China-based Huawei, a leading global ICT solutions provider, has received a commercial licence to invest in Saudi Arabia and establish a centre of innovation.
The licence was issued even as Prince Muhammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Crown Prince and chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, is on a visit to China.
The licence, issued by Dr Majid Al-Qasabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment, was received by Pang Jimin, director of Huawei Global Government Affairs. It allows the company to start its business in the kingdom with a 100 percent ownership privilege.
After submitting a comprehensive action plan to the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia) that includes several initiatives to contribute to the localisation of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in the kingdom, the new licence will allow the company to sell its products directly in the Saudi market.
This is the first commercial licence in the field of ICT in the kingdom and it is also the first commercial license in Saudi Arabia to a Chinese company, a Huawei statement said.
Dr Al-Qasabi explained that granting the licence to Huawei was based on the regulations and conditions approved by the Council of Ministers to licence foreign companies to invest in the wholesale and retail trade sectors with a 100 percent ownership.
The minister also reiterated his keenness to attract qualitative investments in the promising sectors and stimulate international companies in the target sectors to invest and guarantee all the necessary facilities to them.
Ramadan Ding, CEO of Huawei Tech Investment Company in Saudi Arabia, stated: "Huawei is proud to be in the market of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 1999, where we have launched the latest technological innovations, in addition to our support to young talents by investing to improve their skills through establishing a technology centre. We look forward to future achievements and transforming ideas into reality using our latest innovations and the confidence of our customers in order to support the Kingdom's vision 2030".
Ding said Huawei will immediately start implementing all the requirements and regulations according to the action plan submitted to Sagia.
The plan stipulates that Huawei will:
• Establish an exhibition showcasing innovations, arrange an annual and quarterly competition in the kingdom to encourage young talents to innovate;
• In order to make this exhibition a platform for innovations, foster small and medium companies, establish a centre for ICT competencies which aims to train 4,500 of the qualified professionals in the ICT sector in the coming three years;
• Including 900 Saudi people in the field of ICT, as part of the social responsibility activities of the company to improve the Saudi competencies in ICT; and
• Build a showroom for retail sales, in addition to three service centres.
Huawei will focus on building effective partnerships with local distributors and enhancing local content through its purchases from the local market at SR300 million in the coming five years. In addition, the company will focus on maintaining and promoting its alliances with leading telecommunication companies, as well as investing heavily in the creative brands and local marketing activities.
A delegate from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment visited Huawei's centre for research and development in Beijing. The delegation expressed their appreciation to the company for expanding its investments in the kingdom and its decision to establish a centre for innovation.
They also maintained that the kingdom's Vision 2030 focuses on the importance of promoting creativity and innovation in the universities, up-skilling graduates for the job market and training the Saudi students, either through laboratories in universities or through its new centre.
The size of the ICT market in the kingdom is estimated to be around SR135 billion with a growth rate of 3.8 per cent per annum. Saudi Arabia is considered to be one of the largest consumer markets for Huawei in the Middle East.
The company currently has more than 1,000 employees in the kingdom.