Foreign investment sought in education

Updated 31 January 2014

Foreign investment sought in education

The Shoura Council has urged the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) to seek foreign investment in the health, education and retail sectors to improve services and help boost the economy.
Fahaad Al-Hamad, the body’s assistant president, said the council made the proposal during discussions on SAGIA’s annual report. “SAGIA must try to bring in multinationals to improve services in the education, health and retail sectors,” Al-Hamad said, quoting from the proposal.
Abdelelah Saaty, dean of the College of Business in Rabigh, applauded the council’s proposal and said it would significantly improve health and education services for Saudis and expatriates.
“We are very late. Qatar and other Gulf countries have already moved far ahead of us in promoting foreign investment in health and education. This is a big challenge for SAGIA,” Saaty told Arab News.
“We now have the successful experience of Qatar and other countries and SAGIA should prioritize securing foreign investment in health and education.”
He said there was a good market for such services. The private sector, for example, provides only 20 percent of the Kingdom’s health needs.
“We have to invite famous western universities and high-tech hospitals such as Carnegie Mellon, Oxford, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and American Hospital of Paris to open branches in the Kingdom,” Saaty said.
Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco on Tuesday signed a joint venture deal with John Hopkins Medicine to provide advanced health services for 350,000 employees and their family members.
“There is a terrible need for such foreign investments in the Kingdom. They will help us achieve several important goals and add value to our economy,” Saaty said. It would also help improve the quality of health services in the Kingdom, he said.
The Shoura meeting also called for an assessment of SAGIA’s performance over the past few years. Some members blamed the authority for the decline in foreign investment by 58 percent from 2010 to 2012.
They also argued that SAGIA was operating without a strategic vision, and urged it to open overseas offices to attract foreign investment.
Last December, the Higher Education Ministry said it was studying applications from foreign universities to open branches in the Kingdom.
“The ministry has received tens of applications from several foreign and Arab universities and we are discussing a plan with consultants to draft a special law for them,” a ministry official said, adding that it would discuss the issue with SAGIA.
“We are serious about granting licenses for outstanding foreign universities to open branches in the Kingdom.”
Such institutions should be among the top 100 universities in the world and follow the Kingdom’s rules and regulations, he said.
The ministry hopes that the move will raise the standard of higher education in the Kingdom, and reduce the number of students on government scholarships at foreign universities. At present more than 150,000 Saudis study abroad under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program.
“Allowing foreign universities to open branches in the Kingdom will create competition among local universities and improve the quality of education,” one teacher said.
The law overseeing private universities states that such institutions should have a minimum of five partners, and at least three colleges that provide specialties needed by the market. The minister appoints the deans of these universities. The ministry also supervises and conducts regular performance reviews of these institutions.

Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

King Salman chairs the virtual meeting. (SPA)
Updated 30 September 2020

Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

  • King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday congratulated the Presidency of State Security for its work in identifying and apprehending the suspected members of a terror cell in the Kingdom.

Some of those who were arrested allegedly trained at sites in Iran run by the country’s Revolutionary Guards. A cache of weapons and explosives was also seized.

Ministers expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the presidency’s employees in tracking down those who threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom and the safety of those who live there.

Majid Al-Qasabi, the acting minister of media, said that while reviewing the latest regional and international developments, cabinet members reiterated the Kingdom’s call during the recent International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference for the international community to adopt a firm stance on Iran, and take steps to address its violations of international agreements relating to its nuclear-research program. They also reaffirmed Saudi support for efforts, in partnership with the international community, to make the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone.

The virtual meeting was chaired by King Salman, who began by passing on his condolences and sympathy to the people of Kuwait and the family of its Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died on Tuesday. He also congratulated the emir’s successor, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day. He also briefed ministers on his recent telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and discussed opportunities to further develop them.

The cabinet commended the king for his speech during the UN’s 75th General Assembly in New York, during which he emphasized the his country’s continued commitment to assisting the international community in efforts to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and address its humanitarian and economic implications.

Ministers also noted that his speech reflected the Kingdom’s dedication to security, stability and prosperity as a strategic choice, its call for peaceful coexistence, moderation and solidarity among all countries and peoples to address humanitarian challenges, its support for political solutions to conflicts, and its efforts to combat extremism in all its forms.

Al-Qasabi said that the Cabinet welcomed the announcement by the Kingdom that the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place as planned as scheduled on Nov. 21 and 22, albeit virtually as a result of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia hold the presidency of the G20 this year.

Ministers also expressed their appreciation for international efforts, led by G20 countries, that have resulted in the provision of more than $21 billion to support the production of diagnostic and therapeutic tools during the pandemic, and the development and distribution of vaccines. In addition, more than $11 trillion has been allocated to protect the global economy, and more than $14 billion to mitigate the debt burdens of less-developed countries and help fund their health services and social programs. The Cabinet also reviewed the latest local and international developments in the pandemic, along with preparations for the safe resumption of Umrah.

Ministers reiterated the Saudi call, during an emergency meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs, for urgent action to avoid an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea as a result of the deteriorating condition of the oil tanker Safer, which has been anchored off the coast of Yemen, near Ras Issa port, since 2015.

The Cabinet also expressed its concern over developments in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urged both sides to agree a ceasefire and resolve the conflict peacefully in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.