Four new special economic zones to be established in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (File/SPA)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (File/SPA)
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Updated 14 April 2023
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Four new special economic zones to be established in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (File/SPA)
  • The aim of the new zones, which were announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday, is to open up new opportunities for international investors

RIYADH: Four special economic zones are to be established in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced on Thursday.

The aim of the new zones, which will be located in Riyadh, Jazan, Ras Al-Khair and King Abdullah Economic City, is to open up new opportunities for international investors, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

“Saudi Arabia is open for business and welcomes investors from all around the world to see first-hand the historic opportunities we have to offer,” the crown prince said.

“The new special economic zones launched today will significantly impact how business is done in the country, create tens of thousands of jobs, and contribute billions of riyals to our gross domestic product.”

The zones will take advantage of the Kingdom’s strategic location to create new hubs for businesses across key growth sectors so that they can launch and expand companies and technologies that will help shape the future, according to the SPA.

They will support existing national strategies and create new links with international frameworks, building on the competitive advantages of each region of the country to support key sectors such as logistics, advanced manufacturing, technology, and other priority sectors in the Kingdom, it added.

The benefits to companies of operating in the zones will include: competitive corporate tax rates; exemption from customs duties on imports, production inputs, machinery and raw materials; 100 percent foreign ownership of companies; and flexibility to attract and hire the best talent worldwide.

The zones will also provide tremendous opportunities for developing the local economy, generating jobs, and localizing supply chains, officials said. They are said to represent a continuation of long-running initiatives that aim to transform the Kingdom into a global investment destination and a vital hub for global supply chains, by capitalizing on its position at the heart of global trade routes.

Thanks to a detailed program of regulations and incentives, the zones will offer rewarding and attractive benefits to foreign investors, officials said. The program will also allow for the acceleration of reforms required to facilitate business in all parts of the Kingdom, they added.

The new zones build on previous free-zone initiatives in the Kingdom, including the recent launch of an integrated special zone for logistics at King Salman International Airport in Riyadh. Together, they represent the first phase of a major, long-term program designed to encourage foreign direct investment, attract the most talented professionals from around the world, and promote entrepreneurship and economic development within the Kingdom, officials said.

The zones, which will be regulated by the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority, will provide fresh solutions to the challenges many global businesses face as they attempt to localize and strengthen supply chains, they added, and help the Kingdom take advantage of key macroeconomic shifts to create a truly differentiated business environment, activating new sectors and value chains.

Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, who is the chairman of the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority, said: “This is an exciting moment. We are proud to see the launch of these four special economic zones that offer the chance for foreign investors to have a stake in the world’s fastest growing economy.”

The Secretary-General of the authority, Mr. Nabil Khoja, added, “With hugely attractive financial incentives, world-class infrastructure, business-friendly regulations and streamlined procedures for investors, there has never been a better time to be part of Saudi Arabia’s economic success story. The zones will become engines of growth, increasing the Kingdom’s export competitiveness, attracting talent, boosting technology and improving our global links.”

Special economic zones – or SEZs – are geographically defined areas that facilitate specific economic activities, such as investment, trade and employment, by providing competitive advantages and legislative frameworks that differ from the base economy. 

The zones launched today cover a wide range of industries:

King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) SEZ
The premier destination for advanced manufacturing and logistics, from automobile supply chain and assembly to consumer goods, ICT to MedTech. Set in a prime location on the Red Sea, less than 90 minutes from Jeddah Airport, this 60km2 site offers unrivaled access to global trade routes through King Abdullah Port, ranked the world’s most efficient by the World Bank in 2022. Anchor investor Lucid, a leader in the global EV industry, will produce 150,000 EVs a year from its base in KAEC SEZ.

Jazan SEZ
An industrial center and key platform for trade with fast-growing markets in Africa and Asia. Jazan SEZ offers access to the largest port in the region for export of goods and import of materials, helping investors benefit from and contribute to large-scale infrastructure projects in Saudi Arabia and around the world, backed by easy access to both natural and industrial resources. Jazan is part of the Kingdom’s fertile southwestern region, providing opportunities for the manufacturing, processing and distribution of food products to cater for growing regional demand and meet food security challenges across the region.

