourage the hiring of Saudi nationals.

The ministers were speaking at a post-budget forum, after Saudi officials unveiled a plan to increase state spending to $295 billion.

Some analysts expressed reservations about the budget’s revenue numbers, and claimed that they were based on over-optimistic forecasts for oil prices. 

Al-Jadaan declined to specify what oil price the Saudi budget is based upon. But he told Arab News that the projections laid out were attainable. “We stress-tested various scenarios on the oil price under the budget, and what we have put is actually a reasonable projection,” Al-Jadaan said. “It is a very realistic budget.”


Samsung delays Galaxy Fold media events in China

Updated 22 April 2019
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Samsung delays Galaxy Fold media events in China

  • Instead of plaudits ahead of the phone’s launch on April 26 in the US, Samsung has instead received brickbats
  • The hashtag #foldgate trended on Twitter because of the smartphone issues

SEOUL: Smartphone maker Samsung postponed media events for its Galaxy Fold planned for this week in Hong Kong and Shanghai, a company official said, days after reviewers of the foldable handset reported defective samples.
The official did not elaborate on reasons or rescheduling.
Instead of plaudits ahead of the phone’s launch on April 26 in the United States, the South Korean conglomerate has been blighted by technology journalists reporting breaks, bulges and blinking screens after using their samples for as little as a day.
Samsung said it received “a few” reports of damage to the displays of samples of the $1,980 handset, raising the specter of the combustible Galaxy Note 7 three years ago which the firm ultimately pulled from shelves at massive cost.
The reviewers’ reports of broken screens went viral online and prompted the creation of hashtag #foldgate on Twitter.
Samsung has hailed the folding design as the future in a field that has seen few surprises since Apple’s iPhone in 2007. Chinese rival Huawei Technologies has also announced a folding handset, the Mate X.
The Samsung official on Monday said it had no change to its previously announced release date in the United States.
It plans to begin South Korean and European sales in May, and Chinese sales from an undisclosed date.