Commerce minister tells Portuguese businessmen of trade opportunities in Saudi Arabia

Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qassabi with trade delegates in Lisbon. (SPA)
Updated 09 December 2017
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Commerce minister tells Portuguese businessmen of trade opportunities in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Commerce and Investment Minister Dr. Majid Al-Qassabi told businessmen in Lisbon on Thursday that the Kingdom has a range of business opportunities under the Saudi Vision 2030 program that could be of mutual benefit to both countries.
“We look forward to enhancing cooperation between our two friendly countries in all fields since both countries possess great trade potentials and the Saudi Vision 2030 promises abundant opportunities,” he said at the Saudi-Portuguese Joint Committee fourth ministerial meeting.
Al-Qassabi headed the Kingdom’s delegation, while the host team was led by Portuguese Minister of National Defense Jose Alberto Azeredo Lopes.
Manuel Carvalho, Portuguese ambassador in Riyadh, was also present.
The Portuguese side expressed the hope of their companies to identify opportunities in vital sectors such as technology, infrastructure, environment, renewable energy and tourism.
Speaking to Arab News from Lisbon, Ambassador Carvalho said highlights of the meeting included the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Ports Authority and the Lisbon Ports Authority to make improvements in logistics, and the Kingdom agreeing to lift the ban on the import of meat and meat products from Portugal.
He said the two sides stressed the importance of boosting bilateral trade and investment flows between the countries.
They also highlighted the importance of the reforms adopted in the Kingdom under the Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program 2020.
They agreed to create more opportunities for deepening joint cooperation, including in the private sector. Areas of investments identified included education, fisheries, air transport and other areas within the framework of understanding between the two countries, he said.
Mutual cooperation was also discussed in entrepreneurship development, small and medium-sized enterprise development and the importance of exchanging and sharing the best methods of innovation and business development.
The Saudi and Portuguese sides agreed to enhance the visits of specialized delegations in sectors of mutual interest and expressed the desire to deepen bilateral trade and investment.
The volume of trade exchange between the Kingdom and Portugal in 2016 was SR2,792 million ($745 million).
Bilateral trade between the two countries grew significantly during the period from January to September 2016, registering an increase of 26.5 percent during the same period of 2017.
During the first nine months of 2017, Portuguese exports to the Kingdom reached €100 million ($134 million), while its imports from the Kingdom had topped €440 million.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”