PepsiCo begins relocating senior leadership team to Saudi Arabia from UAE

PepsiCo has started moving its senior leadership team from Dubai to Saudi Arabia as part of plans to relocate its Middle Eastern headquarters, a top official from the company said Wednesday.

The snack and beverage company was one of the first major corporations to announce that it was moving its regional headquarters after the Saudi government, in 2021, pressed foreign businesses to relocate.

Middle East CEO Aamer Sheikh moved from Dubai to Riyadh last month and said that other employees from the company’s “decision apparatus” would follow suit.

“It’s the first step in a long journey,” he said on the sidelines of the LEAP conference in Riyadh. “But we’re committed to being part of the Saudi fabric. And you’ll see us more and more in the transformation that you see taking place in Saudi.”

Sheikh would not give a definitive date as to when the new headquarters would be established. But, he added, the company is “working very closely with MISA [the Ministry of Investment] and the government to make sure that we can bring in the PepsiCo regional headquarters here.”

In 2021, the Saudi government announced that it would no longer issue contracts to businesses that did not have a regional headquarters in the country by 2024.

During the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum in October 2021, PepsiCo was issued a license to establish its regional head office in the Kingdom, along with 43 other companies.

The US corporation has operated in the Saudi market since the 1950s, Sheikh said.

Today, it has a snacks joint venture based in the Kingdom and exports to ten other countries.

With developments in recent years as the country strives to diversify its economy away from oil and open up for business, Sheikh sees it as an opportune time to relocate.

“If you’re not here day in, day out, you’re going to miss out on the nuances of what is different,” he said. “This is not a market where you can fly and do your business and fly out.”

Sheikh added: “You need to be a part of the fabric of this society, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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