helping your company find its way In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


April 2018 Newsletter of the Canada Saudi Business Council



-                 Report on the Global Affairs led Saudi Pharma /Medtech Delegation visit to Montreal  and Toronto, April 7-11

-                 Aramco visit to Calgary, April 25

-                 CSBC visit to Riyadh and Jeddah, fall 2018

-                 Business and Economic Profile of Saudi Arabia


Dear Members and Friends of the Canada Saudi Business Council (CSBC), 


The CSBC facilitated the April 7-11 visit by the Saudi Pharma/Medtech Delegation to Montreal and Toronto, organized by Global Affairs Canada. We can report that the visit was a success for both the Saudi delegation and the Canadian enterprises that attended.


The Saudi delegation’s April 10th and 11th visit to Toronto was hosted by the CSBC with the assistance of BLG. The two-day event started with a breakfast reception and  opening welcome remarks by the President of the  CSBC the Honorable Edward Holder, with further welcoming  remarks by note by Syed Zaman and Allan Edwards of Global Affairs Canada , Barbara Vink of the Province of Ontario, Ohood Alharbi of CSBC, and Counselor Mike Williams of the City of Toronto. Below are the delegates and their company names.


The first day of the Toronto visited opened with B2B meetings, which occurred during two sessions over the morning and afternoon.  On average each of the delegates met with at least 4-5 Canadian enterprises.  The delegates were invited to a luncheon at the World Trade Centre Toronto, during which a presentation was provided to show the trade services arm of the Toronto Region Board of Trade. The day concluded with a reception hosted by the Board of Directors of Life Sciences Ontario.


During the second day a networking session was held over breakfast, which was followed by a panel session discussion on “Doing Business in Saudi Arabia”, chaired by Professor George J. Georgopoulos of the CSBC. There was a very informative dialogue between panelists having business experience in Saudi Arabia and the attending Canadian enterprises  looking to do business in Saudi Arabia. The panelists were:


Ahmed Islam, Secretary General, Canada Saudi Business Council;

Mohammed Al Hadi, North American Regional Director, Alawwal Properties;

John Dzeko, CEO of Canmeba;

Dr. Ryan Wiley, CEO of Shift Health;

Tawfik Alwan, Emesus Advisors Inc.;

Mounir Marhaba, Executive Health, Hospital, Business, Program/Project Management;

Dalal Zayouna, Export Development Canada


During the late morning the delegation visited the MaRs Discovery District, during which the delegates were exposed to one of the world's largest urban innovation hubs where research and innovation is being conducted in the field of Health and Life Sciences Technology.  During the visit the delegates met with Breanne Halyk, Innovation Activation Manager at JLABS,  Rafi Hofstein, the CEO of MaRS Innovation, Suzanne Drisdelle of Global Affairs Canada  who hosted a tour of the MaRS Discovery District, as well as with Michael Israels, the CFO of Canadian Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CCRM).  The day ended with further B2B meetings at BLG.

Aramco visit to Calgary, April 25


The Council organized the first visit of Aramco Services Company to Canada, with the assistance of the Government of Alberta, Export Development Canada and BLG.  The Aramco delegation from Houston was in Calgary to meet with Canadian companies interested in becoming suppliers to Aramco.  For more information on the event, please contact   

CSBC visit to Saudi Arabia, Fall 2018


Plans are being finalized for a trip to Saudi Arabia for Council members in the fall of 2018, where Riyadh and Jeddah are potential destinations.  We expect the Saudi Canada Chamber of Commerce to host the delegation and assist with providing accommodations and meals to our members who will participate on this important visit to the Kingdom.  For more information and/or an expression of interest in participating, please contact


The Canadian Saudi Business Council


Since the Council’s inception in the early spring of 2015, we have been active in supporting the efforts of Members to establish and advance their business interests in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many will recall our major Delegation to the Kingdom in early 2016.  The 70-Members delegation was the largest business delegation ever to travel to the Kingdom from Canada.  As a result of the Mission, a number of Members have begun doing business in the Kingdom, while a number are still assessing the opportunities brought to the fore by Vision 2030. 


