The Benefits of Doing Business in Saudi Arabia: An 800 Billion Riyal Clean-Tech Opportunity

With an open and robust economy and a fast-growing population, it makes a lot of sense to do business in Saudi Arabia, especially in sectors such as clean tech.

Saudi Arabia is a G20 economy—one of the 20 major economies in the world. Its economy accounts for a quarter of the Middle East’s entire gross domestic product.

The Kingdom is a source of regional stability and has a young and technology-savvy population. Other advantages include an abundance of natural resources, numerous incentives for foreign companies establishing themselves in the country and a business environment that allows for 100 percent foreign ownership in most sectors.

Saudi Arabia also has an efficient and flexible labor market and a potential consumer base in the country and nearby regions of more than 250 million. A number of countries already have preferential access to Saudi Arabia’s market, including countries from the Greater Arab Free Trade Area, Singapore and the European Free Trade Association.

Sectors of Interest

By promoting a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, KAUST is helping to transform knowledge-based industries in Saudi Arabia, especially in the renewable energy and water technology sectors.

I recently participated in the Saudi Water and Electricity Forum. It was highlighted that over 800 billion Saudi riyals (approximately US$213.1 billion) will be invested in the water and power sectors over the next 10 years to meet the rapidly growing demand for energy and water in Saudi Arabia.

This provides a tremendous opportunity for businesses, large and small, to showcase and market their game-changing technologies to meet and reduce this demand through viable clean-tech solutions.

The truth is, this huge level of investment in additional capacity is not environmentally or financially sustainable long term. In other words, it is an ideal time for local and international entrepreneurs to provide innovative technologies that could significantly change consumption patterns in the Kingdom.

Collaborating with KAUST

KAUST is helping to promote clean tech innovation through its amazing facilities that are helping partners and researchers develop and commercialize their ideas from the lab to the marketplace, including waste-to-fuel clean energy technologies and salt-resistant crop testing.

The University also provides a variety of funding and other options to support startups at various steps of their growth.

These efforts are starting to pay off. In December 2015, six KAUST startups, including one from clean tech, were highlighted at the Forbes Middle East event highlighting ‘Entrepreneurs Shaping Saudi Arabia’s Future 2015.’

If you are an existing clean-tech company, you can collaborate with KAUST by joining its industry collaboration program (includes companies from a variety of sectors) and get access to a range of benefits including pilot testing facilities, help with market access, advanced education and training programs, a seat on the KAUST Industry Advisory Board (KIAB), access to KAUST students and project cooperation.