Saudi Arabia, Pakistan ‘to sign deals worth up to $20 billion’

Pakistan army trucks park outside a presidential palace as security is beefed up in Islamabad ahead of the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
Updated 17 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia, Pakistan ‘to sign deals worth up to $20 billion’

  • More than 30 public and private companies are poised to invest in Pakistan, including Saudi Aramco, SABIC and ACWA Power
  • The sectors targeted for Saudi investment include oil refining, petrochemical, mining, construction, power generation, agriculture and glass

KARACHI: Saudi Arabia is expected to announce investments in Pakistan worth between $15 billion and $20 billion during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official visit, according to the head of Pakistan’s Board of Investment.

The Kingdom and the UAE in recent months have offered Pakistan more than $30 billion in loans and investments to tackle a soaring current-account deficit. The Saudi crown prince is due to sign off on his country’s deals, including one for a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port.

“We are expecting Saudi investment in the range of $15 billion to $20 billion based on the interest investors have expressed so far,” said Haroon Sharif, minister of state and chairman of the Board of Investment.

Sharif previously said that Pakistan expected investments worth about $15 billion from Saudi Arabia over the next three years, and about $40 billion from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China combined in the next three to five years.

Mian Mehmood, the Pakistani head of the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said recently that in addition to the oil refinery project, a further $10 billion is expected to be invested in sectors other than oil and gas, bringing the total to $20 billion.

“About 25 to 30 agreements are expected to be finalized during the visit of the crown prince,” said Mehmood who recently led a business delegation to the Kingdom to explore bilateral investment and cooperation opportunities.

More than 30 public and private companies are poised to invest in Pakistan, including Saudi Aramco, SABIC and ACWA Power, he added.

The sectors targeted for Saudi investment include oil refining, petrochemical, mining, construction, power generation, agriculture and glass.

“Ten Saudi manufacturing companies working in construction and allied materials, and 10 companies interested in the food processing sector will come to sign agreements,” Mehmood said.

Speaking this month during a visit to Gwadar to inspect the site of the $10 billion oil refinery, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said: “Saudi Arabia wants to make Pakistan’s economic development stable through establishing an oil refinery and partnership with Pakistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.”

Work on the refinery is expected to begin within 18 months.

“Once the project starts production, the country would be able to save about $2 billion in foreign exchange on costly imports,” said Samiullah Tariq, the head of research at investment firm Arif Habib Limited.


Leisure chief hails Saudi Arabia’s $64 billion entertainment revolution

Updated 25 March 2019
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Leisure chief hails Saudi Arabia’s $64 billion entertainment revolution

  • Projects in the pipeline exxpected to create over 22,000 jobs and contribute over $2 billion to GDP by 2030
  • KSA’s travel and tourism sector accounted for about $65 billion of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is on the brink of a $64 billion entertainment revolution, a leisure business chief said on Sunday.

Projects in the pipeline will cater for more than 50 million visitors, create over 22,000 jobs and contribute over $2 billion to GDP by 2030, said Bill Ernest, chief executive of the Saudi Entertainment Ventures Co. (SEVEN). 

Ernest, a former Disney executive and a veteran of the entertainment industry, is already behind SEVEN’s venture with AMC Group to open cinemas in the Kingdom, its first new film venues in over 35 years.

He told delegates at a conference in Dubai on Sunday that Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector accounted for about $65 billion of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, making it more valuable than the automotive industry, manufacturing, agriculture and banking.

He said travel and tourism in the Kingdom sustained over a million jobs that year, and that the sector had expanded by 38.2 percent since 1997.

SEVEN is one of the first companies in Saudi Arabia to embrace government investment plans of $64 billion to develop entertainment over the next decade. Ernest sketched out SEVEN’s plans for the funds, giving details of a massive multi-cluster family entertainment destination in Riyadh.

Featuring cinemas, augmented reality activities, green open areas equipped for sports and aquatic activities, live show venues and restaurants, the Riyadh destination will be the first of many such projects planned across the country, as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program.

Job creation, Ernest said, was key to the project’s viability. “Our offerings will create exciting new roles for ambitious young Saudi nationals. We will need to provide training in new skill sets.

“While employing locals, we also want to create friendly, awe-inspiring environments where Saudi nationals will want to spend quality time with their family and friends.

“SEVEN aims to be the leader in Saudi Arabia’s entertainment ecosystem. We aim to facilitate the presence of both international and local brands, and in doing so, become the national entertainment champion.”