Saudi Arabia aims to develop infrastructure, seeks $425 billion in investments

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Saudi Arabia is seeking to attract investments worth up to 1.6 trillion riyals ($425 billion) in the next 10 years as it launches the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program on Monday aimed at developing new infrastructure.

Speaking during a press conference this past Saturday, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters in Riyadh that the program aims to link between the industry, mining, energy and logistics sectors as the kingdom bids to develop infrastructure and industry across the country.

“The success of any industrial country lays in its infrastructure and logistics sector. This includes infrastructure of highways and railways, ports, airports, and free economic zones. Smart logistics networks will allow these sectors to be linked both internally and externally with global economies,” al-Falih told reports on Saturday.

“In an age where more countries are trading with each other and competition is increasing, it is better always then to come out with highest quality products at lower costs,” he said.

To achieve this, the minister said the new program is expected to witness the signing of contracts worth up to 200 billion riyals during the launch of the program with more than 330 initiatives under its umbrella, one third of which will directly achieve the objectives laid out under the Saudi Vision 2030.

“One of the main objectives is to diversify the Saudi economy from being oil-dependent to one that is varied in a large sense. The Vision (2030) and this program aims to shift the reliance on the government as an economic engine and move it toward the private sector economy which will be the primary driver,” the energy minister said.

Alongside al-Falih, Saudi Transport Minister Nabil Al-Amoudi also announced potential plans for a new airport for Riyadh as part of considerations to build five new airports across the kingdom.

Additionally, the transport minister said there are plans to build 2,000 km of railways as part of 60 initiatives within the logistics sector worth more than 165 billion riyals.

Speaking to Bloomberg Television, al-Falih admitted that the program was ambitious and that the government was looking at a 10-year period as a timeframe in achieving it.

“It’s quite ambitious but it’s over a 10-year period so we’ve got the time to do it,” Al-Falih was quoted as saying. “All of this will happen while we’re building our oil economy. We’re not stopping.”

He further added that the program is expected to add $320 billion to the Saudi economy by 2030, nearly half of the country’s GDP last year, and create 11 new industries from aerospace to biomedicine.

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