Ras Al-Khair SEZ
A launchpad on the Arabian Gulf for leaders in the maritime industry, Ras Al-Khair SEZ is a fully integrated marine ecosystem, with a rich network of existing investors – 40% of the zone is already reserved – and myriad opportunities across shipbuilding and repair, offshore drilling and maritime value chains.

Cloud Computing SEZ, located in King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST)
In King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), a new Cloud Computing SEZ will serve as  a hub for emerging and disruptive technologies. A direct manifestation of the Kingdom’s ‘Cloud First’ policy, the Cloud Computing SEZ underlines the Kingdom’s commitment to digital innovation and the fast-growing tech sector. The Zone is based around an innovative hybrid model that allows investors to establish physical data centers and cloud computing infrastructure in multiple locations within the Kingdom.


More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official
Updated 8 sec ago
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More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

RIYADH: Saudi women should explore more opportunities in the petrochemical industry, as only 25 percent of the sector’s workforce are female, said a top official. 

Speaking at the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh on Feb. 28, Faisal Al-Suwailem, executive vice president of corporate human resources at Saudi Basic Industries Corp., said that the industrial sector in the Kingdom has been witnessing a sharp rise in female employment over the past three years. 

“If we take a look at the petrochemical industry, in the last 20 years, I have seen a great increase in the participation of females in the petrochemical industry. However, if you look at the number of women in the petrochemical industry, it is still about 25 percent. So, I believe we still have room to grow,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “In the industrial sector, the hiring of females has increased 93 percent over the last three years. We have right now over 63,000 females working in plants around the Kingdom.” 

Al-Suwailem further pointed out that Saudi Arabia has surpassed the female workforce target outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

“Let us first look at Vision 2030, and under the thriving economy for female participation in the labor market, the baseline target was set at 22.8 percent, and now we are at 34.5 percent,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added that SABIC stands out as one of the companies offering structured training programs aimed at nurturing and enhancing the skills of young individuals.

Al-Suwailem also underscored that SABIC offers scholarship programs that provide equal opportunities for both men and women. 

“SABIC is a national champion for sure in petrochemicals, but it also has a proven record of being a national champion for development, job creation, learning and contribution to the gross domestic product,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “SABIC’s scholarship program, which is meant for Saudi bright young talents, is right now equally split between men and women.” 

For her part, during the same panel discussion, Cabinet Secretary and Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Kenya Florence Bore said that the country is preparing its youth to adapt themselves to procure jobs in the international market. 

“Our focus currently is on labor migration, and even as you focus on labor migration, it is one of the areas where we get foreign remittances,” said Bore. 

She added: “Kenya has been undergoing lots of changes in the workplace. We have both the informal and formal jobs. The informal sector is really growing at a faster rate than the formal jobs. And because of that, you will find most of our Kenyans are now venturing out for jobs in the international market.”


More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official
Updated 12 sec ago
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More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

RIYADH: Saudi women should explore more opportunities in the petrochemical industry, as only 25 percent of the sector’s workforce are female, said a top official. 

Speaking at the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh on Feb. 28, Faisal Al-Suwailem, executive vice president of corporate human resources at Saudi Basic Industries Corp., said that the industrial sector in the Kingdom has been witnessing a sharp rise in female employment over the past three years. 

“If we take a look at the petrochemical industry, in the last 20 years, I have seen a great increase in the participation of females in the petrochemical industry. However, if you look at the number of women in the petrochemical industry, it is still about 25 percent. So, I believe we still have room to grow,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “In the industrial sector, the hiring of females has increased 93 percent over the last three years. We have right now over 63,000 females working in plants around the Kingdom.” 

Al-Suwailem further pointed out that Saudi Arabia has surpassed the female workforce target outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

“Let us first look at Vision 2030, and under the thriving economy for female participation in the labor market, the baseline target was set at 22.8 percent, and now we are at 34.5 percent,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added that SABIC stands out as one of the companies offering structured training programs aimed at nurturing and enhancing the skills of young individuals.

Al-Suwailem also underscored that SABIC offers scholarship programs that provide equal opportunities for both men and women. 

“SABIC is a national champion for sure in petrochemicals, but it also has a proven record of being a national champion for development, job creation, learning and contribution to the gross domestic product,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “SABIC’s scholarship program, which is meant for Saudi bright young talents, is right now equally split between men and women.” 

For her part, during the same panel discussion, Cabinet Secretary and Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Kenya Florence Bore said that the country is preparing its youth to adapt themselves to procure jobs in the international market. 

“Our focus currently is on labor migration, and even as you focus on labor migration, it is one of the areas where we get foreign remittances,” said Bore. 

She added: “Kenya has been undergoing lots of changes in the workplace. We have both the informal and formal jobs. The informal sector is really growing at a faster rate than the formal jobs. And because of that, you will find most of our Kenyans are now venturing out for jobs in the international market.”


Saudi Arabia’s tourism fund signs agreement with New Murabba  

Saudi Arabia’s tourism fund signs agreement with New Murabba  
Updated 13 min 26 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s tourism fund signs agreement with New Murabba  

Saudi Arabia’s tourism fund signs agreement with New Murabba  

RIYADH: Financing and investment opportunities are set to rise in Saudi Arabia’s new downtown project, with the Tourism Development Fund signing an agreement with New Murabba Development Co.   

This memorandum of understanding aims to foster cooperation and contribute to the Kingdom’s social and economic growth by developing New Murabba, situated northwest of Riyadh.  

According to the agreement, the fund will explore direct financing or investment opportunities in the project through its partners, investors, or contractors, aligning with its policies and procedures, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The MoU was signed by Qusai Al-Fakhri, CEO of TDF, and Michael Dyke, CEO of New Murabba Development Co., a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund. 

The collaboration will also include workshops to discuss potential cooperation opportunities, while New Murabba Development Co. will be responsible for qualifying the project’s infrastructure and foundation.  

Al-Fakhri emphasized the deal's significance in achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, noting that New Murabba aims to provide an exceptional lifestyle, work, and entertainment experience.  

The MoU is an extension of several memoranda and cooperation agreements the fund has signed with the private sector, emphasizing the importance of collaborative work to achieve shared goals.   

Al-Fakhri noted that these agreements would support the TDF’s efforts to promote the tourism sector’s growth and diversity, attracting domestic and foreign investments to make tourist destinations a modern lifestyle model that attracts tourists and offers quality experiences.  

Dyke said that the deal aims to develop a modern downtown in line with Saudi Vision 2030’s goals noting that New Murabba’s design focuses on sustainability standards and life quality improvement, including green spaces, walking paths, and promoting health and sports concepts.   

He added that the project also aims to offer a unique living, working, and entertainment experience within a 15-minute walking radius, along with internal transportation means.  

Established in 2022 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, New Murabba Development Co. plays a crucial role in realizing Saudi Vision 2030. It focuses on developing a modern downtown centered around the iconic Cube building, redefining Riyadh’s cityscape. 

This initiative is designed to be a cultural symbol for Riyadh, featuring hotel and residential units, office spaces, and entertainment facilities, all incorporating the latest digital technologies. 


Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 

Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 
Updated 28 February 2024
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Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 

Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 

RIYADH: Liquidity management in Jordan’s cash market is set to undergo a significant transformation as the country’s central bank introduces new tools for monetary policy. 

Aligned with Shariah laws, the Central Bank of Jordan has introduced these instruments in collaboration with Islamic banks operating within the country. The goal is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of liquidity management in the cash market, the Jordan News Agency reported. 

These new measures will not only assist Islamic banks in achieving more flexible liquidity management but also contribute to the establishment of an effective interbank market among them. 

