Saudi Arabia, China to set up $20bn investment fund

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Saudi King Salman receives Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli in Jeddah on Thursday. (SPA)
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman holds talks with Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli in Jeddah on Thursday. (Royal Palace photo /Bandar Al-Jaloud via Arab News)
Updated 25 August 2017
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Saudi Arabia, China to set up $20bn investment fund

LONDON: Saudi Arabia and China plan to establish a $20 billion investment fund as the Kingdom deepens ties with its biggest Asian oil customer.
King Salman met Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli in Jeddah on Thursday amid a flurry of deal-making between the countries, which are both pursuing economic transformation plans through Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The pair plan to jointly operate the investment fund, sharing costs and profits on a 50:50 basis, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told Reuters on Thursday.
He was speaking on the sidelines of an economic conference where senior officials and businessmen from both countries assembled.
Saudi Arabia is pursuing an aggressive international investment strategy spearheaded by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is taking multibillion-dollar stakes in companies such as Uber Technologies. The PIF is set to become the world’s largest fund when it receives the proceeds from the initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi Aramco.
“The key thing in this is the increasing economic relations between Saudi Arabia and China, which is its main customer for oil,” Jason Tuvey, an economist at London-based Capital Economics, told Arab News.
“It sees China as its main growth engine at a time when demand for oil in many developed markets is falling. Saudi Aramco will want to make sure it remains the ‘go to’ oil producer for China.”
The closer ties between China and Saudi Arabia may also extend to international debt markets if the Kingdom looks to add foreign bond sales denominated in yuan as well as dollars.
“One of our main objectives is to diversify the funding basis of Saudi Arabia,” Vice Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri told the Jeddah conference, Reuters reported.
“We will do that through access to investors or bodies of liquidity in the markets. China is by far one of the top markets. We will also access other technical markets in terms of unique funding opportunities, private placements, panda bonds and others.”
Such overseas debt sales could not only help the country reduce its deficit but also fund job-creating investments at home.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is driving an ambitious economic diversification plan which aims to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and boost investment in new sectors.
He also co-chairs the high-level Saudi-Chinese Joint Committee with Zhang.
The first meeting of the committee was held in Beijing a year ago.


Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”