Saudi minister said his country could be gateway to new markets in the Middle East and Africa

 

The UK should turn to Saudi Arabia for new trade and investment opportunities after Brexit and not a backward-looking Commonwealth, Saudi ministers said on the second day of a controversial visit to the UK by the country’s crown prince.

As the UK and Saudi Arabia set out a broad ambition to strike nearly $100m of commercial deals over the next decade, the powerful Saudi energy minister, Kalid A al-Falih, told a business conference in London: “I would like to think that Saudis can be the pivotal link to a new partnership sphere for the UK that is perhaps not positioned in the past, as is the Commonwealth, but forward-looking, looking at the demographics of the Middle East, Africa, and Islamic world to which Saudi Arabia is central.”

The UK should regard the kingdom as the dominant force in the Gulf and “your gateway to Africa, one of the next frontiers”, he said.

Al-Falih’s pitch, emphasising that both the UK and Saudi Arabia were at “inflection points”, underlines the extent to which the Saudis sense the UK will need to step up its search for new trade partners after Brexit to replace lost EU markets.

  • Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and the U.K.’s prime minister launched an economic and investment partnership worth billions of dollars on Wednesday.
  • The crown prince’s visit has prompted human rights protests in London and political pressure in parliament.
  • Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in the U.K. for a three-day state visit. On the first day of the trip, he dined with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

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