Saudi Arabia opens new Baghdad consulate and pledges $1bn in loans for Iraq

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Iraq Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim raises the Saudi flag during the opening ceremony of the Saudi consulate in Baghdad on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (AP)
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Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and Iraq Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim arrive for the opening ceremony of a Saudi Arabia consulate in Baghdad. (AP)
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Saudi flag flying at the new Saudi consulate headquarters in the high security "Green Zone" in the centre of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (AFP)
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Iraq Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, after the opening ceremony of a Saudi Arabia consulate in Baghdad. (AP)
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A Saudi flag flying over the gatehouse to the new Saudi consulate headquarters in the high security "Green Zone" in the centre of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia opened its consulate in Baghdad on Thursday, with the heads of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council in attendance. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia opened its consulate in Baghdad on Thursday, with the heads of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council in attendance. (SPA)
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Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Al-Hakim raises the Saudi flag alongside Saudi Arabia's Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi during the inauguration of the new Saudi consulate compound
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Iraq's President Barham Salih and Saudi Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi meet at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq April 4, 2019. (Reuters)
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Iraq's President Barham Salih meets with Saudi Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and other Saudi delegates at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq April 4, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 05 April 2019
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Saudi Arabia opens new Baghdad consulate and pledges $1bn in loans for Iraq

  • Saudi Arabia will provide Iraq with $1 billion in loans for development projects
  • Three other Saudi consulates will open in Iraqi cities soon

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia opened a new consulate in Baghdad on Thursday after announcing  $1 billion in loans for development projects in Iraq.

Three more diplomatic branches are to be opened in other Iraqi cities soon, Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi said

Saudi Arabia and Iraq have moved to improve relations in recent months.  The Kingdom reopened its Baghdad embassy in 2016 after it was closed in 1991 in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

The opening of the new consulate building came as senior ministers from the Kingdom visited Baghdad as part of a meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia will provide Iraq with $1 billion in loans for development projects, Al-Qassabi said, plus $500 million to boost exports and a gift of a 100,000-seat sports stadium to be built on Baghdad’s outskirts.

“A new phase of relations between Riyadh and Baghdad has begun,” Al-Qassabi, who is leading the Saudi delegation, said. 

“We have seen from the Iraqi side sincere feelings of brotherhood.”

He said 13 agreements between the two countries were in their final stages. These will “have a significant impact on raising the level of cooperation between the two countries,” Al-Qassabi added.

Trade will also be boosted when the Arar border crossing between the two countries opens in six months.

Al-Qassabi was speaking during a press conference held with Iraq’s Oil Minister Thamir Ghadban.

The second session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, started on Thursday in Baghdad.

The meeting discussed ways to improve cooperation and relations. The council previously met in Riyadh in October 2017.

As part of the visit, around 80 Saudi and Iraqi businessmen and investors met on Thursday on improving economic ties.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan visited some of Baghdad’s famous historic and cultural sites on Thursday.

These included Mutanabbi Street, Al-Qashla and the Abbasid Palace.

“Baghdad is distinguished by many cultural and archaeological landmarks, which are immortalized by history as cultural symbols of great importance,” Prince Badr said. “Baghdad is considered a beacon of cultural heritage in the Arab world.”

The first meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was held in Riyadh in October 2017.


Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

Updated 19 April 2019
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Finance officials meet to map out Saudi Arabia’s budget plans

  • Finance representatives of 150 government bodies meet for the Budget Forum 2020

RIYADH: Saudi finance chiefs have kicked off a major conference in the capital aimed at mapping out the Kingdom’s budget requirements.
Around 300 specialists representing 150 government bodies met at the InterContinental hotel in Riyadh for the Budget Forum 2020.
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan welcomed delegates to the second edition of the gathering organized by the Saudi Finance Ministry under the slogan “Partnership and Empowerment.”
Al-Jadaan said the ministry was focused on “partnership and commitment,” and sought to share the challenge of developing an effective budget to achieve the Kingdom’s ambitious goals.
“We are also committed to empowering financial leaderships to learn about the ministry’s programs and projects and provide training and qualification opportunities to the best international standards,” he added.
The finance chief said the budget planning process required the collaboration of multiple authorities and a clear strategy based on transparency. 
Items up for discussion at the forum included financial planning in governmental bodies, automation, and the promotion of revenues and efficient spending.
Finance Ministry steering committee chairman, Abdul Aziz bin Saleh Al-Freih, stressed the importance of the forum in getting the ball rolling at an early stage on formulating a general state budget.
Workshops were held on the sidelines of the conference focused on empowering government organizations, and a training program on financial planning and income estimations was also staged.