SINGAPORE: Singaporean businesses are looking to benefit from increasing cooperation with Saudi Arabia following a series of new agreements under their recently forged strategic partnership.
The two countries agreed to strengthen relations in October, during an official visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Riyadh and his meetings with Saudi leadership.
Coinciding with Lee’s trip was the arrival of a delegation of ministers and business leaders in the Kingdom for a meeting of the Saudi-Singapore Joint Committee
“The large number of ministers and officials as well as the accompanying business delegation by the Singapore Business Federation showed the high level of interest and engagement by Singapore with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Abdullah Mohammed Al-Madhi, the Saudi ambassador to Singapore, told Arab News earlier this week.
“We were very honored to be able to welcome and show them many sectors of the Saudi economy. A very special program was prepared for Prime Minister Lee and his delegation. They included several non-traditional stops outside Riyadh that can also present business opportunities, such as Tabuk, Dammam and NEOM.”
During the trip, the Singaporean premier and his top-level delegation — comprising Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, and Social and Family Development Minister Masagos Zulkifli — made a historic trip to Madinah.
It was Lee’s first visit to the second-holiest city in Islam after Makkah.
“Prime Minister Lee was also able to share in our culture and heritage by visiting the culturally important sites around the city of Madinah to view the Prophet’s Mosque and Quba Mosque — thought to be the first mosque in the world. Then the delegation went on to AlUla for many other heritage sites,” Al-Madhi said.
With Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Singaporean prime minister agreeing to upgrade relations to a strategic partnership, Singaporean businesses see opportunities likely to come from the move.
“This allows for the deepening and expansion of mutually beneficial relations in all fields, enhancing investment, trade and economic cooperation,” Shamsher Zaman, chairman of the Middle East Business Group at the Singapore Business Federation, told Arab News.
“Both countries stand to benefit from the exchange of opportunities and expertise between Singapore and Saudi Arabian companies in areas highlighted such as trade and investment, green energy, digital economy, and public sector development.”
The Singapore Business Federation led a group of 32 business leaders to witness the developments and opportunities in Saudi Arabia first-hand.
“The vibrant transformation we witness in Saudi Arabia today is driven by the nation’s young agents of change, with 63 percent of its population under the age of 30 years old. The rapid pace of development can be seen and experienced throughout Saudi Arabia, as the country is rapidly building towards Vision 2030,” Zaman said.
“The transformation is predicated on developing its social and education sectors, and Singapore is a key partner in working together towards developing the human capital and its education sector, built upon Singapore’s experience and expertise in these fields. We are increasingly seeing Singaporean companies in education and human capital development, which are keen to bring expertise to Saudi Arabia and be a part of this transformation.”
Seven memoranda of understanding were signed to facilitate investment opportunities during the Saudi-Singapore Joint Committee’s Oct. 17 meeting, reflecting the “continuous commitment of both countries, paving the way for more future collaborations to come,” Zaman said.
“The recent, third, SSJC meeting reaffirms the strong bilateral relations between both countries and underscores the benefits of working together in areas of mutual interests in connectivity, digital economy and innovation, as well as energy and industry,” he added.