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).
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,”
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.
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.