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Talks About Investment In Saudi Arabia Being Held By Apple And Amazon: Reuters

Talks About Investment In Saudi Arabia Being Held By Apple And Amazon: Reuters
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has bene trying to transform the conservative society a high-tech look and for this purpose licensing discussions between Apple and Amazon with Riyadh on investing in the kingdom are ongoing, reported international news agency Reuters, citing two sources.
The report further quoted a third source who reportedly confirmed that talks between Apple and SAGIA, Saudi Arabia’s foreign investment authority is ongoing.
There is no direct presence of both the tech giants in Saudi Arabia even though they have been selling their products there via third parties.
Amazon is holding discussions for setting up cloud computing centers there and the talks are being led by Amazon Web Services (AWS). At present, small local companies like STC and Mobily dominate that market in Saudi Arabia and Amazon’s entry would provide a stiff competition to them.
In the kingdom that is very dependent on oil for its revenues, curbs on foreign ownership of firms had dissuaded investors from entering the market even as the country has been loosening its regulations in the last two years to remove regulatory hindrances to foreign investments. The authorities have been attempting to diversify their revenue generation capabilities in the kingdom ever since the drastic fall in the global crude prices.    
The Saudi Arabia market already has some of the highest internet and smartphone penetration rates in the world and direct investment of the companies - Apple and Amazon, lured by the market and government patronage, would uplift the profile of the companies in the market as well as boost the reform plans of Prince Mohammed.
Nearly three fourth of the population in Saudi Arabia is under the age of 30 and heavy users of social media.
The news report quoted two sources confirming that Apple and SAGIA could enter into a licensing agreement by February and 2019 is the anticipated time when the first retail store would be opened up.
Sources said that no date has been set for investments by Amazon because the talks are in early stages.
According to market researcher Euromonitor, Apple is the second largest smart phone company in the Saudi mobile phone market behind Samsung.
Earlier in 2017, Dubai-based online retailer was acquired by Amazon which granted access to the U.S. company for selling of its retail goods in the local market.
There were no comments available from none of the companies.
In the last two years, Saudi officials have been luring Silicon Valley players to complement their high-tech ambitions even as calls for foreign investments in all sectors have been given by the Saudi reform plans.
“Many tech multinationals now in Saudi Arabia are either vendors to the Saudi government or, in the case of Uber, have benefited from a sizable Saudi investment,” said Sam Blatteis, who heads Dubai-based tech advisory MENA Catalysts Inc.
“Amazon entering the Saudi market would be a step-change.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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