Mars building candy factory in Saudi Arabia

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McLean-based Mars Inc. plans to build a candy manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia.

Mars Saudi Arabia initially will invest $60 million in the plant in the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) with an additional investment of $150 million during the next 10 years, according to a Mars news release.

The facility, which is scheduled to open in 2014, will produce Galaxy and Galaxy Jewels chocolate candy, brands which are popular in the Middle East.

The factory would initially employ 60 workers but eventually would have 300 to 400 employees when the factory is fully operational. The facility will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards.

In a statement, Fahd Al-Rasheed, the managing director and CEO of KAEC, said the announcement proves “King Abdullah Economic City has the ability to attract leading companies from diverse industries from across the globe, and we are pleased to have Mars Inc. establish their presence at KAEC’s Industrial Valley as the world’s leading confectionary,”

Mars has been operating in Saudi Arabia for 30 years.

“Developing and nurturing Saudi talent is an important priority for Mars,” Mohamad Safieddine, general manager at Mars Saudi Arabia, said in a statement. “We are going to invest in the Kingdom’s talented people through offering trainings, internships and partnerships with local educational establishments and by focusing opportunities for Saudi women in fields such as marketing, sales, finance, engineering, as well as research and development.”

KAEC is a $86 billion project announced in 2005. The city, which covers 66.8 square miles, is located along the coast of the Red Sea north of Jeddah, the country’s commercial center.

KAEC is being built in four phases and is scheduled for completion in 2025. One of its main purposes is to help diversify the economy of Saudi Arabia.

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