Saudi jobs boom unmatched anywhere in the world, Budget Forum told

Saudi jobs boom unmatched anywhere in the world, Budget Forum told
A special press conference was held to mark the announcement of Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget.
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Updated 07 December 2023
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Saudi jobs boom unmatched anywhere in the world, Budget Forum told

Saudi jobs boom unmatched anywhere in the world, Budget Forum told

RIYADH: Some 1.1 million new jobs have been created in Saudi Arabia in the past year as the Kingdom’s economic diversification policies continue to bear fruit, according to a government minister.

At a special forum organized in Riyadh to mark the announcement of Saudi Arabia’s 2024 budget, Minister of Human Resources Ahmad Al-Rajhi said no other nation in the world had seen such an increase over the period.

He also said that initiatives by the government to support the private sector have led to 361,000 new workers in the job market. 

The press conference came a day after Saudi Arabia approved the state budget for 2024, with revenues projected at SR1.17 trillion ($312.48 billion) and expenditure at SR1.25 trillion, leading to a deficit of SR79 billion. 

In its announcement, the Finance Ministry projected the Kingdom’s gross domestic product growth at 4.4 percent in 2024 an increase from the estimated 0.03 percent in 2023. 

It predicted the Kingdom’s public debt for the next fiscal year to stand at SR1.10 trillion, or 25.9 percent of GDP. This represents a 7.71 percent increase from the re-estimated 2023 figures of SR1.02 trillion, constituting 24.8 percent of the GDP.

Fiscal reserves

Speaking at the forum, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan emphasized Saudi Arabia’s need for adequate fiscal reserves at the Saudi Central Bank, also known as SAMA, to absorb external shocks.

The minister underscored the need to avoid competing with the private sector for funding. He also highlighted all sectoral and regional strategies and projects to optimize funding and execution for maximum economic return.

He said that spending efficiency means optimal resource use for the highest return, not just reducing expenditure.

Al-Jadaan told the forum that the Efficiency of Expenditure Authority, along with government authorities, saved nearly SR225 billion.

Conducive environment

Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim said Vision 2030 has created a conducive environment and pushing the Kingdom toward its goal of economic diversification. 

National capabilities have now become a long-term priority, he added.

The minister said the Kingdom is dedicated to achieving optimal economic diversification. He told the forum that the Saudi trade balance had improved due to increased service exports rising from SR65 billion in 2016 to SR135 billion today.

Highlighting the non-oil economic growth of the Kingdom since 2016, Al-Ibrahim said the contribution of non-oil revenues to covering costs increased from 19 percent to 35 percent.

The minister said the reliance of government spending on the oil sector has now decreased to 50 percent. 

The government’s investments in sectors, including electric vehicles and others, present great opportunities for the private sector, he added.

Moreover, unemployment rates are consistently declining, with a notable participation of women in the labor market, currently ranging between 35 percent and 36 percent.

Housing sector
Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing Majid Al-Hogail said that the ministry has been working to increase the homeownership rate by 1 percent annually since 2020, by adding more than 100,000 residential units every year.

He said this is being done in partnership with the private sector players.

The minister said more than 105,000 housing units will be offered with the help from local developers, especially in areas witnessing high prices, such as Riyadh and Jeddah, through multiple suburbs.

Furthermore, the ministry aims to have developers from outside the Kingdom to diversify and focus on residential suburbs more than housing, said Al-Hogail.

He highlighted that the housing targets, as per Vision 2030, were planned to go through three stages, while ensuring that there is a sustainable program that does not depend solely on government spending.

The ministry focused this year on raising the quality of services in cities.

It also aims to privatize 70 percent of the municipal sector in coordination with the National Center for Privatization & PPP. The ministry privatized 19 percent of this sector in 2023 and aims to privatize 30 percent of services next year.

Logistics

Saudi Arabia added 27 new shipping lines in 2023, leading to faster arrival of goods, higher revenues, and improved shipping rates, Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser told the forum.

