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Saudi ‘to become a knowledge hub’
SAGIA chief says country is taking steady steps.
July 7, 2010 9:42 by Samuel Potter
Saudi Arabia is making steady steps to become a center for producing and exporting intellectual capital, according to Amr Al-Dabbagh, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).
Speaking at a forum organized by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in London, he underscored Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s efforts to promote education and training.
“The Kingdom is going to become a center for producing and exporting intellectual capital, instead of a center for consumption and importing. A number of initiatives have been taken to make Saudi Arabia a knowledge-based society,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Al-Dabbagh as telling Saudi and British businessmen and women.
He described King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, near Jeddah, as one of the major initiatives in this direction, adding that KAUST will produce a lot of intellectual capital in the coming years. He emphasized the importance of creating a competitive business and investment climate to draw direct foreign investment. “Human capital is also important to attract investment,” he said.
The government allocates 25 percent of the national budget for education and training and sends a large number of Saudis abroad for higher studies, giving them scholarships.
He also noted the government’s plan to establish partnership with leading international universities and institutes. “KAUST will host a number of reputed educational centers in the world,” he added.
The SAGIA chief emphasized his organization’s determination to make Saudi Arabia among the top 10 countries for investment by the end of this year. “Saudi Arabia will become a member of the club of world’s best 10 economies when the World Bank issues its next “Doing Business” report in September,” he said.
The Kingdom has overtaken Japan, G7 countries and all Middle Eastern countries in attracting foreign investment, occupying 14th position in the world. Last year it received $38.2 billion in foreign investment. He said investors at mega economic cities would receive all services within 60 minutes, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
“The global financial crisis has proved the strength of Saudi banking system,” Al-Dabbagh said, adding that the government would spend $400 billion in the coming four years to boost the economy.