As part of a comprehensive plan to expand its infrastructure, Saudi Arabia has decided to invest SR525 billion in the transport sector alone within the next 10 years, said Abdullatif Al-Othman, governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).
Al-Othman, who was addressing the Japanese-Saudi Business Council in Tokyo, said that these funds would be used to build railway network, ports, and airports.
The SAGIA governor said: "The Kingdom is undertaking massive projects in a number of sectors worth hundreds of billions of riyals." Al-Othman, who addressed a large gathering of Japanese businessmen organized within the framework of the joint business council, also opened an Invest Saudi exhibition there.
Referring to the progressively growing relations between Saudi Arabia and Japan, he said: "2015 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations. In 1955, we forged a bond that has grown stronger ever since," said the governor, recalling the visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in 2014, when he signed three memorandums of understanding, including one for encouraging cooperation for joint investments between Japan and Saudi Arabia.
He added: "SAGIA wants to pave the way for Japanese companies to deeply embed themselves within Saudi Arabia, enabling them to achieve success locally, regionally, and internationally. To facilitate this, SAGIA has taken steps toward creating the right environment where Japanese investments can take root and flourish. Of course, this is an ongoing process — we want the Kingdom to evolve suitably alongside global trends."
Referring to the efforts made by SAGIA to simplify the process and licensing of foreign investment, Al-Othman said: "All requirements for investment licenses are now in one clear document, which we are translating into a number of languages, including Japanese." SAGIA, he said, has also introduced "a fast track service" to award investment licenses to companies in only five days or less.
He said the Kingdom has made provisions to allow 100 percent foreign ownership in most sectors. He added: "No personal income tax, no value-added tax, no sales tax, and no property tax are levied on investors with the exception of a competitive corporate tax rate. The provision of financial resources for the training and employment of Saudi nationals has also been made by the Kingdom."
On the question of conducive investment climate offered by the Kingdom, Al-Othman said the SAGIA has launched a Unified Investment Plan (UIP) under which several investment opportunities have been identified. "In fact, we want to initiate a new positive phase of investment by using the UIP to unlock the Kingdom's potential, creating a win-win environment for both investors and Saudi Arabia," he added.
He called on the businesses to take advantage of the UIP by making a direct investment into the Kingdom. "Although the financial benefits of doing so are important, the UIP is much more than money; it is about the duties of a long-term friendship between both of our countries," he explained. At the moment, SAGIA has identified over 90 projects through the UIP in transportation and health care sectors that can benefit from the contributions, expertise, and products of Japanese businesses.
The SAGIA chief further stressed that the two countries already enjoy a strong relationship, but both the countries have the opportunity in the months and years ahead to make the ties that bind even tighter. "In the Kingdom, we are beginning a new chapter of investment to enable us to build on our past successes," he noted.
On the sidelines of the business meeting in Tokyo, the Invest in Saudi Arabia exhibition was organized mainly to feature opportunities of investment in the Kingdom. The opening of the exhibition in Tokyo was attended by a number of government officials from both countries, including Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Fakeih.
Acting on its mandate and responsibilities, SAGIA organizes and participates in numerous local, regional and international conferences and events.