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Deputy PM leads largest UK business delegation for over a decade



  • Deputy Prime Minister leads 450+ strong UK business delegation to Saudi Arabia for flagship summit – GREAT FUTURES Riyadh
  • Supported by lead partners, British Airways and HSBC, the summit will accelerate vital business to business links between the kingdoms
  • £3 billion of ongoing investment in the North East helping to sustain c.2000 jobs in the region
  • The kingdoms to sign updated Memorandum of Understanding encouraging further investment

The Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, will today (Tuesday 14th May) open a two-day summit to promote cooperation between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. This is part of the government continuing to stick to the economic plan growing the economy and delivering more jobs across the UK. 

New figures to be announced by the Deputy Prime Minister show the North East alone stands to benefit from a further £3 billion of ongoing investment from Saudi Arabia, helping to sustain c.2000 jobs in the region. GREAT FUTURES Riyadh is expected to secure a constellation of investment across critical sectors: from financial services, to higher education. It is the launch of a year-long campaign to highlight UK expertise and capability in sectors that support Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’.

Following virtual remarks from the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, the Deputy Prime Minister will say: “Our collaboration has enabled an exponential increase in our mutual prosperity and demonstrated that our modern, forward-looking partnership can meet the challenges of the 21st Century.”

He will then take part in a fireside chat with the Minister of Commerce, His Excellency Dr Majid Bin Abdullah Al Qasabi.

The UK will also today sign an updated Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Arabia renewing a joint commitment to further investment. 

The Deputy Prime Minister announced that Saudi companies have raised £56.1 billion in London’s capital markets since 2022, £10.3 billion of which was classed as green and sustainable finance. 

Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch, flew to Riyadh with senior leaders from some of the UK’s largest businesses, on a flight chartered by a lead partner, British Airways.  

HSBC UK CEO Ian Stuart, also a lead partner, will deliver a keynote speech and participate in a panel discussion on the future of financial services cooperation between the two kingdoms.

The Deputy Prime Minister announced the first overseas expansion of the UK’s Office for Investment will be in the Gulf. The joint venture between No.10 Downing Street and the Department for Business and Trade connects public and private expertise to provide a direct route to the centre of the UK Government to unlock potential barriers and facilitate capital flows.

He also praised the “extraordinary transformation being accomplished across economic and social domains,” announcing that the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia will also establish an Education Task Force chaired by Sir Steve Smith and Minister Al-Benyan to encourage further cooperation in the field of higher education. Forty higher educational partnerships have been signed between the two kingdoms to date.

The Ministers joining the Deputy Prime Minister at the event are the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Frazer, the Minister for Investment, Lord Johnson, and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, Lord Markham. 

The visit comes as the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council begin the 7th round of negotiations on a modern and ambitious trade deal. Building on the foundations of an already £59 billion strong trading relationship, a trade deal could add £1.6 billion to the UK economy, making it easier for businesses to trade with all six countries including Saudi Arabia, and promote even greater investment in each other’s economies.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 15th May) the Deputy Prime Minister will visit the internationally significant city of Al’Ula to have further discussions about sharing our cultural expertise and partnerships. 

The Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, commented:

GREAT FUTURES will be an important moment for British business. We’re opening up our markets to one another, so that investment, exports, tourism and collaboration flows in both directions. Britain doesn’t just endorse Vision 2030, we want to be a part of it.

Chairman and CEO of British Airways, Sean Doyle, commented:

We’re proud to play a role in promoting the UK as a leading destination for business, tourism and investment, and build on our long-standing partnership with the GREAT campaign to showcase the best of Britain internationally. 

We have a long history of connecting families, friends and businesses in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with our home in London and look forward to welcoming leaders from some of the UK’s most creative and innovative companies on board our special charter flight in May.

CEO of HSBC UK Bank Plc, Ian Stuart, commented:

At HSBC we use our international network and expertise to open up a world of opportunity for our customers.

We’re excited to be a part of GREAT FUTURES, in Riyadh, where we can offer our support to some of the most dynamic and ambitious firms from the UK and Saudi Arabia and help them to achieve their growth ambitions.

Other key partners of the event include: change & transformation consultancy, North Highland, content production agency TAG, and urban development firm Innovo. Engineering, construction and project management group, Bechtel, insurance and intermediary group, Howden and International education network, Global University Systems are also partnering with the Great campaign on this venture. Representatives of the key partners will lead our thought leadership programme with counterparts in the Saudi Arabian business community.

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