RABIGH: Saudi Arabia’s robust and stable economy is attracting multinational investors despite global concerns over widening euro zone debt crisis.
In a sign of growing confidence in the Kingdom’s economic stability, Mars Incorporated, a global food giant with annual sales exceeding $30 billion, announced on Wednesday SR225 million ($60 million) initial investment to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh, about 130 km north of Jeddah.
This adds weight to this week’s announcement of over SR21 billion six mega industrial expansion projects at the Jubail Industrial City by the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu.
Mars has become the first multinational food company to invest in the prestigious economic city. Pamela Mars laid the foundation stone of the new factory in the presence of a large number of VIPs and dignitaries.
“It is a dream to come true,” she said. Mars has had three decades of excellent ties with Saudi Arabia. “We are taking this relationship to a new level by building this factory inside the Kingdom and making a life-time commitment,” she said.
“Our organization is 100 years old and is based on the five principles of quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom,” she said. “And all the principles are equally important to the way we run our business.”
The facility will begin operations in 2014. It will produce the highly popular Galaxy and Galaxy Jewels assorted chocolates.
The KAEC factory will be one of the largest chocolate factories in the Gulf. Mars Saudi Arabia has made an initial investment of SR225 million ($60 million). An additional investment of SR562 million ($150 million) is planned over the next decade. The facility will initially employ 60 associates. Another 300-400 associates will be join the team once the factory is fully operational.
Sami Darouni, regional president, Middle East, Turkey & Africa of Mars Incorporated, said the new factory will create many long-term job opportunities for Saudis. “We will focus on tapping young Saudi talent,” he said. “Developing and nurturing Saudi talent is a priority for Mars, and we are going to invest in the Kingdom’s talented people by offering them training and internship.”
He also promised to partner with local educational establishments and create opportunities for Saudi women in such fields as marketing, sales, finance, engineering, as well as research and development.
Darouni said the company is excited at the prospect of investing more in Saudi Arabia. “We will create new opportunities for Saudi nationals and support community-based programs as we have done in other parts of the GCC,” he said. “Mars will integrate all these opportunities by running healthy living and nutrition campaigns, environmental initiatives and partnerships with local educational establishments.”
Mohamed Safieddine, general manager at Mars Saudi Arabia, said: “Mars has been operating in Saudi Arabia for the last 30 years and has contributed to the national economy through the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs.”
Sherif Hafez, project leader of Mars Saudi Arabia, said the KAEC facility will be built to LEED green building standards; it is an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. It provides building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance.
Fahd Al-Rasheed, managing director and CEO of KAEC, was delighted. “This is further proof of the fact that King Abdullah Economic City has the ability to attract leading companies from across the globe … We are pleased to have Mars Incorporated establish their presence at KAEC.”
Ahmed Linjawy, president of Industry and City Services, KAEC, was also excited. “Mars is one of the largest and most respected names in the confectionery industry. Their presence is another example of why leading international manufacturers would establish their new factories at the Industrial Valley in KAEC.”
He added, “KAEC’s Industrial Valley introduces the best global standards in master planning to attract leading global and local tenants, while KAEC has thoroughly studied the needs of local players to ensure meeting their needs as well. All land plots at the Industrial Valley are fully serviced with electricity, water, sewage network, telecommunications services, paved roads and storm water drain system.”
Mars is an outstanding example of a global company, both in international manufacturing and global distribution. The company has more than 65,000 associates working in 230 sites including 135 manufacturing facilities, operating in more than 68 countries. Mars has already invested $50 million in Saudi Arabia and contributed to the creation of over 850 dedicated jobs with ATS (Arabian Trading Supplies) through long-term partnership with Mohammed Youssuf Naghi.