Frank Kane and Deema Al-Khudair
RIYADH: The Kingdom is witnessing steady financial growth and recovery after the COVID-19 economic setback, according to Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Alkhorayef.
Alkhorayef said that the industrial sector enjoyed some growth in 2020, during which 33,000 jobs were created.
“We had more than $23 billion of new investments and also the pandemic has shown us the importance of building our own logistics,” he told Arab News.
“Logistics is a capability of the country and is going to also be enhanced to ensure that we are moving with our strategy to not only cover the Saudi market, but regional and global markets, so that Saudi Arabia can become an industrial powerhouse in the region and the world despite the setback,” he said.
Saudi Arabia’s industrial index rose by 5.8 percent from a year ago and 5 percent from the previous month, government data showed earlier this month.
The increase in industrial activity resulted from higher production in mining and quarrying activity, which makes up 74.5 percent of the index, the General Authority for Statistics said.
Mining activities, which include oil production, increased by 6.5 percent during the month. Saudi Arabia increased its oil production from 8.9 million barrels a day in August 2020 to 9.5 million barrels a day in August 2021.
Alkhorayef said that the ministry’s vision was split into different programs to deal with industry, mining, energy and logistics.
“Today we realize in Saudi Arabia that our Vision can only be accomplished by working together as a government, making sure that we are integrated,” he said.
The program is one of the largest programs in the Vision with huge targets for GDP contribution in investment, and job creation.
The energy program is intended to bring these four sectors together to ensure that they are aligned and complement each other.
“So, factories, they will need energy, energy will need factories, and factories will need transportation,” he said. “Energy will also will need probably transportation or mining,” he said.
In addition, the ministry was also looking at the strategies of the different sectors, and in every strategy it targeted subsectors.
“Also, the policies, enablers, that ensure that we are moving and really implementing that Vision in the right way,” he said.
The minister said that COVID-19 has been disruptive across the board, and that technology was key in strategy for all industries in the future.
“The way we look at human capital development is very important,” he said. “Re-skilling of our people, education, how we look at business models, is also changing.”
“The pandemic, I think, has been a true test of all countries. How they are resilient. It showed us where we are weak, where we are stronger, and that was a live demonstration of where we need to focus and where we need to build on,” he said.
The Kingdom had shown great success in dealing with the pandemic as a result of what it has been doing in the health sector, he said. “What we have done also in the infrastructure of communication, otherwise the health sector will not function.”
“The school system will not function and the government will not function,” he said.
The minister said that industrial companies were seeking to relocate their regional headquarters.
“In fact, some of the companies who announced their headquarters at the FII are industrial companies,” he said.