Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

The tour, which saw Saudi Arabia’s crown prince welcomed by the leaders of Pakistan, India and China, is in line with the crown prince’s Vision 2030, which plans to transform Saudi Arabia’s economy away from a dependence on oil. The tour resulted in billions of dollars in economic deals as well as initiatives to increase security and combat terrorism. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2019
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Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

  • Benefits of three-country tour include billions in economic deals as well as security initiatives

JEDDAH: The three-country tour of Asia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that came to a close this weekend was an economic and strategic success, experts say.

“Saudi Arabia might be seen by some as moving to the East,” Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), told Arab News. “The correct way to put it is that it’s spreading its wings East and West.

“Economic diversification requires strategic diversification. This should not be seen in any way as Saudi Arabia giving the cold shoulder to its most trusted allies, specifically the US,” he said. “And as Joseph Parry said: ‘Make new friends but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold.’”

The tour, which saw Saudi Arabia’s crown prince warmly welcomed by the leaders of Pakistan, India and China, is in line with the crown prince’s Vision 2030, which plans to transform Saudi Arabia’s economy that relies on crude oil exports into a vibrant, diversified economy. The tour resulted in billions of dollars in economic deals as well as initiatives to increase security and combat terrorism.

“Saudi Arabia is the one and only country that can take the leadership position on the global efforts of combating terrorism, specifically in the ideological front,” Al-Ansari said.

Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said that China and Saudi Arabia have the same goals of security and stability. “China shares the Kingdom’s concerns and it knows that our continent has suffered from terrorism issues and international interventions and also troubles in the region.”

The two countries also improved on their mutually beneficial economic ties. As Al-Shehri pointed out: “China needs a huge energy source, and Saudi Arabia is one of these sources that can provide China with energy.”

One significant deal is the $10 billion refining and petrochemical complex, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Norinco, to be developed in the Chinese city of Panjin.

Also of great geopolitical significance is the $10-billion oil-refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, as it is one of the most important parts of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, Al-Shehri said. “Global players are willing to invest in this project. The Kingdom’s investment in this field will serve Pakistan and will benefit the Kingdom as well as the (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor).”

And despite its historical relationship with Pakistan, Al-Shehri said that the Kingdom also found common ground with India. For instance, the two countries agreed to set up a working group on counter-terrorism. 

“India shares the Kingdom’s concern about instability in the seas, such as the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. These are all places of global trade,” Al-Shehri said, adding that he hopes the Kingdom will play a role in resolving border points of contention between Pakistan and India as it did between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

It wasn’t all just business. The crown prince’s tour included some other announcements, including that 2,100 Pakistani and 850 Indian prisoners will be released from the Kingdom’s jails, that the Chinese language will be introduced in the Saudi school curriculum and that Saudi Arabia will soon host several concerts featuring major Bollywood performers.

The crown prince also called for the creation of a health center in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province dedicated to the memory of a Pakistani hero who saved 14 lives in Jeddah’s 2009 floods.

 


Dr. Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Aqeeli, vice rector at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

Updated 32 min 23 sec ago
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Dr. Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Aqeeli, vice rector at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

Dr. Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Aqeeli is the vice rector for applied studies and research at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran.

He has been published more than 100 times in reputable journals and given lectures at more than 35 conferences. He has been involved in research grants exceeding SR120 million ($32 million) supported by companies and institutions such as the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Aramco, KFUPM and Lockheed Martin Aircraft Industries.

Al-Aqeeli has 17 patents registered with the US Patent Office and three with the Gulf Patent Office. He got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from KFUPM and his doctorate in materials engineering from McGill University in Canada.

He worked in the materials, science, and engineering department of MIT as a postdoctoral fellow and was a research scientist at Harvard.

Al-Aqeeli has won several awards, including the Almarai prize from KACST for creative achievement in 2015 and the Arab Creativity Award from the Arab Thought Foundation that same year. He is a member of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society, the American Society for Metals-International, and chairman of the board at the Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering.

Female students of KFUPM represented the Kingdom at Intel ISEF 2019 in Arizona, US. They won five major awards. Shouq Faisal Madani received a scholarship from the University of Arizona. 

Commenting on the achievement of KFUPM students, Al-Aqeeli said: “We are proud of the students of the university.”

He also vowed to take measures to promote and nurture local talent.