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US consortium wins license to build 3,000 schools
Riyadh 29th April 2001

 The General Investment Authority has granted a license to a US consortium to build 3,000 schools in different parts of the Kingdom at a total cost of SR13 billion.

The project, the largest since the Kingdom opened up for foreign investments less than a year ago, will contribute substantially to expand educational facilities around the country, GIA Governor Prince Abdullah ibn Faisal ibn Turki said in a statement released here yesterday.

The schools will be constructed on the basis of build-operate-transfer (BOT) system in favor of the Education Ministry.

The four companies, which will have equal shares in the project, were named as SGI Global, AIU DIV of AIG, STE2EP LLC, and Dowd, Sanford & Mazza. They will set up a new company named Educational Utilities Development Co.

“The new license will create a major shift in the concept of foreign investments in the Kingdom, and will boost confidence of major firms to invest in Saudi Arabia,” Prince Abdullah said.

The project’s capital is the largest in the Arab world and is expected to encourage more investors into the Kingdom, he added.

Currently, there are more than four million students and 27,000 schools in Saudi Arabia which has a population of 19 million, seven million of whom are expatriates.

The Kingdom has spent more than SR153 billion on education during the fifth Five Year Plan alone. The government has set aside a sum of SR53 billion for education and vocational training, including construction of 800 schools, in this year’s budget.

The government is currently using 700 rented buildings to operate schools in different parts of the country.

GIA said it also granted a license for Zincs Resources of Britain to produce 100,000 tons of high-quality zinc from the Red Sea city of Yanbu costing SR958 million. The project, the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, also includes setting up a factory to produce sulfuric acid and a water treatment plant, and it will generate its own power.

Since opening the door to foreign investment last July, GIA has awarded 91 licenses to foreign and Saudi firms worth SR30.5 billion ($8.13 billion), of which SR28.5 billion, 93.6 percent, is foreign.

Prince Abdullah said the objective of increased foreign investment was to inject necessary funds to ensure economic growth, relieve pressure on the national budget, increase private sector participation, diversify industrial and technical base and create jobs for a growing work force.

The Kingdom is currently reviewing bids from 12 international oil companies to develop three major gas projects worth tens of billions of dollars.

Source: Arab News©

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29 April 2001 06:35:41 PM

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