Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Middle East and the 19th largest in the world. For years, the Kingdom has been developing Vision 2030, an ambitious project of economic diversification and evolution of various sectors that aims to make the country not exclusively dependent on oil and to position it as the 15th largest economy in the world in the next eight years.
This shows the investment attractiveness of the Saudi Kingdom, and Spain appears in this scenario as a relevant nation with large companies and an important economy within the European Union capable of offering an important economic alliance.
In this sense, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce has held at its headquarters in Madrid the Spain-Saudi Arabia Business Forum with the participation of relevant entities such as Invest Saudi and the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Saudi Arabia or the Spanish public business investment entity ICEX. A meeting in which a joint commission of high-level delegations from both nations focused on deepening investment opportunities between the two countries.
The opening of the event was marked by the interventions of Inmaculada Riera, Executive Director of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Marta Blanco, President of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations (CEOE) International, Badr Albadr, Deputy Minister of Investor Outreach of Saudi Arabia, and Xiana Méndez, Secretary of State for Trade of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain, who were introduced by Jaime Montalvo, International Director of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce.
Inmaculada Riera opened her turn by thanking the organisation of this meeting with high-level delegations and the presence of the Minister of Economy and the Deputy Minister of Investment of Saudi Arabia.
Both countries "have strengthened public-private economic collaboration", said Inmaculada Riera, who pointed out that "both parties are working hard in this direction with tangible results". The two countries offer many mutual opportunities for investment and trade, reaching a trade volume of 5,000 million euros per year, all as a result of a "fruitful dialogue" between the public and private sectors.
"Saudi Arabia is the most important market in the Middle East and Spain is a preferential destination for Saudi investments," said the executive director of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, who stressed that this situation occurs in all types of economic and productive sectors. "Saudi Arabia finds in Spain a great partner for global operations. Spain has a great investment attraction and an important market for access to Latin America", Inmaculada Riera pointed out as part of the great attraction that Spain has for different countries, including the Saudi Kingdom.
"The agenda is ambitious and the contacts between the two governments are strong for investment," explained Riera. All of this with a strong commitment to maintaining collaboration in the public and private sectors", said Riera, who spoke of the joint work carried out to lead both countries to a "strong and stable alliance".
Marta Blanco, President of CEOE International, thanked both governments for this opportunity to deepen public-private collaboration. Above all, in these "difficult times" we are living through, with common global economic problems arising from the current crisis. "We have global problems and we need global solutions, and international cooperation is important to move forward," said Marta Blanco.
"Saudi Arabia is one of the leading global economies with a growth of 7.5% in 2022", explained Marta Blanco, who pointed out that the Saudi kingdom has an ambitious programme of construction and diversification of the economy which is very attractive for investment, a scenario in which "Spain has to be present" in various sectors such as construction, energy, entertainment, etc.
Marta Blanco thanked the Saudi Government for its ambitious Vision 2030, which contributes to the development and investment opportunities for "very competitive Spanish companies that can contribute their experience to develop strategies and create opportunities and synergies".
The president of CEOE International also highlighted the idea that Spain is a great option for Saudi Arabia to enter the African and Latin American markets.
"I hope that this Forum will help to identify new opportunities and encourage cooperation to establish alliances in order to advance our competitiveness. We need more trade and foreign investment to move forward," explained Marta Blanco.
For his part, Badr Albadr, Deputy Minister of Investor Outreach of Saudi Arabia, highlighted the opportunities and benefits for both parties and highlighted the event at the Spanish Chamber of Commerce as a meeting that is part of the process of mutual assistance to identify investment opportunities between the two nations.
Badr Albadr spoke about the conditions for new business opportunities and the effort to learn about the support given by the governments of both countries in order to make these opportunities accessible. The Saudi Deputy Minister reeled off the figure of annual trade volume between the two countries of 5 billion euros in annual trade, which shows the great economic cooperation between the two nations.
The Kingdom's Deputy Minister of Investor Outreach stressed that his country has a large private sector and regulatory processes to make investment in his country more attractive and secure.
This Spain-Saudi Arabia Business Forum and the meeting between high-level delegations from both countries to access both markets is a great opportunity to advance economic cooperation between the two nations, as indicated by Badr Albadr, who stressed that the Saudi Government has created an important framework with Vision 2030 to deepen this economic and investment progress. "Vision 2030 generates private investment and opportunities for everyone," said the Deputy Minister of Investor Outreach, who highlighted the great opportunities offered by the Saudi Kingdom for Spanish companies in this case.
Badr Albadr pointed out that the Saudi economy has grown by an average of 4% in the last 25 years and that foreign companies are offered the opportunity to invest with important conditions in various sectors such as energy, new technologies, tourism, construction, etc.
Xiana Méndez, Secretary of State for Trade at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, highlighted the intense agenda of the Forum and the hard work of both delegations in the joint commission to analyse investment opportunities, agreeing on the idea of "going further". Just at a time when "understanding, trade and investment are essential to overcome the crisis". "We seek to support our companies to invest abroad, as in this case in Saudi Arabia," said Xiana Méndez.
The Spanish Secretary of State for Trade highlighted the water, public works and tourism sectors and examples of cooperation such as that between the companies Técnicas Reunidas and Aramco, the Saudi national oil company. "There is enormous potential for both countries to collaborate and we encourage the strengthening of relations between the two countries," Xiana Méndez pointed out.
Fahd Alhashem, Director General of the Invest Saudi entity of the Ministry of Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, also spoke at a later session. He pointed out that the Kingdom offers great investment opportunities for Spanish companies, especially as a result of the Vision 2030 project, aimed at offering the best investment climate and multiplying the volume of investment threefold.
Fahd Alhashem offered key points that make the Kingdom more attractive for foreign investors, and Spanish investors in this case, such as the privatisation programme, a strong programme for the localisation of value chains and mega-projects that represent an opportunity for investors.
Alhashem pointed out that Saudi Arabia is the 19th largest economy in the world and the largest in the Middle East, with a 12.2% GDP growth in the last quarter of last year. The representative of the Saudi Ministry of Investment also highlighted as attractive points of his country the great strategic location with easy access to three continents, the great interconnection with logistics networks, the great digital infrastructure as Saudi Arabia is the third country in the world with the largest 5G network, a robust financial sector with A1 rating by Moody's rating agency in 2021, and a construction sector with a large number of projects throughout the Kingdom.