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Saudi Arabia wants enhanced partnership, cooperation with Turkiye

August 31, 2023 at 2:51 pm

Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Alparslan Bayraktar (L) signs a memorandum of understanding with the Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia, Bandar Alkhorayef (R) after a meeting in Ankara, Turkiye on August 28, 2023 [Arif Akdoğan – Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia’s relations with Turkiye have entered a phase of partnership, according to the Kingdom’s Industry Minister.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar Alkhorayef,, said Saudi Arabia has confidence in Turkish investors to build an economic base on which the two countries can boost their cooperation.

“We find great opportunities for cooperation with Turkiye in food security, health, military and industrial sectors,” Alkhorayef said.

He said there is also room for cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Turkiye in the aircraft industry, renewable energy and space among others.

The Saudi Minister is currently on a 5-day visit to Turkiye for talks with government officials and businessmen on ways of promoting partnership between the two countries.

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“Aircraft and defence industry and the development of aluminium for aircraft fuselages, titanium and carbon fibre, which are necessary for certain industries, are important sectors for cooperation with Turkiye,” Alkhorayef said.

“Turkiye is a large importer of petrochemical materials, and it is possible to work with Ankara to fill the need in this sector,” he added.

“There are many other fields of cooperation as the auto industry. Saudi Arabia is moving to build an electric car manufacturing sector. The same is true for Turkiye, which manufactures car batteries.”

Saudi-Turkish partnership

Both Saudi Arabia and Turkiye are located on the most prominent routes of global trade and shipping between the East and West.

“The geographical location is one of the most important foundations for our industrial strategy in Saudi Arabia,” Alkhorayef said. “We aim to become a global logistics platform and a leading industrial power.”

The Industry Minister said the Kingdom’s distinctive geographical location, infrastructure and natural resources “make Saudi Arabia well-placed to become a major player”.

“Turkiye, too, is capable of further increasing its power by exploiting its geographical location,” Alkhorayef noted.

The Saudi Minister said the distinguished ties between Riyadh and Ankara allowed Turkish contractors to win major contracts in various fields, including the military sector.

“We are working together to help raise the level of local content in products so that Turkish companies can compete in the Saudi market,” he added.

Alkhorayef stressed that Turkish products have a good reputation in Saudi Arabia.

“There are discussions with Turkish companies for capacity-building in the Kingdom to meet the demands of the local market,” he said.

“The Saudi industrial strategy aims to introduce modern technologies into industry and build an industrial base on the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as the use of artificial intelligence,” he said. “Turkiye has appropriate solutions in these fields.”

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The Saudi Industry Minister stressed that his country’s relationship with Turkiye is “bigger than a supplier-customer relationship”.

“It is a partnership that includes the localisation of industries, technology transfer, training, qualification and capacity-building in the fields of research, development and innovation,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia has the ability to develop new products based on market needs, so partnership will be the basis” for our relationship, he added.

Vision 2030

In 2016, Saudi Arabia launched its Vision 2030 with a view to building a diversified economy.

“Since the launch of Vision 2030, the number of factories has increased by 50 per cent over the previous period,” Alkhorayef said.

“The funding channelled into the industrial sector over the past seven years was equivalent to what was spent over the past 35 years,” he added.

The Minister noted that investments in the fields of industrial infrastructure, ports, logistics services and digital infrastructure “have created a favourable environment in the Kingdom for adopting the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

“Local demand in Saudi Arabia is increasing, as part of the growth in sectors such as housing, infrastructure, tourism and other sectors related to major projects. This all creates opportunities for investment.”

In 2020, the Saudi Export Development Authority launched the “Made in Saudi” program to encourage local consumers to buy more locally-made products and help businesses increase their exports to priority markets.

“We have a strong industrial base for major companies on which we can build other industries,” Alkhorayef said. “The general impression is that the Saudi product is of high quality and at a competitive price.”

Mining investment

Saudi Arabia plans to host a major mining conference in January. Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Alparslan Bayraktar, was invited by Riyadh to attend this event.

On Monday, Bayraktar said Ankara and Riyadh signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on critical minerals.

“The mining sector in Saudi Arabia is very promising,” Alkhorayef said.

In November 2022, Saudi Arabia unveiled a plan to attract $32 billion in new investments in the mining and minerals sector through nine new projects.

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Last February, the Industry and Mineral Resources Ministry said the number of mining complexes in the Kingdom reached 377 by the end of 2022. These complexes cover more than 20 different minerals, including gravel, gold, iron, copper, granite, marble, nickel and zinc.

The Saudi Industry Minister said the oil-rich Kingdom has offered record licenses for investment in the mining sector.

He cited that the country had organised two major conferences that brought governments, mining companies and scientific institutions to discuss the future of minerals.

“We have put a large number of projects for exploration and we have begun to obtain great results.”

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.