Saudi Arabia aims to serve China’s gateway to the Arab world as the world’s second-largest economy seeks to elevate trade ties with the region. On the first day of the 10th Arab-China Business Conference, the kingdom signed 30 investment agreements worth $10 billion across various sectors spanning technology, renewables, agriculture, real estate, minerals, supply chains, tourism, and healthcare.
Some of the projects included a joint venture automotive research, development, manufacturing and sales, development of tourism and other apps, and production of rail wagons and wheels in the kingdom, according to the Investment Ministry.
Talking at the event, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman noted that instead of competing, the country seeks collaboration with the world’s second-largest economy. “I would not be surprised if you will hear more announcements soon on Saudi-Chinese investment.”
The event had an array of government-to-business agreements, including a $5.6 billion agreement between KSA’s Investment Ministry and Human Horizons, a Chinese developer of autonomous driving technologies and manufacturer of electric cars under the HiPhi brand, to establish a joint venture for automotive research, development, manufacturing, and sales.
Other agreements include a $266 million signed by KSA and Hong Kong-based Hibobi Technology Ltd. to develop tourism and other apps and a $250 million deal facilitated by the Investment Ministry between Saudi railway company SABATCO and Chinese state-owned and publicly traded rolling stock manufacturer CRRC to manufacture rail wagons and wheels in the country.
Several business-to-business deals were also signed on the sidelines of the conference, such as a $533 million deal between AMR ALuwlaa Company and Zhonghuan International Group to establish a factory to reduce iron ore and manufacture iron pellets for smelting plants in Saudi Arabia and a $500 million agreement between ASK Group and the China National Geological & Mining Corp. for the development, financing, construction, and operation of an Arabian Shield copper mining project.
Prince Abdulaziz noted synergies between the two countries as Saudi progresses with its Vision 2030 plan while China pursues its Belt and Road Initiative.
Saudi Arabia also announced the revival of the Silk Route on the sidelines of the event. Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih noted that the initiative aligns with Saudi’s vision of diversifying its economy and using modern technology to elevate the skills of its youth.