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Saudi Arabia Rank 1st in foreign investment among Arab states
Riyadh, 1st March 2001

Saudi Arabia attracted the highest level of foreign investment in the Arab world last year at $4.8 billion, or 54.7 percent of the total investment in the region, according to the latest issue of Saudi Economic Bulletin, released here by the Saudi British Bank.

Describing it as “an excellent record”, the report, however, noted that overseas investments in the Arab world constituted only one percent of the total foreign investment around the world.

The report also discussed the trends in the manpower sector as well as export-imports in the light of the growth in oil revenues.

A positive impact in this direction, said the report, is the 14.9 percent increase in the number of industrial licenses issued in the first half of 2000, compared to the same period last year.

“A total of 472 licenses were issued involving SR12.8 billion in investment; 401 licenses were to new industrial projects, the remainder were extensions to previous projects,”  the report said.

It added that there would be a big demand for manpower training to push forward the Saudization process, since the number of male students with higher education was set to rise to 200,000 from 122,000 (a 64 percent growth), female students to 280,000 from 141,000 (up 99 percent), technical college students to 55,000 from 33,000 (up 67 percent) and vocational trainees to 46,000 from 28,000 (up 57 percent).

Massive efforts will have to be made to reconcile the skills of the incoming graduates with the needs of the employment market, the report said. The thrust of the training programs should be on improving “the skill levels and productivity of Saudi nationals,”  it added.

As a result of the growth in the educational sector, 328,600 new job opportunities will be created for Saudis, taking the total work force to 7.5 million as against 7. 17 million in 1999. Of these, 6.47 million are to be employed in the non-oil private sector.

The report also referred to a 2.6 percent increase in imports in the second quarter of 2000 to reach SR30 billion compared to the corresponding period in 1999. “But the increase is not spread over all types of import. For example, imports of machinery and equipment fell by half a billion riyals to SR6.73 billion compared to the second quarter of ’99, while food imports rose by SR0.5 billion to SR5.4 billion.”

It pointed out that while there was a surge in the import of electrical equipment, food and medicines, that of jewelry fell from SR6.26 billion to SR 5.11 billion in 1999.

“But the biggest fall came in imports of transportation equipment, down by SR5 billion, from SR12.45 billion to SR7.33 billion.” As for bilateral trade, British exports to the Kingdom shrank from SR11.3 billion in 1997 to SR8.4 billion in 1999. “One of the key reasons for this is a failure (on the part of Britain) to diversify exports to Saudi Arabia away from civil and military airplanes (and parts),” the report added.

SOURCE: Arab News 

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