Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Saudi Crown Prince's visit to bring $20bn investment in Pakistan

RYAD KRAMDI  AFP  Getty Images RYAD KRAMDI AFP Getty Images
Kenny Thornton | 12 February, 2019, 20:15

While luxury is something the heir to the oil-rich kingdom is accustomed to, Pakistan still hopes to make an impression on bin Salman with an eye on financial aid packages from Saudi Arabia. The Prince's exercise equipment, furniture and other personal belongings have also reached Islamabad. However, two of the top hotels in Islamabad have been fully booked for his staff, while two others have been partially booked.

Several social media users shared clips of the Crown Prince's visit to the holy site, using the Arabic hashtag "Mohammed bin Salman in Mecca", which trended on Twitter.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aerobatics team Sherdil will enthrall the visiting dignitaries with a fly-past show using JF-17 Thunder jets, sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune on Tuesday.

The crown prince will be presented the guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent of the country's armed forces upon his arrival the PM House, where he will stay throughout the trip.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan was among a handful of heads of state who attended Riyadh's flagship investment conference, an event that was boycotted by many companies and world leaders in protest over Khashoggi's murder.

Saudi Arabia has also announced plans for a $10 billion refinery and petrochemical complex at the coastal city of Gwadar, where China is building a port as part of its vast Belt and Road initiative.

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In addition, Pakistan has also obtained United States dollars 3 billion Saudi loan at 3.18 percent interest rate to shore up official foreign currency reserves.

Pakistan is seeing this investment as a big opportunity to revive its ailing economy.

"We believe the Crown Prince - MBS - had a hand in this".

"It is very likely that an agreement for $3 billion oil facility on deferred payments will also be signed during the visit", said Dawood, who was very upbeat about keen interest being shown by Saudi investors in Pakistan. "It was committed by officials of the Saudi government acting outside their scope of authority".

Adel al-Jubeir, the country's minister of state for foreign affairs, continued to claim Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had no involvement in the October slaying of Khashoggi, despite the CIA's determination that he was behind it.

Among the officials that accompanied the Crown Prince was Sheikh Saad Bin Nasser Al-Shithri, member of the Council of Senior Scholars and advisor at the Royal Court.

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