Kingdom-Spain ties: Both countries share common stances on many issues

King Salman receives King Felipe VI of Spain at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Sunday. (SPA)
Updated 16 January 2017
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Kingdom-Spain ties: Both countries share common stances on many issues

RIYADH: Saudi-Spanish relations are based not only on traditional friendship and mutual respect, and ties between the two countries, but have progressed into deeper relations when culminated by the exchange of visits at the highest levels.
At different times the two countries witnessed the exchange of royal visits, strategic partnerships, and signed bilateral deals, which covered many areas.
The two countries have shared common stances toward many global and regional issues, notably the peace process in the Middle East to which the two countries played an outstanding role: Spain through the Madrid Peace Conference (1991) and Saudi Arabia through the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by King Salman (crown prince at the time) which later developed into an Arab initiative and adopted by the Arab Summit in Beirut, Lebanon, in March 2002.
In acknowledgment of the position of Spain, the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz patronized the international conference on dialogue between followers of the faiths in Madrid in July 2008. More than 200 figures representing Muslims, Christians, and Jews attended the event.
In recognition of his historic visit to Spain, the former king, Juan Carlos, awarded the late King Abdullah the Order of the Golden Fleece, the highest Spanish chivalric honor that is held by fewer than twenty other worldwide figures.
The former King Juan Carlos was a frequent guest of the Saudi royal house in his final years as the ruling monarch, visiting the country five times between 2006 and 2014. His close relations reportedly helped a Spanish company win a contract in 2011 to develop the $7 billion (SR26b) high-speed railway between the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Spain’s military ties to Saudi Arabia have since increased to become the fourth-biggest exporter of arms to Riyadh.
To enhance relations between the two countries, a series of deals were signed including, among others, the following:
l A general agreement on economic, investment and technical cooperation
l A cultural agreement covering higher education, research, languages and cooperation between universities (1984)
l A joint aviation agreement (1988)
l A memo of understanding (MOU) for political consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries (2006)
l An agreement to encourage and protect investments in both countries through the provision of regulatory and legal bases
l The establishment of a Saudi-Spanish infrastructure fund with a capital of $1 billion (SR3.75 billion) to finance infrastructure projects in the Kingdom
l An agreement to avoid double taxation in both countries
l A MOU in the health fields between the two countries
l A cooperation program in the area of tourism
On the economic side, an investment fund worth $5 billion (SR18.75 billion) was established by businessmen of the two countries for joint investments. The volume of trade between the two countries annually amounted to more than $3.5 billion (SR13.12 billion), and focused on many commodities including chemicals, metal products, medical supplies, and wooden products, among others.
To show close historical and cultural ties between the two countries, an exhibition titled “From Qurtuba to Cordoba” was organized in Riyadh in 2013.
In his statement at the time, Spanish Ambassador Joaquín Pérez-Villanueva, told the media that the exhibition revived the heritage of Muslims and their rich civilization, which is still preserved and present in the city of Cordoba.
Opening the event, Prince Sultan bin Salman, the head of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), emphasized the role of the exhibition in strengthening cultural relations between the governments of the two countries.
The prince highlighted how this event reflected the common ties shared between the people of Spain and the Kingdom.


Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

A photo taken on July 5, 2018, shows Bader al-Ajmi, 38,(L) owner of "One Way Burger" serving customers from his truck at a main street in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

  • The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017

JEDDAH: A major economic boost in the form of 10 major projects and investments exceeding SR685 billion ($183 billion) were unveiled as celebrations of the 88th Saudi National Day got under way.
The Council of Saudi Chambers released a report focusing on great economic achievements in 2017.
These projects reflect the Kingdom’s vision under the wise leadership of King Salman and that of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide a brighter future through diversifying sources of national income, tackling environmental challenges and increasing investment and prosperity.
The report summarized the most important events and economic developments in the Kingdom over the past year. These include the lifting of the ban on women driving in June, and the establishment of the General Authority for Cyber Security, in addition to the numerous royal decrees providing financial support to Saudis.
It also noted the important decisions related to the Saudi business sector. These include the launch of a private sector incentive program with a value of SR72 billion, the privatization of 10 government sectors and the establishment of the General Authority for Real Estate. The private sector is still showing a strong performance as an efficient partner in the inclusive development process and in the achievement of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, the report noted, as it contributes 39 percent to the Saudi gross domestic product (GDP).
The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017. There has been increased contribution to GDP from non-oil private sector streams.
The private sector also witnessed an increase in the number of workers, in its capital, in the number of shares on the Saudi market, in the cumulative number of establishments operating in the Kingdom, and in non-oil exports.
Continued growth of the private sector was attributed by the report to the Saudi government’s support. This support comes through initiatives such as the removal of obstacles to financial development, improvements to the working environment and policies adopted to boost investment.
It also reviewed the private sector’s efforts to support diversification of the economy and lower unemployment rates.
The importance of the measures taken to prioritize the employment of qualified Saudi workers over the employment of expatriates in the private sector were stressed, as well as the sector’s role in providing education and health services.