Saudi Arabia to spend $27 bln on industrial strategy

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Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post and a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents, provoking widespread revulsion and damaging the kingdom's image.

Saudi Arabia's government plans to spend 100 billion riyals ($27 billion) in 2019 and 2020 as part of a new industrial strategy aimed at weaning the kingdom off oil income, creating jobs, and attracting as much as 1.6 trillion riyals in investment by 2030.

"We will have a huge contribution from the private sector outside the kingdom, but we will leave the bigger share for the Saudi private sector", al-Falih said. The kingdom's infrastructure - from roads to water supply - was ranked 40th among 140 nations in the World Economic Forum's latest Global Competitiveness Report.

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The tournament has attracted a star-studded field despite the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a year ago in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey focusing further attention on the country's human rights record. "We are watching developments there and there could be an impact on the oil market balance", Falih said.

It came as King Salman announced his country's expenditures will hit a record-high in 2019, even as declining oil prices force the kingdom to adopt austerity measures. Benchmark Brent has gained 12% this year.

"The room for fiscal spending is actually quite limited", Jaap Meijer, head of research at Arqaam Capital Ltd., said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

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Saudi Arabia on Monday launched an ambitious programme which it hopes will attract Dollars 427 billion in investments in the industrial and logistics sectors, as the OPEC kingpin bids to reduce dependence on oil. The kingdom plans to restructure its power industry by separating ownership of power plants from the high-voltage lines used for transmission across the country and from the connections to homes and offices. For example, the country has long planned to reform its electricity industry.

Saudi Arabia missed out on gaining full FATF membership in September after it was determined to fall short in combatting both money laundering and terror financing, Reuters said.

For his part, Transport Minister Nabeel al-Amudi said Saudi Arabia expects to build some 2,000 km (1,250 miles) of new railways and start 60 new infrastructure projects, including five airports.

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