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
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
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.