Saudi Arabia Seeks Korean Investment
Abdullah A. Al-Aifan, Saudi Arabian ambassador to Seoul, contributed the following article on the occasion of Saudi Arabia's National Day which falls on Sept. 23. _ ED.
On this auspicious occasion marking the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I would like to express my profound appreciation to The Korea Times for the courtesy granted to me to convey my sincerest greetings of friendship to the Korean people.
The present united and modern state of Saudi Arabia was founded on the first day of the sign of Libra 1351 H corresponding to Sept. 23 1932, which became the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
On this day the nation celebrates and rejoices as it recalls with pride the deeds of the founder, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud as he completed the unification of the divided country and proclaimed aUnited Kingdom ruled by the tenets of Islam.
It was on the fifth of the month of Shawal 1391 (Jan. 15, 1902), that King Abdul Aziz succeeded in regaining his heritage by capturing the capital city of Riyadh, restoring the rule of Al-Saud to a region stretching across the Arabian Peninsula for 250 years.
King Abdul Aziz battled for the next 31 years to reunite the desert kingdom, which had become a divided, chaotic and unruly land.
And for the next 21 years after unification he devoted his efforts to developing the nation in all fields and domains laying the foundations of today's modern, peaceful and united kingdom.
The young state had its good fortunes when oil was discovered in the eastern province in 1938. The income from oil at that time helped the king to accelerate the development of the country.
King Abdul Aziz died on the second Rabi Awal 1373 (Nov. 9, 1953). The founder's mantle was passed on to his sons who faithfully trod the path marked out by their father to build, develop and modernize; but never deviate from the tenets of the faith.
King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz was the first in line, holding the reigns from 1953 to 1964. King Faisal followed reigning from 1964-1975. He was succeeded by King Khalid, who passed away in 1982.
King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz who chose for himself the title ``Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques " took the helm for 23 years and passed away in 2005.
Their times saw the Kingdom undergo an all encompassing, and far reaching transformation fueled by oil revenues, a kingdomwith a strong and dynamic economy, taking its rightful place in the community of nations.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz was proclaimed the sixth king of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Aug. 1, 2005.
King Abdullah was born in Riyadh in 1924, and received his early education at the royal court. Influenced by his father, founder of the modern Saudi Arabia King Abdulaziz Al Saud, he developed a profound respect for religion, history and the Arab heritage.
His years spent living in the desert with Bedouin tribes taught him their values of honor, simplicity, generosity and bravery, and instilled in him an acute sense of responsibility towards his country and its people and the desire to assist in their development.
Throughout his life as public figure he has become a major force in domestic and foreign policy. He has used his influence to mediate in disputes among Arab states and played an impressive role in dealing with the many new issues and challenges on the regional and international stages.
In this context, in addition to traveling within the Arab and Islamic worlds, he visited most of Saudi Arabia's allies and friends, including the Republic of Korea in 1998.
The Republic of Korea stands as one of the 10 largest trading partners of the kingdom with a bilateral trade totaling $ 23.5 billion in 2006 and there have been various exchanges of visits by high ranking officials and leading businessmen the last of which was the visit by President Roh Moo-hyun to the kingdom in late March of this year.
To enhance and expand the relationship between the two countries, an increase in exchange and visits should take place not only by high-ranking officials and businessmen, but also by art troupes, youth organizations, sports and cultural exhibitions.
It is important to elevate the level of understanding between the two peoples. Both, Saudi Arabia and Korea are rich in history and cultural heritage. These exchanges nurture in youngsters the seeds of love and cooperation based on mutual understanding and respect.
There are still some areas of cooperation not fully developed such as bilateral investments and joint venture projects. There is ample room for increasing the cooperation ties in this regard. Prospects for joint venture projects are plentiful especially in the industrial sector in general and the IT sector in particular.
Also, cooperation in the research and development of advanced technology is very beneficial for both countries. The development of high technology is a prerequisite for survival in the 21st century.
In this regard, I would like to invite Korean businessmen and companies to participate once again in the development of the kingdom by joining hands with their Saudi counterparts in joint venture projects utilizing the vast resources of the kingdom so that they both can open a new and more vigorous era of economic cooperation and partnership between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea.
The most promising industries are in minerals, textiles, clothes, spare parts for machines and cars, leather, medicines and pharmaceuticals, machinery and transportation equipments.
Joint venture projects in these fields are profitable to both countries especially for the development of small and medium industries.With the Saudi capital and resources and the Korean technology and know-how, the doors to opportunities are wide open.
Saudi Arabia is a large market and has easy access to the markets of the Middle East and Africa which makes it the right place for investments and joint venture projects.
The government of Saudi Arabia is very much interested in promoting and assisting foreign companies looking for industrial opportunities to cooperate with Saudi investors.
The government provides an attractive package of incentives that include exemption from taxes for 10 years, long-term, low-cost finance, free repatriation of capital and profits and land with developed infrastructure facilities and utilities at low charge.
And as ever, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will always support Seoul's efforts to achieve peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The kingdom will continually render its assistance to Korea's quest for global diplomatic achievements.
I am deeply touched by the hospitality and warmth of the Korean people. I trust and hope that efforts will be further intensified to boost the constantly deepening relationship between our two countries founded on the spirit of peace, progress and prosperity for all mankind.