Business Maverick

Business Maverick

UK seeks stronger Saudi ties with 450-strong business delegation

UK seeks stronger Saudi ties with 450-strong business delegation
The Kingdom Tower, left, alongside the King Fahd highway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Waseem Obaidi/Bloomberg)

The UK and Saudi Arabia will host a joint summit in Riyadh on Tuesday, aimed at boosting economic ties between the two countries as negotiations continue over a broader trade deal between Britain and the Gulf states.

Executives from firms including HSBC Holdings Plc and British Airways Plc will be among more than 450 British business people attending the summit, the government said in a statement, describing it as the largest business delegation it’s sent in more than a decade.

“We’re opening up our markets to one another, so that investment, exports, tourism and collaboration flows in both directions,” Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said, citing the UK’s support for Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’, the country’s plan to diversify away from oil. “Britain doesn’t just endorse Vision 2030, we want to be a part of it.”

Read More: UK Launches Saudi Investment Drive to Grab Share of MBS’s Vision

The UK is seeking to leverage its relationship with Saudi Arabia to win business for UK companies in the kingdom, while also attracting investment back in Britain. A particular focus in recent months has been in the field of artificial intelligence, with the UK inviting Saudi officials to participate in a global AI summit hosted by Sunak last year. Britain is also hoping to capitalise on Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification plans in areas such as financial services and higher education, where the UK has expertise.

The summit comes against the backdrop of ongoing talks between the UK and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council over a trade deal. The GCC was equivalent to the UK’s 7th largest export market in 2022 and total trade was worth £61-billion, according to figures from the British government.

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