Home » Companies » GREAT FUTURES: A Start To A Year Long Partnership to Strengthen Saudi and UK Ties
GREAT FUTURES: A Start To A Year Long Partnership to Strengthen Saudi and UK Ties
GREAT FUTURES_ A Start To A Year Long Partnership to Strengthen Saudi and UK Ties

The UK-Saudi GREAT FUTURES event in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District marks the start of a year long initiative to strengthen UK and Saudi business ties.

The event was attended by several high-ranking Saudi and British government ministers as well as 450 British business leaders and their Saudi counterparts, including Welcome Saudi and The Saudi Boom.

Agreements included a declaration of intent between The Saudi Tourism Authority and Visit Britain and establishing The University of Strathclyde as the first British university to establish a branch in the Kingdom, in partnership with Princess Nourah University in Riyadh.

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GREAT FUTURES: A Transformative Conference

Image Credit VisitBritain

The recently concluded GREAT FUTURES conference in Riyadh has ushered in a new era of enhanced cooperation between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. 

Image Credit VisitBritain

This landmark event, jointly spearheaded by the two nations, has paved the way for many groundbreaking initiatives to fortify economic, cultural, and educational ties over the next twelve months.

Esteemed Leaders at GREAT FUTURES Event

Image Credit HOK

The GREAT FUTURES summit at the prestigious King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) brought together an impressive delegation of over 450 British business leaders, government officials, and cultural ambassadors. 

Presiding over the event were esteemed dignitaries, including British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi, and a constellation of ministerial representatives from both countries. 

Their presence lent gravity to the proceedings, solidifying the strategic importance of this bilateral collaboration.

Strengthening Trade Ties

The GREAT FUTURES summit was a resounding affirmation of the expanding trade and investment relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia. 

Official figures unveiled at the event offered a compelling picture, with bilateral trade soaring by an impressive 30% between 2018 and 2023, surpassing the £17.3 billion ($21.9 billion) mark.

Encouraged by this remarkable growth trajectory, the two nations have set an ambitious target to propel bilateral trade to an unprecedented £30 billion ($37.8 billion) by 2030. This objective underscores the shared vision of leveraging each other’s strengths to grow economic prosperity.

Leveraging Britain’s Industrial Experience

Image Credit Edmund Kregczy

At the heart of this strategic partnership lies the UK’s unwavering commitment to lending its vast industrial experience and intellectual capital to support Saudi Arabia’s transformative Vision 2030 agenda. 

Lord Dominic Johnson, the UK’s Business and Trade Minister, eloquently articulated this sentiment, stating:

“This collaboration is about leveraging our 250 years of industrial experience, our legal frameworks, our knowledge in building insurance and financial markets, and partnering with Saudi Arabia to help them achieve their ambitious goals. The GREAT FUTURES event was a testament to our nations’ intent for close future collaboration, where we can truly capitalize on this incredible sense of vision and investment.”

VisitBritain and the Saudi Tourism Authority Partnership

Image Credit VisitBritain

The GREAT FUTURES summit facilitated various bilateral agreements spanning diverse sectors, from tourism and education to healthcare and financial services. 

Notably, a pivotal agreement was between VisitBritain and the Saudi Tourism Authority, setting the stage for enhanced cooperation in the tourism realm.

Image Credit VisitBritain

This Declaration of Intent outlines several areas of collaboration, including the exchange of expertise in domestic and international tourism promotion, destination development, and visitor experience enhancement. 

With Saudi Arabia investing a staggering $800 billion in its tourism industry, the partnership holds immense potential for both nations to unlock new cultural exchange and economic growth avenues.

Establishment of The University of Strathclyde

Image Credit University of Strathclyde

Furthermore, the event witnessed the establishment of the University of Strathclyde as the first British institution to establish a physical presence in Saudi Arabia. 

This groundbreaking initiative, in collaboration with Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, heralds a new chapter in academic cooperation, paving the way for enhanced knowledge sharing and research collaborations.

First Step Towards Yearlong Program

Image Credit Vision 2030

The GREAT FUTURES summit was merely the first step in a yearlong program to nurture and strengthen the bilateral relationships forged within the broader Vision 2030 framework. 

Lord Johnson affirmed this commitment: “Every month, we will have specific activities along the various workstreams. Britain doesn’t just endorse Vision 2030 – we want to be an integral part of it.”

This sustained momentum will manifest through targeted initiatives, workshops, and ministerial meetings, fostering collaboration across many sectors, from tourism and culture to education, healthcare, sports, investment, trade, and financial services.

Unlocking Investment Opportunities

Image Credit Killa Design

The GREAT FUTURES event is a shared recognition of the immense investment potential that lies ahead. 

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious gigaprojects, including NEOM, Red Sea Global, Qiddiya, ROSHN, and Diriyah Company, are set to attract a staggering $3 trillion in investment over the next six years, which have captured the attention of British businesses.

Image Credit NEOM

Oliver Dowden, the British Deputy Prime Minister, underscored this sentiment, stating, 

“GREAT FUTURES will be an important moment for British business. We’re opening up our markets to one another so that investment, exports, tourism, and collaboration flow in both directions. Britain doesn’t just endorse Vision 2030; we want to be a part of it.”

This mutual commitment to facilitating cross-border investment was further solidified by signing an updated agreement reaffirming the joint dedication to fostering increased investment flows.

Free Trade Agreement

Image Credit NEOM

In a parallel endeavor, the UK’s Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, has been actively engaged in the seventh round of talks to establish a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). 

This landmark accord, encompassing Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain, can inject an additional £1.6 billion ($2 billion) into the British economy.

By reducing trade barriers and streamlining bureaucratic processes, an FTA would significantly enhance the ease of business between the UK and the GCC nations, catalyzing even more excellent multilateral investment opportunities and economic synergies.

Fostering Cultural Exchanges

Beyond trade and investment, the GREAT FUTURES initiative has also emphasized cultivating cultural ties and preserving shared heritage. 

This pioneering accord would pave the way for joint training programs and the exchange of expertise in the restoration and preservation of historic palaces and buildings, ensuring that the rich cultural legacies of both nations are safeguarded for generations to come.

Showcasing Britain’s Cultural Tapestry

Image Credit VisitBritain

The GREAT FUTURES summit also served as a platform to showcase the vibrancy and diversity of British culture. 

Senior representatives from esteemed institutions such as the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre, the Southbank Centre, and the Edinburgh International Festival graced the event, underscoring the UK’s commitment to fostering artistic and cultural exchange.

Moreover, Oliver Dowden’s planned visit to the historic city of AlUla further exemplified the shared dedication to deepening cultural relationships and sharing expertise in preserving and promoting cultural heritage.

A Promising Future for Bilateral Cooperation

Image Credit Ahmed Fahmy

As the UK and Saudi Arabia embark on this ambitious journey, the GREAT FUTURES initiative stands as a beacon of hope, illuminating the path towards a future replete with shared prosperity, cultural enrichment, and enduring bilateral cooperation.

Keep Reading: [Marriott International To Launch W Hotel in Riyadh KAFD in 2025]

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