TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2019, KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) urges Malaysian companies in sectors such as construction, infrastructure development, building materials, tourism and various services to explore opportunities in Madinah following the government of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to boost Madinah’s presence globally.
Insights on the opportunities in the historical city, outside of the pilgrimage area, were shared with Malaysian companies at a seminar held at Menara MATRADE yesterday, titled Construction and Services Sector Opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The seminar was held in collaboration with Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA) that is currently organising a mission to Malaysia.
Among the opportunities highlighted were in the construction and infrastructure sector as well as professional services to serve Saudi Arabia’s efforts to boost tourism in Madinah. The prospects are in projects such as the development of the integrated City of Dates, Knowledge Economic Cities, townhouses, hotels, a centralised entertainment hub, a tourist resort as well as malls, water theme park and outdoor sport facilities.
Other new areas Malaysian companies can explore are in the Umrah and Hajj facilitations namely in the setting up of food factories to cater to Muslims pilgrimage, digital solutions for navigation and waste management facilities.
Presently, Malaysia’s major exports to Saudi Arabia are palm oil & palm oil-based products, electrical & electronics, processed food, machinery and equipment & parts. With more engagements with the Saudi authorities moving forward, MATRADE hopes for these export segments to expand to non-traditional sectors highlighted during the seminar.
According to Puan Sharimahton Mat Saleh, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of MATRADE, Saudi Arabia is undergoing major transformation in its effort to realise Saudi Vision 2030. In the vision, Saudi Arabia will roll out various initiatives to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. This only means there are ample opportunities for Malaysian companies to explore, beyond the traditional sectors.
“It is timely for Malaysian companies to look to Saudi Arabia particularly Madinah for opportunities.Malaysia is no stranger to the Saudi Arabia and local companies must leverage on the trust both nations have for each other. This good relationship is a strong foundation for Malaysian companies to establish business relationship with the Saudi counterparts,” Sharimahton shared.
However, before exploring the market, Malaysian companies are advised to fully equip themselves with the market knowledge and strategies to do business in Saudi Arabia. “Every market is different and requires various adjustments and enhancements and this is why it is important for them to engage with MATRADE. MATRADE has various connections with industry players and authorities in Saudi Arabia such as SAGIA. We can facilitate their linkages in the market through our office in Jeddah so they have the necessary intel for their businesses,” Sharimahton shared.
Currently, there are over 25 Malaysian companies involved in various businesses in Saudi Arabia namely in construction-related services, hotel management services, restaurant and catering services, charter services for Umrah & Hajj, power generation as well as civil engineering services.
Among the Malaysian companies that have ventured in the market are Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Malakoff Corporation Berhad, Dialog Group Berhad, Felda Global Ventures, Prasarana Integrated Management & Engineering Services Sdn Bhd, MMC Corporation Berhad and KNM Group Berhad. Others include Progressive Impact Corporation Berhad, TH Travel & Services Sdn. Bhd, AJM Planning and Urban Design Group, MTD Group, CMC Engineering Sdn Bhd and Maybank Investment Bank Berhad.
“Malaysian companies are encouraged to collaborate with each other so they can access Saudi Arabia as a consortium. They will be stronger together that way,” Sharimahton advised.
In 2018, Malaysia’s total trade with Saudi Arabia was recorded at RM21.67 billion as compared to RM14.92 billion in 2017, registering a growth of 45.2 per cent. Malaysia’s exports to Saudi Arabia were valued at RM3.77 billion while imports were recorded at RM17.90 billion in the same year. For the first three months of 2019, Malaysia’s trade with Saudi Arabia further expanded by 64.1 per cent to RM6.19 billion. Malaysia’s exports to Saudi Arabia in the same period increased by 6.6 per cent. Last year, Saudi Arabia was the 18th largest trading partner for Malaysia.