ITFC’s new initiative promises to boost economic and trade growth in Central Asia

ITFC’s new initiative promises to boost economic and trade growth in Central Asia
ITFC’s new initiative promises to boost economic and trade growth in Central Asia

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: North East England is poised to receive a significant economic boost with investments worth £3 billion ($3.7 billion) from Saudi Arabia, as highlighted by the British deputy prime minister. 

During the opening of the two-day GREAT Futures Initiative Conference in Riyadh on Tuesday, Oliver Dowden announced new figures, stating that this investment is expected to sustain approximately 2,000 jobs in the region. 

Following virtual remarks from UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Dowden said: “Our collaboration has enabled an exponential increase in our mutual prosperity and demonstrated that our modern, forward-looking partnership can meet the challenges of the 21st Century.” 

The event serves as the launchpad for a year-long campaign designed to highlight British expertise and capabilities in sectors that support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.  

Furthermore, the conference features a UK business delegation exceeding 450 members, representing the largest turnout in over 10 years.

A key highlight of the event is the fireside chat between Dowden and Saudi Commerce Minister Majid Al-Qasabi. 

Dowden expressed optimism about the future of the UK-Saudi relations: “GREAT FUTURES will be an important moment for British business. We’re opening up our markets to one another so that investment, exports, tourism, and collaboration flow in both directions. Britain doesn’t just endorse Vision 2030, we want to be a part of it,” he stated in an official release. 

Among the announcements, Dowden revealed that Saudi companies have raised £56.1 billion in London’s capital markets since 2022, with £10.3 billion classified as green and sustainable finance.  

The prime minister also announced the first overseas expansion of the UK’s Office for Investment in the Gulf, a joint venture between 10 Downing Street and the Department for Business and Trade.  

This expansion is aimed at connecting public and private expertise to facilitate capital flows and address potential barriers, enhancing the investment landscape between the two nations. 

Today, the UK will also sign an updated memorandum of understanding with the Kingdom, renewing a joint commitment to further investment. 

Strengthening cultural and educational ties, the University of Strathclyde will become the first English university to establish a physical presence in Saudi Arabia at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.  

Considered the largest institute for women globally, this new partnership will enable female students to study a broader range of subjects, including business and STEM. 

Additionally, the UK and Saudi Arabia have agreed to establish an Education Task Force, chaired by Sir Steve Smith and Saudi Education Minister Yousef Al-Benyan, to promote further cooperation in higher education.  

This initiative has already resulted in 40 partnerships being signed between the two nations. 

As part of the ongoing dialogue and cooperation, Dowden is scheduled to visit the culturally significant city of AlUla to discuss sharing cultural expertise and collaborations. 

Ministers accompanying the prime minister at the conference include the British secretary of state for business and trade, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, the minister for investment, and the parliamentary undersecretary of state for health. 

This visit coincides with the commencement of the 7th round of negotiations between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council on a modern and ambitious trade deal.  

Building on a robust £59 billion trading relationship, this exchange could potentially add £1.6 billion to the UK economy, facilitating easier trade with all six Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, and enhancing mutual investment opportunities. 

Key partners include British Airways, which plays a pivotal role in promoting the UK as a leading destination for business, tourism, and investment.  

An additional lead partner, HSBC UK Bank Plc, brings its global financial expertise to support regional firms in achieving their growth ambitions.  

Further partners include North Highland, a change and transformation consultancy, TAG, a content production agency and Innovo, an urban development firm. 

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