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Old July 26th, 2005, 11:55 AM   #1
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More Good News for Saudi: $624b Investments Inside Saudi over the Next 15 yrs

Riyadh expects $624b foreign investment in 15 years
From Our Correspondent

26 July 2005

JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia is expecting foreign investment worth $624 billion (SR2.34 trillion) in a large number of projects, according to Prince Turki Al Faisal, who is currently ambassador to Britain, and is the Kingdom's nominee for ambassador to the United States.

The Kingdom has offered projects in petrochemicals, natural gas, electricity generation, water desalination, railway, telecommunications and other major sectors, he said in his keynote address to the Middle East Seminar 2005 titled 'Commercial Diplomacy: A Force for Regional Prosperity' that was held in London recently. Several ministers, ambassadors and prominent economists from Britain, the United States, Europe as well as the Arab countries attended the seminar, which was held at the British Ministry of Trade and Industry.

"These economic projects are open to local, regional and international investors," he said, and added that the new projects, which were approved by the Saudi government this year, would be implemented within the next 15 years.

Prince Turki emphasised the strength of Saudi economy, saying it was the largest in the Middle East in terms of revenues, banking, capital market and oil reserves and exports. "Saudi Arabia is one of the 25 major economies in the world and its gross national product (GNP) accounts for one fifth of the total Middle East GNP," he said. The Saudi economy enjoys an annual growth rate of more than 7 per cent, which is the largest in the region.

Referring to the booming Saudi stock market, he said about two million Saudis invest in the bourse, which is the 11th largest in the world as shares valued at about $1.7 billion are exchanged daily in the Kingdom. The government has introduced a series of reforms and legislation to encourage local and foreign investment. It has also taken a number of initiatives to ensure transparency of the economy.

The new government policies would encourage Saudi women to invest their wealth in the market. He also highlighted the significance of the land-bridge project that aims at linking the Arabian Gulf on the Kingdom's east with the Red Sea on the west, saying the multi-billion dollar project would bring about a revolution in the country's trade and transportation.

He also referred to the Kingdom's efforts to promote education. "Efforts are under way to establish six new universities in addition to the existing eight ones," he said.
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