HONG KONG - Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia are exploring the creation of an exchange-traded fund (ETF) tracking Hong Kong indices, Hong Kong Deputy Financial Secretary Michael Wong said in a statement on Thursday.

The Hong Kong government is currently working with several financial institutions to develop the ETF, Wong said.

The statement was released on the sidelines of an event jointly held by the Saudi Tadawul Group, the owner of the Saudi Exchange, and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEX).

Wong also reaffirmed Hong Kong’s commitment to its partnership with Saudi Arabia in the statement, noting that Cathay Pacific Airways is expected to relaunch direct passenger flights between Hong Kong and Riyadh.

The flights are expected to resume in the fourth quarter of this year, while reducing flight time in future to six hours, the statement said.

Wong also referred to recent negotiations with the Saudi government and the mutual market access with the mainland, saying they will make it easier for Saudi companies to access Chinese capital.

"The friendship and partnership between Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia will go very far and will endure the test of time," Wong said in the statement.

Hong Kong has been reaching out in recent years to the Middle East, including Saudi, seeking closer ties and investment opportunities, amid the continued tension between China and Western countries.

Last year, a new exchange-traded fund (ETF) tracking Saudi equities was listed in Hong Kong, becoming the first product of its kind in Asia.

(Reporting by Xie Yu and Selena Li; Editing by Jamie Freed and Michael Perry)