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Saudi seeks Chinese funding for infrastructure projects

Saudi minister Majid Al Hogail lead a delegation to explore opportunities for joint cooperation with China on various financing models for infrastructure projects

Saudi Arabia is in talks with Chinese banks for potential investment in and development of infrastructure projects.

The talks were held between Saudi housing minister Majid Al Hogail and several heads of Chinese banks in Beijing, state-run SPA news agency reported.

The minister discussed investment opportunities across a number of Saudi cities with officials from the Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank), China Development Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited.

Talks focused on Saudi Arabia’s plans and programmes to provide housing schemes and improve the housing sector’s quality.

Additionally, they covered master plans for building technologies and project sustainability, as well as bank financing and refinancing programmes to support housing development.

The Saudi minister also explored opportunities for joint cooperation on various financing models for infrastructure projects in the kingdom.

In September 2022, Saudi Arabia was described as the biggest construction site on the planet with projects valued at over $1.1 trillion underway in the kingdom, according to global real estate consultancy Knight Frank.

“With over 555,000 residential units, more than 275,000 hotel keys, in excess of 4.3 million sq m of retail space and over 6.1 million sq m of new office space expected by 2030, the planned construction in the kingdom will easily make Saudi Arabia the largest construction site the world has ever known,” said Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research for Knight Frank.

China’s trade with Saudi Arabia topped SAR91 billion ($24.3 billion) in the first quarter of 2023, making up 19 percent of the kingdom’s total commerce.

Data from Riyadh’s General Authority for Statistics (Gastat) said China was the top trading partner for both imports and exports.

In June Prince Abdulaziz, Saudi’s energy minister, told a conference that the kingdom wants to collaborate with China, not compete, and expects the GCC-China free trade deal to be finalised soon.