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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Gulf countries have the potential to more than double their gross domestic product to $13 trillion by 2050 by adopting a green growth strategy, according to a recent study.
A report from Century International Holdings Ltd, presented at the 2023 World Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi, showed the combined GDP of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries has already exceeded the $2 trillion mark.
Should these nations adopt a green growth strategy, the report suggests that this figure could more than double from a projected $6 trillion.
This economic potential of the Gulf countries has yet to be fully reflected in the global foreign direct investment rankings, as published annually in the World Investment Reports by the UN Conference on Trade and Development.
According to the UNCTAD report, the total FDI inflow into the GCC region experienced a 17.91 percent decline to $37.12 billion in 2022. Nevertheless, the region demonstrated robust growth in overall investment, with FDI inflow more than doubling in six years, surging from $15.52 billion in 2017 to $37.12 billion in 2022.
FDI flows into Saudi Arabia saw a 59 percent decrease to $7.9 billion, although cross-border merger and acquisition sales remained high. Among the most significant transactions was the $16 billion acquisition of a 49 percent stake in Aramco Gas Pipelines Co. by an investor group from China, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and the US.
Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul-listed ACWA Power has been the top investor from the Kingdom in renewable power projects among developing nations, boasting 53 projects. Following closely was Jeddah-based Abdul Latif Jameel.
Issam Abou Sleiman, the regional director of the World Bank in the MENA region, observed the GCC’s rapid transition toward a low-carbon economy, driven by high oil and gas prices, greater energy security concerns, and a growing focus on renewable energy opportunities.
Habiba Al-Marashi, co-founder and chairperson of the Emirates Environmental Group and board member of the global investors for Sustainable Development Alliance, emphasized the critical role of comprehensive economic research, exemplified by the Gulf Investment Report 2023, in tracking and understanding the region’s growth and development.
In 2022, the UAE led the region for FDI, accounting for 61.24 percent of the total inflow into the GCC. It also secured the fourth global ranking in greenfield investment projects, recording 997 such projects so far this year, according to the World Investment Report 2023.
Al-Marashi underscored the UAE’s significant investments in clean and green energy, along with environmental sustainability, which reflects its leadership role in these essential areas.
Across the GCC, countries have been actively revising their investment policies to attract foreign investors.
Saudi Arabia introduced its inaugural Special Integrated Logistics Zone, offering investors – including those with 100 percent foreign ownership – a 50-year tax holiday and value added tax benefits for servicing and assembly operations.
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