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Saudi Round-Up: Eminence Through Excellence

Weekly Roundups

19 Dec 2023

AstroLabs Team

Saudi News

For the past six weeks, we’ve looked at the biggest business deals brokered in Saudi to give you a snapshot of the exciting activity across the Kingdom. In this round-up, we look at Vision 2030’s effect on the Saudi economy and how the Kingdom’s tourism initiatives continue to drive economic change.

International Trade

Saudi-China Synergy Strengthens; Witnesses Deals Worth $25bn

The Beijing investment conference cemented Saudi Arabia and China's ties, witnessing the signing of 60 agreements worth $25 billion across energy, agriculture, tourism, finance, and more. Key deals include an $8.5 billion MoU between the Saudi Esports Federation and VSPO, focusing on eSports growth. Notable was the $7.5 billion collaboration between Oriental Energy Co. and Ajlan & Bros Holding Group Co., emphasizing mutual manufacturing opportunities. Additionally, a $2 billion energy deal between Saudi's Ministry of Investment and China's CRRC Group emphasizes joint efforts in renewable energy and sustainable mobility in the Kingdom. These moves complement previous agreements, including the Saudi Tadawul Group's partnership with the Shanghai Stock Exchange and a $6.93 billion currency swap between SAMA and the People’s Bank of China, highlighting growing financial collaboration.



Saudi-Korea extend industrial collaboration


Saudi Arabia and South Korea advanced trade discussions as Minister Bandar Alkhorayef met counterpart Lee Chang-yang in Seoul. They emphasized industrial cooperation, signing a SR750 million ($199.93 million) MoU between MODON and Korean GL Rapha Holding Co. to foster vaccine and chemical manufacturing in Sudair City. Talks centered on joint projects, diverse investments, and boosting non-oil exports.


Alkhorayef toured Doosan facilities, noting advancements in power generation, desalination, and more. An MoU between the Saudi National Automotive Manufacturing Co. and KG Mobility highlighted plans for automobile production, including electric vehicles. This visit underscores a shared commitment to strengthening Saudi-Korean ties, aiming for expanded collaboration.


In 2022, Saudi Arabia's non-oil exports to South Korea reached SR7.2 billion, with imports at SR18.4 billion, reflecting robust economic potential between the two nations.


Business

Saudi Economy Enters Top 15 in the World

Speaking at the session titled: “Energy, Petrochemicals, and Conversion Industries Workshop” at the Guangzhou Investment Workshop on Monday, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih announced that the Kingdom’s GDP has surged 66% due to Vision 2030, transforming Saudi into one of the world’s top 15 economies.


He said a key focus of the transformation was increased investment in clean energy, innovation, and technology, highlighting at least $700 billion of opportunities available in specialty chemicals and manufacturing industries. He also unveiled plans for a clean hydrogen station in NEOM, further demonstrating the Kingdom’s commitment to continued economic success and global leadership in alignment with its values for Vision 2030.

Tourism

Report Reveals Expo2030’s Economic Impact

An official report from Al-Rajhi Capital confirmed that Expo2030, scheduled to run from October the 1st 2030 to March the 31st 2031, will provide a significant boost to the Kingdom’s economy, with long-lasting effects. The Expo is forecast to deliver a 0.75% annualized impact over the next quarter century and will accelerate Saudi’s giga projects.


The Kingdom already plans an extra 315,000 hotel rooms as per Vision2030’s objectives. The report shows that a further 100,000 rooms will be necessary for the Expo. Aside from the hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors, the construction and real estate, banking, insurance, healthcare, aviation, and food and beverages sectors are among the many sectors predicted to benefit from the almost $95 billion boost to Riyadh’s economy.


Read more on what the expo could potentially bring to the Saudi economy here.

Minister Declares 250,000 Jobs Created by Saudi Tourism Since 2019

Speaking at the Global Labor Market Conference, Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said the tourism industry was not only on track but well ahead in terms of its goal to contribute 10% to the Kingdom’s GDP by 2030.


An official announcement said that the sector has generated 250,000 jobs since 2019, growing from 600,000 jobs in 2019 to 850,000 this year. The figure is expected to reach 1.6 million jobs by 2030. Al-Khateeb also stressed that hosting Expo2030 will generate a further 250,000 jobs and that post-pandemic employment in travel and tourism, a sector that represents 10% of the Saudi labor market, has returned to the region of 330 million jobs.


The Kingdom’s WTO presidency and the general assembly may also boost travel and tourism as The Kingdom maintains its trajectory of becoming a world leader and a more economically diverse global destination.

NEOM’s Utamo — New Destination for Arts and Entertainment

The Kingdom’s $500 billion giga project NEOM has revealed its latest project, Utamo, describing it as “an innovative and multipurpose event and performance space.”


Located in a mountain on the Gulf of Aqaba coastline, it will afford visitors a unique, natural backdrop for entertainment experiences and host the world’s biggest artists. In line with Neom’s sustainability goals, its design and construction will have minimal impact on the surrounding environment.


The news follows several recent destination announcements from NEOM that are set to boost tourism to the Kingdom, including Siranna, Leyja, and Epicon.

Qiddiya Unveils Gaming and Esports District

The Qiddiya Investment Company has announced its intention to make Qiddiya a global gaming and esports center with the infrastructure to attract the biggest names in the sector. The primary stadium in the gaming and esports district would have a 73,000 spectator capacity and the world’s largest esports arena LED screen.


Furthermore, the district will provide regional headquarters to over 30 of the world’s leading video game development firms, ensuring Saudi’s position as a leader on the cutting edge of this rapidly developing sector.


Abdullah bin Nasser Aldawood, Managing Director of QIC, said that the gaming and esports sector is among the fastest growing sectors, encompassing professionals and enthusiasts of all levels and ages.


Saudi Is the World’s Second-Fastest Growing Tourist Destination

According to a report from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Barometer, Saudi Arabia is the fastest-growing tourist destination out of all G20 countries and the second fastest-growing tourist destination in the world.


The report shows that the Saudi tourism sector has recovered by 150% compared to pre-pandemic levels. The impact of Saudi Vision 2030 is clear when comparing this figure with the global recovery rate of the tourism sector, which is only 87% compared to pre-coronavirus levels.

PIF Reveals Agritourism and Ecotourism Business Dan Company

The Saudi PIF has announced the launch of a new tourism project developer, Dan Company, which will focus on agritourism, emphasizing traditional farming experiences and ecotourism and prioritizing the exploration of nature with minimal environmental impact.


Dan’s first project will span 1.8 million square meters and will include an eco-resort, an agri-resort, and an adventure resort. The project is set to provide investment opportunities for the private sector with direct and indirect job creation in alignment with Vision2030. Furthermore, it is predicted to contribute $1.6 billion to the Kingdom’s non-oil GDP by 2030.



As we approach the end of the year, we can look back on an exciting trail of industry deals, drives, and developments, all demonstrating Saudi’s relentless strides toward its goals for Vision2030. This latest round-up confirms the Kingdom’s outperformance of its objectives, global leadership across sectors, and an ever-more exciting and potentially prosperous future for Saudi’s residents, workers, businesses, and investors.


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