Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed in Saudi Arabia the signing of memoranda of understanding for seven projects worth $469.34 million (Dh1.7 billion), which can generate 15,950 jobs in several areas managed by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), sources said.

Shaikh Al Waleed Tuwaijri, owner of Small Investment Group, pledged $133.34 million in projects to establish an academy, hotel and a medical centre in a tourism complex, which will generate 6,650 workers, according to data from Saudi Arabia obtained by PEZA’s Manila office.

Duterte was in Saudi Arabia from April 10 to 12. He went to Bahrain on April 12 and was expected to be there until April 14. He will be in Qatar from April 14 to 16.

In Saudi Arabia, Amir M.Q. Siddiqui, business development director of Advanced Electronic Systems International (AESI), signed a memorandum of understanding with PEZA for a $150 million airport and hotel project that will be undertaken by a Middle Eastern and a Philippine company.

Faud Abdul Rahman Al Rasheed, president of Future Formation Holdings (FFH), an investment holding company, pledged a $100 million project for the development of logistics facilities, ports, power generation, and warehouses, all of which will generate 5,000 jobs.

Abdul Aziz Abdullah Abanmi, president of Eradh and Reyadhd Development and Commercial Investment, pledged a $50 million project for a 2,000 square metre fine-diningrestaurant chain which will employ 2,500 workers.

Halal food processing

Mohammad Abdullah Albesher, chairman of Basha’er Addawa Trading Company, chose a $30 million project on a one-hectare area for manufacturing of generic drugs for export to the Middle East, a move expected to generate 1,500 jobs.

Engineer Mortaz G. Hawary, manager of Arabian Bugshan Group, pledged a $5 million project for halal food processing and the establishment of halal tourism city in Mindanao, southern Philippines, turf of an estimated five million Filipino-Muslims. Arabian has been providing engineering works for Saudi Aramco’s oil and gas refinery operation for 30 years.

Sultan Z. Alhussain, president and CEO of Zaid Alhussain and Brothers Group, pledged a $1 million project for the production and processing of a special variety of basmati rice for export to the Middle East. It will employ 50 workers.

PEZA-controlled areas are initially leased for 75 or 50 years, renewable for 25 years. PEZA incentives include tax holiday of four to eight years; five per cent tax of gross income (21 per cent of which goes to local governments where zones are based); free importation; tax-free custom duties for spare parts; and foreign investors’ multiple visa,

The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) and the Asset Privatisation Trust have finalised an inventory of the country’s 7,500 islands, including a PEZA-controlled map for foreign investors.

Right now, PEZA has 73 companies in manufacturing economic zone; 243 in information technology parks; 21 in agro-industrial economic zone; 19 in tourism economic zones; and two in medical tourism parks.