As the Aramco Dow integrated petrochemicals complex in Jubail starts looking for finance and begins the tender process for its construction, the project has never seemed more essential.

The Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia has been the only area where anti-government protests have occurred, despite a huge police crackdown.  Many of the Shia majority in the area have genuine feelings of discontent.

The Aramco Dow complex will be built at Jubail Industrial City in the Eastern Province and the three-year construction phase will provide thousands of jobs, both at the primary and secondary levels.

However, what is much more important than a short to medium term jobs fillip is the way Saudi Arabia utilises the output from the 8 million tonnes-a-year plant.

The Middle East has almost 50 per cent of the world’s oil and 40 per cent of its gas, yet produces only 15 per cent of the world’s petrochemicals. This figure is likely to increase over the next decade, but what is more important is what the major petrochemical producers do with the chemicals they produce.

Job creation through industrial diversification has been on Saudi Arabia’s agenda for long enough

Just as strategic as the Aramco Dow project is the downstream cluster that will be built around it. The Plus Tech industrial park that has been built around the PetroRabigh complex on the west coast of Saud Arabia is an excellent example. The chemicals are sold at market price, but other incentives such as cheap rent and cost-price power are aimed at attracting both local and international firms.

The Aramco Dow project offers an incredible opportunity to become one of the major cornerstones of Saudi Arabia’s plan to create more jobs for its population. Job creation through industrial diversification has been on Saudi Arabia’s agenda for long enough. Aramco and Dow’s project need to succeed not just for them, but also for its significance to the Saudi economy.