The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has recently witnessed the opening of several regional headquarters for international companies in the capital Riyadh to carry out their activities, in a step that reflects the Kingdom's keenness to be the largest and most attractive destination for major investments in the region.

The move comes as part of efforts to diversify the Saudi economy, move from dependence on oil to a diversified and developed economy, in addition to providing thousands of jobs for Saudis, and strengthening the foreign investment market.

The confidence enjoyed by the Saudi economy at the international level is one of the factors influencing the attraction of international companies to the Kingdom, as Saudi Arabia is an attractive destination for foreign direct investment.

The Saudi government also supports this step by providing a favorable environment for investment and facilitating administrative procedures for these companies.

As part of the latest steps to achieve this strategy and strengthen the Kingdom's position as a global investment destination, the Saudi Council of Ministers issued a decision last March to establish the Saudi program to attract the regional headquarters of international companies, to be under the supervision of the Board of Directors of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City.

The program is expected to add about 67 billion riyals (about $18 billion) to the local economy and create about 30,2030 new jobs by <>.

Boosting foreign investment

This program is part of the initiatives of the National Investment Strategy launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which mainly aims to develop the national economy and diversify its sources, which will achieve many of the objectives of the Kingdom's Vision 2030, including promoting foreign direct investment to reach 5.7% of GDP.

The Kingdom's aim is to inject investments into the Saudi economy, promote economic growth, and achieve self-sufficiency in many sectors, reducing unemployment rates and stimulating growth.

The Saudi Ministry of Investment revealed on October 25 that more than 80 international companies had issued licenses to transfer their regional headquarters to the capital, Riyadh.

The Saudi government and state-backed institutions will stop signing contracts with foreign companies based in any other country in the region from the beginning of 2024.

In addition, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has allocated $800 billion to transform Riyadh into one of the ten largest economic cities in the world, reflecting the kingdom's commitment to promoting economic growth and achieving the goals of the Kingdom's Vision 2030.

A few days ago, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that 90% of the companies that were signed to move their regional headquarters chose the capital, Riyadh, adding that Saudi Arabia has a high ambition through the city of Riyadh to make it a multiple and large city with a population ranging between 15 and 20 million, and contribute more than 30% of the GDP, pointing out that investment in the local economy exceeded one trillion riyals (about 266 billion dollars) in 2022 for the first time.

The kingdom is seeking to move from dependence on mainly oil to a diversified and developed economy (Reuters)

Top 10 most economical cities in the world

In January, Falih stressed that his country does not target 80, 100 or 200 international companies, but expects to reach a large number before 2030, and that Riyadh will be the largest capital in the Middle East politically, economically and for major international companies.

Commenting on the Saudi trend to increase the headquarters of foreign companies in the Kingdom, Saudi economist Hussam Al-Dakhil said that with the Saudi leadership's interest in developing and diversifying the Kingdom's economy and reducing its dependence on oil, the Saudi Crown Prince announced a strategic plan to develop Riyadh and make it a major regional center for international companies, increase the city's population by doubling it to 3 times what it is now, and enhance its economic impact by 2030, noting that the city is witnessing the implementation of more than 80 projects that will contribute to Making Riyadh among the top 10 economically important cities in the world.

Al-Dakhil adds – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that in light of this, the Saudi Council of Ministers approved the establishment of the Saudi program to attract regional headquarters for international companies, explaining that shortly after this announcement, dozens of major international companies obtained licenses to establish regional headquarters in the Saudi capital, such as PepsiCo, Samsung,Siemens, Philips, Dimension Data and other major companies.

The Saudi economist pointed out that the choice of Riyadh for this plan is due to the fact that it constitutes 50% of the non-oil economy in Saudi Arabia, in addition to the fact that the cost of creating jobs in it is 30% lower than any other city.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia has spent heavily on infrastructure, and facilitated attracting major companies through tax facilities and facilitating procedures for coming and establishing businesses, in addition to launching a number of mega projects such as the establishment of Riyadh Air, which was established in the first quarter of 2023 and started strongly by requesting an advanced aircraft fleet.

He also referred to the Saudi Crown Prince's announcement of the launch of the master plan for King Salman International Airport in Riyadh, which will be one of the largest airports in the world with an area of 57 square kilometers and a capacity of 120 million passengers by 2030, and 185 million passengers in 2050.

He pointed out that there are a number of other projects that prepare for the success of the program project to attract regional headquarters for international companies, such as the Green Riyadh project, which aims to increase the proportion of green spaces equivalent to 16 times the current green spaces, and the King Salman Park project, which will be the largest park in the world in the north of downtown Riyadh.

In conclusion, Al-Dakhil pointed out that according to recently announced statistics, the unemployment rate among Saudis fell to 8% to the lowest level recorded, compared to 2021, when the unemployment rate reached 11%, and approached the target rate of Vision 2030 to reduce the unemployment rate to 7%.

The Saudi government aims to move 480 regional headquarters to Riyadh within 10 years.