A US consortium on Saturday, April 28, won a $3.46 billion contract to build 3,000 schools in Saudi Arabia, the largest project since the kingdom opened up for foreign investments less than a year ago, the Saudi investment authority said.
The schools will be constructed on the basis of build-operate-transfer (BOT) system in favor of the education ministry, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) said in a statement sent to AFP. 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 licence 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," the statement said, giving no details about the time frame. The project's capital is the largest in the Arab world and is expected to encourage more investors into the kingdom, SAGIA 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. SAGIA said it also granted a licence for Zincs Resources of Britain to produce 100,000 tonnes of high-quality zinc from the Red Sea city of Yanbu costing 255.5 million dollars.
The project, the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, also includes setting up a factory to produce sulphuric acid and a water treatment plant, and it will generate its own power. Since opening the door to foreign investment last July, SAGIA has awarded 91 licences to foreign and Saudi firms worth 30.5 billion riyals ($8.13 billion), of which $7.6 billion, 93.6 percent, is foreign.
OPEC-giant Saudi Arabia is currently reviewing bids from 12 international oil companies to develop three major gas projects worth tens of billions of dollars. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)