He said there are eight new logistics zones in Jeddah Port with investments of global major shipping lines, operators of container terminals, and major international companies specialized in the field of logistics services.

Of these, three zones are open, and five are under construction. 

Education
More than 90 educational service projects became operational in 2023, while 707 schools Kingdom-wide were rehabilitated in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, Education Minister Yousef Al-Benyan said.

Mining sector

Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef emphasized his ministry’s focus on increasing the discovery of natural resources. 

He highlighted the positive impact of these efforts, stating: “We are beginning to see that this system is already considered one of the best investment regulations globally.”

Water security

Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadley outlined the Kingdom’s plans for water demand until 2050. He said: “We produce 11 million cubic meters of desalinated water, and within two years, this number will jump to 14 million cubic meters, reaching 18 million cubic meters by 2030.”

Al-Fadley also highlighted environmental initiatives at the forum. “We’ve initiated 65 projects in the environmental sector, with a planned investment of SR55 billion, ensuring they yield financial returns.”

He highlighted the ambitious goal of elevating waste recycling from 4 percent to an impressive 95 percent, contributing about SR120 billion to Saudi Arabia’s GDP.

Healthcare

Health Minister Fahd Al-Jalajel provided insights into the sector's transformation, stating: “In the past, we were the ministry of sickness, not the ministry of health. Today, we have switched our focus to the patient.” 

Al-Jalajel emphasized the success of the salt reduction policy in lowering the mortality rate from chronic diseases.


Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers
Updated 29 February 2024
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Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers

Inter-Arab trade at $700bn: Union of Arab Chambers
  • Secretary-general attends World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi
  • ‘The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade’

SAO PAULO: Inter-Arab trade stands at $700 billion, constituting 10-11 percent of global trade, the secretary-general of the Union of Arab Chambers said on Thursday during the 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi.

In an interview with Emirates News Agency on the sidelines of the event, Khaled Hanafy highlighted the potential for increased trade, expanded business opportunities, job creation and economic growth across the Arab world through standardization, improved logistics and private sector engagement.

The UAE’s strategic positioning and robust infrastructure make it a preferred hub for international businesses seeking access to international markets, Hanafy said.

Its hosting of prestigious events such as COP28 and the WTO Ministerial Conference underscores its global leadership, communication prowess and influence in international forums, he added.

“The Arab region’s presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade,” Hanafy said, adding that the conference strengthens the UAC’s position as a representative of the Arab private sector within the WTO, potentially leading to observer status in key technical committees.

This, he said, would empower the UAC to exert greater influence on decisions shaping international trade flows.

The Arab world’s private sector contributes over 75 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, roughly equivalent to $3 trillion. This sector also plays a vital role in employment generation.

Hanafy emphasized the need for even greater private sector involvement in trade to foster business growth and achieve sustainable development across Arab nations.

He championed the UAC’s role in fostering trade cooperation within the Arab world, encompassing both commercial and investment activities.

Hanafy also advocated for the establishment of the Arab Common Market, outlining essential principles for achieving economic unity across the region.

This was the official debut of the Arab private sector at a WTO Ministerial Conference.

With unprecedented access granted to businesses at the event, representatives from regional chambers of commerce seized the opportunity to voice their concerns and aspirations.

Hanafy emphasized the significance of this inclusion at a roundtable event on the sidelines, saying: “This is the first time the Arab private sector is welcomed. The Arab private sector must be here.

“This is a great opportunity. There’s an objective: We want to see the Arab private sector have a larger role.”

Promoting economic cooperation and integration across the Arab world, the UAC unites chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture from the 22 Arab League member states.

It supports governmental and civil society initiatives to strengthen regional economic ties in commerce, industry, agriculture, finance, investment and services.


Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector focussing on small investors, minister says

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef. (@BAlkhorayef)
Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef. (@BAlkhorayef)
Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector focussing on small investors, minister says

Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef. (@BAlkhorayef)
  • AlKhorayef said that the ministry has a financing program with simple conditions for small investors and entrepreneurs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector has recently focused on small investors, the Kingdom’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim AlKhorayef has said.

