DUBAI, March 17
(Bernama) — Malaysian companies have been urged to grab various
business and investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia, the largest
market in the Middle East, and in areas such as housing, education,
halal industry, furniture, tourism, healthcare and franchising.
The Malaysian trade commissioner in Jeddah, Amran Yem said despite
the current economic downturn, Saudi Arabia was forging ahead with
development efforts, having announced a budget of tens of billions of
dollars for 2009.
“Many countries in the Gulf region are reportedly postponing
projects and activities but this is generally not the case for oil-rich
Saudi Arabia,” he told reporters ahead of the Malaysia Services
Exhibition (MSE) 2009 at the Dubai Airport Expo which opens here
According to Amran, Saudi Arabia held Malaysia in high esteem for
its know-how, Malaysian firms should leverage upon competency and good
work ethics shown, and this.
Elaborating on the opportunities in Saudi Arabia, he said Saudi
businessmen had invited Malaysian partners to set up a furniture
factory in Jeddah to cater to the growing number of hotels and offices
as well as residences.
“They are willing to provide the land and build the factory, with
the Malaysian side bringing in the machinery,” he said, describing this
initiative as an opportunity not to be missed by Malaysian businessmen.
Another area worth exploring is housing, as according to Amran, between 60 to 70 percent of Saudis did not own their own homes.
“They stay with their families and this contributes to Saudi
Arabia having one of the highest household densities in the world,” he
said, adding that reports suggested that the country would need up to
three million homes within the next few years.
The trade commissioner said the Saudis were also focusing on the
tourism sector, with several related projects coming up in places like
Jeddah and Taif.
“In this regard, they welcome ideas and investments from Malaysia
as well as expertise in hospitality and tourism management,” said Amran.
He said there was huge potential in the halal industry in Saudi
Arabia where Malaysia could not only export more products to the
Kingdom but also collaborate with relevant authorities there to further
improve certification procedures and processes.
In education, he said Malaysian education providers could eye
opportunities in fields such as vocational training, accounting,
finance and hotel management.
Further avenues for business were present in Saudi Arabia’s health
sector where demand had outstripped supply, according to Amran.
The trade commissioner said total trade between Malaysia and Saudi
Arabia hit US$3.3 billion in 2008, with petroleum being Saudi Arabia’s
Malaysia’s exports to the Kingdom stood at US$1.1 billion last year, with iron and non-alloy steel topping the list.
Meanwhile, the three-day MSE 2009 is being organised by the
Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), which has
brought in over 200 Malaysian service providers representing 13
business clusters. Among them are construction, franchising, ICT, oil
and gas, engineering and financial services. — BERNAMA