RIYADH: A Saudi-based firm advocating for the unification of the public and private sectors aims to create an environment where all companies in the Kingdom can band together to achieve the goals and ambitions of Vision 2030.
Riyadh-based Mukatafa, founded by Prince Waleed bin Nasser, works within the private sector to mobilize leaders and raise industry standards by reviewing and developing policies. Through their work on advocacy, Mukatafa facilitates and directs policymakers while implementing practical solutions, such as setting up association bodies, organizing events and identifying educational and skillset requirements.
In an interview with Arab News, Prince Waleed, who is a main speaker at this week’s three-day Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit, said that the company was created to “fill a need” that had emerged following the announcement of Vision 2030.
“When Vision 2030 was launched, it was clear that the public sector was on a very fast-paced track to direct the culture of the Saudi economy. Society was part of that change. The other part was supposed to be the private sector, but they were not quite ready to take on that role,” he said.
According to Prince Waleed, the private sector was not entirely clear on its role in the new economic environment and was not capable of coping with the transformation.
“Vision 2030 required the private sector to transform in the same way as the public sector — to change how they used to do business, what they needed to focus on, and how they partnered with the government. What happened instead was that the private sector started to struggle during the initial launch of Vision 2030,” he said.
Prince Waleed saw an opportunity to be a catalyst for change, and he felt there was a role he could play in bringing the sectors together.
Vision 2030 required the private sector to transform in the same way as the public sector — to change how they used to do business, what they needed to focus on, and how they partnered with the government.
Prince Waleed bin Nasser
“It was clear that we needed to bring private-sector entities together in a way they could understand their role in enabling the vision program. It cannot be done on an individual level, in terms of individual companies. They have to do it collectively. When you have industries working together, the magnitude of change is greater,” he said.
When Mukatafa was founded in 2018, Prince Waleed said that the team began talking to industry leaders, urging them to come together. “These companies can still compete and be rivals, but common goals can help them band together,” he said.
Among the main goals of Vision 2030 are simplifying how business is done in Saudi Arabia — in terms of processes and licensing — and attracting international investment.
“Government processes needed to be simplified,” Prince Waleed said. “And to help with that, we’ve researched all the parties in the subsectors of the government and ended up identifying the common challenges the industries were facing that were preventing them from growing and improving their standards. We were linking where the private sector is today with the objectives of the Vision and helping both private and public sectors work together to meet the Vision’s goals.”
Since then, Mukatafa has made strides in tackling the food and beverage industry, bringing industry leaders together under one umbrella, and creating the Saudi Restaurant and Café Association.
“It has a general assembly and a board, clear governance on how to manage the association, financial transparency, and so on. When the companies came together, we were able to align their activities, which caused them to become enablers in the industry,” Prince Waleed said.
Future plans include similar associations in the industries of fashion and grocery retail.
Mukatafa has also held a series of job fairs, helping to bring down the Kingdom’s unemployment rate.
“The number of offers we saw that became full-time jobs represented the highest rate in the Kingdom, higher even than those the Ministry of Human Resources or the Human Resources Development fund have achieved,” Prince Waleed said.
“Recently we held a virtual job fair that attracted more than 300,000 job seekers, which led to 30,000 CVs being passed on to companies that were looking for applicants,” he added.
Mukatafa is also launching an academy to train Saudis to enter the hospitality industry. Opening its doors in June, the Al-Qoot Academy was created in partnership with Lausanne University, the highest-ranked hospitality university in the world.
“It’s a six-floor building with a 600-student capacity, furnished with kitchens, dining rooms, and all the assets an individual needs to practice the skills involved in hospitality,” Prince Waleed said.