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GIA beefs up efforts to attract foreign capital
Jeddah/London , 19th August 2001

 Plans to open up the telecom sector, development of seaports and opportunities in the mining sector will figure high at a major Saudi investment conference to be held in London on Nov. 6.

Prince Abdullah ibn Faisal ibn Turki, governor of the General Investment Authority, will address the conference, which aims to attract more foreign investment in various productive and services sectors including petrochemicals and power generation.

The two-day conference, to be attended by Saudi and international economic pundits, will debate issues related to investment in the Kingdom in the light reforms introduced by the government to win over foreign investors.

In a recent press statement, Prince Abdullah called for speedy measures to open up the country’s telecommunications sector. “Investment in this sector is very profitable and I hope the Saudi Telecom Authority would soon publicize regulations in this respect,” he said.

Prominent Saudi speakers to address the London conference include Abdullah Shayef, director general of the National Commercial Bank; Dr. Khan Zahid, senior economist at Riyad Bank; Amr Al-Dabbagh, chairman of Jeddah Development Authority; and Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi, secretary-general of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Kingdom’s gas initiative, investment in water and sewage sector, the Saudi stock exchange and investment opportunities in other sectors will be among other topics mooted at the conference. This is the second Saudi investment conference held in London in as many years.

Similar conferences, part of the GIA’s efforts to attract foreign capital, were held in France, Canada and Germany to enlighten investors in these countries on the lucrative opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

According to Prince Abdullah, the authority has so far licensed projects worth SR32 billion by foreign investors. In the month of May alone, it licensed 43 new projects worth SR990.4 million with foreign capital accounting for 61.4 percent, or SR608.2 million. These projects, including 25 industrial ventures, are expected to create more than 1,500 jobs.

Under the investment law issued last April, foreign investors are allowed full ownership of projects and enjoy freedom to repatriate capital and profits.

The GIA has prepared a negative list, identifying the areas where foreign investment is barred. The Supreme Economic Council, chaired by Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, has endorsed the list.

The GIA chief has said that the list will undergo periodic review to meet the country’s future requirements. Military, information and some real estate projects have been included in the negative list for security and religious reasons.

A few months ago Saudi Arabia signed preliminary accords with major international oil companies to develop the Kingdom’s gas sector. The deals are expected to draw billions of dollars in direct and indirect investment.

A recent study said Saudi Arabia requires an estimated $200 billion to implement a substantial number of projects for water desalination and power generation in the next 20 years.

Water consumption in the Kingdom is expected to exceed 20 billion cubic meters by the year 2010.

The Kingdom is the largest producer of desalinated water in the world with an output amounting to 30 percent of the global total. The government has set up 27 desalination and power plants with a capacity of two million cubic meters of drinking water and 2,800 megawatts of electricity a day.

Source: SPA

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20 August 2001 03:08:41 PM

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