UAE retail heavyweight Lulu Group, founded by influential Indian business leader Yusuff Ali Musliam, plans to invest in Saudi Arabia’s $500bn (SAR1.9tn) Neom megacity. Ali, chairman of Abu Dhabi-headquartered Lulu, said the company is “upbeat” about Vision 2030-backed opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement on Lulu’s website, he said: “We are upbeat about the vast investment opportunities laid open in the kingdom, thanks to Vision 2030.

“Our group plans to make investments in the $500bn Neom transnational megacity and economic zone.”

Investment processing work is under way for the Neom venture, the statement on Lulu’s website added.

Ali revealed these details during the launch of Lulu’s 14thhypermarket in the country, situated in the north-west region of Tabuk. Located in Tabuk Park Mall on King Faisal Road, the new Lulu Hypermarket covers a total built-up area of 13,470m2.

In addition to the hypermarkets, Lulu’s portfolio also includes eight commissaries for Saudi Aramco. Ali credits Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defence, for Lulu’s growth in the kingdom.

Ali said Saudisation was a key priority for Lulu Group, which currently employs more than 3,000 nationals. He added: “Our goal is to employ 6,000 Saudi nationals by the end of 2020.

“We have a very elaborate and effective multi-level training programme through which we not only train [locals] here but also send them to our other regions in the GCC and India for training in various departments.”

This July, Lulu unveiled its $267m (SAR1bn) expansion programme for Saudi Arabia. At the time, Ali said the company would open 15 hypermarkets in the kingdom, of which five will open this year.

He added: “This includes three hypermarkets in Riyadh, followed by one each in Tabuk and Dammam. This is [separate from the $267m] we have already invested in the kingdom till now.”

Neom is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest investments to date, and is expected to propel the country as a tourism hub in the Middle East. The project features global industry giants in its advisory board, including Lord Norman Forster, founder and executive chairman of global architectural design firm Fosters + Partners and Ernest Moniz, the 13th US Secretary of Energy between 2013 and January 2017 under President Barack Obama.