Resilient Saudi witness a rise in FDI despite COVID-19: Minister

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
  • Follow author on
Saudi Arabia Image
Representational Image

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid al-Falih said that the foreign direct investment (FDI) had risen by 12 percent in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

The Saudi government, which is hosting this year’s G20 summit, has made it the focus of its Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy of the world’s largest oil exporter away from oil revenues by attracting greater foreign investment.

“I’m glad to say that FDI, my area of focus, in the first half has been reported to increase by 12 percent compared to last year,” Mr. Falih, who previously chaired state oil company Saudi Aramco, told a G20 conference.

Owing to the global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the kingdom had experienced a slowdown in FDI this year, Mr. Falih had said in September.

“When I mentioned the 12 percent increase I wanted to assure people that there was no decline, our FDI target is much higher,” Falih said.

Saudi Arabia will introduce special economic zones dedicated to several sectors next year as part of its efforts to attract foreign investors, Mr. Falih said.

The country will emphasize on ‘qualitative growth’ in addition to attracting higher investment volumes, he said, mentioning areas such as cloud computing, renewable energy, tourism, culture, entertainment and logistics.

“These investments may have lower investment volumes but higher impact on the economy,” he said.

Saudi Arabia is chairing a two-day summit of leaders from the 20 largest world economies, who will discuss how to cope with a global recession caused by the pandemic and how to handle the recovery once it is under control.

Mr. Falih said that this year the Saudi economy, which was hit by the double blow of the pandemic and lower oil prices, has shown resilience and has proven its ability to resist shocks.