YOUR Highness Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, we wish to approach you with these lines in the spirit of mutual interest and love; because every investment in Saudi Arabia concerns the entire region.
Since your assumption of office, you have laid down an economic development plan for the Kingdom standing on gigantic projects whose benefits cover the entire region. Among these projects is ‘Neom City’ which is colossal in terms of space and investments — whether among smart, industrial or touristic cities. Massive as it is, the project lacks marketing such that since its approval and the beginning of works, there have been no media campaigns to promote it in Saudi Arabia, Arabian Gulf, Arab world and even the international community as if it is just ink on paper.
You announced that the volume of investment in the project is up to $500 billion. Without a doubt, it is an enormous project that the State cannot do alone. There are private companies in the Arabian Gulf and international community that should be involved in this huge responsibility; especially since the project covers 26,500 square kilometers – bigger than many Arab countries.
It covers parts of three countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. This is the reason why it deserves to have full coverage on all media platforms daily. Many other projects are less significant but they have been given better media coverage, similar to what happened in Sharm El-Sheikh a few years ago. It was featured in the global media for many years, up to the extent that it has become a major tourist and investment destination for people from all parts of the world.
Undoubtedly, Saudi Arabia does not lack marketing strategy internally and externally. The country has the ability to direct massive media arsenal to wherever its interest lies. Some years ago, it enacted laws for the Saudi economy to make a giant stride and it has yet to get the deserved media coverage. These laws include the foreign investment law, new housing law and the most significant — the financial straits law which protects both the creditors and debtors.
In the past, there was no protection for debtors so the transaction was full of risks. For instance, the creditor used to drag the elderly to prison where they could die with losses to the creditor and debtor while the doors of wealth were locked. This is because if the debtor was left struggling, he could collect the debt and continue to provide employment opportunities for the people.
This is the reason for enacting the new law with advanced amendments to protect both the creditor and debtor while changing the investment viewpoint in Saudi Arabia. It is also an opportunity for attracting entrepreneurs, but it is unfortunate that all these merely passed by without media coverage, especially foreign media.
The lack of media coverage for such kind of projects resulted in a wide gap in information and opened the door for doubters to portray Saudi Arabia in a different manner, especially in this era marked by the increasing number of opportunists keen on distorting the image of the most powerful regional economy. If this outstanding economy sneezes, the entire region catches a cold. Saudi Arabia is the locomotive that pulls the economy of 400 million Arab citizens.
Without a doubt, major projects preserve huge sums for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; in addition to new laws concerning mortgage, vertical construction and big industrial cities. They also increased immunity of the economy to a great extent.
Saudi Arabia is the largest market in the Middle East. It owns 25 percent of the entire Arab gross domestic product (GDP). It has the largest oil reserve (25 percent of the world’s oil reserve). It supplies investment projects with the cheapest energy; thereby, making the kingdom the best destination for projects with massive energy consumption.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia owns promising mining resources. Its distinguished location makes it a reachable outlet for European, Asian and African products; taking into consideration the purchasing power and continuous expansion of Saudi markets.
All this information needs smart marketing in order to attract Arab and foreign investments, and in order to reply to distortion campaigns conducted by suspicious media outlets targeting Saudi Arabia.
Your Excellency Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, as chairman of the Economic Affairs and Development Council, you are the first one who is responsible for activating the economy. Thus, it is essential to give instructions to media and public relations companies; urging them to market such tremendous projects globally and locally. For instance, the ‘Neom’ project and the touristic projects aimed at reducing a Saudis’ expenditure on tourism from 100 billion Saudi riyals per year to the lowest level; simply because a Saudi citizen will find whatever he seeks abroad inside the kingdom.
These major projects, new laws and regulations were just dreams in the past. Today, these dreams are coming true. All they need is marketing. We wish that you tie it and trust in God in order to show the real image of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and highlight its new projects and laws.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times