Investment in Saudi Arabia offers ‘game-changing’ opportunities: Arab-British business conference

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Ernst and Young’s Carlos Adams highlighted why international firms should invest in Saudi Arabia and how SAGIA was able to help facilitate foreign investment. (AN Photo)
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Ernst and Young’s Carlos Adams highlighted why international firms should invest in Saudi Arabia and how SAGIA was able to help facilitate foreign investment. (AN Photo)
Updated 29 November 2019

Investment in Saudi Arabia offers ‘game-changing’ opportunities: Arab-British business conference

  • Ernst and Young’s Carlos Adams: ‘The Kingdom wants to attract and expand high-value investments and they have real priority sectors such as chemical and energy’
  • Carlos Adams: ‘Not only are they introducing more and more entertainment and tourism facilities, but there is also a leading financial sector there’

LONDON: Saudi Arabia is offering “game-changing” investment opportunities for international investors, a top adviser to the Kingdom told business leaders on Thursday.

Carlos Adams of Ernst and Young, the firm working with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), was speaking at a forum hosted by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in London.

During his presentation at the “4th Industrial Revolution” conference, Adams highlighted why international firms should invest in Saudi Arabia and how SAGIA was able to help facilitate foreign investment.

“The Kingdom wants to attract and expand high-value investments and they have real priority sectors such as chemical and energy, but also tourism and leisure.

“There are many reasons to invest in Saudi Arabia. It has a young and really educated population and this is one of the reasons this project is exciting to us (at EY). They have got an integrated infrastructure and there are loads of game-changing opportunities.

“They are actively trying to market the ‘Invest in Saudi’ brand as well, you will see it everywhere, at every major expo around the world you will see the ‘Invest in Saudi’ branding,” he added.

Adams also described the Kingdom’s plan to create industry-specific hubs throughout Saudi Arabia, which would better focus foreign investment, and explained how SAGIA could make the process easier for new investors into the Kingdom.

“SAGIA offers a lot of services to new and existing investors, from site visits through to helping to realize where to locate. For example, if you’re coming to the UK and in the creative industry, you might be inclined to move into London, but if you’re in animation, actually, the best place to be is Bristol.

“It’s the same thing in Saudi Arabia, SAGIA can help find the best places to grow these hubs or clusters of companies and investors within certain sectors.

“They also do set-up and assistance to make sure companies have the right licenses and permits, they have a really impressive task force, which works with investors day in and day out to ensure it’s a seamless integration into a great opportunity,” Adams added.

Investment into Saudi Arabia is growing month on month and Adams told delegates how investment from the UK in particular had increased in 2019. Fourteen licenses were issued to British companies in the first quarter of 2018, but that had jumped to 24 in the same period this year.

He described how the Vision 2030 reform plans for expanding investment opportunities in the Kingdom and the geographical location of Saudi Arabia made it a prime opportunity for investors.

“Not only are they expanding the quality of life there and introducing more and more entertainment and tourism facilities, but there is also a leading financial sector there, especially since they have created the King Abdullah Financial District,” he said.

“All of this comes out of the Vision 2030, which is based on three main pillars — which includes Saudi Arabia affirming its position as the heart of the Arab and Muslim world. Also, Saudi Arabia is known for being an investment powerhouse but also a hub connecting three continents, which means it is uniquely placed for investors.

“As part of that plan, there are three major themes within that, which include creating a thriving economy, to create a vibrant society and establish the Kingdom as an ambitious nation,” Adams added.

The EY consultant said SAGIA was achieving these goals through privatization programs, “localization” by getting more Saudis involved in projects and foreign companies using local talent, as well as giga and mega projects, which he said were “on an enormous scale.”

Adams admitted that one of the questions he was often asked surrounded how simple it was to invest in Saudi Arabia, which he said could be done through the Tayseer program for easy payment. It aims to secure and stimulate the investment environment for the private sector and to provide the necessary guarantees for the preservation of rights.

He said the program could issue commercial visas within 24 hours, which has had a huge impact on the number of investments regionally and internationally.

“What is exciting about this is we’re now turning a page where you can have 100 percent foreign ownership within the Kingdom and that is revolutionary, not just for the Middle East, but in general.

“Companies have a great opportunity to go and set up and take advantage of the incentives that the Kingdom has to offer but also to take advantage of the growing more educated and more connected population,” he said.


Saudi investment chiefs host students from one of world’s top business schools

Updated 52 min 8 sec ago

Saudi investment chiefs host students from one of world’s top business schools

  • The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) hosted business major students from Harvard Business School (HBS) for a conference held at the capital’s King Abdullah Financial District

Riyadh: Saudi mega projects and regional and global investment opportunities were outlined to students from one of the world’s top business schools at a seminar in Riyadh.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) hosted business major students from Harvard Business School (HBS) for a conference held at the capital’s King Abdullah Financial District.

As well as being introduced to the PIF, the visitors were briefed about ongoing mega projects, along with potential future investment plans both locally and throughout the world.

During their Saudi trip, some of the students took the chance to see for themselves evidence of the reforms taking place in the Kingdom by visiting Riyadh, Jeddah, and AlUla and exploring the Red Sea coast by car.

The PIF hosted the students as part of its aim of providing exposure to the broadest possible portfolio of businesses and careers while striving to be an employer of choice for top talents domestically and globally.

The fund continues to focus its commitment and dedication in providing a learning culture that promotes partnerships and training with world-class learning institutions, by actively incentivizing professional development and certifications.

HBS is an example of PIF efforts to build relationships with highly recognized learning organizations, and links in with its prestigious graduate development program to attract and develop top Saudi talent.

The study/work development program is delivered in partnership with some of the world’s top educational institutions, offering only 80 seats per application cycle. In 2019, only a fraction of the 12,000 applicants were accepted, and the PIF has attracted several Saudi HBS graduates as part of its human capital.

It is hoped that the visit to Saudi Arabia will encourage some of the HBS students to carry out their own research on the Kingdom to benefit sectors and resources such as the geology of Saudi deserts, Red Sea oceanography, and the sociology of its citizens.

By getting a close-up insight into the Kingdom it is also envisaged that students will return to the country as tourists, investors or for employment.