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RIYADH: As part of Saudi Arabia’s National Industrial Strategy, authorities are planning expansions of 12 strategic industrial sectors in which opportunities have been identified for growth and increased competition at the regional and international levels, Osama Al-Zamil, the deputy minister of industry and mineral resources, said on Tuesday.

He was speaking on the opening day of “A Renewed World,” a two-day conference organized by Johnson Controls Arabia, the joint regional arm of Johnson Control International, which specializes in smart heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, fire safety and security systems, along with building management and control systems, in the Middle East and North Africa.

A group shot of elite speakers at the Renewed World Conference organized by Johnson Controls Arabia at the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh. (Supplied)

Organizers said the aim of the event is to promote national dialogue on the vital role of innovation and the development of smart and carbon-neutral buildings in sustainability efforts. Local and international experts in the energy and industry sectors stressed the important role of partnerships between the private and public sectors in Saudi Arabia, especially in terms of innovation, in achieving the Kingdom’s sustainability goals.

Al-Zamil said the 12 sectors targeted for expansion are aerospace, automotive, maritime, renewables, chemicals, machinery and equipment, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, food processing, building materials, mining industries, and military industries.

“Modern technology, innovation and digitization is creating disruptive transformation in the future of doing business and investments,” he told delegates.

George Oliver, chairman of Johnson Controls, speaks during “Innovation for a sustainable tomorrow” conference in Riyadh. (AN photo/Hebshi Alshammari)

“Hence, when we looked at the Kingdom’s potential we discovered that it has enormous untapped technical potential as well as a predominantly young population with a passion for, and understanding of, the technological revolution and how to keep up with the latest technologies.”

The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources has therefore launched a “Factories of the Future” program, “which will result in a dramatic shift in the manufacturing sector,” Al-Zamil added.

“The goal of today’s industry and mineral resources ecosystem is to develop a technological and innovative manufacturing sector,” he said. “This will significantly improve our national industry and create locally competitive products, as well as increase industrial enterprises’ contribution to the national economy.

“It will also take advantage of the Kingdom’s unique geographical location, which allows it to connect regional and international markets. Furthermore, the Kingdom boasts cutting-edge industrial infrastructure in over 36 industrial cities across the country. The Kingdom’s emphasis on industry is an inevitable choice, as evidenced by the leadership’s support for this strategic sector.”

Al-Zamil highlighted the launch of Ceer, a Saudi electric vehicle company, by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a few days earlier.

“Ceer will be an important addition that will significantly contribute to driving and enhancing the manufacturing sector in the region, being the first Saudi brand for electric vehicles in the Kingdom,” he said.

George Oliver, the chairman of Johnson Controls, told Arab News: “As a global leader in smart and sustainable buildings, we are part of this world and we have the responsibility to help address some of the pressing issues the world is facing, such as climate change.

“Advancing the national conversation of energy sustainability by having subject-matter experts, business leaders and policymakers talking about sustainable living and the need for more innovation in energy consumption is an important outcome of this event.

“At Johnson Controls International we believe sustainable innovation is all about meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations. It requires all actors to actively incorporate climate change and carbon neutrality into their innovation processes.”

Oliver said that buildings are currently responsible for nearly 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“So, as a global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, Johnson Controls is committed to lead the fight against carbon emissions and climate change,” he said.

“Johnson Controls is no stranger to the region generally or Saudi Arabia specifically. As part of its Vision 2030, the Saudi government has put plans in place to increase the country’s manufacturing and local content footprint. This is where the objectives of the Saudi government and Johnson Controls converge.

“As a global leader in building technologies, we would like to be part of the incredible economic transformation that is happening in Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia is going through a massive economic transformation, where it intends to spend $7 trillion in 10 years, much of that relates to renewable energy and sustainable living.”

Mohannad Al-Sheikh, the CEO of Johnson Controls Arabia, emphasized the importance of innovative solutions that “enhance standards of efficiency and sustainability in buildings, with ambitious plans to reach net-zero carbon emissions in the Kingdom.”

He added: “The Kingdom plays a leading role in facing climate change and we, at Johnson Controls Arabia, are keen to support the visionary goals of the local environment by promoting sustainable living standards in the region.”


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