Saudi opportunities highlighted at SBJBC roundtable

abjbcRenewable energy offers promising opportunities for business. (Image source: Herr Loeffler/Adobe Stock)The rapid pace of reform in Saudi Arabia and the business opportunities arising from Vision 2030 were highlighted at the Saudi British Business Joint Business Council’s Roundtable held in London on 17 July

More than 50 companies attended the event, which was supported by British Offset Office and opened by Saudi British Joint Business Council (SJBJC) Co-chairs, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean and Eng Nasser Al Mutawa Alotaibi. The event included presentations and panel sessions on current business opportunity sectors in Saudi Arabia, and the support available to exporters and investors. 

Omar Rebhan, business development manager, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) updated delegates on Saudi Vision 2030 implementation and recent reforms to improve the business environment and attract investment, as the Kingdom aims to enter the ranks of the Top 10 investment destinations by 2030. 

Highlighted in particular was the engagement of the private sector in the reform process through SAGIA’s Tayseer committee, which aims to provide an enabling environment for the private sector  Progress in privatisation and corporatisation was also underlined.

Reforms to the legal and regulatory environment are happening on a weekly basis, examples being the progressive reduction in customs clearance time from 14 days to 24 hours, the establishment of a commercial arbitration centre and a new insolvency law.

Progress is being made in the financial sector, with the first sharia-based digital bank set to open in the Kingdom, and increasing levels of institutional investor interest reflected by the inclusion of Saudi Arabia in MSCI’s emerging markets index from June 2019. 

However further progress needs to be made in improving transparency and corporate governance, it was suggested.

New business opportunities

New business opportunities are opening up as a result of Vision 2030 diversification objectives, population growth and social and economic reform. Areas such as tourism, culture and entertainment are being unlocked, tying in with the global trend towards the ‘experience economy’. The creative industries is an area in which the young and women can thrive, it was suggested, and there is great potential for exploring ways to enable the  Kingdom’s cultural assets to be seen and enjoyed in an appropriate way.

While there is still some way to go in developing an entrepreneurial culture, technology development offers scope for cooperation. There are rewards to be reaped in the e-commerce sector, for example. The need to build local models in areas such as machine learning and AI was stressed. 

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