Dowden sets £30bn Saudi-UK 2030 bilateral trade goal

The conference aims to spark and strengthen Saudi-UK partnerships in 13 sectors such as tourism, culture, education, health, sports, investment, trade and financial services…reports Asian Lite News

UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden underlined London’s goal of reaching £30 billion ($37.7 billion) of bilateral trade by 2030.

“The idea of this (GREAT Futures Conference) is to be a sort of shop window to show the opportunities for our two countries and then out of that, I think there’s huge opportunities for further trade and investment,” he said.

“We set an ambitious goal by 2030 of £30 billion of bilateral trade. It’s already growing quite rapidly. It’s about £17 billion. I think we can push it to that.”

The two-day conference from May 14, hosted at King Abdullah Financial District, features 47 sessions and workshops with 127 speakers from both the public and private sectors.

The conference aims to spark and strengthen Saudi-UK partnerships in 13 sectors such as tourism, culture, education, health, sports, investment, trade and financial services.

It welcomed 450 British delegates and company heads to meet with Saudi businesses and officials. Dowden said he that he thinks “the relationship between our two kingdoms is stronger than it’s ever been.

“It’s based on very firm foundations, whether that’s diplomatic, military or the relationship, indeed, between His Majesty (King Charles III) and (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) in the royal family of Saudi Arabia.”

Dowden underlined that what he has witnessed during the GREAT Futures Conference and through the previous visits is “the huge opportunities for the future.

“The crown prince has set out the Vision of 2030. UK companies … want to be part of that vision, and that’s why I’ve brought the largest trade delegation the UK has taken to any country in the world in the past decade, the largest ever, to Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News.

In the opening remarks of day one, the deputy prime minister spoke on a panel alongside Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, the Saudi minister of commerce.

He said there is a lot more that the two countries can do in the fields of technology and artificial intelligence.

“I think there’s a lot more we can do to collaborate together there because there’s huge expertise in artificial intelligence in Saudi Arabia,” Dowden said.

Dowden also underlined that North East England is poised to receive investments worth £3 billion from the Kingdom.

“If you look at the North East of England, just one part of the UK, we’ve agreed £3 billion worth of investment that will support 2,000 jobs. I think there’s much more that we can do like that,” he said.

Leading up to the conference, the deputy prime minister stressed the importance of the event in building partnerships between the business sectors of Saudi Arabia and the UK.

“It (GREAT Futures) also allows British companies to familiarize themselves with relevant business regulations, incentives, and advantages for conducting business in Saudi Arabia,” Dowden said.

Saudi Arabia, UK launch art and heritage campaign

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts, or Wrth, has launched an initiative with the UK titled “A Shared Heritage of Two Kingdoms,” which celebrates how art bridges cultures.

It is a part of the GREAT Futures Initiative Conference held in Riyadh on May 14 and 15, which showcased opportunities for UK businesses in Saudi Arabia.

The event began with several workshops and other activities in the King Abdullah Financial District, where artists from both nations focused on traditional practices and crafts including Najdi wooden doors and sadu weaving.

The campaign will move to London with a similar workshop planned for May 16 at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The session will focus on the “art of creating traditional Saudi doors” to foster cross-cultural understanding and greater artistic exchange, the organizers stated.

The campaign concludes at the Wrth headquarters in Riyadh on May 18, where British artist Harriet Frances will hold a workshop on jewelry embroidery so that local artists can learn about different cultural traditions.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer said: “I think it is really valuable for the sector as a whole because the Royal College of Art is one of our finest institutions, it’s produced artists like Tracey Emin, Ridley Scott, and it’s got a huge amount of knowledge. We want to share that knowledge and also learn from the Saudis as well in these important areas of arts, architecture, and design.”

The “Two Kingdoms” campaign runs in conjunction with World Cultural Diversity Day on May 21, which reinforces the Wrth’s mission to preserve traditional arts worldwide while empowering the artists who practice them.

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