Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund, has set up a new company to boost local and international investments in the kingdom’s Aseer region and help it become a global tourist destination.
As part of the initiative, Aseer Investment Company will launch new opportunities for local and international investors in tourism and hospitality, health and sports, education, food, and other sectors to develop the Aseer region and attract more tourists, state-run Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
The company will also forge new partnerships with the private sector and focus on creating job opportunities for the local community.
“Aseer Investment Company aims to become a leading investment company by creating wide and diversified investment opportunities … highlighting the region's nature and rich culture, preserving its ancient heritage and history, and transforming the region into a global tourist destination that attracts visitors from around the world, in line with the objectives of the Kingdom's Vision 2030,” Raid Ismail, head of direct investments for the Middle East and North Africa at PIF, said.
The new move comes as the Arab world’s largest economy continues to boost investments in a number of sectors to diversify its economy away from oil.
Earlier this week, Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven), a wholly owned unit of the PIF announced that it is planning to invest 50 billion Saudi riyals ($13.3 billion) to develop 21 integrated entertainment destinations in 14 cities across the kingdom.
The kingdom is also developing a $500 billion futuristic city named Neom, comprising a nature reserve, coral reefs and heritage sites on several islands along the Red Sea, Qiddiya, a huge entertainment and sports project in Riyadh as well as a mega-tourism project on Saudi Arabia’s west coast.
Saudi Arabia seeks to raise the economic contribution of the tourism sector from 3 per cent of the gross domestic product to 10 per cent by 2030.
PIF, which invests on behalf of the government in domestic and international markets, is mandated to pump $40 billion to $50 billion into the local economy to generate jobs and boost the non-oil economic base of the kingdom.
The fund, chaired by Prince Mohammed, has stakes in global companies including ride-hailing company Uber and is a cornerstone investor in SoftBank’s vision fund that invests in global technology companies. It currently has assets of $620 billion and plans to boost it to $2 trillion by 2030.
In October, the PIF said it plans to invest 90 billion riyals in the broader Middle East and North Africa region to expand its portfolio of assets and boost regional economies.
It is setting up five investment companies after the launch of the Saudi Egyptian Investment Company in August as part of the expansion plans.