King Salman also issued royal orders setting up state bodies to promote culture and protect the environment, and appointed a cleric known for moderate views to lead the Islamic affairs portfolio at a time when the deeply conservative Muslim country is easing social restrictions and promoting entertainment.

Private sector businessman Ahmed bin Suleiman al-Rajhi was named minister of labor and social development, according to the royal orders published on state media.

Getting hundreds of thousands of unemployed Saudis into the workforce is a major challenge for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MbS, who oversees economic policy for the world’s top oil exporter, where unemployment stands at 12.8 percent.

The kingdom, which has struggled for years to create jobs for its nationals, aims to create 1.2 million jobs by 2022 to reduce unemployment to 9 percent, a senior labor ministry official has told Reuters.

The selection of Rajhi, who chairs the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and is the scion of an Islamic banker billionaire, follows a broader trend of tapping the private sector to fill top government posts, including the housing, water and agriculture ministers, and a senior defense official.

Last year sources told Reuters that Rajhi was among a delegation of 10 businessmen representing the private sector who met MbS to discuss how the sector had been hit by austerity measures designed to cut the budget deficit and rising fees for employing foreigners, which are encouraging an exodus of expats.

“Some of the labor ministry’s programs have been taken in isolation from the private sector which adversely affected their effectiveness,” said prominent Saudi economist Fadl Alboainain.

Economists said Rajhi, the third minister to hold the labor portfolio since 2015, is expected to create a more friendly business environment, enhance public-private sector communication and help support small and medium enterprises.

“This is the best news we have heard over the past few years, we are very optimistic,” said one Saudi businessman of Rajhi’s appointment, speaking on condition of anonymity.


King Salman also appointed Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Al-Sheikh, a cleric known for his moderate views, as minister of Islamic affairs, call and guidance.

Al-Sheikh – who once headed the kingdom’s religious police, whose powers were curbed two years ago – has previously voiced support for female employment and gender mixing.

MbS has promised to promote a more moderate form of Islam under efforts to modernize the kingdom, the birthplace of Islam, including the recent lifting of a ban on cinemas and the lifting later this month of a ban on women driving.

The royal orders also set up a Ministry of Culture, extracting it from the information ministry, as part of a move to capture more Saudi leisure spending at home.

Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, who was appointed in April to the board of a newly-established General Culture Authority, was named culture minister.

Prince Bader, 33, has risen quickly within the government and already holds several top positions, including governor of a royal commission tasked with developing a historic tourism destination in the country’s north.

The Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which is closely linked to King Salman’s branch of the royal family, announced his resignation as chairman hours after his new appointment.

King Salman also ordered royal commissions for the environment and the holy city of Mecca, and an administration for preserving historical areas in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Maps tweeted by state media showed that six nature reserves established by the orders – “to reestablish wildlife, enhance their development and promote eco-tourism” – covered some 265,000 square kilometers (65 million acres) of territory.

One of the sites is named for the king and another, located between the proposed NEOM business zone and a Red Sea tourism project, for the crown prince.

The royal orders named several new deputies in the ministries of interior, telecommunications, transport and energy, industry and minerals, and appointed new heads to the royal commission for Jubail and Yanbu and the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.

“This article was first posted on on 02 June,2018: The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum.”


JEDDAH – Women have an integral role in building the tourism sector in Makkah as current developmental activity has opened up plenty of opportunities to enhance the rich tourism experience in the province, stated industry experts at a workshop organized by the Makkah Economic Forum in Jeddah.

The discussions at the workshop have much relevance in view of the significance of tourism in realizing the Saudi Vision 2030 and driving economic growth in the Kingdom. It is expected that the tourism sector will create 1.2 million jobs in the country by 2030.

Maryam Al-Harbi, a female tourist guide, said, “The position of tourist guide was one of the professions prohibited for women before the launch of Vision 2030. But now in the changed situation, an increasing number of women are coming forward to join the sector and apply for a tourist guide license.”

Calling upon Saudi women to contribute to the efforts to revive the tourism sector, Al-Harbi pointed out that currently the ratio of women investors in the sector is still a modest 15 percent. Expressing optimism that this figure will improve, she said women need to be entrusted with senior roles to enhance their contribution to the sector.

Al-Harbi called for more women participation considering the massive shortage of human resources in the sector. She urged universities to set up tourism schools to fill the gap of professional expertise, and commended Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University for announcing plans to open a tourist guide school.

Maria Mahdaly, co-founder of Rumman Company, stressed the importance of increasing public awareness on domestic tourism and the opportunities the sector provides for women. She called for women empowerment through tourism institutes, and urged women to tap into the opportunities available in the sector.

