What’s next for ‘brand’ Saudi Arabia?

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GMR interviews Hassan Al Redha, Director, Head of Marketing, KPMG Saudi Arabia, who says it is still early to judge whether the social and economic changes will reflect the emergence of Saudi Arabia

Behind the series of social and economic reforms that Saudi Arabia has been experiencing recently, do you see these changes as reflective of the emergence of ‘Brand’ KSA?


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It is still early to judge whether these changes will reflect the emergence of Saudi Arabia as the changes are still ongoing and related to a period of time, vision, projects and initiatives.

The KSA was previously framed with a stereotype that may not be accurate; hence, the vision is focusing on changing this stereotype, and this requires the right marketing approach internally and externally to handle the matter.

Some emerging indications refer to changes in this stereotype including the higher rank achieved by KSA on global indices such as the corruption index. KSA was also ranked second globally in terms of reforms of the business environment 2018 through the reforms and procedures it executed, resulting in enhancements of the business and investment environments.

What more needs to be done to transform the KSA into a must-see experiential destination?

In my point of view, KSA needs more time to achieve its goals in becoming a main hub, but what KSA really needs is a true activation of the core elements that its vision is based on including the geographic, religious and investment elements.


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By saying the actual activation, I mean linking these elements to performance indicators because the elements may succeed individually, but may not be able to achieve the overall goal if they don’t function collectively.

It is also important to focus on the human potential and human capital which will lead the change, in addition to combining efforts and seeking to elevate the Kingdom’s value internally and externally in order to change the stereotype mentioned earlier.

What particular challenges do you see or expect to see for marketers who are planning to expand in KSA across different industry verticals?

There are a number of obstacles and challenges that are related to the regulatory and legislative environment, mainly the prolonged bureaucratic processes, along with the slow digital and electronic services.


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The work on these services has already begun with the national transformation initiatives that target these gaps. There are as well the challenges related to investors who focused on short-term investments, and this short-term focus has led to the exit of some companies from the market.

Medium and long-term investments must be focused on, and the recent projects that are linked to the Public Investments Fund (PIF) are the keys to success in terms of accessing and investing in the Kingdom.


The interview was part of the cover story in GMR’s latest Q2 2018 print issue.