First online "Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum"

December 2020

On December 16, JETRO jointly held the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum online for the first time with Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA); the Saudi-Japan Vision Office in Riyadh; and the Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East (JCCME). Presentations were made by ranking officials from both governments and executives from companies and were watched by more than 570 people.

The Saudi Arabian side, primarily on MISA, took advantage of the opportunity to promote the improvement of the business environment aimed at drawing companies to establish regional headquarters, possible business cooperation and investment in the fields of tourism and innovation, under the strategic partnership framework between the two countries "Saudi-Japan Vision 2030." Fourteen new memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and the Tokyo Office of MISA, which opened this year, were also introduced.

"Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum"open the modaal window

the viewing time:2 hour and 10 minutes

Ministers of both countries reconfirm importance of partnership

At the beginning of the forum, with the understanding that Saudi Arabia's reform centering on departure from dependence on oil and industrial diversification has grown more important under the coronavirus crisis, Japanese Economic Minister KAJIYAMA Hiroshi stated that Japan will advocate the reform from both sides of the public and private sectors, and that the stance is unwavering. MISA Minister Khalid Al-Falih emphasized anew that Japan has been an important partner for his country over a long period of time, and stated that fields of tourism, entertainment and startups will be drivers of economic growth and innovation after the corona crisis is over.

Saudi Arabia invites Japanese companies to establish regional headquarters

In the first presentation, the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority (ECZA) introduced the initiative of drawing international companies to establish regional headquarters in the country through improving Special Economic Zones and providing incentives such as preferential tax treatment. The Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC) gave an explanation on the attractiveness of the city as a location for regional headquarters and the investment environment.

Business possibilities in tourism

In the first panel session, "tourism" was chosen as the theme. The Saudi Ministry of Tourism explained that tourism is one pillar of "Vision 2030," which has three objectives in order to aim to become one of the top five tourist destinations in the world: 1) drawing 100 million tourists to the country, 2) making tourism further contribute to GDP, and 3) creating one million jobs through tourism. He also announced the policy to promote the developments of hotels and airports. Saudi Arabia's Tourism Development Fund presented that it can support tourism projects through facilitating financial cooperation between banks and private companies in order to promote investment. In addition, from the Japanese side, the startup ALE presented on the fact that it can contribute to the promotion of tourism in Saudi Arabia with its technology that generates artificial meteors.

Expectation for cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Japan in digital field urged by Covid-19 crisis

In the second panel session under the theme "Innovation Startups," a representative of a leading startup research company active in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), MAGNiTT, presented that investment into Saudi Arabia through venture capital (VC) has been rapidly growing over the last five years, primarily in fields such as e-commerce, fintech and logistics. A VC firm, STV, and an investment firm, Riyad Capital, stated that encouraging overseas tech companies, including from Japan, to enter the country and having them grow in Saudi Arabia's ecosystems is important because the needs for the digital field are being accelerated by the crisis. From the Japanese side, presentations were delivered by representatives of Jafco Group, a well-established VC firm; Abdul Latif Jameel General Trading Co., Ltd., a Japanese corporation of ALJ, a major Saudi group that invests in the healthcare field in cooperation with Jafco Group; and Abies Ventures, a deeptech fund. They expressed their great expectations for the expanded business potential of Japanese startups in the MENA region through collaboration with Saudi companies, and that the technologies of Japanese companies can be leveraged in fields including urban development and environment, while challenges still remain, such as in obtaining licenses.

Introduction of 14 MOUs

At the end of the forum, 14 newly signed MOUs in various fields which that symbolize the deepening of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Japan were introduced online as well.

Welcoming remarks by MISA Minister Khalid Al-Falih

Keynote speech by Economic Minister KAJIYAMA Hiroshi

Presentation by ECZA Vice Secretary General Wassim I. Khashoggi

Presentation by ALE Founder & CEO OKAJIMA Rena

Presentation by President Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, Middle East Africa and Turkey at Hilton

Presentation by Bader Alherbish, Head of Strategy and Partnerships from Tourism Development Fund

Presentation by Jafco, Director MIYOSHI Keisuke

Presentation by Leader UEDA Shinya, Leader of the Health Care Division of ALJ

Presentation by Abies Ventures Executive Partner, NAGANO Sota

Presentation by STV Partner, Ahmad Alnaimi

MOU exchange ceremony

Outline of forum

Date and time Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 16:00 - 18:00
Organizers Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI); Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA); Saudi-Japan Vision Office in Riyadh; Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East (JCCME); Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)
  1. Welcoming remarks
    Dr. Sara Al-Thari, Business Development Advisor, Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia
  2. Welcoming remarks
    Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Investment of Saudi Arabia
  3. Keynote speech
    KAJIYAMA Hiroshi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
  4. Business session
    (Saudi Arabia New Economic Zones for Regional HQs)
    Hosam Al-Qurashi, Advicer, Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC)PDF file(7.4MB)
    Wassim I. Khashoggi, Vice Secretary General, Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority (ECZA)
  5. Session 1: Tourism
    Introduction video (policy for tourism industry)
    Saudi Tourism Authority
  6. Panel Discussion 1
    Majed Al-Ghanim, Tourism & Quality of Life Managing Director, MISA
    1. Haitham Mattar, Chief Commercial officer, Saudi Tourism Authority (STA)
    2. Hammad AlBalawi, General Manager of tourism Investment, Ministry of Tourism
    3. Bader Alherbish, Head of Strategy and Partnerships, Tourism Development Fund
    4. Dr. OKAJIMA Lena, Founder & CEO, ALE Co. Ltd (Japanese company panelist)PDF file(4.3MB)
    5. Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, President Middle East Africa and Turkey from Hilton
  7. Session 2: Innovation
    Keynote Speech 2 (briefing of startup ecosystems in the Middle East)
    Philip Bahoshy, CEO, MAGNiTT
  8. Panel Discussion 2
    Dr. Mazin AlZaidi, Director, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Segment, MISA
    1. Ahmad Alnaimi, Partner, STV
    2. Qusai Al-saif, Senior Portfolio Manager, Riyad Capital
    3. MIYOSHI Keisuke, Director, Jafco
    4. UEDA Shinya, Leader of Health Care Division, ALJPDF file(2.0MB)
    5. NAGANO Sota, Executive Partner, Abies VenturesPDF file(1.1MB)
  9. Ceremony session
    Announcement of MOUs and photo session
  10. Closing remarks
    Mohammed AlDahlawi, Japan office Representative, MISA