RIYAD: The Saudi capital has long been viewed by bankers and international leaders as a place to visit for work, before spending the weekend elsewhere in the region. However, that is about to change as the Saudi capital is not only rapidly transforming into a global and regional hub of business activities, it is also becoming a hub of entertainment facilities and fun festivals.
Saudi Arabia’s national stock market has a market capitalization of $ 2.6 trillion, Reuters said, more than four times that of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar combined.
There is also a lot of work. Over the next four years, the Kingdom wants to raise $ 55 billion through privatizations, and that does not include new sales of assets or shares by oil giant Saudi Aramco. It also does not include divestitures by the $ 450 billion Public Investment Fund, which recently sold much of its 70% stake in $ 61 billion Saudi Telecom Co.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is planning $ 3.2 trillion in public and private investment over the next decade to divert the national economy from oil.
The number of foreign investors registered in Tadawul more than doubled from 6% in 2019, and foreign direct investment inflows into Saudi Arabia have increased during the pandemic. The regional headquarters program was implemented at the start of the year and its ultimate goal is to induce 480 global companies to locate in Riyadh in the region. Some 24 companies signed up initially, and that number has now swelled to 44.
Riyadh could also become less of a social desert. Miami rapper Pitbull’s concerts, World Wrestling Entertainment matches, and Saudi ownership of Newcastle United football club cut the cultural distance with the West.
Riyadh is now home to the regional headquarters of 44 multinational companies – an increase of 20 since launching a campaign in January to attract more businesses to Saudi Arabia’s capital.
In a recent briefing given to the Bureau International des Expositions at the launch of Riyadh’s bid to host the 2030 World’s Fair, Fahd Al-Rasheed, CEO of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, said he extended a a small city of 150,000 inhabitants in 1950, Riyadh has become one of the fastest growing cities in the world with a gross domestic product of over $ 200 billion.
Al-Rasheed then informed the BIE’s governing body of the many development projects underway in the Saudi capital, such as a sports boulevard, the huge King Salman Park, which is four times the size of Central Park in New York and ten times the size of London Hyde Park.
He said the city is building one of the largest public transport networks in the world. Al-Rasheed also highlighted efforts to make Riyadh a sustainable and healthy city by increasing greenery in and around the city as part of the Riyadh Green Project.