Following SBJBC’s biannual meeting in Jeddah on 28 November, an SBJBC delegation visited the prestigious King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the nearby King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
At KAUST the delegation was briefed by the entrepreneurship and innovation centre on their accelerator and mentorship programmes (including “Taqadam” sponsored by SBJBC member Saudi British Bank), which resulted in 48 business start-ups last year. KAUST is a fully coeducational campus with 70% foreign and 30% Saudi students and with impressive research partnerships.
At KAEC, the delegation visited the newly established Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship, and received an update on the investment incentives available to companies locating to KAEC – the nearest Saudi equivalent to a free trade zone. The new free port is fully operational, and some 100 companies have invested in the industrial zone. The day ended with a visit to the brand new 18 hole Royal Greens Golf Club at KAEC and new residential developments.
SBJBC UK was pleased to welcome Tim Callen, IMF Mission Chief for Saudi Arabia, for an informal discussion with some 30 SBJBC and British Expertise International members in London on 1 December. Mr Callen gave an update on the progress of Saudi economic and fiscal reforms, and efforts to increase non-oil revenue. He also presented conclusions from the IMF’s recent report on Saudi Arabia on the prioritisation and sequencing of reforms. Members welcomed the progress achieved, while noting that further improvement of the business environment would help to attract investment and diversify the economy.
A 20 strong delegation of UK legal, financial, infrastructure and project management companies participated in SBJBC’s PPP Workshop hosted by the Council of Saudi Chambers in Riyadh on 27 November. The workshop brought together the companies with government and private sector representatives to review progress in the Saudi PPP programme, and to consider opportunities for cooperation and expertise sharing.
A ‘SBJBC PPP Lessons Learned’ based on UK and international experience was presented at the workshop, and relevant case studies discussed. The Paper highlighted the key factors to be addressed in developing well structured PPP projects, in a form that could be shared with Saudi stakeholders.
The Saudi National Committee for Privatisation & PPP participated in the workshop, and made a presentation on the NCP’s enabling role and the over 100 privatisation initiatives planned in 12 different sectors. The meeting discussed specific opportunities for cooperation in regulatory frameworks. institution building, and investment development which are being followed up.
Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister, Mohammed Al-Jadaan has announced plans for an expansionary budget in 2018, following IMF recommendations to ease the pace of fiscal consolidation.
The decision comes in light of the recent contraction of Saudi economic growth due to low oil prices and austerity measures. The Ministry is reportedly preparing a three-year SAR200bn stimulus programme, and Mr Jadaan said he hoped that the first SAR40bn of the package would be strengthened by the approval of a second larger phase by the end of the year. It is hoped that the stimulus will give a much-needed boost to the private sector, and provide further jobs to tackle the current 12.8% unemployment rate.
Crown Prince HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled “Neom”, an ambitious new $500 billion smart mega-city project in North-Western Saudi Arabia powered entirely on renewable energy, at the Future Investment Initiative
Forum in Riyadh on 24 October.
The high profile three day event was attended by over 2500 delegates from 65 countries. UK speakers included Secretary of State for International Trade Dr Liam Fox MP, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sir Richard Branson and HSBC Group CEO Stuart Gulliver. Described as a Majlis to embrace global opportunities and create new partnerships, the Davos style forum was also an opportunity to debate diversification of the Saudi economy and progress of Saudi Vision 2030.
A number of SBJBC members attended and participated in some great networking opportunities. The event is expected to be held annually.
Manchester United and the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding, which will see the 20-time English League champions help the GSA develop its football industry, as part of Vision 2030.
The new strategic partnership will involve United lending its business and sporting expertise to clubs, sporting authorities and individuals in Saudi Arabia.
Group managing director, Richard Arnold, said: “The club has a long-standing relationship with Saudi Arabia and has over five million passionate fans in the region. Our partnership with Saudi Telecom is the longest running of all our commercial partners. Having the chance to help shape the football industry in the Kingdom is a great honour and it is something where we believe we can make a big difference.”
The full article can be accessed here.
UK Executive Director, Chris Innes-Hopkins, attended the British Chambers of Commerce International Trade Summit in Birmingham on 12 October on behalf of SBJBC UK.
