Saudi Arabia, South Korea making progress on 40 Vision 2030 projects

The Korea-Saudi Vision 2030 committee launched in October 2017. (Shutterstock)
Updated 05 October 2018

Saudi Arabia, South Korea making progress on 40 Vision 2030 projects

  • Our two countries are rapidly expanding cooperation into diverse sectors: South Korean ambassador

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and South Korea have made headway on 40 projects identified by a joint panel within the framework of Vision 2030, according to South Korean Ambassador Jo Byung-Wook. 

One of the biggest is a collaboration in the nuclear-energy sector, as part of which 48 Saudi nuclear engineers have so far been sent to South Korea to work with experts there.

Speaking to Arab News, Jo said: “As Vision 2030 spurs exciting economic opportunities in Saudi Arabia, our two countries are rapidly expanding cooperation into diverse sectors such as health care, renewable and nuclear energy, smart cities, e-government, SMEs and capacity building,” he said.

The Korean envoy said most of these areas directly affect the daily lives of the Saudi people and are central to the Saudi government’s job-creation initiatives.

“The Korea-Saudi Vision 2030 committee, launched in October 2017, serves as a one-stop platform to manage cooperation across five key industrial sectors,” said Jo, adding that the committee has elevated about 40 cooperation projects to the government-to-government level.

“The projects include training the next generation of Saudi e-government specialists, strengthening the Kingdom’s health insurance system and building a state-of-the-art shipbuilding plant on the east coast. Additionally, we are working to share expertise in the renewable energy sector and in the construction of smart cities and smart airports. Indeed, there has been substantial progress across those 40 cooperation projects since the launch of the committee.

“In the sustainable and nuclear energy sector, Korea and Saudi Arabia are jointly designing compact-sized nuclear plants, namely SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor Technology), that will be constructed in the Kingdom.”

He added: “Korea’s KEPCO is the world’s first and only contractor with experience building a nuclear reactor in a desert environment and climate very similar to that of Saudi Arabia — at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the UAE.”

A second Korea-Saudi Vision 2030 committee is due to meet later this year, focusing “on how to make real headway across those 40 cooperation projects,” said Jo.

Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

Updated 18 February 2019

Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

  • Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy
  • Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom

RIYADH: A major transformation is underway in Saudi Arabia’s economic relationship with Pakistan, according to Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, a former ambassador to Islamabad.

In a wide-ranging interview with Arab News, the former envoy said greater interaction between business and the private sectors in both countries will take the historical bond “to a new level.” 

Asseri, who spent nine years in Islamabad and was the second-longest serving Saudi ambassador to the country, said: “We know that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have always enjoyed an incomparable level of understanding and friendship based on religion, culture and values. There is a historical bond between the two countries. 

“I have no doubt that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is taking a cohesive approach to strengthen the relationship and take it to another level.” 

Asseri said that while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan cooperated closely on security matters, bilateral trade between the countries remained limited to about $4 billion. 

“We need to ... encourage the private sectors to interact more. We can help Pakistan’s industry and we need to become more involved in the trade sector. There are advanced industries and firms in Pakistan, and they have raw materials — it’s a good environment for investors.”

Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy. The Kingdom is also making billion-dollar direct investments in the country in line with the China-Pakistan economic corridor. 

“I am happy to see a major transformation underway in Saudi-Pakistani economic relationships with our leadership and government deciding to invest in the economic development of Pakistan,” he said. 

The former ambassador said frequent official visits between the two countries were important. 

“I came back recently from Pakistan, and the vibe of the media, government and people was so optimistic. Pakistanis were excited about the crown prince’s visit. People hope it will bring great opportunities for the economy as well as strengthening the political and social ties between the two countries,” he said.

Asseri said Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had faced many challenges together in recent decades.

In 2001, during Asseri’s first year as Saudi ambassador in Pakistan, the 9/11 attacks on New York led to greater cooperation between Islamabad and Riyadh in dealing with terrorism.

The Kingdom had been closely involved with Pakistan since its independence, he said. “King Abdul Aziz sent King Saud and Prince Faisal to Pakistan at that time. So if we go back through history, we can see that this relationship is truly unique.” 

Asseri also highlighted the ties between the two countries on humanitarian issues, security and military issues, saying: “Pakistan has suffered serious security and humanitarian consequences of the decades-long war in Afghanistan, besides housing millions of Afghan refugees.

“Together Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have worked for peace in Afghanistan and will do whatever it takes to achieve this long-desired goal.”

Asseri said Pakistanis were quick to show their appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s assistance in the past regardless of the change in Pakistani leadership over the years. 

“The relationship is unique because it is between people. Such a relationship (will) keep growing with every generation.

“When Pakistan was in a difficult position in 2005 after a devastating earthquake, Saudi Arabia went out of its way to provide the support it needed. Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz and eight ministers visited Balochistan. Field hospitals were created with Saudi doctors treating people and performing surgery there.” 

Pakistan also has a deep loyalty to Saudi Arabia, Asseri said. “Pakistan has military expertise, and through cooperation between the two countries, it helped the Saudi military during its development.” 

“The Kingdom’s recent appointment of a Saudi commercial attache in Pakistan will also bolster the economic links between the two countries,” he said. 

“There are good minds in Pakistan and good products that could be manufactured in Saudi Arabia.”

Asseri said he is also optimistic that Saudi plans to build a major oil refinery in Gwadar will help create an “economic hub.” 

The former envoy said the Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan will add to the relationship between the countries. 

Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom. 

“Young Pakistanis who are advanced in the IT and industrial sectors are looking forward to helping and cooperating with Saudi Arabia, and sharing their experiences and knowledge,” he said.