British prime minister Theresa May chats with Saudi girls during a basketball class at the Olympic headquarters in Riyadh on April 5, 2017, as the head of the women’s section at Saudi Arabia's general authority for sports, Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud (L), watches. (Image credit:Fayez Nureldine / AFP Pool / AFP)

Britain says it will help Saudi Arabia to reform economy

RIYADH // Britain on Wednesday said it would help Saudi Arabia to diversify its oil-dependent economy as British prime minister Theresa May visited the kingdom.

Mrs May and King Salman held talks focused on "bilateral relations and cooperation" as well as "regional and international developments", the official news agency SPA said.

Mrs May’s office said she would discuss with the monarch "tax and privatisation standards to help Saudi Arabia diversify its economy and become less reliant on oil".

Saudi Arabia faces a significant budget deficit with billions of dollars in debts to private firms, largely in the construction business, after a drop in global oil prices by about half since 2014.

Britain will also assist Riyadh in reforming its ministry of defence and reviewing defence capabilities.

The visit by the British prime minister to the oil-rich kingdom came as she seeks to secure investment and trade now that Britain has officially started a two-year countdown to leave the European Union.
As the kingdom weighs up which international market should list shares of oil giant Saudi Aramco in what many expect will be the largest public offering ever, Mrs May pitched the merits of the London Stock Exchange as a venue for the flotation.

Saudi Arabia plans to list less than 5 per cent of the world’s largest oil-producing company on the Saudi exchange and another international exchange, possibly by next year.
Mrs May laid out the advantages of doing business in the UK. during a private meeting with Saudi energy minister and Aramco chairman Khalid Al Falih.

She also met King Salman on the second day of her two-day visit and discussed the...Read more...