Saudi capital Riyadh to host World Expo 2030

Update The Saudi capital was picked by a majority of 119 out of 165 votes by the member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions. Supplied
The Saudi capital was picked by a majority of 119 out of 165 votes by the member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions. Supplied
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Updated 30 November 2023
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Saudi capital Riyadh to host World Expo 2030

Saudi capital Riyadh to host World Expo 2030
  • City was confirmed as the successor host to Osaka in 2025
  • Event expected to represent culmination of Vision 2030 and showcase Kingdom’s achievements

PARIS: Riyadh will host the World Expo 2030 after defeating challenges from South Korea and Italy for the prestigious event.
The Saudi capital was picked by a majority of 119 out of 165 votes by the member states of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions.
The secret ballot was carried out using electronic voting, and Riyadh was confirmed as the successor host to Osaka in 2025.

 

During the BIE event in the French capital, candidates presented their final Expo progress reports to member states and government-appointed delegates in an 11th-hour attempt to win votes.
The event is expected to represent the culmination of Vision 2030 and showcase the Kingdom’s achievements, with a particular focus on hospitality, tourism, and culture.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman used a visit to Paris in June to showcase the Kingdom’s bid for the Expo, attending an exhibition held by the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh that showcased Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and cultural depth.
The bid began to draw support from high-profile French backers, with influential French senator Natalie Goulet saying that holding the expo in the Saudi capital would be “the culmination of Vision 2030.”
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “I would like to thank the 130 countries that have already announced their support for the Kingdom’s bid. Distinguished dignitaries, you have all acted as indispensable partners providing insight, feedback, and support throughout the Kingdom’s campaign.”
He reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s “unwavering commitment to collaborate with all nations to deliver an Expo built by the world for the world and to find new pathways for collective action and collaboration.”
The foreign minister said the Kingdom will “provide facilities packages of $348 million to a pool of 100 eligible countries.”
Arab News backed the Expo bid through a #WhyRiyadh campaign launched on Sept. 23 – the Saudi National Day.

 

Public figures from across various industries backed the campaign, including Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubair, Riyadh Mayor Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf, and Frédéric Bedin, president of public relations agency Hopscotch.
Other high-profile supporters included the secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropy and UN Human Settlements Program’s Goodwill Ambassador, Princess Lamia bint Majed, the vice president of the Saudi Arabia Boxing Federation Rasha Al-Khamism, and Rob Sobhani, adjunct professor at Georgetown University.
Nonetheless, the campaign had started earlier, with the announcement of Paris’s support of Riyadh Expo 2030, reiterated during the crown prince’s visit to the French capital in June 2023, and his participation in the first Summit for Financial pact.
Commenting on the achievement, Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin, the Kingdom’s ambassador to UNESCO, said: “Riyadh Expo 2030 will be a global platform that accelerates progress, toward the most urgent challenges, health and education, climate and the environment, trade and investment, peace and prosperity for all.”
Why Riyadh? The city’s vibrant energy, with several megaprojects in progress, is placing sustainability and quality of life at the heart of every discussion.

The Expo 2030 location addresses these themes and is set to offer sustainable solutions for the cities of tomorrow, including clean mobility and renewable energy.
Creating green neighborhoods, with the key enablers being water and trees while reinstating the red sands desert that Riyadh is famous for, is an important example of how to build the “city of the future” while preserving heritage.
Saudi Arabia is raising the sustainability bar through its Green Riyadh Program, but it also aims to create connections, encourage people to use public transport, and increase the percentage of green space to improve air quality.

