Saudi FM’s visit part of ‘concerted efforts’ to close investment deals — Pakistani envoy to Riyadh

This handout photograph taken on April 16, 2024 and released by Pakistan's Press Information Department (PID) shows Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (R) speaking with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan upon his arrival at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. (PID)
Short Url
Updated 17 April 2024

Saudi FM’s visit part of ‘concerted efforts’ to close investment deals — Pakistani envoy to Riyadh

  • Ahmed Farooq says size and rank of Saudi delegation showed “keenness” of economic engagement plans with Pakistan
  • Saudi delegation briefed about Pakistani legal, procedural, administrative reforms undertaken to facilitate investments

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud’s visit to Pakistan this week is part of “concerted efforts” to close investment deals that have been under discussion between the two nations in recent years and also discuss new areas of cooperation, Islamabad’s envoy to Riyadh Ahmed Farooq has said. 

Prince Faisal arrived in Pakistan on Monday on a two-day visit aimed at enhancing bilateral economic cooperation and pushing forward previously agreed investment deals. His trip came a little over a week after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Makkah and reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to expedite investments worth $5 billion.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense and cultural ties. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates and the top source of remittances to the cash-strapped South Asian country.

Speaking to Arab News on Tuesday, Ambassador Farooq said during Sharif’s recent meeting with the Saudi crown prince, it was decided that the Kingdom would expand its collaboration with Pakistan across various sectors. Both countries also agreed on a roadmap for expediting investments from Saudi Arabia into strategic sectors of the Pakistan economy.

“Guided by this clear direction of the leadership, the economic teams of the two countries are now in advance talks to finalize partnership proposals in diverse sectors such as energy, renewables, connectivity, mining, agriculture, information technology, construction, human resource development and export and strategic investments,” Farooq said.

“Concerted efforts are underway to close the deals that have remained under discussion in recent years, while identifying new areas of cooperation.”

It was as part of such efforts that Prince Faisal visited Pakistan, the ambassador added, accompanied by a team of top officials across Saudi ministries. 

“The size and rank of the visiting delegation showed the keenness with which the Kingdom is pursuing economic engagement plans with Pakistan,” Farooq said. 

Among key highlights of the visit, apart from bilateral meetings between the economic teams, was a special interactive session organized by the newly established Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), set up last year to oversee all foreign investments in Pakistan. 

“Several short, medium, and long-term projects were discussed in the dedicated sector-wise breakout sessions,” the envoy said. “The Saudi delegation was also briefed about the specific legal, procedural and administrative reforms undertaken by Pakistan in recent months to attract and facilitate foreign investments in key sectors of the economy.”

'Bedrock of support'

Cash-strapped Pakistan desperately needs to shore up its foreign reserves and signal to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it can continue to meet requirements for foreign financing that has been a key demand in previous bailout packages. Pakistan’s finance minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, is currently in Washington to participate in spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and discuss a new bailout program. A $3 billion ongoing loan deal expires this month.

Saudi Arabia has often come to cash-strapped Pakistan’s aid in the past, regularly providing it oil on deferred payments and offering direct financial support to help stabilize its economy and shore up its forex reserves.

“For Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has remained a bedrock of support,” Farooq told Arab News when asked about cooperation between the two nations.

“The kingdom has always supported Pakistan and provided much needed economic support and assistance. Kingdom has also played a critical role in helping us with international financial institutions.

“Even today, the Kingdom has a central role in the future economic plans of Pakistan. The new government in Pakistan has a strong desire to attract Saudi investment – both from the public and private sectors – to usher in a new era of economic growth and development.”

Farooq said the Saudi leadership was also keen on seizing this opportunity and further enhancing economic, political and security cooperation with Pakistan.

He said there were many areas for future collaboration including energy, renewables, IT, mining, agriculture, construction, and human resource development and export.

Asked about how investment between the two nations could be further enhanced, Farooq said Pakistan had created SIFC to act as a one window operation to facilitate Saudi and other foreign investments. 

“It is tailor made for this purpose,” he added. “We are developing a lot of projects across all sectors of the economy in which the Saudi public and private sector can invest. 

The Kingdom has shown great keenness and desire to work with Pakistan and realize these projects. I am confident that we will soon see a lot of investment going from Saudi Arabia into Pakistan.”

KSA showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum

Updated 6 sec ago

KSA showcases geospatial innovation at Ghana forum

  • The conference highlights the significance of investing in technologies, artificial intelligence, and innovation in surveying and geospatial activities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information is participating in the annual Conference of the International Federation of Surveyors in Accra, Ghana, from May 19-24.

