Gulf Lure

Rishi Sunak eyes Saudi capital as U.K. sends trade delegation to Riyadh

More than 750 British and Saudi executives will meet at Saudi Great Futures expo on May 14 and 15

A nighttime view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Sui Xiankai/Xinhua via Getty Images)

The Brits will beat a path to Riyadh next month under the banner of a trade expo between the two nations as U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak eyes the trillions of dollars Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is plowing into his Vision 2030 economic diversification plan.

A delegation of more than 750 British and Saudi executives, some from British Airways, HSBC and NEOM, will meet at Saudi Great Futures on May 14 and 15.

The event will launch a year-long campaign to showcase U.K. firms to Saudi investors with a focus on sectors that support the kingdom’s bold economic ambitions, putting a spotlight on opportunities in the kingdom for burgeoning sectors like renewable energy, tourism, gaming and fashion and push the U.K. as a potential collaborator.

The U.K. — and some of its most storied institutions — have long been a destination for Gulf capital. Legendary Knightsbridge department store Harrod’s is owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and the UAE’s Vice President Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed is the owner of Premier League football club Manchester City. Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s sovereigns both own a stake in Heathrow Airport. That’s just to name a few. 

A two-way street for trade and investment flows has picked up pace in the last several years as Saudi Arabia has opened up to tourism and mega-projects like NEOM have gotten underway.

Trade between the U.K. and Saudi Arabia has increased to $20.4 billion in 2022 from $15 billion in 2018, Bloomberg reports.

The invitation is open: “We are looking for senior U.K. leaders of businesses, organizations, and educational institutions to join us in Riyadh to participate not only as delegates but as speakers, exhibitors and sponsors, presenting the very best of what the U.K. has to offer,” the Great Future website says. 

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