Saudi, UAE crown princes to visit Pakistan early next year

Saudi, UAE crown princes to visit Pakistan early next year
This file photo shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, being received by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, upon the former’s arrival in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 22, 2018. (Saudi Royal Palace via AFP)
Updated 21 December 2018

Saudi, UAE crown princes to visit Pakistan early next year

Saudi, UAE crown princes to visit Pakistan early next year
  • Move expected to boost bilateral and economic ties with both allies
  • Economists say investments from Riyadh and Abu Dhabi will help create job opportunities in the country

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his UAE counterpart Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan will visit Pakistan in early 2019, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Media told Arab News on Friday.
Iftikhar Durrani said that the two royals are expected to visit the country in January and February to help “bolster bilateral and economic relationships”.
He added that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have shown an interest to invest in Pakistan. “All the deals are expected to materialize during the visits,” he said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had extended an invitation to the leaders during his recent trips to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Pakistani officials hope the visits will result in the signing of a number of business and investment deals, which could eventually provide a much-needed boost to the South Asian nation’s fragile economy.
Islamabad will seek a “deferred oil payments facility” from the UAE during Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit to Islamabad in January, Durrani said.
In October, Saudi Arabia had announced plans to extend a deferred oil payment facility worth $3 billion for Pakistan during PM Khan’s trip to the Kingdom. Durrani declined to disclose the sum of assistance from the UAE but added that both Saudi and the UAE would set up billions of dollars’ worth of oil refineries in Pakistan to help the country lower its crude oil exports.
“The federal cabinet on Thursday ratified a MoU (memorandum of understanding) of investment from Saudi Arabia regarding the setting up of an oil refinery in Gwadar,” he said, adding that “when honest leadership comes [into power], the business gets revived”.
Pakistan has improved its “ease of doing business”, while it is the prime minister’s top priority to promote businesses and investments in the country, he said.
Last week, Finance Minister Asad Umar had said that an investment package from Saudi Arabia would be announced soon and that it was going to be “the biggest foreign investment in Pakistan’s history”.
Economists said that Pakistan is going through a transition period to strengthen its economy and secure foreign investments, especially from friendly countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which in turn would help ease pressure on the current accounts deficit.
“Saudi and UAE investments in Pakistan for sure will help create job opportunities and strengthen our fragile economy,” Dr. Athar Ahmad, a senior economist, told Arab News.