Saudi Arabia, China seal 15 deals

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SUCCESSFUL VISIT: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli clap after Saudi delegation members signed several important memorandums of understanding with Chinese officials in Beijing on Tuesday. (SPA)
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Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (center left) and China’s Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli (center right) witness the signing of memorandums of understanding between the two countries on Tuesday in Beijing. (SPA)
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Saudi and Chinese delegations led by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (second left) and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (right) meet in Beijing on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 31 August 2016
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Saudi Arabia, China seal 15 deals

BEIJING: Saudi Arabia and China signed 15 preliminary agreements on Tuesday in sectors from energy to housing on a trip headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at bolstering relations with a top energy customer and trade partner.
The visit is part of a broad reform drive to cut the kingdom’s reliance on oil exports and showcase Saudi Arabia as a dynamic international nation with diverse promising opportunities for global investors.
Prince Mohammed met China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Tuesday, state news agency SPA reported.
“During the meeting, the strategic relationships and future opportunities to enhance the existing partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China were reviewed,” SPA said.
Fifteen memorandums of understanding (MoU) were later signed between the two nations in different fields including oil storage, water resources, cooperation on science and technology, and cultural cooperation, SPA said.
In April, Prince Mohammed launched radical economic reforms designed to develop non-oil industries in Saudi Arabia and attract billions of dollars of foreign investment. Chinese and Japanese banks and companies are expected to play major roles.
Prince Mohammed arrived in China on Monday on the second leg of a three-day Asia tour that started in Islamabad, Pakistan. He will then visit Japan from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
From Japan, the prince will return to China to chair Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the Sept. 4-5 summit of leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies in the eastern city of Hangzhou.
Prince Mohammed is expected to present to the G20 his economic reform plan, which envisages state spending of around 270 billion riyals ($72 billion) in the next five years on projects to diversify the economy.
Saudi officials will also discuss energy cooperation agreements with Japan, the Saudi cabinet said last week.
Under Prince Mohammed’s economic reforms, Riyadh plans to sell a stake of less than 5 percent in national oil giant Saudi Aramco that could be worth tens of billions of dollars, and Chinese and Japanese money could prove crucial in smoothing the sale.
(Additional input from agencies)
 
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-ti
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”