Reshaping Economic Landscape in Saudi Arabia
Jonathan Ortmans, President, Public Forum Institute
As the King of Saudi Arabia met in the U.S. with President Barack Obama on June 29th, the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) released its first newsletter dedicated to entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. The news suggests that the country is gradually gaining a supportive entrepreneurship ecosystem.
"In Saudi Arabia today, and throughout the Middle East and North Africa
(MENA) region, there is a new breed of entrepreneurs that is gradually
reshaping the economic landscape," observed David Hamod, President & CEO of the
National U.S.-Arab Chamber. "Saudi Arabia is moving away from being the gas station to the world," said H.E. Abdullah Zainal Alireza, the Kingdom's Minister of Commerce and Industry.
Saudi Arabia has been working hard in the past decade to create an environment that encourages risk-taking, creativity and value-creation. As I reported here on PDE last April, entrepreneurship enjoys high-level support there. For example, Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the advisor to the King of Saudi Arabia, chairs the Saudi Arabian National Entrepreneurship Center (NEC), an institution created to empower young entrepreneurs through specialized education, training, mentoring, and finance. Saudi Arabia is also home to the one of the most influential Middle Eastern educational institutions, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). In an interview published in the newsletter, Professor Choon Fong Shih, President of KAUST described the institution as a start-up university. “We can offer them a long runway from which their research projects can take off,” he explained.
Many other actors from all sectors are contributing to building a start-up culture in the country, such the Prince Salman Young Entrepreneur Awards, the National Entrepreneurship Center, and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), which established the Saudi Fast Growth 100, a list of the Kingdom's fastest growing enterprises by revenue.
The NUSAAC newsletter release represents an encouraging effort post President Obama's Summit on Entrepreneurship, which focused on entrepreneurship in Muslim communities around the world.