 

The program also seeks to increase green coverage from 1.5 percent to 9.1 percent, enhancing quality of life by creating open areas to improve public health, reduce energy consumption, and ultimately make Riyadh one of the 100 best livable cities in the world.
Seventy percent of the Saudi population is under the age of 30, and with a qualified labor force across industries fueling the race to 2030, there is excitement, energy, and enthusiasm in the first Arab capital to host the world event.
“Diriyah will be very famous by 2030, the city of Riyadh will be unrecognizable,” Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the Diriyah Group, told Arab News during an event leading up to the Expo 2030 announcement.
“What Singapore did in 60 years, what the Emiratis did just in tourism in 30 years, the crown prince wants to accomplish that in 15 years,” he added.
In a symposium held in Paris earlier in November, the Royal Commission’s directors of landscape architecture, Lamia Al-Muhanna, and Nouf Al-Moneef, unveiled a color-coded map with planned pavilions, performance venues, support facilities, and an exhibition village.
Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of tourism, used the event to say: “Choosing Saudi, choosing Riyadh, is choosing the world.”

Delivering Expo 2030 will mean massive infrastructure developments in the Saudi capital, including an increase in hotel capacity by 70,000 new rooms.
The venue will be accessible via a newly developed metro linking Expo City to a reconstructed King Salman Airport, set to be one of the largest aviation hubs in the world at 57 million sq. meters.
The Kingdom’s new airline, Riyadh Air, will further increase the capital’s accessibility, with flights to 100 countries by 2025.
“As host, we will create a world-class site expo to enable you to build pavilions and experiences in a way that matches your national priorities and aspirations,” said Ghida Al-Shibl, a member of the Riyadh Expo 2030 team.
She said: “By Feb 2028, participant parcel and expo village will be open. We will fast-track all necessary requirements including imports, visas, and regulations.”
Al-Shibl said the Kingdom will launch a participant lab in 2025 that will run through 2030 as a 24/7 concierge service to support “your move, and a variety of housing options for teams and families, in addition to access to excellent healthcare and education and banking services.”


Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen collaboration in sustainable infrastructure at London summit

Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen collaboration in sustainable infrastructure at London summit
Updated 26 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen collaboration in sustainable infrastructure at London summit

Saudi Arabia and UK strengthen collaboration in sustainable infrastructure at London summit

RIYADH: Collaborations in city development, green technologies, and infrastructure financing were discussed by officials from Saudi Arabia and the UK at a special event in London.

The UK-Saudi Sustainable Infrastructure Summit, held on June 24, brought together over 250 leaders from the industry and financial sectors of both countries, along with key representatives from major giga-projects. 

This follows robust bilateral relations, with both countries signing an agreement in late 2022 to enhance cooperation on green finance, as Saudi Arabia increasingly seeks ethical funding for its transformative giga-projects. 

The Kingdom has committed to ambitious climate goals, including a target to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tonnes annually by 2030 and to increase renewable energy generation capacity by 50 percent. 

The Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli said: “This summit offers an excellent platform to adopt and share knowledge gained from Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 sustainable development plans. Saudi Arabia is investing more in infrastructure than any other country in the Middle East region, including in 14 new giga-projects.”   

He added: “This investment, combined with the City of London’s expertise and leadership in sustainable finance, can set a global template for sustainable development.” 

The summit, organized by the Saudi British Joint Business Council in collaboration with the City of London Corp. and hosted at Plaisterers’ Hall in London, centered on discussions about urbanization, sustainable city development, and financing strategies, highlighting the expansion of green technologies and renewable energy solutions. 

The event was attended by a high-level Saudi delegation led by the Ministry of Investment and the Federation of Saudi Chambers. It builds on prior SBJBC and COLC gatherings, reinforcing the established Saudi-UK dialogue on clean energy development and decarbonization in the business sector. 

It also follows the recent Great Futures event held by the UK in Riyadh, underscoring increasing participation by UK companies in Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives aimed at transforming economic sectors and advancing giga project development. 

The event, supported by lead sponsors NEOM and Saudi Awwal Bank, underscores the importance of UK-Saudi cooperation in developing sustainable infrastructure and advancing the green transition. 

“I’m delighted to host this crucial summit. Sustainable infrastructure around the world is essential to tackling climate change, boosting economic development, and ensuring access to vital provisions such as transport, energy, and water,” said Mainelli. 

