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Cover Story, Saudi Affairs

Saudi Crown Prince’s US Tour

Bolstering Investments in the Kingdom

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud delivers a speech as he attends the Saudi Arabia – United States Partnership Meeting in Washington, United States on March 23, 2018. (Getty Images)

London – Majalla

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is currently on a two-week-long coast to coast tour of the US. Last week the crown prince met with President Donald Trump and other high-ranking officials in Washington. After Washington, Mohammed bin Salman stopped in Boston and New York City to bolster investments in the kingdom.

AGREEMENTS SIGNED BETWEEN KSA AND US UNIVERSITIES

On Saturday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Greater Boston where he focused on nurturing ties between the private sector and academia of the two nations. Prince Mohammed met with the heads of universities and Saudi researchers and visited institutions developing artificial intelligence and technology, notably the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The second annual Innovation to Impact Forum was held at MIT in conjunction with the Crown Prince’s visit and as part of an ongoing collaboration among King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the General Authority of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEA). The event featured a ceremony where new collaborative agreements were signed between key forum participants from the academic and private sectors. Four agreements were signed between MIT, Aramco, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. The most prominent of these agreements was a partnership between MIT and KAUST to collaborate on a new Saudi project named “Future Destination.” The partnership includes joint agreements on research, student exchanges and entrepreneurship.

At the nearby Harvard University, the crown prince met with Provost Alan Garber and faculty members. They reviewed aspects of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the university in a number of fields, especially in the areas of advanced research of entrepreneurship, systems engineering and the development of education methods to cope with new challenges.

“We stood with Saudi Arabia back in 1938, eighty years later we stand with them as they are about to transform their society and economy” – US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

During the Boston leg of his United States visit, The Crown Prince also visited the IBM Health Center, which aims to empower advocates and influencers in the health care field. During the visit, the center’s Senior Vice President David Kenny briefed the crown prince on the potential applications of artificial intelligence in the health care field, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the United Nations in New York City. (Getty Images)

OPEC AND RUSSIA CONSIDER 10-20 YEAR OIL ALLIANCE

In an interview with Reuters late on Monday, the crown prince told Reuters that Riyadh and Moscow were considering a deal to greatly extend a short-term alliance on oil curbs that began in January 2017 after a crash in crude prices. “We are working to shift from a year-to-year agreement to a 10 to 20 year agreement,” the Crown Prince said. “We have agreement on the big picture, but not yet on the detail.”

SAUDI-US CEO FORUM SEES SIGNING OF AGREEMENTS WORTH $20 BILLION

On Tuesday, the second annual Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum 2018 brought together more than 200 business leaders from the Kingdom and the U.S. to create partnerships, strengthen the economic ties between the two countries, promote bi-lateral trade and expand cultural understanding and awareness. In the opening panel discussion of the conference, which included Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia and chairman of Saudi Aramco and Dr. Majed Al-Kassabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment of Saudi Arabia, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, said: “We stood with Saudi Arabia back in 1938, eighty years later we stand with them as they are about to transform their society and economy.”

“I believe Saudi Arabia has a very high probability of succeeding in its transformation, and to the extent that people here in this room get involved, Saudi will have a far higher chance of success,” Ross said.

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 introduced by the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has brought wide ranging economic and social reforms to Saudi Arabia. These reforms are already responsible for rapid transformation, investment and modernization in the Kingdom and are the catalyst for the 36 MOU signings announced the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum in New York; totaling more than $20 billion; with more MOU signings in the pipeline poised for later announcement. These MOU signings represent new and expanding partnerships across diverse sectors including; healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment, education and ICT.

The head of the UN underlined the importance of humanitarian aid provided by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, expressing hope that other donors would follow the example of the two Gulf countries.

A few of the MOU signings announced include: An Aramco-Google partnership focused on national cloud services and other technology opportunities, a five year-content-led initiative between ITHRA and National Geographic to propel Saudi Arabia as the region’s center for creativity and entertainment, a partnership between Aramco and Raytheon to establish national cyber security services, a MOU between SIDF and JP Morgan to explore collaboration in industrial financing in the Kingdom and a partnership between Alrushaid and International SOS to provide medical services in the Kingdom with a focus on remote area clinics.

On the sidelines of the Saudi-US CEO Forum, Saudi Arabia’s General Investment Authority (SAGIA) granted investment licenses to 13 American companies.

