Saudi Arabia opens new logistics zone in Jeddah

As the biggest logistics zone in the country, the new logistics zone hopes to turn Saudi Arabia into a global logistics hub and create 10,000 direct jobs. (File/AFP/Getty Images)
Updated 13 October 2019

Saudi Arabia opens new logistics zone in Jeddah

  • The Al-Khomra zone extends over 2.3m square meters in Jeddah
  • It will support activities around shipping, freight distribution and transport of goods

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia launched on Sunday a new logistics zone open to private investors in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, as part of a wider industrial initiative to diversify the economy away from oil and create jobs for Saudis.
The Al-Khomra zone — which will support activities around shipping, freight distribution and transport of goods — extends over 2.3 million square meters in Jeddah, home to one of the Kingdom’s largest ports.
As the biggest logistics zone in the country, it hopes to turn Saudi Arabia into a global logistics hub and create 10,000 direct jobs, said Minister of Transport Nabeel Al-Amudi.
It is part of the broader National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP), which aims to create 1.6 million jobs and attract investments worth SR 1.6 trillion ($427 billion) over the next decade. Of that, SR 135 billion is earmarked for investment in the logistics sector.
Under its ambitious reform strategy, the Kingdom plans to have the private sector operate much of its transport infrastructure, including airports and sea ports, with the government keeping a role as regulator.
Details of what the government plans to offer investors in Al-Khomra were not disclosed, but the Saudi Ports Authority  (Mawani) said the zone would offer opportunities to investors on a lease basis.
“Investment in the logistics zone in Al-Khomra and other ports will total SR 7 billion,” said Saad Al-Khalb, president of the Saudi Ports Authority.
Al-Khomra joins other logistics zones in the `kingdom — the King Abdullah Economic City north of Jeddah has its own port and offers logistics investments and NEOM, a mega project announced in 2017, has plans for a logistics zone.
Over a decade ago, the Saudi government spent $30 billion to build six economic cities across the Kingdom to diversify the economy, create jobs for young Saudis and attract foreign investment, though many of the projects have failed to achieve expected results.
After decades of spending on development projects, the government has made attracting greater foreign investment a cornerstone of its Vision 2030 plan.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 28 May 2020

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.