The panels delved into bridging the investment gap, utilizing smart urban planning for resilient and livable communities, and expanding initiatives in green technology and renewable energy. 


Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 

Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 
Updated 41 min 41 sec ago
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Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 

Closing Bell: Saudi Tadawul closes in the red across all indexes 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slipped on Monday, losing 32.93 points, or 0.28 percent, to close at 11,697.04.       

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR8.6 billion ($2.3 billion), as 115 of the listed stocks advanced while 109 retreated.  

The Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu dropped 47.75 points, or 0.18 percent, to close at 26,777.87. This comes as 21 of the listed stocks advanced while as many as 33 retreated. 

Similarly, the MSCI Tadawul Index also dropped 5.07 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 1,470.61.  

TASI’s best-performing stock of the day was Miahona Co. The company’s share price surged 9.93 percent to SR23.46.     

Other top performers include Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. as well as Jazan Development and Investment Co., whose share prices soared by 7.88 percent and 6.92 percent to stand at SR91.70 and SR15.46, respectively.   

Additional top performers include Salama Cooperative Insurance Co. and Electrical Industries Co. 

The worst performer was Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co., whose share price dropped by 5.99 percent to SR8.32.    

Other firms to see a drop were Mouwasat Medical Services Co. as well as ACWA Power Co., whose share prices dropped by 3.69 percent and 3.56 percent to stand at SR120.20 and SR351.80, respectively.   

Additional falling performers include Theeb Rent a Car Co. and Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services Group.     

In Nomu, Osool and Bakheet Investment Co. was the top gainer, with its share price rising by 16.80 percent to SR60.50.    

Other strong performers in Nomu were Mohammed Hadi Al Rasheed and Partners Co. as well as Al Mohafaza Co. for Education, whose share prices soared by 7.58 percent and 6.50 percent to stand at SR35.50 and SR20, respectively.   

Other top gainers include Future Care Trading Co. and Saudi Lime Industries Co.  

Mulkia Investment Co. was the major faller on Nomu, as its share price dropped 9.80 percent to SR31.30.    

The share prices of Alwasail Industrial Co. as well as Lana Medical Co. also fell by 4.68 percent and 4.47 percent to stand at SR2.65 and SR33.10, respectively.   

Other major losers include Saudi Top for Trading Co. and Jahez International Co. for Information System Technology. 


Spinneys CEO sets out Saudi retail growth plans after flagship store launch in Riyadh

Spinneys CEO sets out Saudi retail growth plans after flagship store launch in Riyadh
Updated 53 min 16 sec ago
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Spinneys CEO sets out Saudi retail growth plans after flagship store launch in Riyadh

Spinneys CEO sets out Saudi retail growth plans after flagship store launch in Riyadh

RIYADH: Dubai-based supermarket chain Spinneys has made its debut in Saudi Arabia by launching its first store in Riyadh’s La Strada Yard. 

The 43,520 sq. ft. flagship outlet in Riyadh’s emerging mixed-use development marks the beginning of Spinneys’ expansion strategy in the capital city and Jeddah, aiming to cater to the increasing preference for high-quality grocery choices across the Kingdom.

The company said its first store aims to deliver a “premium shopping experience” with a wide range of imported goods, locally sourced products, international brands, and an exclusive private label selection.

This comes as Spinneys’ initial public offering on the Dubai Financial Market, initially priced at $375 million, was oversubscribed 64 times, reaching $19.33 billion last month.

“At the time of our IPO, we were explicit about our ambitions in the Kingdom, and these are now coming to fruition. We see a massive whitespace opportunity in Saudi Arabia, with sectoral growth supported by favorable macroeconomic and consumer trends,” Sunil Kumar, CEO of Spinneys, told Arab News.

He emphasized that the local grocery market is experiencing rapidly increasing demand for a fresh, high-quality offering that squarely fits their expertise. 

