Saudi to hire agency to boost investment

The Saudi Arabian government is seeking agency help to improve the country's profile among the global business community.

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the body tasked with wooing foreign investment, is to stage initial pitches from 9 to 20 March.

This is the first time the body has attempted co-ordinated promotional activity.

Foreign investment is seen as key to helping Saudi Arabia combat unemployment, estimated at 14 per cent and 20 per cent among 20 to 29-year-olds. The Government is reported to also be taking steps to reduce its reliance on foreign workers.

UK agencies invited to pitch are believed to include Hill & Knowlton, Cordiant and Procter & Stevenson.

Dubai-based Asd'aa PR and Saudi-based Impact/BBDO, TMI-JWT, Horizon-FCB, Afkar Promoseven, and Memac Ogilvy, are also believed to be involved in the pitch.

Agencies are asked in the brief to find 'ways of building a powerful and compelling Brand Saudi Arabia'.

A shortlist of agencies will be invited to repitch in early April, with an appointment expected by the end of April. It is hoped that a newly created corporate identity will be ready by May.

SAGIA, which is headed by Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki Al-Saud, is also considering a one to two-year global marketing communications programme.

The brief adds that one of SAGIA's key tasks is to promote the kingdom as 'a stable, modern economy ... as a nation that offers a globally acceptable standard of living and a peaceful social and cultural atmosphere'.

This comes despite international criticism of human rights abuses in the country, particularly from pressure groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Concern centres on suppression of press freedom, capital punishment for crimes including sodomy and sorcery, the use of corporal punishment and constraints on religious freedom.

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