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Building ambitions at speed: The time is now for Saudi Arabia

Author Jonty Summers
Published 04 Mar 2024
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We advise high-profile international companies and organisations on a range of communications issues in complicated commercial and regulatory environments.

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Saudi Arabia is a country in a hurry. It’s the fastest moving country on earth right now.

Last year its government awarded $95bn of new project tenders and, with infrastructure that needs to get built for major events like the Asian Winter Games, Riyadh Expo and the FIFA World Cup, it’s not hard to see that that figure is likely to continue increasing.

Hanover has today opened  an office in the Kingdom. Numbers wise, the attraction to international business will be obvious. It’s the most significant growth market in the Middle East and, at $2.2 trillion, the world’s 18th largest economy. While oil has historically been the country’s economic headline, by the standards of the region, Saudi has a highly diversified economy with large private sector.

But the real story is that the country is undertaking a significant, long-term national transformation programme which touches every aspect of society.  Its Vision 2030 is ambitious, and full of variety in its programming and investment focus: billions of dollars are being invested in a spectrum of ventures from tourism to industrials to sports.

We have seen tera-investments in domestic infrastructure and tourism; country and industry-wide initiatives for job creation (over 65% of the population are under 35); a significant programme of female empowerment in the workplace (the only country in the world where a woman sits at the head of the stock exchange); investment in high-performance programmes in domestic sport and in international sponsorships.

Outsiders are often unaware of the cultural revolution that is taking place in Saudi Arabia. In 2015, playing music in public was banned.  Nine years later, cultural activities abound. There has been a huge entertainment push, including a planned $38bn of investments in esports and large investments, directly and in the form of rebates, to the film industry.

In an article in Vanity Fair last month film star Johnny Depp said: “I was somewhat naive at first to what was transpiring in the region, I’ve since experienced firsthand the cultural revolution that is happening there—from emerging young storytellers radiating fresh ideas and works of art to a blossoming film infrastructure and a newfound curiosity for innovation.”

Set foot in Riyadh or Jeddah these days and the positive vibes are undeniable. Speak to any Saudi and you’ll find a welcome that is warm and enthusiastic as they share culture and traditions and their hopes for the future. They want to get there quickly.

Talk to us

Jonty Summers

Managing Director jsummers@hanovercomms.com
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