Addressing the Eighth Conference of Arab Businessmen and Investors in Tunis today, Minister of Commerce Osama Faqih highlighted the Kingdom's concern for joint Arab operations, pointing out that Saudi Arabia was one of the first Arab states to sign the unified agreement on capital investment. The Saudi contribution to the capital of Arab investment companies amounts to U.S. $ 853 million; this is in addition to Saudi investments, which exceed $1.2 billion in Egypt, and are around $0.5 billion in Tunisia.
Minister Faqih stressed the Kingdom's desire to attract foreign investment, believing this of benefit in transferring technology, increasing efficiency, and developing national manpower, while broadening the productive base and diversifying income sources. Moreover, it enables the private sector to positively contribute to the acceleration of economic development. The Saudi economy, he said, is strong, and capable of adapting itself to any crisis, noting that the 1998 Gross National Product (GNP) was about $146 billion, with the private sector contribution at 40.1 percent, up from 34 percent in 1997. By the end of 1998, the volume of investment in non-oil industries was $85.3 billion, with Saudi-foreign joint ventures constituting over 30 percent.