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Chapter | Transport from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2018

In a push to diversify its economy, Saudi Arabia is determined to increase the role of the private sector in the development of its transport infrastructure, as well as in the operation of seaports, airports and related supply chains. Public-private partnerships are being pursued to fund several key schemes, while a number of the country’s publicly operated facilities, such as airports, are being readied for full privatisation. However, there are a series of challenges ahead in the Kingdom’s pursuit to meet its Saudi Vision 2030 objective of leveraging its location at the crossroads of three continents. Faced with a decline in the country’s ranking among global indices of competitiveness and logistics since 2016, when the national development plan was unveiled, the budget for 2018 – introduced in December 2017 – includes an 86% increase in planned government expenditure on infrastructure and transportation, from SR29bn ($7.7bn) to SR54bn ($14.4bn). This chapter contains an interview with Nabeel Al Amudi, Minister of Transport; Rumaih Al Rumaih, President, Public Transport Authority; and Saleh bin Nasser Al Jasser, Director-General, Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Chapter | Media from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2018

With more than SR3.3bn ($879.8m) in spending earmarked for culture and media by 2020, Saudi Arabia’s government is hoping to attract significant private sector investment in the development of its creative and entertainment industries. To this end, state agencies are working hard to encourage international investment, talent and media sector expertise in the Kingdom, and they aim to help develop local entertainment businesses and expand their influence across borders. This chapter contains an interview with Ghassan Al Shibl, Board Member and Managing Director, Saudi Research and Marketing Group.

Chapter | ICT from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2018

Accounting for 6% of GDP and 10% of non-oil GDP in 2016, according to the Communications and Information Technology Commission, Saudi Arabia’s ICT sector plays an important part in the Kingdom’s economy. Spending in the sector exceeded SR130bn ($34.7bn) in 2016, and in 2017 it was expected to reach SR138bn ($36.8bn) despite economic headwinds. The government’s recently finalised economic strategy places ICT at the centre of the nation’s development, and telecoms players, hardware and software providers, and service operators all stand to benefit from the array of state-directed initiatives it has set in motion. Regulatory changes however have added pressure to ICT companies’ bottom lines over the past year, and the industry is responding by reining in expenditure and shifting the strategic focus to new products and services. This chapter contains interviews with Abdullah Alswaha, Minister of Communication & Information Technology; Prince Naif bin Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer, Chairman, Zain Saudi Arabia; and Essam Alshiha, CEO, Saudi Business Machines.

Chapter | Security, Defence & Aerospace from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2018

With the creation of a new defence holding company and clauses requiring that local manufacturing and job creation be written into new contracts with international suppliers, the Kingdom’s aerospace, defence and security sector is primed for growth. The defence and security market in Saudi Arabia is among the most lucrative in the world, as exemplified by the more than $110bn worth of defence contracts signed during US President Donald Trump’s May 2017 visit to Riyadh. Shares in several major US defence firms soared following news of the agreements, and President Trump highlighted the boost for jobs in the US. However, the new deal also included pledges for new factories and employment prospects for people in Saudi Arabia itself. This chapter contains an interview with Ahmed Al Khateeb, Chairman, Saudi Arabian Military Industries; and Advisor to the Minister of Defence.

Chapter | Industry from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2018

Bold strategies to use industry as an engine of economic change could see new gold mines, plastics factories and medical laboratories boost growth, prosperity and jobs. While raising the profile of private enterprise, the government is planning to inject capital into promising sectors, but it is also setting ambitious targets for itself and for industry. Though the launch of Vision 2030 coincided with a difficult year for many industries in the Kingdom, it has served to galvanise industrialists and government ministries as they work towards recovery and future growth. The shift towards privatization and the increasing focus on SMEs are both positive indicators of the government’s commitment to implement the much-needed structural changes outlined in the development plan. This chapter contains an interview with Khalid Al Mudaifer, President and CEO, Ma’aden; Mohammed Al Badr, Managing Director, Saudi Chemical; and Khalid Al Amoudi, CEO, Saudi Red Bricks.

Chapter | Utilities from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2018

These are crucial times for Saudi Arabia’s power and water sectors as both move through a process of major reform. Privatisation is at a more advanced stage in water than in power, but the next few years should see substantial change in both markets, providing significant opportunities for investors. Projects that use a wider range of energy sources are also in the planning and development stages, while efficiency in distribution and usage is being strongly promoted, alongside a further reduction in subsidies through reorganisation of the electricity tariff system. Meanwhile, major desalination projects are under way, along with the roll out of new sewage and wastewater treatment plants, reservoirs, leakage reduction measures, transmission networks and groundwater conservation schemes. The Kingdom has set itself some ambitious short- and long-term goals for both sectors, with a shift towards a more market-oriented approach a key objective of the reforms. This chapter contains an interview Ziyad Al Shiha, President and CEO, Saudi Electricity Company; Ali Alhazmi, Governor, Saline Water Conversion Corporation; and Thamer Al Sharhan, Managing Director, ACWA Power.