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Saudi Government Pumps USD 400 mn Into Mecca Province - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A Saudi trader counts Saudi Riyal banknotes in Mecca in this October 20, 2012 file photo. Source: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Files

A Saudi trader counts Saudi rial banknotes in Mecca in this October 20, 2012 file photo. Source: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Files

Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat—Infrastructure projects worth an estimated USD 400 million have begun in the Mecca Province, on the western coast of Saudi Arabia. The Mecca Province is one of Saudi Arabia’s main industrial regions and a site of much foreign investment in the Gulf Kingdom.

Mecca governor, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, said that these development projects reflect progress in the city of Rabigh, and will secure the city’s economic future by expanding foreign and domestic investments.

Saleh Al-Turki, a member of the Mecca Province’s Economic Development Board, told Asharq Al-Awsat that infrastructure projects in Rabigh will contribute to economic development and will promote investment growth, particularly as the city is already a destination for investment because of the presence of many large-scale projects, including the King Abdullah Economic City.

He continued by saying that the expansion of Jeddah, the province’s capital city, would also positively impact Rabigh’s growth and development. He cited the Petro Rabigh oil refinery, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and a Japanese company, as an example of this effect.

Al-Turki also told Asharq Al-Awsat that in future, the city will see important projects such as the development of the port. It will also see more commercial real estate projects and investment, which have already begun flowing into the region.

Ziad Al-Bassam, a board member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce, said the move reflects the Saudi government’s desire to diversify investments in order to expand its economic base, enhance national revenue streams, and encourage the development of the private sector. He pointed out that Rabigh is host to many important development projects, including in the electricity and petrochemical sectors.

Analysts predict that the USD 400 million of government spending on infrastructure and industry in Rabigh could attract a further USD 2 billion in investment. This is mainly because that investment could create a stable platform for attracting other forms of investment, such as in entertainment and service projects or in the tourism sector.

Many of these new ventures are supported by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, which supports industrial development by providing up to 60% of the required capital in the form of medium- and long-term loans. The fund states that its general objectives include, among other things, creating employment for Saudi nationals, promoting diversification into non-oil industries, and encouraging foreign investment.