Saudi Arabia pushes reforms to boost private sector

A photo taken on June 6, 2017 shows a general view of the King Fahad street in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 26 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia pushes reforms to boost private sector

  • Workshop highlights new initiatives that are revolutionizing business environment in Saudi Arabia
  • Kafalah, which was established with the support of the Ministry of Finance, helps small- and medium-sized enterprises in the Kingdom to obtain loans from banks

DAMMAM: The Eastern Province Chamber, which works to promote the role of the private sector in the Saudi economy, hosted an investment workshop at its headquarters in Dammam on Friday to highlight improvements to existing procedures and the new initiatives that are helping to cut bureaucracy and make it easier to do business in the Kingdom.
Titled “The key reforms that serve investors,” the event was aimed at stakeholders who promote the national economy and facilitate investment. They heard from representatives of a variety of organizations and initiatives who gave details of projects and reforms that are improving the business environment in Saudi Arabia and making it easier to navigate.
Fahd Al-Shaalan, a member of the chamber’s Tayseer committee, which is charged with improving business performance in the private sector, said: “The committee partnered with 40 government bodies and launched 300 initiatives, of which 136 have been completed and 167 are still in progress. These initiatives aim to improve the Kingdom’s ranking in international indicators, attract national and foreign investments and improve the private sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product.”
Turki Al-Askar, an adviser to the Ministry of Commerce and Investment added: “Tayseer’s commercial activity committee is working on facilitating the establishment of companies through various measures, such as allowing the payment of fees electronically and eliminating the need for prior permissions.”
“Tayseer’s cross-border commerce committee was able to create an integrated electronic environment to promote transparency when it comes to imports, exports and electronic connectivity between governmental bodies,” said Thanian Al-Thanian from the General Customs Authority. “The authority played a role in decreasing the number of import and export documents from 12 to only two and from nine to two, respectively.”
Ahmad Tashkandi of the Arab Monetary Fund, said: “Tayseer’s access to credit committee is working on a project to issue a secure transaction system that offers advantages over the commercial mortgage system.”
The role of education in preparing the next generation to enter the business arena is also being developed.
“Tayseer’s education committee is working on developing curricula at different levels of education, particularly the mathematics and science curricula according to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) methodology,” said the Ministry of Education’s Thamer Al-Jahni.
Mohsen Al-Jafal of the Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (Monshaat) said: “The authority allocated SR12 billion ($3.2 billion) to finance four initiatives. It helped a bold investment initiative with SR2.4 billion to stimulate the capital financing of small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs in partnership with the investment funds. It also provided SR7 billion for a ‘refunding government fees’ initiative, launched in cooperation with the Local Content and Private Sector Development Unit (Namaa), to help enterprises achieve growth in the first few years after their establishment.
“SR1.6 billion was dedicated to an indirect-lending initiative that contributes to raising the lending rates and improving the ability of small and medium enterprises to access funding and contribute to the gross domestic product. SR800 million was allocated to support the Kafalah Program.” Kafalah, which was established with the support of the Ministry of Finance, helps small- and medium-sized enterprises in the Kingdom to obtain loans from banks that they would otherwise struggle to obtain due to their limited financial guarantees.


Kiswa of Kaaba raised in preparation for Hajj

Updated 1 min 9 sec ago
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Kiswa of Kaaba raised in preparation for Hajj

  • Up to 50 people worked on the raising of Kiswa this year
  • The Kiswa is replaced with white cloth during Hajj

DUBAI: The lower part of Kaaba’s Kiswa, the black cloth draped around the holy shrine, was raised 3 meters in preparation for the new Hajj season and was replaced with white cloth instead, Reasah Al-Harmain said on Friday.
The procedure is done every year before the Hajj season in order to protect the Kiswa, as some pilgrims touch and pull on the black cloth when they circumambulate the Kaaba.

Up to 50 technicians and specialists oversaw the annual process, head of the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Ahmad bin Muhammad Al-Mansouri said.
What some pilgrims do to the Kiswa stems from wrongful beliefs, which is why the black cloth is raised and replaced with white textile during Hajj, he added.
The original Kiswa will be draped again after the Hajj season concludes, Al-Mansouri said.