The Business Year

Ghassan Ahmed Al Sulaiman

Governor, the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority & Advisor for the Ministry of Commerce and Investment

We are currently working on the National SME Strategy, a master plan that maps out what all players need to undertake to enable the SME sector. As part of the National SME Strategy, we will outline strategies for specific sectors in cooperation with the government agencies that are responsible for those sectors. We are working with the MoH for an SME health strategy, for example. Beyond SMEs, part of our mandate is to set up the venture capital sector in Saudi Arabia, which we are working on. An important enabler of that is the Fund of Funds, a SAR4 billion (USD1.1 billion) fund that is a co-investment mechanism to place a certain percentage into funds that are of national relevance for Saudi Arabia, which we are doing to enable the venture capital sector. We are also responsible for restructuring a number of existing government programs. The legal environment is another of our key tasks; we want it to enable SMEs to thrive and enable startups to flourish. There are many pockets that we need to worry about, the most important relating to the ecosystem. There are five areas of thrust for us there, including legal and government processes, funding and closing the gaps in funding, and access to market, which is basically the ability of companies with offerings to find a market for their goods.

Saad Abo Moati

Chairman, Abdullah Saad Abo Moati Co.

We started around 25 years ago doing stationary retail. We started with small shops and then opened other branches until we had 10 branches for retail, all in Riyadh. Then we sought to enter into wholesale. Retail is different than wholesale and once we had enough time, experience, and money, we decided to focus on wholesale as it was growing faster. We started increasing the number of branches in wholesale and reducing those in retail. Every month we would close one in retail and open a new wholesale one in another city, such as Jeddah. In the end, just 10% of our business was retail. We started to go to China to find suppliers and get wholesalers to do business with us. As we are a retail business from a small area in Riyadh, we do not have to go to different places to get our things; we bring all of those in one showroom. Also, not all the products are ours; we buy from other wholesale dealers. In that way, retailers can get 90-95% of the things they need from one same showroom. That has made us grow quickly, and we had a thriving business and customers and thus became a public joint stock company. Before that, we merged with Muhammad Rashed Alduwish Company, our competitor, and became a closed joint stock company in 2008.

Ibrahim O. Al Amoudi

CEO, Ibrahim O. Al Amoudi

Al Wafa is a family business established by my father 40 years ago. At that time, we used to have only car spare parts, batteries, and other similar products. Then by time, the company starts getting bigger and expanded more and more. We also had a chicken farm with capacity of 300,000 chicks. In addition, we owned a jewelry business in Khobar and a home appliances business in Dammam. Our main business now is government supplies, particularly in the defense sector. We are utilizing our 40 years of experience in supplying different military sectors. The company used to sell military uniforms and special equipment. The defense sector has since became one of our main business lines. Subsequently, we started looking for business opportunities in Turkey. In the last six months, we found many defense suppliers eager to work with Saudi Arabia. I am happy that we have clear targets outlined in Vision 2030 and that the government is keen to work it out. For example, in the defense sector, the government seeks within five years to have 50% of government expenditures be localized. We are working to adapt with this strategy by expanding our range of military products and services.

Hisham Al Bahkali

President & CEO, GE Saudi Arabia & Bahrain

GE has been in the country a long time, and we have done something different from an investment point of view, from tapping oil resources and helping different regions gain access to electricity, supporting aviation and the air force, to improving the healthcare system and, finally, establishing an advanced manufacturing and innovation ecosystem. In 2012, GE launched what we referred to as Project Kingdom, which was a commitment to invest USD1 billion to support the economy by successfully undertaking localization projects in human capability development, manufacturing, and innovation. When Saudi Vision 2030 was announced, we had been working on various investment initiatives for a few months and GE was the first company to support the vision by making a number of large announcements about a month later. At GE, we work with stakeholders to make sure that all the vision’s areas are supported.

Sherif Majeed

CEO, Jotun

We came to Saudi Arabia more than 30 years ago and started by opening a factory in Yanbu in the royal commission area, producing three segments of paint. We then moved from the royal commission area to other factories in Jeddah and then to Dammam and Riyadh. We have offices and warehouses all around the country. We have more than 500 employees on the production line. Our Saudization level is between 40 and 45% in the company, and we are committed to it. Part of the company vision includes involving the local community in our business. We believe in long-term hires and investment in the local community. We started the educational part a long time ago, even before the government started the Saudization program. We involved university students and gave interior design opportunities in our activities developing candidates for the future. In Saudi Arabia, we have three major factories: Dammam, Jeddah, and Yanbu. We have around seven distribution warehouses and more than 500 distribution channels and staff everywhere.



You may also be interested in...

Thamer Aldhafiri, CEO of Cipher

SAUDI ARABIA - Telecoms & IT

Thamer Aldhafiri


CEO, Cipher


SAUDI ARABIA - Telecoms & IT

Hamad Alenizi


Group CEO, Faden Media Group



Mohammed A. F. Al Kraidees


Executive Board Member, Al Jazirah Vehicles Agencies

View All interviews