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AFP revealed a rush of foreign companies to open regional headquarters in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
AFP reported a wave of ribbon-cutting ceremonies sweeping the Saudi capital, as multinational companies face a January deadline to open a regional headquarters in the Kingdom or lose government contracts.
The agency pointed out that despite complaints from some executives about the continued lack of clarity regarding the main details of the Saudi program, the January 1 deadline still stands, as the Saudi Ministry of Investment told AFP in a written response to questions.
The ministry confirmed that “multinational companies that are part of the regional headquarters program will be in a good position to submit bids for projects funded by the Saudi government.”
The ministry said that so far, 162 licenses have been granted for regional headquarters in sectors including pharmaceuticals, information technology and construction, “with many other sectors being addressed.”
Analysts say the big question is whether the participating companies are merely checking a box to retain access to Saudi funds or are sincerely embracing the government’s vision of Saudi Arabia as the center of the region.
For his part, Christian Ulrichsen, a fellow at the Baker Institute at Rice University, said that the program is “an early test of the extent to which foreign companies are willing or able to comply with and participate in Saudi initiatives, or whether they will seek mere alternative solutions.”