Saudi Arabia plans to launch special economic zones in 2021: Minister

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DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Minister
of Investment Khalid al-Falih said on Saturday foreign direct investment (
FDI) increased by 12%
in the
first
half
of
2020 compared with the same period last year.

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

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

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

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

As part
of efforts to attract foreign investors, Saudi Arabia will launch next year special economic zones dedicated to several sectors, Falih said.

In addition to attracting higher investment volumes, it will focus on “qualitative growth”, 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.”

Saudi Arabia is chairing a two-day summit this weekend
of leaders
of the 20 biggest world economies, who will debate how to deal with a pandemic that has caused a global recession and how to manage the recovery once it is under control.

Falih said the Saudi
economy, which has been hit by the double blow
of the pandemic and lower oil prices, had shown
resilience this year and had a proven ability to withstand shocks.



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