RIYADH, 24 November 2005 — The industrial landscape of Saudi Arabia will undergo a massive change with the execution of some multibillion riyal projects by the National Industrialization Company (NIC) in partnership with some local and regional business houses within the next two to three years. NIC has already embarked on the ambitious plan to execute these industrial and petrochemical projects including an ethylene & polyethylene project and a methanol/acetic acid complex.

This was announced by Dr. Moayyed Ibn Issa Al-Qurtas, NIC’s chief executive, here. Al-Qurtas said that the two petrochemical complexes will be located at the petrochemical site of NIC in Jubail Industrial City, in addition to the current one which is producing about half million ton annually of propylene/polypropylene since early 2004. The two new projects will have the capacity to produce around 100,000 MTY of ethylene, 400,000 MTY low density polyethylene, 400,000 MTY high density polyethylene, additional polypropylene, 1,800,000 MTY methanol, 600,000 MTY acetic acid etc. The production is scheduled to start from year 2008.

Referring to the investments in the petrochemical projects. Dr. Al-Qurtas said that the total investment will be around $3.5 billion. The projects will create more than 1,000 opportunities for direct and indirect employment. Saudi Aramco has allocated the needed amount of hydrocarbon gases for these industrial complexes. The projects are owned by NIC together with local, regional and international partners. The other major affiliate of NIC which is Cristal in Yanbu is also doing well. Cristal has already doubled its capacity and it is working on further expansion.

He said that the plans were underway to expand the manufacturing capacity of some NIC affiliates like National Batteries Company (NBC). “After expansion, the NBC will be able to produce more than two million batteries per year”, said Dr. Al-Qurtas adding that the National Lead Smelting Company (Rasass) has already doubled its lead production capacity. Rasass also has had the distinction to achieve high record performance as a result of the increase in sales and improvement of production efficiency under the supervision of Anas Hafiz, Rasass executive manager, he said.

He said that Rowad National Plastic Company had also emerged as a market leader in the production of multipurpose plastic sheets. Also, the National Metal and Manufacturing and Casting Co. (Maadaniah) increased its capital to finance expansion of its production facilities. Dr. Al-Qurtas said that all NIC affiliates or those substantially or partially owned by NIC have been witnessing expansion and growth.

To this end, he noted that the National Inspection & Technical Testing Company (FAHSS), National Packaging Products Company, National Operation and Industrialization Company (Khadamat) are performing well, while operating to in full capacities. “The National Environmental Preservation Co. (Beeah) is also expanding its capacity in terms of incineration and chemical treatment”, said Dr. Al-Qurtas.

Referring to the government efforts to help investors to promote the industrial drive of the Kingdom, he said that Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) was working to simplify investment laws and regulations in order to attract domestic and foreign capital. “Moreover, foreign investment in Saudi Arabia is bound to grow in near future following the country’s accession to the WTO”, said Dr. Al-Qurtas.

He said that NIC was an example of a joint stock company, which was established to allow smaller investors to participate in various economic ventures.

Founded in 1985, NIC is dedicated to industrial investments in fields that complement the activities of larger established private and public operations. “NIC mission is to provide investment opportunities for Saudi citizens, facilitate the transfer of technology to Saudi Arabia and the Arab world”, he said.

“From the very beginning NIC was guided by its absolute conviction that the industrialization option is the best for realizing diversification of the economic foundation and enhancing the full-scale industrial development of Saudi Arabia”, he said. Dr. Al-Qurtas pointed out that NIC has participated in 43 highly sophisticated industrial projects throughout the Kingdom. “There are still many plans and projects in the pipeline”, added Dr. Al-Qurtas.

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