Oil giant Saudi Arabia issued 260 permits for new industrial projects in the first quarter of 2022 within a strategy to boost reliance on manufacturing and diversify its oil-reliant economy, according to official data. 

The new projects have with a combined capital of around 5.5 billion Saudi riyals ($1.4 billion) and cover mainly equipment, food, chemicals, paper and other light products, showed the figures by the Industry and Mineral Resources Ministry. 

Its report for the first quarter showed the new permits boosted the total number of manufacturing units in the Gulf kingdom to 8,903 with a total capital of nearly 1.28 trillion riyals ($341 billion) at the end of March. 

Chemicals had the lion’s share of industrial investment in Saudi Arabia, with around 457 billion riyals ($121.8 billion) at the end of March. 

The report showed metals industries was the second largest with a combed capital of 320 billion riyals ($85.3 billion), followed by food, and electricity industries, with a capital of 84 billion ($22.4 billion) and 43 billion ($11.5 billion) respectively. 

Projects owned by Saudis are capitalised at nearly 778.9 billion riyals ($207.7 billion), accounted for nearly 60 percent of the total. Foreign-owned projects have a capital of 61.9 billion riyals ($16.5 billion) while investment in joint ventures totaled nearly 443 billion riyals ($118 billion) at the end of March. 

(Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)