The SME Sector in Saudi Arabia

The AICC hosted a business dinner for the Deputy Governor, Research and International Affairs, of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, Mr Fahad Al Shathri Ph. D, and his colleague Mr Meshari Alkadhi, during their recent study visit to Ireland.  Dr Al Shathri is also a member of the Saudi Government SME Commission, and he is especially interested in learning about Ireland’s experiences in developing the SME sector which has grown so successfully in recent decades.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has recently adopted a National Transformation Programme called “Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030” which charts a path towards the goal of less reliance on oil through the development of a broad range of indigenous manufacturing and services sectors which will be sustainable in the long term and will provide high quality jobs for the expanding population.

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One important aspect of the vision is to encourage and support the rapid expansion of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector – an area in which Ireland has gained much experience in recent decades.

The discussion considered many of the challenges which will be faced which led to suggestions and ideas about how to deal with them based on the Irish experience. The importance of suitable educational opportunities, work experience and mentoring were stressed as well as the encouragement of entrepreneurship and risk taking. The attracting of overseas partners and investors will also bring valuable skills and know-how as well as successful products, technologies and market expertise.

Another challenge highlighted was the removal, as much as possible, of red-tape and complex rules and regulations, while it was also noted that improved standards would be needed in the areas of financial management and reporting.

The business dinner was attended by the Chairman of the AICC, Joe Geoghegan, Sec. Gen. Ahmad Younis and board members Peter Jackson, Peter Mc Mahon and Abdelazziz Aldriss (former Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Ireland). Mr A J Noonan, former Chairman of the Small Firms Association and board member of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, also attended.