Unlocking Saudi's trade potential

Unlocking Saudi's trade potential

This week, I have the great honour of participating in the Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia at a pivotal moment in the kingdom’s history.

The country is embarking on the ambitious task of unlocking the enormous potential of its private sector, where it hasn’t previously had a natural advantage.

From an economic perspective that makes it one of the bravest and most interesting plans we are likely to see unfold in our lifetimes.

The global trading landscape is shifting on a scale we have never previously witnessed.

Slowing economic growth in China, the increased popularity of trade tariffs, a growing world population and the need to feed it, among many other factors, make secure, efficient supply chains ever more critical.

Against this backdrop, KSA is looking to establish its non-oil-based trade credentials on a global scale.

Connectivity, technology and infrastructure

Connectivity will be at the heart of KSA’s future success, both in terms of technology and in terms of physical infrastructure – enabling the flow of goods throughout the country and through its borders.

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has already made a firm commitment for the country to become an advanced technology leader.

KSA’s leadership has also made it clear that it is ready to put its money into financing projects alongside international investors.

A new airport and rail links will require many billions in state spending but will be central to driving a new era of opportunity and openness for the country.

All businesses great and small

A central pillar in Saudi’s Vision 2030 is to foster a more diverse and business-friendly economy for the private sector, with a commitment to support small and medium-sized businesses as well as driving transformative regulatory and legal reforms to support the country’s growth both in terms of business and tourism.

This means opening the private sector within KSA but also to some extent inviting in the rest of the world.

This gives the opportunities which are already attracting major corporations to KSA, as well as unlocking the potential of SMEs.

SMEs are the lifeblood of economies across the globe yet many do not export, partly due to the disproportionate cost of transport on relatively small volumes.

At DP World we are developing integrated finance, insurance and logistics solutions that will make exporting hugely more affordable for SMEs while accelerating their contribution to trade.

Faster and ever faster

Aside from improving cross-border infrastructure, accelerating supply chains and connecting a more open Kingdom to the rest of the world, there are other eye-catching projects in Saudi with which DP World is involved.

Last week, we announced that our ambitious Hyperloop One Project in King Abdullah Economic City will feature the world’s first integrated test track and development centre for the technology.

It will create over 120,000 jobs and support a potential $4 billion economic boost to KSA.

This is simply the beginning, with Hyperloop unlocking a new frontier for the movement of people and the flow of goods through DP World Cargo Speed.

At the same time, the DP World-operated Jeddah Islamic Port will be a semi-automated facility to create skilled jobs for Saudi nationals, transforming the port into an important gateway to markets serving 500 million people as a crucial global east-west route through the Red Sea.

From Ecuador to Dubai, ports and the integrated manufacturing and distribution hubs, or freezones, that surround them create opportunity for all.

Connecting KSA to the rest of the world is the logistics opportunity of a lifetime.