Saudi Arabia continues to invest in entertainments, sport and renewable energy

As international teams and fans worldwide gear up for the first-of-its-kind Formula E race in the Middle East, making use of their E-Visas for the first time, Saudi Arabia is keen to showcase its commitment to diversify its economy and strengthen its position in the fields of entertainment, sport and renewable energy.

On 11 December a delegation from the Red Sea Development Company, led by chief executive John Pagano, was received by King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the company, at Araqa Palace in Riyadh.

Mr Pagano made a visual presentation at the palace on the master plan of the Red Sea Project, underlining its economic and development goals and the project’s objective to become a global destination for luxury tourism.

Twenty-two islands on the Red Sea will be developed as part of the project, which is expected to create an estimated 70,000 jobs. Not only will it contribute 22 billion riyals ($5.8billon) to Saudi Arabia’s GDP, but will also play a major role in the kingdom’s economic diversification drive – a chief objective of Vision 2030 – by attracting approximately one million tourists per year.

The first phase of the project, scheduled to be completed in 2022, will include an airport, marinas, residential properties, recreational facilities and up to 3,000 hotel rooms.

King Salman lauded the delegates for planning a project that will propel Saudi Arabia to a prominent position on the global tourism map and create investment opportunities for the Saudi Arabian private sector – while simultaneously preserving the nation’s cultural and environmental heritage.

Spark Energy Park

Just days before, the kingdom broke ground with the announcement of the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK), located in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. SPARK is a 50km² energy city megaproject which will position the country as a global energy, industrial and technology hub. The first phase of the development will be completed by 2021.

SPARK has already attracted investments from foreign and local companies to produce and manufacture goods and services in the kingdom’s energy sector. The investment in the first phase of the project is expected to be around $1.6billion.

Saudi Aramco is at the heart of SPARK’s development, helping to bring businesses together to drive efficiencies and promote technological development, manufacturing and exports, as well as build a world-class energy supply chain. SPARK’s role in enabling localisation within the kingdom’s energy supply chain aligns with the strategic goals of Saudi Aramco’s In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) programme.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, HE Khalid A Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and Saudi Aramco chairman, announced that SPARK will be a Special Economic Zone, where tenants will benefit from regulatory, fiscal and non-fiscal support. SPARK’s status supports the energy city’s objective to attract investments and improve its competitiveness for the regional and global export of energy products and services.

Highlighting SPARK’s role in unlocking the full potential of the kingdom’s energy resources in line with the kingdom’s economic transformation plan, Al-Falih said: “SPARK is one of the country’s most ambitious projects, affirming the kingdom’s commitment to Vision 2030 by creating thousands of high-skilled jobs, serving as an economic catalyst and advancing Saudi Arabia’s strong position in the global energy sector. The energy park’s unique value proposition makes it an ideal destination for companies looking to invest in the thriving Saudi Arabian energy services market.”

When operational, SPARK is estimated to contribute more than $6billion to the kingdom’s GDP annually and create up to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.