Saudi Arabia: A Model in Privatization: Successful Change Management in the Ports of Saudi Arabia

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A Model in Privatization: Successful Change Management in the Ports of Saudi Arabia, by Mohammed A. Bakr. London, UK: The London Center of Arab Studies (LCAS), 2001. xxiii + 120 pages. Appendix to p.128. Index to p. 136. n.p.

Privatization is an important issue that has been tackled by many researchers both in developed and developing countries. A surge of literature on privatization suggests that it promotes economic growth, stimulates productive efficiency, expands the role of the private sector, reduces the size of the government sector, attracts foreign investment, and helps in the development of capital market programs especially in developing countries.

The book under review presents a case study of privatization and economic transformation in Saudi Arabia. The author combines both theoretical analysis and personal experience to describe the privatization of ports in Saudi Arabia. The book consists of nine chapters. Chapter 1 examines the importance of the sea and maritime industry to the Saudi economy. It also provides a description of the structure and capacity of Saudi ports. Chapter 2 discusses the reasons for the privatization of ports in Saudi Arabia, the most important of which is meeting challenges of globalization and keeping pace with the evolving needs of the business community. The chapter also suggests policies for consolidating the gains reaped from such an experience. Chapter 3 presents a descriptive approach to the selection of the Saudi privatization model that "addresses shortcomings of the existing system" (p. 33) and suggests a broad set of complementary policies to prepare for privatization. Chapter 4 reviews the different types of possible partnerships between government and the private sector in the management of the privatized Saudi ports.

The remaining chapters of the book focus on the Saudi ports privatization experience, and the lessons that can be derived from it. Chapter 5 deals with the key elements of the privatization model applied in the case of Saudi Arabian ports, which is "designed to foster a spirit of partnership between the public and private sectors, with each side having clearly defined roles and responsibilities" (p. 61). Under this model, the government retains ownership of the ports and their assets but delegates the management functions to the private sector. …


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