RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s emphasis on sustainability factors in the ongoing development projects will help it leapfrog to new sustainable technologies and standards, said Fahad Alajlan, president of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center.
In his opening remarks at an event organized by the Riyadh-based research facility on Tuesday, he said the Kingdom has the capability of developing a robust, resilient, and sustainable transport and logistics network.
The event discussed in detail Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become a global transport and logistics hub. Experts from different sectors took part in panel discussions to highlight measures that the Kingdom should take to achieve its goal as part of its efforts to diversify its economy away from oil.
It was organized by KAPSARC in collaboration with the University of Antwerp.
Welcoming the guests, Alajlan said: “We are happy to host today’s panel which will focus on understanding how far Saudi (Arabia) has come on its journey to becoming a global transport and logistics hub.”
He said the Kingdom needs to develop a multimodal transport network to achieve the goals of its national strategy. “Some modes of transport, such as road, are more developed than others, such as rail.”
Suliman Al-Mazroua, CEO of the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program, said that the Kingdom had witnessed several monumental changes in its economy since the launch of Vision 2030.
Vision 2030 blueprint will have a profound impact beyond the Kingdom as it improves connectivity between continents and enhances international trade, he said.
“Vision 2030 impacts are not limited to Saudi Arabia. Becoming an industrial powerhouse and a global logistics hub will open new possibilities for products and markets. It will also improve connectivity between continents and enhance international trade. Therefore, we continue to invite the international community to be part of our journey,” said Al-Mazroua.
He added: “Since Vision 2030 was launched, we started to enjoy the fruits of it across all aspects of our lives. Foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia doubled. Private sector contribution to the GDP doubled.”
Highlighting the growth of Saudi Arabia in the transport sector, Al-Mazroua revealed that Saudi Arabia had jumped 17 places in the Logistics Performance Index released by the World Bank last April.
The index showed Saudi Arabia reaching the 38th spot, exceling in performance efficiency through several sub-indicators, including logistics competence, tracking, timeliness, customs, infrastructure, and international shipments indices.
According to Al-Mazroua, Saudi Arabia’s National Logistics Strategy, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021, is one of the key drivers behind this growth.
The strategy aims to position the Kingdom as a global logistics hub connecting three continents and improve all transportation services while improving the capabilities of Saudi Arabia’s air cargo sector by doubling its capacity to more than 4.5 million tons by 2030.
“Customs used to take 288 hours, and now it takes two hours. We are among the best when it comes to processing, both in and out of the country,” said Al-Mazroua.
According to the NIDLP CEO, technology is one of the most crucial enablers of the goals outlined in Vision 2030.
“When we look at the future, we know technology is our friend. We will have smart mines, supplying smart factories connected to smart industrial cities powered by smart grids, and move goods and people through smart logistics. Connecting the smart is the new smart,” he said.
Al-Mazroua added: “Having the right data will help us to predict the future and improvise clean energy generation. Look at the history; the semiconductor challenge the world faced a few months ago. When we look at the data, it was predicted. If we had the right data at that time, we could have predicted this issue and solved it.”
Al-Mazroua continued that NIDLP, with its various initiatives, is always trying to minimize the risk and maximize the returns for investors.