The conference highlights the significance of investing in technologies, artificial intelligence, and innovation in surveying and geospatial activities, aiming for a flexible environment and sustainable management of natural resources.

Attendees will exchange expertise and learn best practices in the field.

The Saudi authority delivered a technical presentation, “Surveying and Geospatial Information in Saudi Arabia: Past, Present, and Future Aspirations,” during the event, attended by FIG President Diane Dumashie, vice presidents and experts.

Saudi ambassador to Ghana and Togo, Sultan Al-Dakhil, visited the authority’s booth, appreciating its efforts to strengthen partnerships with international organizations.

With more than 1,500 participants from 80 countries, the conference facilitates international collaborations among government bodies, the private sector, academia, and global expertise centers through 70 scientific sessions.

Saudi fund boosts film financing at Cannes festival

Updated 59 sec ago

Saudi fund boosts film financing at Cannes festival

RIYADH: The Cultural Development Fund, a vital financial engine for Saudi Arabia’s culture sector, along with partners from the Kingdom’s film industry, are presenting film financing and investment opportunities at the 77th annual Cannes International Film Festival, held from May 14 to 25.

The fund is present at the festival for the third year, in line with its mission of nurturing the domestic film scene and strengthening its role as a key enabler of cultural growth.

The fund highlights its Film Sector Financing Program at the Saudi pavilion, led by the Film Commission. The program offers comprehensive financial packages that support the entire filmmaking process, from creation and production to distribution, for both local and foreign companies working on film and TV series in Saudi Arabia.

It also provides an opportunity for companies and investment funds to participate in the Kingdom’s film industry and contribute to its development.

Its participation in the Cannes event aligns with its continuous efforts to attract filmmakers and investment.

The fund aims to be a leader in the Saudi film industry and collaborates with other stakeholders to build a sustainable film sector that contributes to the national gross domestic product.

Established under the National Development Fund in 2021, the fund aims to invigorate Saudi Arabia’s cultural scene. By supporting a range of cultural endeavors and facilitating investment, the fund fosters a thriving domestic cultural sector, aligning with the National Culture Strategy and Saudi Vision 2030.

Madinah hosts Hajj permit awareness exhibition

Updated 48 min 5 sec ago

Madinah hosts Hajj permit awareness exhibition

  • The event will explain how artificial intelligence is used to manage the Hajj crowds

RIYADH: “No Hajj Without a Permit” is the title of a mobile exhibition being held in Madinah until May 25 to raise awareness about safe and secure Hajj practices.

Organized by the Ministry of Interior, the event will explain how artificial intelligence is used to manage the Hajj crowds. Visitors will also learn about the Makkah Route Initiative, part of the broader Pilgrim Experience Program under Saudi Vision 2030.

As well as highlighting the ministry’s efforts to ensure the security and safety of visitors to the Two Holy Mosques, it explains emergency reporting procedures through the unified security operations centers (911) and the services offered on the Absher electronic platform.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority continues to collaborate with government agencies on the Makkah Route Initiative, implementing the scheme at 11 airports in seven countries.

At Jakarta International Airport in Indonesia, for example, SDAIA uses advanced technical systems and infrastructure in the pilgrim hall to simplify the Hajj experience.

The setup includes 12 interconnected workstations equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that integrate with SDAIA’s National Information Center systems, expediting pilgrims’ procedures. Technical support is provided 24/7 by a team of engineers, reflecting SDAIA’s commitment to leveraging AI, innovation and digital transformation to deliver exceptional service.

From Paris to Riyadh: ‘Perfumes of the East’ showcases Arab heritage

Updated 54 min 31 sec ago

From Paris to Riyadh: ‘Perfumes of the East’ showcases Arab heritage

  • Exhibition highlights cultural significance and art of perfume-making

RIYADH: The “Perfumes of the East” exhibition has made its first international stop in Riyadh. 

It is a collaboration between the Saudi National Museum and the Ministry of Culture in partnership with the Arab World Institute in Paris.

The exhibition, which will continue until Sept. 14 at the museum, provides its guests with a journey through the richness of the Arab world’s perfumes, showcasing the fragrances and scents of the East, the cultural traditions that have influenced perfumes and their significant social role in Saudi culture.

The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, and Christophe Farnaud, the EU ambassador, were among the attendees at the opening ceremony, along with other delegates from the Arab World Institute, leaders from the Ministry of Culture and the Museums Commission, and artists from the Kingdom, the Arab world and France.

