Export, Innovate, Invest - The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service

Canada Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Libya

The Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, the Honourable Ed Fast will lead a Canada Trade Mission to Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Amman (Jordan) October 5-9, 2012. Focusing in the areas of infrastructure, health industries and education, this trade mission aims to open doors and expand networks for Canadian organizations pursuing these Arab markets.

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Registration is closed ATTENTION REGISTERED PARTICIPANTS: The Libya portion of the trade mission has been postponed to a date yet to be determined. You will be contacted directly once new dates have been established.

Infrastructure | Health Industries | Education | Additional Market Information

The Markets:

Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is a priority market for Canada under the Global Commerce Strategy. It is the largest economy of the GCC and by far the world’s largest oil producer. Saudi Arabia is a member of both the WTO and the G20. According to the IMF it is currently the 21st largest economy of the world and is ranked 12th by the World Bank for the ease of doing business.

The Government of Saudi Arabia is currently investing hundreds of billions of dollars in diversifying its economy and improving public services and infrastructure. This substantial public spending provides opportunities in many areas of Canadian expertise, including oil & gas, mining, healthcare, education, construction, power and water and transportation Canada has a strong commercial relation with Saudi Arabia. It is the second largest export market for Canadian products in the region. In 2011, two-way trade was $3.6 billion. Canadian merchandise exports reached $860 million while Canada’s imports from Saudi Arabia totaled $2.7 billion. Service exports from Canada to Saudi Arabia are also significant, particularly in the engineering and education sectors.


Jordan is well-positioned for Canadian companies seeking to invest in key sectors and develop business opportunities across the Middle East. Jordan enjoys strong logistical ties throughout the region, an educated workforce, and a favourable foreign-investment climate. Canadian firms benefit from a foreign investment protection and promotion agreement and trade opportunities will soon be further strengthened by the implementation of the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement. Jordan's stability, favourable business climate, and strong Canada-Jordan ties make Jordan an attractive destination for Canadian direct investment and expertise.


Following the revolution of February 17, 2011 that resulted in the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, Libya is embarking on a path to modernize its economy, encourage private sector development, attract foreign investment and pursue a post-liberation agenda of market reforms.

Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa estimated around 46 billion barrels, and the fourth highest proven gas reserves of 53 trillion cubic feet. With an estimated population of 6.5 million and a per capita GDP of approximately $12,500, Libya is a middle-income country with vast commercial potential that has lagged behind its Gulf Cooperation Council peers.

Libya’s interim authorities recently approved a 2012 budget of $53 billion with $14.5 billion being allocated to projects, development and reconstruction in a variety of fields. It is estimated that development and infrastructure spending will top $150 billion over the next 5 to 10 years. GDP growth is expected to rebound to 28% for 2012 and to settle around 8% over the next four years.

Western oil companies have long been active in the Libyan market, including Canada. Canadian commercial interests are focused on the oil and gas, infrastructure, information and communications technology, health, education and aerospace sectors.


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the largest market in the Middle East for infrastructure projects. The infrastructure sector is the second largest sector after oil in the Kingdom's economy. It contributes approximately 8% of total GDP, with a nominal value of around $40 billion a year.

The rapidly growing population (2.7% annually) is putting pressure on several of the existing infrastructure. In order to meet this growing need, it is estimated that Saudi Arabia will invest over $700 billion in this sector in the next twenty years.In its last 5-year plan, the Kingdom allocated $65.9 billion for investments in the healthcare infrastructure that will translate in upgrades of existing hospitals and construction of new facilities.

The Kingdom has developed an ambitious transportation plan to build multi-billion dollar projects covering ports, airports and a railway network of 3,000km in addition to light rail transportation and monorail systems in Riyadh, Jeddah and Mecca.

The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) intends to invest $28 billion to add 13GW of generating capacity over a three-year period. SEC also plans to spend $70 billion by 2018 to add 25GW to meet the growing demand.

Sub-sectors: Health; education; housing; transportation; power and water.

Who should participate?

  • Architecture, urban planning and design firms;
  • Engineering and consulting services;
  • Project management and construction management firms;
  • Manufacturers of advanced building materials; and
  • Firms with expertise in green building and sustainable development projects.


