The 6th Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit, which is the first edition of the event held in Saudi Arabia, took place in Riyadh this week in partnership with Invest Saudi.
Speakers presented Saudi, regional and international perspectives into the industry's future challenges and discussed the trends shaping retail opportunities and consumer behavior in Saudi Arabia
During the meeting, which started here yesterday, Saudi Arabia demonstrated the power of reform and the opportunities and trends available in the Kingdom’s retail sector. As a strong testament to the growth of the domestic retail industry, Invest Saudi was a Strategic Partner of the event, which brought more than 1,500 global business leaders and retail sector executives together to explore some of the key power shifts disrupting the retail landscape and driving its transformation in the MENA region.
The RLC Summit's wide-ranging program aimed to equip delegates with the perspectives needed to respond to the challenges in today's ever-evolving retail landscape. A diverse roster of speakers presented Saudi, regional and international perspectives into the industry's future challenges, and showed how public-private partnerships are vital to the continued development of retail and wider national economic growth.
Ibrahim Al Omar, Governor of SAGIA said: "Hosting the Retail Leaders Circle Summit comes at a time of great change for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's growing economy and domestic market is unlocking remarkable potential across many sectors and creating jobs within the Kingdom, including within the retail sector, which is helping to drive economic transformation in line with Vision 2030. Through this special edition of the RLC MENA Summit, the first edition of the event held in the Kingdom, Invest Saudi is showcasing to global retailers, brand owners and suppliers that the Kingdom's domestic market offers the diverse and lucrative intellectual, financial and social capital they need to succeed."
Topics such as changing consumer behavior and start-ups to the latest digital innovations and retail as a job creation engine came under the microscope. Speakers also discussed the trends and consumer behavior shaping retail opportunities in Saudi Arabia and shared their experiences of the transformation of the national business environment.
Alongside this rich program, the Summit emphasized the remarkable advancements taking place in Saudi Arabia's domestic retail sector and showcased the opportunities it presents to foreign investors.
In line with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is working to create a more competitive and open economy as the Kingdom unlocks untapped potential across many emerging economic sectors, works to attract foreign investors, and create jobs. The Kingdom has already implemented more than half of 400 key reforms identified, including allowing 100 percent foreign ownership across several priority sectors, including retail.
Speaking about the impact of the reforms, Al-Omar said: "We have seen remarkable growth in our domestic retail sector in Saudi Arabia, just as we have seen remarkable growth in the number of new international companies across many industries setting up operations in the Kingdom. In 2019, SAGIA issued more than 100 foreign investment licenses to firms in the retail sector — 50 percent more than the year before. The monumental success of the Retail Leaders Circle MENA Summit emphasizes this incredible growth, delivers the message that the Kingdom is open for business, and showcases that there is no better time than now to invest in Saudi Arabia."
SAGIA announced recently in its latest Investment Highlights report that 2019 marked a record year for foreign investment in Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,100 new international companies establishing operations in the Kingdom in 2019 – 54% more than in 2018 and three times more than in 2017. It was also revealed that in the first nine months of 2019, FDI in Saudi Arabia grew 10% compared to the previous year.
This growth reflected the strong momentum generated by a broad series of economic reforms which saw the Kingdom ranked the world’s top improver and reformer by the World Bank, climbing 30 places in the World Bank's Doing Business 2020 report – more than any other country. According to the 2019 Global Retail Development Index, Saudi Arabia is also ranked as the 7th leading country in the retail industry on a global scale.
About SAGIA: The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) works in collaboration with other government entities to attract, retain and expand high-value investments for the benefit of sustainable national economic growth.
SAGIA works across the public and private sectors to help businesses and investors access fast-emerging opportunities across Saudi Arabia. It identifies and develops investment opportunities and supports regulatory improvements to increase competitiveness, unleash the capabilities of promising economic sectors, and open new opportunities for foreign investments.
SAGIA It supports businesses throughout the investment journey: from identifying opportunities, to conducting feasibility studies and connecting with potential partners, to setting-up operations.
SAGIA has a particular focus on nine priority sectors identified within Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030: chemicals, information & technology, energy & water, industrial & manufacturing, mining & metals, healthcare & life sciences, transport & logistics, tourism, culture & entertainment, and emerging sectors.