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.

Richard Bodeker: Ambassador of Green in Saudi Arabia

Updated 06 December 2019

Richard Bodeker: Ambassador of Green in Saudi Arabia

  • German landscape architect’s passion — to turn Saudi Arabia into a lush garden — became his mission

RIYADH: For 46 years, Richard Bodeker was devoted to turning Saudi Arabia into a lush garden. The architect landscaper recently passed away, but his green print lives on as he is celebrated for his loving work.

Gardening runs deep in the family as both he and his wife’s family are in the profession. Bodeker considered himself blessed because he could do what he loved, working with plants and creating gardens.

“He developed a real love of Saudi Arabia as his favorite country and created many lifelong friendships in the Kingdom,” Bodeker’s son, Jens Bodeker, told Arab News.

His relationship with Saudi clients was special. They had a great mutual understanding, said his son. One of those special relationships was with Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Space Commission. Bodeker landscaped his Al-Uthaibat Ranch in Diriyah.

“He opened the doors to all his friends, clients, colleagues and partners in Saudi Arabia. Most of his contacts became close friends to me, too,” Jens said.

Saudi Arabia honored the late Bodeker and his works when the minister of culture, Prince Badr Al-Farhan, named a park in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter after the talented landscaper.

Creativity is key and he was never daunted by developing a green oasis in the midst of a desert capital. “As a plant lover, he was impressed by the survival strategies of desert plants. Acacia trees can develop 50-meter-deep roots to get water, for example. He was convinced to be able to water the trees by treated greywater which is produced by each citizen. So, each citizen could irrigate a tree by using water in the house,” Jens said.


Richard Bodeker projects in Saudi Arabia:

  • ‘Initiative Green’ developing a greening strategy for the city in the 1990s
  • Diriyah Mosque landscape design
  • King Fahd Road, the green corridor 
  • MOMRA, park and roof greening
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff housing
  • Court complex
  • King Abdul Aziz Historical Center parks and gardens
  • First ideas for King Salman Park, at that time Riyadh Public Park in the 1980s of last century
  • Thumamah Nature Park
  • Wadi Hanifah and Wadi Sulai as green lungs of Riyadh
  • Many private farms for members of the Royal family and many other clients
  • Initiation of a tree nursery for the Riyadh Development Authority
  • Regional park in Al-Hofuf,Jebel Qara

His vision to make use of the materials that can be found in nature with his strategy of “cut and fill,” in which he would cut Riyadh limestone and build a garden out of it. He maintained sustainability by using local sources for construction material. His approach was to create garden oases with local materials in respect of the site and the local culture, his son explained.

Bodeker’s passion was ramped with a desire to turn the desert capital into a green sanctuary. “He possessed strength, persuasiveness and the ability to assert himself to even fight for green, gardens and uncommon ideas. This passion made him an ambassador for green in the Kingdom,” he added.

Passion for his profession was the secret of his success: “Gardens and plants have been his lifelong loves,” said Jens, adding that “the creation of gardens was his real mission.”


Like father, like son 

Following his fathers’ footsteps, he inherited his passion and love for this country and landscape design from his father: “I feel the same passion when it comes to greening the country to work with nature and to follow nature in design,” he said.

“He shared his professional knowledge and passion for this country ... with me. The respect for tradition and culture in landscape design was essential,” he added.

“His passion for landscape design, especially the challenge to green the desert set me on fire and carries me to continue what he started. His focus laid on local material, like the Riyadh limestone and plants for arid regions to create lush garden oases.”

Of all his unique designs, Islamic gardens were the most symbolic. Jens explained: “Islamic gardens mirror paradise on earth with water, fruits and lush greens. He wanted to respond to this in his garden design works. Bodeker always saw gardens and green as the most important element in Riyadh.”

In 1993, Bodeker started the “Initiative Green,” which was Jens’ most significant influence.

The secret to great success is working with nature in environments, like the desert with its valleys, oases, escarpments, sand dunes and rock plains, he added.

“In Thumamah Nature Park, one can see the impact of land protection. The park is much greener than any landscape in the surroundings without that protection, just by fencing, nature recovers slowly,” Jens said.

“My part is to give my contribution to developing the landscape and environment for the better and give nature a chance. I will follow in his footsteps and will stand up for green as an ambassador for green environments, parks and gardens.”

From childhood, he and his brother had been strongly influenced by gardening and landscape design. For many years they worked together with their father. It was not always easy to work with him because his father had “a strong personality.” However, he noted that he found his own path which he learned through discussions and debates “to find my own place next to him.”