Chinese investment soars on back of Saudi reforms

Chinese investment soars on back of Saudi reforms
The Chinese delegation represented by the Council for Promoting South-South Cooperation during their visit to SAGIA. (Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
Updated 29 July 2019

Chinese investment soars on back of Saudi reforms

Chinese investment soars on back of Saudi reforms
  • ‘We’ve seen huge growth in Chinese companies in the Kingdom,’ says Mufti

RIYADH: A new chapter in Saudi-Chinese relations was written during the recent visit of the leadership of Saudi Arabia to China, according to Sultan Mufti, the deputy governor of investment attraction and development at the Saudi Arabian General Investments Authority (SAGIA). 

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, he said: “We've seen huge growth in Chinese companies in the Kingdom. There was a 100 percent increase in entry to the Saudi market in the first half of 2019 compared with last year.”

After the visit of the Chinese delegation to SAGIA last Thursday, Mufti explained how both countries share a strategic partnership: “There are a lot of commonalities between us. As G20 economies, we have enjoyed a long trade relationship and we are growing with our interesting initiatives, Saudi Arabia has Vision 2030 and China has the Belt and Road Initiative.

“There are a lot of opportunities in strategic sectors as a result of Vision 2030. The Belt and Road Initiative paves the way for China to enter the Saudi economy, and lots of Chinese companies will have expertise relevant to our plans.

“These sectors include petrochemical, manufacturing, mining power and renewable energy, in which Chinese companies have a lot of skills to bring to Saudi Arabia,” Mufti added.  

He said that merging the initiatives will take the relationship to new levels.

Mufti also discussed the opening of an office for SAGIA in China: “The approval process has been done. We’re not waiting for the physical opening because we already have a team actively involved in marketing.”

FASTFACTS

• The Kingdom ranked fourth among the G20, according to the latest report published by the World Bank.

• Some of the important reforms include the establishment of arbitration centers, specialized commission courts, enchancing minority interest laws and proving the insolvency law.

He said that the highlight of the Chinese visit was the growing interest from companies wanting to know more about what Saudi Arabia has to offer: “At SAGIA and Invest Saudi, there are workshops where companies are meeting with specific teams with technical and commercial experience, where they can tell each company its relevance to the sector and the opportunities.

“These workshops will help them throughout their journey from the early exploration all the way to investment and starting their operations in the Kingdom.”

Mufti added that the growing interest is partly due to the reforms that are taking place in Saudi Arabia: “According to the latest report published by the World Bank, the Kingdom ranked fourth among the G20. Some of those important reforms include the establishment of arbitration centers, specialized commission courts, enhancing minority interest laws and improving the insolvency law.” 

He said that the rise in the Saudi economy in recent years has been aided by reforms: “They are happening every day, every minute. It’s difficult to track the momentum because reforms are coming through under the umbrella of the Executive Committee for Improving the Performance of Private Sector Businesses (Tayseer), headed by Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi.

“On a weekly basis, you will be seeing reforms coming up. There are about 500 reforms that have been identified, 45 percent have already been implemented and this number rises every week. That’s why we created Invest Saudi, because it helps investors track reforms, understand more about the opportunities and the support that they can get from SAGIA,” he added.

“SAGIA organizes global roadshows with sector experts that meet with each specific company and give them the information they need,” Mufti said.


The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah

The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah
Updated 07 May 2021

The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah

The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah
  • Hussein bin Salameh ordered the construction of two paths — one for camels and one for pedestrians — to facilitate the exchange and trade of goods in the Kingdom.

JEDDAH: The ancient stone road known as the “caravan route” linking Taif and Makkah is a cultural legacy of great historical value. It was constructed more than 1,000 years ago and was used regularly by pedestrians up to the 1960s.

At the time the road was built, movement between Taif and Makkah was restricted by Al-Qarah Mountain, researcher Hammad Al-Salimi explained. So Hussein bin Salameh ordered the construction of two paths — one for camels and one for pedestrians — to facilitate the exchange and trade of goods in the Kingdom.

The winding road made it possible to cross the mountain and was a remarkable feat of engineering, considering the limited technology available at the time of its creation.

“The roads were paved with stones, which made them resemble staircases winding between the top of the mountain in Al-Hada, the Karr below Al-Qarah Mountain, Shaddad and then Wadi Noman,” Al-Salimi said, adding that a third road, for cars, was built in the mid-1960s, during the reign of King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.

Al-Salimi said that the two original paths are “important monuments, which should be preserved and maintained because they are part of the Al-Qarah Mountain system and complement the beautiful image of this mountain.”

Historian and writer Saleh Al-Judi explained that — before cars were common in the Kingdom — people would use the route to travel between the two cities, a journey taking around three days. The passage through the mountain, he said, is around six kilometers. In the middle of the route, he added, is a well-known site called Al-Rukb.

He said the route is mentioned in histories from the fifth Hijri century (1009-1106 CE), which say that it had room for pedestrians and animals alike. Al-Qathami stressed the importance of preserving the road as an historical landmark, as it is an important artery linking Taif and Makkah.


Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims
Updated 06 May 2021

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for those killed in torrential rains and floods that hit several Algerian states.
The king said: “We learned of the news of the torrential rains and floods in several Algerian states, and the resulting deaths, and we send to Your Excellency, the families of the deceased, and the Algerian people our warmest condolences and the most sincere sympathy,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Algerian president.RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for those killed in torrential rains and floods that hit several Algerian states.
The king said: “We learned of the news of the torrential rains and floods in several Algerian states, and the resulting deaths, and we send to Your Excellency, the families of the deceased, and the Algerian people our warmest condolences and the most sincere sympathy,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Algerian president.


