Pact with Microsoft boosts Vision 2030

PARTNERS IN PROGRESS: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman oversees a signing ceremony with Microsoft Corporation in the presence of the company’s CEO Satya Nadella,left, in the US.
Updated 22 June 2016
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Pact with Microsoft boosts Vision 2030

JEDDAH: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has signed agreements with Microsoft Corporation International to boost training and assist in technology transfers, as part of Vision 2030.
Prince Mohammed also met with senior officials of Cisco Systems during his visit to the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, where he was briefed on the latest technologies, including those for the telecommunications industry.
The visit ended with the signing of an MoU to speed up the pace of digital transformation in the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, local economists, strategists and researchers are optimistic that Prince Mohammed’s visit to the US would see major two-way investments between the long-time allies, a local publication reported on Tuesday.
Mohammed Al-Qahtani, an economist and university professor, said that countries around the world would increasingly realize the importance of the Kingdom to the global economy.

“The visit of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will improve relations and present the vision more clearly,” he said.
Abdulrazak Al-Aliou, an economist, said the visit is just one part of several initiatives announced by the government as part of Vision 2030, which includes the 2.5 percent annual tax on unused land, which would raise nearly SR200 billion. This would help diversify sources of income.
Al-Aliou said the second measure was the Council of Ministers’ decision to allow foreign companies to invest in the retail and wholesale sector with 100 percent ownership, a move that would encourage foreign investors. “Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a transparent man who has nothing to hide ... this will not change during his visit to the United States,” he said.
Economists and businesspeople also agree that there would be significant growth in trade between the countries, which has already seen a rise over the past 10 years from $26 billion to $74 billion.
Basheer Al-Ghareed, chief executive officer and secretary general of the Saudi-American Business Council, said the United States was the most important destination for top foreign investors in North America, making up 87 percent of investments in the region. He said Texas, New York City, and Florida were the three most desired areas for foreign investors in the United States.
He said foreign investors in the America were increasingly looking to manufacturing, real estate, entertainment, petrochemicals, manufacturing and renewable energy. In 2015, Saudi Arabia’s foreign investments amounted to nearly $13.5 billion, with the largest chunk coming from SABIC and Aramco.
Aramco aims to intensify its activities in refinery facilities in Texas and Port Arthur to reach a refining and production level of 600,000 barrels per day, he said. The company has succeeded in expanding research and development facilities in Michigan and Massachusetts, and logistics services in New York. SABIC in the United States recently acquired the plastics division of General Electric, worth $11.7 billion, said Al-Ghareed.
Aman Al-Eyadi, a businesswoman and head of the board of Riyadh Al-Kharami Schools for Education, said the historic trade ties between the Kingdom and the United States would see further cooperation in technology and manufacturing, which would help the small and medium enterprises sector in the Kingdom.


Trump vows to remain steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia

Updated 1 min 7 sec ago
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Trump vows to remain steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia

  • The Kingdom is a great ally in our fight against Iran and terrorism, said US president.
  • Saudis have worked closely with us to keep oil prices at reasonable levels, he added.

JEDDAH: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the United States intends to remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia.

In a statement issued by the White House, he said he would not cancel multibillion-dollar military deals with Riyadh, adding: “If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries.”

Trump said US intelligence agencies are still studying the evidence in an attempt to discover how Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, and who planned it.

“The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone,” the president said. “Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi and the disposal of his body.

“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information.

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world.”

Describing the world as “a very dangerous place,” Trump condemned Iran for its malign activity in the region.

“Iran...is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more,” he said. “Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel.’ Iran is considered ‘the world’s leading sponsor of terror.’

“Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.”

Describing agreements reached during his trip to Saudi Arabia last year, Trump said: “The Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States.

“Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great US defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries — and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States.”

Trump said that members of Congress were free to reach their own conclusions.

“I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction — and they are free to do so,” he said. “I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America.

“After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil-producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keep oil prices at reasonable levels (which is) so important for the world. As president of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply, it is called ‘America First.’”