From November 7-9, the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY), with the support of the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council (USSABC), traveled to Chicago to meet with U.S. businessmen engaged in the packaging and downstream chemical business who are interested in exploring investment potential in the Saudi market.
The RCJY delegation was led by H.E. Eng. Zaidan Yousef, Director General, Strategic Planning and Investment Development, Royal Commission at Yanbu. The RCJY team was also joined by Eng. Taha Al-Shareef, Commercial Attaché at the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. The Saudi delegation met with U.S. companies at the PACK Expo International, the world’s largest packaging and processing trade exhibition, and held other meetings with downstream chemical companies in the Chicago area.
The U.S. companies showed keen interest in better understanding the business opportunities being created by Vision 2030 and how the plan is affecting the pace and direction of industrial development in Saudi Arabia. Eng. Yousef explained how Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program have established an ambitious national roadmap that is intended to bring not only greater diversification to Saudi industry but greater efficiency and sustainability as well.
Eng. Yousef presented the planned expansions for Jubail and Yanbu as well as Ras Al Khair and Jizan, cities also under the umbrella of the Royal Commission. Citing the location of the RCJY properties on both the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coasts with intermodal links across the Arabian Peninsula connecting all the cities, he said the RCJY industrial cities are geographically well-positioned to conveniently feed markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In addition to opportunities in downstream petrochemicals and packaging, Eng. Yousef said the Royal Commission is also targeting industrial spare parts, rubber, automotive components and medical supplies for investment development.
One of the companies visited, Nalco Company, has two installations in Saudi Arabia and is considering further expansion. Nalco voiced support for the “Saudization” process to place more Saudi youth in private sector jobs but noted the challenge in finding sufficient numbers of well-qualified and experienced Saudi personnel to fill required technical and scientific positions. Eng. Yousef explained that the more than 100,000 Saudi students in the U.S. create a deep pool of talent for U.S. companies operating in the Kingdom to draw from. He suggested U.S. companies recruit Saudi students for internships, train them in the U.S., and then hire them full-time for their operations in Saudi Arabia. He added that both Jubail and Yanbu have technical colleges within the cities where student education and training can be customized to meet the needs of investing U.S. firms. The government has also invested heavily in technical and vocational training colleges institutes, he said. “Job creation for Saudi youth and preparing young Saudi men and women to effectively fill those jobs across science, technology and business fields is a top priority for the Saudi government,” he said.
Edward Burton, USSABC President and CEO, who moderated a meeting of the RCJY team and U.S. executives, said this is a unique time of opportunity for U.S. companies in the Saudi market as Vision 2030 sets clear targets for industrial and commercial development in many sectors where Americans have a decided competitive advantage.