Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid al-Falih gestures during the opening session of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 26, 2021. (File Photo: Reuters)

GCC-Central Asia summit to boost economic, bilateral ties: Al-Falih

Region has adopted visionary expansion goals like the Kingdom, Saudi minister says

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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment Khalid bin Abdulaziz al-Falih is optimistic that the summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Central Asian countries in Jeddah today will help ensure economic expansion, boost investments and strengthen bilateral relations between the two regions.

Officials from the six GCC countries and those from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are attending the Jeddah summit.

While highlighting key investments made by Saudi Arabia in Central Asia, al-Falih said the Kingdom is seeking to increase and diversify the volume of investments from Central Asian nations to Saudi Arabia, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

He said from renewable energy, to health care and civil aviation, the Saudi Ministry of Investment is working with private and public sectors to create opportunities for Central Asian investors for a lucrative and safe investment environment in the Kingdom.

Much like the Saudi Vision 2030, the Central Asian nations have also adopted strategic development plans, such as Kyrgyzstan’s National Development Strategy 2018-2040 and the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, al-Falih said.

While these visions and strategies differ in their details, they share common economic and investment goals, the Saudi minister emphasized.

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According to al-Falih, there are several untapped investment opportunities in vital sectors in the Central Asian region, such as tourism, renewable energy and hydroelectricity, agriculture, tourism, and health services, which can be explored by Saudi entities.

The minister said Saudi Arabia has made key investments in several parts of Central Asia, with Saudi energy company ACWA Power being a case in point. The company is currently working on renewable energy projects such as utilizing solar and wind energy and building energy storage batteries in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

He also highlighted agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed by Dr Sulaiman al-Habib Medical Group (HMG) for investments in the health-care sector in Uzbekistan, investments in the tourism sector by the Fawaz Alhokair Group in the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as investment plans by Al-Rajhi International Group in the agricultural sector in Uzbekistan.

Apart from these ventures, the minister also highlighted efforts by Saudi Arabian airline Flynas to launch services between Saudi Arabia and some of the Central Asian Republics.

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