Speaking to Al-Ekhbariya TV, the minister said that the ministry has a financing program with simple conditions for small investors and entrepreneurs.

The minister indicated that the business model of industrial cities, like the MODON oasis in Al-Ahsa, created a new opportunity for a certain type of investor and industry.

He added that most of the spaces in the industrial cities will be made up of ready-built factories, as this will largely reduce the financial burden on the investor, shorten the construction period, and facilitate obtaining the necessary licenses.


Ministry of Economy and Planning signs MoU with Saudi National Institute of Health

Representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning and the Saudi National Institute of Health sign a MoU.
Representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning and the Saudi National Institute of Health sign a MoU.
Updated 29 February 2024
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Ministry of Economy and Planning signs MoU with Saudi National Institute of Health

Representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning and the Saudi National Institute of Health sign a MoU.
  • MoU aims to develop and align the strategic direction of national development priorities and economic policies in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Saudi National Institute of Health, the ministry announced on Thursday.

The MoU aims to develop and align the strategic direction of national development priorities and economic policies in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

It also aims to enable the decision-making process through the preparation of methodologies and studies, the ministry said.

As part of the MoU, scientific and hands-on experiences will be exchanged and both parties will prepare studies and research related to their work in order to improve quality.

They will also organize joint workshops and training courses to enhance capabilities and skills, and benefit from the infrastructure and public facilities of both parties.


Diriyah Co. CEO lauds Saudi efforts to empower youth

Diriyah Co. CEO lauds Saudi efforts to empower youth
Updated 29 February 2024
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Diriyah Co. CEO lauds Saudi efforts to empower youth

Diriyah Co. CEO lauds Saudi efforts to empower youth

RIYADH: Leadership and empowerment insights took center stage during a workshop at the Human Capability Initiative, with industry leaders delving into the future of Saudi Arabia’s workforce. 

In a “What If?” talk at the Riyadh event, Jerry Inzerillo, group CEO of Diriyah Co., addressed young Saudis, urging them to dream big and sharing insights from his own journey. 

He said: “Please dream big. There was nothing in between you and your dreams that you cannot accomplish.”  

Inzerillo emphasized the importance of self-esteem and dignity in leadership, signaling a departure from traditional hierarchical models toward more inclusive and empowering approaches. 

Praising the visionary leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Inzerillo expressed gratitude for the unprecedented support provided to initiatives like the Human Capability Initiative.  

Inzerillo commended the substantial investment in training and development facilitated by the crown prince, highlighting its significance in equipping the next generation with the skills necessary to navigate the challenges of an ever-evolving technological landscape.  

“In a 50-year career, I’ve never had the training and development budget that the crown prince has given us,” he remarked. 

“We are marching forward to 2030; we are marching positively. We believe in ourselves and those who will help us on our mission.”  

Inzerillo said that as of yesterday, they had 2,419 employees, with 85 percent of the staff being Saudi. 

“Now, 39 percent of our Saudi staff are women superstars. And those 39 percent of my Saudi women superstars boss me around on a daily basis more than the 61 percent of the boys.”  

The CEO shared his impressions of the young Saudi talent present at the event and said: “In New York, we have a saying, when you’re very excited, you have goosebumps. That’s the way I feel right now. Because just being backstage for a moment, and seeing all of the young talented Saudis, to me it’s like a thunderbolt of energy.” 

Inzerillo concluded with a resounding call to action, reminding every individual of their potential to contribute to the realization of Vision 2030. “Every single individual is capable of contributing to Vision 2030 and should.”  


Siemens inaugurates electrical equipment facility in Jeddah

Siemens inaugurates electrical equipment facility in Jeddah
Updated 29 February 2024
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Siemens inaugurates electrical equipment facility in Jeddah

Siemens inaugurates electrical equipment facility in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Multinational technology company Siemens unveiled its new electrical equipment factory in Jeddah in the presence of the Kingdom’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef.

