UK and Saudi Arabia to Host Trade Expo in Riyadh

The United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia are set to hold a major trade expo in Riyadh on May 14-15, as part of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s broader investment drive tied to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 initiative. The expo, named “Saudi Great Futures,” aims to strengthen economic ties and explore opportunities for UK businesses in Saudi Arabia.

A delegation of over 300 British business executives will join UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden at the event. This marks the beginning of a year-long campaign to highlight British companies to Saudi investors, with a focus on sectors that align with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The initiative, launched eight years ago by bin Salman, seeks to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy away from oil dependency and into a broader range of industries.

The trade expo will emphasise research collaboration, emerging technologies, finance, green technology, sustainable construction, and cultural projects. British officials have been actively working to deepen UK-Saudi relations, with a particular emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI). Saudi officials were invited to participate in a global AI summit hosted by Sunak in November last year, signalling a growing interest in technology-driven partnerships.

Trade between the UK and Saudi Arabia has grown significantly in recent years. According to a statement from Dowden’s office, bilateral trade reached £16.5 billion ($20.4 billion) in 2022, up from £12.1 billion in 2018. This increase in trade comes despite the controversy surrounding the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, which drew international condemnation, including from the UK.

Sunak invited Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit the UK last year, but no official trip has been agreed upon yet. The UK prime minister met with the crown prince in Riyadh in October to discuss security, energy, and other areas of mutual interest. “Our two nations work closely on security and energy. We look forward to strengthening those connections in new areas that feed the Vision 2030 agenda,” Dowden said in the statement.

The upcoming trade expo and subsequent year-long campaign will likely create new opportunities for collaboration between the UK and Saudi Arabia, fostering economic growth and diversification for both nations.

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