“By entering Saudi Arabia now, we believe that we are gaining an early mover advantage in establishing Spinneys as the pre-eminent premium grocer,” he said. 

Kumar revealed that the company has ambitious targets for its inaugural store, aiming to achieve performance levels similar to those of one of its key community stores in the UAE.

“As our first store, we expect Spinneys La Strada to benefit from drawing customers from a broader geographic base than it would in a city where we have an existing footprint,” the CEO said.  

He added: “Our immediate goals are to offer customers in these areas a truly differentiated shopping experience, with a focus on premium fresh food, convenience and outstanding service.” 

He highlighted the company’s on-site production capabilities at La Strada, which are set to enhance economies of scale and are crucial for its fresh food offerings and profitability. 

“These facilities will have an important role in supplying fresh food to other Riyadh locations as we expand across the city,” Kumar added. 

Sunil Kumar, CEO of Spinneys. Supplied.

Spinneys operates a total of 79 stores across Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman, with a combined sales area of 880,000 sq. ft. across all markets.

The company aims to open three additional locations in Riyadh and Jeddah by year-end, positioning itself to operate up to 12 stores in Saudi Arabia by 2028.

Following the flagship La Strada Riyadh location, Spinneys’ next project will be an 11,636 sq. ft. store in the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.

The company is also targeting opening 25 new stores in the UAE between 2024 and 2028, with recent launches and expansions underway. 

Kumar explained that their strategy includes like-for-like store growth, exploiting white space opportunities, and introducing the Kitchen by Spinneys concept, as well as expanding their hyperlocal e-commerce channel, Spinneys Swift, and optimizing operational efficiencies.

Saudi market

In terms of locations, Spinneys wants to concentrate on establishing a robust presence in Saudi Arabia’s most affluent and populous cities, namely Riyadh and Jeddah.

“There are a few reasons for this. First off, these are economic powerhouses and population hubs, with Riyadh comprising 27 percent of the national population and Jeddah 25 percent,” Kumar said. 

He further highlighted the significant expatriate population in the Kingdom, currently at 42 percent and projected to reach 50 percent by 2040, which he sees as an “important factor” for Spinneys’ market proposition. 

“Secondly,” he continued, “the disposable income levels in Riyadh and Jeddah are compelling, around $13,300 and $12,250 per capita respectively as of 2022.”

He added: “With a projected 6.4 percent CAGR for the Kingdom’s affluent population between 2022 and 2028, and particularly in view of our premium positioning, the purchasing power of families and individuals is important.” 

Looking at the Saudi market more broadly, Kumar noted that disposable incomes are rising, inflation is relatively low, and transformative initiatives like Saudi Vision 2030 are driving long-term diversification. 

“All of this creates a very attractive environment for business growth,” said the CEO.

With its leadership in the UAE, Spinneys plans to replicate and adapt its offerings in the Kingdom’s burgeoning premium grocery segment. “Our core store concepts won’t deviate radically from other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) markets, but we have carefully tailored the in-store experience and product assortment to align with distinct Saudi preferences,” explained Kumar.  

The company asserts that it has done in-depth market research to understand unique Saudi tastes, consumer behaviors, and cultural traditions, which will be reflected in its stores. Kumar stated that the goal is to offer “a truly localized shopping experience” that combines global sourcing with authentic local flair.

Entrance of Spinneys at The Villa Community in Dubai. Shutterstock

Supply chain

The UAE-based firm recognizes the importance of establishing a robust supply chain infrastructure and local production capability. It aims to leverage its “vertically integrated” sourcing model, which Kumar notes has been a key competitive advantage in other GCC markets.

“We are already ensuring it plays the same role for our Saudi business,” Kumar said. 

The facilities at La Strada will supply other stores in Riyadh as they open, and Spinneys plans to establish in-house production facilities in Jeddah as well. “Our local production model enables us to optimize our supply chain, reduce food miles, and maintain the exceptional freshness and quality standards our brand is known for,” said the CEO. 

