Saudi Round-Up: Rapid Growth With Responsibility 

From the 20th of November to the 26th of November

As we move toward the final days of November, this week’s roundup brings you the top Saudi innovation news and deals taking place in the Kingdom. The biggest news this week spans international agreements and the economy, automation, aviation, real estate, sustainability, and travel & tourism. 

Roundup Spotlight: Saudi Bid for World Expo 2030

Saudi Bid for World Expo 2030

With the winning bid being decided today, the Kingdom is on the verge of knowing whether its bid to host World Expo 2030 will be successful. Saudi has committed to a $7.8 billion Expo budget as it competes with Busan in Korea and Rome in Italy. 

The theme of the Expo — “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow” — aligns with Saudi Vision 2030, and the event could be a massive opportunity for the Kingdom to boost tourism, business, innovation, and collaboration. 

Showcasing the Kingdom’s progress in economic diversification and its commitment to sustainability could have a deep and wide-reaching impact, securing its position as a regional and international hub. Winning the bid could not only propel Riyadh into being one of the top ten largest city economies but also shift the global economy, bolstering construction, accommodation, employment, and more.

International Agreements and Economy

Foreign Investments in Saudi Capital Market Rise by 300% in 5 years

The Kingdom’s capital market surged from $23.16 billion in 2018 to $92.53 billion in 2022 on the back of the country’s ambitious objectives for economic diversification. Direct investment into the capital market has been allowed since 2015. Foreign investors now participate in daily trading at more than 17% as opposed to 4% when it was a local market. 

The Capital Markets Authority’s efforts to attract foreign investors to participate in the Saudi capital market have resulted in unprecedented levels of investments, boosting the Saudi economy and encouraging private sector growth.

China Exploring Opportunities in Saudi via China Trade Week (CTW) Saudi Arabia 2023

Chinese companies are seeking to increase their presence in the Kingdom, starting with Sunday’s launch of China Trade Week in Dammam. More than 200 firms explored potential investments in the Kingdom at CTW Saudi Arabia 2023, showcasing Saudi innovation in sectors including interior design, machinery and tools, and construction. Chinese trends in construction include the use of sustainable building materials and advanced building techniques.

Increasing Saudi-Sido partnership is expected to boost Saudi efficiency and innovation, in alignment with Saudi’s wider goals for economic diversification.

Saudi Named in Top 10 Developing Economies in E-Commerce

At the Northern Border Investment Forum, “Northern Borders Region … Promising Investment Opportunities,” Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Kassabi said that the Kingdom is positioned among the top ten developing economies in e-commerce and expects revenues to reach $69.33 billion by 2025

2022 e-commerce orders amounted to around $50.66 million, highlighting the booming private sector, driven by initiatives and investments to promote productivity, employment, social responsibility, and entrepreneurship.

Riyadh Office for Italy’s SACE

Planning to open a Riyadh office to support Italian entrepreneurs wishing to offer products and services in the Kingdom, SACE CEO, the Italian Export Credit Agency, Alessandra Ricci has met with Saudi officials and entrepreneurs to help further partnerships and collaborations between Saudi and Italian companies. Projects under consideration span various sectors, including infrastructure and urban planning. 

Ricci cites Vision 2030 as the driver of Saudi’s business opportunities, noting that Italian exports reached over $4 billion in 2022 and are expected to rise as much as 15% by the end of 2023.


Ma’aden Will Use Saudi’s First Hydrogen-Powered Trucks

Saudi Arabian Mining Co., Ma’aden, agreed on a deal with Almajdouie Logistics Co. to use its hydrogen-powered trucks for logistic operations, a Saudi first. The announcement took place at the opening of the Arab International Aluminum Conference, where the Saudi Transport General Authority unveiled the vehicle. 

A key part of building an ecosystem for hydrogen-powered vehicles, these hydrogen trucks produce zero emissions, helping to achieve the Kingdom’s goals for sustainable development and the Saudi Green Initiative’s objective to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2030.


Progress in Saudi’s Aviation Sustainability Plan

The Kingdom is finalizing its Civil Aviation Environmental Sustainability Plan which will address the environmental impact of expected growth throughout the aviation sector. Speaking at the third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels, the president of Saudi’s General Authority of Civil Aviation said that the plan aims to tackle multiple objectives and address critical concerns. Its ultimate goal is to adhere to the highest international standards and achieve the Kingdom’s goal of zero emissions by 2060.

The plan positions Saudi as a key player in global sustainability and underlines the Kingdom’s commitment to environmentally conscious practices and embracing its global responsibility to reduce emissions.

Flynas Joins the UN World Tourism Organization

Flynas is the first Saudi airline to join the UN World Tourism Organization, strengthening its commitment to drive sustainable global tourism. 

The move aligns with the airline’s core values, having placed sustainability at the heart of its operations while also supporting the Kingdom’s ambition to revamp the travel sector, turning Saudi into a global travel and tourism hub by 2030, and its goal to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060.

Real Estate

International Firms Headquartering in Saudi Drive Real Estate Demand 

Driven by “Progam HQ,” 180 companies have moved their headquarters to the Kingdom, beating the target of 160 companies by the end of 2023. The vast number of relocations means that Riyadh’s Grade A office space is at full capacity. 

A rise in the growth of domestic entities has also contributed to the surge in demand for quality office space. King Abdullah Financial District recorded that more than 60% of its space had been leased and its occupiable supply reached 92.2%. CBRE’s Head of Research Taimur Khan noted that new occupiers have been leasing upcoming quality office space before it enters the market, underlining the significant and consistent demand for worksplaces in and around Riyadh. 

First Smart Cities Expo Supports Saudi Urban Living

The Smart Cities Saudi Expo is to be held from the 24th to the 26th of September in 2024 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center. The expo will connect contractors, developers, consultants, architects, and many more professionals to discuss the evolution of Saudi Arabia’s urban landscape and unlock opportunities for investment and collaboration.

The IMF noted that Saudi Arabia is the fastest-growing G20 economy, with an accordingly significant growth in urban population, 85% of which lives in metropolitan areas. According to Muhammed Kazi, Vice President of Construction at dmg events, NEOM’s integration of cutting-edge technology and clever strategy has transformed Saudi into a hub for smart city innovation. 

The PIF-led NEOM giga project is integral to the Kingdom’s objectives for economic diversification and transformation across sectors. Saudi requires large-scale projects to meet demand for rapidly growing urban population, in line with Vision 2030.


The Kingdom to Host the 27th World Energy Congress in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia will host the 27th World Energy Congress in Riyadh from October 26th – 29th 2026. 

The world’s most influential energy event is set to attract 7000 international energy stakeholders and will demonstrate how the Kingdom leads energy policy and continues to strive toward Vision 2030’s sustainability objectives.

Travel and Tourism

PIF’s ASFAR to Shape Saudi’s Tourism Future

Since its inception in July, the PIF-backed tourism investment company, ASFAR showcased its dedication to shaping and unlocking the potential of Saudi tourism at the World Travel Market in London.

ASFAR CEO Dr. Fahad bin Mushayt said that the firm’s long-term goal is to help position the Kingdom as a leader in innovative and sustainable tourism, and it is expected to play a key role in transforming Saudi into a globally recognized tourism hub offering diverse cultural heritage and modern infrastructure.

ASFAR continues to stoke interest in Saudi culture, heritage, investment opportunities, and possibilities for collaboration.

SEVEN to invest $347.8m in New Asir Tourist Destination

PIF’s Saudi Entertainment Ventures is to invest SAR 1.3 billion ($347.8M) into constructing a unique, global, year-round tourism destination in Asir. The building near Abha International Airport will span 79,000 square meters.

Inspired by Asir’s urban identity, the entertainment destination is expected to contribute more than $1.07 billion to Saudi’s GDP, attract more than 5 million visitors by 2030, and create significant employment opportunities for locals. 

The move follows the unprecedented renaissance across sectors in the region and builds on the support from the Kingdom’s leaders with the aim of achieving the Kingdom’s ambitious objectives for Vision 2030.

Kingdom Launches First Ritz-Carlton Residential Project in Diriyah

Saudi’s Diriyah Co. has announced the country’s first Ritz-Carlton Residences, an exceptional world-class living opportunity that combines culture, lifestyle, modern amenities, elegance, and tradition. Under the iconic Ritz-Carlton banner, the urban development has a focus on sustainability and aims to grow into a global tourism destination through scalable digital infrastructure and leading end-user services. 

The development should reach more than 20,000 residential units, hotels, global brands, restaurants, museums, academies, and theaters, helping to improve the quality of life for the Diriyah community and beyond.

The Kingdom is ever-evolving, demonstrating how to balance ambitious objectives for private sector growth with tackling critical global issues, including sustainability and renewable energy. Check in next week for the latest advances in Saudi innovation for a better future.