Saudi Arabia keen to invest in India

Hyderabad, Feb 10 (IANS) Saudi Arabia is keen to promote commerce and investment with India, especially in Andhra Pradesh, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to India Saud Mohammed Al-Sati said, saying the oil-rich kingdom was "investing heavily" abroad.

After a two-day visit to Hyderabad, Al-Sati told IANS in an interview: "Hyderabad is hub of innovation, information technology, biotechnology, engineering and pharmaceuticals. We can explore the opportunities for partnerships."

He added that opportunities for partnership with Andhra Pradesh in various sectors could be explored.

"I learnt about opportunities here in all sectors of the economy. I would like to see more Saudi companies investing in India, especially in Andhra Pradesh," he said.

Al-Sati also invited businessmen and industrialists from the state to invest in Saudi Arabia. During an interaction with business leaders Friday, he highlighted the investment opportunities in his country. He said Indian companies evinced interest in the opportunities the kingdom offered.

During the visit, the ambassador met Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, among others.

"The purpose of the visit was to reach out to business communities, friends of Saudi Arabia and Saudi citizens and students in Hyderabad, to strengthen bonds between the two friendly countries and serving the interests of Saudi citizens and students," Al-Sati said.

"I discussed with the chief minister and the governor ways to strengthen relations, especially in commerce, joint ventures and investments and to inform business communities, chambers of commerce and industrialists about the business opportunities in the kingdom," he said.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud's visit to India in 2006 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the kingdom in 2010 laid the foundation and vision for strong and close relations.

While inviting people to invest in Saudi Arabia, he explained the initiatives taken by the oil-rich country to boost development.

"The kingdom is investing heavily. The size of investment is unprecedented in infrastructure, transport, health sector, renewable energy, airports and sea ports. I told this to friends of the kingdom and to people from all walks of life and invited them to come and see the programme for themselves," the envoy told IANS.

The Saudi Industrial Property Authority (MODON) was established in 2001 for the development of industrial cities with integrated infrastructure and services. Under MODON, more than 3,000 factories have come up in industrial cities with investments of $50 billion and employing 300,000 people.

He said other avenue of investment for Indian investors was economic cities under Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA). SAGIA was established in 2000 as a vehicle for investment in Saudi Arabia for sustaining economic growth.

The envoy also explored Hyderabad, which has historic ties with the Arab nation. He visited the 105-year-old Osmania University, which edits and publishes rare Arabic manuscripts. He offered Friday prayers at Mecca Masjid, the 17th century mosque.

"I learnt about the very rich history of India, diversity of its culture and its people," said Al-Sati, who has visited Lucknow and Hyderabad in the past since taking over as the Saudi envoy.

He also called on Director General of Police V. Dinesh Reddy to discuss the interests of 300 Saudi nationals in the city.

(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted atm.shafeeq@ians.in)

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