• First investment of its kind in Saudi Arabia, representing landmark deal in opening up Saudi education sector to foreign investment
• Agreement signed on the sidelines of FII between GEMS Education and Hassana Investment Company
• Network of schools will provide places for up to 130,000 students and employment opportunities for 16,000 people
Riyadh, 24th October – In a major step forward towards opening up its education sector for foreign investment, Saudi Arabia has announced an ambitious partnership between GEMS MENASA International Education Group and Hassana Investment Company, the Saudi asset management arm of the General Organization for Social Insurance “GOSI”. The program is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia and aims to develop a network of schools across the kingdom.
Suliman Abdulrahman Al-Gwaiz, GOSI Governor and Saad Al-Fadhli, Hassana CEO, together with Sunny Varkey, GEMS Founding Chairman and Dino Varkey, GEMS Group CEO, signed the MOU on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative (FII).
The partnership will target investments of up to USD $800 million over the next decade. At capacity, the network of schools will provide places for up to 130,000 students and employment opportunities for 16,000 people, of which approximately 40 percent will be Saudi citizens. The partners intend to develop the network by acquiring and upgrading existing schools alongside implementing a sizable construction program of new schools.
This announcement comes against the backdrop of advancing economic reforms in the Kingdom. This year Saudi Arabia achieved its best progress in the WEF Global Competitiveness index since 2012, moving to 39 of 140 economies. In addition, the World Bank ranked Saudi Arabia 2nd amongst the G20 countries in implementing economic reform. Opening the education sector for this scale of investment will ensure this progress continues at pace.
The Kingdom’s investment attraction and promotion strategy has accelerated under the banner of “INVEST SAUDI”, a new initiative launched as part of the National Transformation Plan (NTP). INVEST SAUDI aims to identify, develop and market the significant opportunities that Saudi Arabia has to offer for international, regional and local investors, across all sectors.
At the launch of the partnership, GEMS CEO Majed Al Mutairi said, “GEMS Education, which is among the world’s oldest and largest K-12 private education providers, is a strong supporter of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The Vision’s focus on opening up public service sectors such as education highlights a commitment to developing human capital and allowing the private sector to enable long-term positive change for Saudi citizens.
He went on to say, “The education sector, acknowledged as a major catalyst for change, will help create a new generation of Saudi citizens with a global perspective that is strongly rooted in the Kingdom’s culture. GEMS Education, founded 60 years ago, can significantly contribute to this journey by leveraging its strong regional presence, cultural awareness and international reach.”
Saad Al-Fadhli, CEO of Hassana, set out the rationale for the program: “This partnership is driven by our view that the education market in Saudi Arabia is one of the most attractive growth markets over the long-term. Benefiting from Hassana’s role as a long-term, financial and strategic institutional investor and GEMS’ international expertise, both partners expect to create a strong, innovative and successful education platform in Saudi Arabia.”
The GEMS Hassana education program will play a key role in delivering the goals of the Saudi National Character Enrichment Program, with a strong emphasis on national identity, global citizenship, individual development and personal enrichment.
The Kingdom’s investment attraction and promotion strategy is accelerating under the INVEST SAUDI initiative, in line with the objectives of Vision 2030. It seeks to support and build awareness of the significant opportunities that Saudi Arabia offers to international, regional and local investors, led by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) in collaboration with partners across government. Under INVEST SAUDI, FDI growth in the first half of 2018 expanded 90 percent versus same period last year, with the number of licenses nearly doubling by end of the third quarter.