RIYADH: GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
Published — Wednesday 22 October 2014
Last update 21 October 2014 10:56 pm
Saudi Arabia is working to stimulate and encourage investment in the Qassim Region, which will be connected by a regional railway network to be built at a cost of SR12 billion. This will be part of the north-south railway line, which is estimated to cover about 2,400 km, in addition to the side shunting tracks, yards, maintenance points, stations and administrative buildings.
A report released by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), under the supervision of SAGIA Gov. Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, stated that several other secondary railroads will be constructed as part of the project, including the line, which will serve Al-Jalameed phosphate mines in the north-west region of the Kingdom. The report comes with the framework of its strategy toward stimulating and encouraging investment in all the 13 regions of the Kingdom.
The report said that Qassim region, located in the center of Saudi Arabia, is suitable for cultivation of all types of agriculture crops. “The region has a great importance as it is situated between the major regions of the Kingdom, with which it is linked by a sophisticated network of important highways,” said the report, adding that the Qassim Region is about 70,000 sq km, representing about 3.1 percent of the total area of the Kingdom.
According to the estimated figures of the Riyadh-based Central Department of Statistics & Information, the total population of the region exceeds 1.37 million people, representing about 4.45 percent of the total Kingdom’s population. The number of Saudi population in the region is estimated at 1.03 million against 343,000 expatriates from different countries.
Referring to the mining potential of Qassim, the report stated that the mining and quarrying sector in Qassim is an important sector, which can contribute to the exploitation of natural resources in the region.
There are many specialized companies and corporations, which are involved in the exploitation of raw materials such as limestone gypsum, ceramic raw materials, and other natural raw materials.
But, the report added, the development of Qassim Region requires the provision of more basic infrastructure facilities and services in addition to the improvement of the production base, which is based primarily on the potentials of the region. The region also needs a local strategy that encourages investments, noted the report.
Referring to the economic indicators for the Qassim Region, the report added that the gross domestic product (GDP) of Qassim amounted to about SR67.5 billion in 2012, representing 2.5 percent of the GDP of the Kingdom.
The construction sector ranks first in terms of contribution to the output of the Qassim Region by 21.5 percent, followed by transport and communications sector, 12.2 percent, and agriculture sector by eight percent.
The report said Qassim region has great potential for investment. It identified several investment opportunities, including dairy farm and factory, plant for flat glass and glass products, housing project, establishment of a factory for household ceramic appliances, cooling and storage deposits, a construction company and establishment of plants for production of concrete pads.
The region offers opportunities in small and medium sector. The report calls on investors to establish plants for food products (canned and processed vegetables and fruits), establish a medical center, set up fodder units from wheat straw, establish medical laboratories (in every city of the region), agriculture machinery and equipment maintenance units as well as bottled water factory.