July 13, 2024

ISLAMABAD:

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to visit Pakistan this month, potentially opening doors for vital investments from the “brotherly country.”

 

His impending visit comes after a prolonged delay; his last trip to Pakistan was in February 2019.

Initially scheduled for late 2022, the visit was postponed, and subsequent attempts to finalize new dates were hindered by political uncertainties and Pakistan’s elections.

 

However, sources reveal that the prince has now accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who has made two recent visits to Riyadh.

 

Preceding the crown prince’s visit, a high-powered Saudi delegation, including prominent businessmen, is currently in Islamabad, engaging in discussions with Pakistani counterparts to explore investment opportunities.

 

The visit is part of ongoing efforts by the government to woo Saudi investment, a key strategy being followed by a civil-military-led initiative to pull the country out of economic troubles.

Pakistan is eyeing billions of dollars in investment from Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular. During the visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz to Saudi Arabia before Eid, Riyadh had agreed to expedite the first phase of investment to the tune of $5 billion.

 

Read KSA eyes Pakistan as high-priority economic, investment opportunity: Saudi minister

 

Following the prime minister’s visit, the crown prince dispatched a high-powered delegation headed by the Saudi foreign minister to Islamabad. The delegation comprised key members of the Saudi cabinet and some of the close aides of the crown prince working on his “Vision-2030”.

 

The Saudi foreign minister, after getting a briefing from the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), had said that he was impressed with the new framework.

 

The official sources said the government was hoping that the crown prince’s upcoming visit would translate commitments into reality.

 

Read Saudi trade delegation arrives to discuss investment avenues

 

Pakistan, in an effort to persuade Saudi investors, has made lucrative offers to them, including hefty profit return on their investment. The government is also offering the Saudis stakes in key sectors, including agriculture, mines and minerals, energy, etc.

 

The government feels that investment from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries would greatly help address Pakistan’s balance of payment crisis, something that would not only shore up foreign reserves but also spur industrial and economic growth.

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