UK trade event highlights ‘huge opportunities’ presented by Vision 2030

Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gestures during a press conference in Riyadh, on April 25, 2016.
The key figure behind the unveiling of a vast plan to restructure the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy, the son of King Salman has risen to among Saudi Arabia’s most influential figures since being named second-in-line to the throne in 2015. Salman announced his economic reform plan known as “Vision 2030”.
/ AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON (RAHNUMA): Saudi economic and social reforms as part of Vision 2030 have been instrumental in turning the Kingdom into one of the world’s most competitive economies, according to speakers at an event on Tuesday organized by the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT).

The Gulf Cooperation Council “is a hugely important trade partner of the UK … Within that, Saudi Arabia is such an important economy,” Chad Woodward, director of trade and investment at the British Embassy in the Kingdom, said at the online event organized as part of its 2020 Infrastructure Week and attended by Arab News.

Saudi Arabia “has huge opportunities as it takes forward its national transformation program under Vision 2030,” he added.

Megaprojects such as Neom, the Red Sea Development Project and others are “hugely exciting,” and exemplify the opportunities that the Kingdom has to offer for British investors looking for new destinations for their capital, he said.

Simon Kelly, deputy consul general and head of the DIT at the British Consulate in Jeddah, told Arab News after the event that there is “huge interest” from British companies in learning more about investing in the Kingdom, and the megaprojects are a key part of that.

“British businesses are keen to find out more about the exciting opportunities in Saudi Arabia, including the Red Sea Development Project, Amaala, Diriyah Gate, Qiddiya, and of course Neom,” he said.

Kelly highlighted potential avenues of cooperation between the two countries in pursuing the Vision 2030 goals, and said the UK is particularly well placed to support Saudi Arabia across a range of sectors.

The economic and social changes instituted as part of Vision 2030 have been instrumental in turning the Kingdom into the Middle East’s economic powerhouse and one of the world’s most competitive countries, said Abdulaziz Alghifaili, international office director for Northern Europe at the Saudi Ministry of Investment.

“Saudi Arabia used to be an economy that relied on oil and gas — now the country is rapidly diversifying its economy and opening up to new sectors. This transformation is powered by the young, educated population that’s creating a highly talented and ambitious workforce,” he added.

“The investment climate in Saudi Arabia continues to improve in competitiveness. The World Bank ranked Saudi Arabia as the world’s top reformer in their Doing Business 2020 report, and the Kingdom is now ranked 24th in the world for competitiveness by the International Institute for Management Development.”

Economic reforms such as allowing 100 percent foreign ownership of some companies, huge reductions in the time required to register licenses, and a cut in the number of documents required for foreign companies to begin doing business in the Kingdom are just some of the changes that have driven its rapid ascent through the ranks of global competitiveness, Alghifaili said.

The country’s prowess in financial services in particular — it is the largest capital market in the Middle East and North Africa — has been instrumental in driving forward its economy, he added.

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