Zimbabwe: Saudi Arabia Takes Relations With Zim to Higher Level

18 November 2020

Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe's drive to lure investment has attracted the attention of Saudi Arabia, which has revealed plans to set up an embassy in Harare as well as incorporating the country into the Saudi Development Fund.

This was said by the Kingdom's Minister of State for African Countries Affairs, Mr Ahmed Kattan, after meeting President Mnangagwa at State House in Harare yesterday.

Posting on micro-blogging site Twitter yesterday, President Mnangagwa said he was looking forward to cooperating with one of the world's economic giants.

"It was my privilege to welcome to Zimbabwe Saudi Arabia's Minister for Africa, Ahmed Kattan. The potential for trade between our two nations cannot be understated. I look forward to growing our cooperation and investment in the coming years," tweeted President Mnangagwa.

The kingdom dispatched a high-powered delegation led by Minister Kattan to scout for opportunities in mining, agriculture, tourism and infrastructural development as well as strengthen diplomatic and trade ties between the two countries.

With a gross domestic product of about US$700 billion, Saudi Arabia is one of the world's top 20 economies and its interest in doing business in Zimbabwe is seen as a sign that Harare was now dealing with big capital in its quest to attain an upper middle income society by 2030.

Speaking after his meeting with President Mnangagwa, Mr Kattan said his country was keen on scaling up diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe, beginning by setting up a local embassy, as well as helping the country address its humanitarian needs through the Saudi Development Fund.

The Saudi Fund finances close to 4 000 projects in more than 70 countries, and access to the fund will help Zimbabwe navigate the effects of Covid-19.

Saudi Arabia recently donated US$500 million to help the world respond to the challenges posed by Covid-19.

Mr Kattan said he had conveyed the greetings of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and their warm wishes for prosperity to "the friendly people of the Republic of Zimbabwe".

"I reconfirmed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's keen interest in strengthening its relations with the Republic of Zimbabwe in light of the Kingdom's vision 2030, including in the areas of trade and investment.

"I assured His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) that we are ready to present to His Excellency King Salman the humanitarian and aid relief sent to Zimbabwe's urgent humanitarian needs for assessment and to continue our cooperation through supporting development projects by the Saudi Fund for Development which included the area of communication."

The two countries have decided to sign an agreement soon to establish diplomatic relations.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Dr Sibusiso Moyo, said the visit by the Saudi delegation was a major milestone.

Dr Moyo said the two countries wish to enhance the level of cooperation and bilateral relations particularly trade and investment cooperation.

He noted that Zimbabwe is endowed with resources while Saudi Arabia was a great market.

Potential investments are also available in sectors such as agriculture, mining, tourism and infrastructure development.

"There is, for example, the Saudi Development Fund, whose function is to consider the viability of such kind of projects which Zimbabwe would consider as a priority," said Dr Moyo.

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