Saudi industry needs $160 billion in investments over 20 years
Saudi industry needs $160 billion in investments over the next 20 years to double the sector's share of gross domestic product to 20 percent, a senior official said in an interview.
Salah Al-Hussaini, the secretary of state for industry, told the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Hayat that the kingdom would set up a body for its industrial cities to oversee a privatization process.
The private sector, including foreign investors, will be invited to finance, promote and manage the industrial cities, he said.
Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki, chief of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, told an economic forum in Jeddah that foreign investment had risen to $1.33 billion in 2000, as much as 40 times more than in 1999.
Saudi Arabia has 3,300 industrial units with total investments of $64 billion, according to official figures published by Al-Hayat.
A European trade mission including representatives of BP Amoco and Shell started a three-day visit on Saturday to look into prospects since last year's introduction of new regulations for foreign investment in the oil-rich Gulf Arab state.
A package of legal reforms have been announced to allow foreign investors to own property and amend the system of local sponsorship for foreigners doing business in Saudi Arabia.
"One-stop shops" to cut red tape for foreign investment have been set up as part of a drive to diversify sources of revenue.
The kingdom also launched a privatization program in 1997 to allow the public sector to grow independently of a government whose investment capacity relies on fluctuating oil prices.
Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, an advocate of economic reforms and liberalization, heads an Supreme Economic Council set up in August 1999.
On the energy front, Saudi Arabia has set a target of April 1 to sign preliminary deals with oil majors on a gas initiative expected to inject 100 billion dollars into the kingdom. — (AFP, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)