RIYADH: A Saudi-Russian business forum aimed at boosting investment opportunities between the two countries was held on Monday to coincide with President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to the Kingdom.
The gathering in Riyadh resulted in the signing of 17 memorandums of understanding (MoU) and the granting of four investment licenses covering a range of industry sectors.
The Saudi-Russian CEOs’ forum was organized by the Saudi Center for International Strategic Partnerships, in collaboration with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).
More than 400 delegates attended the event representing the Saudi and Russian ministries of energy, commerce and investment, environment, water and agriculture along with public and private bodies from both sides.
The forum discussed a number of vital topics such as the future of energy, solutions for its sustainability, ongoing and upcoming investments between the two countries, joint opportunities for cooperation, as well as agricultural sustainability and global food security.
Energy minister and chairman of the Saudi-Russian joint committee, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, stressed the importance of Saudi-Russian relations and common interests, and said the desire to boost cooperation by the leaderships of both countries had culminated in the exchange visits of King Salman and Putin.
He said that both countries were working toward achieving the strategic aspirations and goals of the Vision 2030 and Russian strategic development plans, along with the expansion of cooperation from the energy industry to all developmental, economic and financial sectors.
The prince noted that the partnership between the two countries was focused through the Saudi-Russian committee on the oil industry, other energy sectors, scientific research, space, health services, fiscal administration, mineral wealth, tourism, the aviation industry, cultural cooperation and strengthening trade relations in the diplomatic framework and others.
Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi said that relations between the Kingdom and Russia were solid and stressed the importance of the CEOs’ forum and the topics under discussion.
He added that the Saudi economy was one of the strongest and fastest growing among the G20 countries and noted that the Kingdom provided valuable investment opportunities for Russian investors to start their work in the Saudi market.
The minister pointed out that the forum provided a platform to discover new avenues for investment between the two nations and enhance existing cooperation.
In addition, Al-Qassabi said the gathering offered a chance to gain deeper knowledge about the two countries’ cultures, which in turn would help toward building a promising global economic future.
In a session on agricultural sustainability and food security, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli said that there were clear opportunities for Saudi-Russian partnerships in the area of agriculture and food security, especially due to the Kingdom’s geographic location linking it to many continents. He noted that both countries had the necessary elements for success in this area.
Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the RDIF, said: “The unprecedented visit of the high-level Russian delegation to the Kingdom is within the context of the Russian president’s visit to discuss the most important global and common topics between both countries.”
He noted that both sides were looking for prospects of cooperation in the sector of energy, and bilateral investments in projects ranging from technology to food security.
Seventeen MoUs were signed between Saudi and Russian bodies in targeted sectors such as technology, petrochemicals, transport, logistic services, energy, financial services and space.
Russian organizations involved included the RDIF, Gazprom, as well as Chelyabinsk, Russian Railways, electrical equipment supplier Izolyator, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and the Russian Institute for Energy and Finance.
During the forum, SAGIA granted four investment licenses to Saudi and Russian bodies operating in construction and real estate development, information and communication technologies, financial consulting and architecture.
The investments are in line with the Kingdom’s economic reforms aimed at attracting quality funding into Saudi markets.
SAGIA recently announced the issuing of 291 foreign investment licenses during the second quarter of 2019, more than double on the same period in 2018 and a 103 percent increase on the first quarter of 2019.