Saudi Arabia will firmly support the UK as it embarks on Brexit, the chief of chemicals giant Sabic said on Thursday.
Speaking at a gathering of CEO’s from both countries in London, Sabic CEO Yousef Al-Benyan said: “The UK is going through a journey with Brexit. As a Kingdom that is also going through a journey, we understand.”
He added: “We see this as chance to take advantage of Brexit – this is a new chapter and is the time to make sure our interests in the region are included in the new (UK) vision.”
The SABIC CEO said that changes in Saudi Arabia were “coming in a speedy manner like we have never seen” and that SMEs were going to play a major role in bringing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to fruition.
“SMEs will have an ability to play a major role, especially around job creation for males and females,” Al-Benyan said. “In order for the SMEs and companies to be sustainable they have to grow globally and invest in technology advances to stay ahead. This is why partnerships with the UK and other partners is going to be a very important catalyst for success.”
Speaking on the same panel, Ibrahim Al-Omar, the governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), agreed that the development of two-way trade was imperative for the sustainability of the Kingdom’s 2030 vision.
He said: “We look to the UK particularly for health, education and fintech. The UK has a good supply of these skills and we have a big demand.
The SAGIA governor added: “Investors told us they were concerned about transparency, regulation and then customs. So we identified 297 reforms and we have already completed 45 percent of them, including issuing the new companies law and creating the commercial arbitration center. Today, you will be granted a business visa within 24 hours of application.”
Al-Benyan added: “In Saudi Arabia, this is the first time we have a clear vision of where we are going – but we need to be realistic, there are so many challenges to implementation.”
Speaking at the event, former UK secretary of state Peter Mandelson agreed the proof of the vision’s success lies in its execution.
He said: “The Saudi vision is clear and ambitious and, if it delivers, it will be a point of transformation.”