STREAMLINED PROCESSES

Saudi Arabia 2018-19 | INDUSTRY & DEFENSE | INTERVIEW

MODON's industrial cities are looking toward the future to provide more innovative and advanced services.

Khalid Mohammed Al Salem

How have your operations advanced in recent years?

MODON is going through a transformation of the approach of supporting the industry here. In the earlier stage, our focus was on covering the country with industrial cities and using the fund to develop as much as we can. We are now moving to more innovative and advanced services in our existing industrial cities, towards smart cities. Following the new government direction, we are now partnering with the private sector to boost the economy. MODON is not just a developer of industrial infrastructure; rather, we are an all-round service provider and industry enabler to empower clean industries with innovative new ideas for the industrial investors. We have been constructing ready-built factories since 2012 and have launched programs to attract entrepreneurs, SMEs, and more women to develop their businesses in our cities. SMEs require different services and we develop the desired ecosystem in dialog with them. For women, we encourage investees to develop by providing them with the necessary amenities, including daycare facilities for children, to be more attractive and comfortable. Currently, there are more than 7,000 women working in the industrial cities. Furthermore, we are working on improving the productivity of our industry partners with programs sponsored by the Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources.

How do you utilize technology and digitalization to attract companies to your industrial cities?

We are now streamlining and automating the processes within our organization to provide more efficient services to improve the ease of doing business for our partners in order to enhance their contribution to Vision 2030 goals in terms of enabling and developing the industry in Saudi Arabia. Currently, operational licenses for companies that want to settle in our cities can be provided within 24 hours. For land allocation licensing, we have established a 10-day timeframe, which reflects our ambition to target a new type of investments—SMEs cannot wait for months to start their businesses. As part of this transformation, we are empowering the management of the industrial cities, allowing them to deal with most issues on their own. Once our transformation is complete, all licensing, land allocation, and environmental certification can be done in one electronic platform with easy access for investors.

Can you tell us more about incentives, packages, and infrastructural development for activities in the more remotely located cities?

Every region has its own potential for economic development and employment opportunities, and we want to convey that message. We are currently reviewing our pricing policy to make it more promising and attractive for investors. For the regions, we want to encourage particularly start-ups and SMEs and are working in collaboration with the SME Authority to build incubator centers. We have already constructed one in Dammam, under the Prince Sultan Fund. For other regions, we are coordinating with the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) for the provision of loans up to 75%. There is now better alignment between different government authorities, as there is one vision and one objective. In addition, we are studying the unique value propositions of the regions to tailor our approach to their path of industrial development, which we do in partnership with industrial committees via the chamber of commerce. Our cities in the south and north, for example, have a strong agricultural environment, and we can accelerate food-processing industries there. Another example is logistics, which will work well in our coastal areas, and we are working in closer coordination with the Ministry of Transport to execute our master plan. Also in logistics, we see a large role for the private sector, and we strive for partnerships with them. We already have such projects in Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam and want to now extend these areas closer to the country's borders, for example ARAR city. As trade has resumed with Iraq, there are many opportunities ahead.