Entrepreneurship in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Raise Culture of Productivity, Says Expert

Raid Qusti & Ali Al-Zahrani

Tuesday 22 January 2008 (13 Muharram 1429)

John Chambers, chairman & CEO, Cisco Systems, 2nd right, makes a point during a session at the 2nd Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh on Monday. (AN photo by Khaled Al-Khamees).

RIYADH, 22 January 2008 — One of the world’s most famous thinkers on competitive strategy and international competitiveness, Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School emphasized yesterday the grave importance of raising the culture of productivity among Saudi nationals which would, he said, have an overall effect on the country’s ability to compete.

“There is no possibility of achieving competitiveness without raising the culture of productivity,” said Professor Porter in his keynote speech at the 2nd Global Competitiveness Forum here yesterday.

Addressing local and international businessmen — including three Saudi ministers — the founder of the modern competitiveness theory pointed out the poor productivity of the Saudi workers which, he said, was due to the lack of proper training.

He urged decision makers in the Kingdom to focus on vocational and training programs in order to better prepare future generations for global competition.

“Saudi Arabia has an important opportunity to increase its competitiveness,” he said.

Professor Porter noted the importance of raising the per capita income in Saudi Arabia through increasing the productivity of local and private institutions.

Providing support for the establishment of small and medium enterprises as well as the fair distribution of economic venues in areas of lesser growth in the country was also vital to increase competitiveness among business ventures, he noted.

Professor Porter mentioned the importance of the Saudi government entering joint ventures in non-energy sectors by giving private enterprises the chances to contribute to the overall development of the country. He suggested concerned Saudi officials become more active in bringing foreign investment to the country in all fields.

The Harvard professor lauded the Kingdom’s positive results over the years which has led it to rank 23rd in the World Bank report on countries attracting foreign investment.

Over 1,050 local, regional, and international businessmen and businesswomen registered for the three-day event organized by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

In addition, 200 journalists have arrived in the capital to cover the international event. Rarely has an international event seen three Saudi ministers sitting next to one another on one panel addressing the crowd.

The forum concludes today with a speech by Singaporean Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew who is expected to highlight his country’s experience in transforming itself from a non-productive country to an economic role model in the world.


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