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Saudi and British corporate giants sign $2bn deals

18 economic agreements were signed at the Saudi - UK CEO Forum. (Al-Ekhbariya)
LONDON: Some of the biggest corporate names from Saudi Arabia and the UK announced deals worth SR8 billion ($2.13 billion) in London yesterday.
About 18 agreements were signed as CEO’s from both countries gathered at a forum in London’s Mansion House which was part of a series of events arranged around a three-day official visit by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The crown prince this week met with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Prince Charles and  senior government officials as both countries set out plans to build £65 billion ($90.29 billion) trade and investment ties in coming years. 
The move comes as both countries embark on radical new economic journeys — which in the case of Britain involves leaving the EU and for Saudi Arabia means framing a social and economic future that is no longer reliant on oil. 
The pair see a number of synergies emerging from both processes, underscored by the flurry of deals signed yesterday.
The Kingdom is also simplifying and speeding up the paperwork needed to establish businesses in an effort to stimulate the SME sector while also drawing in more external investment.
Among the new partnerships announced yesterday was a preliminary agreement between Saudi Aramco and Royal Dutch Shell. 
“It is a discussion that began some time ago and now we have signed a memorandum to work on gas projects from upstream to downstream across the world and in Saudi Arabia. Concrete projects would be announced in due course,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden told Reuters after the signing ceremony. Other deals covered sectors that included health, investment, innovation and energy. 
The crown prince also met British finance minister Philip Hammond at the Saudi embassy in London, a government spokesperson said on Thursday.
The UK visit cheered investors on the Tadawul Saudi stock exchange which led gains in Gulf markets yesterday.
The UK and Saudi Arabia have long-standing business ties, with about 6,000 UK firms engaged in business with the Kingdom according to the Saudi British Joint Business Council.

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