Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia announces huge investment deals at Arab-China summit

Deals came amid growing commercial and diplomatic ties between Beijing and Middle Eastern countries, including recent Chinese-brokered rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud (R) and Hu Chunhu of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the 10th Arab-China business conference in Riyadh, 11 June 2023 (AFP)

Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday billions of dollars in investment deals between China and the Arab world, on the first day of the China-Arab business conference in Riyadh.

The meeting came amid growing commercial and diplomatic ties between Beijing and Middle Eastern countries, including a recent landmark Chinese-brokered rapprochement between powerhouses Iran and Saudi Arabia that has shifted regional relations.

The oil-rich kingdom is hosting the conference, now in its 10th edition, for the first time. Over two days, it will bring together more than 3,500 government and business officials from China and Arab countries, the Saudi investment ministry said in a statement.

The event "marked its first day with the signing of $10bn in investment agreements", the statement said - the vast majority of which are for projects in Saudi Arabia or by Saudi firms and government entities.

This figure includes a $5.6bn memorandum of understanding between the Saudi investment ministry and Human Horizons, a Chinese maker of electric and self-driving cars.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


More than half of the total sum is in the memorandum of understanding, as well as a separate "cooperation agreement" and a "framework agreement" involving other companies, according to the statement.

It detailed agreements in various fields, including technology, agriculture, renewable energy, real estate, natural resources and tourism.

'New, beneficial era for our peoples'

At the launch of the conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan highlighted the potential in increased trade and economic ties between China and Arab countries.

"(This) meeting is an opportunity… to build a shared future towards a new, beneficial era for our peoples," he said.

Iran and Saudi Arabia agree to restore relations after China talks
Read More »

According to the Saudi statement, a $533m deal was concluded between AMR ALuwlaa Company and Zhonghuan International Group (Hong Kong) for the establishment of an iron factory in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi ASK Group and the China National Geological & Mining Corp signed a $500m cooperation agreement on copper mining in the kingdom, the statement added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in December visited Saudi Arabia - the world's largest crude exporter - prompting criticism from Riyadh's longtime ally the United States.

Asked about the US criticism, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said: "I actually ignore it."

He added that business people "will go where opportunity comes your way".

During a trip to Riyadh last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was "not asking anyone to choose between the United States and China".

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.