By Arab News
By Hala Tashkandi and Frank Kane
Almost half a trillion dollars of investment and 1.6 million jobs are in the pipeline for Saudi Arabia under an ambitious industrial program launched on Monday in the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
A slew of deals was announced across four key economic sectors — mining, industry, logistics and energy — at an event held at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.
The National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP) is the largest initiative launched under the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan, which aims to diversify a national economy that was hit hard by the 2014 slump in oil prices.
The program aims to transform Saudi Arabia into an “industrial powerhouse,” reduce the reliance on imports, and boost the economy.
By 2030, the program aims to stimulate investments worth more than $453 billion, increase the value of non-oil exports to $260 billion, and add 1.6 million jobs to the labor market.
During the launch event, 37 agreements were signed and 29 others were announced worth a total of $54 billion.
The program includes more than 300 initiatives, which 34 government agencies are working to implement, according to a statement released at the event.
“The National Industrial Development and Logistics Program is one of the most important programs for achieving Vision 2030, as it moves the Kingdom into a new era of sustainable development, prosperity and economic diversification,” said Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Energy and chairman of the NIDLP Committee.
“The mining sector will become a third pillar of the Saudi economy alongside oil and petrochemicals, while we continue to develop renewable energy and explore the diverse opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution through research and innovation.”
Agreements signed at the event included deals with Thales of France and CMI of Belgium, in the field of military industries, and one between the Saudi Export Development Authority and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to launch an initiative to boost export financing.
Saudi Transport Minister Nabil bin Mohammed Al-Amoudi, speaking to Arab News at the launch of the program, said he believed that foreign investors would want to be involved because it made sound business sense.
“I think the driver of foreign capital is going to be good business opportunities, and the key to that is a healthy, vibrant and sustainable economy, which we have. The reforms were about ensuring that that was sustainable over the long term,” he said.
“But the real driver is ultimately going to be the business cases, or businesses that make sense for the foreign investor — actual investment opportunities, not just sentiment-driven investments.”