Saudi Round-Up: Smart, Strategic, and Sustainable

From the 4th of December to the 10th of December

This week’s Saudi Round-Up brings you the news of changes on the ground that will transform landscapes and industries, over the coming years. In addition to recent economic developments, the latest news underscores Saudi’s focus on sustainability, empowerment, and enhancing the lives of its people and its visitors.


Neom Launches Sustainable Food Company Topian

Neom’s launch of Topian aims to redefine how food is produced, distributed, and consumed in Saudi Arabia. Driven by innovation, the subsidiary’s focus will include climate-resistant agriculture, sustainable food supply, and environmental, social, and institutional governance. 

NEOM’s CEO Nadhmi al-Nasr underlined Topian’s importance as it reflects the giga project’s dedication to long-lasting, local and global transformation. The Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture supported the launch of the subsidiary in alignment with Saudi Vision 2030’s mandate for high-quality food, food security, and sustainability.


Saudi 2024 Budget Points to the Kingdom’s Success in Economic Diversification

On track for long-term sustainable development, the Kingdom has made significant progress in transportation and logistics, tourism, hotel construction, and water projects, all of which provide infrastructure for Expo 2030. 

Economic and structural reforms throughout the Kingdom created more than 1 million new jobs in 2023 and boosted Saudi Arabia’s GDP to $1.09 trillion.

Growth of Private Sector Employment to 10.8 Million

The Saudi private sector grew 0.93% from October to reach 10.8 million in November. The growth includes 2.3 million Saudi nationals and 8.5 million residents of the Kingdom. 

The outlook is positive, with evidence of a continued, steady increase in private sector employment, a significant increase in female employment compared to the public sector,  and more than 41,000 new entrants to the private sector in November. This widespread growth is driven by Saudi’s giga projects and the impetus of economic diversification.

Strong Non-Oil Sector Performance

According to the Saudi Purchasing Managers’ Index, the Saudi economy experienced a robust expansion in the non-oil private sector in November. A sharp increase in new business inflows demonstrated strong demand.

The report also highlights a significant improvement in business conditions, which — alongside optimism regarding new business — contributed to positive expectations for the next 12 months.

200 Company HQs Lead Relocation to The Kingdom

The Kingdom’s tax incentives for companies that move their headquarters to Saudi and special benefits for companies that comply with Saudization requirements have helped attract 200 companies, including PwC Middle East and GE Healthcare. The figure surpasses the Kingdom’s initial target of 160 firms headquartered in Saudi by the end of 2023. 

From within the Kingdom, businesses are better able to strategize, plan, and expand in the region. They are also better positioned to leverage local talent and advance their action plans on the ground.

Real Estate

ROSHN to Double Energy Efficiency

Currently creating homes that run with 18% less energy consumption than the required building code, ROSHN is aiming for 50% energy bill reduction. It aims to do so through new technologies and by supporting local suppliers and vendors with sustainability.

Mandated to provide 400,000 homes as part of Vision 2030’s commitment to developing sustainable urban communities, ROSHN’s presence at COP28 positions the project at the forefront of global ideas and developments. 


$92bn Expo Investment to Help Riyadh Become Global Sustainability Hub by 2030

The Kingdom is leading the world in addressing the global climate crisis. Having secured hosting of the 2030 World Expo from October the 1st 2030 to March the 31st 2031, Riyadh aims to become one of the world’s most sustainable cities by 2030 with the help of a $92 billion investment in Expo 2030.

The announcement at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum by Saudi Vice Minister of Tourism Princess Haifa bint Muhammad Al-Saud was accompanied by the news that international arrivals should grow to $1.8 billion.

The NEOM giga project will be central to the Kingdom’s goals for sustainable tourism. Based on 100% renewable energy, a massive 95% of NEOM will be natural land, with 5% allotted to accommodate about 10 million people. Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim underscored the project’s significance to Vision 2030, economic diversification, and empowering young entrepreneurs.

PepsiCo, SABIC and partners launch the Mega Green Accelerator, powered by AstroLabs

On the heels of the first week of COP28, PepsiCo, SABIC, AstroLabs and their strategic partners have announced the launch of the Mega Green Accelerator, a new initiative to nurture the next generation of innovators in the region as they develop solutions to both regional and global sustainability challenges.

“Our partnership with PepsiCo and SABIC comes at an exciting time – it’s a strategic step in accelerating innovation within the GCC, with a strong focus on sustainability. With the influx of international sustainable and climate-conscious companies, the region is rising as a global testbed for innovation – we will double down on creating an environment where these businesses can scale into the local markets. Our aim is to ensure the GCC not only responds to the current demand for green solutions but also pioneers the advancement of sustainable business practices on a global scale,’’ said Roland Daher, CEO, AstroLabs

The Middle East is warming almost two times faster than the global average, yet the support and investment for the sustainability innovation ecosystem in the region does not match this urgency. Since 2010, less than 50 new climate technology startups have been founded in the MENA region, compared to nearly 5,000 in Europe and the US. The Mega Green Accelerator aims to reduce this gap, foster regional collaboration and cultivate a network of MENA-based innovators addressing the most pressing sustainability challenges in the region.


Tourism Feeds All Surrounding Areas

During the Saudi Green Initiative forum at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, the Kingdom’s tourism minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that sustainability is the core of all upcoming tourism destinations. Villages around Tabuk, for example, benefited from NEOM in terms of employment, trade, and investments.

Regarding the $800 billion in giga project investments anticipated over the next decade, the focus will stay on green tourism, environmentally friendly materials, and economic and environmental sustainability.

As per Vision 2030, tourism is mandated to reach 10% of the Saudi GDP, compared to just 3% in 2019. Expo 2030 is anticipated as a celebration of the end of the first Vision and the beginning of the next stage of this epic journey.

Saudi Crown Prince Reveals Qiddiya Megaproject Plan and Branding 

The Saudi Crown Prince, who chairs Qiddiya Investment Company’s board of directors, has emphasized Qidiya’s position as a cornerstone of Vision 2030. 

Qiddiya aims to be a global destination for entertainment, sports, and culture, boosting economic growth, and improving the Kingdom’s international standing and strategic position. The unique project will help Riyadh become one of the top 10 world economies, creating over 325,000 jobs, attracting 48 million visits per year, and adding $36 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP.


SETEC and Partners Developing Urban Air Mobility

Building on existing French-Saudi collaboration, French engineering and consulting firm Setec Group is working with partners to develop Saudi air mobility for smart cities. 

Setec has studied connecting Riyadh with Diriyah and Qiddiya to improve logistics and handle the expected influx of visitors, workers, and residents. Depending on how planning and regulations advance, the project could be developed in time for the culmination of Vision 2030.

The Kingdom continues to take strides toward achieving its objectives for Vision 2030, transforming the way people live and work through innovation and economic diversification. Visit us next week for another round-up of the most relevant and significant Saudi business news across sectors.