x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 December 2017

Saudi Arabia appoints new transport minister as part of kingdom's economic overhaul

The kingdom is seeking to incoporate the private sector in transport projects

Jeddah’s new King Abdul Aziz International Airport will begin operations in the second half of next year under the management of Singapore-based Changi Airports International. KARIM SAHIB/AFP
Jeddah’s new King Abdul Aziz International Airport will begin operations in the second half of next year under the management of Singapore-based Changi Airports International. KARIM SAHIB/AFP

Saudi Arabia appointed a new transport minister as the kingdom undertakes massive privatization plans to help wean the kingdom off oil income and diversify its economy.

Nabil Al-Amoudi will replace Sulaiman Al-Hamdan as transport minister, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a decree by King Salman.

The kingdom is overhauling its transport sector as part of Vision 2030 that seeks to incorporate greater private sector participation in the economy. Last month's decision to lift the driving ban on women drivers is also expected to transform the transport sector and fuel economic activity.

In line with these plans, Saudi Arabia plans to transfer ownership of its airports to the sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, a senior official at the country’s General Authority of Civil Aviation said in August.

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Read more:

Saudi airports transferred to PIF ahead of privatisation

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers

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A company will be created for each airport under the Saudi Civil Aviation Holding, a firm that will be spun off the authority, which will continue to regulate the sector. The holding company will be owned by the fund in the future, the official said, without giving a timeline.

The transport ministry already is partnering with the private sector to build or operate airports.

Jeddah’s new King Abdul Aziz International Airport will begin operations in the second half of next year under the management of Singapore-based Changi Airports International for a period of 20-year period.

The kingdom is also expanding its ports and railways.

Saudi Arabia plans to seek bidders for the construction of a 1,600-kilometer railroad linking the Red Sea with the Arabian Gulf at the end of this year, Saudi Railway Company chief executive Bashar Al Malik told Bloomberg last month.

Saudi Arabia has earmarked 52.16 billion riyals for infrastructure and transport projects in the 2017 fiscal year, up from 39 per cent from actual expenditures for the sector in the previous fiscal year.