KSrelief chief meets Beninese envoy to Saudi Arabia

KSrelief chief meets Beninese envoy to Saudi Arabia
Updated 06 May 2021

KSrelief chief meets Beninese envoy to Saudi Arabia

KSrelief chief meets Beninese envoy to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, met the ambassador of Benin to the Kingdom, Mataero Fadel, in Riyadh on Thursday.

The meeting discussed the development of projects implemented in Benin, and ways to enhance them.

Fadel praised the professional excellence of KSrelief and its service to the needy around the world, especially to groups in Benin, pointing out that the center is a milestone in the field of humanitarian work.

This Ramadan, KSrelief distributed 164 tons of food baskets to thousands of families in Benin, as part of the humanitarian aid provided by the Kingdom, through KSrelief, to friendly countries during the holy month.


Who’s Who: Maram A. Kokandi, general manager of Jeddah’s Park Inn Hotel

Who’s Who: Maram A. Kokandi, general manager of Jeddah’s Park Inn Hotel
Updated 06 May 2021

Who’s Who: Maram A. Kokandi, general manager of Jeddah’s Park Inn Hotel

Who’s Who: Maram A. Kokandi, general manager of Jeddah’s Park Inn Hotel

Maram A. Kokandi has been the general manager of the Jeddah’s Park Inn Hotel since its construction work began in 2017.

The hotel, by Radisson, started operating in Saudi Arabia’s coastal city in September 2020. Kokandi managed the hotel from its construction phase until the time it opened. 

Kokandi obtained a bachelor’s degree in international hospitality management from the Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2015.

Three years earlier, she received a high diploma in international hospitality and international tourism management from the London Metropolitan University, London, UK. In 2010, she attended foundation courses on the same specialties at the Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK.

From August 2015 to February 2017, she served as a senior property consultant at Emaar Middle East, where she provided consultations to clients on property selection based on their needs and budgets. She led a sales team to leverage opportunities and generate new leads. 

For nearly three years and 8 months beginning in April 2011, Kokandi worked as a public relations and marketing manager for the Middle East at the London-based Baha Mar, where she worked on analyzing all sales reports and developing sales strategies to achieve targets.

From April 2008 to September 2010, she was a sales manager at Park Hyatt Hotel, Jeddah, where she was in charge of welcoming and hosting VIP guests.

From March 2007 to March 2008, she served as an area sales manager at Raffles Hotel, Dubai, UAE. For over a year, she worked in Jeddah for the Rosewood Hotels and Resorts as a sales manager.


Saudi crown prince donates SR100 million to charities, pays debts of 150 insolvent prisoners

Saudi crown prince donates SR100 million to charities, pays debts of 150 insolvent prisoners
Updated 06 May 2021

Saudi crown prince donates SR100 million to charities, pays debts of 150 insolvent prisoners

Saudi crown prince donates SR100 million to charities, pays debts of 150 insolvent prisoners
  • SR87 million to be distributed to support 29 charities in all regions of the Kingdom
  • SR13 million will be allocated to paying the debts of more than 150 insolvent prisoners

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is to donate SR100 million ($26.6 million) to charity and paying off debts of those imprisoned for financial crimes, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.
The sum will be split in two, with SR87 million to be distributed to support 29 charities in all regions of the Kingdom within the next few days, while SR13 million will be allocated to paying the debts of more than 150 insolvent prisoners to be released and returned to their families on Thursday.
The move comes under the umbrella of the Sanad Mohammed Bin Salman Social Enterprise Program to support the charitable services of eight groups, including women’s charitable societies, as well as charities for people with disabilities, cancer care, care of widows and divorcees, orphan care, Down Syndrome, health services, and care of the elderly.
Each association will receive financial support for developmental programs that rely on training, qualification, support and sustainability.
The debts of more than 150 insolvent prisoners will be paid off due to their inability to pay as they are prisoners of special rights, according to specific controls, provided that the amount owed by the prisoner has not been exploited in unlawful matters, and are not involved in criminal cases.
“Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s continued support for non-profit work in the Kingdom reflects his unlimited interest in humanitarian work and supporting all groups of the non-profit sector according to mechanisms and limitations included in the Mohammed bin Salman Charitable Project, which is affiliated with the Sanad Program,” SPA said.
The governance of support for charities is represented through several stages to ensure high efficiency in spending and direct access to the most needy beneficiaries, including studying and evaluating associations’ programs and the extent of benefit achieved to the beneficiaries.
This is done through direct support represented in financial aid, providing equipment and treatment, or through sustainable programs, such as training and rehabilitation courses for orphans, persons with disabilities, children of needy families, and widows and divorcees, to enable them to enter the labor market and find sources of income.
The crown prince provided SR100 million four years ago, benefiting 102,000 beneficiaries including orphans, people with disabilities, cancer patients, the elderly, widows, divorcees, young men and women who are about to marry, and needy families. It was distributed among 70 charitable societies in all regions of the Kingdom, through the Mohammed bin Salman Charitable Project.
Over the past years, the crown prince’s donations have contributed in supporting the charitable sector and improving the services provided, and has aided a large number of beneficiaries.