Canadian infrastructure investment and expertise is in demand in Jordan, particularly in energy, water, and transportation. To meet growing energy needs, Jordan is currently planning a civilian nuclear energy project and has specialized opportunities to develop domestic energy resources including the Risha gas field, shale oil deposits, and gas pipelines. In water management, demand for conservation technologies and expertise is growing while initiatives such as the Jordan Disi Water Conveyance project and Jordan Red Sea project seek to address the significant shortage of fresh water supplies across the country. Transportation projects include a planned Amman-Zarqa Light Rail Project and ongoing airport expansion.

Sub Sectors: Power and electricity; water and environment; transportation; and airports, civil aviation, and ports.

Who should participate?

  • Project and construction management firms;
  • Engineering and consulting services;
  • Infrastructure financing; and
  • Environmental technologies and services.


Although Libya is a resource rich country, the country lacks basic infrastructure. The recent freeing up of $100 billion of Libya’s previously frozen assets will immediately contribute to the country's reconstruction plans, with Libya’s 2012 budget allocating over $14.5 billion to development projects and reconstruction. Libya has tremendous infrastructure needs ranging from roads, airports, utilities, ports, etc. There is a strong demand from the Libyan side to bring foreign expertise to assist in the reconstruction and development of Libya. It is estimated that development and infrastructure spending will top $150 billion over the next 5 to 10 years.

Sub-sectors: Airports and civil aviation; transportation; public works; building and construction; power and electricity; water and environment.

Who should participate?

  • Project management and construction management firms;
  • Architecture, urban planning and design firms; and
  • Engineering and consulting services.
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Health Industries

Saudi Arabia

The country's 9th Five-Year-Plan for the years 2010–2014 allocates US$ 65.9 billion for the upgrading of the healthcare sector in the Kingdom, equivalent to about 17% of the country's total budget. The Ministry of Health has plans to increase hospital beds by 70% in the next four years through building 97 new hospitals, 5 medical cities, 8 diabetes centres, 22 medical towers as well as renovating 44 hospitals. Around 20,000 beds are expected to be added to the current capacity.

Opportunities exist for Canadian architecture, engineering and design companies as well as management & consultancy firms. The construction of these new facilities will translate in an increase in demand for medical supplies and equipment. The pharmaceutical sector is also expected to grow. Healthcare areas of highest potential include: diabetes, cardiovascular, kidney dialysis, neurology maternal health, e-health and telemedicine.

In addition, there is ample opportunity for healthcare training both in the Kingdom and abroad. Currently, there are approximately 800 Saudi doctors doing postgraduate studies in Canada. In October 2010 Canada Health Canada and the Saudi Minister of Health signed an MOU to increase cooperation between the two countries.

Sub-sectors: Healthcare facility architecture, engineering and design; healthcare management and consultancy; medical supplies and equipment; pharmaceuticals; health IT & telemedicine.

Who should participate?

  • Institutes that offer healthcare training for different related professions;
  • Manufacturers and service providers of medical devices and equipment;
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturers; and
  • Institutes with interest in medical research collaboration.


The health care sector is one of Jordan's most important sector representing approximately 7.5% of GDP. The relative long history and quality of medical services there has gained it a positive reputation within the Middle East, making the country a hub for medical treatment. Jordan is a regional leader in cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, laparoendoscopic surgery, kidney transplantation, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, oncology, in vitro fertilisation and many other areas.

Jordan’s health care sector is approximately 50% government funded and 50% private. Jordan has over 100 hospitals and almost 12000 beds. Medical tourism is an important sector of the national economy and brings in more than $1 billion annually.

Sub-sectors: Hospital and health care management; pharmaceuticals; healthcare equipment and services.

Who should participate?

  • Pharmaceutical research and manufacturing;
  • Manufacturers and service providers of medical devices and equipment;
  • Specialized health care services; and
  • Project financing.


Libya’s health sector is in need of major modernisation, particularly in areas outside of the main cities. The poor state of Libya’s medical system necessitated the transfer of approximately 20,000 war-wounded Libyans abroad for medical care. With a view to improving the health system, Libya’s Ministry of Health has been allocated $2.3 billion for 2012. Opportunities exist in all facets of the health care sector with a particular emphasis on modern facilities, equipment and practices. Many Libyan doctors are Canadian educated and trained and thus knowledgeable of Canada’s advantage in this sector.

