Participants of the first session of the Jeddah Economic Forum during its second day agreed that there is a need to reform the business environment and the investment climate in order to contribute in generating thousands of job opportunities for the youth. Engineer KhaledAlohali, Deputy Governor – Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), announced the availability of 18 thousand government projects in this period, which will create millions of investment opportunities that will contribute to accelerate the growth and development pace during the next few years.
The session moderated by Dr. Lama Al Suleiman, Board Member – Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is titled “The need for business climate reform”, and focused on the possibility of reformingthe investment and business climate in the private sector to make sure new job opportunities are created for the youth of the future, and the systems and policies and procedures and its effects on growth and new business entrepreneurs, and the importance of sustaining growth, factors which are importance in enhancing economy and creating job opportunities.
Engineer KhaledAlohali, Deputy Governor – Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), spoke about the importance of bringing international technology to extract the natural abilities in Saudi Arabia and establishing economy, as this was followed by building the organizational structure and partnering with the private sector. The Kingdom’s economy developed during the 1950s and 1960s, and the Kingdom entered into the petrochemical industries which evolved to become one of the biggest industries in the world. He also spoke about the Kingdom’s continuous efforts in investment policies and attracting investments, pointing out that the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority(SAGIA) is working on three pivots; internal, with the government and the private sector, which supports government business in providing the services it needs, and liaison with government bodies to complete the development of the investment climate in the Kingdom.
He added that Saudi Arabia gives great importance to the private sector and engages it in supporting development efforts, and that the next stage will witness 18 thousand government projects which will contribute in enabling larger development for the private sector which is a major partner in executing this amount of projects, and is cooperating with other government bodies in creating an attractive investment environment, as the world has confirmed, wishing the private sector to look at the investment opportunities government projects generate in order to create job opportunities which support the youth.
Motassim Al-Ma’ashouq, Vice President, New Business Development – Saudi Aramco, highlighted the participation of large multinational companies in the economy development growth the Kingdom is witnessing, adding that the company offers opportunities for investors and supports small to medium project development, pointing out that %70 of Saudi Aramco’s employees were older than 35 years back in 2009, but the majority of them now are younger than 35. He added that the company is full of national expertise who are decision makers and form the company’s future, pointing out to the various initiatives the company is doing to support the youth and prepare them.
He emphasized that there are many supporting opportunities being offered to develop the small to medium projects sector, as Saudi Aramco is working on preparing the appropriate climate for opportunity investment and adopting commercial ideas, and supporting owners of creative projects which will empower national economy and providing guidance on supplier readiness processes at Saudi Aramco, and offering information to parties which work in similar sectors, in order to assist foreign companies establish partnerships and local branches inside the Kingdom.
Professor Xavier Sala-i-Martin from Columbia Universitytalked about how competitiveness is an enablement factor which encourages investment, and the chance for change and making economy more competitive through sponsorship of creativity and ideas and the factors for achieving success. He also added that 92% of business ideas emerge from average individuals, whereas only 8% come from researchers, highlighting the appropriate incentives for business development and thinking and rationalism which develop those sectors, and not only government regulations, pointing out that success measurement is achieved in witnessing small projects transform into medium ones, and medium projects into large ones.
Sheikh Hussein A. Al-Banawi, Chairman & CEO of Banawi Industrial Groupemphasized the importance of establishing a partnership between the private and public sectors, to push the economy and development wheel and prepare the climate for investors and new entrepreneurs, which can be achieved by wardingbureaucracy, limiting procedures, legislations, regulations and barriers, especially those stemming from various sides. He concluded by saying that what is currently happening will have a huge impact on the economy development wheel, emphasizing that the focus on investment climate would result in new fortunes.
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