Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Q2 2006 results of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) highlight the launch of two economic cities by The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin AbdulAziz along with measures to attract domestic and foreign investments aimed at transforming the country into a more competitive investment destination.
The value of investment licenses issued during Q2 2006 increased due to efforts by the Saudi Government to improve the economic and investment climate in the Kingdom, stronger confidence in the Saudi economy, as well as joining the WTO. SAGIA’s One-Step Shops (OSS) issued 505 licenses with a total value of SR72 billion ($19.2 billion), a 107% increase over the same period from 2005 when 219 licenses were issued at an aggregate value of SR35 billion ($9.3 billion).
On a separate note, a center for VIP investors was launched in Riyadh and the Investor Link toll-free number (800-244-9990 for domestic callers and +96626539510 for international inquiries) was activated. The various braches of OSS throughout Saudi Arabia now provide 132 services. SAGIA rendered 10,435 services during Q2 2006 compared to 5,117 services provided during Q2 2005.
King Abdullah bin AbdulAziz launched the “Prince AbdulAziz bin Mousaed Economic City” (PABMEC) in Hail on 13 June. The city covers 156 million square meters and required capital is expected to reach SR30 billion ($8 billion) over the next 10 years. The project will be entirely funded by the private sector, and work has already begun on the master plans. Construction is expected to begin by September.
The King also launched the “Knowledge Economic City” (KEC) in Madinah on 18 June. KEC is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, with investments focusing on knowledge-based industries. It will occupy 4.8 million square meters while the built-up area will reach 9 million square meters, attracting investments around SR25 billion ($6.7 billion).
During Q2 2006 SAGIA established the National Competitiveness Center (NCC) which will support SAGIA in its 10X10 bid. The program aims to propel Saudi Arabia into the top ten countries in the world in terms of competitiveness and attractiveness of investments by the year 2010. Through NCC, SAGIA will be monitoring 300 indicators measuring the Kingdom’s competitiveness. Monitor, a world leader in the field, was contracted by SAGIA to run the NCC, entrusted to draft policies and procedures and train needed Saudi human capital. The NCC will act as a support and interactive entity for investment-related agencies within the public and private sectors concerned with realizing the 10X10 goal.