In partnership with its Saudi partner, Arabia Electric Ltd Equipment Co, the firm inaugurated the facility on Feb. 29 at the Modon Oasis in Jeddah.

The 6,000 sq. m factory produces electrical equipment such as substation automation systems, communication and protection panels, and other products for the utility, oil and gas, infrastructure, and petrochemical industries.

The facility will operate with a 120-person workforce.

In an interview with Arab News, the minister of industry highlighted that establishing factories by major international companies in the Kingdom indicates the country’s capability to accommodate diverse industries. Moreover, he underscored that “Saudi Made” branding will soon adorn Lucid automobiles.

“Saudi Arabia remains committed to its strategy as we have created a favorable environment for industrial investment, allowing industry investors to strengthen their capabilities within the Kingdom. This endeavor goes beyond serving the local market, aiming to expand exports to both the region and worldwide,” Alkhorayef said.

He added that the country industry clusters in Saudi Arabia can be divided into two types: “One is the industrial zones and the Modon Oases, like this one here in Jeddah. We are also working closely with several industries that need to exist in clusters to create a sort of integration between them, such as the car manufacturing cluster. We have previous experience in such clusters, like the ones of petrochemicals in Jubail and Yanbu.” 

He revealed that they are planning to establish a food manufacturing cluster in Jazan as well as a mineral industry cluster in Ras Al-Khair in the country’s Eastern Province.

Commenting on the inauguration of the Siemens factory in Jeddah, Alkhorayef congratulated the German company for establishing the facility.

“This move by Siemens serves as proof that the opportunities in Saudi Arabia position it as a significant hub for manufacturing companies,” he remarked, emphasizing that the electricity sector stands out as one of the largest divisions experiencing substantial growth.

The minister elaborated, stating: “We will persist in attracting numerous investments, leveraging capabilities previously imported from outside the Kingdom, and even exporting products developed within the country.”

Alkhorayef concluded his interview with Arab News by asserting that Saudi Arabia is earnestly prioritizing nationalization.

He highlighted that the country’s industrial strategy capitalizes on its inherent strengths, including robust domestic demand and abundant raw materials such as oil, gas, petrochemicals, and minerals.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s strategic geographical location further enhances its appeal to both local and international companies.

Ahmad Hawsawi, CEO of Siemens in Saudi Arabia, said that the company is proud to contribute to the Kingdom’s journey toward an innovative and sustainable future.

“Our new factory in Jeddah is not just a manufacturing facility; it’s a hub of innovation designed to meet the Kingdom’s growing demands for energy solutions. By deploying Siemens’ cutting-edge technologies, Saudi Arabia is set to witness unparalleled improvements in the efficiency and resilience of its energy systems.” Hawsawi said.

Eltje Aderhold, consul general of Germany, said that she is “very proud” of this cooperation between Saudi Arabia and her country.

“This project represents the good development of cooperation between Germany and Saudi Arabia, and it is a sign that we are building our future together,” she said, adding that German companies and their Saudi partners are increasingly coming together.

Aderhold further said that Germany is “very much interested in working with its Saudi partners toward Vision 2030, investing, transforming new, clean energy, protecting climate and developing new technologies.” 

The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Vice Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources for Industrial Affairs Khalil Salamah, along with executives from the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority and the National Industrial Development Center.

Additional firms in attendance included the Saudi Electricity Co., Aramco, and SABIC, as well as Ma’aden, EA Juffali & Brothers, and other prominent government and private sector companies.

Khaled Juffali, chairman of Ebrahim A. Juffali and Brothers Group, and also a member of the Arabia Electric Equipment Co. board and Siemens in Saudi Arabia, said: “We are thrilled to open our new facility in Jeddah, which represents our strong belief in the potential of Saudi Arabia’s economic development plan.

"Our commitment goes beyond investment in infrastructure; we are here to build partnerships, support talent development, and contribute to the Kingdom’s sustainability goals according to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.”