The Council can help your business establish key contacts in the Kingdom and gain a first mover advantage in this growing G-20 economy that is rapidly opening and integrating with the rest of the world economy. The Council can also help your business to develop a more sophisticated understanding of what is required to be successful in your business dealings in the Kingdom.  These are important factors that will give your business exposure, traction and opportunities in this growing market. Below is a business and economic profile of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its regions. 

This is your opportunity to renew your Membership and join us for any and all of these events.  Here are the dates for important upcoming events:

We look forward to enhancing Canadian business opportunities with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  We mean Business.

Ed Holder, Chair                    

Ahmed Islam, Secretary-General

Canada Saudi Business Council


Business and Economic Profile of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)

Saudi Arabia has had a period of relatively high growth and economic progress over the past few years. The economy is creating great opportunities for both exporters and investors. These are further boosted by moves to diversify the economy away from dependence on oil and gas, economic reform, market liberalization and a growing private sector. This is all under the Saudi Arabia 2030 plan to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil and diversity its economy.

Investors in Saudi Arabia enjoy increasingly well-developed value chains and business clusters that distinguish it from its neighbours and from other emerging economies. The World Economic Forum ranks the Kingdom 6th in the world for Local Supplier Quantity and 24th for both Value Chain Breadth and Production Process Sophistication.

With 50% of Saudis under 25 years old the Saudi population is one of the fastest growing in the world. The current population of over 28 million is expected to increase to 29 million by 2020. Massive investment will be required to meet the needs of this growing population.

Strengths of the Saudi market include:

•                common use of English in business

•                no taxation on personal income

•                proximity to other Gulf markets

•                key member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

•                largest economy and population in the Gulf region

The Saudi government is pursuing a strategy of economic diversification and reform to:

•                grow the private sector and reduce reliance on oil and gas

•                open up previously restricted industries to foreign investment

•                increase employment opportunities for Saudis

The government is also focused on getting private and foreign investment in important sectors such as:

•                financial and professional services

•                healthcare and life sciences

•                petrochemicals

•                automobile assembly

•                education, training, and human capital development

•                biotechnology

•                other knowledge driven industries, particularly those involved in research and development and IT where there is an opportunity for knowledge transfer


The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has created incentives for foreign entities to set up in Saudi Arabia, including allowing 100% foreign ownership of property and companies in certain industries, lower minimum capital requirements, the ability for foreign investors to sponsor foreign employees, and tax incentives if the company is registered in certain regions.

In addition to the sectors and industrial cities mentioned above, Saudi Arabia is investing billions of dollars into the launch of four Economic Cities in different regions of the country:


•       King Abdullah Economic City - Rabigh (near Jeddah)

•       Prince Abdul Aziz bin Mousdaed Economic City - Hail

•       Knowledge Economic City - close to Al Madinah

•       Jazan Economic City - close to Jazan City


These cities, once constructed, will be public-private partnerships that will create attractive investment platforms for foreign companies, including tax incentives if the company is registered in these cities. The cities will promote economic diversification, create over a million new job opportunities, homes for 4-5 million people and contribute an estimated USD $150 billion to Saudi’s GDP.



Riyadh is the capital and most populous city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the centre of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau and home to more than six million people and contains essential business centers attracting key foreign investors



Jeddah, “bride of the Red Sea” has long been a point of attraction in the Gulf peninsula. Jeddah is located in the west coast of Saudi Arabia, and it is the gateway to Makkah and Al Madinah. It is considered the economic and tourist capital of Saudi Arabia. It is the first destination in KSA for visitors from within and outside the kingdom, as well as a leading city in KSA in tower projects and skyscrapers. It is the second largest city in KSA, with a population of just above 3,450,000. It has the largest seaport on the Red Sea, making it a central for a financial and businesses and a major export port.


Canada Saudi Business Council