Saudi Arabia’s investment promotion agency may open an office in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), expanding its presence in southern China to attract capital, technology and talent to support the kingdom’s Saudi Vision 2030, a key official said.
Invest Saudi, a brand overseen by the Saudi Ministry of Investment (MISA), may open an office somewhere in the bay area – the region made up of Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong provincial cities – to augment the promotional mission currently undertaken by its Beijing office, said Saleh Al-Khabti, MISA’s deputy minister for investment transactions.
“To reach our aspirations … we have to be in all major cities in China,” Saleh said after a closed-door round table forum at the Asia Society, concurrent with the Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong. “We have to be very careful in establishing our presence to make sure we remain connected to all of mainland China.”
“We aspire to have larger cross-border investments,” Saleh said. “Chinese companies have the know-how, and they have demonstrated that they can deliver mega projects over the past 20 years. We look forward to them participating in this big movement that is happening in Saudi Arabia.”
A US-China venture said it would build a plant in Saudi Arabia that can use bacteria to turn methane into animal feed at five times the annual capacity of its pilot in Chongqing, as scientists look to microbiology for solutions to ensure food security.
The growth “should continue” because “there’s a great role [in the Saudi Vision 2030] for Chinese companies and investors to play,” Saleh said. “The Covid pandemic slowed us down, but right now we are firing on all cylinders.”
Hong Kong’s banks, including the locally incorporated units of Chinese financial institutions, are especially well placed to help Saudi companies “understand the [funding] opportunities in front of us,” said Saleh, recalling his 15-year tenure at Aramco when he worked with BOC International and China International Capital Corporation.
Hong Kong’s banks and “business community should continue to play that role of being the translator, helping Saudi businesses find opportunities in China,” he said. “Hong Kong remains a beacon of leadership for the business community. Although many [economic power houses] have risen in different provinces, Hong Kong remains the location with a ‘special something’ that understands the Middle East region.”