Panel discussions highlighted the need for a business friendly approach to Brexit as well as opportunities for UK businesses further afield. The President of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce emphasised the importance of Birmingham and the Midlands region as a key manufacturing and services hub, particularly with the advent of the HS2 rail line.
SBJBC UK is one of 40 Chambers in BCC’s Global Business Network, and the event was a good opportunity to meet with a wide range of overseas and UK colleagues.
Paul Kehoe, President of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.
SBJBC member DLA Piper hosted Secretary of State for International Trade Dr Liam Fox MP for a Spectator debate on “Trade and Business in a post-Brexit World” on 29 September, moderated by broadcaster and publisher Andrew Neil.
Discussion focused on the potential for negotiation of new trade agreements including with the EU, and the opportunities for UK exporters of goods and services. In reply to questions Dr Fox confirmed that UK trade and investment development with the Gulf and Saudi Arabia remained a high priority, particularly in the context of Saudi Vision 2030 where UK expertise could assist with implementation.
Saudi Arabia has raised $12.5bn from its second dollar bond sale of the year in order to offset strains caused by the fall in oil prices. The sale is the largest debt sale so far this year by any emerging economy.
The sale on 27 September was divided into three tranches with the government selling $3 billion of long five-year notes, $5 billion of the 10-year tranche and $4.5 billion of the 30-year offering.
The Kingdom raised $9 billion from the sale of Islamic bonds in April 2017 to help bridge a budget deficit, forecast at 198 billion riyals ($53 billion) this year, or 7.7 percent of economic output. It also raised 37 billion riyals in the past three months from domestic debt sales. Proceeds from the bond sale will be used in helping to reduce the Kingdom’s budget shortfall and bolster foreign currency reserves.
The Saudi Arabian Embassy in London welcomed guests including SBJBC members to a lively and well-attended celebration of Saudi National Day on 21 September.
Saudi Ambassador HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud welcomed guests, and spoke of the positive Saudi/UK trade, security and cultural relationship in the context of Saudi Vision 2030 implementation and post-Brexit developments in the UK . Xavier Rolet, CEO of the London Stock Exchange replied on behalf of the City of London to express support for Vision 2030 cooperation.
Guests were treated to performances of the traditional Ardha sword dances and a display of Saudi craftsmanship. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our Saudi members and friends a Happy Saudi National Day!
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has approved plans to develop an ambitious new tourism project between the cities of Umluf and Alwajh on Saudi’s Red Sea coast backed by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.
The project is in line with Saudi Vision 2030 which seeks to diversify the economy and increase tourism industry employment. It is reported that the developed area will cover some 34,000 square kilometres, and be governed by laws in line with “international standards.”
Construction of the new resorts is due to start in late 2019. The first phase of the project including a new airport and luxury hotels and housing is due to be completed by the end of 2022.
SBJBC UK was pleased to welcome some 50 UK companies to its Doing Business in Saudi Arabia Workshop on 18 July, kindly supported by British Offset and Strategy International.
The event opened with updates on Saudi Vision 2030 by William Scott Jackson, Chairman of Oxford Strategic Consulting (click here for presentation) and Hashim Alawadi, CEO of Tech Invest Com and SBJBC Deputy Co-Chair. This was followed by two lively panel discussions on opportunity sectors for UK companies, and practicalities of doing business in the Kingdom. Speakers included SBJBC members Roger Cruickshank (Atkins Acuity), Martyn Best (Cultural Innovations), Frank Edwards (Pearson), Ben Cunnington (TPP) and Glenn Lovell (Clyde & Co).
The workshop coincided with the visit of a number of Saudi SBJBC board members to London who also attended SBJBC’s summer networking reception on 19 July kindly hosted by SBJBC member Trowers & Hamlins.
SBJBC member DLA Piper hosted a stimulating debate on the Future of the City at the Museum of London on 21 June. Amongst the panellists were Lord Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Tim Harford, economist and Financial Times columnist and Sophie Hackford, futurist and business innovator. Speakers expressed confidence in the future of London as an economic powerhouse and worldwide hub for innovation, notwithstanding some Brexit concerns.
HRH Mohammed bin Salman
By Royal Decree on 21 June King Salman appointed his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister, replacing former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. Prince Mohammed bin Salman retains his position as Minister of Defence and Head of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs.