JEDDAH - Malaysian companies have been urged to grab various business and investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia, the largest market in the Middle East, and in areas such as housing, education, halal industry, furniture, tourism, healthcare and franchising.
Malaysian Trade Commissioner in Jeddah Amran Yem said despite the current economic downturn, Saudi Arabia was forging ahead with development efforts.
“Many countries in the Gulf region are reportedly postponing projects and activities but this is generally not the case for Saudi Arabia,” he told reporters ahead of the Malaysia Services Exhibition (MSE) 2009 at the Dubai Airport Expo which opened in Dubai on Tuesday.
Amran said Saudi Arabia held Malaysia in high esteem for its know-how and Malaysian firms should leverage on competency and good work ethics.
He said Saudi businessmen had invited Malaysian partners to set up a furniture factory in Jeddah to cater to the growing number of hotels and offices as well as residences.
“They are willing to provide the land and build the factory, with the Malaysian side bringing in the machinery,” he said, describing the initiative as an opportunity not to be missed by Malaysian businessmen.
Another area worth exploring is housing, he added.
“They (Saudis) stay with their families and this contributes to Saudi Arabia having one of the highest household densities in the world,” he said, adding that reports suggested that the country would need up to three million homes within the next few years.
The trade commissioner said the Saudis were also focusing on the tourism sector, with several related projects coming up in places like Jeddah and Taif.
“In this regard, they welcome ideas and investments from Malaysia as well as expertise in hospitality and tourism management,” said Amran.
He said there was huge potential in the halal industry in Saudi Arabia where Malaysia could not only export more products to the Kingdom but also collaborate with relevant authorities there to further improve certification procedures and processes.
In education, he said Malaysian education providers could eye opportunities in fields such as vocational training, accounting, finance and hotel management.
Further avenues for business were present in Saudi Arabia’s health sector where demand had outstripped supply, Amran further said.
The trade commissioner said total trade between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia reached $3.3 billion in 2008, with petroleum being Saudi Arabia’s major export.
Malaysia’s exports to the Kingdom stood at $1.1 billion last year, with iron and non-alloy steel topping the list.
The three-day MSE 2009 is organized by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), which has brought in over 200 Malaysian service providers representing 13 business clusters.
Among them are construction, franchising, ICT, oil and gas, engineering and financial services. - Agencies