The entrepreneur connecting Australian companies to the mega-projects and investments of a booming Saudi Arabia

Sam Jamsheedi flew to Saudi Arabia for the first time in July 2022, having read about the Saudi Vision 2030 and wanting to see it for himself.

While he has strong connections to the Middle East, having pioneered The Trademark Group of Companies, a community of businesses sharing investment opportunities, ideas, and relationships for those looking to expand abroad, he says that the push into the Saudi market came accidentally and unexpectedly, given how closed off the Kingdom has been for years.

What he saw firsthand during that first trip to Saudi Arabia were endless opportunities for Australian businesses. But upon meeting the Australian Trade Commissioner based in Riyadh, Jamsheedi also learned that Australian companies have been finding it difficult to gain entry.

“I thought, ‘I can change that’,” Jamsheedi tells Forbes. “I’d only be there a few days, but I saw the towers, the cranes, the momentum. You can feel the excitement there. The whole country is going through a revolution.”

Saudi Arabia is the fastest-growing G20 economy and experiencing a massive transformation. So with the support of the Trade Commissioner, Jamsheedi sought to create a bridge between Saudi Arabia and Australian businesses.

Almost one year later, Jamsheedi has already taken multiple delegations to Saudi Arabia, including the largest Australian delegation to ever visit. The Trademark Group has also since opened regional headquarters in Riyadh, connecting more than 150 Australian business members to the opportunities in the fast-growing G20 economy. Australian Ambassador Mark Donovan supported the launch, noting how Vision 2030 marks a strong start for economic cooperation between the two countries.

Jamsheedi is soon returning with the NSW Government, as well as another 50 or so companies. He’s also now Chairman of the not-for-profit Australian Saudi Business Forum, which promotes trade, investment, and the development of bilateral relationships between Australia and Saudi Arabia.

It’s been a massive period of transformation for Jamsheedi and the Trademark Group, but also for Australia’s trade relationship with Saudi Arabia, with agreements signed in February 2023. In June, Australia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Tim Watt, tweeted about the flat white he had at a café in Riyadh, served by Australian-educated entrepreneurs sharing Australian café culture. During his visit, Watts met with Saudi Arabian ministers, spoke about opportunities for cooperation on climate action, and thanked Saudi Arabia for its assistance in supporting the rescue of Australians from Sudan.

Jamsheedi’s work in this space follows his long ties to development, construction, and entrepreneurship. He founded The Trademark Group having seen opportunity to connect like minded businesses, and drive that network for pursuing opportunities internationally. 

So why Saudi Arabia, and why now?

The Kingdom has been closed off for decades but has been rapidly looking outwards since announcing its new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Highly educated, still in his thirties, and an entrepreneur, he has pushed to end the reliance on oil and to start investing elsewhere. He has outlined plans to build significant towers, go green, create a manufacturing hub, and develop a strong tourism market alongside various mega-projects as part of Vision 2030.

During the June 2023 delegation to The Kingdom, Jamsheedi signed an agreement with Abdel Hadi Abdullah Al-Qahtani & Sons Co. (AHQ & Sons) for Trademark Group to represent AHQ & Sons exclusively in Australia. This agreement is a cements Jamsheedi’s drive of two-way Trade and Investment not only giving opportunities to Australian businesses in The Kingdom but also opportunities from the G20 economy into Australia. 

Jamsheedi says that while there is work to do, the workforce is now 37 percent women according to the Kingdom’s published stats, and it has seen significant changes in women’s rights. 

“People are turning to Saudi Arabia. There are now so many foreigners going in, every day, there are massive delegations arriving from around the word,” he says. 

“There are many misconceptions, but I urge people to travel there to see how it’s changed. To see how women’s workforce participation has progressed, to see the evolution in development and what’s happening there. You can’t compare the Saudi Arabia of today, to that of 2016. 

As for the sector most ripe and ready to connect with Australian businesses, Jamseedi says that the scale of the boom means there are few sectors that are off limits. 

“Agriculture will be huge, but also construction, infrastructure, engineering, food and beverage. There are so many projects going on.”