RIYADH (Rahnuma) : Saudi Arabia has launched an $800 million, 10-year initiative for a network of modern schools across the country in partnership with GEMS Education, the Dubai-based schools group.
The ambitious plan could eventually provide education for up to 130,000 students across the Kingdom and create jobs for 16,000 people, around 40 percent of them for Saudi citizens.
The partnership was formalized at a signing ceremony on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, involving executives from GEMS, and from the investment arm of the Saudi General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).
An official statement said: “The partners intend to develop the network by acquiring and upgrading existing schools, alongside implementing a sizable construction program of new schools.”
GEMS chief executive Majed Al-Mutairi said: “GEMS Education, which is among the world’s oldest and largest private education providers, is a strong supporter of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The Vision’s focus on opening up public service sectors such as education highlights a commitment to developing human capital and allowing the private sector to enable long-term positive change for Saudi citizens.”
Saad Al-Fadhli, chief executive of Hassana, GOSI’s asset-management arm, set out the rationale for the program: “This partnership is driven by our view that the education market in Saudi Arabia is one of the most attractive growth markets over the long-term.
“Benefiting from Hassana’s role as a long-term, financial and strategic institutional investor and GEMS’ international expertise, both partners expect to create a strong, innovative and successful education platform in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
The GEMS Hassana education program will play a key role in delivering the goals of the Saudi National Character Enrichment Program, with a strong emphasis on national identity, global citizenship, individual development and personal enrichment, the statement added.
The partnership is backed by the new initiative Invest Saudi, launched as part of the National Transformation Plan, to identify, develop and market the significant opportunities that Saudi Arabia has to offer for international, regional and local investors, across all sectors.
This announcement comes against the backdrop of advancing economic reforms in the Kingdom. This year Saudi Arabia achieved its best progress in the WEF Global Competitiveness index since 2012, moving to 39 of 140 economies. In addition, the World Bank ranked Saudi Arabia second amongst the G-20 countries in implementing economic reform.
“Opening the education sector for this scale of investment will ensure this progress continues at pace,” the statement added.