The Saudi Arabian government has announced the planned privatization of over 20 areas of the country's economy.
These include: railways, telecommunications, hospitals, water and sewage, civil aviation, desalination, hotels, postal services, highway construction and maintenance, and municipality services. The government also announced plans to sell minority stakes in several government companies including Saudi Electricity Company, Saudi Telecommunications Company, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, Saudi Arabian Minerals Company (Ma'aden) and local petroleum refineries.
A significant corollary to these privatizations is the undertaking of the Saudi Arabian Railways Organization to work with the private sector to construct a 950-kilometer railway from Riyadh to Jeddah on a build-operate-transfer basis. Studies conducted by the Saudi Arabian government demonstrate the economic feasibility of this project. Once completed, the railway will be connected to the existing railway between Dammam and Riyadh, linking the three largest cities in Saudi Arabia by rail. Another railway between Jeddah and Islam's holy cities of Mecca and Medina is also being studied.
Stephen Matthews and Nabil Issa
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