The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, during the exhibition. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)

“Perfumes of the East is an amazing exhibition, which was brought from Paris to Riyadh,” Pouille said. “It was presented first at the Arab World Institute in Paris, and it was a great success ... so many people visited it.

“It is amazing because you mix history and also artworks. You have artists who have been part of this exhibition, and this is the beauty of it. It is not just the history of perfumes in the Middle East, it is more than that.

“I am amazed by the jasmine dress by a young Saudi artist, who was also there in Paris, and of course, you can smell jasmine, but it is more than that. It is about heritage, the Saudi traditions, and I am fond of it,” the French envoy said.

The exhibition highlighted the cultural and historical importance of perfume in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world, providing insight into its origins in the Arabian peninsula, an important trading hub through which aromatic plants and spices were distributed among ancient societies.

“A distinguished exhibition that revives an authentic national heritage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Dalia Seoudy, one of the guests at the museum. “It presents fragrant knowledge and surrounds one of the most important elements of intangible Saudi heritage, a journey between the roses of Taif and the jasmine of the southern region. This museum reminded me of perfumes in Paris, but it is very authentic, creative and beautiful.”

Christophe Farnaud, the European Union Ambassador at Perfumes of the East exhibition in Riyadh. (AN/Loai Elkelawy)

The exhibition has been designed to create a balance of olfactory and visual experiences for visitors, with scent-releasing devices carefully placed and handpicked for the exhibition by internationally acclaimed perfume designer Christopher Sheldrake.

More than 200 artifacts and artworks, both ancient and contemporary, are on display, weaving a narrative of the enduring relationship between the Arab world and perfume.

The exhibition unfolds through distinct spaces — from the raw beauty of nature to bustling town streets and the setting of a private home. This trajectory enables visitors to experience the evolution of perfume-making through a blend of historical treasures and modern artistic expressions.

This exhibition aligns with the National Museum’s commitment to celebrating Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage and the enduring legacy of Arab and Islamic civilization.

It offers a multi-faceted educational and cultural experience, enriched by accompanying workshops and seminars that delve into the composition of perfumes, the intricate process of their creation, and the artistic design of perfume packaging.

Saudi Food Show features top global firms presenting their wares

Updated 22 May 2024

Saudi Food Show features top global firms presenting their wares

  • 1,000 exhibitors with 100,000 products from 97 countries
  • Firms seeking to expand into one of Gulf’s largest markets

RIYADH: The second Saudi Food Show, the Kingdom’s largest event for food and beverage sourcing, which began Tuesday and will continue until May 23, has been featuring some of the world’s leading companies showcasing their wares.

It is sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources in collaboration with the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones, or MODON.

The event features around 1,000 exhibitors presenting 100,000 products from 97 countries. Also returning are the Top Table Saudi and YouthX Saudi competitions in expanded formats.

House of Pops, which specializes in vegan and plant-based ice cream, gelato, and popsicles, are participating because they are expanding into Saudi Arabia after having gained a foothold in the UAE.

“Health and wellness have been popular in Saudi Arabia, particularly following the pandemic. Everyone is highly aware of what they consume,” Marcela Sancho, co-founder of House of Pops, said. “Our products promote health and wellness. They are 100 percent natural, include no preservatives or food coloring, and are vegan and plant based. So, we really want to tap into the market and the opportunity here.”

The brand is also fully allergen-free, made without soy and gluten, and the creamy options are created with organic coconut milk and cream to create the milky texture.

House of Pops was among the participants at the Saudi Food Show. (AN Photo: Abdulrahman Bin Shalhoub)

Also at the event is Bakarman Foods, a top supplier of restaurants and theaters in Malaysia, India, Spain and Belgium.

“Saudi Arabia has one of the largest food markets in the GCC, and we plan to open a factory here in the future. The food quality and standards are high, surpassing those of other Middle Eastern countries. The degree of inspection and testing report is excellent,” said Mohammad Salim, Bakarman Foods’ procurement and supply chain director.  

From India, Bharat Industrial Enterprise Private Ltd., a leading basmati rice miller and exporter, has returned this year for the exhibition.

Tushar Aggawal, manager of exports, said the company operates in 55 countries and has been around from almost as many years. “Saudi Arabia is our main market … we are one of the largest suppliers of basmati rice (here).”

Through keynote addresses, panels and workshops, over 90 experts from the public and private sectors shared insights on how to maximize opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s markets.