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Saudi Arabia

Pact with Microsoft boosts Vision 2030

PARTNERS IN PROGRESS: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman oversees a signing ceremony with Microsoft Corporation in the presence of the company’s CEO Satya Nadella,left, in the US.

JEDDAH: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has signed agreements with Microsoft Corporation International to boost training and assist in technology transfers, as part of Vision 2030.
Prince Mohammed also met with senior officials of Cisco Systems during his visit to the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, where he was briefed on the latest technologies, including those for the telecommunications industry.
The visit ended with the signing of an MoU to speed up the pace of digital transformation in the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, local economists, strategists and researchers are optimistic that Prince Mohammed’s visit to the US would see major two-way investments between the long-time allies, a local publication reported on Tuesday.
Mohammed Al-Qahtani, an economist and university professor, said that countries around the world would increasingly realize the importance of the Kingdom to the global economy.

“The visit of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will improve relations and present the vision more clearly,” he said.
Abdulrazak Al-Aliou, an economist, said the visit is just one part of several initiatives announced by the government as part of Vision 2030, which includes the 2.5 percent annual tax on unused land, which would raise nearly SR200 billion. This would help diversify sources of income.
Al-Aliou said the second measure was the Council of Ministers’ decision to allow foreign companies to invest in the retail and wholesale sector with 100 percent ownership, a move that would encourage foreign investors. “Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a transparent man who has nothing to hide ... this will not change during his visit to the United States,” he said.
Economists and businesspeople also agree that there would be significant growth in trade between the countries, which has already seen a rise over the past 10 years from $26 billion to $74 billion.
Basheer Al-Ghareed, chief executive officer and secretary general of the Saudi-American Business Council, said the United States was the most important destination for top foreign investors in North America, making up 87 percent of investments in the region. He said Texas, New York City, and Florida were the three most desired areas for foreign investors in the United States.
He said foreign investors in the America were increasingly looking to manufacturing, real estate, entertainment, petrochemicals, manufacturing and renewable energy. In 2015, Saudi Arabia’s foreign investments amounted to nearly $13.5 billion, with the largest chunk coming from SABIC and Aramco.
Aramco aims to intensify its activities in refinery facilities in Texas and Port Arthur to reach a refining and production level of 600,000 barrels per day, he said. The company has succeeded in expanding research and development facilities in Michigan and Massachusetts, and logistics services in New York. SABIC in the United States recently acquired the plastics division of General Electric, worth $11.7 billion, said Al-Ghareed.
Aman Al-Eyadi, a businesswoman and head of the board of Riyadh Al-Kharami Schools for Education, said the historic trade ties between the Kingdom and the United States would see further cooperation in technology and manufacturing, which would help the small and medium enterprises sector in the Kingdom.

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