Member states of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which enjoy better conditions for manufacturing and, in turn, have great potential for job creation, are heading for a “manufacturing renaissance,” said Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA). Al-Othman expressed optimism on manufacturing sector’s growth and said the “great manufacturing renaissance isn’t limited to one continent.”
“The GCC countries enjoy promising conditions, and in some respects better, for tremendous job creation and long-term manufacturing growth than we’re seeing in other places,” SAGIA governor, said in his keynote remarks at the Second Middle East Process Engineering Conference (MEPEC 2013) in Bahrain.
The MEPEC was organized by the Saudi section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Al-Othman’s speech focused on the progressively growing manufacturing sector of the Gulf bloc. In fact, the GCC’s manufacturing sector grew at a faster rate, a phenomenon that is pushing a growing number of existing companies and new investors to take advantage of Gulf’s business-friendly environment despite global financial crisis at the moment.
Referring to the growth of manufacturing sector, the SAGIA chief said: “The GCC countries offer an unparalleled, reliable supply of gas and liquid feedstock.” They provide unbeatable competitive advantages in location and logistics for exports to Europe, Asia and Africa, while domestic GCC consumer demand is also booming, he added.
Neither the Western Hemisphere nor any other region can match the “investor-friendly business and regulatory environment in Saudi Arabia,” which comprises more than half of the GCC’s population and GDP, said Al-Othman. He said Saudi Arabia ranks among the top three most favorable tax environments as per the World Bank and …rewards for investors who improve the local supply chain are tremendous.
Calling on engineers and technocrats to be innovative in the field of process engineering, he said: “The process engineering fosters an interdisciplinary mindset. This poises and challenges you — each of you — to be innovators and leaders in the coming GCC manufacturing boom. “We’re projecting the private sector contribution to petrochemicals development in Saudi Arabia to quadruple over the next decade.”
According to the Kingdom’s strategic plans and the participation of private investors, value parks for the conversion industry are being developed at the massive new integrated refining and petrochemical plants. “And every million dollars invested in the conversion industry creates 30 jobs — a much higher rate than many other industries,” he observed.
The growth in manufacturing sector is also evident from the statistical reports released by the Saudi government agencies on the occasion of Saudi national day this year. According to a Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) report, the total number of industrial loans approved by the SIDF has reached 3,566 worth over SR107 billion so far. Similar trends in terms of manufacturing and industrial loans have been noticed in other GCC countries.
This is in addition to several manufacturing projects facilitated by SAGIA as a state-owned apex regulatory and licensing authority. The MEPEC conference provided exchange of experiences among process engineers to address the growing needs of the oil, gas and petrochemical industries. Speakers and attendees included representatives of major international and regional companies as well as a number of universities.

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