NEW DELHI: Relations between Saudi Arabia and India have reached an unprecedented level of engagement, a senior Indian foreign affairs official told Arab News after a flurry of cooperation agreements signed during the recent visit of the Saudi crown prince.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was on a state visit to India, after attending the G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month.
This was his second official trip to New Delhi, following a visit in February 2019, during which Saudi-Indian relations began to experience a new level of engagement. In October of the same year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Riyadh, where the two countries agreed to establish a strategic partnership council to manage bilateral relations.
The council’s first meeting was held on September 11 and was co-chaired by the two leaders, who also witnessed the signing of a historic energy agreement, including cooperation on renewable energy, as well as as memoranda on partnerships in digitalization and electronic manufacturing, investment, the banking sector. , anti-corruption efforts and seawater desalination.
Dozens of other bilateral agreements in entrepreneurship, chemicals and advanced manufacturing were signed at the Saudi-Indian Investment Forum on the sidelines of the crown prince’s visit.
“We should pay tribute to the crown prince and our Prime Minister Modi for taking this relationship to unprecedented levels,” Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, secretary in charge of the Gulf region at the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Arab News in a press release. recent interview.
Sayeed, who spent 10 years in Saudi Arabia, serving as New Delhi’s ambassador to Riyadh and previously consul general in Jeddah, has observed over the years how Saudi Arabia has risen to its position as the “largest actor” throughout the region of the country. West Asia and a “geopolitical power”.
He saw significant potential for India to contribute to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 transformation plan and its ongoing megaprojects such as the multi-billion dollar NEOM smart city.
“India can contribute in many ways,” he said. “Many Indian companies have the technological expertise and international recognition to play a role in building cities like NEOM and all the projects taking place there.”
He estimated that at least 2,700 Indian companies have been registered with the Saudi Ministry of Investment and that India’s investments in the Kingdom have reached $2.15 billion, with investors particularly interested in sectors pharmaceuticals, green hydrogen, renewable energies, IT and cybersecurity.
“The Prime Minister has already discussed with the Crown Prince the possibility of a startup bridge. India is one of the largest startup ecosystems in the world. At the same time, Saudi Arabia has developed its own ecosystem to support startups,” said Sayeed.
“Although we are strategic partners, there are many new initiatives to come. There are many opportunities, the potential of which has not yet been fully exploited.”