The Business Year

The country's dominant holding groups are not merely attuned to the rapid succession of economic and policy-oriented transformations sweeping the country; they are often leading them.

Ugo Vincenzini

CEO, Khalifa Algosaibi Investment CJSC

If I were a young Saudi entrepreneur entering the market, I would look at the simple operations in the supply chain and start from there; I would not start big. Today, everything is needed. Sometimes it is easy to say one wants to go into something big, such as oil and gas, renewable energy, or infrastructure construction. However, one also needs to look at the more day-to-day opportunities. Is anyone producing a great pair of shoes in the Kingdom? As a young entrepreneur, I would not necessarily look at the big league opportunities. There is business for everyone. Young people have to work, and we have to move away from a subsidized system into one where young people understand work is a personal duty as well as a social need, and provide them with the proper tools to express their capability. Though from our side, we have to improve the work environment. We have to motivate and incentivize people through a better HR management system that matches talent with the country’s economic needs. With Vision 2030 and the oil crisis, we are rethinking our entire business model.

Hasan S. Al Jabri

CEO, SEDCO Holding

The market is changing in different ways. Many companies are looking at how their future fits in with Vision 2030, and whether or not they are aligned with its aims. We are no exception; we aim to align SEDCO Holding with Vision 2030. In our case, we looked at Vision 2030, our business, areas of growth, and expectations. There are fantastic initiatives across the board, and we found we were well aligned in many areas. For example, we are in the hotel business mainly in Mecca and Medina. We are well focused on the Hajj and Umrah market, and as these numbers grow, we are all set to do more. Furthermore, the country is gearing up for tourism. We are already operating the Elaf Hotel in Jeddah and just opened Galleria Hotel on Tahlia Street. Focused on car leasing, we recently signed with the German company Sixt, which gives us a strong strategic position. Our restaurant business is thriving and includes the Applebee’s franchise, Ocean Basket, and others. Our fourth focus is capital markets.

Dr. Saleh Malaikah

Chairman, Dr. Saleh Malaikah

The Rusd Group was established in 2002, and we were the main founder of the Salama Group, which is listed on the Dubai Financial Market. We are also the founder of Jeddah International College and the major shareholder of Taajeer, the first company to provide financial leasing in Saudi Arabia. We are a diversified group of companies operating in areas including finance, education, transport, real estate, and tourism and hospitality. We are one of the larger-sized groups operating in Mecca in the hospitality sector. As for the country’s overall appeal, Saudi Arabia is part of the G20, and its GDP and GDP per capita are extremely attractive. There is a population of roughly 32 million, with about 20.5 million young Saudis. This young demographic has developed certain consumption habits in eating, entertainment, and fashion that drive the economy in a significant way. Saudi Arabia is being transformed from a conservative and closed culture to an open and progressive one. This creates many opportunities in entertainment, food, education, and health.

Ihsan A. Bafakih


We consider foreign investment as opportunities, not as a necessity or trend we need to follow. Saudi Arabia already has many opportunities, and we certainly tend to make our investments domestically. Our teams maintain this focus, though if opportunities arise and we expect high returns, we invest abroad. For example, we collaborate with Khazanah Nasional, a Malaysian state investment fund. Around 60% of the company’s investments are in the GCC. Everyone that comes to Saudi Arabia with the objective of finding a sophisticated investor or partner will eventually run into MASIC, especially given our leadership through conferences like the Future Investment Initiative (FII) or our MASIC forum. Openness to foreign investors entering the country, stronger regulations, and tackling corruption have all made the Kingdom extremely attractive. Our portfolio is indeed diversified, ranging from progressive real estate and hospitality investments in Mecca to a shrimp farm in Jeddah, a logistics company providing housing and accommodation for laborers, third-party model factories, and so on.



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