Saudi Arabia News Update – January 2022

Top industry news

Saudi Arabia aims to attract $3tn of investment over next nine years, minister says: Saudi Arabia is targeting $3 trillion of investment into the kingdom in the next nine years, with the Public Investment Fund and other local and international firms playing a key role, according to its investment minister.

Saudi Arabia’s push to attract regional headquarters will boost commercial property sector: Saudi Arabia’s move to encourage multinational companies to set up their regional headquarters in the kingdom will benefit the office sector in the Arab world’s largest economy, according to a report.

Saudi Central Bank extends deferred payment program for MSMEs for 3 more months: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) has announced the extension of the Deferred Payment Program — one of SAMA’s Private Sector Financing Support Programs — for three more months from January 1; 2022 to March 31; 2022; for the benefit of micro; small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that continue to be affected by the COVID-19 precautionary measures.

Saudi fintech investment jumps as regulators set 2021 landscape: RIYADH: Saudi Arabia saw a significant jump in venture capital investments in the financial technology sector, hitting 16 deals in the first eight months of 2021 totaling $157.2 million.

New privatization rules signed off in Saudi Arabia to encourage investors: Riyadh: Fairness, transparency, and feasibility will now all be taken into consideration before private public partnerships are given the green light in Saudi Arabia after a law change was signed off.

Saudi Arabia seeks to broaden financial ties with the UK: Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, is planning to expand financial ties with the UK as part of a bilateral push to deepen trade and economic relations.

Saudi Arabia’s ‘unprecedented growth’ set to cement position as M&A leader in 2022: RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has become one of the most attractive markets for international companies seeking new mergers and acquisitions, and it is set to maintain its position in 2022.

Investment in Saudi manufacturing market exceeds $4bn, minister says: RIYADH: The volume of investment in Saudi manufacturing products has exceeded SR15 billion ($4 billion) as of the end of September 2021, SPA reported citing the minister of industry and mineral sources.

Saudi Arabia to fully employ locals in 3 sectors to create up to 10,000 jobs: RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will see localization of up to 10,000 jobs in 3 sectors on Thursday Dec 30, with almost 100 percent of employees being Saudis.

Saudi Crown Prince unveils master plan and key features of Jeddah Central Project: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday unveiled the master plan and main features of the 75 billion riyal ($20bn) Jeddah Central Project, which would create a world-class destination at the heart of the city and further strengthen its economy.


Saudi Arabia builds a culture hub 

Conflicts and crises have battered Arab artistic capitals like Cairo, Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad. The Middle East’s cultural mantle is up for grabs, and Saudi Arabia is spending lavishly to seize it.

The kingdom announced that it would support the production of 100 films by 2030. Stars like Hilary Swank and Naomi Campbell showed up for the recent Red Sea International Film Festival, held on a former execution ground. The government is financing initiatives to foster Saudi filmmakers, visual artists, musicians and chefs.

The movies are touching on themes that would have been taboo in the kingdom before — romance, nudity, pregnancy out of wedlock. It represents a swift change: After a 35-year ban on cinemas ended in 2018, the country now has 430 screens with a target of 2,600 by 2030.

Context: The change is driven by the de facto Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who wants to shake off the kingdom’s staid image by building an entertainment industry. Right now, it’s largely funded by oil money. But in the wealthy nation, where movie tickets are about $18 each, many are hoping it will pay off.

Roadblocks: Creators around the Middle East are hesitant to move their careers to the conservative monarchy, where alcohol is banned and dissenters are jailed for mild criticisms. Many point to lackluster results for a similar push in the United Arab Emirates as evidence that it won’t pan out.

Booster Shots

Saudi Arabia will require booster shots to enter many public places.


Saudi Covid Update

The wearing of masks and maintaining social distance at all times has been mandated in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom reimposes health measures to contain the spread of the omicron variant. Social distancing was reimposed at the Mecca Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, the state-controlled Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on 30 December. Last month, citizens and residents were also advised to avoid unnecessary travel outside the kingdom.

The Health Ministry said on 2 January that receiving a booster shot guards people against omicron complications. Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Abd al-Aly said the pandemic wave was accelerating rapidly in Saudi Arabia, with numbers doubling every four to five days. According to local media, he added: “We expect there will be more and more cases in the coming stage of the pandemic.”

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