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Saudi Crown Prince unveils strategy for Northern Borders

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pictured at the Formula E race in Diriyah, announced the plan on Monday Saudi Press Agency/Handout via Reuters
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pictured at the Formula E race in Diriyah, announced the plan on Monday

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has unveiled a plan to drive economic expansion in Saudi’s Northern Borders region.

The strategic office for the Northern Borders, announced on Monday, aims to increase development across the region, which is an emerging metals and chemicals hub, and take advantage of its location next to Jordan and Iraq.

The organisation will launch initiatives and projects that “contribute to creating an attractive investment environment”, said the state-run Saudi Press Agency, with a view to creating employment opportunities that boost the kingdom’s sustainable development goals. 

It will also be tasked with coordinating government efforts to make best use of the region’s natural resources in the region.

Supported by a reliable rail and road network, the Northern Borders is key to bringing metals and chemical products to national and international markets. 

The region has large phosphate reserves and is home to two high-production-capacity industrial cities. One of these is Wa’ad Al Shamal, the kingdom’s biggest phosphate and chemical production site. 

The office is the latest move in the government strategy to support economic growth in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy and top crude oil exporter, is forecast to grow 3.4 percent this year and 3.1 percent in 2024, according to economists polled by Reuters. They predict that it will slightly outperform the Middle East as a whole.

Saudi’s GDP expanded by 8.7 percent in 2022, according to the General Authority for Statistics.

The Northern Borders region, which spans an area of 133,000 sq km, is home to about 400,000 people and currently contributes SR27 billion ($7.2 billion) to the kingdom’s GDP.

It has three airports, 44 active factories and 14 hotels, and the Renewable Energy Project Development Office has identified a site in the region with potential for a sun energy development.