Two days ago, the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund launched new investment companies in 5 Arab countries, and the objective behind this move is “economic”, he says.
The Saudi fund said the five companies, in addition to the company previously launched in Egypt, will target investments of up to $24 billion in sectors including infrastructure, real estate, mining, healthcare, food and agriculture, manufacturing and technology.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia announced the establishment of five regional investment companies affiliated with the Wealth Fund in Jordan, Bahrain, Sudan, Iraq and Oman.
While Saudi Arabia says these companies are “promoting investments” for its fund, others see it as a way to build political and diplomatic influence in those countries.
The editor-in-chief of the Sudanese newspaper Al-Jarida, Ashraf Abdelaziz, tells Al-Hurra website that “in the context of the policy of (mutual) interests, this is a known issue, but he indicated that it is a ” acceptable” issue as announced.
Columbia University researcher Karen Young told the Wall Street Journal in previous statements that Gulf aid is now “different” as “it’s really about buying assets, and it’s not the same type of bailout” as it wasn’t before.
“These Things Again”
In its report last month, The Wall Street Journal said the financial aid provided by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to their regional environment serves as a “diplomatic tool” those countries have long used to build influence across the region. . .
Gulf aid to neighboring countries.. rescue packages and “increasing influence”
Countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Sudan share great human potential and greater economic problems, and have also received major financial aid from the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The American newspaper reported that the rise in oil and gas prices allowed the Gulf states to return to this policy.
Fawaz bin Kasib Al-Enezi, an expert on strategic affairs for the Middle East, believes that these investments represent “common interests” between Saudi Arabia and the Arab countries, and they come within the framework of complementary relations between the countries of the region to achieve the United Nations’ goals of sustainable development, he says.
However, in his interview with Al-Hurra channel, he ruled out that these investments would gain “political influence” over the Arab countries.
He added that this step “brings positive returns to the fund, but the Kingdom promotes it in the context of Arab regional cooperation, especially as Saudi Arabia senses the financial crises facing Arab countries.”
Saudi Arabia has always had great influence with its neighbors in the regional situation through its large oil reserves and silent financial and political support for the allies, says the American academic, Gregory Gause, in his book “Saudi Arabia in the New Middle East”.
But Al-Enezi says that Saudi Arabia “has social influence in all Arab countries through its religious position, being the qiblah of Muslims, and it does not seek political influence, which is essentially part of social influence.”
He said: “The Kingdom does not have goals to influence some regimes or interfere in state affairs. Rather, it rejects these matters, but economic motives and goals achieve sustainable development goals.”
“Economy first and support for brothers” second
In its statement published on the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the Public Investment Fund said that the establishment of the five new companies “will develop and strengthen the investment partnerships of the Public Investment Fund, its portfolio companies and the Saudi private sector for many investment opportunities in the region, which will contribute to the achievement of attractive returns in the long term, and the development of cooperation aspects of strategic economic partnerships with the private sector in each of the aforementioned countries.
Bahrain, a small neighbor with a bridge to the kingdom, welcomed these investments and thanked Saudi Arabia for them.
Bahrain’s crown prince, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, said that Saudi Arabia “has always taken creative initiatives for the benefit of the countries of the region and their citizens” and that “everyone appreciates the effective contribution that (Riyadh) plays to to promote the stability of the global economy, and its major role in the security and stability of the region and the world.” According to the Bahrain News Agency (BNA).
Bahraini political analyst Ibrahim Al-Nahham believes that the steps of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund “first focus on the economy”, but they also come to support the economies of the “sister countries”, as he put it.
He told Al-Hurra TV website that the Saudi investments that have come in various areas are at the heart of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify sources of income away from oil.
He continued: “Saudi Arabia is a country that has stood with its neighbors and helped its brothers for many years … These new investments, although purely economic, support the economies of Arab countries.”
Al-Nahham cited the statements of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he visited Bahrain earlier this year, after he said that “Saudi Arabia cannot stand up without its neighbors.”
“not a shame”
The Public Investment Fund, which manages assets of about $620 billion and aims to reach more than $1 trillion by 2025, said the move is in line with its strategy “to look for new investment opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa, which supports building long-term strategic economic partnerships.” To achieve sustainable returns, contributing to the maximization of the fund’s assets and diversification of the Kingdom’s sources of income, in line with the objectives of Vision 2030.”
The fund, which is the vehicle chosen by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to promote an ambitious economic agenda to diversify revenue sources away from oil, was the second most active state investor during the period from January to October this year, as it 39 deals worth $17.2 billion closed during This period, according to the global wealth fund tracking platform.
In Sudan, explains journalist Abdelaziz, another problem is the lack of a suitable environment for foreign investment in the presence of the “coup government”.
He said that Sudan “in terms of resources is qualified for any foreign investment, but politically such investments will not find stability except in the midst of a civilian government and now Sudan is ruled by a coup government,” citing to the military component’s control of power in Khartoum.
He added: “If the citizen is the beneficiary, Sudan needs investment, and here the interests are not lacking because things have come in broad daylight.”