Sub-sectors: Training and education; healthcare equipment and services; pharmaceuticals.

Who should participate?

  • Pharmaceutical manufacturers and exporters;
  • Manufacturers and service providers of medical devices and equipment;
  • Healthcare training institutes / consulting companies; and
  • Hospital management, e-services.
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Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in its education sector. In its last budget, the government allocated 25% of its annual budget for educational initiatives. One such initiative is the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (KASP) which is expected to have reached $5.5 billion at the end of 2011. Canada currently attracts some 16,000 Saudi students a majority of which under KASP. The government has also earmarked $245 million for grant programs for research in science and technology. Vocational training has also been identified as a priority. Plans have been put forth to build 25 technology schools, 28 technical institutes and 50 industrial training institutes.

The Kingdom is aggressively investing in its education sector in order diversify its economy beyond oil. These investments will and have resulted in huge opportunities for education providers.

Sub-sectors: Higher education; primary and post-secondary education; technical & vocational training; ESL education; distance education

Who should participate?

  • Universities interested in collaborating with Saudi institutions on research particularly in the science and technology sectors and joint degree programs;
  • Technical or vocational institutes interested in establishing an institution or partnership in Saudi Arabia;
  • Institutions interested in partnering with Saudi institutions at the primary and secondary levels;
  • Institutions interested in providing education abroad particularly in the medical, science, information technology and infrastructure sectors; and
  • ESL providers that are interested in establishing an institution in Saudi Arabia or partnering with a Saudi institution.


During the last two decades, higher education in Jordan witnessed considerable development and progress as evidenced by the increasing number of higher education institutions; student enrolment; faculty, academic and administrative members; as well as the size of expenditures and financial support by government to the sector. As a result, the number of public universities reached ten, while private universities and community colleges reached 21 and 51 respectively. Growth of these institutions was accompanied by a significant increase in student enrolment. It is estimated that nearly 236 thousand students enrolled in both public and private universities, of which 28 000 students are Arab or other foreign nationalities. Several Foreign universities – notably Northeastern University, DePaul University, Lancaster University, New York Institute of Technology, Columbia University, German-Jordanian University, the American University in Madaba, George Washington University and many others – have opened branches in Jordan or have a partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Jordanian universities.

Opportunities exist that require committed and well-resourced Canadian partners for:

  • establishing joint degree programs with 50/50 local and international participation;
  • faculty-to-faculty exchanges and collaboration;
  • IDRC research funding or other funded support;
  • sharing resources (i.e online libraries);
  • academic technology incubators and cooperation with industry or other initiatives to transfer alternative energy and IT research as prototypes of commercial initiatives; and
  • MOUs with Canadian universities for accepting PHD candidates from Jordanian institutions.

Sub-Sectors: Higher education; vocational training.

Who should participate?

  • International program delivery and cooperation;
  • Heads of universities and colleges or international program managers; and
  • Private higher-learning and vocational institutions.


Education and training is a key national priority for the new Libyan authorities. Opportunities exist in student recruitment, institutional partnerships, English-language training and capacity building, research collaboration, and specialised courses for corporate and government clients. Libya’s 2012 budget allocates $3.6 billion to the Ministry of Education and $1 billion to the Ministry of Higher Education. Canada currently hosts over 600 Libyan students in Universities and Colleges throughout the country. Several key Libyan Ministers are Canadian university graduates thus affording Canada a natural advantage in this sector.

Sub-sectors: Higher education; technical / vocational training; ESL

Who should participate?

  • Universities and colleges seeking to recruit students;
  • Universities and colleges wishing to collaborate with Libyan institutions;
  • Institutions seeking to develop technical / vocational training programmes;
  • Institutions looking to provide education abroad, including teachers / trainers; and
  • Institutions and educational organisations seeking to partner with local organisations.
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Additional Market Information

Saudi Arabia



For more information and to receive a recording of our recent webinar contact:

Carrie Marr
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Tel.: 613-995-9293
Fax: 613-996-3406