RIYADH — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed that trade exchange between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia exceeded 17 billion pounds ($21 billion). “Today we are launching the next phase of the deep and growing partnership between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. Over the next two days, we will hear from Saudi leaders and companies about how to make Vision 2030 a reality, and the tremendous opportunities it presents to all of us,” he said while addressing, through a video conference, the opening session of the GREAT Futures Initiative Conference, which kicked off at the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The two-day conference is one of the initiatives of the Saudi-British Strategic Partnership Council, chaired by Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman and Rishi Sunak. “I know British businesses here will relish the opportunity to showcase the best our country has to offer,” the prime minister said.

Sunak revealed that nearly 25,000 Britons live in Saudi Arabia at present. “Since the launch of the new electronic visa exemption regime in June 2022, Britain has welcomed more than 400,000 Saudis. The United Kingdom excels globally in the fields of technology and innovation, and thousands of Saudis have graduated from British universities in finance, fashion, luxury product sales, and others,” he told the conference participants.

British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden is among several British and Saudi ministers, as well as Saudi and international experts and specialists who are addressing the conference. As many as 800 participants from the public and private sectors of both countries are taking part in the event.

In his speech at the conference, Dowden said that the pace of change in Saudi Arabia in terms of the economic, social and cultural aspects is exceptional. “We do not just want to support the Saudi Vision 2030, but we want to be part of it.” Referring to the conference, he said the Kingdom’s hosting of such an event is a wonderful example and shows British talent to the world: “We participate in leading the economic and social elements of our relations as a means of work, execution and transformation.”

Dowden said that this would significantly increase mutual prosperity and demonstrate that a modern, forward-looking partnership can meet the challenges of the 21st century. Dowden noted that he was accompanied by a giant delegation to this event that included more than 450 people, which is the largest British trade mission in a decade, and the largest ever from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia. He pointed out that the talented lawyers, consultants, financial experts, architects and designers in Britain can help turn this vision into a reality, and highlighted that their work are meant to strengthen the presence of British companies in the Kingdom, and to accelerate the vital trade ties that make the mutual relations between the two countries of great value.

According to the British deputy prime minister, Saudi Arabia, through its mega projects and cities, is paving the way for how societies can harness innovative technologies to achieve amazing change. “The partnership between the two kingdoms is a two-way street, as the two countries open their markets to each other. So that investments, tourism exports, and cooperation can flow in both directions,” he added.

The conference is aimed to enhance economic relations between the two countries in various promising sectors as well as to develop mutual trade and investment. The conference will feature 47 sessions and workshops with 127 speakers from both public and private sectors, covering 13 promising economic sectors, including tourism, culture, education, health, sports, investment, trade, and financial services, in addition to signing six agreements in the fields of education and training, tourism, and real estate development.

Dowden said earlier that the conference is an important opportunity to build partnerships between the business sectors of both countries, keeping pace with the future, innovation, and creativity. It also allows British companies to familiarize themselves with relevant business regulations, incentives, and advantages for conducting business in Saudi Arabia.

On his part, Minister of Commerce Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi stressed that the conference is an opportunity to enhance cooperation and economic partnership in 13 vital and promising sectors. He also highlighted that it paves the way for extensive partnerships focusing on innovation and creativity in sectors of mutual interest.

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