The company has “well-established” relationships with over 870 suppliers in 44 countries, facilitated through its own subsidiaries in major sourcing hubs such as the US, the UK and Australia. “Our Saudi customers will benefit from this supply chain in the same way that our customers in the UAE and Oman have done,” Kumar explained.  

Spinneys insists that its diverse global network, along with its proximity to producers, enables significant cost efficiencies. “It’s also a key driver of our sustainability commitment, minimizing food waste while adhering to the highest environmental and social standards. Replicating the Spinneys supply chain model in Saudi Arabia is essential to maintaining our competitive edge,” he emphasized. 

White space opportunity

Spinneys sees a significant white space opportunity in the Saudi grocery market, which Kumar describes as “too compelling to ignore.”

Citing third-party research, Kumar highlighted that the Kingdom’s overall grocery retail white space is set to reach 86 million sq. ft. by 2033, adding: “To put that into perspective, this is equivalent space for almost 1,200 Spinneys stores. As of today, we’re opening a much smaller number of stores than that, but we have a good deal of headroom in what we see as a vast, underpenetrated market that is ripe for a genuinely premium offering.”

Kumar emphasizes that it’s not just about white space; he points to a powerful confluence of structural tailwinds driving growth in the Saudi retail landscape. “The affluent population that belongs to our “target market” is forecast to expand at a 6.4 percent CAGR through 2028. This means that Spinneys’ target market is growing at a rate that outpaces the wider grocery market,” he said.

In Riyadh and Jeddah, Spinneys anticipates its target market will grow at a CAGR of 6.7 percent from 2022 to 2028, outpacing the broader Saudi grocery market, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.8 percent over the same period.

Spinneys outlets in Saudi Arabia are operated through a joint venture formed in 2022 with Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair Holding Group. 

Kumar emphasized: “Our respective interests are closely aligned, and we share the same ambition to make the Spinneys brand a champion in Saudi Arabia’s premium grocery segment.” 

He added that their partner plays a crucial role in navigating the local business and regulatory landscape, as well as in identifying and securing the most attractive locations to open stores. 

“This is a partnership we are very excited about, and we have every expectation that it will continue to flourish in the years to come,” Kumar concluded.   


Australia, Saudi Arabia trade expo to be held in Riyadh in October

Australia, Saudi Arabia trade expo to be held in Riyadh in October
Updated 24 June 2024
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Australia, Saudi Arabia trade expo to be held in Riyadh in October

Australia, Saudi Arabia trade expo to be held in Riyadh in October

RIYADH: Agriculture, healthcare, and education are among the sectors that will benefit from a new conference aiming to boost partnership deals between Saudi Arabia and Australia. 

Set to be held from Oct. 21 to 22 at the KAFD Conference Centre in Riyadh, the inaugural Aussie Expo will also see a focus on technology, infrastructure, and mining.

The event is being organised by the Trademark Group of Companies – a conglomerate dedicated to facilitating the expansion of Australian businesses into the Kingdom and the broader Gulf Cooperation Council region, as well as supporting businesses from these areas in entering the domestic market.

According to the UN Comtrade database, Australia’s exports to Saudi Arabia stood at $789.65 million in 2023. On the other hand, the Kingdom’s exports to Australia amounted to $702.75 million over the same 12-month period

“For the past two and a half years, Trademark Group of Companies has been committed to creating a bridge between Australian and Saudi Arabia businesses. For the first time ever, an Australian exhibition that showcases Australian talents, products, and services to the region will be proudly held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I would like to thank all stakeholders involved in ensuring the success of this event,” Sam Jamsheedi, chairman and founder of Trademark Group of Companies, said. 

On June 1, Trademark Group of Companies opened its office in Riyadh, eyeing economic opportunities in Saudi Arabia and providing a platform for Australian companies to explore and deepen trade ties with the Kingdom.

Guided by the theme “Accelerating Partnerships, Unlocking New Opportunities,” Aussie Expo Riyadh 2024 will showcase excellence across various industries, according to its website. 

