RIYADH: The UAE and Saudi Arabia are intensifying cooperation to boost investment and trade with select initiatives identified, top government officials said on Wednesday. Exemptions will be given to Saudi firms investing in Abu Dhabi to boost cooperation between the two countries. The volatility in oil prices and the political situation globally is pushing both countries to diversify their economies rapidly. Saudi and UAE have launched initiatives identifying eight sectors as priority areas including, transport, health, Oil and Gas, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and health. “We are witnessing an important era in the GCC, of a partnership between Saudi and the UAE. There is a proactive focus to work together bilaterally,” said Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy while speaking at the UAE-Saudi Business Forum in Abu Dhabi. He underscored the importance of working closely due to volatility in oil prices. “We need to enhance economic cooperation and open more channels of investment.” The two countries are diversifying their economies and are looking for more investment to increase their revenue due to low oil prices.
Saudi Arabia has opened a number of sectors of its economy to attract foreign investment as part of Saudi Economic vision 2030. Al Mansouri pointed out that the UAE and Saudi Arabia share many commonalities in their development policies including UAE vision 2021 vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia. “This harmony of visions and policies provides a solid foundation for further progress in trade and investment to enhance cooperation between the two countries. On bilateral trade front, there was a 30 per cent increase in non-oil trade between the two countries in the last six years jumping from Dh55 billion in 2011 to more than Dh71.5 billion last year.
UAE ranks as the top investor in Saudi Arabia with investments totalling about Dh30 billion whereas Saudi investments in the UAE stand at Dh16.5 billion, Al Mansouri added. Speaking at the same forum, Saif Al Hajeri, chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development said Saudi investors will get many exemptions if they invest in Abu Dhabi and the exemptions will be related to land, lease and rents. He also said Saudi companies will get a 15 per cent discount in rents and leasing land in Kizad (Khalifa Industrial Zone). The department will also open a fast track window for approvals for businesses coming to Abu Dhabi from Saudi Arabia. The two countries also signed three agreements during the forum including an MoU to boost business activity, joint investments in agriculture and an agreement related to corporate governance between UAE-based Hawkamah and Saudi governance centre.