The Saudi Binladin Group Deserves Support - Let The Truth Be Told
15 May 2016
By Khaled Almaeena
Three headlines appeared in three different newspapers last week: ''Ministry
to ensure fair deal for Binladin staff''; ''Quit or wait, Binladin tells
17,000 Saudi staff'' and ''Saudi Arabia lifts project bidding ban on
crisis-hit Binladin Group''. The first one was a statement by Minister of
Labor Mufrej Al-Haqbani who vowed to ensure that the Saudi Binladin Group
keeps a promise to resolve wage issues, amid reports of workers at the company
facing unpaid salaries and termination. This was said as reports of 10 company
buses being set alight spread like wildfire through social media.
It also received foreign attention and I was the recipient of several calls
from international media organizations. I refused to state anything as the
issue has not been resolved and we do not want to further excite those who
want, for whatever reasons, to compound this issue. However, what saddened me
was the response of some economic ''experts'' who seemed to imply that the
Binladin Group was to blame.
But let's for history's sake and as a decent people state the truth. The
Binladin Group and the family have served this country for over six decades.
As a family on a personal level, they are humble and down to earth. I have not
seen them exhibit the arrogance and pomp shown by many of those in business
and industry who only a decade or two ago were just petty officials!
Let the truth to be told.
All the Kings of Saudi Arabia have commended the role of this family in the
economy of Saudi Arabia. As someone said, this construction giant is so big
and controls so many of the state's projects that it has become an essential
component of the Kingdom's non-oil economy.
It deals with hundred of smaller companies in the Kingdom and has banking
relations with all of the banks. Of course, like all conglomerates, it has its
plusses and minuses.
However, it has always remained in the forefront of business and industry.
Yes, a major crane disaster occurred and investigations are
still going on and hopefully will be completed by the competent authorities.
However, to jump to conclusions and play the blame game is something that I
find disgusting. And this raises the question of the role being played by
certain sections of the media. No one has checked into the Binladin Group's
receivables and payables, nor has anyone put a figure of how much is owed to
them by both the state and private sector.
There is much international precedent for mega-companies receiving government
support. In the late 1980s, the US was faced with a crisis in its savings and
loans banks. The government had to step in and it has been estimated that the
ultimate cost to the US taxpayer was as much as $124 billion. Then as a result
of the 2008 financial crisis, the US government bailed out major automobile
manufacturers for tens of billions of dollars avoiding bankruptcy and the loss
of three million jobs.
It is an established fact that many Saudi companies have complained about the
late payment of contract finances. The delayed payment to contractors always
affects companies and I have been reading about this for ages. Yet Arabic TV
channels are offering ''solutions'' to the beleaguered Binladin construction
The Saudi Binladin Group, once described to me by an American journalist as
the Trammell Crow of Saudi Arabia, referring to the gigantic Texas real estate
company, has faced many obstacles in the past and is going through a turbulent
patch now. This is the way of life.
However, the Saudi Binladin Group will recover and all of us should wish them
The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena