Business deals worth $15 bn signed at key Saudi summit

Last Updated 29 October 2019, 13:29 IST

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced that 23 investment agreements totalling more than USD 15 billion in value were signed on the first day of a three-day high-profile financial summit, being attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other world leaders.

The deals were signed on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative, dubbed "Davos in the desert", which is an initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who plans to diversify the Kingdom's economy while reducing its economic dependence on petroleum products under his ambitious vision 2030 plan.

"Totaling more than USD 15 billion in value, these agreements were exchanged by signatories in a dedicated ceremony held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Coordinated under Invest Saudi," the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) said in a statement.

These agreements reflect the enormous potential that Saudi Arabia offers to investors from across the Kingdom and around the world, it added.

"The agreements exchanged here today reflect the strength and diversity of the economy. Under Saudi Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is undergoing an ambitious programme of economic reform, and the world is taking notice," Governor of SAGIA Ibrahim Al-Omar said, noting that Saudi Arabia climbed 30 places in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report earlier this month.

"The indicators are clear: Saudi Arabia is not only open for business, it’s the economy of the future," he said.

The three-day forum is hosting financiers, governments and industry leaders who would discuss global trade and explore the trends, opportunities and challenges shaping the global investment landscape over the coming decades.

Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in Riyadh late Monday night on a two-day visit, will deliver the keynote address under the title ''What's next for India?'' at the forum.

"I will speak about the growing trade and investment opportunities for the global investors in India as the country marches forward to a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024," Modi said in his departure statement on Monday.

Speaking at the forum, Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of the Reliance Industries Limited, said, "The youth of India are our driving force, and the reason India will propel itself to be the 3rd largest economy in the world."

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and President Donald Trump's advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner is also attending the forum, which witnessed mass boycott last year in the wake of the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Kingdom''s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

The forum is being attended by a number of world leaders this year, in a stark contrast from last year's summit which was widely boycotted.

King Abdullah of Jordan, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former British prime minister David Cameron are among the speakers at the forum, which would be attended by more than 6,000 people from over 30 countries.

The FII is organised by the Public Investment Fund, the Kingdom's main investment arm and one of the world's leading sovereign wealth funds. The forum is intended to project the Kingdom as the future investment hub in the region.

According to Invest Saudi’s Fall 2019 Investment Highlights report, which was launched on the sidelines of FII, over 250 overseas businesses were granted investor licenses Q3 2019 - 30 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

According to the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia has moved up three positions to the 36th place, globally, through its efforts to diversify the Kingdom’s economy.

The agreements signed at the forum on Tuesday include a USD 700 million investment deal between Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and Modular Middle East, a prefabricated building solutions company, a USD 300 million investment deal between SAGIA and ForDeal, a China-based online shopping platform, a USD 200 million between SAGIA and London-based Shiloh Minerals.

(Published 29 October 2019, 13:29 IST)

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