Under the framework of these tools, the central bank will be able to provide Islamic banks with daytime liquidity, overnight liquidity, and liquidity extending up to one week.

This will be done based on the banks’ requests or at the apex bank’s initiative, allowing flexibility in terms of timing, amount, and duration. The Central Bank of Jordan will determine these parameters to align with its operational objectives in implementing monetary policy.  

This move by the central bank comes as part of its efforts to develop the operational framework of monetary policy and diversify the tools at its disposal. The decision is in line with the best practices of central banks and addresses the specific needs of the local cash and banking market, as reported by PETRA. 

In a related development, earlier in January, 16 Jordanian banks jointly launched the first private sector investment fund, committing $388 million to foster the growth of local businesses. 

The Jordan Capital and Investment Fund, established in 2021 with a capital commitment of 275 million dinars ($387.6 million), was officially registered under the 2022 Investment Environment Law, the state news agency reported. 

The instrument aims to inject money into emerging firms with growth, development, and expansion prospects, providing financing to enhance job opportunities and propel nationwide growth, as stated in an official statement reported by the Jordan News Agency. 

As the country’s first and largest private sector investment fund, it is designed to allocate funds to vital and promising sectors, such as food and health security, manufacturing, and information and communication technology. The objective is to harness Jordan’s potential in building the future, it added. 

At that time, Hani Al-Qadi, the chairman of the Jordan Capital and Investment Fund, had said the fund is crucial for achieving “accelerated growth” by fully leveraging Jordan’s economic potential. 


Oil Updates – prices ease as Fed caution, stock build outweigh OPEC+ news

Oil Updates – prices ease as Fed caution, stock build outweigh OPEC+ news
Updated 28 February 2024
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Oil Updates – prices ease as Fed caution, stock build outweigh OPEC+ news

Oil Updates – prices ease as Fed caution, stock build outweigh OPEC+ news

NEW DELHI: Oil prices pulled back in Asia on Wednesday as the prospect of a delay in Washington’s rate-cutting cycle and a rise in US crude stocks offset a boost on Tuesday from news OPEC and its allies might extend its output cuts, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures fell 30 cents, or 0.36 percent, to $83.35 a barrel by 6:02 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate futures dropped 28 cents to $78.59 a barrel.

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman signalled she is in no rush to cut US interest rates, particularly given upside risks to inflation that could stall progress on controlling price pressures or even lead to their resurgence.

Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Schmid made similar remarks on Monday. Their remarks underlined concern in financial markets that the potential economic benefits of lower rates will be pushed back.

“There is some profit-taking this morning after the past two sessions recouped the $2 per barrel of Mideast risk premium that crude shed on Friday,” said Vandana Hari, founder of oil market analysis provider Vanda Insights.

“It’s a combined response to the weekly US crude stock surge in the API data this morning and continuing hope that a Gaza ceasefire deal will be reached in the next few days,” Hari added.

On Tuesday, US President Biden said Israel has agreed to halt military activities in Gaza for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. However, Israel and Hamas as well as Qatari mediators all sounded notes of caution about progress toward a truce in Gaza.

US crude stocks rose 8.43 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 23, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday.

Gasoline inventories fell by 3.27 million barrels, and distillate stocks fell by 523,000 barrels, the data showed.

Brent and WTO futures rose more than $1 per barrel on Tuesday after Reuters reported the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, including Russia, will consider extending voluntary oil output cuts into the second quarter.

Extending the output cuts into the second quarter is “likely,” one of the OPEC+ sources said. Two said a longer extension to the end of 2024 was possible.

Last November, OPEC+ agreed to voluntary cuts totalling about 2.2 million barrels per day for the first quarter this year, led by Saudi Arabia rolling over its own voluntary cut.

Analysts at ANZ Research wrote in a note that such a move by the OPEC+ alliance would likely tighten the market.

Russian authorities announced on Tuesday a six-month ban on gasoline exports from March 1 to compensate for rising demand from consumers and farmers and to allow for planned maintenance of refineries.