UK trade event highlights ‘huge opportunities’ presented by Vision 2030

An illustration of Neom, which will be built in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk province. (Courtesy Neom.com)
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Updated 27 October 2020

UK trade event highlights ‘huge opportunities’ presented by Vision 2030

  • Reform plan has seen KSA rapidly rise through global business competitiveness ranks
  • Deputy consul general: ‘British businesses keen to find out more about exciting opportunities in Saudi Arabia’

LONDON: Saudi economic and social reforms as part of Vision 2030 have been instrumental in turning the Kingdom into one of the world’s most competitive economies, according to speakers at an event on Tuesday organized by the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT).

The Gulf Cooperation Council “is a hugely important trade partner of the UK … Within that, Saudi Arabia is such an important economy,” Chad Woodward, director of trade and investment at the British Embassy in the Kingdom, said at the online event organized as part of its 2020 Infrastructure Week and attended by Arab News.

Saudi Arabia “has huge opportunities as it takes forward its national transformation program under Vision 2030,” he added.

Megaprojects such as Neom, the Red Sea Development Project and others are “hugely exciting,” and exemplify the opportunities that the Kingdom has to offer for British investors looking for new destinations for their capital, he said.

Simon Kelly, deputy consul general and head of the DIT at the British Consulate in Jeddah, told Arab News after the event that there is “huge interest” from British companies in learning more about investing in the Kingdom, and the megaprojects are a key part of that.

“British businesses are keen to find out more about the exciting opportunities in Saudi Arabia, including the Red Sea Development Project, Amaala, Diriyah Gate, Qiddiya, and of course Neom,” he said.

Kelly highlighted potential avenues of cooperation between the two countries in pursuing the Vision 2030 goals, and said the UK is particularly well placed to support Saudi Arabia across a range of sectors.

The economic and social changes instituted as part of Vision 2030 have been instrumental in turning the Kingdom into the Middle East’s economic powerhouse and one of the world’s most competitive countries, said Abdulaziz Alghifaili, international office director for Northern Europe at the Saudi Ministry of Investment.

“Saudi Arabia used to be an economy that relied on oil and gas — now the country is rapidly diversifying its economy and opening up to new sectors. This transformation is powered by the young, educated population that’s creating a highly talented and ambitious workforce,” he added.

“The investment climate in Saudi Arabia continues to improve in competitiveness. The World Bank ranked Saudi Arabia as the world’s top reformer in their Doing Business 2020 report, and the Kingdom is now ranked 24th in the world for competitiveness by the International Institute for Management Development.”

Economic reforms such as allowing 100 percent foreign ownership of some companies, huge reductions in the time required to register licenses, and a cut in the number of documents required for foreign companies to begin doing business in the Kingdom are just some of the changes that have driven its rapid ascent through the ranks of global competitiveness, Alghifaili said.

The country’s prowess in financial services in particular — it is the largest capital market in the Middle East and North Africa — has been instrumental in driving forward its economy, he added.


Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

Nutrition is the most important part when it comes to bodybuilding, then comes type of exercise, and good rest. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2020

Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

  • Ali Al-Salam, who stopped consuming animal products in 2017, says certain steps must be completed to have an athletic body

JEDDAH: The vegan diet has risen in popularity in Saudi Arabia in recent years and has been a constant topic of debate among Saudis, attracting the interest of many, including athletes.

Ongoing debates about whether the vegan diet is sufficient for normal people, let alone bodybuilders, abound, but one Saudi is answering them physically.
Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.
Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease, but other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.
Speaking to Arab News, 33-year-old Saudi vegan bodybuilder, Ali Al-Salam, who first started his vegan diet three years ago when he was suffering from high blood pressure, highlighted that the consumption of animal products is a deep rooted idea among bodybuilders and athletes.
“We always hear that in order to build muscle, we must consume animal products. In some parts of the world, there are people who can only have a small amount of animal products yet they live their lives healthily and comfortably and are not suffering from malnutrition — on the contrary, they have a lower level of chronic illnesses.”

When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.

Ali Al-Salam, Saudi vegan bodybuilder

He said it also opened his eyes to what goes on in the dairy and meat industry; he began researching in 2016 and decided to become vegan in 2017.
“I was just like every other athlete, I used to consume a high amounts of protein. I remember in the last days before turning vegan, I used to have 10 egg whites and a piece of steak for breakfast to fulfil my protein needs. This made me think, ‘is this the only way to consume protein?’ And from then on, I started researching and got introduced to the vegan diet at a larger scale,” he said.
“When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.”
He explained that bodybuilding does not solely rely on protein, and that there are steps that must be completed in order to reach an athletic body. Nutrition is the most important part, then comes type of exercise, and good rest.
“When we talk about good nutrition, it does not just rely on protein. Yes, it is important, but the amount of calories in general is more important,” he said.
“Let’s say you needed 200 grams of protein, does that mean if you consumed 200 grams of it, you would gain muscle? No. You need all the basic nutrients to reach a certain amount of calories in general,” he added.
He highlighted that as soon as people register for gym memberships, they immediately look for supplements because they think they cannot reach the needed amount of protein.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.

• Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease.

• But other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.

• Vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants.

• Animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.

“I’m talking about non-vegans here too, where their protein intake is already high. Marketing plays a big role here. People link protein to animal products because our society grew up with this idea as well.
“Can a vegan build muscle? Yes, when they eat right, exercise correctly and rest well. The misconception about protein stems from amino acids. People think vegan food lacks amino acids, and only animal products are full of them and that is far from the truth,” he added.
When comparing vegan athletes to regular athletes, he said vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants which helps greatly in recovery, and because “animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.”