Saudi Round Up: Major Moves in International Trade and Tourism

Our new Saudi Round-Up series identifies the latest business news and keeps you up-to-date regarding key industry developments in Saudi Arabia. This week’s edition connects you with major moves in the arenas of International Trade, Automotive and Manufacturing, Aviation, Energy, Tourism and Culture, and Technology.

International Trade

Riyadh’s New Special Economic Zones Center To Boost Presence of International Firms

The Royal Commission for Riyadh City has launched a Special Economic Zone center in Riyadh to stimulate the Saudi investment climate and make its regulatory environment yet more competitive.

With responsibility for granting licenses to investors in Riyadh, Jazan, Al-Khair, and King Abdullah Economic City, the Royal Commission will leverage local and international talent to facilitate Riyadh’s transformation into one of the largest city economies in the world.

Business Visit Visa Goes Global

In collaboration with the Ministry of Investment, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has pushed the business visit visas, known as “Visiting Investor” visas, to the next stage. They will now cover the countries that were not previously listed. 

Visiting Investor visas will attract and facilitate international investment and stimulate new projects and trade agreements, in line with Saudi Vision 2030. 

Saudi PIF Signs $533m Deals with Africa

The Saudi-Arab-African Economic Conference in Riyadh saw Saudi agree to $533 million worth of agreements with Africa to strengthen the Kingdom’s link with the continent. The Saudi PIF’s deals included roads and energy deals, with the PIF looking at further investments in Africa with great interest. 

Discussing industry, mining, commercial partnerships, sustainable energy, and investments in business development, the Conference demonstrated that Saudi’s relationship with Africa is strong and growing, offering massive potential for trade and economic support across finance, trade, and government sectors. 

Saudi Fund for Development Provides $580m Worth of Development Loans to Africa

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) has signed 14 development loan agreements with Africa covering transportation, healthcare, water, and education. It also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to aid the identification, development, and co-financing of African infrastructure and industry.

These deals will stimulate employment and economic growth across Africa, further strengthening lucrative, positive collaboration between Saudi and the continent.

NEOM Opens First International Office

Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan led the opening of The Neom Investment Fund’s first international office. Based in London, this office will build on its successful partnerships with UK entities.

The new office will bolster NEOM’s ability to strengthen its existing ties to Europe and drive business development and growth across the area.

Saudi Arabia Leads MENA With 5 Listings Worth $330 Million

Five out of six IPO listings were hosted by Saudi Arabia this year, amounting to $330 million. The lion’s share was generated by the Tadawul All Share Index, with $291 million. 

The range of firms listed demonstrates Saudi’s economic diversification, in line with its objectives for Vision 2030, successfully pursuing an increase in capital market activity and more foreign investment. 

Saudi Arabia Exceeds Regional Headquarters Target

More than 180 companies are now seated in the Kingdom, beating its target of securing 160 headquarters by 2024. 

The rate of takeup is increasing as more foreign firms are attracted to the stable and competitive economic and political systems that continue to draw foreign interest and investment. The increase in headquartering in the region also supports more win-win relationships for international firms that can leverage a talented local workforce.

The latest on the ecosystem straight to your mail. Sign Up for our Newsletter

Automotive and Manufacturing

Saudi Arabia PIF Raises Stake in Aston Martin

The Saudi sovereign wealth fund has increased its holdings in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin by 2.6% to a total of 20.5%. The shares were awarded to Lucid Group.

Lucid Group, backed by PIF, and Aston Martin are collaborating on motors, batteries, and integration software. Investing in and working with the iconic Aston Martin highlights the Kingdom’s economic diversification, particularly its advances in the automotive sector, in which it has also led the charge with investments in Ceer, Saudi Electricity Co., and Tasaru Mobility.

Saudi PIF and Saudi Electricity Co. Invest in Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and New Brand

The Saudi PIF and Saudi Electricity Company have created the brand EVIQ to boost awareness and adoption of 5000 new fast-charging points it plans to install across 10,000 locations within the Kingdom. 

With future Saudi investment of $50 billion expected to boost the sector over the next decade, the Saudi leadership continues to drive automotive transformation.


ACWA Power and Masdar Collaborate for Clean Energy in Azerbaijan

Saudi’s ACWA Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with Masdar and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan to develop 500 megawatts of renewable energy.

The collaboration will highlight Saudi’s implication in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the development and use of renewable energy worldwide.

Tourism and Culture

Red Sea Global to Launch Luxury Hotel Brand in 2024

At the World Travel Market in London, Red Sea Global announced its entry into the hospitality sector. Its new luxury hotel brand Shebara will be the first resort to be owned and operated at the Red Sea destination.

The brand’s ethos aligns with that of the Red Sea Development, showcasing the pinnacle of Saudi talent and innovation while also raising the bar for sustainability and responsible development. 

Diriyah Company Considering IPO by Early 2027

As the Kingdom continues to diversify away from reliance on the oil sector, Diriyah Company is looking at an initial public offering on the Tadawul stock exchange by early 2027. 

The firm, the fifth giga-project of the Saudi PIF, generates $13.3 million per year, which is expected to reach more than $26.6 million next year, and it has attracted over a million visitors to Al Turaif District. 

The company’s $63.2 billion project at Diriyah is set to become a major global travel destination, which will support the Kingdom’s goal to attract 70 million overseas visitors by 2030. 

Saudi Culture Exhibition Highlights Life in Saudi

The two-week Saudi Culture Exhibition in Paris attracted more than 5,400 visitors who came to see archeological reproductions, rare manuscripts, photography, films, documentaries, and performances, all representing Saudi culture.

The event shared Arabic texts with the wider world and also shared the ambitious goals for Vision 2030 in an attempt to offer a rare insight into Saudi culture and its centuries of history. The introduction of World Heritage Sites by the Ministry of Culture would go further to extend the Kingdom’s appeal as a travel destination rich in history.


Saudi Reveals International Center for AI Research and Ethics

At UNESCO’s 42nd General Conference in Paris, Prince Badr Bin Farhan, Saudi Culture Minister, announced the creation of the International Center for Artificial Intelligence Research and Ethics.

Approved by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the center will ensure that Saudi remains at the forefront of fast-moving developments in AI and other advanced technologies. 

It’s critical for Saudi to continue to lead the way in innovation and technology. AI alone is expected to contribute more than $135 billion to the Saudi economy in 2030, more than a tenth of Saudi’s GDP.

Saudi Beats G20 Nations on Digital Regulatory Maturity Index

Saudi came out above the US, France, Italy, China, Japan, and Russia in terms of digital regulatory maturity according to data published by the International Telecommunication Union.

The news proves that Saudi is making strides toward its Vision 2030 milestones for the development of attractive and competitive regulatory conditions to attract foreign investment across major sectors. Saudi’s success on the Digital Regulatory Maturity Index points to a bright future for the Saudi Information and Communications Technology market, which was more than $41 billion in 2022 and is on an upward trajectory.

The Kingdom’s rapid transformation continues with these exciting developments across sectors. Come back next Tuesday for the latest about the nation’s progress toward Vision 2030.