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Saudi Round-Up: Tourism and Manufacturing Leading Saudi’s Transformation

Weekly Roundups

16 Jan 2024

AstroLabs Team

This week’s round-up highlights how significant improvements in business, infrastructure, and economy are not only attracting investment but also establishing the Kingdom as a model for modern living and a successful, sustainable economic ecosystem.

From the 9th of January to the 15th of January 2024


Saudi announces futuristic design for the Mohamad Bin Salman Stadium

The Qiddiya Investment Company board has unveiled plans for the cutting-edge Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium, poised to redefine the landscape of sports and entertainment in the Qiddiya region, located just 40 minutes from Riyadh, with a capacity of 45,000 seats. This state-of-the-art stadium, named after Saudi Arabia's crown prince, will integrate some of the world's most advanced technologies, making it a versatile venue for hosting sports, cultural events, and entertainment throughout the year.

Anticipated to be a global landmark, the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Stadium is not only designed for sporting events but is also earmarked as a potential host for select games of the 2034 FIFA World Cup. This is set to be the world's first stadium with foldable and retractable ground, ceiling, and upper wall, allowing for a unique panoramic view of the lower part of the city, showcasing iconic attractions like the six flags of Qiddiya and the water park.

The stadium is projected to attract approximately 1.8 million annual visits, complemented by six million visits to other activities, playing a pivotal role in achieving the objectives outlined in Vision 2030.

NEOM Unveils its Latest Luxury Destination

NEOM’s board of directors has revealed Aquellum, a luxury destination and “sensory journey” within a mountain range. Aquellum follows the regional development scheme’s commitment to conservation and innovation, as evidenced by other recently-announced sustainable tourism destinations: Leyja, Epicon, Siranna, Utamo, and Norlana.

Aquellum, which is harmoniously integrated within a 450-meter-high mountain range, is a futuristic ecosystem that extends the scope of design and construction and will be a model for tourism destinations and modern living around the world.

NEOM chooses Italian Contractor WeBuild for a $5 Billion Artificial Lake Construction

Neom's recent choice of the Italian contractor WeBuild for a colossal SR20bn ($5bn) contract signals a major development in the construction of dams, creating a stunning artificial lake at the core of the Trojena mountain resort. Set to host the prestigious Asian Winter Games in 2029, the resort's centerpiece boasts a main dam soaring to 145 meters with a length of 475 meters at its crest, constructed from 2.7 million cubic meters of roller compact concrete (RCC).

For construction companies eyeing expansion into Saudi Arabia, this endeavor opens up a myriad of opportunities in a market poised for significant growth. The demand for skilled engineering, construction, and project management services is set to surge as Saudi Arabia undertakes ambitious infrastructure projects like the Trojena mountain resort.

General Business and Economy

Latest Enhancements to KSA’s Premium Residency Program

The Kingdom’s premium residency program, launched in 2019, added five new products to help attract global talent. Existing benefits include exemptions from fees, international travel without a visa, and the right to run a business and own real estate without a sponsor.

The five new product categories are Special Talent, Investor, Entrepreneur, Real Estate Residency, and Gifted. These premium products enhance the benefits for residents, creating a fertile ecosystem in which foreigners can fully contribute to Saudi’s future.

Foreigners working in Saudi expressed excitement about the opportunity to call the Kingdom home and be a part of its success within Vision 2030.

$213 Million Investment into Real Estate and Quality of Life

In line with Vision 2030 goals, KSA’s Quality of Life Program has finalized 20 agreements and strategic partnerships with the non-profit sector, private sector, and government agencies to the amount of $213 million.

In accordance with the program’s goals, the deals aim to contribute to quality of life by enhancing the Kingdom’s urban landscape, tourism opportunities, entertainment, real estate potentials, sports, art, and culture.

Riyadh Contributes to 13% Spending Surge

SAMA, the Saudi Central Bank, has reported a 13.35% increase in annual spending across KSA in November 2023, reaching $17.56 billion. While point-of-sale transactions made up 80% of the total, largely through restaurants and cafes as well as food and beverage purchases, e-commerce experienced the most significant growth.

These figures point to increased spending on recreation, culture and cultural events, entertainment, and leisure. For further context, Saudi’s growing entertainment sector has created more than 100,000 employment opportunities as the industry strives to achieve the Kingdom’s goals for Saudi Vision 2030.

Saudization at 34% in Operation and Maintenance Sector

The Ministry of Human Resources has highlighted the Labor Localization and Maintenance Contracts service’s achievement in reaching 34% participation of Saudi nationals in the workforce of the operation and maintenance sector.

The LLMC’s initiative has been in place since 2019 and has contributed to the employment of more than 160,000 Saudi natives in this sector. The initiative boosts the economy by increasing Saudi nationals' participation in the labor market, offering opportunities for them to be a part of and contribute to the increasingly diverse, robust, and growing economic ecosystem.

$1.38 Billion Raised by Kingdom’s Startup Ecosystem in 2023

The Kingdom’s startup ecosystem amassed an unprecedented $1.38 billion in capital in 2023, positioning KSA as the top-ranking player in MENA’s venture capital funding.

This is the first time Saudi Arabia has passed the $1 billion mark. The Kingdom’s share of VC funding in the MENA region also increased, from 30% in 2022 to 52% in 2023.

Key areas of growth in Saudi were fintech — a 181% increase on the previous year with $704 million secured — and ecommerce, which grew by 153% compared to the year before, amassing $428 million raised.

Manufacturing and Industry

KSA Secures $68 Million of Investments in Manufacturing and Mining

The Kingdom has secured $68 million in foreign investment in the manufacturing and mining sectors, including from deals between the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (MODON) and two firms from Egypt and China intended to open two factories in Al-Kharj.

MODON noted a 4.3% increase in mining and manufacturing facilities set up in the Kingdom in 2023, mostly in Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, and Al-Kharj. The enhancement of these industries is critical to Saudi’s economic diversification as well as KSA’s future as a global logistics hub.

ROSHN and EVIQ Collaborate to Boost EV Adoption Across KSA

PIF-backed real estate developer ROSHN Group will work together with Electric Vehicles Infrastructure Co. to boost the adoption of electric vehicles, in alignment with the Kingdom’s national strategy to prioritize renewable energy and sustainability to aid global efforts to combat climate change.

Additionally, this partnership is intended to establish a robust EV ecosystem in the Kingdom. Encouraging Lucid Motors to set up its premier EV factory in the region will also position the Kingdom as a global leader in EVs and sustainability. Furthermore, the Royal Commission of Riyadh has launched an initiative that aims to see 30% of all the city’s vehicles powered by electricity by 2030.


KSA Recycling to Contribute $32 Billion to GDP

The Kingdom has unveiled an initiative to recycle 95% of its waste in 2024, which is projected to contribute $31.99 billion to GDP, create more than 100,000 jobs for Saudi nationals, and enhance the Kingdom’s sustainability efforts.

The scheme, which includes 65 initiatives requiring $13.75 billion in investment, aligns with the Kingdom’s National Environment Strategy and Saudi’s initiatives to drive sustainability across all sectors.

In addition to growing into an ever-increasingly diverse economic powerhouse, the Kingdom is becoming a more inspiring, supportive, and exciting place to live with significant advances in quality of life, support for entrepreneurship, sustainability efforts, and plenty of investment opportunities throughout Saudi’s sectors. Join us next week for more of the latest business and market developments from the Kingdom.

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