This will be achieved through a series of conference sessions and workshops during which key government officials, industry leaders, decision-makers, and entrepreneurs from both countries will converge. 

These networking opportunities are expected to be a major draw for attendees, providing a platform to explore potential partnerships that drive mutual success.

Renewable energy and sustainability as well as tourism and hospitality, retail and consumer goods, and transport and logistics will be discussed at the evemt

Talking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Australian Saudi Business Networking Event in Riyadh earlier in June, Australian Ambassador Mark Donovan said the opening of the Trademark Group of Companies’ office in the Kingdom  would help both countries explore investment opportunities in various sectors.

Earlier in May, Saudi Arabia and Australia signed an agreement to improve cooperation across multiple sectors and strengthen bilateral trade ties.

The Australia Saudi Business Council and Forum and the Export Council of Australia signed an agreement to boost collaboration in industry, mining, food, technology, and artificial intelligence, with an aim to enhance opportunities for Australian exporters to work with Saudi entities, strengthening bilateral cooperation.


Saudi Arabia expands access for Chinese tourists with new agreement

Saudi Arabia expands access for Chinese tourists with new agreement
Updated 24 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia expands access for Chinese tourists with new agreement

Saudi Arabia expands access for Chinese tourists with new agreement

RIYADH: Chinese tourist groups will now find it easier to visit Saudi Arabia following the implementation of the Approved Destination Status arrangement, effective July 1.      

This initiative marks a key step toward the Kingdom’s goal of positioning China as its third-largest source market for international arrivals by 2030, according to a statement.     

The agreement aligns with Saudi Arabia’s goal of attracting 5 million Chinese tourists by 2030, facilitated by new direct flights from Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern, alongside existing Saudia flights.   

Moreover, it highlights the Kingdom’s commitment to strengthening its economic ties with China, leveraging opportunities in the tourism sector, and promoting mutual understanding, cooperation, and economic growth between the two nations.   

The Kingdom’s Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said the agreement “demonstrates Saudi Arabia’s readiness for Chinese visitors.”  

He added: “The Saudi Tourism Authority has played a crucial role in visa facilitation, reduced fees, improving air connectivity, and ensuring destination readiness with Mandarin-language information available on www.visitsaudi.cn, Mandarin signage at airports, and Mandarin-speaking tour guides and hotel staff.”   

China’s ADS policy is a bilateral agreement between countries that allows its citizens to travel to specific overseas destinations for tourism purposes in organized groups.  

It was first introduced in the early 1990s to accommodate the growing interest of Chinese citizens in international travel and the increase in disposable income among the population.    

“By strengthening bilateral ties with China, the ADS agreement opens doors for economic development across sectors, benefiting both nations,” added Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to China Abdulrahman bin Ahmed Al-Harbi. 

CEO of Saudi Tourism Authority Fahd Hamidaddin said that the Kingdom’s approval as a tourist destination for Chinese visitors reflects Saudi Arabia’s continuous efforts and participation in trade shows and conferences, leading to agreements with Chinese organizations. 

He added: “We strive to provide a seamless, enjoyable, and safe experience for Chinese tourists, including streamlined visa procedures, increased flight capacity, and Mandarin integration across airports, destinations, tourist sites, and digital platforms like the ‘Visit Saudi’ website.”

The CEO highlighted that partnerships with trusted Chinese brands such as UnionPay, Trip.com, Huawei, and Tencent further enhance the authority’s offerings. 

In February, top officials from both countries convened for a high-level meeting in Beijing, focusing on investment opportunities, technology transfer, and enhancing economic cooperation. 

The Saudi delegation, led by Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of GACA, visited the Asian country to hold a joint roundtable meeting, exploring cooperation in connectivity and discussing partnership aspects across various areas. 

During the visit, the Kingdom’s representatives emphasized the substantial investments in the sector and reiterated Saudi Arabia’s openness to further opportunities.