Saudi Arabia, South Korea sign $8.3 billion deals

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-In shakes hands during a meeting at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul on June 26, 2019. (AFP)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-In shakes hands during a meeting at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul on June 26, 2019. (AFP)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-In (not pictured) during a meeting at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul on June 26, 2019. (AFP)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and South Korean President Moon Jae-In walk to view an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Seoul. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and South Korean President Moon Jae-In walk to view an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential Blue House. (AP)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and South Korean President Moon Jae-In during a welcoming ceremony in Seoul. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and South Korean President Moon Jae-In walk to view an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Seoul. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a welcoming ceremony in Seoul. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has arrived in Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has arrived in Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is welcomed by South Korean top officials including President Moon Jae-in upon his arrival in Seoul on Wednesday. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman upon his arrival in Seoul on Wednesday. (SPA)
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Huge banners showing a portrait of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are seen on the wall of the S-Oil headquarters building in Seoul. (AFP)
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group. (SPA)
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with the chairman of LG Group Koo Kwang-mo. (SPA)
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Hyundai Group’s executive vice president, Chung Eui-sun and Hyundai Heavy Industries President Sam-hyun Ka. (SPA)
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Updated 28 June 2019
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Saudi Arabia, South Korea sign $8.3 billion deals

  • On first visit to Seoul, Saudi crown prince oversees raft of agreements on energy, motors, tourism and health
  • President Moon pledges support for KSA’s Vision 2030 drive to diversify economy away from oil

SEOUL: Saudi Arabia and South Korea signed an $8.3 billion economic cooperation pact on Wednesday during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s first visit to Seoul.

The signing followed talks between the crown prince and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to strengthen bilateral ties between the two governments.

The crown prince, who also serves as deputy prime minister and minister of defense of the Kingdom, was received by South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon and Saudi Ambassador to Seoul Riyadh Al-Mubaraki. The Saudi leader and Moon inspected an honor guard at the presidential Blue House in central Seoul before delegations from both countries conducted the summit.

During the summit talks, President Moon expressed hope the bilateral relationship would take a leap forward on the occasion of the crown prince’s visit to South Korea, the first by an heir to the throne of the world’s largest oil exporter since 1998.

“Saudi Arabia is the largest oil supplier for us, and it’s the biggest customer for South Korean construction firms. It is also our No. 1 trade partner in the Middle East,” Moon said, referring to Saudi’s Vision 2030 project as a key area of mutual cooperation.

“As a partner of the Vision 2030 project, South Korea will expand cooperation with Saudi Arabia to the areas of information and communications technology, smart infrastructure, defense, health and medicine and others beyond the traditional cooperation on energy and construction,” Moon said.

Saudi Aramco 

Most of the agreement is in the form of a $6 billion deal between Saudi Aramco and the Korean company S-Oil to build an oil refinery and downstream petrochemical facilities in South Korea.

A giant banner welcoming the crown prince was on display at the Seoul headquarters of S-Oil, South Korea’s third-biggest refiner, which is majority owned by Aramco.

Prince Mohammed said the Kingdom planned to invest even more in South Korea, especially on expanding collaboration in the fields of energy, automotive, tourism and health.

“The people of both countries will thrive through cooperation in the sectors of defense and economy,” he said.
President Moon Jae-in said his government would provide full support to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify its economy away from its dependence on energy.
 

The two leaders discussed ways of boosting their relationship, with a focus on the new industrial sectors of information and communications technology, hydrogen energy, robots, health, medical services and culture.

Saudi Arabia is South Korea’s “biggest construction market overseas, the largest investor in the country among countries in the Middle East and also the biggest trading partner in the region,” the president said.

 

The National Intellectual Property Strategy Program was signed in the presence of the crown prince and the South Korean president. (Supplied)

The $8.3bn economic deal also involved several other agreements between Aramco and Korean companies, including the Korea National Oil Corporation, Hyundai Heavy Industries and carmaker Hyundai Motor.

Aramco alone signed 12 separate agreements worth billions of dollars with South Korean partners as it plans to increase its global footprint over the next decade. One of the deals, with Hyundai, is for cooperation on hydrogen-fuelled cars.

The crown prince, on the first visit to South Korea since 1998 by the heir to the Saudi throne, held talks with the heads of South Korea’s biggest conglomerates, including Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong; Chung Eui-sun, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group; Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group; LG chairman Koo Kwang-mo; and Chung Ki-sun, senior executive vice president of Hyundai Heavy Industries.

“I hope companies from both nations can set up a strategic and cooperative relationship through vibrant business activity,” the crown prince said.

Hyundai Motor and Aramco signed an MoU to cooperate on hydrogen energy. (Supplied)

Regional stability

Prince Mohammed and the prime minister jointly condemned terrorism that harmed energy security and regional stability in the Middle East, including attacks by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen on Abha airport in southern Saudi Arabia.

The crown prince pledged to help with any fuel shortages suffered by South Korea in the event of supply disruption caused by tension in the Middle East.

Seoul’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, meanwhile, said it has agreed with its Saudi Arabian counterpart to join hands in the automobile segment for the development of environment-friendly cars.

“Both governments will cooperate in developing technologies to utilize hydrogen as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels as well, the ministry said in a statement.

After South Korea, the crown prince is scheduled to travel to Japan to head the Saudi Arabian delegation at the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 28-29.
 

 


First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

Updated 17 July 2019
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First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

  • 4,000 to partake in this year’s pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased quota

COLOMBO: Nearly 180 Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia on Monday night, but not before thanking the Kingdom for the comprehensive facilities offered to them.

Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Haleem, Sri Lanka’s minister of postal services and Muslim religious affairs, said that this year’s issuing of Hajj visas was smooth due to the new e-Hajj services introduced by the Saudi government. 

“We were able to process all 4,000 Hajj visas efficiently. All of them were issued well in time,” Haleem said.

He added that officials from his ministry will be available at the airport to assist the pilgrims with their departures.

The minister said the flights of pilgrims this year will be ferried by both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. Haleem, who intends to participate in this year’s Hajj, said that the last flight of Sri Lankan pilgrims will leave Colombo on Aug. 7.

Sajjath Mohammed, a journalist from Madawala News, praised the e-Hajj service, saying: “The biometric services for the visas were available to pilgrims in Kandy and Batticaloa in addition to Colombo, the capital of the island.”

Rizmi Reyal, president of the International Airline Ticketing Academy in Sri Lanka, said that this year the Hajj services from Colombo have been enhanced to give a better experience to the pilgrims. He thanked the Saudi government, the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry in Colombo, the Saudi Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh for playing their part in these improvements.

The Sri Lankan government will also send a medical team to attend to any urgent needs of the pilgrims before they are taken to the nearest medical facilities in the two holy cities.