(Photo Credit: Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has launched an initiative to attract $10 billion in future investments to expand the country’s supply chain and diversify the economy away from oil dependency.
The Saudi Press Agency reported that the initiative launched by MbS will allocate around 10 billion riyals ($2.7 billion) to incentivize investments in Saudi Arabia’s supply chain infrastructure.
Last year, the country announced it would invest over 500 billion riyals in infrastructure, such as streets, airports, and ports to become a transport and logistic hub for the region by the end of the decade.
The country is also setting up so-called “special economic zones,” which provide further investment incentives.
“The Global Supply Chain Resilience Initiative will leverage the Kingdom’s resources, infrastructure, and location to bring greater resilience to economies and companies across Europe, the Americas, and Asia, while further enhancing Saudi Arabia’s position in the global economy,” reads a statement of the “legislative and procedural” reforms.
“Saudi Arabia also offers access to oil, gas, electricity, renewable energy, and human resources at competitive costs,” it adds.
In an effort to reach its goal, the kingdom has been reaching out to several international partners, such as China, with which it recently signed an agreement to boost energy cooperation and even voiced its interest in joining the BRICS strategic alliance.
However, the economic diversification initiative launched by the kingdom comes at a price.
More than one million people have become victims of forced displacement and have not received adequate compensation as old neighborhoods are being demolished in the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to make way for luxury hotels and entertainment venues, according to human rights groups.
In December 2021, the Saudi Public Investment Fund – chaired by Crown Prince and newly appointed Prime Minister MbS – announced the launch of a development project called ‘Jeddah Central,’ which would include a museum, opera house, stadium, aquarium, hotels, and new residential neighborhoods.
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a US-based rights group, stated that “while the Riyadh regime is expected to spend more than $20 billion on the ambitious plan, very little of that amount has been allocated to compensate the 1.5 million people who have lost or will lose their homes and livelihoods,” according to Press TV.