RIYADH: In a sign of deepening economic ties between the two nations, Saudi Arabia is considering “opening an office of the Investment Ministry in India,” said Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih.
Al-Falih was speaking at the India-Saudi Investment Forum in New Delhi on Monday.
The minister noted that Saudi Arabia will soon send a delegation to India to study the feasibility of opening such an office.
“I will commit today that we will open an office in India for investment facilitation,” said Al-Falih.
He added: “Within the next few weeks, I commit that we will send a strong delegation to GIFT City in Gujarat to look at where we should set up an office for our ministry of investment, whether it should be Mumbai, Delhi or in GIFT City itself.”
Speaking at the forum, Al-Falih also deliberated on the possibility of creating an agreement between Saudi Arabia’s National Venture Capital Fund and India to promote the growth of the VC ecosystem.
“In the next few weeks, we will create a joint agreement between our national venture capital fund and their counterpart here in India to channel venture capital and funding to startups that have the opportunity to leverage our two nations,” added Al-Falih.
The minister said that the trade and economic relationship between Saudi Arabia and India have witnessed robust growth over the past few years, thanks to the economic diversification efforts in the Kingdom.
“This engagement has been ongoing for thousands of years. But certainly, in recent times, there has been an accelerated engagement between our two countries, both at the government and private levels,” said Al-Falih.
He added: “We are blessed by many things in Saudi Arabia and India. One of the best things we have is two of the most visionary leaders in the world: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Modi. And when they talk, you could see 10 steps ahead.”
Al-Falih further noted that the memorandum of understanding signed between India, the Middle East and Europe to construct a new economic corridor will significantly benefit all parties involved.
“I want to congratulate the prime minister (Narendra Modi), the crown prince (Mohammed bin Salman), and other global leaders launching the economic corridor; this is going to be a historic moment,” said Al-Falih.
“People talk about the Silk Road of thousands of years ago, the spice road from India to the Arabian Peninsula. But this (Economic Corridor) will be more significant, and it will be relevant because it is about new energy, data, connectivity, aviation and aligning countries with the same mind and vision,” he added.
Al-Falih also urged Indian business owners to come and operate in Saudi Arabia and said that the Kingdom is one of the most accessible places to do business.
He also lauded the efforts of Indian companies working in Saudi Arabia, especially in the Kingdom’s $500-billion megacity NEOM.
“Indian companies are already actively at the master contractor level in NEOM, which includes Larsen and Toubro,” the minister said.
He added: “You will be happy to know that one of the emerging communication technologies, which is low orbit satellite, pioneered by Sunil Mittal’s Bharat Enterprises, is already a partner of NEOM.”
Al-Falih added that India and Saudi Arabia should work together to be on the list of the top 10 countries in terms of attractiveness to the private sector.
The forum also facilitated the signing of 47 memorandums of understanding, including agreements between private and public sector undertakings.
Talking about the $100 billion investment promise made by Saudi Arabia in India, Al-Falih said: “A lot has happened, I don’t want to call these ambitions and aspirations, they are really targets based on specific projects that had estimates to underpin that $100 billion target. I think a lot has happened, the COVID-19, supply chain, the acceleration of energy transition, has all been reprioritized where capital is going globally.”
For his part, Saad Al-Khalb, CEO of Saudi EXIM Bank, said that the India-Saudi Investment Forum helped to ensure significant commitment from both private and public sectors in India and Saudi Arabia, which will ultimately enhance trade ties between both nations.
“We have signed an MoU with Indian EXIM. This MoU is not just a document; it is rather a testimony to our mutual aspirations and commitments toward the private sector in our countries,” said Al-Khalb.
He added: “The MoU signifies our mutual commitment and strengthening our ties, promoting bilateral trade and ensuring continuous economic growth of our economies.”
Source: Arab News