The second workshop highlighted the importance of setting boundaries in interaction with others in work environment.

Dr. Majed Ashy, a psychology consultant, described the common traits of personal boundaries, listing them in three categories: Rigid, Porous and Healthy. Studies show that people with rigid boundaries have negative impact on themselves because they build boundaries between themselves and others, creating isolation. Describing porous boundaries as a combination of rigid and healthy, Dr. Ashy said it is advisable to maintain healthy boundaries because it contributes to building healthy relationships.

Dr. Salma Al-Mofti, psychology consultant, drew attention to the rampant issue of workplace bullying, and explained that it can take place in emotional form as well. She also spoke about bullying in schools and its long-term negative impact on children. The best treatment in instances of bullying is for the victim to muster up strength, find his or her weaknesses and then face the bully, she said.

Dr. Rola Ashour, psychotherapist and founder of Act Center for Psychology Consultation, explained that some people harass others by sending explicit content online or using expressions with improper intentions.

Citing global statistics, she said France has the lowest number of such cases while the US has the highest.

She said the best way to contain harassment at the workplace is by changing the work environment and enforcing strict rules and penalties on violators.

The workshops were held as part of a series of activities lined up by the Makkah Economic Forum across the entire year to involve the private sector as an active partner in the region’s development programs and help realize the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030. — SG

“This article was first posted on on 09 June,2018: The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum.”

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project will offer visas on arrival for overseas visitors following the creation of a company to deliver the ambitious project.

The project marked a milestone on Sunday with its incorporation as a standalone closed joint-stock company, The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), wholly owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

The company, which in October announced Virgin Group founder Richard Branson as one of its board members, on Sunday said it had recruited John Pagano, the former managing director of development for the UK’s Canary Wharf Group as its chief executive.

The newly-incorporated company will now move forward with the creation of its Special Economic Zone, with its own regulatory framework, it said in a statement.

The framework will be separate from the base economy, with a special emphasis on environmental sustainability, and will offering visa on entry, relaxed social norms, and improved business regulations.

“The destination will provide a unique sense of place for visitors and offer nature lovers, adventurers, cultural explorers and guests looking to escape and rejuvenate, a wide range of exclusive experiences, combining luxury, tranquillity, adventure and beautiful landscapes,” said Pagano.

The first phase of The Red Sea Project — which will occupy an area greater than the size of Belgium between the cities of Al-Wajh and Umluj — will include hotels and residential units, along with a new costal town, an airport and a marina, and is due for completion by late 2022, the company said.

Authorities hope the project will create as many as 35,000 jobs and contribute SR15 billion ($3.99 billion) to the local economy.

The project, unveiled last July by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is one of the key developments in Saudi Arabia’s strategy to develop its tourism sector, alongside Qiddiya, an entertainment resort near Riyadh that will be two-and-a-half times the size of Disney World.

The country’s Vision 2030 economic development plan is targeting the creation of 1.2 million new jobs in the Saudi tourism sector by 2030.

“This article was first posted on on 07 June,2018: The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum.”

WorleyParsons has been awarded a General Engineering Service (GES) contract by Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Co. Ltd (YASREF) to help optimise the production of its facilities.

WorleyParsons will offer all engineering and consultancy services for the refinery, which includes feasibility studies, basic/concept studies, detailed engineering, procurement and construction support, and pre-commissioning/commissioning assistance. The services will be provided from Yanbu office with the support from Dammam team.

YASREF operates a full-conversion refinery that covers approximately 5.2 million m2 in the Yanbu Industrial City. It is the key anchor project in Yanbu.

YASREF uses 400 000 bpd of Arabian heavy crude oil to produce premium transportation fuels, as well as high-value refined products for both international and domestic markets. It became operational in September 2014.

“We have been working with YASREF the last couple of years under a short form contract. During this period, we provided high-quality services and earned client trust. We are looking forward to supporting YASREF in optimising the production of its facilities” said Shaun Mills, Manager of Projects at WorleyParsons Saudi Arabia.

“This article was first posted on on 22 May,2018: The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum.”


DUBAI, May (Reuters) – Saudi Aramco said on Sunday it has awarded Halliburton a contract for unconventional gas stimulation services.

The contract will “further improve the economics of Saudi Aramco’s unconventional resources programme”, Aramco said in a statement.

“The new agreement will provide lump sum turnkey stimulation services which include major hydraulic fracturing and well intervention operations,” Aramco said.

Saudi Aramco’s unconventional resources programme covers three areas of Saudi Arabia: North Arabia, South Ghawar and Jafurah/Rub’ al-Khali. (Reporting by Rania El Gamal Editing by Alison Williams)

“This article was first posted on on 27 May,2018: The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum.”