Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia, with the last census in 2010 indicating a population of around 5.1 million.1 It is the seat of the Kingdom’s legislative and governing bodies. The city alone contributes around 23% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP, at around S$198 billion in 2016.2
KPMG, Microsoft, Oracle, Saudi Aramco, Siemens, and several other major corporations are headquartered in Riyadh. Enterprise Singapore operates an overseas centre in the city, to support businesses expanding into Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), is headquartered in Riyadh. This clustering of key businesses and regulatory bodies is advantageous to new businesses, which will find convenient proximity by operating in Riyadh.
Qiddiya, a planned entertainment city, is located just around 40 km from Riyadh. This will house a planned Six Flags amusement park, sports facilities, and safari park. This is part of the ongoing Saudi Vision 2030 plan to raise entertainment industry contributions from 2.9% to 6% of GDP.3
Other highlights in Qiddiya include desert and asphalt tracks for motorsports, water and snow-based recreation, and various historical, cultural, and educational events. This will be accompanied by retail businesses, cafes, restaurants, and related hospitality industries4. This can provide numerous opportunities for Singapore businesses to find a foothold.
Qiddiya is expected to be the world’s largest entertainment city by 2030, with a total area of 334 km2 (around three times the size of Walt Disney World in Florida). This will also contribute to real estate development in the area, offering 11,000 new homes by 2030. These residences will target buyers who want second properties in Qiddiya as vacation homes5, and Singapore real estate developers should take note.
King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) is also situated in Riyadh, and serves around 40 major airlines. This makes transport to and from the city easier for foreign businesses.
1 World Population Review 2018
2 “Riyadh city review”, Euromonitor International, July 2017
3 “Saudi Arabia to launch huge entertainment city project”, Variety, 26 April 2018
4 Qiddiya to create a self-sustaining ecosystem, Saudi Gazette, 23 September 2018
5 Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya, built for fun, also means business, Arab News, 29 April 2018
Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, after the capital of Riyadh, with a population of over four million in 2017.6 Jeddah is the commercial capital of the Kingdom, and is best known as the gateway to Islam’s two holy cities: Mecca and Medina.
For several centuries, Jeddah has been a landing point for Muslims on pilgrimage. Besides religious and regular tourism, some of Saudi Arabia’s largest companies such as the Saudi Binladin Group and Saudia are headquartered in Jeddah.
Jeddah Islamic Port (JIP) is the largest port on the Red Sea, as well as the largest port in Saudi Arabia. The JIP Red Sea Gateway – a shipping terminal opened in 2009 – is a logistical hub that serves many of the multinational shipping lines operating in the Kingdom. As of 2015, JIP operated 58 terminals,7 and it was ranked as the 37th busiest port in the world in 2017.8
Jeddah offers numerous business and investment opportunities in the ongoing Jeddah Downtown project. The approximately S$6.8 billion initiative includes a Red Sea resort project, centres for business and innovation, hotels, retail spaces, and improvements to the maritime infrastructure serving Mecca.9
Singapore businesses in Jeddah have a twofold advantage – besides proximity to leading companies and financial services, they can potentially find demand for their services in Jeddah’s entertainment and lifestyle drive.
6 World Population Review, 2018
7 “The logistical demands of Jeddah's growing metropolitan area bring fresh opportunities to Saudi Arabia”, Oxford Business Group, 2016
8 “One Hundred Ports, 2017”, Lloyd’s List
9 “$5bn ‘Jeddah Downtown’ project at heart of Red Sea regeneration”, Arab News, 23 October 2017