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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Opportunities galore in the region’s two biggest economies

Siemens is among the multinational firms looking to benefit from economic diversification programmes in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have seen their fair share of turbulence since the oil price slumped from mid-2014 levels of over $110 per barrel. Both countries are still heavily dependent — the UAE less so than Saudi Arabia — on the sale of hydrocarbons, but both are fully cognisant of the need to diversify their revenue lines.

Both countries have vigorously pursued economic reform agendas, especially opening up their economies to foreign investments. The UAE began pursuing this objective even before oil prices began to fall in late-2014, and is considered the most diversified economy in the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Arabia's journey began more recently, but the country has set very aggressive targets for the levels of foreign direct investment it wants to attract, particularly into its industrial and technology sectors.

The reform agenda in Saudi Arabia has well and truly moved from being a theoretical concept and on to the implementation stage. This was apparent for the world to see in October, when Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, senior ministers and government officials hosted the world's top executives, policymakers and global business leaders for three days in Riyadh to explore potential partnerships and future investments.

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The UAE’s 2050 Energy Plan - which envisions a 70 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions - and Saudi Arabia’s ambitious $500 billion Neom city project - overlooking the Red Sea and spanning the borders of three countries - are just two examples of what awaits financial, technology and industrial multinational companies in both countries.

Germany's Siemens is already eyeing a role in the development of Neom, and is preparing to partner up with Riyadh to help the kingdom achieve its goal of economic diversification.

The company's chief executive Joe Kaeser has lauded Saudi Arabia's crown prince for the "giant scale" of the country’s economic overhaul, stating that such a visionary approach hasn’t been seen anywhere else in the world.

Siemens is looking to do its part to help make Neom a reality, with solutions for affordable, reliable and sustainable power, alongside an efficient transportation network, water and wastewater management solutions, and sustainable and energy-efficient buildings.

The company has been present in the Middle East and is keen to partner with both the UAE and Saudi Arabia for opportunities that arise out of their economic diversification drives. . Like its competitors, it will be hoping for an early-mover advantage.

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