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (3rd L) visits Innovation and Technology fair at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on March 25, 2018. (Getty Images)

CROWN PRINCE MEETS WITH UN SECRETARY GENERAL

Also on Tuesday, the Crown Prince met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and discussed several issues including the crisis in Yemen and Syria. The crown prince expressed his contentment with the visit, and mentioned Saudi Arabia’s vital role in co-founding the UN, while stating that the kingdom believes in the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law that governs the world. “Our problem in the Middle East is with the ideas that do not condone or believe in the notion of the United Nations, and that continue to operate in stark contradiction to the principles of the United Nations,” the crown prince said.

The Crown Prince and the Secretary General attended the signing of the joint executive program between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations, represented by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to support and finance the United Nations Humanitarian Response Plan in Yemen for 2018.

Mohammed bin Salman presented a previously pledged donation of $930 million to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for humanitarian efforts in Yemen.  Guterres thanked Prince Mohammed for the contribution, provided jointly along with the UAE, which covers nearly a third of the total the UN is seeking for Yemen humanitarian aid this year amid the ongoing civil war in the country.

Saudi Arabia and Japanese telecom giant-turned-tech investor SoftBank expanded their partnership by announcing the world’s biggest solar power generation project.

The head of the UN underlined the importance of humanitarian aid provided by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, expressing hope that other donors would follow the example of the two Gulf countries.

“Your generous contribution is of extreme relevance, as 22 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. And we hope and we are very appreciative of the recent operations planned, that was put in place, that will help to have full humanitarian access; it will help to have respect for all aspects of humanitarian law and protection of civilians that are necessary in this context, and to say that we want to work together with Saudi Arabia for these objectives,” Guterres stated.

Saudi Arabia sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council regarding the Iranian-Houthi ballistic missile attacks on several Saudi cities on Sunday night. Saudi Arabia called on the UN Security Council to shoulder the responsibility in maintaining international security and stability and the need to hold Iran accountable for supplying ballistic missiles to the Houthis. “We try as much as we can to solve the problems of the Middle East politically. And if things go out of control, we try as hard as we can to avoid as many mistakes as we can,” the crown prince said. “This is why we are working today with the United Nations in order to avoid other repercussions in the Middle East.”

Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., left, Mohammed  bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, sign an agreement in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. (Getty Images)

MISK FOUNDATION PARTNERS WITH BLOOMBERG

Following a meeting between Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, and Michael R. Bloomberg, the Misk Foundation and Bloomberg LP, the global business and financial information leader, announced on Tuesday several initiatives to enhance the financial and market capabilities in Saudi Arabia. These initiatives will advance Saudi Arabia’s efforts to develop robust finance courses, attract foreign capital, and help Saudi companies compete internationally; key components of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to establish a thriving economy.

“I applaud the vision of the Crown Prince and the Misk Foundation for taking concrete actions to diversify and further grow their economy,” said Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Saudi Arabia is the first country in the world to create a top-down, country-wide financial training program that fully leverages Bloomberg’s resources, and I’m confident it will empower the region and advance Saudi Arabia’s global competitiveness.”

Bloomberg will be working with 30 Saudi universities aiming to provide financial training for 262,000 students, which will include providing Bloomberg terminals as well as support for professors and staff to integrate capital markets content into their educational material. Under a memorandum of understanding between Bloomberg and the Misk Foundation, the partnership will also work with 250 Saudi companies to help them understand and connect to global financial markets.

SAUDI ARABIA AND SOFTBANK SIGN DEAL FOR ‘WORLD’S LARGEST SOLAR PROJECT’

Saudi Arabia and Japanese telecom giant-turned-tech investor SoftBank expanded their partnership, announcing the world’s biggest solar power generation project at a press conference in New York on Wednesday. The project was projected to cost $200 billion through 2030. That’s about how long it’s anticipated it will take to build out all 200 gigawatts of the project.

The project is so large, it will support the creation of a domestic solar equipment manufacturing industry in the kingdom, said SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. The agreement also states that the two parties are committed to exploring the manufacture and development of solar storage systems in Saudi Arabia, as well as the establishment of specialized companies for research and development of solar panels in commercial quantities that will allow them to be marketed domestically and globally.

“This kind of a project would never have been feasible without the big vision we shared with the crown prince,” Son told reporters. “The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land, great engineers, great laborers,” he said. “But most importantly it has the greatest vision.”

It is expected that this will help fuel energy production in Saudi Arabia, which will boost the kingdom’s role in supplying the world’s oil-reliant markets, especially as demand for oil is steadily increasing as production in some areas is depleted.  The projects are expected to create an estimated 100,000 jobs in Saudi Arabia and increase GDP by $12 billion, as well as save an annual estimated amount of $40 billion.

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