Kingdom is world’s best place to invest
JEDDAH – Sheikh Rafik Mohammed, chairman of the Gammon Group, urged investors to seize the opportunity to grab government incentives by making investments in the Kingdom, which, he said, is the best place in the world for investors. In an interview with Saudi Gazette, he said that the government of Saudi Arabia will pay the investors 75 percent of their project cost in soft loans for 20 years, and the amount of loan reaches up to SR1.2 billion. Mohammed said his group made major headway in developing a new industrial city worth SR75 billion in Jazan. The city is expected to create nearly 100,000 job opportunities. “About 60 major international companies from various parts of the world came forward with their willingness to make investments in the city. After short-listing the companies, we have made agreements with more than 20 companies to establish plants in the city. The companies included Hebort International Limited, Hongkong (waste and energy management), ShenHua Group, China (power plant), Trina Solar, China (solar plant), China Communication Construction (infrastructure, railway, and properties), ltimate Heli (Pty) Ltd Johannesburg, South Africa, Uttam Galva steels Ltd, India, Punj Lloyd Ltd, India (infrastructure, and defense equipment), Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, India, Toyomoto Tyres, Japan and CNTIC China (Petrochemicals, Power and energy). Prince Turki Bin Mohammed Bin Nasser, director of international trade at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has been appointed by the government as the authority to develop the city. Gammon signed on Dec. 9, 2013 an agreement with Prince Turki to develop the city by bringing in foreign investors to build its entire infrastructure facilities such as roads, bridges, commercial centers, power plants, water treatment plants, oil refineries and petrochemical plants. The city will be located close to the Jazan seaport, making it easy for companies to export their products, Mohammed said while unveiling plans to establish the Jizan Investments Company as promoter of the industrial city. “Being the city’s developers, we will do consultancy as well as marketing for the project besides facilitating smooth entry of foreign companies,” he said adding that Gammon is developing another business center in Rabigh, which involves a capital investment of SR10.9 billion. The Gammon Group, represented by Mohammed, and former Governor of Rabigh Mohammed Barakah Al-Ghaanami, have signed a memorandum of understanding to design, finance and build an integrated city on an area covering 20 million square meters, which is owned by Al-Ghaanami. Referring to the joint ventures between the two countries, Mohammed said that there are hectic negotiations underway between investors of both countries to establish more joint ventures, especially in education and healthcare sectors. “Agreement has been reached to build a 1000-bed hospital in the south Indian city of Bangalore with 60 percent Saudi investment. Construction works of infrastructure facilities have already been started in the heart of the IT city,” he said. According to Gammon chief, negotiations are underway to establish a number of joint venture universities in Bangalore and other cities of Karnataka state, of which the major beneficiaries will be Saudi youths. “C.M. Ibrahim, former Indian minister of civil aviation, visited the Kingdom last month to explore the prospect of establishing more JV projects,” he pointed out. Gammon Group is a global construction company with strong presence in emerging markets in Asia, Middle East and North Africa. Mohammed, who became chairman of the Dubai-based group 13 years ago, said that the group, with a capital of two billion dirhams, spread its wings to Saudi Arabia in 2009. Mohammed, an enterprising entrepreneur, who was born in Calicut, Kerala, also served as Kyrgyz Foreign Investment Management Director. Meanwhile, Mohamed Aboobacker, managing director, and Abdul Rahiman Thahir, director of Star Gulf for Contracting & Steel Works (STARCO), said that their company, Gammon Group’s promoter in India, has already introduced the Jazan industrial city project to several Indian companies. “We are fully confident that the project will be a big boon not only for foreign investors but also for expatriates in the Kingdom. A number of expatriates can form group of investors to set up investment projects and benefit from the government incentives for their ventures,” Aboobacker said.